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Investor who called the Great Recession explains why China is fueling bitcoin's rally

Zack Guzman
Senior Writer

As each of the major indices registered their worst percentage losses for a trading day in 2019 after China let its currency weaken against the U.S. dollar to its lowest level in more than 10 years, bitcoin was enjoying a healthy rally.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap popped by as much as 8% Monday, extending its rally sparked by increasing U.S.-China trade tensions.

But the latest trend higher, which has carried bitcoin (BTC-USD) to nearly top $12,000, could just be beginning its early stages if stocks continue to show weakness, according to Hayman Capital Management founder Kyle Bass, who rose to prominence after calling the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis.

As Bass explains, trade tensions have supported the movement into bitcoin as investors increasingly look to escape volatility in the broader market that has come with the world’s two largest economies battling in tit-for-tat moves and as China’s currency weakens.

“If you’re in Asia and China and you’re in a closed currency system, or if you’re in Hong Kong and you can’t seem to get a big conversion of Hong Kong dollars to U.S. dollars what are you going to buy?” he told Yahoo Finance’s YFi PM. “Well, you’re going to buy anything that’s nailed down — you’re going to buy gold, you’re going to buy bitcoin, you’re going to do whatever you can to get your money out of your regime that’s falling.”

Montreal, 7 May 2018: Bitcoin real coins over chinese flag fabric

A maturing asset class

Investors seeking out bitcoin as a so-called “digital gold” or more stable store of value would mark a large break from its volatile past and could prove to be a defining step crypto evangelists point to as proof it’s maturing as an asset class.

But as Bass points out, compared to falling stocks and negative yields on global bonds and as central banks move to counteract slowing global growth, the investment thesis for cryptocurrencies is only made that much stronger. And while more accommodative monetary policies haven’t yet fueled an uptick in inflation, Bass posits the possibility is at least enough to lead some to take a chance on bitcoin.

“What’s going to happen is all the central banks will go print more and the price of every asset around the world whether it’s an apartment building, an office building, a bitcoin or a piece of gold or whatever it is the price of everything will go up nominally,” he said, “but real rates of return will come down.”

Bitcoin’s price stumbled a bit in late July, falling nearly 20% after Facebook’s (FB) Libra cryptocurrency project drew the ire of Congress and President Donald Trump last month, though some analysts predicted the added attention would eventually be a net positive.

That could potentially play out, with bitcoin up 5% to start August, if Bass’ thesis holds true and bitcoin’s inverse correlation to the stock market continues.

Zack Guzman is the host of YFi PM as well as a senior writer and on-air reporter covering entrepreneurship, startups, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.

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