This one was one that you just couldn't let go - that libertarian champion and former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, Texas, doesn't have a basic understanding of economics.
That was the claim made by CNBC senior analyst and commentator Ron Insana on the June 14 broadcast of "Closing Bell." At issue was a June 14 Washington Post article by Robert O'Hara and Dan Keating that suggested there was a conflict of interest in Paul's investments and his policy stances, as in he is a proponent of the gold standard and other uses for the precious metal.
"Rep. Ron Paul is captivated by gold," O'Hara and Keating wrote. "Over the past two decades, he has written books about the virtues of gold-backed currency. He has made uncounted speeches about the precious metal. He even took a leadership post on the House subcommittee that oversees the nation's monetary policy, mints and gold medals."
O'Hara and Keating detailed just how extensive Paul's investments are - valued at $1.7 million.
"But his focus on gold goes beyond the theoretical," they wrote. "In recent years, Paul (R-Tex.) has poured hundreds of thousands of his own dollars into stocks of some of the world's largest gold-mining operations, according to a review of his financial disclosure forms by The Washington Post. In 2008, while advocating for the United States to reinstate a gold standard, he reported owning up to $1.5 million in shares of at least nine gold-production companies. In addition, he disclosed up to $200,000 in silver stocks. In all, those holdings represented close to half of his assets."
But according to Insana, who has had an on-again-off-again career at CNBC after a failed attempt to try his hand at running a hedge fund, took a shot at Paul's investment strategy, claiming the Texas congressman was some sort of investing simpleton.
"Listen, the Ron Paul stuff, you know, if it weren't part of a conflict story would be funny because Ron Paul is one of the many elected representatives who we have that doesn't even have a basic understanding of fundamental economics, let alone more complex issues and better ways to hedge against inflation than buying gold," Insana said. "Gold is a complex instrument. You know, it speaks to a bigger point. He doesn't even know what he's doing."
As unsophisticated as Insana's claim that Paul's investment in gold is, assuming Paul had held this commodity going back to late 2008, he would be up over 50 percent with his investment, while the S&P 500 is down nearly 13 percent in the same time period.