A surge in day trading: Are people gambling their stimulus checks?

From Barron's: Boredom seems to be driving a surge in day-trading, Randall Forsyth reports. The one-time stimulus checks have often been used to bet on stocks. Sports gamblers without sports are now betting on companies without customers. According to TD Ameritrade, page visits to its “education center” spiked 280% in April compared to last year. These retail traders could be an extra source of liquidity -- and volatility -- during the normally quiet summer months.

A full-blown retail mania has taken hold in buying and selling small lots of stocks and options, says Jim Bianco, head of the eponymous Bianco Research, who over the years has been in front of the big trends in markets, in part because he watches things that conventional indicators don’t pick up.

From Bloomberg: Forget buy-and hold. Stuck at home and dreaming of a killing, bored retail traders are branching out into all manner of Wall Street exotica.

Darting in and out of stock options, dabbling in complicated exchange-traded funds, devouring trading how-to books by the dozen -- all have become tools in the self-directed portfolio playbook. Locked down and socially distant with lots of time and (apparently) money to spare, they’re leveraging zero-percent brokerage fees in new and surprising ways.

Big shock: Wall Street says it will end badly.

“There is a long, documented history of retail investors chasing a handful of story stocks and then getting burned,” said James Pillow, managing director at Moors & Cabot Inc. “We humans love a good narrative. I cannot imagine this time around ending any different.”

On a personal note: I put my stimulus money in short-term treasuries (ETF). Not exciting, but until the dust settles, my capital is preserved.


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