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Here's What Bill Gates Just Said About Bitcoin

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® – Updated May 7, 2018 at 2:03PM

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Hint: Gates’ comments could be a contributor to Monday’s cryptocurrency declines.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 1.55%) (BRK.B 2.30%) recently held its annual meeting, and not surprisingly, CEO and Chairman Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger didn't exactly have kind words to say about bitcoin (BTC-USD) and other cryptocurrencies.

However, in a Monday interview with CNBC, Microsoft co-founder and Berkshire board member Bill Gates had some negative words of his own for would-be cryptocurrency investors.

Gold coin with bitcoin symbol.

Image source: Getty Images.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger aren't cryptocurrency fans

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett has been critical of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies several times in recent months. Buffett's main problem with cryptocurrencies is that they aren't productive assets. In other words, stocks can generate profits from their business, farms produce crops, etc. Bitcoin (BTC-USD) and other cryptocurrencies, for that matter, are therefore only valuable because of investor interest.

"Cryptocurrencies will come to bad endings," Buffett said at Berkshire Hathaway's recent annual meeting.

Berkshire's Vice Chairman Charlie Munger has referred to bitcoin as "total insanity" and has cautioned would-be investors to avoid it "like the plague."

Bill Gates would short bitcoin if there were a good way to do it

Speaking to CNBC on Monday along with Buffett and Munger, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates echoed their criticism, referring to bitcoin (BTC-USD) and ICOs (initial coin offerings) as some of the "crazier, speculative things."

"As an asset class, you're not producing anything and so you shouldn't expect it to go up. It's kind of a pure 'greater fool theory' type of investment," Gates said.

Gates also said that he would short bitcoin "if there was an easy way to do it."

Cryptocurrencies are down following Gates' comments

Cryptocurrencies have generally performed well over the past few weeks, so it's possible that the market is just taking a breather. And to be fair, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies had a difficult weekend before Gates's comments.

However, I'd be inclined to say that the comments of Buffett, Munger, and Gates could be weighing on the cryptocurrency markets on Monday. As of 10:30am EDT Monday, all of the 10 largest cryptocurrencies were in the red. Bitcoin is down by more than 3% over the past 24 hours, and has lost about $100 since Gates' interview aired

Cryptocurrency Name (Code)

Price in U.S. Dollars

Day's Change

Bitcoin (BTC)

$9,311.60

(2.9%)

Ethereum (ETH)

$718.20

(8.5%)

Ripple (XRP)

$0.81

(6.2%)

Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

$1,609.63

(7%)

EOS (EOS)

$17.68

(0.2%)

Litecoin (LTC)

$160.62

(5.9%)

Cardano (ADA)

$0.32

(7.1%)

Stellar (XLM)

$0.38

(8.2%)

IOTA (MIOTA)

$2.12

(6.7%)

TRON (TRX)

$0.08

(2.8%)

Data source: www.investing.com. Prices and daily changes as of 10:30am EDT on 5/7/18, and prices are rounded to the nearest cent where appropriate.

There are certainly valid arguments to be made that Buffett and Munger "just don't understand" bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. After all, the two men aren't exactly known for being tech-savvy, and have missed out on big trends in the past, such as e-commerce. For example, Buffett has acknowledged that he regrets not getting in on Amazon years ago.

Bill Gates could be another story. Most high-profile bitcoin naysayers have been Wall Street types, such as JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and billionaire investors like Buffett and Carl Icahn, all of whom have been generally dismissed by cryptocurrency advocates as old-timers who just don't get it. A tech heavyweight like Gates could be another matter.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. Matthew Frankel owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares) and has no position in any cryptocurrencies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and has no position in any cryptocurrencies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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