June 24, 2021

Where the bitcoin bull case goes wrong

Where the bitcoin bull case goes wrong

James Ledbetter, the Chief Content Officer at Clarim Media, joins us today to point out some of the challenges and pitfalls of the bitcoin bull case.


James Ledbetter, the Chief Content Officer at Clarim Media, joins us today to point out some of the challenges and pitfalls of the bitcoin bull case. James discusses government regulation, environmental concerns, and the hurdles in place that will make it difficult for bitcoin to become a mainstream currency. He also delves into his stance on bitcoin as a store of value and how it compares to other assets like gold.

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Transcript

Alex Lieberman: Hey listeners. We wanted to remind you that the last episode of Business Casual for a while comes out next Monday, June 28th. That makes this the second to last full episode of the show that you'll hear for a few months, and it's a good one for sure. But before we get to the episode, we wanted to ask you for your help. Specifically, your thoughts on how we should reimagine the pod while we're on break. Less of, you really like the show. Obviously we know you do, you're listening to it. And more of, what's the one thing you wish you could learn more about from Business Casual? More crypto, more meme stocks, or maybe something totally different. We want to hear from you either way. Please send us an email at businesscasual@morningbrew.com and we will 100% respond and 100% include your advice in how we reimagine the show going forward. Thanks so much. And we can't wait to hear from you. Now, here's the show

What's up, everyone? Welcome back to Business Casual, the show where we occasionally call bull on the bulls. I'm Alex Lieberman. Bear with us, will ya? On the last episode of Business Casual, we heard the bull case for Bitcoin from Michael Saylor. And so today, you're going to hear the bear case. Now, when you think of the bear case for any major development in the financial markets, whether it's Robinhood options trading, crypto volatility or something else, one version of that bear case is what you could call the catastrophe case, like an alternate universe in which Bitcoin speculation causes a massive bubble that crashes the economy and leaves millions of people bankrupt as their investments disappear overnight. That might be a valid version of the bear case for Bitcoin, but it's also a pretty outlandish one. And when you think about it, given the way some people evangelize Bitcoin, our last guest Michael Saylor called it, quote, the best engineered monetary asset in the history of the human race. The bear case doesn't have to end in catastrophe.

Just a lot of disappointment. The bear case is Bitcoin not living up to the hype. As much as the bulls would have you believe otherwise, there are real issues that Bitcoin faces. If they're not fixed, it's not clear what Bitcoin's future holds. So while Bitcoin could end in catastrophe, there's a much more likely scenario where Bitcoin fizzles out slowly, ending in a whimper instead of a bang. So what are the problems with the bull case for Bitcoin? What could stop it from living up to that hype? That's what we're exploring on today's show. Our guest is James Ledbetter. He's the chief content officer of Clara Media and a former editor at Reuters. James, thanks for joining the show.

James Ledbetter: My pleasure, Alex.

AL: So I don't know if you know exactly when you first started creating content around crypto, but I do, because I went on Twitter earlier. I did an advance search for James Ledbetter, the first date that he tweeted the word Bitcoin. And I'd be interested to know if you remember what year and month you first tweeted about Bitcoin, if you had to guess?

JL: I am going to guess it's in the 2014 to 2015 range.

AL: So you're earlier than you give credit. March 21st of 2013. The tweet was, is everyone in Cyprus now using Bitcoin? So obviously you've been involved in crypto for a fair bit of time. Now I want to just do some foundation setting. How did you get into crypto? How'd you first find out about it?

JL: Well, when the white paper first hit the scene, I was working at Reuters and at that time, one of my duties, one of my pleasures, was to edit the blog written by Felix Salmon, who's a seasoned financial journalist now at Axios. And Felix was paying pretty close attention to these things. So as his editor, I tried to keep up. And I would be lying, Alex, if I told you that I envisioned 10 years later, Bitcoin being quite as central to our world and our economy as it seems to be today. But at the same time, I feel like a lot of people who were following it very closely in the 2011, 2012 time period, probably where they thought we were going to be 10 years later is kind of way beyond where we actually are.

So my own approach to this topic, and this goes for crypto, as well as Bitcoin in particular is, take it slow, try to see the whole picture, and it can be difficult to do because there are always headlines to react to. And there's always someone, it seems, who's telling you it's a great time to buy crypto. So you kind of have to take those things into consideration. But I'm very glad that you found that. Now I have to remember what was going on in Cyprus in 2013.

AL: Yeah. So I actually can help you out there. Back in 2013, Cyprus was in the midst of bailout negotiations with the EU. And one of the proposed conditions of the bailout was a tax between six and 10% on all bank deposits in the country. So people were really uncertain about the future value of euros in Cyprus and there was a run on ATM's and also a ton of interest in crypto at the time.

JL: This is a scenario that crypto talks about and it's got some validity, but there have been moments and not all that long ago within the lifetime of Bitcoin, when various sovereign governments have taken sudden actions that make the normal everyday logical ways of transferring and holding money suddenly impossible. There was another incident a few years ago when I think it was the outgoing Berlusconi administration, Berlusconi government, Italy decided to suddenly triple the amount of attacks on bank transfers out of the country or in the country. Just no announcement, just totally arbitrary, and it only lasted for a couple of days or maybe a week. I don't recall the details, but the obvious point is one of the appeals of cryptocurrency is the ability to hold money and transfer money outside of the realm of sovereign governments which might make decisions regarding money that will be harmful to one or another group of stakeholders. So I'm glad I was forward thinking in 2013, though I do not remember tweeting that.

AL: You have to go back, because there's some absolute gold, pun absolutely intended, in some of the stuff from 2013 and 2014 that you wrote. It's all great. So to this point of one of the arguments for Bitcoin is the ability to just control your own destiny, for lack of a better word, rather than government controlling how you're able to handle your money. One of the things people will bring up is, with Bitcoin, you own your Bitcoin. No government can take your Bitcoin from you, whereas history would say that gold, there've been examples in history of governments taking gold deposits from people who had them in large institutions. So do you actually believe this, in some ways, is kind of like one point for Bitcoin, zero points for gold, when it comes to actually having control over your assets?

JL: Yeah. I mean, it's a bit of a loaded argument, but it's not completely wrong. Let's just back up for a bit. I mean, the idea that you have control over your own money, maybe, unless you are in Mt. Gox. and it didn't work out so well for them. So it's not like it's invulnerable to confiscation. That's number one. Number two, the lifecycle of Bitcoin compared to the lifecycle of gold is relatively short. And so while you were talking about periods when governments have taken gold away from people, it's kind of a sample of one, right? We're really talking about FDR in 1933, and it's important to keep in mind, people were compensated for their gold. It wasn't seized. And the price of gold shortly thereafter was fixed anyway, so it's not like it was going to appreciate because it was fixed at $35 an ounce. But still, it did happen.

It could, in theory, happen again. Modern governments have both wide statutory authority in emergency situations and tremendous technological means in their possession that they could do all sorts of seizures. Now again, enforcing that is really difficult, but you could overnight make it illegal to hold Bitcoin in a given nation, in a given jurisdiction. It would be extremely difficult from a technological point of view to enforce that. But you could do things like make people sign statements that they're not holding any Bitcoin in any way, shape or form, punishable by perjury and a jail sentence. The way that the gold prohibition worked in '33 was the government put out a decree saying all the gold that you have out there, in any investible form. Jewelry was exempted, works of art were exempted. But in any investible form, you have to turn over to the government and you'll be reimbursed at x rate.

And by all reports, compliance was very widespread. But it's not like the government went crashing into people's bedrooms and taking strong boxes from underneath their beds. It was never meant as a punitive move. And then neither was it particularly a move against gold per se. It was just that America has really never had capital controls of any meaningful kind for any length of time. And so there was no way to get your hands around the U.S. economy without taking gold from people because it was going in and out of the country, mostly going to France, where it was going to have even worse effect on the economy that had already happened. And this is 1933. So if you can think about what was even worse than 1933, it was pretty bad. So those types of circumstances don't come up very often. And what would be the Bitcoin emergency?

What would it be? Bitcoin is the new subprime mortgage and is going to crash the economy? I mean, maybe. It's kind of tough to sell that. So these scenarios that sometimes I think are from people who don't necessarily understand their history, number one, and number two, are really trying to use these very unlikely scenarios as ways to make another point, whether it's about sovereignty or controlling your own destiny. There sometimes seems to be a line of thinking or feeling about that that because it could happen, the government really wants it to happen. They don't want it to happen. FDR didn't want to do that.

AL: For sure. And so, I mean, going back for a second to the early days of you getting into Bitcoin and you find it to be particularly daunting, which I think is understandable. If you really start reading into the white paper and the technicality of it, it is extremely daunting and extremely unapproachable. And not just over your head. I would say over most people's heads. So how has your perception of Bitcoin over, I mean, let's call it the last eight years. That's how long you've now been at least creating content in some form around it. How has your perception changed of Bitcoin, if at all?

JL: It definitely has evolved. I think I see it in a more 360 degree way than I did initially. The logistics of making it into a mainstream currency have always seemed to me to be a very highly stacked deck. And it seems maybe a little less highly stacked today than it did in those days. Having said that, there are still a lot of very fundamental questions that I think it's kind of hard to resolve.

AL: And so, what are some of those fundamental questions you still have?

JL: So one of the the questions has to do with volatility. And how you reconcile this idea of Bitcoin as a store of value against what we all see and have seen particularly in the last few days or weeks, and that is fairly dramatic swings in the trading price of Bitcoin. Why does that matter? Well, if you look at what a store of value actually is, your ideal store of value should change very, very little, not just in a day's worth of trading, but in a year's worth of trading. It's a store of value. You put it there because you kind of expect it to be there at the end of the day or at the end of the year. And these are kind of rough figures, but for that reason, gold is a historic store of value for any number of investors across the world.

And on any given day, maybe 1% of all the gold that people hold gets traded. Maybe 2%? I think 2% would be considered an extreme day. There have been days within the last 12 to 18 months where 50% of all Bitcoin has changed hands in a single day of trading. Well, sorry, that's not a store of value. It's the opposite of a store of value. It's a speculative investment. And I have no problem with people who want to make speculative investments. Where I start to get a little suspicious is when people tell me it's a store of value, but then I look at the data and it doesn't really support the thesis, or there's a bit of a disconnect there. And I've never entirely figured out. It's probably different from person to person. Are they fooling themselves into thinking? Are they trying to fool me? Because I'm not fooled by the store of value argument. It could be, in a different time period, a different universe.

There's nothing technologically preventing Bitcoin from being a store of value, but I don't think it has ever behaved like one. So that's sort of issue number one that I don't think has been resolved. Closely related to that is the question of, what do we want this thing to do? Well in the original white paper, it was hypothesized that it would be used as a medium of everyday life. Buy my coffee with Bitcoin, I'll pay for my, do we have newspapers? I'll pay for my camp's movie with Bitcoin. And look, that's sort of happening. It's not happening at anything resembling a mass level. But what has become clear, I would say, in the last 12 to 18 months is, you can kind of see how the creation of a kind of middleman could make it happen in a way that would allow it to have mass participation.

What do I mean by that? PayPal, you can now transfer a Bitcoin to your friends. You can now do things with fractional Bitcoin that you couldn't do 12 months ago. So that's a barrier that's been overcome. But going back to this question of volatility, does it make sense for me to spend my Bitcoin today if it's going to be worth 50% more tomorrow? Or vice versa, if I'm a merchant, does it make sense for me to accept Bitcoin if the Bitcoin that I get is going to be worth 50% less than it was a day before? Obviously all these numbers are made up, but the point stands that, like with store of value, you want to have some steady way to make sure that the thing is roughly worth what you thought it was worth when you created a transaction.

AL: It's interesting because you bring up this point where, if you were to go try to transact with Bitcoin over a period of time right now, it would almost be like you trying to transact with Tesla stock. If you went to transact with Tesla stock in the market, it's going to get you different amounts over time, and that's going to be very difficult.

JL: Right. And that's assuming that the merchant will accept it, right? Because it's pretty hard to spend as a stock, I think and rightly so. But for the exact same reason, there are two sides to the transaction, and neither one wants to get ripped off and that's why you need some medium of exchange that has a value. Now, that value could be set by some idealized marketplace. It could be set by the state. It can be set by established exchange rates that are published the same time every day and not subject to too much lag or manipulation, but Bitcoin lacks that trust. Now, I would submit all cryptocurrency lacks that fundamental trust.

AL: Totally.

JL: And it's not clear what the path is. It's possible that someone can solve that problem by basically assuring you, the consumer, that this transaction will be conducted at a rate that is within X, 0.00 X percent of what you thought it was when you transacted it, and then that third party takes on all the risks of the fluctuation and monetize that somehow. I don't know. I've heard about people working on this. I have not yet seen a proof of concept, but I can sort of see that. When that happens, I think we'll be a step closer. So these are important questions, and they may not be completely unresolvable forever, but I don't expect them to resolve themselves within the next three to five years, unless the whole world moves to central bank digital currencies and Bitcoin gets forgotten, which I also don't think will happen in that timeframe, but it might happen.

AL: Totally. This question of trust is super important to ask right now for anyone who's just trying to learn more about Bitcoin or potentially invest in the asset. And even us using the word invest in Bitcoin, I think, insinuates where we are in the journey of this asset. So when it comes to that journey, do you see Bitcoin's future is one where it's primarily a store of value or primarily a medium of exchange?

JL: It could be both. In a theoretical world, I could see it being both. I think it probably has to be a store of value before it becomes an effective medium of exchange for the very reason that we've discussed, but it could be one or the other or both. I think the corollary question is, what has to happen in order for those conditions to be met? What other external conditions have to be met? You could make an argument about legal tender, you could make an argument about the market maturing., you could make an argument about some other cryptocurrency finding a way, whether it's a technological way or a definitional way, a stable coin versus decentralized. Could somebody else find a way to a shorter path that isn't Bitcoin to one of those things? And I think that those are very interesting questions. I do not currently have answers for them.

AL: And so, is there anything that's out there right now, technologically, that actually has a quicker path to become that store of value?

JL: In terms of the technology, a couple of things. One of the features, or bugs, depending on your definition, of Bitcoin vis-a-vis other cryptocurrencies is it's kind of slow. In order to close out the transaction, it takes a matter of minutes as opposed to a matter of seconds or microseconds on other platforms. So, at least in theory, a faster transaction clearing medium or exchange could contribute to a faster acceptance to one of those two paths. And I'm not saying put your money in Ethereum versus Bitcoin at all. But at least in theory, that is one path, a technological path, that could help. Another one goes back to this question of the relationship to the state. If regulators in a large developed economy could reach some kind of compromise with the Bitcoin community about a pegged exchange rate or a target exchange rate or something along those lines and agree to police some of the things that stand in the way of regulators treating Bitcoin the way that a lot of Bitcoin bulls want it to be treated, that could also change things.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about fraud. I'm talking about hacking incidents. I'm talking about the use of Bitcoin for all sorts of illicit activity, whether it's ransomware or other kinds of national security threats. A lot of people in the Bitcoin community tend, and I understand this, to sort of dismiss those things like, well, that's not who we are. That's a small number of users, blah, blah, blah. That's true, but that's not how regulators see things and it's not really how regulators should see things. It's only a little bit of fraud, don't worry about it. We won't regulate the stock market. The gold market only really crashed on Black Friday.

It's not a problem. There are not good regulatory positions to take and they're never going to be taken by any government that takes these things seriously. And so I feel like it's been, for years now, a thing where these two groups who are important to Bitcoin's future are very much talking past each other. I have a little more faith in Gary Gensler's SEC than I did in his Trump predecessors. But those people, they were not necessarily bad people and they were not necessarily uninformed people. What I think they lacked, as a lot of us lacked during the Trump era, was any sense of leadership. Where should we take this thing? And from a regulatory standpoint, they were afraid to stick their necks out one way or the other, whether they were doing what the Bitcoin people wanted them to, or they were cracking down on the Bitcoin people.

They were just afraid of making the wrong call. I'd like to think that Gensler, who taught blockchain and cryptocurrency at MIT, which is not a bad credential for a SEC chairman, would have a more thoughtful approach, a more visionary approach, and that maybe there is some way to find a compromise here. But until it happens, I think that trust that we were talking about that forms the connection between merchant and consumer is always going to be at a fairly low level because of all these other things that go on, whether that's fair or not.

AL: So there's one other, I would say, large critique of Bitcoin that we haven't talked about yet, but I would love to hear your perspective on if you've spent time thinking about it, which is the environment.

JL: Yeah. I will say, I'll say a few things. One, I think it's very important. Obviously, it's a lot more important to try to combat climate change than it is to create even the world's most effective cryptocurrency. I will also say that the rise to prominence of that particular critique was really fast. I mean, it's not that nobody was talking about it in say November of 2020, but it was not front and center to most people's arguments, including my own. The third thing that I would say is, these types of critiques, while very important, usually come from people who have a very strong point of view on the subject. And there's nothing wrong with that. I do come back a little bit to baseline questions, right? So we're afraid that X amount of kilowatt hours are being used to mine Bitcoin. How much electricity is used to print paper bills and metal coins and ship them around the world?

That is not a carbon neutral activity. No matter where that electricity is coming from, it's ridiculously inefficient. We still store ridiculous amounts of gold in the basements of buildings that have to be heavily guarded. These are not carbon neutral activities to ship that gold from one part of the world to the other. So at least, I think it deserves to be acknowledged that it is at least theoretically possible for some kind of cryptocurrency to actually increase energy efficiency in the long run and not just be a drain on it. Right now, the way we handle things, there's no question that it's a drain. And I am heartened when I see that there are people out there who are trying to mine Bitcoin by using only sustainable energy, et cetera.

I think all those actions, while individually inadequate to the task, I think will help kind of push things in the right direction. I'm glad the discussion is out there. Although, I will say that, I think it was Joe Wiesenthal of Bloomberg who said something on Twitter like, refrigeration uses a lot of electricity too, but people basically understand why we need refrigeration. It's not so clear why we need cryptocurrency. And so that's why we raise the question and I think there's an insight there. Whether you agree with one side or the other, he has a point.

AL: So I think that the last point you just made is exactly something that I read by Nick Carter who tends to share a lot of his point of view on Bitcoin energy consumption and what it does for the environment. I think the biggest thing that he talks about is, in order to form a point of view on Bitcoin energy usage and also the impact on the environment, there needs to be two clear things that you have a perspective on. One, what your perspective is on Bitcoin, because if you view Bitcoin as being effectively a useless technology that is never going to power people storing wealth, banking the unbanked, et cetera. Well then, of course, you're going to believe that it uses a shit ton of energy, if it's a useless technology.

If you literally think it's going to become the currency of the world, then your frame of reference will be things like, all other currencies on planet Earth, what is the energy that they consume? And then I think the other big thing which he points out and a lot of people don't necessarily think about is, there's a difference between energy consumption and impact on the environment. And understanding the energy mix used for energy consumption is the only way you can truly understand the impact that it has on planet Earth.

JL: Very true. Although I think it's a reasonable assumption to say that, with any activity that uses as much electricity as Bitcoin production does, some percent of that is burning fossil fuels. There's no question.

AL: Oh, absolutely.

JL: We're not going to get to a solar powered Bitcoin miner, completely solar powered Bitcoin miner, anytime soon. But these are the debates that have to take place. But I guess I should update my riff about the relationship between the state and Bitcoin to include that environmental question as well, because what you're starting to see in, at this point fairly marginal, although maybe trying to be not so marginal. But there was a bill introduced into the New York state legislature a few weeks ago basically saying we're going to ban all Bitcoin mining for three years until we can figure out the environmental impact. And I don't know that that bill is going to pass. It might. It was introduced by a Democrat. The Democrats have a super majority in New York right now. It might pass. If it doesn't pass in New York, it might pass in California. It might pass in France.

AL: Well, let's say that does pass. What do you think the implication of that is for something like Bitcoin?

JL: Well, the immediate implication, sadly, is that anybody who's mining Bitcoin in New York now leaves New York and they go to West Virginia, which is welcoming Bitcoin miners. This is the sort of modern version of what used to be called smokestack chasing. I'll have the crappiest environmental protection laws and the weakest union laws in the states if you'll just bring your polluting, exploitative factory to my state. And that was a really effective strategy in the '70s and '80s. I don't think we want that. Certainly the climate knows no difference between Bitcoins that are mined in West Virginia versus Bitcoins that are mined in New York state. And so we need some kind of legislation, whether it's national or international, that understands that latter point.

Not that that's easy, but it's not going to happen in the patchwork framework that we currently have. My broader point is, if you assume that there are incentives for the state, any government, to be somewhat hostile to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, do not underestimate the ability to use climate change as the pretext for whatever else they want to do, right? The history of the world is filled with instances like that, where the very good cause which everyone agrees with, which is combating climate change, is used to do some stuff that the government wants to do anyway, right? That's a time-honored sleight of hand. And I'm not sure that the crypto community was particularly well-prepared for that because it seemed to catch a lot of people off guard. And I think it's pretty clear which direction, at least between now and the end of the year, that that debate is headed.

AL: So I want to get your thoughts on one last potential issue with Bitcoin. Just to take you behind the scenes for a second, when we came up with the concept for the show, it was the idea of bull and bear. The case for Bitcoin and the case against it. And when we started reaching out to guests with a more bearish point of view, many of them declined to come on the show because they were worried about online harassment that could result from them sharing their views. What do you make of that?

JL: Yeah, I mean, that's a great question, actually. Like many other subsections of social media, crypto Twitter is subject to a certain amount of mob rule and bullying. There's no question about that. It's easy to laugh at, except that it arguably goes hand in hand with market manipulation, right? I mean, we've seen a lot of very shady ,sometimes being paid for, advocacy for cryptocurrency on Twitter, some of which has been cracked down on by the SEC, but not anywhere near as much as actually takes place on any given day. And so, it's funny until people get suckered into buying things and then left holding the bag.

But I think the broader kind of policy and intellectual point is, if we're going to solve these problems, we have to be able to talk about them honestly. And when you have these people who shout down anyone who seems to stand in their way, and these are not for the most part dumb or poorly motivated people, but it's just the nature of social media combined with the nature of market activity that creates an atmosphere that is, let's say, not super conducive to great debate.

AL: I would say also just Bitcoin very much feels religious in nature. And there's an aspect of, if you're going to critique my religion, for argument's sake, I'm going to have an issue with it. And if there's just this fine line of willing to kind of stand up for the principles of Bitcoin, if you think people are critiquing it either because they're incentivized to regulate it and so they're using certain arguments or if they haven't done their homework, but you still need to create an environment of comfortability to talk about it.

JL: Right. An assumption of good faith, a desire to educate rather than, yeah. These things are very common on social media in there absence.

AL: Absolutely. So just to wrap up the thoughts on these critiques. We've talked about government regulation, we've talked about the environment, we've talked about volatility and what it takes to be a store of value. Given all these things, I'm just going to ask a simple question. Do you believe that Bitcoin becomes a store of value?

JL: Ever?

AL: Yes.

JL: Not really. Hard to see. It's not impossible, but I think for the foreseeable future, another decade at least, it's going to be subject to these speculative aspects, these regulatory risks, and increased competition from other cryptocurrencies. So all of those things, I think, tend to put a drag on its progress towards a store of value. And there's another thing that we haven't talked about at all, which is what happens when all the Bitcoin has been mined? Subject to mining rates, but it's estimated to be around 2140.

AL: But I mean, 2140 is over a century from now. And I feel like before we even talk about the issue of Bitcoins running out, there's a much more near term question. The reward rate for mining Bitcoin is going to continue steadily decreasing and there seems to be general acceptance that that issue of declining rewards could have unforeseen effects on Bitcoin, including the possibility of a change to the Bitcoin protocol.

JL: I will say, I know nothing about what it would take to change the protocol. I would have sort of said that it's not even possible, but obviously it is possible. But I agree with you that the incentive structure is going to change dramatically much, much earlier than 2140. There's going to be no money for anyone to make in mining Bitcoin. There is supposed to be money to be made still in transaction fees, and you could argue that once the vast majority of the coins are out there and people are using it, the transaction fees will go up. Maybe. This is all very speculative because we've never had an equivalent experiment. It could also be that, once there's next to no money to be made that the demand for Bitcoin will fall off too and that a lot of the market activity has been closely related to date to some of the mining, because those people had stuff to do then they'd want it to boost the value of their investment and they were incentivized to spend it or give it away or whatever.

And when that is taken away, there's just no obvious direction that that demand is going to head in or price is going to head in. And so, I would take with a grain of salt any predictions that people make along those lines. Not to say that they might not be right, but I just don't know how you can know you're right at this point?

AL: Yeah. So what it basically sounds like is, is there a possibility that it becomes a store of value? Yes. But you think there's a lot of headwind that makes that difficult, especially in, call it the next decade, from government regulation to speculation, like people are still buying Bitcoin for the purpose of capital appreciation. And as long as that is happening more than just for the purpose of making your money tomorrow worth as much as your money today, there's going to be fluctuation such that it acts as a big challenge for just considering it to be a store of value. So you believe there's just these headwinds that are going to make it very difficult for a significant period of time.

JL: Very strong headwinds that make it very difficult. Yes.

AL: James Ledbetter, thank you so much for offering such an important perspective to Bitcoin. Appreciate all your insights as well as the questions you very rightfully asked us to ask ourselves. Thanks so much for your time.

JL: My pleasure, Alex.

AL: Business Casual is produced and engineered by Daniel Markus. Our researcher is Bella Hutchins. Our newsletter is written by Hannah Doyle. Alan Haburchack is our executive producer. And I'm your host, Alex Lieberman. If you like the show, make sure to rate and review us in your podcast app. It really helps people find the show. You can also connect with us on Twitter @bizcasualpod. That's @bizcasualpod. And we want to hear from you. Who do you want us to talk to on the show? Drop us a note. Our email is businesscasual@morningbrew.com. Keep it casual, and we'll be back on Monday.