I am going to write a long article/rant against the Tether conspiracy. The reason is not that I have any vested interested, it’s not that I like the guys and secrecy of their project and it’s not that I don’t like transparency in general. But as with all conspiracy theories they need some sense of logic and I am here to provide this without insider knowledge. Just rational thinking as an investor.
What is Tether?
Tether is a *centralized* cryptocurrency run by the same people that run Bitfinex, one of the first and biggest exchanges. It’s ticker is USDT and you can find it in almost every cryptocurrency exchange. It has a price tied on the US Dollar but that is precisely the issue of the conspiracy theories. They claim that Tether is not actually tied to the dollar and that it’s value is used to prop up the value of Bitcoin. I will break down both arguments rationally.
Is it backed by USD?
First of all there is evidence from the long trial of NY attorney that is going on for ages. So let’s first understand something. Tether and Bitfinex is providing a worldwide service for cryptocurrency which is NOT legal tender in every country and has many rules and regulations. Therefore it’s totally unrealistic to think of it as a normal bank that needs to be super transparent to its shareholders. It provides a certain service to the cryptocurrency community that is supposed to not want to be traced. Now on the matter of if it is backed or not, this trial has revealed that it was indeed backed until a foreign government(s) froze part of their money supply in the order of 20% or so. After that they did a reverse ICO on Bitfinex and got the money supply they wanted. Now other reasons to debunk this theory if you are thinking straight:
- It is absolutely impossible for all the cryptocurrency exchanges that deal with millions of volume to not know if something is wrong and expose themselves to systemic risk like that. It is like saying that JP Morgan doesn’t know if their Gold suppliers are scammers or not. Yes they do if they are the same suppliers for all the big banks. And in the end, if they are scammers, anyone reading this article is in no way to tell and know more about the truth.
- Tether has had an audit (although not complete and controversial) that was done by a firm founded by US Federal Judges who would put their reputation in front if they were attesting to a scam. You can find the relevant article here.
- Tether has kept its price peg. That is extremely important because in the open market if I know that Tether is unbacked that means that I should short sell it because the price will drop. But the price hasn’t dropped. When FUD was abundant the Bitfinex guys were actually buying their reserves on discount! That is incredible because they made money on people speculating on their reserves that they knew (I suppose!) that were there.
First of all I will start by saying that nobody knows when the Bitcoin market is going up, down or sideways. There are too many variables and unknowns even to the higher echelons of Bitcoin hodlers (see whales). As an example a Japanese liquidator was selling en masse Bitcoins in 2018 in the open market without anybody knowing it. Also, bubbles get created by pure mania. Nobody needed Tether to pump in 2017, you could go in taxis and the cab driver would tell you to buy altcoins! Nevertheless there are at least 2 opposing studies done by universities where one finds that it was indeed the culprit and the other one finds that price was irrelevant and no wrong doing. You can chose your medicine here. The fundamental fact that newbies scream about in the forums and it’s absolutely driving crazy is this:
Tether is supposed to “print” more when exchanges ask for liquidity because of increased deposits.
It is extremely tiring to read every day on reddit that “Tether prints another 4 million USD” kind of posts that assume that this is money that is non-existent. No, that’s not how it works. On the opposite side, Tether also burns tokens, something that very few know, realize and understand. So the act of adding liquidity is obviously correlated to the price because liquidity increases when big market movements are coming. That doesn’t and can’t prove of manipulation. There was this famous Bitfinexed account on Twitter that went silent. A guy that was obsessed for years and years with Bitfinex.
I am not saying that Bitfinex and Tether are legit. I am saying that as an investor I need to take a critical look at what’s going on and stop hearing cassandras. Yes maybe they are scammers and maybe they will default. If this happens it means that most or *all* of the cryptocurrency exchanges knew and nobody said a thing. That means that you know better than the NY attorney that confirmed they were in possession of at least 80% of their reserves and the other ones were confiscated. To make things simple, your local bank doesn’t have 80% reserves today if needed. I hope I am correct because Tether could take down the price of Bitcoin a lot if it fails but it won’t be a death blow for sure. There are other stablecoins that are gaining traction (see GUSD,USDC,DAI).
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