If you live your life outside the world of cryptocurrency, the idea that someone is selling little cartoon pictures of bats in a money-making scheme based on the number of coronavirus cases might seem not only insensitive, but bizarre. But that’s exactly what is happening. Corona Babies is the creation of a San Francisco artist. The “cute” pictures of baby bats are reportedly selling at up to $300 on some crypto sites. It is not the only example of apparently tasteless profiting from coronavirus in the crypto world. Elsewhere, a group of developers has created a coin which goes up in value as more deaths from the virus are reported. A portion of the profits from the scheme, say the creators, will be donated to charities involved in the fight against the disease. Cryptocurrency is an internet-based means of money exchange which has been in use since 2008. Its main feature is that, notionally, it is beyond the control of conventional authorities, is immune from interference, and avoids processing fees usually levied by orthodox financial organisations. There’s nothing conventional about the crypto market. There is even a “fear and greed” index which monitors transactions on a daily basis. The index is designed to calm the emotions of investors who, it appears, are easily panicked. Investors, fearful of missing out on a killing, tend to pile in when the crypto market is on the rise. Conversely, they react like lemmings when they detect a falling market. The creators of the index try to instil a degree of composure by educating investors. When the index moves to the “extreme fear” position, for instance, it could be a signal to prompt buying, whereas when the pointer moves to “too greedy”, investors can expect some kind of correction in the market. US economist David Stockman, who once worked for Ronald Reagan, is scathing in his opinion of many cryptocurrency investors. He says they’re “a class of really stupid speculators“, and he predicts it will all end in tears.

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