Feedback Friday: Bitcoin, Ozempic, Brokerage Apps, and You

By TradeSmith Research Team

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A couple weeks back, I rolled up my sleeves and dug into the TradeSmith Daily feedback inbox for the first time.

I quickly learned just how sophisticated and vocal our fine readership is — not that I expected anything less.

That week brought a fierce debate about an important topic for a high-interest-rate, high-inflation world: safe yield ETFs for your idle cash.

This week, though, we have more of a “grab bag” of mail to sort through. And quite a bit of it.

You had some thoughts about Ozempic, bitcoin, and a few beginner-level questions that I’m happy to answer if it means setting new investors in the right direction.

My sleeves are rolled. My red-eye flight is delayed — again. And an overpriced airport Americano is coursing through my veins.

Let’s dig in.

[Note: Emails are edited for clarity and content at our discretion.]

First up, some record-straightening on my “Ozempic Hedge” essay. Here’s Kenneth…

While I understand and agree with your point that Ozempic and other “weight loss” drugs do not spell the end for companies that sell “junk” food, I feel your lighthearted contempt of Ozempic was uncalled for.

I am a Type 2 diabetic who has been required to take an insulin shot before every meal for over 10 years now. I was prescribed Ozempic three months ago, and it truly has been a miracle drug for me. Since starting to take an Ozempic shot once a week, I have lost 30 pounds, and my blood glucose levels have been consistently in the normal range without me having to take a shot of insulin before every meal. I was able to swap 3 shots a day for 1 shot a week! Believe me, it is life changing.

I understand your snide remarks are aimed at non-diabetic people taking Ozempic for weight loss, but I want you to know that lots of people are gaining real benefits from taking Ozempic. I for one am willing to take 1 shot of Ozempic a week for the rest of my life. I expect my life will be much longer because of Ozempic.


Thanks for writing in and sharing your experience, Kenneth.

You hit the nail on the head. Anyone that can in good faith call Ozempic life-changing was not who I was talking about. I wish you and everyone who lives with this condition all the best in the world, and it brings me great joy to hear Ozempic has improved your life in such a meaningful way.

To be crystal clear, my argument had nothing to do with anyone who takes Ozempic for its intended use. It was primarily about Wall Street’s knee-jerk selling of high-quality stocks in a moment of irrational fear.

Was it also a pointy indictment of the trend of connected individuals using the drug as a weight-loss solution? Yes.

But — and this is important — that’s because this is the predominant investment narrative surrounding Ozempic at the moment. And that narrative is likely what helped drive the stocks down. It’s important for investors to understand and navigate powerful narratives like these.

I understand that Ozempic and other GLP-1 drugs are an incredible breakthrough for diabetes patients – the people that need it. I am thrilled to hear the stories of people who have good experiences with it, and many of your fellow readers also shared those stories with me.

I also believe that the trend of using diabetes drugs as weight-loss supplements, which has proven to limit the supply for those who need it most, is not just a fad. It’s downright vile and should be called out. In a world where many struggle to afford insulin, the fact that anyone without diabetes is taking Ozempic when it could be helping someone like you sickens me.

Now, a note from Jerry on “health and wealth”:

As an investor, I thank you for the article.

As a 79-year-old retired physician, I can say that your comments about health vs. wealth are spot-on. Ozempic and related drugs can be useful; but most people will not be willing to take an expensive shot every week and/or put up with side effects.

My wife and I enjoy very good health. She has always been my inspiration and, as the chief (and only) cook in our house she watches our food intake. She does 1.5 level Pilates four times weekly and supplements that with our Peloton. I work out 2-3 times weekly and 2 cycles on the Peloton.

I consider good health a blessing. But, one has to start early. No tobacco in any form. If overweight, only modestly. Alcohol in moderation. Most important — stay active, even though joints get creaky and sore. Balance, hearing, dexterity, and vision might diminish — but stay active. Volunteerism can bring back a sense of being of value to society.

If you’re still reading this, put it down and go walk around the block with your dog. (I assume the dog food from Costco is for a dog, and not your boys.)


Thanks for the thoughtful note, Jerry. It really brightened up my day.

My “boys” (yes, they’re dogs!) get two miles a day and a lot of tussling with each other in the yard. One’s nearing 10 and is down a rear leg, but still manages to keep up with the other, half his age.

I’ll remember this note in the decades to come. Hopefully, it will help me age as gracefully as you have. Maybe it’s time to pony up for a Peloton?

Now, let’s move on to the next biggest feedback-generator: bitcoin…

Last week, I told you I was buying bitcoin on its recent breakout, with the April 2024 halving event in mind.

I asked what you thought about King Crypto, and you responded…

Michael, anyone who believes bitcoin is ultimately a currency, rather than a speculative trade and a tool for criminals who wash their money, would agree that at some point Bitcoin will be “valued as” a currency, probably a basket of currencies. I doubt that anyone knows what or when that might be.

However, I doubt seriously that the U.S. or any major economic country will adopt bitcoin as “their” currency, even if and when they create their own “coin.”

But good news? There will always be criminals, thieves, politicians, tyrants, oligarchs, and SPECULATORS. Trade away.


Thanks for writing in, Bill.

I largely agree that bitcoin isn’t likely to take over as a new money anytime soon, if ever. Most likely, it remains a sideshow in the global financial system. A persistent sideshow that’ll probably be around longer than anyone expects, but a sideshow nonetheless.

I also agree that it makes for a good speculative trade, as does anything with sufficient upside volatility. That’s how I’m treating it — a speculation with a small part of my portfolio. We’re not betting farms or drinking Kool-Aid, here.

Now, where I don’t necessarily agree is the idea that bitcoin is a hotbed of criminal activity and money laundering.

Bitcoin’s nature as a permanent ledger makes it a pretty poor choice for criminals, as sourcing transactions and freezing assets is apparently quite easy. We saw this in full display recently with the Hamas terrorist group, which has had 190 crypto wallets frozen in the past several years through a joint effort by Binance and the Israeli government. The days of Silk Road are long behind us, and they taught the world’s intelligence agencies a whole lot about how to trace crypto.

The trope of cash-filled suitcases exists for a reason: it’s hard to trace cash. And that’s why it’s still the preferred unit of exchange for criminals.. Crypto may have accounted for $20 billion in illicit transactions last year — most of it from scams, stolen funds, or to avoid sanctions — but that pales in comparison to the $800 billion to $2 trillion in cash the United Nations estimates is laundered every year.

I’m willing to bet that last MONTH saw more dirty cash change hands than we’ll see in the next decade of criminal bitcoin transactions – probably much more.

In the end, bitcoin is an asset that folks get very excited and bullish about every few years. I’m starting to see that excitement bubble up, so I’m speculating we’re about to enter a new bull cycle. If and when things get as nutty as they did in 2021, I’ll be looking to scale out of it again.

The high-level socioeconomic ideas about bitcoin are fun conversations, but for me they’re just that — and not an investment thesis.

Next up, one from Dave on his own experience with bitcoin:

My beef with crypto (after “investing” a bunch of my retirement money, following hype) is that it doesn’t seem much like a safe store of value. Its volatility is enormous, and I’ve lost a bunch of dollars before exiting what seems like a speculative stock play.

I’ve really tried to embrace crypto, but I’ve learned that timing is everything. My timing sucked and I got toasted. Hard-earned retirement dollars simply evaporated.

I take a daily look at BTC and ETH, and am feeling a good amount of FOMO after the last couple of weeks, but that might mean I just haven’t learned my lesson.

An interesting follow-up article might be to evaluate how BTC could fit into someone’s portfolio who only has 5 years till retirement, for example. Maybe some position-sizing info, along with how to place stops or something.

Take care, and keep up the quality writing!


Dave, thank you so much for writing in.

I’ll start with this: if you have five years left until retirement, you should not buy any more bitcoin than you can afford to lose completely. Only you can answer what that is. But for a lot of people, the answer may be “none” and that’s okay.

Bitcoin is far too volatile and risky for any sensible person to recommend it on such a short and critical time horizon as an imminent retirement.

I get the draw. Bitcoin has proven to be a pretty great store of value since it was invented. Putting $100 into bitcoin back in 2009 would’ve returned over $162 million today — if you never sold (you would have), lost your keys (also likely), were hacked (increasingly likely), etc. Thing is, it’s also been a progressively worse store of value the longer you’ve waited to buy in. And if you happen to buy at a top, you have to wait quite a long time to break even. So yes, timing is key.

Let me put it this way. My dad bought a modest position in bitcoin back in 2018. He’s in his 70s and too spry to retire. He considers it a fun thing he checks in on and will maybe cash out one day to buy a project car if he’s lucky. Doesn’t much care if it all goes to zero. That seems like a healthy attitude for someone in his position.

The biggest money in bitcoin has already been made by those who got in very early on. Someone approaching retirement would do best to focus on high-quality, dividend-paying stocks and a robust fixed-income portfolio. Not to mention, you know, relaxing and enjoying retirement without worrying about something so volatile.

(Speaking of, keep an eye out for my interview with Mike Burnick tomorrow about his multi-pronged income strategy. It’s pretty advanced, but is an excellent approach for active traders who want to generate reams of income from the market.)

Now, a note about the TradeSmith Analytics dashboard from Philip…

I totally overlooked this feature and I regret it. Fortunately Mr. Salvatore wrote about it.

I think it’s the best-ever tool TradeSmith has created. No screener. Just follow the indications and I’m settled. Thank you TradeSmith and those who have created this incredible feature.


Glad to hear you’re making great use of the TradeSmith Analytics dashboard, Philip!

And to anyone reading this who hasn’t taken a minute to explore it, do check it out. I’ve found it to be a great place to find high-quality small-caps. Understand this tool is in an unofficial “open beta,” and may get changes in the future.

And one final question from Shara on how to get started investing.

What are the safest beginner stock apps to use?


Thanks for the question, Shara.

I’m going to assume your question is about brokerage accounts here, given your concern of safety.

If safety and reputation at are the top of your priority list, you should look first to the major brokerage companies. Charles Schwab, Fidelity, E-Trade, and Vanguard are all the top of the pack in this area. Signing up for these accounts online is easy and free and lets you access virtually everything the equities markets have to offer. They also contain a lot of introductory resources for new investors.

You might be tempted by the newer apps specifically designed for investing beginners — Robinhood, Webull, and the like — but I would advise against them.

These have only been around a few years, so they lack the credibility of the major brokerages. Plus the former of these two has a somewhat dubious history of selling order flow to institutional buyers and even halting withdrawals under extreme conditions. That’s not a risk I’m comfortable with.

Further, these apps have a bad habit of making complex, high-risk trading strategies a little too accessible and “fun” for beginner investors. Call me old fashioned, but when virtual confetti is bursting on my phone screen after placing a trade, I don’t get the sense the designers are playing to the rational, risk-averse side of my brain.

I’m not here to endorse one brokerage or the other, but in a broad sense, I’d recommend sticking to the major brokerage companies.

That’ll do it for this week. Thanks again to everyone who wrote in. You’re a big part of what makes my job so much fun, and I’m eager to continue the conversation.

Write in anytime to [email protected] with your thoughts or questions. With the rate you’re writing, we’re likely to be able to have Feedback Friday with great regularity.

Talk soon, and have a great weekend.

Michael Salvatore
Editor, TradeSmith Daily