Bitcoin's Rally Spurs Wall Street to Question Future of Gold
Comment of the Day

December 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin's Rally Spurs Wall Street to Question Future of Gold

This article by Eddie Spence and Yvonne Yue Li for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“The transparency in Bitcoin is helping drive a lot of interest,” said Lyle Pratt, an independent investor who owns Bitcoin. “Gold is kind of like a blackbox, you have to trust the custodians to tell you about any flows in the market.”

For Plurimi Wealth LLP’s Chief Investment Officer Patrick Armstrong, who allocates 6.5% of his discretionary funds into gold, even if Bitcoin has potentially bigger upside in an inflationary spiral, the risks are just too big. Gold also has a long history as a store of value that Bitcoin can’t match. There’s always the nagging suspicion that another, potentially central-bank backed, digital currency could supplant it.

“If the debasement trade works, it is very possible Bitcoin works better,” he said. “But it is also possible Bitcoin has no value in years to come, while I do not think the same can be said of gold.”

One thing that’s clear is Wall Street is taking Bitcoin seriously in a way that it didn’t in 2017. “I have changed my mind!” wrote Sanford C. Bernstein strategist Inigo Fraser-Jenkins in a report Monday. Bitcoin won’t replace gold, but there’s room for both, he said, especially if the future is one of inflation and extreme debt levels.

“I see it as being complementary,” he said in an interview. “Whatever one’s starting position was before the pandemic in terms of what your gold and crypto allocation should be, I think it should be materially larger now.”

Eoin Treacy's view

Many institutional investors missed out on the initial run-up in bitcoin prices and they are committed not to miss out on this one. The big inhibition for institutional money has been the question of custody. With so many examples of exchanges being robbed and even of an exchange CEO dying with the encryption key only committed to memory, there are obvious questions about the security of custody services. That issue was addressed when Fidelity began to offer custody services. Now that both Square and PayPal are offering transaction services, the perception of risk has been reduced but not eliminated.   

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