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Ron Insana: Bitcoin Has Little Chance at Ever Being Major Global Currency

Ron Insana: Bitcoin Has Little Chance at Ever Being Major Global Currency
(Ruslan Olinchuk/Dreamstime)

By    |   Thursday, 11 January 2018 05:06 PM

Economic guru Ron Insana warns savvy investors not to be duped by all the media hype surrounding the controversial digital currency bitcoin.

The CNBC and MSNBC contributor bluntly contends that bitcoin will never become a major global currency.

Bitcoin has taken the investing world by storm, surging to a high of more than $19,000 and created a divide on Wall Street about whether it is a legitimate financial instrument.

“Rather than seeing all these digital currencies as a small part of a larger system known as blockchain, I am predisposed to view them as just speculative tokens in a cryptocurrency bubble that has inflated more quickly than any other in financial market history,” Insana recently wrote for CNBC.com.

Concerns about a bubble in the bitcoin market have heightened since the currency soared to record highs of more than $19,000 in December - only to then slump more than 28 percent. Bitcoin was recently trading at $14,676, according to prices compiled by the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange.

“Bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum or litecoin, are cross-traded, just like on traditional foreign exchange markets, where dollars are priced in value against yen, euros, Swiss francs or Chinese yuan,” the author of four books on Wall Street explained.

“These exchanges are easy to pull up on a computer screen but not that easy to use. It's much easier to buy and sell dollars, stocks or commodities than it is to trade bitcoin and its brethren,” Insana wrote.

“If the dollar is archaic, as the crypto-enthusiasts believe, why not speak only in crypto-terms? Because the dollar remains the reserve currency of the globe. Its usage remains widespread, accounts for roughly 65 percent of all global economic transactions,” he wrote.

“The adoption of cryptocurrencies as a global source of funds has a long way to go before staking a claim to the world's economy,” he said.

“And unless, or until, the world starts transacting and measuring wealth in some alternative currency, the crypto-critics will likely have the upper hand, even if they haven't played that hand terribly well to date.”

Insana isn't alone in his skepticism about virtual coins. In fact, one of the most respected investors of all time also is very wary.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett said this week he will never invest in cryptocurrencies. “I can say almost with certainty that cryptocurrencies will come to a bad end,” Buffett told CNBC in an interview.

Buffett's comments came just a day after JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon told Fox Business Network that he regrets having called bitcoin a “fraud” but would still not be interested in the cryptocurrency.

Dimon, known for his candid comments, slammed the viability of bitcoin in September.

The currency isn’t going to work. You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that people who are buying it are really smart,” he had said at a conference.

The buzz generated by Dimon’s comments spurred more interest in the alt-currency. Bitcoin rose around 30 percent in one month following Dimon’s speech, where he also compared the currency to tulips bulbs in a reference to the famous market bubble from the 1600s.

Dimon's comments were followed by a more tempered view from Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake, who said the bank was "very open minded to the potential use cases in future for digital currencies that are properly controlled and regulated." (reut.rs/2mies8H)

Despite Dimon’s criticism, several banks, exchange operators and companies eagerly embraced bitcoin, sparking a spectacular rise in the ctyptocurrency.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate’s financial services panel will hold a hearing next month with the country’s top markets regulators to discuss bitcoin amid rising concerns over the risks cryptocurrencies pose to the financial system, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The Senate Banking Committee will take testimony from Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Christopher Giancarlo and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton in early February, the source said.

The SEC and the CFTC have been increasing their jurisdiction over the cryptocurrency market, which has no overriding U.S. federal regulator. Both watchdogs have warned of the considerable risks posed by the volatile currency and have said they may not be able to protect investors from cryptocurrency fraudsters.

The CFTC last month allowed CME Group Inc and CBOE Global Markets Inc to list bitcoin futures contracts, but this month said it would review its process for listing digital currency futures following criticism from market participants.

Five fund managers this week shelved plans to launch exchange-traded funds based on bitcoin futures, citing concerns from the SEC regarding the liquidity of the underlying futures market.

(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).

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Economic guru Ron Insana warns savvy investors not to be duped by all the media hype surrounding the controversial digital currency bitcoin.
ron insana, bitcoin, global, currency
Thursday, 11 January 2018 05:06 PM
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