For Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C. 10th District), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee and proponent of more open financial markets, the GameStop trading frenzy presents an opportunity to further democratize investing.
"This is a true power-of-the-people moment, where you see Reddit users… that communicated with each other about what large sophisticated hedge funds were doing to a particular stock, and so they took action," McHenry told Cheddar.
The committee will hold hearings on the incident in the next two to three weeks, according to McHenry. The goal, he said, is to better understand if there are any legal issues to address and if the David-and-Goliath media narratives pass the muster of closer scrutiny.
"We need to understand if any laws were broken, if any regulations were broken here, and what exactly happened with this larger moment of Reddit users outsmarting and outwitting hedge funds," he said.
The representative also stressed that the hearing would not focus on a single company, such as Robinhood, which has gotten heavy criticism from fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for limiting trading activity of Reddit-targeted stocks in the middle of the buying spree.
Robinhood CEO Vladimir Tenev recently said in a conversation with Elon Musk that the restrictions were meant to help the company conform to capital requirements. McHenry said regulations concerning capital requirements for broker-dealers could also be on the docket.
"We have to make sure that the regulations are appropriate for broker-dealers to hold capital," he said. "We need to understand the clearing process."
Ultimately, he said it should be easier for newcomers, such as the wave of investors who piled into GameStop stocks, to take advantage of financial markets.
"What this moment shows me is that average, everyday investors can be quite sophisticated, and simply having a wealth standard is not a sufficient mechanism," he said. "We need to ensure that people can test into the accredited investor standard, so that these average, everyday investors can get those deeper, earlier access to sophisticated products."