Bay Street veteran David Rosenberg isn’t buying into the hype swirling around Bitcoin.
In a television interview, Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Rosenberg Research & Associates Inc., said that while cryptocurrencies are here to stay, there’s no rational explanation for the massive run-up in the price of Bitcoin.
“Crypto is here to stay. It has a function in the capital markets. But valuing it is next to impossible,” he said. “So all you really have to do is look at the price, and look at the chart, and you can see it’s a massive price bubble. The chart itself is telling you that.”
Bitcoin prices briefly eclipsed the US$48,000-per-coin mark on Tuesday, marking a new record high. The most recent run was buoyed by Tesla’s disclosure it had bought US$1.5-billion worth of the cryptocurrency and had plans to begin accepting it as payment for its electric vehicles.
While the cryptocurrency has found itself a high-profile fan in the form of Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, Rosenberg said a continued run higher is a matter of faith on the part of Bitcoin acolytes, not a matter of fundamentals.
“In three words or less: Greater fool’s theory. You’re buying Bitcoin on the assumption that some bigger fool is going to buy it at a higher price,” he said. “The question you have to ask yourself is: ‘How do you value Bitcoin?’ It’s not a stock. You can’t do any cash-flow analysis.”
Rosenberg’s criticisms come the same day Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Timothy Lane dismissed the recent boom in cryptocurrencies as a “speculative mania.” He argued the digital tokens don’t have the qualities necessary to become the currency of the future, given the volatile price moves.
“The recent spike in their prices looks less like a trend and more like a speculative mania — an atmosphere in which one high-profile tweet is enough to trigger a sudden jump in price,” Lane said.
While the central bank has been studying the circumstances that could lead it to launching a digital loonie, should the need present itself, Lane said that such a scenario is by no means a certainty.
“Our view remains unchanged: A digital currency is by no means a foregone conclusion.”