Friday, September 22, 2017

The Future of Bitcoin

A friend asked my opinion recently about the future of bitcoin.  Given that he is a banker, and my areas of expertise are literature and film, this seemed an odd request.

Nevertheless, let's consider...

The purpose of a currency is either as 1) a means of exchange or 2) a storehouse of wealth.  

Apropos 1) For now, as far as I can tell, there are not enough actors in the legitimate economic sphere using bitcoin regularly for it to be a conventionally-accepted means of exchange.  If in the future there are instances of currency restrictions on international exchange it could become useful but would presumably constitute flouting of some rule or another.

Apropos 2) Given that there is nothing tangible supporting the value of bitcoin (not commodity, nor treasury, nor even final guarantor such as taxpayers) bitcoin would not seem an attractive long-term storehouse of wealth.

Whether it can, in purely speculative terms, be a profitable short-term play is an entirely different matter.  Other than its inability to flower, how is a bitcoin different from a tulip bulb?  I am sure that in the 17th century Dutch tulip mania there were some who safely stored their wealth in tulip bulbs, recognized the developing bubble, transferred their wealth into property (which many in Amsterdam likely predicted would soon be literally under water) and then got out in time.  This is not to knock speculation during a market rise, it's just that very few get out in time.  And this is not to knock tulips, they're beautiful and if the Dutch treasury had figured how to modulate tulip mania and let the air out of that speculative bubble, things might have worked out okay and tulip bulbs would still be an alternative means of exchange in Northern Europe.

In any case, given their intricacy, a better comparison for bitcoin might be to Native American wampum belts.

How might a bitcoin bubble develop?  Here's one possible scenario: China has a problem of too much debt, and probably too much bad debt. I believe they will work through it okay, with some pain along the way.  That said, this week S&P lowered China's credit rating.  It could be that a crowd of Chinese investors, while enduring a market shock, grow less enamored of their currency, and of the dollar and the pound, and see bitcoin as an alternative store of wealth.  Could be a mistake.

Here's hoping for smooth sailing. 

More about the S&P downgrade HERE.

About tulip mania HERE.

About wampum belts HERE, via the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Stansted Farm Shop

The new Stansted Farm Shop, near Rowlands Castle, Hampshire, UK, has opened and it is splendid.

The shop offers locally-sourced produce, fish, beef and game.  The also do a mean wood-fired pizza.  TMP loves this place. 

Stop in for lunch or a coffee and do a shop for all your specialty items.




The Stansted Farm Shop website may be found HERE.

(Photo: James Linville @ The Main Point blog)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hammers Down at Christie's South Ken

Last Wednesday saw the last auction at Christie's South Ken, London's premiere middle-market salesroom, a venue that stood for 42 years at the center of London's art and antiques scene.

Nic McElhatton, CSK's chairman, knocked down the last sales.  Buyers, sellers, and dealers kindly offered The Main Point their observations, and McElhatton made a moving farewell speech.




Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Coat, a Hat and a Gun



“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.”

from Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

Still Life by James Perceval, courtesy of LP.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Does a Haircut Suggest Your Destiny?

As I've pointed out before... a commonplace question is: Does your name determine your destiny?

Meanwhile, I frequently wonder, and do again this month, if your haircut determines your destiny.   Let's hope not.

Below right see Kim Jong Un, current leader of "The Hermit Kingdom," North Korea.  At left, his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, communist North Korea's first leader, who as a young man invaded South Korea and thus led his country into a bloody war with a United Nations-approved coalition.

Meanwhile, from China comes a statement yesterday from China that they had NOT increased troop strength at their border with North Korea... a statement that could be read in a number of ways, including that they HAD, or that they're considering it.  In any case they are concerned certainly about the recent apparent murder of Kim's half brother.   Excerpt and link follow separately.

 

Reuters reports:

China denied on Thursday that it had increased its troop presence on the border with North Korea after the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Malaysia.
Reports routinely circulate at times of heightened tension on the Korean peninsula of China sending troops to the border, which China always denies.
South Korean and U.S. officials say the North Korean leader's half brother, Kim Jong Nam, was assassinated by North Korean agents. North Korea has not acknowledged his death.

Some Hong Kong media last week reported that China had sent more soldiers to the border after Kim was attacked at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13. 
"As for the reports you mentioned of the People's Liberation Army increasing troops on the Chinese-North Korean border, they are totally baseless and completely fabricated," defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang told a monthly news briefing.
He did not elaborate.

Elizabeth Wurtzel, a sometime contributor to The Main Point, earlier weighed in with this observation:
Actually, dictators tend to have crazy hair. In Hitler's case, weird mustache. The Kim's: insane hair, and funny glasses. Look at Qaddafi. Look at Castro's beard. Evita's severe bun. Maggie's bouffant--though she was a dictatress manqué. President Lincoln threw members of the opposing party in jail, suspended Habeas Corpus, and had the US Army occupy the half of the country that was in rebellion--sounds kind of kingly,yes?--and he had a shock of panther-black hair. (In fact the only US President that has been bald that I can think of got his job through a series of amazing mishaps and was not elected at all: Gerald Ford.) And I am without portfolio, but I have the most amazing extremely long bottled blonde hair. Someday I will be queen of the whole wide world.

And of course, there is Medusa: Need I say more?

Yes: hairstyle is destiny. 

Read the whole Reuters story HERE.