Overview

GameStop: The People Say No; Is Africa Watching?

Insights
March 24, 2021

Suffice it to say that the past couple of months have taught the world what those attentive enough had already known; that media has truly been democratised and that the internet remains undefeated. In the pasts few months the hunters became the hunted. Owing possibly to the lockdown, and possibly to the unstoppable progression of social media, they were confronted on a playing field that, to date, many are still attempting to understand. A quick and facile overview of the latest developments surrounding big business would illustrate this point.

For years the wolves in Wall Street have long enthralled the world playing dice with stock, gambling with lives in the process - to their own benefit and, often, to the detriment of the little guy. In this particular case however, the little guy was able to strike back and land a decisive and humiliating blow to the bullies.

Briefly, what typically occurs in the cutthroat world of stock exchange is that a firm might purchase stock and take out a margin - a loan - to match their initial investment. Typically a firm will bet long on an option, betting that its value will increase. It is in the increase that, when the stock is sold, the profit is yielded and the margin is repaid to the creditor. In other - arguably more cynical - cases, a firm might decide to short a stock, wagering that its value will decrease instead of increasing. Making a commitment to buy the fallen stock, the firm requests a margin and commit to purchase a predetermined amount of stock for pennies on the dollar believing the returns to be unlimited, and profiteering from the misfortune of many in the process. This last option was what brokers Robinhood had banked on - until the internet intervened. The internet responded by buying up as many options of GameStop stock as they could inflating its value and forcing Robinhood to honour its promises to buy the stock, only this time not for pennies on the dollar but for dollars on the penny. Imagine. To date, it is uncertain what the damages to Robinhood is in cost, but what is known is that they will have to dig deep in order to find their way out. Effectively, their gambit backfired terribly.

If there were in these developments but one thing for African youth to retain it would be in the deployment of effort and movement executed. Born in a storm of resistance, the concerted complicity of activity has been both a revelation and interesting to witness. It would be the way in which the youth of the world endeavoured to dedicate the time to learn some modicum of trading and then step further, utilising the lockdown to do so, investing their own capital at the prodding of only their desire for justice and communion in defence of 'the little guy' - money that may more easily have been spent elsewhere.

Despite the obvious bracing in preparation for retaliation from Wall Street, which is certain, the parallels between what has transpired in this space when contrasted to the burgeoning African landscape confess themselves as legion - they are the same, and this is good.

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