Starwood Capital Chairman Barry Sternlicht said Wednesday that cryptocurrency makes sense as a way to diversify investment portfolios, especially given increased government spending in much of the developed world. "The reason I own bitcoin is because the U.S. government, and every government in the Western Hemisphere, is printing money from now until the end of time," Sternlicht said on CNBC's " Squawk Box ." Crypto has been gaining more mainstream acceptance over the past few years, helping to fuel a rise in bitcoin to more than $60,000 earlier this year. However, some influential figures are still skeptical, and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon described bitcoin as " worthless " earlier this week. Sternlicht — referencing Dimon's comments — did not disagree but compared the biggest cryptocurrency to gold, saying bitcoin was "a dumb coin. It has no real purpose other than a store of value." The real estate investor said he owns ether as well, calling it a "programmable bitcoin." Cryptocurrencies have moved dramatically higher since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, though trading has remained volatile. Bitcoin traded around $55,000 on Wednesday morning, while ether was slightly below $3,500. The rise for digital coins has come amid a boom in retail investor trading and historic government spending. The government spending has likely contributed to higher inflation in the U.S., though the dollar has strengthened this year, suggesting that investors and businesses have not lost faith in the global reserve currency. Sternlicht added he is interested in blockchain and that he believes it is still early in the economic shift to the internet and digital. Sternlicht told CNBC in May that he sold some of his bitcoin holdings because of a potential capital gains tax change in Washington. The billionaire investor's main area of expertise is real estate, and a major portion of Starwood's portfolio is hotels and office buildings around the U.S.
Barry Sternlicht, CEO, Starwood Capital Group
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Starwood Capital Chairman Barry Sternlicht said Wednesday that cryptocurrency makes sense as a way to diversify investment portfolios, especially given increased government spending in much of the developed world.