‘Number go up’ is alive and well — and not just in crypto: Morning Brief

Feb 28, 2024

Julie Hyman

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“Number go up.”

It’s one of the many memes that sprang up during a previous crypto surge, representing a similar vibe as “to the moon” or “hodl” — the idea that the faithful would keep buying in the belief that prices would continue to climb. (It’s also the title of Zeke Faux’s seminal book on crypto.)

Crypto bulls have pointed to what they say are fundamental drivers of the current rally, including the introduction of spot bitcoin ETFs last month (“a buy-the-rumor and buy-the-event situation”); the upcoming bitcoin halving; and speculation over the approval of spot ethereum ETFs. There’s always something.

All of that may well be driving prices higher. But it seems a safe bet that at least some of the recent enthusiasm is an ouroboros-like construct: People are buying because they expect prices will keep rising. Prices keep rising because people are buying.

That mentality seems to have spread beyond the world of crypto. Take a stroll through Yahoo Finance’s trending ticker page most days, and you’ll see lots of stocks surging. Some of it has to do with the current mania for anything AI (NVDA, SOUN, BBAI), but it’s not limited to that, and it feels different than the meme-driven cycle of 2020-2021. (On Tuesday, for example, Viking Therapeutics more than doubled, topping the trending page, on news of a promising study of a weight-loss drug).

Perhaps it’s the “casino-like behavior” that Warren Buffett called out in his recent shareholder letter: Everyone wants to strike it rich by pulling the right lever. You could also, of course, call it the FOMO trade.

That’s what Bill Capuzzi is calling it. The CEO of Apex Fintech Solutions sees Gen Z and millennials as particularly susceptible. Trading data from his platform showed trading activity around Meta earnings from those two generations surged by 175%, “reflective of younger generations’ FOMO.”

That said, he gives 20- and 30-somethings credit for wanting to be engaged participants in their finances (and that’s his client base, after all).

“Buying a mutual fund and setting it aside for decades is not what the next generation wants,” he said in a note to Yahoo Finance.

Both crypto and Nvidia — heck, even the S&P 500 — have taught investors that, indeed, “number go up.” (In the case of crypto, with a grueling winter in between, sure, but obviously, it has rebounded).

Now come the cautious clichés: nothing goes up forever/in a straight line. Trees don’t grow to the sky. And investors shouldn’t forget an important question amidst all the enthusiasm: “What make number go down?”

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