Regulate now or regret it later, United States Federal Reserve Board vice chairperson Lael Brainard told an audience at a Bank of England conference in London on Friday. Crypto has the same basic risks as tradition finance and needs “strong guardrails,” Brainard claimed, pointing to the recent downturn in market as proof. 

Brainard spoke the most general terms throughout her speech. She highlighted recent performance issues in cryptocurrency, such as volatility, correlation with risky equities, liability to bank runs and other risks associated with traditional finance, and over-collateralization as a stress amplifier. As crypto becomes more integrated into the more extensive financial system, the need for regulation in response to those risks will become more urgent, she said.

Brainard endorsed “the principle of same risk, same disclosure, same regulatory outcome.” She also urged international cooperation among financial regulators to deal with the cross-border scope of the crypto industry. The latter appeal echoes the conclusions of a U.S. Treasury Department report released a day earlier.

Two specific areas aroused particular concern in the Fed official. The first was bank involvement with crypto increases the risk of the stability of the core financial system. Brainard said that bank involvement should be encouraged because it “provides an interface where regulators have strong sightlines.” In spite of her endorsement of the “same risk, same disclosure” principle, she seemed to argue for different treatment for crypto here, stressing that a “strong…


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