Carnes: Short-changing the shorters
Last week’s wild ride on Wall Street disabled my plan to write about Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who makes our very own version of Sarah Palin, aka Lauren Boebert, look like a bored housewife with an unloaded pea shooter.
But the financial implications from market manipulators far outweigh any long-term problems an anti-Semite nutcase can actually cause in Washington D.C., at least at this point.
A bunch of self-proclaimed “amateur investors” from an online Reddit site called “wallstreetbets” bought GameStop (GME) shares around $300 each that have an actual worth, based upon real numbers and company fundamentals, of about $3 each.
While proudly boasting of “hurting the man,” in short order (yeah, a bad pun…) I’m afraid they are going to discover those $300 shares, whether they bought a single share or a hundred, are damn near worthless, or soon will be.
GameStop is to video games what Blockbuster once was to video rentals; a retail concept that worked extremely well until something better came along, in this case broadband internet.
Find me a gamer or Reddit investment user that can afford to lose $30,000 in less than a week and I’ll show you either a complete fool or a serious investor pretending to be a gamer or Reddit investment user.
Those are the only two options.
Forget Spartacus, these guys are shouting, “We are …GameStop!” and think they’re storming the Capitol and starting an economic revolution, when in reality they are potentially losing everything they own in the process.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m all for the principle of kicking the shins of hedge fund honchos that have been manipulating markets since the 90s. They are indeed maniac manipulators and most deserve everything that came to them last week, especially after what they got away with in 2008. And though I’ve made sarcastic comments about shorting stocks in the past, these naked shorts (shorting more than 100% of available shares) are illegal, yet rarely prosecuted.
Sure, a few of these amateurs will actually make a quick killing, but they’re doing it on the backs of those they pretend to be representing.
So spare me the, “We’re doing this for justice against the man!” narrative nonsense. Anyone still involved at this point is doing it for the money, no other reason. They are clearly attempting, as a collective, to intentionally overinflate a stock price far beyond its actual worth in order to make a profit, which is a simple definition of market manipulation.
Greed always trumps altruism, and the sheep will always suffer more than the shepherds.
Besides, the professional manipulators — the “Big Boys” who we all pretend to hate unless they buy houses on Forest Road and tip really well — got out at the beginning of this online clown show, with the only ones remaining fighting each other trade by trade without realizing it.
Simple stock trades are a zero-sum game, one only wins if another loses, and those that will end up hurt the most are in this case the exact same who can least afford to do so.
Of course, I could be wrong about the entire fiasco and the federal government could bail out GameStop and thus its shareholders, in which case everyone would win and get a yellow ribbon, except those who care about the value of a dollar.
But don’t bet on it.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.