Now, George Ball, the chief executive of investment firm Sanders Morris Harris and former chief executive of Prudential Securities, has changed his tune on bitcoin, switching from being a bitcoin "opponent" to an advocate—and warning people will begin turning to bitcoin after Labor Day on September 7.
"I’ve never said this before, but I’ve always been a blockchain, cryptocurrency, bitcoin opponent; but if you look right now, the government can’t stimulate the markets forever," Ball said, speaking to the newswire Reuters in a video interview this week.
"So the very wealthy investor or the trader probably turns to bitcoin or something like it as a staple," Ball told surprised Reuters anchor, Fred Katayama—who responded: "Wow, I never thought I'd hear you say something like that."
Ball, a Wall Street star through the 1970s and '80s, warned "traders and investors are going to worry about what happens when you can't kick the can down the road in terms of stimulus or subsidizing people any longer."
"The liquidity floods will end sooner or later," Ball said, pointing to the huge "well-deserved and smart" stimulus the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve is currently providing markets and businesses in an attempt to offset the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The approach of the end of that road is going to be a lot closer by the fourth quarter than it is now and therefore both traders and investors should and probably will realign their portfolios substantially."
Ball said he expects there to be a surge of bitcoin buying "after Labor Day"—branding current global markets as stuck in the "summer doldrums," with investors waiting for "a spark" that he thinks will ignite in early September.
"The time to reposition portfolios is before the fuse is lit, or when the fuse has been lit but hasn't exploded yet," Ball said, adding the time is "probably now."
Ball also named "Robinhooders," users of the popular retail stock trading app Robinhood, as likely to have an affect on the bitcoin price.
"The notion isn't to hide or to seek a tax refuge but to have something that can't be undermined by the government and that won't become worthless if the currency becomes worthless, or at least if enough Robinhooders happen to believe that," Ball said.
"If the Robinhooders don't want to trade stocks as they have, where are they going to put their money, there's no yields today, so bitcoin, or another cryptocurrency, becomes a very attractive either long-term safe-haven or a short-term speculative bet."
Stock market day-trading has surged in popularity during coronavirus lockdowns, with the likes of Barstool Sports blog founder Dave Portnoy finding huge success and massive audiences live streaming his trading sessions amid stimulus-fueled equity rallies.
Portnoy has recently turned to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, inviting the Winkelvoss twins, who created their own New York-based bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange back in 2014, to explain bitcoin to him.