“I had a friend who said, ‘You don’t just pick the winners and losers,’ ” Mitt Romney told President Obama in the first presidential debate. “You pick the losers.”
Romney’s assessment of the billions that Obama has wasted on green energies is dead on. And unfortunately, it only tells half of the story. According to a Washington Examiner analysis of publicly available data, corporate insiders at the 15 publicly traded green energy companies that received federal stimulus subsidies pocketed tens of millions by selling their stock after the government’s money poured in and before their companies’ values plummeted.
The Obama administration gave more than $700 million in grants and guaranteed an additional $500 million in loans to publicly traded green energy companies through its 2009 stimulus package. If Obama had invested all that money in a Standard & Poors index fund of the top 500 publicly traded companies, his investment would have seen a 73 percent return since he took office. In contrast, the Obama “green energy” stimulus portfolio has fallen by 78 percent — performing about five points worse than green energy companies that didn’t get subsidies.
The insider trades by officers and directors of these companies tell us still more. They cashed out a net $63.9 million in stock gains before their companies’ stock prices collapsed.
Biofuel manufacturer Amyris Inc., for example, was given $24.3 million in taxpayer money to turn plant sugars into diesel fuel. At one point, this helped push its stock price above $30 a share. Today, Amyris has closed two of its three plants, and its stock sells for less than $3. Amyris’ insiders got rich first, though, netting $21 million in stock sales after the firm went public in September 2010.
Solazyme, another biofuel manufacturer, received $21.8 million from Obama’s Energy Department. Its stock once traded at more than $25 a share but now is worth less than $9. Its corporate insiders realized $18.4 million in capital gains before the stock price collapsed.
Corporate insiders at A123 Systems were not as quick to cash out as their biofuel colleagues. The Massachusetts electric-car battery manufacturer received a $249 million grant from Obama’s Energy Department in 2009, before going bankrupt last month. Its stock was worth more than $25 a share when it first went public in September 2009. A123 officers and directors still made more than $11 million in stock sales.
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