Billionaire investor Charlie Munger calls Tesla's success a 'minor miracle'

And says crypto is rife with fraud and delusion

Charlie Munger. AP Photo/Nati Harnik
  • Charlie Munger ripped into cryptocurrencies, saying fraud and delusion are common in the industry.
  • Regulators overlooked crypto's risks and should have banned it, Warren Buffett's business partner said.
  • Munger also contrasted the Fed with the Bank of Japan, and praised Elon Musk and Tesla.

Warren Buffett's business partner has torn into cryptocurrencies once again, declaring the space is rife with fraud and delusion, and regulators have dropped the ball by not outlawing bitcoin and other digital assets.

Charlie Munger, a billionaire investor and the vice-chairman of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, also suggested the Federal Reserve is far less aggressive than the Bank of Japan. Moreover, he underscored Tesla's unlikely success and praised Elon Musk.

Here's what Munger told CNBC in an interview aired on Tuesday. He spoke days after Sam Bankman-Fried's digital-asset exchange, FTX, filed for bankruptcy:

"It's partly fraud and partly delusion — that's a bad combination," Munger said about the crypto industry. "People think this is a real asset, it's not a real asset," he added about the coins themselves.

The 98-year-old investor bemoaned the growing acceptance of crypto by Wall Street banks and hedge funds, and suggested financiers are far too eager to buy into the latest fad.

"It pains me that in my own country I see people that once were regarded as very reputable people helping these things exist," he said. "There are people who think that you've got to be on every deal that's hot."

Munger added that it's "crazy" and "demented" to think someone can mint a new token that can turn a 12-year-old into a billion are overnight.

Buffett's right-hand man also suggested the novelty of crypto has meant regulators have failed to grasp its dangers. He criticized authorities for not banning crypto early on.

"The danger flags are wagging so clearly," he said. "None of this stuff should ever have been allowed."

Munger has previously compared crypto to a "venereal disease" and an "open sewer," and said he wouldn't want someone in the space to marry into his family.

The Fed, Elon Musk, and Tesla

The world needs competent central banks, but the Fed is a "mouse that hardly tries to do anything" compared to the Bank of Japan, Munger said.

"If we get in the kind of trouble Japan was in, of course we'll do the same damn thing," he said. The Japanese central bank has cut interest rates below zero in an effort to shore up economic growth in recent years.

On another note, Munger said he was surprised by Tesla's outsized success, and felt far more positively about Elon Musk's company than he does about bitcoin.

"Tesla has made some real contributions to civilization," he said. "Elon Musk has done some good things that other people couldn't do."

"We haven't had a successful new auto company in a long, long time," Munger added. "What Tesla has done in the car business is a minor miracle."

This story is being updated, check back for more details.

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