The Bitcoin Challenge: How to Tame a Digital Predator

Lambert here: Given that fraud is so pervasive in these Financialized United States, it’s unsurprising that Bitcoin is popular, and increasingly becoming normalized. Not that I stan for central bankers; “as rigorously” in the introduction below is going more work than a poor adverb should ever be called upon to do. But it’s always possible to make things worse!

By Ulrich Bindseil, Director General of Market Infrastructures and Payments, ECB, Patrick Papsdorf, Head of Section of Payments Oversight, ECB, and Jürgen Schaaf. Advisor to the Senior Management of Market Infrastructure and Payments, ECB.

Bitcoin’s market capitalisation reached new peaks in November 2021. This column suggests it is hard to find arguments supporting the cryptocurrency’s current valuation. Even if the financial stability risks of a Bitcoin collapse could be contained, the burst of the bubble would imply painful losses for many retail investors and society at large. The authors conclude that public authorities should refrain from taking measures supporting additional investment flows into Bitcoin and should treat it as rigorously as the conventional financial industry to combat illicit payments, money laundering, and terrorist financing.

The durability, stability, and scalability of the Bitcoin network1 is impressive. And the potential of blockchain outside the areas of digital assets and finance has still not been fully explored. Still, several authors are raising doubts on Bitcoin’s underlying technology and concept (e.g. Avoca 2021, Acemoglu 2021, Bindseil, et al. 2022). The ‘proof-of-work ‘concept is a constituting feature of the Bitcoin system. It has a scalable difficulty level and aims to incentivise miners to keep the system running. The more computing capacity and the faster the validation process takes place, the safer the whole system will be. Still, the ability of the technology to keep up in a quantum computing environment is being questioned, and the governance of necessary in-depth changes has been made deliberately difficult. Moreover, the proof-of-work concept, which is a necessary condition for the security of the system, wastes power and is an environmental polluter without compare: Bitcoin may consume as much energy as all data centres globally (Digiconomist 2021).

Bitcoin Is Not a Currency and Unlikely to be Sustainable as an Investment

A consensus has emerged that Bitcoin fails in its original objective of being a currency. It is too volatile to fulfil the classic functions of money (a unit of account, means of payment, and store of value). Moreover, incentivising the maintenance of a system without a central authority is cumbersome and expensive. The number of transactions the Bitcoin network can handle per second is low and fees are high (currently between US$2.5 and $4 per transaction; Avoca 2021). Merchants and customers hardly accept it outside of niches.

One of the most popular arguments among Bitcoin supporters is that the limited supply of Bitcoin would make it an asset to protect against inflation, while fiat money, which can be multiplied at will, would increasingly lose value. However, even if Bitcoin could become the new global money, its technically fixed ‘money supply’ would lead the world into a deflation trap, as growing economies need additional liquidity.

Likewise, the comparison to gold fails. As Taleb (2021) argues, gold is both used industrially and was appreciated as jewellery for centuries before it became an investment asset or a reserve currency. Moreover, gold does not degenerate over time and easily retains its value even in extreme situations like natural catastrophes.

What follows is that the market valuation of Bitcoin is purely based on speculation: its market rally only continues as long as the Bitcoin community’s belief about Bitcoin’s alleged advantages can be maintained. But enthusiasm alone is not enough in the long run, as Bitcoin is in the end only a number chain and technologies are replaced by better technologies – with the newer soon displacing the new.

The High Private and Social Cost of the Bitcoin Network

The longer the boom lasts, and the higher the valuation Bitcoin reaches, the higher the cost for society will be in the end. Investments are made in fear of missing out, neglecting the risks. Bitcoin comes with significant private costs for energy and hardware to run the network. As Bitcoin does not generate value for society apart from hopes for speculative gains, these private costs will represent a net loss for society when the music stops.

Take the problem of environmental pollution. Even if the negative externalities of energy consumption were priced by taxes in many countries, geographical arbitrage would cause a further concentration of mining in locations with the lowest taxation. Some have argued to locate Bitcoin mining to locations where energy is quasi-free (e.g. Iceland with its abundance of geothermal energy, or next to a volcano in El Salvador). But why haven’t these locations attracted other energy-intensive activity with limited geographical constraints before?

Moreover, it has been common knowledge for years that the Bitcoin network has facilitated criminal activities by providing a means of illicit payments. There is a long list of shady operators and market manipulation that have marked Bitcoin’s history on the supply side (e.g. Dunn 2021). Moreover, Bitcoin has been popular for financing the activities of criminals below the radar of law enforcement and regulatory authorities. Drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorist financing, ransom and extortion are popular areas of use.

The Regulatory Mindset Is Changing

The broad use of Bitcoin for illicit activities was recognised early. The shutting down of the darknet marketplace Silkroad back in 2013 (Time 2013) revealed the extensive illicit use of Bitcoin. In 2014, the money laundering and terrorist financing related to cryptoassets became a focus of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which in 2019 issued its guidance demanding national implementation and enforcement. If fully implemented, providers of services in cryptoassets would have to apply AML/CFT measures, such as customer due diligence and the checking and reporting of suspicious transactions. The illicit usage of Bitcoin would become more difficult, in particular when exchanging into fiat currency or purchasing goods and services.

Several reasons might explain why overall the implementation of effective measures against the illicit use of Bitcoin has been somewhat slow despite the large scale of the problem. First, the potential social risks may have been underestimated because of the relatively small size and the assumed absence of leverage in the crypto market; at least, a fundamental threat to global financial stability was not diagnosed. Second, responsibilities for Bitcoin seem fragmented as it raises multi-faceted threats. For instance, concerns were first mainly related to money laundering and terrorist financing, while awareness of its frequent use for ransom payments occurred only later, followed more recently by environmental, consumer, and investor protection concerns. Third, many aspects of Bitcoin are fundamentally new and do not fit into existing regulation, and hence raise challenges. Fourth, the vested interests of large Bitcoin holders and financial service providers might have led to increased lobbying activities.

Still, several jurisdictions have already taken or are preparing measures to regulate Bitcoin and other cryptoassets. The spectrum of approaches is wide, however, ranging from completely banning cryptoasset business to more inclusive approaches of licensing and supervising intermediaries. The latter aim at bringing crypto assets ‘within the regulatory perimeter’ to address risks but also support possible benefits of innovation (e.g. Cunliffe 2021).

While there has been progress towards a consistent and effective regulation of cryptoassets, Bitcoin’s market capitalisation reached new peaks in November 2021. Some measures by public authorities may have contributed to these peaks. For example, authorities did not prevent the first launch of a futures-based Bitcoin ETF in the US (while Bitcoin spot market ETFs were rejected), and in Germany a law allowed investment funds for institutional investors to invest 20% of assets in crypto. For investors, such public measures or inaction are indications of the future policy stance and appear to legitimise Bitcoin. Moreover, they facilitate the integration of Bitcoin into the traditional financial systems. Overall, the net effect of authorities’ recent measures on Bitcoin were therefore ambiguous. They could have added to Bitcoin’s eventual total cost for society, which go beyond its use for illicit payments.


As also argued by others (Taleb 2021, Dunn 2021, Roubini 2021), we believe that the sustainability of Bitcoin is questionable. If Bitcoin eventually collapses, the net social cost of its lifecycle will be huge. Without any positive contribution of Bitcoin to society, its gross and net social costs will be equal: adding up the energy consumption, hardware usage of the network, the investment in human and technical capital – that will all have to be written off entirely. Moreover, the social fabric will be damaged when retail investors find that their savings are lost, while early investors who got out before the music stopped will have enriched themselves at their expense.

Public policymakers have been too slow to address all the problems related to Bitcoin. In the meantime, Bitcoin is becoming a pseudo-normal asset class for everyone, without its risks being understood. While regulators have launched measures to fight the reliance on Bitcoin for illicit purposes, the non-intermediated use of the Bitcoin network is still largely out of regulators’ reach. Further regulatory efforts are needed that effectively address all kinds of illicit payments through Bitcoins. The principle of ‘same function, same risks, same rules’ is to be applied consistently.

The year 2021 has seen several supportive initiatives, such as the approval (or at least the non-prohibition) of futures-based Bitcoin ETFs trading. This was likely an important driver of the Bitcoin price surge in autumn. Authorities need to be careful to not contribute to renewed investment flows into Bitcoin that will increase its market capitalisation and hence the scale of its eventual cumulated social cost.

Authors’ note: The views expressed in this column are the ones of the authors and not necessarily the ones of the ECB. We would like to thank Fiona van Echelpoel, Jean-Francois Jamet, Anton van der Kraaij, Mirjam Plooij and Pedro Miguel Bento Pereira Da Silva for useful comments. All remaining errors are ours.

References available at the original.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. vlade

    It’s not only bitoin, it’s the whole crypto ecosystem.

    The whole decentralisation-to-avoid trust is a total idiocy. Trust is THE keystone of any society, any civilisation. Any attempts to do away with trust (not specific trust, but generic, as in to eliminate ability and need to trust) are attempts to kill the society as we know it.

    Crypto is, to put it simply, evil. It distills some of the worst ills around, and makes the worse, and more pervasive.

    1. urblintz

      If trust is the keystone of any society, its absence long preceded crypto…


      crypto, a microcosm of everything wrong with the dismal science in general, masquerading as an opportunity that will inevitably separate people from their money while enriching the favored few..

      But focusing on crypto is a legacy misdirection even as it races to get its piece of the pie. I’m surprised how many people fall for it, especially when it comes from the maw of central bankers who might be considered, with no hyperbole, the biggest thieves on the planet.

      2 wrongs may not make a right but they do reveal the venalities of our global crony capitalism and should focus one’s attention on the real problem. Instead, we get the familiar and transparent “look over there” by those most responsible for the failed, trickle-on economic model of austerity and military keynesianism: the neo-liberal credo shared by all those currently in power, the bi-partisan consensus.

    2. plantliker

      Crypto evangelists seem to be entirely naïve to much of the mechanics of money and finance. They seem to think the problem with money today is financial controls themselves, and not that the democratic influence over those important institutions of control are gone. This has led to a peculiar scenario where the crypto space is speed running through all sorts of financial issues and reinventing worse solutions.
      The best example of this was the creation of Bitcoin Tether which exists to create liquidity in the BTC space. Tether is run by a private company of crooks and frauds and led to it being banned in New York. This is effectively the invention of a privatized central bank that can turn on and off the money printer and influence prices, just like with any fiat currency.
      Trust, steering institutions, and financial controls are necessary for useful money. “Decentralization” does not fix these issues, it just moves and possible solution away from democratic controls possible with government and into private hands.

    3. das

      It looks to me as if it is trying to eliminate the need for a specific form of a trust in a particular part of human interactions, not the very concept of trust everywhere or the human ability to trust. (That reminds me of the old story about how the invention of paper was an attack on the human ability to remember, by thee way.) Moreover, it stems from a lack of trust in existing institutions that those institutions have done much to earn. I don’t buy its promise either, but I see no need to misrepresent it.

      1. vlade

        Crypto is not only BTC.

        Crypto tries to erode trust as much as it can. It doesn’t say so, it says “make it so you don’t have to rely on trust”, but it’s the same.

        It tries to put itself into all sorts of institutional trust relationships, and as many inter-person ones as it can. It’s understandeable, as it’s _only_ value proposition, i.e. ability to do better than other current technologies do, is the ability to eliminate trust (and even that is not entirely correct say for BTC, as a sufficiently large miner or a cabal of miners can rewrite history).

  2. Michael Hudson

    The two big growth sectors (I won’t dignify them by calling them “industries”) in today’s world are crime and kleptocracy.
    Their takings (“savings”) are increasingly in bitcoin as the store of value outside of the government’s prying eyes.
    That makes bitcoin part of the crime-and-kleptocracy growth sector.
    Recognizing this, speculators jump on the bandwagon.
    What’s not to like …?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Re: criminal

      The blockchain makes crypto easy to track. The problem with anything is will. Law enforcement agencies have used crypto to round up criminals activity successfully and relatively easily. But not every sub unit has access to the financial/tech teams that are out there. As it ever was, the AG not understanding the problem is the real problem.

      The celebrities pitching crypto on TV is the sign it’s at an end. The South Park guys mocked crypto in their most recent special, and they have more libertarian sensibilities.

  3. praxis

    I have always figured bitcoin is a massive scam with institutional support because it’s wild west type development has allowed the pretext of lax scrutiny of capital flows. As most bitcoin laundered capital flight is mopped up by NYC or some other western city, there is not any regulatory pressure to kill it (or seriously enforce know-your-customer rules etc)

    Bitcoin is a scam and as long has it enriches the finance system, they are going to keep it going.

  4. Larry

    Related on the potential societal costs of a collapse:

    Here is what will happen when hundreds of thousands of younger investors are smashed by the crypto crash: They will be radicalized. This will not be experienced as simply a decline in prices, because crypto represents much more than a simple investment to its most fervent adherents — it represents a way out of the American trap. It represents the existence of opportunity, the possibility of economic mobility, the validation of the idea that you, a regular, hard working person without connections, can go from the bottom to the top, thanks to nothing but your own savvy choices. When that myth is shattered, disillusionment with the American system will follow. Unfortunately, given the realities of the moment, these newly disillusioned and radicalized and angry and broke people are far more likely to turn to fascism than to socialism.

    1. Yves Smith

      In a word, no. Lots of young people lost tons of money in the dot bomb era. They knew they were speculating.

      The ones who MIGHT have a basis for being mad are the ones who used leverage and didn’t realize they were, and lost more than they invested.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m not so sure about that…

        The dotbomb era lasted about a heartbeat and wasn’t nearly as hyped as cryptos are now, which have a 10 year ‘track record’ that only sucked in more sheep to be eventually shorn the door.

        If I was Wall*Street, Bitcoin et al would be real handy to blame a major reversal on Dow Jonestown, a sacrificial goat of sorts.

        As far as younger investors go, they will be pretty upset when the true market value looks more akin to a low end penny stock, if that.

        Most if not all will be completely wiped out, and mad as hell.

      2. Michael Fiorillo

        Just thinking out loud, but isn’t it also possible that, rather than rejecting goverming institutions, those shorn of their money in the seemingly-inevitable crypto collapse will vent their frustrations on those who peddled this glibertarian horses#*×, and might demand a restoration of a regulatory regime over Finance?

        It is, after all, the only remedy, remote as it might seem.,

        1. das

          Heck, why not both at once? Indeed, aren’t those governing institutions partly to blame for everything that goes wrong in the field of finance as well? (Along with everything else, of course.) To turn against them seems like a rational response. As to what they ought to be replaced with, I wonder…

    2. das

      Well, it would probably contribute to the disillusionment, though I don’t buy that it would be oh so apocalyptic by itself. I imagine that a lot of them would bounce on to the next big thing, unless something more drastic happens. As for the disillusioned, they would be anyone’s prey, insofar of course as they have no minds of their own. It is funny to see adherents of the democratic left act so afraid of what those “irrational masses” would do – very similar to the “bourgeois” factions in that respect, they are.

      (Rather strange binary choice, by the way: fascism or socialism? It seems to me that both are mostly dead and showing no signs of getting better. Although I suppose the idea is that Trump is a fascist rather than a plain old American right-wing populist.)

  5. Tony Wright

    Many people have got into cryptos ignoring (or never learning) the old rule of never invest in something you don’t understand.
    Also, Covid19 lockdowns and stimulus money seem to have contributed to the crypto boom.
    Ponzi schemes, as many have asserted.

  6. The Rev Kev

    Trying to find good things to say about bitcoin is hard. In a world of diminishing energy resources, it is an industry that has the power requirements of a major country and which it is increasing. It contributes to pollution which is just what we need in the middle of a climate change catastrophe. It may be in part responsible for the microchip shortage as there is a constant demand for new computers to bit mine. Even the anti-virus company Nortons now installs by default a bitcoin bot on your computer with you paying for the extra electricity and them getting a 15% cut. It suckers in people who you would think know better like actor Matt Damon in his cringey ad for bitcoin. It also attracts criminal, druggies, terrorists and what is worse, government officials as well. But I will let South Park have the final word here- (28 secs)

    1. Dave in Austin

      “Norton installs a default bitcoin bot”.

      Another amazing and unexpected bit of information from the Naked Capitalism universe.

      Time to delete Norton products, I guess.

  7. Tom Stone

    Bitcoin has been a transparent fraud from the gitgo, one that depends on the fear, greed and gullibility of the public.
    In other words a sure winner for those on the inside because “No one has ever gone broke by underestimating either the intelligence or the good taste of the American Public”.

  8. John Smith

    “Without any positive contribution of Bitcoin to society…” The author does not understand the value of a decentralized asset. Are we to trust the US financial and government sector to always do the right thing? No, we cannot. Additionally, tell Bitcoin has no positive contribution to people in Venezuela and Nigeria who use Bitcoin to sell goods and services in the street because their currency is worthless.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      No one is selling bit coin on the street unless they are dealing in the distribution of drugs above dealer levels.

  9. Stan

    I agree with many of the anti-bitcoin arguments, especially the criticism of its environmental abuse. Libertarian arguments in favor of bitcoin as the panacea for the global and national economies’ most corrupt institutions seem silly to me. I am also certain large pools of any kind of money, bitcoin included, attract full-time scammers, and the biggest pools of money attract the largest number and most dedicated scammers.

    However, the arguments dropping words and phrases like illicit payments, money laundering, pedophilia, and terrorist financing have zero weight. Individuals and public/private mafias with any survival instincts are going to continue using cash and conventional banking systems for their transactions. The bitcoin blockchain, combined with the Alphabet Stasi’s “collect it all” mania, make bitcoin transaction analysis very easy in comparison to analysis of non-crytpo money streams — flowing through countless “legal” loopholes in tax law.

    Every open-source bitcoin node has a complete copy of the bitcoin transaction “accounting book”. Everyone with the will, an internet connection, and time to learn how to track a transaction can do so. Copies of every bit — content too, not just metadata — is saved in NSA and CIA databases; they make child’s play of mapping bitcoin transactions to internet addresses (people and their locations).

    Bitcoin is a panacea for the surveillance state, and those who mix “bitcoin is a pedo’s tool” into their arguments are tossing out red herrings.

    At the risk of beating a dead rhetorical horse: How many people have access to the complete accounting history of public institutions such as the NSA, GCHQ, Pentagon, or of businesses such as Petrobras, Google, Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, or GlaxoSmithKline?

    1. Susan the other

      It must have some crypto purpose or it would not have lasted this long. If crypto is not shut down it will have to be regulated. And as soon as regulation becomes too threatening all the crooks will find some way around it. It’s evolution at its finest. There could be some method to this madness. The real purpose of crypto might be to simply build the block chain itself – it seems to have been designed to “emerge” like spacetime. And with an electronic tracking structure just sitting there, think of all the chaotic transactions that could be retrofitted into it. It can be more currency control than currency. Eventually, a refined blockchain technology will automatically turn crypto into fiat as well. Taming wild money. Maybe a new global currency at some point. But far removed from what it is now – some undefined, almost absurd, synthetic asset. Or virtual asset. Theoretically blockchain can nail everything down. That’s disconcerting.

  10. Skip Intro

    The social costs could well be amplified if the crypto scene manages to metastasize into ‘web3’. This is an interesting dive into web3 from a developer’s viewpoint. It includes a nice magic NFT that sells like a design but owns like a chocolate soft-serve emoji.

    So as an experiment, I made an NFT that changes based on who is looking at it, since the web server that serves the image can choose to serve different images based on the IP or User Agent of the requester. For example, it looked one way on OpenSea, another way on Rarible, but when you buy it and view it from your crypto wallet, it will always display as a large ? emoji. What you bid on isn’t what you get. There’s nothing unusual about this NFT, it’s how the NFT specifications are built. Many of the highest priced NFTs could turn into ? emoji at any time; I just made it explicit.

  11. Bellatrix

    Cryptocurrencies and the blockchain are in price and application discovery mode. There are so many possibilities. I think the blockchain has now pretty much established its potential and we have only just begun to scratch the surface. The pantheon of cryptos still need to prove themselves.

    One future that I see is a melding of blockchain with actual asset ownership (and other rights and obligations) – but material assets rather than a lot of the bs nft’s that we hear about.

    The best simple example I can think of is a melding of blockchain with ownership of precious metals that are safely stored deep underground in Switzerland or London or New York. Gold and silver could then become money again. This would present a real problem for Bitcoin because what would you rather hold – a coin backed by nothing, or a coin backed by gold or silver. It’s a no brainer.

    So the Bitcoin “store of value” argument sounds pretty weak to me and the better existing cryptos would seem to be those that facilitate transactions, like Ethereum, Solana, Cardano and such. The eventual transaction costs will then determine whether you use your coins to buy an apple, Apple stock, an Apple car, or an Apple house (the latter must be just a matter of time away).

    1. vlade

      crypto is now well over a decade old, with untold amounts of money poured into it.

      Yet, there’s literally not a single one UC where crypto does measurably better than existing technologies. That is, unless you count parting people from their money.

      I will patiently wait to see one.

      And the storage of the gold combining with BC? Pure BS. There is no (and, tbh, I hope there never will be) overlap between the digital and material world, to the extent that an event in real _must_., as in by a law of nature, follow an event in digital. There is, of course, the relationship going the other way – digital cannot exist without the real.

      1. Michaelmas

        There is no (and, tbh, I hope there never will be) overlap between the digital and material world, to the extent that an event in real _must_., as in by a law of nature, follow an event in digital.

        I’m very much afraid the bad guys do have a plan for that, somewhat along the lines of theUber-Lyft attempted digital enclosure of the matterworld taxi-personal transport industry internationally. Only nastier.

        It’s what the NFT rage is about, and underlies the recent Dorsey vs. Andreessen spat.

    2. Bellatrix

      “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”: Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM

    3. Susan the other

      “…a melding of blockchain with actual asset ownership (and other rights and obligations) – but material assets rather than a lot of the bs NRTs that we hear about.” Which expands into the necessary legal structure of the blockchain – by what authority? And, once again, anything crypto is demolished in the regulation of the blockchain. Crypto will be an amusing name for things that are virtual because virtual things will require an ultimate holder. The ultimate authority that allows virtual property to be bought and sold, recorded and maybe even taxed, like real estate. Blockchain will be the new county recorder. Maybe more in the spirit of environmental protection (that’d be good – I could actually go for that one). Maybe there could one day be a big Blockchain Theme Park for pure recreation.

      1. Bellatrix

        I’m sure there will be a Theme Park in “the metaverse” soon, if not already.

        There is a long way to go to sort out all of these issues with crypto and blockchain and “the metaverse”, and today we can only barely conceive the outcomes, let alone the issues.

        Like Twitter, it will probably be total crap, but occasionally kinda handy :)

  12. Roland

    I think the speculation that would have gone into precious metals has gone into cryptocurrencies instead. There has been massive worldwide monetary expansion, considerably exceeding the production of real goods and services–and nowhere offset by hard fiscal policy. The resulting excess has to go into speculation or inflation. Throw in looming crises, such as a pandemic, AGW, and war clouds. One would normally expect gold to soar, but that didn’t happen. It seems to have all gone crypto.

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