Bitcoin: Brace! Brace!

Pivotfarm's picture

Speculation involving the possible bankruptcy of Mt. Gox are building momentum and becoming a viable option today. The virtual currency Bitcoin slumped Tuesday morning by 20% and it looks as if the Japanese-based exchange will issue a statement amid growing fears that have been mounting for a number of months now.

The Mt. Gox internet site is no longer working and the chief executive of the company Mark Karpelesresigned on Sunday from the Bitcoin Foundation Board of Directors. The resignation took immediate effect.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not backed by any form of government, central bank or even a company in the event of financial difficulty or loss in value. There has been a whole list of problems that have occurred over the past year including the resignation of Charles Shrem, a board member of the Bitcoin Foundation, who was arrested in connection with drug-trafficking allegations involving a Bitcoin currency exchange. Mt. Gox only a few weeks ago decided to halt the exchange of Bitcoins via its servers due to what they classed as ‘unusual activity’. In early February the Bitcoin Foundation stated that “the issues that Mt. Gox has been experiencing are due to an unfortunate interaction between Mt. Gox's implementation of their highly customized wallet software, their customer support procedures, and their unpreparedness for transaction malleability, a technical detail that allows changes to the way transactions are identified”.

Has there been widespread theft via Mt. Gox or is the internet site going bankrupt? Bitcoin may consider that Mt. Gox is no longer a trusted partner. One previous statement from Bitcoin stated the following: “This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt.Gox was the result of one company’s abhorrent actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of bitcoin and the digital currency industry. There are hundreds of trustworthy and responsible companies involved in bitcoin. These companies will continue to build the future of money by making bitcoin more secure and easy to use for consumers and merchants. As with any new industry, there are certain bad actors that need to be weeded out, and that is what we are seeing today”. However, earlier versions (that were subsequently changed by Bitcoin) stated that Mt. Gox was ‘insolvent’. The wording was changed and the statement reissued.

Some are skeptical as to whether Mt. Gox has gone bankrupt today but believe that the problem stems from the system used by the company which enabled theft of bitcoins and subsequent tricking of the system into believing that the transaction had not occurred, thus allowing them to get paid a second time. The question remains however if the judges in the insolvency courts will be able to face the issue of someone who has gone bankrupt ad who owes someone else bitcoins. Dealing in dollars is easy as the value of that dollar is known. How will they solve the bitcoin issue of insolvency?

The fall in the price of Bitcoins this morning means that investors are worried that the problem is larger than being announced and they bankruptcy may not be far off. At least, if it doesn’t happen because of a real problem, then it may well happen because of the investors off-loading bitcoins. In September 2013 bitcoins cost $150. By December they had risen to $1, 000. Today they stand at $491.82. Yesterday the price of bitcoins stood at $550 for most of the trading day. It fell as low as $546 towards the end of the day.

Originally posted: Bitcoin: Brace! Brace!

Also of interest: The Great Social Media Stock Bubble


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bluskyes's picture

Student's; today's lesson is about counter-party risk. Now that you've been schooled, Will you be able to put this lesson into practice elsewhere?

Education always costs. It just depends on whether you pay now, or later.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

mm hmm.
I remember someone at work once losing all their money from a hacked ATM.
Not money.
I said casually I'm so glad it can't happen to me.
He was half-way through saying it could happen to anyone but he recalled I had already brought one of my gold bars to work before.
He'd seen it with his own eyes.
Then he knew.

Smiley's picture

I wonder if El Chapo getting captured is having a ripple effect upstream?  Maybe there is a call order from...some people you do not want to try the runaround game with.

hooligan2009's picture

here you go MtGox web site annoucement

February 26th 2014

Dear MtGox Customers,

As there is a lot of speculation regarding MtGox and its future, I would like to use this opportunity to reassure everyone that I am still in Japan, and working very hard with the support of different parties to find a solution to our recent issues.

Furthermore I would like to kindly ask that people refrain from asking questions to our staff: they have been instructed not to give any response or information. Please visit this page for further announcements and updates.

Mark Karpeles

Dear MtGox Customers,

In light of recent news reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox's operations and the market, a decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react accordingly.

Best regards,
MtGox Team

Toolshed's picture

I guess it just isn't possible to pack all your belongings and relocate to the Caribbean overnight. They are going to need a few days.

Martel's picture

Actually Mr. Karpeles once saved a defunct bitcoin exchange, and made good with its clients. He is most likely not running away, but it seems solving the MtGox mess is way beyond his capabilities.

Besides, Mr. Karpeles is not going to leave without his Japanese pussy.

Toolshed's picture

I am unaware of Karpeles history, but the saving of some exchange may not be nearly as relevant as his true motivation for the saving. It may, or may not, have been selfless. As far as the pussy is concerned, as we all know, pussies are everywhere, and less than a dime a dozen.

Skin666's picture

There are no bailouts in crypto!


Mt gox got caught in what seems like fractional reserve banking, so they (and their depositors have to pay) have to take the hit.


It's called free market capitalism...


In other news, this is a must read for bitcoin enthusiasts (This could be very big news)

foxenburg's picture

forgive my naivety, but i always thought the bitcoins were stored in a cyber wallet or that the code could be stored on a flashdrive, even. I understood that was the beauty, no-one was holding the bag. so howcome these mtgox people are holding all these bitcoins that have now disappeared?

Global Observer's picture

Mt Gox is an exchange. For anyone to trade their bitcoins for fiat or vice-versa, one has to hold in one's account at the exchange the items one wishes to trade. Anyone wishing to sell their bitcoins at Mt.Gox first has to transfer their bitcoins to the account at Mt.Gox, which go into the exchange's wallet, which implementation apprently had a bug which was exploited by whoever stole the coins. No one is required to hold their bitcoins in a wallet at an exchange unless they intend to sell them through that exchange.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Unfortunately bitcoin is so volatile if someone holds them with no intention of using an exchange, they must either immediately dump them for services or goods from whoever (not many) has anything of value (physical) priced in bitcoin, or be left watching the purchasing power evaporate.
That evaporation is the true test of bitcoin's intrinsic value: zero. It has none. Intrinsic value is a thing of atoms & chemical bonds, of rarity and only in the true physical realm. Intrinsic value is devoid of price and devoid of faith or opinion or market sentiment.

4 Freedoms's picture

"Gold is nature's Bitcoin."  James Grant

"Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic"  Voltaire

So, when Bitcoin returns to its intrinsic value, what will that be?

Skin666's picture

Gold does not have 'intrinsic' value. It has subjective value, the same as averything else.



MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Nothing else.
Everything made of atoms & unique chemicals has intrinsic value.
Those values are actions from chemistry, thermodynamics, etc., properties of physics.
Intrinsic value is not a price.
Prices have no values. Prices are not intrinsic.
You are confusing price and value.
Price and value are mutually EXCLUSIVE.

The intrinsic value of gold is its rarity (not a price), its malleability (not a price), its resistance to corrosion (not a price), its conductivity (not a price) and so on.

MeMongo's picture

Silver on the other hand! They are called blue bloods for a reason!

fijisailor's picture

LOL.  Another BTC article with a picture of them looking like they are gold coins.

messystateofaffairs's picture

The widespread ignorance of otherwise informed ZH readers about the nature of money is a double edged sword for bitcoin. On the plus side it provides a better acquisition price for early adopters and on the negative side it tempers the adoption rate. One thing is for sure is that as long as computing devices are connected cryptocurrencies are here to stay, and bitcoin is still clearly leading the way. For those unable to adapt, not to worry, PM's are not going to be replaced but supplemented by a new form of peer to peer money that is more transportable and storeable.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

the widespread ignorance is to ascribe any value to any digital currency as above zero.
The same widespread ignorance leads fools to quote revelations or to pretend that higher temperatures on thermometers mean "cooling".

Peer to peer money in the future isn't possible: it requires grids & those grids won't be there.
See those power lines feeding to where you live?
They will be gone.
See those cell towers you're sending signals on? Will be gone. GONE.
Either you learn the lesson the easy way or the hard way. I'm just trying to give you a helping hand in the form of an early warning.

ukmetman's picture

I love reading the ZH threads on Bitcoin. It gives me an understanding of the nature of humanity, and a guide to how the bankster take over is progressing.

From such an enlightened readership one might expect support for at least the pioneering nature and revolutionary aims of the Bitcoin geeks, but no. Instead we see that mocking laughter, negative sentiment, etc. is rife. Possibly the worst group are the negative gold bugs who know who the real enemy is, but cannot form any alliance with other groups because they are afraid that their pet obsession may lose a small part of it's shine as THE alternative investment.

So, for those naysayers who aren't paid shills or government agents on this site, stop being so blinkered and so childish. Judging by the attitudes of some on ZH, it appears the banksters don't have to do anything more than stand back and laugh to protect their scam. The squabbling children on ZH will do the rest.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Mockery is the sign that your betters are giving you a helping hand instead of robbing you blind while you are clearly letting others do so.
That's the same reason we mock those who trade gold paper or hold "unallocated gold" accounts (which is an empty claim on something which isn't there).

As for the banksters, from where I see, I see 100% attack upon the holders of bitcoin, the actions of MtGox, as the will of the banksters, the plan of the banksters, played start to finish on their plan, and I've said so far in the past before this incident. It was a setup & y'all fell for it.

automaton's picture

I'm not convinced that the gold bugs care if their pet loses its shine, so long as they still have it in hand.  And, I'm not convinced that it's viewed as an alternative investment but more as an exchange from paper to metal for which civilizations have been conquered in centuries past.  Bitcoin is young with a poor track record.  I think ZH readers have a right to be hostile toward a highly questionable form of currency.


Global Observer's picture

Bitcoin's lack of trck record explains choosing to stay away from it, but not hostility towards it. The hostility can only come from fear. Why do they fear bitcoin?

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

You are incorrect.
Fear induces opposite trades, not mockery.
Mockery is induced by seeing Fail. There is no fear of bitcoin any more than there is fear of pocket-lint or cheezypoofs being used as "money".

Toolshed's picture

It's not that we fear or are hostile towards bitcoin. What we are tired of and hostile towards is the never ending stream of absurd claims and hysterical cheerleading by the bitcoin cultists. And in fact, most of aforementioned absurd claims and hysterical cheerleading have been proven to be exactly that. The better question would be why are bitcoin advocates so over exuberantly pimping bitcoin and so viciously and abrasively defensive of their new religion? If it was all they claimed it was there would be no reason to behave the way they do. Recent events have proven beyond question that bitcoin is riddled with problems and neither safe nor secure. Only a greater fool is involved at this point. Or an ethicless shill perhaps. A review of recent bitcoin headlines across the globe reveals valid reason for caution and concern regarding bitcoin.

Global Observer's picture

It is difficult to be objective when one's dreams are being shattered. Most guys going on and on about gold don't invest in gold simply to retain their wealth through a currency hyperinflation, but they have deluded themselves into believing that when we emerge on the otherside, their investments would have multiplied several times in value because any new currency issued would have to be gold backed, increasing the demand for gold. Rise of cryptocurrencies shatters that dream and they are understandably upset. Cut them some slack.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

No, actually, most people realize other things today labeled as having "value" will have no value & should not be held into that future, hence bullion.
Those who are seeking multipliers aren't patient. They aren't using bullion to do it. they're using futures contracts, options, leverage, mining shares.

Cryptocurrencies shatter nothing: trading them is like trading swiss cheese or pocket-lint. We can see well in advance how badly this will turn out for the fools & we need not participate. SOME of us have some spare time to laugh at your tomfoolery along the way, others are simply ignoring you.

Mockery is the best teacher.
We're just trying to do you a solid but if you're too ignorant to recognize the helping hand, you'll get the banksters' helping backhand bitch-slap instead, just like MtQox holders of Quatloos.

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

"It is difficult to be objective when one's dreams are being shattered."

I'm pretty sure the Mt. Gox customer base is feeling this way right now.

The bottom line:

1.  I have to work really damn hard, and I get USD in exchange for that labor.

2.  USD is being rapidly devalued, which devalues my labor.

3.  I don't like my labor being devalued.  I want to convert the USD to something of stable value as quickly as possible.

The question then becomes, what to convert the excess USD into?  I still have to use it for my bills, but the excess value, that should reasonably go into stuff that preserves and protects the value of my labor.  Can you understand, through this lens, where storing excess labor value in Bitcoins would be presently unappealing?  I'm not against the concept at all, but a "wait and see" approach seems like the mature adult thing to do, right?  Prove that it really works, for a while, without bugs/glitches like this, and I'll consider it.

Toolshed's picture

I don't know about the other readers here, but I an not concerned in the least about the rise of cryptocurrencies having a negative impact on gold. The premise is patently absurd. Did the rise of fiat currencies negatively impact gold? Obviously not. And bitcoin is an intangible digital fiat currency. It's like combining two wrongs and expecting a right to be the resuilt. Pretty silly.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

better: It's like those Reese commercials combining chocolate & peanut-butter.
Only we see past the end of the commercial clip & see the nerds are actually on LSD and the "chocolate" came from the kitty-litter box & they don't know any better.

johnberesfordtiptonjr's picture

Bitcoin is a crypto-anarchist Libertarian fantasy scam. In a way, it’s kind of a fractal self-mimicry of Libertarianism itself… delusional and self-defeating. Government and the Fed are evil and Bitcoin (a symbol of the “free market”) will destroy them! The real irony is that Bitcoin is the ultimate fiat currency not a replacement for it.   

Somebody is laughing all the way to the bank. 

Will the Libertarian fools ever learn that the movement is merely a tool for a nasty set of plutocrats bent on returning to the Gilded Age when the masses knew their place?

fredquimby's picture

There has been a whole list of problems

The author deftly showing his ignorance, as as far as I am aware, there has not been one single problem with bitcoin to date??

WTF is he on about?

Toolshed's picture

I am fairly certain the MtGox clients would disagree. There are in fact well documented issues with bitcoin.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

this IS one of the problems with bitcoin.

This doesn't happen with gold coins, that's for sure.

nickt1y's picture

Tungsten cored coins. Unllocated storage.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

"UNALLOCATED STORAGE" is as good as "here, take these magic beans as collateral, your gold is safe with me"

Global Observer's picture

When the dust settles, this is good news for bitcoin. It goes to show that bitcoin is an extremely resilient currency. That bitcoin is not backed by anything is its strength and not its weakness. When a currency is backed by something by a powerful entity, its backing can vanish for political reasons. This is what happened to all currencies backed by gold and can and will happen again even if we revert to a gold backed currency. A currency backed by no partcular human entity and whose volume cannot be expanded at the whim of some such entity and that can be transferred over long distances in short time with no counterparty risk and requiring no one else's permission is the currency of the connected world.

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Cryptocurrencies have already entered the second phase, that of violent opposition. The stage of popular acceptance is not far away.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

This is total weakness. Something with strength would not be volatile more than 10% in a day. This one's more like 80% in a minute. Garbage. Unresilient. Epic fail. Everything it does is everything I consider suicide for currency and that means it's garbage to me. Money for me must have physical substance and must NOT fluctuate this much. I'd be safer juggling razors than turning my real money into fake bitcoins.

Cryptocurrencies have entered the 2nd phase of Fail, we shall call it Phail II.

In this phase people see how horrendous losses will be, past the "I told you so" phase and every person considering bitcoin, litecoin, dogecoin, etc., will see a person bankrupt utterly by their first foray and will learn never to touch it.

There is no violent opposition. No one's cracking heads. It's violent mockery and should be expected as surely as a person trying to parasail off a moving train as it heads into a tunnel.

Setarcos's picture

Of course it can be expanded, in effect and virtually ad infinitum.

 Bitcoins  are 'limitted' to 22,000,000 right.  Not really because they in fact have to be fractionalized to be of any practical use, e.g. say the current price $500 per coin - which people either cannot afford or cannot easily spend, so then buy 0.1 bitcoin  = $50 = 220,000,000 units, and 0.01 bitcoin = $5 (a handy unit of currency) = 2,200,000,000 units.  And if an item costs $4.95 and you want 5c change ...

Of course if Bitcoin is just for speculation and never gets actually spent, then none of this matters much ... but then it's not a currency is it, it's a virtual commodity of electrons backed by electrical power companies.

If someone can demolish my logic (or what seems logical to me) then fire away.  BTW I doubt that even 1% of the global population is part of the "connected world" in anything like the way to use Bitcoin, let alone "mine" it.

Global Observer's picture

It expands at a known rate, not at anyone's whim, until some 42 million units have been generated by the year 2040. It can be subdivided, but not ad infinitum. The smallest transferable unit is 1/100,000,000 BTC sometimes referred to as a Satoshi.

At today's exchange rates against fiat currencies, it is still an extremly convnient currency unit. Even at a rate of 1 BTC = US$ 1,000,000, 1 Satoshi is still equal to 1 cent.

At the moment, most people treat it like a virtual commodity to invest or speculate in, but so are gold and silver. That doesn't mean gold and silver are precluded from being currency for trade and same goes for bitcoin.

Regarding connectivity in the world, it is much higher than you may think. There are mobile app wallets for bitcoin. Which means anyone with an Android phone can trade using bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies when they become popular and apps are available for them, as long as s/he has mobile connectivity and internet on the mobile.

Setarcos's picture

First a correction to 21 million Bitcoins, though that doesn't alter the principle of EFFECTIVE expansion to virtual infinity.

Anything divisible by 1/100,000,000 is so far out of common experience that it's virtually infinite ... if you see what I mean.

I think you're over-optimistic about the numbers of people likely to use Bitcoin even in the "developed world", because I read somewhere recently that about 70% of families in the US live week to week (no spare money) + getting on for 40% struggle with basic math, i.e. they struggle with abstract concepts ... how the teeming billions in the rest of the world shape up, but just a cursory knowledge of the Third World - including majorities in China and India - gives me doubt that even 1% overall would or could use Bitcoin.

More thinks.  Are you saying that one Bitcoin can be 'split' into 100,000,000 parts/satochis?  If so then it's worse than I thought ... 21,000,000 X 100,000,000,  i.e. a total of 2,100,000,000,000,000 satochis  ... my head hurts and why do thoughts of pyramids keep popping up?  Or some kind of bizarre inversion of hyper-inflated currencies.  Tell me I'm wrong and how.

MeMongo's picture

Um I was told there would be no math. I'm trying to follow, but my head is starting to hurt, could be the porter last night though, sorry sorry please carry on!

Global Observer's picture

Thanks for the correction regarding the maximum number of bitcoins. By the time I realised it, it was too late to correct the original post.

As for how to use it to pay, it is simpler than using an ATM, if one has a smart phone with internet connectivity and a mobile bitcoin wallet. One would also need a backup of the wallet on some other storage device, just in case one should lose one's mobile phone. As long as the wallet is encrypted, the coins are not lost.

I am not saying everyone would jump to using them, only that everyone could use them. As long as the domestic currency is still useful, most would have no need for another currency. But should a country with high mobile connectivity go through a hyperinflation, bitcoin's acceptability will shoot through the roof. In a country going through hyperinflation, a unit of relatively stable value is needed to set prices in, if commerce should continue. Usually foreign currencies widely held in the country perform this function. Bitcoin can be the foreign currency should US hit hyperinflation.

Look at the numbers this way. There will be a maximum of 21 trillion microBTC each of which can be subdivided into 100 Satoshis, much like a dollar and cent. For something that aspires to be  global currency, 21 trillion is not an unnecessarily huge number :-)

I have no bitcoins myself nor do I expect to need anything but the domestic currency of the country I live in anytime soon. But the idea of a peer-to-peer currency that one could transfer to anyone in the world without an intermediary is simply too beautiful to ignore. I am one of those with no savings and living pay cheque to pay cheque. So I don't have to worry about where to invest my non-existent savings in. But I may still buy a few bitcoins and hold them, not as investment, but as currency that I can transfer to my friends in the US if and when the country hits hyperinflation. I am sure they will appreciate that help :-)

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

seems opposite of 'simpler' to me.
ATM: insert card, type PIN, get cash.
no backups required, no peer to peer network, no security analysis & tear-down-rebuild of my devices to ensure they are secure, no software bugs I have to personally worry about as any in the bank's software for the ATM is their fault & I lose nothing if it says I did.
Bitcoin: after all the hassles just listed are accomplished I still have nothing physical, so I could 'pay' for something with it & get nothing and have no recourse.
That's not simpler, that's disaster. I'll take physical money, thanks.
Goods & services aren't rendered to me using instant-access teleporters so there's no reason to send my money 100000000x faster than I can receive the things I pay for. In fact, that adds risk and is very dangerous.

TheHound73's picture

The network runs on "satoshis."  What humans call "Bitcoins" is just a convenience.  Many in the community wish to switch to a smaller unit, called a mBTC, for general price quotes.  Anyways, folks that can't handle decimal division probably should stay away from Bitcoin and everybody will be happy.

Toolshed's picture

"Anyways, folks that can't handle decimal division probably should stay away from Bitcoin and everybody will be happy."

That only eliminates about 95% of the global population from using bitcoin. You bitcoin devotees crack me up!! You are your own worst enemies. You guys need to learn when to stop talking.

TheHound73's picture

Woohoo 5%? Big Money Big Money!  1% market penetration would be a success in my book.  I estimate 0.1% of world population currently owns bitcoin, or about 7 million people.