• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Finneran's Wake - Ep. #4

ITEM #1: PRESIDENT BIDEN SIGNS AN UNPRECEDENTED NUMBER OF EXECUTIVE ORDERS


Not yet one week removed from his recent Inauguration, from which all but the closest of his familial relations were barred, to which only the smallest number of our public officials were invited, at which just a few of our insufferable celebrities were granted the distinct honor to sing, President Joseph R. Biden has issued an unprecedented number of executive decrees.


The Executive Order, a species of presidential edict about which our Constitution is noticeably silent, is typically reserved for the rarest and most unusual of occasions. It certainly doesn’t lend itself to frequent and indiscriminate use, to a promiscuity of application at which, should he cast his royal eyes upon it, even the distant, haughty king would openly blush, and the imperious ruler smile.


It is, in most cases, a strange sight for our Republic to behold, a land into which not even the faintest hint or passing recommendation of monarchy is ever welcomed. In simple terms, the Executive Order is a disquieting expedient of which a democratically-elected president, intent on displaying his new muscularity and strength, makes vigorous but unnatural use, with which he hopes to elude, circumvent, or, frankly, overwhelm the normal function of our government.


Charging to the fore, and pushing aside all the restraints by which its hasty momentum might be slowed, the Executive Order seeks to assert itself by appropriating the power clearly reserved to another. Impatient of the Legislative Branch, by which, in compliance with the Constitution, these types of domestic policies should be crafted, and these weighty guidelines issued, the President takes it upon himself both to formulate the plans to which the nation will be obliged to conform, and—vested with his unique power—to enforce them. All that’s lacking is his ability to preside in judgement over himself, a consolidation of control to which none but the autocrat would aspire.


Is President Biden adopting the posture of so detestable a man? When looking into the mirror at the outset of the day, is it the gaze of a “dictator” by which his own is greeted? After all, as he rightly informed us when discussing this important matter with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “I have this strange notion, we are a democracy…if you can’t get the votes…you can’t legislate by Executive Order unless you’re a dictator”. With the unbending assurance of an elder statesman, and the failing eloquence of a septuagenarian, he concluded by saying, “We’re a democracy. We need consensus”.


Apparently not.


At the time of this recording, President Biden has signed an astonishing twenty-four Executive Orders, an unprecedented number to which he’s added another thirty-seven “Presidential Actions”. More fully to appreciate this massive number of presidential directives, one must revisit the history of a none-too foreign age: President Trump, the man by whom Mr. Biden was preceded (and to whom, implicitly, the label of “dictator” was doubtless intended to apply), issued four Executive Orders during his first week in office, a number by which the charge of his “tyrannical tendency” was provoked. Barack Obama, in his first week, issued five and George W. Bush, never one to overwhelmed, issued zero.



ITEM #2: SOME EXECUTIVE ORDERS OF WHICH TO TAKE NOTE


With so copious a discharge of Executive Orders, one would be surprised to learn of a single area left untouched by the plentitude of their showers, an overlooked field, perhaps, upon which President Biden’s sweeping deluge failed to fall. It seems, to the contrary, that no aspect of public life has evaded his executive rainfall.


Executive Orders were issued on the following subjects: The Wuhan Virus, or COVID-19; the economy at large; the universities in particular; the climate, as it pertains to our international commitments and our domestic endeavors; racial justice; the naughty “1776 Commission”; LGBT rights; and, that thorniest of issues, immigration. All this, without a peep from a quiescent Congress from whom, we can be assured at this early but unpropitious stage, very little action is to be expected.


President Biden, with the stroke of a pen, revoked the federal permit on which the Keystone XL pipeline was dependent.


In a flash, this transnational pipeline, through which innumerable gallons of Canadian oil flowed, and by which many American jobs in the Midwest were created, was abandoned. Its current maintenance, to which the efforts of those tens of thousands of workers were so industriously applied, has been peremptorily suspended, and its future construction is very much in danger. Climate activists are celebrating that fact, while those without a paycheck lament the loss.


The President has also re-affirmed the inviolability of public land. Under his administration, and by his mandate, private companies will no longer be able to bid for contracts to extract fossil fuels from the areas over which our government exercises its uncontested claim. Such leases will be made, forthwith, unavailable, as we shift our focus away from the abundance of energy within our bowels, to cleaner things above us, like the wind, the rain, and the sun.


We’ll seek the renewed friendship of forgotten international bodies, distant allies from whom, at the insistence of President Trump, we so gracelessly absented ourselves. Such august bodies include the World Health Organization, by whose early wisdom and unfailing honesty in the fight against an Asiatic virus, we were never misled, and the Paris Climate Accord, to which every decent and environmentally-conscious nation (including China, North Korea, and Iran) ought to be a party.


I touch, of course, on but a few of Biden’s many Executive Orders. I fear listing them all would accomplish one of two things: incite you to anger, or hasten you to sleep.



ITEM #3: GAMESTOP STOCK SOARS, ON THE WINGS OF THE GADFLIES OF REDDIT


The hard-pressed video game retailer, “GameStop”, a struggling brick-and-mortar store with which, until recently, only the most ardent of gamers and avaricious of investors were even distantly acquainted, has gripped our national attention, and shocked the financial world.


Over the course of the past few weeks, GameStop’s stock price has enjoyed a meteoric rise. On the seventeenth of January, for example, before blind Plutus—hobbled god of wealth—stumbled onto its path and redirected its glorious fate, the humble vendor of games offered its shares at $17.52 a piece. Even that price, some might argue, was probably an inflation of its genuine worth. In July of 2020, for example, its stock was traded at a meager $4 per share, and it showed little promise of improving on this modest sum.


Now, strapped to the wings of a million gadflies from Reddit, by whom its climbing value has been wondrously propelled, it’s soared to $396.50, as of yesterday, the twenty-eighth of this month. For those of us little enamored of math, that change marks an increase in excess of 2,000%, the type of drastic change and unanticipated spike to which, often belatedly, unsophisticated investors will be inevitably allured, and securities fraud analysts, glaringly alerted.


At this point, the inquisitive and economically-savvy listener might be asking herself a perfectly logical question: to what great innovation in the realm of internet gaming and televisual play does GameStop attribute so fantastic a rate of growth? Has this stagnant company, but only recently dismissed as obsolescent and beyond hope, created a product so novel and engrossing, so precious and fun, that we’ll never be made to feel the dull bite of tedium again?


To each of these fair questions, dear listener, I answer in the negative.


GameStop, while an admirable and nostalgic company, was responsible for the creation of no such thing. On the contrary, it was sliding into the depths of unprofitability, a hole out of which, sadly, so few businesses ever fully climb. Knowing this, keen market-watchers and deep-pocketed investors were eager to earn a buck from its steady decline. Such people have earned not only great wealth from so mischievous and clever a technique, but a somewhat detested name; those who foresee the opportunity to profit from a company’s fall are known as “Short Sellers”, and it’s to them we now turn.


In the shared opinion of these perspicacious investors and well-heeled hedge fund managers, GameStop was ripe for a “Short Sell”. They all joined to bet on its coming failure, and patiently awaited its imminent demise.


They were doubtless startled to learn, then, that the share price suddenly began to increase…and increase…and increase. The cavalry, it seems, had arrived in support of this bleeding company, into which it proceeded to pump a huge bolus of healing dollars. If only temporarily, these “Wall Street Betting” Redditors, a group of internet-enthused investors by whom the institutional Goliaths were for once laid low, bandaged, propped up, and rescued GameStop from the field of battle on which it writhed.


With the type of collective wrath to which only an angry mass gathered on the social media site, Reddit can give birth, they decided to “stick it” to the establishment finance class. They did so, whether consciously or not, by creating a “Short Squeeze”, a phenomenon at which “long-term” investors (like me) tend to shake their conservative heads and chuckle. The share price of GameStop climbed ever higher, as the Short Sellers did their best to cut their mounting losses.


Those losses, by the way, are thought to be as high as twenty-three billion.


Never before has there been so unusual a week in finance. What’s more, this story, only half-written, isn’t yet done.

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