“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness,” Oscar Wilde once said, which is music to the ears of the 10 million members of Wall Street Bets. The raucous Reddit forum, which sees itself as David taking on the financial establishment’s Goliath, will be delighted to learn that their sworn enemy has started imitating their esoteric, x-rated lingo.
Ever since WSB formed back in 2012 to swap stock tips and behind-the-bike-sheds gags, it has embraced its underdog status. This unruly rabble of amateur day traders call themselves degenerates, retards, and autists, in a send-up of what the real Wall Street thinks about them. Make no mistake: these guys have adversaries, especially after the GameStop phenomenon back in January, when the WSB army started bidding on the stock, costing financial firms that had shorted it around $19 billion. Among their detractors were Leon Cooperman, the billionaire investor, who denounced these traders as “people sitting at home, getting their checks from the government”, adding in true-Trump style: “I’m not saying they’re stupid.”
But now the tables have turned, with the great and good of Wall Street imitating the mediocre members of WSB. Young masters of the universe say the slang that has evolved from the primordial ooze of WSB has found its way onto the trading floors and offices of major banks and hedge funds. Suddenly there’s talk among the venerable Wall Street institutions of diamond hands (which are strong enough to hold positions through thick and thin), toilet paper hands (which are too weak), and one’s wife’s boyfriend (don’t even ask). Even Jim Cramer, host of Mad Money, the CNBC business TV show, teased one of his colleagues on air last month for not knowing about diamond hands.
The creator of Litquidity, a must-follow Instagram account for Wall Street hotshots, says that WSB terms have taken on a life of their own. “Phrases like ‘diamond hands’, ‘yolo’, and ‘tendies’ are used in the context of large financial transactions or hedge fund investments,” he tells Gentleman’s Journal. While it’s mainly the younger crowd who use these tongue-in-cheek terms, Litquidity’s anonymous creator adds that followers of his finance newsletter, Exec Sum, say that even managing directors have taken to speaking of “tech stocks getting clapped” and “the market getting rekt yesterday”.
However, sources from within London firms say WSB lingo has yet to permeate their offices to the same extent as their American counterparts. On this side of the pond, a sleazy uncle jokiness characterises banking patter — insiders consulted for this article provided a list of favourite one-liners overheard on business calls like “Reach up your skirt and grab a pair!” and “My grandmother could have sold those bonds!” and “Only footballers make money from passing!” and “We’re not talking about door numbers, my son!”
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