iNVEZZ.com, Wednesday 18 December:
Mark Williams, a risk management and capital markets professor at Boston University, is out with a bold call – he predicts that the price of one bitcoin will crash to $10 or even lower by the first half of 2014.
Williams is a risk management practitioner and academic with two decades of experience from working as a bank examiner at the US Federal Reserve to a commodities trading floor senior executive.
The finance professor observes that the buying and selling of the digital currency is “controlled by only a handful of exchanges in places like China, Slovenia and Bulgaria.” Exchange bankruptcies are not uncommon for the roller-coaster bitcoin market. In addition, the exchanges are based on a peer-to-peer model and regulation is virtually absent.
Bitcoin “has not been bear-market tested and if enough sellers try to run for the door it is not clear that existing infrastructure is capable of executing trade orders without significant time delays and price risk,” clarifies the former commodities trader.
Some bitcoin aficionados claim that the digital currency would replace the US dollar as the new global reserve currency, while others believe the digital form of money would provide a cheaper alternative to expensive payment platforms such as Western Union. “Adding more helium to the story, the Winklevoss twins of Facebook fame, not being shy about talking up their own book, predicted prices would rise to a staggering $40,000 per coin”, notes Williams
At the start of this month, bitcoin peaked at over $1,200 as “e-currency evangelists trumpeted the endless possibilities to be unleashed”. However, the price more than halved since then as the ‘Chinese regulatory pin’ burst the hyper bubble. In the view of the risk management expert, “the market has finally realized that hype alone cannot support lofty prices”.
Mark Williams then goes on to say that every asset bubble has three phases: “growth, maturity and pop”. He believes that 2013 was the maturity stage and we are now entering the time when the bubble pops. “Ironically, China, the second largest economy in the world, helped push Bitcoin prices to the clouds and now is pulling prices back to earth,” observes the former Fed bank examiner. In the last two weeks, the People’s Bank of China banned local banks from accepting the digital currency and then forbade third-party firms from transacting with bitcoin exchanges. In between the two announcement, Baidu, China’s Google equivalent, announced it would no longer accept bitcoins. Other major central banks and banking watch-dogs have taken a similar position like the PBoC, warning against the risks of the e-currency. All this has significantly complicated the state of affairs for those groups and individuals, who are still interested in bitcoin trading.
Williams then goes to proclaim that “if bitcoin was allowed to proliferate as a currency it would produce greater economic uncertainty, reduced trade and lower individual standard of living.” Retailers typically work on tight margins and the immense volatility of the e-currency could eliminate all their profit or even result in losses. In this bitcoin world of uncertainty and risk, commerce would ultimately decline and stone-age bartering would increase. “Naturally, as bitcoin price swings increased, the number of businesses willing to accept e-currency risk would decline”, assumes the former commodities trader.
“Bitcoin is not a legitimate currency but simply a risky virtual commodity bet”, argues the academic at Boston University. Even Winklevii’s call that it is a commodity currency may be unfounded because the wannabe currency does not have a tangible value like gold, which is a widely accepted alternative form of money.
Bitcoin is just backed by dreams and it is “only worth what people are willing to pay”, opines the former Fed bank examiner. “As it becomes increasingly evident that Bitcoin will not be the global currency standard, but simply a novel idea that will be improved upon by more nimble competitors such as Litecoin, restrictions and new regulations will be imposed and prices will plummet.”
“I predict that Bitcoin will trade for under $10 a share by the first half of 2014, single digit pricing reflecting its option value as a pure commodity play”, concludes Mark Williams.
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