The stock market wars: U.S. lawmaker Ocasio-Cortez breaks it down

FILE PHOTO: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez addresses media as she arrives to vote early at a polling station in The Bronx, New York City, U.S., October 25, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A chat with U.S. Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew more than a million viewers overnight to a website best-known for video game players, where she dissected this week’s headline-grabbing battle between Reddit online traders and hedge funds.

A champion of the progressive left, the 31-year-old New Yorker in the U.S. House of Representatives hosted a talk on Twitch about short-selling, lobbying dollars and a hot stock: GameStop Corp.

“For so many people at home that are seeing this happen, people were really feeling like everyday people were finally able to proactively organize and get back at the folks that have historically had all the marbles on Wall Street and forced one hedge fund into an existential crisis,” said the lawmaker, known as “AOC.”

A member of the House’s powerful Financial Services committee, Ocasio-Cortez has a Twitch channel with one million followers and promoted the Thursday broadcast to her 12 million followers on Twitter.

GameStop, a video game retailer with 5,000 branches, has become the face of a showdown between an army of retail investors who have bought shares of the stock and sent it sky-rocketing, and wealthy Wall Street hedge funds who bet shares of the stock would fall, and are being squeezed.

Ocasio-Cortez hosted Alexis Goldstein, a former Wall Street employee who now pushes for financial reform; Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit (and husband of tennis star Serena Williams’ husband); and video blogger The Stock Guy. They discussed the intricacies of option trading and the complicated role hedge funds play in markets.

The U.S. government has struggled to educate the general public about the risks of stock trading. On Friday the White House referred questions about whose responsibility that was to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has scolded investors over the GameStop developments.

Many Americans have lingering resentment from the 2007-2009 global financial crisis, which caused millions of people to lose their jobs and their homes, Ocasio-Cortez said.

“A little over 10 years ago, all of us got screwed, frankly, in the recession, and so much of this moment too is that we never saw a single person who was responsible … we didn’t see anyone go to jail for that,” she said.

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