Beware the dangers of crypto regulation

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:

No matter how strong the temptation, we should not overregulate.

Begin with two central facts. First, there are numerous ways for small and large investors to lose their money, including by investing in risky equities. Regulating crypto won’t end that danger. Second, despite being one of the largest financial frauds in history, FTX has not created systemic financial risk, which should be the main concern of regulators. And market forces already have made the risk from crypto much smaller: At the peak of crypto values in late 2021, crypto assets had a total value of about $2 trillion; as of this writing, that figure is about $845 billion.


Crypto regulation is not easy to do well. If crypto institutions are treated like regular depository institutions, requiring heavy layers of capital and lots of legal staffing, crypto innovation is likely to dwindle. Such innovation has been more the province of eccentric geniuses than of mainstream regulated institutions. It is hard to imagine Satoshi Nakamoto or Vitalik Buterin at Goldman Sachs.

And what exactly should be the goal of crypto regulation? To make stablecoins truly stable in nominal value? Is that even possible? Or to encourage market participants to see those assets as inherently fluctuating in value?

Neither academic research nor market experience offers clear answers. With systemic risk currently low, perhaps it is better to wait and learn more before moving ahead with regulation. And on a purely practical level, very few members of Congress (or their staff members) have a good working knowledge of crypto and all of its current wrinkles and innovations.

There is much more of value at the link.


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