Bitcoin

Bitcoin Roundup: Senator Wants to Ban It, Chinese Still Excited, Price Still Stable

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As I noted the other day, people delight in interpreting every bit of bad news related to Bitcoin as a sign that it's dead, despite evidence that people's interest in owning and using it, as measured by price, is barely affected; West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) can't wait, though, and calls for a (useless and impossible) ban of the cryptocoin, The Hill reports:

Manchin, in a letter to Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and other officials, said the administration should join other countries in banning it as a currency.

antanacoins / Foter / CC BY-SA

Manchin said he was worried about criminal use of the currency to launder money and traffic drugs, and warned it could pose a threat to the U.S. economy — especially if other countries get ahead of the U.S. in banning or regulating it.

"The clear ends of Bitcoin for either transacting in illegal goods and services or speculative gambling make me weary [sic] of its use," he told the heads of the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Future Trading Commission, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

"Before the U.S. gets too far behind the curve on this important topic, I urge the regulators to work together, act quickly, and prohibit this dangerous currency from harming hard-working Americans."

While the Chinese government has made moves to quash Bitcoin use in its nation, it isn't working that well, the South China Morning Post reports:

Since Tuesday, more than 30,000 bitcoins have changed hands in China. That's four times the usual trade volume…

Bobby Lee, chief executive of one of mainland China's biggest exchanges, BTC China, said: "Much more bitcoin is flowing around the system in China."

Hao Hong, managing director and chief China strategist at Bank of Communications, said: "I think people are trying to trade the market…."

It marks a strong return to the market for Chinese investors after the People's Bank of China moved to cool interest in bitcoin.

Mt. Gox, the big Bitcoin exchange whose disappearance launched this week's wave of "Bitcoin is dead" cheering, is the subject of a federal subpoena, likely sent pre-collapse, Reuters notes.

And the Los Angeles Times editorial page, which intelligently noted today that we need to "Let investors ride out bitcoin booms and busts," should talk to its news pages, which the other day ran a story under a headline that was not supported in any way by the facts or what's even in the article itself, "Bitcoin virtual currency is on verge of collapse."

Bitcoin price as it dies, dies, dies? Still in the $580-600 range. Which, depending on whether you are looking at five months ago or three months ago, is either a huge raise or a huge dip, but still barely affected so far by the death blow of Mt. Gox.

NEXT: Eric Holder Hospitalized

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  1. Or maybe the guys who made off with Mt Gox’s deposits are trying to unload their stash…

  2. I like Bitcoins.

    1. Congrats.

      I don’t think other crypto-currencies have a meaningful impact on BTC’s value. It comes down to places you can use it, and none of the others come close. They’ll wind up used in niches, and for specific purposes, with BTC as the reserve for (some of) them, I think.

  3. “Before the U.S. gets too far behind the curve on this important topic, I urge the regulators to work together, act quickly, and prohibit this dangerous currency from harming hard-working Americans.”

    Don’t steal. The government hates competition.

  4. CONTROLLLL!!111!!!!!!!1

    “West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin can’t wait, though, and calls for a (useless and impossible) ban of the cryptocoin”

    Because of course he does.

  5. …”Senator Wants to Ban It”…

    Well, he hasn’t figured out a way to tax it or subsidize it, so what’s he supposed to do?

    1. He’s supposed to do what Senators always do. Open their fat mouths and speak at length on things that they do not understand.

      1. I wonder if a little of this is an attempt at a Schumer-esque shakedown. “Ban this! Regulate that!” and then wait for the campaign contributions to roll in.

        Although this seems too forceful to be a subtle hint.

        1. Sir, he’s a well-intentioned retard.

  6. warned it could pose a threat to the U.S. economy ? especially if other countries get ahead of the U.S. in banning or regulating it

    WTF?

    Mr. President we must not allow a ban-nanny gap.

  7. Why would a liberal senator want to ban bitcoin? I haz a misunderstand.

    1. Simple. Their core voting blocs (particularly in WV) are not the types to invest in or support a virtual currency. It’s a wedge issue that they can use in their class warfare schtick.

      1. That could be even more fun, if they really get going on that. They’re attacking Silicon Valley all the time now. They’re just going to drive more techies and entrepreneurs to libertarianism. That’s fine by me. Let them fight it harder.

        1. I am amazed how many otherwise intelligent tech industry people swallow the progressive worldview without any critical thought. I think it’s a case of political affiliation by convenience rather than a conclusion of structured thinking.

          1. Progressives have managed to scream enough that it isn’t socially acceptable to express any other viewpoint. Plus, that progressive view tends to be a default for younger people who haven’t done the critical thinking on it. Tribal affiliation, as several here point out a lot.

            And if that critical leads to views you’re afraid to express? Better back away from that thought. Say 5 hail Krugmans and a quick prayer to the State, and you’ll be forgiven.

            1. I thought they were Heil Krugmans. Was I doing it wrong?

          2. And then act all surprised when their shit gets gone after, when it was totally predictable.

    2. The clear ends of Bitcoin for either transacting in illegal goods and services or speculative gambling make me weary [sic] of its use

      SOCONS!

  8. Please, Senator Manchin, elaborate on the methods you’ll propose or endorse in order to ban Bitcoin.

    Will you push for a China-style firewall? ISP level filtering with deep packet inspection? Require people to run a software agent on their computers to make sure they aren’t running Bitcoin? Armed raids on miners? How about developers?

    I said it last night in the PM links. The great thing about Bitcoin is how clearly it sorts statists together. I’m loving Manchin’s letter there, and I want to see who else salutes it.

    Yes, Manchin, propose tyranny. It’s a wonderful way to see who might fall on the side of liberty.

    1. Quit giving the progressives ideas.

      1. Didn’t someone say he was a semi-reasonable Dem? (before the Manchin/Toomey background check bill, of course)

    2. Please, Senator Manchin, elaborate on the methods you’ll propose or endorse in order to ban Bitcoin.

      You really think it would be that hard to ban BTC?

      I mean Iran really wants nuclear power and we’ve done a pretty good job of imposing penalties, sanctions, taxes, etc. to prevent it from happening.

      I don’t see BTC as having the intrinsic pull of electricity. I don’t think a war on BTC would end the same way as the war on drugs.

      1. In the US? Sure, they could ban exchanges. And businesses accepting it. And then watch as the rest of the world goes ahead without them. Completely new business models showing up in Germany, paying German taxes. Probably hiring lots of American’s to head over there.

        Or Panama. Cyprus. Singapore. Canada. There’s Bitcoin ATMs in 4 Canadian cities already, spreading fast.

        This is the biggest technological advance since the internet. The cat is out of the bag, it’s not going back in. If the US takes action against it, the US will lose out, and suffer a massive brain drain. Progressives will cheer it.

        1. In the US? Sure, they could ban exchanges. And businesses accepting it. And then watch as the rest of the world goes ahead without them

          To the tyrants, this is a feature, not a bug.

  9. I’m calling Bitcoin as dead. Somewhat practically, but more ethically. Either you get robbed by online drug dealers (who can you trust?) or you end up with a network of banks/exchanges (like the Fed or IMF) regulating the flow of currency with the side effect of being fiats.

    The most optimistic I get (and probably the more accurate my thinking) is, “Where can I get some Bitcoin Beta?”

    1. Nah, it’s not going anywhere. People are finding out that they have to be careful about where they store their money (who they trust to store it), but for most uses and such, there isn’t any huge trust issue.

      For instance, buying something from overstock? you’re at less risk with BTC, you’re only risking your payment, rather than your credit card information.

      Exchanges? The weakest link is gone now. There’s much more legit ones in place now, as well as brokerages.

      It’s not like anyone can really regulate the protocol.

      1. Nah, it’s not going anywhere.

        I didn’t mean to say disappearing, I meant dead. It’s not to this level yet, but people still use IE6.

        People are finding out that they have to be careful about where they store their money (who they trust to store it), but for most uses and such, there isn’t any huge trust issue.

        Am I wrong in thinking that Silk Road II was largely transacting in BTC rather than storing?

        For instance, buying something from overstock? you’re at less risk with BTC, you’re only risking your payment, rather than your credit card information.

        Right, but I don’t buy gas, electricity, guns, or a house from overstock.

        It’s not like anyone can really regulate the protocol.

        IMO, that’s a little like saying no-one can regulate the protocol of printed paper.

        1. EDIT:

          There’s much more legit ones in place now, as well as brokerages.

          Yeah, the self-regulating exchanges and brokerages. That are completely independent of and magically better than the Fed/IMF and NYSE.

          The problems with fiat currency aren’t cryptographic in nature.

          1. Ah! I think I see where we’re disagreeing.

            I’d suggest Fiat means by force of law rather than without backing.

            In which case, BTC is *not* a fiat currency, it is an unbacked currency that is valuable because it is the method that you use to conduct transactions on the peer-to-peer Bitcoin payment network.

            And as that peer-to-peer payment network shows itself to be more valuable than Visa, Western Union, bank wire transfers, etc., more and more business jump on it, increasing the value as well. P2P anywhere in the world opens up entirely new business models and markets (especially for the developing world).

            Imagine a programmer in rural China freelancing for someone in Western Europe. Someone fleeing the currency collapse in Venezuela or Argentina taking their wealth across the border as a number in their head.

            Being unbacked is an advantage in that it allows the currency to be decentralized. Any backing has to have a physical location that can be seized.

            1. Imagine a programmer in rural China freelancing for someone in Western Europe.

              This already happens, with greater payment overhead, through freelancer portals like Elance.

        2. Am I wrong in thinking that Silk Road II was largely transacting in BTC rather than storing?

          There were two seizures to silk road. One was the mixer (send coins in, get different ones out with plausible deniability/break in the chain of ownership). That had a sizable amount of coins in it.

          Second, I believe they had an escrow method, too, so that would account for some of the coins.

          Right, but I don’t buy gas, electricity, guns, or a house from overstock.

          That’s like saying you can’t buy streaming videos on the internet — in 1994. Or can’t use a credit card to buy gas, in 1960. That’s changing. The US government may be able to slow it down, but that’s about all.

          IMO, that’s a little like saying no-one can regulate the protocol of printed paper.

          Not sure I understand. I don’t think they could force people not to run the software (without the previously-mentioned “run a government monitoring program on your computer or else”). If they tried, we’d have even bigger problems. And I don’t think they could even get people to change the protocol. We’d just fork it. Rest of the world would keep running the original protocol.

          1. I’d suggest Fiat means by force of law rather than without backing.

            IMO, this is like suggesting currency means ‘storage of wealth’ rather than ‘transfer of value’. I don’t buy and sell because paper any more or less than I buy and sell because electrons. Electrons may make things more efficient, but they aren’t the sine qua non.

            When I read: http://blog.coinbase.com/post/…..ding-mtgox

            I see a decentralized and unregulated currency, centralizing and regulating. True, it’s self-regulating but a) see link below and b) the Fed and the IMF are centralized and largely self-managed.

            And when I read: http://www.reuters.com/article…..I520140227

            I see a willingness to pursue and/or collude to regulate bitcoin pretty much anywhere/everywhere.

            1. EDIT: I don’t see all the problems with Fiat currency being solved by or even falling in the domain of crypto and the unfettered optimism of BTC to magically solve them makes me less convinced.

              1. I see. I see the decentralized / non-State aspect of it as solving a massive problem with fiat — that it cannot be manipulated for political ends.

                I do have nearly unfettered optimism, but I don’t think it will be a completely clear path to winning.

                Too many people in the BTC community are too willing to go along with regulation, but I don’t think there will be effective regulation world-wide. Just a few free states can prosper, and the non-free ones will eventually come around to get a piece of the pie.

  10. OT:
    Maybe if you tell too many lies, it finally catches up to you:
    “Holder hospitalized as precaution for faintness”
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/pol…..273428.php

  11. Sadly it looks like alt-text has taken a bigger hit from Mt. Gox than bitcoin has.

    1. Doherty and Feeney are allergic to alt-text, even merely descriptive alt-text.

      1. The best way to treat an allergy is to build up your resistance to it. If they start small soon they’ll be cracking witty Lucy-level alt-text quips without so much as a runny nose.

        1. “I’ve spent the past 5 years building up an immunity to alt-text powder”

  12. First para.:

    is barely effected [sic]

    Last para.:

    but still barely effected [sic] so far

    Once is a typo; twice is an error. Sorry, sir, but I have to issue a citation.

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