Call for contributions - YOLO Capitalism: Perspectives on Retail Investors in Modern Financial Markets


Contemporary financial markets have recently witnessed sociocultural phenomena such as “meme stocks,” the Gamestop short squeeze, and “YOLO trading”. These are movements led by small-scale retail investors banding together to participate forcefully in financial markets through decentralized but coordinated actions. They are driven by multiple causal factors, including technological shifts such as zero-fee trading apps and social media “financialization”; economic circumstances including pandemic-phase Keynesian stimulus spending and lockdown measures;  political sentiments including anti-Wall Street sentiment; legislative and regulatory gaps regarding financial practices; and psychological factors such as group identity and herd behavior. 

In other words, contemporary financial markets are experiencing the increased organization and mobilization of  capital by retail investors behaving in more coordinated and emotionally-charged ways, which has increased market volatility and challenged the efficient-market platitudes that dominate the financial media and financial pedagogy. The collective rebellious streak of these retail investors has also ruffled the feathers of established players in financial markets, above all the major hedge funds who had taken financial positions (short bets) against some of the stocks that have attracted the interest of retail investors. But YOLO capitalism has also drawn political and public managerial attention to the structures of capital markets, including in Congressional activity and in regulatory authority debates. 

As such, while it is tempting to see YOLO capitalism as a short-lived spurt of anti-establishment financial disruption, there may in fact be much more lasting effects of the decentralized yet collective action by retail investors  for modern financial markets. The aim of this book is to offer multiple perspectives on the genesis, role, motivations, power, and future prospects of retail investors as a force in contemporary financial markets. Drawing upon the insights of a plenitude of scholarly fields, it frames YOLO capitalism through multiple angles that help to explain the context and the importance of activist retail investors in modern financial markets, and thereby explore the possibilities of a transformed financial future with much wider small-scale participation. 


Call for contributions

The editors of this book proposal are seeking contributions from a wide variety of research fields in order to develop a consistent edited volume. Deadlines are the following: 

  1. Abstracts - September 30, 2021 or earlier (250 words)
  2. Full Chapters -  December 15, 2021 or earlier (5,000-7,000 words)

Please submit your abstract to: uchohan2@gmail.com and sven.van.kerckhoven@vub.be.