The story of WallStreetBets and GameStop is by far the most complex, difficult, and controversial of all the stories I have been able to work on so far. I categorized it under “Reddit” at first, then “trading”, but in view of all the stakeholders who have spoken out this week – with consequences all around – it is time to realize its singularity. The hold of WallStreetBets and the crazy growth of GameStop’s share price are part of an unprecedented story, to be understood as a crossroads. Without taking into account all of its intersections, it will lead directly to misinterpretations. Some have reduced it to a joke, others have encouraged it or accused it by seeing it as an insurrection, and the most zealous have fantasized it as a revolution.
Why such complexity? First of all, because the events of the last few days did not come from a united protest movement with a clear name, ideas, and objectives. The events of the last few days were not as collective and politicized as those of Occupy Wall Street in September 2011. WallStreetBets and the rise in GameStop’s share price represent the tip of an iceberg that had already been there for months. More than a joke carried over the Internet, more than an improvised insurrection on the news, it is the result of the democratization of financial technologies and monetary policies. The question was not whether it was going to happen, but when it was going to break out. In the eyes of all.
WallStreetBets was going to go beyond the sphere of Reddit as well as the columns of a financial newspaper. Its story found its way into every conversation, across borders, into tweets from public figures, into the heads of households in difficulty as a result of the health crisis.
Why the WallStreetBets/GameStop affair is complex?
In order to fight against this remnant of injustice that survived the arrival of individuals on the financial markets, members of the WallStreetBets community have used their only available weapon: buying, massively. A way to reverse the destiny of a stock price that was doomed to decline. The Reddit subforum has achieved this by three means, which illustrate the first point of the complexity of the issue. The number of active members rose from one to six million, individual investors wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to try to make money without necessarily taking part in the protest movement, and investment funds, then strangled, had to turn to the buy position to cover their losses. This last phenomenon is called “short squeeze”, with the consequence that the price of a share rises.
From an anti-globalization ideology, he would almost oppose the WallStreetBets and their action on GameStop. In terms of its form, its consequences, and its ideology, it is difficult to define it as a protest, an insurrection, or a revolution. The movement is nonetheless communitarian, of course. For it needs the action of all in order to exist. But it is an event that could be described as cooperative individualism: by seeking not to abolish a system, but to come and take advantage of it, it has as many private interests as members. And by its individualistic nature, it can only advocate a profoundly liberal model.