The stock market has been one of the greatest wealth creators on the planet for longer than any American has been alive. Stocks might not be the top-performing asset every year, but they've consistently outperformed bonds, housing, and other investment tools over the very long term. In fact, the benchmark S&P 500 has averaged an annual total return, including dividends, of greater than 11% since the beginning of 1980.
But over the past couple of years, a number of brand-name cryptocurrencies have absolutely run circles around Wall Street. Although Bitcoin's gains from its debut more than a decade ago are impressive, it's the returns of Shiba Inu (SHIB -6.26%) since its debut last year that are truly jaw-dropping.
Here's how much $100 invested in Shiba Inu on its debut day is worth now
Meme coin Shiba Inu first hit select cryptocurrency exchanges for trading on Aug. 1, 2020, with a first-day print of $0.00000000051 per token. At the time of this writing, late in the evening of Oct. 31, SHIB tokens were being purchased at $0.00007163. It might be difficult to do the math with all of these zeroes, but this 15-month increase since its debut equates to 14,044,998%. For comparison, the S&P 500 is up about 41% over the same period.
To put this mammoth increase into perspective, imagine you had the wherewithal, stomach, and luck to invest $100 into SHIB on Aug. 1, 2020, at the above-stated price and held for the past 15 months. Your $100 investment would now be worth (drum roll)...$14,045,098. Yes, over $14 million! This would firmly place you in the top 1% of the wealthiest American households, which has a cutoff of around $11 million.
How exactly does a $100 investment turn into a $14 million moonshot in 15 months? Let's take a closer look.
This is what's driven Shiba Inu's historic gain
One factor working in SHIB's favor is increased awareness. Over the past 15 months, a growing number of cryptocurrency exchanges have listed Shiba Inu for trading. There are even rumors that leading crypto exchange and ecosystem Coinbase Global will list SHIB at some point in the not-too-distant future. This isn't such a far-fetched idea, considering Shiba Inu is now the ninth-largest digital currency by market cap.
The July launch of decentralized exchange ShibaSwap has also played a role in SHIB's moonshot to the heavens. ShibaSwap allows investors to stake their coins in order to earn interest. Though staking is nothing new in the cryptocurrency landscape, it's an important step in encouraging investors to hold on to their SHIB tokens for longer periods of time. Having more long-term Shiba Inu investors should result in fewer violent price swings.
As I've mentioned previously, there's also an inherent buy bias present with cryptocurrencies. While investors can easily bet against some of the largest and best-known digital currencies through derivatives, it's otherwise difficult to short-sell or bet against more than 99% of the 13,000-plus cryptocurrencies. There's no question SHIB has benefited from pessimists' lack of access to short-selling channels.
And yes, Elon Musk gets credit, too. The CEO of Tesla recently adopted a Shiba Inu named Floki. Anytime Musk posts about his dog or mentions the Shiba Inu breed in a positive light, investors snatch up SHIB tokens.
SHIB may be one of 2022's worst-performing cryptocurrencies
Though these are life-altering gains, and the cryptocurrency market has shown time and again that it doesn't play by the same rules as the traditional stock market, it would be foolish, with a small "f," to think this increase is sustainable.
While gains of 14,000,000% aren't too common in the crypto space, we have seen a number of popular payment coins log five- and six-digit price increases in a short amount of time. The XRP token used by Ripple gained more than 62,000% in roughly 10 months, ending in early 2018. XRP ultimately lost 96% of its value over the next two years and change.
It's a similar story for Litecoin, which galloped to more than $350 per token in December 2017 and had lost 93% of its value about one year later. Even Bitcoin has undergone multiple steep corrections of 80% or more over the past decade. The point being that big gains driven by momentum and emotion haven't proved sustainable in the crypto space.
And it's not just history that's Shiba Inu's enemy. There are tangible factors that should have investors worried.
For instance, the launch of ShibaSwap did increase the median holding period for SHIB, but not by much. Even with the option of staking the coins, the median holding time for SHIB is just 10 days, according to Coinbase. This pretty clearly shows that most folks are lusting after SHIB's volatility and don't particularly care about its long-term story or use case.
Speaking of its use case, there pretty much is none. You'd think the ninth-largest cryptocurrency would have a decent amount of retailer adoption, but only around 100 mostly obscure online merchants accept SHIB as a form of payment. Beyond a cryptocurrency exchange, Shiba Inu has no use.
All of these factors suggest that Shiba Inu is set to have a bad year in 2022.