Crypto assets are ‘worth nothing,’ says ECB’s Christine Lagarde

FRANKFURT — European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde is making no bones about her feelings toward the value of crypto assets — namely, there isn’t any.

“I have said all along the crypto assets are highly speculative, very risky assets,” Lagarde told Dutch television show College Tour in an interview to be aired on Sunday. “My very humble assessment is that it is worth nothing. It is based on nothing, there is no underlying assets to act as an anchor of safety.”

The comments come as the crypto market, more broadly, is taking a beating. Earlier this month, Bitcoin lost 20 percent of its value in a single week.

Lagarde revealed she had never invested in crypto assets, but her son had — with little luck.

A digital euro, however, would be an entirely different ball game, Lagarde explained.

“The day when we have the central bank digital currency, any digital euro, I will guarantee it,” she said. “So the central bank will be behind it. I think that is vastly different from any of those things.”

Lagarde also addressed monetary policy, signaling again that the ECB is ready to hike interest rates in July to fight raging inflation in the eurozone. However, she appeared to downplay the chance of a 50 basis-point move — a more radical option that Dutch central bank chief Klaas Knot had recently floated. Current market expectations see a 25 basis-point increase.

“We are going to follow the path of stopping net [bond] purchases and then sometime after that — which could be a few weeks — hike interest rates,” Lagarde said. ECB bond buys are currently expected to be phased out early in the third quarter, opening the door for a rate hike in July.

A 50 basis-point hike “is not something that I can tell you at this point here today,” she added.

Instead, she signaled that she may favor a slower tightening path, cautioning that the ECB doesn’t want to put the brakes on a “car that is moving.” Its goal is to “lift the accelerator … to slow inflation.”