WallStreetBets video says it’s ‘time to level the playing field’


The WallStreetBets forum on the Reddit Inc website. The four-minute video contrasts media clips from figures such as Cooperman who decry attacks on the wealthy with posts from WallStreetBets detailing how its users were harmed by the 2008 financial crisis. — Bloomberg

WallStreetBets’ “OG mods” have finally spoken.

A group claiming to represent the people who moderated the Reddit forum during the GameStop Corp stock mania issued its first statement on the matter last Thursday in a YouTube video. It laments that when individual traders try to emulate the strategies of Wall Street power brokers, “they are ridiculed.”

The video ends with a message: “Now it’s time to level the playing field.”

The four-minute video contrasts media clips from figures such as billionaire Leon Cooperman who decry attacks on the wealthy with posts from WallStreetBets detailing how its users were harmed by the 2008 financial crisis.

“Every major news outlet had asked for our comments on what happened with Gamestop,” the video’s description says. “Every cable network wanted us to come on their shows, but instead of taking the spotlight for ourselves, we made this video to let the community speak.”

Origin unclear

It’s never clear who is who in an online forum like Reddit, since people interact with each other on the site through screen names and often don’t reveal their true identities. So it’s not possible to verify that the forum’s moderators posted the video, which is the only one in the “wallstreetbets” YouTube channel.

And earlier this month there were signs of a battle for control over the forum. The YouTube video’s description said “many fought hard to prevent us from releasing this”.

Its message echoes a sentiment that has been pervasive in the weeks since the video-game retailer’s shares surged to an intraday high of US$483 (RM1,951): That some people were buying the shares as an act of revenge against a system that’s perceived to be rigged in favour of financial elites.

One portion of the video draws a parallel between the GameStop frenzy and Carl Icahn’s purchases of Herbalife Nutrition Ltd shares at a time when Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management was vociferously betting against the company. A commentator in the video says Icahn saw a “technical opportunity to put what is called a short squeeze to Bill Ackman” with the implication that the rules of the game differ for the rich and the poor.

Another clip highlights the bailouts of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management and insurer American International Group Inc followed by the statement that “people realise now that the markets are not truly free”.

The YouTube video was released shortly before the start of a five-hour congressional hearing on Feb 18 where Robinhood Markets chief executive officer Vlad Tenev was repeatedly accused by lawmakers of protecting his firm at the expense of his retail investor clients. – Bloomberg

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