Bradley Tusk is the founder and CEO of Tusk Ventures , a venture capital firm that works with and invests in high-growth startups facing political and regulatory challenges.
In this opinion piece, Tusk discusses what he feels is the hypocrisy in recent statements from JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon on bitcoin.
Jamie Dimon made news again on Tuesday when he savaged bitcoin specifically and cryptocurrency generally, calling it a fad even worse than the tulip craze, and promising to fire any JPMorgan trader who dealt in bitcoin.
But that couldn’t be farther from the case. Rather, Dimon’s comments encapsulate an outdated mentality whose very existence explains why there’s a demand and need for cryptocurrency in the first place.
In the U.S. alone, trust in major institutions (like Dimon’s) has plummeted. People distrust government: Congress enjoys a roughly 10 percent approval rating and the president’s is already below 40 percent People distrust organized religion just as much: the scandals plaguing the Catholic Church over the last two decades have helped decimate public trust in the moral authority of religious institutions across the board (even with a popular Pope now in place).
At least a third of the country (Trump’s hardcore supporters) distrust the mainstream media, if not more. Faith in Wall Street never recovered after the financial crisis (financial institutions across the country faced significant fines and sanctions for their reprehensible actions).
Between the controversies over safe spaces, guest speakers, commencement addresses and free speech, our universities lack anything resembling a clear moral compass.
And compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. is doing pretty well.
Much of Latin America – Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina – is in political shambles. The Middle East is even worse. The EU is still on shaky ground. Russia? North Korea? If you don’t have faith in your government, your religious leaders, the media, the banks, financial leaders, and academic leaders, then you want – actually, you need – an alternative.
That’s why so many people are desperately seeking both a safe haven from the volatility of their own currency and homeland, and for a way to connect with others who think like they do – whether they share a common passport or not.
Will bitcoin itself definitely succeed? It may not. Any given currency or exchange certainly could fail and prove Dimon right in the short term.
But will cryptocurrency go away? No. This is not a monetary version of Esperanto. Faith and trust, like anything else, needs somewhere to go during a vacuum.
If you don’t feel comfortable that Jamie Dimon is looking out for the general public (and the $20-plus billion JPMorgan has paid in fines for ethical lapses over the past few years makes it hard to argue otherwise), if you don’t really trust your senator or president to put your interests first, if you think the people who used to claim moral authority now lack it, you need someplace to go. That’s true intellectually and it’s true economically.
Smart leaders in finance will see the potential and demand for crypto, embrace it and make sure their institutions and shareholders can both participate and benefit. People either afraid of change or unable to recognize it will scoff. The best case outcome for them is they’ve retired before they’re ultimately proven wrong.
Either way, Dimon’s comments only underscore why crypto is necessary and why it isn’t going anywhere – whether he likes it or not.
Tea kettle image via Shutterstock