Nihilism As Investment Strategy
“We believe in nothing, Lebowski, nothing. And tomorrow, we come back and we cut off your Johnson.” GameStop and Dogecoin investors as foretold by the Coen brothers in The Big Lebowski, the greatest film of all time.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more keenly the desire to be invested only in productive assets. Companies that actually do something. I (almost) don’t care what it is. But create some product or service that consumers, businesses or governments find valuable and are willing to pay for: I will happily provide capital to these companies.
Watching the rise of “meme investing” is definitely driving this feeling. Actually, it strikes me more as a nihilism in capital markets form.
Don’t get me wrong. You can make money trading. You can make money trading stocks, bonds, options, commodities… anything.
Barring a genuinely useful, innovative real world use case that hasn’t emerged in 12 years, cryptocurrency falls into the same bucket. There’s nothing there, except very often a black, bleak joke. “Assets” are most in demand because they are devoid of meaning. The more socially useless, the more frivolous, the more removed from function, the better – or rather, the funnier, because that’s what it’s all about.
I remember helping to wheel a big TV into the back of Geography class one day and managing to get Neighbours on. The poor teacher, a hapless, kindly man who I shan’t name, only referred to it once when he asked us to turn the volume down, while he continued to teach the class. I was 15. That’s about the level of comedy that I see in so much of what appears to fascinate investors around the world.
Maybe the joke is on me. Maybe I just don’t “get” it.
I don’t mind. I’m tacking more closely to the shore of productivity, of value, of utility than ever before. Attempting to divine value in assets that can appear and disappear in a puff of smoke, subject to the fleeting attention of this superstar or that cult hero, looks a lot like a lottery or entertainment; it’s not investment.