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Your Bitcoin Profit Calculator In The Age Of The ETF January 31 , 2014 | Author: Wallace Eddington | Posted in Finance
Exchange-Traded Funds (ETF, for short) achieved a great popularity in the financial world a little over a decade ago, though they were first introduced in the 1990s. They have something of an Index Fund quality to them.

Index Funds were inspired by the thinking of John C. Bogle’s insight that as a general rule fund managers could not usually beat the market: the prevailing assumption about the correct attitude to investing at the time. He noted that once fund managers’ fees are factored in, the end-user, the fund consumer, has no pretty much no hope of beating the market. Believing otherwise, in Bogle’s assessment, was folly.

For those who recall those days, there is an amusing irony in describing the situation in that manner, for this is precisely how those on Wall Street condemned Bolge’s indexed approach: “Bogle’s folly.” Yet , the truth of the matter is that this approach, which resulted in creation of funds that tracked the S&P 500, at minimal-to-no fees, has turned out to have embodied great wisdom.

ETF are an effort to profit from the Index Funds lessons, with the additional benefit that, while the latter were very expensive to trade – the whole point being that constant movement was too costly – ETF can be traded often commission-free. And, since they’re indexed, they are far less expensive in transaction costs than are mutual funds.

Recently, there have been efforts to apply this ETF financial technology to another leading edge technology in the economy: the digital currency Bitcoin. An especially prominent effort in this regard has been the initiative by the Winklevoss twins.

These twin brothers have been notorious in popular culture for their struggle with Mark Zuckerberg over control of the FaceBook social media site. Less widely known is that the Winklevoss twins have been big time early adopters of Bitcoin. Estimates on the extent of their holdings of Bitcoin have been in the area of $11 million.

Permission to establish a publicly traded Bitcoin ETF though must be provided by financial regulators. And the effort is already being pooh-poohed by bigwigs in the industry, such as Knight Capital managing director Reggie Browne.

Undoubtedly , the extreme volatility of Bitcoin recently does make it a little inconsistent with the Fund Index spirit that initially inspired the ETF tradition. Emphasizing this though perhaps really misses the more central point of importance.

To begin with, trading of such funds already exists in the form of private funds. SecondMarket’s private Bitcoin Investment Trust (BIT, for short, get it?) is modeled on a successful gold ETF. BIT has a $25,000 minimum investment, but, as testified by its creator, the SecondMarket CEO, at the conclusion of 2013, it held $65 million of investment.

So , it seems a bit far-fetched to allege that the digital currency’s fluctuations are too rich for ETF investors, as Browne has. All this though seems to me to be missing a fundamental point. The point of a currency is as a medium of exchange, not an investment opportunity.

The point here isn’t that there’s anything wrong with wagering on (or against) any new product, including a new currency. Speculation and short selling are perfectly legitimate and valuable exercises within any dynamic and free market. The hazard arises when the mistake is made of treating Bitcoin as an investment opportunity in disregard of its unique specifics: unlike, say gold, Bitcoin is designed specifically and precisely to operate as an alternate currency.

As with any product introduced onto the market to meet specific consumer demands, the features and benefits which will determine its fate can only be revealed by customer testing in the fullness of time. The notorious Bitcoin volatility the last while though has been a function of financial, rather than monetary, ambivalence. It seems to this author that one of two possibilities lie ahead of us.

Bitcoin pile What would an ETF Mean for Your Bitcoin Profit Calculator? Either, Bitcoin will somehow (and there are many issues to consider here) catch on and become widely used around the world – whether sanctioned by nation-states or not. Or , it will be judged by the consuming public (consumers of currency, you understand) to not provide enough benefits over so-called sovereign currencies, and will lapse into disuse.

Should this former outcome come to pass, holdings of the currency will be so widespread (in light of its freedom from the inflationary manipulation characteristic of fiat currencies) that the kind of financial hiccups which have caused the recent fluctuation will simply cease having appreciable consequences. Should that be the outcome of this social experiment, Bitcoin ETF will wind up in fact providing exactly the secure, indexed funds which are the usual fare of ETF investors.

And, should the other, less pretty, result come to pass, the truth is that the majority of those financially hurt by a collapse in the value of Bitcoin will be the speculators who bought up the currency , not on monetary merits, but rather in hope of financial windfalls. I wish such people no ill-will, but such risk is the very nature of such speculation.

This is not to say that if you fervently believe in the future of Bitcoin that you shouldn’t invest in an ETF and attempt to profit off your knowledge of and conviction in what you co
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