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投资理财

投资比特币需知三件事

Ryan Derousseau 2017年12月03日

对比特币的迷恋或迟疑都很容易理解。对于此项投资,要掌握三个要点。

比特币的潜在巨大收益一直吸引着部分投资者,同样巨大的风险则让一部分投资者敬而远之。那么大家应该把它列入黑色星期五的投资清单吗?

这种加密货币当然会波动。以本月初为例,比特币在五天时间里暴跌25%,原因是人们担心旨在加快处理速度的新版比特币,也就是比特币现金(Bitcoin Cash)会削弱比特币作为支付手段的吸引力。

但这种担心并未延续很长时间。又过了两天后,投资者信心反转,比特币价格从低点反弹了18%。到了感恩节,比特币已经触及新的高点。

像比特币和其他加密货币这样引发意见分歧的投资并不多。引发混乱的是比特币的震荡以及这种技术能否长期存续的不确定性。比特币让倡导者和黑客在一夜之间成为纸面上的百万富翁,其他人则认为:各国都在加强比特币监管——目前的比特币没有国籍,不属于任何银行,是一种“西部荒野”式的支付工具。比特币将会昙花一现,注定要淡出人们的视线。

但短期结果很难驳斥。今年1月1日比特币的价格为964美元,黑色星期五上午它已经突破8200美元,涨幅接近800%。包括以太坊和瑞波币等知名数字货币在内,全世界所有加密货币的总市值今年上升的速度更甚于以往。

这样的增长引起了主流机构的注意,也促使它们对此加以利用。全球最大期权期货交易所所有者CME Group表示,将在今年底以前推出比特币期货。此举让比特币的可信度达到了现有货币的水平,也为开发交易所交易基金(ETF)奠定了基础。基金公司VanEck最近编制了多个指数来跟踪一组加密货币的动向,这些指数可以用于建立指数基金。麦克·诺沃格拉茨在对冲基金公司Fortress Investment Group担任基金经理时曾说,加密货币投资占他个人净值的10%。最近他预计,投资公司将在6-8个月后向客户提供ETF等加密货币产品。诺沃格拉茨还说,有了这样的产品,购买比特币就会变得更容易,从而使比特币价格“达到远高于目前的水平”。

判断诺沃格拉茨是否正确为时尚早。但比特币的受欢迎程度让它在高净值个人圈子里受到了更多关注。顾问、CCR Wealth Management首席投资官约翰·马厄说现在有很多客户来找他,询问如何投资比特币。此外,瑞银集团首席执行官安思杰最近对彭博表示,富裕人群显示出了更多的好奇心,尽管他们尚未涉足此项投资。

对比特币的迷恋或迟疑都很容易理解。对于此项投资,要掌握三个要点。

加密货币的交易类似于起伏不定的大宗商品

大多数主流散户都不把传统货币作为投资对象。比如大家不会手握大量欧元。政府发行的货币往往随通胀波动,而长期投资的主要目的是战胜通胀。一些共同基金建立了货币仓位,目的是对冲汇率对其回报率的影响,但它们所持的货币几乎不会真的用于创造收益。

加密货币的交易情况和货币完全不同。一个主要原因是任何既定货币的流通中硬币都会有一个限额。美联储等央行可以而且确实会通过增发钞票来管理通胀,并为本国的经济政策提供支持。另一方面,基于控制分配的算法,流通中的比特币最终将达到2100万枚的极值。

这让许多加密货币更像是大宗商品,原因是供应有限,和黄金或石油一样。马厄说,考虑到供给问题,“很难把比特币视为货币”。同时,供应有限是比特币出现波动的另一个原因(如果接受这种资产的机构增多,这种情况就可能在某一天发生改变)。

整个加密货币市场依然很小,这也增大了比特币的震荡幅度。所有这些交易和投机都出现在目前市值只有2600亿美元的市场中(苹果公司一家的市值就有9000亿美元左右)。

赢家通吃吗?

比特币背后的技术,也就是区块链让人们相信它将长期存在下去。但没人能确定有多少依赖区块链的货币能生存下来并繁荣发展。

比特币目前的价值和价格在一定程度上源于人们相信它将继续作为世界上的主导加密货币而发展下去。但随着人们开发、推出和使用新的加密货币,比特币在加密货币市值中的比重仅略高于50%。举例来说,比特币的竞争对手以太坊于2015年9月上市,目前单价为440美元。

VanEck数字资产策略部门主管伽柏·顾巴科斯说:“我们根本还不知道谁会赢。”

比特币现金引发的恐慌更是凸显出比特币并不牢固的地位。另一种加密货币可能有很多途径来颠覆比特币(想想Facebook的崛起造成了MySpace的消亡)。一些评论人士认为,传统货币可能会在某个时候具有和区块链类似的特征,这会降低主流市场对加密货币的接受度,从而有可能大幅压低其价值。

加密货币基金有代价

机构投资者和部分最富裕的个人投资者已经有了一些介入加密货币市场的手段。加密货币研究机构Autonomous Next的数据显示,截至今年10月中旬,已经出现了84只投资于加密货币的对冲基金,2016年这个数字是11只。但就像这些数字体现的那样,此类基金的历史都不太长,而且许多基金都收取高额管理费和绩效费(通常为年度资产的2%,再加上20%的收益),从而降低了回报率。

马厄把所有投资比特币或上述基金的客户视为“冒险者”,尽管他自己也持有比特币和以太坊。他经常借马克·库班之名介绍自己的思路,进而回应那些想持有比特币的人。库班认为,如果想投资加密货币,那“就要假装自己已经亏了钱。”

如果能承受那样的风险,你就可以在这个市场中进行交易。(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

Bitcoin has been luring some investors with potentially huge rewards—and scaring others away with equally big risks. Should it be on your investment shopping list on Black Friday?

The cryptocurrency can certainly be volatile. Earlier this month, for example, it plummeted 25% over five days after concerns grew that a new currency called Bitcoin Cash, which promises to speed up transactions, would make Bitcoin itself a less attractive payment option.

That fear didn’t last long. Over a subsequent two-day span, investor sentiment reversed and the price jumped up 18% from its lows; by Thanksgiving, Bitcoin ha。d soared to new highs.

Not many investments engender the differences in opinion that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies create. It’s that volatility, and uncertainty about the technology’s long-term viability, that breeds whirlwind days. The currency has turned evangelists and hackers into paper millionaires overnight, while others see it as a fad, doomed to fade as countries add regulations onto what’s currently a stateless, bankless Wild West of payment tools.

Still, it’s hard to argue with the short-term results. On New Year’s Day, a single Bitcoin was worth $964; by Black Friday morning its value had passed $8,200, a gain of nearly 800%. Taken together, the market capitalizations of all the world’s cryptocurrencies, including other prominent players like Ethereum and Ripple, have risen even faster this year.

This growth has pushed mainstream institutions to take notice and capitalize. CME Group, the world’s largest options and futures exchange owner, announced it would offer Bitcoin futures by the end of the year. That move would give Bitcoin a level of credibility that established currencies have, and also provide an infrastructure for developing exchange-traded funds (ETF). Money manager VanEck recently developed indices to track a group of cryptocurrencies’ movements, which could be used to develop index funds. And Mike Novogratz—a former manager at the hedge fund Fortress Investment Group who says he has 10% of his net worth in cryptocoins—recently estmiated it would be six to eight months before investment firms start to offer cryptocurrency products, like ETFs, to their clients. When they do, he added, it will make the buying process easier, allowing for the price “to go much higher.”

It’s too early to say whether Novogratz is right. But the currencies’ popularity is generating more interest in the high net worth space. John Maher, an advisor and CIO at CCR Wealth Management, says that he now has numerous clients coming to him, asking about how to invest in the currency. Meanwhile, UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti recently told Bloomberg that the wealthy have shown an increase in curiosity, even if they haven’t bitten on the investment.

It’s easy to understand the intrigue and hesitancy. Here are three important things to know about investing in the space.

Cryptocurrencies trade like volatile commodities

Traditional currencies aren’t a vehicle that most mainstream “retail” investors own. You don’t take a large stake in Euros, for example. State-sponsored currencies tend to move with inflation while the primary goal of long-term investing is to beat inflation. Some mutual funds own positions in currencies as a way to hedge against the impact of exchange rates on their returns, but the currencies are seldom used to actually generate returns.

But cryptocurrencies don’t really trade like currencies at all. One of the primary reasons for that is that there’s a cap on the number of coins that any given currency will ever have in circulation. Central banks like the Federal Reserve can and do print more money to manage inflation and support their countries’ economic policies. Bitcoin, on the other hand, will eventually have a maximum of 21 million coins in circulation, based on the algorithm that controls distribution.

This makes many cryptocurrencies much more like commodities, since there’s a finite supply, like with gold or oil. “It’s difficult to look at Bitcoin as a currency,” because of this supply issue, says Maher. And the limited supply is one reason for Bitcoin’s volatility. (That could change some day if more institutions embrace the asset.)

Volatility is also increased by the fact that the overall cyrptocurrency market is still tiny. All this trading and speculation is happening in a field where the total market cap is currently only about $260 billion. (Apple alone has a market cap of about $900 billion.)

Is it winner-take-all?

The technology behind Bitcoin—the blockchain—has people convinced it will last long-term. But nobody is sure how many of the currencies that rely on blockchains will survive and thrive.

Bitcoin’s current value and price is partly based on the belief that it will continue to grow as the predominant cryptocurrency in the world. Yet it only accounts for just over half of the crypto market capitalization, as new currencies are developed, launched and spent. The competitor coin Ethereum, for example, launched in September 2015 and is now worth $440 per coin.

“We simply don’t know the winners,” says Gabor Gurbacs, director of digital asset strategy at VanEck.

The Bitcoin cash scare only highlighted Bitcoin’s loose hold on the space. There’s many ways another player could up-end it (think of the way that Facebook’s rise led to MySpace’s demise). Some commentators believe traditional currencies could someday adopt blockchain-like characteristics, which would cut into cryptocurrencies’ mainstream acceptance—potentially crushing their value.

Cryptofunds will cost you

Institutional investors, and some of the wealthiest individual investors, already have some options for playing the cryptocurrency market. Through mid-October, 84 new crypto hedge funds that invest in the currencies have emerged, up from 11 in 2016, according to cryptocurrency research firm Autonomous Next. As the numbers suggest, however, these funds don’t have much of a track record. And many of these hedge funds charge hefty management and performance fees (often 2% of assets annually, plus 20% of any profits), eating into returns.

Maher considers any of his clients investing in Bitcoin or the funds “the risk takers,” among his client portfolio, even though he owns Bitcoin and Ethereum himself. Maher often responds to those who want to take a stake by offering the thoughts of Mark Cuban. If you want to invest in cryptocurrency, Cuban said, then “pretend you’ve already lost your money.”

If you can stomach that kind of risk, you can handle trading in this market.

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