Tensions appear to be running high in the financial space between crypto critics and supporters. Cryptocurrency has always been a divisive topic in the business arena, but the situation seems to have devolved further. This observation is based on the events that transpired at the recent Global Conference of the Milken Institute.
The Blockchain is Bulls**t
What was supposed to be an intellectual discussion among brilliant minds in the field of finance soon turned into a cacophony of verbal tirade. Noted crypto critic and NYU economics professor, Nouriel Roubini was in the thick of things, throwing a few colorful words at his fellow panelists.
The NYU professor also drew attention to the fact that crypto exchange platforms, which are necessary to process cryptocurrency transactions, are mostly centralized. Thus, Roubini believes the vulgar epithet is an accurate description of blockchain technology’s true nature.
He also mentioned the fact that bitcoin is a bubble, adding:
“This was a bubble, [the] ones who arrived late to the party are the suckers.”
Alex Mashinsky, the CEO of Celsius, and another panelist at the discussion took exception to Roubini’s foul-mouthed diatribe especially after the latter admitted that he hadn’t bought any cryptos. Mashinsky aimed a retort at Roubini, saying:
“Why don’t you buy one coin and then tell us how it works.”
Another panelist, Bill Barhydt also got in on the action, comparing Roubini’s comments to those of a horse salesman trying to convince people not to buy combustion engines. Barhydt is an ex-CIA cryptographer and is currently the CEO of Abra.
Crypto Believers Conjure Up “Facts”
Not one to back out of a confrontation, Roubini interjected other panelists at every turn. When the notion that cryptos could replace the banking system was introduced, Roubini said crypto enthusiasts were “making things up,” to which Mashinsky responded that everything the professor had uttered was irrelevant.
Roubini countered the claims being made of the potential for cryptocurrencies to be used in everyday transactions by saying that the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains were incapable of handling the same transaction volume as Visa Inc. However, it’s too early to comment that since technology is still evolving with Bitcoin’s Lightning Network and Ethereum’s Casper are trying to solve scalability problem.
Anna Irrera, a Reuters journalist and moderator of the panel had to call for a timeout in a bid to dowse the tense atmosphere. Brett McIntosh, the U.S. Treasury general counsel, even light-heartedly said the Fed might need to step in and moderate the panel.
This discussion panel isn’t the first time Roubini has criticized bitcoin and the blockchain technology. In February 2018, he declared that bitcoin was favored by “charlatans and swindlers,” and that its value would soon plummet to zero.
Roubini famously predicted the 2008 global financial crisis, and as a result, he is referred to as Dr. Doom. He isn’t the only notable figure who isn’t sold on cryptos. Warren Buffet and a host of other mainstream financial experts are staunch critics of the pioneer cryptocurrency. On the other side of the aisle, the crypto believers say the naysayers are only trying to spread FUD.