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Bitcoin hits record high — buoyed by a surge of interest from mom-and-pop investors

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Bitcoin has hit a record high. NPR's David Gura asked why.

DAVID GURA, BYLINE: Bitcoin has staged a pretty incredible comeback. Not long after it set the previous record just shy of $69,000 in November of 2021, the cryptocurrency's price cratered as crypto companies collapsed and regulators in the Justice Department went after some of its biggest names.

ESWAR PRASAD: I'm surprised, and I certainly wish I'd bought some Bitcoin a couple of years ago.

GURA: Economist Eswar Prasad is a professor at Cornell University and the author of a book called "The Future Of Money." Bitcoin hit $69,202 on Tuesday.

PRASAD: We are at an important moment in the mainstreaming of crypto.

GURA: Earlier this year, Wall Street's top cop, the Securities and Exchange Commission, reluctantly approved a new kind of investment fund tied to the price of Bitcoin. That's made it easier for people to add Bitcoin to their portfolios, and many of them have - billions of dollars have flowed into these Bitcoin ETFs. And Prasad says it's had a knock-on effect on the whole market.

PRASAD: The SEC decision, to which it was certainly dragged screaming and kicking, has given a veneer of legitimacy to cryptocurrency investments.

GURA: The SEC was forced to do that after suffering a legal setback. But Pat Tschosik, who's a senior portfolio strategist at Ned Davis Research, says the SEC has emphasized it has not endorsed Bitcoin itself.

PAT TSCHOSIK: You know, it remains an incredibly risky asset, and they want investors to know that.

GURA: But the SEC's approval led to a wave of enthusiasm and optimism and new applications for funds tied to other cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum. But it's anyone's guess where this speculative asset goes from here. Shortly after it hit that new record, its price tumbled - the kind of swing that's par for the course with crypto.

David Gura, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.