El Salvador has “diamond hands” for bitcoin

Like meme-stock devotees, Bukele has shown a YOLO mindset, acting quickly and unhesitatingly in pursuit of his chosen asset. He first proposed approving bitcoin as legal tender in early June; a law to that effect was passed three days later by his country’s legislature. When the price of bitcoin crashed soon after bitcoin’s debut in El Salvador on Sep. 7, Bukele’s government doubled down and purchased more coins.  It was as if the government had “diamond hands,” the WallStreetBets slang that implies holding on to a meme stock with an unshakeable grip.

Sure enough, in meme-stock-y fashion, El Salvador attracted like-minded crypto-enthusiasts. In one Reddit group of 3.3 million bitcoin advocates, a campaign started up to get members to each buy $30 worth of bitcoin—a way to reward El Salvador for its boldness by pushing up the price of the currency. The $30 amount matched the quantum of equivalent coin that El Salvador promised to put into every citizen’s digital wallet. The government named the wallet “Chivo”—a local term meaning “cool,” yet another sentiment more like to be found on WallStreetBets than in the playbooks of sovereign wealth funds and other, more orthodox avenues through which countries invest their money.

El Salvador shouldn’t behave like a Reddit trader

In one crucial way, though, El Salvador is different from WallStreetBets. When glitches plagued the rollout of bitcoin, protests broke out in the country—not surprisingly, since Bukele has purchased millions of dollars of bitcoin not with his own money but with taxpayer funds.

Reddit investors stand to hurt themselves more than anyone else, so they don’t need to be accountable about how they spend their money. That isn’t the case with El Salvador. A national government is not a trader on WallStreetBets—a sentence that no one would have envisioned writing before 2021, the year of the meme stock.

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