My contrarian instincts kicked in as it appeared on my social media feeds last month. Maybe I had an aversion to new things and maybe I had watched “The Game” episode of “Star Trek: TNG” too many times in my formative years.
I eventually figured it out. It’s free and fun (for now). As a diversion while I wait for my morning coffee to kick-start my brain, it’s okay. And I learned that just because something is new does not mean it should be feared.
As for cryptocurrencies, I’ve been averse to them for a while now; should I reconsider? Well … Compared to Wordle, cryptocurrencies are ancient – nearly 15 years old.
A couple of weeks ago, when bitcoin first appeared in the general media, I did a little bit of research on the concept (one of my day jobs is figuring out if something warrants inclusion in my global political economy course).
With crypto, my answer was “mostly no.”
Cryptocurrencies are useful for evading sanctions and engaging in illicit exchanges; however, as an alternative to commonly accepted currencies, cryptocurrencies are absurd. They make no sense as a unit of account.
The utility of these currencies decreases as they are used more, which is a strange property for a currency. And their volatility makes them doubtful as a store of value.
Those were the days. Today, crypto markets are either more efficient or they aren’t. However, they have gained new prominence in recent months. The total market cap of crypto assets has surpassed $2 trillion dollars.
The crypto sector has gone on an advertising binge, as seen in the Hall of Famer David Ortiz’s FTX commercial; Matt Damon’s crypto.com ads.
There is also interest in crypto from pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. The market is large enough for large crypto firms to launch superPACS in order to lobby against regulations.
Yet none of this prominence has kept the market from being volatile. The crypto market is now close to $2 trillion, but in October it was over $3 trillion. The New York Times’s Paul Krugman warned last week of “uncomfortable parallels to the subprime crisis of the 2000s.”.
No, crypto doesn’t threaten the financial system — the numbers aren’t big enough to do that. Crypto risks appear to be falling disproportionately on those who don’t understand what they’re getting into and aren’t well positioned to handle the downside.
The average cryptocurrency trader has under 40 years of age and no college degree, according to a July 2021 NORC survey.
More disturbing: “Investors get their information about cryptocurrency investing mostly through the crypto exchanges themselves (26 percent), general trading platforms like Fidelity or Robinhood (25 percent), or social media (24 percent).”
When celebrities start getting involved in asset bubbles, the smart money might be wise to get out.
Many celebrities have already been sued for promoting cryptocurrencies that were classic “pump and dump” Ponzi schemes. This suggests that the crypto bubble has already begun.
Despite the recent volatility, it is possible that institutional investors will reduce their exposure to crypto due to the recent volatility.
Krugman’s political economy concerns that crypto will simply buy congressional inaction might be stalling out. In any case, it seems like the small-time crypto investors are this decade’s equivalent of day traders and house flippers of the 1990s and 2000s.
Maybe we should all just play Wordle instead.
Via this site.