Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) spoke at a House Financial Services Committee Hearing titled, "Game Stopped? Who Wins and Loses When Short Sellers, Social Media, and Retail Investors Collide."
You can watch Rep. Emmer's exchange with Keith Gill here.
Rep Emmer: "Mr. Gill, as was previously noted at this hearing, one of your colleagues, a witness, has as many as 5 people in the room with him. I guess, Mr. Gill, my first question for you is how many people are in the room with you right now?
Keith Gill: "Zero, Congressman."
Rep Emmer: "I just want to note for the entire committee that Mr. Gill is actually appearing before our panel by himself, while many others are receiving significant help through this process. We are seriously underestimating the sophistication and the independence of these individual investors.
"We have heard a lot of reasons for concern today - some legitimate, but also some proposed overreactions by Members of Congress that could create even more problems. Far too little attention has been given to the positive sides of this story. The system worked. Other than Robinhood temporarily limiting its investors from trading, which deserves an investigation, what we saw was a movement of individuals investing to try to make money. I don’t see what is wrong with that, even if that motivation is fueled by a desire to stick it to a hedge fund they don’t like.
"Mr. Gill, you are the only retail investor involved in this GameStop situation on our panel today. Why? I don't know, but you are. Yet, Members on the committee have hardly asked you any questions.
We’ve heard a lot from the companies and funds involved in this event, but we have barely heard from the people that made this happen. Is there anything you would like to add to this hearing that you haven’t been able to add yet, given that we’re past the four hour mark on this hearing?"
Keith Gill: "I appreciate that Congressman, I do. I don't have anything to add at this time, just that I would be the first to acknowledge that investing in stocks and options is incredibly risky and it's so important for people to do their own thorough research before investing. But, that said, I tend to agree with you that folks should be able to freely express their views on a stock and they should be able to buy or not buy a stock based on those views that they may have."
Rep. Emmer: "Mr. Gill, on that note, how would you feel if these brilliant people that are asking you these questions today decided that you should not take the risks that you're making these thoughtful decisions on? What do you think about that?"
Keith Gill: "I would probably ask for an explanation, Congressman. And, try to understand their viewpoint as to why they might think that and, perhaps we'd be able to talk through it."
Rep. Emmer: "Right. I appreciate it, Mr. Gill. I think we need to value the right of the individual to make decisions for themselves. And, it's fantastic to see so many people getting involved and participating in the greatest financial markets in the world. We should be encouraging individual participation in the market by you, and others. And, we should want more people, more not less.
"We don't need the people from the mountaintop deciding who is capable and who is incapable. We need more people having the opportunity to develop financial literacy, to build their own portfolios, to secure a safe and comfortable retirement, to grow their wealth so they can send their kids to college. And, most importantly, in my opinion, we should strive for individuals to have the autonomy to do all that they themselves would want to do without having to rely on others, or God forbid, their government.
"I also want to thank Mr. Budd for using his time to mention blockchain technology applications in the post-trade settlement and clearing process. In light of this whole situation, it is important now, more than ever, that we utilize the technology we have access to - and we do have access to technology that is decentralized and can provide real-time trade settlements. Mr. Lynch and I have a non-partisan bill that we introduced last year and will reintroduce very soon that concerns this.
"If we should exercise oversight of anything here, it is to ensure that individuals maintain access to our markets, and discussions about over and undervalued companies only continue to increase. Unfortunately, average investors were locked out of the markets at a time of extreme volatility while institutional investors were not.
"While I understand that a lot of what happened during this market frenzy came down to liquidity issues, individual investors were in a vulnerable position and were at the will of online brokerages. We should be taking this time to discuss how to move forward in a way that promotes market access to all investors, just like it did last month.
"Congress clearly do not actually understand what Reddit is, and how you utilized social media and catalyzed a market movement. We have significantly underestimated the sophistication of America's retail investors, and we have not been focusing on improving market access and leveling the playing field for investors. We need to focus our attention, as legislators, on improving average investors' access to the markets. "