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Saturday, November 9, 2013

As BitCoin Touches $400 The Senate Starts Seeking Answers... As Does The Fed

Moments ago BitCoin hit $395, and will likely cross $400 in the immediate future (the chart looks a little less scary in log scale).

So as more and more pile into the electronic currency, some due to ideological reasons, some simply to chase momentum, some out of disappointment with the manipulated gold price looking to park their savings in an alternative, non-fiat based currency, which a year ago traded 40 times lower, the attention of the government is finally starting to shift to what has been the best performing asset class in the past year, outperforming even the infamous Caracas stock market.
Which means one thing: Congressional hearings.
From Bloomberg:
The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will meet on Nov. 18 "to explore potential promises and risks related to virtual currency for the federal government and society at large," it said in a statement today.

The hearing, titled "Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats, and Promises of Virtual Currencies," will invite witnesses to testify about the challenges facing law enforcement and regulatory agencies, and include views from "non-governmental entities who can discuss the promises of virtual currency for the American and global economies."

"Bitcoin is obviously getting a lot of attention from the federal
government on the regulatory side," Nicholas Colas, an analyst at ConvergEx Group, said in an interview. "Given the involvement of the currency in illegal activities, that is entirely warranted. I expect these hearings to be largely informational, which is good for Bitcoin."

"The architecture of the system is elegant from a computer-science perspective, but hard for a non-tech person to understand," Colas said. "Getting industry professionals to close this gap will be very helpful."
Or not. Because the only thing the government does when its interest is piqued by something, anything, especially things that have to be looked in log-scale, is to promptly regulate it and then tax it, not necessarily in that order. Just how it will achieve this with Bitcoin remains unclear but one thing is certain: it will try.
Especially, now that even the Fed is looking at BitCoin when a few days ago the Chicago Fed issued 'Bitcoin: A primer" in which the Fed states quite simply:
So far, the uses of bitcoin as a medium of exchange appear limited, particularly if one excludes illegal activities. It has been used as a means to transfer funds outside of traditional and regulated channels and, presumably, as a speculative investment opportunity. People bet on bitcoin because it may develop into a full-fledged currency. Some of bitcoin's features make it less convenient than existing currencies and payment systems, particularly for those who have no strong desire to avoid them in the first place. Nor does it truly embody what Hayek and others in the "Austrian School of Economics" proposed. Should bitcoin become widely accepted, it is unlikely that it will remain free of government intervention, if only because the governance of the bitcoin code and network is opaque and vulnerable.
Finally, while the Fed may be late to the game, the ECB has already made its feelings on BitCoin well-known long ago: recall from over a year ago: "The ECB Explains What A Ponzi Scheme Is; Awkward Silence Follows" in which the European central banks didn't mince its words: BitCoin is nothing but a ponzi scheme to the central bank tasked with preserving the viability of an entire insolvent continent, and a a currency which unlike BitCoin would never survive absent regulatory intervention.
So while the electronic currency is soaring exponentially as it goes through its appreciation golden age, will the one thing that can finally end the dream of BitCoin holders arrive soon: when the government, and existing monetary authorities, start taking it seriously.
Full Chicago Fed paper on BitCoin

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