In perhaps one of the more surprising interview statements from the banking industry, ex-CEO of UBS and Credit Suisse Oswald Gruebel has openly voiced his support for Bitcoin and distrust of fiat currency.
Speaking to Cash.ch, Gruebel criticized the inability of banks to prevent economic crises, while championing gold and Bitcoin as credible long-term investment opportunities.
“The only investment that demonstrably keeps its value over a long period is gold, and in future perhaps also bitcoins.”
The context surrounding Gruebel’s admission highlights how unexpected his words were. Despite having a fairly open policy towards digital currency industry, Switzerland, the banking capital of Europe, has seen some particularly vehement – and high profile – opposition.
Only two months ago, Citibank released a report as part of its retaliation against the Save Our Swiss Gold initiative, describing Bitcoin as being “without intrinsic value,” “costly to produce and store” and even “fiat currency.” The Swiss National Bank (SNB) also shied away from gold itself ahead of the initiative-backed referendum on repatriation of Switzerland’s gold reserves.
A counterargument from one of banking’s former major players highlights misalignment within the industry.
“Take the total assets of the SNB. In the shortest of periods they went from being worth 50 billion francs to 550 billion. I'm amazed that people were able just to accept that.”
Gruebel stated that bank weakness would continue to have an increasing detrimental effect on the global economy.
“Capital requirements mean that in future, banks will no longer be in a position to take advantage of their position as market makers,” he explained. “That means that they'll no longer be buying when rates sink, and no longer be selling when they rise. It simply costs too much in terms of capital... Therefore markets can tumble a lot faster than in the past...”
Regulators also tellingly came in for criticism.
“When I went to Credit Suisse in 2007, regulators told me, ‘Your risk management at CS is a lot worse than at UBS,’” he added. “A year later this was rebutted. There you can see how regulators can fool you.”
Gruebel’s statements on Bitcoin were immediately lauded by many in the digital currency community, but as yet no supporting evidence has been had to indicate his true openness towards Bitcoin’s propagation domestically or internationally. One thing for certain, however, is Gruebel’s aversion to money-printing, which comes as little surprise from one of banking’s wealthier veterans. He concluded:
“Central banks can print money limitlessly and these days they are telling us that openly. It's therefore no longer recoverable.”
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