Digital Gold author and Bitcoin historian Nathaniel Popper joined the Fresh Air team on NPR to lay out his opinions and projections for the space. For Popper, Bitcoin may be no bubble after all.
Listeners of NPR’s November 9th Fresh Air program got to experience a Bitcoin-themed episode, as host Terry Gross picked the brain of Digital Gold author, New York Times contributor and bona fide Bitcoin historian Nathaniel Popper.
Bitcoin, the blockchain and Digital Gold, my book on the history of it all, finally got the Fresh Air treatment with Terry Gross – and what a fun conversation it was https://t.co/M4DcgHMbDx
— Nathaniel Popper (@nathanielpopper) November 9, 2017
Popper jumped right in, noting that the most interesting part of the Bitcoin craze to him was the decentralizing, democratizing zeitgeist that underpins the community.
“It’s not just a new kind of software or a new kind of money. It is essentially a social movement.”
“[This came] right in the heart of the financial crisis. And there was a lot of distrust of both Wall Street and the big banks, but also of central banks. And here [BTC] was introduced as a new form of money that could exist independent of all of these institutions that people were so skeptical of.”
The author’s implication was that Bitcoin seemingly marks yet another major page turned in human civilization’s steady, start-and-stop trend towards democratization.
Popper’s Interesting Counterargument Against the Bitcoin ‘Bubble’
While the NYT columnist admitted that a “reckoning” could be in store for the crypto space in the way FUDsters like Jamie Dimon suggest, he also pointed out a compelling counter-argument that many mainstream pundits fail to comprehend.
It’s all about scarcity, per Popper:
“The counter-argument is that this is the first time that we’ve had a scarce digital resource […] one of the things that Bitcoin did through this weird, complicated system of incentives is, it created a scarce digital asset for the first time.
“So a lot of people think about this now as something like digital gold. You know, this is a place where you can keep your money because there’s only going to be so many of them, and the system works, and it’s in some ways better than gold because, you know, gold, you can’t carry across a border secretly.”
His point here is that understanding the Bitcoin movement through the lens of a traditional speculative bubble model could be incongruous — like trying to force a circular peg into a square slot — because the world’s never seen anything like cryptocurrencies before.
Bullish investors in the community certainly agree with this counterargument.
For Professional Reasons, Popper’s No BTC Investor Himself
Toward the close of Popper’s Fresh Air interview, he talked about not being able to own bitcoins himself.
It’s not that he doesn’t believe in the technology — far from it.
Instead, it’s because he and the Times are trying to avoid running afoul of any conflicts of interest as Popper covers cryptocurrency topics for them:
“Our take at the New York Times has basically been, I can have enough to play with and understand it. And I think the understanding has generally been that, you know, those bitcoins essentially belong to the New York Times so that I don’t get any big ideas.”
Very respectable, we think.
Though with bitcoin prices routinely hitting new heights, we also suspect in his heart of hearts Popper wishes he had more than a few.
What do you think? Do you agree with Popper’s aforementioned counterargument or are you more bearish? Let us know where you stand on BTC’s future in the comments below.
Images via YouTube