Stablecoins in the Hot Seat: Powell Calls Bitcoin a Substitute for Gold


There was an absolute flurry of content and commentary yesterday around the place of bitcoin. Stable coins defy and the digital asset industry as a whole vis-a-vis. Us government regulation as well as how a digital dollar might shake that all up before we get into it. Let's at the terms of the debate. One of the competitors for this cycles top fudd is the government will ban it if it gets sufficiently threatening now to be clear banning depending on your sister could mean anything from an outright ban of use in holding too forceful seizure too limiting access to on and off ramps to the more benign from a commercial standpoint but no less threatening from a privacy standpoint integration of the full crypto infrastructure into the am l. kyc. Money surveillance apparatus. I've spent some time on this show looking into global versions where this fudd seems to be playing out in particular. We've been watching the evolving situation in india and nigeria india which seems gearing up for a bill that would have some sort of outright ban although at least one finance minister says that that's not the case and nigeria. Where the central bank of nigeria. I reiterated that banks should not be working with crypto users which they've then subsequently rolled back just a little bit either way however really what everyone has been focused on is the us particularly in the context of a new administration. The last administration had friends and foes alike when it came to bitcoin and crypto trump. Famously tweeted that he did not like bitcoin or crypto. But we didn't really take that seriously as a threat because it was so clearly about zuckerberg and libra mnuchin was a much bigger enemy. Probably wrote that text for trump's tweet even and clearly wanted to tighten the reins in his final act. He was trying to require exchanges to collect more information. When users transferred crypto to their own wallets on the flip side however there was brian brooks who was absolutely revolutionary at the office of the comptroller of the currency. The changes he oversaw are a huge reason. Why so many big institutions are now playing in this space. Why so many big traditional banks feel like they have to race to catch up to allow people to offer their customers crypto services however as we know from physics every action has a reaction and to some extent one reason why observers are so keenly watching the biden administration is to see how much they're going to respond or try to walk back with brooks in the occ changed on top of that. As the biden administration has come to power the price and volume around bitcoin stable coins and the rest of the digital asset industries have made them much more on ignore -able last time joe biden was in office. Bitcoin is about four hundred and thirty bucks. Now it's been over fifty thousand dollars for sixteen days in a row tether was barely out of diapers now. It has a market supply above forty billion in his doing upwards of one hundred billion dollars in volume per day combined with us dc. And you've got over. Fifty billion dollars of usd approximates there so lot more is at stake with that. People have been watching. Two things has come in and what they're saying on the who has come inside. Janet yellen is back for another round although this time is treasury secretary rather than as he chair gary genzer to is back. Although this time is as he c- chair. Instead of cftc chair of these two there is much more optimism around gessler who has done a pretty fair bit of work to understand where the crypto industry is coming from even teaching a course at mit about bitcoin and blockchain. And of course we have someone who still around in the form. Of jay powell. The federal reserve chairman. His ex factor. And all these discussions is the potential of a central bank digital currency a digital dollar. That could potentially shift the us's relationship with these projects now in terms of what we've seen these actors say so far over the last few months up until now it's been pretty standard fare one part. There's a lot of exciting potential here. One part we have to protect investors though and one part but it's also used by criminals over the last couple of days however we've gotten both comments and news that could shift as into our next phase of understanding what the us is relationship with. Bitcoin stable coins and other digital assets is going to look going forward. So let's talk about powell speaking about cdc's and cryptos at a bank for international settlements panel yesterday. Let's talk about the announcement of digital dollar prototypes coming this summer. And let's talk about new draft fat. If guidelines around cryptocurrencies. I up powell. Did a session yesterday with leaders from the bank for international settlements including augustine carstens. We talked about last week. He was asked about crypto currencies. And whether he saw them as a threat. And here's what he said. We call them crypto assets. You know. they're they're highly volatile. See bitcoin and therefore not real useful as a store of value in there not backed by anything. They're more of an asset for speculation. So they're also not particularly in use as a means of payment. It's more speculative asset. That's it's essentially a substitute for gold rather than for the dollar. And i think with crypto acids the the the public needs to understand the risks. The principle thing is there's the volatility there's also the outsized energy requirements requirement for for mining. And the fact that they're not backed by anything so let's break out these three reasons that he wasn't particularly impressed by cryptos. I this idea of volatility or that. It's just an asset for speculation. Basically he's dismissing bitcoin and any other crypto as something that he does not have to stress about or really factor into his consideration around global monetary competition while many. Bitcoin is grabbed onto the essentially a substitute for gold piece as a great tweet and knocked to the gold bugs. Who they're trying to convert or at least undermined powell was saying this more. Like a giant shooing away. A fly gold is to him clearly. Irrelevant an unimportant antiquated part of the fiat system that he sits at the helm of in that way a substitute for that thing does not present a threat

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