I think the gamma squeeze in February was an attempt to launch the rocket and begin the squeeze. The shorts foiled the attempt by recklessly flooding the market with even more naked shorts. This terrified all involved and prompted the DTCC to begin the preparations required to step in. If my speculation is accurate, actors in the market cannot instigate the squeeze (they tried and failed). So, we wait for the DTCC.
I wrote the below speculation because I am having a difficult time understanding why the financial institutions competing against the shorts haven’t instigated the squeeze. I believe they have a clear motive to instigate the squeeze and should have done so before the situation got this far. Accordingly, I suspect the February gamma squeeze to be evidence they did make such an attempt but realized the situation was beyond their ability to resolve. I think that it is this failure that resulted in their decision to fight for a holding pattern until the cavalry arrives to put down the rogue element.
The February gamma squeeze
During February the amount of GME shares traded peaked at a mindboggling high of four times the float being traded in one day. This article from Forbes summarizes the volume of trades:
Before this massive spike in volume, slightly more than the entire float is being traded daily. That’s already ridiculous, so the trade volume is spiking from ridiculous to insane. The same article provides this chart to illustrate how sharply it rose:
Unsurprisingly, the price goes up by a lot during this period. The author of this chart argues that this is because of a gamma squeeze which is, basically, when options are used to drive price rises. The following chart supports their assertion:
I think the author makes a strong case for these claims. By using options, the volume of trades was driven way up very quickly. The price rose accordingly. However, the author goes on to argue that this was caused by reddit users coordinating options purchases. I’m not going to spend time discussing that claim here because I think it’s absurd1.
1: The author argues we can multiply the impact of our buying power on the volume by up to 50 times using this method. Even multiplied by 50 times, this is far too much money being spent in far too short a period to be reddit users. It’s also notable that this level of coordination would require communication and I haven’t seen any posts attempting to organize a huge coordinated purchase of options. Reddit did cause a similar volume in January, but doing so was very public. Our ability to move money is proportional to the visibility of our responsibility; if Feburary gamma was us, every user here would know that. The article in the link is excellent, but their claim regarding reddits behavior during the Feburary gamma is unfounded.
The gamma squeeze as an attempt to launch the rocket
So, there was a gamma squeeze. I suspect this gamma squeeze was an attempt to launch the short squeeze.
Before I continue, I think it’s important to note that the wash sales which, we suspect, are being used to artificially lower the price are distinct from the phenomenon being discussed here. In this case, the massive volume was causing rapid price rises. Unlike the wash sales, I think the volume during this gamma squeeze was caused by shares trading from one party to another without the two parties coordinating on a desired direction of the price. I think one party was trying to rise the price substantially while the other was trying to keep it low.
It might help to remember what the price charts looked like during this period. You’ll all probably remember this bizarre graph:
I think what we’re seeing during this period is two high frequency traders directly competing to change the price, one trying to drive the price up by buying all the shares and the other trying to drive the price down by selling enough shares that the other can’t buy them all. One party is using options to flood the market with buy orders while the other is flooding it with sell orders. These orders change the price, the buys raise the price and the sells lower it. Given how quickly this happens it looks, on the graph, like there are some points in time with no price (the vertical lines); this is because there is a large range of prices being traded at during the moment that point on the graph represents. At least, that’s my understanding of the graph. Someone in the comments may clarify further, or correct an error on my part, in which case I’ll edit accordingly.
The key point isn’t actually what the graph shows anyway. What’s important is that the large volume on these days is caused by two parties competing to alter the price. One party wants to raise it and one wants to lower it. The party that wants to raise the price does so by buying up a lot of shares and the party that wants to lower the price does so by selling a lot of shares. Unlike wash sales, the parties aren’t cooperating so this volume isn’t just the same shares going back and forth. This is why the price rises over this period – the price rise is the result of one of the parties buying shares and then not letting them back into the market.
I think this period in February saw massive volume because a whale attempted to buy so many shares the price would rise high enough to launch the rocket. The only way for the shorts to stop this from happening was for them to sell enough shares at low enough prices. I think they failed because the shorts sold so many shares the price rise was minimized. Let me explain a little more to help clarify, if a friendly whale buys a million options to rise the price but the shorts sell enough shares to cover those options, the price isn’t going to rise. Basically, if a friendly whale was sick of this situation and wanted to launch the rocket it could do so by buying a lot of shares to drive the price up, unless the shorts were willing to simply flood the market to match their buying spree.
So, if I’m right about this, the February gamma squeeze was an attempt to launch the rocket by buying so many shares the price spiked. They tried so hard the entire float was traded nearly ten times in three days: this wasn’t a small effort, they tried really hard to launch the rocket. They failed because the shorts were willing to sell as many shares as they could buy. Well, almost – they still rose the price significantly, just not enough to launch.
This is significant because it demonstrates just how many shorted shares team short are capable of putting into the market. We already knew they could flood the market with a lot of these fraudulent shares. I think the February gamma squeeze showed our whales that team short would simply flood the market even more if they tried to launch the rocket. The result is stalemate, the shorts can’t short enough to lower the price any further and the longs can’t buy enough to launch the rocket. So, we trade sideways until something changes.
During this stalemate the shorts wash shares to keep the price from rising and use various shenanigans to offset their failures to deliver the fabricated shares they’ve sold. I think this is why the volume remains high after the gamma squeeze and through March. The high volume is the shenanigans of the shorts. Over this period the DTCC puts new rules into place that incrementally clamp down on these shenanigans until, eventually, we get the low volume numbers we’re seeing at the moment. I think the low volume reflects the increasingly weak position of team short.
Notice that this would mean that the low volume indicates team long has another opportunity to launch the rocket. I believe that they have elected not to do so after seeing what team short was willing to do during their February attempt. I think team short flooding the market with a huge number of shorted shares terrified everyone involved. The more shorted shares team short releases, the worse the problem gets for every member of the NSCC/DTCC that has to help pick up the pieces when this thing goes off. So, team long decided to abandon any attempt to launch the rocket on their own and maintained a holding pattern while pressuring the DTCC to get their house in order. Another users post, Why We’re STILL trading sideways and Why We Haven’t Launched, expands on why we are still waiting for launch. My addition to their commentary is that I think the Febuary gamma squeeze is what convinced team long to wait rather than attempt to launch the rocket on their own.
This is a precarious situation for all involved. Every day this continues team short leaks more shorted shares into the market. Every day team long waits for the DTCC to prepare risks someone doing something unexpected, like leaking to the press. The only thing worse for the DTCC than MOASS is everyone learning about it before it begins. The longer this continues the more other members of the market will know about what’s happening; eventually, someone will leak it to everyone. My guess is that everyone involved wants this finished with asap. I think the only reason it’s still going is because of how recklessly the shorts fought during the February gamma squeeze.
It’s my suspicion that the new head of the SEC intends to resolve this fast. I think he knows his window to handle this his way is small. If he does this right, he can be the person who stepped in and protected everyone from a rogue element threatening an outright system failure. But, that only works if he comes in hard and gets it done quickly. The longer he waits, the more it looks like his failure rather than him stepping in to pick up his predecessors mess.
Relating this to the wider context
I think A House of Cards – Part 1 is correct, the system is overrun with phantom shares because the DTCC is essentially running a fractional reserve security market without the protections in place to ensure its fractional reserve, of any given security, doesn’t all get called up at the same time. I suspect that, over time, its members have issued increasing numbers of shares which means the reserves have become less able to deliver on the sales when required. In January, one of its members was caught out by this and forced a trading halt to prevent disaster. Unfortunately, for them, this made the situation worse because retail traders didn’t sell. During February they expanded their short position in an attempt to lower the price enough for them to close.
The expansion of their short position in February and our unwillingness to sell forced the hands of other financial institutions who were not willing to watch the shorts make the problem even worse. So, they attempted to launch the rocket with a gamma squeeze. This would have hurt every member of the financial community, but it would have stopped the shorts from causing even more damage. This was an attempt to cut off the diseased limb.
The shorts fought back and went further than the longs expected. To avoid launch, they flooded the market with even more shorted shares. This showed the other financial institutions that they couldn’t launch the rocket and the diseased limb had gone so rogue it was willing to bring the entire system down rather than be amputated. This is why I think the February gamma squeeze is so important. I think it shows that longs did try to launch the rocket. Which is important, because I think they have had a motivation to do so this entire time and our theories need to take account of that motive.
So, they turned to the DTCC and advised them they had to sort it out. For this reason, we get a growing raft of new regulations designed to prevent this from happening again and allowing them to resolve the mess. I believe the current low volume indicates team longs are now in a position to launch the rocket if they desire. I think they are waiting because the DTCC has shown they are taking action and the longs are willing to give them a little time to prepare.
As this has all transpired, I think the wider financial community has begun to become aware of what is happening. I think the unusual bank activity is them preparing for this. If this is true, launch is likely imminent. I say this because no one involved wants this to make it into mainstream media before it begins. They can’t stop people from knowing about it after it’s begun, but they really don’t want to give the public notice. My guess is that this recent post is correct and we’re currently looking at the final preparations in the market.
In January, the shorts were going to die so they broke the market. In February, I think the market tried to correct itself with the gamma squeeze. In March, I think the DTCC took over and began preparations to solve the situation. In April, I think the feds are in charge and the entire finance sector is preparing for the hammer to come down.
(This is all very speculative and shouldn’t be treated as financial advice! Please correct me on any errors and I will alter my claims accordingly. Thank you for reading my work.)