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A representation of bitcoin is seen in an illustration picture taken on...

Bitcoin is a solution looking for a problem

Almost one year ago, billionaire Peter Thiel threw $100 bills into the crowd from the stage at a cryptocurrency conference in Miami, likening fiat currency to toilet paper and touting bitcoin as the best alternative. Thiel has said that central banks are "bankrupt" and that the fiat money regime is coming to an end. Since his Miami proclamations, bitcoin’s price has fallen by nearly 40%, though in the last few weeks after Silicon Valley Bank’s failure it has had a resurgence. That suggests people think that Thiel is onto something. Those following his advice are sorely misled.

TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew testifies before a House Energy and...

TikTok pile-on opens two cans of worms

American lawmakers see TikTok as a problem. Yet the bipartisan attack on the short-form video app, owned by China-based ByteDance, really points to two different complications – and each, in turn, opens up a much bigger can of worms.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference about...

Market nerves tie US rate-setters’ hands

Jay Powell is well outside of his comfort zone. On Wednesday the central bank raised interest rates a quarter point. Yet two weeks ago, before a confidence crisis hit U.S. banks, he was intimating he would jack them up even higher. As his attention bends in new ways, so must his principles.

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington

Fed’s self-scrutiny starts off on the wrong foot

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank came as a shock to many of its customers and investors. It ought not to have surprised the Federal Reserve, though. Central bank staff had flagged in January that the tech-adjacent lender was at risk of possible cash shortages. The Fed is now investigating how its supervision of SVB could have been better. But it’s a stretch to think the institution, with its tangled, partly centralized structure, can conduct a warts-and-all review.

Illustration shows UBS Group and Credit Suisse logos

Swiss CoCo shakeout may yet help bank regulators

Switzerland’s forced merger of Credit Suisse with UBS has caused a real stink. The $250 billion market for contingent convertible bonds is reeling after the stricken Swiss lender was obliged to wipe out its own ones. Yet if the ensuing higher cost of issuing these “CoCo” securities means banks roll over their maturing debt rather than replace it, bank supervisors may still get a silver lining.

TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022.

Benefits of US political accord accrue to TikTok

TikTok has one incentive to keep American politicians united. When Americans bicker about political issues, U.S. media outlets like CNN and Facebook steal eyeballs. But when they get along, they seem to have more time for TikTok. As Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew goes in front of Congress this week, he might remember that benefits can accrue to him if representatives remain cooperative.

General view of Riyadh city, after the Saudi government eased a curfew,...

Saudi is far from the last Western bank bagholder

Saudi Arabia has joined the Western bank bagholder club. Saudi National Bank (SNB), 37% owned by the kingdom’s $600 billion Public Investment Fund, admitted on Monday that its $1.4 billion swoop for 10% of Credit Suisse had gone sour after the latter collapsed into the arms of UBS. The good news for SNB Chairman Ammar Al Khudairy is that his $1 billion-plus loss is neither the first nor the last time an eastern investor will take a big bath on a U.S. or European financial group. 

A person walks into the lobby of the Signature Bank headquarters, in New...

Signature Bank buyer gets a crisis dividend

Financial crises often force regulators and politicians to do things they normally wouldn’t. And one thing U.S. watchdogs definitely don’t do is wave through bank mergers. The failure of lender Signature Bank has forced them to abandon their consolidation-skeptic principles, resulting in a sizeable crisis dividend for Signature’s new owner.

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