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Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

If stock trading is the new sports betting, then the best kind of stock to gamble with is a stock that's guaranteed to end up being wiped out entirely.

The big picture: Bankrupt companies like Hertz, Whiting Petroleum and JC Penney are great gambling vehicles for low-information bettors. Much like bitcoin, they have no intrinsic value; their share price is therefore simply a reflection of short-term flows and manias.

By the numbers: Hertz rose from 83 cents per share on the morning of June 4 to as much as $5.85 per share in the afternoon of June 8. Whiting Petroleum closed on June 4 at 85 cents; on June 8 it closed at $3.48. JC Penney rose from 21 cents per share on June 5 to 67 cents the following trading day.

  • The buyers were not making sophisticated bets that the equity of these companies might somehow have residual value post-bankruptcy. (It won't.)
  • Instead, they were playing a game of "how long can you hold on to a rising stock with a fundamental value of $0 before it crashes."

My thought bubble: Day trading bankrupt penny stocks is a bit like buying lottery tickets. So long as you know the risk involved, it can be a fun way to dream of riches while (ideally) leaving your long-term retirement investments untouched.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 19, 2020 - Energy & Environment

GM's electric vehicle business could be worth big money

Data: Yahoo; Chart: Axios Visuals

A Morgan Stanley note Tuesday pegged the value of General Motor's nascent electric vehicle business at $20 billion, a tally well above the firm's assessment of GM's core gasoline-powered lines.

Why it matters: It signals analysts' view that revenues from electric vehicles and battery tech are going to be a big thing despite what's now a tiny market share, but it's unclear who the long-term winners will be.

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.