Caitlin Long is the Founder and CEO of Custodia bank. In this interview, we discuss the events that have led to three banking failures within a week, one of which saw the biggest bank run on record. We talk about anti-crypto coordination involving the US government, the inherent instability of the traditional finance system and how this is another signal that the game is up.
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As the saying goes, to lose one bank may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two banks looks like carelessness. How should we regard the loss of three banks within a week? To the uninitiated, this may look like a contagion, but it’s the impacts of two different systemic problems affecting two different markets: crypto and fiat. What it lays bare is the hypocrisy and instability of the traditional financial system.
The failures of Silvergate and Signature are rooted in the 2022 implosion in crypto. Precipitated by the collapse of Luna, we all know what followed: a nest of over-leveraged, hypothecated and fraudulent investments that fell like a house of cards. Who knows when it will end. Regardless, more recent failures seem to have been expedited by coordinated government action.
The obvious signal from the levers of power is that crypto is bad, and traditional finance is good. But what should have been an opportunity for the government to present the perceived weaknesses within digital asset markets, was significantly undercut by the biggest bank run in history: Silicon Valley Bank’s customers were withdrawing more than $1 million per second for 10 hours straight a little over a week ago.
The sorry mess is actually a clear vindication of Bitcoiners’ assertions that both crypto and fiat are both fundamentally unstable. The search for yield is endemic. The management of risk is too often criminally deficient. The argument is that narrow banking (full reserve banking) will suck deposits from risky banks, making risky banks even riskier, increasing systemic risk.
However, the system is becoming increasingly dysfunctional. Moral hazard seems endemic. Increasingly large bailouts are being used to keep the game going. The aim is to maintain the illusion that the financial system is stable. It is anything but, and everyone knows it. We’re entering a period on unknown risks. The time to change the rules of the game has long passed.