Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital is hot on bitcoin. He admitted that he had a predictable reaction to cryptocurrencies and had dismissed them too early. Since then, the price of bitcoin has increased tenfold as demand for the cryptocurrency increases among retail and institutional investors.
Howard Marks changes his position on Bitcoin
Howard Marks, co-founder and chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, talked about bitcoin in an interview with CNBC last week.
According to Marks, institutional investors are increasingly interested in bitcoin, and major companies have announced their investments in the cryptocurrency : I’m opening my eyes to Bitcoin. I was skeptical from the beginning. He stated:
While bitcoin has no intrinsic value, the same can be said for the dollar and many other things that have value, such as paintings and diamonds. I paid more attention to the supply and demand arguments.
The founder of Oaktree Capital told Korea Economic Daily on the 15th. of March that in 2017, when bitcoin was gaining popularity, he was very dismissive of bitcoin because it has no intrinsic value. He added that he had done research and found that people defended Bitcoin based on supply and demand.
He noted that the supply of bitcoin is fixed, unlike the dollar, which can be printed in infinite quantities, adding that demand [for bitcoin] is increasing because more people are interested in it. However, he noted that it is a small circle because people want it, because it gains value, and it gains value because people want it. It’s round.
In examining the independent reasons why people want it, Marks mentioned some of the benefits of bitcoin. The argument is that it is very useful to be able to trade immediately, you can trade 24 hours a day … seven days a week. He compared it to banks and explained that with banks you cannot send a telegram at any time. He also said: It’s confidential. No one but you knows your actions, the government can’t know them, etc. No one can take it away from you. This is better than emerging market currencies. It’s over:
So there’s a whole discussion about why people want this. And when demand goes up and supply doesn’t, economics tells us that price goes up.
He then questioned whether these reasons were sufficient to justify the price of bitcoin. He noted that the price of BTC was around $5,000 when he lit it in 2017, and now it is over $50,000. So the people who bought it for $5,000 are right so far, he said.
chart shows bitcoin price from 2017 to present. Source: markets.Bitcoin.com
According to markets.Bitcoin.com, the price of bitcoin is currently $56,106. That’s an increase of 1.022% over the price where Marks fired him.
Meanwhile, more and more institutions are getting into bitcoin. Elon Musk’s Tesla, for example, has invested $1.5 billion in cryptocurrencies and recently started accepting BTC as payment for its cars. Goldman Sachs has revived its bitcoin trading division after it saw strong demand for bitcoins from institutions. Morgan Stanley recently announced that it would offer its high-net-worth clients access to bitcoin funds. Three bitcoin ETFs are currently trading in Canada, and major firms like Fidelity and JPMorgan have filed applications with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch bitcoin-based products.
As for his initial dismissive reaction to bitcoin, Marks admitted: Now I’ve learned how much I don’t know, so you shouldn’t talk about things you have no idea about. He repeated:
My first reaction was a knee-jerk reaction, without any information, and that’s not a good way to behave.
What do you think of Howard Marks’ new position? Let us know your comments in the section below.
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