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How to invest

How do we view meme stocks and cryptocurrency?

An intro to Tim Buckley’s webcast video on cryptocurrencies and meme stocks.
3 minute watch
April 14, 2022
How to invest
Understanding investment types
Market & economy insights

Investing trends may come and go, but we know what works: focusing on your long-term goals and staying the course.

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Nick from Pennsylvania has a question: "Meme culture is having a growing effect on investments. Do you see this as a growing problem, or should investors put this in perspective of their overall portfolio?"


One, I think the two of you will agree—Massy, you'll agree too—that markets are extremely efficient. Whatever you know, whatever you hear about a company, it's almost instantaneously right in that share price. Everything that's known about a company, if it's public, it's right into that share price.

Now we always think of that in terms of facts and figures, but that also includes sentiment, emotion, hysteria. That can be built into the share price too. So you can have periods where the valuations don't really tie tightly to the fundamentals. They're irrational, so to speak. And we remember periods like this. You mentioned the dot.com period and meme stocks of the past two years. And you could say that the pandemic darlings—I won't go off—but you can think about working out at home and everyone who did well with that.

So all of those things are times where you say, "Wow, these things have really pushed up in valuation." And it's dislocated. "What should I do about it?"

If you have a portfolio of Vanguard, it's probably index funds. A lot of index funds, maybe some active fixed income, maybe a couple of our active funds. Just keep investing and let it compound over time. I think you guys would say the same thing, and tune out the meme stock noise and think about it in terms of entertainment.

In my years doing this, I've yet to meet the person—Massy, you talk about speculation—I’ve yet to meet the person who year after year—I’ll even give you every other year or every third year—is right enough with speculation to build a long-term retirement portfolio.

Because a lot of questions that came in had to do with, “Is crypto overvalued?” A company has underlying earnings, so you know how much you're paying for forward earnings and whether that's reasonable if you look at historical rates or where you think earnings will go. But crypto doesn’t have that. It's simply a supply/demand marketplace. And as long as demand kind of increasingly exceeds supply, you'll get a nice return. Fair enough? But you're depending on that. Like, you're not depending on earnings increasing, just demand exceeds supply.

But other things can change in there. You can have regulation come in, and that's starting to heat up. You can have the 10% worried about geopolitical tensions. Was it 38% worried about inflation. The inflation outlook, all these things will change the price of your cryptocurrency. And so when you have that, it's a very volatile ride.

I read the other day that the most successful ETF launch ever was actually a bitcoin ETF. The worst performance year ever by an ETF was that same ETF. So hugely popular, highly volatile, but we don't see why it would be in a typical Vanguard portfolio.

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