HONG KONG: Bitcoin’s extraordinary price surge means its market capitalisation now exceeds the annual output of whole economies, and the estimated worth of some of the world’s top billionaires.
With the debate over its bubble status still raging, the flagship cryptocurrency continued its march higher on Monday, solidifying above US$11,000 and bringing its climb this year to more than 1,000%. With market tracker Coinmarketcap.com putting the total value of all bitcoins in circulation at US$190bil, it’s come a long way from August, when one coin could buy you a hefty supply of avocados.
Here are five things that have been eclipsed by bitcoin in terms of market capitalisation:
New Zealand’s GDP
The South Pacific nation’s farm-and-tourism-led economy is valued at US$185bil, according to World Bank data as of July, putting it some US$5bil below bitcoin. The cryptocurrency’s market cap is also bigger than the likes of Qatar, Kuwait and Hungary.
Goldman Sachs, and UBS
Bitcoin’s run-up has even seen it valued more highly than two of the world’s most influential banks. Goldman Sachs Group’s market cap was US$97bil as of Friday, while Zurich-based UBS Group came in at about US$67bil. Add those numbers together and it still falls short of bitcoin.
Both financial heavyweights have taken a hands-off approach to the digital currency, with Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein saying it’s too early to draft a bitcoin strategy and UBS — the world’s biggest wealth manager — saying it won’t allocate it in portfolios because of the threat of a government crackdown.
It may make jumbo jets but Boeing Co’s market cap of US$162bil is also less than that of a digital currency that didn’t exist ten years ago. The Chicago-based company, which describes itself as the world’s largest aerospace firm, is more than a century old and employs 140,000 people in more than 65 countries, according to its website. Rival Airbus fares no better — it’s got a market value of 66 billion euros (US$78bil).
Fourteen aircraft carriers
If bitcoin’s market cap could be used to buy military equipment, it would pack a mighty punch. The USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of a new class of nuclear-powered supercarriers, was delivered to the US Navy in May. It cost an estimated US$13bil, so if investors put all their bitcoins together they would be able to buy a fleet of fourteen ships.
Bill Gates, Buffett and the Queen
They sit atop Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, but even if Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pooled their fortunes they wouldn’t have enough to buy all the bitcoins in circulation. Gates is worth US$90bil and Buffett has US$83bil, according to the index. Not even Queen Elizabeth II could get them over the line if she brought her US$383mil to the table. While we don’t know what he told Katy Perry, Buffett has called bitcoin a “real bubble” in the past. – Bloomberg