On the Media
On the Media
WNYC Studios
Did Lulz Break Wall Street?
26 minutes Posted Jan 28, 2021 at 9:00 am.
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GameStop is a corporation that sells digital cartridges containing video games, and also video game consoles and other fun widgets, from brick-and-mortar stores to flesh-and-blood consumers. It is a thing of the natural world, and so must abide by its fundamental, physical laws.

GamesStop’s stock, on the other hand... well, for most of last year, the company was “worth” a pretty dismal 250 million dollars. But you may have heard that lately GameStop stock has soared upward into the exosphere, ballooning the company’s “worth” to somewhere in the ballpark of 20 billion dollars. That is, last we checked. 

How this happened — how the very laws of gravity seemed to break this week on Wall Street — is best explained not by corporate actions or the current milieu of the actual American economy, but rather, as writer James Surowiecki explained this week in Marker, as a meme. In this podcast extra, Surowiecki explains how the on-going short squeeze originated on forums like r/WallStreetBets, and how it reminds us of the internet's ability to meme itself into reality.  

CORRECTION: As Brooke said, she paid so little attention to her investment in GameStop that she misremembered the exact size of her holdings. She owned 42 shares of GameStop, not 65, and sold them for a total of $4,200, not $6,500. She deeply regrets the error.