by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker blog
Some are talking of “fear and euphoria” in the crypto-currency world, but what’s to fear?
Last month Bitcoin’s multi-year existential crisis was surprisingly resolved with only a couple days of panicking.
In short, those who wanted to implement technological changes to make Bitcoin more of an everyday currency and less of a stable store of value – lost. The losers threw a tantrum, which turned out to be minor, and some moved their power and money into the cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Cash. There are only 3 major components to Bitcoin – the software developers, the miners and the People: Bitcoin Cash thought the miners could end this triumvirate and assume dictatorship, but failed…but also tripled the value of Bitcoin Cash, so don’t cry for them. However, they have earned a lot of ill will as a result of this power play among the developers (who support Bitcoin (the original, the daddy, the ‘capital B’ bitcoin) and the People who are long-term holders like me.
So, this existential threat has been resolved and…now what’s to fear? Nothing but fear itself, as far as I can see.
And that is why money has flooded in, causing Bitcoin has surged $2k in two weeks and cross the psychologically important $10,000 barrier. I look at Bitcoin now and I’m like “It’s up to ten thousand one hundred? Big deal – what’s another hundred bucks?”
Where is the money coming from?
For sure, the US market has barely been tapped – it’s been nearly all Japan. When China threw crypto for a loop in October by banning ICOs, Japan took advantage by going all in, and they had already recognised it as a legal currency and boosted demand by exempting it from their 8% sales tax (until 1989 Japan had no sales tax (a regressive tax because it falls unfairly on everyone), but they adopted American neoliberalism…). Japan now has 60% of the bitcoin market share.
But the money is about to flood in from US, from the 1% and the 99%.
It will definitely start flowing from high finance, and this is a major reason why Bitcoin will keep ballooning this month: the Chicago Board of Options Exchange – the largest options market in the world – will launch Bitcoin futures in a couple weeks (date is not set). This means high finance has given its ok to bitcoin (or at least a key player in the world of high finance), and the funnel has been set up in oder to flood in money…thus increasing demand and thus increasing price – don’t need a PhD in economics to grasp that.
In a great tweet by Max Keiser, early Bitcoin advocate, excellent anti-imperialist political thinker, former Wall Street banker and my former office colleague, Keiser notes that interest in Bitcoin is so high that Wall Street types are not going to want to end 2017 without at least some Bitcoin exposure on their books to show their clients. That appears totally logical to me, and thus more big money into bitcoins in December.
The end of the existential crisis means that the “early adoption” phase may be just now crossing into the “mainstreaming” phase. The largest bitcoin exchange added 100,000 new users…yesterday. This week the hugely popular US show “The Big Bang Theory” will feature an episode revolving around a bitcoin storyline. Undoubtedly, many Americans discussed bitcoin at the Thanksgiving table, giving rise to this rather hilarious meme which illustrates how “the rich get richer”, because you first need money to invest in order to make money investing.
The bottom line is: there are more registered users at the most popular internet bitcoin site than active accounts with Charles Schwab; Bitcoin is traded 6 times more than Apple, the most traded stock; crypto-currency market capitalisation as a whole is worth more than Wal-Mart.
No matter how you cut it: this is…definitely not nothing.
Add all this up and: who is a Bitcoin bear right now?
Even if you have absolutely no notion of its political significance – and it is huge – everyone is buying and will buy for the near future.
What are the risks? Right now, as I said, nothing is foreseen. China/JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon did a coordinated hit (planned or coincidental) when Bitcoin hit $5,000 – maybe another is coming at $10,000?
Bitcoin has been banned in Morocco, Vietnam and other countries, but places like Iran are “welcoming“ and “preparing the infrastructure” for it, while North Korea is now holding classes in it: countries such as those, subject to horrific, inhuman international blockades, will be more than happy to thumb their nose at the West while becoming the Switzerland of Bitcoin, the places Bitcoiners can definitely, undoubtedly cash out.
Bubbles do abounds right now – stocks are at an all-time high, as is real estate. But the latter two are solely due to the abuse of central banks’ powers to print money, and they DEFINITELY are a bubble. I wrote a bitcoin-free 7-part series explaining how the age of austerity has done nothing to strengthen the “real economy” of Europe, which is why they are bubbles, and which proves that – just as in 2012 – the world’s largest macro-economy STILL remains the global economy’s weakest, least-democratic, most banker-cabal dominated link in the chain.
I have also written that when this neoliberal/central bank/austerity bubble pops (via the end of Europe’s QE, which has been further postponed until next year) money will flow into the safe haven of bitcoin.
Is there going to be a dip or correction? Of course, this is capitalism, and some big-holding Bitcoiners are going to cash out. However, a recent poll of 600 bitcoiners found their average cashing-out price: $196,000. Maybe the average newly-arrived Grandma feels differently, but bitcoin is capitalist: old money has weight.
Is there going to be a “black swan event”? Those can never be predicted by definition, but there probably will be. And they could happen anywhere: Maybe the black swan will happen in NYC’s stock exchange, or London’s real estate market, or China will finally, rightfully take back Taiwan – who knows? If you think like that I suggest you don’t invest…or even get out of bed in the morning.
Investing advice from a daily hack journalist
Hey, I’m a seasoned vet in the mainstream journalism world! And a newbie hack in the bitcoin journalism world….
What’s certain is that this whole Bitcoin process is just getting off the ground, is not going away, block chain is going to disrupt a lot of industries, central banks deserve their comeuppance for printing money solely to bail out the 1% and not the 99%, credit card companies and private banks are immoral and anti-social, and that a lot of people are going to fight tooth and nail for bitcoin for both good reasons and bad reasons.
Investment advice from me? Stick with Bitcoin – it needs to survive. I want it to survive more than I want it to make money, which is why I stopped investing in it (also: I have no money (and very little crypto)). Not only are these the most conservative investments in crypto-currency, but you should ethically support Bitcoin and its brethren: Litecoin (truly the first fork of Bitcoin) and Vertcoin, the most ethical coin out there (sadly, finance cares not for ethics so it’s hard to say if Vertcoin will make money). The reason I advocate these 3 is that it’s essentially the same developer team working on all 3 – changes on Bitcoin will filter down to Litecoin and Vertcoin – they are inextricably linked and were created for exactly this inextricability. Litecoin has ballooned recently because it was tapped by Bitcoin’s team for the first “atomic swap” – safely conducting a transaction with one party in Bitcoin and the other in Litecoin. Atomic swaps are a big deal in the future, unless there is only 1 crypto-currency (rather doubtful).
Beyond that, there’s Ethereum: How is it that Ethereum can provide the software basis for nearly every other crypto-currency, also have ties with scores and scores of top companies thus is clearly already tapped for approval by industry, perform more daily commercial transactions than any other crypto-currency…and yet be worth so much less than Bitcoin? People are literally screaming for Bitcoin’s head; everybody loves Ethereum. Yes, Ethereum has shot up 60% in the past 10 days, but it remains totally undervalued given what I just related, at least to me. I believe in the developers, and Bitcoin and Ethereum have the two best teams, no doubt.
And developers are what it’s all about. For one thing, many of the little tricks and specialities that other alt-coins have focused on and succeeded in developing…the Bitcoin team will eventually get around to those. Things like anonymity, faster times for easier commercial use, etc.
And developers are what it’s all about because tulips and bitcoins have very little in common: One is something which grows in the ground (or doesn’t) and the other is based on technology and methodology which will – without a doubt – revolutionise many industries, machines, jobs and lives. So I’d go with the developers, ethically and financially.
The People are going to go with them too: the average person who wants to make a buck is going to buy the established cryptos – it’s those who already have the main ones who take a chance on the fly-by-nighters. If you don’t care at all for ethics, or feel justified in hedging your other more-ethical bets, then buy one of the most popular cryptos: Ripple, which is not crypto at all, but a way for banks to swap different currencies more easily. Banks love Ripple, which is made expressly for them.
Bitcoiners will have sweet Christmas dreams, despite the doubting Thomases
If you think this is all “just a bubble”, I contend that you haven’t done your homework on what crypto is all about.
Anyway, if this currently is the 4th or 5th “bubble”, that’s fine – after every correction it has bounced back higher. So hold on – or what are you, some lazy speculator who doesn’t work for a living?
The weak point remains unchanged: the point of interface between selling your crypto and getting cash. That must be regulated for society’s welfare and benefit – sorry to all the juvenile, egotistical libertarians. Governments could block or drastically control the online exchanges via the new net neutrality bill – that’s an issue, but not fatal to the idea of crypto as a whole.
The US Senate is reportedly considering a bill to modernise money laundering laws which some fear would, “criminalise bitcoiners”. Now how is that going to work with Chicago futures exchanges? Is bitcoin going to finally get some high finance guy sent to jail? Doubt it…. Anyway, do you think people will believe that ALL bitcoin transactions are used for drugs and criminal activities? That canard is running out of steam with John Q. Public, especially when his grandkids told him to buy bitcoin.
I’ll stop here with this crucial political, and geopolitical, reality which not everyone grasps: There are simply too many competing interests here at play to fully “stop” or “ban” bitcoin. NYC bankers don’t like it – Chicago commodities traders do; Beijing is lukewarm – Tokyo is already all-in; London is aghast – Tehran wants revenge; wire transfer companies hate it – migrant workers love sending their money back home for just pennies instead of $30 on both ends.
I can go on and on like this. Bitcoin is just too universally disrupting to be disrupted itself.
Finally, also dispense with this bit of absolutist thinking: everything everywhere will not be bought and paid for with Bitcoin in our lifetime…that doesn’t make it a bad (or unethical) investment; if bitcoin takes just a small share of the market occupied by paper (fiat) money, credit card money, gold, silver, Picassos and other mediums of exchange…it will be far more valuable than it is now.
Again, one must get past the capitalistic, zero-sum idea that Bitcoin has to conquer completely and totally: no, it just needs a foothold to become enormously influential.
And if this is how Bitcoin ends 2017 – imagine how it will end 2018. Not in flames, I am fine with predicting.
The biggest threat to bitcoin remains a capitalistic, libertarian ideology of selfish greed which threatens to replicate the exact same 1% cabal we have right now…but with bitcoins.
I proved the leftist utility of bitcoins with just the first sentence of this previous article, but right-wing reactionaries and left-wing disinterest in all things financial threaten not just bitcoins, but all human endeavours.
No change there. No change in bitcoin either – keeps going straight up.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.