Friday, December 22, 2017


It's been a while since I have written about Bitcoin... I must confess that I have a fascination for a currency which is backed by the full faith and credit of a bunch of Rand-fanboy tech bros and various international criminal cartels. In this spirit, I have to say that the precipitous plunge in the cryptocurrency's value (almost 50%) came as no surprise at all. I actually advised a friend of mine, a guy with a lot of different revenue streams rather an a 9-to-5, who has long been involved in Bitcoin to sell, but he is an early adopter, in for the long haul. The metastatic increase in Bitcoin value struck me as a classic pump-and-dump scheme. I view Bitcoin to be a Ponzi scheme that has no one particular person at the apex of the pyramid.

The real problem with Bitcoin is that individual investors are at a serious disadvantage in a system which favors entities with the computing power to mine Bitcoins, and the economic clout to trade in volume, and the amoral attitude towards straight-up stealing Bitcoins... entities such as North Korea's regime. The whole cryptocurrency movement, with the exception of the use of the tech for illegal transactions, reminds me of the tulip bubble, with the difference that tulip bulbs are real, unlike Bitcoins.

The whole kerfuffle is a wonder to behold- a view into what a true 'libertarian' economy would be. It's a cautionary tale, and the people who will lose their shirts aren't exactly sympathetic individuals.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to add this bit of hilarity from a true believer. Timing is the key, just like in comedy.


mikey said...

Wow. This is pretty simplistic. I've read better analyses in the comics.

Bitcoin is one implementation of a transaction monitoring structure called blockchain. It has some birthing problems - that was always baked into the cake. Cryptocurrencies are not going away, and the one that becomes the most successful won't actually be Bitcoin, but we learned a great deal from the growth and development of Bitcoin.

You need to explain - I'm sure you can do it in a paragraph - why you call Bitcoin a "Ponzi Scheme". There is ZERO relationship between Bitcoin and an equities 'pump and dump' scheme. This is just plain uninformed claptrap.

And it's just plain impossible for me to understand why a liberal would be opposed to an anonymous cash-equivalent for use on the internet. Do you really love banks and marketing operations and authoritarian governments that can track your every purchase? Do you really believe that there's no place in our society for the ability to exchange goods for payment without providing details of the entire transaction to Wells Fargo?

No - Bitcoin is an unreliable store of value, but as a medium of exchange it is used thousands - perhaps millions - of times every day.

I'm honestly gobsmacked that you think that kind of individual empowerment is somehow 'bad' and we should just shut up and depend on the banks and governments to 'protect' our most private information.

I really hope you'll respond to this - I'd like to hear how Bitcoin is a ponzi scheme or somehow the same as a stock swindle.

You once referred to Facebook as a 'cesspool' (after admitting you don't use it) - on Facebook you only see posts from your friends - and I was disappointed when I asked you about this position you never responded. I'd really like to understand what you think is bad about a blockchain based cryptocurrency.

mikey said...

I guess the best way to put it is to suggest you separate concept from execution.

Bitcoin was essentially Blockchain version 1.0. Kind of a technology demonstrator, if you will. With complex cryptography-based tech solutions, it takes some effort to get them right.

But we quite obviously NEED a medium of exchange we can use on the internet that protects our privacy. Surely you can't be opposed to that, can you?

Michael Hyatt said...

In reading your post again, I'm once again struck by how little you actually understand the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies.

First, you conflate investors bidding up the value of a scarce commodity with the worthiness of the commodity itself. Yes, once there were tulips, and once there was beanie babies and once there was silver. The commodities being traded weren't the problem - in fact there WAS no problem. Some investors bet too heavily on the value of the commodity, and then the market determined the actual market value of the commodity and people lost money. Bitcoin is not a problem commodity just because some people are bidding up the cost - that's the market determining what a Bitcoin is 'worth'.

And perhaps the single WORST thing you wrote in this post is that unlike, say tulip bulbs, Bitcoins are not 'real'. This indicates that you have zero idea of what the blockchain is. It is the blockchain that MAKES Bitcoins real.

Please do a little research and consider revising or updating your post...

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Everything I've seen about Bitcoin, ever since the MT GOX implosion, has seemed sketchy to me. If you write a rebuttal, I will post it, but I won't alter my post. I'd like to be proven wrong.

mikey said...

Fair enough. I will consider doing that. But much of the basis of a rebuttal is included in my comments. The words 'Ponzi Scheme' are so obviously wrong I would remove them if it was my post - there just nothing in the world that can support that. And 'pump and dump' in a rising market is equally nonsensical.

But I'm glad you responded - although you really owe your readership some explanation of the claims you made, and your opinion on the underlying idea of an anonymous digital cash equivalent. If you were more comfortable with the implementation, would you support it as a worthwhile undertaking?

And Mt Gox was an exchange - the failings of the exchange have exactly ZERO to do with the failings (or lack thereof) of the commodity they are trading. Surely you'd acknowledge that?

You DO understand that when you say hackers have stolen a lot of Bitcoins, that's not a datapoint on the usefulness of Bitcoins, right? Hackers have stolen thousands of times more US dollars, but you don't argue that that makes dollars unsound as a medium of exchange. Why not?

And when you mock the lack of inherent value in a Bitcoin, you actually sound like the Ayn Rand libertarian fanboi you mock. They say the same thing - accurately - about green pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them. It's their primary argument against 'fiat currency' and for gold.

And speaking of fiat currency - can you discuss the difference between the Bitcoin mining scheme and a government printing press? They're both producing currency out of nothing - what we call fiat money. Since a digital currency MUST by definition be, well, digital, that's what a printing press looks like...

mikey said...

A response at Consider the Source:

Mitch said...

Perhaps relevant: