A big worry is that this has become a short-squeeze revolt. Short-sellers were down $91 billion for the month through yesterday, according to data from S3. (Such investors have lost $5 billion on GameStop alone.) While much of that was because of the overall rise in stocks, shares in other heavily shorted companies, like the headphone maker Koss, are up big. “I believe there is a systemic targeting of highly shorted stocks,” said Steve Sosnick of Interactive Brokers.
Is there something else at play? Commentators are split: Matt Levine of Bloomberg Opinion reckons that this might all be a game to participants, while his colleague John Authers sees a populist uprising against establishment institutions
In any case, this is “an enforcement nightmare,” the Duke law professor James Cox told Bloomberg. Officials at the S.E.C. and elsewhere are closely watching internet chat rooms for signs of potential market manipulation, though they can do only so much without clear signs of fraud. If a big group of traders simply decides to buy options on a stock at the same time, out in the open, for the heck of it, proving malfeasance may be difficult. Still, “it suggests that there is something systemically wrong with the options trading on this stock,” William Galvin, Massachusetts’ securities regulator, told Barron’s, referring to the GameStop craze.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
A growing battle over Covid-19 vaccine supplies. Amid production delays, the E.U. threatened to restrict the export of Belgian-made shots to Britain, prompting British lawmakers to accuse their European counterparts of blackmail. In the U.S., the Biden administration said it was near a deal to bolster the country’s supply of vaccines.
Walgreens poaches Starbucks’s C.O.O. as its new chief. When she becomes the pharmacy giant’s C.E.O. in March, Roz Brewer will be the only Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 business.
President Biden moves to improve financial racial equity. He signed executive orders strengthening anti-discrimination housing regulations and pledged to push for increased funding for minority-owned small businesses and historically Black colleges and universities.
Details emerge about the fire that killed Tony Hsieh. Reports from the authorities in New London, Conn., reveal that the former Zappos chief had locked himself in a shed moments before a blaze broke out. It’s not clear whether the fire started because of carelessness or “an intentional act.”
“Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest.” In his latest Times Opinion column, Tom Friedman argues that the federal government’s huge stimulus efforts have bolstered the fortunes of the rich and left everyone else behind. “When this virus clears, we ALL need to have a talk,” Tom writes.