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Bitcoin Value Soars to All-Time Highs in 2017; Vatican Takes Green Approach to Renovations. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired December 27, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISHA SESAY, ANCHOR, CNN: This is CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, a holiday twitter rant, Donald Trump takes aim at the Russian investigation and the FBI, then he goes and plays golf. Cold and crammed Rohingyan children in refugee camps are in desperate need of international aid, so why isn't enough of it coming? Plus, bitcoin, it is all the rage, but what is it, how safe is the crypto currency and how can you get in the game?
Hello, and welcome to our viewers around the world, I am Isha Sesay, and Newsroom L.A. starts right now.
Well, as fighters promised (ph) to get to work, U.S. president Donald Trump headed for the golf course. He also spent time on Twitter lashing out over the Russian dossier, calling it a "pile of garbage." The document compiled by former British spy has become part of the FBI and special counsel investigations of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.
Mr. Trump also took a shot at Obamacare, tweeting the new Republican tax reform law essentially repeals the Affordable Care Act over time. He predicts a bipartisan effort to develop what he calls a great new healthcare plan, but doesn't offer any new details or specifics. CNN's, Ryan Nobles, reports.
RYAN NOBLES, REPORTER, CNN: There were no events on the president's public schedule on Tuesday, so they only way we can see what he was thinking or working on is through his Twitter feed. As a result, we know that he was thinking about healthcare and taxes and he was also working to discredit Robert Mueller in his investigation.
After tweeting on Christmas Day, "tomorrow it's back to work," President Trump spent today on the golf course. The 110th day of his presidency that he has spent at one of his personally branded properties. He hit the links with PGA Tour pro, Bryson DeChambeau and former PGA golfer, Dana Quigley. But there may have been some work discussed as well.
Also joining the foursome, Georgia Senator David Purdue, a loyal Republican vote for the administration, but someone hoping to forge a bipartisan solution on immigration; a solution that could prove to be more difficult. After a New York Times story that quotes the president grumbling in an Oval Office meeting, immigrants from countries like Haiti quote "all have AIDS," and that 40,000 immigrants from Nigeria would never quote, "go back to their huts."
White House officials strongly deny the report. Marc Short, the director of legislative affairs, argues that there needs to be a plan for people living in the United States under temporary protected status.
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Congress needs to change these laws, oppose a continual cycle (ph) of extensions of people been here from 10 and 20 years ago.
NOBLES: But while immigration, including a promised fix for the so- called DREAMers, government spending, entitlement reform, and infrastructure have all been pointed to as priorities in 2018; on Tuesday, the president was focused on a failure from 2017, tweeting quote, "Based on the fact that the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate has been terminated as part of our Tax Cut Bill, which essentially Repeals (over time) ObamaCare, the Democrats & Republicans will eventually come together and develop a great new HealthCare plan"
Republicans were unable to come up with a replacement to Obamacare, but as part of their new broad tax reform bill, they struck the individual mandate, which requires Americans have health insurance or face a tax penalty. Those fines equal billions of dollars that help keep the Affordable Care Act insurance market stable.
Despite the elimination of the tax penalty, Obamacare remains in place, and some 9 million Americans have just signed up for Obamacare health care plans, exceeding expectations and a shortened enrollment period. Regardless of the president's pleas, there are no signs of progress on a new healthcare deal.
BERNIE SANDERS, I-VT: Instead of bragging about more Americans without health insurance, we should join every other major country on earth, guarantee health care to all people and end the absurdity of paying twice as much per capita.
NOBLES: And despite the sunny West Palm Beach skies, the president and his agenda remain under the cloud of the Mueller investigation, something Mr. Trump continues to attempt to discredit. Today on Twitter, he suggested that the dossier produced by a former British intelligence officer, which the president call the quote "pile of garbage" was the basis for the special counsel's investigation. While the dossier has been used in the investigation, it is far from the entire basis of Mueller's inquiry.
And speaking of taxes, the president continues to take a victory lap after signing that tax reform bill into law just before coming here to Florida. In a tweet, he said, quote, "All signs are that business is looking really good for next year, only to be helped further by our Tax Cut Bill. Will be a great year for Companies and JOBS! Stock Market is poised for another year of SUCCESS!" The president wanting to make sure the American people know about this big legislative victory as he heads it to 2018. Ryan Noble, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida. SESAY: While Russia is offering to mediate talks between the U.S. and North Korea if both sides agree. Moscow is urging the U.S. to make the move and start negotiations as soon as possible. The U.S. has said it wants Pyongyang to show (pf) it once return to the negotiating table. Russian Prime Minister Sergey Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that aggressive rhetoric from Washington is not helping.
Meanwhile the U.S. is trying to put more pressure on Pyongyang by imposing new sanctions on two officials believed to have improved North Korea's nuclear weapons. The U.S. said Ri Pyong-chol has been crucial in developing the regime's intercontinental missiles and rocket scientist Kim Jong-sik was key in creating missiles that can be launched faster. And (inaudible) believe leader Kim Jong-Un holds both men in high regard.
Our foreign policy analyst Ari Aramesh joins us now from Los Angeles. Ari, good to see you. So, for years the North Korean regime has defied multilateral and bilateral sanctions. So do you expect that the targeting of two high ranking North Korean officials will bring about a change in North Korean behavior now?
ARASH ARAMESH, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's the right move but it's not going to change much. It seems like the leaderships in North Korea has gotten accustomed to getting concessions from the international community and the U.S. through two methods. A, testing more ballistic missiles and nuclear sort of weapons, or cyber attacks holding companies, private businesses and at times military installations ran-at hostage to take ransom. I would say in the year to come in 2018, you will see an intensification and an increase in the number of tests and its intensity. It doesn't seem like it that the North Korean leadership at this time will back off. Having said that, it is the right group. We have to sanction key individuals. We have to bring more pressure on the North Koreans but we should also know that our options are coming to a limited, or coming to a nuclear armed North Korea are getting limited.
SESAY: Yes, I mean because we need to give our viewers some contacts. I mean these sanctions announced today against these two high ranking officials for the U.N. sanctions adopted this past Friday which were all about closing down North Korea's ability to access foreign currency. I mean this is the most sanctioned state on earth and they keep on moving. I mean I know you say this is the right measure for this moment in time. I mean what's left, what's left to sanction?
ARAMESH: Not much. The next move will probably be a sanction on certain kinds of luxury goods. Back in the late '90s, a little sort of unofficial embargo not allowing Hennessy and Marlboro (inaudible) into North Korea brought Kim Jong-Un's dad, Kim Jong-Il to the table. We all know that he was, he was a big fan of Johnny Walker Black Label Hennessy, the good stuff. Now again, I'm not sure if (inaudible) hitting luxury goods would tighten the noose around the North Korean economy, the nonexistent North Korean economy is going to do much good. Knowing that we also don't have much of a military option now it's
time for the Chinese to show some leadership and it's also time for the President to lean on the Chinese so finally they can actually rise to the occasion and bring North Korean to a rational and reasonable conclusion that this is not the way to deal with international communities.
But (inaudible) military option for the most part is off the table because they have nuclear capability, and B, aside from the nuclear capabilities, they're conventional military might can do enough damage to our allies, South Korea, that for any sort of reasonable President will put-will eliminate a military option against the Koreans. So let's hope our Chinese friends will be more proactive here. But again, even they know that they have limited leverage when it comes to dealing with the governments of Kim Jong-Un and company.
SESAY: Again, isn't that just the reality here? I mean we have been talking about North Korea for years. You know the country. You know the way it has operated in the past. I mean it's notable that you said when it comes to China let's hope, you know, that Beijing puts pressure on them. I mean that really is all Washington can do really effectively at this stage bearing in mind that, you know, China's also part of the Security Council, all they can do is really hope that they change and put more pressure on Pyongyang. So I guess that brings us to the Russia situation. You know we've been hearing from Russia in the last two days saying more and more loudly that the U.S. needs to take the first move. They need to be open sitting down to talk. They need to turn down the rhetoric. I mean is Russia on to something here, bearing in mind the way the U.S. has been operating to date has not yielded a change in Pyongyang's behavior.
ARASH ARI ARAMESH, FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: You know, in the old days of the Wild Wild West (ph), even the old criminals from the South and the East Coast could become Sheriffs in the Wild Wild West (ph). If Russia becomes a mediator in this ongoing, sort of, a fiasco between North Korea and not just the U.S. but the rest of the world, I don't see a good outcome here.
Let's keep mind that North Korea is not violating U.S. law, or U.S. sanctions or U.S. demands. North Korea is in violation of multiple international resolutions by the U.N. Security Council. It's in violation of international law. And the world, almost unanimously, has asked the North Koreans to stop what they're doing.
There are a few pariahs that have yet to condemn North Korea, but if you put those pariahs aside, everyone on the U.N. Security Council -- that includes Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, all of the international community including India, and Brazil, and South Africa -- the list goes on, and on, and on and on -- have asked the North Koreans to stop. The world is fed up now.
If the Russians try to act like the mediators here, they can also try to throw the ball in our court and they would also up the ante for the Americans saying, listen, you are also to blame to some extent for what these mad men, the Kim family, has done to North Korea for the past 60-some odd years. That is not a good outcome. The U.S. should stand firm, should be stern, and should try to use the international community, especially China, to try to slow down the rogue regime of Kim Jong Un (ph). The Russia role here could not be a positive one.
SESAY: And I -- I think most would agree with you that -- that -- most would raise a question about as to whether Russia is acting as a good faith actor here by putting its hand up and saying let me mediate. I think most would agree. But I think there is also the point to be made here that there's a lot of trying, wishing, and a hoping when it comes to North Korea. But the actions to date, even with the entire world condemning North Korea for violating U.N. sanctions has not yielded a change in North Korea's behavior.
Under Kim Jong Un (ph), we have seen more tests than we saw, you know, with -- with his forbearers, if you will, his -- his father. So, I mean -- I -- I -- I hear what you're saying and I think many would agree with you, but it is not working, Ari, it is not working, what is happening so far.
ARAMESH: You know, just because something is not working, it doesn't mean we have to do something worse. You know, if -- if an alcoholic is sick of, you know, drinking one kind of alcohol, switching to another drink is not going to help his or her problem. See the problem is here --
SESAY: The problem here is that they have nuclear weapons, Ari. That's the problem here, that they are --
ARAMESH: -- and we haven't -- we haven't done a -- we didn't do a good job of trying to prevent them from going nuclear. But again, even back then, with their conventional capabilities, with the threat they could pose to South Korea and to Seoul directly, our hands were almost tied. But it -- it -- it's sort of a lesson to be learned, to -- to -- to what we can take home from this is do not let rogue regimes go nuclear because once they get that, they have an insurance policy forever.
Now with -- with Russia here getting involved, the reason we -- and you're right. We don't have a lot of good options. We're almost out of options. We have -- we can try to slow them down, contain them, get a little help from the Chinese, but by bringing the Russians here they don't have a whole lot of leverage. Yes, North Korean airplanes do fly in to Russia. Yes, there is some limited trades between Russia and North Korea, but it's nothing compared to the amount of leverage and influence China has on North Korea.
By brining the Russians in, now we're also legitimizing yet another bad actor in the international community. And we're also granting, sort of an elevation of status to the Russians who have long sought to go back to the Soviet days and try to do what they want to do for very little cost. Now again, options are limited. I get it. But we don't have to go maybe much worse option just because our current option is not working perfectly.
SESAY: Ari Aramesh, I think we are in agreement that there are no good options here and we shall see the next move from -- on the part of the international community. North Korea has said that they consider the latest U.N. sanctions an act of war. So we shall see what happens in the days ahead. Ari Aramesh, always a pleasure to speak to you. Thank you so much.
Well the Kremlin plans to investigate the actions of an opposition leader who is urging people to boycott Russia's Presidential Election next year. Alexei Navalny called for the boycott after the registration of his candidacy was denied. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more from Moscow.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
FRED PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny was highly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He believes that him being barred from running in the election was a political move. Now the authorities here are saying that the reason why Navalny can't run is because he was convicted for embezzlement a couple of years ago. Navalny says that conviction was politically motivated and aimed at preventing him from going into political life and running for an office, like president of the Russian Federation.
Now, we've managed to get in touch with the Kremlin earlier today and they were telling us look, all of this is a decision by the electoral committee of the Russian Federation. The Kremlin has nothing to do with this. But the rules are the rules and therefore, Alexei Navalny cannot run. Navalny wants to do two things. On the one hand, he wants to appeal that decision. On the other hand, however, he's also calling for a boycott of the Russian presidential elections, which are due to take place here in March by his supporters.
And it really is an interesting thing, where some of these opposition activists say look, they believe that if Navalny runs, that he has a chance at beating Vladimir Putin. Seems very difficult because Vladimir Putin's approval rating at this point in time are at around 85 percent here in Russia. While on the other hand, the opposition says look, one of the reasons why Putin is so popular is because a lot of the opposition activists or the opposition candidates who manage to garner support, many of them are barred from running.
Some of them say that that is politically motivated in itself. And finally, this could also mean some legal trouble for Navalny itself. One of the other things that the Kremlin told us earlier today in the form of Vladimir Putin's spokesmen, Dmitri Peskov, he said look, the fact that he's calling for this boycott, the authorities should investigate that as well, because he believes that might be illegal.
So it goes to show how difficult it is for some of these opposition figures to not only get into politics and be able to run in elections, but also to stay out of legal trouble as well. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SESAY: Quick break here. And then refugee children in bare feet and shorts as winter weather moves in. Most don't even have blankets or a warm place to sleep. How one aid group is rushing to help hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, next.
SESAY: Well, some of the most vulnerable people in the world are facing another brutal blow. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh desperately need warm clothes, blankets and stronger shelters to protect them from cold winter conditions. It has been four months since violence escalated in Myanmar's Rakhine State, forcing more than 600,000 Rohingya to flee across the borders to Bangladesh.
Most of them are now living in overcrowded refugee camps. They're sleeping on the floors or flimsy makeshift shelters. Some have thin blankets, many others have absolutely nothing to keep themselves warm at night. The aid groups say the children, those (ph) kids are running around in bare feet, wearing only shorts and t-shirts. And many of those same children are malnourished, putting them at even more risk of getting sick as this cold weather moves in.
Let's bring in Beatriz Ochoa, she is a Advocacy Manager with Save the Children. Thank you so much for being with us. As these conditions steadily worsen for these children in these camps, what are they telling you about what they're going through?
BEATRIZ OCHOA, ADVOCACY MANAGER, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Thanks so much for the invite, yes, children are telling Save the Children that they are incredibly cold at night.
You might not think that there's actually winter in Bangladesh, but it can actually get quite chilly. So they are telling us that when they are sitting they are shaking, when they are waking up in the morning, they have to go fetch water, they have to go out and collect food (ph).
So they cannot wakeup, they cannot move, that they want to stay closer to their parents because it's just so cold and you might not think it's actually that cold but it is, I've already said it (ph) but I want people to imagine that you are sleeping in a forest in shorter, very simple structure made out of bamboo and covered with plastic, and that the only thing that you have between your body and the humid soil is plastic again.
So like that 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit can be actually really, really, cold.
SESAY: Yes, it is, it's just awful what this community is going through. How is Save the Children helping them? What are you doing to lessen these awful conditions they're enduring?
OCHOA: Yes, we're helping them across all sectors, and I'm going to go in a bit, but I wanted to talk us (ph) first on what we're doing regarding what we call winter vacation.
So we're distributing 7,000 winter kits to help protect the pallets (ph) and most disabled (ph) families. These winter kits contain mattresses, blankets, gloves, pull overs, so the most basic equipment for children's and their families to actually to stay a bit warm in winter.
And for the other responses, we're working across different sectors in help (ph) and efficient (ph) and we're also distributing baskets and we're establishing - already we have established over 30 (inaudible) where to can (ph) actually have a chance to get those children again to play, to relax, to have some comforting in case they need it, and just like to be child again.
SESAY: Yes, which is just what they needed. I mean, the concern is with winter coming in, with the temperatures dropping, kids not being warm enough that they're going to fall ill.
So there's going to be an uptick in respiratory illnesses, I mean given that the odds are high that there will be some kind of uptick in illnesses, just because of the conditions they're in, are people in place to help, to meet that health need, if it should so arise?
OCHOA: Yes, we are deploying large teams on the health sector, we have something called emergency health units, and we have established already seven health centers, and we're going to establish two more.
So in total, we're planning for nine, we're deploying more people, we're training more people here, a lot of Bangladesh nationals.
But of course the needs are huge and we need more resources, we need more funding, we need the support from the international community to be able to meet all of these massive needs.
SESAY: And you know (ph) we talk about winter coming and the conditions, we know that the Bangladeshi government is making plans to move the Rohingya to a low lying uninhabited island, which as I understand it, is also prone to flooding.
I mean, what would such a location mean to these families, to these people?
OCHOA: Save the Children does not support the movement to move the island, because it's - as you said, it could get flooded. So there is some discussions going over there, and we're going to try to get the Rohingya refugee safe in a piece of land that is actually safe for them.
Otherwise, it could actually be much more vulnerable.
SESAY: What is your greatest concern as we look ahead as the temperatures drop, what's your greatest fear here?
OCHOA: One of the greatest fears, just getting more children ill, a lot of children actually are malnourished, so for children under five, one quarter. So one in each four children under five are malnourished.
So when this is the case, the bodies are much more prone to any disease, so with malnourished children and their suppressants (ph) dropping, we are afraid that there will be a rise in respiratory tract infections and other just, diseases, because children are so vulnerable to anything, that anything could happen to them, in terms of health.
SESAY: Yes, there's a lot to be worried about. But thank you for making time to speak to us and giving us an update on conditions (inaudible). Belatriz Ochoa, thank you so much.
OCHOA: Thank you.
SESAY: A terrible situation, not getting better anytime soon. A quick break here, bitcoin's value soar to an all time highs this year. Is this digital currency too hot to ignore as we head into 2018? We'll ask an expert about potential risks and rewards.
SESAY: You're watching CNN Newsroom, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour, here, President Donald Trump is taking new shots at the FBI and the Russia investigation. He spent part of the day golfing, but on Twitter, he blamed Hillary Clinton for the now-infamous Russia dossier, calling it a "pile of garbage," he also said the FBI is tainted. Russia is offering to mediate talks between the U.S. and North Korea if both sides agree.
Russia foreign minister told U.S. secretary of state to fast track negotiations with Pyongyang. Secretary Lavrov also told Rex Tillerson that aggressive rush rates (ph) from Washington is not helping. Meantime, the U.S. is slapping more sanctions on North Korea, targeting two key figures of the country's missile program. The U.S. says the official on the left has been crucial in developing intercontinental missiles and the rocket scientist on the right was behind fuel technology to launch missiles faster.
Well, Liberians went to the polls Tuesday to vote for their new president, a long delayed runoff between the current vice president and a former football star. Tensions have been high, also (ph) claims of fraud and irregularities in the first round of voting. The winner is set to be named on Friday.
It's been a monster year for bitcoin, the peer to peer currency has been around since 2009, but is really just now starting to take off. So what is it? First of all, no central authority issues the money or tracks transactions. The system was invested by a person named Satoshi Nakamoto, about who very little is known. In fact, that may well be a pseudonym, that's the assumption.
Bitcoins can be bought and sold for dollars in other currencies on various online exchanges and traded for various products. If you buy one, if you buy this crytocurrency, you won't get something tangible, but rather a lengthy encrypted alphanumeric address. That, you store in a digital wallet on your computer, or you can put it on your smartphone. Joining us now to help us make sense of all of what I just said is David Wachsman. He's CEO of Wachsman and a bitcoin and digital currency expert. He's joining us from New York.
Thank you so much for being with us.
DAVID WACHSMAN, CEO, WACHSMAN: Thank you for having me. SESAY: You are most welcome so help us understand why 2017 was the year we saw bitcoin seemingly become ubiquitous at least shoot up in value.
WACHSMAN: Well, the thing is bitcoin has been around for a very long time so it was invented in 2007-2008 in some white papers. And in 2009 it started trading. Not many people knew about it and it was almost worthless for quite a long time.
But around 2011-2012, it started taking off; in 2013 it hit a record peak and CNN was reporting about it at the time when it hit near $1,200 per bitcoin.
That was back in 2013. It then kind of took a bit of a dive and tickets in time but the technology has caught up and enough people now know about it and understand and trust the underlying technology, called blotching (ph), where bitcoin this year went from about $950 at the beginning of the year to more than $16,500 today.
SESAY: Wow, so I guess my question is as you talk about its birth back in you know 2000 and 2008 it becoming you know better known in the years that followed to where we are in 2017, where is it in its evolution as far as you're concerned?
Where is bitcoin in this evolution and importantly why is it still not available to the masses as we talk about its evolution and growth?
WACHSMAN: Bitcoin is still really hard to use. That is one big problem with it. The truth is you kind of need to be a bit of a computer expert to understand how bitcoin works. And people like to understand how technology works even though of course very few people actually understand how TCP-IP and other Internet protocols work.
The truth is bitcoin is a type of digital money that gets value from A to B. That's what it does and it does it incredibly well and it's never been snapped because the network that underlies bitcoin, the bitcoin Blockchain, is incredibly powerful. It's the most powerful computer network ever developed with more computing power going against it to back it up than any network ever before.
And so the truth is bitcoin, we're at the infancy still. We're only 10 years since its invention. I'd say that we are the equivalent of the Internet in 1991. And if you remember, it took years until the Internet really took off.
SESAY: You've mentioned the Blockchain a couple of times as a fundamental technology, the bedrock to bitcoin, if you will. My question as you talk about the technology being really, really advance, if you will, is this issue of security that I keep coming up against as I read about bitcoin, this truth if you will that having several high-profile hacks.
So I guess my question is how secure is it?
WACHSMAN: Bitcoin is incredibly secure. So to send value from A to B, bitcoin can't be beat. It'd be like the equivalent of wiring money from one bank to another or from a bank to you.
Bitcoin cannot be beat when it comes to that. The problem is at the edges. That's where the issues lie. So for instance your wallet could conceivably be hacked if someone got a hold of what's called your private key, which is more or less your password to your money. It is possible that the exchange that you're buying bitcoin from could have their wallet hacked or socially compromised as well. This is the challenge that bitcoin is facing today. But it's no different than any other type of crime.
The truth is the bitcoin network itself and bitcoin, that's basically impossible to penetrate.
SESAY: OK. Now as I look into bitcoin, I'm grateful I have you here to make sense of it for me, I came across the (INAUDIBLE) twins, best known perhaps (INAUDIBLE) for suing Mark Zuckerberg over ownership of Facebook.
And it turns out that they use millions from their Facebook settlement to invest in bitcoin a couple of years ago and now they're reportedly virtual currency billionaires.
If you want to get into the game of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies today, are the odds still in your favor to make the kind of returns that Cameron and Tyler have made?
Or has that ship sailed?
WACHSMAN: That's a great question. The bitcoin billionaires so to speak are just beginning to take off. I work with a number of them already today. And bitcoin itself may not grow another 500 times or a thousand times but there's a lot of other digital currencies out there that the world is beginning to take note of as well.
And I'm lucky to work with a lot of them and what you seen is some of these have stratospheric growth. One of my clients called Lisk (ph) went 100x up this year actually more than that now. And that OS because people --
WACHSMAN: -- finally understand the technology underpinning bitcoin, that Blockchain. Has extraordinary use cases and what we're starting to see is those use cases being applied in real life.
It is just beginning but that's what speculators are investing in. And so I do think we're going to see more and more bitcoin billionaires in the future.
SESAY: You talked about speculation so that inevitably leads me to the question of bubbles and bubbles bursting because that is also part of the chatter, those sitting on the edges do kind of look and say, could this bubble burst, at least specifically bitcoin saw this astronomical growth in 2017, should the bubble burst?
Would there be collateral damage? What's your take on that?
You say 16,000 in 2017.
What happens if that -- if the market slumps or plummets?
WACHSMAN: Bitcoin hit actually almost 20,000 in 2017 but if bitcoin were to plummet -- if it were -- the truth is it is not really tied to the existing financial system so what you're not going to see is some sort of cataclysmic effect, for instance, the way you saw with the real estate bubble back in the late 2000s.
That's the way it is today but I don't think bitcoin is going to stop at 20,000. I think bitcoin is going to go up far beyond --
SESAY: Why? Why?
WACHSMAN: -- the other commodities because --
WACHSMAN: -- this is basically the underpinnings of the new Internet. And people, for the first time, have the ability to invest in what is essentially an entirely revolutionary type of technology that is going to be everywhere. It's going to be ubiquitous.
Bitcoin's just the first of them.
Is bitcoin itself going to be always valued around $20,000 per?
I don't know. I don't think anyone can tell you that. But I do believe that bitcoin and currencies like it, digital currencies, are going to be a gigantic asset class that we're only now beginning to understand. Today we're at something like $600 billion as a total asset class. I think we're going to eclipse multitrillion next year.
SESAY: Wow. OK. Final question to you, as you talk about such astronomical growth and value, there's no institutional oversight of bitcoin, right. so there's no kind of Federal Reserve or Bank of England type of institution controlling value and the amount of currency in circulation.
Are there other any downsides to this setup as you see it, not just today but as we go forward?
WACHSMAN: No, bitcoin is actually valuable because no one controls it. It's controlled by math and proof, mathematical proofs guarantee that only X amount of bitcoin are going to be created. And that prevents overinflation of the actual currency.
But interestingly enough, bitcoin technology, that Blockchain, is now being used by central banks all over the world who are piloting their own versions of cryptocurrency so it may be, in the near future, you see a U.S. dollar that is like a bitcoin or perhaps from the People's Bank of China.
SESAY: You actually brought up the question of global take-up.
Are there parts of the world that are adopting cryptocurrencies faster than others?
What are you seeing as you look across the world?
WACHSMAN: Oh, absolutely. I see this every single day with my clients. We're seeing in Southeast Asia, we're seen in Africa and South America most extraordinary adoption of bitcoin. If you live in a country today where there's extraordinary inflation for your regular currency, bitcoin's a much better alternative.
It means that you don't necessarily have to get paid in the morning and spend it on groceries in the afternoon or you have nothing left. You can actually store your wealth and that's something that bitcoin can do perhaps as well as any other asset in the world.
SESAY: Absolutely fascinating. David Wachsman, we're going to get you back to talk more about cryptocurrencies in the days ahead. But thank you so much.
WACHSMAN: Thanks so much for having me.
SESAY: Interesting. Quick break. Some valuable Vatican treasuries are getting a makeover. Just ahead, how the pope's cows are helping keep a 500-year-old building green.
SESAY: Pope Francis is known as a staunch defender of the environment and now the Vatican is renovating some of its buildings and other treasures using a stroke of green. CNN's Delia Gallagher reports.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: You might think restoring a building over 500 years old would require high-tech solutions. But at the Vatican, they do things the old-fashioned way, using milk to repaint the facade of the Vatican's Belvedere Palace, dating from 1484, and housing precious Vatican art.
It's an ancient recipe, says the Vatican's chief architect, Vitale Zanchettin (ph), one that has proven more lasting than any modern synthetic paints.
VITALE ZANCHETTIN (PH), VATICAN CHIEF ARCHITECT (through translator): You're not nostalgic for the past. The point is that we think these solutions age better. They are tried and tested. GALLAGHER (voice-over): And in line with Pope Francis' emphasis on ecology, they get the milk from the pope's cows, raised and milked at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo just outside of Rome.
The milk, semi-skimmed or whole, works equally well, is mixed with slate lime and natural pigments, in this case the original cream color used in the 1500s, and hand patted onto the walls in a centuries'-old technique.
Barbara Jatta (ph), the director of the Vatican Museums, says Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment is their guidebook.
BARBARA JATTA (PH), DIRECTOR, VATICAN MUSEUMS: We really try to apply these non-invasive and methods non-entities for the -- for the environment, for the people.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): The 570 statues and other marble works of art in the Vatican Gardens are cleaned with a mixture using essential oils -- oregano, lavender thyme and others sourced from the island of Sicily.
But the Vatican's eye's not just on the environment but the people they employ; 100 permanent staff continually clean, repair and restore ancient art and buildings here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's (INAUDIBLE) and (INAUDIBLE) aimed to employing people rather than machines. It's better to pay people than machines.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): In a world where the computer can do most anything, at the Vatican, the hands of artisans and the bounty of Mother Nature still count -- Delia Gallagher, CNN, Vatican City.
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