Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman defended cryptocurrencies Thursday, setting up a sharp contrast with JP Morgan’s CEO who earlier this week called bitcoin “worthless.”
Gorman spoke on an earnings call after the bank reported its best-ever third quarter on the back of a sharp rise in deal-making. Riding that high, he spoke in favor of a new corner of the markets — where his bank has established a foothold.
“I don’t think crypto’s a fad, I don’t think it’s going away,” Gorman told investors.
“I don’t know what the value of bitcoin should or shouldn’t be, but these things aren’t going away and the blockchain technology supporting it is obviously very real and powerful,” he said.
The Morgan Stanley honcho’s comments were night-and-day when compared to JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon who has made headlines over the years — and even in the last week — for his crypto bashing.
On Monday, Dimon slammed bitcoin as “worthless” and said governments will soon regulate digital coins. He’s previously called the new technology “a fraud” and “fool’s gold.”
Dimon had joined a chorus of business and political leaders slamming the digital currency. Former President Donald Trump lashed out at cryptocurrencies in August — as did hedge fund manager John Paulson, who predicted cryptocurrencies will “go to zero.”
Despite Dimon and Gorman’s wildly different takes on the technology, both JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley have begun offering clients a spate of crypto-related products.
Morgan Stanley was the first bank to allow customers access to trade crypto and now it’s even investing its own money in the speculative coin. JPMorgan allows clients access to six cryptocurrency products.
Other established institutions including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have looked to expand their footprint in the space. Goldman allows certain clients to trade crypto through a derivative product and Citigroup is looking to begin trading cryptocurrency through a fund.
Gorman may have felt confident to weigh in on the controversial world of cryptocurrency after the bank blew past analysts’ expectations Thursday morning.
Morgan Stanley said robust dealmaking and wealth management revenues pushed quarterly profits 36 percent higher from a year earlier.
Meanwhile, bitcoin on Thursday was trading at about $57,500 by midday, up 5 percent over the previous 24 hours, according to Coinbase data.
After a rough summer where bitcoin fell below $30,000, the cryptocurrency has been on a hot streak this fall. Bitcoin is up 27.9 percent over the past month and is only about $8,000 shy of its all-time record high from April.
Other cryptocurrencies were also up on Thursday. Ethereum had surged 9.5 percent over the previous 24 hours to $3,800, while Cardano was up 4.2 percent at $2.21.
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