Today’s bullish stock market conditions are the kind that make people feel they’ve pretty much got this investing thing figured out.
And so, we have young financial influencers on social-media app TikTok offering educational videos about how to make money. How good is that information? A company called Paxful did an analysis of 1,212 of these videos that found one in seven were misleading and only one in 10 influencers were transparent about their qualifications.
Paxful, you ask? Oh, that’s a cryptocurrency trading platform that greets new clients by inviting them to see how it can help meet their financial goals. Yes, crypto fans, Paxful serves Canada. Its website says payment methods include both Interac e-transfer and Interac online.
In the pandemic hothouse, we’ve reached a level of intensity and disruption that has taken us very far from the usual rhythms of personal finance and investing. A quick review of what’s normal and abnormal might be useful to the young adults who are getting the money lesson of their lives right now.
Let’s start by acknowledging that the stock market is like an amusement park right now. That is very abnormal. There aren’t usually so many opportunities to buy stocks and make money in a hurry. Speculative bursts happen in the markets from time to time, but they usually end in a messy way.
For now, it’s all pretty exciting and worth sharing on social media. This explains how TikTok and the online forum Reddit have become hubs for talk about investing. Reddit was where young investors banded together to push up the price of GameStop shares and humble some smarter-than-everyone hedge fund managers.
TikTok’s financial content can be lively and refreshingly practical. But some of the investing stuff on TikTok can be a little out there. Think of a non-driver who navigates a car through traffic for a day and then starts offering driving lessons.
Does anything summarize how much the investing status quo has been disrupted like the crypto platform Paxful schooling young people to be careful with TikTok? Crypto as a financial asset is in its infancy – there’s no history to draw on in analyzing its current and potential future behaviour. But Paxful is right in highlighting the importance of knowing who you’re getting financial information from.
Whether you’re watching a TikTok video, reading something online or talking to someone in the financial industry, check out the qualifications and background of the person providing advice. Then, get second and even third opinions when possible.
Another pandemic abnormality affecting young adults is the white-hot intensity of the housing market. There may be no value Canadians support more unanimously than the importance of home ownership. But when prices jump close to 25 per cent on a year-over-year basis and bidding wars with dozens of participants break out, we’re taking things too far.
The pandemic has created an imbalance in housing – families eager to move into larger homes with larger yards and a dearth of owners ready to put these properties on the market. This supply-demand disconnect has sent prices soaring at rates that make increases in household income look like a roll of pennies.
Low borrowing costs make it affordable for buyers to keep up with rapidly rising prices. In fact, the primary economic lesson imparted to young people in recent years is that interest rate increases are as big a threat as the Toronto Maple Leafs in a playoff round (please prove me wrong, Leafs).
As it turns out, today’s abnormally low mortgage rates could be the first pandemic-driven financial development to unravel. Mortgage rates are influenced heavily by interest rates in the bond market, which have been pushing higher lately at an unusually fast pace. Pressure is building for higher mortgage rates both now and when today’s buyers renew their first mortgages years in the future.
Gen Xers, boomers and older generations have one benefit young adults lack in making sense of what’s happening now – perspective. If you opened your eyes to personal finance and investing in the pandemic, you’re seeing things that may never happen again. Take advantage, and take care.
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