By Mark DeCambre
It’s Jamie versus James. James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley doesn’t know where prices of bitcoin or its ilk will be in the coming days but he knows one thing. “It’s not a fad…it’s not going away,” he told CNBC during a Thursday interview, referring to the nascent cryptocurrency industry as he also discussed the investment bank’s third-quarter results.
Gorman’s take on bitcoin /zigman2/quotes/31322028/realtime BTCUSD +0.12% and Ether /zigman2/quotes/108573964/realtime ETHUSD +1.28% on the Ethereum blockchain feels miles from his counterpart at JPMorgan Chase & Co. /zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite JPM +2.10% .
Earlier this week, Jamie Dimon offered what is becoming a relatively standard response to questions about crypto. “I personally think that bitcoin is worthless,” said the JPMorgan CEO , speaking briefly at the annual Institute of International Finance event.
Morgan Stanley’s Gorman isn’t a full-throated bitcoin and crypto rally cry, but he is suggesting that there may be something more than fleeting to digital assets beyond the hype and bluster that sometimes surrounds it.
Gorman offered a fairly levelheaded assessment of virtual currencies that have increasingly gained mainstream attraction, with bitcoin knocking on the door of a record around $60,000 and companies and investors trying to figure out whether and/or how the asset fits into a balance sheet in an investment portfolio.
Gorman said of his observations of client behavior, of late: “Nobody’s putting 10% of their portfolio into it…it’s not a core part of their diversification strategy…it is an option” that they are looking at, he told the business network.
Morgan Stanley became one of the first banks to offer access to crypto among its qualified clientele earlier this year.
Of course, JPMorgan also is offering some crypto as well (and even created its own interbank digital currency), but the CEO’s grudging acceptance of the emergence of digital assets has been off-putting to many crypto bulls.
“Our clients are adults…so, if they want to have access to buy yourself bitcoin, we can’t custody it, but we could give them legitimate, as clean as possible, access,” said Dimon.
Gorman notes that traditional markets, the 10-year Treasury note /zigman2/quotes/211347051/realtime BX:TMUBMUSD10Y -1.52% , the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.82% , the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.42% , and the Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.83% , still represent the go-to investment areas for average investors.