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GameStop Hearing Gets a Surprise Witness from Deeply Conflicted Cato Institute

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Jennifer Schulp of the Cato Institute

Jennifer Schulp of the Cato Institute

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 price movements; Gabe Plotkin, CEO of hedge fund Melvin Capital, which had a massive short position in GameStop and would have likely gone belly up were it not for an infusion of $2 billion from its generous competitor Citadel; Vlad Tenev, CEO of Robinhood, a trading app that abruptly put curbs on the ability of its customers to buy shares of GameStop – thus helping hedge funds with short positions.

Now, out of the blue, a new witness has popped up for tomorrow’s hearing: Jennifer Schulp, the Director of Financial Regulation Studies for the Cato Institute.

It’s a fairly safe bet that Maxine Waters, a Democrat who Chairs the House Financial Services Committee, did not call this witness. If we were to make a wild guess as to who wanted this witness at the hearing, it would be the Republican ranking member of the Committee, Patrick McHenry, whose top donors are big firms on Wall Street that don’t want to see the GameStop fiasco result in tightened regulations.

The Cato Institute is deeply conflicted in this matter and its witness, Jennifer Schulp, should say so at the hearing. Cato is a libertarian think tank that for decades kept the fact that it was both a nonprofit as well as being secretly owned by a handful of men – among which were the billionaire, fossil fuel brothers, Charles and David Koch. (David died in 2019.)


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