Goldman Sachs has claimed that bitcoin is a bubble bigger than the dot-com era and the famous Dutch tulip mania.
In a research letter to investors, the banking firm's analysts warned about the increase in cryptocurrency values, highlighting the price moves in bitcoin and ether, as well as the stock price increases for companies which pivot to blockchain.
One example, The Crypto Company, saw its price jump more than 17,000 percent before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission halted trading, according to the report.
The mania is surprising, the authors say, because the world's largest cryptocurrency by market cap, bitcoin, does not fulfill the role it set out for itself.
The report states:
"We think the concept of a digital currency that leverages blockchain technology is viable given the benefits it could provide: ease of execution globally, lower transaction costs, reduction of corruption since all transactions could be traced, safety of ownership, and so on. But bitcoin does not provide any of these key advantages."
A single bitcoin transaction can take up to 10 days to process, and the value of a single bitcoin varies depending on which exchange a user conducts their transaction through, according to the report. There was a greater than $4,000 difference in the price of a bitcoin between different exchanges at the same time late last year, it adds. This meant that one user could be paying 31 percent more for a bitcoin on one exchange than another.
High transaction costs are another issue, the report argues.
However, despite the inflation of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, there is no risk that they will impact the U.S. or global economies, even in the event of a crash, according to the report.
While cryptocurrencies make up only a tiny fraction of U.S. and world GDPs (3.2 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively), the dot-com bubble was much more significant in the U.S. and globally (101 percent and 31 percent, respectively), according to the letter.
The authors add that they do not believe a collapse in bitcoin prices would have "major contagion effects on the global economy or financial markets," concluding that "we view the
unsteady cryptocurrencies as no match for the 'Steady as She Goes' dollar."
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