Here’s the pro-bitcoin, anti-bank argument advanced by a former Coinbase executive that’s making waves
It’s not a new view, but in the wake of the collapse of three U.S. banks and Credit Suisse’s rescue, one investor’s anti-bank, pro-bitcoin argument is making waves.
Balaji Srinivasan is the former chief technology officer at the crypto exchange Coinbase, as well as the co-founder of Counsyl, a health technology firm. And the argument he made over the weekend seems to be resonating.
was trading over $28,000 in the early hours of Monday. Gold
— or analog crypto, you could say — was above $2,000 an ounce and hit its highest level in 12 months. Bonds also were rallying.
“Just as in 2008, the bankers lied. This time, the central bankers, the banks, and the bank regulators have lied to all dollar holders and depositors,” he wrote in one of new, megasized tweets allowed on Twitter.
His argument is that banks have been able to “hide” their insolvency in footnotes. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said the U.S. banking system was sitting on $620 billion of unrealized losses. Silicon Valley Bank parent SVB Financial had to sell a portfolio of bonds it wanted to hold until maturity in a bid to meet the surge in deposit outflows. SVB did disclose that in a footnote, and even discussed it on an earnings call.
Srinivasan pointed out, accurately, that banks like SVB binged on Treasury securities and other long-term bonds when loan demand was reduced during the pandemic, believing Fed promises that interest rates would be kept low for a long period of time.
“Hiking from ten years of near zero interest rates in the 2010s was a surprise attack on every dollar holder. Economics isn’t politics – the kind of insane flipflops you see in politics don’t work when there are actual contracts involved,” he said.
Srinivasan says just as long-term Treasury holders in 2021 suffered, so too will short-term Treasury buyers.
“The ~5% interest rate offered by big banks (G-SIBs) is a trap. Most fiat bank accounts are now a trap, for those countries whose central bankers followed the Fed,” he says.
In other tweets, he warns of hyperinflation.
Of course there’s a flip side to his argument. Bank runs, and the fractional bank system, are not new, as most clearly chronicled in the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life. Banks never have enough money for all their customers all at once; the idea is that banks have adequate cushions, or capital buffers, to meet strong but not overwhelming demand.
A crypto-focused system would by definition concentrate wealth in a very small group of hands and destabilize the middle class. The economy before the advent of central banks was prone to crippling economic cycles.
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