Tag Archives: Gamestop

AMC Shorts Take $653 Million Loss in August

It’s been a rough August. And it’s not over.

Short sellers in shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings have lost $653 million so far this month. From a new Bloomberg report:


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Investors betting against the most well-known meme stocks have lost about $1.65 billion this month after the shares soared in value, prompting a short squeeze.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.’s 47% rally has pushed mark-to-market losses for short-sellers to $653 million, S3 Partners data show. Similar bets against Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. and GameStop Corp., which have surged 359% and 19%, respectively, in August, lost $1 billion combined.

Bets against meme stocks like AMC and GameStop blew up hedge fund Melvin Capital Management, among others. But like moths to the flame, short sellers seem drawn to losing more.

Many firms like Melvin heavily shorted multiple meme stocks. Rallies in several meme names at once multiplies their losses.

Shorting a heavily shorted company is a recipe for a short squeeze. Add a fanatical retail following, and disaster could strike at any moment.

The ideal short sale candidate is a failing company that isn’t heavily shorted. And you want something with no cult following.

Or better yet, follow the counsel of a hedge fund manager I had dinner with recently:

“Short selling is a great way to lose money.”

I guess some are learning. As for the rest, bon chance.

What do you think of short sellers recent losses? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

AMC’s 9 Million Missing Shares

Is Melvin’s Gabe Plotkin Headed to Prison?

Shorts Having Their Worst Month Since January 2021

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Is Melvin’s Gabe Plotkin Headed to Prison?

The SEC is investigating Melvin Capital Management for securities fraud. From a report that broke last night in The Wall Street Journal:


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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into Melvin Capital Management risk controls and investor disclosure after the hedge fund was crippled by the meme-stock rally last year, said people familiar with the matter.

The regulator has contacted investors in the hedge fund in recent months as part of an investigation into what Melvin founder Gabriel Plotkin and other senior executives told them following the meme-stock rally in January 2021 and whether it misled investors when it raised money last year.

If Plotkin and other top Melvin executives lied to investors in a fundraising presentation, they committed a very serious crime: securities fraud.

Securities fraud can be punishable by prison time, not to mention large fines. Of course, no one has proven anything yet against Plotkin or anyone at Melvin.

When Melvin raised money last year, it had already suffered massive losses. Its losses during the meme stock rally of January 2021 were $6.8 billion, or more than half its assets.

The worst days saw losses of over $1 billion. A day.

If you’re raising funds and fighting for survival in a situation like that, you might be tempted to stretch the truth.

We don’t yet know which fundraising presentations the SEC is looking into. But we do know that Melvin raised $2.75 billion last year from Citadel and Point72 Asset Management.

Did Melvin lie in those presentations in order to secure the bag?

When you rob mom and pop, it’s hard for the victim to fight back. But if you rob some of the richest and most sophisticated investors in the world, they can hire an army of lawyers to make your life very difficult.

This investigation comes on top of a DOJ probe into Melvin’s short sales. That investigation too could result in prison time for insider trading if wrongdoing is found.

In all, it’s not hard to see why Melvin shut down. It had lost a fortune, couldn’t get any more performance fees, and feds were circling.

I don’t know whether Melvin did anything wrong. But I do know that today, I’m glad I’m not Gabe Plotkin.

Do you think Melvin is guilty? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

Have a great weekend everyone! 👋

More on markets:

Melvin Capital Under Federal Investigation

The Real Reasons Melvin Is Shutting Down: No Fat Fees and a Federal Investigation

AMC’s 9 Million Missing Shares

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Shorts Having Their Worst Month Since January 2021

Note: This is not financial advice.

Short sellers are having their worst month since January 2021. From a new Bloomberg report:

Somehow, the stock market’s worst first half in five decades has morphed into a slaughterhouse for short sellers.

More big lumps were felt Tuesday, when the S&P 500 rallied 2.8% and bearish traders suffered losses roughly double that.

About 98% of S&P 500 members advanced, the broadest rally since December 2018. The most-hated stocks jumped 5.5%, eventually delivering pain for bears who were forced to cover their positions to limit losses, going by a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. basket. With the most-shorted basket up 16% in July, the month is shaping up to be the worst for short sellers since the retail-driven squeeze in January 2021.


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Heavily shorted stocks have not run like this since meme stocks skyrocketed last January. Indeed, meme stocks are causing some of the biggest pain for shorts right now.

This tussle between the two sides of the investment world has continued this year, and fresh data from S3 Partners, LLC shows that between January and July 2022, AMC short sellers lost more than $1 billion in mark to market losses.

We’re in a bear market. This is not a great time to bet that stocks will go lower.

But hedge funds have piled in anyhow, betting against volatile stocks with cult followings. And again, they’ve taken major losses.

Perhaps some in the hedge fund world are beginning to learn their lesson. I had dinner with a bunch of hedge fund guys last month, and one said:

“Short selling is a great way to lose money.”

Now, short selling hedge funds may be forced to buy stock. They cannot fall too far behind their benchmarks.

Again from Bloomberg:

“Positioning had gotten very defensive as managers were anticipating additional downside. However, if the market rallies, then they are at risk of underperforming the broader market,” Freeman said. “Shorts are hurting their performance and they don’t have enough long exposure to keep up so they are forced to buy.”

Short sellers being forced to buy stocks to stem losses…this is the definition of a short squeeze.

I certainly don’t know if or when any stock will squeeze. But I do know I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of these trades.

What do you think is next for short sellers? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

AMC Fails to Deliver Hit 9.7 Million

Wall Street Banks Turn on Each Other as Federal Probe Looms

New Law Could Put Big Short Sellers on the Endangered Species List

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AMC Fails to Deliver Hit 9.7 Million

In over a year reporting on this, I’ve never seen a number this big.

Fails to deliver in shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. hit nearly 9.7 million in June. The report, released today by the SEC, covers the second half of the month.


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The peak came on June 28, with 9,697,393 shares failing to clear. Fails to deliver settled at a still massive 1,907,897 at the end of the month.

So what are fails to deliver, anyway? A fail to deliver occurs when a trade is made but never completed.

Let’s say I agree to sell you 100 shares of AMC for $15.07 each. You want the shares and you’re happy with the price, so you agree.

Done deal right? Wrong.

I have to actually deliver the shares to you. When I fail to do that, that’s called a fail to deliver.

Fails to deliver often occur when traders engage in naked short selling. This generally illegal practice involves selling short shares without borrowing them first.

It’s a powerful way to push down a share’s price. If you can sell stock short without borrowing any, you can short any amount!

The market is flooded with sell orders and the share price dives. But the trades never get completed.

Instead, they show up on this report.

This is a truly incredible number of failed trades. Let’s zoom in on June 28th, the peak for fails to deliver.

Here’s how many fails to deliver some of the biggest stocks in the market had that day. This can give us an idea of what’s normal, even for far larger companies:

Alphabet Inc. (Google): 814

Apple Inc.: 28,223

Microsoft Corp.: 12,400

The biggest companies on earth have just a few trades not clearing. Meanwhile little old AMC has nearly 10 million.

Keep in mind, just because those fails to deliver dropped near the end of the month doesn’t mean the trades ever settled. The DTCC often puts trades that failed some time ago into an “obligation warehouse.”

After that, these failed trades disappear.

How can we have robust financial markets when the public doesn’t trust them? And how can the public trust markets when trades that affect share prices never actually happen?

It’s time for the SEC to investigate this issue vigorously.

Until then, we’ll just see more bogus trades pile up.

What do you think is causing these failed trades? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

Have a great weekend everyone! 👋

More on markets:

Wall Street Banks Turn on Each Other as Federal Probe Looms

New Law Could Put Big Short Sellers on the Endangered Species List

Bill Ackman Loses $4.8 Billion

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New Law Could Put Big Short Sellers on the Endangered Species List

A new law introduced in Congress could mean the end of some major short sellers. According to a report that broke this morning on TheStreet, the law would require disclosure of short positions by large investors.

Today, big investors like hedge funds have to disclose the stocks they own quarterly. But they can keep secret any short position they have, no matter how large.


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If the bill passes, those days are over. From TheStreet:

The Short Sale Transparency and Market Fairness Act will modify the reporting requirements applicable to certain institutional investment managers who have more than $100 million in assets under custody and who are required to file ownership reports with the SEC. Key modifications include:

1 Reducing the reporting window from 45 days to 10 days after the end of each month for such asset managers.
2 Expanding such reports to require reporting of direct or indirect derivative positions or interests (including short positions).

This could make it dangerous for hedge funds to heavily short a stock. Soon, everyone would know about their position.

That means other hedge funds could buy the same stock to engineer a short squeeze. They may be joined by retail investors, as was the case in shares of GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. last year.

A short squeeze can cause catastrophic losses for a hedge fund, as in the case of Melvin Capital.

The new law could also make naked short selling more difficult. This generally illegal practice involves selling short shares without borrowing them first.

I’ve long suspected naked shorting in shares of meme stocks like AMC and GameStop, along with many other investors.

But what if regulators or the public could count up the amount of short positions out there? If big investors have far more shares short than exist, it would be strong evidence of naked short selling.

In all, I think this bill would be a very positive change for markets. If investors have a right to know about long positions held by big institutions, why not short positions?

What’s more, in a future financial crisis, knowing who shorted what could be critical. A huge short position that blows up could push an institution to insolvency, perhaps dragging others with it.

We don’t know yet whether the bill will pass or what final form it might take. But here’s hoping Congress acts to make markets safer, fairer, and more transparent.

What do you think about the new bill? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

AMC Fails to Deliver Pass 2.6 Million in New Report

Hedge Fund Tiger Global Losing $136 Million a Day, Down 52%

$6B Hedge Fund Cut Off from Trading As Investigation Looms

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Retirees Face $1.3 Billion Loss in Wall Street Fraud

It was supposed to be a safe investment.

In small offices across the country, brokers sold a security called L Bonds. The bonds were backed by life insurance policies and were supposed to provide a steady stream of income.

Many buyers were elderly. Now they’re facing catastrophic losses of up to $1.3 billion.

From a report that broke this morning in The Wall Street Journal:

What many of these retail investors didn’t know was that [bond issuer] GWG’s founders and a board director would each use the money to fund and launch their own startup ventures, then move them out of the investors’ reach, according to people familiar with the matter. The roughly 27,000 individuals who bought GWG’s unique debt securities, known as L Bonds, are now facing huge potential losses – for many, their retirement nest eggs.


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The original business buying life insurance policies quickly ran into trouble. So, bond issuer GWG Holdings cast about for another strategy.

It settled on backing speculative startups run by the company’s founders.

That would be reckless enough a thing to do with small savers’ money. But worse yet, the miscreants running GWG quickly moved those assets out of reach of the L Bond buyers.

Once the top executives had taken the assets, they drove GWG into bankruptcy.

The judge overseeing the court proceedings in Houston said he had never before seen a company give up control of everything it owns before seeking chapter 11 protection.

GWG appears to have operated like a Ponzi scheme. Of the $1.26 billion in L Bonds the company sold, nearly two-thirds went to paying off prior bonds.

Meanwhile, the top executives siphoned off tens of millions of dollars in dividends for themselves.

The SEC began investigating GWG as early as 2020. GWG didn’t disclose the investigation to its investors for a year.

In the mean time, it sold another $200 million in toxic L Bonds.

The law generally prohibits the SEC from disclosing investigations. I think it’s high time to change those laws.

Many elderly put their life’s savings into these bonds.

They should’ve known the company was under federal investigation. The government they pay taxes to should never have kept that a secret from them.

It doesn’t help for the SEC to blow the whistle once the money is already gone.

What do you think of this case and how the SEC handled it? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

See you on Monday!

More on markets:

Hedge Fund Tiger Global Losing $136 Million a Day, Down 52%

Hedge Fund Giant D1 Loses $7 Billion in 2022

Shadowy Hedge Fund Cash Bankrolls Fight Against Regulation

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Shadowy Hedge Fund Cash Bankrolls Fight Against Regulation

Hedge funds are going all out to stop the SEC from implementing new disclosure rules. Now they have some help from an academic group whose finances are shrouded in secrecy.

From a report that broke yesterday in Institutional Investor:

…hedge funds aren’t fighting the SEC alone: A new organization, which Institutional Investor has learned has at least one hedge fund backer, has enlisted dozens of academics to argue against the proposals, creating something of a firestorm of criticism.

Wonky academic comments on proposed SEC rule changes typically fly under the radar. But [UC Berkeley law and finance professor Frank] Partnoy made them his mission. Now his work — in comment letters signed by himself, [Robert] Bishop, and other academics — is taking some heat. In part, that’s because the financing of his institute, which pays Partnoy and Bishop for their letter writing, has been shrouded in secrecy.

The International Institute of Law and Finance refuses to disclose its backers. But at least one major hedge fund manager, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, is bankrolling the effort per Institutional Investor.


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Even the group’s chairman is a hedge fund employee:

The chairman of the institute’s board is Stephen Fraidin, a corporate attorney and partner at Cadwalader who has also long worked for Pershing Square.

Given the institute’s lack of financial disclosures, we can only guess who else may be backing its efforts. But we do know that numerous hedge funds, including Citadel, have met with the SEC to oppose new regulations.

So what exactly are these regulations that hedge funds and their friends in academia so passionately oppose?

One requires investors who buy over 5% of a company’s stock to disclose the position sooner. Another requires similar disclosure if the 5% position is in swaps.

Swaps can be used to hide both long and short positions in a stock. They can also lead to sudden, massive losses, as was the case with Archegos Capital Management last year.

Other shareholders should know when the stock they hold is being accumulated by a major investor. Employees too need to know about ownership changes that can affect their livelihood.

Better disclosures could even prevent another financial crisis. If banks know about a fund’s huge swaps positions, they may be unwilling to extend it more credit, which could prevent a huge hedge fund or bank failure.

But just because regulations are good for society as a whole doesn’t mean hedge funds won’t fight them with everything they’ve got. And since the message isn’t that persuasive coming from them, why not pay a few academics to deliver it for them?

Hedge funds are also finding some unlikely allies in Washington, including a Congressman with ties to hedge fund Elliott Management:

Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Democrat from New York’s South Bronx — one of the poorest districts in the nation — whose top donors include Elliott, has been circulating the letter [opposing regulation], according to an individual familiar with the effort. (Torres, whom OpenSecrets says is a top recipient of hedge fund cash in the current election cycle, did not return multiple requests for comment, nor did Elliott.)

Is hedge fund regulation really a top priority of Torres’ constituents in the South Bronx?

Big money has long since poisoned politics and now is doing the same with academia. We, as citizens and investors, need to stop fooling ourselves about who these institutions really represent.

Who else do you think is behind the fight against hedge fund regulations? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

$6B Hedge Fund Cut Off from Trading As Investigation Looms

Hedge Fund Tiger Global Losing $136 Million a Day, Down 52%

Hedge Fund Giant D1 Loses $7 Billion in 2022

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Hedge Fund Giant D1 Loses $7 Billion in 2022

Yet another massive crossover hedge fund is facing serious losses. New York-based D1 Capital Partners has lost approximately $7 billion this year.

From a Bloomberg report that broke yesterday:

…D1 has told investors who selected a 50-50 mix of public and private assets that the strategy lost 23% through May. The firm attributed most of the damage to public investments, which fell 44%. It marked down private assets only 8% — including 0.05% last month.

This 50-50 mix was the most common choice for D1 investors.

D1 still has about $17 billion in private equities and $7 billion in public stocks, implying losses of about $5.5 billion and $1.5 billion respectively. The firm’s total loss for 2022 alone appears to be about $7 billion.


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D1’s losses, large as they are, are probably severely understated.

It has marked down its private company stocks by only 8%. However, the Refinitiv Venture Capital Index is down 47% for the year.

If D1’s portfolio mirrors the broader markets, the real losses on this $17 billion pile of private company stocks could be billions more.

To make things even more interesting, D1 borrowed billions and poured it into illiquid private company shares. From Bloomberg:

Hedge funds were tallying gains on their hottest bet in years when Dan Sundheim reached an unusual deal with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to go even further.

With the bank’s help in August 2020, Sundheim’s D1 Capital Partners used its stakes in private companies as collateral for borrowing $2 billion that the firm could put toward yet more of those stakes, among other things. Last year that focus on private companies looked brilliant, as D1 updated its valuations and posted a whopping 70% gain in that part of its portfolio.

Now, the industry is bracing for a reckoning.

I invest in startups myself, but I would never borrow money to do so.

Borrowing money to invest in tech startups is completely reckless. These companies are volatile, speculative, and illiquid.

It’s telling that the best venture capital firms in the business, like Sequoia and Benchmark, don’t play these shell games to boost returns.

Losses for crossover hedge funds like D1 are so severe that some cannot even meet redemption requests from investors:

In the starkest sign yet of the strain on hedge funds, Tiger said last week that it couldn’t continue to fill redemptions the normal way because so much of its portfolio was invested in hard-to-sell stakes in private companies. As the firm saw losses and some redemptions in the first quarter, it exited 83 stocks. Now if investors want to pull money from Tiger’s hedge and long-only funds, a portion of the liquid assets will be sold, but private investments will be placed in a separate account to be cashed out later.

I expect a similar move at D1 soon.

This isn’t the first time D1 has gotten itself into trouble.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, it lost 30% of its public portfolio in January 2021. As meme stocks soared, D1 was badly burned by short positions.

The overall impression I have of D1 is of a reckless firm casting about in vain for a winning strategy. It rushed into venture capital with a risky and untested scheme, then lost a fortune betting against volatile meme stocks.

Were I an investor in the firm, I’d be asking for my money back. The question is: can you get it?

What do you think of D1’s losses? And who do you think is next?
Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

This is the last blog for this week. There will be no blog next week — I’m heading off for a vacation!

See you on Monday, June 20th. Have a great weekend! 👋

More on markets:

Hedge Fund Tiger Global Losing $136 Million a Day, Down 52%

$6B Hedge Fund Cut Off from Trading As Investigation Looms

Citadel Adds Millions to AMC Options Bet

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SEC May End Payment for Order Flow

The SEC may soon propose an end to payment for order flow. This controversial practice lets market makers buy the right to execute trades, particularly those of retail investors.

From a report that broke in The Wall Street Journal last night:

Chairman Gary Gensler directed SEC staff last year to explore ways to make the stock market more efficient for small investors and public companies. While aspects of the effort are in varying stages of development, one idea that has gained traction is to require brokerages to send most individual investors’ orders to be routed into auctions where trading firms compete to execute them, people familiar with the matter said.

The SEC’s proposed trading changes could take effect later this year or in early 2023:

After a year of internal deliberations, the agency has homed in on a narrowing set of proposals. If the SEC votes to release them for public comment later this year, they would have a path to implementation, as Democrats hold a majority of seats on the commission.


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Market makers competing against each other to offer the best price should be much fairer than the current system. Today, large market makers like Citadel Securities can pay brokers like Robinhood Markets for the right to execute trades.

Citadel and other major firms may be dragged kicking and screaming into this fairer market:

A spokesman for Citadel Securities said the firm looks forward to reviewing the SEC’s proposals and working with the agency.

“It is important to recognize that the current market structure has resulted in tighter spreads, greater transparency and meaningfully reduced costs for retail investors,” the spokesman added.


Citadel’s spokesman conveniently fails to mention that the firm was fined $22 million by the SEC for not giving investors the best price on their trades.

But in fairness, one study found that payment for order flow has resulted in lower costs. Those payments have let many brokers reduce their commissions to zero.

Despite zero commissions, the price brokers give investors may be so bad that the investor loses in the end.

Brokers claim that payment for order flow trades are being executed at the best available price. But to this day, I’ve never seen a broker release a data set proving it.

An auction model is much more transparent. It could go a long way to restoring retail investors’ confidence in financial markets.

What do you think of payment for order flow? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

Hedge Fund Tiger Global Losing $136 Million a Day, Down 52%

$6B Hedge Fund Cut Off from Trading As Investigation Looms

Credit Suisse May Need Up to $1 Billion After Huge Losses

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$6B Hedge Fund Cut Off from Trading As Investigation Looms

Hedge fund giant Segantii Capital Management has been cut off from trading by two major banks. From a Financial Times report that broke this morning:

Bank of America and Citigroup have suspended all equity trading with Segantii Capital Management, due to the banks’ concerns about the hedge fund’s bets on the sale of large blocks of shares, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

BoA and Citi may be acting to save themselves from legal liability. Segantii is caught up in a federal probe of short sellers:

Media reports earlier this year said US authorities had sought communications between Morgan Stanley, which is at the centre of the block trading probe, and a former employee of Segantii.

The federal investigation centers on block trades. Wall Street traders may have sold short stocks when a large block of shares was about to come onto the market, pushing the price down.


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These short sellers should not even know about the block trades. But it seems they’re getting the information, likely from someone inside the bank doing the big trade.

From the Financial Times:

The SEC probe is looking at whether other traders are getting advance word of these large sales — either directly from the banks or in some other way — and improperly profiting by shorting the shares in expectation that prices will fall.

So what will happen to Segantii?

It still has a few banks that will trade with it, including Goldman Sachs. But the federal probe is gathering information on Goldman as well, according to the same Bloomberg report that named Segantii as a subject of the probe.

Two major banks cutting off Segantii entirely is likely to make the fund toxic, in my view. How will you explain to your boss, or the government, that you kept trading with a fund subject to a federal probe even after other big banks cut them off?

Segantii may struggle to keep doing business. And bad press spooks investors, which may lead them to pull their money from the fund.

This could result in a spiral reminiscent of the recent demise of Melvin Capital Management.

One thing Segantii seems to have in its favor is that it has not notched any huge reported losses. Yet.

Do you think Segantii is another Melvin? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

Hedge Fund Giant Tiger Global Losing $28 Million an Hour

FBI Raids Short Sellers

The Real Reasons Melvin Is Shutting Down: No Fat Fees and a Federal Investigation

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Photo: Segantii chief Simon Sadler

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