On April 7, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivered the first speech on digital assets during her term. The speech is an early reaction to President Biden’s March executive order for agencies to coordinate cryptocurrency policy efforts. It is, in that respect, the first response of its type from any agency.
Yellen took the stage to Stevie Wonder’s Superstition and departed to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Have You Ever Seen the Rain, creating a noteworthy contrast between a clean, modern lecture hall and 50-year-old pieces of Americana.
Yellen’s speech was devoid of surprises, and she seemed to be careful not to panic cryptocurrency stakeholders. Instead, she carefully framed cryptocurrencies and her predictions for their regulation with respect to historical precedents.
Yellen said, “A crisis accelerated change,” referring to Alexander Hamilton and the private banknotes that led to the National Banking Act under Lincoln.
What does this imply in terms of cryptocurrencies? Cryptocurrencies and the companies that manage them, as suggested by others in the administration, most prominently Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler, come entirely under current regulatory classifications.
Despite this, Yellen continued the President’s Working Group’s drive for new stablecoin legislation. However, she did not publicly back the PWG’s first attempt to limit stablecoin supply to insured depository institutions
On Wednesday, she spoke before the House Financial Services Committee on the state of international finance, with a particular focus on the Treasury’s sanctions against Russia. The Treasury had sanctioned Russia-based darknet market Hydra and its related crypto exchange, Garantex, the day before, which Yellen addressed in her two following appearances.