Bitcoin Surges Above $1,000 As China Unveils New Capital Controls

Tyler Durden's picture

As noted yesterday, for the first time in three years, and only the second time in history, bitcoin rose above $1,000 in Yuan-denominated Chinese trading, however it was limited to the lower side of this "round number" psychological barrier in US trading, as BTC flirted with $999.99 for most of the day on the popular Coinbase exchange, without crossing it.

Overnight, however, Chinese demand proved too great and US markets had no choice but to arb the difference. So with Bitcoin trading in China at an implied price of over $1,050 at this moment, bitcoin finally soared above $1,000 in the US as well, trading just around $1,024 on Coinbase as of this moment.


Various catalysts for the recent surge have been cited, chief among which is the ongoing crackdown against cash in India providing a new source of demand for bitcoin. However, the most immediate driver of the recent burst in Chinese demand originates, not unexpectedly, from China where Beijing over the weekend implemented even more of what we have said since September 2015 will keep pushing bitcoin relentlessly higher: capital controls.

Recall that as we noted over the weekend, in order to further curb capital outflows, Chinese banks will be required to report all yuan-denominated cash transactions exceeding 50,000 yuan (around 7,100 US dollars) to the People's Bank of China (PBOC), down from the current level of 200,000 yuan, according to a PBOC document released on Friday. Cross-border transfers more than 200,000 yuan by individuals will also be subject to the report process. In terms of foreign currencies, the report threshold remains at the equivalent of 10,000 US dollars for both cash transactions and overseas transfers.

How do we know that this latest PBOC intervention in capital markets was merely the latest form of capital controls? Because the PBOC immediately said it wasn't.

As Xinhua reported overnight, "the policy stoked worries that the government is trying to impose capital control in a disguised form."

"It is not capital control at all," central bank economist Ma Jun said.

Actually, imposing limits on capital movement, i.e. controls, is by definition just that.

Logic, however, did not prevent Ma from continuing on a tangent, and he "explained" that the responsibility of report will be assumed by financial institutions, and there will be neither extra documentation nor official approval procedures for businesses and individuals. "They will not feel any change," Ma added. He also noted that each person's current annual foreign exchange purchase quota of 50,000 US dollars is unchanged, and normal activities, ranging from business investment and operation abroad to individuals' overseas trips and study, will not be affected, Ma said.

The PBOC has said the move aims to improve monitoring of money laundering, financing for terrorists, graft and tax fraud, instead of targeting common business activities. Appealing to the Chinese savers not to withdraw their money out of fears of even more capital controls, Ma said that the world's major countries also have similar rules, citing that transactions worth 10,000 US dollars or more are subject to reporting in the United States, Canada and Australia.  Regulators in those countries can even adopt stricter rules if necessary after obtaining legal authorization, Ma said.

Judging by the move in Bitcoin since the announcement, nobody believes Mr. Jun.

And yet, what is surprising is that if China indeed wishes to limit capital flight by bitcoin it could easily do so with the flip of a switch, sending the price plunging. As we noted recently, according to Bloomberg sources, Chinese officials have been considering policies including restricting domestic bitcoin exchanges from moving the cryptocurrency to platforms outside the nation and imposing quotas on the amount of bitcoins that can be sent abroad. Further indicating that Chinese regulators were "just a little behind the curve", they allegedly noticed only recently that some investors bought bitcoins on local exchanges and sold them offshore, evading rules on foreign exchange and cross-border fund flows, the report further reveals.

A quick look at the uncanny correlation between the decline in the Yuan and the rise in the bitcoin, confirms that the digital currency has indeed been largely used to evade capital controls. 

Based on this chart alone, the recent surge in Bitcoin would imply that a substantial devaluation of the yuan is looming. That, or even more aggressive capital controls.

As for those buying into bitcoin here on the momentum, most of which originates in China, we urge readers to be cautious as by now the PBOC has certainly noticed that the digital currency remains one of the final, and most successful, means of bypassing capital controls in China. Should Beijing mandate that bitcoin no longer be a means to illegally transfer capital offshore, there is risk of a dramatic, and sharp, drop in its price.

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jamesmmu's picture

All the hot money now flow into Bitcon, USD, stocks, however IPO market is now worse than '08, and '09.... 


Do they still have any extra to invest in real estate? 

This Might Hurt's picture

Question for bitcoin experts.

I own bitcoin and of course I am pretty excited about the run up in price.  One thing I have heard over and over about Bitcoin is that there will only ever be 21 million, and a limited supply, one of the draws to the crypto currency. 

Infamously Ethereum performed a hard fork to, impressively and controversially, erase the DAO attack.  In it’s wake we now have twice as much ether, one worth a more on the Ethereum network, and one less on Ethereum classic.  They both have the same functionality, and though you have different prices and development teams, you still essentially have twice as much Ether.

The question is, is this possible with Bitcoin?  And if so it crushes one of the main draws for bitcoin.  We have heard over and over that it is not possible to increase the number of bitcoin above the dictated amount, but that’s certainly not the case with Ether from what I have seen.  Gavin Andresen wanted to hard fork bitcoin to address scalability, far more controversial than the DAO hardfork.  Then there is the possibility of a hostile hardfork by a majority that just so happens don’t agree with the developer team. 

 If a hardfork takes place, who is to say what is the real blockchain and real bitcoin, frankly it’s not clear with Ether, and I don’t think it would be with bitcoin either.  

Video: The Case For Owning Bitcoin from a Crypto-Currency Skeptic

remain calm's picture

So this is what free markets looks like? How long till governments with bankers help fuck it up?

Offthebeach's picture

All government fiat is by definition controled capital. Inflate, deflate, tax and stimulate, carrots and sticks, but controled nevertheless. Everything else is just a matter of degee.

Draybin Deffercon III's picture
Draybin Deffercon III (not verified) remain calm Jan 2, 2017 12:39 PM

For the 100th time there is nothing they can do about Bitcoin!

Condition 1SQ's picture

Have you not been paying attention?  1) In the US, all BTC conversions must be reported to the IRS, even for something like a cup of coffee.  Essentially all people who use BTC are violating US tax code. 2) All they have to do is ban exchanges, forcing everyone to localbitcoins.  Here, the gov't can simply run sting operations.  I know you like to pose as a BTC big shot, but if you actually had a lot of BTC, say, enough to retire on many times over, you wouldn't be here trolling.  Ta ta ..

smartypants's picture

If more than 51% wants to do a hard fork, then it will happen. The longest and most powerfull chain wins. The losing chain will become aborted pretty fast, since hashrate will drop, that causes much longer block times than 10 min, than again cause even more time for the dificulty to adjust, which happens evry 2016 blocks, so the losing chain would be useless.

If more than 51% of the miners, the developer wants to write code that increases the total amount of bitcoins and node operators wants to run that version of bitcoin, it's possible, but not easy. Bitcoin is unable to even increase the max blocksize to increase throughput of transactions. Immutability is the holy grail for bitcoin.  

This Might Hurt's picture

Why was this not the case with Ethereum?  There are two fully Ethereum networks with essentially the same functionality and thus there is twice as much Ether.  Could there be a hard fork in bitcoin with 51% consendus but the remaining 49% just continue running the old version.  No the bitcoin would not be interchainable but you would you then have 32 million bitcoin with similar functionality.  Sure you could say the consensus blockchain is correct but if the other blockchain continues to function, as with Ethereum, I would still consider it an increase in supply. 

Playing devils advocte here and trying to figure out what specifically prevents it.  You said it's possible but not easy, well if you have a fair amount of the community that doesn't want to hard fork but you get the 51% consensus, the remaining large minority could still have the resources to deal with the "not easy" part, again increasing the number of bitcoin by 100%. 

Dennisen's picture

Capital controls are bad, but just wait until they start dicking with lower case and its game over.

Upset Your Worries's picture

Not specifically in answer to your question, but more generally on the future of crypto, I suggest you check out this user on, with searches relevant to what you're asking:;u=851556;sa=showPosts

38BWD22's picture



That user is a very interesting guy.  I hope that his project pans out.

Save_America1st's picture

@That Might Hurt and @smartypants

I have a more simpler question and just wondering if one of you could give your opinion on it. 

I'm just wondering if Ethereum could be considered the "silver" to Bitcoin's "gold" by way of comparison at this point?

Could it be possible to compare the 2 in this way, such as with silver being the average guy's gold since it's much cheaper to purchase right now than gold is.  With the criminal manipulation in PM's driving the gold/silver ratio massively out of whack at now 73:1, it definitely is the better buy to stack silver now compared to gold since once the GSR starts to plummet back down to more narrow ratios below 50:1 it then becomes a no-brainer trade to swap that cheaply acquired phyzz silver for phyzz gold.

I don't know about any possible manipulations w/ BTC or Ethereum, but does it still seem like the better play to start piling up some Ethereum at this price level (which is 50% less than the high of around 16 per a while back), with the possibility that in time Ethereum might really take off and be profitable down the line in a similar way that we think silver will eventually be compared to the gold values?

thanks much


This Might Hurt's picture

I think the similarities of crypto currencies to silver and gold should stick to the monetary and safe haven/store of value lines.  Additional parallels are forced and should not be made. 

I am going to buy ethereum but only if the price is below my average, and now it isn't.

Grave's picture

because its very badly designed and therefore has poor security.
its one of the banksters stillborn creations (much like the hostile takeover attempts in the guise of *xt/unlimited/reloaded/rebulshitted/etc and other unnamed "alts") which cost them over billion to overhype and overpump trying to overtake bitcoin, with zero results.
its the third stage coming to an end.

1. they ignored bitcoin - check
2. they laughed at bitcoin - check
3. they fight bitcoin - in progress
4. then bitcoin wins - upcoming

satoshi's picture

The only way the 21 million # for total bitcoins could be changed, is if the majority of miners around the world, wallet developers, community  etc… agreed to change the #.   Imagine if they agreed to 42 million.  All of the new bitcoins they mined would be worth  ½as much.  The miners spend millions of dollars on their  computers and equipment.  They would never do that, it makes no economic sense.  They would act in their own self interest.

The beauty of the bitcoin protocol is that all of the interests are self aligning. 

This Might Hurt's picture

Your missing my point.  We have a case study with Ethereum there are 87mil ether and 87 mil ether classic both with the same functionality.  I'm not saying bitcoin hardforks to increase the amount.  I'm saying it hard forks for anther issue and though there is 51% consensus, both blockchains, Bitcoin and Bitcoin Classic, continue to run with full functionality.  There would be twice as much bitcoin at that point.  

Bitcoin has not hardforked but its been threatened and is possible from my understanding. 

unununium's picture

This Might Hurt... A fork is like an alt-coin (Ethereum, LTC...) so it does increase the money supply, in the same sense that a new alt-coin increases the total cryptocurrency supply.

The key difference is that as a pre-fork Bitcoin holder, you automatically have coins on both forks.  All else being equal, the market value of the forks would adjust to match the pre-fork value.

If you consider this carefully you'll conclude that a fork should not be seen as affecting the money supply - all else being equal.  In practice,  total market value of both forks may be more or less than before, depending on the features of the forks.

chuckymcgee's picture

With Bitcoin, a properly timed hard fork that's well supported cannot survive, economically. Take a look at John Blocke's discussion "There Will Be No Bitcoin Split"- basically since Bitcoin has a 2 week difficulty adjustment, the smaller fork will grind to a halt.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I thought the difficulty to mine a bitcoin increases as fewer are left to mine? Assuming I am correct, if the total number is doubled to 42M, while they would get half a much for each new bitcoin, wouldn't they be far easier to mine?

Skateboarder's picture

The money-supply-doubling scenario would require an adjustment of the scaling factor of how hard it is to mine one new BTC. Since these people are trying to be fair, the energy expended to mine one BTC at current should carry forward to the new system as well?

However, from the comments above, it seems that the likelihood of a "fork" of Bitcoin into "Bitcoin Classic" and "Bitcoin New" is higher than the simple-doubling case we are talking about, which I think would be harder to implement and have people come to a consensus to.

Regardless, I think Bitcoin and virtual currencies are gay and an irresponsible waste of energy.

digitalhermit's picture

Bitcoin and virtual currencies are awesome! But I agree that being gay is an irresponsible waste of energy. After all, no children are being produced.

Mustafa Kemal's picture

T M T, this is a good question. I wish I knew the answer.

Likstane's picture

Don't fork with my gold; I'll fork you up, bitchez

commander gruze?'s picture

TL;DR: Yes, it's possible to hard for and break bitcoin, but it's prohibitively difficult and highly improbable.

1. Ether is not meant to serve as token of value. Primarily it's goal to be the digital petrol to run your smart contracts. Don't use Ether as unit of account.

2. Bitcoin community is exceptionally conservative in adopting changes, forking the chain, etc. Ethereum on the other hand is full of central-planner types and does fork a lot, often to firefight the unforeseen consequences of prior forks. Don't use Ether as store of wealth.

3. You don't really have twice as many Ether. You have a token whose fungibility is not guaranteed in the other network. Tread with caution. Don't use Ether as medium of exchange.

This Might Hurt's picture

First good answer I've seen.  But still adds a possible, albiet unlikly weakness of bitcoin.  What if there were a hostile hardfork of bitcoin performed by say governments who just pool enough resources to get 51% consensus?


dark pools of soros's picture

If there was no chance that humans would find a way to sabotage even something as elegant as the blockchain then one bitcoin would already be worth over a million and humans wouldn't be regarded as human anymore

Grave's picture

51% gives you precisely dick
you need 95% to actually lock in a change like that
bitcoin is designed to be highly resistant to change
and therefore resistant to hostile takeovers.

Draybin Deffercon III's picture
Draybin Deffercon III (not verified) commander gruze? Jan 2, 2017 1:01 PM

Excellent post Gruze and sums up why I've occasionally owned Namecoin, DASH and Litecoin but will continue to avoid Ether.

paulbain's picture



To:  commander gruze?


Thank you for your excellent answer.  I like it a great deal, and it is one of the best comments that I have read (here on ZH) regarding digital currency  (e.g., Bitcoin)  and the blockchains that provide the infrastructure for such currencies.  Good job!



dark pools of soros's picture

There always seems to be a need for a 'silver' digital currency to emerge to fill in the lesser roles that bitcoin has outgrown but they never take hold for long. Each one just gets manipulated or some other scandal to put the whole burden back on bitcoin

So yeah, there is a constant spat within the developers and also the miners on the next features to add to the blockchain but probably nothing changes and people just live with the slow transactions (comparatively speaking since things like SWIFT takes days, but Visa seconds)

kamikun's picture

As far as I understand, the answer is yes and no.

Technically, it is simply a matter of a change to the mining client software... a one line change at that. But (as those more invested and brainful than I say) as a practical matter, the miners would never implement such software. 

Remember that miners have a choice of which bitcoin client they run on their machines. Supposedly, none of them would willingly want to run a client that would take down the currency's primary value proposition - much less a substantial number who would need to run it to cause a fork in the network, thus creating two competing versions of bitcoin. If that happened, then the market of miners would choose which version to mine and validate. And the feeling is that it would be suicide to mine the crippled version and the majority of miners would stick with the original cap.

So, again, yes and no. It could be changed - but it's very likely (99+% prob.) that it never would.

I know that sounds really shaky, but consider: if a number of miners started to try to push such a version, bitcoin's value would begin dropping immediately. The community would rally and take out the bad actors.

Now, could a state-sponsored agent try this as one route to destablizing bitcoin? Perhaps. But what is already happening with the funding of Blockstream - a multimillion dollar company that has stepped in out of nowhere and has taken over bitcoin development by compensating the lead development team and pushed them towards a 'soft' crippling of bitcoin (by refusing to scale the network to allow for more users and faster transaction times) - is probably a much more 'organic' takedown of the coin.

I loved what bitcoin was - and still hold a small amount. But there are better coins out there, and in time, they will grow to challenge bitcoin's status.

Wow72's picture

The dollar will never go off the gold standard. Famous last words.  Else we would still be on the gold standard.  If they can change it, they will. 

Silver Savior's picture

The dollar will just collapse. Then they will have to find a new currency and peg it to gold.

Silver Glock's picture

The Etherium project is largely dominated by one developer, Vitalik Buterin, and most companies that can be traced back to the origin of the project (Etherium Switzerland GmbH, ConsenSys, ...) follow his lead. He is the benevelont dictator. Yes, the miners have to follow suit but it's a much smaller community and the forks happen with little or no decision process. Bitcoin has a large community and it's original developer has been replaced with a group of developers who all try to promote their own agenda, that makes it slower in development but created no forks so far

Stackers's picture

This Might Hurt,

While the number of "bitcoins" is capped, and the total supply is much lower than 21 million due to the million of bitcoins already lost in unaccessible wallets due to lost pass keys, the number of divisions a bitcoin can be broken into is not capped. Right now the system is limited to 8 decimal places there is no reason it can't be taken to 16 or more. So there is not really a limited supply of bitcoin if the demand is there. They will just be broken into smaller and smaller units, with each small unit be "worth" more as demand rises.

Soon people wont even talk about trading bitcoins back and forth, but milli-bits or micro-bits, ect.

Pseudonymous's picture

The X BTC you own can't be diluted, or suffer from monetary inflation beyond the predetermined rate. This is the essence of the statement that there will only ever be 21 million, and a limited supply. And this is the important thing you should care about when considering exposure to BTC. Your bitcoins won't be diluted in case of a fork which creates a new currency unit, because if today you hold X BTC in your own wallet and tomorrow BTC forked into BTCA and BTCB, you would have both X BTCA and X BTCB. The value would split between the two somehow, but you would have both. You would be able to sell one or the other or both, and buy whichever, depending on your preferences. A forked currency may die due to a lack of interest or support or mining power securing it, so you could just sit and do nothing and it would be like nothing ever happened.

Another thing you need to care about is which currency is really meant by "bitcoin" and "BTC" in a contract, or in other legal context. If you're owed X BTC and tomorrow BTC forked into two currencies, are you owed one, or the other, or both? Bitcoin's definition does not come from some legislation or something like that, but nevertheless, there are both informal and some formal aspects of it. The formal one is primarily the source code (and also the original Bitcoin whitepaper by Satoshi Nakamoto), which you are in some sense agreeing to when you run it (or let others run it for you). There is some good general understanding in the Bitcoin community what a bitcoin really is, so in the exceptional case that a backwards-incompatible change to the so-called consensus rules code needed to be made (something unanimously agreeable, e.g. fixing a newly discovered security flaw) the informal would play a more important role than the formal, and the code would be changed and everyone would agree that BTC is the currency which exists in the new version of the software. In such a case the extension of the blockchain, and therefore the currency, on the old (perhaps flawed) version would have very little or no value anyway. So there would be no question what bitcoin is. However, if in doubt about which of two incompatible (in the consensus rules) versions of the software to use, just choose the old one, or check the code and choose the one which is compatible with the old one. When there is no clear consensus about a hard fork, the status quo prevails. If a controversial hard fork occurs it is logical that a bitcoin borrowed before the fork would then need to be repaid in the closest form to the same, i.e. in the blockchain which didn't change its consensus rules, or in both blockchains. It is a good idea to anticipate such a situation have this agreed to explicitly beforehand.

Ethereum was in a different situation from Bitcoin since its launch, because it has a central organization called the Ethereum Foundation, which was funded from the beginning with bitcoins and ether and is recognized as responsible for the development and evolution of the whole project. As far as I know, this organization was not supposed to have too much control over the blockchain and the currency, but in practice it did exercise crucial influence over the definition of the ETH currency unit after the controversial hard fork in question. They made statements in full support of the new, different code and currency, and claimed that the old one would not have their, or anyone else's support, and I think they even went as far as asking companies to not support it. This crucial intervention by a central entity, which does not exist at all in Bitcoin, led to the broad acceptance of the new definition of what ETH is, despite the fact that the old version still retained some not insignificant support. This, in turn, played a role in the situation where some companies (such as Coinbase) lost their ETC (the extension of the original ETH after the fork) due to using the Ethereum Foundation's software, which very irresponsibly completely ignored the eventuality of the continuation of the old blockchain and the split into two currencies. I think some of the companies who got into this messy situation decided to continue relying on the authority of the Ethereum Foundation and claiming that they only really owe the new ETH to their customers, since it is the 'ETH' redefined by the Ethereum Foundation. Most of the exchanges went the extra mile to more fairly treat their customers, split ETH and ETC properly and let their customers have them, in spite of the irresponsible behaviour of the Ethereum Foundation.

The moral of the story is to not let a central organization or person redefine what your currency is after its launch (duh) and perhaps try to have a clause in any cryptocurrency-denominated legal contract (smart contracts are a different story) concerning the eventuality of the currency splitting into two or more active currencies. If you don't have any BTC-denominated contractual relationships (e.g. holding bitcoins at an exchange or other online wallet where you do not have the private keys, which is a bad idea for other reasons too) and are just holding your bitcoins in your own wallet, then even those two things are irrelevant and not something to worry about.

In the long run, the inefficiencies of having smaller and weaker currencies which try to compete with the larger, against the strong network effects, will lead to a lot of consolidation. For example, in hard fork and currency split situations such as the one with ETH and ETC I think that only one will survive, or they will effectively become like one again, through new software. Exactly how, we will see.

LRQm9E7A's picture

TMH  great question.  I think the answer lies in the different price drivers of bitcoin vs. altcoins.  Bitcoin itself doesn't really have any unique distinguishing technical characteristics that elevate it above most altcoins.  Its main value lies in its large user base and therefore large network effect ( Because bitcoin was first, it got an immediate lead in support by individuals and organizations, and as with any other kind of currency or social medium, its value increases approximately by the square of the user base (  Whatever medium has the largest user base therefore tends to form a "natural monopoly" that quickly crowds out any competitors.  If bitcoin forks, one fork will retain the network advantage, and the other will quickly lose the network advantage.  Which fork will be which, I don't know, but only one can keep the network effect and its resulting natural monopoly.

Altcoins, on the other hand (with the possible exception of Monero and Dash) have no current significant comercial or social use and therefore don't benefit from any network effect. That's why their market capitalizations are so low compared with bitcoin.  It's also why so many altcoins (including forks) can exist.  Rather than being supported by commercial and social use, their prices are supported almost entirely by a diverse array of enthusiasts, idealogues, and speculators.  It's possible that some day one of the altcoins or forks could supplant bitcoin, if the altcoin's technical superiority became sufficient to overcome bitcoin's network effect.  Speculation about that possiblility is what drives the prices of altcoins, and different people can have different opinions, leading to lots of altcoins and forks having value.  Essentially, the two forks of Ethereum are not competing so much against each other, but rather they are both competing against bitcoin, and they are both (currently) losing.  That's why both of their market caps are currently so low compared with bitcoin.  That could change.  It's possible one of the forks (but only one) could someday capture bitcoin's network effect.


Bunga Bunga's picture

The consensus of Bitcoin from the beginning is limited supply, with Ethereum it is unlimited supply.

Can it be changed? Yes, simply by a hardfork = breach of consensus. Since a breach of consensus would not be backwards compatible, nodes/miners who do not upgrade would only recognize/generate pre-work coins. A consensus change, where 100% of nodes/miners agree and upgrade, is extremely unlikely.

If a hardfork takes place, there will be two coins and your holdings will split, which are tradable separately assuming both forks survive.

apadictionary's picture

damn it. everything these homo-sapiens touch, hyperinflates.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

gotta get me some bitcoins...they have them at coin shops?

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Whenever I begin to find Bitcoin attractive I remind myself that in the event there is some kind of Carrington event or man made electrical disturbance, I have nothing. Suddenly my Eagles are quite attractive.

smartypants's picture

If power goes out in the whole world at the same time, we have bigger problems. 

Hardware wallets of paperwallets do not need power. 

dasein211's picture

Yeah.... after a carrington event we are all fucked. I don't remember them using gold in Mad Max.

BandGap's picture

Mad Max was total destruction of society. If we had a Carrington Event we would initially (a few days/weeks) stand around scratching our balls but eventually all society controls would kick in, including the need for a medium of exchange. Maybe not in the inner cities where survivability would be based on being the "fittest", but in rural more agricultural regions there would be a need for money.

Also, a Carrington Event would not be worldwide, trade might revert to precious, or even base, metals.

Interesting thought problem.



dark pools of soros's picture

No. You're caught up in the fallacy fantasy that rural areas would be led back to the 1800's by Ron Paul and the cities would be eaten by Satan and then cleansed by God and rewritten by Jane Austen's ghost so we could again stagecoach back in town and swap our bags of silver for durable goods and the twinkle of a merchant daughter's desire

dark pools of soros's picture

At least it's in the present century

Offthebeach's picture

Urban Jane Austins would be wandering the countryside swapping gash for ham and eggs.