Bitcoin sets a record at $4,700 as North Korea fires rockets over Japan

Watching the skies.
Watching the skies.
Image: Reuters/Issei Kato
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Bitcoin is living up to its growing reputation as a disaster hedge, setting a new record high of $4,703, even as global geopolitical tensions rose thanks to North Korea launch of a missile over Japan earlier today. Ethereum, the second most valuable cryptocurrency on the market, is trading close to its all-time high.

Bitcoin has had a very good year. It has gained 260% so far this year, and 590% over the last 12 months. Ethereum, for its part, has gained 4,400% since January this year. It’s now trading at $366, which is just off an all-time high of $396 set in mid-June.

While cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have been likened to digital gold, prices for the yellow metal itself have also been steadily appreciating. The traditional asset that investors flock to for safety is currently trading at its highest point since November, a 10-month high.

Not all traditional measures of risk have been functioning normally. The VIX Index, also called the “fear gauge,” has stayed flat despite events like the North Korea missile launch. This is causing traders to make riskier bets, which have been likened to “picking up pennies in front of steamrollers.”