Crypto Prices Crashed, But True Believers Are Holding On
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Crypto Prices Crashed, But True Believers Are Holding On

A divide is growing between investors looking to make money and those who believe in crypto’s mission.

Tue, Aug 16, 2022 11:30amGrey Clock 4 min

Crypto prices plunged this year, but Drew Larsen says that is no concern.

Over the past two years, Mr. Larsen, 54, has poured about 10% of his savings into cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Ethereum and solana. He believes it is a smart hedge for his investment portfolio, the rest of which is in real estate, stocks and bonds. But more than that, he feels a deep connection to the idea of digital assets, which makes the pain of bitcoin’s plunge this year a lot more bearable.

“I actually do think it has the potential to save the world,” said Mr. Larsen, a founder of two software companies who now lives in Colorado with his family. So far, his crypto holdings have lost about 40% in value this year.

With the crypto market crashing, there is a growing divide between investors who are looking to make money and those who believe in its mission. Some true believers, like Mr. Larsen, tout crypto as a way to replace, or at least push back against, big banks and the traditional fiat-money system. Others are more enthusiastic about blockchain, a kind of digital ledger underpinning cryptocurrencies, that could be used to change how records are tracked and stored in areas as varied as medicine and real estate.

Some of the traders knuckling down on crypto are fairly well off, which means they have money to lose—and a higher tolerance for risk. Many, including Mr. Larsen, didn’t have their investments tied up in lending platforms like Celsius Network LLC and Voyager Digital Ltd., both of which have frozen withdrawals and filed for bankruptcy protection. Customers there haven’t been able to access their money for weeks.

Some investors buy cryptocurrencies as if they are stocks, holding them in a crypto exchange and hoping prices rise so they can make a profit. Others deposit their crypto into yield-earning accounts with firms that then invest those digital assets or lend them out to others for a fee. Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency, is riding the wave of July’s market rally. It is up about 28% in July, but is still down about 65% from its November record high.

Maria Saavedra, a 31-year-old software test engineer in California, said she views most cryptocurrencies as hyped-up assets with little legitimate value. But in March, after the crypto market had already endured a rough few months, she started buying the two biggest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and Ethereum. She has invested about US$8,000 total.

Ms. Saavedra says the plunge in prices makes it a great time to buy on the cheap. She bought $1,000 in Ethereum on Thursday when leading cryptocurrencies rallied after the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate increase.

Like Mr. Larsen, she said she supports stricter regulation for the crypto market. She thinks it would give the industry more legitimacy—and probably give a boost to her holdings.

Her other long-term investment strategy? Handbags. Ms. Saavedra recently paid $10,000 for a black Hermès Kelly bag and plans to cash out the investment when she nears retirement. Until then, the gold-plated bag sits in her closet, resting in its original cloth bag and stuffed to keep its shape.

Zachary Bertucci, a 25-year-old real-estate investment analyst in Chicago, has put about 10% of his investment portfolio in Ethereum and lesser-known cryptocurrencies like chainlink and polygon. Mr. Bertucci started buying crypto in September, when prices were still on the way up. His holdings have lost about half their value,but he plans to keep buying more each month and hopes to eventually rake in enough gains to buy an investment property.

“That money you’re investing, it could go away or it could triple,” Mr. Bertucci said. “As long as you’re willing to accept that risk, then you’re OK.” The other 90% of his investment portfolio is in stocks and an ETF that mirrors the S&P 500.

Not all crypto believers are loading up.

Tyler Lahti began investing in crypto in 2014, adding about $5,000 total in bitcoin and Ethereum up until early this year. After the recent downturn, he doesn’t plan to add more.

Still, Mr. Lahti said he is bullish on the sector. As an accountant, he has high hopes for smart contracts, which are software programs on the blockchain that automatically execute transactions between parties.

“If it does work out, it’s beneficial to the world and I’ll make money,” said Mr. Lahti, who is 31 and lives in Georgia.

Mr. Larsen, the Colorado entrepreneur, has experience dealing with risk. He co-founded a sales-related tech company in 1999, shortly before the dot-com bubble burst, then exited in 2009. He sold another venture, a software-based workout platform, in 2019. The following year, he got into crypto, partly because he didn’t want to “sit around doing nothing.”

Mr. Larsen attends a monthly crypto happy hour, where topics of conversation can range from the price of bitcoin to how to persuade your spouse to invest in it. Still, he said he doesn’t believe most cryptocurrencies are for the average investor, likening crypto to investing in early-stage startups.

The exception, in his mind, is bitcoin. He views it as a long-term savings method, and he thinks he might one day hand down his bitcoin holdings to his children.

“I guess I would say I came for the money,” Mr. Larsen said, “but stayed because of the philosophy.”

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 30, 2022.


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Vacationers scratching their travel itch this season are sending prices through the roof. Here’s how some are making trade-offs.

Thu, May 25, 2023 3 min

Capri Coffer socks away $600 a month to help fund her travels. The Atlanta health-insurance account executive and her husband couldn’t justify a family vacation to the Dominican Republic this summer, though, given what she calls “astronomical” plane ticket prices of $800 each.

The price was too high for younger family members, even with Coffer defraying some of the costs.

Instead, the family of six will pile into a rented minivan come August and drive to Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Coffer booked a beach house for $650 a night. Her budget excluding food for the two-night trip is about $1,600, compared with the $6,000 price she was quoted for a three-night trip to Punta Cana.

“That way, everyone can still be together and we can still have that family time,” she says.

With hotel prices and airfares stubbornly high as the 2023 travel rush continues—and overall inflation squeezing household budgets—this summer is shaping up as the season of travel trade-offs for many of us.

Average daily hotel rates in the top 25 U.S. markets topped $180 year-to-date through April, increasing 9.9% from a year ago and 15.6% from 2019, according to hospitality-data firm STR.

Online travel sites report more steep increases for summer ticket prices, with Kayak pegging the increase at 35% based on traveler searches. (Perhaps there is no more solid evidence of higher ticket prices than airline executives’ repeated gushing about strong demand, which gives them pricing power.)

The high prices and economic concerns don’t mean we’ll all be bunking in hostels and flying Spirit Airlines with no luggage. Travellers who aren’t going all-out are compromising in a variety of ways to keep the summer vacation tradition alive, travel agents and analysts say.

“They’re still out there and traveling despite some pretty real economic headwinds,” says Mike Daher, Deloitte’s U.S. transportation, hospitality and services leader. “They’re just being more creative in how they spend their limited dollars.”

For some, that means a cheaper hotel. says global search interest in three-star hotels is up more than 20% globally. Booking app HotelTonight says nearly one in three bookings in the first quarter were for “basic” hotels, compared with 27% in the same period in 2019.

For other travellers, the trade-offs include a shorter trip, a different destination, passing on premium seat upgrades on full-service airlines or switching to no-frills airlines. Budget-airline executives have said on earnings calls that they see evidence of travellers trading down.

Deloitte’s 2023 summer travel survey, released Tuesday, found that average spending on “marquee” trips this year is expected to decline to $2,930 from $3,320 a year ago. Tighter budgets are a factor, he says.

Too much demand

Wendy Marley is no economics teacher, but says she’s spent a lot of time this year refreshing clients on the basics of supply and demand.

The AAA travel adviser, who works in the Boston area, says the lesson comes up every time a traveler with a set budget requests help planning a dreamy summer vacation in Europe.

“They’re just having complete sticker shock,” she says.

Marley has become a pro at Plan B destinations for this summer.

For one client celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary with a budget of $10,000 to $12,000 for a five-star June trip, she switched their attention from the pricey French Riviera or Amalfi Coast to a luxury resort on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.

To Yellowstone fans dismayed at ticket prices into Jackson, Wyo., and three-star lodges going for six-star prices, she recommends other national parks within driving distance of Massachusetts, including Acadia National Park in Maine.

For clients who love the all-inclusive nature of cruising but don’t want to shell out for plane tickets to Florida, she’s been booking cruises out of New York and New Jersey.

Not all of Marley’s clients are tweaking their plans this summer.

Michael McParland, a 78-year-old consultant in Needham, Mass., and his wife are treating their family to a luxury three-week Ireland getaway. They are flying business class on Aer Lingus and touring with Adventures by Disney. They initially booked the trip for 2020, so nothing was going to stand in the way this year.

McParland is most excited to take his teen grandsons up the mountain in Northern Ireland where his father tended sheep.

“We decided a number of years ago to give our grandsons memories,” he says. “Money is money. They don’t remember you for that.”

Fare first, then destination

Chima Enwere, a 28-year old piano teacher in Fayetteville, N.C., is also headed to the U.K., but not by design.

Enwere, who fell in love with Europe on trips the past few years, let airline ticket prices dictate his destination this summer to save money.

He was having a hard time finding reasonable flights out of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., so he asked for ideas in a Facebook travel group. One traveler found a round-trip flight on Delta to Scotland for $900 in late July with reasonable connections.

He was budgeting $1,500 for the entire trip—he stays in hostels to save money—but says he will have to spend more given the pricier-than-expected plane ticket.

“I saw that it was less than four digits and I just immediately booked it without even asking questions,” he says.

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