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Fails to Deliver and GameStop – A Look Inside

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You probably haven’t heard anything about GameStop in the past few years. Nope, nothing. Just a defunct retail chain where you used to be able to trade in your used video games for $3 a pop.

Sarcasm aside, the world was taken by storm a few weeks ago when GameStop stock went on a rally. With an exceptionally meteoric rise paired with high short interest, panic ensued for short sellers and smaller brokerages. This led to a rise in failures to deliver. In the most basic definition, this is one of the parties in a transaction did not deliver cash or the asset before the settlement date of the transaction.

Check out Investopedia’s definition below, and definitely read the page if you want to learn more about failures to deliver.

Whenever a trade is made, both parties in the transaction are contractually obligated to transfer either cash or assets before the settlement date. Subsequently, if the transaction is not settled, one side of the transaction has failed to deliver. Failure to deliver can also occur if there is a technical problem in the settlement process carried out by the respective clearing house.

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/failuretodeliver.asp

The SEC publishes data on failures to deliver twice every month. At the time of this posting, they had data released up to January 15th, 2021 (update: on Feb 16th I updated this with the SEC data up to January 29th, 2021). This unfortunately doesn’t capture the most extreme part of the GameStop stock price explosion, but captures other volatile periods in the stock’s history. I’ll update the visualization when the data becomes available.

In this dashboard, I wanted to see the correlation between price increases and fails to deliver. Also I was interested in seeing what the comparison was between the average of all stocks reported fails to deliver versus GameStop. Check out the visualization below to see what I came up with. It’s interactive and best viewed on desktop (but has a mobile configuration as well).

The Dashboard

p.s. if you know what stonks are then you know it’s not a misspelling. If not, don’t worry about it and enjoy the ride 🚀🚀🚀

One last note is that this project was a great way for me to practice my Python skills. SEC.gov provided the files in two week chunks, each as a zip file. I made a quick Python script to download all of the data for the last year, unzip the folders, append all of the text files to each other, and output a nice csv to use in Tableau. Python is a semi-frequent skill for me so it’s always nice to have a quick touch-up project like this.

If you’re looking to learn Python, a project like this is a simple way to learn a real world use. Don’t be afraid to jump into projects like this. Break it down into tiny steps and complete one at a time.

Thanks for reading. Any questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to me via email on my contact page.

Gimme your thoughts, leave a reply!