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October 20, 2022

Acting FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg’s Framework for Evaluating the Known Serious Risks and Speculative Benefits of Crypto and Digital Assets Strikes the Right Balance

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, issued this statement following the remarks by Acting Chair of the FDIC Martin Gruenberg at an event today at the Brookings Institution entitled “Regulating digital assets: The prudential perspective”:

“As crypto and other digital assets proliferate along with promoters’ claims they will address many of society’s most pressing needs, regulators and policymakers face multiple, daunting challenges regarding the many novel and complex risks they pose.  They must determine which claims of innovation have merit and social value or purpose; how to prohibit or best regulate them; and how to enforce existing laws to protect investors, consumers, markets, and financial stability.  That all must be done while the benefits of crypto and digital assets, if any, are unknown and speculative, but the downsides are clear: millions of Americans are being ripped off, losing billions if not trillions of dollars in an emerging industry where lawlessness and criminality are far too prevalent.

“Acting Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (‘FDIC’) Martin Gruenberg addressed these complicated, interrelated challenges with an analytic framework that strikes the right balance most likely to enable the real benefits to be realized while simultaneously minimizing the well-known downsides.  His measured, thoughtful, deliberative, and data-driven approach has five key guideposts: ‘accessibility, convenience, efficiency, safety and soundness, and consumer protection.’ This approach will enable the identification, understanding, and assessment of the merits, if any, of digital asset related activities as well as the destabilizing risks and multiple consumer protection issues. This, and the requirement for supervisory approval of crypto activities at banks, is the right approach and is aligned with the other prudential regulators, Federal Reserve Vice Chair for Supervision Barr and Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu.

“Thus far, the prudential regulators are to be applauded for having successfully protected the banking sector, traditional financial system, and taxpayers from the $2 trillion collapse of crypto assets and the crypto carnage that caused.  While that resulted in massive losses for investors, failed crypto companies, and so-called stablecoins proving they are actually un-stablecoins, there was no systemic instability or taxpayer bailouts. Acting Chairman Gruenberg’s balanced, methodical approach, guided by protecting investors, consumers, markets, and financial stability, is most likely to ensure that the banking sector and taxpayers will continue to be protected while they nonetheless get the benefits from real innovation that has demonstrable social value.”

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Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies—including many in finance—to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.org.

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