Bitcoin Price More Likely $100 Than $100K in a Decade: Harvard Economist

Bitcoin may be recouping some of its earlier losses, but there’s more likelihood it goes to $100 than $100,000 in the next 10 years, Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University professor and economists told CNBC.

During an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Rogoff predicted that in a decade bitcoin will be worth only a “tiny fraction” of what it's valued at now given the lack of usage for of popular cryptocurrency. "Basically, if you take away the possibility of money laundering and tax evasion, its actual uses as a transaction vehicle are very small," Rogoff, who is also a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, told CNBC in the interview. Recently bitcoin was valued at around $10,900. (See more: PayPal Files Patent for Fast Bitcoin Transactions.)

So what is going to drive the decline in value? According to the professor, government regulation will be the likely culprit. Given bitcoin volatility, the anonymity associated with cryptocurrencies and the lack of regulation, governments around the globe have been studying ways to gain oversight. Many have taken the step to warn investors about the risks associated with cryptocurrency trading with China banning trading altogether. South Korea has also come down hard on it, restricting cryptocurrency trading to people with real bank accounts, reported CNBC. 

Pacific Overtures

At the same time some countries, including Japan, have embraced digital tokens. The Japanese government has even officially recognized it as a legal currency. While Rogoff predicted it would take time for regulators to come up with a framework for regulating cryptocurrency around the world it will be the eventual reason for the decline in value.

"It really needs to be global regulation. Even if the U.S. cracks down on it and China cracks down, but Japan doesn't, people will be able to still launder money through Japan," Rogoff told CNBC. He argued regulators have been slow to police the cryptocurrency market because they want to see the technology that underpins it, blockchain, take off. (See more: Bitcoin Price Rallies As Crypto Exchange Coinbase Is Roiled By Lawsuits.)

Economist Doubts

Rogoff isn’t the only economist to predict in recent weeks that bitcoin will have little value over the long haul. In a blog post, Joe Davis, global chief economist for Vanguard predicted bitcoin is heading to zero. "I’m enthusiastic about the blockchain technology that makes bitcoin possible. In fact, Vanguard is using such technology," wrote Davis. "As for Bitcoin the currency? I see a decent probability that its price goes to zero."

The way Davis sees it, calling bitcoin an actual currency is a bit of a stretch. On the one hand, these instruments qualify as a legitimate currency in that they are a unit of account and a medium of exchange, even though the number of vendors that currently accept cryptocurrencies is limited. But Davis said that bitcoin is not a store of value because of its volatility. Few vendors can accept a currency when the value is moving dramatically either up or down on any given day or even hour, hurting adoption and acceptance. "Even if cryptocurrencies qualify for niche purposes, their prospects seem dubious," wrote Davis in the post.

As for cryptocurrencies as an investment, Davis said that case is weak too, given cryptocurrency does not generate any cash flows like interest payments or dividends, nor can its value be based on economic fundamentals. Instead, prices are dependent more on speculation about eventual uses and adoptions, which creates volatility and thus undermines the value of the cryptocurrency.

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