The revolution that wasn't GameStop, Reddit, and the fleecing of small investors

Spencer Jakab

Book - 2022

"From Wall Street Journal columnist Spencer Jakab, the real story of the GameStop squeeze-and the surprising winners of a rigged game. During one crazy week in January 2021, a motley crew of retail traders on Reddit's r/wallstreetbets forum had seemingly done the impossible-they had brought some of the biggest, richest players on Wall Street to their knees. Their weapon was GameStop, a failing retailer whose shares briefly became the most-traded security on the planet and the subject o...f intense media coverage. The Revolution That Wasn't is the riveting story of how the meme stock squeeze unfolded, and of the real architects (and winners) of the GameStop rally. Drawing on his years as a stock analyst at a major bank, Jakab exposes technological and financial innovations such as Robinhood's habit-forming smartphone app as ploys to get our dollars within the larger story of evolving social and economic pressures. The surprising truth? What appeared to be a watershed moment-a revolution that stripped the ultra-powerful hedge funds of their market influence, placing power back in the hands of everyday investors-only tilted the odds further in the house's favor. Online brokerages love to talk about empowerment and "democratizing finance" while profiting from the mistakes and volatility created by novice investors. In this nuanced analysis, Jakab shines a light on the often-misunderstood profit motives and financial mechanisms to show how this so-called revolution is, on balance, a bonanza for Wall Street. But, Jakab argues, there really is a way for ordinary investors to beat the pros: by refusing to play their game."--

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Subjects
Genres
Informational works
Published
[New York, New York] : Portfolio/Penguin [2022]
Language
English
Physical Description
xvi, 300 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (black and white) ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages [267]-287) and index.
ISBN
9780593421154
0593421159
Main Author
Spencer Jakab (author)
  • Introduction
  • Mr. Kitty goes to Washington
  • September 8, 2019
  • Killer app
  • Winter of 2019-2020
  • Race to the bottom
  • April 2020
  • Get shorty
  • Summer-fall 2020
  • Cheat code
  • Holiday season 2020-2021
  • Poking the bear
  • January 22, 2021
  • Rise of the apes
  • January 26, 2021
  • The influencers
  • January 27, 2021
  • LOL, nothing matters
  • January 28, 2021
  • Men in tights
  • January 29, 2021
  • How not to stick it to the man
  • February 2021
  • The same old game
  • Bonus round.
Review by Booklist Reviews

In January 2021, GameStop became the most-traded stock, kicking off a media frenzy. The failing retailer created a buzz that helped make money for many and caused big hits for others, namely big investors. How did the tables turn? Jakab, an experienced stock analyst, details the events. Big investors expected to short-sale the fund because they thought GameStop would go out of business, and this would have increased their profits. However, the shares topped out in the hundreds, causing many hedge-fund managers to lose money, while everyday investors profited—an almost unprecedented scenario in the market's history. When more people take risks, Jakab notes, it creates volatility and prices change, which would not have been possible without smartphones and apps like Robinhood and Reddit. These tools, which appeal to the masses for their ease of use, along with the many Internet sources of financial advice, are leading to shakeups. Readers who are into the stock market, investing, and who are interested in newsworthy investment frenzies will find this book fascinating. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

In January 2021, GameStop became the most-traded stock, kicking off a media frenzy. The failing retailer created a buzz that helped make money for many and caused big hits for others, namely big investors. How did the tables turn? Jakab, an experienced stock analyst, details the events. Big investors expected to short-sale the fund because they thought GameStop would go out of business, and this would have increased their profits. However, the shares topped out in the hundreds, causing many hedge-fund managers to lose money, while everyday investors profited—an almost unprecedented scenario in the market's history. When more people take risks, Jakab notes, it creates volatility and prices change, which would not have been possible without smartphones and apps like Robinhood and Reddit. These tools, which appeal to the masses for their ease of use, along with the many Internet sources of financial advice, are leading to shakeups. Readers who are into the stock market, investing, and who are interested in newsworthy investment frenzies will find this book fascinating. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

The narrative that Redditors forced Wall Street to its knees in early 2021 has its appeal, but accuracy isn't among them, contends Wall Street Journal columnist Jakab (Heads I Win, Tails I Win) in this shrewd and energetic account. Month by month, Jakab tells the story of the attempts by users of the /wallstreetbets subreddit to use "brokerage accounts as a tool of class warfare" by short selling stocks. Fueled by fury at the wealthy, Reddit users who saw themselves as "exacting revenge on the architects of a rigged system" began buying up Gamestop stock, often using Robinhood, an app that allowed individual investors to buy in small amounts. Shares rose, then Robinhood "suspended the ability to buy more of the stocks that were on everybody's lips." In the end, Jakab points out, very little actually changed: retail traders may have had their moment, but there was no revolution, and the wealthy still hold all the cards. The colorful cast includes Keith Patrick Gill, who whipped the subreddit into a frenzy with tales of doubling his money on Gamestop in 2019 and ended up a witness at congressional hearings; Gabriel Plotkin, founder of Melvin Capital Management; and Steve Huffman, cofounder of Reddit. Jakab spins an original take, buoyed by zippy prose. It's a certified page-turner. (Jan.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"From Wall Street Journal columnist Spencer Jakab, the real story of the GameStop squeeze-and the surprising winners of a rigged game. During one crazy week in January 2021, a motley crew of retail traders on Reddit's r/wallstreetbets forum had seeminglydone the impossible-they had brought some of the biggest, richest players on Wall Street to their knees. Their weapon was GameStop, a failing retailer whose shares briefly became the most-traded security on the planet and the subject of intense media coverage. The Revolution That Wasn't is the riveting story of how the meme stock squeeze unfolded, and of the real architects (and winners) of the GameStop rally. Drawing on his years as a stock analyst at a major bank, Jakab exposes technological and financial innovations such as Robinhood's habit-forming smartphone app as ploys to get our dollars within the larger story of evolving social and economic pressures. The surprising truth? What appeared to be a watershed moment-a revolution that stripped the ultra-powerful hedge funds of their market influence, placing power back in the hands of everyday investors-only tilted the odds further in the house's favor. Online brokerages love to talk about empowerment and "democratizing finance" while profiting from the mistakes and volatility created by novice investors. In this nuanced analysis, Jakab shines a light on the often-misunderstood profit motives and financial mechanisms to show how this so-called revolution is, on balance, a bonanza for Wall Street. But,Jakab argues, there really is a way for ordinary investors to beat the pros: by refusing to play their game"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"The saga of GameStop and other meme stocks is revealed with the skill of a thrilling whodunit. Jakab writes with an anti-Midas touch. If he touched gold, he would bring it to life." --Burton G. Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street From Wall Street Journal columnist Spencer Jakab, the real story of the GameStop squeeze—and the surprising winners of a rigged game.During one crazy week in January 2021, a motley crew of retail traders on Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets forum had seemingly done the impossible—they had brought some of the biggest, richest players on Wall Street to their knees. Their weapon was GameStop, a failing retailer whose shares briefly became the most-traded security on the planet and the subject of intense media coverage. The Revolution That Wasn’t is the riveting story of how the meme stock squeeze unfolded, and of the real architects (and winners) of the GameStop rally. Drawing on his years as a stock analyst at a major bank, Jakab exposes technological and financial innovations such as Robinhood’s habit-forming smartphone app as ploys to get our dollars within the larger story of evolving social and economic pressures. The surprising truth? What appeared to be a watershed moment—a revolution that stripped the ultra-powerful hedge funds of their market influence, placing power back in the hands of everyday investors—only tilted the odds further in the house’s favor. Online brokerages love to talk about empowerment and “democratizing finance” while profiting from the mistakes and volatility created by novice investors. In this nuanced analysis, Jakab shines a light on the often-misunderstood profit motives and financial mechanisms to show how this so-called revolution is, on balance, a bonanza for Wall Street. But, Jakab argues, there really is a way for ordinary investors to beat the pros: by refusing to play their game.