GameStop, hedge funds going “The Producers”, and identity politics as a smokescreen

The GameStop fracas has been a revelatory moment, and not in the way some people were expecting.

Tucker Carlson on Fox News, "The Identity Politics Smoke Screen"

The above screenshot was taken at 10:31 from a must-watch Tucker Carlson segment (video embed below).

Tim Pool, from his own ex-Bernie Bro angle, surprisingly (?) comes to a similar conclusion: Big Finance and Big Tech want you to look elsewhere while they’re feathering their own beds through market manipulation, so they gin up outrage left and right through toxic identity politics.

And the Biden admin? Well, aside from 0bama admin retreads and failed-upwards cases like the former PA health official with a trendy gender identity, you have the new Treasury Secretary (and former Fed director) getting $800K in speaking fees from hedge funds, and, guess what (0.33 into the Tim Pool video): the brother of WH spokestool Jen “HashtagSelfie” Psaki[*] is a portfolio manager at the Citadel hedge fund. No wonder that, during the press conference, she throws out a red herring about Janet Yellen’s gender in response to questions about the GameStop fracas and the heavy-handed “it’s OK for us to manipulate the market, but not for you peons!” response from Big Tech/Big Finance.

This thread contains a good introduction to what the hedge funds actually did. This infographic neatly summarizes how ‘shorting’ actually works:

So that’s where we start. A hedge fund tried to force down the price of Gamestop, and short the stock. It usually works fine. It’s been done thousands of times, with no problems. So they shorted Gamestop (GME) from $20, to $10, to $4. Their greed kept compounding. They kept doing it again, and again, for months. Making billions of dollars, and almost bankrupting this company. (shares and share price are used as collateral for loans and access to capital). So they shorted Gamestop (GME) from $20, to $10, to $4. Their greed kept compounding. They kept doing it again, and again, for months. Making billions of dollars, and almost bankrupting this company. 
Enter Wallstreetbets- A trading/investing subreddit. Someone noted that these hedgefunds shorted 140% of all shares available. These hedgefunds were so damn greedy, they borrowed more shares than actually existed. That’s how arrogant and dumb they were. They borrowed 140% of all the available shares. It was literally impossible for them to buy them all back.
So someone on Wallstreetbets realized this, and told everyone. Now, the rule with short selling is that ALL those shares that they borrow, MUST be paid back. And so we reach our main story of how the hedgefund’s greed ruined them. Realizing that these hedgefunds shorted GME by a ridiculous amount, these Redditors (normal people like you and me), bought every share they could get their hands on. Driving the price up like crazy.

Read the whole thread. Now you can either say about the hedge fund shorts, “this is how capitalism should work — nobody complained when Blockbuster Video was shorted” — but then there is nothing wrong with what the RobinHood hobby traders did either. Or you say “this is market manipulation” — and then both sides in the dispute are guilty as sin.

But look again at the low comedy bit in the thread: “shorted 140% of all shared available”. Good heavens. This is like the hilarious Mel Brooks movie and play, The Producers.

[…] while shuffling numbers, [accountant] Leo [played by Gene Wilder] has a revelation—a producer can make a lot more money with a flop than a hit by overselling shares in the production, because no one will audit the books of a play presumed to have lost money. Max [played by Zero Mostel] instantly puts this scheme into action. They will oversell shares on a massive scale and produce a play that will close on opening night, thus avoiding payouts and leaving the duo free to flee to Rio de Janeiro with the profits.

Powerline puts forward a contrarian position — their commenters aren’t buying it though. It is quite possible to be 100% capitalist and 100% opposed to crony capitalism — to the economy being a rigged game the way it was/is in Latin American banana republics or in Mussolini’s “corporate state”. Unlike Powerline (which I generally read attentively) I see absolutely no contradiction between these two positions. And ‘protecting these [small-time hobby] traders against themselves’? Good heavens. Individually, they’ll lose 100s or a couple grand each (unless they decided to climb Mt. Stoopid and bet the farm) — it’s because there’s several million of them that Big Hedge Fund, Inc. is panicking.

This former Biden stenographer expressed anguish at the obvious cognitive decline of his former boss, and used the term “ventriloquist dummy”. Who is speaking through the dummy? I have argued here back in early November that it was the Big Tech/Big Finance complex that engineered Biden’s rigged nomination as they saw him as the candidate most friendly to them if elected. Looks like went well beyond ‘most favored candidate’ level…

ADDENDUM: The Bookworm Room on Australia and the consequences of the “outsource everything to China for short-term profit” economy:

[…] There is more than gender identity at play here – if you aren’t self-sufficient in everything you are done. Identity politics is a distraction – misdirection while your pockets are emptied.

Quite. The neo-feudalization of the economy is an issue that transcends the old left-right divide — which is one of the reasons the oligarchs are trying to stoke the flames of race/gender warfare.

ADDENDUM 2: I was amused to find out that the first documented example of “naked short-selling” was when in 1609, a Dutch trader of French origin named Isaac Le Maire engaged in a speculation campaign of this type against the Dutch East-India Company.

[*] I am on record as having stated Jen Psaki’s level of competence as State Department spokesflack was about adequate for a position like spokesperson of the East Chickenpluck, KY animal control department. A KY resident took offense at this, saying “what do you have against my state”? 😉

2 thoughts on “GameStop, hedge funds going “The Producers”, and identity politics as a smokescreen

  1. Yeah, this has been very interesting.

    Most recent speculation to come out is that the insider excitement may have something to do with actual counterfeit stock. There is a suspicion that they need the retail holders to sell, because they managed to buy enough to prove stock counterfeiting.

    Three angles make this interesting.

    One, yet more appearance of corruption by Biden affair appointees.

    Two, the apparent effort to tyrannically seize power, running afoul of the fact of a large complicated country relying a great deal on trust for security and for function.

    Third, there have been decades of little hints and hearsay that might lead one to suspect significant amounts of hidden rot and dysfunction, and this seems to confirm the suspicion.

    This is probably only the first event to hit all three.

    I’m not sure the ‘Big Tech and Big Finance engineered the election together’ model really fits with how this story is handled. I understand that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook were aggressively banning by this point. Maybe they have learned circumspection, or maybe they are not closely tied in to the financial movers.

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