Jun 6, 2022 - Economy

When investors do their own research

A still from the SEC video

Via YouTube

Investors have lost at least a billion dollars on crypto scams, and a new ad campaign from the SEC wants to help them avoid such pitfalls.

Why it matters: The ads encourage skepticism towards faddish investments, but also urge individuals to "do your own research" — a phrase associated with conspiracy theories and mistrust of official messaging.

Driving the news: The SEC's ads' targets include internet rumors, celebrity endorsements, stock tips from your uncle, crypto to the moon, "FOMO," meme stocks, tulip bulbs, and guaranteed returns.

  • In one ad, a celebrity touts crypto. "Be careful where you get your advice," it says. "Do your own research at investor.gov."
  • In another, a game-show contestant wins by saying that she's "going to do some research first." The "research" seems to involve little more than tapping at her phone.

What they're saying: "My heart is with the SEC on this," Tom Nichols, author of "The Death of Expertise," tells Axios. "I just wish they hadn’t used a bad phrase. 'Do your own research' is exactly how people end up buying meme stocks."

Background: In the crypto world, "do your own research" — often abbreviated to DYOR — is a meme in itself, a way for people to disclaim responsibility for the actions of anybody who follows their advice.

  • It's also shorthand for investors who abjure traditionally trusted sources of information — including investor.gov — and turn instead to dank corners of Reddit and beyond.

The big picture: The kind of people who "YOLO" into speculative assets are, almost by definition, the very people least likely to take advice from investor.gov— or from any other officially-sanctioned authority.

  • As one Redditor put it: "This video from the SEC makes me want to double down on MEME STONKS!"
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