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Markets: One month, two mobs

Mobilization of angry hordes is easy: those wishing to keep order are already being left behind.


What to make of the subreddit WallStreetBets? Surely this is capitalism in full flow, with all its positives and negatives? Tinker with its functioning at your peril, says the free marketeer.

There might have been grudging acceptance of bans on the short selling of financial stocks in the meltdown of 2008, but it is harder to see restrictions on buying the likes of GameStop in the same light.

First, dismiss the tempting notion that this is David versus Goliath. Democratization born of technology has changed the nature of markets, which until remarkably recently have remained the preserve of the few.

David, however, is the small saver that piles into the mob – only to be left high and dry when its instigators move on.

The facilitators of this dynamic are platforms

David is the investor in a pension fund, whose yield is trashed as the hedge funds liquidate the long positions that they held, and which are rather less talked about than their shorts.

The facilitators of this dynamic are platforms. The mob that invaded the US Capitol on January 6 organised itself in online venues such as Telegram.


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