6 Other Times People Predicted the End of Crypto, and How That Compares to Now
When it comes to cryptocurrency, predictions tend to be along the boom-or-bust variety. For every pundit saying bitcoin will soon hit $100,000, there’s another predicting it will eventually go to zero.
However, it’s premature to say whether either of these extreme predictions is accurate. Only time will tell if the cryptocurrency market in general is a speculative sham that will eventually become worthless or a groundbreaking industry that will disrupt currency markets forever. Ultimately, that’s a decision that each investor must make on their own. But if you’re looking to hear from some well-known and powerful industry names who think that the days of crypto are numbered, read on.
Billionaire investor John Paulson, who is the president and portfolio manager of investment firm Paulson & Co., gave an interesting interview to Bloomberg Wealth on Aug. 30, 2021. Among other topics, Paulson set his sights on cryptocurrency, railing against it in no uncertain terms.
According to Paulson, “Cryptocurrencies, regardless of where they’re trading today, will eventually prove to be worthless. Once the exuberance wears off, or liquidity dries up, they will go to zero. I wouldn’t recommend anyone invest in cryptocurrencies.”
In December 2021, when bitcoin hovered around $50,000, Sussex University finance professor Carol Alexander was well ahead of the curve in predicting a crash. She stated that, “If I were an investor now I would think about coming out of bitcoin soon because its price will probably crash next year.”
Alexander predicted bitcoin would ultimately tank to $10,000 in 2022, so if she continues to be right, more pain is ahead for crypto investors. The finance professor remains bearish because she claims that Bitcoin is more of a “toy” than an investment, and that it “has no fundamental value.”
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Todd Lowenstein, chief equity strategist of Union Bank’s private banking arm, didn’t exactly call for the “end of crypto” at the end of December 2021, but was spot-on with his call for a severe correction. As quoted by CNBC at the end of 2021, Lowenstein said that, “Without question, bitcoin’s price chart appears to track many historical asset bubbles and busts and is carrying a ‘this time it’s different’ narrative just like other bubbles.”
Lowenstein went on to add that a more hawkish Federal Reserve would hurt bitcoin and other cryptos, noting, “Goldilocks conditions are ending and the liquidity tide is receding, which will disproportionately harm overvalued asset classes and speculative areas of the market, including cryptocurrencies.”
At the time of those comments, Bitcoin was trading at about $49,000, well above today’s levels of about $20,000.
Famed billionaire investor Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the so-called “Oracle of Omaha,” has long advised investors to steer clear of cryptocurrencies. In 2018, for example, he told CNBC that cryptocurrencies were like “rat poison squared,” and that “they will come to a bad ending.”
Some investors no doubt reveled in the traditional investor being “wrong” as Bitcoin surged to new highs shortly thereafter. But Buffett has maintained his stance and has been looking more and more prescient as the crypto market continues to implode.
In his most recent comments, given at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in June 2022, Buffett again reiterated his position, saying: “If you … owned all of the bitcoin in the world and you offered it to me for $25, I wouldn’t take it.”
According to Buffett, bitcoin isn’t a productive asset, but rather “something that depends on the next guy paying you more than the last guy got.” While not outright calling for crypto to go to zero, Buffett did say, “Whether it goes up or down in the next year or five years or 10 years, I don’t know. But one thing I’m sure of is that it doesn’t multiply, it doesn’t produce anything. It’s got a magic to it, and people have attached magic to lots of things.”
Charlie Munger, co-chair of Berkshire Hathaway along with Warren Buffett, has been even more outspoken when it comes to the dark side of cryptocurrency. At the company’s 2022 annual meeting, Munger told shareholders that bitcoin is “stupid and evil.” As Munger put it, “In the first place, it’s stupid because it’s still likely to go to zero, it’s evil because it undermines the Federal Reserve System … and third, it makes us look foolish compared to the communist leader in China. He was smart enough to ban bitcoin in China.”
That followed comments reported by CNN earlier in the year in which Munger likened cryptocurrency to a “venereal disease.”
The Chinese Government
Although it may have a vested interest in cryptocurrency going away — having banned bitcoin mining and developed its own digital currency — the Government of China has also called for the end of crypto. As Chinese state-run newspaper Economic Daily reported, “Bitcoin is nothing more than a string of digital codes, and its returns mainly come from buying low and selling high.”
The South China Morning Post added that according to the Chinese government, “In the future, once investors’ confidence collapses or when sovereign countries declare bitcoin illegal, it will return to its original value, which is utterly worthless.”
The Bottom Line
Even with all of these industry heavyweights lined up against cryptocurrency, it doesn’t mean that traders or even long-term investors can’t make money in the asset class. Indeed, numerous pundits feel that right now, when most cryptos are down more than 50% off their highs, is a good time to buy.
In fact, according to Yuya Hasegawa, crypto market analyst at Japanese digital asset exchange Bitbank, “The biggest risk factor, namely [quantitative tapering] by the Fed, has been decided and [is] likely priced in already.”
If true, cryptos could see a big bounce. But investors have to weigh these types of optimistic predictions against the downbeat forecasts offered by other industry experts. Even more so than with your other investments, it’s important to consult with a financial advisor regarding how cryptocurrency may or may not fit in with your risk tolerance and investment objectives.
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