What Wall Street Said About Bitcoin in 2017
Is bitcoin in a bubble? Or will its price continue to increase through 2018?
Notable bankers, economists and investors have all weighed in over the past year. But views vary: some believe investors should hold their funds; but many have also sounded the alarm on bitcoin while expressing doubts on other cryptocurrencies.
One of the few who predicted the 2008 housing crisis, Peter Schiff, President and CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, may be a gold bull, but his love of hard money doesn’t extend to bitcoin. And while some people can benefit from bitcoin, the investment advisor does not expect most people to sell in time to do so.
He told CoinDesk on Aug. 17, when bitcoin was trading at $4,000:
“There’s certainly a lot of bullishness about bitcoin and cryptocurrency, and that’s the case with bubbles in general. The psychology of bubbles fuels it. You just become more convinced that it’s going to work. And the higher the price goes, the more convinced you become that you’re right. But it’s not going up because it’s going to work. It’s going up because of speculation.”
On Sept. 12, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase was speaking at a Barclays event when he doubled down on his criticism of bitcoin.
At the time, bitcoin was worth still around $4,000. Since then, he’s taken aim at bitcoin in a few more occasions, which sparked a wave of comments from Wall Street figures.
And the CEO said he’s now done talking about bitcoin.
“It’s a fraud … It’s worse than tulip bulbs. It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed.” – Dimon on Sept. 12
“Right now these crypto things are kind of a novelty. People think they’re kind of neat. But the bigger they get, the more governments are going to close them down.” – Dimon on Sept. 22.
“If you’re stupid enough to buy it, you’ll pay the price for it one day.” – Dimon on Oct. 13.
Ray Dalio, founder of the hedge fund firm Bridgewater Associates said in an interview on Sept. 19 that the speculation around bitcoin coupled with its lack of broad adoption are preventing it from becoming a true currency.
Bitcoin stayed at around $4,000 at the time.
“It’s not an effective storehold of wealth because it has volatility to it, unlike gold. Bitcoin is a highly speculative market. Bitcoin is a bubble.”
Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and perhaps the most notable figure of all listed here, called bitcoin “a real bubble” on Oct. 26 during a question-and-answer session he hosts every year.
At the time, bitcoin stayed close to the $5,700 mark.
“People get excited from big price movements, and Wall Street accommodates … You can’t value bitcoin because it’s not a value-producing asset.”
Yet the legendary hedge fund investor Bill Miller stood by a different view.
He doubled down on his belief in cryptocurrencies as his MVP1 fund had increased its weight on bitcoin and bitcoin cash to nearly 50 percent. In mid December, he said in a podcast that his fund bought in around 2013 and 2014 when the bitcoin price was at $350 in average. At that time, the bitcoin investment only accounted for 5 percent of the pool.
Miller also took aim at those who have criticized the cryptocurrency, including Warren Buffet and Jamie Dimon above. According to Miller, neither of them had fully thought the topic through.
“I’m highly confident to say that not one of them had actually studied it carefully,” he said during the podcast. “That is to say, they have strong opinions about something they haven’t really looked at.”
A former principal at Fortress Investment Group, long a fund with an interest in bitcoin, Mike Novogratz takes a more opportunistic approach.
While agreeing that bitcoin may have entered bubble territory in 2017, the billionaire investor announced on Sept. 26 he would launch a $500 million hedge fund focusing on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
Bitcoin climbed back to $3,000s that day after the tumble amidst China’s crack down on ICO.
“This is going to be the largest bubble of our lifetimes. Prices are going to get way ahead of where they should be. You can make a whole lot of money on the way up, and we plan on it.”
He has since called plans off for the fund, but remains bullish on the technology.