Bloomberg Opinion — A crypto thing called Omicron has soared more than 900% since Saturday because there is now also a Covid variant called omicron. That’s it. That’s the reason.
Omicron the Covid Variant has roiled global markets because of fear that its many mutations could help it evade immunity defenses, although there is also hope it may cause milder disease.
Omicron the Crypto Thing is, in the words of CoinTelegraph, “a recently introduced decentralized reserve currency protocol that runs on the Ethereum layer-two network Arbitrum. Its native OMIC token is backed by several other crypto assets including the USD Coin stablecoin and liquidity provider tokens. It can only be traded on the SushiSwap decentralized exchange.”
“Bond-based yield farming project” is another way to describe it. Do you understand what all of those words mean? What are words? What is meaning? After carefully balancing these factors, Bloomberg Opinion initiates coverage of Omicron the Crypto Thing with a “conviction buy” rating. (Please for the love of God and all that is holy, realize that this is a “joke.” Do not buy Omicron the Crypto Thing without consulting legitimate financial research and advice. Omicron the Crypto Thing may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. Do not taunt Omicron the Crypto Thing.)
Omicron the Crypto Thing jumped to roughly $700 from $65 between Saturday and Monday, as news of Omicron the Covid Variant spread. Do we even need to talk about how ridiculous this is? Here is an asset trading on an obscure, risky exchange that is less than a month old and so illiquid we don’t even have market-cap data for it yet. It has nothing to do with the Covid variant, aside from maybe the disease’s third-derivative effects on commerce, sentiment and markets, making it part of an investment universe that includes roughly everything in existence.
As such, Omicron the Crypto Thing’s overnight explosion “perhaps represents peak irrationality,” ventures CoinDesk’s Omkar Godbole. Perhaps!
There are countless examples of stock prices soaring on mistaken identity. The most recent famous example is how people bought shares of medical-device maker Signal Advance after Elon Musk told people to use the Signal messaging app. Fast-trading algorithms accidentally buy names similar to their real targets, and fat-fingered traders hit the wrong keys.
Maybe there’s some of that at work with people buying Omicron the Crypto Thing. But there is also evidence that people are buying it simply for the lulz, as one does these days.
Whatever the reason, this is dumber than the usual name or ticker-symbol mix-up. Those at least involve two of the same kind of asset. This is like buying a hot dog because you saw a dog. Or a Mars bar because you saw Mars. Although with those examples you at least get some food out of the deal.
The obvious path to riches here is to buy crypto named after the rest of the letters of the Greek alphabet and wait for new Covid variants to inspire more meme-buying. (Once again, please note that this is a “joke” and in no way constitutes legitimate financial advice. In fact, this is a path not to riches but to almost certain financial ruin.)
Omicron is late in the Greek-alphabet game, but there are still some juicy ones out there. These include pi, upsilon and the scariest crypto-thing/Covid-variant name of all: omega. Maybe that one will represent the end of the Covid pandemic/crypto exuberance, for better or worse. Or maybe we’ll just start over again with alpha.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of Fortune.com, ran the Huffington Post’s business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.