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Peter Schiff Crypto Debate: Speculation Is the Only Reason to Own Bitcoin

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Peter Schiff appeared on Fox Business Live with Charlie Payne to debate bitcoin with Layah Heilpern. Peter argued that the only reason to own bitcoin is speculation and that gold is a much better hedge.

Payne opened the debate by pointing out that bitcoin struggled while gold did relatively well as investors looked for a safe haven due to the situation in Ukraine.

But Layah said if you put the recent price moves aside and look at the fundamental value of bitcoin, it’s working “perfectly.” She pointed out that when the Canadian government recently shut down bank accounts during the trucker protests, bitcoin allowed people to trade peer to peer.

“You can’t trade peer to peer in gold. Bitcoin is literally an alternative monetary system.”

Layah also noted that people have donated millions to both the truckers and Ukrainians using crypto.

Peter said we definitely need an alternative to the dollar, and there are many ways to hedge against inflation.  But bitcoin is not one of them.

Bitcoin is not going to hedge against anything. It’s just a highly speculative token. It’s basically a digital pyramid Ponzi scheme.”

Peter said the price went up for a while, but people are primarily using it “to gamble with.”

It doesn’t have a fundamental intrinsic value like gold. It’s not a business. It doesn’t pay a dividend like a stock. It’s not real estate. You can’t rent it out. It’s not a bond. It’s a digital Beanie Baby except you can’t snuggle up with it. It doesn’t look cute on your bed.”

So, what’s the argument for buying gold? Payne said the yellow metal has been “an underperformer” for a long time.

Peter pointed out that it’s not fair to say gold has underperformed for “a long time.” The price between 2001 and 2011 went from under $300 an ounce to almost $2,000. But Payne countered that it hasn’t done much between 20011 and 2021. Peter conceded this point and called it “consolidation.”

And now it’s getting ready for another big run up as a result of all the inflation that has been created over the past decade, and the inflation that’s going to be created during the coming decade. I think gold is very cheap relative to the amount of dollars in circulation.”

Peter said the technical picture also looks good for gold.

I think we’ve now had a big blowup in inflation. For a while, people thought there was no inflation. Then they thought it was transitory. And now they think the Fed is going to fight it. They’re wrong again. The Fed can’t fight inflation because we have too much debt. Inflation is going to get worse and people are going to look for hedges. And gold is going to be one of the hedges they choose, not bitcoin.”

Layah responded by saying that bitcoin is literally saving lives. She pointed out Ukrainians fleeing for Poland can easily take their bitcoin with them. Nobody will even know they have it. Smuggling bars of gold is much more difficult.

You can flee lockdowns. You can flee vaccine mandates. Whatever it is your government is throwing at you, you can flee that with the keys in your head. Nobody needs to know what you own. And I certainly will not be fleeing any kind of dangerous tyrannical government with gold bullion bars.”

Peter said that the vast majority of people buying bitcoin are not buying it for that reason.

They’re buying bitcoin because they think the price is going to go up. And when they stop thinking the price is going to go up, they’re going to sell. And when enough people want to sell and there’s nobody to buy, the price is going to collapse.”

At that point, the “bitcoin is a store of value” argument will evaporate.

Because you can’t store something you don’t have. Bitcoin has no underlying value like gold, which is a metal — a valuable metal that’s used for all sorts of things. Bitcoin isn’t used for anything other than speculation. And it’s only being used for speculation because people think it’s going to go up. Well, if they stop thinking that because it’s going down, then there is no reason to own it.”

Peter said you can come up with small examples of bitcoins value, as Layah did, but that is a small fraction of the demand for bitcoin.

Once the price crashes, that demand will go away too.”

Of course, bitcoin has crashed many times. It always comes back. Peter said, at some point, it will crash and not come back.

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