Billionaire investor Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, thinks bitcoin may have a similar fate as gold did in the U.S. during the 1930s.
“[B]ack in the ’30s in the war years … because cash and bonds were such bad investments relative to other things, there was the movement to those other things, and then the government outlawed them,” Dalio told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. “They outlawed gold.
“That’s why also outlawing bitcoin is a good probability,” he said.
Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency in terms of market value, has “proven itself” as its blockchain hasn’t been hacked and it has a large following, Dalio said. “It is an alternative store-hold of wealth. It’s like a digital cash. And those are the pluses.”
“So I think that it would be very likely that you will have it under a certain set of circumstances outlawed the way gold was outlawed,” Dalio said.
Dalio explained that “every country treasures its monopoly on controlling the supply and demand. They don’t want other monies to be operating or competing, because things can get out of control.”
As an example, Dalio cited India and its efforts to ban cryptocurrency.
Whether it could it be effectively banned in the U.S. is another story.
“I don’t know. I’m not an expert on that,” Dalio said. “But, there’s a whole way. My understanding, from people who are in government surveillance and so on, is yes, they can track it. They can know who’s dealing with it.”
However, James Ledbetter, editor of fintech newsletter FIN and CNBC contributor, previously told CNBC Make It that it’d be quite difficult for the government to effectively ban bitcoin.
Although there’s “concern or risk around regulation” of bitcoin, “I don’t think even a concerted effort among different countries and different central banks could actually shut down bitcoin,” Ledbetter said. “I don’t think that’s technologically possible. But there are ways that bitcoin could be regulated.”
While he hasn’t mentioned a ban, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell has repeatedly warned against cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
“They’re highly volatile and therefore not really useful stores of value and they’re not backed by anything,” Powell said during a virtual panel discussion on digital banking on Monday. “It’s more a speculative asset that’s essentially a substitute for gold rather than for the dollar.”
Dalio has previously addressed the government banning bitcoin.
In a January post titled “What I Think of Bitcoin” on the Bridgewater Associates website, Dalio wrote that although he is “not a bitcoin/cryptocurrency expert … I suspect that Bitcoin’s biggest risk is being successful, because if it’s successful, the government will try to kill it and they have a lot of power to succeed.”
Dalio also wrote that a “better alternative” to bitcoin will likely come along and displace it, “because that is the way the evolution of everything works,” he said. “I see that as a risk.”