Based in Las Vegas, Douglas french writes about the  economy and book reviews. 



It’s been a choppy holiday season for cryptocurrency #1. After pushing $20,000, hitting an air pocket to below $12,000, it’s settled in price at just under 15 grand as I write.  I enjoyed a rare couple hours of CNBC morning coverage yesterday (the 26th) and the talk, beside retail, was bitcoin, bitcoin, bitcoin.  

The common question between anchors was “did your family ask you about bitcoin like mine did over the weekend?”  Smarty pants David Faber shrugged his shoulders and mumbled something to the effect, “I told ‘em I dunno.”   

One guest thought the crypto’s fluctuations were tied to the president and his twittering and said “It should be called Trumpcoin!”  That idea didn’t seem to have any traction but there is something to that when considering Morgan Stanley analyst James Faucette’s report contending that Bitcoin is worth….zero.

The Business Insider quotes from Faucette’s report:

• Can Bitcoin be valued like a currency? No. There is no interest rate associated with Bitcoin.

• Like digital gold? Maybe. Does not have any intrinsic use like gold has in electronics or jewelry. But investors appear to be ascribing some value to it.

• Is it a payment network? Yes but it is tough to scale and does not charge a transaction fee.(Clarification: It's not clear why Faucette wrote this, as most miners do charge transaction fees.)

• Bitcoin average daily trading volume of $3bn (last 30 days) vs $5.4 trillion in the FX market.

• Est. <$300mn in daily purchase volume vs. $17bn for Visa.

The most damning point is that only 3 of the top 500 ecommerce retailers accept bitcoin.  That’s down from 5 a year ago. The report emphasized that Bitcoin has "Virtually no acceptance, and shrinking."

However, Bitcoin fans are undeterred in their loyalty to a coin which some smart people question whether there is any there, there. The President’s fans are equally ardent. He has the common touch, bragging he has done more in less time than any other president, in between his morning tweet storm, watching hours of cable news, wolfing down Big Macs and guzzling a dozen Diet Cokes a day.

However unseemly his behavior and exaggerated braggadocio, he may be cutting government more than any president in modern history...a low bar, however, we must give credit when it’s due. I scoffed when Yuri Maltsev told me during Freedomfest in July that Trump is the most Libertarian president in modern history. But, Yuri looks to be right. For instance, no one has been appointed to run the IRS.  The EPA is losing staff by the hundreds and the State Department has dozens of jobs unfilled.  

Plus, as The Daily Caller reported in July,

So far, the Trump administration has withdraw 469 regulations proposed in the Obama administration’s final regulatory agenda in 2016.

On top of that, federal agencies delayed 282 regulations going through the rule making process and halted rulemaking for another 109 regulations. OMB also reports a 50 percent drop in “economically significant” regulations — rules costing $100 million or more.

“Government is using muscles it hasn’t used in a really long time, exposing and removing redundant and unnecessary regulation,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said in a statement.

There is the tax cut the Democrats hate so much and quietly Trump has appointed many more judges than his predecessor had at this point.  And assuming these judges understand the rule of law and all that, well, with fewer regulations being enforced and reasonable judges ruling day-to-day, no wonder business people are feeling the wind at their back for a change.  

Now it’s possible all this good government reduction is due to incompetence. The President was called a moron by Rex Tillerson when Trump called for a nearly tenfold increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal during a briefing this summer. His son-in-law Jared says Trump couldn’t have colluded with the Russians because the campaign was so dysfunctional it couldn’t even collude with state parties.  

Gabriel Sherman wrote in Vanity Fair, “several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is ‘unstable,’ ‘losing a step,’ and ‘unraveling.’”  

Reportedly, Steve Bannon believes his former boss only has a 30 percent chance of serving a full term. “Bannon has also remarked on the toll the office has taken on Trump,” writes Sherman, “telling advisers his former boss has ‘lost a step.’ ‘He’s like an 11-year-old child,’ Bannon joked to a friend in November.”

So we have bitcoin, something everyone is talking about, but no one can see or understand, trading near $15,000 apiece. At the same time the President is like the simple-minded Chance in the movie “Being There” who has been educated only by television, has childlike naïveté, but rises, by accident, into the game of politics and the talk of the town.

Trumpcoin indeed.   

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