Some perspective on the two “alternative currencies” – bullion and bitcoin -from the man who has run a hedge fund for 37 years and currently manages $23.3 billion, Elliott’s Paul Singer.
After 37 years in the investment-management business, we are not easily shocked. However, two things about bitcoin have shocked us recently. One is that bitcoin and some of its fellow alternative currencies are finding such favor among investors while gold (the only real alternative currency) is languishing. The second is that the most heated investment-related conversation we have had in many years was with a young person who, when told of our mild dubiousness toward bitcoin, basically lost it and started yelling in its defense. Bitcoin comes with passion and belief – at least at the moment.
There is no more reason to believe that bitcoin, a computer-generated, algorithm-driven currency of supposed limited supply, will stand the test of time than that governments will protect the value of government-created fiat money. One difference: Bitcoin is newer and we always look at babies with hope.
If you are looking for an alternative currency, look into gold. It has stood the test of thousands of years as a medium of exchange and a store of value. Better yet, it is not just a computer entry out in the ether somewhere, and it was last seen available at a good price.
Bitcoin and its relatives speak to understandable impulses (against big government, in favor of freedom and modernity), but we do not see this particular experiment lasting. At least you have to work really hard to dig gold out of the ground.