In which that was fun

I dunno if you’ve been following this GameStop thing or not.

I decided to start fucking around with the stock market a couple of weeks ago, partially out of boredom and partially because I actually do have a small amount of discretionary income right now and who knows it’s not impossible that I’ll live long enough to consider retirement. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not dumb enough to believe that dropping $25 a week into stocks is going to magically make me rich or anything, but getting my feet wet and gaining a basic understanding of how this shit works seemed like a good idea.

And … well. Then the GameStop thing happened. Well, is still happening, technically. I think. An explanation, if you haven’t been following this: Reddit discovered that a particular hedge fund held (don’t ask me how this is possible, it’s on the long list of things I don’t understand) more short sales in GameStop than there were actual shares available for the company. A short sale is when you borrow a stock at a certain price, sell them at that price, wait for the price to drop, then buy them and return the shares you bought to the entity you borrowed the shares you sold from. Since you bought them at a lower price than you sold them at, you make money. If this seems somewhat counterintuitive and also a little unethical to be making money off of some other company doing poorly, that means you understand the process correctly.

So Reddit started buying up shares of GameStop. Lots and lots of shares of GameStop. To the point where it was trading at like $4 a share earlier this year and earlier today was up to $500 a share. In the process they blew up that hedge fund, which apparently has gone bankrupt, so it’s good news for everyone.

I went ahead and got in for $100 when the stock was at around $270. This morning when I woke up and it was damn near $500, so if I’d sold instantly I’d have made about seventy bucks. (To be clear, other people have made millions in the last few days.)

I did not sell instantly, and by the time I got out of the shower this morning the app that nearly all of these folks have been using to buy up the stock had decided that they were not only not going to allow further buying of GameStop stock, they even disabled looking it up, making it impossible to do anything but sell. In the course of a ten-minute shower, the value of the stock plummeted nearly a hundred and fifty dollars a share. As of right now, according to the Stocks app on my computer, it’s down to $132.

There’s been lots of dark muttering lately about how what the Redditors did (and those of us who aren’t Redditors but heard about it) should be illegal, because … reasons, and I’m unclear as to what those are, since this is literally some folks on a message board who decided to act as a group. I have heard no dark muttering about how what Robinhood, the app in question, did ought to be illegal, and I feel like arbitrarily deciding it’s okay for them to cause small investors to lose money is okay while small investors causing big hedge funds to blow up is … well, sadly typical is probably how I think that feels, actually.

One way or another, I’ve closed everything out with that app. I ended up breaking about even on GameStop, selling at the wrong time to make money but the right time to avoid losing any, and ended up making maybe $15 over the course of those two weeks. I feel like– and this is no surprise– unless I want to make this a Big Hobby, I’m almost certainly better off putting more money into the withdrawals my job already takes and ignoring that money, because I was spending way too much time watching the rich folks feelings charts tick up and down over the last few weeks. I haven’t been stressing about it, but it’s occupied more of my attention than I need it to.

I will enjoy watching those same Redditors burn Robinhood to the ground over the next few weeks, though.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

One thought on “In which that was fun

  1. It’s funny/not funny that gaming the system is cool until “common” people start doing it…

    Playing the stock market is a full time job, if you want to be serious about it. Probably the same kind of people can do it who play poker professionally: high stakes, but you can win consistently if you do your homework & are not an idiot. You can also lose your shirt.

    Too much work for me, I’m sticking with buy and hold.


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