Bitcoin’s 3,000 percent profit, heavily concentrated ownership, and thin trading markets could be setting up the first crypto-currency for a manipulative “pump and dump” disaster.
Bitcoin closed the week at $16,087.32, up about 50 percent for the week and over 3,000 percent from its humble Silicon Valley early days in 2012, when it was trading at $5. The Business Insider once said it could be worth $1 million, because it has the same lack of intrinsic value as the U.S. paper dollars it is quoted in. With a valuation of about $300 billion, bitcoin is now worth more than Bank of America.
Enthusiasts claim that the prime reason for Bitcoin’s astounding price run is its ability to function effectively outside the “central banking cartel’s longstanding monopoly of the money supply and its historic ruthlessness for squashing all competition the central banking cartel’s longstanding monopoly of the money supply and its historic ruthlessness for squashing all competition,” as Zero Hedge argues.
But Bloomberg reported that bitcoin also seems to have all the market trading attributes that supported the fleecing of the public during the Gilded Age over a century ago, where ruthless insiders colluded to corner cheap and illiquid stocks, run up prices to suck in Main Street investors, sell at huge profits, create a price crash, and then do it again.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought to ban this “pump and dump” manipulation by appointing Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. as the SEC’s first Chairman, because the president supposedly said, “it takes a thief to catch a thief.”
Joe Kennedy had made a fortune in the Roaring Twenties through the then legal use of stock pools to manipulate Wall Street prices. Newspapers would later blame such actions for contributing to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and triggering the Great Depression.
A U.S. Senate Committee on Banking and Currency investigation at the height of the Depression revealed that Kennedy was the largest investor in stock pools that traded Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Co. Pool money was divided up into many separate accounts and spread across six stock brokerage firms, then used to wildly trade LOF stock.
David E. Koskoff wrote in Joseph P. Kennedy: A Life and Times that “false rumors were spread that Libbey-Owens-Ford was going to make liquor bottles. Little by little, the ‘suckers’ bought into Libbey-Owens-Ford.”
The stock pool players sold their LOF stock as it spiked to a high of $37 a share. The shares then crashed to $21 when the fake rumors were outed. Government records show LOF pool participants that bought the stock initially around $15 a share,made a quick profit of $395,000. Joe Kennedy personally pocketed $65,806 in profits, a huge amount of money during the Depression.
Bloomberg comments that with 1,000 so-called “whales” controlling 40 percent of the bitcoins, these insiders have an amount of leverage over the cryptocurrency market that is unsurpassed in modern times . The article does not allege that there is any evidence of manipulation, but suggests that a bubble in bitcoin could hall end in tears for a naïve public.