All the Things Nouriel Roubini Got Wrong as He Slammed Crypto in Congress (The Week in Blockchain News)

Welcome to the weekend, folks. Grab a coffee and let’s recap the biggest news stories of the week in cryptocurrency and blockchain.

“The Mother and Father of All Bubbles”

“Dr. Doom” Nouriel Roubini is a New York economist who famously predicted the 2008 financial crisis.

Now he’s turning his attention to cryptocurrency, calling it the “mother and father of all scams and bubbles” in a statement made to US Congress.

His meandering statement also takes on blockchain, referring to it as a “glorified spreadsheet.”

Nouriel Roubini’s soundbites are damning and headline-grabbing. But they often ring hollow when we investigate it further. Here are some of the things he got wrong:

1. “Paying $55 dollars of transaction costs to buy a $2 coffee cup is obviously never going to lead Bitcoin to become a transaction currency.”

Roubini is referring to December 22nd, 2017 when the bitcoin transaction cost briefly hit $55. However, this was the peak of bitcoin mania. To use this as a broad statement on transaction fees is misleading.

In the last three months, the bitcoin transaction price has barely peaked above a dollar. And we recently saw one investor move 29,999 bitcoins (worth $194 million) with a transaction fee of just $0.1.

bitcoin transaction fees

Congestion and scalability is, undoubtedly, bitcoin’s largest challenge, but Roubini is sensationalizing the facts based on one day in bitcoin’s ten-year history.

2. Blockchain is “no better than a spreadsheet or database”

Actually, it’s significantly, objectively better.

A spreadsheet or database is almost always controlled by one person or entity. It can be manipulated and falsified. It can be easily hacked or stolen because there is usually one point of failure.

A blockchain is a spreadsheet that lives on thousands of computers all at once. It’s updated in real-time. It’s not owned or controlled by any one person, which means it can’t be hacked or manipulated (because the entire community would see it happen and refuse to accept it).

I say it’s objectively better because the bitcoin blockchain has never been hacked. (Only things built to interact with it, like exchanges, have been compromised).

3. Bitcoin has “now gone bust”

Actually, bitcoin has suffered much larger percentage drops in price and survived.

The first bitcoin crash in 2011 wiped out 93% of value. The second took 70% off the price. The third took 83%.

bitcoin-selloff-crashes

2018’s 65% decline might have involved a much higher market capitalization, but big percentage falls in bitcoin is nothing we haven’t seen before. 

Bitcoin recovered from every previous crash without “going bust.” To say bitcoin has gone bust this time around is to underestimate the strength of the community, not to mention all the institutional support slowly building around it.

4. Bitcoin’s “only real use has been to facilitate illegal activities such as drug transactions, tax evasion, avoidance of capital controls, or money laundering”

What about the people in Venezuela using bitcoin to free themselves from 1,000,000% inflation in fiat currency?

How about the Cypriots that used bitcoin when the government confiscated the money in their bank accounts?

Of course, bitcoin has been used for drugs and money laundering. But bitcoin has also empowered people, which is perhaps its most important use-case so far.

Bitcoin’s Spike, Tether’s Decline

Bitcoin recorded a rapid 10% spike on Monday. At the same time, the world’s largest stablecoin, Tether, fell from its $1 peg to as low as $0.85.

Tether is under renewed criticism that its tokens are not fully backed by real dollar reserves. The skepticism intensified on Monday after crypto exchange Bitfinex was rumored to be on thin ice financially.

Both Tether and Bitfinex are run by the same CEO, so concerns about Bitfinex lead to worries over Tether’s solvency.

Read more: What is Tether? The Controversial Stablecoin?

0x Listed on Coinbase, Price Soars 70%

0x (ZRX) became the first ERC-20 token to be listed on Coinbase this week. 0x is a promising decentralized exchange platform that powers the exchange of tokens, loans, gaming items, and just about anything else.

0x coinbase

ZRX is available to those using Coinbase’s premium service, Coinbase Pro.

The price of ZRX soared 70% on the news but fell back 15% later in the week. The project’s founder and CEO urged caution on the price, saying: “This is probably a good time to remind everyone that 0x is a highly experimental technology that is built on top of another piece of highly experimental technology.”

0x founder tweet

Weekend Reading

Ethereum eBook – We released our second deep-dive eBook this week: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know About Ethereum. It’s completely free to download (no email address required).

8 Cryptocurrency Best Practices – From safe storage to backups, this guide teaches you how to keep your crypto safe.

Do You Need Cryptocurrency Insurance? – If you own crypto, it’s probably not insured. Crypto exchange Gemini is trying to change that, but what else can you do to stay safe?

That’s all for this weekend. We’ll see you back here bright and early on Monday morning.

Learned something new in this article? Subscribe to the Block Explorer newsletter.

Ben Brown

Editor, Block Explorer News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.