Howard Ward, the Chief Equity Officer of Growth Equities at Gabelli Funds, touched upon Bitcoin in a recent discussion on Bloomberg TV. The discussion was with Bloomberg’s Tom Keene, Betty Liu and Adam Johnson:
Keene: I’m going to suggest Howard Ward is not part of the bitcoin community.
Ward: No, Tom, as a fiduciary, if I invest client money in Bitcoin, I would expect to be sued, and I’d be paying out a liability in dollars. It’s a sign of speculative excess.
Keene: What are the young kids in the Bitcoin clan get wrong?
Ward: This isn’t a real currency. This is like a digital furby doll. We had a furby doll craze 20 years ago too. People are too careless with their money. Because we’ve had 5 years of screaming bull markets, you get careless. In difficult times, you’re less careless.
Keene: Quickly now, on Bitcoin, are we getting less careless when we see Oculus or WhatsApp…..
Ward: That’s Facebook, with too much money, maybe a little bit more careless…
Johnson: How is paying $19 billion for WhatsApp or $2 billion for Oculus, which doesn’t even exist yet, any more speculative than going out and buying bitcoin?
Keene: It’s speculative, but to me, Howard, those are normal business transactions, what is the theoretical foundation of Bitcoin?
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Ward: If I recall correctly, when Matt Miller was going through his 12 days of Christmas Bitcoin, wasn’t some Bitcoin stolen right out of his hands, on TV?
Johnson: Yeah, by me actually, because I showed the private key.
Ward: What kind of a currency is that? Give me a break. In my opnion, and I’m no expert on Bitcoin, but in my opinion, it’s worthlrss
Liu: OK, it’s worthless. Is there a need, is there a role, for an alternative currency, that isn’t the dollar, that isn’t the euro, that isn’t the yen, what we have right now?
Ward: You can’t just invent a currency. I find the whole thing very odd.
Johnson: I’m going to play devil’s advocate. You’re in prison, you’re trading cigarettes back and forth, you have just invented a currency.
Keene: We don’t want to go back to the inefficiencies of the barter system. I would suggest the IMF has done a lot of good research on the supposed inefficiencies of euro-dollar, or zloty-euro, etc.
Liu: Has the IMF tackled Bitcoin?
Ward: There are costs involved in trading currencies. And by the way, when you’re doing an FX trade, what does that carry it out to- 4 digits. So it’s a very tight market, and there are certainly costs involved because there are safeguards that have to be put in place to protect a currency that is worth something.
Keene: And, again, the underlying tax authority thing is a key issue…..
This hasn’t been the first comparison of Bitcoin to Facebook. About one month ago, we discussed other views on the perceived ability of Facebook to print unlimited amounts of cash.