Two of Wall Street’s leading hedge fund managers are set to testify along with the chief executives of Reddit and Robinhood at next week’s US congressional hearing on the market upheaval surrounding trading in GameStop shares.
The House of Representatives financial services committee announced the high-level roster of witnesses late on Friday. It includes Citadel’s Ken Griffin and Melvin Capital’s Gabe Plotkin, as well as Reddit’s Steve Huffman and Robinhood’s Vlad Tenev.
The committee added that Keith Gill, the trader known as “Roaring Kitty” who emerged as one of the key players in the GameStop rally that is attracting political scrutiny, would also appear.
The hearing, which will take place on Thursday in Washington, will be chaired by Maxine Waters, the veteran California Democrat and longtime critic of the financial services industry. The hearing’s title will be “Game Stopped? Who Wins and Loses When Short Sellers, Social Media, and Retail Investors Collide”.
Congressional testimony by senior financial services executives is fairly common but it has been rarer for top hedge funds and private equity executives to be grilled on Capitol Hill.
Political attention of equities trading has increased sharply in recent weeks. This came after a rally in GameStop shares which was driven by retail investors who were active on the social media platform Reddit. They challenged hedge funds that were betting on the decline in the video game retailer’s shares.
When Robinhood, the online trading platform, halted trading in GameStop due to the volatility, it fuelled a backlash among retail investors that was joined by populist politicians from both the right and the left who said it offered evidence that the financial system was biased in favour of its largest players.
GameStop shares, whose value peaked at $347.51 on January 27, have since tumbled and closed at $52.40 on Friday. Even though trading in GameStop shares has stabilised, Washington’s legislators and regulators have moved to verify whether the episode was driven by market manipulation or other systemic problems in the financial system.
Last week Janet Yellen, the US Treasury secretary, convened a meeting of top regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, saying the market’s “core infrastructure was resilient” but the SEC would release a “timely study” of the events.
In addition, the SEC and CFTC will be “reviewing whether trading practices are consistent with investor protection and fair and efficient markets”.