Bestselling Author, The Lemonade Life. I write and speak about leadership and greatness.
Bitcoin soared to $34,000 yesterday—but here’s why Warren Buffett will never own Bitcoin.
Here’s what you need to know.
The price of Bitcoin, which is the world’s largest cryptocurrency, has increased approximately 23% in the past five days. That’s good news for Bitcoin investors and speculators. For Warren Buffett, however, it’s completely irrelevant. Why? Buffett has called Bitcoin, among other names, “rat poison squared” and has said he won’t ever buy the cryptocurrency. “I don’t have any cryptocurrency and I never will,” Buffett told CNBC in February, when Bitcoin was trading at about $10,000. Here are 3 reasons why Buffett will never own Bitcoin, no matter how high the price of Bitcoin soars:
1. Bitcoin has no underlying value
Buffett believes that Bitcoin has no underlying value. As a value investor, Buffett invests in companies that are undervalued, produce stable and recurring cash flow and have the ability to increase in book value. To Buffett, Bitcoin doesn’t produce earnings or dividends. Rather, the value of Bitcoin is simply what one person is willing to pay for it. In this regard, Bitcoin is no different than the tulip craze of 1637. Therefore, Buffett believes that Bitcoin has no inherent value.
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Should you buy Bitcoin: If you currently own, or intend to own, Bitcoin, do you have an underlying thesis to support your investment? Whether you think Bitcoin has value, make sure you have a clear thesis to support your decision.
2. Buffett only invests in things he understands
This may sound obvious to some: only invest in things you understand. However, too many investors, especially retail investors, chase investments based on headlines and stock tips from friends. They don’t do their research or conduct due diligence before investing. Rather, they hear about this “hot technology” and simply buy the stock. Or, they hear about that stock that soared 20% and automatically conclude it will jump another 20%. Sometimes, stocks go up for all kinds of reasons, and this “strategy” may work. Over time, and across an entire investment portfolio, however, it won’t work. In contrast, Buffett has a set of investment principles that he follows. He prefers to invest in stable consumer goods companies like Coca-Cola and financial services companies like American Express AXP +2.5%. If a potential investment falls outside his area of expertise, he rarely, if ever, buys it. Sometimes, there are exceptions, but mostly Buffett invests only in sectors and business models that he understands.
Should you buy Bitcoin: Do you have a set of investment principles? Or, do you simply buy what you read or hear about it without conducting any independent research? Couldn’t you simply buy Bitcoin to own it even if it doesn’t fit your typical investment criteria? Sure. When you think about portfolio strategy, however, you should understand why you own every position (and if you’re comfortable buying a position that you may not fully understand).
3. Bitcoin is a highly speculative investment
For some, Bitcoin is the single greatest investment in their lifetime. For others, it’s a speculative bubble that will crash to zero. Buffett doesn’t play in this sandbox. Why? Buffett isn’t a speculative investor; instead, he invests in companies that have a wide economic moat. While all investing involves some degree of speculation, Buffett’s background is in insurance and risk mitigation. Buffett doesn’t invest in “high fliers”—that’s not his game. His game is “buy and hold”—forever. He invests in companies that grow over time, steadily and consistently.
Should you buy Bitcoin: Here is a helpful way to approach a potentially speculative investment. The upside is easy: you make a lot of money. As I explain in The Lemonade Life, focus on the downside. Are you comfortable with Bitcoin being worth zero? Are you willing to lose 100% of your investment?
Should you buy Bitcoin?
You need to decide for yourself, and with the help of your financial advisor, if Bitcoin is right for you. Warren Buffett is only one investor. Critics say he doesn’t understand cryptocurrency or blockchain technology, and he’s already missed some of Bitcoin’s meteoric rise. After all, regardless of the underlying reason, each Bitcoin is now worth about $34,000. Isn’t that proof enough that it’s a good investment? Maybe. It’s possible, although unlikely, that Buffett ultimately changes his mind. Buffett said for years he wouldn’t buy technology stocks, only later to buy Apple AAPL +0.1%. Until then, however, Buffett is not a fan of Bitcoin and says he never will be.