It has been one decade since a gaggle of protesters crammed a small, personal, grassless park in decrease Manhattan and started a weekslong occupation meant to attract consideration to inequality and the monolith that’s Wall Road’s monetary companies.
The fury that “Occupy Wall Road” evinced towards funding banks, hedge funds and fats cats generally is not being communicated by bullhorns, rhythm sticks, free libraries, and patchouli-scented lists of grievances for JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon. As a result of 10 years later that populist rage may be discovered contained in the inventory market the place retail merchants have picked up the baton to wage a really totally different, and extra efficacious, sit-in on Wall Road, throughout the digital realm.
For nearly two months, the 33,000-square foot Zuccotti Park grew to become the epicenter of the post-financial disaster debate in America.
The self-professed “99%” spent these weeks obstinately making their level that 1% of the world’s inhabitants managed outsize international wealth and that the U.S. monetary system had turn into a catalyst and supply for the ever-widening hole between the haves and havenots.
When the New York Police Division cleared the ultimate protesters from Zuccotti on Nov. 15, it informally put an finish to “Occupy Wall Road,” however the hoses that scoured the black shiny pavement, aiming to clean away the grime, didn’t quash the motion.
It merely shifted it to digital realm, with protesters resurfacing in a brand new tech tradition constructed on “borrowing” and sharing, the political careers of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez amongst others, and the well-phrased, if not completely coherent, name to “Democratize Wall Road.”
Simply log onto Reddit to behold the brand new Zuccotti, the place particular person buyers are educating one another on market construction and utilizing meme shares to ship Wall Road a message that they imagine the system remains to be rigged however they’re going to do one thing about it this time.
Arguably on the middle of this Occupy 2.0, is heavily-shorted shares like GameStop
Clover Well being
and a litany of others that on-line communities have gravitated towards, as a brand new methodology of protest has taken form in 2021, with the COVID pandemic nonetheless operating within the background.
Throngs of buyers on social-media platforms like Reddit and Discord are educating one another on how they could have the ability to struggle again towards hedge funds, who’ve been blamed for shorting firms to near-death, leaving them as carrion for private-equity companies.
Very like the protesters in Zuccotti 10 years in the past, who carried indicators with caricatures of Wall Road CEOs that they held in low esteem, as we speak’s Reddit retail merchants use memes and effigies of unloved company executives as struggle banners in a brand new battle towards the 1%.
A few of the faces have modified. As a substitute of Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein, Citadel’s Ken Griffin is the first recipient of social-media vitriol, making Twitter searches for “Kenny G” into an odd mixture of alto saxophone and allegations of bare shorting.
And like “the Folks’s Library” that sprouted up in Zuccotti, a free depository of hundreds of books below a tent gifted by punk rock priestess Patti Smith and designed to assist the protesters educate themselves on the issues they had been railing towards, Reddit boards have turn into the house for “DD”: due diligence or deep-dive posts into monetary subjects and inventory ideas meant to assist retail merchants preserve one another on the bleeding fringe of their marketing campaign to topple hedge-fund honchos.
These posts, which vary in high quality and coherence in methods not too dissimilar to Wall Road analyst studies [but are often written with more prurient panache], have launched quick squeezes on all the things from Wendy’s
inventory to the Uranium market.
And just like the protesters that continually tried to push their borders past Zuccotti and into the workplaces of banks or throughout the Brooklyn Bridge, particular person buyers have already marched onto the choices market. In line with Robinhood’s first quarterly report as a publicly traded firm, choices buying and selling on the 0%-commission app had virtually tripled within the first half of 2021 in contrast with the whole thing of 2020.
So, whereas the quantity of particular person buyers preventing hedge funds seems to have shrunk from January, those that stay are getting extra lively, extra educated, and gaining extra consideration from politicians and regulators as they accomplish that, even getting SEC chairman Gary Gensler to declare this week that they’ve each proper to make use of their very own cash to attempt to “smash” hedge funds.
There’s, nonetheless, a technique by which the Occupy protesters of 2011 and the Reddit raiders of 2021 differ: the NYPD may transfer to clear Zuccotti Park in a day, however particular person buyers hellbent on declaring structural flaws within the inventory market are already contained in the inventory market, and so they don’t look like leaving quickly.