Are bitcoins, an electronic cyber currency skyrocketing in value — recently trading above $50,000 for a single bitcoin — the next big advancement toward a high-tech future? Or are bitcoins another big vulnerability for electronic civilization, already facing existential threats from nature and man? In 2013, four years after the invention of the bitcoin, the former president of the Dutch Central Bank, Nout Wellink, compared the bitcoin to the ruinous " tulipmania " afflicting Holland 400 years ago. Wellink said bitcoins are "worse than the tulipmania. … At least then you got a tulip; now you get nothing." During the Dutch Golden Age (1600-1720), Holland was a world empire with a mighty navy, the highest per capita income in the world, and the most advanced system of banking, finance and market trading. Tulips, newly introduced to Europe from the Ottoman Empire, became enormously popular, including with Dutch investors. By 1637, paper trading for scarce tulips drove up the price for a single tulip bulb to 50,000 golden guilders, more than a skilled craftsman could earn in 10 years. ADVERTISEMENT In February 1637, at an auction in Haarlem, when no one was willing to pay real golden guilders for real tulip… Read full this story
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