Everything started innocently enough, way back in 2019, with people on message boards swapping ideas about a left-for-dead chain of mall stores.

Now it’s much bigger: for pundits prone to the dramatic, a David-versus-Goliath parable for the age of wealth inequality. This is perhaps a vestigial legacy of Trumpism and the populist backlash against “the elites”

For parts of the hedge-fund industry, it’s an existential crisis. For old-school investors who preach discipline and doing your homework before hitting “buy”, it’s a horror story they expect will end terribly. It’s at least part of the reason the entire US stock market tanked on Wednesday (Jan 27).

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