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Crypto critic Nouriel Roubini: MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor a ‘coke addict’

Three days in, CoinDesk TV had its first controversy in an interview with prominent Bitcoin and cryptocurrency critic Nouriel Roubini, who also called Tether a “criminal enterprise”

Three days in, CoinDesk TV has had its first potentially litigation-worthy comments.

Professor Nouriel Roubini, a long-term and very vocal opponent of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, was interviewed on Feb. 10 by CoinDesk First Mover hosts Christine Lee, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and CoinDesk editors Christine Parker, and Lawrence Lewitinn—Modern Consensus’ founding editor.

When asked about institutional investors buying bitcoin Roubini, an NYU economics professor, launched into a diatribe about the first cryptocurrency not being an asset but a “speculative bubble”—which he’s said many times— before calling MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor a “coke head,” accusing Elon Musk of “market manipulation” and saying stablecoin-issuer Tether is a “criminal enterprise.”

CoinDesk’s video streaming service launched on Feb. 8, offering a number of live daily and weekly programs, anchored by First Mover, which begins at 9 a.m. ET. The show “will capture real-time, rapid movement in the market and set the tone for the opening of the trading day,” according to the release. “First Mover will focus on top news for global investors.”

Roubini said bitcoin had no income, use or utility and that the value of “bitcoin like all the other shitcoins are worth zero.”

At about 6:15 into the show Roubini said: “For institutional investors to say, ‘We’re going to invest into crypto’ doesn’t make any sense. You have a failing company that had a flat stock—like MicroStrategy—for a decade, and its head who’s a coke addict, decided that to bet the entire house on Bitcoin. That’s irresponsible behavior. There’s not going to be any corporate head who’s going to put his cash into something so volatile.”

MicroStrategy did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Roubini then moved on to call Elon Musk’s endorsement of Bitcoin shortly before announcing Tesla’s $1.5 billion investment “market manipulation” that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission should investigate.

As the hosts laughed, Roubini immediately segued into Tether. “Tether is a criminal enterprise,” he said. “In a bunch of ways insiders are manipulating the price of bitcoin and other shitcoins, day-in, day-out. That’s a fact.”

Those allegations have been made before, most notably in a series of class action lawsuits that blame Tether and sister company Bitfinex for the entire 2018 bitcoin winter, and demands damages of $1.4 trillion.

Updated at 9:06 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2021 with a new, funnier picture of CoinDesk editor and Modern Consensus founding editor Lawrence Lewitinn reacting to one of Nouriel Roubini’s claims.

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.