Cryptocurrency markets have deflated over the past four months. Bitcoin, the granddaddy of the digital-currency industry, has shed more than half of its value. That in itself has caused significant problems, such as the probable default of El Salvador, a nation whose leader unwisely tethered its currency to bitcoin. But key pieces of the ecosystem, such as the TerraUST/Luna “stablecoin,” have it even worse. TerraUST/Luna unraveled entirely, dropping to near zero from $60 billion in total nominal value.

Just what is going on? And does it matter?

It can be hard to explain what crypto is. This isn’t because crypto is overly technical, but simply because it’s a giant Ponzi scheme masquerading as a technology—a scheme so immense and dumb no one could possibly imagine tens of thousands of financiers, policymakers, regulators, and journalists taking it seriously. And yet they do.

Well, not all. There is a die-hard group of skeptics angry at the cynicism of the Ponzi schemers. Crypto scourge Stephen Diehl regularly attacks “techies who know it’s a fraud and choose to profit from it anyways.” Nicholas Weaver, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, says that all cryptocurrencies should “die in a fire.” Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler is a skeptic.

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