A group of online investors upended Wall Street last week.
By investing in GameStop – a fledgling but popular gaming company and box store –individual investors who strategized together on Reddit significantly raised the stock price while causing tremendous losses for powerful investors who had bet against the company’s success.
I do not pretend to understand all the nuances of the situation, but the GameStop story did stop experts in their tracks. In fact, it left many wondering about the “realness” of the stock market, seeing that a band of online investors could manipulate the price of a struggling stock so significantly.
The situation even brought some investment companies to halt the trading of GameStop. This decision garnered wide criticism when it became evident that major Wall Street firms were losing money due to stock purchases by the band of smaller investors.
The criticism appeared to be warranted, as it seemed like investment companies were placing the losses of larger firms over the gains of smaller investors.
Let’s be clear, the smaller investors were playing by the rules.
There are no rules against investing in a faltering company. It may be financially unwise, but it’s not against the rules. In fact, it could be following the famous Wall Street formula of buying low and selling high.
Since the elevated climb, the stock has returned to normal pricing levels.
In addition, limiting individual investors’ ability to purchase stock based upon an unfriendly market for larger companies reveals the unfair advantage such companies have over individual investors.
Investment companies and brokers are not going to halt trading for a small individual donor if they are losing money, so why is it acceptable and ethical to halt it when larger companies are losing money?
The system seems hypocritical at best and corrupt at worst.
Watching the GameStop situation unfold over the last week, I was reminded of Jesus when he entered the temple in Jerusalem and whipped those corrupting the sacrificial system for their financial benefit and taking advantage of the common person (Matthew 21:12-13).
Jesus was not only a friend to the common person; he also advocated for justice on their behalf.
The parable of laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) introduces workers that were hired throughout the day for a day’s wage. At the end of the day, when it came to paying the workers, those working the longest hours were shocked to discover everyone’s pay was equal.
The system did not provide an economic advantage for those fortunate enough to be chosen first. Instead, the landowner treated each laborer the same, underscoring the equitable value of each worker and revealing a just economic system based upon divine guidelines – not human ones.
In other words, according to divine economics, each person should be seen as equal, operating within an equitable and just system.
Systemic advantage should not be determined by financial, social, ethnic or religious markers. What seems to matter in God’s economy is that each person has equal value, existing and functioning within an equitable system sustained by God’s love and justice.
For this reason, Jesus said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”
As the GameStop story suggests, when those at the bottom of the economic ladder discover ways to level the playing field, the powerful manipulate and change the rules for their advantage.
In a just society, every person should have value and be provided equal opportunity within a system that is fair for everyone. As good faith Christians who take the teachings of Jesus seriously, we should strive for God’s economy that is based on love and justice.
More than once Jesus declared, “the poor will have good news brought to them.”
For Jesus and his followers, this good news leads to God’s will on earth as it is in heaven, where love and justice infiltrate every fiber of human existence. Economic systems are turned upside down as income inequality evaporates and human decency prevails.
Let us learn valuable lessons from the “GameStopping” of Wall Street last week. Let us reform unjust systems that give advantages to the powerful and let us level the playing field for the common person.
If we can learn to follow Jesus’ understanding of divine economics, then just maybe everyone will have the possibility to prosper and no person will suffer under the devastation of poverty.
CEO of Good Faith Media.