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Being able to inhabit the emotional space that other types of wealth have long dominated is perhaps the most important prerequisite of having joined the club. I am still largely amazed at the tremendous scale of bitcoin computing and yet there is no CEO or industry organization with any fiat authority over it. For better or worse, this seems to say something about the ongoing power of fictions to supersede reality. Despite geography being a tangible fact we’ve nonetheless organized the world around imaginary national and political boundaries to the benefit and detriment of many. Is cryptocurrency more akin to something like the adoption of Westphalian sovereignty that rearranged how the fictions of imperial kingdoms worked? Does that imply a Thirty Years War needs to happen before major adoption takes place? I at least am of the mind that self-regulating systems are likely going to be a necessary corrective against the easily gamed world of human hierarchies.
Full disclosure: I do have a small coin collection largely by happenstance of a free-thinking Army techie who sent me some a long time ago. But my laggard interest in accumulating great wealth hasn’t led me to do anything much with it. Probably because my prospects for participating in vicious conflict have not been limited on account of having a fat bankroll.
“You can’t own everything.”
When I started on Wall Street in the early '80s, it was the same game then as today, like football is the same game then as today - yes, no, maybe.
Back then, there were a lot of cranky senior men in the industry (being outwardly cranky was allowed back then) who had internalized their experience and wisdom - today we’d call their thought process algorithms - and who would spit out small pearls of wisdom, like the quote above, leaving you to fill in the blanks (or badger them for additional explanation which might or might not come).
I’ve taken the “you can’t own everything” meme (definitely didn’t call it that back then) to mean there’s only so much you can understand / follow / study in the detail necessary to be a good trader and investor in it. Kind of a Wall Street version of don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none. Despite fancying myself a macro-strategist / allocator, there are entire product categories I all but ignore as I don’t believe I’d either be good at them or that the time investment they’d require is worth the value they might provide to my investing.
A few years back, when I first really looked at Bitcoin, I realized it was one of those things that wouldn’t work for me. If it was a currency - money - it didn’t meet my small brain’s Economics 101’s three tests for being money. And, and this one always leaves me cold, I couldn’t suss out a penny of intrinsic value. But I can now nod my head with a serious mien and note how real and important blockchain is / will be.
But heck, I believed then and still believe I could be wrong, very wrong, about Bitcoin, but so what - “you can’t own everything.” As Ben notes, I’ve watched the spectacle in part because Bitcoin’s ardent claim to being a new form of money is clickbait to every investor as, in some boiled-down way, we are all just looking to acquire new money - and here it is - Bitcoin! - new money, standing in the sunshine.
But all that said and trying to be as honest with myself as possible, I haven’t felt jealousy or schadenfreude toward the Bitcoin universe as three decades of training has made me pretty indifferent to the investment gains and losses of those things I “just can’t own.”
I have my own investment garden to attend to and can’t worry about the other farmers and their plans - it would be distracting and counterproductive. And having had a modicum of success and plenty of setbacks, I am turned off by jealousy and schadenfreude in myself and others as one knows how truly hard long-term success is to achieve (it deserves respect not jealousy) and how God-awfully painful sizable losses are (they deserve sympathy not schadenfreude).
Wall Street might or might not be very different than it was three-plus decades ago - it looks different as it, like everything else in the world today, looks more surfacey professional and is more technologically driven - but I don’t think the game is really all that different as most of those pearls of wisdom from those old men of yore (or the 1980s) still apply, like, “you can’t own everything.”
I’m not a no-coiner. I admit to taking a little schade thinking you meant ‘something to laugh at and be jealous of’. I look at BTC like trophy art; I just can’t afford the latter.
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