Whether Bitcoin is a Fraud Or Not

Forbes: Bitcoin is a fraud because, much like government money, it has no fixed value.  Because it doesn’t it’s become an investment, or a speculation, as opposed to a measure that facilitates trade and investment.  Sorry Bitcoin enthusiasts, your coin is not money.  Money is a stable measure, while Bitcoin’s value bounces around.  While some are free to view it as a refuge from the U.S. Treasury and other monetary authorities, it’s incorrect to call it money.  Dimon is again half right.  He’d be 100% right if he acknowledged that the dollar similarly has fraudulent qualities for its value – like that of Bitcoins – constantly moving around.  That money is no longer stable in terms of value runs counter to the correct thinking of Classical economic thinkers, and Austrians too.

Bloomberg: Dimon compared bitcoin to tulips, which is accurate, though not in the way he intended. Popular notions of the 17th century Dutch Tulipmania are derived from an 1841 book “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds,” by a fact- and logic-challenged journalist named Charles Mackay.  Mackay confused two distinct eras. He reports stories from around 1610 about high prices paid for individual bulbs. What he failed to realize is that people were not paying for single flowers, but for the entire breeding stock — or a significant portion of it — of popular new tulip varieties. People have continued to pay higher inflation-adjusted prices for new tulip and lily bulbs to this day.

A quarter century later, a futures market grew up around fractional interests in low-priced, ordinary tulip bulbs. In premodern Europe investment returns were very high, 20 percent or 30 percent per year on low risk investments, but laws and customs prevented anyone not in the merchant class from taking advantage.

Holland accidentally created a loophole by allowing contracts for fractional interests in tulip bulbs for the convenience of the industry. These were needed because the price of popular new bulbs was higher than even rich individuals could afford. In the early 1630s ordinary people discovered that these contracts could serve as money to support business and investment. These contracts then became “monetized,” as happens to all assets used as bases for monetary activity. That means their value decoupled from the use value of the underlying asset and became determined by demand for money services.

By 1637, contracts for fractional interests of low-priced tulip bulbs had risen to 20 times the price of the actual bulbs, reflecting the explosion of economic activity they stimulated. In February 1637, the market collapsed; six weeks later it was outlawed.

Something similar happened with bitcoin. People began using it in 2009 because it solved problems of the existing money and banking system: inflation, expropriation, taxes, use restrictions, financial repression and fees, especially for small and cross-border transactions. The economic value of these services serves as the underlying base of value, just like the value of tulip bulbs supported the tulip futures contracts. But bitcoin became monetized and its value far exceeds the current use value in transactions. Its value is now based on projected future need for protection against the problems it solves. If this be fraud, all money is fraud.

CNBC / John McAfee: Dimon on Tuesday called bitcoin a “fraud” that will eventually blow up. McAfee, whose company MGT Capital Investments mines the cryptocurrency, said he respects Dimon and people in his position “are not idiots,” but he challenged Dimon’s criticism.

“You called bitcoin a fraud,” McAfee told CNBC’s “Fast Money” on Wednesday. “I’m a bitcoin miner. We create bitcoins. It costs over $1,000 per coin to create a bitcoin. What does it cost to create a U.S. dollar? Which one is the fraud? Because it costs whatever the paper costs, but it costs me and other miners over $1,000 per coin. It’s called proof of work.”