Good Ol’ FUD: The Brightest Media Burials of Bitcoin in 2018

Ten years ago, on Jan. 3, 2009, the Bitcoin (BTC) network was created. Since then, the asset’s price has famously been subject to volatility. That, along with the inceptive crypto’s focus on decentralization, have been disturbing mainstream media, which still fails to grasp and discuss the concept of Bitcoin without skepticism — hence the omnipresent headlines exclaiming its so-called death.

Last year was no different in regard to the FUD (i.e., fear, uncertainty and doubt) about crypto, and Bitcoin specifically — especially considering the bear’s arrival. According to 99bitcoins, the virtual currency had been declared as dead at least 91 times in 2018. Here’s how media and mainstream economists buried Bitcoin throughout the year, month by month.

Jan. 19

“Bitcoin could be here for 100 years but it’s more likely to ‘totally collapse,’ Nobel laureate says” — CNBC

BTC price: $11,721

On Jan. 19, when Bitcoin’s price was still soaring, even after a major bounceback from its December all-time high, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller told CNBC that Bitcoin would collapse entirely. In what now seems like an obligatory move for Bitcoin skeptics, Shiller compared the cryptocurrency to the Dutch Tulip Mania:

"It has no value at all unless there is some common consensus that it has value. Other things like gold would at least have some value if people didn't see it as an investment,” Shiller said, adding:

“It reminds me of the Tulip Mania in Holland in the 1640s, and so the question is did that collapse? We still pay for tulips even now and sometimes they get expensive. [Bitcoin] might totally collapse and be forgotten and I think that's a good likely outcome but it could linger on for a good long time, it could be here in 100 years."

Feb. 11

“Is Bitcoin Heading To Zero?” — Forbes

BTC Price: $8,173

In February, Forbes published a more detailed investigation of the continuing Bitcoin price drop. The article focused on the main shortcomings of Bitcoin in relation to Ethereum (ETH): namely, transaction fees and governance issues.

The Forbes author cited PH.D. economist Eli Dourado’s work on Ethereum, which highlighted that transaction costs on the Ethereum blockchain were considerably cheaper. Furthermore, the governance of Bitcoin and its ongoing development were also cited as potential issues:

“Bitcoin has been unable to seriously address its on-chain scaling problems. Its community has alienated, marginalized, and purged dissenting voices, notably Mike Hearn, Gavin Andresen, and Jeff Garzik. Its core development team has been captured by an ideological faction committed to only off-chain scaling in the name of decentralization. This faction has undermined consensus scaling agreements and trashed the reputation of anyone who points out any of the above.”

March 5

“Bitcoin is based on the blockchain pipe dream” — The Guardian

BTC price: $11,574

“Overpriced cryptocurrencies owe their diminishing credibility to an over-hyped technology,” read the subtitle to the Guardian’s skeptical piece on Bitcoin that was published in March. It then proceeded to argue that blockchain’s effectiveness is largely overestimated, and eventually concluded:

“It is high time to end the hype. Bitcoin is a slow energy-inefficient dinosaur that will never be able to process transactions as quickly or inexpensively as an Excel spreadsheet. Ethereum’s plans for an insecure proof-of-stake authentication system will render it vulnerable to manipulation by influential insiders. And Ripple’s technology for cross-border interbank financial transfers will soon be left in the dust by Swift, a non-blockchain consortium used by all of the world’s major financial institutions.”

April 24

“Let’s destroy Bitcoin” — MIT Technology Review

BTC price: $9,300

In April, the MIT Technology Review somewhat unexpectedly invited its readers to “destroy” Bitcoin, along with three scenarios in which it could allegedly be accomplished. While it’s important to remember that the Technology Review is independent from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and therefore does not represent its official position, the article seemed somewhat radical and, more importantly, logically underwhelming.

One of the options, for instance, was a government takeover of Bitcoin with the creation of a Federal Reserve-backed coin (Fedcoin):

“The year is two-thousand-something-big, and it’s the day your taxes are due. But you don’t file them. Instead an algorithm automatically makes a withdrawal from your electronic wallet, in a currency called Fedcoin.”

May 5

“Warren Buffett says bitcoin is ‘probably rat poison squared’” — CNBC

BTC price: $9,881

In May, billionaire investor and vocal Bitcoin opponent Warren Buffett gave a speech at the annual meeting of his company, Berkshire Hathaway. He reiterated his negative stance toward cryptocurrencies, saying he was sure that it will come to a bad end once the craze over crypto subsided. This time, however, he added something new by saying that Bitcoin is “probably rat poison squared.”

Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman, Charlie Munger, was quick to echo Buffet’s criticism of investing in cryptocurrency, even taking it up a notch:

"Someone else is trading turds and you decide I can't be left out."

June 23

“The Bitcoin market has finally run out of greater fools…” — Jordan Belfort

BTC price: $6,139

Jordan Belfort, known colloquially as the “Wolf of Wall Street,” criticized Bitcoin for a second time, after previously calling it “wolf in sheep