Not all cryptocurrencies can succeed, Robert Shiller says

Count the Nobel laureate Robert Shiller among those who are skeptical about cryptocurrencies despite the craze surrounding bitcoin.

“We have thousands of cryptocurrencies,” the Yale University economist told Trish Regan in a FOX Business interview on Tuesday. “They’re not all going to succeed.”

Cryptocurrency prices have skyrocketed thanks to growing interest in the fledgling market. But not everyone is hot on digital currencies: Warren Buffett has more than once compared them to “rat poison.”

Shiller, known for predicting the housing crisis and the dot-com bubble, warned in an article published Monday that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are following a familiar path taken by other failed monetary innovations.

“Isn’t it kind of amazing how much enthusiasm there is for bitcoin, or the other cryptocurrencies?” he asked in the interview with Regan. “But I’ve been reading history, and I realized this isn’t the first time some kind of new money was proposed and got zealous followers.”

What makes the digital currency so popular, he said, is its independence from any type of government and the fact that it’s hard to understand, so only “really smart people” get it.

“It’s like we’re establishing a new community of cosmopolitans who are just smarter than the government,” he said.

In 2013, Shiller won the Nobel Prize in economics, alongside two other academics, for explaining how financial markets work.