back to article Bitcoin is ‘disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization’ says famed investor Charlie Munger

Bitcoin is "disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization" according to Charlie Munger, vice-chair of holding company Berkshire Hathaway. Munger’s opinion is significant because he and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett have for decades out-performed other investors by creating a diversified conglomerate. Munger …

  1. Michael Hoffmann
    Facepalm

    Insert meme here

    While I share quite a bit of their cryptocoin distaste, was it just me who had this "Old Man Yells At Cloud" vibe throughout this entire article?

    1. sgp

      Re: Insert meme here

      More of a pot calls kettle black vibe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Insert meme here

        Yeah, exactly. Charlie missed the train and is pissed off now being so stupid. Then again, he might have a point.

        1. Blank Reg Silver badge

          Re: Insert meme here

          Well the train is going to derail at some point, if you're on it then you'd better prepare to get off before that

        2. Yes Me Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Insert meme here

          Yes, he has a point. Bitcoin mines consume mind-blowing amounts of electrical energy, to the extent that Bitcoin is a significant contributor to climate change. It is very far from free money.

      2. Captain Boing

        Re: Insert meme here

        so true. All this "BTC is just for drug runners and kidnappers" is just people who used to be in control trying to salt the ground for areas where they aren't (can't) be in control.

        show me a clean dollar - the currency of choice for nearly all worldwide crime. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/cocaine-on-money-drug-found-on-90-of-us-bills

    2. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: Insert meme here

      Not really. There seems to be a growing swell of vocal opposition to cryptocrap, El Reg is simply reporting another instance and padded the article with other comments.

      Personally, I cannot think of a single thing fake gold adds to society. Other than another opportunity for a few to get rich at the expense of others, society was desperately short of these. They should be banned globally just for the carbon footprint.

      1. Dave_uk
        Facepalm

        Re: Insert meme here

        Just like our wonderful FIAT money you mean....!

        1. John Sager

          Re: Insert meme here

          At least fiat money doesn't take an increasing number of power stations to make.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Insert meme here

            That's rather the point - Fiat money doesn't take anything to produce. The rate of supply of the currency is arbitrarily controlled by someone who is not you.

            1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Insert meme here

              Quote

              "Fiat money doesn't take anything to produce. The rate of supply of the currency is arbitrarily controlled by someone who is not you."

              The same can be said for bitcoin, although the supply of the currency is more tied to the number of GPUs a miner can attatch to a PC.

              Which brings us to a fundlemental law of economics

              "An asset is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it"

              This applies to anything, shares, gold, FIAT money, bitcoins, dutch tulip bulbs, and graphics cards.

              EG I paid 1400 for a new pc with a 3060ti card in it, listing the card on ebay I can easily make 1000-1200 for the card alone, its only worth 400-500.. but someone will be willing to pay 1000 for it as it can mine bitcoins.

              Same goes for my house, 200 000 I could get for it, but its physical worth is about 80 000.

              The real trick is to cash out at the top of a bubble and not be caught holding an asset when the price collapses (although if bitcoin collapses, that will make the gamers very happy to get cheap GFX cards again.)

              PS Bitcoin here represents any of the crypto-currencies.. so dont get your knickers in a twist

              1. LovesTha

                Re: Insert meme here

                Supply of bitcoin is fixed, your compute power just changes the distribution of bitcoins and the difficulty.

                1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  A bit like gold then. The Gold Standard was always deflationary, because as the economy grew everything had to total up to the same value -- the value of gold held in deposits, and that was constant.

                  Fiat currencies allow for fractional banking, where a bank gets money from its customers, and then lends it multiple times, hoping not every customer will want their money back at the same time. It also means that, at then end of the loans, the bank has MORE money to lend, and so the economy has grown, ie there is more fiat currency available.

                  The problem the establishment have with crypto is that THEY don't control it. And that's bad. (Well, they think that's bad, which might not be the same thing. :-)

                2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  Supply of bitcoin is fixed
                  Until enough of the miners band together and decide to increase or remove the limit.

              2. Wayland Bronze badge

                Re: Insert meme here

                That's not how it works. Blocks can only be generated at a fixed rate no matter how much compute power is thrown at it. If you personally have more compute power you will get more of the reward, proportionally.

                The less electricity cost you spend then the more profit. When the value of the coin is less than the electricity to mine it then you stop mining.

                Everyone keeps expecting it to crash, which it does sometimes but it won't go away until there is something better.

                As for your graphics card value it has a cost to produce and deliver with a sensible mark up, that's the recommended retail price. Then it has a value depending on who wants it and what it can do for them. Right now an RX 480 8GB is £350 and an RX 470 4GB is £200 on ebay. They are the same card and in games they are practically the same yet one can mine Ethereum and the other cannot. In November the RX 470 4GB was £70 and the 8GB was £110.

                People are always looking for weaknesses in the market in order to make a profit. For instance at one time it made sense to pare an RX 470 with a Core 2 Quad for a cheap system. You did not get the full speed from the RX 470 but it made for a workable system. However with the same GPU now costing £200 it makes more sense to pair it with an i7 or better CPU because that gets all the performance from the most expensive component. Consequently the i7 chips fetch good money where as the Core 2 Quad have crashed out of the market. Also due to the fact both would use the same DDR3 RAM which is better invested in an i7 system.

                So no, the value of something cannot be taken in isolation. What can it do for the various people who might want to buy it? What else would they be spending their money on that might be better value?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Insert meme here

              The maximum number of Bitcoins is arbitrarily limited. And ultimately, all Bitcoins will end up locked forever in a wallet whose password was lost.

              So yes, I'm opposed to literally burning vast amounts of energy merely to produce currency. Currency is a symbol of value to make exchanges easier. If the currency holds the cost itself, that's barter, and we don't need currency for that.

              1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                Re: Insert meme here

                So yes, I'm opposed to literally burning vast amounts of energy merely to produce currency. ..... Anonymous Coward

                How very odd whenever that is the earthly default to produce electricity current.

                And you can huff and you can puff and you can blow all sorts of smoke and mirrors for as long as you like at .....

                amanfromMars [2105021751] ..... blasting with both barrels on https://www.zerohedge.com/political/fundamental-economic-problem-bidens-rescue-plan

                All government action ultimately rests on its power to levy taxes.

                Oh, and Charlie, he would be saying that, wouldn't he ...... and that allows for us to ponder on his prognostications as being more allied to MRDA than Streisand Effectual.

                What absolute nonsense, peddled by the bankers and their terrified supporters, pimping and pumping and dumping and printing fiat currency notes for Federal Reservists ..... a little club, and you aint in it.

                The levying of taxes is a collusional government crime perpetrated on the masses to disguise the fact that the supply of essentially valueless fiat paper is that which is used to command and control dissent and subvert progress to excessively server wealth and paper tiger power to an ungodly few.

                ......... but you cannot plausibly deny and pretend it is not perfectly true.

                Oh, and Charlie, he would be saying that, wouldn't he ...... and that allows for us to ponder on his prognostications as being more allied to MRDA than Streisand Effectual.

            3. vtcodger Silver badge

              Re: Insert meme here

              "Fiat money doesn't take anything to produce."

              Not exactly. At its root conventional money is IOUs and a large part of its "value" is based on the perceived ability of the issuer to redeem them. One trouble with cryptocurrency is that there is no issuer. AFAICS, it's "value" depends mostly on the belief that there will always be a greater fool who will take it off your hands -- preferably at a profit.

              Recommended reading -- Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went by John Kenneth Galbraith. It may not change your views but it might get you thinking.

              1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                Re: Insert meme here

                In the US, fiat money is produced by someone punching some buttons at the Federal Reserve. Yes, we still print bills, but that is for the VERY small minority of cash transactions.

                The fundamental value of fiat is that it keeps the men with guns & a piece of paper off your lawn. There is no fundamental value to coin, tulip bulbs, or even gold. The utility of any of them as a store of value is precisely based on the stability of demand. The historic abuse of fiat by government was a major part of the drive to create coin. But some of us considered coin's stability to be tenuous at best.

                And to be useful as currency, a medium MUST function well as a store of value.

              2. Wayland Bronze badge

                Re: Insert meme here

                Fiat money is created in the form of loans that must be paid back. That saddles the borrower with a load of work to do. He has to work his arse off to pay that money back. It's the work that he does that gives the money it's value.

                However Fiat money can be generated as loans and no one does any work. That causes inflation as value is drained from all the existing money. You can't do that with crypto, it costs too much to produce.

                With crypto the value is in the cost to produce the coin verses the cost to exchange it for something. If you want some crypto you could sell something in exchange. If you have some crypto you could buy something with it.

                Why would any one want crypto? The same reason why people want money, so they can buy things they want.

                1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  "Fiat money is created in the form of loans that must be paid back."

                  More Nazi nonsense. It's a lie. The Governor of the Bank of England specifically called it out as straightforward Nazism and nothing more.

                  Banks simply do not create money when lending. It isn't true. It's just total bollocks. Hitler - literally, Hitler - claimed that 'Jew bankers' create money by lending. He got the idea from Henry Ford, via The International Jew.

                  You are spouting full-on Nazi axioms that are not shared by any other group, theory, politics, what have you.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Insert meme here

                    Please explain what fractional reserve lending is.

                    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                      Re: Insert meme here

                      Fractional reserve banking means that banks don't have all the cash on hand in their branches for all the money in their savings accounts. It doesn't mean that can print money, or that they can create loans out of thin air.

                      When a bank takes a deposit, and puts it into a savings account, they've taken on a liabilty (a debt) to that account holder, to pay them the money they've just borrowed back - often with interest.

                      So lets say my bank takes £1,000 each in deposits from 10 customers. My bank's accounts now look like this:

                      ASSETS----|----LIABILITIES

                      £10,000-----|cash

                      10 x accs---|£10,000

                      Now my bank's making a loss. I've got to pay those customers interest, so I need to do something with that cash I've got, or else sadness. So I make a loan.

                      Now comes the fractional reserve bit. The law states that I have to hold cash, for when some of the customers want to empty those savings accounts. So I'm not allowed to loan out the whole £10k. So I loan £9,000 to a customer to buy a house. Let's say we're back in time here, where you could buy a house for £3,000 and still have change for a bag of chips...

                      ASSETS----|----LIABILITIES

                      £1,000-------|cash

                      £9,000-------|mortgage

                      10 x accs---|£10,000

                      ==================

                      £10,000-----|£10,000

                      Obviously, this is stupidly simplified. Banks don't just lend from customers who open accounts. They can also borrow from the markets, in the form or short or long-term debt. They can also borrow from central banks (usually at higher than market rates of interest) in order to keep them liquid - and of course they can sell shares in order to gain capital, in exchange for a share of the profits in the form of dividends.

                      Banks also have a second requirement from the government, that they have to hold their own capital - which is what their original shareholders provided, and whatever new shares they sell would top up. They also sell bonds, called CoCos - which are a loan paid back in the normal way which will be converted to shares if the bank gets into financial trouble. This pool of capital is required to achieve their capital adequacy ratio, in the UK about 7% - but the Bank of England says you have to have that after a recession - and therefore the actual rate they make you keep is more like 12-13% in normal times. This capital is there to absorb losses from their loans, so that the depositors' money is protected.

                      Thus banks are prevented from lending more than about 9 times their level of owned assets, note not their level of deposits and bonds (money borrowed from the markets). The loans they make should about equal their total deposits and bonds - but they have to keep a reserve of cash on hand for immediately settling if people want to withdraw money, to avoid a run on the bank. However, if that happens, they still have a reserve of less liquid assets which they can give to the Central Bank in exchange for more expensive cash loans to keep them from collapsing, while they sort themselves out. Thus a bank can trade while illiquid (short on cash - and the Central Bank will help them), but its illegal to trade while insolvent - with more liabilities than they have assets.

                      The thing about banks printing money is a mis-understanding of money supply. Which we measure in varying ways. But basically money supply is often said to include short term deposits in banks (various flavours of M3 and M4) - This is called broad money. M0 (narrow money) is simply all the notes and coins in circulation - not a particularly important economic indicator. When the economy is booming, M3 and M4 will rise faster, because a new bank loan is new money. Why? Because the deposit in my savings account is counted as money, and so is the deposit in the bank account of the business who just borrowed money from the bank against my savings. Until that business pays back this loan, there's more money moving between people, because I've still got my unused savings - I'm just not currently spending them. But someone else is, and I'm still feeling rich, and may be spending other money because of this, rather than saving it. Hence the velocity of money has increased, hence more economic activity, hence more GDP growth and possibly more inflation.

                      When lots of loans start getting paid back, broad money supply drops - which is usually a sign of a fall in the velocity of money, which is a sign of a fall in both GDP growth and inflation. So the banks never actually see this "printed money", they're making their profits from borrowing money from me (my savings) more cheaply than they're lending it out. This is still all a simplification, this area is complicated and will make you sad if you try to study it.

                    2. new-observer

                      Re:fractional reserve banking Insert meme here

                      Banks take in money from shareholders and depositors . This is the amount available for lending. But, a reserve, against withdrawal potential is required by Central Banks to be held in cash and easily cashable securities [such as government bonds and Treasury Bills].

                      The reserve is set by the Central banks, and may be about 10%. Thus only 90% or available loan money can be actually used to make loans to businesses and individuals.

                      Any loan made has its value deducted from the available loan funds of the lending bank, and (usually) goes into the available funds of the receiving bank. As new money there, it has the reserve (say 10%) deducted against withdrawals.

                      Thus no new funds are created. Were such an Alice Through the Looking Glass situation possible, the banks would long ago have become owners of all the funds in the world. But they remain intermediaries in the whole money go-round that enables exchange necessary to modern society.

                2. Blank Reg Silver badge

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  "Why would any one want crypto? The same reason why people want money, so they can buy things they want."

                  The difference is that crypto is terrible for buying stuff. The percentage of retailers accepting crypto is so small it might as well be 0. But more importantly it fails completely as a currency as transaction rates are measured in minutes per transaction rather than 1000's of transactions per second.

            4. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: Insert meme here

              It isn't arbitrary, in any stable currency. And currencies have always had values set by whoever created them. Gold bugs are insane.

              Bitcoin, on the other hand, is nothing more or less than a scam. It is not money, can never be money, and in fact is deliberately designed that way. And, of course, it's completely insecure in that the NSA or Chinese equivalent can take control any time they want. The whole thing is a massive pile of bullocks.

              1. TimMaher Silver badge
                Trollface

                Re: “massive pile of bullocks”

                Well, it can’t be a massive pile of bollocks can it?

                They are bullocks.

                Their massive pile of bollocks is now in the butchers freezer.

              2. sev.monster Bronze badge

                Re: Insert meme here

                And how can it not be money? The only difference monetarily between Bitcoin and traditional fiat currency is that the promise of value lies with the market, and not the regulatory board that oversees it. The people give Bitcoin value, so it has value. Governments give their fiat currencies value, so it has value. If the people stop giving Bitcoin value, it will lose its value, and if government-backed fiat loses the support of its respective government...

                There are also other cryptocurrencies that are linked to more tangible assets, like Etherium smart contracts. Not all cryptocurrencies are mere proof of work and community-assigned value.

                1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  "The only difference monetarily between Bitcoin and traditional fiat currency is that the promise of value lies with the market, and not the regulatory board that oversees it"

                  Nonsense. There is a difference between something that has perceived value, and something that is money. To give a silly example, container ships are (generally) quite valuable, but bloody useless as money because you need a really big wallet. Something has to serve as a medium of exchange to do that, and quite obviously bitcoin is deliberately designed to prevent that ever happening. Hence why people talk about 'buying bitcoin', whereas you never hear of anyone going to an ATM to 'buy some banknotes'.

                  1. ChrisC Silver badge

                    Re: Insert meme here

                    "whereas you never hear of anyone going to an ATM to 'buy some banknotes'."

                    You do however hear of people going to a bureau d'exchange to buy/sell foreign currency...

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Insert meme here

                    The value of fiat fundamentally lies with the market too. The only distinction is the coercive (fiat) demand of taxation in fiat currency. If the market for the fiat dwindles, the government demands taxation in terms of debased currency. Chicken and egg. Ultimately, the government is still a participant in the market.

                  3. sev.monster Bronze badge

                    Re: Insert meme here

                    "bitcoin is deliberately designed to prevent that ever happening."

                    ...How? There are crypto ATMs in various communities globally (a family associate owns some), there are tens to hundreds of crypto marketplaces to facilitate trading between private sellers and/or between the business and the user, transactions are fast for large sums/across borders and do not require lengthy authentication and verification processes (which can be a con for some, I understand), more and more online businesses are beginning to accept crypto, and there are even some major chains that accept it. Here's the first Google result.

                    What "money" is is determined by a number of factors, and one of the big ones is ubiquity. Bitcoin is getting there. One thing it will likely never have or at least will not excel at is its stability, but that can be expected for what amounts to a fiat currency with only proof of work and the will of the people backing it. If you're going to decry Bitcoin, that should be your platform.

                    And of course no one says they will go to an ATM to 'buy some banknotes', because it's commonly understood that you go to an ATM to withdraw money from your account with a financial institution. You aren't buying anything, since that implies a transfer of value in return for (non-fiat) goods or services. The money was already yours, you just let the bank hold on to it. Due to how crypto works and its digital nature, crypto banks are not something that have a need to exist, though the financial sectors are certainly trying (cf. PRC launching its own national crypto).

              3. Wayland Bronze badge

                Re: Insert meme here

                In order to get power over Bitcoin you need a huge amount of computing power. You'd need as much computing power as is currently mining the coin plus a bit more. Now maybe you could take control of the existing power which I think has been tried but the conventional route would cost a fortune. So no, unless there are backdoors into Bitcoin no one "can take control any time they want".

                I will say that crypto based on CPUs or GPUs should be more secure against that since every gamer has the hardware to mine where as the dedicated ASICs is something only miners have. Power to the people rather than the corporations.

                After Monero based Electronium took their mining private and implemented Know Your Customer the coin crashed in value. It was no longer what you'd want from Crypto.

                1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  "In order to get power over Bitcoin you need a huge amount of computing power. You'd need as much computing power as is currently mining the coin plus a bit more. Now maybe you could take control of the existing power which I think has been tried but the conventional route would cost a fortune. So no, unless there are backdoors into Bitcoin no one "can take control any time they want"."

                  LOL. We're talking about the NSA. They don't need a backdoor, they have that much computing power, and more to spare. If they decided to put it all to work, they could take over Bitcoin. Ditto the Chinese government. (The idea they aren't doing it already is quite dubious.)

                2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  Oh, one other thing. 'Crypto' is just part of the scam. Bitcoins etc rely on a transaction history to establish ownership. Your identifier is only as anonymous as you keep it, and it's more or less impossible to access your coins without leaving traces that let it be linked to you. So you're actually creating a transaction record of you taking coins from someone else, and making that record public.

                  Anonymous bank accounts are actually anonymous, and once cash goes into one, it is indistinguishable from any other cash. (Obviously that's great for money-laundering, so it's hard to get cash from an anonymous account into banking systems in places that have anti-money-laundering regs - just as it is when trying to cash-out bitcoins.)

                  If you engage in nefarious activities and receive a large wodge of cash, you may face questions about where the large wodge of cash came from. If you do the same but with bitcoins, they'll _know_ where it came from, and that it was from a criminal. Now they want to know why you've received a large wodge of cash from a gangster. It's not going to go _better_ for you that way...

                  1. sev.monster Bronze badge

                    Re: Insert meme here

                    If you're dealing with gangsters, I think you have bigger problems than using crypto.

                    And if you are truly engaging in "nefarious activities", you use a wallet that isn't connected to any company or institution and does not have any personal transactions in it, and use a mixing service or two before you make your withdrawal into fiat.

                    If privacy is a concern, here are some links about Monero I think you should read:

                    https://cryptoticker.io/en/how-anonymous-is-monero/

                    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-crypto-currencies-altcoins-explainer-idUSKCN1SL0F0

                    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                      Re: Insert meme here

                      If you aren't a criminal, why would you care about untraceability?

                      1. doublelayer Silver badge

                        Re: Insert meme here

                        Maybe you like privacy? Or maybe you are a criminal of the type that asks for democracy in a country which doesn't like when people do that. Various reasons for wanting privacy in financial transactions exist which aren't just committing crimes. A lot of them aren't allowed under the current system to make committing those crimes more difficult, but they do exist. You can easily argue that they are insufficient reasons to have anonymous transactions and shouldn't be permitted, but you'll need to recognize what they are first.

                3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  In order to get power over Bitcoin you need a huge amount of computing power.

                  Wrong. Network-partitioning attacks against Bitcoin are not only possible, they're quite common. There are multiple papers on the subject.

            5. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              Re: Insert meme here

              > The rate of supply of the currency is arbitrarily controlled by someone who is not you.

              I think you'll find that's a fundamental aspect of money. Unless you can explain how value is defined if everyone controls their own supply?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Insert meme here

                Individuals do not individually control the value of crypto. They simply rely on a different consensus mechanism than fiat for governing supply. E.g., EIP-1559.

            6. fidodogbreath Silver badge

              Re: Insert meme here

              Really, it's all just fiat currency. Gold only has "value" because we all think it does.

              It's just as arbitrary to limit the total amount of currency available to the world economy to the known supply of an arbitrary metal.

              1. TimMaher Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish

                Exactly the point about gold.

                A deciduous money tree can contain enormous value if you think leaves are valuable.

                Until Autumn comes, that is.

                1. Stoneshop Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish

                  Or a forest fire. Or someone goes to town with Agent Orange.

                  “So in order to obviate this problem,” he continued, “and effectively revaluate the leaf, we are about to embark on a massive defoliation campaign, and ... er, burn down all the forests. I think you’ll all agree that’s a sensible move under the circumstances.”

              2. Peter2 Silver badge

                Re: Insert meme here

                Really, it's all just fiat currency. Gold only has "value" because we all think it does.

                Nope. Gold has always and will always have a relatively high value because it looks pretty and is easily worked with basic hand tools into pretty jewelery, and has a low enough melting point that it's feasible to melt in a pot over a coal fire with some bellows.

                If gold suddenly lost 100% of it's value overnight then the value would spring back up as soon as crafters started buying it up en masse to make jewelry. And that's before you even start to consider it's rather good electrical properties.

                If twitcoins lose 100% of their value then they are going to remain worthless because they are inherently worthless. The current expansion in value likely largely represents people buying them as ransom payments for criminals demanding payment via that method as they are one of the best ways of doing money laundering to avoid getting caught.

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  "Nope. Gold has always and will always have a relatively high value because [...]"

                  I disagree. It will continue to hold value because it is rare and that's it. Most of the gold currently available is stored in vaults where it can be bought or sold without ever leaving the vault. Most which does leave the vault goes to another one. The amount of gold in use for electronics or jewelry is dwarfed by that held in reserve by central banks and private investors. Also, some of the jewelry using gold has included more or purer forms of gold just so they are worth more financially, usually so the jeweler can charge a higher profit margin on the piece.

                  If a magic switch were thrown and all those using gold to store value decided it was worthless for that purpose, the price of gold would drop precipitously. It would continue to hold value, just as many other metals hold value, for its industrial and artistic uses, but that would be significantly lower. It would, for example, be a long time before gold mines started up again if ever. It is of course possible that, with gold being cheap enough to use a lot of it in industrial areas, new use cases would be developed causing more demand for it, but that cannot be guaranteed.

                2. This post has been deleted by its author

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  Gold's value is determined by market consensus that is largely unrelated to its alternative applications. The same attributes that may be considered strengths of gold are simultaneously weaknesses because it is a physical asset that must be physically handled and stored. Crypto has a different set of handling costs. As a currency and a store of value, they are essentially similar.

              3. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                Re: Insert meme here

                You might want to look up the definition of "fiat". Yes, various agencies can restrict the availability and flow of gold, but they cannot create it.

              4. Zolko Bronze badge

                Re: Insert meme here

                "Gold only has "value" because we all think it does"

                no, gold has value because thousands of years of human experience has shown that it has. That's observable science. The fact that you don't understand it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

                AND, what's more, it has even a material value: it's the best electrical conductor, it's the best material to coat contacts with, and thus, in today's electronics world, if you don't have gold you cannot make electronic devices and thus you're a Neanderthal ... oups, I should've left you in the dark.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  You might want to look up the definition for science

                2. Pat Att

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  Gold is actually not that great a conductor. Yes, it's pretty good, but copper pisses all over it. Gold is used on connectors to stop them oxidising, so they remain able to be taken on and off without having to scrape through a whole load of rust (or verdigree) to get a connection.

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Insert meme here

                  This puts a floor of value on gold under conditions where a society that has applications for gold exists. But the same organizational infrastructure supports the value of crypto for the utility that gold lacks as a financial instrument. Given the right circumstance, gold can be worthless to someone or some group. It only depends on what they need or want.

          2. DRue2514

            Re: Insert meme here

            Fiat money also uses energy. Think of the power used to create notes and coins, transport them throughout their lifespan and the energy consumed by all the bank branches, their IT systems and Head Offices. The system still uses energy it is just not as easy to calculate as Bitcoin which can also locate to the cheapest, often waste energy source, wherever it is.

        2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: Insert meme here

          Why do you coiners and goldbugs always capitalise "fiat"? It's not a car.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Insert meme here

        > There seems to be a growing swell of vocal opposition to cryptocrap,

        There does *seem* to be a swell of opposition, does there not? It was interesting to have someone in the pub come over and point at the Daily Express on their phone: a cheery announcement about 'BRITcoin' next to a headline about Bill Gates supposedly slamming Bitcoin but which infact was an 'article' recycled from vague things he said in 2016.

        The swelling of criticism regarding the energy consumption of Proof of Work crypto is likely genuinely felt by many folk. However, that may be due to seeing the status quo in a more favourable light than it deserves.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Insert meme here

        All their criticisms against BitCoin can also be aimed at cash.

        The big downside of BitCoin is its energy consumption. That was an oversight in its development. While making it harder and harder to mint new coin is a good way of controlling the amount of BC in circulation, it does mean that it is too expensive to produce.

        Likewise, transactions are too expensive - in terms of energy and time.

        BitCoin, the idea, interesting and generally good. v1 implementation, lacking in several areas.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Insert meme here

          The big downside of BitCoin is its energy consumption

          I'd call that another deplorable side effect. The main issue with cryptocurrency is its limited supply (compared to the financial market) and low distribution. This means that a few major players are able to game the system for profit at the expense of others. A bit like the stock market but with even fewer rules and consequences for abuse.

          That it can also be used to hide value transfer from taxation is, of course, another attraction but that now seems to run into AML problems as governments and financial structures have woken up to the fact that cryptocurrencies are used to try and bypass controls that are there for usually quite sensible reasons (hence its increasing use in the criminal world) and start question origins of funds.

          That said, by all means play with it. Just consider it as any other investment: you may lose a lot too.

          1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: Insert meme here

            That said, by all means play with it. Just consider it as any other investment: you may lose a lot too.
            It's no more an investment than putting it all on black at the roulette table.

      4. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Insert meme here

        "They should be banned globally just for the carbon footprint."

        Definitely this. Bitcoin can't be used as a transaction currency because it's too volatile, and it's high value + mining difficulty means that transaction costs are too high / transactions are too slow.

        I generally like the idea of cryptocurrency but it has to be clear what it's for. If it's for transactions, not speculation, it has to have a stable value.

        If it's for anonymity, while I like the idea of being able to make transactions anonymously (as with cash), that anonymity is abused by corrupt politicians, organised crime, money launderers etc etc. So if it's possible to limit the monetary volume of anonymous transactions per person that would be great. But if it's truly anonymous that 'per person' limit is impossible to achieve.

        If the idea is to cut out a central gatekeeper such as Visa/MC or the big banks, I'm absolutely in support given the amounts they suck out compared to the value they add (for example payments still being done in overnight batches and taking days to complete, when the technology exists to complete every transaction in seconds). But fighting financial crime requires some sort of trust network, and having a central institution do due diligence on financial actors is a good middle ground between complete anonymity and complete transparency.

        It seems to me that modern 'online' banks satisfy the criteria of lower transaction costs (including currency exchange at interbank rates) and immediate(-ish) transactions.

        The other big perceived advantage of crypto is that it is not state-issued fiat money and therefore cannot be devalued arbitrarily. But then again, it is generally issued arbitrarily by a private organisation or foundation, and even if they can't devalue their crypto at will because of algorithmnic restrictions, you're left with the downside of only having any value if enough people worldwide subscribe that value to it. In theory no different to any fiat money backed by gold, but in practice the major fiat currencies are universally accepted, bitcoin much less so and (whatevernewcoinjustcametothemarket) even less so than that.

        1. sev.monster Bronze badge

          Re: Insert meme here

          FYI, Bitcoin is not anonymous, unless you consider writing a fake name in the hotel check-in log while you are watched by crowds of people "anonymous". No precautions are taken to obfuscate the Bitcoin ledger.

          While it is possible to set up a twisty-turny trail of transactions, all of them are still out in the open, and if your wallet has ever seen a transaction to or from a managed wallet or exchange owned by a large company that requires sign up with your full name and address... well, you can see how that would be incredibly easy to track.

        2. DRue2514

          Re: Insert meme here

          Transactions can take about 10 mins on Bitcoin, which to transfer large amounts of value internationally as an end to end transaction is otherwise very difficult to do. But Bitcoin is best seen as a highly secure, trusted, decentrailised base layer of money.

          On the other hand the lightning network is a layer 2 protocol which would compare much more closely with VISA/MC allowing instant, very low cost transactions financially and economically (theorectically millions per second which is way more than VISA at about 60K per second). It can also be used to transfer fiat to fiat payments between users with different currencies without the end users even owning the underlying Bitcoin. This is why VISA/MC are taking crypto seriously.

          Judging by many of the comments here people have been getting much of their knowledge of the crypto space around sound bites and media articles which tend to be very inaccurate. I agree on the face of it many NFT's and coins like Doge are just ridiculous but delve deeper, there is much more to see. But it takes a lot of time and effort.

      5. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Insert meme here

        "Personally, I cannot think of a single thing fake gold adds to society."

        I'm inclined to agree. The merit of an "asset" backed solely by happy thoughts seems a bit dubious. What happens when, as will happen sooner or later, people stop thinking happy thoughts?

        The one virtue I can see to bitcoin et al is their ability to fuel dubious activities without requiring the somewhat risky exchange of physical tokens -- traditionally Gold or small unmarked bills. (Although I believe that in practice. large transactions may not be as untraceable as the participants might hope). And that's really only a virtue to kidnappers, ransomware distributors and perhaps those in the drug trade.

        1. DRue2514

          Re: Insert meme here

          It is not backed by "happy thoughts" it is back by mathematics energy and transactions are certainly not anonymous. Funds used in the silk road days have been traced and seized not to mention how much the banks have been fined for money laundering over the past decade.

          It is also easy to dismiss some aspects if you live in a first world county but if you live in a country with a volaltile exhange rate where money can be deflated away, confiscated at will then you might not think it 'contary to civilisation' like Munger and Buffet. They have done very well out the existing monetary system (i.e. Cantillion effect) so they certainly wouldn't want to see anything challenging that.

          Millions of people around the world don't have access to banks, credit etc. But they have a smart phone.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Insert meme here

            Have you heard of asset forfeiture and its applications in the US?

          2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: Insert meme here

            > Millions of people around the world don't have access to banks, credit etc. But they have a smart phone.

            All true, but Bitcoin doesn't provide the solution here either - see eg M-Pesa.

      6. Qarumba
        Childcatcher

        Re: Insert meme here

        What carbon footprint? Surely they are using all that 'free' green electricity like EVs use?!

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Insert meme here

          A takedown of a point of view that literally no-one has ever espoused.

          1. sev.monster Bronze badge

            Re: Insert meme here

            If you think no one has ever made that argument you need to go outside more. I've heard it personally.

            1. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

              Re: Insert meme here

              I've made it personally! To whit, the EV purchaser looked at me as it I was utterly insane! They could not believe that their precious EV was powered by electricity created by the EVIL fossil fuel! I do sometimes think they believe the electricity they put into their EVs is made from fairy dust!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Insert meme here

              A more nuanced view would be that crypto PoW subsidizes green generation capital expenditures by consuming off-peak capacity in low-cost generating locations opportunistically.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Insert meme here

        I'd go with TulipCoin, not fake gold, but while cryptocurrencies could be useful in ousting the chokehold Visa and MasterCard have on the payment networks, Bitcoin isn't going to do that anytime soon.

        Any cryptocurrency could do that as easily at 25 cents as it could at $60,000. It just needs to be able to close the volume of transactions needed at "I'm standing in the checkout line at Costco speeds", which Bitcoin can't and never will.

        But the people who got in early want and need the mania to keep pulling in new suc... ER "Investors" and the gamblers that see the writing on the wall are still hoping to cash in before the next bubble bursts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Insert meme here

          You do know that there are multiple layers to crypto and multiple cryptocurrencies in ongoing development. Don't you?

      8. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Insert meme here

        Didn't you just describe the USA Dollar?

    3. eamonn_gaffey

      Re: Insert meme here

      Yes, but the old man in question knows a lot more about efficient and highly profitable allocation of capital than almost anyone else, as demonstrated by his investment track record. Personally, I'll take the shouting if I can have the returns :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Insert meme here

        I'll take the BTC and ETH if I can have the returns. Come to think of it, I do.

  2. Def Silver badge

    I hate the Bitcoin success and I don’t welcome a currency that’s so useful [for] kidnappers in our stores and so forth

    Says old man who missed the Bitcoin boat and doesn't like other people investing and making money without him getting his cut.

    As for the second part, I'm pretty certain suitcases of cash are still far more useful for actual, real kidnappers.

    1. Stork Silver badge

      Here is another old man who missed out:

      https://www.johnkay.com/2018/03/05/bitcoin-boon-bubble/

      </sarcasm>

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Your use of "old man" suggests that you believe Bitcoin is for the young and upcoming...

      Hah, no, even with Bitcoin you will be under the thumb of very rich "old" men. It is not the escape you are looking for. We are still plebs after all.

      Rich "old" men can buy Bitcoin with their existing wealth. You probably cant. If you have a few coins from the early experimental days, that is likely your lot. It is stagnent.

      I invested early on in Bitcoin but I still hate the stuff, it is an example of a failure in how we as a society run. But of course it will be used to control the less privileged.

      It is boring. I much rather do science with my short time on this planet.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Charlie Munger is 97. That's why I used the term "old man".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I find finance less interesting than more directly productive development too. But you should not blithely dismiss its significance. Regardless of whether the societal deck is stacked (and it is, I agree), abstention is not an option. So hold on to your BTC. You might be glad you hedged.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...making money without him getting his cut."

      That's just it though, making money to make money. Crypto doesn't seem to be a currency at all. It's akin to printing a dollar bill just to sell the actual dollar bill, not to use it for any goods or services at all. Crypto CURRENTLY doesn't make economic sense, it's one big scheme between the miners and power companies, everyone else involved are basically just steamboat gamblers. It's kind of fucked up, but if you can change your stars with it, God speed to you.

      1. sev.monster Bronze badge

        How do you think promisary notes got any value to begin with? Your analogy is dishonest, because back in the days of yore, the governments printed their notes with the express purpose to immediately turn around and "sell" them, specifically as IOUs for services and materials, like labor and rare metals. All fiat is just trading one promise of value for another promise of value. The analogy wouldn't even make sense if you replaced dollars with coins, since they often have some intrinsic value, unlike Bitcoin or promisary notes.

        The government promised to give out an amount of gold as stated on their fancy IOU, while people buying bitcoin desire to buy it at a particular price because they choose to give it value for one reason or another (cost associated with mining, investment in the community, andi-government sentiment...). Both situations offer a valid medium of exchange, like it or not. The real difference here is that the latter is not currently a reliable store of value, and that the ink used to print it is much, much more expensive.

    4. redpola

      Minor point: the transcription was wrong. The quote is “kidnappers and extortionists”.

      https://youtu.be/gx-OzwHpM9k?t=3h42m32s

  3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Stop

    Bitcoin analysis (stolen from Twitter)

    "Imagine a child's concept of an evil businessman. He plugs in his pollution machine to make money. It doesn't do anything for anybody, just pollutes and then he gets money for it."

    1. theOtherJT

      Re: Bitcoin analysis (stolen from Twitter)

      Best explanation of bitcoin I have heard to date.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bitcoin analysis (stolen from Twitter)

      That is indeed a child's concept of Bitcoin.

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Does anyone else picture Charlie Munger as looking like Mr Burns from the Simpsons after reading this article?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If not crypto...

    ...how else will we transfer economic dominance to China?

    Even western countries will tire of plastic trinkets eventually. Possibly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If not crypto...

      That has already happened - it's just not visible yet and Covid19 slowed things down a bit.

      In my opinion, the dollar is pretty much done for as it's still tied to fossil fuel sales.

      The first step was getting Chinese currency accepted as reserve currency by the World Bank. The next step was buying up debt. The step in progress right now is power generation, through which the dollar will slowly be leveraged away from its dominant position as energy currency (if you wonder why this is important, it's because it forces other countries to keep dollar reserves to buy energy).

      I reckon the US dollar is at most 10 year away from serious trouble.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: If not crypto...

        Do you even realise that's straight up Neo-Nazi propaganda?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If not crypto...

          Do you even realise that's straight up Neo-Nazi propaganda?

          You might want to check the dosage of whatever it is you're on, this has nothing to do with Nazis or Neo Nazis. It's simple straightforward trending combined with economics.

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        2. sev.monster Bronze badge

          Re: If not crypto...

          Why must people inject Hitler into every situation as if it somehow makes sense? If anything the Russians are better at espionage and the cultivation of propaganda than the Germans.

          I want to crawl in your noggin just to follow the synapses that were responsible for creating that particular thought.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: If not crypto...

            It's not a tenuous link. Outright sieg-heiling Nazi-salutes-in-the-street nutcases say that shite about the dollar and China. No-one else.

            1. sev.monster Bronze badge
              Black Helicopters

              Re: If not crypto...

              I regret even attempting to engage in discourse with you elsewhere in this thread. You are clearly very biased and not at all open to other people's opinions or ideas.

              Continue living in your bubble where large masses of reincarnated Nazis walk the street praising Hitler.

              1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                Re: If not crypto...

                Are you seriously suggesting Nazis just went away after 1945?

                That's the kind of thing you chaps would like the gullible to believe, obviously.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: If not crypto...

                  The rise of the Chinese economy at the expense of the American one is an idea that's been around for a long time. True or not, the fact that some Nazi's believe it doesn't make it Nazi propaganda. Just like Nazis also eat hamburgers, but that doesn't make hamburgers "Nazi foodstuffs".

                  1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                    Re: If not crypto...

                    That has nothing to do with the Nazi conspiracy theory posted.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: If not crypto...

                      .. in a manner similar to how like your conspiracy theories do not even hold a tenuous connection with reality and the original topic at hand.

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: If not crypto...

        I reckon the US dollar is at most 10 year away from serious trouble. ..... Anonymous Coward

        What odds are being offered on the alternatives ..... 10 minutes/10 hours/10 days/10 weeks/10 months? Have markets any hedge on those bets?

        Some of those I agree are bound to be long and too short, but 10 years away in the likes of the ways that systems and revolutionary planning are easily quickly changed and arranged today in these emerging days of almighty 0days, is far too long a time to be realised likely rather than fancifully hopefully imagined to be able to survive and prosper and deliver the necessary top dog, exclusive equity, future goods until then whenever there is so much rabid competition and ruthless opposition.

        Hoping for something to be done always leaves it undone and present as a burden in the company of others following greater leads on flashier missions ....... SMARTR AIdVentures.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If not crypto...

        Let's start with your steps:

        - getting Chinese currency accepted as reserve currency. This certainly wasn't the first step and I'm not sure it is perpetually guaranteed.

        - The next step was buying up debt. Given that the Chinese brought significant amounts of US debt since the 90's, this was the first step. While it potentially allows the Chinese to flood the bond market, it also allows the US to take equally drastic steps and declare the bonds worthless. At which point the US$ and RNB will likely stop being reserve currencies although the US$ is likely to be quickly accepted again. Note that this is an extremely drastic action and more subtle, smaller scale forms are likely to be the worst that would be seen in reality rather than worst case and the worst case demonstrates that neither side has an unstable position.

        - the energy market is an interesting choice given the likely future. Petrochemicals are already in decline and renewables will significantly alter the ability to continue to have a significant global energy market. If China plays fair and keeps to its carbon targets rather than spending coal on crypto mining, then maybe it will no longer produce a third of the global crypto currencies and lose its dominance there too? Although its not just power - it's also the cheap cryptominers that the world craves too. Unless of course crypto just ends up being speculative and Chinas advantage becomes a busted flush...

        And we've come full circle - at no point is the future of any of those steps certain.

        If you want certainty, invest in a house with a small farm at least 50 meters above sea level. The certainty may only be that you hate farming but its something I guess.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If not crypto...

          Almost right, except for one thing.

          Which is the only country that actively has the first LFTRs live, has an entire University dedicated to this technology and holds the patents to the solution of handling hot fluoride salts without it corroding pipes, pumps and other parts into oblivion? Sure, they're collaborating with other countries (explicitly non-US), but they hold the patents. They also have far more fuel for this than they will ever be able to finish as a side effect of digging for fun stuff like neodymium and other rare earth minerals, or do you think it was just a fluke that they stopped exporting ore and only provided finished product?

          The big ticking time bomb is that that energy generation is heading towards fossil fuel price parity. When that happens, things may get ugly.

      4. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

        Re: If not crypto...

        If/when/as the dollar slides vs the yuan, the CCP looses its special advantage in being the worlds cheapest source of manufactured goods. The balance would change.

        Bretton Woods was a necessary thing for the US even as the dollar became less valuable compared to the basket. China knows all about Bretton Woods and is terrified that what happened to the JP yen could happen to the CN yuan.

        I agree with you that the present is not sustainable, and I don't know exactly what the future holds.

  6. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
    Coat

    Hmm ...

    I must be getting old.

    I had assumed the "Guinea" was still the preferred unit for legal fees, financial transactions, bribes and ransom demands.

    1. jonathan keith Silver badge

      Re: Hmm ...

      Only between gentlemen. Or gentlemens' turf accountants.

  7. Merefield

    I agree, it's a grotesque Ponzi scheme masquerading as revolutionary technology.

    There are so many silly arguments held up in its defence, the best being "it's (way, way way) better than FIAT".

    The silly thing is no-one sensible keeps significant wealth in 'FIAT' anyway, it's just a means of valuation and exchange, so the comparison is totally bogus.

    If you hold a fundamentally quality, tangible asset like a nice house, you don't care if "FIAT" devalues, because it's value will just climb. And luckily if you decide to sell, you can barter in Pounds or Dollars quite easily and don't have to worry if the value of it just moved by 10% in the last hour! (HODL!)

    The fact is there are is now a gold rush to buy up valuable GPU's, for no other reason than to exploit the exponential stupidity of the greater fool, whilst burning more and more carbon and driving up electricity costs (and GPU's) for everyone.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      I store all my wealth in batteries; my credit rating is AAA.

      "The silly thing is no-one sensible keeps significant wealth in 'FIAT' anyway..."

      You're not wrong. But most of the things-that-are-valuable are valuable because of their scarcity not because of their usefulness:

      Art only looks pretty. Gold has one or two uses besides looking pretty but that's not why it's pricey. Land is useful but the value is not proportional to the area, the topography and the quality of the soil. And the stock-market valuation of a company rises and falls because of the scarcity (or lack thereof) of shares. In theory, that scarcity correlates with a company's revenue generating potential. (That's the genius of the stock market: it connects scarcity with utility.) But the tech sector has broken that. We have a few people with a lot of spare wealth to store taking punts on ever wilder assets.

      I was going to suggest the only viable long-term store of value is the joule. The usefulness of joule never changes. But as oil barons and nuclear reactor designers know, sources of joules can be very fashionable. And should a cheap source of energy (*cough* fusion *cough*) reduce the scarcity of joules, their human value would decrease in like with their availability.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: I store all my wealth in batteries; my credit rating is AAA.

        > I was going to suggest the only viable long-term store of value is the joule.

        Nice concept, with several pleasing side effects: energy dissipation would encourage the kind of investment-over-savings that governments are always pushing their populace to do. Also, bitcoin mining would literally be burning money.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I store all my wealth in batteries; my credit rating is AAA.

        And should a cheap source of energy (*cough* fusion *cough*) reduce the scarcity of joules, their human value would decrease in like with their availability.

        Fusion maybe in the future, but LFTRs are heading already there, right now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...the best being "it's (way, way way) better than FIAT".

      Is it a cult? It does look like a cult.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Always be a spade seller in a gold rush.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My house if for living in.

      Inflating its fiat value only increases my property tax burden in fiat terms.

      But you're right that nobody sensible keeps significant value in fiat. They diversify into assets that include crypto. Because denialism about its utility is ignorant at best, or otherwise obtuse.

  8. vtcodger Silver badge

    A big battery in Texas

    Actually, Texas probably needs BOTH a big battery and more natural gas generation. Elon Musk has been remarkably unforthcoming about the need for and economics of the big battery in South Australia. But it seems actually to be necessary because wind and solar can often be kind of bursty -- think a nice Summer day with soothing, intermittent breezes and clouds scuttering across the sky. Unlikely as it may sound, the low points between gusts and due to clouds are conventionally handled by stealing rotational energy from every motor generator on the grid. That works fine. If you aren't overly dependent on bursty electrical suppliers.

    But the climate warriors envision a world driven almost entirely by wind and solar. Try that, and you are looking at a world with far fewer motor generators attached to your grid. You'll need another buffer. A big battery can do it. How big? I don't think anyone actually knows. But pretty big.

    Why more gas generators as well? Because -- as became evident during this year's once in a decade freeze -- short term, Texas has inadequate worst case electrical generation capability. Natural gas is probably the cheapest/best way to provide it.

    1. Francis Boyle

      Re: A big battery in Texas

      The Hornsdale battery is nothing to do with wind and solar being intermittent. It's was built solely to prevent a repeat of the blackouts that happened in 2016. That and to make a nice bit (a lot) of money doing grid stabilization but that was just happy side effect.

    2. khjohansen
      Headmaster

      “Wind and Solar can be kind of bursty“

      Not if you look outside your back yard it isn’t; both are powered by Mother Sun - you just need a grid of some size (and preferably less loss than now)

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A big battery in Texas

        The problems with Texas gas in the snow storm weren't caused by ERCOT or a lack of electricity - the pipes weren't winterized and valves "stuck". Something US regulators had been trying to address for years.

        In terms of the wind capacity - 30GW is peak capacity in summer. Winter capacity is significantly reduced (approx 12GW) even before snow storms. It is believed wind turbines were producing around 3GW prior to the storm as many had already been shutdown in preparation for high winds. While wind contributed to the inability to service peak demand, the removal of ~40GW of natural gas powered generation was a significantly more important issue that all the wind turbines in Texas couldn't have solved.

        1. Dimmer

          Re: A big battery in Texas

          I stand corrected on the power from the wind turbines. I went back and looked it up. Data is from the ERCOT site. On 2 /15 I sent this out to my guys:

          We are only getting 4,435 MW from the wind generators down from 5,400 MW at midnight.

          I am not advocating increasing wind usage.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A big battery in Texas

            "I am not advocating increasing wind usage."

            Given Texas is a net exporter of electricity already, the sensible options are either more wind (peak load is generally AC in summer) and joining the larger US grid properly and contributing to shared resources that benefited the whole of the US...

            But just starting to follow nation regulatory advice would be a good start too - they were doing it via increased wind to address peak load but were ignoring the parts around protecting existing gas generation. To be caught out 3 times in a decade suggests the current practices aren't appropriate.

        2. Spanners Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: A big battery in Texas

          Something US regulators had been trying to address for years.

          Can I idly speculate that some very rich people prevented this?

    4. Roj Blake

      Re: A big battery in Texas

      You don't need batteries to store energy.

      One alternative would be to use the surplus electricity generated during the day to liquify air, and then release the air to drive turbines at night.

      Another would be to use the surplus to generate hydrogen (from the splitting of water) or methane (from carbon dioxide and water) and then put it into the existing gas infrastructure.

      1. Roboiii

        Re: A big battery in Texas

        Or we could make the logical decision and create more and better nuclear reactors. Thorium.

    5. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      Re: A big battery in Texas

      It always amazes me that people advocate a method of generating energy, solar, so they can save the planet from heating, that releases 90% of the suns energy into the atmosphere as heat!

      Some solar farms release so much heat they actually have an effect on the local (quite localized) weather.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not interested in owning Bitcoin but I like the anarchic aspect of sticking a spoke in the wheel of the financiers.

    1. Bitcoin energy use is immeasurably small compared to the fiat driven global trade system. How many thousands of data centres are there around the world flipping bits for the fiat driven financial system? I heard BT alone for example uses 2% of UK electricity. How many ships, trucks and aircraft pass each other across the oceans and continents using energy carrying the same goods to each others markets rather than using locally produced goods, just because of stupid trade pact rules?

    2. The fiat system by orders of magnitude supports more criminal activity than bitcoin ever has or probably ever could. For fiat it may be 'legitimised' and in the open because of weak legislation and corruption but to any reasonable person it is still criminal much of what goes on particularly in the banking sector.

    3. The fiat system drives so much activity that produces absolutely nothing of any value but more fiat by simply moving things around to avoid taxation and charging fees etc.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      That's a stupid argument at so many levels I barely know where to begin.

      BT, for all it's inefficiencies, at least does something useful - chances are your post and mine both travelled over an openreach line. Had you picked a hedge fund, or spread betting firm your argument might make more sense.

      Second, Bitcoin mining uses an estimated 0.59% of energy consumption. That's not "immeasurably small", by virtue of the fact that you can write it down as a number.

      Third, given that 100% of global economic activity in the last 200 odd years has been enabled by the "fiat system", I'm not sure what you're aiming at. Fiat currencies paid for 100% of everything. Your argument is as effective as blaming criminality on air.

      Whatever the many, many faults the global financial system undoubtedly has, it has the virtue of not requiring an ever increasing amount of energy just to build the raw materials on which it functions. Proof-of-work cryptocurrencies solve none of our problems, while exacerbating one (excessive energy consumption) for no tangible benefit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I agree, and I worked for a cryptocurrency exchange..

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fucks sake, would you stop bringing Jews and Nazis into this thread? Enough already. You're the only one trying to make this link. No one is buying. Go away.

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. Roboiii

        Yes, fiat "paid" for everything as a hidden tax that devalues the product of your labor every time more paper is printed or zeros entered on a computer. Crypto is better simply because it's inherently more honest. #endthefed.

    2. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

      "The fiat system by orders of magnitude supports more criminal activity than bitcoin ever has or probably ever could."

      Serious question - are there any published cases of a company using ordinary bank transfer to payoff ransomware? If $crypto were not an option, would ransomware be severely crimped?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        "Serious question - are there any published cases of a company using ordinary bank transfer to payoff ransomware? If $crypto were not an option, would ransomware be severely crimped?"

        That is going to depend on how technical we want to be. Yes, there have been bank-based ransomware attacks, mostly in the past. The first noted case of ransomware was in 1989 and requested a bank transfer. If we're using that example though, the malware didn't work very well and the perpetrator was arrested.

        In principle, it's not very difficult to use a bank-based system to operate ransomware businesses. Note here that I'm not referring to using anonymous payments in cash, which would also work. There are scams that use the banking system against someone to steal their money, and criminals frequently operate those scams alone. It wouldn't be difficult to use them in conjunction with ransomware. A simple such scam is sending someone a counterfeit transfer which the bank initially acknowledges then requesting the recipient to transfer cash to the criminal. The second payment succeeds, the first fails, and thus the criminal has stolen money. If the criminals can do that, it's not difficult to imagine they just use the same transfer system to receive payments for encryption keys.

        Cryptocurrency is more often used today for that extra level of anonymity, but it is not in any way required. If it wasn't available, most of the organized groups would find a new way to accept payment. For example, if targeting relatively wealthy businesses, they could reduce the ransom from $currency 150000 to $currency 147000 and someone to fly somewhere safer with cash. It would make things harder for individuals, but others would figure it out.

  10. eldakka Silver badge

    “Nor do I like just shuffling out a few extra billions and billions and billions of dollars to somebody who just invented a new financial product out of thin air.”

    While I agree with his take on Bitcoin, that quote applies just as equally to most of the banking/investment(hedge funds etc.) industry doesn't it?

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      It is a bit like hearing someone rage against made-up words.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization"

    I completely agree with that argument.

    Every single funny money scheme is just a blatant pyramid scam where the first in will have the most coins and hope that all the other idiots signing up will make the coin interesting enough that they can get rich off other people's stupidity.

    Oh, and some criminals also use it because, apparently, a blockchain ledger is not enough for law enforcement to find out where the transaction goes.

    Fail on all counts.

  12. Potemkine! Silver badge

    +1!

    Add to this that Bitcoin and al. mining required 0.5% of all the electricity produced worldwide. What a huge waste of resource, just for speculation, pay for ransomware and nasty things on the dark web. Add to this that most is mined in China, from coal-produced electricity, one of the most dirty and pollutant way to make electricity

    1. Roboiii

      Not speculation. Proof of work, blockchain, verified amount that cannot be manipulated by government and banks via the printing of more paper or the entry of additional zeros.

  13. Binraider Silver badge

    Cryptocurrency has several desirable features, chiefly the ability to conduct transactions across borders with minimal middlemen.

    Unfortunately the speculation applications of crypto are a pile of baloney and detract from its advantages.

    Bitcoins days are numbered to when the sell-off "happens". It's inevitable there will be a few winners and many losers from it. Alternative crypto formats beat bitcoins design. The transaction speed of bitcoin is now so slow the sell-off/crash may happen before anyone knows it's happened.

    Where retailers accept bitcoin for payment, what happens to the VAT on the goods (just one example where the outcome is unclear, and if govt wakes up to tax losses could clampdown on the use of the currency)

    1. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

      "Bitcoins days are numbered to when the sell-off "happens". "

      The problem is that assorted criminals 'need' some kind of currency so that keeps the demand up. That's huge.

      If bitcoin were banned in the US that would decrease its utility somewhat, and therefore the price would drop somewhat. Suddenly companies would be breaking the law if they bought bitcoin to pay off ransomware. But a ban is unlikely as bitcoin investors know the value of lobbying in DC.

      1. Roboiii

        "Banned" good luck with that kind of like banning murder or drugs. Good ideas don't require force.

  14. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Sigh...

    From the top: coin is a collectible. Suggestions that it can ever function as a store of value depend on the assumption that governments will not use their full force to squash attempts to supplant their control over the economy.

    But many, if not most, of the criticisms are just FUD noise. In fact, they reveal a strong totalitarian ethic that precisely justifies the libertarian dreaming that initiated this whole jaunt. How much CO2 is produced by the entertainment industry? Should it be shut down? Or should we let people make free choices regarding what entertainment they consume?

    Certainly, I consider the entire undertaking to be useless. But wasteful? There is actually a point to the waste. How much work did it take in 2008 for the US Fed to create $3T of fiat? The fact that it takes so much more effort to create $3T in coin is in fact a feature of coin--you cannot create arbitrary amounts of it with negligible effort.

    In the end, you have B-H praising m$ & company for being able to produce value with a limited physical plant, while criticizing coin for...producing value without a physical plant.

    Just weird.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I came here to give my anonymous two cents, but it turns out $crypto isn't much good for that after all.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money is based on work

    I do X hours work a week and make Y pounds. Barter is inconvenient, I have to find a vendor who needs what I produce. Cash allows me to convert my work to a universal token recognised in all shops. Money is a way of standardising the value of work.

    What has crypto currency got to do with any of that?

    1. Roboiii

      Re: Money is based on work

      Has to do with governments and big banks not being able to print more thereby devaluing all the money (work) you already have or have done.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Money is based on work

      "Cash allows me to convert my work to a universal token recognised in all shops. What has crypto currency got to do with any of that?"

      You already know that. Cryptocurrency is a suggested replacement to cash. It would be a token. If people agreed to accept it and you agreed to receive it from your employer, then that's the token. Or maybe one of those happens and you agree to convert between two tokens for different purposes. If you like the pound, then that's your token. If you decided you prefer the yen, then that becomes your token. If you want to use slivers of valuable metals, then those become your token (there are people who do this despite the inconvenience of trying it). You have choices and it is one. Whether it's a good one is another question, but you didn't ask that so I'll stop here.

  17. arachnoid2 Bronze badge

    Munger was rather blunter“I think it’s just God awful"

    Says a man who freely trades in shares which are no more tangible than cryptocurrency.

  18. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    “ Bitcoin is "disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization" ”

    Yes. Stupid.

  19. redpola

    Here’s the actual video of the exchange. It’s worth watching rather than reading the (inaccurate machine-generated) transcript.

    https://youtu.be/gx-OzwHpM9k?t=3h42m32s

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the point of BTC?

    I find it fascinating BTC is always quoted in terms of $US, so BTC is inflationary in dollar terms. Could this be another example of the greater fool theory?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: What's the point of BTC?

      It's deflationary so far in dollars (and everything except maybe Venezuelan bolivares). Since it is limited, that's likely to remain a factor of it. Just like lots of other limited things frequently used to invest. Gold is a great example. Usually deflationary though not as volatile since it's much older.

      There are people who will tell you that investing in gold is an example of investors being fools. There are people who will say the same of cryptocurrencies. Those people are sometimes correct and sometimes not, but at least make sure you know why they're saying what they are. If it's a simple "don't trust" without details, from either side, they likely don't understand what they're talking about.

      Also, it's frequent that things will be cited in dollars. Bitcoin is quoted in dollars. Euros are quoted in dollars. Oil is quoted in dollars. Australian dollars are quoted in dollars [U.S. kind]. This isn't something unusual about bitcoin. There are just a lot of dollars and it's currently used by default when talking about global prices of things. You can use pounds or Korean won or any other currency you like instead just by changing the setting at the bottom of any price page.

  21. Val Halla

    In the long run the most valuable commodity is water, so why do we waste resources generating crypto ?

    1. Roboiii

      A trade of value just like any other currency except government and big private banks, like the Federal Reserve (neither federal or with any reserves), the value can't be manipulated or devalued by printing more.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the long run the most valuable commodity is water, so why do we waste resources generating crypto ?

      Because Nestlé has already bought up so many water resources that they have been stopped and in some cases apparently even banned from taking more water?

  22. Spanners Silver badge
    Megaphone

    "Famed" investor

    That is quite a euphemism!

    How about "notorious"? At least, he would be notorious if I had ever heard of him. I will have to stick to the word "stereotypical" instead,

    Montgomery Burns seems to have more hair

  23. Roboiii

    Yes, disgusting to have a market based currency that the government and big banks can't manipulate the value of. Absolutely reprehensible!!!

  24. CommanderGalaxian
    Happy

    Adam Smith warned against his kind.

    LOL. Me thinks he doth protest too much.

    How annoying it must be that Bitcoin is beyond his control. And how annoying it must be that little people ganged up using Gamestop and poked him in the eye.

  25. just another employee

    Crypo tokens are not a real currency.

    Why do I say that?

    - tell me the 'value' of one unit of any crypto WITHOUT using a real (aka Fiat) currency in the answer.

    So, look down on Fiat currencies if you are a crypto fan-boy - but until you can prove they are worth something without reference to another Fiat currency, and that there are rules and regulations to protect people, you are nothing more than a lower level ponzi scheme member.

    People only accept crypto tokens when the $value of the tokens meets their requirements. They don't give a fig how many tokens it takes to reach that value. i.e. a car dealer may accept payment in tokens PROVIDED they are valued in a real currency to the value expected there and then in the real currency.

    And let's face it - 99.999% of us cannot influence a crypto token system OR a currency system. So who cares who can controls them? and why?

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