I ended up wiring several thousand dollars to an incredibly sketchy Russian exchange, BTC-E.com, to purchase my first few bitcoins at around $1000 apiece. Before I knew it, I was addicted to constantly checking the price, and spent a full 48 hours doing nothing at the height of the November 2013 bubble doing nothing but refreshing BTC-E.com and seeing how my investments were doing.
That’s the case as I see it for bitcoin. In the case of most altcoins, however, I don’t see remotely enough to even begin to justify the possibility of long term gain in the first place. Even with speculations, or perhaps especially with speculations, it’s incredibly important to thoroughly analyze a given investment opportunity for at least the potential for long term gain and success, and assess the magnitude of that possible gain, and then to weigh that potential versus the likelihood of outright failure of the speculation. With most altcoins, their value over bitcoin or ethereum is far from clear, and generally superficial or minor at best.
A stop-loss is triggered once the price of an asset hits your determined lowest price. When it’s triggered, the stop-loss will automatically sell for the next available price. For example, you bought Lisk at $14 and its value is $32 now. You want to realize your profits, but you’re not quite sure if the mania has cooled down yet. You set your stop-loss at $30 and go to bed. When you wake up, Lisk is at $27, but your stop-loss sold it just a little below $30.
This is a fundamentally flawed argument that can be lobbied against absolutely any new technology or invention, and fails to take into account the natural process of growth and gradual adoption over time. The exact same argument was used against the internet in its early days, and I find this article from Newsweek, published in 1995, particularly illuminating in this regard.
Steindorff: The most significant and noticeable disruption will stem from the disintermediation of trusted third parties. Decentralized smart contracts will have far reaching implications beyond the financial segment and will eliminate the need for third parties in most industries including insurance, energy, real estate, medical, travel, and governance. In theory, entire cities, states or countries could run autonomously via programmable, trustless smart contracts, but in reality that future is a ways off until we solve some of the scaling and security challenges.
Had I actually done my research and believed that it was a fair bet to make that one day bitcoins would be worth far more than even the height of the local maximum bubble at the time, it absolutely could have been the right decision to buy in then, even if it crashed later temporarily to $200. What wasn’t right was buying in simply because the price was going up and I had a fear of missing out.
This goes hand in hand with mistake number four I mentioned above: day trading. This is absolutely number one the reason I see people who have gotten into bitcoin and cryptocurrency lose their money. If you at almost any point in the history of bitcoin (earlier than say, this month of June), merely bought bitcoin and held it to the present day, you would have made money. However, countless people have actually lost money in bitcoin, and this is because they ended up trading their bitcoin somewhere along the way.
Historically speaking, the stock market has been the greatest creator of wealth. Sure, it hits its rough patches from time to time, with 20 bear markets in the S&P 500 occurring over the last 90 years, according to data from Yardeni Research. But at the end of the day, stocks have returned an average of 7% annually, inclusive of dividend reinvestment, and when adjusted for inflation. Compared to bonds, commodities, CDs, and other assets, the stock market has trounced them all over the long run.
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