Bitcoin's bubble will blow up under government pressure, Harvard professor says

400Bitcoin's future is undoubtedly tough to predict. The pundits either believe it will go to the moon or collapse. The latest to join the league of those predicting the demise of Bitcoin is Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard University.

In a blog post in the Guardian, Ken Rogoff writes: "Is the cryptocurrency Bitcoin the biggest bubble in the world today, or a great investment bet on the cutting edge of new-age financial technology? My best guess is that in the long run, the technology will thrive, but that the price of Bitcoin will collapse."

Rogoff argued that increased efforts from governments to rein in virtual currencies could eventually contribute to a decline in speculative interest in the digital asset.

"The long history of currency tells us that what the private sector innovates, the state eventually regulates and appropriates," he said. "I have no idea where bitcoin's price will go over the next couple years, but there is no reason to expect virtual currency to avoid a similar fate."

Bitcoin's price has exploded over the last two years, and has climbed more than 350% since the start of 2017. The cryptocurrency's rapid ascent, and the cottage industry that has grown around it, have galvanized investors' interests and elicited their fair share of criticism.

Bitcoin and other digital currencies' transactions are done anonymously. They aren't monitored by central banks like, say, the dollar or the euro. In his piece, Rogoff suggests that if Bitcoin was no longer anonymous and more regulated, then its price might not be sustainable.

"Were Bitcoin stripped of its near-anonymity, it would be hard to justify its current price," he wrote. "Perhaps Bitcoin speculators are betting that there will always be a consortium of rogue states allowing anonymous Bitcoin usage, or even state actors such as North Korea that will exploit it."

Last month, China stepped up pressure on cryptocurrencies, with a ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and the closure of domestic bitcoin exchanges.

By contrast, Japan has offered a more welcoming environment. In September, it recognized 11 firms as registered cryptocurrency exchange operators, a decision reflective of a move earlier this year to grant bitcoin legal tender status.

The digital currency has been faced with a number of critics, including JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who called it a "fraud", and Bridgewater Associates' Ray Dalio, who called it a "bubble".


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