Billionaire investor Charlie Munger, who is also the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, called for a ban on cryptocurrencies and likened it to sexually transmitted diseases.
"I wish it had been banned immediately, and I admire the Chinese for banning it," Munger said at the annual meeting of the Los-Angeles-based newspaper publisher Daily Journal Corp, which was held virtually. "I certainly didn’t invest in crypto. I’m proud of the fact I've avoided it. It's like a venereal disease or something."
When asked about his view on crypto, Munger said he regards Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as "beneath contempt". "Some people think it's modernity, and they welcome a currency that's so useful in extortions and kidnappings [and] tax evasion," he said.
This is not the first time when Munger has lashed out at crypto. The long-time business partner of Warren Buffett had earlier compared cryptocurrencies to gambling and called it "rat poison".
The 98-year-old also warned of other "wretched excesses", including the flood of venture capital into startups. "Certainly the great short squeeze in GameStop was wretched excess, certainly the Bitcoin thing is wretched excess," Munger said. "I would argue that venture capital is throwing too much money too fast, and there’s a considerable wretched excess in venture capital and other forms of private equity."
Earlier this week, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor T Rabi Shankar called for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the country, terming it "perhaps the most advisable choice open to India". He went on to state that the arguments in favour of regulating cryptocurrencies do not stand up to basic scrutiny.
"We have also seen that cryptocurrencies are not amenable to definition as a currency, asset or commodity; they have no underlying cash flows, they have no intrinsic value; that they are akin to ponzi schemes, and may even be worse. These should be reason enough to keep them away from the formal financial system," Shankar had said.
The Union Budget 2022-23 had proposed a hefty 30% tax on all profits from digital assets and a 1% TDS on all transactions involving such assets from April 1, 2022. Any losses from sale of digital assets cannot be offset against other income, the Budget had proposed.
Last week, finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman clarified that banning or not banning cryptocurrencies in India will come subsequently after consultations. Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the finance minister clarified that taxing crypto income does not mean that the government is legalising cryptocurrency. "Not doing anything to legalise or ban cryptocurrencies," she said while talking about the government's decision to levy 30% tax on gains from virtual assets.