What is driving the extraordinary crypto boom we are living through? Deep down, we all know the answer: it’s the power of bluffing. Bitcoin has been a crucible of nuclear-powered gibberish since its inception. Online people have been waffling on about blockchain and ledger systems for well over a decade now — the more people pretend to know what they are saying, the higher the prices go.
In recent months, with so much time on our hands, the bluffing has gone manic and crypto-currencies have gone bananas. Is it the greatest pyramid scheme ever? The reformation of western capitalism? Who knows? More importantly, who cares? Just keep blagging until the fun stops, then make out that you knew it had to end. Here are a few handy phrases to help you along:
1) ‘The institutional investment now going into Bitcoin makes it a very different proposition’
The key word here is ‘institutional’, so work it. You know that amateur speculation — ‘while not insignificant’ — is as nothing compared to the power of the funds and the banks to make money turn into money. And the reason you appreciate that crucial point is that you speak to those institutional people all the time.
2) ‘What if Bitcoin is neither a store of value nor a mechanism of exchange?’
Pose this one with strong dose of ennui — as if you’ve been asking it since Bitcoin first came along and nobody has given you a satisfactory answer. It can be draining to be so insightful. If somebody looks suspicious, hit them with ‘Look, I’m not saying Bitcoin can’t be the digital answer to gold.’ Double-negatives are a bluffer’s best friend.
3) ‘It’s no coincidence this is happening in the middle of a pandemic’
It doesn’t matter that nobody thinks it is a coincidence — such a statement is a classic ‘above-the-frayer’ (See earlier guides here, here and here). Having said this, you establish yourself as a sweep-of-history type. Follow up swiftly by pointing out that the Great Tulip Bubble happened during a plague. Express surprise that others have not made that point, even though you have in fact read it repeatedly on Twitter. If somebody says they saw it said on Twitter, reply that you try to avoid social media. Then move on to…
4) ‘We haven’t seen this level of retail speculation since the 1930s’
Experienced bluffers have been riffing on the Great Depression since at least 2008 — so join them. Deploy this remark in the context of the ‘Gamestock saga’ and talk informedly about ‘the democratization of insider knowledge’ and endlessly about the ‘threat of hyper-inflation.’
Two points to bear in mind. You don’t want to be elitist about the common man making money from the stock exchange. At the same time, you must sound deeply alarmed that the rubes are getting so rich. So throw in: ‘Don’t get me wrong these guys are often smarter than Wall Street…’ But season with lots of troubled references to ‘bubbles’, ‘exuberance’, ‘manias’, and keep saying ‘retail’ as if it’s going out of fashion.
5) ‘I’m still less interested in Bitcoin than I am in the possibilities of blockchain technology’
The ‘still’ is vital here. It suggests you’ve been across this story for ages and you’ve probably been right all along. Add ‘that’s where I’d be looking to put my money’ as if somebody had actually asked you for investment advice. They can thank you later.
6) ‘…and all this is all before President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus’
A useful way of tailing off any rambling in order to make it sound relevant. You follow the news. Talk about putting ‘rocket fuel on the raging bonfire’ and the dangers of a ‘turbo-charged economy’ and so on. Say ‘on steroids’ at least twice. Put on a pained face and snort, ‘call me old-fashioned but what happened to fiscal conservatism?’
For extra pseud points, try ‘I don’t want to come across all Austrian-school here’ and mention ‘the gold-standard’, ‘Weimar’ and ‘wheelbarrows full of cash’. Highly advanced bluffers can try raising the intriguing possibilities of ‘what hyper-inflation in the digital age might mean.’
7) ‘Just because we didn’t have traditional inflation after 2008 doesn’t mean we won’t experience it now’
You aren’t one of these ‘Neo-Keynesians’ (definitely drop that in) who reads too much into the last crisis. Stress ‘traditional’ to avoid getting caught out. There’s no such thing as inflation when it comes to saying ‘hyperinflation’ — so feel free to repeat indefinitely, though be sure to offset by adding that you also see the ‘deflationary pressures at the macro level’. It’s yin and yang, but you knew that.
For dramatic impact you could add that you ‘believe we could be about to experience something unprecedented in economic history’. Keep it sufficiently vague, nobody will expect you to explain.
8) ‘Why aren’t we talking more about environmental consequences of Bitcoin mining?’
Why, oh, why? This is a great example of what advanced bluffers call ‘a club double’ — it signals knowledge plus virtue. While all your avaricious pals are scoffing at the digital-coin trough, you are worried about the planet and the future. You are also ‘not sure if people understand how much computing power is needed to mine just one Bitcoin’ as if you are one of the few people who really does understand. Forget that you still don’t have the foggiest what a Bitcoin actually is let alone how you mine one. Remember how much you cherish the Arctic ice cap and feel good about yourself.