[FOUNTAIN]Ant against ‘super ant’ in the market“It was the end of the world. The place was pitch black, very solid, slippery, lukewarm and smelled of mineral oil. Nothing was natural, and we couldn’t see an inch of soil. The flow of the air was tremendous. When we arrived, we could feel a sudden tremor, and as the strength of the tremor intensified geometrically, the ground trembled violently. Soon, fierce wind accompanying terrible noise crushed the fellows who stepped on it.” In Bernard Werber’s “Empire of the Ants,” ants experience an asphalt road as a catastrophe, something from an entirely different dimension.
Many children are introduced to the world of non-human organisms by observing ant colonies. The perfectly coordinated procession of ants is an object of awe to them. As demonstrated in the Aesop fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” ants are often seen as a symbol of diligence.
In the stock market, individual investors are often seen as antlike. In Korea’s stock market, however, these ants are not symbols of diligence, but more like the struggling creatures in Mr. Werber’s novel.
After institutional and foreign investors cashed out of the market, these ants lost money by following suit too late. The high-tech investing strategies of foreign investors, in particular, are from a dimension that’s alien to these ants.
Recently, though, “super ants” have made an appearance in the market. These might seem like heroes to ordinary ants, competing with institutional and foreign investors, buffing up and arming themselves with cutting-edge strategies. But in reality, they are nothing but mutant ants, digging into the loopholes of the disclosure regulations and cheating the ordinary ants.
Their tricks are simple: They buy more than five percent of a company’s stock and announce a plan for a hostile merger and acquisition. After normal ants react by buying up shares of the company, driving up the price, the super ants cash out. A considerable number of super ants have made billions of won using this trick.
The financial supervisory authorities seem to be incompetent to control these super ants’ behavior. With so many ants having gotten out of the market, the prevalence of super ants might drive away the remaining individual investors altogether. The financial authorities need to make extra efforts to settle this situation.
by Lee Se-jung
The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.