Everything is an Asset. Now What?

AUTHOR: Raf Carillo

In the 1981 Mel Brooks classic History of the World, Part 1, we are introduced to pre-revolution France by way of a street market in Paris. The opening sequence depicts three vendors, each peddling a product of dubious value: the first has apple cores, the second dead rats, and finally, the third is trying to sell nothing. Literally nothing.

The scene makes us laugh and highlights the wealth gap of the place and time (*cough* America right now! *cough*), but don’t sleep on the deeper meaning at work. Whether or not he intended to, Brooks in thirty seconds perfectly illustrated the flexibility of the very concept of value, an aspect of free markets that we both turn a blind eye to and embrace. So what if the guy is selling nothing? A year ago hardly anyone had heard of NFTs, and now many are saying that bubble has already burst. (Reason to worry? Well…it’s not like the dotcom bustmade the internet go away.)

What about crypto? As of this writing there are more than 6,000 cryptocurrencies being traded worldwide, most of which will surely fail, but some of which will just as surely break through and assume a firm position in the mainstream marketplace, which is to say, the consciousness of consumers. Transactions used to represent the exchange of goods for currency. Now, transactions can be both the goods and the currency.

As Adam Smith himself said: “All money is a matter of belief.” The adage rings true as ever, and is a good deal more actionable in 2021 than it was in 1789. The man selling nothing then had no chance because everyone could see that his cart was indeed empty, but the man selling nothing now can disseminate his message broadly, efficiently, and free of charge before anybody even gets a look at his cart.

This kind of no-risk, high-reward proposition has become a recurrent problem with crypto, as creators and influencers like Adlin Ross and Kim Kardashian have pushed coins to their followers that they were paid to promote. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with a celebrity or a popular creator shilling for MILF Token or Ethereum Max, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with leveraging your popularity to affect consumer behavior. But when those roads meet…

Alright, but at least there’s always a chance that you might make a fortune betting on crypto. What about when the rewards are all spiritual, as in the case of professional lifestyle gurus like Bentinho Massaro?

“You can be anything, or nothing, or both, or something else every single day.”

“Stop thinking for just a second, and wake up to the fact that you are already awake.”

“Wake up from everything. You can even be awake from awareness itself.”

Direct quotes from his Instagram.

Massaro’s stated mission is to upgrade civilization by helping people self-actualize, a mission he carries out at well-attended retreats costing up to $2,000 a pop. Does it feel too uncharitable to call that “nothing?” Let’s say he’s selling you what you already have inside yourself. Better?

It’s worth noting that Massaro is not successful to the degree his cigar-smoking, weirdly Gatsbyan social media persona would like us to believe. His net worth is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $20,000, which is about a quarter of the average college graduate’s student debts. Snooze. Maybe the market does work.

Okay, no more beating up on Bentinho. He’s just one manifestation of the fact that someone (multiple someones, most likely) will always play on consumer insecurity in an effort to separate ordinary people from their money. This is one of the issues Trading.TV was built to address. Here you can stream, chat and trade for free. We pay our creators just for creating, so they will never be incentivized to manipulate you, the viewer, into buying something you don’t need. That is our promise. That is our example. We hope others will follow.

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