4 Key Takeaways From The SEC's 'Meme Stock' Report: PFOF, Short Selling And More

The long-awaited SEC report concerning the WallStreetBets-fueled short squeeze that happened in GameStop Corp GME earlier this year was published Monday afternoon.

What Happened: The 45-page report titled “StaffReport on Equity and Options Market Structure Conditions in Early 2021” draws several conclusions on what happened in the valuation surge and volatility surrounding GameStop shares.

“The extreme volatility in meme stocks in January 2021 tested the capacity and resiliency of our securities markets in a way that few could have anticipated,” the report reads.

One key to the report is the call out on individual investors that may have lost money during the meme stock trading frenzy.

“However, when share prices change rapidly and brokerage firms suddenly suspend trading, investors may lose money.”

See Also: A Short Seller Joins Benzinga's 'Power Hour' To Talk GameStop. The Rest Is History

The report highlights that individual customers made up a high percentage of GameStop option traders with three named brokerages of Robinhood Markets HOOD, TD Ameritrade and E*Trade Securities representing 66% of customers trading GME options.

TD Ameritrade is owned by Charles Schwab Corp SCHW and E*Trade is owned by Morgan Stanley MS.

Market makers Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial VIRT were also named in the report representing 50% and 26% of internalized volume during the month of January for GameStop shares, respectively.

4 Potential Changes Coming? The SEC report highlights the value of the trading system that allows buyers and sellers to participate.

“People may disagree about the prospects of GameStop and the other meme stocks, but those disagreement are what should lead to price discovery rather than disruptions.”

Items outlined in the report for further consideration include four key topics.

Related Link: Payment For Order Flow Explained: Why Zero-Commission Trades Aren't Really Free

The first topic is the ability of a brokerage to restrict trading in certain securities. This could lead to changes at brokerages including Robinhood, which became the key name targeted by retail traders for restricting trading in stocks like GameStop.

Payment for order flow is called out in the report, which could have an impact on Robinhood’s future earnings if changes are made.

“Consideration should be given to whether game-like features and celebratory animations that re intended to create positive feedback from trading lead investors to trade more than they would otherwise.”

Trading in dark pools or through wholesalers is another item to be looked at as much of the retail order flow for GameStop shares was reported to happen off exchange.

“They face fewer requirements concerning their operational transparency and resiliency as compared to exchanges or ATSs.”

Short selling and short squeezes is the last key topic of the report. The SEC calls for “improved reporting” of short sales that could allow regulators the ability to better track the category.

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