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This week in Tortoise: WallStreetWins

Monday 15 February 2021


We know how brutally a coming-together of technology and a desire for cultural change can upend institutions – just look at what social media has done to politics. So when the wallstreetbets Reddit forum for small investors and a no-fee share-trading platform created a wave of buying into the stock of a forlorn video game store called GameStop, and burned the fingers of at least one hedge fund, the financial world wondered if it was looking at another platform-driven tsunami. Was it (to coin a phrase) a moment to preoccupy Wall St?

In a flash, the lessons of the episode were sprayed around. It was the democratisation of finance; a net closing around the great vampire squid. In today’s Slow Newscast, leading this week’s Tortoise File, Basia Cummings explains why nearly all of those early conclusions were wrong. It wasn’t a tsunami, it was a rush of blood to the head. And a lot of the little guys lost.

Later in the week, Tortoise data journalist Kim Darrah follows the digital footprints of the wallstreetbetters to figure out who they really were. And we get to grips with Reddit, the seventh most-visited website in the United States, a poorly understood giant.

As for this week’s ThinkIns, this evening we continue our series on The Battle for Truth with Eliot Higgins, founder of Bellingcat, Solomon Elliott from The Student View, and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in conversation about the future of journalism – as we ask “Is anything true anymore?”.

There’s no ThinkIn on Tuesday morning as it’s half-term for many here in the UK, but Open News will take place as normal at 1pm tomorrow. Then, on Wednesday evening, we’re joined by David Baddiel for a discussion about his new book which puts anti-semitism in the context of 21st-century identity politics and wonders why Jews Don’t Count. There’s a half-term treat for the grown-ups on Thursday evening when former poet laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy joins us for a ThinkIn about her new anthology Empty Nest, which reflects on family, love and loss.

If you haven’t yet, do book your spot at our Future of Money Summit next week (Thursday 25 February), with keynote sessions from Ann Cairns of Mastercard and Bill Winters of Standard Chartered, and invited experts throughout the day, including entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, associate editor of the FT Martin Wolf, and Selina Flavius, author of Black Girl Finance.

And please do keep listening to the Sensemaker podcast – in-app and on Spotify’s Daily Drive playlist – in which we make sense of one story each day.

Allbest.

James Harding,
Editor & co-founder