Stephen Moore, the conservative economist who lost his shot at the Federal Reserve Board, is considering a role with a new kind of central bank altogether.
Moore may sign up with Decentral, a start-up that bills itself as a crypto central bank. It would regulate digital currency much as the Fed controls the U.S. monetary system, even as lawmakers are pushing for answers on how cryptocurrencies could affect global markets.
A crypto gig would be a significant pivot from Moore’s recent Fed aspirations, given that some economists contend cryptocurrencies undercut the Fed’s authority. But as a “pretty limited-government guy,” Moore told The Washington Post, he can get behind a private currency capable of competing with government-issued ones.
“I feel like cryptocurrency is like new Internet in terms of challenging the way we do business in America, and how we get information and how we do trades,” Moore said.
Moore said he would decide in the next month whether to join Decentral, which would exchange its own new token for other cryptocurrencies. His interest in the start-up was first reported by Fox Business.
“I just have a fascination with cryptocurrency,” Moore told The Post. “I think cryptocurrencies are the next big thing.”
Moore would report to Decentral’s co-founder and chief executive Sam Kazemian, who is also the president and co-founder of Everipedia, an online encyclopedia. The rest of Decentral’s team comes from crypto and technology start-ups or have political backgrounds, according to Fox Business. Decentral’s general counsel, Ralph Benko, had been deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House. Its chief marketing officer, Michael Gruen, advised President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Renewed interest in digital currency has helped propel bitcoin’s resurgence, which has jumped 190 percent this year. Last week, Facebook announced that its digital currency, Libra, which is set to launch as early as next year, would provide financial services to billions of people worldwide who don’t have access to banking. The move, analysts say, is Facebook’s shot at bringing cryptocurrency into the mainstream.
Analysts believe Facebook’s announcement helped lift bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency. On Tuesday, bitcoin hovered near $11,375 — a signal that investors have shed some of the skepticism that took hold after the bitcoin bubble burst in 2018 — its worst year on record. The digital coin had peaked well past $19,000 in December 2017, then went into a months-long tumble that bottomed out near $3,400 in January.
Yet Facebook’s announcement was also met with strong pushback from lawmakers already concerned about the tech giant’s handling of user data. Former congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who was crucial to reforms after the financial crisis, told CNBC that cryptocurrency “raises all kinds of alarms.” He said “there’s already a concern that Facebook is being used by bad actors to disguise their identity and pretend to be other people — cryptocurrency enhances your ability to do that."
Then there are concerns for how cryptocurrency could threaten markets on a global scale. The Financial Times reported that a Group of Seven working group was meeting to discuss controls against money-laundering, for example. The Financial Times noted the group will include central banks and the International Monetary Fund.
Moore described Facebook’s Libra as “the big kid on the block.”
“That’s a little daunting,” he said with a laugh.
A Heritage Foundation fellow and former columnist for the National Review and the Wall Street Journal, Moore abandoned his bid for a Federal Reserve seat in May following the uproar over his writings about women and other topics. Several female Republican senators pointed to columns he’d written saying that society would suffer if men were not the breadwinners of their families. He also denounced coed sports and said that female athletes do “inferior work” compared with men.
Moore also has argued for the elimination of child labor laws, joked about AIDS and said women should be allowed to referee sports only if they are attractive.
He apologized for his previous comments in an April interview with ABC News.
“They were humor columns, but some of them weren’t funny, so I am apologetic,” Moore told host George Stephanopoulos.