This is how Wall Street thinks the Reddit-fueled GameStop trade unravels

  • Shares of GameStop, the video game retailer, have climbed more than 900% since the start of the year after members of the Reddit community WallStreetBets banded together in an effort to push the stock higher.
  • At some point, the thinking goes, shares of GameStop will stop climbing, either because most of the shorts have given up and are no longer forced into buying the stock to cover losing positions or because brokers or U.S. market regulators intervene.
A demonstrator holds up a placard saying Robin Crook in front of the New York Stock Exchange, January 28, 2021.
A demonstrator holds up a placard saying Robin Crook in front of the New York Stock Exchange, January 28, 2021.
John Lamparski | SOPA Images | Sipa USA via AP Images

The war between hedge funds and retail investors over shares of GameStop has one logical conclusion, according to executives and traders of a major Wall Street firm.

Shares of GameStop, the video game retailer, have climbed more than 900% since the start of the year after members of the Reddit community WallStreetBets banded together in an effort to push the stock higher.

The campaign pushed a stock worth $19 at the start of the year to as high as $482.85 on Thursday. Gains by retail investors have come at the expense of sophisticated investors like Melvin Capital and Citron Research, which were forced to close out their short positions as the stock rose in what’s known as a short squeeze.

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At some point, the thinking goes, shares of GameStop will stop climbing, either because most of the shorts have given up and are no longer forced into buying the stock to cover losing positions or because brokers or U.S. market regulators intervene.

At that point, human nature kicks in: Retail investors will watch as their paper profits evaporate, and the natural impulse will be to sell, according to the executives, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak frankly. Latecomers to the party will sell in fear, contributing to a stampede for the exits and a drop in the shares, they added. The same forces that helped the stock catapult higher will contribute to a rapid decline.

It’s possible we got an early sign of what the unraveling will look like. Shares of GameStop fell for the first time in six trading sessions on Thursday, tumbling 44% after Robinhood and Interactive Brokers restricted activity in GameStop and some other heavily shorted stocks.

Still, there is no telling when a true unwinding will occur or how long it will take. The shares were rebounding sharply in Friday’s premarket, up another 80% to $332 a share, after Robinhood reversed course and said it would allow limited purchases of the stock.

Despite costing hedge funds billions of dollars, GameStop remains one of the most shorted stocks in the market, according to FactSet data. More than 120% of GameStop’s available shares have been borrowed, down from about 140% earlier in the month.

“Typically a short squeeze ends with a sharp sell-off, but there are buyers in waiting, often those covering shorts,” said CC Lagator, co-founder of brokerage Options AI. “That can provide temporary support in a stock that’s unwinding a short squeeze.”

If retail investors get burned in the GameStop trade, it’s likely the Securities and Exchange Commission will step in to prevent similar scenarios from occurring, according to another Wall Street source. Gary Gensler, President Joe Biden’s pick for SEC head, has a reputation for tough enforcement.

The hedge funds are big boys, they know how the game is played,” said the banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “When the little guy gets hurt, that’s when Washington gets involved. We’ll have an SEC leader who is much more activist.”

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Bubbles in stocks including GameStop are just the latest sign of unusual activity in markets since the coronavirus pandemic struck, forcing central banks to unleash trillions of dollars in support for economies around the world.

Early on in the crisis, a collapse in demand resulted in negative oil prices for the first time in history. Equities and other asset classes rapidly recovered, thanks to central banks, and have since hit record after record, leading to eye-popping valuations despite high unemployment and a rising death toll. Bitcoin prices surged from around $6,000 at the start of the pandemic to as high as $41,000 this month.

Now, with millions of Redditors wielding free trading apps, full saving accounts and not much else to do, it’s possible that there is a new playbook for fast gains in the stock market.

“Is this a new platform for investors to make decisions, does it even the playing field?” said Mark Williams, a Boston University finance lecturer and former Federal Reserve examiner. “You could argue that what happened with Reddit is them putting the shorts on check, and that’s a positive.”

Robinhood’s move Thursday to limit the ability of its users to bid up GameStop and other companies targeted by Reddit investors drew bipartisan criticism from lawmakers who claimed that the brokerage was favoring big institutional traders over small investors.

I do sense there’s a double standard here,” said a former Goldman Sachs trader who now works for a technology firm. “Put it this way, if Goldman Sachs were doing this, it would be called `arbitrage’.”

Stocks are in little danger of retesting the March low, top strategist Art Hogan says

National Securities’ Art Hogan believes the consensus view that stocks must retest the March low is wrong.

According to Hogan, there are too many unprecedented factors, including an intentional decision to freeze the economy, to suggest the market will follow a preset course based on historical trends.

“That pace at which we got to the correction here is the fastest that we’ve ever seen,” the firm’s chief market strategist told CNBC’s Trading Nation” on Friday. “Usually it takes the Fed and certainly Congress a much longer time to adjust to the here and now and to find the corporate polices to support the economy, and they did that in record time.”

Hogan’s view may be on the more optimistic side, but he’s not expecting a sharp, sustainable rally.

We’re in a middle ground where we’re a little bit more than 20% off the lows [and] a little bit less than 20% from the highs,” he said. “This is going to be a place we churn through for most of the first half.”

Stocks kicked-off May deep in negative territory. But since the March 23 low, the S&P 500 and Dow have surged 23% and 24%, respectively.

The rebound doesn’t surprise Hogan.

Five days before the S&P 500 and Dow hit their lows, Hogan predicted on “Trading Nation” stocks would bottom before coronavirus cases peak in the United States.

Now, he’s seeing some progress on the virus front.

“If new cases continue to plateau, then 2021 is certainly going to look a whole lot better than 2020,” he added. “I would argue that the second half looks way better than the first half of this year.”

Hogan, who has $15 billion in assets under management, speculates a slow and deliberate reopening of the economy will likely be successful and spark a demand frenzy.

There has been a lot of delayed consumption,” he said. “There is going to be maybe some pent up economic energy that explodes into the fourth quarter and certainly into 2021.”

It’s a scenario, according to Hogan, that should put Wall Street and Main Street firmly back into the green.

“Corporate America has the ability to get back into place relatively quickly. This is not a great financial crisis,” Hogan said. “Going into this, the U.S. economy was in pretty good darn shape, and so was corporate America’s balance sheets.”

Trump: Open to Entitlement Cuts Towards End of Year

(17:54 min)

JOE KERNEN: Entitlements ever be on your plate?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: At some point they will be. We have tremendous growth. We’re going to have tremendous growth. This next year I– it’ll be toward the end of the year. The growth is going to be incredible. And at the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look, cause it’s such a–

JOE KERNEN: If you’re willing–

PRESIDENT TRUMP: –big percentage.

JOE KERNEN: —to do some of the things that you said you wouldn’t do in the past, though, in terms of Medicare–

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re going– we’re going look. We also have– assets that we’ve never had. I mean we’ve never had growth like this. We never had a consumer that was taking in, through– different means, over $10,000 a family. We never had the kind of– the kind of things that we have. Look, our country is the hottest in the world. We have the hottest economy in the world. We have the best unemployment numbers we’ve ever had. African American, Asian American. Hispanics are doing so incredibly. Best they’ve ever done. Black. Best they’ve ever done. African American. The numbers are incredible. The poverty numbers. The unemployment and the employment. There’s– there is a difference, actually. But the unemployment and employment numbers for African Americans are the best we’ve ever had. You know, we just– came up with a chart, and it was a very important to number to me. African American youth has the highest, by far, unemployment. The best unemployment numbers that they’ve ever had. And the best employment numbers. Right now we have almost 160 million people working in the United States, and we’ve never even been close to that, Joe.

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Peter Schiff Has a Terrible Track Record But Gets Daily Air Time from the Media

The main stars of America’s financial trash TV are broken clocks and contrarian indicators who deliver the same sales pitch day after day, week after week, year after year. That is what salesmen do after all.

Once they have been finally called out for being completely wrong for years, they fight back by changing their talking points to focus on trivial rants, such as when the Fed is going to taper or raise interest rates.

Keep in mind that these talking heads focus on this type of nonsense as a way to distract from their investment failures and lousy predictions.

 

Schiff couldn’t even get this right. The guy is a complete failure, so why does the media promote him constantly?

 

Peter Schiff has become a very frequent participant in this media dog-and-pony show. Schiff receives interviews every day, and many times multiple times per day from every segment of the Jewish media, from CNBC and FBN, to Bloomberg.

He also gets quoted or discussed in in the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, Forbes, Fortune, The Financial Times, you name it.

Accordingly, Peter Schiff could be considered the male version of a “financial Kim Kardashian.”

For anyone out there who isn’t too bright, let me make sure you get the point. That was by no means a compliment. 

Think about it. Schiff runs a brokerage firm, Euro Pacific Capital.

So naturally one would expect him to discuss topics like compelling investment sectors and stocks, valuations, earnings, asset allocation strategies and so forth; you know, things competent financial professionals talk about. The same kinds of things an audience wants to hear about.

Even though he is really only a stock broker and not an analyst, he calls himself Euro Pacific Capital’s chief global strategist. But this too is only a superficial designation.

In my professional view, Schiff is really a marketing strategist because that is how he spends the majority of his time. I state this with complete confidence because I have been noting Schiff’s schedule for several years.

Regardless, surely Schiff has people to do “research” for him, letting him know what is going on, right?

Yet, he is constantly talking about trivial topics, like whether the Fed will raise rates over and over instead of talking about relevant issues.

Why might that be?

Maybe, his research results are complete dog shit.

Once you carefully examine Schiff’s track record as well as his record of investment performance and you will see why he has been focusing on trivial events instead of discussing investment and economic forecasts.