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Market Reality

February 8, 2021

If the GameStop frenzy has shown us anything, it's that the stock market is just a big casino/computer game.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

If a professional killer — say, a Ted Bundy or a John Wayne Gacy — murders a bunch of people, is it OK for the rest of us to knock off a few of our enemies?

I’m really hoping you said no. If not, please seek professional help and stop reading my column.

If you’re still with me, I’ve been pondering this question in light of last week’s fun topic: GameStop trading.

A lot of very smart people — i.e. people I normally agree with — seem to think the small investor market manipulation was no big deal because large investors and fund managers have done this sort of thing before. Hence, the murder analogy.

Big-time market manipulation hurts and so does small-time market manipulation. Consider that a lot of small investors got whipped into a buying frenzy and then were challenged to hold on even though a quick crash was inevitable. Someone’s getting away with something and you can also bet that some smart hedge fund managers — the sort of people supposedly getting their comeuppance — went short when the stocks went high.

Some bad companies got bailed out, at least temporarily, too. Capitalism isn’t supposed to work that way even though, I guess, it does.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is but I think it may be that there aren’t a lot of morals in the investing world.

There are lessons, though. One is that almost everything is good for lawyers. As of last week, dozens of GameStop trading lawsuits have been filed. So at least one part of the economy is thriving.

The other lesson is one that we should have already known: the stock market is just a big casino/computer game. Any investment adviser who doesn’t tell you that should have their license revoked.

Favorite press release headline of the week: “Sex Workers Assist Women Arrested in Trafficking Stings Leading Up to Big Game.”

Apparently, the local police in Tampa, Florida — at least according to the press release from a sex worker support group — have decided to round up the local hookers to protect Super Bowl fans.

Or maybe they’re protecting the prostitutes from football fans. I’m not sure.

I have many questions. (NOTE: You’re reading this after the Super Bowl but I’m writing this before the Super Bowl, so I have no idea what happened. My prediction is that one of the teams will win and then the field will be overrun by police and players chasing sex workers. A good time will be had by all.)

I had to remind myself that there’s this pandemic thing going on. Shouldn’t sex work be a business that’s been shut down? There can’t be that big a market out there, can there? I shudder to think I’m wrong about this.

If there are sex workers running rampant in Tampa, how are police conducting stings? Are they wearing masks? If they are, wouldn’t that be a giveaway that they’re not serious fake customers?

And then there’s the game itself. There are supposed to be 25,000 fans in attendance interspersed with 30,000 cutouts. Does this sound safe to you? If I’m in a closed circle among 25,000 screaming people, I’d be worried. And think of all the saliva pouring down in the direction of the field.

Aren’t you glad you didn’t read this before the game?

Police shooting. This might be a good precedent, but I’m not sure: a federal judge in Louisiana in a case called Skinner v. Ard has denied a claim of qualified immunity by a deputy sheriff for a fatal shooting.

The victim was unarmed and didn’t seriously hurt anyone. He was also a dog.

You can draw your own conclusions.

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