ResearchThe Weekly (5/17)

The Weekly (5/17)

May 17, 2024

Here is Wharton’s list of finance classes for its MBA students. It doesn’t look like there’s an elective on meme stocks (yet).

After this week’s resurgence in meme mania, largely in part to this cryptic tweet on X, the hallowed grounds of Wharton may have to reconsider their approach to arming the next generation of financiers with the necessary tool kit to succeed.

We, of course, say this with sarcasm, but the resurgence of names like GameStop and AMC Entertainment has been nothing short of extraordinary. They’ve since fallen back to Earth after nearly doubling in two days, but it’s a surprising reminder of the pandemic crazed capital markets of old.

The origins of the phenomenon take root in 2021. In a period when interest rates were low and money was free, pockets of misallocation were to be expected. It was a feature, not a bug of capital markets.

Which makes the resurgence in names like Gamestop and AMC even more perplexing in a world where rates are at their highest levels in over a decade.

These seemingly ordinary equities, propelled to extraordinary heights by the whims of social media and online communities, have become the focal point of a frenzied race to riches.

But beyond the surface-level hype lies a deeper narrative, one that underscores the evolving dynamics of modern finance and the profound impact of retail investors on traditional capital markets.

Platforms like Reddit and Twitter have transformed into virtual trading floors, where amateur investors congregate to discuss, dissect, and ultimately drive the prices of select stocks to dizzying heights. GameStop, AMC Entertainment, and other household names have found themselves thrust into the spotlight, their fortunes tied not to traditional fundamentals, but to the whims of online forums and viral memes.

Like most phenomena in capital markets, there are a subset of winners that are taking home profits.

Of course, some retail investors are accumulating fortunes on the epic swings but it doesn’t come without risk.

The companies themselves are also taking advantage of the moves higher, as AMC Entertainment raised about $250 million of new equity capital during Monday's run higher. Investors were completely unfazed as the stock was still up a dizzing 108% on the day.

Trading platforms such as Robinhood and market-making firms like Citadel also play pivotal roles, profiting from increased trading volumes and options transactions. For these intermediaries, the surge in trading activity surrounding meme stocks translates into lucrative opportunities, especially in options contracts where bid-ask spreads offer wider margins.

This heightened volume fuels profits, underscoring the notion that they thrive on market volatility, irrespective of the direction.

This week proved that the meme stock frenzy is more than just a passing fad; it's a reflection of the changing nature of finance in the digital age. As more incentives align towards volume based trading, those trends could continue.

Ultimately, the meme stock craze epitomizes the intersection of technology, social media, and finance, reshaping traditional notions of investment and speculation. It proves that the only constant in capital markets is change, and the true winners will be those who adapt and evolve in the face of uncertainty.

So although an elective on meme stocks doesn’t exist just yet, FNCE7390 does. Behavioral Finance: “There is an abundance of evidence suggesting that the standard economic paradigm — rational agents in an efficient market — does not adequately describe behavior in financial markets.”

Maybe that’s the truest explanation of them all.

Have a great weekend,

– Your Titan team


As of writing, HOOD is a 0.93% position in the ARK Venture Fund.

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