CryptocurrencyInvestingBanksReal Estate

GameStop short squeeze: Here’s what market watchers are saying

January 27, 2021, 5:07 PM UTC

It’s one of the craziest Wall Street battles in years. Retail investors, fueled by social media chatter, have been dueling with hedge funds over the price of fading video game seller GameStop.

The tussle broke out earlier this month when retail investors on a Reddit social media forum began hailing GameStop stock as a winner even though the company seemed to be going the way of Blockbuster. This caused the share price to soar, leaving hedge funds who had bet against the stock in a short squeeze—forcing them to buy GameStop shares to cover their position, and driving the price still higher.

All of this has left market watchers transfixed as GameStop shares have pinged around crazily from $60 to $300, and battered some familiar Wall Street names—including hedge fund Melvin Capital and Citron, which on Tuesday threw in the towel on their short position after massive losses. Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk added to the craziness with a tweet linking to a Reddit forum that drove GameStop shares up still higher:

The chaos has also spurred a flood of commentary from market watchers, including the influential Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine, who concluded “GameStop is just a game” and that assessing its value is pointless because “it has all the prices at once.”

Others took glee in pointing out the misery of the hedge funds, noting the irony in the masters of Wall Street getting whupped by a pack of Reddit yahoos:

Meanwhile, the GameStop boosters on Reddit hailed their apparent victory over the Wall Street establishment. Their ranks include a self-styled analyst figure who goes by the name Roaring Kitty, and looks like this on YouTube:

Others took a more serious view of the events, warning that those promoting GameShop on social media could be engaged in an illegal pump-and-dump scene:

It’s far from clear though that there is anything illegal about using social media platforms to cheer on an irrational stock rally. The New York Times‘ DealBook summarized the potential legal issues at play as such: “If a big group of traders simply decides to buy options on a stock at the same time, out in the open, for the heck of it, proving malfeasance may be difficult.”

The Times also noted that much of the GameStop craziness has been driven by the options trade, which has forced market makers to buy shares of the company to cover their exposure. One analyst, using the Greek lingo of options traders, described the situation as a “gamma squeeze.”

The tech press, meanwhile, noted that the mad trading has resulted in even more new investors pouring in, and boosted the popularity of retail trading platforms like Robinhood.

Others took a more philosophic view, noting that GameStop is far from the only stock that has received an irrational boost from retail investors—and suggested a possible link between these stocks:

Update: The GameStop craziness has led some brokerages to limit their clients ability to purchase some of these stocks:

And the situation has even drawn the attention of the White House: