The past few months have seen a bevy of media stories circling around Stablecoin Tether (USDT), and some of its former executives, link a ring of sharks in the open ocean closing in for the kill. Such revelations include:
- Articles stating that less than three percent of USDT’s assets are pegged to U.S. dollars, with the majority actually staked against riskier commercial bonds.
- Reports of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s remarks that Stablecoins such as USDT pose a “systemic risk” to the current monetary system.
- Stories trumpeting the settlement of New York State’s Attorney General against Tether for nearly $19 million to end a probe that alleged a Stablecoin coverup of more than $800 million in losses.
- Media coverage asserting that a “run” on exchanges to convert Stablecoins such as USDT to U.S. dollars will bankrupt issuers causing a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
- As well as the latest chatter around the Department of Justice’s allegations of criminal conduct against certain former executives at Tether.
Together these stories seem to create a cascade of chaos and corruption for the third-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. Financial commentators and industry analysts across the Internet are wringing their collective hands that this USDT criminal case could bring down the crypto sector, ushering in a wave of regulatory oversight.
However, we need to keep some things straight.
First of all, a criminal investigation into a handful of executives does not mean an entire industry is corrupt. If that was the case the criminal investigation into executives responsible for predatory loans and credit default swaps leading up to the 2008 financial collapse would have meant the existing financial and banking system was corrupt.
Secondly, regulation is coming but if history is prologue, it will take lawmakers a long time to first learn the issues well enough to understand the necessary solutions. The only thing that takes longer than the legislative process is the judicial process. Speaking of which…
I’m not an apologist for Tether and I don’t own a single USDT, but the pursuit of a few past executives for alleged criminal wrongdoing seems overblown. If USDT was the only Stablecoin available, it might be concerning but USDT is fungible thanks to USD Coin, Binance USD, Dai…etc. There are other options.
Furthermore, even if criminal or civil financial penalties are levied against Tether, it’s likely to reach a negotiated settlement well before it reaches a conviction. There’s simply too much at stake for that organization to stonewall the Department of Justice. The allegations against the former executives will never go to trial, that’s why plea bargains exist.
And lastly, secretary Yellen and Federal Reserve bankers are basing Stablecoins for one reason – they are threatened. To say Stablecoins are a “systemic risk” to the existing money system is laughable. The greater risks are runaway money printing, reckless deficit spending, and quantitative easing.
To be crystal clear, there is no place in the crypto-space for bad actors, criminal activities, and fraud. But it’s very unlikely that the Tether investigation and potential criminal prosecution will result in far-reaching ramifications for cryptocurrencies.
Some may say Tether has a pattern of corruption that can’t be ignored. I would say the same holds true for half the politicians, regulators, and banking elite
On The Flipside
- Could the flames against USDT be fanned by the Digital Currency Group conglomerate which owns CoinDesk, Coinbase, and Circle as well as Circle’s Stablecoin USD Coin (USDC)?
- A few weeks ago Circle announced it would go public via a SPAC deal, with a projected initial public offering of nearly $5 billion.
- Circle’s USDC has been the fastest-growing Stablecoin of 2021, but it’s still second behind USDT in market cap. The negative media avalanche against Tether could not have happened at a better time for a Circle IPO.