暂时不用太担心比特币

Bitcoin prices are in a bubble. To recognise this, one need only look at the cryptocurrency’s vertiginous path to its current peak of more than $16,000 — and then recall that it has no intrinsic value. It is not productive like oil, and no government stands behind it. It is not even physically attractive, as paintings, gold and tulips are. As of today, the sole legitimate reason to buy bitcoin it is to sell it later for a higher price.

比特币(Bitcoin)价格存在泡沫。要认识到这一点,人们只需要看看这种加密货币达到目前逾16000美元这一峰值的令人眩晕的上涨过程——然后记得它不具备内在价值。它不像石油一样有生产用途,也没有政府为其背书。它甚至也不像绘画、黄金以及郁金香那样有外观上的吸引力。到目前为止,购买比特币唯一合理的理由就是为了之后可以高价出售。

Should anyone care about this? There is now quite a bit of nominal value behind bitcoin. Multiply the price by the number of bitcoins and the result is more than $270bn — roughly the market capitalisation and double the book value of Wells Fargo, the third-largest bank in the US. There is reason to think still more money is going to flow to bitcoin. Two major exchanges, the CME Group and Cboe Global Markets Global Markets, are about to launch bitcoin futures exchanges. Historically, asset bubbles ascend to their wildest heights after derivative trading is introduced. Such trading is easier and less capital intensive than cash trading and delivery of the underlying asset.

人们应该关心这一点吗?眼下比特币具备了不少的名义价值。用比特币的价格乘以数量,可以得出其总价值已经超过2700亿美元——大体相当于美国第三大银行富国银行(Wells Fargo)的市值,并且是其账面价值的两倍。人们有理由认为还会有更多资金流入比特币。芝加哥商品交易所集团(CME Group)和芝加哥期权交易所全球市场(Cboe Global Markets)这两家主要的交易所将推出比特币期货产品。在历史上,资产泡沫攀升至最疯狂的高度往往是在引入衍生品交易后。相比标的资产的现金交易与交割,衍生品交易操作更简单且资本密集程度更低。

It is telling that Wall Street banks, usually keen to cash in on the sudden popularity of innovative derivatives — mortgage-backed credit default swaps, say — are encouraging regulators to review bitcoin futures more carefully. They have reason to be nervous. Any bitcoin futures trades will have to pass through clearing houses, where defaults are covered by member institutions, such as the brokerage arms of the big banks. If a mass of trades go bad, for example because a crash in the bitcoin price leaves lots of traders unable to make good on their trades, the clearing house could end up holding the bag.

通常急于在创新衍生工具(比如抵押贷款支持信用违约掉期)的突然火爆中牟利的华尔街银行,正在鼓励监管部门更谨慎地审查比特币期货,这很能说明问题。他们有理由绷紧神经。所有的比特币期货交易都将必须通过清算所完成,一旦出现违约将由成员机构负责,比如大型银行的经纪业务部门。一旦大批交易出现问题,比如因为比特币价格崩盘导致大批交易者无法完成交易,最终背锅的可能是清算所。

It may also be that the banks simply do not want to be involved. As demonstrated by the spiking price, the bitcoin market lacks natural sellers (other than bitcoin “miners” who need to sell bitcoins to pay the electricity bills on their computerised mines). This would leave the brokers either taking the “short” side of trades themselves, a big risk, or refusing to take clients’ trades and potentially losing business.

也可能银行业只是不想参与其中。正如其价格飙升所表明的那样,比特币市场缺少自然的卖家(除了那些需要出售比特币以支付计算机挖矿所耗电费的比特币“挖矿人”)。这使得经纪商要么本身在交易中“做空”(这存在巨大的风险),要么拒绝为客户交易、从而可能失去业务。

It may be that the futures markets will simply flop for lack of people willing to bet against bitcoin while the price is still rising. If so, good. Speculation in bitcoin (or any other arbitrary thing) should be allowed in a free society — so long as it does not put others at risk. If this collective waste of time and energy fails to take hold, that is likely to be for the best.

由于在价格继续上涨时缺少愿意押注比特币价格下跌的人,期货市场可能会失败。如果真是这样,那也不错。自由社会应该允许比特币(或任何一种东西)投机行为的存在——只要这种行为不会把他人置于险境。如果这种集体浪费时间和能源的行为最终没能站稳脚跟,那可能是最好的结果。

But will no one else get hurt? Of course, bitcoin could crash to zero. A lot of paper wealth would disappear. But bitcoin is not a bank. It is not highly leveraged, and it seems to have been used as collateral in only a limited number of cases. Much of its nominal value is in essence “found money”. So there is limited cause for worry — until the value gets much higher, or much more leverage seeps into the financial ecosystem surrounding the cryptocurrency. This could happen. Regulators need to follow events closely, and insist on high-margin requirements and tight risk controls for trading in derivatives.

但是不会有其他人受伤吗?当然,比特币可能会暴跌到零。很多账面财富都会消失。但比特币不是银行。比特币的杠杆不高,似乎只在有限的情况中被用作抵押物。比特币大部分名义价值本质上属于“意外之财”。因此没必要太过担忧——除非其价值进一步大幅攀升、或者人们在围绕这种加密货币的金融生态系统中疯狂加杠杆。这种情况可能出现。监管部门需要密切跟踪事态发展,并且对比特币衍生品交易坚持高保证金的要求,并实行严格的风险控制。

While there are no legitimate, non-speculative reasons to buy bitcoin, there are of course significant illegitimate ones. So long as it retains value, bitcoin is a useful tool for tax evaders, money launderers, and anyone who wishes to avoid the rules and regulations that govern traditional fiat currencies. So while it is not necessary to put up regulatory barriers to trading bitcoin, the points where it connects with traditional currencies, banking systems, and tax regimes should be carefully controlled. Innovative technology is not a licence to break the law.

尽管没有合理的非投机性理由来购买比特币,但确实有重要的非法理由来购买它。只要比特币还存在价值,它就是人们逃税、洗钱以及躲避传统法定货币相关法规的有效工具。因此,尽管没有必要对比特币交易设置监管障碍,但有关部门应该谨慎控制比特币与传统货币、银行系统以及税收制度的连接点。创新技术不是违法行为的许可证。

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  • 原文链接:http://kuaibao.qq.com/s/20171210C0HDM700?refer=cp_1026

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