Bitcoin now bigger than Buffett, Boeing and New Zealand economy

While the debate over Bitcoin's bubble status is still raging, the flagship cryptocurrency continued its march higher on Monday (Dec 4). PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Bitcoin's extraordinary price surge means its market capitalisation now exceeds the annual output of whole economies, and the estimated worth of some of the world's top billionaires.

With the debate over its bubble status still raging, the flagship cryptocurrency continued its march higher on Wednesday (Dec 6), solidifying above US$12,000 (S$16,174.35) and bringing its climb this year to more than 1,000 per cent.

With market tracker putting the total value of all bitcoins in circulation at US$190 billion, it's come a long way from August, when one coin could buy you a hefty supply of avocados.

Here are five things that have been eclipsed by bitcoin in terms of market capitalisation:


The Sky Tower at dusk in Auckland, New Zealand. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

The South Pacific nation's farm-and-tourism-led economy is valued at US$185 billion, according to World Bank data as of July, putting it some US$5 billion below bitcoin. The cryptocurrency's market cap is also bigger than the likes of Qatar, Kuwait and Hungary.


A sign displayed in the reception of the Sydney offices of Goldman Sachs in Australia. PHOTO: REUTERS

Bitcoin's run-up has even seen it valued more highly than two of the world's most influential banks.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc's market cap was US$97 billion as of Friday, while Zurich-based UBS Group AG came in at about US$67 billion.

Add those numbers together and it still falls short of bitcoin.

Both financial heavyweights have taken a hands-off approach to the digital currency, with Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein saying it's too early to draft a bitcoin strategy and UBS - the world's biggest wealth manager - saying it won't allocate it in portfolios because of the threat of a government crackdown.


The fuselage of a Boeing787-10 Dreamliner test plane. PHOTO: AFP

It may make jumbo jets, but Boeing Co's market cap of US$162 billion is also less than that of a digital currency that didn't exist 10 years ago.

The Chicago-based company, which describes itself as the world's largest aerospace firm, is more than a century old and employs 140,000 people in more than 65 countries, according to its website.

Rival Airbus SE fares no better - it's got a market value of 66 billion euros (S$105.47 billion).


Aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz. PHOTO: REUTERS

If bitcoin's market cap could be used to buy military equipment, it would pack a mighty punch.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of a new class of nuclear-powered super-carriers, was delivered to the US Navy in May.

It cost an estimated US$13 billion, so if investors put all their bitcoins together, they would be able to buy a fleet of fourteen ships.


Philanthropist Bill Gates speaking at the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2016 in central London. PHOTO: AFP

They sit atop Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, but even if Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pooled their fortunes they wouldn't have enough to buy all the bitcoins in circulation.

Mr Gates is worth US$90 billion and Mr Buffett has US$83 billion, according to the index.

Not even Queen Elizabeth II could get them over the line if she brought her US$383 million to the table.

While we don't know what he told Katy Perry, Mr Buffett has called bitcoin a "real bubble" in the past.

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