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Many of those lobbyists, both in-house and outside, are hiring former congressmen and staff, which give them a much greater advantage because it gives them direct access to their Rolodex, which is the way you influence policy. And the crypto industry has hired an army of lawyers.
Dennis Kelleher And this part is really quite active right now with the midterms coming. Jemima Kelly Not to mention the dark money. Jemima Kelly Companies like Coinbase, Ripple and FTX are some of the biggest players when it comes to crypto lobbying, along with industry groups like the Blockchain Association and the Crypto Council for Innovation, whose backers include the VC firm and friends of the show, Andreessen Horowitz.
Dennis Kelleher On the one hand it is normal practice. On the other hand, it is unusual that an industry like crypto bursts on to the scene in such a short period of time, inflicts massive, massive damage and investor losses, and then floods Washington with this vast amount of money to basically try and buy a weak regulator and try and get away with as much as humanly possible.
Dennis Kelleher The last time this much money flooded into Washington was the s, when the mainstream financial industry, represented by the biggest banks on Wall Street, actually purchased the repeal of two key laws. One prohibited banks from merging into giant too-big-to-fail banks, and the other one prohibited the regulation of derivatives.
It then took those banks and others only about seven or eight years where they made unbelievable profits. The biggest profits in the history of the financial industry were made, but at the same time they undermined financial stability and they ripped off financial consumers and investors. And it ultimately led to the financial crash. News clip Lehman Brothers, a year old firm, filed for bankruptcy. News clip Traders here working the phones say a lot of their customers are freaked out, waiting to see how low the Dow will go.
News clip The opening bell is going to ring in 5 seconds. Dennis Kelleher So the question we really have now is whether or not history is gonna repeat itself. And what crypto is trying to do is get special treatment and special access under special conditions for their special interest to maximise their profits. Jemima Kelly Dennis is talking about the risks that could come if crypto were allowed to have a real place in the global financial system.
You know, this is only gonna get worse. This is you know, this is the start of it. Jemima Kelly Tony Marini is a senior therapist at Castle Craig, a rehab centre nestled away in an old country house in southern Scotland. Even researching, I was getting, you know, my endorphins, my dopamine, my adrenaline was going. And I thought, wow, this is very similar to gambling.
Jemima Kelly Back in , Tony started to come across patients he was treating for other addictions who were also struggling with crypto. And he started to dig into crypto to try and understand exactly what was making it so addictive. We get constant anger, you know, the self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth is destroyed.
They lose identity, they lose purpose. Jemima Kelly There are very few consumer protections in the world of crypto and very little in terms of checks and balances on crypto companies. Not everyone, of course, becomes addicted to crypto, but the fact is many people are suffering because the industry is being allowed to do whatever the hell it likes.
This is the reason people like me have become crypto sceptics. The crypto crowd tells stories about how cryptocurrencies will revolutionise the financial system, speed up economic development, and create a fairer and happier Internet. Earlier in this series, I talked to Stephen Diehl, a prominent critic of the crypto industry. Stephen Diehl These are mums and dads that are putting their money just trying to get ahead in life into a product, which is probably one of the most risky financial assets you can possibly buy.
Jemima Kelly So earlier this year, he decided to try and do something about it. Stephen Diehl Two months back I organised a letter campaign where I recruited initially 26 other technologists and computer scientists to write a letter to Congress to address what we thought was a pressing need for action on this issue, and particularly to advance regulation.
And the purpose of the letter was to address the concern that many of us in the industry have is that our views as computer scientists and technologists are not being reflected in policy. Jemima Kelly The letter was eventually signed by 1, computer scientists. Not all innovation is unqualifiedly good, the letter said. Not everything that we can build should be built.
The history of technology is full of dead ends, false starts and wrong turns. Stephen Diehl Market manias are not a new phenomenon. Every single aspect of cryptocurrency is not new. The technology is new. But the kind of speculative manias that occur around these kind of assets are not new. And in many ways, if you look at the South Sea bubble, you look at the tulip mania. You look at, you know, the wildcat banking era. And crypto pretends to be the money of the future. This is the last episode in this series.
Thank you for staying with us through this wild ride through crypto land. You can listen back to the other episodes wherever you get your podcasts or on FT. Our sound engineer is Breen Turner with original scoring by Metaphor Music. This transcript has been automatically generated.
If by any chance there is an error please send the details for a correction to: typo ft. We will do our best to make the amendment as soon as possible. Copyright The Financial Times Limited Can we buy real estate? Can we buy gold or precious metals or commodities or oil?
Jemima Kelly And crypto gold, according to Saylor, meant bitcoin. News clip Michael Saylor. Michael, thanks so much for joining us here tonight. Why do you keep buying bitcoin? Three purchases, large purchases. Michael Saylor My first embrace of bitcoin was to avoid death, to avoid a corporate death.
And then eventually I realised fundamentally the problem is all the currencies in the world are collapsing against the dollar and the dollar is collapsing against desirable, scarce assets. I know it might sound ridiculous, but it had been gaining value over the years and he thought it was a good way to protect against inflation, better than putting it into dollars or any other currency. Michael Saylor There are 8bn people on the planet whose life is hopeless.
And bitcoin is the only thing that looks like it could possibly work. But Michael Saylor is a great illustration of the way that true bitcoin believers talk about this stuff. Michael Saylor Everything else is hopeless. No other equity or property or other strategy offers hope to all the people in the world that are facing this kind of currency collapse.
By the summer, with bitcoin prices having tanked by about two-thirds, MicroStrategy had lost a ton of money. In early August, Saylor announced that he would be standing down as CEO after more than 30 years at the helm. He is staying on as executive chairman and is now leading what the company calls its bitcoin acquisition strategy, because, yes, even amid the carnage, Michael Saylor is still a bitcoin believer.
I mean. Michael Saylor If bitcoin goes effectively to zero. Scott Chipolina Really, a lot of folks would say that he was the start of this significant trend of institutions pouring money into bitcoin, pouring money into crypto. He spends, for his sins, a lot of time following the crypto markets. You started to see the commercialisation of cryptocurrencies.
Jemima Kelly And Scott reckons that this new period of corporate money flooding into bitcoin changed the game. So those sorts of developments certainly propelled the bull run that we saw in because, you know.
Michael Saylor, yes. But also Elon Musk being, you know, one of the most well-known people on the planet, when they took the significant interest in bitcoin and crypto, it certainly propelled a wider, broader market interest in these things too. Jemima Kelly All sorts of other crypto products were also being dreamt up.
There were so-called crypto banks, crypto loans, crypto futures and other more obscure financial instruments. And as well as all those increasingly complex crypto products being invented in the world of DeFi or decentralised finance, the broader crypto market now included a lot more people who traded and invested for a living. They also had money in other markets like the stock market. So when investors started dumping stocks earlier this year, causing markets to fall, they also started taking their money out of crypto.
How bad has this crash actually been? Why is it so bad this time? Scott Chipolina The simplest way to answer that question immediately is because the market is bigger, more money has been lost and more people have been harmed. Back to the Terra Luna situation that we that we saw in May. The company behind Terra Luna is based in South Korea. Jemima Kelly Wow. Scott Chipolina That, I think that, you know, we can look at the numbers and we can see the market trends, but behind all of that are some really, truly tragic stories of people that, for one reason or another, put a lot more money than they could have afforded to lose in these projects.
And then they lost that money. But that would ignore a point that most of us who criticise this industry agree on. Crypto markets today have virtually nothing to do with the idea that cryptocurrencies should be used as money, or even with the idea that blockchain technology might become useful one day. This is simply a highly speculative market populated by people hoping to buy low and sell high, and make a lot of money in the process.
Jemima Kelly That Stephen Diehl, a software engineer and, like me, a crypto critic. Stephen Diehl The first era I call the Cypherpunk era, and those people actually aspired to build private money. Jemima Kelly Stephen says the idea that cryptocurrencies could work as money was quietly abandoned by most people years ago.
Stephen Diehl People are trading crypto tokens, not based on any kind of underlying economic value, right? And the comparison to a multilevel marketing scheme is extremely apt. Jemima Kelly All of which might explain why plenty of people are desperate for crypto to survive. Multilevel marketing schemes only work if new people keep buying into them. Jemima Kelly Jackson Palmer knows about the madness of crypto markets first-hand. A few years ago, he decided on a whim to create his own cryptocurrency.
You might have heard of it. There was a lot of something coins being released. And about a week or so later, somebody that I had never met before on Twitter kind of reached out to me. It was like, hi, you know, as a joke was just released as a real thing.
Be funny for a few days and everybody will forget about it. So we did that, assuming that it would, you know like most jokes, most memes kind of trail off and not really gain any adoption. But it did. And it was laughter it was just a joke.
The meme shows a picture of a breed of dog called a Shiba Inu looking somewhat askance at the camera. For a while, dogecoin became a bit of a hit within a kind of meme-friendly internet subculture who bought dogecoin for the LOLs. News clip What are cryptocurrencies? And lately, prices have been soaring for cryptos like bitcoin, ethereum, especially, dogecoin. Jemima Kelly You might recognise that voice.
He loved dogecoin so much that he was calling himself the Dogefather and he was regularly tweeting about it, too. There was a lot of hype. By the time Musk appeared on SNL, all the major exchanges were listing dogecoin and the coin had hit an all-time high.
For Jackson Palmer, the whole thing was absurd. Jackson Palmer Dogecoin just intrinsically of itself, when it remained as a joke, when it remained as something that was absolutely worthless, it was funny, and I think it was just an amusing kind of in-joke. And all the sharks in the industry kind of come around.
I can make a buck if I, if I build a business or extract profit from people. It might be a token that was designed as a joke, or it might be one that takes itself very seriously. Jackson Palmer Saying that, will the crash kill crypto, is kind of saying does people losing money when they go to Las Vegas turn people off Las Vegas and kill Las Vegas?
Even though people know that lots of people lose their life savings gambling that way, Las Vegas, they still flock there in droves. Belief in something. Jackson Palmer There are people that are literally losing their life savings right now because they were sold some vision about this being the future. Does that take crypto to zero? Crypto is a cockroach. Wajahat Mughal. I think the technology is still perfect.
The technology works. And I think that this space is just gonna become even better in the future. Chris Dixon I think of Web3 as a new era of the internet, new social networks, ways for creators to monetise games, just, you know, any kind of application that you see today on the internet, you can now build in a new way using Web3.
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