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February 7, 2018 | Buttcoin

A best-selling Canadian author of 14 books on economic trends, real estate, the financial crisis, personal finance strategies, taxation and politics. Nationally-known speaker and lecturer on macroeconomics, the housing market and investment techniques. He is a licensed Investment Advisor with a fee-based, no-commission Toronto-based practice serving clients across Canada.

Pray for the moisters.

We now know one in five people who bought Bitcoins, the non-currency and digital sinkhole, did so on their credit cards. On Friday all major US card companies cut off crypto purchases. Simple reason – they think they won’t get paid back. Fair bet. Expect Canadian banks to do the same shortly.

This has helped propel Bitcoin from $20,000 US a pop down to $8,000 (it might be lower by the time I finish this sentence). ‘Investors’ who bought before Christmas, then came to this paleo, analog, 8-track, Cialis-addled site to tell us $100,000 was around the corner, have lost 60% of their cash. Now we know a fifth of them (at least) borrowed their entire investment. People who bought one coin in December for, say $15,000, have lost $7,000, still owe fifteen grand and are paying 19% on it. Isn’t leverage fun?

As stated before, it’s not different this time. Bitcoin, Ripple, Tether, Ethereum,. cryptos, blockchain – regardless of the life-altering aspects of non-fiat money and the technology behind it – are all destined to fail. Goldman now says the target is zero. We said it three months ago.

This is a lesson gambling vs investing. Bitcoin isn’t money, only a speculative play with zip backing it. Millions of newbies blew billions (much of it borrowed) chasing a speculative security because (a) it only went up, (b) gains were tax-free (they thought) and (c) BTC was cool, new, and, like, the future. People had similar thoughts in 1999, too, when the tech bubble was inflated with a rush into dot-com stocks. Even though the Internet clearly was the future, investors were handed their asses for speculating on companies with no profits and CEOs perched on skateboards. Being cool didn’t cut it.

So, Bitcoin and Wall Street melted down somewhat in tandem this past week. Similarities?

Nope. None. Equities have value when the companies underlying them are making money. These days they’re raking it in. Corporate profits are rising at near double-digit levels, even before the big US business tax cut comes into effect, swelling bottom lines. You can thank sustained growth in the US and a global economy on its way to 4% expansion this year – a dramatic recovery from five years ago. Commodity values are surging ahead as a result. So are wages. And inflation. And interest rates.

That’s why stock markets gained 25% last year. But Bitcoin exploded for a single reason – retail demand, from uneducated investors who thought it was out there plus an easy way to get rich without working. In fairness, stocks get ahead of themselves, too. The trip up was too fast, too far. A correction was overdue, and required to prevent a bigger mash-up later.

Over the last week equities were pummeled and gave up 10% of their value before stabilizing. The immediate reasons were rising rates and salaries which reduce corporate earnings, plus surging bond yields posing competition to stocks (since investors can earn without risk there). The p/e of equities (that’s the price of a stock expressed as a ratio of its profits) has come back in line with historic norms in the last few days, so it looks like green arrows ahead. Until the next correction.

Bitcoin and other cryptos, in contrast, will crash instead of correcting.

There is no underlying security or storehouse of value. No government’s power to tax supports them. The major exchanges where people buy and sell are shadowy, largely unregulated and laden with risk. The mechanism to get out can be cumbersome, and already the exits have become clogged. Losses to individual investors are gigantic – and cannot be claimed against income or capital gains. Even the scandalous credit card interest to finance the Bitcoin joyride ain’t tax-deductible. Sticking it to the Man comes with a stiff price, apparently.

If you want to recklessly invest in the future, buy into a 46-year-old guy with a mother from Regina who just hurled a convertible into orbit around the sun. He may blow up, too. But the world gains. And he’s funny.

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February 7th, 2018

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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