BITCOIN is back. Fans (and holders) of the crypto-currency were celebrating after its price jumped more than 20% in the five days to May 31st, to nearly $550—a level it last reached in August 2014. They should contain their elation: the factors driving the rally are not unalloyed positives, and the competition is doing even better (see chart).
Most trading in bitcoin takes place in China: Huobi and OKCoin, two Chinese exchanges, are thought to account for more than 90% of transactions. The currency seems to have become an outlet for Chinese savers frustrated with their limited investment options and searching for high-yielding assets. The Chinese authorities are worried enough to have banned banks from dealing in bitcoin, but individuals are still free to speculate and have been doing so with gusto. Bitcoin’s newfound popularity in China is unlikely to diminish its volatility, however, and thus boost its acceptance as a reliable international payment system.
Bureaucrats at the till
China has also become