[Editor’s Note: For the sake of transparency, before you read or re-read this post – you should know that on November 19, 2022, I sold all cryptocurrencies in my portfolio, and am no longer confident they are viable in the long-term. Would prefer to announce this with my reasoning behind the decision, but since I expect to be resoundingly criticized, trolled, and ridiculed, I’d rather take my time explaining the logic and that could be a week or two until it’s ready. There is much pumping and dumping going on in the space and that’s not my agenda. So I’m putting this disclaimer out on November 22nd, and will insert a link when I have finished authored the essay listing the rationale.]
Let’s take a quick snapshot of the planet right now: The Covid-19 pandemic is still roiling the world, inflation is running rampant, and the cumulative value of global stocks has declined by $25 trillion dollars this year. (And we’re not even finished with June.) Investment and retirement portfolios have been shredded. Millions of people have lost jobs and many of those jobs are not coming back. (Pretty much exactly what I predicted one year ago.)
Tragically, I believe the real wave of layoffs, true economic fallout, and collateral societal damages are just about to start….
Recently I did an essay on the opportunities in chaos. In the post, I shared that my confidence in cryptocurrencies and NFTs was declining rapidly and I was pulling back from the digital space and promised to write a follow up post explaining my rational. This essay is it.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not a banker, investment advisor, or financial planner. This post is not meant to provide investment advice. It’s designed to look at cryptocurrencies and NFTs from the perspective of how they comply with the principles of prosperity – or don’t.
Thus far, cryptocurrencies have shown little substantial progress to achieving the benefits they promised. The allure of cryptos were:
We’re 13 years in now, how we doing on all that?
We’ve been inundated with dozens of digital coins and tokens. Theoretically coins have their own blockchain and tokens don’t, but most people speculating on them right now have no idea of the distinction. In addition to Bitcoin and ETH, we’ve got a Cheesecake Factory-size menu of shitcoins. Let’s breakdown the four benefit categories above and evaluate how they have delivered:
A pure peer-to-peer version of electronic cash that would allow payments to be sent without involving a financial institution, reducing the risk for fraud.
The bottom line (for now) is that cryptocurrencies haven’t become viable cryptocurrencies. They’ve just reproduced like rabbits, offering dozens of coins and tokens claiming to be currencies. Exactly zero of them have become accepted currencies. Real people are not using them to buy real things. (Note: Horny drunks paying 100k in Bitcoin for bottle service at Club E11EVEN does not meet this criterion.)
For all practical purposes, we’ve just opened a new marketplace bazaar for gambling and trading. But instead of offering Persian rugs, these markets buy, sell, and trade digital currencies. (Or NFTs.) If you don’t like the bazaar analogy, think of the current crypto space as a currency-only version of the stock market, or even Las Vegas casinos. There is lots of speculation going on, fortunes are being made, and fortunes are being lost, but no one is actually using cryptocurrencies as, you know, cryptocurrencies.
At the moment, cryptocurrencies are the equivalent of a risky, high flying tech stock, but without any underlying product or service, and virtually no regulation. Most blockchain and crypto-related technologies are still in the experimental stages and vulnerable to becoming compromised. The number of hacked wallets, exit scams, and fraudulent coin/token launches happening in the space is astonishing. And how much market manipulation is being done by the insiders and whales in the space will never be known.
Cryptos have eliminated the “financial institutions,” but those central banks have for the most part been replaced with exchanges, farming, and storage operations. Unfortunately, many are run by well-meaning but incompetent people, and others are controlled by outright criminals, intent on exploiting you. The amount of fraud taking place is astounding.
The promise of a peer-to-peer transaction without the middleman hasn’t materialized. Instead, we’ve just changed the nature of the middleman, and not necessarily for the better. At the time I’m typing these words, there are a lot of people with a lot of money in the hands of these alternative institutions – and they’re very nervous. And with the financial meltdown happening, expect to see a lot more of these sketchy deals getting exposed.
They would offer a system for non-reversable electronic transactions that doesn’t rely on trust:
See answer above.
I would add that this promise of not having to rely on trust is really supposed to be the superpower for all cryptos, and blockchains was supposed to ensure that. If we’re being lucid, we have to admit that what’s going on in the crypto and NFT space today forces us to need more trust not less.
There are now hundreds of worthless shitcoins being promoted by Ponzi and pyramid schemes. These scams use the publicity and interest about cryptocurrencies, to prey on the multitudes who aren’t that cognizant of developing technologies – and lead them to believe they are investing in the next Amazon, Yahoo or Twitter.
There are no cryptocurrencies that meet the criteria to be a product for a legitimate direct selling company. ZERO.
To start a network marketing company and build the product line around a cryptocurrency, is simply a laughable idea. It would be like starting an MLM company and announcing that the product line was the U.S. dollar or the Japanese Yen. What would be the business model?
“Buy this $20 bill for $27 and maybe next year it is worth $30.”
Whether we use the dollar, euro, yen, peso, bitcoin, or any cryptocurrency - none of them are a value producing asset. They are simply a form of exchange, or a trading play. You can bet they go up, or bet they go down. These pyramid schemes masquerading as multi-level marketing models are the perfect example of the “greater fool theory.” At this point, anyone who participates in a cryptocurrency MLM is a fool, criminal, or both.
Ability to conduct transactions without government spying taxation, and seizures:
You’re kidding me, right?
We must begin by accepting that the privacy ideal has been slippery at best. The transparency of the blockchain is a double-edged sword. As a result, protection from government spying and seizures has been a huge disappointment in my view. (Which was probably quite naive.)
What the Bitcoin maximalists view as progress (encouraging words from central bankers, governments developing crypto regulations, El Salvador accepting BTC as official currency, blah, blah, blah...) are actually the opposite of what needs to take place for Bitcoin to become viable. Cryptos seeking validation from governments is like a bunch of mice working together to build their own cat.
The only reason governments show any pretense of supporting or accepting cryptocurrencies is so they can manipulate, control, and tax them. Or learn enough about how they work so they can create their own versions to usurp them.
If we ever are able to reach a state where a cryptocurrency gains worldwide acceptance, I believe it will be outside the reach of government, independent of all fiat currencies. If government have any participation in a cryptocurrency, they will eventually resort to currency manipulation, devaluation, monitoring and taxing your transactions. (Or seizing your assets.) That’s just what governments do.
Not only is it more fun to be a pirate than join the navy – but in the crypto space – it’s the only way you’re going to survive the high seas.
Special note to everyone with laser eyes in their Twitter profile that responded with breathless sensationalism when El Salvadorian president Nayib Bukele declared Bitcoin as legal tender there: The man prides himself on making dictators cool again FFS. (#ProTip People who use the title “His Excellency” before their name are not generally known as advocates for the common folk.) Talk to real people who live in El Salvador, and you’ll discover what a corrupt, abject failure the acceptance program there has actually turned out to be. And if you believe there’s going to be a magic Bitcoin city on the volcano, I have some oceanfront property in Wisconsin I want to sell you.
Cryptos would serve as a hedge against inflation and the worthless “printing press money” that governments produce:
This is one of those ideas that sounds good, looks good, and looks good on paper, but hasn’t actually worked in the real world. As the current financial situation has demonstrated, none of these cryptocurrencies have served as a store of value that have shown stability against collapsing fiat currencies, and the general financial meltdown. They’ve pretty much mirrored the violent up and down swings exactly. We were promised that stable coins pegged to traditional currencies were a safer option, but the Luna shit show (imploding from a $34 billion market cap to worthless in about a week), certainly detonated that fantasy. Terra is probably the biggest blockchain failure yet and the ripple effects are going to be felt for a long time.
This is not to say that a cryptocurrency will never become a hedge against fiat currency. I believe it’s highly likely that one will ultimately serve as a true store of value and be divorced from stock market and fiat currency instabilities. But don’t be foolish by thinking Bitcoin or any other crypto has achieved this position yet.
What about NFTs?
Glad you asked. We would be remiss if we didn’t also discuss the current state of the marketplace for NFTs. Billions of dollars are being invested in NFT projects right now. Celebrities and influences, companies and sporting leagues are falling all over themselves seeking partners who can help them exploit their fame and credibility for a fast cash windfall by creating NFTs as collectables. They’ve collectively raked in billions of dollars from gullible followers. But the loss they ultimately take to their credibility will dog them forever.
Just how depraved has it become?
Anna Sorokin, who you probably know from the Netflix series that showed how she scammed hundreds of thousands of dollars from friends and businesses posing as a German heiress, announced she’s now launching a collection of NFTs. Sorokin said in the announcement, “I’m trying to move away from this like, quote unquote scammer persona.” Of course, the statement was released from the Orange County Correctional Facility in upstate New York where she is currently in custody. FFS!
There is simply too much worthless shit being hyped as collectables and fine art in the NFT space. In my mind, somewhere between 99.7 and 100 percent of the NFTs being offered today will wind up being worthless. They’re a stupid tax on day traders. Las Vegas has much better odds right now.
So where does all this take us? Well, if you’re up for it, let’s conduct a fun little thought experiment. Let me propose a thesis for the ultimate cryptocurrency. A concept so bold, innovative, and brilliant that you’re going to wonder how you never thought of it yourself!
The launch of SemenCoin
Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of electronic cash and programmable money with contracts will finally become realized with the launch of SemenCoin. Unlike other cryptos, SemenCoin will also be represented in the physical world by physical token verified by a chain-around-my-block. This is a literal chain linking together the physical versions of the 21 million SemenCoins I am authorizing to be mined, which is being built surrounding the block my condo is located on.
Here’s how it works…
In order to be registered as a SemenCoin miner, individuals must follow me on Twitter. That gives them the right to mine SemenCoins. The actual mining is accomplished by the following process: The raw material for the tokens consists of two elements.
Element one is the clay used for the pitching mounds in major league baseball stadiums. This can only be acquired from the DuraEdge Products Soil Farm in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. It must then be mixed with my personal ejaculate. (Because my semen can be verified by DNA testing, providing proof of stake, finite inventory, and authenticity.) These two elements are mixed in the required ratio to create a mud mixture, which is then poured in an official plastic SemenCoin mold and microwaved on the “high” setting for exactly four minutes and twenty seconds, in the microwave located in the in-store dining section at the Whole Foods Market location at 12150 Biscayne Boulevard, North Miami, FL 33181. (Providing transparency in the mining process that other cryptos can’t even touch.)
Following microwaving, the mixture solidifies into solid coin form and is assigned a number. Each coin is then added to the chain-around-the-block surrounding my condo. The dimensions of the coin have been designed so it takes exactly 21 million of them to create this chain-around-my-block. Once a coin is attached to this physical chain, the number is listed on my blog, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. Because the average man is only capable of thinking about sex and masturbating ten thousand times a day, this means the hard cap of supply of 21 million tokens will be reached in approximately 2,100 days. This creates a runway to build acceptance and pace demand. At that point, I will undergo gender reassignment surgery and the number of coins in circulation will remain fixed at that level permanently. Miners will still be rewarded, but only through transaction fees, and not from newly minted coins.
Unlike Bitcoin, which can only be verified by very clever computer programmers, SemenCoin can be verified by any mouth breather with a day trading account. That’s because this new coin is verified in both the digital plane (my blog) and physical plane (the chain-around-my-block). That makes SemenCoin far safer and superior to those other so-called legitimate cryptocurrencies.
But wait, there’s more…
You’ve heard all the hype about non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and probably wondered how you can cash in on this exploding marketplace. Now with SemenCoin, you don’t have to choose between a token for buying/selling or a collectable one! That’s because the SemenCoin token is a new class of coin securities known as a Bi-Sensory, or B.S. for short. That’s because each physical coin comes with a free digital collectable from the Amorous Aardvark Motorcycle Club collection. Each is an original cocktail napkin sketch done by yours truly, digitized for posterity.
Because of its decentralized nature, SemenCoin doesn’t follow the monetary policy of governments, and it’s not backed by any underlying asset or government. If you are skeptical and cannot see the obvious value offered by the SemenCoin opportunity, it may be because you:
Back to Reality…
Okay now that I’ve had my demented fun, I’d like to challenge you to turn off your laser eyes, divorce from your emotions, and override your confirmation biases for a moment to consider the following possibilities...
What makes a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT any more valuable than my Amorous Aardvark Motorcycle Club works of art? How much of the value of NFTs in general is dependent on internet hype, rah-rah, whale manipulation, or fraud?
True prosperity is created by solving problems, adding value, and envisioning superior possibilities. Obviously, it’s challenging to quantify how my imaginary cryptocurrency meets that criteria. But ask yourself what makes Dogecoin, Samoyed Coin, and Magic Internet Money any more feasible.
There are a lot of smart people who believe the cryptocurrency concept can’t fail. There were also a lot of smart people who thought WeWork was a tech company. In 1999, the smart people at Excite turned down the chance to buy Google for $750,000. Who’s smarter than rocket scientists? Yet NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because they used metric measurements while Lockheed was using English ones. Smart people are wrong all the time.
There is a prevalent mind virus in the Bitcoin cult that BTC will always go up, each time it drops it’s at a higher floor, and it would be impossible for it to fail completely. Admittedly, Bitcoin is operating on a higher level than the legions of shitcoins that followed them. But it is not bulletproof. It could become worthless in the right (wrong) scenario.
That’s because all forms of money, physical or digital, are mind viruses. We all agree on the concept of a currency because it’s a lot more convenient than trading oranges for massages, fish for computer repair, or radishes for the new Beyonce album. But there is no intrinsic value in any currency, whether it’s doubloons, wampum, US dollar, or crypto.
Currencies hold their value only when there is broad-based public acceptance – a shared hypnosis that all willingly agree to.
The bolivar from Venezuela was perceived as valuable until it wasn’t. Everyone in that country knows the government will devalue it day after day, so no one believes in it as a viable currency any longer. This process has been happened for all currencies since the very first one. Perhaps blockchain technology breaks this cycle, perhaps it doesn’t.
You may want to bookmark this next sentence, so you can come back and mock me in ten years. At this point, I’m becoming extremely doubtful that Bitcoin is going to end up as the global mass adoption cryptocurrency. (Mainly because of what I said earlier about how a truly viable cryptocurrency, one that becomes accepted for use as a cryptocurrency and not a gambling or investment play, has to be divorced from any government or other currency.) I’m not even certain that any cryptocurrency will ultimately become a globally accepted store of value. Remember that currencies of every kind only work if everyone drinks the Kool-Aid. I could easily write another essay of this same length arguing that Bitcoin only works as a mass hypnosis anomaly, and there is no there there. For Bitcoin to work, there has to be mass consensus that is it’s a store of value, readily exchangeable, safe, hedges against fiat currency collapses, protects against inflation – and – is a new monetary system, “digital gold,” and “the future of money.” That’s a pretty big ask, and it isn’t looking too good at the moment. One massive hacking incident or some type of electromagnetic pulse attack could be enough to send the masses shrieking toward the exits forever. Really.
More food for thought: The Mt. Gox hack in 2014 stole seven percent of all outstanding Bitcoin at the time. The Terra debacle evaporated about three percent of crypto’s total market cap. Has there ever been a theft or similar fiat currency fraud that has consequences even remotely as severe?
More, more food for thought: Imagine this scenario. You want to buy a used car. You find a vehicle you like, and they agree to sell it to you for $12,000 cash. You have that much in your bank account because you’ve been saving up for this. You stop by the branch office to pick up the money and find the door locked with a sign that says:
“Due to extreme market conditions, today we are announcing that we pausing all withdrawals, Swap, and transfers between accounts. We are taking this action today to put the bank in a better position to honor, over time, its withdrawal obligations.”
You’d probably be apoplectic. You'd send out a mean tweet, which would go viral and start a run on the bank. Eyewitness News would show up to interview you. The FDIC would race over with men in blue windbreakers and guns who would take possession of the bank. Yet this exact scenario happened in the crypto space last week and people are powerless to do anything about it. (Again). They cannot withdraw their own money and may lose some, most, or all of it. How many keyboard warriors with trading accounts who are gambling with their rent and grocery money, really understand how unprotected they are?
For obvious reasons, these days I keep my finances extremely private. But since I’m making these posits about the space, it’s only fair to be transparent about my own actions in this arena. And reminder, this isn’t investment advice, just sharing my thoughts and what I’m doing personally. I own a few (less than ten) Bitcoin and ETH tokens. I own zero of any other type of shitcoins and zero EFTs. I believe the best investments in my portfolio are, in order:
Good idea to add the following caveats: As you can see, Bitcoin is literally the last item on my list. The amount of money I have in digital assets would not impact my daily lifestyle or threaten my retirement security if it all evaporated tomorrow. Also, remember that the horizon in front of me is closer than the one behind me. At this stage of my life, it’s more about preserving wealth, than growing it. My priority mix was much different when I was 30, 50, etc., and yours should be too.
If we’re being sane and rational, we must admit that NFTs and cryptocurrencies simply have not delivered on the promises they offered. That doesn’t mean they never will. It’s entirely conceivable they will. The current economic meltdown and the ways in which governments are reacting to it demonstrate beyond any doubt the value a true, decentralized digital currency could offer. The blockchain may be the greatest development of the last century and it will add value in millions of applications. Tokenization allows latent values to be trackable and tradable. The smart contract technology that NFTs bring will be a game changer in many different applications.
Savvy investors, VCs, and visionaries understand that you should never judge a new technology or development in its early stages. Version 1.0 of anything is always a hot mess. They’re usually janky with a lot of friction at first. You have to imagine how they will perform at scale once the bugs are weeded out. The blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts hold absolutely mind-boggling potential. Just don’t conflate potential with reality…
If you’re Bobby Axelrod with a multibillion-dollar hedge fund, or simply an experienced, savvy investor with money to play with, the crypto space offers some exciting potential to make a killing. But I’m not writing this for you. This essay is for people who aren’t professional gamblers who want to manifest a prosperous life. My advice for you is please don’t attempt to use crypto or NFTs as your primary source of income right now. Don’t count on them heavily for your retirement just yet. (My suggestion: definitely not more than 20 percent of your nest egg.)
Buying a few Bitcoin or ETH right now – if you have the disposable income – is like placing a bet in Vegas that the Kansas City Royals are going to win the World Series this year. It a great asymmetrical bet that could end up paying off huge, and whatever happens, it will be a fun ride. But if you don’t have the disposable income right now, there are more prudent uses for your money. If you’re investing in crypto on a larger scale, it should be because you’re working to create legacy security for your children or grandchildren.
Keep your eyes on the horizon. We’re attempting to build a financial utopia of sorts. It will take decades, not years. Don’t lose sight of the principles of prosperity. If you desire to get in on all these things, do it not as a day trader hopped up on Red Bull, but as a critical thinker looking at the big picture for the long-term.
Back away from the laser eyes crack pipe and evaluate things from a prosperity perspective: Are they adding value, solving problems, and/or envisioning superior possibilities? Only then should you be clicking the “BUY” button.
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