Fmr. SEC commissioner compares GameStop short squeeze to Capitol riot

On Thursday a former commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), while discussing the ongoing short squeeze involving GameStop, compared the situation to the deadly January 6 Capitol riot.

Former SEC Commissioner Laura Unger made the comparison while talking to CNBC on Thursday afternoon about the market volatility and short squeeze sparked by users on the Reddit community r/WallStreetBets. To briefly explain the complex situation, some users on the subreddit had encouraged other retail investors in the forum to purchase stock in GameStop—a failing video game retailer—through entities and calls, which caused its stock price to skyrocket and fluctuate dramatically within the span of more than a week.

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“Everybody is scratching their heads about this: ‘What should happen? What is the right thing to do to control this or stop this?'” Unger said

She then said that the ongoing GameStop debacle is “[n]ot unlike what we saw on January 6 at the Capitol.”

“If you don’t have the police in there at the right time, things go a little crazy,” Unger continued.

Watch the full CNBC interview here.

“And that kind of feels like what’s happening with this,” she added but quickly walked back from her comparison, saying the Capitol riot was “much different, much lesser degree; it’s financial harm, not personal bodily harm.”

Though, Unger called the short squeeze of GameStop “the same kind of platform-created frenzy that people are operating under, and these are very trying times.”

Here, the former SEC commissioner is most likely referencing the litany of reports detailing how rioters utilized platforms such as Parler and Telegram to plan the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Unger, a Republican, was appointed to the SEC as a commissioner by then-President Bill Clinton in 1997 and served until 2002, once briefly serving as the acting chair. Currently, Unger sits on the board of CIT Group, which she joined in 2010, according to her biography on CIT’s website.

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You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.