Suppose a month ago someone were to tap you on the shoulder and tell you that stock in Gamestop might change how America's financial institutions operate forever while minting brand new millionaires from a random subreddit and bringing major hedge fund investment firms to their knees. In that case, you'd probably tell that person to get the fuck away from you because "don't you know we're still in a pandemic, dammit!" But, one month later, while you still might shout the same thing and run screaming out of ShopRite, that nosy stranger would be absolutely right.
It's a story as emblematic of our current surreality as any other. Gamestop was/is a struggling business with seemingly few to no avenues for future success. It's a retail chain that sells used games in an era in which hard-copies of games are being phased out of existence. So, naturally, hedgefund investors looked to capitalize on this and "shorted" Gamestop's stock (essentially betting that it would fail) and did so to such a degree that they had small fortunes riding on this outcome.
But then, hilariously, users on the subreddit r/wallstreetbets noticed how aggressively GameStop stocks were being shorted and banned together (though not officially) to buy the stock in an effort to send its price shooting through the moon. "Can't stop, won't stop, Gamestop!" the denizens of r/wallstreetbets cried, and pretty soon, GME's (Gamestop) price per share grew by the hundreds. It looked like in the battle between Reddit and the Wallstreet fat cats, Reddit was daddy.
But now the situation has shifted. Many trading platforms, such as Robinhood, have banned the buying of GME, effectively jamming a big ole middle finger in the cogs of r/wallstreetbets. The stock has dropped to under $200 per share as of this writing, and there's no telling if it can get back to its former height of $350+ and beyond. Still, it's all pretty impressive when you consider that it's still way more than the stock of Apple.
It's only Thursday as I write this story. By Saturday, GME could have shot off to Mars. By Sunday, it could be resting somewhere in the center of the Earth. We don't know, and neither do the financial institutions that are scrambling to stop this. But we do know this has forever scared the heeby-jeebies out of some very rich people who own some very many boats.
Someday, colleges will teach courses about r/wallstreetbets and the forces at work that tried to stop them. Well, that's assuming college is still even a thing that exists in the future. Judging by how insane the past week has been, the one thing we've learned is that there are no sure bets.
Top Image: Wiki Commons