US Presidential Hopeful Elizabeth Warren Cautious, But Not Anti-Crypto

Colin Muller

In keeping with the US tradition of absurdly long political election campaigns, Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts who takes a cautious attitude toward cryptocurrencies, is officially “exploring” running for president of the US in 2020.

Warren has burnished her credentials in US politics since 2008 by being vociferous in her criticism of the lack of oversight and regulation which, she maintains, led to the recession. She was the original force behind the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a regulatory body charged with policing the behavior of large swaths of US financial and banking sectors.

Warren on Crypto

In keeping with her general suspicion of high-volatility financial products, her views on cryptoassets - undeniably ultra-volatile assets - are lukewarm, but not necessarily hostile.

During an October Senate panel on the subject of cryptoassets and how to respond to and regulate them - featuring a sort of showdown between crypto-skeptic Nouriel Roubini and crypto-advocate Peter Van Valkenburgh - Warren commented (at around 44-45 minutes):

The challenge here, I think, is for us to try to figure out how to nurture the productive uses of virtual currencies, while [at the same time] protecting consumers from scammers and other [...] threats.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren was (perhaps justifiably) wary of the overheated ICO bubble of 2017 and early 2018, agreeing with assessments that the majority of them were “scams” or otherwise dubious offerings that ripped off inexperienced retail investors.

Her conclusions do not seem to greatly diverge with the prevailing attitudes of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the US regulatory body now charged with considering which cryptoassets will be classified as securities products. If elected president, we can probably expect Warren to support policies consistent with the views of the current SEC chairman, Jay Clayton.

Peter Van Valkenburgh, at the aforementioned hearing, has lauded the way the SEC has handled the emerging asset class, saying that the agency has “made very careful and deliberate policy here - I think they’ve done an excellent job.” To this Warren responded:

But what I’m hearing you saying, at its core, is that an unregulated market puts consumers at risk, and what’s critical is to get the right regulations in place.

Elizabeth Warren

Valkenburgh agreed.