Steven Mnuchin says he's 'concerned that consumers could get hurt' by bitcoin investing

steven MnuchinTreasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Mark Wilson/Getty Images

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Treasury is closely following the growth of cryptocurrencies, particularly bitcoin.
  • Mnuchin addressed the possible government shutdown, the debt ceiling, and the new tax law during a talk at the Economic Club of Washington DC.
  • Mnuchin also said that going to a rally with President Donald Trump is “like showing up with Mick Jagger to a Rolling Stones concert.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that he is concerned about the risks to consumers associated with the recent surge in cryptocurrency investing.

Mnuchin was asked during an event at the Economic Club of Washington, DC, about the recent uptick in interest in cryptocurrencies, specifically bitcoin, and whether the Treasury is planning to regulate trading of the asset.

Mnuchin said the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a group within the Treasury that assess risks in financial markets and recommends regulation, has established a working group on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to evaluate the risks to investors and possible negative uses of the asset.

“I am concerned that consumers could get hurt,” Mnuchin said.

The former hedge fund executive said that while there are existing laws to track the use of cryptocurrencies, he is worried about some of bitcoin’s usage.

“We want to make sure that bad people cannot use these currencies to do bad things,” Mnuchin said.

The Treasury Secretary also said that there was no need for a “digital dollar” or an established crypto alternative to the US dollar.

Mnuchin also hit on a variety of policy topics. He said:

  • There will be no shutdown — he said either Congress will pass a full funding bill by the January 19 deadline or a short-term extension.
  • Congress should raise the debt ceiling, but he would not commit to abolishing the limit altogether.
  • The Internal Revenue Service will need to hire “a significant number of people” to implement the new GOP tax law.
  • The IRS is looking into technology to fill the “tax gap” between what the government should collect and the lower amount it actually typically does collect.

In addition to policy, Mnuchin also talked about his relationship to President Donald Trump. According to Mnuchin, attending his first rally with Trump was “like showing up with Mick Jagger to a Rolling Stones concert.”

Mnuchin said that when the pair flew on Marine One — the president’s helicopter — Trump has said “your building is bigger than my building,” in reference to the Treasury building that sits adjacent to the White House.  

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