GameStop, Robinhood: explain it to me

Bernie meme

Bernie SandersA smart, nearly 80-year-old man wears mittens suitable for a cold DC day. How does it become a meme? And when do we decide it’s over? At least Bernie seems amused if slightly bemused by it.

This pic, BTW, was forwarded to me by my daughter. I have no idea why.

GameStop? What’s a GameStop?

Explain it like I’m 5 years old: A desperate nation tries to understand the GameStop saga. “There better be a test about the GameStop saga. When it burst into the news, I dutifully dropped my other studies and applied myself to the stock market frenzy.

“The short. The short squeeze. Margin call. Payment for order flow. The CBOE Volatility Index. Go ahead, ask me anything.

“Wait, hold on a moment: I swear I understood it like a second ago.”

I think the Globe is correct, that “we’re dealing with a Category 3 story… That’s a story that’s simultaneously complicated and simple, compelling but somehow boring, and can only truly be explained by John Oliver or a kindergarten teacher.

“Category 1: These are stories that are so easy that any civilian could go on CNN with no notice and comment authoritatively. Meghan and Harry leaving the Royal family. Murder hornets…

“Category 2: Stories you will never understand, no matter how hard you try so you can skip right over them. Physicists finding a way to test superstring theory. The new AI tool that cracks the code of protein structures…

“But then there’s the third category, which is when facts you should be able to grasp — if the Wall Street bros can, why not you? We’re not talking Stephen Hawking here — briefly seem within reach, but then slip away.”

Hank Green spends four minutes explaining the “short squeeze.” Whatever that is.

Does it wear green tights?

And what the heck is Robinhood? I’d never of it. According to this two-star review of the app, its “claim to fame is that they do not charge commissions for stock, options, or cryptocurrency trading. Due to industry-wide changes, however, they’re no longer the only free game in town.

“The firm’s target customer base is young people new to investing, who are drawn to the app by advertising that leans heavily on words such as ‘free’ and ‘democratization.’ By and large, this tactic has succeeded, drawing in 10 million accounts held by an unknown number of customers. But what happens to them when they outgrow Robinhood’s meager research capabilities or get frustrated by outages during market surges?”

You know their control of the market is too strong when AOC and Ted Cruz both think so.

Too bad John Oliver is on hiatus. Here, read these pieces from Nation of Change and Business Insider. I think it means…

And

Why is clogging while eating spaghetti so fascinating to me?

Money in the time of COVID

Death knell for comic book stores?

Sure I was appalled by the suggestion of Texas’ lieutenant governor that grandparents are willing to sacrifice themselves at the altar of capitalism.

Also, someone wants the country to be “opened up and raring to go by Easter”; this defies logic. So does him touting an untested drug as a cure.

It shows just how times have changed. A dozen years ago, people were shocked by the false rumor that Obamacare mandated that no one over 75 be given major medical procedures unless approved by an ethics panel. “You can’t kill Grandma!” they cried. (Yes, it was a political lie, but some were genuinely fooled by it.)

The argument then was that good Christian people must protect the right to life of octogenarians. One could understand that premise, even if it were based on a false premise. This new twist boggles the mind.

Moreover, the “call to reopen the economy would put a premature end to the nationwide social isolation efforts underway to quell the spread of the coronavirus, and could cause the entire health care system — and in turn the economy — to collapse under the weight of a crush of critically ill people.”

Incidentally, some folks I came across online are convinced that the medical establishment in Italy is sacrificing old people because of socialized medicine. The Italians are using triage because there are too many sick and dying at the same time. Seeing page after page of obituaries in their newspapers is awful to see.

And that could be California or Washington state or New York State soon. Or Louisiana or West Virginia, which was the last state with a confirmed COVID-19 case, not much later. Or somewhere not yet on the radar a month from now.

Tanking

Of course, I know the stock market is mostly sinking. I’ve been studiously avoiding taking a look. My position is that assiduously tracking the Dow Jones will change nothing.

Earlier in the week, my wife called across the room that the stock market was down again. I yelled back, “DON’T CARE!” It’s not that I’m unconcerned. But worrying about it will just give me agita.

I will get a quarterly statement in early April. I will open it, look at the bottom line, scream, throw it in a drawer, and forget about it until early July, when I will likely repeat the process if necessary. Mentally, the pessimist in me had always budgeted for a drop; I will survive.

Stimulating the economy

That said, I’ve gotten in the past two weeks at least six books, a DVD set, a couple of compact discs and some other items online. While some were purchased on a gift card, the rest was my money. I have this desire to do my part to buy what I can from small to medium-sized businesses.

I purchased three Marvel Masterworks from Mile High Comics just before it was announced that Diamond Comic Distributors is no longer taking in new comics for a time. This could be the death knell of the vast majority of comic book stores, especially those reliant on sales of the latest issue of the four-color publications.

TP

I went to the store last week, during the old people’s early hours. And though I didn’t really NEED toilet paper, I bought some, a four-roll pack.

That afternoon, one of our young neighbors, who actually talks with us, sighed that they only had one roll of TP in the house. I went inside, got the 4-back, and tossed a perfect spiral to the young person. (Social distancing, don’t you know?) Obviously, I DID need to purchase it. I just didn’t know why before then.

What You Can Do Right Now.