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Buffett’s stance on Bitcoin, and what we can learn from it

In recent years, Warren Buffett has had a few things to say about Bitcoin. Most of his comments are unfavourable, and the Sage of Omaha prefers to put his money into undervalued companies that are well-protected from rivals.

On the other hand, some people argue that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will replace cold hard cash in the future, leading to a surge in its value.

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Buffett’s stance becomes much more understandable when you consider how long he has been in the game, having bought his first stocks when he was 11 years old.

Can his negative comments be read as someone who is outdated and entrenched in his views, or should we take them more seriously?

Let’s take a look at some of the things that Buffett has said, and how we can potentially use his knowledge and experience to shape our future philosophy as investors.

“It doesn’t do anything”

This is the strongest argument against Bitcoin, in my mind.

When hunting for shares, Buffett imagines he is buying the whole business. He has likened investing in stocks to purchasing a farm. A prudent buyer would look at the prospective yield of the crop, where the land is situated, the opportunity the land could bring, and the likelihood that the farm’s output might increase over the next 10 years.

With Bitcoin, these fundamental investing principles just don’t apply. It has no future value beyond what someone is willing to pay for it. Its pricing is based purely on supply-and-demand.

Will Bitcoin be the currency of the future? I believe that this prediction requires a huge leap of faith.

In the past, Buffett has said that “it’s a mirage basically”, due to it not being a value-producing asset.

“Real bubble”

In 2017, Buffett said Bitcoin was a real bubble during his yearly Q&A session. “People get excited from big price movements, and Wall Street accommodates”.

Maybe there is a novelty factor at work. When Bitcoin surged in 2017, talk spread from the finance and business pages of magazines and newspapers to the general news sections. Everyone was talking about it and nobody wanted to miss out.

“Bad ending”

Buffett predicts a bad ending for cryptocurrencies. In an interview with CNBC, he said that “when it happens or how or anything else I don’t know”.

Historically, Buffett has a track record of avoiding bubbles by investing in industries and companies he understands. Normally his investments are in businesses with a strong history and an advantage against competitors.

As an investor, I will be trying to take a leaf out of Warren Buffett’s book. If I don’t understand how something returns value to investors, I will avoid it.

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T Sligo has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.