Why the crypto bubble has imploded

The trouble with cryptocurrency is that it has no intrinsic value. Digital currencies don't stand behind any valuable service or commodity.

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Columnists

November 14, 2022 - 4:00 PM

Bitcoin tokens are symbolic since the cryptocurrency itself really exists only digitally. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/TNS)

The bursting of the cryptocurrency bubble will end the way other speculative crazes have concluded: in a trail of wreckage across companies, continents — and unlucky investors. Crypto has had a horrible year. We saw the terra “stablecoin” wipeout in May, the unraveling of the FTX trading exchange this week and the shriveling of trading in non-fungible tokens all year long.

Small-time investors already have fled, their grubstakes or life savings decimated. Well-heeled venture capitalists, badly burned by each successive bust-up, will wash their hands and move on to the next shiny object. The side-hustling crypto-ambassadors (insert any big name from professional sports here, please) will slip back backstage. And regulators, as is their wont, will finally issue their overdue rules, long after the damage is done.

There’s a critical difference with crypto, though, compared with past bubbles: It had virtually no intrinsic merit.

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