Opinion: Everyone you know talks about crypto. Uh oh

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It’s often the first question friends and family ask me whenever I talk about my job. And whenever I introduce myself to someone new and tell them what I’m doing, the conversation quickly turns to cryptocurrencies, in particular. You’re here (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk and his obsession with dogecoin.

I have had doctors, dental hygienists, doormen in my apartment building and parents of kids from my son’s football and baseball teams who all told me about crypto and shared their bitcoin trading stories. , ethereum, and other more obscure digital currencies.

I am not alone.

“I was talking to a school traffic policeman recently and he started buying dogecoins,” Dan Pipitone, co-founder of brokerage firm TradeZero America, recently told me.

“There’s certainly no lack of interest, especially once people make a little bit of money. For a lot of new investors, it’s just a build-up,” Pipitone added.

But there are investors who have a lot more than a few Benjamins at stake. It’s troubling because what’s going on with cryptos is a speculative fad, like we haven’t really seen since the late 1990s with technological actions.

Now don’t get me wrong – it’s a good thing people are taking charge of their finances and investing for the future. It’s also okay to have the proverbial “fun” money in crypto assets.

A mother of a friend of my youngest son’s friend recently confessed to me that she was slightly annoyed that she bought Coinbase shares when they were trading in the $ 300 range. I gasped. The stock is currently hovering around the mid-point of $ 230. She then admitted that she only owned one share. Phew!

But just like we saw in the late 1990s, the Internet / Nasdaq bubble, there are too many people who may not really realize the risks they are taking and getting the upper hand.

Tech stocks crashed and many did not survive

I have been covering the markets as a financial journalist since 1995. Back then I was also peppered with investment and trading queries from friends and random people such as taxi drivers, barbers and bartenders. .

They wanted to know Qualcomm (QCOM), Cisco (CSCO) and the hot initial public offerings of the day. Remember the old Ask Jeeves search engine? Its shares climbed 364% on their first day of listing in July 1999!
Market rebound since March shows why we shouldn't panic
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Here is the thing though. The bubble eventually burst. Spectacularly. The Nasdaq hit a record high of over 5,000 in March 2000 and did not return until March 2015.
It took 20 years for Qualcomm’s shares to return to their late 1999 levels. Cisco is still trading below its all-time highs in 2000. What about Ask Jeeves? It’s now a tiny part of Barry Diller’s CAI (CAI), who ditched the Jeeves butler logo and name and renamed the site to simply Ask.com.

And Ask is one of the lucky dot coms. Dozens of other tech startups crashed and burned down. RIP to Webvan, eToys and theglobe.com. Not to mention Pets.com and its once ubiquitous sock puppet.

In other words, not all e-commerce or tech stocks of 20 years ago have matured like Amazon (AMZN) did.
“Crypto is like the dot-com bubble. 100 percent. There will be winners but most of them will be losers. It’s really hard to make money in the long run,” he said. said Mitchell Green, founding partner of Lead Edge Capital, a venture capital firm. company that has invested in Ali Baba (BABA), Spotify (IN LAW) and Uber (UBER).
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“When I have friends who don’t work in financial services tell me it’s easy to make money, then it’s a bubble. It won’t end well,” Green told me. “People say it’s different this time. No it’s not. Many cryptos can go up like an escalator and down like a rock.”

Investors got a taste of crypto volatility after bitcoin suffered its worst monthly decline in a decade last month.

Some long-term crypto bulls believe this makes it a buying opportunity.

“Cryptos are here to stay. I think the industry has grown and moved to a larger audience,” said Jeremy Welch, product manager at Kraken, a cryptocurrency exchange.

But that is precisely my point. You should never invest in something just because a friend at a party is touting it or seeing stories about the price increase.

“People have to be okay with missing something,” said Ron L. Brown, president of RL Brown Wealth Management, when I asked him what he advises his clients, many of whom are professional athletes, if they want. buy cryptocurrencies.

“It’s more like Vegas than investing,” Brown said.

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