Nobel prize-winning economist Richard Thaler recently weighted in on bitcoin and the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Speaking to Portuguese publication ECO, Thaler stated that after taking a close look at the markets, cryptocurrencies are what “most looks like a bubble.” Despite his analysis, he doesn’t know when the bubble might burst.
Thaler, known for his work in behavioral economics, notably said he can “see there is a bubble in debt markets,” given interest rates are now close to zero and indices are reaching all-time highs. Nevertheless, he noted (roughly translated) that “the market that to me most looks like a bubble is that of bitcoin and its sisters.”
The economist further added that the cryptocurrency ecosystem is acting irrationally. As an example, he pointed to Long Island Iced Tea’s shares surging over 300% following a blockchain rebrand to Long Blockchain Corp. “Companies are adding ‘blockchain’ to their name and their value goes up,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense that it keeps going like this.”
Through social media, Thaler had already ironically addressed the Long Island Iced Tea case. It occurred little after he received the Nobel prize, for his work in behavioral economics that warns us of the differences between the behavior of the homo economicus, and reality.
The economist didn’t try to predict when the bubble will burst, but stated history has proven bad things can happen when markets become irrational, using the 1987 ‘Black Monday’ crash, the dot-com bubble, and the housing bubble as examples.
Then, referring to bitcoin’s dive from a $19,200 all-time high to $10,948 at press time, Thaler said that “in ‘normal’ markets” we don’t see “extreme events” like these as often as we do in the cryptocurrency markets. Curiously, in an interview last year, Thaler stated:
“We seem to be living in the riskiest moment of our lives, and yet the stock market seems to be napping. I admit to not understanding it.”
In the interview, he went on to add that he’s nervous about the stock markets and that when investors get nervous, they’re prone to get spooked. However, he noted that “nothing seems to spook the market.”
Richard Thaler isn’t the only Nobel Prize-winning economist who doesn’t seem to like bitcoin. As covered by CCN, Joseph Stiglitz, who won the prize in Economic Sciences in 2001, seemingly doesn’t find a useful function for bitcoin, and as such thinks the cryptocurrency could be regulated “out of existence.”
Nobel laureate Robert Shiller, who won the prize in 2013 or his work in “Trendspotting in asset markets”, predicted a bitcoin crash that will see the cryptocurrency come down, although it “won’t go to zero.”
Featured image from Flickr/Chatham House.