KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kalamazoo man has paid for digital billboards referencing the Reddit group WallStreetBets and the short squeeze of hedge funds that have been occurring with stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment.
Photos of the Save AMC billboard at the Wings Event Center are going viral on social media.
Brett Reath, the man behind the billboards, says he is poking fun at Wall Street and wants to bring attention to what hedge funds have been doing for decades by shorting stocks.
The messages will appear for a few days during the morning commute and evening rush hour.
“I thought it was a really interesting way to kind of shed light on the situation that’s been going on,” Reath said.
Reath says purchasing the advertising was not expensive, he paid $100 a day for two billboards to run in the rotation at set times.
He says shorting stocks is nothing new and hedge funds have been battling it out for years, placing bets on companies they think will soon be bankrupt or drop in price.
“I think what happened here is you had a few hedge funds taking advantage of companies that were hardest hit by the pandemic,” Reath said.
Shorting involves borrowing shares from a brokerage and selling the borrowed stock to other investors.
When they reach an expiration date, replacement shares are purchased and returned. If the stock goes down, they buy those shares at a low cost and keep the profits. If it goes up, they have to pay the difference to the brokerage and lose money. The process is considered very risky because the potential for losses can be infinite depending on how high the stock climbs.
The low-cost brokerage Robinhood ended up restricting buying and only allowed selling.
“I don’t think you can prevent people from buying a stock if they want to. I mean, if they want to buy a stock and it’s the worst idea ever, that’s their right to do that,” Reath said.
While there is debate over why this happened, some say the company did not have enough funds in reserve to cover the increased volume of buying.
Reath says the billboards are not meant as investment advice and that investors should carefully consider the risks when buying any stocks.