Tales of Just Rage

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Matt Taibbi got ahold of the guy who wrote the viral Reddit post, “This is for you, Dad.”

Photo by Alec Favale on Unsplash

If you followed the Gamestop saga, you probably saw the Reddit post, “This is for you, Dad.”

It was a brief post by “Space-peanut,” describing how the 2008-2009 meltdown destroyed his Dad and how he’d spend every dime on Gamestop stock if it would take revenge:

I remember my brother helping my father count pocket change on our kitchen table. That was all the money he had left in the world. While this was happening in my home, I saw hedge funders literally drinking champagne as they looked down on the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I will never forget that.

My father never recovered from that blow. He fell deeper and deeper into alcoholism and exists now as a shell of his former self, waiting for death.

This is all the money I have and I’d rather lose it all than give them what they need to destroy me. Taking money from me won’t hurt me, because I don’t value it at all. I’ll burn it down just to spite them.

This is for you, Dad.

This isn’t envy disguised as Marxian class envy. It’s rage at injustice admitting it’s rage. It’s rage at seeing one’s father get throttled by a system gamed by Wall Street and federal politicians. It’s rage at seeing one’s father get discarded as a chump because he played by the rules. There are going to be more and more chumps as the federal government gets stronger and stronger, doling out riches to its friends and allies, destroying middle America in the process, making the United States’ economics increasingly resemble a South American country.

But enough of that rant. If you want to know how to protect yourself and stay upbeat, shoot me an email . . . or keep reading between the lines here at TDE . . . or listen to last week’s podcast.

In the meantime, check out Matt Taibbi’s inteview of Space-peanut. Taibbi found him and took his story. It’s a compelling read.

Excerpts below.

These two guys had emails back and forth, talking about how fraudulent their products were. Talking about how they’re totally screwing over clients, in writing! And not one of them went to jail. And who did they go after at that time? Bernie Madoff. He was the one person who went to jail. Why did he get prosecuted? Because he stole from the rich!

TK: They even made a movie about it, starring Robert DeNiro

SP: Exactly! How come they didn’t make any movies about these other horrible people that profited off of the destruction of the economy? The people who ran Countrywide, or the people who were working at the ratings agencies, who knew the things they were rating were fraudulent? Even just down at the mortgage origination level. They made tons of money, and not one of those people went to jail.

Robinhood’s slogan is “Democratizing Finance,” but really it’s the computer science industry democratizing finance, because all those tools that used to be proprietary are free now, included in your trading app.

If you make a TD Ameritrade account, you can run, think or swim. It’s like a mini Bloomberg terminal. You’re not going to get the same richness of data, but you’re going to get a significant amount that you normally wouldn’t ten years ago. And in places like wallstreetbets, I was meeting people who clearly used to or still did work on Wall Street, who would teach you, for free, how to do things like recognize distressed companies, research their debt covenants, look up public data about who was invested in what, and so on.

There’s one guy, he goes by the name fuzzy blankeet — it’s surreal on wallstreetbets, you discuss such serious topics with such ridiculously named people — who was teaching us how to be distressed debt buyers. These are really intelligent people, just giving away knowledge.

A lot of the tools we have now, it used to be only people working at the top hedge funds on Wall Street had access to that information. So a lot of the barriers had collapsed. But the system is still skewed, which I started to see more clearly when the pandemic hit.

TK: How so?

I remember last March, just as the pandemic was taking hold, I was watching CNBC, and Bill Ackman, the big hedge fund guy, basically saying it’s the end of the American economy. He’s saying, “Shutdown is inevitable,” and calling for everything to be closed except essential services:

At the time, I was wrapped up in the doom, on the side of, “I don’t think we’re prepared for what’s coming.” Because I was watching the videos coming out of China and thinking, “There are people just passing out. That’s not normal. I think that’s bad.” I saw a video of somebody being welded into his apartment, and I again, I thought, that seems bad. Seeing Ackman on TV, I was like, “I think he’s right.”

As time went on, though, that moment bothered me. I thought, “That f***, he’s causingthe panic.”

I guarantee a lot of people were like, “Bill Ackman’s a smart dude. He’s a lot more successful investor than I am, and he says shit’s about to hit the fan. I better start buying some protection. I don’t know, short really volatile, high flying stocks, and maybe buy a lot of put spreads.” But then we all know what happened after that.

TK: That broadcast was March 18th, so the $2 trillion bailout was announced a week after. The market had been plummeting straight down, but it bounced right back up and kept going.

SP: It’s the COVID-19 sell-off and pump. It’s what these guys do. It really does feel as though CNBC is a participant in market manipulation for the rich. These hedge fund guys go on air and it’s like they’re trying to spook the herd in the direction of their trades. They tell everyone to get out when they’re short, and once all the meat is all off the bone, they go long, just in time for the recovery. They get to call the top and the bottom of the market. It’s totally f***ed.

The bailout and the pandemic just exposed how there are different sets of rules, not just for different types of investors, but different types of businesses. Your favorite sandwich shop? Closed. If you’ve got 200 of those sandwich shops? Open.

If you had sufficient capital to lobby whatever your government is, you could get an exemption, but if you were a small-time business owner, you were out of luck, and that just made no sense to me. I was like, “We’re just making this up on the fly.”

TK: When did you first pay attention to GameStop?

But at some point, once this all started, I started to think about it. We’re in a pandemic, and there are all these people who couldn’t work all year. Or they’re small businesses that don’t have the political impact. They’re going to take the loss. And in the middle of all this misery, you have a group of the most cancerous rent-seekers on earth, aligning to destroy this company GameStop, because they decided it shouldn’t exist anymore.

And it was GameStop! It’s such a visceral symbol for people in my generation. Even for me, in all those bad times growing up, it was always a nice memory just to go to a strip mall, go in the store, check out a game or two. I like GameStop. Everyone remembers going to GameStop. It’s part of what made it such an obvious rallying cry.

That was it for me. I found myself thinking, I didn’t care if I lost every last dollar doing it, I was going to put it on GameStop, just to see them panic for once. Even if for just one moment they have to think about how they’re going to make their payments for their Manhattan apartments, that’s worth it. They’re playing these games while there are people out there who can’t afford Christmas presents for their kids, can’t afford food. What are these families supposed to do?

Meanwhile those guys at the hedge funds, they’re not sharing that fear. Why should they? They’re going to get bailed out anyway.