“Have you ever seen another member of your profession do something so brilliant you have considered giving up your job?” asked the chairman of the implausibly-sized investment company Second Coming Asset Management as we enjoyed a pint or two of Very Different Animal at The Ferret & Weasel. “I’m an investment journalist,” I replied. “So no – obviously not.
“Still, I take it from your question you have had some sort of investment-oriented epiphany and, frankly, that scares me. What can there possibly be out there you have not seen before in some shape or form?” “A glimpse of fund perfection,” said the chairman. “I have stared at the sun and I have been blinded by investment brilliance.”
“Of course you have,” I said, cutting him short before he worked up a full head of lyrical steam. “And might this eighth wonder of the investment world be so from the perspective of those who buy or those who sell?” “Could it not be both?” asked the chairman. “In theory, yes,” I nodded. “In practice, not so much.”
“Cynic,” said the chairman. “Sceptic,” I corrected him. “Bitcoin,” said the chairman. “Oh dear,” I replied. “You’ve been talking about the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust all along, haven’t you?” “The exchange traded fund those identical twins from The Social Network movie are looking to launch as a way of tapping into a burgeoning enthusiasm in some quarters for the electronic currency.”
“‘Those identical twins from The Social Network movie’?” exclaimed the chairman. “Those venture capitalist geniuses with an instinct for tapping into the zeitgeist, I think you mean.” “If you say so,” I shrugged. “My understanding is that Bitcoin is quite the topic for polarising opinion and provoking some fairly animated views so I am very happy to let you have yours.
“Even so, I would be interested to know what aspect of all this has so caught your imagination?” “The prospectus, of course,” the chairman replied. “What else?” “That thing they filed with the SEC on 1 July?” I checked. “Surely that was the longest suicide note in the history of investment? Did you not read through all the different risk factors?”
“Many times over,” nodded the chairman enthusiastically. “All 60-odd of them.” “So tell me which one appealed to you so much,” I said perplexed. “Was it the one that said ‘The further development and acceptance of the Bitcoin Network and other Digital Math-Based Asset systems, which represent a new and rapidly changing industry, are subject to a variety of factors that are difficult to evaluate’?
“Or other potential investment red flags like an exchange ‘may halt trading in the Shares, which would adversely impact investors’ ability to sell Shares’ or ‘Currently, there is relatively small use of Bitcoins in the retail and commercial marketplace in comparison to relatively large use by speculators, thus contributing to price volatility that could adversely affect an investment in the Shares?’
“Or of course, my favourite, ‘It may be illegal now, or in the future, to acquire, own, hold, sell or use Bitcoins in one or more countries, and ownership of, holding or trading in Shares may also be considered illegal and subject to sanction’? Seriously – which one was it?” “All of them,” smiled the chairman. “Then you’ve lost me,” I sighed.
“Listen,” said the chairman. “I agree a Bitcoin ETF is possibly not the very most attractive investment opportunity in the world and would even go so far as to say I would have to skin any of my fund managers who even joked about buying in. Nevertheless, the prospectus was such a revelation because it opened up my eyes to the liberating possibilities of telling the truth.
“In future, rather than obfuscating and fudging a new Scam fund’s risks as much as my lawyers will allow, I’m going to come right out and admit, frankly, you would be safer stuffing a piranha down your pants. In the current environment, I reckon there are investments some people will buy regardless of the risks and, for the first time in my life, I can turn up to work without any fear of comebacks. I honestly cannot think of a time I have felt more invigorated about this game.”