GameStop and the widening income inequality

What we can learn from the feud between hedge funds and retail investors

Image by Radostina Georgieva

It’s been a crazy past week in the stock market. If you weren’t following all of the madness, I’ll summarize in a few bullets:

  • Hedge funds were selling shares of GameStop they had borrowed against. About 40% in excess of what was available to transact. (“short”)
  • Retail investors discovered this egregious margin and bought up the available shares to be soon recalled, forcing hedge funds to pay a premium to buy back shares as bleed out interest each day. (“squeeze”)

As financial institutions started to lose billions, the dirty tactics followed. Robinhood, one of the investment platforms backed by the hedge funds, deleted GameStop from their listings. Hedge funds artificially manipulated stock price dips to scare off new retail investors. The SEC is now investigating insider trading on the retail side, looking away from clear market manipulation done by the major financial institutions. (Biden-elect Janet Yellen leading the investigation had been previously paid $800K by Citadel, one of the companies that started this whole GameStop mess)

Our financial institutions will stop at nothing to preserve their wealth, and our elected officials have been already bought off with large bribes.

What’s happening with GameStop is just a small fraction of the growing wealth inequality plaguing our society.

The wealth gap is increasing at an alarming rate and the middle class may disappear in the coming years to come. The top 5% net worth grew the fastest during the pandemic last year and the top 10% currently control multiple times the wealth of 90% of the population.

Most of our elected officials fall into the highest income brackets and manage the financial livelihoods of those far from their experience. The people we turn to for law and order are also busy protecting their fortune.

Some thoughts that have led us here:

  1. Idolizing the rich elite and sheltering them from criticism. We put the wealthy on a pedestal thinking that the more we praise them, wealth will trickle down.
  2. We infatuate and excuse “self-made” stories, refusing to put a ceiling towards work and capital gain. “If I worked hard for it, I deserve it all, right?”
  3. The movement of monetizing every minute of our day. Turning hobbies into five-figure courses, and charging for livestreams of our typical day.
  4. Deriving success and validation based on capital metrics.
  5. Valuing capital success over human lives.

I do believe we have an unhealthy obsession with capitalism. We are far greater at squeezing money out of one another than we are feeding the hungry, donating to the poor, or healing the sick.

With any imbalance to an ecosystem, there comes a period of adjustment. How that may arise, I do not know just yet, but based on metrics alone, I am not confident that we are taking the right measures to create balance within our society.

In many spiritual cultures, they say that when you name the demon, you can begin to expel it. Recognizing our addition to capitalism will be the very first step towards a long road of recovery.

What I’m up to

For Clubhousers: Sunday, Feb 7 — Living Queer & Melanated: Toxic masculinity (add me @wakuu and I’ll ping you in)

For queer POC: Tuesday, Feb 9 — leveling up your design career

For queer Asians: Sunday, Feb 21 — Yellow Glitter Sparkes, Gaysian support group
Hosted an extremely successful full-day digital retreat and excited to extend this out to an in-person queer Asian mindfulness retreat once this quarantine situation ends. At this point, planning on 2022 at the earliest.

For Asians: Sunday, Feb 28 — Asian American Healing Space

New podcast episode with Kim Thai of GaneshSpace.

Check it out here: Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Tune In | iHeartRadio | Overcast | Spotify

I host a podcast called Yellow Glitter, mindfulness through the eyes and soul of a gay Asian. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Overcast, and TuneIn.

Along with a bit of weekly mindfulness, I send out my favorite things I discover each week on my email newsletter at Mindful Moments.

Thanks for reading! Until next time.

IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

Instruction: Mix equal parts of life hacker, designer, developer and productivity nerd. Sprinkle a dash of coffee and cupcakes. Best served fresh.

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