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Bitcoin’s extraordinary price surge means its market capitalization now exceeds the annual output of whole economies, and the estimated worth of some of the world’s top billionaires.
Time

The Bitcoin gold rush accelerated Tuesday, as the world’s best-known digital currency barreled through $14,000, $15,000 and $16,000 in an extraordinary price run-up that now values the cryptocurrency at more than $270 billion, eclipsing the market value of Home Depot.

Bitcoin — which many Wall Street pros claim is a speculative frenzy and financial bubble — has boosted the digital currency’s market value so much that it’s now worth more than 488 of the 500 U.S. companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index. So only 12 companies in the large-cap stock index have market values greater than Bitcoin, S&P Dow Jones Indices data through Dec. 6 show. 

Bitcoin jumped more than 25% on Thursday, rising as much as $3,325 and hitting an intraday record of $16,569 per coin, just eight days after topping the $10,000 milestone, according to CoinDesk, a Bitcoin exchange. For the year, Bitcoin is up more than 1,600%. 

Since its low of $11,450 on Tuesday to its peak Thursday, Bitcoin has rallied 45% in a roughly 48-hour span. 

The meteoric rise has caught the attention of Wall Street, which marvels at its steep and quick rise but fears the rise will end badly.

Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s investment show Mad Money, called Bitcoin’s most recent spike “parabolic” and compared it to a rocket just after launch. 

“It has a Cape Canaveral feel,” Cramer said Thursday morning on the cable business channel, referring to the well-known Florida rocket launch site. “Maybe Bitcoin is going to Mars. Or Jupiter.”

But there’s a growing chorus of Bitcoin watchers warning investors to steer clear of the surging…