Yesterday, we had one of the first truly warm days so far this year in Delaware. Temperatures pushed toward 80 degrees F. I decided to go back to the serenity deck that we installed next to the stream that runs through our backyard. And when I got there, the sight of what was on the ground took my breath away. I saw a beautiful spring color palette that I can’t normally see through my backyard fence:
The forest floor had become a sea of deep green foliage and bright yellow flowers. I had always called these little bursts of color “buttercups” when I was growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. I wondered what they’re really called…
So, I pulled up the Google Lens app on my smartphone and, viola! Within mere seconds I had a photo and description of the plant adorning the forested floor: scientific name – Ficaria verna, also known as the fig buttercup, or Lesser celandine. Here’s a closer look:
The Google Lens app identified the plant incredibly quickly. I looked online and found a Google blog post that said the app can now identify over a billion things. Pretty mind-blowing. I decided that I’d never want to play a game of 20 Questions with the app.
That parlor game of 20 Questions started in the U.S. back in the late 19th century as a game of deductive reasoning. It became a radio show in the 1940s and a similar version called Animal, Vegetable or Mineral was one of the earliest game shows on TV in 1952.
These types of guessing games have occupied children (and adult) minds for well over a century. The earliest questions in such a game break things down into the broadest categories, like animal vs. vegetable vs. mineral. It’s a natural thing for us to classify things in distinct categories. This is a shortcut that helps our brains think of the vast amount of stuff on the planet in a more manageable way.
We do the same thing in the trading and investing world. We tend to classify all the things that we trade into broad asset classes. Here’s a quick look at some of those asset class definitions:
Equities are ways to sell equity or ownership of individual companies, plus ownership of baskets of stuff like mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) that trade on stock exchanges. Add in options on stocks and preferred shares that are hybrids between equities and bonds.
Bonds or fixed income assets. These are debt instruments or ways for companies and governments to borrow funds in exchange for a dividend or some sort of yield payment.
Cash and cash equivalents. These are stores of value like currencies (dollars, British Pounds, etc.), and instruments like certificates of deposit (CDs).
Commodities and Futures Contracts
Collectibles like art or those NASCAR plates you’ve been hanging onto
Hedge Funds, Venture Capital funds, etc.
And today we’re going to start a series on what I believe is becoming an asset class all to itself: Cryptocurrencies.
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I’ll make the case that cryptocurrencies are a new and distinct asset class in an upcoming article.
But today I wanted to talk quickly about why cryptocurrencies (in general) and Bitcoin (in particular) are back in the limelight.