Tag Archives: store of value

Bitcoin as a Store of Value: Part 2

Earlier in the year we provided an analysis of Bitcoin’s role and potential as a Store of Value.  One can find that analysis at the following link:

https://cryptortrust.com/2016/06/28/bitcoin-as-a-store-of-value-where-1-really-adds-up/

Prior to catching up on where we stand currently, let’s review a definition of the term Store of Value so we clearly understand the intent here.  This is how Wikipedia defines Store of Value:

store of value is the function of an asset that can be saved, retrieved and exchanged at a later time, and be predictably useful when retrieved. The most common store of value in modern times has been money, currency, or a commodity like gold, or financial capital.

The definition of Store of Value as a function is certainly easy enough to understand, but let’s not confuse simplicity with lack of significance.  An effective Store of Value needs to be easily and seamlessly retrieved, exchanged at a later time, and predictably useful when one does retrieve it for use.  Discussions over practical use and what is most likely to happen in a world dominated by technology and mobile connectivity can easily lead to a comparison of Bitcoin and gold and silver as a Store of Value.

Critics of Bitcoin tend to refer to how gold and silver continue to withstand the test of time and “hold their value”.  That is true.  The physical piece of metal, assuming it is not fake, will always retain some level of value.  However, it is more important to consider which options that we have now will perform the best as Stores of Value moving forward rather than the past performance and history of precious metals. 

Given that, let’s compare the performances of Bitcoin, gold, and silver as Stores of Value measured in USD and going back to September 1, 2015.  We will compare the price action from this date because in middle to late August of 2015 the PBOC (People’s Bank of China, or China’s “Central Bank”) started to very clearly and publicly reveal its intentions to devalue the Yuan.  Although we understand that nations always have and always will engage in “currency wars”, this verbal and written action by the PBOC ratcheted up the intensity.  We can see this is indeed the case simply by looking at the Yuan versus USD and the Yuan versus a basket of currencies representing China’s top trading partners since this time.

Here is the performance of each denominated in USD since 9/1/2015:

Bitcoin +305%

Gold +3%

Silver +9%

Naturally after major moves in prices people tend to ask if it is “too late” or if they “missed out” on an opportunity.  This raises the question of whether it is “too late” to effectively use Bitcoin as a Store of Value and where we are in terms of this entire experience with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general.  In short, how much potential still exists for the market value of Bitcoin to rise substantially?

This analysis contends that we are still very, very early in the game fully understanding that Bitcoin has been operational since 2009.  Bitcoin enthusiasts, early adopters, blockchain techie experts, and VCs tend to express frustration over a “lack of killer apps” or the purported failure of Bitcoin to “go mainstream”.  We will analyze what killer apps may appear next in another piece but regardless there is still an absolutely enormous amount of potential for Bitcoin to continue performing exceptionally well as a Store of Value.  In fact, this analysis contends it is likely that the “killer app” of Bitcoin will remain Store of Value for the foreseeable future because it has the most direct and significant impact on human nature and hence economic behavior.  Applications for the use of Bitcoin will continue to emerge but there is certainly nothing wrong with Bitcoin “only” being used by most as a Store of Value for the time being.

Part 1 of our discussion of Bitcoin as a Store of Value looked at merely 1% penetration of massive pools of funds such as bank deposits in China and global FX daily trading volume.  Obviously those factors are still present, but let’s veer into another couple of topics that could also play a strengthening role in the very near future.  An emerging battle between Bitcoin and gold, looming Bitcoin ETF approvals at the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), and the extremely intense battle against cash are three spaces that could very well shine bright lights on Bitcoin over the next several months and beyond.

Given the price performances noted above it is natural and highly likely that more and more people and investment professionals start to at least consider trimming exposure to precious metals and initiating exposure to Bitcoin.  Gold topped in 2011 and has been in a bear market since with the typical bear market rallies elevating levels of hope that “this time is different” and gold will soon instantaneously vault to $5,000/oz or $10,000/oz.  Perhaps gold will enter a new bull market at some point but the reality is that over the last 12, 24, 36, and 72 month periods, gold’s performance falls well short of that of Bitcoin.  Globally about $7 Trillion is stored in gold.  The GLD ETF stores about $30 Billion and there are several other ETFs related to gold or gold miners.  Bitcoin currently stores around $15 Billion.  As more people ask why they should not shift at least some funds oriented around gold into Bitcoin the size of the potential funds moving could substantially impact Bitcoin’s market value.

This analysis will not speculate on if or when either of the two pending ETFs for Bitcoin will or will not gain approval from the SEC.  Chances are that at some point there will be a way for individuals and institutions to gain exposure to Bitcoin through the status quo channels if only because of the desire of the establishment to profit from Bitcoin.  However, the key here is the potential for institutions to be able to enter into significant Bitcoin positions via an ETF eventually.  Currently there is no seamless and direct way for professional money managers to gain exposure to Bitcoin using OPM (“Other People’s Money”).  In most cases the charters and regulations governing their funds place very strict controls on what they can and can’t buy.  If institutions could quickly direct seven and eight figure sums into Bitcoin or even more this would have an enormous impact on Bitcoin’s market value in both directions.  People may not completely understand and absorb that unlike gold or silver money managers moving very large sums of funds can’t simply buy a large chunk of Bitcoin with the click of a mouse or phone call.  Professional money managers crave and need Alpha (the delta or difference between their AUM and fund’s performance and its benchmark).  Don’t be shocked if Bitcoin ETFs are used to try and generate Alpha.  This is a potential stimulus that is still sitting out there as a future catalyst.

Venezuela.  India.  Australia.  Pakistan.  These are not tiny countries with miniscule populations in the grand scheme of things.  Venezuela and India already banished certain bank notes literally at the drop of a hat and instantly created even more havoc for their citizens and economies.  Australia and Pakistan announced plans to do the same in the near future.  It is very obvious that this is not a crazy, hypothetical scenario and that Central Banks are and will continue their battle against physical cash (to see our prior analysis click here: https://cryptortrust.com/2016/07/07/real-reason-for-cash-ban-and-why-it-will-only-boost-bitcoin/ ).  Banning cash will only push more people into using Bitcoin as a Store of Value and even a Medium of Exchange as well.

Despite the exceptional performance of Bitcoin since 2009 as a Store of Value relative to all major currencies, we are still very early in the game.  The current market value of Bitcoin is a microscopic drop in the bucket in the global tsunami of fiat and liquidity sloshing around.  We have not yet even seen the impact institutions can have on Bitcoin and the War on Cash is just entering the tornado phase.  Shifting 10% of the $7 Trillion stored in gold currently is $700 Billion.  How high can Bitcoin’s market value ultimately rise over time?  We can’t answer that definitively.  How much DEBT IN TRANSIT (state sponsored, Central Bank issued fiat currency) can be exchanged for Bitcoin?

Stay focused on the basic fundamentals:

SCARCITY

STORE OF VALUE

UNIT OF ACCOUNT

MEDIUM OF EXCHANGE

PORTABLE

FUNGIBLE

DIVISIBLE

HARD TO COUNTERFEIT

EASY TO STORE

David Young

The Big Diversion to Make You Forget Bitcoin

Most people likely agree that Mahatma Gandhi knew a thing or two about perseverance.  Gandhi offered this to say which can certainly relate to fighting for and standing up for a monumental change you believe in:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

It is plausible that Bitcoin will have a much greater impact on humanity over time than that of the internet, but it is difficult to argue that the internet ever faced as many attacks as Bitcoin has and continues to face.  The attacks started out rather superficial and well, obvious, but this analysis surmises that they eventually became indirect, obtuse, and something one might see in an episode of the excellent TV series “Blacklist”.  Entrenched, status quo hugging opponents of anything that can increase economic and political freedom moved past the uneducated and flimsy attacks on Bitcoin to intentionally developing alternatives that are in part designed to slow or impede the adoption of Bitcoin.

The people and organizations behind private and permissioned blockchains, central bank backed cryptocurrencies, and AltCoins may very well truly stand behind their offerings and this analysis is open to that reality.  However, one can’t help but explore that one of the primary motives of these people and organizations is to simply present something, anything really, that will create distractions, fear of Bitcoin, and doubts about Bitcoin with the intent of slowing or even blocking the adoption of Bitcoin.

blythemastersblockchain

Private Blockchains to the Rescue

Let’s start with private and permissioned blockchains.  Those supporting private and permissioned blockchains are essentially running with these marketing points:

  • Bitcoin has tremendous features but you don’t need Bitcoin
  • Come join us with our private and permissioned blockchain because it’s better and did we say it is “private” and “proprietary”?
  • We can get other firms on board to help us secure our private and permissioned blockchain so don’t worry about scaling or security or any of that stuff
  • You don’t need Bitcoin but you really need the underlying technology supporting Bitcoin so just join our consortium and we will tell you what to do and how to do it

It’s not that crazy to think that the world’s major financial institutions would throw a few hundred million dollars of “VC money” into ventures that are promoting private and permissioned blockchains for the financial markets.  These companies rely on the Federal Reserve’s printing press to bail them out in times of extreme stress, lend them money at 0% or close to 0%, and use the Federal Reserve Note to fleece the global economy and its participants.  What’s a few hundred million if it can buy you a few years while people get lost and bogged down in the private, permissioned blockchains versus Bitcoin debate?   That’s pocket change to the Primary Dealers of the Federal Reserve System.

Speaking of private, permissioned blockchains – can anyone actually point one out that is operational and functional?   It remains to be seen if these initiatives ever move beyond vaporware.  More importantly, it perhaps merits close watching to see if the entities involved can trust each other and provide more security than that is provided by the open and public Bitcoin blockchain.   We are already seeing an escalating patent war where various financial firms are attempting to claim intellectual property on various “blockchain” features and technologies.

Let’s also not forget about immutability – one of the most crucial aspects of Bitcoin.  Some may complain about the work and investments required for proof of work and immutability but the whole point is to record and store transactions permanently.  There are numerous cases of banks and financial institutions pleading guilty to various crimes and forms of fraud.  One can imagine these banks controlling a private blockchain utilizing all of their creativity and deception so that they can go back and alter records to cover up more fraud and criminal activity.  Immutability is a tremendous asset and not a liability.  However, it is a major threat if your business model relies on fraud.

fedwhycrypto

 

Behold FedCoin!!!

At least a few Central Banks joined the financial news cycle by touting an upcoming government cryptocurrency or revealing plans to develop their own cryptocurrency.  “FedCoin” is on its way if we are to believe everything the media tells us.  For any Central Bank or government to deploy their own cryptocurrency a potential question to ask perhaps is the following:  Who is going to mine the FedCoin and who is going to support the mining infrastructure for the FedCoin?  Some may respond with “not to worry the Fed will simply print Federal Reserve Notes and pay for the mining itself”.  That argument begs the question of how on Earth this highly centralized FedCoin could possibly protect itself from constant hacks and theft if it literally had all of the mining centralized under the Fed’s watch.  The other major issue is if FedCoin strived for decentralization who would deploy their own hard earned money and assets to build and support mining infrastructure for a cryptocurrency owned and controlled by the Fed or another Central Bank.  That is akin to paying a retainer fee to your bank and credit card to show your support for their fleecing of your assets via fees, usury, and inflation.  It won’t happen.

bitcoincrashfederalreserve

“FedCoin” or any government backed cryptocurrency will also have to answer the bell on inflation versus deflation and how and who controls the supply of the coins.  Will a “FedCoin” cap the number of coins that will ever exist?  If they stated a cap will anyone believe them?  How will Central Banks and governments even function if they have to adhere to hard restrictions on the creation of new monetary units?

Crypto Pump and Dump

AltCoins are another very interesting part of the saga surrounding cryptocurrencies in general.  The premise that dozens if not hundreds or thousands of AltCoins could in theory exist to support various use cases or niches seems fairly reasonable but there is also the nagging issue of scale and the network effects.  If very few people use an AltCoin and its trading lacks liquidity it will be very hard for that AltCoin to ultimately succeed.  The reality is more likely that most of the current AltCoins will fail due to lack of use and liquidity and others will come and go over time as well.  That said, there are AltCoins that appear to have genuine intent and motivations supporting them.

The bigger challenge with AltCoins is when there is some type of a profit motivation behind the development of the AltCoin by a closed group of early participants.  Anyone or any group is free to develop what they choose and the market is also free to judge the offering.  Some of the AltCoins making it onto the scene really smell like “pump and dump” schemes and almost like the IPO fever of the internet bubble era when hundreds of companies scrambled to become a Dot Com so they could rush through an IPO.  If it looks too good to be true . . . . . . . .

ethereumsplits

Any AltCoin that is cryptic about how much pre-mining took place or how much supply of the coins currently exists or will exist or how that is controlled deserves extra vigilant scrutiny.  What are they hiding?  One of Bitcoin’s best features is that despite the existence of large holders of Bitcoin present for years now, there is not a legion of private corporations that claim to “own” Bitcoin or own or control the “Bitcoin blockchain”.  Bitcoin is an open architecture.  There are AltCoins that essentially launch an IPO after a select group of insiders controls a chunk of the coins while simultaneously not being entirely clear about the protocols or potential supply of coins.

The same argument regarding immutability and proof of work noted above regarding private and permissioned blockchains applies to Altcoins as well.  We already have examples of Altcoins making major structural changes after certain initiatives failed to gain traction or perform as desired or expected.  This makes it extremely difficult to gain trust and dedication to investment in a surrounding ecosystem and infrastructure.  Comparing the development around the Bitcoin protocol to that of Altcoins demonstrates how ecosystems are much more likely to grow and mature around an open and trustworthy architecture.

Crazy Theory or The Obvious Truth?

Although some may scoff at this analysis as a “conspiracy theory” the author finds it quite plausible and even highly likely.  The heavily entrenched incumbents and associated “governments” controlling the existing financial system continue to show the world they will ruthlessly commit fraud and engage in criminal behavior while also using currencies as weapons that can impoverish victim nations.  It seems quite feasible that if they discovered stopping Bitcoin in its tracks was not possible, they would simply try other strategies.

History outlines quite clearly that humans will create any scheme or business plan possible to exploit transformational changes as we are seeing right now with Altcoins.  Entrenched incumbents will deploy any strategy possible to delay or impede the adoption of revolutionary technological changes, and this is what we are seeing with private and permissioned blockchains.  “Extend and Pretend” and “Delay and Pray” are two of the strategies powerful incumbents frequently deploy when challenged.  Take that into consideration when evaluating if the world has even seen before something as powerful as Bitcoin that threatens so many incumbents while also offering so much opportunity for others to exploit either ethically or deceitfully.  Also consider that the people and organizations referred to in this analysis could also seek to impede Bitcoin’s progress so that they themselves could accumulate more Bitcoin as a hedge.  If you can’t beat Bitcoin or stop it perhaps your only option is to delay its eventual domination.

David Young