It is probably not a good sign for an investment when its largest clearing firm takes out an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal asking for more regulatory oversight and warning investors that its investment category is so volatile that futures contracts could create devastating losses. Yet this is exactly what has happened recently when Interactive Brokers, the clearing firm for the bitcoin cryptocurrency, responded to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s plans to start listing bitcoin futures.
One candidate for the greatest bull market run in financial history is the recent runup in price of the Bitcoin—the crypto-currency favored by international arms dealers and drug cartels, but also gaining acceptance at some retail locations. The so-called “internet of money” is not backed by any government, which its promoters say is a good thing, because the currency is not subject to QEs or over-caffeinated printing presses in Washington, Brussels or Tokyo.
One of the strangest investment vehicles ever designed is something called the Bitcoin, which is at once an exciting new technology for managing online transactions and an alternative currency to national currencies like the dollar, yen and euro. Last week, people who owned bitcoins discovered that electronic “coins” worth $1,350 were suddenly worth just under $945. Around the same time, U.S. regulators rejected an effort to create a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).