Bitcoin: Regrets, Triumphs, Going for the Gold, and Bank of America Takes Notice


Bitcoin: hasn't crashed yet (though below 1,000 as I write)! A roundup of some interesting recent tidbits from that world.

•One of the big undertold, and by the nature of it will likely remain undertold since the potential subjects of those stories have every incentive to keep it to themselves, tales of the Bitcoin boom are specific details of the specific visionary liberty and tech types who found their belief in an agorist free future paying off in literal millions for literal half hours of effort.

But Vocativ has a nice profile of early adopted and Bitinstant entrepreneur Charlie Shrem, who without details admits he's living the high life now. Detail:

Many Bitcoiners are fervent libertarians: They believe that because Bitcoin is a decentralized currency, the government can't touch it. Shrem tells me he stays away from all that "libertarian stuff"—and yet his world view is pretty starkly libertarian.

"I don't care about politics," Shrem says. "I don't care for the Fed—I mean, I do. It sucks. I hate our current monetary policy, and I hate our current fiscal policy. I think that technology can change the world, and that technology will trump whatever the government says."

Shrem, who is also the vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, a nonprofit that spreads the word about Bitcoin, plans to re-launch his site in the next few weeks. In the meantime, he's enjoying life—and his fat stockpile of Bitcoin.

"A lot of what I do is making deals, closing deals, getting people to like me. It's impressing people. I have to take a lot of people out to clubs, buying bottles, buying dinners. BitInstant is my day job. Bitcoin is my life. I drink for free, I eat for free. It's a good life so far."

•What did lots of Bitcoin holders spend their Bitcoins on on Black Friday? According to Business Insider, $900,000 in Bitcoin value was spent at one gold and silver exchange, Amagi Metals, over Thanksgiving weekend.

Forbes reports that  Bank of America is now "the first major financial institution to initiate analyst coverage of Bitcoin" and "declared a maximum fair value of $1,300."

Wired reports on homeless men (and they aren't alone) who regret spending any of their Bitcoin on food now that they realized if they'd saved it it would be far, far more valuable now.

Between April and September, while living on the streets of Pensacola, Florida, they used their laptops and smartphones to collect a total of about four or five bitcoins. Some of it arrived through donations. Some of it came from rather unsophisticated online services that dole out tiny fractions of the digital currency if you spend some time looking at videos and ads. And over the course of the summer, this free money bought them a pretty steady supply of pizza and chicken tenders.

Today, after finding a house they can rent with a little help from the government, the trio is off the streets, and life is even better than it was before — except that a bitcoin is now worth over $1,000. "The $600 we spent would now be worth $6,000," says Angle. "I wish we had gone hungry."

His buddy Kantola feels much the same way. "We're definitely kicking ourselves. We spent $5,000 or $6,000 on food!" he says. "Back in 2009, you could have bought four bitcoins for a dollar. If I could go back [and buy some then], I wouldn't be here right now. I'd probably be in a mansion."

I wrote less than three weeks ago with some perspective on zooming Bitcoin prices when they had just topped $500--yes, less than three weeks ago. Jerry Brito wrote for Reason in our December issue on the many uses of Bitcoin protocols for a wonderful human future.