Since then, Raytheon shares have fallen about 5pc. While Portnoy’s trade may not go down as one of history’s great investments, it epitomised a corner of the trading world that has gained increasing attention in recent weeks.
Portnoy – who became an internet celebrity after launching the Barstool Sports blog – has become the doyen of a new breed of day traders. Known as “Robinhood investors”, after the commission-free trading platform many use, they have received some blame – fairly and unfairly – for the wild market rally of recent months.
Congregating around online blogs and forums, these traders are marked by spontaneity, aggressive trading, a disdain for investment’s sacred cows and a big serving of self-loathing. They focus on individual stocks, and win – or lose – big.
In a research paper exploring the phenomenon, analysts at German insurer Allianz wrote: “These newly baked investors have little prior experience in trading nor a sound understanding of the capital markets. They ignore the fundamentals and seem to be provoked by the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) phenomenon as well as gambling incentives promoted on [social networks].”
Messaging board Reddit’s WallStreetBets community, which has around 1.3m members, offers an insight into many of the group’s key predilections: supreme market masochism, bizarre meme-based theories and a unhealthy reverence for its own minor deities: Tesla founder Elon Musk, and US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell (variously called J-Pow, JPOW, J Pow Wow and a variety of other names).
It is likely that many of these “new retailers” have done well. Wall Street has soared since March’s nadir – the second quarter, which ended on Tuesday, was the best since 1998, with gains driven by the continued rise of America’s tech giants.