PERSPECTIVES PART 3: BELFORT & BUFFET OFFER OBJECTIONS

Crypto good? Crypto bad? There are so many opinions out there, but in our modern, connected, so-called post-truth world it is all too easy to be led down a blind alley by seemingly knowledgeable online sources which are absolutely valueless in the long run. So in the run-up to the X8 ICO/TGE it makes sense to cast the net a little wider and look at a few differing perspectives on the subject of blockchain/crypto so as to offer our potential contributors some different input whilst ensuring that the sources remain reputable. This is the third in a series of articles which looks at various points of view.

The last two articles struck a positive note so let’s have some input from the other side.

The groundswell of support for blockchain is not universal and there remain some very negative voices out there in the financial world. One of the loudest naysayers is Jordan Belfort, the original “Wolf of Wall Street” who says of crypto, “Promoters are perpetuating a massive scam of the highest order on everyone.” He goes on to point out that, “Probably 85% of people out there don’t have bad intentions, but the problem is, if five or 10 per cent are trying to scam you […] I’m not saying there’s something wrong with the idea of cryptocurrencies, or even tulip bulbs. It’s the people who will then get involved and bastardise the idea.” Belfort finishes with, “It is the biggest scam ever, such a huge gigantic scam that’s going to blow up in so many people’s faces. It’s far worse than anything I was ever doing.” That’s an interesting assertion from one of the biggest financial crooks of all-time. We have to be ready to recognise that there are a number of scammers out there who are pushing fraudulent ICOs with the main aim being to take the money and run. But there are massive “traditional” corporate players in London, New York, Hong Kong and beyond who are following similar modus operandi in the old fashioned analogue markets. Is that somehow more respectable? Really?

Warren Buffet has been a high profile detractor of blockchain in general and Bitcoin specifically in recent years. He likes tangibles. He likes something that you can have and hold. John Wasik wrote in Forbes on 6 November, “The one powerful factor about currencies – and even gold – is that there’s a finite amount of it. Well, that’s mostly true, until governments start printing money, which begets inflation in many cases. There’s also said to be a finite amount of Bitcoin, although we still don’t know much about how it’s created or its mysterious creator. That’s troubling. Yet Buffet has a real concern. If you don’t know what goes into something, meaning a lack of transparency, it can be snake oil.” Wasik goes on to quote Buffet directly, “It doesn’t make sense. This thing is not regulated. It’s not under control. It’s not under the supervision [of] any…United States Federal Reserve or any other central bank. I don’t believe in this whole thing at all. I think it’s going to implode.”

Fundamentally Buffet does not have any “skin in the game” as he has been a fairly traditionalist, vanilla type of investor. Yes, he has created remarkable wealth for himself, his company and his investors but he has done it in a conventional way. He follows the value investing route by isolating stocks which he believes to be priced too low for their implied value, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Several financial journalists and bloggers have suggested that Buffet is remarkably technology-averse but is that because he instinctively doesn’t like it or because he doesn’t understand it? It is this writer’s viewpoint that it is the very fact that the price:value ratio in seemingly unregulated crypto is currently incalculable to the level that Buffet requires that makes him sceptical but this is not the place to answer the question definitively and it is worth reminding everyone of this before giving Buffet absolute carte blanche.

Wasik goes beyond Buffet and refers to another point on the spectrum by quoting Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal, who says, “I’m skeptical of most of them (cryptocurrencies), I do think people are a little bit … underestimating Bitcoin especially because … it’s like a reserve form of money, it’s like gold, and it’s just a store of value. You don’t need to use it to make payments.” Some very mixed messages from Thiel.

And then Wasik makes a very telling statement, “Here’s where we need to make a distinction: You can put all of the tangible gold mined on the planet in a large swimming pool. You can never do that with a cryptocurrency. That begs for a better definition of how to value a virtual denomination of wealth. Anyone is free to speculate on anything from land to soccer matches. It’s human nature. Yet don’t confuse a cryptocurrency with something you can hold in your hand – like gold. Remember that most of the gold on earth is in the ocean – dissolved in quadrillions of gallons of water that you can’t even drink.” That’s a very curious correlation but maybe Wasik has unwittingly reached a point of true crypto significance. We are unable to leverage so much value from our world as it is dissolved like that gold in seawater, trapped beyond the reach of circulation or allocation – crypto products, through decentralised distribution offered by the blockchain system, will in many cases permit this value to be released for the very first time. Remember the differentiation that Buffet set between price and value.

In the case of X8 we have a wonderful example of how genuine value can be manifested in such a way that even the arch-naysayer, Buffet, might understand. X8 is physically backed by fiat currency and it is physically backed by gold coin. Therefore, in quite a de facto sense, X8 is regulated by the major central banks of the global economy. Add to that the strenuous efforts conducted by the entire X8 team to make this ICO/TGE compliant with international rules governing securities and any sophisticated contributor will perhaps realise that this really can be the game-changer.

The X8 ICO/TGE is a genuinely grown-up and mature offering which may very well be held up as the absolute gold standard – no pun intended! – of cryptocurrency offerings in the very, very near future.

We share more perspectives in a couple of days.

 

Phil

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