Here’s the story of the high-flying funny money that flew too close to the sun, and then there are times in life when a moment crystallizes in your mind. And increasingly, at least for me, when you can anticipate when that latest hot topic is about to jump the shark.
My father, an astute businessman and longtime savvy investor is many things, however, he is not the guy up to speed on all things new and different. A few months back, he pulled me aside, to apparently share something of great value in confidence. In a near whisper, he offered, “They are going to stop using paper currency soon son, probably time to start moving some dollars into that crypto-currency stuff.”
At that precise moment I knew that, if dad was even aware that cryptocurrency existed, that investment bubble was about to burst. Thanks for the tip, dad. Using reverse logic, you were on the money. I am admittedly not a savvy investor. Real estate has always performed pretty well for me. I am a steady saver, and my investing leans hard to the more conservative side of the ledger — money market CDs, municipal bonds and blue chip stocks. The risks of electronic cryptocurrency have largely kept me away, but I can also admit that I don’t entirely get the concept.
An endless string of coding, mostly zeros and ones, moving towards infinity. In supposedly limited supply, while still being mined and manufactured daily in data farms across the globe. International regulation is all but non-existent, the market is new enough that the federal government is still figuring it out, and extensive passcodes, which can get lost, create intricate access to even your own crypto holdings.
Cryptocurrency miners run computers in large warehouses on racks at top speed 24/7 and consume huge amounts of electricity, currently comparable to the domestic energy consumption of Norway. That electricity can’t all come from sustainable sources, meaning that the industry is also a net polluter. And whether your cryptocurrency of choice is bitcoin, luna, ethereum, or some lesser-known e-currency, they all share one thing in common at present. After hitting peak prices in 2021, their values are all down by more than 50%. In fact, the only part of the e-currency industry operating in the black is the e-currency exchanges. They each make a small commission whether prices are going up, or down.
The Federal Trade Commission also reports that more than 46,000 Americans have been stung by crypto scams since January 2021, as many still believe the myth, much more than current market dynamics. And of course, crypto boosters will tell you that all markets are cyclic and that their pricing and value will recover. For those crypto cheerleaders, I have five words for you to ponder. Electromagnetic pulse and blackouts.
Global faith in our U.S. economy and dollar are not what they once were. The mighty dollar’s days as a global reserve currency may be numbered. Those who doubt that might take note of the steep plunge in the value of the Euro, primarily brought about by the Russian attacks on Ukraine.
Domestically, the newest green energy bill to be soon signed into law is expected to expedite huge market shifts, pushed forward by government policy and tax credits, toward electric vehicles and more sustainable energy sources. Those are worthy goals, but as we are seeing globally as well as domestically with brownouts and blackouts during this summer of record heat, those green energy sources typically cannot provide high-demand baseload, in the same fashion as coal, natural gas or nuclear-generated electrical power. Our grid is also not designed for the increasing pull of EVs in every home garage, and unless we commit soon to a much larger new nuclear energy reactor fleet, we will not be able to meet base power production demand in many urban areas during summertime.
Yes, the more reliable cryptocurrencies and data mining farms do have onsite backup generators, but even fail-safes fail. Who knew that the Kryptonite for high-flying cryptocurrencies might be a combination of green energy policy and sporadic and unpredictable power outages? Innovation can still save or turn any industry apparently heading for a quick exit or downturn. And again, I am no expert, but perhaps add an endless string of XXX’s to all of those zeros and ones — it certainly seemed to work well for the porn industry.
Bill Crane is a senior communications strategist who began his career in broadcasting and has worked at the state capitol and in Washington in both political parties. Contact him at email@example.com.