The dramatic collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange, FTX, may have come as a shock to the Miami Heat, Tom Brady, Twitter bots and financial-news talking heads. But crypto is following a well-worn path of financial innovations, such as subprime mortgages and credit-default swaps, that began with dazzling rewards and ended with crippling losses.
Proponents say crypto holds great promise for making the financial system more efficient and inclusive. Maybe. But we’ve heard that story before. History is littered with financial schemes promoted by criminals and charlatans who claimed that the latest and greatest tools had evolved beyond the need for regulation or a cop on the beat. During the 2008 collapse and every financial crisis before that, these claims have proved dangerously delusional. Crypto is no exception.
FTX’s implosion should be a wake-up call. Regulators must enforce the law before more people get cheated, and Congress must plug the remaining holes in our regulatory structure—before the next crypto catastrophe takes down our economy.
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