Offchain: The No Expectations Bull Run

Offchain: The No Expectations Bull Run

The next bull run is taking shape. All it’s missing is a reason to actually happen.

Last week crypto fund manager Travis Kling kicked off a furious conversation with his provocatively titled thesis for the coming bull market: A Lack of Pretense That Any of This Shit Does Anything or Will Ever Do Anything.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you take the time to read the whole thing. I usually greet lengthy Twitter threads with the kind of energy I might bring to a second cousin’s funeral, but Kling makes a compelling case for both the fundamental uselessness of crypto in the year 2024 and that this won’t make a lick of difference to the coming mayhem.

In short, it’ll be just like last time but with the anointed god-kings and hustler-prophets replaced by a hyper-profitable race to the absolute meme-eating-meme bottom. And what if that’s what all the bull runs have been and now we’re just being honest about it?


Burning them benjamins

Kling’s thesis is built on two pillars: one, widespread financial nihilism – i.e. a generational response to the death of upward mobility – is producing the conditions required for the crypto casino to go haywire; and two, that the Bitcoin ETF will give crypto as a whole a basically guaranteed path to all-time highs without any real innovation, narrative shift or hype train to drive it. 

In short: people will buy in because other people are buying in and then shitcoins will boom just because there’s more loose change sloshing around the system like so much cheap whiskey.

Crypto has always been powered by dumb money, but essentially Kling’s argument says that being dumb is the most sensible investing strategy for the next 12-24 months. What does $500 mean to the financial precariat? It means the chance to win big on something with a name like ElonXAIDogeMessi69PepeInu (yes, that is a real coin). Buy the cheapest version of the current big thing and wait for its inevitable ascension.

Crypto’s not here, man

Even if you’re not inclined to piggy it up in the muck to quite that degree, you have to admit that there’s a strange feeling in the air. During the 2018 bear market you felt a bit embarrassed for being into crypto, but in 2022 you were straight up humiliated. It’s hard to think of an industry in human history that has had a worse calendar year than crypto did in ‘22. German munitions factories in 1946?

2023 was better, pretty much by default and then at the end of the year things started going haywire because, well, the price had to go somewhere? And now an ETF is here and a Halving is coming and everyone’s putting on their best party hats but no-one can quite tell you why we’re celebrating. 

Talk to someone on the street and they’ll be legitimately surprised that crypto still exists. Didn’t we all agree to pretend that never happened, just like the pandemic, three-quarter length shorts and the recording career of Russell Crowe?

Snuffling for truffles

This isn’t to say that nothing is happening in crypto, or that nothing is being built, because patently there is and at some point it will likely form the bedrock of whatever digital infrastructure is going to save us from the line of swivelling AI heads vomiting into one another’s mouths that is the current internet.

Stablecoins remain crypto’s killer app and pose a thrilling challenge to the international financial status quo. DePIN (decentralised physical infrastructure networks) are creating better ways of sharing and monetising everything from solar power to computer storage and processing power to internet access itself. Social networks like Farcaster are showing how a web 3.0 might actually work. RWAs could unlock untold billions. NFTs can do pretty much anything, if we can work out how to make them not suck. The El Salvadoran president just got re-elected and is doubling down on Bitcoin and at this point why the hell not.

What’s different this cycle is that in some ways mass adoption feels further away than ever before. We may be on the up financially, but culturally we’re on a down swing that will take years to rectify. 

But while crypto might be in limbo, that’s never stopped us before and it probably won’t this time either. So, lower your expectations, close your eyes, tap that green button and think of Satoshi.

Luke for CoinJar

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