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How the Internet Gamed Wall Street’s Short Sellers

How the Internet Gamed Wall Street’s Short Sellers

January 29, 2021
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You may have heard the news about stocks for certain companies suddenly ballooning, quickly going from lunch money prices to several hundred dollars a share. In one case, the shares rose over 1700% since December 2020.1 

So, what gives?

Financial institutions make assumptions that certain downward-trending stocks will continue to move lower. They borrow shares, sell them, and if the price continues falling as anticipated, they then buy the shares back at the lower price. This is called “short-selling.”1

Some believe the “hockey stick” spike we’re seeing this week originated on Internet discussion boards, where traders are coordinating their efforts to disrupt the short-selling process. Generally speaking, these traders make these moves for a variety of reasons. Some may be protesting against Wall Street. Others may simply be attempting to take economic advantage of the situation and make a “quick buck.”1

While this all makes for an interesting story, the truth is that this is something of a sideshow and a far cry from the investment strategies most investors use to further their retirement goals. 

My suggestion? Enjoy the show, but remember: consider this as an investor with a financial game plan - you’re playing for the long haul.

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1. NYTimes.com, January 27, 2021