If you’ve been anywhere near the news lately, you’ve heard about the recent instability in the stock market driven by the popular internet community on Reddit r/wallstreetbets. Through pure force of will, a large group of consumers managed to manipulate certain stocks (or as they call them, stonks), like AMC and GME into ridiculously high prices.
What actually happened? It all started with hedge funds short selling GameStop shares. When r/wallstreetbets realized this was happening, they banded together to begin buying up GameStock’s stock, what’s known as a short squeeze, causing Gamestop’s value to skyrocket. The hedge funds were forced to buy back the stock at sky-high prices, losing almost $13 billion from Gamestop alone.
In the words of Sid Sridar, a UC Berkeley student, “S**** wylin.”
The effect on the finance community was predictable. Traditional investment firms and politicians, spooked by the sudden show of power from common citizen investors, also known as “Retail Investors,” called for further regulation and protested against what they saw as unfair practices.
This was a grand show of force in what’s been called the Occupy Wall Street movement of Gen Z, an show of power from the common people against wall street at their own game.
For decades, the stock market has been a game for only the rich to enjoy, controlled by finance giants like Goldman Sachs, but in recent years, this power shift has changed as apps like Robinhood have made investing accessible to practically anyone with a couple dollars.
As GenZ has been shown to be more socially conscious, less materialistic, and more leftists than other generations, but are still willing to play the game in the name of economic mobility. What some people are calling the “meme stock revolution” is an opportunity to fight against the 1% in what is commonly seen as a game exclusively for the wealthy.
During the summer, retail investors account for “as much as 25% of the stock markets activity” according to “Yahoo Finance” (source), enough people and money moving around to make a difference in the day-to-day stock market, as proven by the rise of meme stocks.
These events mark a turning point in the finance market and GenZ’s role in it. Gen Z has permanently changed the rules of the stock market, and as they gain a greater share of the wealth, we can only guess at the future of the stonk market.