A pastor and small-time investor who turned a profit in the recent GameStop stock price surge has said that he believes Wall Street bankers who bet against the market are now learning an important and Biblical lesson.
Retailer GameStop has been in the news in recent days after a group of Reddit users purchased stock in the failing company in a bid to stop city hedge fund owners from profiting from the collapse.
As the company was predicted to close up its stores in the coming months, large investment funds began to borrow and sell shares in a bid to make gains if the share price falls - a process known as "shorting". In response - and by way of teaching the big money financiers a lesson - a mob of Reddit users began to purchase GameStop's stocks, causing them to soar more than 300 per cent. As a result, the short sellers are forced to buy back the stock to fulfill their obligations, which drives the price up even further.
One of the men who benefited from the action is California pastor, Justin Speak. When asked about whether he invested in order to "stick it to the Wall Streeters", the 27-year-old replied:
"Yeah, I mean I think there was a confidence that this [stock] would go up. But I would be lying to say there wasn't some pleasure...like I'm a pastor, and Jesus tells a story about this rich fool who has an overabundant harvest that's more than he can store, and rather than giving the excess to those in need, he chooses to build bigger and bigger barns to store up for himself.
"And God says to him in the end 'this very night your life will be demanded from you, and who will get what you prepared for yourself?' Since 2008, it feels like Wall Street has had an overabundant harvest. And rather than share the billions with the less fortunate, they've built bigger and bigger barns for themselves. So part of me that thought 'well it will be fun to be part of this moment...to see this moment where, at some level, overnight these investors are losing their investment lives...it is being demanded from them.
"And they are left wondering who is going to get what they had prepared for themselves."
Posting a segment of the interview to Twitter, Justin wrote: "Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise."
As the surge continued, investment platforms began to restrict amateur traders from purchasing the stocks. Investment app Robinhood said it was forced to "restrict transactions" following the "recent volatility" in the market. On Friday, the company said it would be restoring trading in companies including GameStop after securing a $1bn injection of cash from their financial backers, which will help them weather this period of market instability. Many were furious with the company's decision.
"Robinhood is no longer allowing users to do anything but close out their #GME or #AMC positions. Hard to put into words how outrageous that is," journalist Isaac Saul wrote on Twitter. "This is, much more acutely, the definition of manipulating the market."
British start-up broker Freetrade said customers would be prohibited from buying US stocks altogether for the time being following a "sudden and unexpected decision" from its foreign exchange provider and bank, taken "to limit our volumes of trade".
"We received no warning of what we consider an extremely poor decision," the company added. "We are deeply unhappy with this decision and we are doing everything possible to rectify the situation."