Biden looks to crypto bill to squeeze Putin, establish central coin
Joe Biden will sign an executive order this week outlining the United States’ policy surrounding cryptocurrencies and digital assets, Bloomberg’s Allyson Versprille and Jennifer Epstein report.
The executive order was originally slated for February, but was reportedly delayed due to a disagreement between the White House’s National Economic Council and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (Treasury spokesman John Rizzo denies this account.)
According to Bloomberg’s Saleha Mohsin, the dispute was over the Biden team’s desire to use the EO to create a digital dollar issued by central banks. Yellen, former Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, holds the position that the Fed should be allowed to continue to work on the topic and “develop thinking.”
Though the disagreement slowed progress through February, Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine and global calls for economic repercussions reignited the urgency for a digital asset framework. A bipartisan chorus of anxious lawmakers, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Lindsey Graham, have voiced concerns that Putin will be able to skirt sanctions using cryptocurrency.
Biden’s top intel chief seemed to quell the fire of the crypto freak out today though, testifying to Congress this morning that undermining sanctions through cryptocurrency would be “challenging.”
Despite the schism between Biden’s cabinet over the idea of a federally backed coin, his plan will indeed compel agencies to prepare reports on digital assets later this year, according to Bloomberg’s reporting. Versprille and Epstein tell us that roles and duties for the various federal agencies, including the State Department and Commerce, are being issued in the bill.
Amidst unprecedentedly harsh and expedient sanctions on Vladimir Putin, his defense industry, and Russian central banks, the United States also imposed a partial ban from SWIFT (the global financial telecommunication system that links virtually all banks worldwide) on most Russian banks.
To make matters worse for Putin, a number of companies including Shell, Visa, and American Express, announced they would stop doing business with Russia
– and for the cherry on top Biden announced he would be banning Russian energy imports to the U.S.
Cutting off Russia’s seeming last line of financial defense is a logical next move for the west, though a difficult one to be sure. Cryptocurrency’s inherent decentralized nature makes it difficult to trace and even harder to restrict. The mechanism through which the U.S. apply sanctions to cryptocurrency (if they chose to do so) could have massive effects on the application of the technology and set precedents on how governments handle blockchain and decentralized finance for decades to come.