Nouriel Roubini is a professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business at New York University and an economic consultant who has been nicknamed "Dr. Doom" because of his dire economic predictions. He is also the cofounder and chairman of the firm Roubini Global Economics. He is widely credited with predicting the popping of the U.S. housing bubble and resultant economic collapse that began in 2007.
In 2009 Roubini predicted that U.S. financial losses from the crash would more than triple to $3.6 trillion. He has advocated nationalizing U.S. banks, saying that most of them were insolvent. He has also called for an overhaul of the international bank regulatory framework.
In June 2011, Roubini published an article on the impending breakup of the eurozone and issued statements at an interview in Singapore suggesting that crises facing the global economy would come to a head in 2013.
Roubini has long been an outspoken critic of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, as well as notable figures in the crypto and blockchain space. In October 2018, Roubini called cryptocurrency "the mother or father of all scams and bubbles" while testifying at a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. He said that everyone he knew that was actively involved in cryptocurrency trading was "financially illiterate," and "could not tell the difference between stocks and bonds." The same month, Roubini accused Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin of instigating "the criminal pre-mining sale/scam that created Ether" over Twitter. He said the two "stole 75 percent of the Ether supply and became instant 'billionaires' of fake wealth." Buterin responded over Twitter by saying he "never personally held more than 0.9 percent of all ETH" in circulation, and that his net worth "never came close to $1 billion." He also said that there are "no criminal laws against pre-mining." A story published by Forbes in February 2018 estimated Buterin's net worth at $400-$500 million.
Roubini has even commented on the use of the word "sh*tcoin," saying that referring to fraudulent or useless cryptocurrencies in such a way constituted "a grave insult to manure that is a most useful, precious and productive good as a fertilizer in agriculture" during testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs On October 11, 2018 (the written text of the testimony provided by Nouriel does not use an asterisk).
In December 2018, Roubini appeared in Coindesk's number one "Most Influential in Blockchain 2018." The list included ten other figures related to the crypto and blockchain space, including Changpeng Zhao, Elizabeth Stark, and Jed McCaleb.
In June 2019, Roubini was interviewed by the Financial Times' Alphaville. In the interview, he discussed his feelings on Facebook's cryptocurrency project Libra, which was in development at the time. In the interview, Roubini said that Libra is "blockchain in name only," as the technology doesn't use a proof-of-work function to verify P2P transactions, it's permissioned and centralized, and it is not trustless, and that the Libra token "is either a security, and thus to be regulated by security regulators, or it is a bank that will need a bank license and needs to be regulated accordingly." Roubini said during the interview that he believes the creation of Libra is a power play by Facebook designed to counteract the U.S. government's attempts to exercise anti-trust policies to curb the power of big tech firms. He also said that Facebook was trying to "become the central bank of the world with a coin that, if successful, will have systemic risks," since the stablecoin will supposedly be linked to a "basket" of different fiat currencies, meaning users of the Libra token will be "subject to massive currency risk."
In October 2019, Roubini offered a slight concession, saying that "maybe bitcoin is a partial store of value but it's not a unit of account, it's not a means of payment, it's not scalable...in spite of its rally earlier this year, it's lost 60 percent in value since its peak, so I don't see it going anywhere frankly."
Deconomy 2019 debate with Vitalik Buterin
At the Deconomy 2019 conference in South Korea, Roubini participated in a debate with Vitalik Buterin about the value of digital assets. Some highlights from the debate include Roubini saying that the anonymity of crypto will not last, that any government "that wants to take over your wealth" will find a way to tax and register those with cryptocurrency, and that centralization of miners is "becoming oligarchical." Although the Deconomy crowd frequently booed Roubini, he remained firm in his stances.
"Release the tape you coward!"
At a debate on cryptocurrency in Taiwan in July 2019, Roubini took the stage with BitMEX founder and CEO Arthur Hayes. Later dubbed the "Tangle in Taipei," the debate involved Roubini deriding the scalability and functional effectiveness of bitcoin as a payment system and asset, while Hayes argued that bitcoin had made "impressive" progress over the last decade.
Attendees at the event were not allowed to record the debate. Hayes, who held the sole rights to recording it, announced that he would release an edited video of the debate emphasizing highlights from it. Roubini accused him of "censoring" the debate, demanding he release the full, unedited footage for the public. He posted a critical and derisive tweet at Hayes, saying, "Another @CryptoHayes scam: he didnt allow the blockchain conference to record our debate and beam it live. He controls the only recording of it and will only release heavily edited "highlights". I destroyed @CryptoHayes in the debate and he is hiding. RELEASE THE TAPE YOU COWARD!"
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