Silver prices surged to an eight-year high as Reddit traders from r/WallStreetBets hopped onto the stock, having previously fueled paramount frenzy with the shares of Gamestop (GME), generating a 700% jump. But even as the GME stocks fall by 50%, the phenomenon of Reddit-trading is far from over.
The New Phenomenon
Following the GME saga, there had been extensive speculations regarding the gravity of the bold enterprise undertaken by mere small-scale traders belonging to a Reddit community. It remains unclear whether this collective action was based strictly on levity, or if they amounted to a more serious movement rooted in class warfare and in pushing the masses to regain control.
Spot silver rose to 11%—its greatest single-day rise since 2008, even after restrictions have been placed to limit the number of shares people can buy in a single stock on online trading platforms like Robinhood and other similar apps. Despite these restrictions, the market is changing forever with a trend towards democratization, allowing more and more people to access stock-trading, possibly shifting the control of the market away from firms towards small-scale traders.
“Social investing is not going away,” said Kerim Derhalli, CEO and founder of Invstr, a trading app. “This is a powerful commercial trend, and we are just at the beginning of it. People have more information and power.”
Young small-scale investors have increasingly started buying and selling stocks, and the market will need to adapt. Derhalli commented that the rise of other popular stocks, such as Tesla (TSLA) and Beyond Meat (BYND), is partly due to Millennials and Gen Zers investing in brands they know and like.
But this also recalls to the mind the 2000 collapse of tech stock or what was termed the dotcom stocks when the internet and tech companies saw a boom at the turn of the millennium with widening access to the internet. Financial firms have expressed concerns that retail investors may trade impulsively and ignore scales, earning and valuation. This could recreate a stock collapse, impacting the lives of millions of people.
“This is troubling and disconcerting. It could be like March 2000 all over again,” said Richard Smith, CEO of The Foundation for the Study of Cycles, a research firm. “What this has done more than anything is expose how gamified the stock market environment is, and it will hopefully have people ask questions about whether or not this is how we want markets to work,” Smith added.
But there are differences as well; many think the situation is very different from the 2000s and small-scale trades have more information and data to invest better. Furthermore, a new market model has changed the game; zero-commission trading. Online applications like Robinhood and others have forced all major brokerages to shift to provide platforms that allow trading without commissions. Fractional trading (i.e. owning a set dollar amount of a high-priced stock like Amazon or Alphabet) and the popularity of index ETFs also makes it easier for investors to buy small pieces of many stocks, creating conditions that safeguard people from a 2000-fashion collapse.
Does Wall Street need to adapt?
Today, the Wallstreetbets community appears to be disoriented as they’re forced to confront a grave setback. Stock markets have traditionally been controlled by the rich, with billionaires orchestrating the rise and fall of shares. Although average, small scale investors also exist, their ability to manipulate the market is nowhere as colossal as the aforementioned group. However, Reddit’s recent saga reveals what the future of stock market trading could look like and how completely ordinary people could entirely revolutionize this sector.
Wallstreetbets, a trading and investing subreddit, realised that hedge funds were consistently shorting Gamestop, making millions in dollars and almost bankrupting the company. A few days before, they bought as many shares as possible, driving the price up to unbelievable amounts and making the Wall Street investors lose billions of dollars. One of the key players involved in Gamestop’s short selling, Melvin Capital, informed CNBC that it has closed out its short position after taking a huge loss.
The stock rose to over 822%, from $17.25 per share at the beginning of the year to a high of $159.18 on Monday. It then plummeted by almost half but rose again to $147.98 on Tuesday.
Business magnate Elon Musk accelerated the saga further, with a single word tweet, “Gamestonk,” in support of Reddit’s war against the elite. Musk’s one-liner advocacy, along with the support of several other wealthy investors pushed the price of Gamestop’s stock even higher.
In a trading war that seems enormously class conscious, ordinary people worked together to redistribute billions from rich hedge funds to average ‘small scale’ investors. But most don’t view it this way. CNBC has termed this as ‘market manipulation by social media users’ referring to it as a ‘pyramid scheme’. Several hedge funds are demanding an investigation into the subreddit responsible for everything, calling the traders ‘manipulators’ and ‘terrorists’.
“Mess with poor people’s money and nobody cares. Mess with rich people’s money and you are a terrorist somehow,” wrote a Redditor in the Wallstreetbets subthread.
However, Reddit is known for its large scale trolling, making it unclear whether the Gamestop trading had a deeper purpose or if it was just because ‘we like the stock’. A significant number of users seem to be investing in the stocks just for the sake of adding to the excitement caused by the entire event. However, Wallstreetbots, believes it is revolting against the status quo and bringing forth a system that benefits the masses instead of the small percentage that makes up the elite.