Reddit’s WallStreetBets celebrate war-friendly stocks as Nasdaq and S&P make huge rebounds
Russia invaded Ukraine less than 24 hours ago, but amateur traders online on r/WallStreetBets have already started thinking about the most profitable investments they can make.
In a post which had nearly 32,000 votes by Thursday afternoon, a meme depicting three different defense contractors—Boeing, Raytheon Technologies, and Boston Dynamics—as well as several different banks and an American flag, seemed to encourage the U.S. to enter the conflict.
“C’mon do a war,” the meme read.
The post has garnered over 1,300 comments, most of which note the meme’s dark humor openly encouraging global warfare so investors can profit.
WallStreetBets, which is famous for taking an irreverent and sometimes illogical approach to investing, has described itself as “like 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal.” Members of the forum burst into the public consciousness last year when masses of retail traders pushed the shares of GameStop, AMC Entertainment Holdings, and Blackberry to record highs even as they were countered by high profile short sellers like Kenneth Griffin, CEO of the hedge fund Citadel.
Some comments appeared to argue that investing in defense contractors may actually help Ukraine’s situation.
“As f****d up as this post is, it seems on brand humor. There’s not much us degenerates can do except donate to charities atm,” one user commented. Another replied, “wouldn’t it be good profiting off stuff like this to then use the proceeds to help the people affected by the war/invasion?”
But other users pointed out that profiting off of war to invest in rebuilding a country was more misguided than altruistic.
“The profit comes at the cost of lives,” one comment read. “Shareholders are responsible for the actions of the companies in which they’re invested, and anyone insisting otherwise is in denial.”
The Biden administration has been more or less clear that the U.S. will not be engaging with Russia militarily on the Ukraine crisis, instead relying on economic measures such as sanctions, continued attempts at diplomacy, and corralling U.S. allies around condemning Putin’s actions.
Of the U.S. defense contractors mentioned in the post, two, Boeing and Raytheon, were hit hard by the stock market downturn Thursday morning. They bounced back later in the day but remained in the red. Boston Dynamics is not publicly traded.
Markets dropped precipitously Thursday morning after news broke that Russia had invaded Ukraine, but rallied by the end of the day. The S&P 500 ended 1.5% higher than Wednesday’s close, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.3% in the green. The Nasdaq Composite, after edging close to bear market territory early in the day, rebounded to close to 3.3% higher. Nasdaq has not climbed 886 points since 1971.
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