Pierre Poilievre will say just about anything

It’s not that people don’t like seeing bankers get mad: it’s a subplot in several major movies. In a conservative leadership campaign defined by convoy eulogies and high school burns, Pierre Poilievre said also takes time to attack the Bank of Canada. On Sunday, former bank governor David Dodge replied, “well, those are bulls —” on a national talk show† You don’t see that every day.

Perhaps you will, however. The Ottawa-Carleton MP appears to be in charge of the Conservative leadership race, thanks in part to predatory, distorted attacks on institutions at a time of global uncertainty. The Bank of Canada has been targeted thanks to the surge in inflation, which is largely due to the war in Ukraine and oil prices, housing prices, China and COVID, and perhaps some profiteering. People notice the economy of the wallet.

In response to this thorny global financial challenge, Poilievre is blaming domestic spending and buying bank bonds to support government deficits — he has always been against pandemic financial aid to Canadians — and is pitching… Bitcoin? That attack on the Bank came after research found that five percent of Canadians owned Bitcoin between 2018 and 2020, mostly young men whose Bank described low financial literacy. Pierre, courting such young men, shot back that the bank was financially illiterate. Poilievre has also presented Canada as a global cryptocurrency leader, proposed banning a government version, and sold Bitcoin as a way to opt out of inflation.

Making economists look at Poilievre the way a plumber would look at your plan to build a cardboard toilet: confusion, annoyance. Bitcoin as the password for healthy money has more or less been renamed the gold standard, and former Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz has already noticed that a fixed money standard has historically increased the risk of deflation and depression.

But who listens to experts, am I right? Perhaps you could see Poilievre’s Bitcoin pitch simply as the broader trend of selling crypto: buy Bitcoin, make big money, forgo inflation, the dream. He’s like Matt Damon telling people that fate favors the brave so he can afford a new boat or something.

But Bitcoin has fallen 50 percent since November as part of a larger cryptocurrency slump, with one estimate finding 40 percent of holders underwater. It could just rise again. But it is not stable.

His attacks on the Bank of Canada are equally reckless. He wants the Bank to focus on keeping inflation as low as possible while knowingly challenging lines of attack that could undermine its ability to do so. Inflation expectations affect wage expectations, which affect prices, and if the market thinks the Bank of Canada isn’t serious about cutting inflation, inflation isn’t slowing.

Perhaps Poilievre really doesn’t understand. More likely, he just doesn’t care.

“It’s easier to hit your goal when people think you’re going to hit your goal,” said Trevor Tombe, an economist at the University of Calgary. “If they think you’re not going to hit your goal, then you have to lean a lot harder on them, which means higher interest rates, lower economic growth, higher unemployment. And the Bank will do it, (if necessary).

“It is not new for politicians to oversimplify complex problems. I mean, that’s their go-to strategy. I think this is dangerous that it aims to undermine key economic institutions in the country.”

However, everything is easier if you are not worried about the consequences.

And if your idea of ​​freedom includes the convoy, it’s even easier. Jessica Marin Davis is the president of Insight Threat Intelligence, a former senior strategist in Canadian intelligence, and the author of a book on international terrorist financing. She points out that of the money sent to the Ottawa convoy, the vast majority of the million or so was frozen through crowdfunding sites, leaving about $30,000. But more than $830,000 came in through cryptocurrency.

“With the crypto, we know there were some high-profile donations, but the problem is a lot of the donations were made from wallets that weren’t attributed to individuals, so we just don’t know,” Davis says. It’s not necessarily anti-crypto: it points to its usefulness in moving money across borders.

“On the other hand,” Davis says, “it’s super useful for money laundering, and it’s super handy for other forms of illegal financing, and it’s somewhat useful for terrorist financing. And I’d say it’s somewhat useful for other forms, like financing criminal mischief, as we saw in the convoy.”

Really, the simplest line to Poilievre’s bit is that if your goal is to hammer freedom on an audience that felt that wearing masks was an imposed obligation, that vaccines were a conspiracy rather than a collective victory, and that angry or confused by what is happening to the world then Bitcoin is just another ambitious buzzword indicating that the world does not have to work the way you are told. Poilievre has been pumping conspiratorial theories about gatekeepers for much of the pandemic; He still does it† He will say just about anything, and that opens the door to all kinds of conspiracies, all kinds of anger, all kinds of extremism.

Which in a world ravaged by complex problems is indeed reckless, and even, in the words of at least one leading former chief banker, bulls—. But there seems to be a market for that these days.

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