Hacker News
8 days ago by PragmaticPulp

The Tether situation is even more suspect when you consider that Tether and Bitfinex are operated by the same group of people. The two companies have tried to publicly distance themselves from each other at times, but the Paradise Papers leak revealed that the two companies are, in fact, closely related ( https://news.bitcoin.com/paradise-papers-reveal-bitfinexs-de... )

Keep in mind that Bitfinex profits from trading activity. They benefit substantially from both increased prices and increased volume, both of which occur after each Tether-driven surge in Bitcoin. The concern is that the Bitfinex operators are using Tether as a convenient pump to drive the market into a frenzy, from which they profit greatly by skimming trading fees off of the top. If only a fraction of people ever try to withdraw Tether, it's entirely possible that they could cash out those few requests from trading profits, indirectly. If they can continue to pump the value of Bitcoin higher and higher, any potential fraud may never be exposed.

8 days ago by nwah1

This all hinges on exchanges reporting USDT trades as if they are USD trades. This is only plausible if the spot price of Tether remains at $1. They will need to regularly inject money to keep the spot price of Tether at $1, but as you say the fees and ponzi can allow this as long as the number goes up.

The problem would come if the number stops going up and there isn't enough money to cover all the people dumping the Tether IOUs simultaneously. I assume they cannot cover $25 billion dollars of worthless IOUs. Even more if their assets are also simply bitcoin, which in such a scenario would also be collapsing in price.

8 days ago by washedup

My first reply was rather terse, so trying again, and I have a couple points:

1. Tether, even if fraudulent, has very little impact on bitcoin. How do I know this? There are currently 24 Billion dollars worth of tether in existence. The daily volume of bitcoin in dollars is almost three times that much. Even if tether wasn’t backed by dollars on a 1:1 basis, it would have a small impact on the current market cap of bitcoin. This is important because many people say tether is proof that bitcoin price is heavily manipulated and inflated. The reality is that selling $24 billion dollars worth of bitcoin won’t move that needle that much.

2. I have no reason to not trust tether. If it is one day revealed that there are no dollars backing the minting of tether, then so what? See point #1. People have been curious about Tether for years, and for good reason: it’s the first successful stablecoin (success in the sense that it actually gets used).

8 days ago by genericacct

Yes but the volume of traded tether has been higher than the volume of traded BTC for months by a significant margin. Look this up on coinmarketcap if you don't believe it.

Also let me remind you that market cap is really just a made up number. If only 1% of your company is floated and I buy all of it for a million dollars your market cap is 100 mil even though only 1 mil has moved.

8 days ago by floatingatoll

Do you have any conflicts of interest with respect to cryptocurrencies and/or stablecoins, such as personal investments in or employment in regards to them? Your comment history seems to indicate that since 2019 you’ve primarily commented at HN only to speak positively about cryptocoins, and so I’m curious if your financial welfare depends on them somehow.

8 days ago by washedup

Thanks for digging. Yes, of course I am invested. If I believed the things I say about them, it would be ridiculous not to be. Could you please instead address my response? What about my points do you disagree with?

Edit: I have no exposure with Tether and honestly don’t care what happens with it. But it is not artificially propping up the value of bitcoin or other currencies.

7 days ago by mekster

> Even if tether wasn’t backed by dollars on a 1:1 basis, it would have a small impact on the current market cap of bitcoin.

Are you joking? You seem to think the world works only by mathematical formulas but in fact if the crypto market is run by a shady stable coin, I'm sure there will be a huge panic sell with hundreds of news sites stating crypto market was run by fraud and bunch of blogs mentioning "told you so" further upsetting all investors.

I wish other legitimate stable coins gain more market cap to replace tether before it explodes in the face of traders.

8 days ago by atian

This may be a similar strategy to Binance's BNB token, where Binance operates BNB in a way similar to Bitfinex's "bailout" LEO token by committing their exchange revenue to token buybacks, forcing the token value to go up.

8 days ago by undefined
[deleted]
8 days ago by geerlingguy

Every time I read about Tether, it seems patently obvious there's something fishy about it. Yet every time the price of BTC just goes up and Tether keeps appearing out of thin air.

Will there ever be a consequence or endgame, or do we all just like watching things get pumped forever?

8 days ago by f430

The game of musical chairs will end at some point and somebody will be caught holding all the bags.

This is just how ponzi scheme works. I've seen people who I respected become Gordon Gekko pushing shitcoins and trying to get co-workers to buy their crypto

8 days ago by PragmaticPulp

> or do we all just like watching things get pumped forever?

The real problem is that so many people are invested in Bitcoin that they're not just watching, they're benefiting. At least on paper. People are too excited about the prospect of doubling or quadrupling or 10x-ing their money that they don't want to believe anything could be wrong with the system.

8 days ago by aeternum

And what fraction of USD do banks need to keep in reserve? What's the rate at which we 'minted' USD in the last year?

Even if we assume that Tether is 100% fraudulent and has zero reserves, that still only represents 24 billion of bitcoin's 600 billion market cap. Nothing compared to the USD that was 'minted' recently.

8 days ago by spiralx

The "market cap" of a cryptocurrency is a meaningless value. If I create a million coins and sell one for $1 that doesn't mean there's a million dollar market suddenly.

If the BTC market was really $600bn you wouldn't see the price regularly rising or falling 10% or more in a single day based around small numbers of trades.

8 days ago by xiphias2

For me it was quite the opposite. In 2014 I was so angry with the banking system just taking away money from Cypriot pensioners, I wanted to get out of it as soon as possible, and get into a system where I can verify that I'm the owner of the asset.

I went to Bitcoin and gold, but later got rid of my gold reserve, as it is manipulated even more heavily than Bitcoin price.

8 days ago by washedup

What seems fishy about it? Each tether is created when someone gives up a dollar. That’s why the conversion rate of dollars to tether is (almost always) 1. There is no mystery here. The only concern is that maybe they don’t have enough reserves to cover all the tether they created. They say they do, but there was some audit drama in recent years.

Anyway, this and other comments here all point to how much the Hacker News community grossly misunderstands markets and economics.

8 days ago by PragmaticPulp

How do you reconcile this:

> Each tether is created when someone gives up a dollar.

With this:

> The only concern is that maybe they don’t have enough reserves to cover all the tether they created

If they're accepting dollars and creating Tethers in exchange, then they should have 1:1 reserves as they claim, right?

The concern is that they're creating Tethers without having the cash to back it up, indirectly using those Tethers to prop up the price of BTC, and hoping that no one tries to withdraw Tethers beyond their ability to pay out.

For comparison, consider that Bernie Madoff ran his ponzi scheme out of his bank account for almost two decades. He created imaginary "profits" on paper and paid out "returns" to investors who wanted to cash out. The scheme worked as long as no one tried to withdraw enough returns to take his bank account balance below $0. The fear is that Tether is a similar scheme to inject fake money into the Bitcoin ecosystem, which can't realistically be proved unless people try to withdraw more USDT than Tether has in their bank account, at which point the system implodes.

8 days ago by im3w1l

The way I would reconcile it is:

1. Only create tether when someone gives up a dollar

2. Treat the "reserve" as your wallet, and use it to cover operational expenses or yachts or escorts or whatever

8 days ago by CamelCaseName

> Each tether is created when someone gives up a dollar.

This is an opinion, not a fact.

8 days ago by trhway

>Each tether is created when someone gives up a dollar.

> The only concern is that maybe they don’t have enough reserves to cover all the tether they created.

So, it sounds like selling 1 USDT for $1 the Tether people put, lets be optimists here, $0.1 into the bank as reserve and pocket $0.9. Or do i miss something here?

8 days ago by spiralx

More that nobody buys any USDT with $ at all, and then Tether announces that there are two billion new USDT, which are then used to buy BTC.

The trick is that lots of exchanges don't have any way to convert from crypto to real currency at all so use USDT as a stand-in, USDT's supposed backing 1:1 with $ means it's a stable place during crypto volatility, and it's next to impossible to actually get $ from directly exchanging USDT.

7 days ago by mekster

> Anyway, this and other comments here all point to how much the Hacker News community grossly misunderstands markets and economics.

And you think you're right that running a fractional reserve would not create any consequences if spotted?

8 days ago by cwhiz

Bitfinex and Tether have to submit documents to the New York state attorney general about their financial relationship.

These documents are due no later than tomorrow, January 15.

8 days ago by shp0ngle

Hey there surely is 24 billion USD sitting in an undisclosed bank in Bahamas or St Kitts and Nevis or Panama or somewhere

8 days ago by ckastner

This is exactly what I was thinking.

This is an immense amount of cash to manage, and management is not as trivial as it might seem, especially since it has to be kept liquid.

And accepting $2bn of new inflow in just one week, given how frequently and strongly crypto has been connected to illegitimate business (Silk Road, etc.) is borderline unbelievable.

8 days ago by electriclove

I don't know if this is FUD or legit, but something might take place with Tether on Jan 15? Anyone have more insight into these things? https://www.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrency/comments/ksdfne/why_...

8 days ago by washedup

There are many stablecoins. Right now tether continues to get most volume due to access to some major exchanges, but others could take its place. I don’t think it would be anything to write home about, though.

8 days ago by Scoundreller

> What happens on Jan 15th?

> Bitfinex and Tether have till the 15th of January to submit documents to the New York state attorney general about their financial relationship.

8 days ago by msoad

Amazing how unregulated this stuff is. What happens if USDT falls bellow 1 by a lot? Who's going to win and who's going to lose?

8 days ago by dcolkitt

If/when that happens a major casualty will be all the people yield farming stablecoins on DeFi platforms like Curve and Compound.

Right now staking dollar stablecoins looks like a pretty risk free way to make 5-10% per annum on your USD positions. The way you do that is by providing liquidity for trading back and forth between USDT/USDC/DAI and other stablecoins. If USDT ever breaks a buck, then there will be a run on the pools and all your USDC/DAI will suddenly convert to now worthless USDT.

8 days ago by ed25519FUUU

Questions like that are meaningless to greedy people.

8 days ago by anonymouse008

I struggle to avoid the knee jerk reaction to classify Tether as the Federal Reserve of BTC.

Can someone please explain how this either right or wrong?

8 days ago by alexmingoia

It’s an apt comparison for the US dollar before they abandoned fractional reserve banking in 1971. The US went bankrupt, having more foreign dollar holders requesting their gold than they had gold.

But now the US dollar isn’t redeemable for anything, so they can’t go bankrupt.

8 days ago by anonymouse008

So I guess Tether is ‘on that path’ — if it ever goes bankrupt it’s perfectly situated to knight itself crypto-inflation czar.

8 days ago by alexmingoia

Sure, Tether may become worthless but I doubt Bitcoin will. Bitcoin gained a lot of value before Tether existed. Tether could disappear and Bitcoin may still continue to strengthen.

8 days ago by conception

Tether has no actual money to back its valuation.

8 days ago by ineedasername

Well, they do seem to have reinvented fractional reserve banking.

The "fraction" is unknown though, with unwillingness to provide details and a vague assertions from someone that it's "fully backed". But, you know, you have to take his word for it.

8 days ago by spiralx

They claimed 74% a while back IIRC, with the rest being in some unspecified combination of loans and other assets.

8 days ago by biot

So it's a bit like the realization of this insightful comment? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16242224

8 days ago by ed25519FUUU

Or aircraft carrier.

8 days ago by DSingularity

Last I checked, tether is created when USD is deposited in a bank in Hong Kong.

That makes tether something very different than the federal reserve which can just conjure money and give it to the banks.

8 days ago by 40four

Here't another post I made that does a really good job at explaining the whole Tether history and current situation. There is a rapidly approaching deadline for them to provide documents to the New York Attorney General, folks are very anxious to see how this court situation plays out and hopefully illuminate their relationship with Bitfinex.

Coincidence that there is a huge bitcoin ralley, and massive Tehter 'printing' going on right now? We shall see :) Get your popcorn ready!

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25771225

8 days ago by 1experience

They are the equivalent of an unregulated bank in the 1900s before deposit insurance, they will stay afloat as long as they keep up appearances and don't make stupid mistakes.

However the moment they create a catalytic event, the entire house of cards falls down. The equivalent of a bank run.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE5klz0yUT0

8 days ago by BelenusMordred

The New York Attorney General proved in court they had at least 95% in cash deposit backing.

How much does your bank have again? Last I looked in most places on Earth it's a few percent although the US removed any cash requirement so no one even has to report it anymore. I guess you folks will argue "well we have guns" but step and think about how that looks. Sounds like the mob to me.

Hating crypto is fun and cool yeah, but being wrong over and over again for so many years must really hurt. Please put your money where your mouth is, no one seems willing to do so these days and I truly wonder why. Playing that "market can remain solvent longer than you" nonsense is ridiculous, the overhead on buying bitcoin futures going short is a fraction of a percent, supposedly "low-cost" ETF's charge nearly a magnitude more.

Shorting bitcoin tether is literally a few clicks away for everyone on the planet, why not go bet everything you have on it. Watching all these people so proudly sure of themselves yet somehow you aren't all the richest people in the room? Please consider the very real possibility you are completely wrong and have been for years while mindless repeating this crap.

Tether itself is a short on bitcoin, billions are stashed away in it, if it collapses all the coins will rise as people race for the exits.

You could rolling in it right now or you could just be another one in this list:

https://hn.algolia.com/?q=tether

Choose your own adventure friend.

8 days ago by throwaway9d0291

> The New York Attorney General proved in court they had at least 95% in cash deposit backing.

I think that's a deceptive mischaracterisation of what the NYAG has done, unless you have more information than what I found.

The NYAG has accused [0] Bitfinex/Tether of misappropriating up to $900M (which I'm guessing where your missing 5% comes from) of Tether's reserves to cover up some other dodgy stuff they were doing.

But absence of lawsuits covering the other 95% doesn't mean that the NYAG has "proven" that the rest of the money is there.

> Please put your money where your mouth is, no one seems willing to do so these days and I truly wonder why.

> Shorting bitcoin tether is literally a few clicks away for everyone on the planet, why not go bet everything you have on it.

Speech isn't pay-to-win. Nobody has to bet their life savings shorting Bitcoin futures in order to participate in a discussion.

[0]: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-29/crypto-ex...

8 days ago by 1experience

The New York Attorney General proved in court they had at least 95% in cash deposit backing.

Can you provide a source for this claim?

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