In brief

  • Nouriel Roubini, a long-time hater of cryptocurrencies, proposed on Twitter a toilet paper-based virtual currency.
  • The economist said that TP-paper currency would be “more useful than gold.”
  • And it would be 100% backed by a stash of real toilet paper.

American economist and long-time crypto skeptic Nouriel Roubini took another dig at virtual currencies on Twitter today—by saying there should be a virtual currency for toilet paper. 

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared that the coronavirus was a pandemic. Subsequent government lockdowns have caused panic buying all over the world, with one product in particular always missing on supermarket shelves: toilet paper. 

Roubini, who has long had a problem with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, posted a video on Twitter—first featured on video-sharing platform TikTok—of a man paying for coffee using toilet paper. 

The humourous video, which has been viewed on Twitter over 27,000 times, shows a man counting squares of toilet paper, handing them to a cashier—and even giving an extra square as a tip—before walking away with his coffee. 

Roubini, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, posts in a commentary accompanying the video that “soon most folks will run out of income/savings and their credit lines too. So to survive they need to resort to some other means of payment that liquifies some existing useful asset folks already hold.” 

“That is where TP [toilet paper] comes handy,” he adds. “So maybe someone should rather create a virtual version of TP currency that to be credible gotta be fully backed by actual TP.”

And unlike crypto, which many consider a solution in search of a problem, tokenized toilet paper can be redeemed instantly into actual toilet paper. 

He further jokes that toilet paper will be a “100% fully asset backed currency” and “more useful than gold”. Clearly, Roubini’s poking fun at stablecoins that claimed to be 100% backed by real-world assets, but weren’t—like US dollar stablecoin Tether, which turned out to be only 74% backed the US dollar reserves—as well as proponents of the view that Bitcoin is akin to digital gold. 

Roubini notes another benefit: since the WHO warned that paper cash could carry coronavirus, “Virtual asset backed TP-Paper is 100% and doesn't transfer any disease or virus, Coronavirus or otherwise. So it is Coronavirus Free!”

A fierce opponent of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, Roubini has sparred with Bitcoin evangelists, slated blockchain tech, and even used the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs to deliver a speech attacking any non-fiat currency. 

Crypto’s feelin’ queasy

The coronavirus has not only led to panic buying and a shortage of goods in supermarkets, but also a thrashing of both traditional and crypto markets. Bitcoin, in particular, has seen spectacular losses over the past week. 

The price of Bitcoin has been slightly more stable over the weekend, and some speculators are still arguing that it is a safer bet than traditional currencies as Wall Street goes into a frenzy. 

These same crypto evangelists will undoubtedly be eagerly waiting for the moment Bitcoin comes to the rescue—and Roubini has to eat his words. 

Until then, Roubini will continue to wipe his ass with crypto.