Elon Musk has definitive plans to go to Mars, as is reflected in his company’s mission statement: https://www.spacex.com/human-spaceflight/mars/. But he’s also been incredibly supportive of one company’s meteoric rise in value. Currently, Gamestop (GME), a company that should, by all accounts, be fading from society like Blockbuster, is worth 7000% more than it was a year ago. The biggest news this week has not been the change in presidency, nor covid, nor even GM’s plan to go entirely electric by 2035. No, it’s on a battle between a hedge fund and a subreddit community. And the funniest part is that Elon Musk is influencing both the attention and the value. His tweets about it started on the 26th, with but one word, “Gamestonk!!”, and a link to the community r/wallstreetbets, Musk’s tweet was followed by a 60% rise in GME’s value. Musk’s use of memes is not new, and he even tweeted “Who controls the memes, controls the universe” at some time last year.
The community he linked to is a combination of organized disaster, memes, and interest in the stock market. A many headed hydra that jumps between chanting “diamond hands” and yelling “to the moon,” either directly or through emoji. It’s a community dedicated to the latter’s discussion, and at the moment it’s in a small war with Melvin Capital, using purchased shares of GME. The hedge fund has already lost more than five billion to independent investors (many of whom are a part of the subreddit). The news, general public, and other hedge funds are now looking at the fight with interest both economical and educational. Already questionable practices have arisen in the response of the mobile application ‘Robinhood’, and people are learning words and phrases like ‘short squeeze,’ ‘market manipulation,’ and just how similar the Stock Market is to gambling (and indeed, many in the community refer to themselves as degenerate gamblers with pride).
The interesting thing is just how many people are watching the news, hearing these words, and going to their best source of information for, well… more information. For some it’s a friend or family member who works in the industry, for others it’s the internet. Two weeks ago I couldn’t have told you the difference between an option and a stock (and honestly it’s still kind of hazy), but the scary thing is that gambling doesn’t require you to understand the odds, or even the words that people use to describe the odds. The scary thing is the number of people not going out looking for information, but for a quick buck. In ’08 the housing burst ruined millions of lives, and that was the interest of the banks against people. Now it’s the interests of hedge funds against people, and like banks, the hedge funds are much more informed and supported than the average American. It reminds me that it’s important to remember “Never bet on a sure thing unless you can afford to lose.”