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The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Reddit Vs. Wall Street: Who is allowed to manipulate the market?

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Photo Courtesy/ Unsplash lo lo

Goliath did not fall, and those who called themselves “David” during the recent GameStop-Reddit saga may need to pick a new metaphor. While the battle of Redditors versus hedge funds did not turn out to be a victory for the little guy that many hoped it would be, the lessons of this story should not be lost. 

The stock market, in its current state, is not set up to benefit the average consumer. On Jan. 21, thousands of people — inspired by social media — invested in Gamestop stock, driving up the price from $18 a share at the start of the new year to $43 and then up to $347 a week later. They did this because hedge funds were heavily “short selling” this stock and others, meaning they were betting these stocks would decrease in price by a set date. By banding together to vastly increase the price, they ruined the bets, forcing hedge funds to cover their losses. 

Sure, the Redditors were driving up a failing stock not because they believed in the company Gamestop, but because they were trying to manipulate the market to hurt hedge funds. This led to mass outrage from many in the financial world, with cries of  “foul play” and demands for someone to stop them. But we should ask ourselves: Were these financial elites really outraged about what was happening, or were they outraged about who was making it happen?

The tactic used by the Redditors, known as a “short squeeze,” is not new. It is a move hedge fund executives themselves have used in the past to manipulate the market, make money and damage their competitors. The new outrage, however, is over who made it happen. The big names on Wall Street can go at each other time and time again, and so long as it’s hedge fund versus hedge fund, that’s okay—the “right” players are playing the game. With the Gamestop controversy, ordinary people got involved, moving money away from Wall Street and into the accounts of everyday people. 

We saw how much control these hedge funds have over the market in their swift response to the Redditors. Purchases of Gamestop and other “meme stocks” began to skyrocket , and then Robinhood and other programs used for buying  stocks suddenly limited the buying of these stocks. The trading of “meme stocks” slowed, prices  dropped back down and hedge funds had time to plan their response. The assault by the Redditors was over, and the hedge funds reasserted their control.

“R/WallStreetBets,” the name of the Reddit forum where this all began, and their millions of followers did not take down hedge funds as they had hoped, but their actions did send a message: enough is enough. These people collectively came together to rebuke years of malpractice by Wall Street elites and hedge fund executives. 

While not fatal, the “short squeeze” executed by the Redditors was a legitimate punch to the gut that put hedge funds on their heels. It was a long-needed check to the power these executives wield over the market. Only time will tell the true lasting effects of these events but, if nothing else, it should make Wall Street think twice before taking advantage of the everyday person.

 

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  • J

    Joseph AlfiniMar 10, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    Wall street is not for the faint of heart. Whether people know it or not, wall Street is the biggest Casino in the world. Your best bet is to pick some stocks and track them for a while before you jump in. You can see what makes them move up and down .It Must be investment money, not money you need to pay your bills and leave some money for things that come up. Another great piece Trenton

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