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A Tortoise File


Wall St has been braced for the big one; a moment of real disruption that changes the financial world forever. Some people thought Gamestop was that moment. Was it really?


First published
Monday 15 February 2021

Last updated
Sunday 21 February 2021

Why this file?

When a group of amateur share traders combined forces on the Wallstreetbets forum on Reddit to move company share prices – GameStop most famously – a lot of spectators asked themselves, “Is this it?”. Is this the moment when the kind of disruption we’ve seen hit other areas of life finally shakes up the financial system? At stake seemed to be not only a tech disruption but a cultural one, too. Some of the speculators didn’t just want to rattle Wall St, they wanted to wreck it.

So a myth took hold of David beating Goliath; of principled small investors sticking it to the man in the hedge fund. The problem was, almost none of it was true. A lot of small investors lost money they could ill-afford to lose. A lot of hedge funds made fortunes. And the little guys? Well, they weren’t quite what they seemed either.

In this week’s Tortoise file, a myth, a morality tale, and a modern-day financial fairy story.

Basia Cummings and Ceri Thomas, Editors



Illustration James Edwin McConnell / Look and Learn / Bridgeman Images