The Reddit army is back in full force!
Meme stocks, driven by members of the WallStreetBets forum on the site looking to short squeeze big hedge funds, first came to prominence in a major way back at the beginning of 2021. GameStop (GME) was the first stock of choice, which saw its stock price rise from around $18 a share on New Year's Day to nearly $500 at its peak. It was soon joined by names, such as AMC Entertainment (AMC), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), Express (EXPR) and BlackBerry (BB). After a brief hiatus, the group is back with AMC as their stock of choice.
One stock that this group went after wasn't even a stock at all. It was the iShares Silver Trust (SLV). It started with, not surprisingly, a Reddit post where one trader argued that precious metals prices have been manipulated by the big banks for years and could be an ideal target for the next big squeeze.
So they tried it and they were successful.......for a day.
Silver prices (and the price of SLV) popped by about 10% on the news that the WallStreetBets crowd was going to go after it, but the rally was short-lived. The share price was back down to where it was before the spike the next day and it still hasn't come near its previous heights again.
It turns out that moving a stock, such as AMC, and moving the price of silver are two entirely different things. While many people picture jewelry and silverware when they think of silver, in reality, the major of its demand comes from heavy industry.
It's used in the production of solar panels, electrical components, fuses, automobiles and industrial adhesives. Silver demand in 2020 for industrial fabrication purposes was more than triple that of the jewelry market, more than double that for silver bars & coins and more than 15 times that of silverware.
With that much constant global demand for silver, which is only expected to continue growing, it's incredibly difficult to whipsaw its price around to any significant degree (especially up to the $1,000 per ounce price target that Reddit was calling for). I'm honestly a little surprised that it was able to generate a one-day 10% gain just on meme stock speculation alone.
Stocks, such as AMC and GameStop, are small enough (they may not technically be considered "small" any more) that with enough trading volume they can be pushed pretty significantly in a fairly short amount of time. Plus, the stocks that the Reddit traders were targeting already had high short interest, meaning that any large buying activity was probably exacerbated by people short covering in order to stop the bleeding.
That's going to be difficult to pull off for silver. My guess is that the WallStreetBets group never takes a swing at silver again. It seems content to find new targets, such as Clover (CLOV), to try to push to the moon.