If you have a particular use for crypto coins, you should probably buy them. But if you are buying crypto coins just to speculate in the market, that is not a good reason.
The other main reason to buy crypto coins is that governments want your money. In the case of bitcoin, this was true from the beginning; but it is not true of most other coins. At the moment, most governments don’t bother about cryptocurrency at all.
But government policy may change, and so could their attitude towards crypto coin holders. If you want to protect your money from this risk, you might be better off buying a bank account or gold or a Swiss bank account with a view to moving your money in future if such a change were likely to happen.
You should think carefully before buying crypto coins, just like you would if you were buying a share in a company. If you had to choose between being able to buy things that you don’t need and being able to spend your crypto coins, which would you choose?
A web page called Cryptocurrency Investing 101 is a good starting point. It explains the idea behind crypto tokens, and with the help of illustrations it explains how crypto tokens work.
The first point it makes is that crypto tokens are not like shares or derivatives. With shares, if the price changes in your favour you can sell them for more than you paid for them. With crypto tokens, if the price changes in your favour you can’t spend them.
Buying cryptos may seem like a good investment. But is it?
There are several problems with buying crypto coins. One is that, like all investment products, they’re still mainly speculation. Even when the price of gold first went up in the 1970s, there was a lot more evidence than there is today. It’s quite possible that at some point in the future another technology will come along to replace cryptos, and they’ll disappear.
Another problem is that the value of a crypto coin depends on its future success. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll be stuck with worthless coins. That’s true even if you’ve bought them at a low price, because prices tend to go down as well as up.
Crypto coins are the latest financial instrument to catch the attention of many people. The most famous of these are bitcoin and ethereum, which have been around for a few years and have a total value of about $200 billion.
Crypto coins are not like stocks or bonds, which you buy on the expectation that they will increase in price over time. Instead, they are like digital gold: a way to protect yourself against a collapse in the value of national currencies.
Here’s how it works: if you use crypto coins as a store of value, the return comes partly from your ability to sell the coins at a later date and partly from inflation: if there is more money circulating in the world, then each coin becomes less valuable. That means each coin has two values: absolute and relative. The absolute value is that represented by the current price; relative to other crypto coins, it is worth whatever someone else is willing to pay for it.
If you’re thinking of buying crypto coins, as a professional analyst I have some strong opinions about this. If you don’t know what crypto coins are, I have no opinion for you. But if you do, read on, because there’s a lot more to be learned from my views than from those of other analysts.
My analysis is based on the assumption that crypto coins are speculative investments, not suitable for most people or most investment firms or most pension funds or even most private investors.
I have been asked what my advice is to someone who wants to buy cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin but is worried about their value. I have no problem with people buying them if they like them, but I don’t think this is a good investment. The idea of cryptocurrencies is that they are digital assets that can be traded for other assets, and in theory you should be able to sell them back at any time. But in practice as the price of Bitcoin has risen, it has been more difficult for many people to get their coins back, and it is not obvious that there is a way around this difficulty.
On top of this, the price of Bitcoin has been volatile, and the number of transactions per day has been very low. The low transaction rate reduces the value of Bitcoins as money because Bitcoin can’t be used as an efficient unit of account.
If you want to mine crytos, think of it like this: the price of Bitcoin will hit zero some day. Maybe it already has. And that is a very sad thing, because Bitcoin is the best thing ever to happen to money.
Imagine if gold were worthless, or even worse (obviously gold would be much worse) — imagine if Bitcoins were worthless. We all know that a worthless currency is worth nothing, but we don’t really understand why. For most people, money is just something they can spend, not hold on to. That’s why in an inflationary world the value of money goes down; the more people spend, the less each one gets. But if you are holding on to your Bitcoins instead of spending them, then they have real value. The fact that they have no practical use makes them more valuable than money in general.
You can think of Bitcoins as digital gold. They have some strange properties (they’re not made from gold!): they are divisible into a million billionth bits and capped at 21 million coins; and there are currently about 14m of them in circulation. But in terms of effects on commerce and human welfare, they are exactly like any other kind of money — except for the fact that for some