Analysis: Wall Street is putting its foot down as ‘Roaring Kitty’ strikes again | CNN Business (2024)

Analysis: Wall Street is putting its foot down as ‘Roaring Kitty’ strikes again | CNN Business (1)

A GameStop sign hangs near the entrance on May 28, 2024 in Miami, Florida.

A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign upright here. You can listen to an audio version of the newsletter by clicking the same link.

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Roaring Kitty could soon face some roaring regulation.

Keith Gill, the “Roaring Kitty” meme stock investor who last month revived frenzied trading of GameStop and AMC Entertainment shares, revealed in a Reddit post on Sunday that he had bought nearly $116 million worth of GameStop stock.

The screenshot also showed he bought 120,000 call options with a $20 strike price. That means that Gill has the right to purchase 12 million shares of GameStop at $20 apiece by a set expiration date. GameStop shares closed Wednesday at $46.55 a share, more than double the price locked in by those options. A screenshot on Monday revealed that he made $54 million worth of gains on paper during just one trading session.

Gill posted a fresh image on Thursday showing that he has not sold any of his GameStop position since the Monday screenshot and that his holding is now worth more than $500 million. CNN has not been able to independently confirm the screenshots.

Analysis: Wall Street is putting its foot down as ‘Roaring Kitty’ strikes again | CNN Business (2)

The Gamestop company logo is seen on display at the New York Stock Exchange during afternoon trading on June 3, 2024 in New York City.

Gill’s return to social media sent meme stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment soaring, reminiscient of the frenzy that swept markets in 2021. Meme stocks are shares of companies with a cult following that tend to see wide swings based on their popularity on social media rather than their fundamentals.

The apparent staggering value of his portfolio, along with the large trading volumes of GameStop and AMC Entertainment shares in recent weeks, has brought into question whether Gill’s actions require regulatory scrutiny. Gill hasn’t explicitly told anyone to buy GameStop shares or that he thinks it’s headed to the moon. He has communicated exclusively by posting memes, gifs, short video clips and screenshots of his portfolio. It’s unclear if it even is Gill behind those posts.

But Wall Street is still taking notice. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that trading platform E*Trade, from which the screenshots appear to originate, is weighing removing Gill. The Journal also reported that Gill bought a “large volume” of GameStop options before he posted on X in May for the first time in three years.

Jay Woods, chief global strategist at Freedom Capital Markets, said that Gill’s activity could be considered unethical. But Woods doesn’t believe it’s criminal, especially considering that the trader hasn’t urged anyone to buy the stock — or really said anything at all.

Morgan Stanley, which owns E*Trade, declined to comment for this story. Gill did not respond to requests for comment.

To be sure, Gill isn’t the first trader to inspire copycats. Warren Buffett is famously one such investor whose holdings are closely watched: Berkshire Hathaway, of which Buffett is chief executive, in May disclosed a stake worth roughly $6.7 billion in Chubb, sending the insurance firm’s stock higher. But Chubb shares have risen just 4% since Buffett’s stake was revealed. In comparison, shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment have surged 167% and 99%, respectively, since Gill’s return to social media.

“Would I compare Keith Gill to Warren Buffett? No, but [Gill’s] influence is very similar. People want to be riding his coattails,” said Woods.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into GameStop call options trading activity around the time of Gill’s social media posts as concerns swirl internally that his trading activity could be considered manipulation, according to the Journal.

An SEC spokesperson told CNN that it “does not comment on the existence or nonexistence of a possible investigation.”

The Massachusetts securities division is probing Gill’s trading activities, a spokesperson for Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin told CNN, while declining to comment further.

Analysis: Wall Street is putting its foot down as ‘Roaring Kitty’ strikes again | CNN Business (3)

Keith Gill, a GameStop investor, also known in social media forums as Roaring Kitty, testifies during a virtual hearing on GameStop in Washington, Feb. 18, 2021.

It’s unclear whether any regulatory action could quell Gill’s staunch supporters or embolden them even more. Traders who helped stoke the 2021 meme stock frenzy touted a story of the underdog Main Street’s victory against tyrannical Wall Street: Retail investors bid up shares of GameStop and other meme stocks, leading to steep losses for hedge funds that made trades based on the assumption their prices would drop. Any regulatory backlash against Gill has the potential to create a similar narrative this time around.

In a surprise move, GameStop brought forward its first quarter earnings to Friday from next Tuesday. The video game retailer recorded a loss of $32.3 million, slightly better than the $50.5 million loss the prior year. First-quarter sales slipped to $0.9 billion, from $1.2 billion the year before.

The company could be trying to get ahead of a livestream on the Roaring Kitty YouTube channel slated to air at 12 pm ET on Friday. Wall Street will be tuning in not just for the entertainment but also clues about Gill’s next moves and their possible implications for trading regulations.

“There are ramifications, because people want to know exactly what we can and can’t do online,” said Woods. “These [market] moves are not normal moves.”

Interest rates are coming down in Europe. The Fed won’t follow yet

The European Central Bank cut interest rates Thursday, moving before the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England to lower borrowing costs as inflation recedes following years of rate hikes, reports my colleague Hanna Ziady.

The first ECB rate cut in nearly five years takes the benchmark rate in the 20 countries that use the euro down to 3.75% from an all-time high of 4%, where it had stood since September.

The move will bring some relief to companies and consumers, many of whom have felt the financial strain of the rapid run-up in interest rates since late 2021.

But the ECB cautioned that the fight to control price rises wasn’t completely over yet and that it wasn’t yet committed to further rate cuts.

“Despite the progress over recent quarters, domestic price pressures remain strong as wage growth is elevated, and inflation is likely to stay above target well into next year,” the central bank said in a statement.

Speaking to journalists, ECB President Christine Lagarde — who donned a necklace in the shape of the words “In charge” — emphasized that the central bank would continue to follow “a data-dependent and meeting-by-meeting approach.”

“We are not precommitting to a particular rate path,” she said.

Read more here.

Microsoft’s AI deal under federal investigation

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating a recent Microsoft deal with artificial intelligence startup Inflection, according to a person familiar with the matter, as US antitrust regulators ramp up scrutiny of the red-hot AI industry.

The investigation comes as antitrust officials at the FTC and the Justice Department are nearing final agreement this week on how to jointly oversee AI giants such as Microsoft, Google, Nvidia, OpenAI and others, two people familiar with the matter told CNN.

That agreement, which is still being finalized, would appoint the Department of Justice as the lead investigator of Nvidia, while the FTC would take responsibility for investigating Microsoft and OpenAI, the people said.

Any investigations would focus on whether the companies have used their dominant positions in the AI industry to harm competition, reports my colleague Brian Fung.

The FTC probe into Microsoft, meanwhile, concerns whether the company’s investment in Inflection constituted an acquisition that Microsoft failed to disclose to the government, one of the people said.

In March, Microsoft announced it had hired Inflection’s co-founders and a number of its staff to lead its Copilot program, and Inflection said its AI model would be hosted on Microsoft’s cloud platform. As part of that deal, Microsoft was said to have paid $650 million to Inflection.

Microsoft, Inflection, Google and OpenAI didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Nvidia declined to comment.

Read more here.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the number of shares Keith Gill’s call options gives him the right to purchase. Gill has the option to purchase 12 million shares.

Analysis: Wall Street is putting its foot down as ‘Roaring Kitty’ strikes again | CNN Business (2024)


Who is Roaring Kitty in real life? ›

Keith Gill, the man better known as Roaring Kitty, who became one of Wall Street's unlikeliest celebrities during the meme stock mania of 2021 before disappearing from public view, was onscreen — and in his signature fashion, mixing beer, comedy and market commentary.

What does Wall Street represent? ›

Wall Street is a worldwide symbol of high finance and investment and, as such, has entered modern mythology. To 19th-century Populists, Wall Street was a symbol of the rapacious robber barons who exploited farmers and labourers. In prosperous times Wall Street has symbolized the route to quick riches.

Why is Wall Street important to the economy? ›

Wall Street consists of the largest stock exchanges, the largest financial firms, and employs thousands of people. As the trading hub of the world's biggest economy, Wall Street has an enduring impact not just on the American economy, but also on the global one.

What is the meaning of Wall Street Exchange? ›

Wall Street is a street in New York where the Stock Exchange and important banks are. Wall Street is often used to refer to the financial business carried out there and to the people who work there. [business] On Wall Street, stocks closed at their second highest level today.

How much did Roaring Kitty start with? ›

Keith Gill learned about investing and became convinced that GameStop stock was undervalued, sharing this belief with others on Twitter (now X) with the handle RoaringKitty. He initially purchased $53,000 worth of GameStop stock in 2019. At the height of the GameStop surge, Gill's stock was valued at $48 million.

What two meanings are there for Wall Street? ›

Wall Street is a street in New York City's Lower Manhattan, and it's also the collective name for the U.S. financial markets and financial services industry that's historically been located there.

What is the moral of Wall Street? ›

Wall Street's narrative underscores the perils of unchecked greed and excessive risk-taking. The downfall of characters like Gordon Gekko serves as a stark reminder of the consequences when the pursuit of wealth becomes untethered from ethical considerations.

What is the message of Wall Street? ›

The themes of greed, ambition, integrity, and temptation run through this film about cutthroat business. Michael Douglas, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Gordon Gecko, the villain who quotes Sun Tzu's Art of War, talks of ripping people's throats out, and turns Bud to the Dark Side.

What is the big deal about Wall Street? ›

Why Is Wall Street Important? Wall Street bears both economic and cultural significance. It is at the epicenter of the trading realm, as it is home to some of the biggest financial institutions in the world, including the Federal Reserve, major banks, and the New York Stock Exchange.

Who owns Wall Street? ›

The WSJ is a division of Dow Jones, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

How does Wall Street affect everyday people? ›

Affordable Housing

These investors make housing unaffordable for many families by driving up housing costs, and unlivable by failing to provide habitable living conditions for their renters. Wall Street also funds efforts to block affordable housing initiatives, like a recent California rent control proposition.

What is the meaning of Wall Street in business? ›

Wall Street is used as an umbrella term to describe the financial markets and the companies that trade publicly on exchanges throughout the U.S. Historically, Wall Street has been the location of some of the largest U.S. brokerages and investment banking firms, and is also the home of the NYSE.

Why do they call it Wall Street? ›

Wall Street got its name from a literal, physical wall built in New York when the town was still a Dutch colony. Governor Peter Stuyvesant called for a 10-foot wall to be built, protecting the lower part of the peninsula from Native Americans.

What is the plot of Wall Street? ›

What does the Wall Street statue represent? ›

The charging bull represents the courage and can-do spirit of Americans and New Yorkers in particular. In a melting pot of backgrounds and experiences, Arturo Di Modica installed the bull as an antidote to the causes of the 1987 Wall Street crash: privilege, greed, and excess.

What is Wall Street based on? ›

The director had been thinking about this kind of a movie as early as 1981 and was inspired by his father, Lou Stone, a broker during the Great Depression at Hayden Stone. The filmmaker knew a New York businessman who was making millions and working long days putting together deals all over the world.

What is the meaning of Main Street and Wall Street? ›

The term Main Street is used in many contexts, but it always means local. Local businesses, consumers, and financial services firms may be referred to as Main Street. The polar opposite of Main Street is Wall Street and the big financial firms and global corporations it represents.

What animal represents Wall Street? ›

At 11 feet tall and 16 feet long, the aggressive bull is an unmistakable tribute to power and prosperity. Over the years, it has been accepted as an iconic New York City monument and an international symbol of Wall Street.

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