No, I don't think that's at all likely. And yes, other parties are involved.Ok last question on this topic. Is this a zero sum issue, have all of the gains by the robinhood investors been paid by the institutional investors or has someone else been dragged into it?
We don't know who made what trades at what prices, so we can't put firm numbers on or even specifically identify all the winners and losers. But this is, in broad strokes, what I think is the likely result.
There were some funds that had heavily shorted GameStop. Some of them are surely big losers here. If they had sufficient unused capital, they could have weathered the storm and waited out the short squeeze. But that would have been risky and likely some weren't in position to be able to do that anyway - at least, not without selling other assets they had. So there will be large losses from original short sellers which were institutional investors.
There will also be short sellers that came in later and took advantage of the hyper inflated share prices - at $200, $300, $350 - to make a lot of money quickly. So there will be substantial gains from newer short sellers which were also institutional investors.
There will also be institutional investors who were long GameStop before this happened who took advantage of the inflated share prices to sell some or all of their positions. They effectively had money dropped in their lap. Mitigating their ability to take advantage of the situation was the reality that some of their shares were loaned to short sellers. So they might not have been able to immediately sell as much as they might have wanted to. At any rate, these institutional investors will have made a lot of money (from the price spike, if not on their GameStop investments overall).
Then there will be the retail investors - e.g., those from Reddit. Some of them will have got in early and out early and will have made a lot of money. Others will have got in late and out late and will have lost a lot of money. Those who understood what was going on - either because they intentionally caused it or just because they understand such things - will mostly be winners. Those who didn't will generally be losers, though some luck will be involved in determining that. In this situation, on the retail side, there will have been the players and the played. Some people used others so they could profit, some people got used. I suspect the number who fit better in the latter category will be far more numerous.
Then there's the issue of the rapid trading back and forth, as distinguished from the broader moves in the GameStop share price. The daily volumes were enormous - sometimes nearly 3X the total number of outstanding shares. Some of that was likely from the people trying to pump up the share price, buying and selling over and over to that end. The volume can't be explained by large numbers of retail investors deciding to buy GameStop and hold it for a while, or by short sellers covering their positions, or by both. This was people buying and selling, buying and selling, buying and selling.
To the extent some people were consciously trying to pump the stock so they could profit when they dumped it, they may have still come out ahead because their gain on the overall price movement might outweigh the small amounts they might have lost on the repeated pumping trades. But, to the extent other retail traders were caught up in the furor and were essentially trying to day trade, they almost certainly lost - on net - to the professional day traders. That is to say, they most likely lost to the computers that professional traders use to trade in and out of positions based on very quick price movements. I just don't think it's possible for humans to beat the computers, in the aggregate, when it comes to trying to time trades minute by minute or second by second. So I suspect that, when it comes to the day trading aspect of this situation, retail investors were in the aggregate big losers while institutional investors - or professional traders - were in the aggregate big winners.
Adding it all up: I think a few retail investors probably made a lot of money. A bunch of others made a little money. Many more lost a little money, while maybe a few lost a lot of money. In the aggregate retail investors probably lost big. On the other side, a few institutional investors lost huge while many others made a lot of money and still others made a little money. In the aggregate, I suspect institutional investors came out ahead.
For me, the big question is which side of this described divide contrived this, assuming someone or some group did. Was it a savvy but unscrupulous institutional investor or professional trader? Or was it a savvy but unscrupulous retail investor? And was it an American (or group of Americans) or a foreigner (or group of foreigners)? I suspect we'll eventually find out, but it's possible the genesis of this is never entirely clear.
Sorry for... all the words.