The New York Times’ Latest Attack On El Salvador And BTC Won’t Age Well, Pt. 1

The New York Times joined the rest of mainstream media in kicking bitcoin when it’s down. Even though the world’s economy is clearly in the red across the board, bitcoin deniers are having the time of their lives declaring bitcoin dead. That puts Nayib Bukele and El Salvador’s bitcoin bet in mainstream media’s sights. 

The title gives away The New York Times’ intentions and general view of the situation, “A Poor Country Made Bitcoin a National Currency. The Bet Isn’t Paying Off.” Yikes! First of all, that’s a classist title. Second, we beg to differ. From the get-go, The New York Times’ claims are generally false, hyperbolic, and short-sighted. The article stinks of the high time preference of the fiat world, and Bitcoinist is here to criticize the critics.

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What Did The New York Times Say, Exactly?

To be fair, the article gets most of the facts right. For example, “Mr. Bukele’s bitcoin push was dealt a further blow by a global cryptocurrency sell off that wiped away hundreds of billions dollars from the value of digital assets since March.” Ok, that’s fair. The New York Times omits to mention that the Terra/ Luna collapse was the catalyst for this crash. Or the benefits this purge will bring to the crypto economy as a whole.

“But nearly a year after the country’s president, Nayib Bukele, shocked the financial world by making its most popular digital coin a national currency, his bet appears to be backfiring, highlighting the gap between the utopian promises of cryptocurrency’s proponents and economic realities.”

That’s not what’s happening at all, New York Times. The people in charge of El Salvador’s economy, including the President, knew that bitcoin was volatile from the get-go. They, along with everyone, knew that this scenario was not only likely but inevitable. It took the whole market by surprise, that’s a fact, but it’s not like the Salvadorans weren’t prepared for this stage of the bitcoin cycle.

BTCUSD price chart for 07/08/2022 - TradingView

BTC price chart for 07/08/2022 on Bittrex | Source: BTC/USD on

The New York Times’ Attacks On El Salvador

  • “The failure of Mr. Bukele’s stated objectives for bitcoin — to bring investment to the country and financial services to the poor.” Those are three lies, back to back. According to our numbers, tourism is up and investment and construction are up. Plus, if the poor get a smartphone they can have perfectly legal financial services in less than five minutes. For the first time in their lives, in many cases.
  •  “Last year, his government allocated the equivalent of 15 percent of its annual investment budget to try ingraining bitcoin into the national economy.” – Is that a criticism? That’s money well spent. It got El Salvador on The New York Times’ front page, for example.
  • “Only 10 percent of Chivo users continued making bitcoin transactions on the app after spending their $30 stipend,” and “Almost no new customers downloaded the app this year, the researchers found.” Perfect, because that app was terrible. Here’s hoping that at least 10% of those people got non-custodial wallets.

  • “A separate survey by El Salvador’s Chamber of Commerce in March found that only 14 percent of the country’s businesses made bitcoin transactions since it was introduced in September, and only 3 percent said they perceived any business value in it.” Well, they’re wrong and missing the opportunity of a lifetime. Take a class at My First Bitcoin.
  • “Digital currency payment apps, such as Chivo, accounted for less than 2 percent of remittances in the first five months of this year, according to El Salvador’s central bank.” Those numbers seem promising. Especially considering that ”El Salvador’s central bank” has zero access to stats by non-custodial wallets.
  • “Only 48 new companies focused on bitcoin have registered in El Salvador since the cryptocurrency’s introduction, according to the country’s central bank; that represents less than 2 percent of all businesses that opened in 2019.” That’s pretty good, considering the government hasn’t laid out a clear path for small and medium businesses to establish a presence in the country. 

It’s important to remember that we’re less than a year into this experiment. And to realize Bitcoinist is focusing on the real problems and doing a better job at criticizing El Salvador’s bitcoin experiment than The New York Times.

Other People’s Attacks On El Salvador

  • “The government gave this project as much push as you could hope for, and it still failed,” said Fernando Alvarez, a University of Chicago economist.” No, they didn’t. What movie did this man watch? The government still owes the Salvadorans all of the bitcoin education that it promised.
  • “People are scared of losing their money,” said Edgardo Villalobos, who coordinates vendors at a sprawling street market in downtown San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital. After the recent price collapse, he said his $30 stipend from downloading the Chivo app is worth $10.” It got to be more than $60, also. Are we supposed to feel bad for this man’s lack of business acumen?
  • “The problem with bitcoin is that no one is gaining anything,’’ said Carlos Acevedo, a Salvadoran economist and former central bank director. “It’s an investment that doesn’t bring social benefits.” Yikes! Take back this man’s university title, stat. What a dumb thing to say.

This article is the gift that keeps on giving. Join Bitcoinist this afternoon for a look at the positive side of The New York Times piece and for their most dishonest attacks on bitcoin. The authors saved the best for last, as did we. 

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