Badmouthing Bitcoin

The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Bloomberg and CNBC picked up on the less-than-positive reviews of Bitcoin as an investment asset by well-known, traditional investment players. Two made splashy headlines this past week: Howard Marks has a history of seeing long-term gaps between value and opportunity  – and has made billions exploiting them. Francisco Blanch is a long-time currency analyst for Merrill Lynch.

Such criticism is nothing new to the Bitcoin community and both were met with little more than a yawn by insiders. Likely unrelated, but still on point to Mr. Marks’ arguments, Brad Feld posted, “Money is a Consensual Hallucination”. BlockIntel’s very own cofounder, Brandon Thomas, responded with a counterargument to Blanch’s position.


Understanding cryptocurrencies and the broader blockchain ecosystem is difficult. That is why BlockIntel exists! We are spending 100% of our time learning and more fully understanding this extremely complex space. You cannot enter the space, spend a few days or even a few months researching it, and expect to arrive at a sound judgement of where this is heading, no matter what your experience or level of intelligence might be.

That being said, the more people who are rooted in the non-blockchain world who then enter the space, the better for all involved. Even though some analyses might not capture key attributes of the technology, outside, traditional perspective has tremendous value overall. Take Blanch’s analysis: though we believe his dour conclusions were misplaced, he rightly articulates several weaknesses in the current Bitcoin system that limit its ability to function as a currency in traditional markets. His “big miss” is the fact that there is nothing preventing Bitcoin from adjusting as it matures (and as it does, much of his criticism will be rendered void). With such criticisms articulated, several of the weaknesses he identified rightly need to be (and will be) addressed over time.

Bottom line: Blockchain is still in its infancy and remains a very dynamic and complex technology to understand and harness.  Everything is additive, including less-than-in-depth analyses by traditional actors, as we have seen here.

The Bitcoin Fork: As some of you no doubt heard, a group forked the Bitcoin protocol yesterday to create Bitcoin Cash. There has been a long-simmering difference of opinion over the future primary use case of Bitcoin: is it gold (i.e. a long term store of value) or is it cash (i.e. a global replacement for fiat currency)?

Our take is that it can be both. Such events are dramatic (and make good fodder for mainstream news coverage), but immaterial until proven out. Digging deeper to understand the who, what and why is likely not a good use of your time at this juncture. Just like hype, don’t get caught up in the drama!

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