Risky, volatile and unregulated — this was how Greek-American investment guru John Calamos described the murky world of bitcoin and cryptocurrency in an exclusive interview with Greek Reporter this week.
In a week which saw cryptocurrencies hit the headlines again for remaining relatively stable amid global financial-market jitters, the Chairman and CIO of U.S.-based Calamos Investments insisted they did not function as a “store of wealth”.
“Bitcoin, to me, you cannot compare it as a store of wealth. It makes me a bit nervous because I don’t understand it as a store of wealth,” he said.
Describing it as “volatile” on a day-to-day basis, unlike markets which experience periodic fluctuations, Calamos suggested digital currencies could have a role to play outside of the West:
“If you’re in a country that you do not trust your government and you do not trust their currency, bitcoin may be a good alternative but if you’re in the United States are in euros and Japan – I don’t know.”
“As a U.S. citizen I can store my wealth in dollars, I can store my wealth in gold … bitcoins make me a bit nervous from that point of view,” he added.
Cryptocurrency in Greece
This nervousness is now shared by many. In Greece, a legal storm is still swirling around Russian national Alexander Vinnik, accused of laundering $4 billion through bitcoin exchange in the U.S.
Vinnik has petitioned the Greek authorities for political asylum.
Bitcoin was also popular in 2015 when it was viewed as a way to move money which avoided the capital controls slapped on Greek customers during the financial crisis.
Speaking in 2015, Thanos Marinos — founder of Greek firm BTC bitcoin — confirmed there had been a surge in Greek bitcoin depositors.
Bitcoin first arose in 2009 and since then, despite a promising start, has lost significant value; Bitcoin itself has lost $200 billion in value, with another popular cryptocurrency, Ethereum, losing $67 billion.
One newspaper went as far as calling cryptocurrencies “a whole new way for you to lose your life’s savings”.
Nevertheless, Calamos insists these secretive and unregulated forms of finance are here to stay:
“There is no doubt that the currency and blockchain and all that is coming, and we need to look at that.
“No doubt cryptocurrency is coming and there’ll be a way to do it with your cellphones and that.
“That’s technology, that’s advancing and we should be watching that very carefully.”
Watch the full interview below: