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Billionaire banker Ken Moelis says the bitcoin craze is like the gold rush of 1848and the meme stock frenzy is down to its entertainment value

Published by Business Insider on Wed, 09 Jun 2021

<p><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/60c0a468fde7960018aace28-2400/rtr3ljim.jpg" border="0" alt="Ken Moelis" data-mce-source="REUTERS/Lucas Jackson" data-mce-caption="Chief executive officer of Moelis &amp; Co., Ken Moelis smiles after ringing the bell to mark the company's IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Investment banker Ken Moelis likened the <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/btc-usd">bitcoin</a> craze to the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch'v=n2bpBAXvJew">California gold rush</a> at a <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-08/moelis-likens-crypto-to-gold-rush-watches-for-opportunities'utm_medium=social&amp;utm_content=crypto&amp;utm_source=twitter&amp;utm_campaign=socialflow-organic">Bloomberg summit</a> this week, and said he's eyeing the cryptocurrency space for business opportunities, just as Levi Strauss did for miners in 1848.</p><p>Moelis, who founded the boutique investment bank Moelis &amp; Co, said he was personally open to investing in crypto, but his firm is more focused on having expertise before diving into it. "It's a big market, there's a lot of capital in there, there's a lot of projects," he said, adding that he remains cautious of taking his firm into the space.&nbsp;</p><p>More-traditional banks have until recently taken a watchful stance toward bitcoin and other mainstream cryptocurrencies. But an explosion of adoption by <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/goldman-sachs-new-crypto-trading-team-internal-memo-report-says-2021-5-1030402499">major banks such as Goldman Sachs</a> and of new deals in the area has solidified the establishment of a whole new asset class in the financial world.</p><p>"It's like the gold rush of 1848. A lot of people didn't know if there was gold in the ground, but Levi's made a business selling jeans and Wells Fargo made a banking business," Moelis said at the summit. "I believe our business is selling the picks and the shovels, so we have to know what people wantwhat picks and what shovels they need, what tools they need to be successful."&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>In 1848, the <a href="https://www.historynet.com/james-marshall-californias-gold-discoverer.htm">discovery</a> of gold flakes in a California stream&nbsp;<a href="https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/goldrush-california/">unleashed the largest migration in the US</a> by would-be miners attracted by the prospect of massive wealth. Likewise, the huge gains logged by bitcoin since its inception has attracted an ever-growing legion of fans to cryptocurrencies, with some previous major&nbsp;detractors like <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/investor-howard-marks-more-positive-bitcoin-emerging-market-currency-2021-3-1030213955" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-stringify-link="https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/investor-howard-marks-more-positive-bitcoin-emerging-market-currency-2021-3-1030213955" data-sk="tooltip_parent">Howard Marks changing their outlook</a>. In March,&nbsp;online brokerage Etoro <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/etoro-looking-toward-us-expansion-with-spac-deal-2021-3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-stringify-link="https://www.businessinsider.com/etoro-looking-toward-us-expansion-with-spac-deal-2021-3" data-sk="tooltip_parent">reported it had added</a> over 5 million new bitcoin-focused users in 2020, and as of 4 January, it had 61% more bitcoin holders on its platform year-on-year.</p><p>Moelis also shared what he thinks about the <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/meme-stocks-amc-gamestop-blackberry-clover-second-day-gains-2021-6-1030503845">meme-stock frenzy</a>, which has seen retail investors band together on social platforms to buy and hold targeted stocks such as GameStop, often with the aim of pitting themselves against Wall Street. He said his own children are actively involved in the trend, and that they regularly update him on certain stocks.</p><p>"They're just having funI think 70 to 80% of this is fun," he said. "When you go to a casino, the most boisterous, loudest craps table is always the one where everyone runs over because someone has made their point, they've predicted something."</p><p>But he said there will be some who bet beyond what they can afford. "At every craps table, 70 to 80% of the people, they know they're having fun, and know they're going to lose their money, and accept it. There is somebody who's going to lose their mortgage."</p><p><strong data-stringify-type="bold"><em data-stringify-type="italic">Read More:</em></strong><em data-stringify-type="italic">&nbsp;</em><em data-stringify-type="italic"><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/amc-stock-surge-veteran-options-trader-breaks-down-potential-drivers-2021-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-stringify-link="https://www.businessinsider.com/amc-stock-surge-veteran-options-trader-breaks-down-potential-drivers-2021-6" data-sk="tooltip_parent">A veteran options trader breaks down 3 potential drivers of AMC's 2,500% surge this yearand shares how long the retail-fueled rally might last</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/bitcoin-gold-rush-billionaire-banker-ken-moelis-crypto-meme-stock-2021-6-1030508379#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/racist-origins-marijuana-prohibition-legalization-2018-2">How racism contributed to marijuana prohibition in the US</a></p>
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