Coachella for Capitalists: Why bitcoin topped the bill at Berkshire Hathaway’s AGM

It’s been called the Woodstock of Capitalism, Coachella for Capitalists, and a whole lot worse too.

What’s for certain is that Berkshire Hathaway’s annual general meeting is a must-watch event for market lovers.

While our UK readers may have been catching a break over the public holiday, the long weekend saw plenty of fiery comments from Berkshire’s storied leaders Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, not least on the future of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

“Whether it goes up or down in the next year, or five or 10 years, I don’t know. But the one thing I’m pretty sure of is that it doesn’t produce anything,” Buffett said.

What’s the entire world’s stash of bitcoin worth? Not even $25, according to the Oracle of Omaha.

Not to be outdone, Munger added: “In my life, I try and avoid things that are stupid, evil and make me look bad in comparison to somebody else… and bitcoin does all three.”

Robinhood — which owed a significant part of its lockdown-induced success to bumper crypto trading volumes — also came in for another beating from Munger.

God is “getting just”, he said, as the day trading platform continues to lose customers and report stalling revenue.

The continued criticism of bitcoin marks the latest salvo in a war of words between the Berkshire bosses and crypto enthusiasts like Peter Thiel.

Last month, the billionaire entrepreneur branded Buffett a top “enemy” of bitcoin and part of a “finance gerontocracy” that has held back the cryptocurrency’s adoption — a club that also includes Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, and Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock.

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Thiel’s fellow crypto fans were quick to hit back again after the Berkshire AGM.

“They’re not exactly the most technology-forward investors,” said Eric Chen, co-founder and chief executive at Injective Labs. “As a matter of fact, I think that goes more towards the affirmation that the space is really disrupting something.”

David Tawil, president and co-founder of cryptoasset fund ProChain Capital, noted that it was “decades before [Berkshire] decided to go ahead and invest in Apple”.

In case you missed any of the action from the event, see below for the most talked-about themes.

We’ve also got a roundup of what you need to know as crypto faces a challenging path ahead — down some 13% over the year to date, big names such as Starling Bank’s Anne Boden are among the latest to sound a sceptical note on bitcoin’s fortunes in recent days.

Regulators across the world are also stepping up their scrutiny of the sector.

Last week, Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair Rostin Behnam told an audience at the City Week 2022 conference that giving firms permission to clear crypto derivatives directly was not a given.

“It might not sound like a big issue, but it is a significant issue. It is really proposing and presenting a very different market structure model that has some opportunity, but certainly some risk,” said Behnam.

Meanwhile, the US Labor Department said it has “grave concerns” about Fidelity’s bitcoin pension plan, putting a potential spanner in the works for firms looking to expand crypto’s range in the retirement space.

Everything you need to know from Berkshire’s famed AGM

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Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger hit out at bitcoin at Berkshire’s AGM but crypto fans are unmoved

Why Warren Buffett says markets are a ‘gambling parlour’

Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger hits out at Robinhood again

Warren Buffett Is Still Setting Berkshire’s Direction. For How Much Longer? (The Wall Street Journal)

And on crypto’s current troubles

The Fed isn’t going to save bitcoin’s bear market

Too many crypto transactions are fraudulent, Starling CEO Anne Boden warns

US Labor Department has ‘grave concerns’ about Fidelity’s bitcoin pension plan

The SEC is beefing up crypto enforcement. Its target is basically everything (Barron’s)

The new way to get a tax break: NFT and crypto donations (The Wall Street Journal)

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Justin Cash