GameStop Hearing: Citadel’s Ken Griffin Doesn’t Let the Brutal Facts Get in the Way of His Testimony

Citadel's Ken Griffin (Thumbnail)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 18, 2021 ~ The billionaire hedge fund titan of Citadel LLC and its market-making/trade execution arm, Citadel Securities, delivered a load of horse pukky in his written testimony to the House Financial Services Committee. Griffin is slated to appear as one of six witnesses at the hearing scheduled at noon today to examine the trading in shares of GameStop in January. GameStop is the brick-and-mortar video game retailer whose stock soared from $18.84 on December 31 of last year to an intraday high of $483 on January 28 – an unprecedented run of 2,465 percent in four weeks by a struggling retail outlet. The stock price then quickly plunged back to earth. It closed yesterday at $45.94. GameStop is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares are not supposed to trade like a penny stock operated out of a boiler room. … Continue reading

GameStop Hearing Gets a Surprise Witness from Deeply Conflicted Cato Institute

Jennifer Schulp of the Cato Institute

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 17, 2021 ~ In a period of four weeks in January, shares of New York Stock Exchange listed GameStop soared more than 2400 percent from its closing price on December 31, 2020 before plunging back to earth. The episode has focused much needed attention on the corrupt underbelly and rigged structure of trading on Wall Street. When the House Financial Services Committee sent out its press release for tomorrow’s hearing to take testimony from the people involved in the wild trading action of GameStop, it included just five witnesses: Keith Gill, a licensed broker who was employed at a broker-dealer at the same time he was hawking the shares of GameStop on Reddit and YouTube; Ken Griffin, the CEO of Citadel LLC, which has a related firm paying nine online brokers for order flow, thus enabling it to get an early peek at … Continue reading

What Did Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat Do to Get a $5 Million Pay Cut?

Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup Since 2012

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 16, 2021 ~  Rewarding bad behavior with obscene pay is the sine qua non of Wall Street. Thus it’s a remarkable event to see a CEO of a mega Wall Street bank get punished with a 21 percent pay cut.  Michael Corbat is slated to retire this month as Citigroup’s CEO and be replaced by Jane Fraser, the first woman CEO of any major Wall Street bank. (The news would be more welcome if the areas that Fraser previously supervised at the bank did not have all those fines and sanctions.) The Board delivered an unusual kick in the pants to Corbat on his way out the door. It cut his compensation for 2020 by $5 million from what he had been awarded for 2019. Corbat’s total compensation went from $24 million in 2019 to $19 million for 2020. The announcement was made in … Continue reading

Citadel’s Ken Griffin Called to Testify at GameStop Hearing this Thursday; In Past Two Years, Republicans Got More than $60 Million of His Winnings

Ken Griffin

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 15, 2021 ~ The tentacles of Ken Griffin’s Citadel octopus were involved in multiple ways in the GameStop saga that will get a hearing this Thursday before the House Financial Services Committee. Griffin has been called to testify along with others. GameStop is the brick-and-mortar video game retailer whose stock soared from $18.84 on December 31 of last year to an intraday high of $483 on January 28 – a breathtaking run of 2,465 percent in four weeks – before plunging back to earth. It closed on Friday at $52.40. The hearing has been called to understand the relationship between all of the parties that played a pivotal role in the wild trading activity, which made fortunes for some big players while leaving others licking their wounds from what has the appearance of a pump and dump scheme. Griffin’s Citadel Securities was paying … Continue reading

Subpoenas Start to Fly in the GameStop Saga as a Dude Sitting in Federal Prison Offers Guidance

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 12, 2021 ~ We knew Keith Gill’s worst nightmare was about to happen when we learned that he lived in Massachusetts. That state is uniquely the worst place to flout securities regulations because the Secretary of the Commonwealth, who oversees its Securities Division, is William Galvin, who has been reelected to that post every four years since first obtaining the position in 1994. Galvin is nationally known as a Pitbull for going after security frauds taking place in his state. Keith Gill is the man who hawked the shares of GameStop on Reddit’s WallStreetBets’ message board under the screen name DeepF***ingValue and on YouTube under the handle Roaring Kitty. As we reported on January 30, far from being an “amateur trader,” as Gill was being characterized by the media, he actually held sophisticated trading licenses and was registered with the broker-dealer unit of … Continue reading

Are We Watching the Trial of Trump or the Invisible Hand of the Koch Machine?

Charles Koch

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 11, 2021 ~ The shadowy escalations of Koch money and power in U.S. politics over the past four decades has far outpaced mainstream media’s ability to quantify it to the public. The media deludes itself that it is dealing with the problem by talking about the symptoms of corporate and billionaire money in political campaigns while ignoring the actual disease – the Party of Koch. The rise of Trumpism is merely a symptom of the Party of Koch. The violent mob in the Capitol on January 6, attempting to overturn a duly conducted election, is merely a symptom of the Party of Koch. If Donald Trump is banned from ever again holding federal political office, and he should be, Congress still has done nothing to deal with the actual disease – the Party of Koch. Charles Koch has been the Chairman and CEO … Continue reading

Janet Yellen’s Slush Fund to Meddle in Markets Got a $490 Billion Haircut

Janet Yellen

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 10, 2021 ~ Remember all the hubbub in the fall of last year when then U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin demanded in a November 19 letter that the Fed return all of the money from the CARES Act that it had not used for emergency lending programs. Mnuchin’s stated reason for the demand was because he was going to turn the unused funds over to the general fund of the Treasury so that Congress could reappropriate it for other purposes. At the time, Mnuchin made it sound like the Fed had been sitting on the bulk of the $454 billion that the CARES Act had allotted to be used as loss-absorbing capital for the Fed’s emergency lending programs. In reality, Mnuchin had never turned over the bulk of the CARES Act money to the Fed, but had parked it instead in a Treasury … Continue reading

Retail Traders Are the New Lab Rats in High Frequency Trading Schemes

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 9, 2021 ~ Yesterday, reporters at the Washington Post provided important new information about the insidious machinations of high frequency traders’ efforts to rig U.S. markets in their favor. WaPo reporters Douglas MacMillan and Yeganeh Torbati revealed the following: “Hedge funds have started to build algorithms or hire outside firms that specialize in scanning conversations on Reddit and Twitter for clues about what retail traders are thinking. Several of these services, with names like Swaggy Stocks, Robintrack and Quiver Quantitative, popped up in the past two years… “Last year, prominent hedge funds including Point72, D.E. Shaw, Two Sigma and Capital Fund Management were all found to be siphoning trading data from a popular app called Robintrack, which collected information on which stocks users of Robinhood bought and sold. Casey Primozic, the programmer who created the now-defunct app, tweeted his finding in May that he had … Continue reading

Jim Cramer’s Thesis that Reddit’s WallStreetBets’ Guys Caused the Short Squeeze in GameStop Is Falling Apart

Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 8, 2021 ~ There’s an important debate going on about whether the Reddit message board known as WallStreetBets fanned the short squeeze that inflated GameStop from an $18.84 stock on December 31 of last year to a $483 stock intraday on January 28 – a breathtaking run of 2,465 percent in four weeks. Last week GameStop came plunging back to earth, closing the week at $63.77. Similar short squeezes are causing other targeted stocks to whipsaw in wild trading action. The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the matter on February 18 and multiple investigations are underway by both federal and state authorities. At this time one year ago, the Reddit WallStreetBets’ message board had 900,000 users — not a particularly big number for a group that started in 2012. This morning, as a result of all the publicity, the … Continue reading

SEC: 621,000 Shares in GameStop Trades Had Not Properly Settled by January 14

LifeLock Commercial

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 5, 2021 ~ Remember that LifeLock tv commercial where masked bank robbers storm into a bank, smashing things with a baseball bat and screaming, “on the floor.” As the customers hit the floor, a security guard is still standing looking calmly at the robbers with his hands at his side. A woman looks up from the floor at the guard and whispers to him: “Do something.” His reply: “Oh, I’m not a security guard, I’m a security monitor. I only notify people if there’s a robbery.” After a few seconds of observing the scene around him, he looks back down at the woman and says: “There’s a robbery.” The commercial ends with the voice over: “Why monitor a problem if you don’t fix it?” This commercial perfectly reflects the attitude of the Securities and Exchange Commission under the past two SEC Chairs, Mary … Continue reading