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What the article is about?
- Talks about the concerns associated with cryptocurrencies, amid the recent crisis.
Syllabus: GS-III Economy, Growth and Development;
Bubble in the air:
- The crash in the price of cryptocurrencies is a timely reminder to retail investors to stay far away from this highly speculative asset class.
- Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, has lost over two-thirds of its value since its peak in November last year and has wiped out many retail investors. Other cryptocurrencies have witnessed even larger losses with some (Luna) plunging to zero.
- Cryptocurrencies were initially touted to be alternatives to ﬁat currencies.
- Since the supply of a lot of cryptocurrencies is limited by design, investing in them seemed like a good way to protect one’s wealth from inﬂation fuelled by central banks.
- But as it became obvious that cryptocurrencies have had very little acceptance as money, crypto-enthusiasts began to argue a slightly diﬀerent case.
- Cryptocurrencies were now touted as an independent asset class like gold and silver that could serve as an eﬀective hedge in times of crisis.
- The crash in the crypto market amidst wider market correction has put to rest the argument that crypto, as an asset class, is as good a hedge as precious metals.
- There is little reason to believe that cryptocurrencies possess any intrinsic value that can make them serve the role of widely accepted money or as a legitimate asset class such as precious metals.
- Just as Internet stocks and tulip bulbs were the hallmarks of liquidity-fuelled bubbles in the past, cryptocurrencies are the leading symbol of the current bubble in markets.
- But perhaps the biggest threat to their prospects has been an existential one.
- Governments and their central banks have been largely unwilling to recognise cryptocurrencies as legitimate investment asset.
- They are also unlikely to recognise private cryptocurrencies as they infringe on the state’s ﬁscal and monetary authority.
- Moreover, this hostile attitude is at least partly to blame for the shady nature of the crypto industry at large.
- Retail investors looking for quick market gains have had to plunge into an unregulated space marked by scams and other pitfalls in the absence of a legal environment that can protect investor interests.
- So, regardless of the investment prospects of cryptocurrencies, a proper regulatory framework may help in protecting retail investors, at least from outright scams.