Cryptocurrencies

bitcoin
This is a brief summary of my thoughts on cryptocurrencies specifically Bitcoin as an investment. Going forward I will add more about different aspects of the currency and surrounding products/markets as well as alternatives.
I am buying Bitcoin now at regular intervals because I believe that the price two years from now will be higher than it is now.  If the price four weeks from now is down ninety percent I will not be bothered. It dropped ninety percent between June and December 2011 and seventy five percent between November 2013 and August 2015. Aside from those notable drops it also saw fifty, forty and thirty percent declines many times. If you are going to buy Bitcoin be prepared for drops like these.
So why buy when the price plummets like Humpty Dumpty? Well in my opinion only because Bitcoin has always put himself back together again and in the process accumulated more users, new use cases and higher demand. Over the few years that Bitcoin has been available and trading the rate of returns is significantly higher than most if not all other options.
Why I think Bitcoin is going up:
1) It provides strong utility that will likely be useful in a wide variety of areas including: international settlement, peer to peer payments, trust-less money transfer contracts between remote parties, store of wealth, etc. Before Bitcoin there was no method of distributed transactions that did not require a third party that I am aware of. Given the current trend, more people will use and adopt Bitcoin in the future and with a fixed supply the value of units should be bid higher. I will expand on use cases and potential opportunities in the future.
2) User adoption numbers are going up. Google trends results for people searching for ‘Bitcoin’ is increasing 400% per year, ‘what is bitcoin’ 150% and ‘buy bitcoin’ also at 150%. Each year more exchanges open with better infrastructure funding options and trading services. Stores and payment processors are also opening slowly allowing people to buy and earn Bitcoin from their work.
The experience of most new users is good, while some leave and some stay,  the ones that stay are usually hooked. Some or a lot of people obviously bought at the peak times and then watch the price plummet and want to get out. Based on number of users active and signing up for exchanges, wallets web and forums, the user base is growing year over year.
3) Legality. In the early years of Bitcoin there was a lot of uncertainty that it was legal. The closest thing to Bitcoin, E gold and others were shutdown for violating money transmission laws in the US. Because Bitcoin doesn’t fit any traditional definition of money creation and transmission it was uncertain that it would be legal to use, own, trade, earn or buy using Bitcoin. Since then many countries have issued statements and guidance as to how they will allow and regulate the markets adding some level of certainty to investors and users.
Bitcoin is illegal in some countries however so you should check with your local authorities to ensure you are compliant with the law.
Criticisms of Bitcoin:

1) Deflation is Bad.

The issuance of Bitcoin is set at a fixed rate that is cut in half every four years until 2140 when it will stop and the only source of the currency will be that of existing owners. In the next ten years the rate of inflation will drop from 4.2% to 0.8%.

The concern is that during increased demand for currency, its availability will shrink because of a perceived higher future value. People will hold off purchases because they expect to get more bang for their buck by waiting. This will cause economic velocity to go down and prevent new lending and future growth.

This is what happens to dollar based economies. The comparison doesn’t hold though because a dollar economy is based on fractional reserve lending that has a different dynamic applied to the supply that is not applicable to Bitcoin. All dollars are created by banks as debt with interest attached but the interest that needs to be paid was never created. There is an ever expanding amount of debt attached to all actors in the dollar system. In the event of deflationary changes in the dollar economy all available liquid cash would not be enough to even pay the interest on debts let alone living expenses like food, rent, clothing. This causes all available supply of currency to quickly go to zero. Banks cant lend because they don’t have enough reserves and individuals can’t lend because they have to pay everything they have to cover existing interest payments.
This wouldn’t happen in a Bitcoin based economy to nearly the same degree. Granted during an uptrend most people would presume a higher future value of the currency but the supply would likely only contract in a linear fashion. People will still buy things, just at an adjusted value, probably.
2) It’s Too Volatile.
Bitcoin is volatile so be careful. If you are not comfortable losing your investment in Bitcoin do not buy any. If you can set aside some funds to buy without any exception on timeline for withdrawal, Bitcoins historical high rate of return and potential future expansion could outweigh the risks provided you can commit to a plan. The plan should help you avoid the case where you feel tempted to panic sell after a price drop.
Volatility in the several markets are a really good aspect to Bitcoin in my opinion. It means that users have the ability to buy and sell at prices they choose any time they decide.
There are strategies for mitigating market volatility like dollar cost average purchases and sales over time so that highs balance out lows.
3) Criminals and Drugs.
A lot of people only associate Bitcoin with drug dealers on the dark web committing crimes. They don’t want any part of something associated with criminals.
The bottom line is that a currency for everyone has to work for everyone or it wouldn’t be valuable. Regardless of how you feel about it, you can’t control what others do. I believe Bitcoin is helping people and will continue to do so in new ways. Obviously using it is a form of support and you are entitled to choose not to use it if you feel that is the right choice for you.
4) Not a Real Currency and People are just Speculating.
Some say buying Bitcoin is not an investment it is gambling because you are betting that the price will go up just because it has gone up in the past. You shouldn’t assume that past performance is an indicator of future returns. Sure but the distinction between investment and gambling is a grey area of one slippery sliding slope. Based on someones opinion all investments have some level of risk of collapse and assumption of growth based on past performance. Most people just don’t think about the risks because they may happen infrequently. Most people recommend buying stocks and government bonds because stocks are often evaluated based on past performance and bonds are still subject to default or devaluation risks.
The fact is people are using Bitcoin as a currency. People are right now earning income in Bitcoin, buying everyday things with it and trading it with others.
Some people say that Bitcoin has no intrinsic value. My thought is that nothing has intrinsic value. Everything is relative and depends on relationships with everything else. The network that connects Bitcoin users really is the essence of its value.
Detrimental factors affecting the price:
1) Inflation Rate
New currency is issued with each new block on ten minute intervals. This new currency is issued to miners and results in an increase to the total supply of Bitcoin. When the new currency is sold on exchanges it creates additional downward pressure on the price. Every four years the number of Bitcoin issued for each block creation is cut in half, reducing this downward pressure.
Back in 2013 at the peak around $1000 there were 25 BTC issued every ten minutes. The price dropped after that peak but for comparison the value of currency created each day was $3,600,000. When I started this article in July  the daily created value was $4,860,000 and by the time I finished it the price had risen resulting in a daily value of $6,120,000.
While this value is high the currency is traded world wide so dividing this dollar amount by the increased number of participating traders makes this a more optimistic metric.
The most interesting observation about the amount of this newly created currency will be to compare it to the inflow of currency which I am sourcing now.
2) Technical Risks.
Bitcoin could fail catastrophically for unforeseen technical reasons. Or something new could come out tomorrow that makes it irrelevant. My estimation of this actually happening is very low because the mechanics of the currency are used in a lot of diverse and time tested systems.
3) Crime and Safety
Holding cryptocurrency involves a certain level of risk as criminals could steal your holdings using malware. It is important to understand the risks and proper use of cryptocurrency to ensure you keep it safe.
4) Regulatory Legal Risk.
While this is a much lower concern now than it was years ago, in the future government agencies may place restrictions on your ability to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies. As adoption grows and government agencies from around the world make their position known it is becoming clear that road blocks of this type are minimal.
My Strategy
My strategy in the past has been to buy when the price is historically low and going up then sell when the price is historically high and going down. This allows me to accumulate during periods of undervaluation and take some profit during periods of overvaluation.
Currently I am buying small amounts every pay cheque to accumulate an amount over a fixed period because I believe there with be growth over the next year.
I have built and use a web service that tracks top cryptocurrencies and reports on different metrics. I also have a trading bot that I can test against historical data. Despite my best efforts so far the best strategy is still to buy and hold when you have capital and to buy regular amounts over time if you have income.
As a final thought. Personally I find crypto currencies very interesting but if you want to invest there is a lot you need to know to use it properly and even with precautions it is very risky. This is not financial advice and I do not recommend that you invest with money you are not willing to lose.

Rich, Safe and Comfortable

cliff_face

This is a follow up on the idea that everyone wants to be rich but most people don’t prioritize it and don’t achieve it. I touched on this in yesterdays post titled Financial Independence that discusses a life transition I am starting.

The order of priority is important. Robert Keyosaki wrote in his book Rich Dad Poor Dad that we all want to be rich but not everyone achieves it. Most people put comfort and security ahead of being rich. Most people underestimate the potential upside of choosing rich heavy actions and overestimate the risks associated with those actions.

It costs money to be safe and comfortable. You end up trading opportunity in time, options, learning and raw capital that could be used on investments that return a higher rate. My suggestion is to sacrifice comfort and security in the beginning of your investment timeline. This will hopefully allow you to make higher returns with most of your resources then buy back your comfort later and be way ahead of those other guys who paid for comfort from the get go.
A lot of people worry about what would happen if the don’t have the safety of a regular job or guaranteed and stable returns from low risk investments. Most people don’t want to deviate from the investment strategy their friends, colleges and family use typically stocks and bonds invested through a fund at a local bank.
If you were to go against the advice of your peers and fail you may not only lose your investment but potentially feel foolish. But that’s actually in reality not such a bad thing. The idea of going to maximum growth up front means that if your strategy fails you can try again and again a few times learning as you go and you still have the opportunity when you are older to invest with time to save for retirement when you need it.
Iterations on ideas, strategies and investment types.
The more times you do something the better you get at it. There is a saying, when a man with money meets a man with experience, the man with experience ends up with the money and the man with the money ends up with the experience. Cheeky but the point is that while you may fail at your investment plan at first as long as you keep trying you will improve and overtake the vast majority of people who passively invest in the market.
Because of compounding most investments really pay off at the end so it doesn’t really make sense in my opinion to sit on investments without high potential when you are starting out or have a base net worth of zero.
Having a risky asset class or a risky allocation of only a few asset classes carries lower inherent risk when carrying a lower net worth. So the benefit of diversification or the type of investment you choose plays a smaller role than most people assume. For example if you are investing your first one thousand dollars and decide to buy Bitcoin rather than a stock index fund and plan on saving two million dollars for retirement, exactly what is the difference in the long run between those two options? The stock market could double or triple in thirty years, Bitcoin could go up five or ten times. Nobody knows but as you continue to invest you will have the opportunity to keep adding to each of these different asset classes and give yourself the most amount of time exposed to the highest gains you can anticipate.
Risk weighted against opportunity.
A lot of people look at risk factors in isolation but what should matter more is the ratio of risk relative to estimated gain.
Investing to be rich rather than safe can look like investing in an asset you think will return the highest after ten years rather than a good investment that will return a fixed consistent amount each year. The ten year play may sit at a loss for nine years and only pay off when its ready. This is where the price of comfort and safety is paid by you. If you need the money unexpectedly or want the reassurance of steady growth you will have to make do without or make other arrangements. But when the long term plays pay off you can usually buy 10x the safe consistent investments you would have otherwise because your investment capital would be smaller and spread out.
The method.
If there are fundamentals in an asset class or patterns that repeat the buying into undervalued assets and selling or reallocating overvalued assets is a good option.
When starting out in a wealth accumulation phase rather than a safe wealth preservation phase, I would invest in asset classes I think will have the highest risk weighted return. Currently in my opinion some precious metals like silver and cryptocurrencies fit into this bucket. I will explain in another post the some factors that could affect these asset classes both negatively and positively.
My personal strategy:
Buy assets with strong estimated future fundamentals. I.e. things people need that are rare or becoming more rare. Buy when the price is historically low and going up, Sell when the price is high relative to historical trends and starting to go down. Use the money to buy other assets that are undervalued. Use a ten to twenty year price history if available. Trade small amounts over time relative to the rate the price rises and falls in the past and based on your target allocation.
Examples: 
Some Random Asset Categories:
Realestate: REITS, Investment properties. In Canada the housing market is at a 100% fifteen year bull run.
stocks: Index Funds. Markets in the US and Canada are also in a ten year all time high.
bonds: National both foreign and domestic. Interest rates are low so these pay out low interest.
Structured Notes: Banks offer options for gains with some investment protection.
Private Quity: Business opportunities sold as Investment Bonds,  TFSA and RRSP eligible.
Precious Metals: PMs used in industry are at a ten year price low and could potentially become rare in the future.
Crypto: Bitcoin, and alternatives. Seeing increased user adoption and upward trending.
Allocations:
Rich- 
90% High
0% med
10% safe
Safe-
30% high
30% med
40% safe
These allocations illustrate a possible interpretation of investing for gain vs. safety.