In a recent interview, subprime short investor and billionaire portfolio manager John Paulson criticized the volatile nature of digital assets while advocating for investments in traditional safe-havens such as gold.
The co-founder of Paulson & Co, a New York-based firm launched in 1994, Paulson was a historic beneficiary from the U.S. housing financial market collapse of 2008 after placing a legendary successful short position.
However, Paulson recently took the decision to devolve his hedge fund into a family office after a 76.5% reduction in assets under management, from a peak of $38 billion in 2011 to $9 billion in 2019.
In the interview, Paulson was asked his views on the emerging cryptocurrency market, to which he claimed that the assets have a “limited supply of nothing” and “no intrinsic value,” citing the heightened volatility of the nascent space in comparison with the relatively stable traditional markets as a reason to be deterred from investing.
He also mentioned his inability to identify the same asymmetrical patterns noted in his legendary trade a decade earlier, an opportunity where the market seemingly offered little to no downside risk, while providing enormous upside potential.
Paulson concluded his thoughts on the question of believing in cryptocurrencies with the stern response, “Cryptocurrencies, regardless of where they’re trading today, will eventually prove to be worthless. Once the exuberance wears off, or liquidity dries up, they will go to zero. I wouldn’t recommend anyone invest in cryptocurrencies.”
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When asked about the prospect of gold as a worthy investment strategy in the current financial climate, Paulson noted the increased money supply that entered the markets in response to the COVID-19-related economic fallout, “up about 25% last year,” believing that this is the best indicator of future inflation.
In this case, Paulson’s inclination to invest in the safe-haven asset gold will act as a hedge against his expected decline of traditional fiat currencies in the coming years.
Paulson’s injurious opinion of the core capabilities of cryptocurrencies echoes the sentiment of fellow billionaire investor Warren Buffet, who claimed that they were “rat poison squared” in a verbal tirade in 2018.