Noticed anti-Wall Street ads in Montreal? They were bought with GameStop cash

Montrealers may have started seeing odd ads go up on bus shelters around town. They're not selling anything, but they do have a request: for people to “hold the line” against Wall St.

Exactly how to do that? Ask the man who paid for them—with profits from shares he bought in the famous, or infamous, GameStop fiasco last week, he says.

Jonathan Mireault, an accountant based in Terrebonne, told CTV he paid for 105 billboards that are meant to be his own kind of declaration of war against Wall Street.

Small-scale investors should see the GameStop upset as just the first step, Mireault says.

GameStop is the American video-game retailer at the centre of a trading frenzy in late January as thousands of hobbyist traders on the popular website Reddit pledged to drive up its stock after noting it was one of the most shorted stocks by hedge fund managers.

Essentially, they decided, if smaller investors still believed in GameStop, a cultural staple from the 90s, they could drive its worth sky-high—while costing hedge fund big guns a lot of money.

It worked: the company’s stock price soared from less than $20 a share to $470.

It’s since begun to plummet. But Mireault got in early, he explained, so he’s still up.

“I was in the double digits, early double digits, so that’s why I'm still making money even though it's trading around $80 right now,” he said Thursday.

GameStop shares closed below $60 on Thursday. But Mireault says the bigger lessons of the GameStop affair still hold. 

“For some people it's personal… there were some stories out there about people who were impacted in the 2008 crash that talk about the mortgage situation [where] they lost everything,” he said. 

“So at a certain point, when GameStop was trading at close to 500 U.S., it was one of the best distribution-of-wealth mechanisms that was out there.”

Why a billboard campaign? Mireault said he just wants to interest more people in the hopes they’ll learn about Wall Street and ways to undermine it. 

“I don't have anything to gain,” he said. “It's more about how the 99 per cent can actually have an impact now.”

However, people who work in wealth management have strong words of caution about getting your stock tips from online forums.

“Because you don't even know where the information is coming from, you don't know why it's being given,” said stock analyst Lorne Steinberg. 

He said that while a few people make money off information they get on “bullboards,” more people lose.

“If you go to Vegas and you bet number 36 on the roulette wheel, and you win, hopefully you realize it’s not because you were smart,” Steinberg said. “You were lucky and you're not going to try to do it again.”

Mireault said he’s not done, and he has a bigger goal in mind. He said he’s willing to lose money if it brings more attention to the stock market—the kind of thing you might hear a lot these days on Reddit.

  

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