What a Bear Market Looks Like

But for those of us who were investing in tech and tech startups back in 1999-2002, that time will forever be etched in our minds. It was a brutal period during which our belief in the Internet and its potential was sorely tested. Many friends and colleagues left the sector and never returned.

So while crypto asset prices are down 80-95% in USD terms over the last year, they could and probably will go lower. Amazon was down 80% a year into the post-bubble bear market and it got cut in half again before it made a bottom almost two years after it peaked.

What we have yet to see in crypto land is when they kick you when you are down. And that is certainly coming. Regulators came after the Internet sector in a big way post the bubble and that seems likely to happen in the crypto sector too.

And most everyone in big companies wrote the Internet sector off, cancelling their Internet efforts as a fool’s errand. That seems likely to happen in crypto too.

-Fred Wilson, “What Bear Markets Look Like.” AVC.com. November 25, 2018.

Note the date(s). h/t to Jason Yanowitz.

Bogleheads

“Welcome to the Bogleheads® wiki, a collaborative undertaking by members of the Bogleheads Community. This wiki is a reference resource for investors. Bogleheads emphasize starting early, living below one’s means, regular saving, broad diversification, and sticking to one’s investment plan.”

https://www.bogleheads.org/

Never heard of it. But, the emphasis seems right. Bookmarking.

Stable Anchors & Financial Dominance

“The less dominant the U.S. economy is, the less the dollar can function as a stable anchor for the global financial system. It was still intact in 2008-10, when a global financial crisis sent capital flooding to the safe haven of U.S. government bonds. But in recent years, people have begun to question whether Bretton Woods 2 is finally on the way out. The share of U.S. dollars in global reserves has been falling for years, and this fall has accelerated since the start of the pandemic.

-Noah Smith, “Crypto and the global financial system.” noahpinion.substack.com. December 14, 2021.

True of the U.S. dollar. True of Bitcoin itself. As the ecosystems of alt-chains are built out, the center of gravity is going to move from Bitcoin and be distributed across a few major blockchains, which will, in turn, be supported by niche chains. The same thing will play out with the U.S. and world economy. It might happen a bit slower if the U.S. government manages to create a digital dollar.

Related:

“The prevailing consensus view has been that bitcoin is a risk asset. It has an inverse relationship with interest rates. When central banks and politicians manipulate interest rates lower, and pump trillions of dollars into the market, bitcoin should go higher…

This inverse relationship is not what we are seeing between bitcoin and Treasury yields though. We are actually seeing the exact opposite. Bitcoin’s price appears to be moving in lockstep with Treasury yields.

So if this short-term trend continues to play out, what would that mean for bitcoin? Again, no one knows for sure. But it would be very interesting if the prevailing consensus view is misplaced and bitcoin would actually benefit from increasing interest rates. That would violate the framework that many people have been viewing the digital currency through…

So why could this idea of bitcoin and yields increasing together potentially be true? Well…one idea is that some people actually deem bitcoin to be their reserve currency. They view cheap capital via low rates as a path to borrowing money and making investments that could earn them more bitcoin. If rates were to rise, risk assets would sell off and these people would go back into their safe haven asset — bitcoin.

This may sound insane to the legacy Wall Street crowd, but there is an increasing number of young people who see the digital currency as that safe haven asset in their portfolio. The entire point of investing in anything outside of bitcoin is to outperform bitcoin and eventually convert back into bitcoin. Obviously, if you’re a good investor than you can pick up more bitcoin. If you’re a bad investor, you end up with less bitcoin. This is the new risk-reward that many young people are evaluating.”

Anthony Pompliano, “Bitcoin Is Moving In Lockstep With Treasury Yields?!” pomp.substack.com. December 20, 2021

We’re about to find out if cryptocurrencies with a max supply can be used as an inflation hedge. I bet they can.

Over the Long Term: Good Market > Good Team

“These data points made me think about an important piece of advice that a well respected hedge fund manager once told me — most of your financial returns will come from the markets you select to invest in, rather than the actual securities you decide to hold. Another way to think about it is through the lens of entrepreneurship advice “When a good team meets a bad market, the market wins. When a bad team meets a good market, the market wins.”

So much of compounding is predicated on the idea that a high rate of compounding will continue for decades. If you’re successful in finding one of these markets, the challenge won’t be in making many good decisions, but rather in having the discipline and emotional control to avoid making any decisions at all. This is ultimately where I think bitcoin is at the moment. It continues to compound at an impressive rate. You just have to be patient enough to outlast everyone who can’t think long term.”

Anthony Pompliano, “Warren Buffett, Bitcoin, and Compounding.” pomp.substack.com. December 14, 2021

Play Your Own Game

1. Judge less.

At least half the people doing things with money that you disagree with are playing a different game than you are. You probably look just as crazy in their eyes.

2. Figure out what game you’re playing, then play it (and only it).

So few investors do this. Maybe they have a vague idea of their game, but they haven’t clearly defined it. And when they don’t know what game they’re playing, they’re at risk of taking their cues and advice from people playing different games, which can lead to risks they didn’t intend and outcomes they didn’t imagine.

-Morgan Housel, “Play Your Own Game.” Collaborative Fund. May 13, 2021

Waiting for the Last Dance

“…it is highly probable that we are in a major bubble event in the U.S. market, of the type we typically have every several decades and last had in the late 1990s. It will very probably end badly, although nothing is certain. I will also tell you my definition of success for a bear market call. It is simply that sooner or later there will come a time when an investor is pleased to have been out of the market. That is to say, he will have saved money by being out, and also have reduced risk or volatility on the round trip. This definition of success absolutely does not include precise timing. (Predicting when a bubble breaks is not about valuation. All prior bubble markets have been extremely overvalued, as is this one. Overvaluation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for their bursting.) Calling the week, month, or quarter of the top is all but impossible….

…Nothing in investing perfectly repeats. Certainly not investment bubbles. Each form of irrational exuberance is different; we are just looking for what you might call spiritual similarities. Even now, I know that this market can soar upwards for a few more weeks or even months – it feels like we could be anywhere between July 1999 and February 2000. Which is to say it is entitled to break any day, having checked all the boxes, but could keep roaring upwards for a few months longer. My best guess as to the longest this bubble might survive is the late spring or early summer, coinciding with the broad rollout of the COVID vaccine. At that moment, the most pressing issue facing the world economy will have been solved. Market participants will breathe a sigh of relief, look around, and immediately realize that the economy is still in poor shape, stimulus will shortly be cut back with the end of the COVID crisis, and valuations are absurd. “Buy the rumor, sell the news.” But remember that timing the bursting of bubbles has a long history of disappointment.”

-Jeremy Grantham, “Waiting for the Last Dance.” GMO.com. January 2021

I thought in March 2020 that COVID-19 was going to clobber markets, and I was dead wrong. Too early. But, at some point, markets have to reflect the economic reality, which should happen Real Soon Now.