Cryptocurrencies surged this afternoon (after being dragged lower in the equity volatility chaos) as the much-fear regulatory-hearing today surprised many with a “thoughtful not dismissive” sentiment.
As Liberty Blitzkrieg’s Mike Krieger notes, it’s not often you’ll hear me say positive things about a U.S. government regulator, but I nearly fell out of my seat when I heard what the Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Christopher Giancarlo, said at today’s hearing with the Congressional Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
In case you missed it, here’s his opening statement:
With your permission, I’d like to begin briefly with a slightly different perspective, and that is, as a dad. I’m the father of three college age children, a senior, a junior and a freshman. During their high school years, we tried to interest them in financial markets. My wife and I set up small brokerage accounts with a few hundred dollars that they could use to buy stocks, yet other than my youngest son who owned shares in a video game company, we haven’t been able to pique their interest in the stock market. I guess they’re not much different than most kids their age.
Well something changed in the last year. Suddenly they were all talking about Bitcoin. They were asking me what I thought, and should they buy it. One of their older cousins, who owns Bitcoin, was telling them about it, and they got all excited, and I imagine that maybe members of this committee may have had similar experiences in your own families of late.
It strikes me that we owe it to this new generation to respect their enthusiasm about virtual currencies with a thoughtful and balanced response, not a dismissive one, and yet we must crack down hard on those who try to abuse their enthusiasm with fraud and manipulation.
That’s just about as good as you’re gonna get from a government regulator. Beyond the fact that he’s advocating an entirely reasonable approach, I was shocked to see how well he had his finger on the pulse of one of the most significant and often overlooked aspects fueling Bitcoin and crypto assets overall, the generational factor.
This is something I’ve touched on in the past, most specifically in the post, The Generational Wheels Are Turning:
The financial crisis of 2008/09 similarly shattered the worldview of tens, if not hundreds of millions of people across the globe. I believe that the old manner of doing things as far as organizing an economy and society died for good during that crisis and its aftermath. Sure it’s been shadily and undemocratically propped up ever since, and we haven’t yet transitioned to what’s next, but for all intents and purposes it’s dead. It’s dead because it has no credibility.
Increasing numbers of people accurately see the institutions that currently manage our lives as outdated and corrupt. More importantly, many of us don’t want to simply replace the current crop of unethical people in charge with a new bunch, we want to completely change the way things are done at a systemic level. This is precisely what lies at the heart of Bitcoin, as well as decentralized, trustless systems in general. If there’s any fundamental lesson from history it’s that human beings cannot be trusted to use power and authority altruistically and wisely. As such, it’s imperative that we distribute those things as much as possible.
If you aren’t observing what’s currently happening with regard to Bitcoin’s ascendance (and crypto assets more broadly) from a generational perspective, you’ll completely miss the big picture. The Baby Boomer generation, which has dominated so many aspects of our country for so many decades — including the overall narrative of everything — is finally heading off into the sunset.
The perspectives of an entire generation of young Americans were forged during the corruption and lawlessness of the financial crisis. They know the financial system is a rigged fraud, and they know they got ruthlessly swindled before even graduating high school. They inherently understand these things, which is why they’re attracted to Bitcoin and not equity and debt securities. This is the exact backdrop that Chairman Giancarlo described in his opening statement, and I doubt this outlook will change any time soon.
When I see old finance people sound off on Twitter, the level of condescension, arrogance and ignorance toward Bitcoin is striking. It’s as if they haven’t talked to a person under 30 in the past decade, or if they have, they just ignore everything they have to say. Who do you think is going to shape the future of this world? Dismiss younger generations and mock their worldview at your own peril.
As I noted in my prior post:
If you want to try to figure out where we’re headed, you need to get out of your own head and into the minds of younger generations. While it’s fun to mock millennials and avocado toast, this is one of the most systemically screwed over generations in a long time. Thrown into the job market in the midst of an economic collapse, they watched their parents lose their homes while Wall Street got bailed out. These are lessons and experiences that stick around for life and fundamentally shape how one sees the world. The younger generations aren’t going to be interested in tinkering around the edges of the current paradigm, they’re going to want to replace it entirely. They have no loyalty to a system they’ve witnessed do so much damage.
I didn’t expect a U.S. regulator to get this, and for that I am thankful. So thank you Mr. Giancarlo, for having an open mind and listening to your children. After all, they’re the ones who will have to live on this earth a lot longer than us.
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