First Mover: What People Said About Bitcoin in 2020 (Both Good and Bad)

Bitcoin (BTC) was higher, changing hands just above $23,000 after dropping for two straight days from a record high around $24,300. 

“The market looks to begin a consolidation phase above $22,000,” according to Matt Blom, head of sales and trading for the cryptocurrency firm Diginex. “Further attempts to drive the market lower are likely to be met with firm support from the bulls.”

XRP (XRP), the digital asset used for payments, fell for a fourth straight day, down 17% over that stretch, after Brad Garlinghouse, CEO for San Francisco-based Ripple, said he had been informed by regulators that the company would be sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The coming suit is believed to relate to sale of XRP, and whether the tokens represent securities that needed to be registered with authorities. Ripple disputes the claim and argues that other branches of the U.S. government have deemed XRP to be a currency. 

“It’s an attack on the entire crypto industry and American innovation,” Garlinghouse said in an emailed statement.

In traditional markets, European stocks recovered some of Monday’s steep losses while U.S. stock futures wavered between gains and losses, as investors assessed elevated coronavirus case levels alongside the rollout of vaccines and economic-stimulus measures.  

Market moves

Bitcoin was launched in early 2009, and during its first decade a lot of notable and well-respected investors, economists, bank executives and financial-news commentators said a lot of things about the cryptocurrency.

Times change, and it’s arguable that, in the push and pull of global markets, all that’s now old news or maybe just water under the bridge. 

But as First Mover reviews the year that was, anything said in 2020 is fair game. Here’s a brief rundown of some notable pronunciations on bitcoin, in chronological order, as bitcoin tripled in price to about $23,000 from $7,168 at the start of the year.

Jan 22, 2020. Peter Schiff, CEO, Euro Pacific Capital, via tweet: “I concede that many people who bought bitcoin in the past and sell it now will profit. But those who buy it now and hold will suffer a loss.” 

Feb. 24, 2020. Warren Buffett, billionaire CEO of the conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, in CNBC interview: “Cryptocurrencies basically have no value.” 

Feb. 28, 2020. Greg Cipolaro, then-co-founder of Digital Asset Research, now head of research for NYDIG, in interview: “As interest rates decline, you’re more likely to tip the seesaw toward assets that don’t have yield, such as collectible assets like artwork or gold or bitcoin.”  

March 9, 2020. Connor Abendschein, a research analyst for Digital Assets Data, in email: “Bitcoin may find its footing and shine further down the road during this financial crisis.”

March 12, 2020. Kevin Kelly, lead analyst at the cryptocurrency analysis firm Delphi Digital, said: “Bitcoin and crypto in general still very much sit further out the risk curve in investors’ minds.”

April 2, 2020. Joe DiPasquale, CEO of BitBull Capital, in phone interview: “You have so many people trying to swing trade on crypto.” 

April 7, 2020. Rich Rosenblum, head of markets group at GSR, in email: “The record stimulus being deployed by central banks is a reminder of why bitcoin was created.”

April 6, 2020. Jay Hao, CEO of the Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange OKEx, in blog post: “Bitcoin possesses the characteristics of a super-sovereign currency.”

April 10, 2020. Arthur Hayes, CEO, BitMEX exchange, in blog post: “There are only two things to own during the transition to whatever the new system is, and that is gold and bitcoin.”

April 20, 2020. Mike Alfred, CEO of cryptocurrency analytics firm Digital Assets Data, said: “We are hearing and seeing increased retail interest.”

May 11, 2020. Paul Tudor Jones II, hedge fund manager, in CNBC interview: “We’re watching the birth of a store of value, and whether that succeeds or not, only time will tell.” 

Paul Tudor Jones II speaks about bitcoin in a CNBC interview.
Source: CNBC

May 18, 2020. Arcane Research, a cryptocurrency analysis firm, in report: “Bitcoin has been performing well, while the stock market has struggled… . If this trend continues, it could also be strengthened by people finally believing the narrative and then becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.” 

May 27, 2020. Goldman Sachs Consumer and Investment Management Division, in presentation: “Cryptocurrencies including bitcoin are not an asset class. … We do not recommend bitcoin on a strategic or tactical basis.” 

June 2, 2020. Mike McGlone, Bloomberg Intelligence senior commodity strategist, in a report: “Something needs to go really wrong for bitcoin not to appreciate.” 

July 13, 2020. Arca Funds, digital-assets investment firm, in weekly update: “We believe bitcoin will remain the best insurance policy against currency collapse and a complete unwind of the financial system as we know it.”

Aug. 3, 2020. Messari, cryptocurrency research firm, in a report. “We know that it won’t take much of an institutional allocation until $50,000 bitcoin is back on the table.”

Aug. 14, 2020. Lennard Neo, head of research at Stack Funds, in a report: “Bitcoin could be a ‘risk-on hedging-type asset,’ where it performs relatively well in thriving markets, yet acting as a hedge to global uncertainties, displaying financial attributes that fall in between that of equity and gold.”

Sept. 9, 2020: Charlie Morris, chief investment officer of digital asset-focused investment firm ByteTree, in WhatsApp audio interview: “Bitcoin’s still small and has huge upside from here.”

Oct. 6, 2020: Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex, in a video chat: “I just don’t know how bitcoin can replace the greenback.” 

Oct. 9, 2020: Mati Greenspan, founder of the foreign-exchange and cryptocurrency analysis firm Quantum Economics, tells subscribers: “It’s a bit surreal to see gigantic corporate entities now going knee-deep in bitcoin.” 

Oct. 22, 2020. Zac Prince, CEO of the crypto lender BlockFi, in an email: “This coalescing of fintech and bitcoin is yet another bullish development for investors.”

Oct. 23, 2020. JPMorgan analysts, in a report: “Even a modest crowding out of gold as an alternative currency over the longer term would imply doubling or tripling of the bitcoin price from here.”

Nov. 9, 2020. Stanley Druckenmiller, hedge fund investing legend, in CNBC interview: “Frankly, if the gold bet works, the bitcoin bet will probably work better.”

Hedge-fund investing legend Stanley Druckenmiller told CNBC that bitcoin might work better as a gold trade than gold itself.
Source: CNBC

Nov. 10, 2020. Michael Saylor, MicroStrategy CEO, in interview: “Ultimately you have to find something which you can’t print more of that doesn’t have its fundamental underpinnings tied to a fiat currency, and the only thing that I can find right now is bitcoin.” 

Nov. 11, 2020. Ray Dalio, the founder and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates, in interview with Yahoo Finance: “I don’t think digital currencies will succeed in the way people hope they would.”

Nov. 18, 2020. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, at New York Times DealBook conference: Bitcoin is “not my cup of tea.”  

Nov 26, 2020. Nouriel Roubini, via tweet: “Bitcoin has no role in institutional or retail investors portfolios.”  

Nov. 30, 2020. Inigo Fraser-Jenkins, co-head of portfolio strategy team for Alliance Bernstein, in report: “The volatility of bitcoin has significantly reduced, making it more attractive in its potential twin roles both as a store of value and as a medium for exchange.”

Dec. 7, 2020. Wells Fargo Investment Institute, in report: “Cryptocurrency investing is a bit like living in the early days of the 1850s gold rush.”

Dec. 16, 2020. Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, in interview with Bloomberg TV: “Bitcoin has a lot of the attributes of gold and at the same time has an unusual value in terms of transactions.”

Dec. 18, 2020. Ruffer Investment, in portfolio update: “Bitcoin has survived trial by fire, becoming stronger through multiple cycles of boom and bust.” 

– Bradley Keoun

WATCH: 2020 Bears and Bulls: Before Wall Street Loved Bitcoin, They Hated It

Bitcoin watch

(Editor’s Note: CoinDesk’s Omkar Godbole, who writes Bitcoin Watch, is off this week.) 

What’s hot

Uniswap is the top gas guzzler on Ethereum (CoinDesk) 

Crypto exchange Huobi returning to U.S. after winning Nevada trust license (CoinDesk) 

Grayscale halts bitcoin trust inflows as JPMorgan warns slowdown could hit BTC price (CoinDesk)

India’s leading bitcoin exchange raises $13.9M from Block.One, Coinbase Ventures (CoinDesk) 

Coinbase crypto exchange is hiring for new Canada operation (CoinDesk)   

Investor inflows to cryptocurrency funds and products has risen to $5.6B so far in 2020, up seven-fold from 2019, CoinShares says (Reuters) 

Microstrategy has now spent $1.125B on bitcoin, at average price of about $16K, CEO Michael Saylor tweets (CoinDesk) 

Bitcoin mining-computer maker set to spin out business lines in bid to end year-long power struggle between top executives (The Block) 

Anthony Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital files with SEC to launch bitcoin fund (CoinDesk)   

Analogs

The latest on the economy and traditional finance

U.S. Congress passes $2.3T spending bill covering $600 checks, supplemental unemployment benefits and money for schools, airlines and vaccine distribution – just hours after rank-and-file lawmakers got their first look at the 5,593-page measure; additional relief package could be needed by March (Bloomberg)

European Union rebuffs U.K. Prime Minister Johnson’s latest Brexit concession, with just nine days left before U.K. leaves single market (Bloomberg) 

Oil prices tumble as new coronavirus strain sparks travel restrictions (WSJ) 

China set to further reduce U.S. dollar’s weight in index used to set yuan’s daily reference rate (Bloomberg)

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