Wall Street seemed like a world reserved for the few, the rich and the powerful. But when online communities of everyday people came together in January 2021, the force of the numbers shook the North American financial market to its core.
Investing in the same few companies, they sent stocks out of favor on an impressive rise. Shares of GameStop, a declining traditional video game retailer, and AMC Theaters, a chain of movie theaters struggling amid a global pandemic, soon became a battleground between working-class and elite investors. financial. It was David versus Goliath, the media said, and a power struggle over who really controls the system.
wall street bluesa documentary of passionate eye, features some of the ordinary people behind the extraordinary story, including a college student who lives out of a van; an immigrant who invested most of his life savings; a baker who initially thought it was all a joke; an artist who became obsessed; and an ex-marine who ultimately refused to sell his stock.
Some invested just to make money, others were looking for a greater purpose. The only thing they shared was a wild ride on Wall Street.
These are some of his thoughts, collected from the documentary. (Her quotes from him have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Living out of a van and traveling across the US with his girlfriend, he hopped on the GameStop rocket just as it was taking off. With his earnings reportedly in excess of US$250,000, he was able to move to Southern California and start his own business.
It wasn’t until I was living in the van that I decided to search social media for more potential investment than just entertainment.
we were traveling. She was looking for new ways to earn money on the road. I entered WallStreetBets. I went on Reddit. I went on Twitter. I was looking for the next stock.
There are 10 to 20 other GameStop investors, and [we were] all incredibly optimistic about the company. We believed in this company when no one else did. We looked at the balance sheet… We did our due diligence. So little by little I was reducing all my savings, putting everything.
Probably the scariest week of my life, but also the most exhilarating.-Joe Fonicello
Once GameStop blew up in January 2021, there were hundreds of thousands of people talking about it on Twitter… We had this tight little community of investors and now all of a sudden the world is talking about it.
Everyone’s perception of money changed. The small community that invested with me in GameStop ended up getting returns of 1,000 to 2,000 percent or more. It’s like, “Wow, this is way more than you could earn by being productive in society.” [It] play a little with your brain. It’s hard to take a day job.
I think people are learning more and more about their trades on social media. But it’s hard to foster a productive discussion because you end up with misinformation and it becomes a kind of echo chamber. It’s hard to know which sources to trust, and it’s certainly scary.
When this baker first heard about people buying GameStop stock, he thought it was a joke. But as he watched her value rise, he jumped in and invested, later cashing out $115,000.
I didn’t really have much experience with Reddit. But WallStreetBets was like the Wild West. It was incredible.
GameStop: A company that, in the midst of a pandemic, sells physical games. Off the beaten path that sounds like a bad investment…. [But] Sure enough, I look at the ticker and it’s going up. And I drank the Kool-Aid.
It was up 100 percent every few days. So when you wake up, you’re dizzy. I mean, it’s like Christmas every day. I was surprised, surprised that this actually worked.
I was expecting maybe, you know, 20 percent return. By the time it was all over, it was up… let’s say, conservatively, 500 percent.
But it’s not life-changing money… I mean, I had made a considerable amount of money and not once did I think I wouldn’t get out of bed and go downstairs to make some bread.
The earnings that I made, I mean, gave me a little more disposable income, money that I can spend relaxing. We have had a very good year, my girlfriend and I. We have done a few trips. We went to Switzerland and got engaged.
A comic book artist Living in Pennsylvania, he put money into the market, but admits he “freaked out” early and left. As a result, he didn’t make much money, but he says some of his friends made “a pretty penny.”
[I] I just put in what I could, and I was able to jump, but with technology, with social media, with apps… it was strangely addictive.
I realized while I was doing it that it wasn’t good for me. Like she couldn’t push me away.
My friends and I were glued to our phones, reversed, and talked about it non-stop. You are swept away by his movements and become obsessive just looking at him.
But when you’re investing like this, emotionally, you have to hope that everyone else is investing in the same positive intention that you share. And so you’re looking at those numbers because when it’s going in your favor, that means people are on your side.
Nope, [I won’t keep investing]. I have things to do. I have books to write. And so my conclusion was that I cannot participate in day trading. It is absolutely too volatile for my personal well-being and personal mental health.
An immigrant from Venezuela living in Miami with his wife, he invested nearly 80 percent of his life savings in the market in early 2021, approximately $30,000 US. His earnings hit “around six figures,” enough to open a coffee shop and tea shop that he hopes will become a franchise in Florida.
[After investing our savings,] It was one of the toughest weeks, psychologically, I’ve ever had.
It’s crazy how you could just open your phone, [after] You’ve only slept like three hours and then you’re $400,000 up.
Nerves is what killed me. Like, I would throw up every time. I didn’t eat, you know, and that caused me a lot of mental stress. It was very, very traumatizing in a way, but you were getting money.
[My wife] he saw how detrimental it was to my mental health, and said, “I couldn’t care less if we got a million dollars, Luis. We’re fine.” [with] whatever we have now. And the money is not worth your sanity.”
I got caught between these two feelings: I want to make money but, at the same time, I really want to make a change in the financial world.
I like it, [if] I’m going to continue to believe in the American system, then I have to make sure that in the future that system is fair for everyone.
An Army veteran living in rural Tennessee, he noticed GameStop’s surprising rise and became an active investor in AMC Theatres. At his peak, his shares were worth US$300,000, but he did not sell them.
I do not [start] I invested until I was 40 years old, when reality became present. So I started finding communities online, learning how shares work… All these different terms. I had no idea.
I kept researching and talking to people. I decided to take everything I had in my retirement account… I sold everything and really started to dive deeper and deeper into AMC.
we do not [invest] to make a living, but it became a movement. It became a passion…most of the people I meet and surround myself with [with]they are looking at it so much, much more [than just making money].
Retail sale [investors] owns 80 percent of AMC’s shares. Four million owners. and think [it brought people together] and agree to save that company; That, to me, is more than making money.
When I started investing, I started with $200 and built my account up to about $28,000 worth of AMC stock. At the high point, that small account of $28,000 turned into $300,000.
But since I believed in the community, I did not sell a single share…. I am not selling my shares. For me, it’s a matter of honor, a matter of integrity. Even at $92,000 or whatever right now, currently, it’s huge. But yeah, seeing $300,000 like that…it was surreal.
[Investing] it became more like “Wow, let’s change the market.”
I think we all think it’s going to be one of the biggest wealth swings the world has ever seen, to be honest with you.
Clock wall street blues in The Passionate Eye.