Absurd NFT Prices Expose a Financial House of Cards

soaring non-fungible token asset prices

The insanity of absurd NFT prices reveals the fraud of the global currency system. The pricing for assets worldwide has gone insane at a time when the vast majority of the world’s population became poorer, not wealthier, over the past 12 months due to the global economic lockdowns.  As an example, there was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer the other day of a cassette tape of hip hop icon Nas’s Illmatic album selling for $13,999. Not a CD, but a cassette tape. A rectangular piece of cardboard, known as an NBA trading card, for star Luka Doncic’s rookie trading card, recently auctioned for $4.6M. Luka Doncic is not a star that played in 1925, and for this reason, his rookie card is worth so much. Luka Doncic entered the NBA in the 2018-19 season, less than three years ago. Nostalgic or collector items are simply selling for insane price because, in my opinion, wealthy people have captured so much of the world’s wealth through a global currency system designed and engineered to produce this end result, that they have no better use for their money than to pay $14,000 for a music item that the vast majority of people do not even have the necessary hardware to actually play and to pay more than $4.5M for a piece of cardboard. Anyone that truly understands the difference between a sound and an unsound monetary system realizes that the likelihood, under a sound monetary system, of people paying exorbitant prices for the types of assets and NFTs described above would be a fraction of the probability at which they are occurring today.

Banksy, a UK-based street artist infamous for mocking the very wealthy people that pay millions for his artwork, even titling a piece “Morons” which depicted an art auction with a framed picture of the words  “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit”.  Instead of being offended by the artist’s mockery, someone paid nearly 44,000 pounds for it and it recently sold for nearly 10 times the original purchase price when the piece was destroyed and the act of destruction was turned into an NFT. By the way Banksy also sold a very simple drawing of a girl with a red balloon that was mounted inside a frame in which he had hidden a shredder. After it sold for $1.4M, Banksy remotely activated the hidden shredder and shredded his artwork into thin strips as perhaps “revenge” against the idiocy of narcissistic, wealthy art collectors that can’t find any better use of their money than purchasing stencil created art for which no rational person would ever pay $1.4M. To demonstrate the idiocy of the art world, Sotheby’s immediately coined the shredding of the art piece as “the first work in history ever created during a live auction”, which art collectors worldwide seemed to accept, and thereby increased the value of the destroyed piece of art to perhaps as high as double the original auction price at the current time and avoiding a more rational valuation for the art piece to near zero.

I once read a book called the $12M Stuffed Shark, in which the author revealed that US hedge fund manager Steve Cohen paid $12M to an artist to kill a shark and put it in a vat of plexiglass sealed formaldehyde that he could display in the foyer of his house and basically concluded, after a careful introspection into the art world, that pieces of art like pyramids built from tiny Godiva chocolates and stainless-steel colored balloon animals ($58M or more) would be priced at whatever price dealers could convince the dumbest rich person it was worth. Certainly this conclusion seemed to be supported when someone purchased an “art installation” of a banana taped to the wall with duct tape at a Miami Beach art gallery for $120,000 at the end of 2019. When people conclude that the best use for $5M or $58M is to buy a piece of cardboard or a steel balloon animal during a period in which Rome is burning (i.e. exploding homelessness numbers in Los Angeles nearing 70,000 as evidenced here and here), either this is a sign of the fraud of the monetary system, the decline of civilization, or both. If you have ever lived in Los Angeles, as I have, and watch the video referenced in the second link, you will find it astonishing that massive homeless encampments have sprung up throughout Los Angeles in areas that prior to recent years, had no homelessness. (depending on the social media platform you may be watching this on, the soaring prices for which art that I consider to be the lowest form of art that many do not even consider as art is selling for such absurd prices, including NFTs that I will soon discuss, is certainly reflective of the rapid decline of civilization.

This rapid decline of civilization is also reflected in the fact that giant titans of the tech world and social media platforms continue to promote and push the most morally reprehensible content to the top positions of success on their platforms. When popular YouTube Logan Paul visited the “suicide forest” in Japan and found a dead body hanging from the tree, he filmed it and mocked the dead person and YouTube quickly promoted his video as one of their top trending videos on their entire platform for 24 hours, until Logan Paul, not YouTube executives, deleted the video due to the outrage it provoked. Another popular YouTuber, David Dobrik, has had many of his reprehensible videos monetize bullying and belittling of others, often promoted on YouTube among the top trending videos. Recently Dobrik came under fire for allegedly monetizing a video of an actual rape on his channel, and he was roundly mocked when his initial apology consisted of trying to blame the rape victim, who was allegedly underage and too drunk to consent to sex. In his “apology”, Dobrik stated he always gains consent for his videos, but sometimes people he victimizes consent at first but then change their minds later, and that is why it appears in many of his videos that he is monetizing morally reprehensible behavior. In any event, YouTube executives allegedly allowed such morally and cowardly behavior to be monetized to massive sums of income for such YouTubers and seem to be more focused on demonetizing anyone that challenges a narrative, true or false, forwarded by the oligarchs.  

And as ludicrous as are the prices paid for some of the assets I’ve mentioned above, the level of insanity paid for NFTs, in my opinion, are at an even exponentially higher level. For those of you that may not know what are NFTs, Non-Fungible Tokens are unique blockchain-based digital assets that represent an increasing number of commodities, from art and real estate to collectibles like sports trading cards. One platform, Original Protocol, recently auctioned off the world’s first NFT music album by American DJ 3LAU. Collectively, the artist’s fanbase paid out more than $11 million for 33 NFTs contained on 3LAU’s album Ultraviolet. In this case, since musicians are routinely ripped off by giant record labels and often have such suffocating, unfair contracts that make it near impossible to earn any significant income from album releases, the digitization of music in the form of NFTs that allow musicians to control their income is a wonderful aspect of the new digital economy of NFTs.

The Non-Fungibility of NFTs and Most Cryptocurrencies Disqualify Them for Use in Financial Derivative Currency Swaps

NFTs sell digital representations of items, including some that used to be represented in the physical world, like trading cards and pieces of art. As is the case in the fine art world, an NFT’s price is the highest price you can convince someone to pay for it, a pool of clients that often overlaps with the over indulgent, narcissistic people that comprise the bidders for modern art pieces that sell for millions of dollars. Perhaps the most amazing quality of NFTs is that they actually have a more meaningful value than any cryptocurrency not backed by any type of hard asset. For example, bitcoin is a digital asset, but one would be hard pressed to describe its intrinsic value. One cannot say its fungibility is its price because its price is denominated in fiat currencies with intrinsic values of near zero. Furthermore, for those that constantly and very wrongly argue that non hard-asset backed cryptocurrencies are sound money, if bankers truly believed that bitcoin even remotely qualified as sound money, they would have zero problem offering currency swap derivative contracts between any fiat currency and bitcoin. 

Yet, there is not a single corporation in the entire world that has a currency swap that hedges their corporate cash treasury holdings with bitcoin. You can never have any type of financial contract without unlimited risk if it is denominated in bitcoin in which both parties realistically have no idea of the price range of that currency for the maturity of that contract. No rational party will lock themselves into a contract in which a currency presents unlimited risk to them.  The simple understanding of why there are no derivative currency swaps or hedging contracts denominated in bitcoin should easily explain to any rational person the very reason why BTC is not considered as sound money by a single banker in the entire world. On the contrary, even as volatile in price as gold and silver may be, gold and silver mining companies routinely hedge their inventory risk and their revenue risk of yet-to-be-mined gold and silver ounces by establishing open positions of gold and silver futures contracts years into the future.

You can’t argue that BTC’s intrinsic value is the block of the blockchain that records the transaction, because whether that block is used to record an NFT, BTC, or ownership of real estate, a photo or song, the price represented by that block could possibly vary from just a few dollars to several million dollars. So the blockchain has no intrinsic value either. However, with NFTs, its value, is more uniquely determinable than the block upon which a bitcoin transaction is stored that records the price of bitcoin, because that value is simply the highest price willing to be paid by all available bidders at any given time. If there are no available bidders willing to bid on a particular NFT for weeks or perhaps months on end, then one can assume the price of that NFT, even if the last paid price was $100,000, is likely zero. But even if there is one available bidder for that NFT at a price of $1,000,000 then the market price of that NFT is $1M.  Though one may state that the bidding mechanism is much more controlled in BTC markets and that BTC could never be priced at zero or $1M per BTC in such a cavalier manner that mimics the pricing of NFTs, the similarities between the pricing mechanisms based upon lack of fungibility should not be ignored when considering the inherent risk imbedded in the price of BTC in its near $60,000 per coin current price. You will either understand this risk and behave accordingly, or ignore this risk and likely expose yourself to strong downside risk in the future at some point that should be expected but will remain unexpected to those that cannot, or will not, accept this existing risk.

The five biggest whales that own BTC in order from top to bottom, are believed to be as follows: (1) The collective of institutions/people called Satoshi Nakamoto; (2) The FBI; (3) The Winklevoss Twins; (4) Micree Zhan; and (5) Jihan Wu. Other notable owners among the top 10 BTC whales are Huobi, Tim Draper and the North Korean State. In 2017, Bloomberg reported that only 1,000 people owned 40% of all BTC in the entire world. Given that in the past two years, it has been reported that the top whales had been cornering the BTC market and increasing their market share, it would not be surprising if they had increased their market share to 50% or perhaps even higher by 2021.  In any event, this translates into 0.00012658% of the world’s population likely controlling majority ownership of BTC. I don’t know of any world in which such a statistic does not translate into enormous risk.

Unanswered Questions

But fungibility is what reveals why cryptocurrencies like BTC and NFTs cannot ever qualify as sound money. For those that don’t understand why sound money needs to be a fungible asset, take gold for example. Fungibility essentially means that money should never vary in its qualitative properties but only its quantitative properties. All gold has electroconductivity properties no matter its form. Electroconductivity is an intrinsic quality of gold. Because all purified four nine gold has the same density, the same volume will always be measured by the exact same weight in grams, again another fungible quality of gold. However, depending on how paper gold futures markets are being manipulated and the date, that same gram of gold will vary wildly in fiat currency price. Fiat currency price, thus can never be the quantitative property used to value gold. Weight is the constant that should be used for gold’s value when it is to be used as sound money, because this quantitative property is always unwavering, always constant no matter if one is using gold as money in Moscow, Capetown, Montevideo, Santiago, Montreal, Phoenix, Miami, Mogadishu, Kiev, Paris, Heidelberg, Reykjavik, Chiangmai, or Seoul.

What quantitative property of bitcoin that is consistent and always the same across all uses? This is a question without an answer. For this same reason, NFTs could never serve as sound money either.  No matter the latest fiat currency price paid for a Banksy “Morons” drawing set on fire, how can one determine the exchange rate for this NFT and an NFT representing a Mark Cuban tweet. Should the Banksy NFT be priced 10 million times higher than a Mark Cuban tweet NFT? Is an NBA TopShot NFT worth 1/1000 the price of a Banksy burning piece of art NFT? And even though NFTs have more uniqueness than say, a satoshi of BTC, because price assigned to that uniqueness is entirely subjective, the uniqueness leaves it no more fit to use as sound money than a cryptocurrency that has no backing of a hard asset. Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile proved the absurd pricing mechanism for NFT when he recently sold an NFT that he acquired for $66,666 in October, a 10-second computer-generated video clip of a slogan-covered giant Donald Trump created by digital artist Beeple, for mor than 100 times his original cost at $6.6M.

The last point of irony in the BTC is the solution to the unsound global fiat currency system narrative is that many HODLers of BTC are well aware of the oligarch’s use of their power consolidation strategy of (1) Create a crisis; (2) Present the solution to the artificially created crisis; and (3) Implement the solution to consolidate power, yet will never give any type of consideration to the possibility of how perfectly the creation of BTC, in response to the 2008 global financial crisis, fits this exact historical narrative that oligarchs have repeatedly implemented, instead choosing to believe that BTC is the special unique exception to this oft-deployed strategy.

This despite, three US employees of the Central Bank, Galina Hale, Marianna Kudlyak, and Patrick Shultz, and one US university professor, Arvind Krishnamurthy, admitting that the premise I presented to my social media followers in December of 2017, when BTC hit $20,000, that the introduction of the US bitcoin futures market was going to be used to slash the BTC price drastically, essentially writing the premise for the referenced US Central Banker paper five months before it was written. In that paper, titled “How Futures Changed Bitcoin Prices”, the four authors basically echoed my premise, and stated,

“We suggest that the rapid rise of the price of bitcoin and its decline following issuance of futures on the CME is consistent with pricing dynamics suggested elsewhere in financial theory and with previously observed trading behavior. Namely, optimists bid up the price before financial instruments are available to short the market (Fostel and Geanakoplos 2012). Once derivatives markets become sufficiently deep, short-selling pressure from pessimists leads to a sharp decline in value. While we understand some of the factors that play a role in determining the long-run price of bitcoin, our understanding of the transactional benefits of bitcoin is too imprecise to quantify this long-run price. But as speculative dynamics disappear from the bitcoin market, the transactional benefits are likely to be the factor that will drive valuation.”

While they did not name the players in the BTC futures markets that drove BTC prices downward from $20,000 to $3,000 in 2018, the implication is that Central Bankers were involved in this downward spiral. And if Central Bankers were involved in this downward spiral, the downward price spiral would of course, been far easier to execute, if Central Bankers were also among the members of the collective that constitutes the largest BTC whale, Satoshi Nakamoto. Even though these dots, though purely speculative, are clearly possible, most every BTC HODLer that is confident in the achievement of end-year $300,000 BTC prices or higher, will never consider this possibility, even for a nanosecond, despite heavy suggestions of three US Central Bank employees that Central Bankers were involved in the 2018 BTC price crash. But if one did, as is the rational and logical thing to do, then one would have far greater difficulties distinguishing the mechanisms that set the price for NFTs and BTC. And as the introduction of the first BTC ETFs seem to be on the near horizon now, one would be smart to heed the lessons learned after trading of BTC futures was introduced at the end of 2017.

J. Kim

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