Crypto pundits’ efforts to defend Proof of Work, despite the financial absurdity of paying millions of dollars per day to perform a few transactions, and the resulting environmental calamity, are second to none.
The reason why PoW is the hill where the crypto industry is ready to die on, is that PoW is the foundation of the legal loophole that makes the blockchain a no-man’s land from the point of view of financial regulation and liability.
Bitcoin is incredibly risky, despite the image that’s being conveyed by the media, or spread through social networks. Bitcoin’s price is manipulated to an extreme degree, to lure retail investors into buying worthless tokens with real money. We are witnessing yet another wealth transfer from people who don’t know, to insiders and scammers.
The huge operating costs that are programmed into the way the Bitcoin blockchain works are obfuscated and hidden from retail investors. The fact that Bitcoin’s price has been artificially pumped with Tethers is presented as “evidence” or “rising adoption”. Data shows that Bitcoin will crash, but shills drown facts in a stream of nonsensical statements and bullshit.
If you ever had a look at CME’s Bitcoin futures, you might have noticed that there are multiple contracts – one for each month, and that they have different prices. Systematically, the futures contracts for months that are further away, are more expensive than those with closer expiration, and also cheaper than spot. When this happens for a commodity like oil, we’re talking about contango.
This is usually due to the fact that there’s a risk premium on the uncertainty of the future, and it costs a little bit to be sure of the price that you’ll pay for something three months from now. But for futures on financial products, it’s very rare. Currently, the premium for Bitcoin is a whopping 2% per month, and it’s a red warning sign.
Tether’s days are counted – whether by natural implosion, or as a result of regulatory action, the stablecoin funding a wide array of offshore crypto activity will go the way of the dodo.
As is customary in the world of crypto, retail holders will pick up the tab. Offshore traders and DeFi yield farmers will get wiped out. Regulated exchanges won’t collapse overnight, but they will suffer from lost business as people stop buying Bitcoin as an on-ramp for offshore activity, and also from retaliation from regulators.
We already had one instance of Bitcoin being artificially manipulated upwards, in 2013, and most people who bought in got screwed. At the time, the fraud was happening on MtGox, an exchange that was processing over half of all trading volume, and was in a position to manipulate the market.
Today, over 70% of Bitcoin trading is happening against USDT, a stablecoin that’s being printed out of thin air at an exponential rate. People who are still buying Bitcoin with real dollars, now that everyone has understood the scheme, are simply the greatest fools who allow the scammers to cash out, right before the collapse.
Tesla’s move to allocate a $1.5 Billion chunk of its cash hoard to Bitcoin, two days ago, was applauded by Bitcoin investors as a sure-proof sign that corporations are going to go all-in in Bitcoin, elevate its price to new all-time-highs, and allow early investors to cash out for real money.
But Tesla’s investment in Bitcoin is very, very problematic on many levels.
Bitcoin destroys value as running its network costs tens of millions of dollars per day. Its rise in price is a consequence of market manipulation combined with the fact that very few investors elect to sell, precisely because its price is rising. Over the long run, the price of Bitcoin is guaranteed to collapse as the network costs rise in line with the price of Bitcoin itself.
If you think that you are a sophisticated investor and don’t understand this, you don’t understand Bitcoin.
In March 2020, unregulated crypto exchanges, led by Binance, switched to USDT as collateral for margin trading. This has led to a progressive release of around 1 million Bitcoins previously locked as collateral. The fact these newly available Bitcoins didn’t crash the price only makes sense if Tether scooped them up and is now holding them as reserves.
Since crypto’s near-death experience of March 2020, three things have risen in tandem: the price of Bitcoin, the market cap of Tether, and the number of people under lockdown at home, turning to day-trading as a way to kill time. These three trends are closely intertwined.
Crypto exchanges are regulated entities. This is shown as proof of trustworthiness by the crypto industry. However, the regulations to which crypto exchanges have to comply are completely outdated and inadequate.
In the United States, crypto exchanges have to register with the FinCEN as “money transmitters”. It’s a category within the Money Services Business (MSB) classification, which encompasses activities such as broker dealer, forex operators, or cashiers. The crucial part is that MSBs in general and money transmitters in particular are subjected to much less stringent AML/KYC regulations than banks. In the case of crypto, this is ludicrous.