June 2022 – Hibernating, through bear markets and trolls

I am dimly aware that there has been a bear market ongoing. New(ish) child means that the amount of time I have available to read or care about the markets is limited. The news and media are awash with people trying to get your attention to tell you the bear market is over (1), trading tips for the moment (2, 3), or that the worst is yet to come (4). It all flies over my head. Funds are currently siphoned to childcare and supporting the household on one income, rather than getting plowed into discounted/ now correctly priced stocks. Not entirely providing thrust towards FIRE goals, but evidence that deliberate decisions about finances have paid off. We had always planned to live within one salary, so that the rest could either be saved or used as situations changed.

My investments prior to BabyShrink were mostly boring. I followed an 80/20 rule. The 80% passive is still up from where it was purchased, as the benefit of time in the market has outweighed picking or timing the market. The 20% is more of a mixed bag. My crypto is down 75%. The choices there were always very long term plays, not get rich quick schemes. That was definitely not the case for many, with stories of people losing their life savings (5).

I have some sympathy for those who have lost serious moulah in crypto. There is the line that crypto was essentially gambling, and therefore these individuals have just run out of luck. I don’t think that captures everything. Most gamblers go into classical gambling environments knowing that it’s a game of chance, whether that be betting on sport, roulette, cards, the lottery, whatever. The process is what gets them hooked, the dopamine reinforcement, the just-one-more flushed along with the occasional win. Crypto ain’t that.

Others say crypto is just one big lesser fools pile-on, buying and hoping the person behind you buys for more. An exceptional froth, worthy successor to the South Sea Bubble (6). The ongoing Wikipedia page on the Cryptocurrency bubble is quite the read, with daily updates as more funds go under and exchanges close (7). (Incidentally that also links to the “Everything bubble”, but that’s for my next post (8)).

I think the bubble/ lesser fools argument is fair. A high tide lifts all boats, and big funds have set up as the tide continued to rise. Herd mentality. This doesn’t explain it all though. We have a guy locally known as “the crypto king”. Kid who invested in his teens in BTC, and now as a twenty-something drives around his council estate ends in a Lamborghini. He’s not your typical financial investment early adopter. Lots of those who have made (and literally lost in landfill (9)) fortunes aren’t city bankers. They might be IT programmers and engineers, who realised early potential or simply had a punt that paid off in a sector of industry they understood.

Finally there’s the dank forum dwellers. The 4chan denizens. The r/CryptoCurrency bros. There’s a bit of herd mentality there, but it’s also driven by a counter-cultural urge. The belief that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin will succeed by de-centralising and democratising finance. It will unseat money from the banks, seceding currency from institutional control. I think the big banks are smart enough to get in on the act (set up funds, make their own cryptocurrency economy), but that doesn’t stop the belief, and if you go delving in these forums you’ll find anti-establishment sentiment and a drive to disrupt the system.

I think it’s these crypto investors I feel most sorry for. They have invested as part of a belief that they will make money AND they’re sticking it to the man. The psychology of this approach shares it’s basis in the reasons individuals believe in conspiracy theories. People believe these things because they want agency, understanding and control. The world got big and scary. People choose ideas that appeal as they can understand them as part of their environment (epistemic), allow them to enact control over their situation or environment and make them feel sale (existential), and fit in with the friends or peers (social) (10). Individuals, sometimes due to cognitive deficit or social exclusion, cannot integrate real world happenings into their internal schema and system of worldview. This self-reinforces, as individuals aggregate with groups with similar views, who then share a belief that they are right and everyone else is wrong, serving to improve their own self-worth (11). You’re more likely to end up here if you don’t have much agency or control in your life otherwise (unstable job, unstable friends/family relationships), and are either unwilling or unable to integrate complex reasoning behind events. A simpler answer, with your friends around you supporting you, is much more pleasant to the ego than accepting you don’t understand why something is happening and it’s out of your control.

Which I think is where we come back to the crypto bros. Does your average poster in these places understand how to write the code to make a blockchain. Questionable. Have they been sold a message that they can regain control of their finances by doing something the establishment don’t want? It’s a nice answer if you have little other prospect of reaching financial dreams. And when it all falls down you scream into the darkness and wonder how (5). A little reminder not to take financial advice from people claiming to know a great secret. And don’t feed the trolls.

Credit: (12)/ MemeCenter

June Finances

Checking the assets and liabilities:

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. I saved 8% of my salary in June, however that was almost all payments into my NHS pension. If you ignore my NHS pension I actually dipped 2% into my savings. Only a few more months of SICK (single income costly kid) living, paying nursery fees and mortgage out of just my salary. Counting down the days to growth.

Budgets:

As compared to my four year back-calculated mean monthly spend:

  • Groceries: May £315, June £270, budget £220 – (recalculating this a bit, as it looked off)
  • Eating out & Takeaway: May £54, June £3, budget £50
  • Transport: May £1000, June £711, budget £330 – Fixing flaws in the new car
  • Holiday: May £180, Jun £0, budget £40
  • Personal: May £20, Jun £10, budget £120
  • Health: May £50, Jun £50, budget £150
  • Misc: May £7500, Jun £141, budget £215
  • Work fees: May £125, Jun £150, budget £265

In the garden:

Due to harvest potatoes soon, and tomatoes and squashes are growing nicely. Still enjoying this blog in the Guardian (6).

Cheers,

The Shrink

References:

  1. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/stock-market-outlook-bear-market-over-new-sp500-highs-fundstrat-2022-7
  2. https://lifehacker.com/how-to-tell-when-a-bear-market-is-over-1849340869
  3. https://www.businessinsider.com/stock-market-book-recommendations-recession-investing-wall-street-big-short-2022-7?r=US&IR=T
  4. https://www.businessinsider.com/stock-market-crash-expert-warns-further-downside-ahead-bear-market-2022-7?r=US&IR=T
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jul/12/they-couldnt-even-scream-any-more-they-were-just-sobbing-the-amateur-investors-ruined-by-the-crypto-crash
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Sea_Company
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptocurrency_bubble
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everything_bubble
  9. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-62381682
  10. Douglas, Sutton and Cichocka, Current Directions in Psychological Science, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0963721417718261
  11. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/why-people-latch-on-to-conspiracy-theories-according-to-science
  12. https://theconversation.com/dont-feed-the-trolls-really-is-good-advice-heres-the-evidence-63657
  13. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/jul/03/allan-jenkins-on-gardening-with-july-comes-a-whole-new-gardening-agenda

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