Robinhood Blocks Buying in GameStop, AMC, and Other Stocks. Other Brokers Also Add Guardrails.
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Robinhood Blocks Buying in GameStop, AMC, and Other Stocks. Other Brokers Also Add Guardrails.

By AVI SALZMAN
Fri, Jan 29, 2021 5:07amGrey Clock 3 min

Investing app Robinhood blocked access to GameStop and other highflying names on Thursday as trading surged among retail users.

The move comes after GameStop (GME) stock has shot higher over the past week, inspiring a short squeeze. The action — driven by retail traders often using options — has spread to other names like BlackBerry (BB), AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC), and Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY). Several of those stocks were falling in premarket trading after enormous run-ups in the past few days.

Users began reporting that they couldn’t trade GameStop and other stocks on Thursday. They got a message that “This stock is not supported on Robinhood.”

In a statement on Thursday, Robinhood detailed which stocks now had restrictions. “In light of recent volatility, we are restricting transactions for certain securities to position closing only,” the company said. These include AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry, Bed Bath & Beyond, Express (EXPR), GameStop, Koss (Koss), Naked Brand Group (NAKD), and Nokia (NOK).

“We also raised margin requirements for certain securities,” Robinhood said. The trading platform is raising margin requirements for investors in GameStop and AMC to 100%, Robinhood told Barron’s on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, Robinhood was also reporting outages.

Other brokers have instituted similar restrictions. Interactive Brokers (IBKR) on Wednesday put AMC, BlackBerry, Express, GameStop, and Koss option trading into liquidation “due to the extraordinary volatility in the markets,” the company said.

“In addition, long stock positions will require 100% margin and short stock positions will require 300% margin until further notice,” the company said. “We do not believe this situation will subside until the exchanges and regulators halt or put certain symbols into liquidation only. We will continue to monitor market conditions and may add or remove symbols as may be warranted.”

TD Ameritrade (AMTD) also placed restrictions on some transactions in GameStop and other securities, the broker said on Wednesday. A spokeswoman didn’t specify exactly what the company was doing but said it could include “actions like increasing margin requirements, or limiting certain types of transactions, like short sales and those that may involve unlimited risk. It is not uncommon for us to make such decisions, which we consider on an individual basis, in the interest of mitigating risk.”

“We have been adjusting our requirements for several days as we continued to see trends indicating unusual volume in an unprecedented market environment, which appear to be divorced from traditional market fundamentals,” the company said. “We have made what we believe to be prudent and appropriate decisions to place some limits on certain transactions for certain securities.”

And fast-growing privately held broker Webull said it was limiting some activities, too.

“Webull has been very successful in limiting our intraday risk during the course of these events by not allowing any short positions in these volatile names since as early as Friday of last week,” CEO Anthony Denier told Barron’s. “Trading has been open for these stocks and uninterrupted amidst this volatility and the only new restrictions we have placed is not allowing market orders opening of new multi-leg option strategy positions.”

Robinhood has grown faster than the rest of the industry over the past year, attracting younger investors. Last year, it said it had more than 13 million account-holders, adding 3 million from January until May. The privately held broker was sued last month by a Massachusetts regulator on allegations that it encourages risky investing among its clientele. The company denied those allegations and said it does not recommend stocks.

On Wednesday night, Robinhood sent a notice to users directing them to educational products in light of the recent volatility.

One trader who has made money in the GameStop trade through his Webull account was frustrated by the new limits.

“It’s one thing if I had a pattern of misconduct, or a lot of violations. It’s another thing for you to tell me that you can’t trade this stock because we don’t like what’s happening to it,” Brandon Luczek, a 28-year-old who lives in Virginia, told Barron’s on Wednesday night. “That’s not for you to decide. I have my own personal risk tolerance.”

Others on reddit’s wallstreetbets forum lashed out at Robinhood. “How in the hell is this legal? They are tanking our legitimately bought and held stocks/options by arbitrarily restricting trading,” one wrote.

 



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Milestone birthdays and anniversaries, weddings, and graduations are momentous life occasions that some like to mark with large and elaborate celebrations.

And the deep-pocketed set are still in catch-up mode after a party-throwing standstill during the pandemic that went on for many months during the height of the lockdowns and social distancing. Bashes since then have become ever more extravagant and experiential—mere get-togethers, they’re not.

Hosts are also seeking any excuse to throw an event and having parties with the same “wow” factor for far less significant reasons, or for micro-occasions as they’re called, and even “just because,” according to luxury event planners who work with this elite set.

Colin Cowie, a planner based in New York and Miami who regularly orchestrates multimillion-dollar gatherings and was behind Jennifer Lopez’s and Ben Affleck’s wedding, calls it the “event revolution.”

“Large-scale events have become the norm,” Cowie says. “The wealthy, who are used to celebrating their life moments in a big way couldn’t do anything during the pandemic and are now going all out for anything they host.”

His company, Colin Cowie Lifestyle, plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid and has a lineup booked for the next two years. An example includes an upcoming million-dollar dinner party in the Hamptons simply to socialise with friends. It’s an affair with free-flowing Dom Perignon, centre-cut filet mignons, and unlimited caviar.

Colin Cowie Lifestyle plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid
Calen Rose

Other high-end planners also attribute the rise of over-the-top celebrations to a “live life to the fullest” attitude that’s become prevalent in the last few years. But they say that these parties aren’t necessarily about spending more than before—rather, they’re increasingly creative, thoughtful, and, with respect to weddings, longer.

Lynn Easton, a Charleston-based planner, says that her typical wedding used to span two days and entailed a rehearsal dinner plus the wedding itself. “Now, it’s a five-day bonanza with events like a groomsman lunch,” Easton says.

Easton also plans glitzy milestone birthdays such as one for a 60th where the host flew 60 friends and family to a private island. Dinners were multi-hour affairs in various locations around the isle with the showpiece being a five-course meal where the food was presented on dishes that were hand-carved in ice.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, based in New York and Miami, says that, in a new precedent, the weddings she’s tapped to design kick off with striking welcome meals. She recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden. Elements included potted herbs, lemon trees, vintage olive oil cans, ceramic plates, and table cards presented with palm leaves in limoncello cans.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden.
Aletiza Photo

Pashmina shawls hung from chairs to keep guests warm, and freshly baked pizzas and Aperol spritzes were in ready supply throughout the evening.

Stacy Teckin, the groom’s mother, hosted the party with her husband, Ian, and says she sought to pull off a dinner that made an impression on their guests. “The wedding was delayed because of Covid, and now that we had the chance to celebrate, we wanted to go all out,” Teckin says. “I’m not sure we would have done that before.”

In another example, acclaimed planner Norma Cohen threw a wild safari-themed bar mitzvah for a client.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon
Norma Cohen Productions

The memorable occasion transpired at Spring Studios in downtown Manhattan and saw 400 guests be transported to the African plains: Details included mammoth replicas of wildlife such as giraffes and elephants, servers in safari themed attire, and entertainment dressed like giraffes. The event was one of several over-the-top parties Cohen’s arranged recently.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon, one of the city’s most luxurious properties, also ranks high in Cohen’s memory.

Then there’s a destination party in London that Cohen planned for a client who was turning 40. It as a six-day affair with dinners at swanky spots such as Cipriani, the Arts Club, and Cecconi’s at Soho House. The finale was Lancaster House, a mansion in St. James, where guests were entertained by cabaret dancers from the famed Ibiza club Lio Ibiza and feasted on prime rib and lamb chops and imbibed on Krug champagne.

“People today don’t want to host events,” Cohen says. “They want experiences that take you away to a different place and make you forget that the real world exists.”