Timothy Geithner, the Former Treasury Secretary, was asked by Fusion’s Jorge Ramos about bitcoin, and if he would invest in the nascent digital currency: “No, I wouldn’t,” he said, when Ramos asked him to acquire bitcoins. Ramos asked Geithner if bitcoin had value.
“It depends what your objective is,” he added. “As a way to save money, as an investment vehicle? No. It’s a very volatile thing. As a way to make payments? It’s got some risks because its value fluctuates hugely over time. So, it’s got a lot of challenges.” Geithner, always rigorous, admits: “I’m the wrong person to ask,” Geithner said. “I don’t think I really understand it.”
But Geithner could help Bitcoin. It’s just, he probably won’t. Some Bitcoin analysts claim that, with a majority of mining power located in China, a volatile amount of the Bitcoin network is dependent upon nodes behind The Great Firewall. That’s one uncertainty surrounding Bitcoin.
Yet, there are numerous experts, who have deep experience in Chinese and Asian affairs, who could help create an action plan should China decide to crack down on Bitcoin mining. This would create a crisis in Bitcoin production and undermine the network’s security. One of these experts might be plenty maligned by Bitcoin’s hardcore followers: Timothy Geithner.
Blythe Masters, former “most powerful woman on Wall Street” and blockchain technology firm Digital Asset Holdings CEO, asked Geithner – who now leads Warburg Pincus as CEO – to join DAH’s board, but he turned down the offer to join the blockchain project. But, Geithner might be of more help in the Bitcoin underground, not in the monied blockchain projects of Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the Ivy Leagues.
Geithner’s experience in Asia Studies could prove valuable to a Bitcoin space in which much influence has been acquired in Asia, reportedly due to cheap hardware and energy costs. Geithner has experience managing complex hierarchies, as demonstrated by his management of TARP as Head of the NY Fed and Treasury Department. Geithner is also familiar with software, as demonstrated by the Turbo Tax error in which he failed to pay some of his taxes (he later did).
In this youth, Geithner lived in East Africa, India, Thailand, China and Japan. At Dartmouth College, he studied Chinese and Japanese, earning degrees in government and Asian studies. Geithner achieved his master’s in International Economics and East Asian studies in 1985 at John Hopkins. He later joined the Treasury Department staff around 1988, starting a decade-long career in government which would see him in charge of what the USA Today called the most powerful position in government amid financial crisis: Treasury Secretary.
Geithner is a quick learner, by all reports, and, at the age of 54, is young enough to understand the technological realities of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. His coolness implies he might win over the hearts and minds of bitcoiners, who, as well-documented, have a bountiful mistrust of authority. As Ounce.Me describes:
Geithner admits readily the bailouts created moral hazard in the markets but that not bailing out the banks would have been destructive. During that time, the hardest decisions were “consequential”; good ideas were “cool”; better ideas were “compelling”; and the best ideas were at “the optimal frontier.”
Geithner believed that during a crisis “plan beats no plan,” and that bad results were “dark.” Geithner disliked the “theatre” of the job as Treasury Secretary, and, sometimes, he’d just admit in discussions, “I have no fucking idea.”
But, it’s likely, Geithner would stay far away from Bitcoin. He’d be a blockchainer.
If Geithner entered into the blockchain space, you can be certain he would enter center stage, working with the biggest names in the space, like R3 CEV and IBM. In terms of the former – the banking consortium known as R3 – he probably knows many powerful representatives of the member financial institutions. Makes sense why Masters requested his services.
Nevertheless, when it comes to online creation communities built upon hardware and cheap energy, a keen knowledge of Asian cultures and geo-political realities can help the self-organization process. Bitcoiners will have to find their own Geithner.
Image from Shutterstock and Wikipedia.