That precious metals are not the best friends of central banks, whose sole provenance is in creating, and lately massively diluting, faith-based fiat currency is no secret, especially not after the recent snafu involving the Bundesbank and its shocking gold repatriation announcement which came in direct refutation of its public statements just 2 months earlier about faith in the NY Fed this, and bashing of a "phantom debate" on the safety of gold reserves that. Yet it was not gold gold, silver or even tungsten that was the object of derision in an amusing paper released by the ECB in early November titled "Virtual Currency Schemes", which we profiled at the time, but rather the decentralized electronic currency BitCoin, which was supposed to highlight what, in the eyes of the Draghi-led Frankfurt institutions, is nothing but a Ponzi scheme.
Why the ECB suddenly felt threatened so much by Bitcoin, it felt an imperative to issue a 55 page paper decrying such electronic currencies we will never know. What we do know, however, courtesy of a reminder by Bloomberg's Max Raskin, is that since the publication of said paper, the value of Bitcoin as tracked by the Mtgox exchange, has soared some 40% in just under three months, from a "fiat equivalent value" of $13 to a most recent closing price of $18.50, and has doubled in the past 12 months alone.
So one wonders: after soaring to an all time high of $30 before crashing concurrent with the epic May 1, 2011 takedown of silver, was none other than the European Central Bank responsible for the recent second coming of BitCoin which is now slowly but surely creeping back to its all time highs, and what happens to all alternative "virtual" currencies once BitCoin returns to all time highs: will the Fed, the ECB, and the BIS have their hands full with pushing gold lower to care too much about this electronic currency, or will their attention then be diverted away from the daily precious metals smackdown to focus on this threat that at least in Europe is so large, the ECB itself had to chime in?
More from Bloomberg:
The CHART OF THE DAY shows that bitcoin has more than doubled in the past 12 months, strengthening to $16.37 from $5.88, according to data from Mt. Gox, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange. The money, issued by a decentralized network of computers, has recovered after falling to $2.14 in November 2011 from a high of $29.58 five months earlier.
Greater demand for virtual currencies could have a negative impact on the reputation of central banks, according to a report published by the European Central Bank in October last year. Since the report was released, bitcoin has risen more than 55 percent against the dollar and use of the currency has surged.
Bitpay Inc., a bitcoin payment processing company that recently raised $510,000 in an investment round, this month announced that the number of companies using its services has increased almost 50 percent to more than 2,000 since November, when blog management firm WordPress.com said it would accept the digital currency.
I think the ECB obviously is concerned, and it’s not reputational,” said Steve Hanke, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who helped to establish new currency regimes in countries such as Argentina and Bulgaria. “I think it’s a competitive threat. Maybe virtual currencies will be so convenient that they will pose a threat because of their ease of use.”
And as a reminder, for pure comedy value, here is the ECB, again, defining what a Ponzi scheme is without referencing itself even once:
A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors and to use for personal expenses, instead of engaging in any legitimate investment activity
Listen to the ECB: if nothing, it certainly is an expert on the topic of Ponzi schemes.