Crypto bankruptcy: FTX founder Bankman-Fried in an interview with Handelsblatt

Good morning dear readers,

rarely has the face of a crisis looked so harmless as this. Sam Bankman-Fried, a chubby, curly-haired boy with a penchant for Bermuda shorts, could always be cast as the Hobbit. Instead, the thirty-year-old triggered the biggest crash in the recent history of cryptocurrencies with the bankruptcy of his trading platform FTX. The whereabouts of billions in investor money is unclear. Bankman-Fried has now interviewed our US correspondents Astrid Dörner and Felix Holtermann.

The main takeaway from the conversation: Either Bankman-Fried had long ago lost track of the cash flows flowing through his platform – or he’s trying to spin it in hindsight to distract from his legal culpability. O tones:

  • “I’ve never tried to cheat, to do anything bad. But yes, I’ve obviously screwed up quite a bit. And somehow I’m going to pay for it.”
  • “If all creditors are eventually compensated from a central pot, then customers can get 20 to 30 percent of their claims back.”
  • “I spent a quarter of my time dealing with regulatory issues, a quarter managing people and a quarter thinking about what the future might bring. And then 75 percent of my time is gone without me taking me of what really matters: the business, risk management and technology.”

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The really exciting question is whether the crypto industry can recover from the FTX bankruptcy. The Financial Times reports that investors have also been withdrawing their crypto capital from other trading platforms such as Binance, Kraken and Coinbase at a record pace. There were net withdrawals of 91,363 bitcoins in November, then equivalent to nearly $1.5 billion. It is unclear whether the investors have sold their bitcoins or transferred them to so-called private wallets.

Annalena Baerbock: Green Party Foreign Minister visiting Ouallam, Niger in April 2022.

(Photo: IMAGO/photothek)

A lithium mine in Serbia, a train link from Burkina Faso to the Ghanaian port of Takoradi, a data cable between Chile and Australia: With big projects like these, the traffic light wants to push back China’s growing global influence. The investment projects are on a confidential list that the German government has sent to the EU Commission. The magazine is available for Handelsblatt. The Berlin proposals are to help the EU’s “Global Gateway” initiative get off the ground, Europe’s answer to China’s “New Silk Road”.

Beijing is building highways, ports and rail routes around the world, creating dependencies that stretch as far as Europe. A year ago, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a “Global Gateway” to counter China’s pursuit of power. The idea: The Commission, the Member States and the private sector must mobilize 300 billion euros and push ahead with major infrastructure projects worldwide.

However, little has happened since publication. Parts of the Commission are currently playing and fear that development aid will in future be subordinated to geopolitical interests. The federal government now wants to steamroll Brussels with its list.

In the coming weeks, however, political Brussels will probably be primarily concerned with limiting the political outcome of the corruption scandal in the EU Parliament. Belgian investigators on Friday questioned Greek Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili and former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri. The judicial authorities are investigating the suspicion that a network around Kaili and Panzeri was exploited and bribed for a Gulf state influence campaign. It is said to be Qatar. According to Belgian media, arrest warrants were issued for Kaili on Sunday.

Petrol, diesel and fuel oil have become significantly cheaper in recent weeks. It dampens economic fears.

Handelsblatt has been writing for weeks: The economic situation in Germany is better than the mood. Although that doesn’t matter much, because the mood at the moment is that sooner or later this winter we’ll be rubbing sticks together to somehow light a warming fire.

Yes, there are big challenges, especially for German industry. But at least in the coming months, things may turn out to be less dire than many feared. At least that is the content of the Handelsblatt Research Institute’s (HRI) economic outlook. The colleagues at the HRI now predict a growth of 1.9 percent for the current year and for 2023: “The chances are not so low that Germany will still be able to avoid a recession, although the progress of the Ukraine war with all possible consequences is not predictable.”

For comparison: the joint diagnosis of the major economic research institutes from the beginning of October predicted an economic growth of 1.4 percent in the current year and a minus of 0.4 percent for 2023. In a little over a year, we will know who was right .

It is also clear that we are experiencing stability in credit. The state is currently protecting citizens and businesses from the worst consequences of rising energy prices with massive debt-financed programs.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan In his own words, if he wins the election next year, he does not want to run again. The 68-year-old announced that he would ask for the nation’s support “one last time” in 2023. After that, he will be handed over to younger politicians.

With his conservative Islamic party, the AKP, Erdogan hopes for success in the parliamentary and presidential elections, which take place by June at the latest. But Erdogan’s victory is anything but certain. Six opposition parties have joined forces with the aim of replacing Erdogan. The alliance has not yet announced a presidential candidate.

Handelsblatt Turkey correspondent Ozan Demircan sees the meaning of Erdogan’s announcement in Turkey’s political culture: “Anyone who wants to abdicate usually no longer receives criticism, but broad support of respect. As a result, Erdogan is building a psychological pressure that can help him win the election one last time in 2023. And that’s what matters to him.”

I also wish you a day full of respect and broad support.

Yours sincerely


Christian Rickens

Editor-in-Chief Handelsblatt

Morning briefing: Alexa

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