Money Talks

The GameStop Fiasco Proves We’re in a ‘Meme Stock’ Bubble

What the new dynamic between Redditors and Wall Street reveals about the stock market in 2021

James Surowiecki
Published in
6 min readJan 26, 2021

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Photo: Boston Globe/Getty Images

Money Talks is a column that explores what happens when business, the economy, and culture collide.

GameStop is a struggling, kind of boring, mid-size retailer stuck in a legacy business — selling physical video games. But it’s also pretty much the only company anyone on Wall Street is talking about right now after its stock rose 160% in a matter of hours on Monday morning to an all-time high of $159. (By day’s end, GameStop’s price had been cut by more than half, but that still left it up more than 300% this year and almost 3,000% from its 52-week low. And it was up another 15% at Tuesday’s open.)

It isn’t GameStop’s precipitous rise, impressive as that’s been, that has everyone fascinated. Instead, it’s what is fueling that rise: concentrated buying by thousands upon thousands of small individual investors who are using sites like Reddit and Robinhood to drive up what are now being called “meme stocks.” GameStop is the best-known of these meme stocks, simply because its gains have become so outrageous. But it was preceded last year by Hertz and Kodak, which, despite having struggling businesses…

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James Surowiecki
Marker
Writer for

I’m the author of The Wisdom of Crowds. I’ve been a business columnist for Slate and The New Yorker and written for a wide range of other publications.