To Serve (Hu)Man: A Recap of the $GME (and others) Situation thus Far
This post is not educational, at least not in the traditional vein of other posts I tend to write, which are more about my field or lived experiences. Before we begin, a quick disclaimer:
I am not a financial professional. Anything I say is my opinion. Yes, I have been investing for a while and also learned a little something something about trading along the way, but again, this is not advice.
OK cool, I feel better.
So, many of us have been following the markets recently, especially regarding what has happened with $GME (as well as other stocks such as $AMC, $BB, $NOK, $EXPR, etc.). In laymen’s terms, short-sellers have bet on the stocks to go down, so some folks on Reddit have banded together to stop it from happening. Or, you can check this lady’s video for a better explanation (thank you to one of my friends for sharing).
I’ve been posting a lot about this on social media, but figured I’d weave everything together here in a more coherent and cohesive fashion. This seems to be a very polarizing issue, with people on both sides getting big mad.
For a while, I was Switzerland, but then I abruptly changed course and chose a side. Now, you will see why.
Sunday, January 24
Sunday morning I came across this article by Marc Guberti about why not to panic regarding the stock market. It resonated with me because I’m in a ton of Facebook groups, and every five minutes, someone somewhere posts about how the market is on the brink of collapse and the sky is falling. As a natural cynic, I feel like this could be a way to get people to panic sell so they can buy at lower prices. Maybe they are genuine, but I trust very few people with stock advice.
As I commented on Facebook,
“And of course the market is going to go down at some point. Then it will go back up. That’s what markets do to my understanding. Please let me know if I’m wrong. Still learning.”
People screaming about the market dipping (which always eventually happens)::people who pump a trash stock that goes up $.05 two years later, then they say, “I told you so”
Anyway, peep the comment on the FB post. Everything had started popping off a few days prior.
(I will say, after the events that transpired, I have more respect for Citron in general. They did eventually stand up for WSB (spoiler!) later in the week.)
On Monday, I regretted missing some of the action after reading this article by Seeking Alpha. I did have a GME call in early January, but sold it once I made a small profit.
One thing that I see people who side with the hedges fail to mention is that, while GME had been going down for years, it had recently started coming up on its own. I’m speculating that this was because of the PS5 frenzy and the holidays. Granted, it would have been nowhere near the prices where it is now, but it was on a nice run, going from single digits up to about $40 before Citron put out a video saying it should only be worth $20. That’s what seemed to start the whole war.
Monday taught me to build up my hands…I see the WSB community refers to it as “diamond hands.” I’ve been on a journey to learn more about options trading, and now I’m working on my entries and exits on trades, as well as repositioning. This week has been a trial by fire. More on that later.
This is when WSB was really winning. Some friends of mine shared resources on this thread, such as this Pokemon analogy via Zack Hartzman that helped to summarize the situation. Another friend brought up a great point about unanticipated consequences. At first, I thought that everything has unanticipated consequences, but that stuck with me.
In the comments, I shared some advice to anyone deciding to follow GME, although I was largely staying away:
- The best thing I can recommend for anyone is to educate yourself and stay on your toes. Things might change at any minute. If you are playing it, you are at high risk of losing your money so make sure you are OK with that. Keep your ear to the ground and stay informed. Be ready to pull out at any time. May the odds be ever in your favor.
- When it crashes it will probably crash hard. Stay informed y’all. My interpretation of this (and I may be wrong but I have been following it closely and have been subscribed to the group in question for over a year) is that this is not a forever thing. They are just trying to outlast the bigwigs. Once they are defeated, it’s onto the next one. So when they are convinced that they have squeezed the short-sellers out, GME will fall off a cliff.
In response to my friend’s comment about consequences, I saw and shared this Buzzfeed article with the following message:
Here’s how I see it…these are likely temporary. Also all this attention is bringing a whole slew of people into investing and trading so the market will actually probably do better in the long run. Also the individual stories of people catching a lick and changing their economic situation overnight are giving me life.
On the flipside we don’t know what will happen because this has never happened before. If it stays where it is then I’m all for it but I really hope people don’t do too much…the market is fragile and we don’t want a situation like what happened in March with Covid. I don’t think it will but it does have the potential to go very left. I’m putting my faith in the short attention span of people.
After seeing this on Reddit, I cautioned against jumping into options especially with the meme stocks if anyone was new to it.
Next to fall was Webull. To be fair, Robinhood is getting a lot of criticism, but they are not the only ones that delisted certain stocks, which included $NOK, $NAKD, $EXPR, and others on Thursday morning.
This really got me angry coming from Robinhood though, as it felt like a betrayal of their entire brand. According to their mission statement,
Where was the access? This felt like a major slap in the face, as they appeared to be siding with big industry and against their customer base.
To be completely transparent, while I had jumped on a fractional share with GME, I wasn’t heavily invested. I did, however, have an $EXPR option which was deep in the money following an after-hours spike, right before they delisted it. I had been planning to sell it at opening bell. Contrary to what they said, though, I was blocked from selling it until several hours later. When all was said and done, I had lost about a third of what I had actually paid for it. Additionally, I did lose thousands in potential gains (and hundreds on what I had made on it as of closing the day before). That pissed me off even further. I’ve also been playing double dutch with a few of the others, but to be honest, I’d been trading those since before the whole fiasco. Anyway, back to the point.
Obviously, I was not alone, as a class-action lawsuit was filed against them later that day.
Eventually, it was shared that Robinhood (and Webull)’s clearinghouse APEX was involved in some way with the short-sellers. Thursday, I was not clear as to how, and still am not 100% sure of the full extent, but I’m sure that will be revealed in due time.
Javier Benton reposted from a group a recap of the situation.
The day before, I had gotten into a friendly debate with one of my mentors about what was going on (he held opposing views). I said the restrictions were unfair, and he thought they were necessary. I gained a lot of food for thought from the conversation. One thing that he said that I couldn’t shake was that we signed up for the market, knowing there would be risks. After sleeping on it, I finally fleshed out my counterargument:
Yes we are playing the market’s game and when we signed up for it, we knew there was risk. Here’s my pushback to this. We are all on FB. We all signed up for it, yes. If all of a sudden without warning, they disable logins and make all your statuses public unless you are wearing a pink and black sweater in your profile pic…do they have that legal right? They probably do. Is it foul AF? Absolutely.
Not a perfect correlation but as close as I can get at 5:41 am. I’m sure someone has a better analogy. And it’s even worse because it involves money.
Coinbase gave people notice before delisting XRP. That’s just good business practice. These brokerages could have easily done the same if they had legit reasons and really wanted to “protect” people (which people?). Even just one day would have sufficed. But no, they needed the element of surprise to f*** people over.
Today, knowing what I do know, I am less emotional about the topic and better understand the rationale behind what happened (wait for it…). However, I still maintain it was wrong to force prices down in the way they did, especially without transparency.
I’m not going to lie…when I saw this headline from Business Insider, I just nodded and sighed. Thursday, when it seemed like the rich would change the rules mid-game to protect their own from going under, I considered hanging up my trading hat. Sure, I would continue to long-term invest. How could I not? But trading…it didn’t seem like it was my jam anymore. Then I remembered this picture I saw once, and I shared it in a Discord group which has become a recent addition to my trading PLN.
Prior to this whole brouhaha, I had come very far in my journey and felt like I was finally breaking through. So in the words of Miley Cyrus, we caaaaaan’t stop.
This video has been floating around, with the Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, skating around the question as to why they did what they did.
To me, they were not “protecting customers,” as he stated. Nor were they, as I originally assumed, necessarily up to something nefarious. They were basically trying to save their own @$$es and stay afloat. As a customer, this is what I want to know.
Today, someone shared this Vice article in one of my stock groups, which brings about the title of this article. This is the climax. This is where Scooby Doo and friends unmask the ghost.
I will let you read it yourself. Truth comes to light. Did Robinhood (and others) have to do what they did in order to protect themselves? Yes. Could/should they have been more transparent about it? Yes. But just let us know what’s happening instead of sneaking around.
I’ll probably come back and edit this later, maybe adding more (likely) or do a part two as this saga continues to unfold (unlikely). Again, I’m no expert, but blogging helps me make stuff make sense, so thanks for bearing with me as I flesh this out. Peace and happy trading.
Update: Monday, 2/1
I just listened to the Robinhood Snacks podcast this morning that explained the mechanics behind what went wrong on Thursday. I found it to be transparent and a reasonable explanation. Check it out!