Last week, a Redditor on the subforum WallStreetBets noticed hedge funds were going to short trade GameStop. They realized brokers were over-borrowing stocks to make easy money, to the point where hedge funds borrowed more stocks than actually exist. It worked for a time, until Redditors on WallStreetBets decided to join forces and buy as many stocks as possible in unlikely companies. Within a few days, GameStop’s share prices skyrocketed to a high of $469, and the hedge funds collectively lost nearly $5 billion.
The trading of Gamestop, AMC, and Dogecoin really took off when well known celebrities like Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, Elon Musk and Wolf of Wall Street’s Jordan Belfort jumped on the train.
Since last week, things have died down. GameStop stock values are once again below $100, and financial experts project prices will return to a comparatively meager price of $12.50 within the year.
Now, brokers are appearing on national news stations, protesting against the “broken” system they took no issues with before. They’re upset they’ve lost billions of dollars to measly internet investors. Robinhood Financial LLC – an app to “keep your portfolio in your pocket,” and claims to be “everything you need to manage your assets” within its code – has placed limits on the amount of stocks purchasable through its services. The reason they did this was so large hedge funds could sell and drive prices back down closer to normal so Robinhood doesn’t lose its largest customer.
The craziest thing about the app is the origin of its name, Robin Hood. He was a thief who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, which is what Robinhood advertised itself as, when really it is the opposite. The company sells personal information to the big businesses so they know what stocks they plan to short, stealing from the poor to make the rich richer.
But there’s something to be said for what this market manipulation shows us.
We, the everyday people, the commoners — the modern proletariat — have the power to make billionaires sweat, to make them fear their financial security. We have the power to make them wonder if they’ll have a job tomorrow, to wonder if they’ll be able to pay off their debts, to wonder if they can maintain the life they’ve lived so comfortably until now.
The working class figured out how to fight back against billionaires. There was an outcry amongst stockbrokers for new market regulations. The people who invested in Gamestop, AMC and Dogecoin made the hedge funds nervous.
This is a demonstration of our capabilities when we join forces. If only we could consistently band together over other issues, too, like politics, human rights and COVID-19. At the end of the day, it’s up to us. The machine doesn’t run without the working class.
A single individual is not so unlike a single snowflake. Easily manipulated, not very significant. But what happens where there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of snowflakes together? They have the strength to bring the establishment crashing to the ground, clearing the way for new changes and new perspectives.