Peter Thiel claims “financial gerontocracy” is holding bitcoin back

Peter Thiel, the libertarian tech investor, on Thursday challenged some of the most powerful US financial figures over their criticism of Bitcoin, accusing them of trying to quash a now-powerful political movement.

Thiel, who made a name for himself as an outspoken man contrary and early Investors on Facebook, dismissed revered investor Warren Buffett as a “sociopathic grandpa from Omaha.” He also cast Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, and Larry Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock, as part of a “financial gerontocracy” that wanted to shut cryptocurrencies out of the mainstream.

His outbreak appeared before a cheering crowd at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami, where he described the cryptocurrency as part of a “revolutionary youth movement” bent on overthrowing traditional finance and threatening the power and wealth of the establishment.

Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal, has long argued that digital currencies could replace the current financial system. PayPal gave up on its own accord digital currency ambitions early in its existence to fit into the existing world of payments. Though it’s now worth $130 billion, Thiel described the online payments company as a disappointment compared to what it could have been.

In contrast, he claimed $830 billion worth of Bitcoin had the potential to rival all of the world’s $13 trillion worth of gold. With inflation rising and trust in fiat currencies falling, he also claimed that Bitcoin’s value could equal that of all public stocks, which are currently worth $115 trillion, just as gold had equaled stocks in the late 1970s.

In an arson attack, he claimed financial leaders deliberately attempted to suppress bitcoin to protect their own power. “It’s a movement and it’s a political question, whether this movement will succeed or whether the enemies of the movement will be able to stop us,” he said. Buffett, he added, is “enemy number one.”

Thiel became tech’s most famous right-wing figure in 2016 when he supported Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy and spoke at the Republican Convention that year.

On Thursday, he slammed the fad for environmental, social and governance investing, framing it as a core element of the system the financial institution uses to crush anything that threatens its power.

ESG has become a “hate factory for naming enemies,” he claimed, comparing its focus on social and governance issues to the way the Chinese Communist Party works. He also dismissed environmental investments as “a kind of fake”.

In a dig at companies that responded to pressure from politicians or employees on policy issues, he added: “Wake up companies are effectively controlled by the government in a way Bitcoin never will be.”

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