Insider Trading Tips

OK, maybe a better title for this post is: insider trading tip-offs. What does it have to do with programming and web development? A Canadian law student and programmer has created a website that will tell you, supposedly within two minutes of the SEC making the information public, when an insider has made a trade in any company you’d care to follow. Simply enter the ticker symbol and leave your email, and you’ll receive ‘instantaneous’ alerts. Yahoo! HackU was the original inspiration for this idea, and I guess it’s too useful not to continue. There is another proprietary system that gives insider trading info, but it’s neither free nor real-time. Talk about one programmer taking the bull (as it were) by the horns and doing something really subversive. He even makes the source code and YQL tables available, allowing anyone access to real-time SEC data:

“The main RSS scraper for this application is a YQL statement that trims down the SEC’s feed and spits it out in JSON.”

Bingo. The site is a triumph of simplicity.

A little background: insider trading is by no means necessarily illegal. ‘Insiders’, often officers of a given company, are certainly allowed to buy and sell stock issued by the company for which they are officers, but they must do so within strict guidelines established by the SEC. Sophisticated traders/investors often use insider trading stats as one of dozens of indicators that might help them accurately forecast stock prices.