It is not exactly the most thrilling of endorsements for bitcoin.
In an interview with the New York Times, Stephen Bannon, former chief strategist to President Trump, disclosed that he has a “good stake” in the cryptocurrency. Bannon, who founded the rightwing publication Breitbart and is infamous for reportedly crafting the so-called Muslim ban, is also considering starting a new venture associated with the cryptocurrency. The venture could take the form of investments in initial coin offerings (ICOs) using his business Bannon & Company or developing a new crypto coin called “Deplorables Coins” (a reference to Hillary Clinton’s description for President Trump’s supporters) or, even, helping countries develop new cryptocurrencies. (See also: White House Adviser Stephen Bannon Wants 44% Tax On Income Over $5 Million).
The interview smacks of of the populist statements that have come to be associated with Bannon and one that propelled the current president to power. Bannon refers to bitcoin as “disruptive populism”. “It takes control back from central authorities. “It’s revolutionary,” he says. He also rails against central banks who “debase your currency” and refers to US citizens as “slaves to debt.” Cryptocurrency entrepreneurs are “visionaries”, according to him.
According to Timothy Lewis, a hedge fund manager who discussed cryptocurrencies with Bannon, Bannon has “done his homework” and is knowledgeable about regulations concerning crypto and ICOs. He also said that the former Breitbart editor is especially interested in creating cryptocurrencies that are tied to specific assets within a country, such as a cryptocoin in Italy backed by its marble deposits.
An Ironic And Not So Surprising Interest
Bannon’s interest in bitcoin is not surprising, given his political leanings. Bitcoin’s story, that of a financial instrument developed in response to a financial crisis resulting from government policies, is in and of itself attractive to libertarians interested in less government in their lives.
But Bannon’s interest is also ironic. News coverage of the cryptocurrency on the site he founded has been less-than-flattering. In an interview with the American Prospect earlier this year, Bannon made fun of “ethno-nationalism” and expounded on “Economic Nationalism” to make his case for a trade war with China. (See also: Trump's Likely Asian Trade War Targets). Bitcoin is borderless and not beholden to any world government. Bannon also might not like the fact that bitcoin’s price is said to be controlled by China because it has the most miners of the cryptocurrency and is home to some of the largest crypto exchanges.