Wall Street is divided and unsure about bitcoin.
The equity analysts at Macquarie appear to side with Gorman’s centrist position and disagree with Dimon’s comparison to the tulip bubble.
“The big difference between today’s cryptocurrencies and (say tulips) is that even though Bitcoin price could be reflecting extreme speculation, it is built on a durable technology that is likely to continue to evolve and strengthen,” said Viktor Shvets, Macquarie’s head of global and Asia-Pacific equity strategy, in a note Thursday.
He continued, and there were shots fired:
“If one describes Bitcoin as a fraud, how would one describe a ‘financial cloud’ that is at least 4x-5x larger than the underlying economies? It is unlikely that US$400 trillion+ of financial instruments circulating around the world would ever be repaid and most are now backed by assets that are already either worthless or are diminishing in value. How does one describe rates and the yield curve that are either directly determined by CBs (BoJ or PBoC) or heavily influenced by them (Fed or ECB)? People living in glass houses should not throw stones.”
Shvets said cryptocurrencies “absolutely” have a role in investment portfolios. Like gold, they’re insurance policies against the depreciation of fiat currencies, he said.
But he added that cryptocurrencies account for less than 1% of cash in circulation, leaving the dollar as the primary global reserve currency for a while. He added that bitcoin, unlike paper currency, is not yet widely accepted as a store of value and is very unstable. For example, the cryptocurrency plunged by as much as 14% in the 10 days after Dimon’s comments; it had rebounded and was roughly flat by Thursday, near $4,209 per bitcoin.
Shvets sees consumers and businesses using a mix of different sovereign currencies and cryptocurrencies, and carrying out more transactions through technologies like blockchain.
“The challenge facing central banks is that although cryptocurrencies are today a tiny portion of the overall money pool, the nature of monetary economy is rapidly changing and central banks would have no choice but to adjust,” he said.