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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios 

Congress this morning held its first-ever hearing on initial coin offerings, during which experts stressed that legal clarity is the cryptocurrency industry's most pressing need.

Why it matters: The recent boom in digital tokens, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology has come with thorny regulatory questions, especially when it comes to securities laws.

  • Georgetown law professor Dr. Chris Brummer said that Congress would have to expand the SEC's authority for it to be able to regulate the full scope of digital tokens cropping up.
  • Coinbase chief legal and risk officer Mike Lempres explained that his company is currently refraining from supporting ICOs because of the regulatory uncertainty. "We are waiting for the dust to settle between the SEC and CFTC."
  • Coin Center research director Peter Van Valkenburg pointed out the redundancy and inefficiency of state-level regulation.

House Financial Services Committee members asked questions about such topics as hacking, use of digital currencies by criminals, defining securities, and protecting investors. There was also a range of opinion:

  • "I hear elected officials who don't have any concept of what we're doing here ... talking about 'we have to go in and regulate," said Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who went on to advocate for clarity over further regulation.
  • Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) called cryptocurrencies "a crock" and went on to express skepticism about their usefulness.

The story has been updated to correct an editing error that mischaracterized Chris Brummer's statements.

Go deeper

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 6 wounded

Screengrab: CBSN

Three people dead and six others are wounded after a shooting at a high school in Michigan according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

Driving the news: The alleged shooter was a 15-year-old sophomore at Oxford High School and has been arrested, per police.

Fed signals it could yank economic support quicker as inflation sticks around

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee today. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve will consider pulling back economic support sooner "as the threat of persistently high inflation has grown," chair Jerome Powell said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the biggest signal yet the Fed is backing away from its stance that soaring prices would be fleeting — a change that could shift its policies that underpin the economy.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Crypto meets the real world

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The two largest countries in the world seem intent on effectively banning their citizens from participating in crypto, which poses a serious threat to the crypto agenda.

Why it matters: The crypto world is global — but the real world is fragmented into nation-states, each of which claims control of what happens within its borders.