Cruel & Unusual

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For obvious reasons, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for stock market bears. Something has been going on recently which compels me to comment on this topic, and it’s probably an event in our little subculture here that you know about: the saga of Citron and GME.

Citron appears to be pretty much a one-man show, that man being Andrew Left, and its specialty seems to be in the most classic tradition of short-sellers, which is to discover frauds (or at least very shaky businesses) which are overvalued and profit from their demise. Their most famous recent target is GameStop (GME), and it hasn’t been demising at all:

GameStop was a $3 stock eight months ago. As I’m typing this, it’s trading at $55, over eighteen-fold higher. As you can see from the volume graph, interest in the stock has exploded lately, and the GME bears have been getting the life squeezed out of them. We are at lifetime highs. And it isn’t because people are lined up down the block in front of every GameStop shop in the country. They aren’t.

On the bearish side, the argument is in the form of a joke: “What’s the difference between Blockbuster and GameStop? About ten years.” On the bullish side, the argument is that GameStop will be the Amazon of gaming. Of course, these days, calling yourself “the Amazon of ____________________” is a quick way to sell people to your point of view. But it’s working:

Mr. Left has made no secret of his dim view of GME, and the rabble-rousers inhabiting WSB have been merciless. Attacking Citron (which they refer to as “Shitron” – – huh huh). has become a blood sport, so much so that Mr. Left has basically Exited Stage Left since some of the WSB lunatics are actually starting to threaten his children.

This pretty much goes to show just how diseased the “investment” world has become.

It is quite obvious to anyone with an IQ above 50 that the safest way to go in the investing world is to align with the bulls. Everyone love ’em. When it comes to bears, they are often accused of “wanting to ruin people’s financial lives.” The justification offered for the attacks against Mr. Left (yikes, this is starting to sound political, but that’s honestly his surname) are that he’s out to ruin financial lives. No, he isn’t. He has offered a very specific opinion about one specific stock. If bears could ruin financial lives at will, believe me, we’d probably do it all the time.

Being a bear has always been a hated role, but there was a time when it was a grudgingly respected one. Activist short-sellers were seen as sort of like undercover private investigators who would, from time to time, smoke out honest-to-God frauds like Worldcom and Enron and expose them to the world.

Naturally, when accusations like that are initially made, they are met with a chorus of screeching and threats, but if the allegations are true, then in the end the short-seller is actually kind of a hero (think of Michael Burry and The Big Short, for instance).

With the deeply diseased, completely screwball facsimile of a “market” these days, no such private eyes are welcome. It’s either the Bull Way or No Way. It’s sad, to my mind, that someone like Andrew Left is suffering financially, professionally, and personally, simply because he has an opinion. I hope that by the year 2300, there is a modicum of respect returning to financial markets so that discerning eyes and critical voices are no longer shouted out of the arena.

LATE BREAKING BONUS CHART: looks like maybe the final, incredible “squeeze” has finished, taking the stock to 76.76 before it was halted, and now it’s easing back: