Saturday, January 30, 2021

Should I Care About GameStop?

Steve Cohen's Twitter account was fun while it lasted, but I can't say that I'm too sorry to see it go. I've been on Twitter since 2012, but I never was consistently active on the platform until I started blogging again last spring. Before that, I used to spend most of my Twitter time following either politics or the Mets. Both of those topics can get pretty emotional, so I learned long ago to take a pause when I felt myself being sucked in too deeply. And I'm not important enough to be a real target of the ugliness that runs deeply through much of social media.

Steve Cohen didn't say he was leaving the platform for good, but I'd be kind of surprised to see him back, His official statement, per Mack's Mets:

"I’ve really enjoyed the back and forth with Mets fans on Twitter which was unfortunately overtaken this week by misinformation unrelated to the Mets that led to our family getting personal threats. So I’m going to take a break for now. We have other ways to listen to your suggestions and remain committed to doing that. I love our team, this community, and our fans, who are the best in baseball.  Bottom line is that this week’s events in no way affect our resources and drive to put a championship team on the field. #LGM!"

By the way, I believe him that the losses that his firm endured due to their investment in another hedge fund won't affect his spending on the Mets. It was a lot of money, but he still has much more money, and taking some big losses at times is part of the game that people like Cohen play so well.

I'm not a big fan of the system that is rigged to mostly help extremely wealthy people get wealthier. The stock market has turned into an institution where wild, unfunded bets are a vehicle for guys like Gabriel Plotkin of Melvin Capital to make a fortune betting against a company like GameStop. These "shorts" aren't of any benefit to the real economy where most of us are trying to get by. I'm not rooting against Cohen, of course, but I don't feel sorry for the beating his former employee Plotkin took, and I'm not sorry that Cohen's investment in Plotkin's fund took a big hit. You win some, you lose some.

I don't feel sorry for these companies, either. Most publicly traded companies are more interested in propping up their share values and paying exorbitant salaries to their top execs than they are in doing right by their normal employees and the country in general.

Seriously, it's hard to tell the bad guys from the good guys in this scenario. The whole ongoing GameStop story is not a black and white issue. Hap tip to Patrick Glynn at Metsmerized Online for his link to an explainer by Alexis Goldstein which really helped me to understand this complicated drama a lot better. Well worth your time if your interested.

I guess I'm supposed to feel sorry for the investors who pumped up GameStop stock in order to stick it to Plotkin and others shorting the stock, but I don't see them as heroes, either. As Ms. Goldstein pointed out, "GameStop madness isn't David vs Goliath. It's Goliath vs. Goliath, with David as a fig leaf." I'm not rooting for or against these investors who banded together to try to game the system for themselves. I'm definitely not rooting for the hedge fund guys, not even the one who owns my team. I'm rooting for a system that takes the toys away from these folks and gives us an economy that works better for those of us who could care less about these gamblers and their extravagant plays.

I wrote the following back in September before the sale of the team went through, and it all still applies now:

And before we go any further here, let me just say in advance of the pieces that will surely begin to come out in the coming days, I really, truly don't care that Steve Cohen's firm received a huge fine for insider trading a few years ago. I am not employed in law enforcement or in the financial industry in any capacity. Don't ask me how it feels to root for a team owned by a "bad guy" in a city that once celebrated George Steinbrenner. No fan has any say at all in which rich guy buys their team, nor should those fans trouble themselves with the real or alleged actions of those guys. I don't know Steve Cohen, and what he does in his other business ventures beyond running this team don't concern me.

I don't spend any time at all worrying whether or not Steve Cohen is really a good guy. Like all of us, I'm sure there is both good and bad in the man. I'm not at all a fan of our hedge fund-skewed economy, but I'm not going to beat him up for using it to his advantage. Frankly, I'm also not at all concerned about what happens to a bunch of folks from Reddit who jump into this rich man's playing field and get burned by it. That's their business, and I'm not going to have a Boomer Esiason type tantrum over what happened to them. I'm not going to shed tears for Cohen, Plotkin, or any of the Reddit investors who were trying to make their own gamble pay. If you want me to care about something, give me a plan to fix the system so that normal folks can actually benefit from it. Then I'll care a lot.

I'm not sure there are any choir boys or girls out there in the class of people rich enough to buy a baseball team these days. All I can ask from Cohen is to do right by the team that I root for. So far, at least, he seems to be doing pretty well in that department. 

There has been a lot written this week in local and national media trying to make this GameStop situation a "LOL Mets" story, using logic so tortured there are rumors the U.N. is considering a war crimes investigation. Steve Cohen departing Twitter is a break for him and his family from the venom that is always ready to be unleashed on social media, but it's also — hopefully — a break from trying to turn a business story into a Mets story and force-feeding it to Mets fans.

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Sorry that I've been a bit inconsistent getting content up lately. I've been going through a couple of different medical issues that have been kicking my butt really badly. I'm starting to work through them, but sometimes it's been difficult to have the concentration to write my best. Hopefully it will all be behind me soon.

Please stay safe, be well and take care.


 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

3 comments:

  1. Mike - sorry to hear about your medical issues. Glad you are starting to work through them. Stay safe and be well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Feel better soon, Mike! Great article.

    ReplyDelete

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