• Bryce Johnson

"GameStop" Instills Confidence in the Proper Functioning Of Public Markets. Not the Other Way Around


By now, you, your parents, your children and your neighbors all know what "shorting" a stock is. I've lost count of how many iterations of explaining how shorting works there've been in the last 10 days that I've heard on podcasts, the news, the radio. So, I won't add another here. We've had dozens of conversations with clients and others about our thoughts related to what transpired between Reddit users and "The Man", or, in this case, men and women who work for hedge funds all across the US. I think it's worth mentioning that this isn't "Wall St" -- which stirs up old fashioned associations of the big fat capitalist in a top hat smoking a cigar, advantaging himself via the exploits that our Unfair system affords him and his privileged friends -- no, that's a stale caricature and it's disingenuous. Makes for a compelling storyline though. Sure, it may have held water 50 years ago, and prior, when access to stocks were constrained by limited access to brokers, relative illiquidity (and infrequent quote listing) and the popular savings vehicle of the day being at your local bank via savings bonds. Today, the likelihood of your retirement and pension accounts being heavily stocks based is very nearly 100%. You, your parents, your children, your neighbors -- WE are Wall St. If you accept that premise, then you should accept the premise that this isn't a David v. Goliath situation. Sure, there are hedge funds that need an explanation for why they exist and often times it revolves around them specializing in a "strategy". In this case, what are known as "short funds" that focus on profiting when a company's stock (or sector, etc) falls. However, in a more mild sense, we all have "strategies" when we trade our accounts. If you buy a single stock, then, logically, you've determined that that stock is a better driver of return than, say, an index, or sector-specific allocation. The "capital E" Event that GME symbolized, illustrates nothing new in the capital markets. We're all participants in the quest to "discover" inherent value in every component of what comprises any capital market. Short term, prices are volatile as discovery is messy. However, the long term usually brings with it what things are worth. The more participants there are in a market, the better chances that assets reflect their true value. Period. It really doesn't matter that this was a campaign orchestrated by small retail investors to artificially drive the price of the stock up. The fact is, people bought it up and forced those who shorted the stock to buy the shares back to which exacerbated the upward momentum. But, those short funds continued to reset their positions because, to them, the atmospheric valuation was not justified. So, they and many of the retail traders who drove the stock up initially, sold their shares. To me, that portends that markets function normally, as they have for 100+ years. Nothing new here.