Earlier this week, Elon Musk made history when he placed his full support behind Bitcoin (BTC) during a Clubhouse stream. When discussing Bitcoin and the GameStop debacle with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, Musk said: “I am late to the party, but I am a supporter of Bitcoin.” This came a few days after Musk changed his Twitter profile, adding “Bitcoin” to his bio.
Interestingly enough, Musk’s public endorsement of Bitcoin comes at a time when legacy financial markets have been openly caught defrauding their own customers, and the Robinhood app is at the center of this fraud. Indeed, the richest man alive told the world that he believes Bitcoin is on the verge of mass adoption amid a backdrop of criminal stock market behavior.
The GameStop saga
For those unfamiliar with these events, the GameStop saga is a “David and Goliath” story that started out with a community of online traders on the subreddit r/Wallstreetbets bringing down hedge funds — clawing away at billions of dollars in institutional short orders. A short order is a type of order that allows investors to profit from the demise of a company.
After retail investors realized that hedge funds shorted GameStop for 150% of its entire public stock — i.e., more shares than existed — a group of 2 million (now 8 million) Redditors figured out that by buying the stock and not selling, hedge funds that shorted GameStop would lose billions. And thus it was. By Jan 29, the loss tallied $19.75 billion as word spread through the power of the internet.
However, as soon as retail investors began winning, the long-reaching tentacles of centralized corporations were able to stop the game entirely, freezing trading on key exchanges and trading infrastructure so that hedge funds could reposition without losing everything.
Decentralization and the “American dream”
Indeed, one of the largest fictions of our time is the story of free markets. This concept embodies the “American dream,” whereby anyone who chooses to follow their dreams can do so (at considerable personal risk). This includes the ability to be rewarded (or punished) for having a stake in the financial game, which should operate under strict rules.
Whether it’s high-frequency trading, synthetic derivatives, infinite money-printing or some combination of all three, the stock market rewards a handful of insiders who game the system and play by a different set of rules than everyone else.
It’s important to realize that the issue is not the game itself — free markets are the most efficient way of proper value transfer, if done correctly. The issue is that rules only apply if institutional players win, otherwise they can be broken, suspended and revised with minimal consequences for those with friends in high places.
This drove many Redditors to the point where, knowing that the market is rigged, they did not care about losing money, provided hedge funds lose billions. It started out as retribution against those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis and the misery that many had to endure because of it.
This Reddit post paints a good picture of the motivations that inspired millions of people to band together against crooked financial conglomerates. Of course, other motivations — such as profit motives — were undoubtedly at play as the market fed on its own self-reinforcing mechanisms. Regardless, the system’s true colors are now out there for all to see.
And while legacy financial media has attempted to steer the narrative in a certain direction, the truth of the matter is that this story is apolitical and exposes the fact that ordinary everyday people are not allowed to win. Irrespective of intentions, the stock market is shown to be a means to entrench and exacerbate poverty in a rigged game that only benefits those who are already wealthy.
The start of a journey
However, the journey doesn’t end here — for there is a parallel system that is not controlled by Wall Street or central bankers, and it’s growing as we speak. With a market capitalization of over $1 trillion, cryptocurrencies are fast becoming the new frontier for financial markets that have no allegiances.
On top of being a new technology that democratizes markets, there is now a crystal-clear reason for investors to opt out of the old system and enter the new one.
Bitcoin started this revolution 11 years ago, and it does not stop there. An entirely new financial ecosystem is being built on Ethereum from the ground up, which has sprung a wealth of decentralized finance products with various trade-offs and use cases.
This time last year, capital in DeFi products reached the $1 billion landmark. Today, that figure is approaching $30 billion, according to DeFi Pulse.
With this backdrop, the future of financial markets seems closer than ever before.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Christopher Attard is a journalist turned cryptocurrency writer and analyst. Having worked in both the blockchain events sector and traditional finance over the years, he now covers Bitcoin extensively in a semiweekly newsletter. Christopher also works with various small and medium-sized enterprises in the space as a writer and content strategy consultant.