Nouriel Roubini Says Blockchain Is the “Least Useful Technology in Human History”

Nouriel Roubini made his name predicting the 2007-2008 financial crisis, and he’s been predicting financial crises ever since (with mixed results). When you’re known as Dr. Doom, you need to keep spreading it.

These days, Roubini is forecasting a market meltdown in 2020 and offering views on blockchain and cryptocurrency. And he doesn’t hedge those views. While many commentators will make a distinction between good uses for blockchain/crypto and bad uses, Roubini paints the whole shooting match as one long, unalloyed scam. There’s no bitcoin-bad, blockchain-useful two-step. There’s no “yes, there’s fraud, but token sales are an interesting way to start a business.” There’s no nuance at all. In written testimony to the US Senate today, Roubini, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, just opens up and lets a whole industry have it.

We picked out a few incendiary quotes from Roubini’s 37 page jeremiad. (We also found plenty of typos in the document (e.g. “krypto-kitties”), which we’ll be forwarding to the Banking Committee as a public service.)

On bitcoin
“Until now, Bitcoin’s only real use has been to facilitate illegal activities such as drug transactions, tax evasion, avoidance of capital controls, or money laundering.”

On alt-coins
“Actually calling this useless vaporware garbage a ‘shitcoin’ is a grave insult to manure that is a most useful, precious and productive good as a fertilizer in agriculture.”

Blockchain bloodbath
“Now that the crypto bloodbath is in full view the new refuge of the crypto scoundrels is ‘blockchain’, the technology underlying crypto that is now alleged to be the cure of all global problems, including poverty, famines and even diseases. But…blockchain is the most over-hyped–and least useful–technology in human history: in practice it is nothing better than a glorified spreadsheet or database.

On crypto millionaires moving to Puerto Rico
“Under the high-flatulent pretense of wanting to help the millions who lost homes and their livelihood to the hurricane by using “blockchain” and new crappy crypto-currencies these literal blood-suckers live in super-luxury mega mansions in the island and use the island’s tax laws to enrich themselves and avoid paying their federal taxes. They are emblematic of a widespread crypto culture that shamelessly pretends to care about the billions of poor and unbanked just to enrich itself. At least the Wolf of New York had no pretense of wanting save the world, end global poverty and the tragic misery of a Puerto Rico devastated by a hurricane.”

A “self-serving ideology”
“A bunch of self-serving greedy white men – very few women or minorities are allowed in the blockchain space – have pretended to create billions of wealth out of nowhere while pretending to care about billions of poor and unbanked human [sic] around the world. It is a total pretense as crypto-land is the most centralized scam in human history where greed for Lambos and ostentatious consumption is greater than any Gordon Gecko ever.”

Miners in dodgy countries
“Most of these miners are in non-transparent and authoritarian countries such as Russia and China. So we are supposed not to trust central banks or banks when it comes to financial transactions but rather a bunch of shady anonymous concentrated oligopolists in jurisdictions where there is little rule of law?”

Not like the early days of the internet
“Crypto and blockchain are not like the early years of the internet that was booming in every dimension in its first decade; it is instead literally collapsing and imploding in every possible dimension. It is a failing set of technologies.”