Anyone even casually following finance news is aware of the wild stunt that a bunch of investors on Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets pulled off in the past few days: Shitposting their way to massive gains on GameStop stock that was supposed to be worthless, thereby dealing incredible damage to hedge funds that took a short position on the beleaguered video game retailer.
You don’t have to think of the WSB crew as socialist revolutionaries — they’re not, despite a fair amount of commoners versus the elites rhetoric — to be amused at the headache they’ve caused for big firms. In my opinion, the proper reaction to hearing that Melvin Capital has lost $3.75 billion in a few short weeks falls somewhere between “who cares” and “lol.” Maybe it’s “play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” But the internet is crawling with many kinds of guys, and it turns out that some of the worst have a characteristically whiny take on the matter. I really don’t know what they mean to accomplish by simping for the hedge funds. Hope they see this, bro.
We could argue over whether a coordinated mob fucking with the market is any worse than, say, hedge funds and banks creating the housing bubble that led directly to the Great Recession, but it happens to be moot for one very important reason: Wall Street is going to be just fine. A few institutional giants are taking a beating right now — others are raking it in. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, appears to have made over $1 billion on the GameStop moonshot, since they owned 9.2 million shares before WSB started pushing them higher. And it’s a given that other major players are gaming out how this phenomenon can work for them.
Point being, it’s not like “the rich” lose whenever the redditors win. Some are still getting richer. If even an ultra-wealthy plutocrat like Elon Musk is hyping the raid, it’s not exactly class warfare.
Shorting a company, as Melvin Capital did with GameStop, is an inherently risky strategy. Any realistic person must be prepared to lose that bet, and should that loss jump an order of magnitude, then the Wall Street establishment has quite a few tools for protecting itself from further hemorrhage. It’s the retail investors who lack a safety net, and some are bound to come crashing down to earth.
In the meantime, you absolutely do not have to announce that you’re shedding a tear for the overpaid professionals who weighed the odds and ate shit, nor is it necessary to act as though the WSB horde has trashed the otherwise unviolated moral code of an economic space that is, in fact, defined by parasitic greed and squeezing the vulnerable.
Gross! Try investing in some self-respect, boys. It’s free, and it never depreciates in value.