Nassim Taleb, the statistician and author best known for his 2007 book “The Black Swan,” has likened Bitcoin to a Ponzi Scheme in a new interview.
Speaking with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Taleb said Bitcoin “has characteristics of an open Ponzi.”
“There’s no connection between inflation and Bitcoin,” he said, referencing a popular line from Bitcoin devotees about Bitcoin’s being a “hedge against inflation.”
“If you want a hedge against inflation, buy a piece of land, grow—I don’t know—olives on it. You’ll have olive oil if the price collapses. With Bitcoin, there’s no connection.”
“It has characteristics of an open Ponzi scheme. Everyone knows it’s a Ponzi,” says @nntaleb on #bitcoin. “Basically there is no connection between inflation and #bitcoin … It’s well-made but there is absolutely no reason it should be linked to anything economic.” pic.twitter.com/174OJ49BLD
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) April 23, 2021
Taleb may be right to suggest there’s little reason to expect will stay valuable if inflation arrives. As the market capitalization of Bitcoin has grown (it’s been hovering around $1 trillion for some time now, though it’s a little lower today), the price has become increasingly tied to the traditional financial markets.
When the stock market collapsed last year, at the start of the pandemic, Bitcoin fell too. Bitcoin is also extremely volatile, which is to say it goes down as easily as it goes up.
And inflation may not arrive at all. Another popular line among the Bitcoin faithful is that excessive government spending during the pandemic (and President Biden’s recent stimulus package) will bring about Weimar-esque hyperinflation.
However, some analysts believe that a greater-than-expected increase in the consumer price index this past month was misleading, considering what’s known as the “base effect.” Since consumer prices were so low in March of last year, rising prices now appear boosted in year-over-year statistics.
“These gimmicks, of course—you have Bitcoin today, you may have another one tomorrow—they come and go, and there’s no systematic link between them and the claims they make,” said Taleb today.
Taleb wasn’t always so down on Bitcoin. In 2018, he wrote a piece about how Bitcoin could be “an insurance policy that will remind governments that the last object establishment could control, namely, the currency, is no longer their monopoly.”
Earlier this year, he began tweeting about how Bitcoin had “failed,” and said he was dumping his holdings.