Dick Durbin, Savvy Investor

In my recent cover story for this magazine (you can subscribe to it and read it on high-quality paper!), I wrote about the great divide in personal finance between them that know and them that don't. I realized that I was in the category of them that don't know. In other words, there are people in America -- very few of them -- who are privy to real-time information about the true state of individual equities, and mutual funds. The rest of us, I argued, are just guessing when we invest.

Well, count Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the number-two Democrat in the Senate, of being in the "them that know" category:

As U.S. stock markets plummeted last September, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, sold more than $115,000 worth of stocks and mutual-fund shares and used much of the money to invest in Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The Illinois senator's 2008 financial disclosure statement shows he sold mutual-fund shares worth $42,696 on Sept. 19, the day after then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke urged congressional leaders in a closed meeting to craft legislation to help financially troubled banks. The same day, he bought $43,562 worth of Berkshire Hathaway's Class B stock, the disclosure shows.

To be fair, he didn't know everything -- he was probably smart to get out of mutual funds, but his investment in Berkshire Hathaway's Class B stock hasn't worked that well for him, having dropped in value fairly precipitously since September.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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