Picking up where we left off yesterday, when Appaloosa co-founder David Tepper warned a youthful audience at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business that “we may have reached the highs for the year“, in the final part of his Q&A, the hedge fund billionaire (and contender to become the next owner of the Carolina Panthers) was asked about his views on the hottest tech and markets topic of 2017 – the “blockchain revolution.”
Tepper admitted that he doesn’t know enough about the technology – but he does have a view on the tokens themselves, and it’s a relatively nuanced.
The iconic investor said he views bitcoin more like gold than a currency – a position that, coincidentally, is also the official position of the CFTC in regards to bitcoin’s official asset classification (though the SEC has also ruled that crypto tokens should be registered like traditional financial securities). The problem, Tepper says, is that the market dynamics are sketchy, to say the least. And as far as he can tell, most of these coins have little to justify a market valuation higher than what it costs to mine them.
He also said the cryptocurrency that can register the fastest transaction time should be the one that ultimately prevails in the market. That despite bitcoin’s continued dominance of the crypto landscape for more than a decade, and attempts to remedy its lagging transaction times and rising fees spawned bitcoin cash and almost created a existential crisis for the cryptocurrency.
“As far as cryptocurrencies are concerned, I view them more like gold in the trading of them. I don’t see the value above what it costs to mine them. The value that should work with them to a certain extent is who can make the fastest transaction times.
“It’s hard to justify the price movements of bitcoin to me…there is some analysis of why that stuff might go up or down but I’m not a fundamental believer in the value of those cryptocurrencies above their mining value.”
Has Tepper ever made any money off of bitcoin? Why yes, he has, but not as much as his son, who reportedly pocketed a sizable profit trading bitcoin during the boom, Tepper said. Tepper’s own returns were minuscule – maybe $20 or $50 – after buying a small slug of bitcoin, although he timed his purchase well: back when one coin was worth roughly $200, back in 2015, around the time when we urged readers to take the gamble ahead of China discovering bitcoin’s “wonderful” capital control-evading capabilities.
And while Tepper admits that he doesn’t really love bitcoin, he also admits that he doesn’t really love gold all that much either.
“I don’t really love bitcoins or bitcoin trading – and I don’t really love gold either by the way. Actually I do own a little bit of bitcoin because my son made a lot of money trading bitcoin, but I think I made like $200. I only put in like $50 or $20 or something – I can’t remember.”
In the final question, Tepper offered a surprising response to a question about how students can prepare for technology-related instability in their careers – a prospect that MBAs universally dread. Tepper must’ve taken a page out of the book of the first “anti-automation” candidate for higher office, because his response was strikingly similar to a remark that New York businessman Andrew Yang made when he announced that he would seek to win the 2020 Democratic nomination in a long-shot bid.
“There may be a revolution in this country before there’s not a need for truck drivers…if you’re just prepared and continually try to learn things wherever you go I think you’ll be ready for any changes that come.”
Part 3 of his full interview can be seen below, while in earlier segments of the Q&A presented here overnight, Tepper shared his expectations for stock and bond market performance for the rest of 2018, as well as a few choice anecdotes about his time trading credit at Goldman Sachs in the late 1980s and early 1990s.