One evening a few weeks ago, I was on a Zoom call with a bunch of academic, think tank and Fed economists for a Bitcoin discussion. A lot of names you’d know if you’re familiar with those circles, the most famous one being Paul Krugman (who, btw, I found to be charming, genuinely open-minded, and surprisingly humble about the entire enterprise of academic economics). I had been invited to be on the anti-Bitcoin ‘side’ of the discussion, but they needn’t have bothered. Because there was no pro-Bitcoin side.
Krugman led with a simple question – what’s the use case for Bitcoin? Not a theoretical thing, but an actual use of Bitcoin to solve a problem in the real world? – which led to an hour-long, extremely earnest and altogether unsatisfying conversation about financial transfers out of Venezuela, trade settlement and securitization on a blockchain, and Taylor Swift’s ability to control the scalper/resale market for her concert tickets.
All of which are real things. All of which are interesting things. All of which are good things. But none of which are what got 20 busy people on a Zoom call at 8 pm on a Thursday night.
None of which ARE Bitcoin.
Now, to be fair, there were no old-school Bitcoin maximalists on the call, or if there were, they were too intimidated to make an Austrian economics, hard money, neo-goldbug, Bitcoin-is-the-inevitable-global-reserve-currency argument in front of Paul Krugman. LOL.
But I finally couldn’t take it anymore.
Is this really why we got on the phone tonight? To talk about a novel form of digital rights management? To talk about payment transfers out of authoritarian third-world countries? Are these REALLY our questions about Bitcoin?
Answer: of course not. What got these academic, think tank and government economists on the phone that night was Bitcoin trading at $50,000. The question that everyone truly cared about, but a question that everyone danced around for the better part of an hour, was this: Is there any there there in the price of Bitcoin?
To which everyone, including the supposedly pro-Bitcoin contingent, said no. Not just no, but no, no, no. The price of Bitcoin was an illusion. The price of Bitcoin was the madness of crowds. The price of Bitcoin had no connection to any fundamental economic activity, just like gold had no connection to any fundamental economic activity, and thus – to this audience – could have no inherent value by definition.
I think this is very wrong. And I’ll tell you, like I told this Zoom call, why I think there is a lot of inherent value in Bitcoin.
Because Bitcoin is good art.
Or better yet, because Bitcoin is elegant and beautiful fashion, sitting at the intersection of art and commerce.
Most importantly, because owning Bitcoin has been an authentic expression of identity, an extremely positive identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy.
I’ve been saying that Bitcoin is art for more than six years, from The Effete Rebellion of Bitcoin (Feb. 2015) to Too Clever By Half (Feb. 2018, my most popular note ever!) to Riding the Cyclone (June 2018) to The Spanish Prisoner (July, 2019), and it’s been a very frustrating place to be. Frustrating because public stances on Bitcoin are almost immediately turned into cartoons – either you’re the grumpy grandpa “Bitcoin is worthless!” cartoon or you’re the laser-eyed cultist “Bitcoin will be the world’s reserve currency!” cartoon, with no room in between.
The value-deniers, like the Zoom crowd the other night, think I’m agreeing with them when I say that Bitcoin is art. I’m not. The true-believers think I’m trolling them when I say that Bitcoin is art. I’m not. The creation of good art is – in my opinion – what we are put on this earth to do. It is our highest calling. It is my highest praise.
There is lasting value in good art, because it is a very scarce thing and it never gets used up.
Bitcoin is itself an NFT, a unique digital art work instantiated on a blockchain. It’s the most valuable NFT in the world. I don’t mean a Bitcoin, obviously that’s a fungible thing. I mean THE Bitcoin … the 21 million Bitcoins that make up the Bitcoin Project. The notion that Bitcoin would ever “go to zero” is ludicrous. Good art is always worth something. But how do we measure that something … how do we put a price on the value of good art at this particular moment in time? It’s a REALLY tough question.
There are no cash flows to art. There are no fundamentals to art. There is no “use case” to art.
There is only story. There is only narrative. There is only common knowledge – what everyone knows that everyone knows – about the value of art, common knowledge that emerges from our social interaction with story and narrative.
In every respect that matters, Bitcoin IS Epsilon Theory.
The Epsilon Theory Manifesto (June 2013)
Our times require an investment and risk management perspective that is fluent in econometrics but is equally grounded in game theory, history, and behavioral analysis. Epsilon Theory is my attempt to lay the foundation for such a perspective.
So yes, I’ve been saying that Bitcoin is art for a long time now. But what I haven’t been saying – or at least not as loudly – is that bit about identity, and that’s the part that needs to be shouted today. So here it is again, this time a little louder …
Most importantly, owning Bitcoin has been an authentic expression of identity, an extremely positive identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy.
This, too, IS Epsilon Theory.
Why am I shouting about identity?
Because the artistic Bitcoin identity I admire and value has been subverted by the neutering machine of Wall Street and the regulatory panopticon of the US Treasury Dept.
Because what made Bitcoin special in the first place is nearly lost, and what remains is a false and constructed narrative that exists in service to Wall Street and Washington rather than in resistance.
Yes, the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy strike back. They always do when it comes to money. Not with imperial stormtroopers or legislative sanction, but with golden handcuffs and administrative surveillance.
It’s not that the State and the status quo institutionalization of capital – call it Wall Street, for short – have any desire to ban Bitcoin. Why would they do that? No, far better to accommodate and swallow Bitcoin, like they have every other financial “innovation” for the past 1,000 years. Far better to neuter the censorship-resistant and anonymity-preserving aspects of Bitcoin, and turn it into another gaming table in the Wall Street casino.
In my dystopian vision, Bitcoin isn’t banned or criminalized. Pfft. That’s a rookie, weak State move. No, I see a future where everyone buys Bitcoin. Where you are encouraged to buy Bitcoin. Where Bitcoin is sold to you morning, noon and night. Where normie economists get on conference calls late at night because they’re Bitcoin price-curious.
Except it’s not really Bitcoin.
Instead, it’s Bitcoin! TM — a cartoon version of the OG Bitcoin, either a Wall Street-abstracted representation of the price of Bitcoin or a government-painted version of Bitcoin in Dayglo orange. Either way — abstracted or painted — your Bitcoin! TM is trackable and traceable, fully KYC and AML and FBAR and SWIFT and every other US Treasury acronym-compliant. Either way, your Bitcoin! TM has all the revolutionary potential of a bumper sticker and all the identity signaling power of a small tattoo on your upper arm.
Bitcoin!TM doesn’t stick it to the Man … Bitcoin!TM IS the Man.
Welcome to the MMXXI Hunger Games.
Hunger Games (Feb. 2021)
You’ve been told that the odds are ever in your favor. You’ve been told this for your entire life.
More and more, you suspect this is a lie.
This is no “democratization” of Wall Street. You’ve been played. Again.
The abstracted version of Bitcoin! TM is a Wall Street specialty.
What is Bitcoin! TM in abstracted form? It’s a securitization or representation of Bitcoin ownership that promises the price appreciation of Bitcoin without the hassle of Bitcoin ownership. It’s a casino chip that represents the price of Bitcoin. Michael Saylor, for example, is only too happy to sell you a MicroStrategy casino chip. Or maybe you’d prefer to play on the Canadian crypto ETF felt? Or try your luck at the wheel of a Morgan Stanley private fund?
Why does Wall Street loooove abstracted forms? Because there are no fundamental limits to how many of these Bitcoin! TM casino chips Wall Street can sell. It doesn’t matter if all the OG Bitcoin HODLers keep on HODLing. It doesn’t matter if the vast majority of all the Bitcoins ever mined never get caught up in the Wall Street neutering machine. There are an infinite number of games that can be created around the price of Bitcoin as a reference point, just like there are an infinite number of bets that can be made on a football game. There are an infinite number of rehypothecations and derivative representations that can be made off the millions of margined Bitcoins that have already been captured by Wall Street-custodied accounts.
The only limiting factor on how many of these Bitcoin! TM casino chips Wall Street can sell is the effectiveness of the narrative they have created around Bitcoin itself, that Bitcoin is a “hedge against inflation” and a “store of value” that is uniquely positioned to “protect your portfolio” against “dollar debasement” because it is “hard money” immune to “money printer go brrrr”.
It’s rather artistic in and of itself, right? Selling an unlimited number of Bitcoin! TM casino chips off a meme slamming unlimited fiat money printing? Creating an unlimited number of entertaining market games and venues where we can use our Bitcoin! TM casino chips?
If these narratives and casino games sound familiar, it’s because this is exactly the same process of abstraction, securitization and leverage that Wall Street has been using for the past twenty years with precious metals.
What is the GLD ETF? It’s gold! TM. What is a unit in an ETF basket of gold miner stocks? It’s gold! TM. They and their many kin are securitizations of gold ownership that promise the price appreciation of gold without the hassle of gold ownership. They are casino chips that represent the price of gold.
I’m old enough to remember when people bought and sold gold coins in private transactions. I guess we’d call that peer-to-peer today. I’m old enough to remember when well-meaning people would have earnest conversations about gold as a reserve currency, just like well-meaning people today have those earnest conversations about Bitcoin. I’m old enough to remember how quickly those conversations died out after State Street launched GLD in 2004 and took in a billion dollars in a few days. Turns out people didn’t really want the grumpy grandpa identity of owning physical gold in some Mad Max world as much as they wanted gold! TM in their financial portfolios as an abstracted insurance policy against central bank error.
It’s exactly the same with Bitcoin! TM today.
You think “institutional adoption” is driven by a spirit of personal autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and Nudging Oligarchy? You think Paul Tudor Jones and Mike Novogratz want to BITFD? LOL.
The ONLY difference to Wall Street between gold and Bitcoin is that gold! TM is tired and Bitcoin! TM is wired.
The king is dead. Long live the king!
This is the artistic genius of Wall Street – the creation of new product to trade and new assets to manage, all through the alchemy of securitization and leverage. This is Flow.
It’s like Ash said about the chest-bursting xenomorph in Alien – you may not admire the creature itself, but you gotta admire its purity. Unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. Yep, that’s Wall Street.
Ditto the US Treasury.
If there’s a Western governmental institution that is more unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality than the US Treasury, I am unaware of what that institution might be. But unlike Wall Street, which is motivated by Flow, the US Treasury has an entirely different (but highly compatible!) goal.
The goal of the US Treasury is to see all of the money in the world.
That’s really all it is. That’s what Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations are all about. That’s what Know Your Client (KYC) regulations are all about. That’s what Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) regulations are all about. That’s what the Treasury-led Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) is all about. That’s what the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) is all about. None of these programs are really about taxes. None of these programs are really about catching crooks or fighting terrorists. All of these programs are really about information for information’s sake regarding the greatest source of power in the world and the raison d’etre of every government on Earth: money.
The US Treasury is the Eye of
— a gigantic panopticon tower that sweeps the world with its unblinking gaze, seeking out the owners of power, i.e. money.
The US Treasury can’t see Bitcoin. It can, however, see Bitcoin! TM.
The giant all-seeing eye of the US Treasury is primarily built on two regulatory structures — the Bank Security Act (BSA) to compel transparency and reporting by financial institutions on their clients and themselves, and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) system to compel transparency and reporting by individuals on their financial institutions and themselves. There are a dozen more acronyms and programs involved here, all overseen by Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), but to keep things simple I’m going to refer to all of this as the BSA/FBAR regulatory panopticon.
Everything in plain text in the next two paragraphs is regulatory policy as it currently stands with the BSA and FBAR. Everything in bold italics is a new policy proposed in the past few months and expected to go into effect shortly. Taken together, I think it will be clear how Treasury uses the combined BSA and FBAR instruments to mark your Bitcoin with a DayGlo orange fluorescent paint and create their highly visible version of Bitcoin! TM.
BSA — If you are in the business of money in any way, shape or form (what Treasury calls a “money transmitter”), and you do any of that business in the US, then you are subject to the Bank Secrecy Act. Note that this money transmitter designation and BSA jurisdiction explicitly includes peer-to-peer exchanges that work with self-hosted wallets. If you are subject to the BSA, then it is your affirmative obligation to collect complete identifying information regarding clients who transmit or receive more than $3,000 over your systems, and to collect and immediately report to Treasury complete identifying information regarding clients who transmit or receive more than $10,000 over your systems – including any cryptocurrency (“convertible virtual currency”) transmitted to or from a self-hosted wallet.
FBAR — If you are a US entity (citizen or resident, any type of US-registered corporate or trust structure, etc.) and you have any sort of account (banking, securities, custodial, etc.) with any non-US money transmitter, anywhere in the world, and at any time during the course of the year, you have in the aggregate across all accounts more than $10,000 in value in those accounts – including the value of any cryptocurrency holdings (“convertible virtual currency”) in those accounts – then it is your affirmative obligation to report complete identifying information regarding each of those accounts to the IRS in a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
I think the intent here is crystal clear. Whatever rules were in place yesterday regarding transfers of dollars or rubles or pesos through US-touching money transmitters or by US entities … well, now those exact same rules are going to apply to Bitcoin. As soon as your virtual currency holdings land in any financial institution that cooperates with or does business in or is regulated by the United States … BAM! your Bitcoin is painted DayGlo orange and becomes the Treasury-preferred form of Bitcoin! TM.
When these regulations go into full effect, as I understand them, the only remaining safe harbor for keeping your Bitcoin hidden from the BSA/FBAR Eye of Sauron will be to maintain a self-hosted wallet that never connects with a money transmitter that does business in the US.
That’s a safe harbor for the moment, but ultimately nothing is safe from the Eye of Sauron. While 2019 guidance explicitly states that “a person conducting a transaction through an unhosted wallet to purchase goods or services on their own behalf is not a money transmitter”, and so is not subject to the Bank Secrecy Act directly, the December, 2020 proposed rule-making doc also included this doozy of a comment.
The Treasury Department has previously noted that “[a]nonymity in transactions and funds transfers is the main risk that facilitates money laundering.”
The Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) has similarly observed that the extent to which anonymous peer-to-peer permit transactions via unhosted wallets, without involvement of a virtual asset service provider or a financial institution, is a key potential AML/CFT risk in some CVC systems.
FATF members have specifically observed that unregulated peer-to-peer transactions “could present a leak in tracing illicit flows of virtual assets,” particularly if one or more blockchain-based CVC networks were to reach global scale.
Importantly, as explained below, while data contained on some blockchains are open to public inspection and can be used by authorities to attempt to trace illicit activity, FinCEN believes that this data does not sufficiently mitigate the risks of unhosted and otherwise covered wallets.
That last paragraph doesn’t mince words. Even if the blockchain facilitating a crypto currency allows for “authorities” to trace transactions, “the risks of unhosted and otherwise covered [i.e., hidden from the Eye of Sauron] wallets” are too great to let stand. LOL. I think we all see where this is going.
The response I get from the Bitcoin and larger crypto community to what seems to me to be the clear intent and path of Treasury regulations is always this: well, good luck enforcing that!
Unfortunately, that’s the evil artistry of panopticons like the Eye of Sauron or Treasury’s BSA/FBAR regulatory structure: we are driven to willingly enforce their discipline on ourselves.
A panopticon is an institutional structure that creates a permanent feeling of being watched. Maybe you are and maybe you aren’t at any given moment. But you’re never sure that you’re NOT being watched. And if you ARE being watched, then you better ‘fess up and cooperate before you get your head stuck on an orc’s pike. Did I mention that the penalty for a willful failure to make an FBAR report was the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the unreported foreign assets?
Moreover, a panopticon structure allows you to see the behavior of others. And they of you. If the discipline imposed by the Watcher includes obligations to snitch — and that’s exactly what the Treasury requires here, with obligations on money transmitters to report on clients, and obligations on clients to report on money transmitters — a panopticon sets up a classic Prisoners Dilemma game, where the only equilibrium is for both the money transmitter and the client to volunteer information about the other.
Once you start looking for panopticons in our modern world, you will find them everywhere. And of course there’s an Epsilon Theory note on this.
Panopticon (March 2014)
“Transparency” has little to do with freedom and everything to do with control, and the more “radical” the transparency the more effective the control … the more willingly and completely we police ourselves in our own corporate or social Panopticons.
You’re not opposed to “transparency” are you? Why would you be opposed to “transparency” unless you have something to hide? You’re not a … a … terrorist-lover, are you? No, I didn’t think so.
It’s not just that Wall Street and the US Treasury dominate policy.
Far more perniciously, they also dominate narrative.
And that’s why I’m writing this note.
Frankly, I doubt that the policy battle can be won. This has been my view since I first started writing about Bitcoin, and nothing has happened to change my mind. On the contrary, Treasury’s moves to make crypto visible and controllable have happened faster than I thought they would. I mean, I’m hopeful that we are at least at some point of policy equilibrium with the proposed rule changes to BSA and FBAR, an equilibrium that will at least allow self-hosted crypto wallets to exist in peace. But hope, unfortunately, is not a strategy.
Too Clever By Half (Feb 2018)
The inevitable result of financial innovation is that it ALWAYS ends up empowering the State. When too clever by half coyotes misplay the meta-game, that’s all the excuse the State needs to come swooping in.
Just as they did with Bear and Lehman in 2008. Just as they’re doing with Bitcoin today.
So, no, I don’t think I can help much in the policy battle.
But I think I can help a lot in the narrative battle.
Or rather, the Narrative Machine can help.
Inception (April 2020)
The systematic study of narrative, what we call the Narrative Machine, can be used for analysis, yes, but also as an active instrument to reclaim our autonomy of mind and our generosity of spirit.
Everything else is commentary.
I know you don’t believe me, but we’re going to change the world … you and me.
The Bitcoin narrative must be renewed.
Bitcoin has been an authentic expression of identity, a positive identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy.
It can be again.
Wall Street and Treasury are running a psyop with their creation of Bitcoin! TM, and it’s necessary to think about Bitcoin in those psyop/narrative terms if the goal is to preserve an active community with an identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy in the context of Bitcoin specifically and crypto more generally.
That’s my goal, anyway.
I’m not in this for Bitcoin-as-global-reserve-currency. I’m not in this for Number Go Up. I’m not in this for “store of value” against that gosh darn “dollar debasement”. I’m not in this for Flow. I’m not opposed to any of those things, and I don’t think you’re a Bad Person if those are your things. They’re just not my things. I’m in this for Bitcoin as good art and the inspiration it provides to a community that shares my values and goals for making a better world.
Phase 1 of this anti-psyop campaign is to identify Schelling points (game solutions that people arrive at by default in the absence of direct communication … also called focal points) so that people who share this goal of community organization and narrative reclamation can find each other.
I think that one of these Schelling points is maintaining a self-hosted wallet and the capacity for peer-to-peer connections away from the Eye of Sauron.
Starting today, Epsilon Theory will accept Bitcoin as payment for all annual subscriptions through our BTCPay server. It’s a plain vanilla Raspberry Pi set-up. We’re not holding ourselves out as crypto mavens. We’re signaling an identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy in the context of Bitcoin.
Phase 2 of this anti-psyop campaign is to use the Narrative Machine to measure and visualize the narrative archetypes and story arcs of Bitcoin! TM. In exactly the same way that there are only, say, a dozen archetypal scripts for every TV sitcom episode ever filmed, or in exactly the same way that there are three acts to every modern movie screenplay, so is there an underlying structure and a finite number of underlying archetypes to the media coverage of every market entity.
We believe that we can measure these narrative structures and archetypes as they apply to Bitcoin! TM, and map those structural dynamics to market behaviors.
Seeing is believing, and I think there is no better way to prove the existence of Bitcoin! TM, in both its Wall Street-abstracted and its Treasury-painted form, than to show the psyop in action. I think this sort of analysis and visualization will get a lot of people who would otherwise be quick to dismiss our claims to take a fresh look at the ways in which we have been nudged.
Phase 3 of this anti-psyop campaign is simply to call things by their proper names. That starts with locating the value of Bitcoin in its elegant art and its ability (like all elegant art) to inspire great things away from the art itself. Yes, great things away from Bitcoin itself, so that even if Bitcoin! TM dominates financial markets (which it will), the story arc of Bitcoin doesn’t end there, but generates a thousand new initiatives to improve our world.
We don’t have to tell a story of price. We don’t have to tell a story of apocalypse. We don’t have to scold or “educate”.
We can tell an Old Story of autonomy of mind and generosity of spirit within a new context of Bitcoin and crypto.
You know, a couple of thousand years ago, a really smart guy — the most subversive, revolutionary guy you can imagine — had a good line. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
Bitcoin! TM definitely belongs to Caesar. It’s part of his game. But Bitcoin doesn’t have to be. It can be part of our game. Still. Again. And that will change everything.
As traditional financial institutions line up to get into bitcoin, a debate on whether it can stay permissionless and censorship resistant.
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Ben Hunt is the founder of Second Foundation Partners and lead author of Epsilon Theory. Alex Gladstein is the chief strategy officer at the Human Rights Foundation.
In this conversation, they discuss one of the most important burgeoning topics of the year: In a world where bitcoin (BTC, +4.91%) goes mainstream with traditional financial institutions, can it keep its more renegade spirit? More important, can it keep its more renegade features such as permissionless access and censorship resistance?
Ben and Alex join for a good faith, spirited discussion of whether the bitcoin we know today will be preserved or whether it is doomed to be co-opted by the financial powers that be.
39:04up the down escalator no III think I39:07think there are real possibilities of39:09creating communities of distributed39:14trust right which is which is at the39:17core of the to in my mind the whole39:19effort right have now how do you create39:22a community of distributed trust and and39:27and what I’d like to see is that that39:29distributed trust is applied to areas39:32that are not so fiercely guarded by the39:38you know the the powerful you know39:42states governments and and and39:45businesses right because again it when I39:48think about how to play the long game39:49here I think that is possible to carve39:53out39:55areas of got resistance but what I39:58really mean is areas of sovereignty self40:00sovereignty over issues again they’re40:02not so fiercely guarded as money yes40:04about the state and and so again this is40:07an issue of tactics or other than40:09strategy right and and and so that I40:11would pursue a different tactical40:14approach to the I think the goal we all40:17or most of your listeners share with you40:20and I for sure it it does seem to me and40:27I want to bring this back to the run of40:29iris now right which is that everything40:34you’re describing whether it’s whether40:36it’s your tactical approach my tactical40:39approach I40:42I think it’s tempting to think oh the40:44instability that the virus brings is40:47going to be an advantage in fighting40:51this long game right I actually think40:54it’s it’s it’s it’s a very much40:57disadvantageous to both of us right the41:00both of our tactical approaches here and41:02and I don’t think you have to look much41:04farther than what happened in Hungary41:07right over the last two days where the41:09the Hungarian Parliament and this has41:12been building for a while right and41:14event but Hungarian Parliament in41:17response to the throne of iris emergency41:21and it is an emergency gave really41:26dictatorial powers to to Viktor Orban41:29the the Prime Minister where he now has41:32the ability ability to rule by decree41:34right don’t have to pass the law doesn’t41:37have to go to Parliament whatever the41:40executive says is law there’s no time41:43limit on this now in hunger there’s a41:47new law that if you spread false41:49information I think and use as the41:53executive describes this what at stake41:54or not you’re in prison for five years41:56and if you try to leave the areas of41:59confinement quarantine that they’ve set42:01up that’s in the this this is what42:04happens I think in weaker states42:07go back to some you know idyllic state42:09of nature where you know you can set up42:13your you know Kingdom of Wakanda you42:15know alright what happens is they’re42:17taken over by thugs they’re taking them42:19by warlords and by thugs and and you42:23know in Hungary is uh it’s a member of42:26the yeah I mean I mean it’s a core42:28member of Europe so when I when I think42:31about what’s going to happen in the next42:33year and a half in Indonesia what’s42:36gonna happen the next year and a half in42:38Egypt it’s going to happen in today42:40what’s happening right now in Iran for42:42God’s sakes I I don’t think it works to42:46our advantage42:47III think that the impetus in every42:50country and particularly in the weaker42:52States is going to be for reclaiming of42:55the physical of the violence of the gun42:59and so this is why I think it’s more43:03important than ever that we identify43:06each other in our communities of empathy43:09in our communities of our pack right so43:14that we can fight this long game this43:18long war and so we can support each43:19other so anyway that’s not I’m just43:23trying to bring it back to what’s43:25happening today and and how we should43:28think about this unfortunately I don’t43:29think it’s a great opportunity but I43:32think it’s something that we all need to43:35come together even more around so that43:38we can can stray stay strong or the the43:42dark times that are ahead and I do think43:44they’re dark times well never one to43:48mince words and and and I certainly43:50appreciate the perspective on I’m43:52slightly more optimistic for the reasons43:56that I outlined you know in the physical43:57realm but in the digital realm right is44:00the internet still a bastion of freedom44:02and can you ultimately get people to act44:05freely outside of you know some of the44:08more restrictive social media platforms44:11for instance but just any type of44:12peer-to-peer communication system44:14peer-to-peer digital realms would seem44:17if you’re more conducive for the silent44:20distance the quiet resistance yes and44:22that individual thesis but how exactly44:26we get there not not debating that it44:29could get ugly I want to change gears44:32for the the last a little bit that we44:34have and just talk about your44:37understanding of the investment you know44:40as I guess for this generation of44:45investors because one of your more44:47popular posts this is water and yeah44:51it’s still water it kind of talked about44:53this shifting mindset where deflation44:56expectations that were driven by44:58technology are now inflation44:59expectations there’s and this isn’t45:02necessarily new but I like the way they45:04laid it out the the globalism that had45:09permeated the the macroeconomy for so45:12long is now becoming more nationalistic45:13now in some respects that’s not a bad45:16thing because now you might have45:18countries that are more resilient in the45:21face of issues like pandemics when when45:24today you know we’re seeing just how45:26levered we are via global supply chains45:31you talked about the kind of shifting45:33from you know capital markets into you45:36know true market mechanisms just45:38political utilities and um and then just45:41overall how financialization is kind of45:43exacerbated you know all of those trends45:46what what’s what’s the what’s the next45:49step in in financial markets right yeah45:51if if you run out of the capacity to45:53print if you run out of the capacity to45:55spend let’s not even talk about the u.s.45:58let’s talk about some some country like46:00like Hungary they don’t necessarily46:02control their own currency it’s a small46:05but usually functioning democracy what46:09does a market system look like in a46:11situation like hungry and then how do46:13you ever get back to normalcy or how do46:18you set the reset button so that the46:24short answer is that for in a I’ll go46:30back to46:32I’m gonna go back 2,500 years yeah this46:37is the academic in me right I can’t I46:38can’t I can’t give you a straight answer46:39right what you’re asking has all46:43happened before like it’s all happened46:46before right so Peloponnesian War you’ve46:52got a thens and Sparta the big countries46:56you know fighting each other and then46:59the question is well what happens to the47:00little countries what happens to ya47:05you know magar you know all these these47:07these little city-states and the the47:11Athenians they’re trying to get their47:13their allies together in one of the the47:18little allies is saying well you know47:20but you know you’re asking us to47:22sacrifice everything is all for you I47:24mean this this sounds this justice out a47:28great deal and the Athenian ambassador47:31says you know it was ever thus the47:33strong do as they will the weak do as47:36they must strong do as they will the47:39weak do this they must47:40and nothing has changed in 2500 freaking47:44years when it comes to the ability of47:49countries to chart their own course to47:55deal with the exigencies of power hungry48:02will do as they must even weaker48:07countries than hungry will definitely do48:08is they must and the strong do as they48:10will so what they will when it comes to48:15Europe when it comes to the United48:16States when it comes to Japan which48:17comes to to China is that there are no48:20limits on you know printer Gober right48:24there are no limits on you know we we48:29haven’t even really touched yet modern48:33monetary theory in the notion that well48:35there’s not even a relationship between48:37spending and taxing right48:38you can run deficits as much as you want48:40go on go for it we’re just getting48:43started man48:45getting started hey we’re not at the end48:48game of this where yeah it’s like it’s48:52like this is halftime hey this this48:55isn’t the last few minutes of the fourth48:56quarter48:57with how governments are going to48:59transform capital markets and the fourth49:01key utilities with how they’re going to49:03you know transform the meaning of money49:06into what supports political power yeah49:09this is just half time so I I think we49:14really do have to take that long-term49:16perspective that the printer can go burr49:20for a lot longer and it doesn’t matter49:25who gets elected you know you know it’s49:27it’s it it’s all the same that the last49:3010 years have been the greatest transfer49:32of wealth – I call it the managerial49:35class then I really think anything in49:40history it has come through stock49:42buybacks through stock sales through49:44stock based compensation it’s all49:46happened in the last 10 years and it’s a49:48transfer of hundreds of billions of49:50dollars of wealth to managers not49:55entrepreneurs not founders not Shinya to49:59managers managers and when that much50:04wealth is transferred to that number of50:06people in such a short period of time50:08it doesn’t reverse itself yeah you know50:11you know people don’t the the cheese may50:14move but people still want their cheese50:16yeah and and and I just I just think50:20it’s so important to remember that we50:24really are playing that long game to50:26remember that the strong do is they will50:28and the weak – as they must and to have50:32in mind a set that that we’re just half50:34time right now and that we need to play50:39the game accordingly because what you50:42don’t want to do is you don’t want to50:46yeah you don’t want to storm an50:48entrenched machine-gun nest you know50:50with you know huzzah now is our time you50:53know then you you really do I think want50:57to play the long game50:58I think there50:59a real power of conviction and belief51:03that allows us to play a long game51:06mm-hmm and to keep it all together51:11of course people like you doing your51:13podcast it requires people like me doing51:15our writing and most of it all it it51:18requires a critical mass of people who51:22whose greatest regret would be to give51:26up and to be co-opted by the powers that51:30be rather than play the long game and51:32fight the long fight I can’t think of a51:36better way to wrap up this conversation51:39than calling for conviction and long51:42term ISM and a market remedies panicked51:45and and you know short termism generally51:48drills the day then where can people51:51find you on twitter I’m easy it’s it’s51:54it’s all epsilon Theory all the time so51:56at epsilon theory and epsilon Theory51:59comm it’s for you to read and love to52:03love to have you on board it’s a it’s an52:06excellent read always I’ve been52:08following you for years now and and52:10definitely appreciate your commentary52:11and watching it at all even as we get52:14into a slightly darker period and you52:16can tell for those that are tuning in if52:19you can hear the background noise that52:20naptime just ended so we we just wrapped52:23up with the most perfect time because I52:25just I just heard my kids wake up and52:27surprise that they haven’t run in here52:28already thank you for having me Ryan’s52:32really a pleasure anytime Thank You Ben52:35and stay safe52:36YouTube take care
In this kick-off Epsilon Theory webcast, I’m joined by renowned cryptocurrency miner and trader @notsofast for a wide-ranging conversation on Bitcoin and crypto.
To put it in crypto and Epsilon Theory lingo, we talk about talk about DeFi, the “Saylorization” of Bitcoin, and brainstorm about how to keep the animal control officers focused on the huckster raccoons rather than us too-clever-by-half coyotes.
To put it more simply, we’re talking about this:
Can Bitcoin preserve its revolutionary potential after a Wall Street bear hug?
I’m highly skeptical, but @notsofast has some ideas on how to make this work. The end result of this conversation is a challenge and a research project for both of us … and for you!