‘I have no idea what I’m doing’: Lancaster students on buying GameStop shares

‘That’s what student loans are for, right?’

Last week the stock market came under a online siege from a loosely-coordinated and determined group of Reddit users who were seeking to tackle a hedge fund and save a beloved high-street retailer – GameStop. Where do these efforts lead next? What motives lay behind them? We asked Lancaster students who actually bought shares in GameStop to tell us more.

One student explained that they got involved because they “read some posts that made good sense”, but for them it wasn’t solely about profit. “When a hedgefunder and his friends short a stock like that in the way that they did, they’re attempting to push 66,000 employees into unemployment during a global pandemic. It often works.” This student, like many others, is interested in countering the actions of the hedge fund. On the personal stakes, they told us: “it was a bit of a gamble but I don’t mind a decent amount of risk” though they are determined to hold their stocks “until I’m satisfied that the benefit of selling is greater than the potential for furthering gains.”

There lies the deeper angle of the GameStop crusade; when you read the posts of those who’ve invested, it’s clear that nobody wants to lose money. But if they were to lose it, the importance of the cause is more than enough justification for them. This student is also certain that the actions of trading platforms in order to protect the hedge funds and prevent trading will come under intense scrutiny, although it’s unclear on which angle the authorities will take. “The potential market manipulation angle is huge.”

Another student, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims to have been “aware of that cesspit for years”, in reference to the often-chaotic WallStreetBets subreddit, a forum where some of the stock market drama has been unfolding. When we asked what motivated them to put their own money on the line, they replied “That’s what student loans are for, right?”

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Might as well spend the hours of lockdown boredom learning about stocks and shares

A third student explained their own reasoning; although very aware of the actions of the trading platforms and the hedge funds, their driving motivator was the humour in it all: “I literally just signed up and then hit buy for £100. I have no idea what I’m doing, it’s just quite funny. I’ll make the money back through my work anyway and I’m not spending anything because of Covid.” We asked what outcome the student was expecting, and they understood that they might end up losing money. “Hopefully not. But probably. If they allow trading again, I’ll probably buy more.”

Students often don’t know what to spend their money on, whether it’s on alcohol or clothes or games, due to the money from their student loans. Things are harder due to the pandemic, but hard times increase the temptation to invest into a seemingly-profitable endeavour. Lancfessions even had posts from students encouraging others to get on board.

As the final student emphasised, they were having great fun playing with stocks at the detriment of a few billionaires, but they didn’t need to be an expert to engage: “Just to clarify, I have no idea what I’m doing.”

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