Bitcoin’s Five (Big) Advantages Over Gold
By Michael A. Robinson, Defense + Tech Specialist, Money Morning · December 20, 2013
I strongly believe that everyone should own some physical gold. It’s been the store of value, and the preferred method of asset protection for more than 5,000 years. It’s irreplaceable.
But I also believe that every investor ought to own at least some of the new digital money known as bitcoin.
You see, most of the people buying bitcoin are interested in the explosive growth potential the new “currency” offers, as more and more retailers, CEOs, and governments embrace it.
But they’re getting more than that.
Bitcoin comes with some unique wealth preservation properties, too. And while it will never
replace the market’s most popular hedge, it does have five distinct advantages over gold…
No. 1: The Supply Is Absolutely Fixed
A lot of investors look on gold as a store of wealth because of the precious metal’s limited supply.
Actually, that’s really only true in the short term. Yes, there are only so many mines operating at any point in time, so the immediate supply remains fixed on any given day.
However, exploration teams are scouring the planet and finding new gold reserves all the time. When the price of gold rises, those new tracts become more economical, meaning the supply of gold can in fact expand.
It’s the exact opposite with bitcoin. They are created when someone discovers a new mining block on the global computer network. The number of blocks is capped at 6 per hour.
Moreover, bitcoins generated per block decrease geometrically, falling 50% every 4 years. The number of bitcoins mined will never exceed 21 million by the year 2140.
Roughly 57% of the total maximum have already been mined…
No. 2: This Is a Real Currency
It began when President Roosevelt confiscated America’s gold during the Great Depression. And when President Nixon took the United States off the last vestiges of the gold standard in the early 1970s, the metal’s days as a true currency were over.
Sure, you can still buy gold coins, but just try using them to pay for something at Walmart or the local convenience store. People will look at you like you’re crazy.
But in the United States alone, more than 700,000 retail outlets accept bitcoin, including chains like 7-11 and Wal-Mart. And in France, workers can choose to have their salaries paid in this new digital currency.
In fact, bitcoin is already recognized around the world as a medium of exchange and is traded in roughly 90 different markets from Toronto to Singapore every single day.
No. 3: Central Banks Can’t Manipulate the Price
Paul Craig Roberts can’t afford to make baseless charges. A noted economist, Roberts served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during the Reagan administration and is a former editor of the Wall Street Journal.
So, were he to make a wild accusation, that would undermine his credibility as a market analyst and possibly ruin his career.
But Roberts is adamant that a big part of the recent rout in both gold and silver prices is a direct result of central-bank manipulation. Roberts believes the Fed led a coalition of mega-banks that sold off gold reserves and certificates to support the dollar in an era of mega-printing.
Veteran metals trader Andrew Maguire agrees. The former Goldman Sachs employee-turned- whistleblower says more than 500 tons of “paper gold” got dumped on the market in April alone.
With bitcoin, however, it would be extremely difficult for global bankers to act in concert to secretly drive up or down the price as they can with gold. Anyone with a Web connection can check the volume of bitcoin trading around the world almost in real time.
In other words, though individual transactions occur in private, the markets upon which they are traded are highly transparent.
No. 4: It’s Super Liquid
If you own physical gold in your home and want to sell it, you have to grab it, put it in the car, and drive to the local dealer. There’s always the concern you could be robbed in the process.
Moreover, most stores are only open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. five or six days a week. That greatly limits your market access.
If you are paying someone to store your metals offsite, you will obviously incur fees. And when you sell your gold it could take several days for the transaction to finish and for the money to end up in your account.
With physical gold, your liquidity is limited by both market access and the size of your ingots or coins.
On the other hand, bitcoin is a super-liquid currency. Not only can you buy and sell basically 24- 7, you can “chop it up” into extremely small slices.
For instance, on the Camp BX exchange, you can divide a bitcoin down to 12 decimal points, which might look like this amount – 0.011111111111. At $550 a bitcoin, that gets down to $6.20, including commissions.
Just try chopping a gold ingot or coin down into such tiny increments.
No. 5: The Ultimate in Portability
Let’s say you were fortunate to own $500,000 worth of gold, or about 415 ounces. That’s nearly 26 pounds worth of metal you’d have to cart around if you wanted to move it in the event of an emergency.
Remember, there’s no guarantee that during a natural disaster you’ll be able to access your safety deposit box at your local bank. The police may close roads, or if the electricity is out, you may not be able to get to your gold in the first place.
With bitcoin, however, no such challenges exist. Since this a virtual currency, it lives online at your hosted wallet. So, you can access the funds from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection.
You also can download and store your bitcoin on a small USB thumb drive that will easily fit in shirt pocket. It doesn’t get much more portable than that.
Thus, bitcoin occupies a unique space in the global financial system, one that clearly has some major advantages over gold.
Well, time will tell if what I am doing is the smartest thing I have done, or the stupidest….Investments can be such tricky things. More about this later.
No resolutions this year, so no disappointments.