The Investment Scientist

Archive for February 2021

I promised to continue the GameStop story so here I am. Let me first explain why the broader market dropped about 3% to 4% while the GME frenzy was going on. Remember in the last article, Melvin, a name I will use to denote all the hedge funds that shorted GME, needed about $1.3 billion when GME prices rose from $20 to $30. When GME prices shot up to $420, Melvin needed $55 billion to meet the margin call. Where would they get the money? Well,  they could sell other stocks they hold.  This mass liquidation led to a small drop in the market. Should long-term investors worry? The answer is no, since a liquidity shock like this has no lasting effect. But the saga does reveal a flaw in the system that we weren’t aware of before. More about that later. 

Now in this pitched battle between the retail traders centered around Wall Street Bets and the hedge funds, I am afraid this will end badly for the retail traders. Yes, a few of them may benefit handsomely, turning $50k into $20mm as some of the stories go, but the majority of them who joined the battle when prices crossed $200, $300, and $400 may lose everything. In the end, prices will come back down to the stock’s fundamental value which is likely in the single or low double digits. After all, Melvin was not stupid.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.

Twitter: @mzhuang

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