Platinum Banana: Biggest Oof - It isn't every year that bands of self-identified crayon-eaters join together to successfully exploit, embarrass, and humiliate, not just one but, multiple storied, established Wall Street institutions. Luckily for us, 2021 was one of those years. With no further ado, please join me in a big round of applause for the winner of the 2021 Platinum Banana Award for Biggest Oof: Gabriel Plotkin & Melvin Capital!
For those of you wondering, an "oof" is technically defined as any thing or action that you notice or that occurs that makes you go "oof." It's a feeling, you know an oof when you see one. And I don't know about you guys, as we weren't writing The Daily Peel during all the fun, but I've never oofed harder in my life than watching Melvin Capital CEO Gabriel Plotkin forced onto his knees at the hands of retail traders to beg Steve Cohen at Point72 and Ken Griffin at Citadel for over $2.75bn in cash just to keep his firm's doors open. An absolute embarrassment that only got better in front of Congress.
We all remember the GameStop fiasco that took place earlier this year and kickstarted the whole "meme stock" movement. We may not have known that this brave act of buying the s*t out of GME stock and calls led by the one and only Keith Gill would have taken the crown for Biggest Oof of the year, but it was clear immediately that the time has come to question old-world assumptions of power balances on Wall Street.
What r/WallStreetBets and the world-class traders native to that subreddit did earlier this year was nothing short of a masterpiece. Our ape-minded brethren proved it is not only possible, but extremely rewarding (financially and otherwise) to form a digital-first, decentralized group of pure strangers and take on a titan of Wall Street. While certainly a cool act and idea on its own, this microcosmic example of decentralized, arguably autonomous groups of people challenging societally embedded institutions speaks volumes of what is to come in the future with the advent of DAOs and other decentralized, cryptographic technologies.
See, despite how cool r/WSB vs Wall Street was, something tells me it's just the beginning of a redefining of old norms. What the next institution to be challenged by a bunch of fed up, digitally native individuals could be, we have no idea. We just want to make sure you remember that phrase that got us here today - "apes together strong."
Entrepreneurs to the Rescue - The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave - add to that expression the place to start a business. Since the nation's founding, entrepreneurship has been a boon to American capitalism and the bedrock of our ~$21tn economy. The risk-it-for-the-biscut sentiment has never left the U.S., but now, our risk-loving nature is hitting all-time highs by at least one metric.
"Great resignation", "great reshuffling", "great reassessment" - whatever game-like semantic bullsh*t you want to play aside, what we really should be talking about when it comes to the labor market is the great amount of new business ventures American citizens are embarking on. In July 2020, these applications hit an all-time peak of 552,748. Hardly ever in U.S. history had this figure surpassed 300k, meaning this new record and the months following truly are anomalous.
Why does any of this matter? Well, a couple reasons. First, it's representative of the American zeitgeist as we close out the year. The "creator economy" and other routes to self-employment are becoming a more and more popular path to economic security. The pandemic was the spark, but judging by the somewhat sustained uptrend, there's a lot more kindling to burn through. Of course, the past few months have seen a noticeable drop-off, but November was still a 40% cliff over the pre-pandemic record.
Second, this is super bullish for the U.S. economy. New business applications and other metrics tend to spike following a recession, which intuitively makes sense. You can argue that that is what we're seeing here as well, but regardless of the cause, history shows that when new businesses come onto the scene, the economy tend to bring good tidings.
Let's hope that history is right and congrats to any newly self-employed apes reading this. Good luck!