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The value of Bitcoins has exploded. Again.
FT Alphaville takes you through the latest news as well as the history of Bitcoin, and also we get a bit philosophical about what it all means. Jump in and join the discussion!
We referenced the obvious similarities between the oil market and the Bitcoin market — specifically with regards to cost of production and capital intensity preventing a competitive threat to Opec — in our previous post.
In a fortunate coincidence, John Kemp at Reuters today directs his readers to the myth-busting 2004 work of former MIT professor Morris Adelman, who compellingly argued against the “oil is running out, prices can only go up” thesis. Read more
Bitcoin prices are in retreat, seeming to suffer from the triple whammy of a Chinese crackdown, ongoing repercussions of the MT.Gox implosion as well as the IRS deciding that miners will not be immune to tax in the US.
Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, the LA-based man that Newsweek alleged on Thursday was the probable creator of the Bitcoin protocol, denied all involved in an AP interview — but the plot continues to thicken.
Surprise, surprise — the user is claiming that the man featured in the Newsweek article is not Satoshi Nakamoto.
At this stage, one has to ask what’s really preventing the real Satoshi from revealing his true identity and claiming his fortune? (And there are reports that the bitcoins associated with Satoshi are already on the move on Friday.) Read more
Tech billionaire and bitcoin investor Marc Andreessen says Mt Gox is to bitcoin what MF Global is to the dollar.
But before we get to that, we’d like to explore revelations that it may not have been a malleability issue, a.k.a. a transaction doppelganging problem, that brought down the world’s premier bitcoin exchange but the much more common problem of “under-capitalisation”. It’s a common problem of banks and ponzi schemes everywhere. Read more
How to handle bad news, by public relations guru and propaganda expert Edward Bernays from his book Propaganda (1928):
The counsel on public relations must be in a position to deal effectively with rumours and suspicions, attempting to stop them at their source, counteracting them promptly with correct or more complete information through channels which will be most effective, or best of all establish such relationships of confidence in the concern’s integrity that rumours and suspicions will have no opportunity to take root.
A single factory, potentially capable of supplying a whole continent with its particular product, cannot afford to wait until the public asks for its product; it must maintain constant touch, through advertising and propaganda, with the vast public in order to assure itself the continuous demand which alone will make its costly plant profitable.
Bitcoin may be many things: a cheaper and more efficient payments mechanism, a decentralised form of QE, an extreme way to break through the ZLB, a worthy private substitute for cash, an opportunity to stick it to the man or even a speculative investment opportunity of a lifetime.
What it isn’t, however, is a fair distribution of income.
Here’s a crazy thought to start the New Year year with. What if virtual currencies were born less of an organic anti-government peoples’ movement and more of extreme unconventional monetary policy by the state? The ultimate central bank Jedi mind trick if you will, which takes easing to levels that conventional policy just cannot go.
But even if it’s not a plan hatched directly by monetary bodies to serve the interests of the state, there’s still a strong argument to be made that virtual currencies could be doing the Fed, the BoE and even the ECB a big favour. Read more
Or something like it. We’re not, after all, physicists. Though, feel free to read about the Hubble Bubble theory here. What we probably should be referring to is Hubble’s flow, the rate at which expansion of the universe occurs.
All of which is a whimsical way of suggesting that perhaps Larry Summers has a point. Perhaps bubbles are part of our collective universal nature? A phenomenon that should be embraced as an unstoppable physical force, one that will find a way no matter what.
The proof is out there if we look hard enough. Latest manifestation: Bitcoin.
If we go with that notion, then perhaps inflating asset bubbles one after the other isn’t such a bad idea. Perhaps it’s even necessary? Read more
Some are betting that Beijing will eventually endorse Bitcoin. This week Lightspeed Venture Partners of San Francisco and a China-based sister fund announced a $5m investment in BTCChina…
– Financial Times, November 22
An interesting thing happened on the way to Sheep Marketplace — the online market for illicit goods which rose to prominence after Silk Road, the dominant site for illicit goods trading, was apprehended by the Feds in October.
The interesting thing is not that after a couple of months in the limelight the site closed down because a hacker allegedly made off with $5m worth of Bitcoins. Nor is it that the Bitcoin community failed to buy the story because they noticed that all withdrawals from the site were being blocked by the site’s operators — promptly branding the entire website a scam from the beginning.
What is interesting are the “capital controls” the community is now effectively enforcing on the Bitcoin wallet address they suspect is responsible for the theft. In fact, an entire community of Bitcoin vigilantes has sprung up on the Reddit website, dedicating themselves to chasing the money across the open peer-based Bitcoin ledger. Read more
We noted that the shift from Bitcoin into other crypto alternatives, which give early adopters a better chance at pilfering wealth from suckers, had already begun.
A couple of things worth noting, for those interested in the virtual pump-and-dump campaign that is Bitcoin.
1) The Chinese Bitcoin premium has seemingly abated. Read more
When things get too expensive, imperfect substitutes become increasingly appealing.
It happened to oil with natgas and shale. It happened to gold with copper and silver. Now it seems to be happening with Bitcoin as well.
So while Bitcoin traded through $1,000 on Wednesday (depending on which exchange or service you use to acquire Bitcoin: it was $1,035 on MTGox, $922 on BTC-e at pixel time), more interesting is the recent surge that’s taking place in the value of alternative crypto currency Litecoin: Read more
In a bid to brush off criticisms that we don’t know what we’re talking about, FT Alphaville decided to take the plunge this weekend and buy some dreaded Bitcoins to check out claims that BTC really is an efficient payments system.
We had approximately $10 to spend. Read more
More evidence is emerging in the case against Ross Ulbricht, the alleged criminal mastermind behind the Silk Road illicit goods digital marketplace and keeper of the Dread Pirate Roberts pseudonym.
Court filings refer to computer files seized by the Feds that show, amongst other things, that Ulbricht was a meticulous bean-counter with a tendency to account for assets and liabilities as exotic and incriminating as hacker bribes and server rent. Read more
Bitcoin had its day in front of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs 0n Monday, promptly roofing the price to over $900 per BTC on the back of the hearing, then crashing by 30 per cent and then recovering once again.
At pixel time the crypto currency was fetching about $690 on the MTGox exchange, with the community no doubt preparing for another day of extreme volatility. Read more
So the Feds have finally busted Silk Road, the digital black-market platform which happily brokered everything from LSD and cannabis to heroin and computer-hacking services online, most frequently in exchange for the crypto-currency Bitcoin.
The value of which did take a beating, but perhaps not as much as might have been expected: Read more
Kate and her friends discovered they could magic cash out of nearly nothing, simply by building bitcoin mining machines housed in plastic crates and letting them do their money-making stuff. She then learned about the world of virtual stock exchanges…. Read more
The Telegraph’s Willard Foxton notes the online black market portal Silk Road has been experiencing some serious outages the last few days. The problems may be linked to a hacker and extortion attempt. The portal, rather ironically for an illicit website, is now offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is behind the attempt.
Though Silk Road has been experiencing other problems too, not least the hyperdeflationary effects of the Bitcoin rally: Read more
If the meteoric rise and fall of the cyber crypto currency Bitcoin this month teaches us anything, it’s the degree to which a market can be influenced by internet hysteria, viral marketing and propaganda.
There is no intrinsic value to a Bitcoin. Read more