How Much Is Real?

I was watching a report this morning on the collapse of FTX, the cyrpto exchange. Some pundits are stating that this bankruptcy, “is bigger than Enron“. Truth in lending, I have no holdings in crypto as I don’t understand it and what little I do, makes no sense to me. That said, there was a 20-something Gen-Z kid whining that he lost $2 million because of the collapse of FTX. My question when I hear people whining about their investment losses is, “how much of that is a real loss?

The whiners, usually exaggerate how much loss they’ve suffered in order to sound sympathetic. During the Enron collapse, there was a young employee (I recall that she was a secretary) of the company who had her retirement savings 100% invested in Enron stock. She said she lost “a million dollars of her retirement when Enron collapsed. I always have questioned such numbers. How could she have legally invested “a million dollars” of capital into a retirement fund. If she was working for 5 years at Enron, she would have had to have a salary of around $450,000 per year to have “a million” to invest. $200,000 goes to taxes, $50,000 goes to living expenses, and then she’d have $200,000 to invest over 5 years. If she could earn $450,000 per year as a secretary, why the belly aching when she has another 40 plus years of her working life left. I suspect her “real” losses may have been around $20,000 at most.

The same goes for the Gen-Z kid moaning about his $2 million dollar loss in FTX. FTX peaked at $84.18, right now it’s trading at $1.88. If you use the peak numbers, the kid owned around 45,000 shares. Say he bought in around January of 2021 when FTX was around $5 per share he would have needed to invest around $225,000 which is by no means a small amount of money. In “real” dollars the kid would have suffered a loss of around $140,000 ($5 down to $1.88) which is a far “cry” less than $2 million. Even if the Gen-Z kid actually lost $2 million of cash because he bought at the peak, just earn another couple of million in the next 40 years of a working career and stop whining.  Investments have risks. Deal with it.

And don’t forget, these highly paid 20-somethings can write-off their “real” losses against earning of their 6-figure incomes.  And who pays for those write offs?  Well that would be you and me the taxpayers who didn’t invest in risky ventures.

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