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币值突破一万,为什么还有人唱衰比特币

Daivd Z. Morris 2017年12月07日

伴随着比特币的币值继续狂涨,有几点看跌比特币的理由也非常值得注意。

比特币从今年年初的单价不到1000美元,已经一路狂飙到了今天上午的11,800美元以上,已经铁定成为有史以来升值最快的单一资产。在比特币诞生初期,对区块链技术缺乏了解的怀疑论者断定,“比特币热”注定只是昙花一现。但随着有关知识的普及和币值不断创下新高,怀疑论者的声音也变得温和了许多——不过就算你也是比特币的拥趸,这些怀疑的声音也是非常值得一听的。

伴随着比特币的币值继续狂涨,有几点看跌比特币的理由也非常值得注意:

没有比特币的区块链?

上周,资产管理界的不少大咖齐聚纽约曼哈顿的“共识:投资”大会共话数字货币。在“看涨与看跌”研讨环节,来自金融新闻网站Real Vision的拉乌尔·保罗提出了一个不少人看跌比特币的原因——虽然区块链是一项革命性的技术,其数据库的安全性也是勿庸置疑的,但这些区块链最终会被企业所掌握。这最终会导致像比特币这样的公共区块链的价值变得一钱不值。

不过所谓的“私有区块链”的概念至少是部分区解了这项技术的核心安全性。数字加密货币吸引了大量分散的“户主”,他们并不需要对总账户的内容拥有所有权,就能确保一个共享总账户的信用。区块链领域的权威观察人士安德里斯·安东诺波洛斯就指出,所谓“私有区块链”只是旧瓶装新酒的老式数据库。一旦真实世界的区块链应用运行起来,它们大多数都将基于信用度比较高的公共区块链,比如比特币和以太币等。

分叉是个大问题

迈克·诺沃格拉茨则是一个“嘴上说不要,身体确很诚实”的例子。他一边说数字加密货币是一个泡沫,一边成立了一支大基金专门投资数字加密货币。诺沃格拉茨指出,所有的数字加密货币并非都是生来平等的,也不是所有数字加密货币都能火起来。比如目前的全球第六大数字加密货币——莱特币,就“没有添加任何能令它取代比特币的新东西”。

他最后举的这个例子是很值得商榷的——莱特币近来的表明已经证明,它的创新和改良速度可以比比特币更快。但他的观点总体上是没问题的,尤其是考虑到比特币进来已经出现了严重的“分叉”现象,也就是服务器运营商从现有的某种数字加密货币分离出来,创建了其代码和资产的拷贝。这些叉分得越来越细,随着时间的推移,如果它们不能证明自己的创新能力和竞争优势,像“比特币现金”(Bitcoin Cash)、“比特币黄金”(Bitcoin Gold)和“以太币经典”(Ethereum Classic)这种数字加密货币都难逃崩溃一途。

没有深层价值

Vanguard指数基金之父杰克·伯格历来眼光独到,因此你可能认为他一定会对比特币的创新有所好评。但事实并非如此。

上周在参加美国外交关系学会的一次会议时,杰克·伯格建议听众“要像躲避瘟疫一样躲避比特币”。他还重复了在比特币怀疑论者中很流行的一个看法:“支持比特币的没有任何东西,你有的只是让别人掏更多钱接盘的希望。”

虽然伯格是位投资大师,但他也有看走眼的时候,他的这套怀疑论早就该扔进历史的垃圾堆了。数字加密货币的币值与它当前的深层价值当然没有多大关系,但它并不意味着它没有任何深层价值。数字加密货币网络依托于大量的先进硬件,管理它们的是成千上万受过高等教育的工程师和业务开发者。比特币天然具有成长为高价值资产的潜力,因为它是一个真正无法攻破且完全开放的全球金融网络。

如果比特币是一家上市公司,而不是一个去中心化的网络,那么现在估计已经不少人忙着做空比特币了。(数字加密货币的另一个特点,就是它很难被做空。)不过没人会说比特币的资产没有价值。

易成为犯罪者的工具

数字加密货币另一个老生常谈的“原罪”,本周又被诺贝尔经济学奖得主约瑟夫·斯蒂格利茨提起。他想的可不仅仅是泡沫那么简单。斯蒂格利茨认为,比特币是有道德问题的,而且对于全球治理和宏观经济有害。上周他对彭博社表示:“比特币的成功,仅仅是因为它有能力规避监管风险。所以在我看来,它应当是非法的,况且它也不服务于任何社会职能。”

关于这方面,斯蒂格利茨说的其实并没有错。比特币早期的成功与它充当了不法活动和资金外逃的工具不无关系,现在利用比特币偷税逃税的行为可能也并不鲜见。另外他还有一点说对了,那就是比特币的核心功能——支付反而并不好用,造成这种现象的原因有网络拥塞、高昂的手续费,当然还有币值的极大波动性。

不过作为一种无法被黑掉的分布式货币,数字加密货币的长期前景依然是很可观的。将来,从云计算、网络叫车到医疗服务,数字加密货币也许都能搞定。而且斯蒂格利茨还忽视了重要的一点——靠监管是很难将数字加密货币“和谐”掉的。它的服务器可以迁移到任何对它表示友好的国家和地区(比如那些老式的海外避税天堂),而且它的访问签名也可以轻易被伪装。

我们并不是在道德上给比特币作辩护,但这是一个事实。欧美国家的监管压力当然可以让很多机构投资人甚至对冲基金敬而远之(这些机构进入比特币市场的意图从目前币值的飙升上就能看出来),但数字加密货币在道德上的“阴暗小角落”,却也确保了它的价值永远不会下跌至零。(财富中文网)

译者:贾政景

Bitcoin continues one of the most dramatic price runups of any asset in living memory, posting prices above $11,800 this morning after starting the year below $1,000 per digital token. In its early years, skeptics with little knowledge of blockchain technology were quick to dismiss Bitcoin as a fleeting trend. But as knowledge spreads and prices chase new highs, the skeptics have become more nuanced – and even if you love Bitcoin, they’re often worth listening to.

Here are a few of the most notable bear sentiments being aired as Bitcoin’s rip-roaring rampage continues.

Blockchain without Bitcoin?

At last week’s Consensus: Invest conference in Manhattan, some of the greatest minds in asset management came together to talk cryptocurrency. On a “Bulls and Bears” panel, Raoul Pal of the Real Vision financial news network repeated a favorite saw of today’s more informed bears – that while blockchain database security is a revolutionary technology, those blockchains will ultimately be privately managed by enterprises. That would eventually drive the value of public blockchains like Bitcoin to zero.

But the idea of a private blockchain at least partly misunderstands the core security premise of the technology. Cryptocurrency payouts attract a decentralized swarm of hosts who ensure the honesty of a shared ledger, without necessarily having a stake in its contents. Andreas Antonopoulos, long one of the smartest commentators in the space, has dismissed private blockchains as a fundamentally inefficient replacement for an old-fashioned database. Once real-world blockchain applications are up and running, most will likely be hosted on one of the trusted public blockchains, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

What the Fork

Not exactly a bear, Mike Novogratz has said that cryptocurrency is in a bubble, even while also starting a large fund specifically to invest in it. Novogratz has made a point that is far too rare in this realm – that not all cryptocurrencies are created equal, and not all of them will win. As an example, Novogratz has said he believes Litecoin, the 6th largest cryptocurrency, “doesn’t add enough new stuff to replace Bitcoin.”

The specific point is highly debatable – Litecoin has recently proven it can innovate and improve faster than Bitcoin. But the broader point is solid, particularly when it comes to recent “forks,” in which server operators split from an existing cryptocurrency and create copies of its code and assets. Forking spreads network resources thinner and thinner, and over time, if they don’t prove that they offer competitive innovations, forks like Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and Ethereum Classic will crash.

No Underlying Value

Jack Bogle, Vanguard founder and father of the index fund, was a maverick in his day, so you might think he’d have a kind word for Bitcoin’s innovation. But you’d be wrong.

Last Tuesday at a Council on Foreign Relations event, Bogle advised listeners to “avoid Bitcoin like the plague,” and went on to lay out a common sentiment among crypto-skeptics.

“There is nothing to support Bitcoin except the hope that you will sell it to someone for more than you paid for it.”

With all due respect to a titan, Bogle is fundamentally wrong, and this line of criticism should have been buried years ago. Cryptocurrency prices certainly have little relationship to underlying value right now, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing there at all. Cryptocurrency networks include vast amounts of bleeding-edge hardware, and they’re being managed by thousands of highly trained engineers and business developers. Bitcoin has the potential to grow into something of obviously huge value – a truly unhackable and totally open global financial network.

If Bitcoin were a public corporation instead of a decentralized swarm, it would probably have some extremely aggressive short-sellers right now (actually, the fact that it’s hard to short cryptocurrency is a good reason to be wary of it). But noone would say its assets had no value.

A Tool for Criminals

One of the perennial critiques of cryptocurrency was reiterated this week by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who has bigger things on his mind than a bubble – he thinks Bitcoin is morally dubious, and bad for global governance and the macroeconomy.

“Bitcoin is successful only because of its potential for circumvention [and] lack of oversight,” he told Bloomberg last week, “So it seems to me it ought to be outlawed, it doesn’t serve any useful social function.”

Stiglitz is right that much of Bitcoin’s early momentum was based on either lawbreaking or capital flight, and the scale of its ongoing use for tax evasion is likely massive. He’s also right that it isn’t currently useful for its core purpose – payments – thanks to network congestion, high fees, and extreme volatility.

But the long-term above-board applications for totally unhackable, distributed ledgers are still waiting in the wings: cryptocurrency could eventually run everything from cloud computing to ride-hailing to health records. And Stiglitz misses a crucial point – it would be very, very hard to regulate cryptocurrency out of existence. Its servers can be moved to any friendly jurisdiction (much like old-fashioned offshore tax shelters), and its traffic signature can be easily disguised.

That’s not a moral defense, but it’s a fact. Regulatory pressure in jurisdictions like the United States and Europe could absolutely keep away institutional investors and even hedge funds, whose future entry to the market is increasingly priced into the current crypto-surge. But its shady underbelly nearly guarantees that cryptocurrency as a whole will never drop to zero value.

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