From the beginning, I had thought that crypto was pretty dumb. And it turned out to be even dumber than I imagined. There was no mass movement to actually use crypto in the real world. The crypto apps hyped as the future of finance and art barely worked. As I crisscrossed the globe, from El Salvador to Switzerland to the Philippines, all I saw were scams, fraud, and half-baked schemes. By the end, I’d find myself in Cambodia, investigating how crypto fueled a vast human-trafficking scheme run by Chinese gangsters.
I’d grown up reading Lewis’s books, including Liar’s Poker and The Big Short, and when he and Bankman-Fried first came onstage, I was excited to hear insights from the guy who taught me how Wall Street blew up the world economy with collateralized debt obligations. Instead, Lewis said he knew next to nothing about cryptocurrency. But he seemed quite confident that it was great. He went on to opine that, contrary to popular opinion, crypto was not well suited for crime. Lewis posited that U.S. regulators were hostile to the industry because they’d been brainwashed or bought off by established Wall Street banks. I wondered if he somehow hadn’t heard about the countless crypto scams, but the thought seemed preposterous.
“You look at the existing financial system, then you look at what’s been built outside the existing financial system by crypto, and the crypto version is better,” Lewis said.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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