JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, one of the most prominent bitcoin skeptics, has gained a new ally: billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
"In terms of cryptocurrencies generally, I can say almost certainly that they will come to a bad ending," the 87-year-old head of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway told CNBC's Becky Quick in an interview broadcast on Wednesday. "We don't own any, we're not short any, and we'll never have a position in them."
Buffett's sentiments are eerily similar to those of Dimon, who said in September that he would fire any JPMorgan trader caught speculating in bitcoin and warned that cryptocurrencies are in a bubble that would climax like "tulip fever" did in the Netherlands in the 17th century.
One of the earlier market bubbles often cited by economists, tulip fever gained heightened prominence in September with the release of a movie by the same name from Paramount. A surge in prices for the flower, which had grown frenzied enough that some buyers borrowed against their homes to invest, collapsed in 1637, ruining many of the speculators, according to the Netherlands' national museum.
Buffett and Dimon aren't unique in their reservations about cryptocurrencies. Trading in them was banned in China last year by regulators who pointed to concerns about maintaining "economic and financial order." Indeed, hackers who have co-opted the computer servers of large companies through ransomware frequently insist on payment in bitcoin before they'll restore access to owners.
The cryptocurrency's value dipped slightly on Wednesday afternoon, according to tracking service Coindesk, paring 12 months of gains that had taken its value to $14,855 as both the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the CBOE Futures Exchange offered futures contracts in it. The digital currency is generated when networked computers record and validate transactions in blockchain, a secure ledger accessible worldwide by multiple parties.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees markets for such contracts, noted when bitcoin instruments were introduced in December that it had only limited authority over them but had conducted "rigorous" talks with both the CME and the CBOE beforehand.
Wall Street's reaction to the contracts has varied. None of the large investment banks trade in bitcoin themselves, though one, Goldman Sachs, has begun clearing bitcoin futures for some of its clients.