No Food for Thought

Bitcoin is Not Going To Zero, and more on blockchains

admin Saturday December 15, 2018

When a decade of geek madness about "cryptocurrencies" culminated in May, I wrote a public warning. Since then, the hype has finally moved, and I'm happy to see the critical view almost no one had the courage to explain during Peak Crypto now well described by a mainstream magazine:

Forbes wrote:
Most cryptocurrency transactions are purely speculative. There are no real fundamentals to evaluate; bitcoin doesn’t produce any products or services, hire any employees or pay any dividends. The only way profits are generated is when the owner is lucky enough to find someone else who will pay more for the thing. If you are getting into the bitcoin game now, you are paying the higher price that makes this whole scheme work. That’s not a distinction you want.

Unfortunately, that article's title also reinforces a misunderstanding which was a basis of that mad decade. Which brings me back to a discussion I had with a physiotherapist early this year, which was a large part of my motivation for going public. This sympathetic guy was not dumb, but he was telling me about the thousands of euros he had invested in "cryptocurrencies", and apparently trying to encourage me to join the party. He regretted not having invested more earlier, and all the money he could have made if he had. This guy had the best intentions, but was unintentionally hurting himself, and perhaps even his patients. I tried to warn him gently that "cryptocurrencies" had no value, but he countered that market valuation was exploding...

"Cryptocurrencies" have always been worthless. But since market valuation is based on trades, and since a buyer always believes what he buys has value, market value cannot - by definition - show the actual value of "assets" such as "cryptocurrencies". The market cap of "cryptocurrencies" is surely going to keep decreasing as more and more people lose their illusions, but it will never reach zero.

The article also has the merit of distinguishing blockchains from "cryptocurrencies". The blockchain technology probably has actual value. However, I need to warn about how the article treats the blockchain technology. Essentially, blockchains are a marketing invention made to portray Bitcoin as credible and ingenious. There is nothing novel or really interesting about blockchains. Most projects using them are either creations of scammers who wanted a credible way to attract investments from superficial investors, just like "cryptocurrencies", or a way for legitimate entrepreneurs with projects that don't need blockchains to convince easily impressed investors more easily. In fact, it turns out the blockchain technology is such a bubble that a study found it is almost always a disappointment.