Meme Stocks Like GameStop, AMC Pose Risks to Financial Stability, Fed Says

Meme Stocks Like GameStop, AMC Pose Risks to Financial Stability, Fed Says

The Federal Reserve warned in its biannual financial stability report issued Monday that stock-market volatility caused by a spike of first-time investors who gather on social media might pose a danger to the US financial system.

New trading platforms that offer zero-commission trading, fractional shares, and flashy and engaging graphics have aided in the recruitment of a generation of young traders to the stock market, according to the report, and the size of this new demographic makes it important for regulators to keep an eye on.

"Social media can lead to an echo chamber in which retail investors communicate most often with those who share their interests and perspectives, therefore reinforcing their views, even if they are speculative or prejudiced," according to the paper.

The Federal Reserve reported that wild swings in the prices of popular meme stocks such as GameStop Corp. GME, +2.53% and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. AMC, +8.06% have had a "limited" impact on financial stability so far, it is an area of the market that should be "monitored" because new, younger equity investors tend to have higher debt levels and frequently invest in options, two factors that could amplify losses in a downturn.

"Episodes of increased risk appetite may continue to grow as a result of the interplay between social media and store investors," the paper said. "A potentially disruptive consequence might develop if individual investors' heightened risk appetite quickly returns to more reasonable levels."

The Federal Reserve urged that financial institutions prepare for the heightened volatility that the meme stock phenomena may bring, and that "more frequent bouts of greater volatility may need additional efforts to preserve the system's resilience," according to the Fed.

High stock and real estate values, which remain excessive compared to corporate earnings and rents, are among the report's other financial system weaknesses. "Despite rising property prices, no indication of worsening credit standards or highly leveraged investment activity in the housing market appears," the Fed said.

On the plus side, firms and people have seen their debt to income ratios decrease in recent months, thanks to fiscal assistance and a quick rebound from the COVID-19 recession.

Given the rising importance of Chinese development to the global economy, the Fed also sees turbulence in the Chinese real estate market as a possible danger to global financial stability.

A regulatory crackdown on the real estate sector “has the potential to stress some heavily indebted corporations,” according to the research, citing the recent drama surrounding China Evergrande Group as an example. 6666, a 1.8% increase.

"Stresses could...proliferate to the Chinese financial system through spillovers to financial businesses, a sharp drop in real estate values, or a decline in investor risk appetite," according to the research. "Financial difficulties in China might affect global financial markets, given the size of its economy and financial system, as well as its significant trading links with the rest of the globe."