5 Highlights from Bitcoin-Bashing NYU Economist’s Senate Testimony
Originally published on: CCN
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October 11, 2018
This morning, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs is holding a hearing on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, featuring testimony from New York University economist Nouriel Roubini.
Roubini, as CCN reported, has been bashing bitcoin since before most of the mainstream public had become familiar with the terms “cryptocurrency” and “blockchain,” and — true to form — his Senate testimony contained some real gems.
Here are some highlights:
1. ‘Sh*tcoin’ Entered the Congressional Lexicon
By the time this article is published, Roubini will have likely become the first person to use the word “sh*tcoin” in congressional testimony, with the word — a term of derision that bitcoin maximalists frequently use when discussing altcoins — appearing four times in his written testimony.
His testimony read:
“And a 70% capital loss was a “good” deal compared to thousands of alt-coins (otherwise better known as shitcoins) that have lost on average 95% of their value since the peak. Actually calling this useless vaporware garbage a ‘shitcoin’ is a grave insult to manure that is a most useful, precious and productive good as a fertilizer in agriculture.”
To his credit, Roubini did apologize for his use of the scatological term, adding in a footnote, “My apologies to the members of the Senate Banking Committee for using the scatological term ‘shitcoin’ but the term is standard in the crypto jargon and there are more than 500000 references to it in a Google search of this technical term.”
He also included a link to that Google search.
2. Roubini’s Crypto Dictionary
“Sh*tcoin” isn’t the only word that Roubini felt obligated to define for the committee members, most of whom are likely not familiar with the colloquialisms of Crypto Twitter. Indeed, he provided a veritable pocket-size dictionary of crypto terms, though his definitions are somewhat different than you might find in the official CT lexicon.
Here are some standouts:
- Crypto-land: “an eco-system of con artists, self-serving peddlers, scammers, carnival barkers, charlatans, and outright criminals.”
- HODLers: “suckers who have hold on their collapsing cryptocurrencies even after they lost 90% of their value”
- Lambos: “the crypto obsession with stealing investors’ money to buy luxury energy hogging cars”
- Whales: “large early crypto billionaires who are stuck with their fake wealth after the suckers of retails investors – who bought into the FOMO of the peak 2017 bubbles – lost 90% of their investments; those suckers are also called BagHolders”
3. ICOs are a Return to the ‘Stone Age’
This wouldn’t be a true Roubini post without a few classic crypto-takedowns, and with the eyes of the nation’s legislators upon him, the NYU professor did not disappoint.
In one section, Roubini alleged that, rather than representing the future of crowdfunding, initial coin offerings (ICOs) are actually a return to the stone age with its lack of a common currency. These tokens, he said, will create an economy worse than that seen in The Flintstones.
“That is precisely where the ICO charlatans would effectively take us – not to the futuristic world of ‘The Jetsons,’ but to the modern Stone Age world – that is worse than ‘The Flintstones’ – who at least used clam shells as their money and understood the importance of a single numeraire – where all transactions occur through the barter of different tokens or goods. It is time to recognize their utopian rhetoric for what it is: self-serving nonsense meant to separate credulous investors from their hard-earned savings”
4. Bitcoin a ‘Dinosaur,’ Worse than an Excel Spreadsheet
Continuing his assault, Roubini fired shots across the bow at bitcoin, hearkening back to criticism he has made in the past through Twitter and other means. In addition to arguing that bitcoin is more centralized the North Korea, he argued that it was, more or less, a worse version of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
“It is high time to end the hype. Bitcoin is a slow, energy-inefficient dinosaur that will never be able to process transactions as quickly or inexpensively as an Excel spreadsheet.”
5. Stablecoins are the ‘Biggest Scam of All’
While Roubini spent more than 35 pages excoriating the cryptocurrency ecosystem from top to bottom, he took particular aim at “stablecoins,” cryptocurrency tokens whose values are in some way pegged to a fiat currency (i.e., the U.S. dollar).
Roubini said that stablecoins are the “biggest scam of all,” noting that tether (USDT), currently the largest stablecoin, has never undergone a full audit to prove that its tokens are fully-backed by USD.
“And the biggest scam of all is the case of ‘stable coins’ – starting with Tether – that claimed to be pegged one to one to the US dollar but are not fully collateralized by an equal backing of true US dollars. Bitfinex – behind the scammy Tether – has persistently refused to be properly audited and its creation of fiat Tether has been systematically used to prop up manipulate upward the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies according to a recent academic paper.”
As CCN reported, non-profit cryptocurrency research and advocacy group Coin Center will also testify before the Senate hearing. The organization’s testimony, one can be sure, will present a marked contrast to that of Roubini.
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