‘Economic And Financial Catastrophe’—Yellen Issues Stark $31.4 Trillion Warning After Bitcoin, Ethereum And Crypto Price Boom

BitcoinBTC -1.2%, ethereum and cryptocurrencies have been catapulted back into the limelight this year by the U.S. regional banking crisis that could be just getting started.

05/8 update below. This post was originally published on May 6

BitcoinBTC -1.2%, ethereum and cryptocurrencies have been catapulted back into the limelight this year by the U.S. regional banking crisis that could be just getting started.

The bitcoin price has almost doubled since falling to lows of around $15,000 per bitcoin late last year, with ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, climbing along with it—despite cofounder Vitalik Buterin issuing a serious bull run warning.

Now, another ethereum cofounder, Charles Hoskinson, who went on to create ethereum rival cardano, has warned the banking crisis is going to be worse than the 2008 global financial crisis that led to the creation of bitcoin.

bitcoin, bitcoin price, ethereum, ethereum price, crypto, Charles Hoskinson, image


“In 2008, we had $373 billion in tied-up assets,” Hoskinson, who created ethereum along with Buterin, Joe Lubin and five others in 2014, told Fox Business, referring to to the combined $373 billion in assets that failed banks held in 2008.

CardanoADA -1.3%, which Hoskinson created in 2016, has become the world’s seventh-largest cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of $13 billion, compared to bitcoin’s $566 billion and ethereum’s $232 billion.

“I think we’re over $540 billion now just in the 2023 crisis. We’re just getting started. That whole business model is falling apart when you give it a little bit of a push and then you lose these institutions like Silicon Valley Bank and they get so politicized and they get so globalized.”

05/8 update: U.S. Treasury secretary Janet Yellen has warned the U.S. hurtling toward a “constitutional crisis” that risks “economic and financial catastrophe” if the U.S. $31.4 trillion debt limit isn’t raised. “If Congress fails to meet its responsibility, there are simply no good options,” Yellen said in an ABC interview.

U.S. lawmakers have come to an impasse over lifting the debt ceiling, which Yellen warned could be broken through as soon as June 1. This week, Biden is scheduled to meet congressional leaders for talks to try to resolve the stalemate.

“If they fail to do it, we will have an economic and financial catastrophe that will be of our own making, and there is no action that president Biden and [the] U.S. Treasury can take to prevent that catastrophe,” Yellen said.

In March, sudden deposit flight from Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank forced the Federal Reserve to step in with emergency measures but panic spread to Switzerland’s Credit Suisse, which had to be rescued by rival UBS.

This week, regulators seized First Republic BankFRC -5.2% and sold its assets to JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets.

“Our government invited us and others to step up, and we did,” said Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, who played a key part in the 2008 financial crisis. JPMorgan, which already held over 10% of total bank deposits in the U.S., will see its net deposits increase by 3% as a result of the deal, according to Wells FargoWFC -1.9% analysts.

“What’s going to happen is ‘too big to fail’ is just going to lead to bigger institutions,” Hoskinson said. “We’ve seen this story in 2008. And this is the rerun. I don’t think anybody wants to watch it.”

The 2023 banking crisis has been partly triggered by the Fed’s rapid series of interest rate hikes over the last year, with rates this week climbing to levels not seen since before 2008 in an attempt to rein in soaring inflation.

Others have meanwhile warned the banking crisis could balloon out of control if confidence in the system is restored.

“Confidence in a financial institution is built over decades and destroyed in days. As each domino falls, the next weakest bank begins to wobble,” Bill Ackman, chief executive of the New York hedge fund Pershing Square, posted to Twitter.

“We are running out of time to fix this problem. How many more unnecessary bank failures do we need to watch before the FDIC [Federal Deposit Insurance corporation], and our government wake up? We need a systemwide deposit guarantee regime now.”