The chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have commented on cryptocurrencies at this week’s Milken Institute Global Conference.
Christopher Giancarlo, chair of the CFTC, likened Bitcoin to the baby boomer generation’s rejection of past societal norms through their experimentation with ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll.’ Meanwhile Michael Piwowar, commissioner of the SEC, stated explicitly that Bitcoin should not be considered a security, but that most initial coin offerings (ICOs) have been illegally organised and operated according to existing regulations.
Is Bitcoin This Generation’s Rock and Roll?
Giancarlo spoke about Bitcoin during a presentation titled, ‘Financial Regulation: New Era, New Regulators’ on Monday. Rather than dismissing it outright as many associated with traditional finance have, the chair of the CFTC called for ‘respect’ for ‘this generation’s interest’ in Bitcoin. He continued, citing the financial crisis of 2008 as spurring interest in the financial innovation:
“There is something going on here that is generational. Just as the baby boomer generation lost faith in the leaders that came before them and tried to seek a cultural change in those days through sex, drugs and rock and roll, I think there is a generation that also has lost faith in us that led them through the financial crisis and they see technology as a way of disintermediating institutions for which they don’t have a great deal of respect.”
According to a report from Reuters, he surmised the current fascination with cryptocurrencies as being a struggle to fit dated principles of law to ‘new and different applications.’
During the same presentation, Piwowar turned the attendees’ attention to the craze of ICOs.
He stated that he believed every ICO he had personally looked at should be deemed a security. Piwowar then went on to classify securities under three general categories: registered public offerings, exempt offerings, and finally, illegal securities. In his own words:
“If you are not falling into the first two buckets, we’ve said we’re coming after you. Bitcoin itself is not a security but these customised tokens for these initial coin offerings, most of them are. There is some legitimate stuff going that is on and then there is literally the fraud ones.”
For those who are unaware of what the Milken Institute Global Conference is, you can think of it as a global think tank that discusses practical ways to widen access to capital and promote prosperity. They hold various conferences every year with some rather eclectic speakers and panellists.
The institute’s flag ship event, this week’s global conference, featured the likes of primate expert Jane Goodall and five-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady, along with more typical speakers from the world of global finance. The comments on cryptocurrencies were just a very small part of the entire event’s program.