Please don’t take financial advice from Cynthia Lummis.
Time to Log Off is a weekly series documenting the many ways our political figures show their whole asses online.
This week, the vast and nebulous cryptocurrency market that’s spawned an entire ecosystem of wildly fluctuating digital money did perhaps the first widely predictable thing it’s done since rising to prominence: It began to crash, and crash hard. Really hard. Like, “at least half a trillion dollars wiped out in just a few days” hard. Around 40% of people who’ve bought into Bitcoin — likely the most widely known beep-boop currency out there — are now underwater in their investments, and thanks to a catastrophically bad earnings report from Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the country, the b-word (bankruptcy) is being bandied about with alarming frequency in regard to both users, and perhaps even the exchange itself.
An exhaustive tick-tock of what’s behind the infamously regulation-averse technology’s downward spiral isn’t all that important here. What matters, instead, is that millions of cryptocurrency holders — many of whom invested significant, and sometimes life-altering sums into the wild churn of digital money — are suddenly learning that a deeply speculative latticework of unsupervised grift and inflated value might not be the best way to safeguard your financial holdings, actually.
Then again, there’s also Wyoming Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis, the so-called “Bitcoin Senator” who has anywhere from $150,000 to $350,000 invested in that particular ephemera. Speaking with HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney on Thursday, Lummis apparently looked around at the crypto conflagration happening this week and decided now is the right time to encourage the public to buy, buy, buy, baby! Because, as she put it “you can buy it at a discount right now.”
Technically, that’s true. Bitcoin’s value is deeply discounted at the moment — down 50% over the past six months. But that’s because the past week has shown how wildly unstable and unreliable it is. For someone who claimed just this fall that crypto isn’t a competitor to the U.S. dollar, but rather “an alternative saving instrument for people who, like me, are concerned that the U.S. dollar saved will be worth far less than when it’s deposited in savings,” the fact that a lot of folks who did just that have had those savings wiped out doesn’t seem to phase her.
As with so many of these sorts of market-based speculatory gambles, there will inevitably be people who come out even wealthier than before, if not at least relatively unscathed. Those people will by and large be the already-rich, who are in a position to absorb the seismic upheaval to the crypto ecosystem, and — as Lummis recommended — “buy it at a discount right now.” But for plenty of ordinary investors who, for better or worse, found some momentary value in our latest iteration of tulip mania, buying at a discount just isn’t an option anymore. And if Lummis doesn’t at least have the good grace to acknowledge the crypto bubble bursting as we speak, then she should probably do us all a favor, and log off.