Behind the Bitcoin Bubble

To figure out if you’re in a bubble, you need to find the source of the hot air. Obvious for GameStop , but for bitcoin, not so much. In July 2018, we wrote about the cryptocurrency company Tether, which issues tokens called tethers that trade under the symbol USDT and should be valued at $1—making the currency a “stablecoin.” Tether’s creators might have manipulated bitcoin, a University of Texas paper suggests, by issuing tokens willy-nilly unbacked by real dollars and then buying bitcoin to jack up its price. (The company claims the research is flawed.) At the time, Tether’s total value was some $2.7 billion, and its website claimed: “Every tether is always backed 1-to-1 by traditional currency held in our reserves.” So somewhere there should have been $2.7 billion in real money—that’s how a stablecoin is supposed to work. In November 2018, New York state Attorney General Letitia James…

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