Only 16 days into the new year, I find myself having lost a ton of money. Even worse, if you take recent headlines at face value, the bursting bitcoin bubble will only cause more pain. Nothing seems to be going right for cryptocurrencies. So why then am I writing this article and not preparing myself to jump off a tall building sans parachute?
For one thing, it’s about having the proper perspective. As investors, we have to accept the fact that as we dial up the reward potential, we’re dialing up risk. No one wants to lose money, of course, but let’s look at it this way: Whether you got burnt by the bitcoin bubble or a no-name junior gold mining stock, the consequences are the same.
Another point is that I didn’t jump on cryptocurrencies yesterday. If you’ve followed my work, you know that I initially discussed the blockchain well before bitcoin went berserk. Even so, I was personally surprised at how quickly bitcoin breached five-digits. InvestorPlace contributor Will Ashworth wrote on Oct. 12, 2017, that bitcoin will hit $10,000 by the following October.
It hit the mark a month-and-a-half later.
Here’s additional context. From the time Ashworth wrote his piece until the five-digit milestone, the bitcoin price almost doubled. The digital token doubled again on Dec. 17 when it briefly breached $20,000. Granted, the December gains are lost, but it had to be. A perpetually rising market doesn’t exist, blockchain or no blockchain.
I genuinely understand the frustration with cryptocurrencies as I’m in the same boat. The difference is that I’m not panicking, and I’m listing out the reasons why.
Cryptocurrencies Overreacting to South Korea and China
The impetus behind the bursting of the bitcoin bubble is China. The communist country is threatening to shut down cryptocurrencies altogether, to which I say, what else is new?
This is a country that used to crack down on families having more than one child. Their government also cracked down on Christian ministries promoting peace, love and understanding. In my view, China’s government has zero credibility, and particularly zero moral leverage to enact their draconian policies.
As it pertains to bitcoin, fear directly inspired China’s latest persecution. Chinese investors know that their domestic currency and their economic infrastructure is in big trouble. They’ve been seeking any and every way to convert their wealth into something stable. Ever wonder why you can’t afford a house today? It’s the Chinese money outflow.
Cryptocurrencies represent a convenient way to convert renminbi to a store of wealth; hence, the bitcoin bubble. But what’s presently under attack in the markets is Chinese speculation, not the blockchain’s core fundamentals.
More alarming is South Korea, which is taking a page out of China’s playbook. Supposedly, South Korea is a free, democratic nation, but it’s acting rather tyrannical lately, similar to its belligerent northern neighbor. But their government’s threats to take down cryptocurrencies is more bark than bite.
The only people that will hurt are South Korean investors. According to a recent survey, 30% of Korean workers invested in at least one cryptocurrency. Moreover, the average Korean investor owns $5,260 worth of cryptocurrencies, which is a pretty staggering amount. In the U.S., only about a quarter of Americans intend to buy any digital token.
Besides hurting their own citizenry, an outright government crackdown would send Korean crypto investors to arch nemesis Japan, which is extremely friendly toward cryptocurrencies.
You Have to Take the Bad with the Good
While most mainstream critics are freaking out over the bitcoin price, we have to remember that cryptocurrencies represent free markets. True, nothing is ever completely free and transparent, but the blockchain is as practically close as we’ll get. This has both pros and cons.
Bitcoin Pros: The advantages should be patently obvious by now. With 24-hour global trading, you’re essentially on an accelerated time platform relative to traditional markets, which have set schedules. Not only can you trade when you want, wherever you want, price discovery is occurring constantly. You can, and will experience dramatic profitability.
Bitcoin Cons: Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. What traditional market participants would term severe, catastrophic losses occur with initially disconcerting frequency. That’s just part and parcel the crypto sector. One day, you’re planning a trip around the world; the next, you’re wailing over the bursting of the bitcoin bubble.
We don’t have the luxury of a plunge protection team. In the long run, it’s better this way.
One of the main reasons why cryptocurrencies have been so successful is decentralization. If you think about it, money is incredibly discriminatory. We largely only value currencies issued in the northern hemisphere’s upper trenches.
But bitcoin has no nationality, and the bitcoin price is independent of central bank management. Essentially, the people decide what it’s ultimately worth. Some cryptocurrencies have tremendous potential. Most are crap. However, you have the luxury of making that decision without the nanny state deciding it’s way past your bedtime.
Free Markets Have Their Price
Of course, this freedom comes with a price. Cryptocurrencies are incredibly volatile. But don’t forget that they have to be. You’re not trading against fellow Americans who share your same culture and principles. Instead, you’re quite literally going up against the world.
Does this mean that you’re trading in a platform that unscrupulous individuals use? Absolutely! Let’s not kid ourselves, though. Terrorists, drug smugglers and gun runners love unmarked hundred-dollar bills. That doesn’t mean Benjamin Franklin was a bad guy.
If you decide to jump in, just know that both facts and rumors can swing your portfolio wildly. The bitcoin bubble bursting is a direct result of untapped, unmitigated human emotions constantly impacting the bitcoin price. Many days, you will feel like you’re in heaven. This week, it feels like the other place.
Ultimately, I’m confident that cryptocurrencies represent the future. We once lived in an era where humans verbally communicated with each other. Today, texting and emailing is all the rage. Older generations may not understand this trend, but it works. Similarly, we’ll eventually enjoy a future where investing happens anytime, anywhere.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto is long bitcoin.