People have been investing outside the box lately.
That's one (big) example. But there are other investment manias getting attention, too. Backing up: an investing mania is when investors go wild and drive up the price on something. Sometimes WAY higher than it might actually be worth. See also: digital toilet paper art with the highest bid at more than $2,800 and Dogecoin’s price more than doubling in one day.
Investing apps like Robinhood, Coinbase (a platform for trading cryptocurrencies), and others have made trading easier. The pandemic's also given some investors enough time and boredom to get to know and invest in less familiar assets like Bitcoin and NFTs.
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Let's Skimm it. Plus a few other popular investments:
NFT: Stands for "non-fungible token." That’s a unique digital asset that can’t be replaced. It often takes the form of virtual art, but can be anything from a New York Times column to a TikTok to a digital home. When you purchase an NFT, you get a token secured by blockchain technology that says it's yours. In theory, you can resell the NFT in the future for a profit.
Cryptocurrency: Encrypted digital money that can be used to make purchases on some sites. Unlike real-world currencies, they're not backed by any gov or central authority. Instead, like NFTs, many are blockchain-based. A few you may know: Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin (which soared 400% in the week leading up to April 20 – a day some supporters dubbed "Doge Day"), and of course Bitcoin. Bitcoin's value has jumped around a LOT lately – plunging as low as $6,000 and as high as $63,000 over the past year alone.
SPAC: Short for "special purpose acquisition company." It's basically a shell company that raises money by going public, then buys a private company...that they'll tell you about later. Meaning investors like you can purchase shares of a SPAC like any other company stock, but without knowing for sure what the business will be. Hello, risk. That's why they're also called “blank-check companies.” But psst...the tea on rumored deals tends to spill ahead of formal announcements and encourage investors to buy. Nikola, DraftKings, and Virgin Galactic each got their public starts via SPACs. And WeWork is working on its own deal.
Meme Stock: A stock made hot (or not) thanks to amateur investors coordinating their buys using social media and online forums like Reddit. Think: AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry, and yep, GameStop, which was below $5 per share in 2020 and was driven as high as $483 a share over the past year (with a lot of ups and downs in between).
Before you fall for bandwagon bias and into any mania, recognize that all these investments have one thing in common: lots of risk.
One reason is that they're relatively new, so they have no long-term track record to help you gauge their performance potential. Also, their values are often tied to investor sentiment – that’s how they feel about an asset and its price at a particular moment in time – rather than fundamentals, like what the asset is really worth.
Remember investing in SPACs and meme stocks is technically just like investing in regular stocks – but with a high risk profile. So if you want to invest, think about what would complement your existing stock portfolio.
NFTs and crypto are something completely different. If you do decide to get in on the action, limit it to a small portion of your portfolio. And only invest with money you can afford to lose. That may not be as exciting as owning Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, but a fully-funded future can be your own masterpiece.
Before you dive wallet-first into one of the latest investing crazes, be sure you understand what they are and the risks that come with them. Then you can decide whether they make sense for you.
Skimm'd by: Ivana Pino, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus