双语阅读|比特币“过山车式”价格波动 引发投机

何坤  2018-10-30  比特币/比特币(BitCoin)栏目  

  THE PRICE chart at CoinDesk, a cryptocurrency news site, begins on July 18th 2010, when a bitcoin could be had for $0.09. By November 2013 it had reached $1,124. In the summer of 2017 it started to take off, reaching over $19,000 in December. By end-March 2018 it was back down below $7,000 and in late August it was hovering between $6,400 and $6,500 (see chart). That has made a few people very rich (just 100 accounts own 19% of all existing bitcoin), encouraged others to play for quick gains and left some nursing substantial losses.

  加密货币新闻网站CoinDesk在2010年7月18日发布比特币价格走势图,当时比特币的价格可能是在0.09美元。到了2013年11月,比特币价格升至1124美元。在2017年夏天,比特币价格开始上涨,在12月超过19000美元;在2018年3月底又跌回落7,000美元以下,8月底徘徊在6,400美元至6,500美元之间(见图表)。这一现象让一些人暴富(100个账户拥有19%的比特币),促使其他人快进捞钱,同时留下巨大损失的隐患。

  Bitcoin was never meant to be an object of speculation. When the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto published a short paper outlining his plan for bitcoin a decade ago, it was as a political project. Bitcoin’s roots lie in the “cypherpunk” movement, a philosophy that combines an anarchic dislike of governments and large companies with the techno-Utopian belief that computers and cryptography can liberate and protect people. Much of the early development of the internet was informed by similar ideas.

  比特币从来就不是投机的对象。十年前,一位化名“中本聪”的人发表了一篇短文,简要阐述了他的比特币计划。在当时,这只是一个政治项目。比特币源自“密码朋克”运动,是一种将对政府和大公司的无政府主义式厌恶与技术乌托邦式信念结合在一起的理念——计算机和加密技术可以解放和保护人们。互联网的早期发展大多是由类似的想法所启发。

  Bitcoin was intended as a computerised version of cash or gold, a “censorship-resistant” alternative to online payment systems run by companies such as Visa and PayPal. If trust in a central authority could be replaced with trust in computer code and mathematics, users could cut out the middleman and deal directly with each other, rugged individualist to rugged individualist.

  比特币被比作是“计算机化”的现金或黄金,是Visa和PayPal等运营的网络支付系统的“反审查式”替代品。如果对中央权威的信任可以由对计算机代码和数学的信任所取代,用户就可以省去中间人,由顽固的个人主义者与顽固的个人主义者之间直接交易。

  Electronic cash is not a new idea. In a paper published in 1982 David Chaum, a computer scientist, had suggested using cryptography to create electronic cash, and the cypherpunks had been kicking such ideas around since the late 1990s. What made Mr Nakamoto’s inVENtion stand out was that he had found a solution to one of the biggest problems with computerised money—how to keep users from spending the same digital coin repeatedly without relying on a trusted authority to check every transaction.

  电子货币并不是一个新概念。在1982年发表的一篇论文中,计算机科学家David Chaum曾建议使用密码学来创造电子货币,而自上世纪90年代末以来,密码朋克就一直在研究这种想法。中本聪的发明之所以引人注目,是因为他找到了解决计算机货币最大问题之一的办法——如何在不依赖可信任的权威机构审查每笔交易的情况下,防止用户重复消费同一种数字货币

  With a physical currency, this problem mostly takes care of itsELF. Once a coin or note has been handed over, its original owner can no longer spend it. But digital currencies are just wisps of information on a computer, and computers are designed to move and copy information easily. Mr Nakamoto solved the problem by handing the job of policing the system to its users. Bitcoin is designed to generate a permanent, constantly growing list of every transaction ever performed with the currency—the “blockchain”. Since all users have a copy of the system’s records, they would spot attempts to spend the same bitcoin twice.

  对于实物货币,这个问题基本上就解决了。一枚硬币或纸币在交易出去后,它主人就不能再使用它了。可是,数字货币只是电脑上的一串信息,电脑是用来方便地传输和复制信息。中本聪解决这个问题的办法是将监管系统的工作交给用户。将比特币设计成一个永久不变的、记录使用货币交易,不断加长的列表——“区块链”。所有用户都有系统记录的副本,能发现有人试图重复使用同一个的比特币。

  A centralised institution like a bank can simply update its internal records every time its customers perform a transaction. Since bitcoin is decentralised, though, all transactions must be broadcast to everyone on the network so that they can update their local copies of the blockchain. When two parties want to make a transaction, they alert everyone else of their intention. Those proposed transactions are bundled into blocks by a subset of users called “miners”, whose job is to maintain the records and ensure their integrity. Every block is connected to its predecessor by a chain of cryptographic links, which makes it next to impossible to alter records once finalised.

  像银行这样的集中化机构能很容易地更新内部对客户每次交易时的记录。然而,由于比特币的去中心化特点,所有的交易都必须在网络上通知每个人,让他们够更新本地的区块链副本。当两方想要进行交易时,会将交易意图通知其他人他们。这些意向的交易被用户子集(即“矿工”)汇总至区块里——这些“矿工”的的工作是维护记录并确保完整性。每个区块都通过一串加密链接连接到它的前个版本,这使得交易完成后几乎不可能改变记录。

  In order to prevent malicious miners from subverting that process, bitcoin requires somETHing called “proof of work”, in which miners demonstrate their commitment by competing to crack mathematical problems that are hard to solve but whose solutions are easy to check. Only the winner of each competition is allowed to add a block to the chain. The network aims for an average block-generation rate of one every ten minutes. If blocks come in faster than this, mining is made harder to slow things down.

  为了防止恶意矿工破坏这个流程,比特币要求有一个“工作证明”的东西,即矿工通过竞相破解难以解决、而解决方案却易于检验的数学问题来证明承诺。只有每一次竞赛的获胜者才可以在链条上加一个区块。这个网络的目标是平均每10分钟产生一个区块。如果区块的增多速度超过10分钟,采矿的难度就会增加,让速度降下来。

  All that computation takes a lot of electricity, and hence money, so each new block earns its miner a reward, starting off at 50 bitcoin in 2009 and programmed to halve every four years. It is currently 12.5 bitcoin, or around $80,000. These block rewards are the only source of new bitcoin in the system. Mr Nakamoto argued that central banks cannot be trusted not to debase their currencies by printing money, so he set a hard limit of 21m for the number of bitcoin that could ever be mined.

  所有这些计算都需要大量的电力,也就需要有大量的资金支持,因此,每一个新的区块都能给矿工带来回报,从2009年的50比特币开始,每四年减半。目前每一个区域有12.5比特币,约合8万美元。这些区块的回报是整个系统里的唯一新比特币产生来源。中本聪认为,如果央行不会废除以印钞来让本国货币贬值的方法,就不为人们信任;因此,他将可能开采出的比特币数量严格限定在2100万个。

  All this may sound complicated, but the system generally works. Bitcoin can be used to make payments between any two users of the software, and though the experience is not exactly like using cash, it is a reasonable electronic analogue. Even so, bitcoin has failed to become an established currency, let alone—as its more ideological supporters had hoped—to flourish as an alternative to the traditional financial system.

  这些听起来可能很复杂,但这个比特币系统整体是可行的。比特币可以在两个软件的用户之间进行支付;尽管这种体验与现金交易不同,但它是一种合理的电子模拟方式。即便如此,比特币仍未能成为一种交易性货币,更不用说替代传统金融体系而兴盛开来——就如其意识形态支持者所希望的那样。

  One reason is that it is still not user-friendly. All participants have to download specialist software, and getting traditional money into and out of bitcoin’s ecosystem is fiddly. Moreover, although the lack of a central authority makes the system resilient to attempts at coercion, it also means that if something goes wrong, there is no one who can fix it.

  其中一个原因是依旧对用户不友好。所有参与者都必须下载专门的软件,让传统货币进出比特币生态系统非常繁琐。此外,没有一个中央权力机构,使比特币系统能够不受各种胁迫的企图,但也意味着出了问题,就没有人能解决它。

  The original idea was that bitcoin users would “be their own banks”, responsible for the security of their own funds, says David Gerard, a cryptocurrency-watcher and systems administrator. But that is harder than it sounds. If you lose access to your stash of bitcoin—say, by mislaying a USB stick or accidentally overwriting a hard drive—it can be impossible to recover. Many users therefore store their bitcoin on exchanges (companies that let users trade ordinary currency for the cryptographic sort). But many exchanges are amateurish operations and have an unenviable record of being hacked. And when bitcoins are stolen, there is no insurance scheme to make the owners whole. Nor are there any other protections of the sort that modern consumers take for granted. Mr Nakamoto’s original paper proudly points out that with bitcoin, chargebacks (used when a credit-card holder disputes a transaction) are impossible.

  加密货币观察人士和加密货币系统管理员David Gerard表示,比特币的最初想法是,比特币用户会“有自家银行”的感觉,自己保护资金安全。不过,实现起来要更难。如果你找不到你的比特币——比如说,丢失了U盘或者不小心覆盖了硬盘——你就不可能恢复。对此,很多用户都将比特币存在交易所(让用户用普通货币购买易加密货币的企业)里)。不过,许多交易所的经营不规范,都曾有遭黑客攻击的劣迹。一旦比特币被盗,也没有保险计划保全所有者。更没有任何现代消费者认为理应有的保护措施。中本聪的最初论文里骄傲地表示,有了比特币,退款(当信用卡持有人对交易提出异议时使用)是不可能发生的。

  There are structural problems, too. The size of an individual block of transactions is fixed, and the network enforces an average block-generation rate of one every ten minutes. In practice, that limits bitcoin’s throughput to around seven transactions per second. (Visa’s payment network can manage tens of thousands.) So when demand for bitcoin transactions is high, the system clogs up. Users have to accept that their transactions may be dELAyed or not go through at all, or offer miners extra fees as an incentive to prioritise their payments. Mr Nakamoto had hoped that bitcoin’s transaction fees would settle at fractions of a cent, but at the height of the boom in late 2017 they briefly reached $55. They have since come down to about $0.65.

  还有一些结构性问题。单个交易区块的大小是固定的,区块链网络实现平均每10分钟产生一个区块。在实际情况里,这将比特币的交易量限制在每秒7笔左右。(Visa的支付网络每秒应对管理数万次。)因此,对比特币交易需求很高时,系统就会堵塞。用户不得不接受他们的交易可能延迟或根本无法不进行的情况,或者向矿工提供额外的费用作为优先支付的奖励。中本聪曾希望比特币的交易费不到一美分,但在2017年末最繁荣时期,比特币的交易费用曾一度达到55美元,此后降至约0.65美元。

  Faster, faster

  更快,更快

  Bitcoin’s developers have tried various tweaks and workarounds to ease the jam. A scheme called SegWit, first introduced in August 2017, has provided a little extra wiggle room. A more ambitious proposal, called the Lightning Network, hopes to take the bulk of transactions off the ponderous blockchain system and getting users to trade directly with each other, but after a couple of years in development it remains plagued by reliability problems. One recent evaluation by Diar, the cryptocurrency-research firm, found that Lightning transactions became increasingly less likely to be completed successfully as they GOT bigger.

  比特币的开发人员试过各种各样调整和变通方法来缓解交易拥堵情况。一项名为“SegWit”的项目在2017年8月首次推出扩容用于更多的交易。一项更庞大的提议,名为“闪电网络”,想将笨重的区块链系统中的大量交易业务剥离出来,让用户直接相互交易,但经过几年的开发,仍然受到可靠性问题困扰。加密货币研究机构Diar最近的一项评估发现,随着闪电网络交易规模的扩大,成功完成交易的可能性越来越小。

  Volatility, insecurity and occasional congestion make for a poor currency, so bitcoin has done best on the economic fringes. One use is for buying drugs and other dodgy items from online black markets, where buyers and sellers are prepared to put up with the downsides because they want to cover their tracks. It can help citizens of countries with currency cONTrols get around them, says Alistair Milne, a financial economist at the University of Loughborough. And some cyber-criminals have turned to it for ransom demands.

  不稳定、不安全以及时不时的网络拥堵都导致了货币贬值,因此比特币在经济边交错区的表现最好。一种用途是在网上黑市上购买毒品和其它危险物品。在黑市上,买卖双方都准备忍受这些不利因素,因为他们想掩盖自己的行踪。拉夫堡大学金融经济学家阿利斯泰尔•米尔恩表示,这种方式帮助控制汇率的国家公民绕开限制。一些网络犯罪分子用比特币来索要赎金。

  Legitimate businesses, with a few exceptions, have proved more cautious. A report from JPMorgan published in 2017 found that, of the top 500 online retailers, only three accepted bitcoin, down from five the year before. Among those that have stopped supporting it are Expedia, a travel agency, and Valve, which runs Steam, an online video-games shop (which cited “high fees and volatility” as the reasons). Chainalysis, a research firm based in New York that tracks data from 17 different bitcoin merchant-payment processors, found that monthly transactions peaked in September 2017 at $411m, and had declined to $60m by May this year.

  事实证明,除了少数例外,合法企业更为谨慎。摩根大通(JPMorgan)在2017年发布的一份报告发现,在前全球500强电商中,只有3家接受比特币,低于前一年的5家。在那些停止比特币支付的企业中,有旅游网站Expedia和经营在线游戏Steam的商店Valve(该网站的理由是“高昂的费用和波动性”)。一家纽约的研究机构Chainalysis跟踪了17个不同的比特币商业支付处理器的数据,发现每月交易额在2017年9月达到4.11亿美元的峰值,到今年5月下降到6000万美元。

  The South Sea bubble redux

  南海泡沫再次来袭

  The volatility that makes bitcoin unattractive as a currency also makes it an exciting target for speculation. “If we’re being honest,” says Tim Swanson, the founder of Post Oak Labs, a firm that provides technology advice, “the majority of people are buying [cryptocurrencies] because they hope the price will go up, rather than for any great philosophical reason.”

  比特币的波动性让它失去了作为货币的吸引力,却成为了狂热投机目标。技术咨询机构Post Oak Labs创始人Tim Swanson说道:“说实话,大多数人购买(加密货币)的原因是想价格上涨,而不是出于伟大的哲学原因。”

  Condemnation from prominent figures has only added to the currency’s allure. Warren Buffett, a wealthy American investor, has called bitcoin “rat poison”. Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan—the sort of financial institution that bitcoin fans dislike—has described it as “a fraud”. A research note from Goldman Sachs, a bank, published in July, describes cryptocurrencies as “a mania” and concludes that they “garner far more…attention than is warranted”. Still, back in May the same bank announced its intention to open a cryptocurrency trading desk, citing demand from its customers. Autonomous Next, a financial-research firm, reckons that 175 cryptocurrency funds were set up in 2017, up from just 20 the year before.

  知名人士的谴责只会增加比特币的诱惑。美国富豪投资人沃伦•巴菲特称比特币为“老鼠药”。比特币粉丝不喜欢的金融机构摩根大通的老板杰米•戴蒙将比特币说为“诈骗”。高盛银行在7月发布的一份研究报告将加密货币描述为“一种狂热现象”,并得出一个结论:加密货币“获得的……关注远远超出了应有的范围”。不过,早在今年5月,高盛银行就曾以客户的需求为由,宣布有意设立一个加密货币交易部门。金融研究机构Autonomous Next估计,2017年有175家新成立加密货币基金,而去年仅为20家。

  Would-be punters will need a strong stomach. Bitcoin is thinly traded and barely regulated, and rumours of large-scale price manipulation have been supported by unusual trading patterns on exchanges. A paper published by two researchers at the University of Texas at Austin asks whether Tether, another cryptocurrency, is being used to prop up the price of bitcoin.

  想成为赌客的人需要一个强壮的胃。比特币交易清淡,几乎没有受到监管,有关大规模价格操纵的传闻得到了交易所非常规交易模式的支持。德克萨斯大学奥斯汀分校的两名研究人员发表的一篇论文质疑,另一种加密货币泰达币(Tether)有可能是用来支撑比特币的价格。

  Governments are beginning to take notice. In May South Korean regulators raided Upbit, that country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. In the same month America’s justice department began a criminal investigation into manipulation of bitcoin’s price.

  各国政府开始注意到这一点。今年5月,韩国监管机构突袭了该国最大的加密货币交易所Upbit。同月,美国司法部开始对比特币价格操纵行为展开刑事调查。

  Official scrutiny, and the recent drop in prices, have spooked many investors. Goldman Sachs argues that bitcoin remains overvalued. But for every bear there is a bull. Tim Draper, a venture capitalist who made his fortune backing technology companies, has forecast that by 2022 a bitcoin will be worth $250,000.

  官方的审查以及最近的价格下跌吓坏了许多投资者。高盛辩称,比特币仍然高估。不过,每个熊市都有牛市存在。风险投资家蒂姆•德雷珀通过投资科技企业发财。他预测,到2022年,比特币的价值将达到25万美元。

  编译:何坤

  编辑:翻吧君

  来源:经济学人(2018.09.01)

 


 

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始建于2013年,提供比特币 区块链及数字货币新闻、技术教程、测评、项目周报、人物等资讯
本页面提供的是比特币观点资讯,比特币(BitCoin)是一种数字货币,通过加密密钥连接买卖双方,是一个去中心化的支付系统。