The future of money, currency, governance, economy, and civilization is to be determined by the confluence of public confidence, politics, culture, economics, and technology.
If the earth shattering gravity of this blog is not impressed upon you the reader, read it again more slowly and click more of the links. The is a concisely worded, but very deeply insightful blog that assimilates several years of my information accumulation— thus with enough detailed citations to keep the formerly clueless but inquisitive, motivated reader busy for days or weeks.
Edit: This was not formatted for a narrow screen for reading on a mobile phone. I see that Steemit displays the published blog in a narrower column than the preview when I was writing it. CLICK HERE for a wider column format.
What is Money?
Silver and platinum are highly volatile commodities with a diminishing future— not to be money nor currency ever again.
Iron used to be a precious metal even rarer than gold, but inexorable technological advance changed that. The relative worth (i.e. relative demand vs. all other things in the economy) of commodities will continue their inexorable decline as the industrial age economy implodes under a tsunami contagion of pervasive, global:
- public debt timebomb1 made irreparable by ZIRP which also bankrupted all pensions
- ideological societalcideportmanteau societal+suicide 🐵+🐮 including as biblically prophesied a cuckooed Pope leading cultural genocide by promoting rapacious Marxist envy in defiance of the anti-Marxist proverb2
- expanding kleptocracy3; the dream of democracy
- concomitant displacement of the industrial economy by the Knowledge Age (replicating the Industrial Revolution’s displacement of the agricultural economy, agricultural culture, and agricultural civilization).
Cryptocurrency is not money and will never be money.
In fact, you should be tarred and feathered for even attempting to infer craptocurrency is some type of form of sound money at all…
My dear Pocahontas, let’s extirpate your tinfoil fairytale with millennia of facts.
The generative essence attribute of money has always been the ubiquitous PUBLIC CONFIDENCE that others will accept that money (for goods, services, ransom and other forms of plunder, expropriation, or servitude such as involuntary tributum or triobolon). Which when coupled with divisibility and fungibility, is precisely what differentiates money from horridly inefficient barter.
Martin Armstrong wrote:
Diocletian (284-305AD) who attempted to restore silver coinage after the Great Monetary collapse. It did not matter that coinage was restored. CONFIDENCE still collapsed and the coinage was rapidly hoarded and vanished from circulation [i.e. the velocity-of-money collapsed]. So yes, even when the money is of full [metal] value, it still will not circulate if people do not BELIEVE government.
Martin Armstrong wrote:
Overlooked, is now about 29% of American households are now hoarding CASH (not gold)…MONEY to them is dollars…Households are sitting on $2.15 trillion in savings—about a 50 percent increase over the past five years.
Had the Fed just handed money to people would not have worked for the majority would have hoarded [or paid down debt which increases aggregate net savings] it as a cushion anyway as they are now doing. It is all about CONFIDENCE [which is declining as evident by the declining velocity-of-money].
Martin Armstrong wrote:
In fact, 43% of Americans keep their savings in cash these days for interest pays nothing. Yet, an amazing 53% of those cash-hoarders “plan to hide bills in a secret location at home.”
Martin Armstrong wrote:
The capital flows turned into the USA despite the introduction of increasing the money supply by QE. So while the central bankers expected inflation and the Gold Promoters misrepresent this issue claiming that increasing the supply of money is automatically inflationary so gold must rise and the dollar fall, exactly the opposite has unfolded. [because PUBLIC CONFIDENCE subsumes any Quantity Theory of Money nonsense]
Murray Rothbard once parodied Irving Fisher's quantity theory of money, MV=PQ, by saying "the volume of water that hits the ground is the same as the amount of rain that falls from the sky." A statement which, while true, does not enable you to predict the weather. We know the identity; what is the causality?
Money has always been fiat precisely due to the power vacuum struggle over who/what will satisfy that aforementioned “generative essence attribute”, due to the absence of a Nash equilibrium or Schelling point that could otherwise spontaneously generate it. Contrary to myopic bullshit*, even gold and silver are not a Schelling point nor stable Nash equilibrium because:
- Manipulation of supply (with control over fiat and governance) and velocity via predatory taxation.
- Others prefer fiats, because if precious metals were ubiquitously accepted money immune to fiat control, it would prevent government from (the “long con” convincing illusion3 of) fulfilling the obligations demanded by the people.
Martin Armstrong wrote:
…the people will step in and provide their own fiat to fill the vacuum…when government fails to provide that medium, they create their own fiat system. Thus, the use of “scrip” during the 1930’s was not a new idea.. [note: I provided more historical examples]
|Since gold and silver are not a Nash equilibrium strategy nor Schelling point for money, then if PUBLIC CONFIDENCE in a fiat can’t be established, the world has historically descended into a (typically ~600 year) Dark Age where only food is money and precious metals are worth less than the risk-cost of exchanging them thus they’re buried in the ground.||
Thus neither precious metals nor fiat are a “form of sound money”.
Every asset, money regime, and thing in nature floats in a dynamic cycle— “historically even gold has lost all value as was the case after the fall of Rome” so can’t reliably serve as economic collapse protection and paradigmatically under-performed by more than order-of-magnitude per average human lifespan!
Although there is utility in social coordination which will cycle through first-world peaks and collapse3, an eternal fixed standard of value is impossible wherein only gold would be the reserve unit-of-account upon which everything else is priced, because it would require the Universe to become dependently tethered/static (zero entropy) such that nothing could ever grow faster or slower than the supply of gold without respectively losing or gaining absolute worth. Relativity would cease to exist: the past and future would become undifferentiated, the speed-of-light innumerable (unquantifiable), and life would not exist. Btw, I also worked out analogous logic (hint: there is always a opportunity cost leakage such as via shorting) as to why all cryptocurrency pegs will eventually fail, e.g. BitUSD and Tether.
* And note I read that myopic bullshit (written by Curtis Yarvin aka Mencius Moldbug) after independently formulating my conceptualization.
Euro is a Monetary Enslavement Paradigm
Analogous to the domestic political aversion to external monetary discipline mentioned in #2 of the prior section, “a single currency that would be used in daily commerce by everyone would never exist without monumental collapse in governments and a new one world government” to institute a global fiat (↖click link for full text of The Economist), because the natural entropic tendency is for competing cultures and societies to form separate fiat currencies enabling local political-economic fitness:
“Since there is no central international monetary authority, an SDR-based system would…mean that nations relinquish the ability to use monetary policy to pursue domestic policy objectives, a very unpopular alternative.”— White House Council of Economic Advisors Nov. 8, 1995
For example, denominating Greece’s debt in Euros whilst Greece remained fiscally independent from other EU states, i.e. relinquishing its national Drachma currency to Euro integration but not integrating fiscally and thus political-economically is as sustainable as being half-pregnant, meant that Greece’s productivity had to rise as fast as Germany’s (reflected in the rise of value of Euro), but this is impossible because Greece is different than Germany.
Phoenix Rises as a Hegelian Dialectic
In addition to the issue of domestic political aversion to external monetary discipline, international monetary capital flows will park where there is the most liquidity* (i.e. where most other international monetary capital flows), except when not parking and seeking investment yield. This unavoidable/unstoppable free market phenomenon creates a singular (but not eternal/static) self-reinforcing PUBLIC CONFIDENCE driven international reserve store-of-value— a monetized medium-of-saving in post-Austrian Moldbug Monetary Theory (MoMT):
In a pre-industrial or even pre-electronic age, it's easy to understand the standardization of media of exchange. If Thag the axe-maker wants silver for his axes and all you have is gold, you have to go fetch Drog the money-changer, which is a pain in the ass. However, on a modern (or at least future) trading platform, translating commodities is a matter of milliseconds. Thus it would appear that the demand for a monetary standard is epsilon. You can buy axes with pork bellies, no problem.
However, the monetization of medium-of-exchange can now become orthogonal to medium-of-saving (which is evidenced on the international savings scope, with the existence of national currency standards orthogonal to the dollar international reserve currency and that international investment flows now dwarf trade flows, which surprisingly Armstrong failed to assimilate), because the frictional costs of trading electronic assets do not have an insignificant cost epsilon when requiring more frequent transactions than saving:
Or consider an economy in which the daily medium of exchange is silver, but all significant silver accounts are converted to gold overnight. This economy demands a very small amount of silver (petty cash) and a very large amount of gold (savings and other long-term positions). Hence, it is one in which silver is substantially demonetized - yet the medium of exchange.
To not be a slave to fiat (or an altcoin slave to BTC), I posit that a cryptocurrency has to have use-cases that make these “frictional effects” significant so that the cryptocurrency can’t be disintermediated as follows:
With these magical devices, coincidence of wants is not in principle a problem, though small frictional effects persist.
It is trivial to do business in Bitcoin when BTC/USD is unstable. Simply post the price in USD, and use the BTC/USD exchange rate as of the transaction date [as Bitpay does].
Yet Moldbug loses focus that only the sovereignty of the fiat provides the Nash equilibrium strategy Schelling point. NIRP in the EU demonstrates that the sovereign can charge a negative discount rate as an admission fee:
In fact, it is impossible for loan markets in dollars and gold to predict this result, because there is no such thing as a negative interest rate in a loan market - the transaction is meaningless…
The Nash equilibrium of speculation is too diversely randomized in myriad of time frames and permutations:
Where is the misprediction coming from? It is coming from the fact that the lending market, since it does not understand the monetary standardization game, cannot play it.
Thus as explained mathematically below, any one outcome can’t be the sole preferred strategy, even if the force of fiat is creating an ephemeral strategy choice for the international reserve currency and national currencies medium-of-exchange standards. And I already explained why being tethered to a universal, singular, eternal monetary standard would require a static (past undifferentiated from future) Universe which thus by definition, can’t exist.
Here there is no Nash equilibrium without introducing randomness…Flip a coin. If you flip a coin, and your opponent flips a coin, neither of you will regret your choice. Here we see a "mixed Nash equilibrium", an equilibrium reached with the help of randomness…
Thus afaics, the only two potential Schelling point opportunities for a Phoenix global currency to rise would exist simultaneously with and be separate from from any national (or regional bloc) currencies:
World institutional fiat international reserve.
Globalized medium-of-exchange with some exclusive, compelling attribute— i.e. intrinsic value:
Indeed, it is logically possible to imagine an economy in which the medium of saving and the medium of exchange are different assets, and the medium of saving is overvalued but the medium of exchange is not…
History has never seen a pure monetary standard like Bitcoin [implying Bitcoin has no significant intrinsic value]. It's not only that gold has intrinsic material utility - even fiat currency, though tremendously overvalued by savings energy, has intrinsic value. Try paying your taxes without it.
In the first case, I’ve already explained that precious assets (e.g. metals) can’t have a Schelling point for becoming an international reserve. Contrary to valid but insignificant causal insights, they’ve been mostly effective (but by now insignificant barbaric relics) deception for fiat regimes to pretend-and-extend the “long-con”3:
The wild card in the gold market, as I hasten to remind readers, is the existence and/or new creation of synthetic or "naked short" gold, presumably by central banks (no one else could hide the losses). If dollar liabilities can be transformed to gold liabilities, currency issuers (central banks) can create infinite synthetic gold to neutralize all monetary demand.
Perhaps this is a crime. If so, the CBs exhibit motive, opportunity, and propensity. The official gold market, including bullion banks, is a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma. I would like to see the gold books of all governments, exchanges, and banks. Who is naked? Who is transforming maturities? It won't happen.
Truly “decentralized” cryptocurrencies (which btw don’t exist yet) that are thus not ultimately fiats (as they don’t succumb to winner-take-all, economies-of-scale) can never become the international reserve currency for fiats because dubious liquidity between cryptocurrencies and fiats will be potentially attackable at least until if cryptocurrency becomes too popular globally (which is the Hegelian catalyst discussed below). The paramount generative essence attribute of a reserve currency is liquidity*.
Analogous to my #2 point about gold in the first section, truly “decentralized” cryptocurrency (especially as a medium-of-saving, thus a unit-of-account for debt/bonds) would ultimately be a threat to fiat regimes when/if displacing the fiat monopoly (especially in sovereign bonds) which otherwise (i.e. when not displaced) enables the “first-world, socialism, nation building” bubble3. Evidence such resistance in that the Bitcoin ETF hasn’t been approved. However, cryptocurrency is less threatening to fiat regimes as a speculative asset (bubble?) which is only a fledgling medium-of-exchange currently significantly corralled by centralized exchanges, traceable blockchains, and esoteric, limited use-cases.
If cryptocurrency establishes widely sought use-cases that can’t be provided by fiat medium-of-exchange (e.g. permissionless, regulation-free, non-modal, borderless, instant, nanotransactions in a paradigm where blockchains displace all widely shared centralized databases on the Internet), national and regional fiat regimes would find it difficult to prevent these uses because it would be Whac-A-Mole with similar outcomes as the example of as the more decentralized file sharing is attacked, the more popular it becomes. The fiat regimes could attack or threaten to attack centralized exchanges and other choke points within their jurisdictions, but unless most jurisdictions are coordinated then cryptocurrency systems will route around the defecting nations causing them to suffer more than the whole. Users may game the global system using different fiats/jurisdictions as proxies routing around defecting jurisdictions.
Presuming the Scalepocalypse is solved (which it will be, as solutions are known already with for example Steem already scaling but not truly decentralized), cryptocurrency is poised to be the Hegelian dialectic catalyst that drives coordinated acquiescence to a world government, because a worldwide coordination will be required to regulate liquidity between fiat and cryptocurrency in order to rescue central banking from extinction and sustain the Iron Law of Political Economics “long con”3 that society demands. This thesis even seems to correlate with the scripture that the Beast is wounded but recovers because the people demand it.
Moving directly to a world government without a catalyst to force international coordination is implausible both because of the lack of a Schelling point about relinquishing national sovereignty which was explained in the prior section. The Euro was achieved by obfuscating the enslavement and with the catalyst lie that peace would be more sustainable— which former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (a close personal friend of Armstrong) disagreed with and fought valiantly but could not defeat. Blowback incoming. Also a rapid remonetization or monetary reset must cause widespread economic dislocation to some sectors. Whether it be the elite or the masses, both dislocations are difficult to achieve or at least without blowback, which in the case of disenfranchised masses can result in a more fractured landscape of separatist movements, which increase disorder probably making world government coordination less plausible (although disorder can be a power vacuum catalyst driving demand for coordination, but not necessarily having any Schelling point for achieving coordination).
Martin Armstrong wrote:
However, this idea that everyone will be using the same [fiat!] currency is a pipe-dream with no basis in reality for the amount of political change would require a bloodbath in revolution. It could NEVER unfold willingly with the political system we currently have. Even then, counter-revolutionary forces would emerge. It will not be just BREXIT, it will be countless civil wars against a central political institution.
The very best will be a single new reserve currency to replace the dollar. But every country would still need to retain its own currency because the business cycle cannot be defeated so while some countries benefit, others must suffer.
The Economist inadvertently predicted the potential rise of a non-fiat, globalized cryptocurrency:
THIRTY years from now, Americans, Japanese, Europeans, and people in many other rich countries, and some relatively poor ones will probably be paying for their shopping with the same currency. Prices will be quoted not in dollars, yen or D-marks but in, let’s say, the phoenix. The phoenix will be favoured…because it will be more convenient than today’s national currencies, which by then will seem a quaint cause of much disruption to economic life in the last twentieth century…
As the next century approaches, the natural forces that are pushing the world towards economic integration will offer governments a broad choice. They can go with the flow, or they can build barricades…
Although the coming global economic collapse1 may plausibly provide a Schelling point political opportunity for a monetary reset that institutes some deception that appears (to fools) to be a power sharing among nations of the international reserve currency, due to the aforementioned political-economic resistance, this can’t plausibly go all the way to world governance consolidation of the national fiscal budgets and the concomitant national (or regional bloc union) central banking. For that we need a catalyst to achieve a Schelling point to overcome the political resistance.
Martin Armstrong wrote:
As for SDRs, I proposed that back in 1985, The White House responded to me with a two-page letter stating that such a system would mean the government will
loserelinquish domestic policy objectives for international. That [Triffin Dilemma] is happening right now any way. The Federal Reserve is becoming the central bank for the world because it is [debt] chaos everywhere else.
Today, however, I would oppose the IMF SDR system for the IMF is way too corrupt [c.f. the complicity of HSBC and Goldman Sachs]. I have told how I was invited by Edmond Safra to the IMF Washington Dinner he put on for the IMF renting the entire National Gallery. Everybody was there from politicians to Paul Volcker. I was told bluntly to join the bankers “club” back then. I was invited to demonstrate to me that they had the IMF in their pocket. They poured money into Russia [to blackmail Boris Yeltsin, c.f. the Money Plane and political transformation of Russia]and the IMF was to keep the loans going. When they could not, the whole mess collapsed [as I warned the IMF it would, without perfect deterministic control because I’m omniscient]. That produced the Long Term Capital Management crisis and the first Fed bailout.
Because the London Financial Times had reported on the front page that at our London WEC in July 1998, I delivered the forecast that Russia would collapse in a matter of weeks, that began this whole mess alleging I manipulate the world economy…
To break the world monetary system, that will ONLY take place with a rising dollar. But with a declining outcome thereafter. You are just missing that part that FIRST the dollar must soar to screw up the world…
Martin Armstrong wrote:
…setting of the stage for the one-world reserve currency. To reach that point, what we need is a strong dollar rally that will hurt the world economy significantly forcing political change.
Displacing the dollar takes decades to accomplish for it is one domino at a time. Such profound changes to the world monetary system are not accomplished overnight. It took 26 years to wipe out Bretton Woods. From 1971, it was 26 years to the start of the Euro and the Asian Currency Crisis. We should see the dollar displacement by the peak of the next 8.6 year wave. You can see the one-world currency coming – it’s just not ready this instant. It will be the solution they choose. Even the IMF is planning meetings on the SDR…
Martin Armstrong wrote:
The ONLY way to replace the dollar as the reserve currency requires the establishment of a new world currency that will most likely take the form of an [international reserve] electronic currency [for wealth trading] among nations [not a globalized electronic currency for consumer commerce]. My bet, the administrator will turn out to be the corrupt organization of the IMF. That would be a total disaster in my OPINION.
Martin Armstrong wrote:
There are those proposing a gold back SDR. Good luck. Been there done that…and besides do you really want the IMF to be in charge of money creation? That will be worse – an unelected dictatorship [including cousin of former POTUS George Walker Bush that has tentacles in the CIA , drug trade, plus commodities manipulation and Wall Street].
Martin Armstrong wrote:
I would support some practical basket of currencies since Russia and China dislike having the dollar as the reserve currency. Likewise, with the dollar being the only practical currency standing, the USA is realizing that it may lose control of its domestic economy because of international considerations. Clearly, there have already been discussions of removing the reserve status of the dollar, but this cannot be accomplished unilaterally. Under no circumstance would I support placing the IMF in charge of this instrument. That organization is way too corrupt and my advice to China and Russia (where we also have this blog in their respective languages) is to reject any such attempt to hand this power to the IMF. We need a clean house to start such a project and the IMF has way too much baggage.
Martin Armstrong wrote:
The assumption that there needs to be this one-world government to create a one-world [reserve] currency is nonsense. The ONLY political solution will be to create a independent reserve currency. This will be the result of the debt crisis for countries will have to default. However, a reserve currency needs no backing for the value of a currency has always been its image or CONFIDENCE.
Such a reserve currency is exempt from fiscal mismanagement since it would not be the currency of a given government. Each nation would retain its currency that would float against the reserve.
|The impending strong dollar vortex stampede short squeeze1 combined with the Triffin Dilemma, which will be viewed by many policy makers as one of the causes of the imminent global economic collapse, may provide the will to coordinate on an international reserve currency which can’t be controlled by any one nation. I expect it to have similarities to FOFOA’s Freegold hypothesis in the area of providing discipline to the nations wherein sovereign bond speculators penalize nations which do not maintain sound fiscal discipline. Yet differing with some basket weighting of assets, not only gold as the reserve (because again I repeat that politically national fiats would never agree, other than as a token weighting of gold for creating confidence). Yet ultimately this means national currencies become enslaved to the SDR institution analogous to the predicament of Greece in the EU; because national politicians will always overspend. Thus furthering the debt enslavement resulting eventually that higher and higher yields will be demanded of national sovereign bonds in a death spiral analogous to Greece’s predicament, possibly after some respite. Coupled with the hypothesized cryptocurrency catalyst, it’s plausible this may finally push the world into a one world government and fiat currency system. Forcing us to electronic currency is compatible with my thesis.||
But such an omnipotent world government may not be able to entirely squelch a truly decentralized cryptocurrency as explained more in the next section. Yet (afaik and I’m expert) no one has yet published a blockchain consensus algorithm which is not a winner-take-all, power vacuum endgame.
Armstrong warned about this in the late 1980s when the States were still in surplus. In 2015, Armstrong proposed that sovereign national governments print the national currency fiat they need instead of taxing and selling sovereign bond debt, but whoever† has tried that has always been |
* Because lower liquidity has lower buy/ask market maker spreads— thus less round-trip friction trading losses; and is much less likely to have a chaotic black swan no-bid event. A strong military and institutions may be associated with the expected stable order of the reserve currency.
Cryptocurrency is Unkillable, Analogous to an Endospore
CLICK HERE to read more…
(My blog post was too large for Steem and I received the error,
fc::raw::pack_size(trx) <= (get_dynamic_global_properties().maximum_block_size - 256))
P.S. I stumbled onto an essay I wrote in 2008 contemplating something like Bitgold or Bitcoin and published 14 days before Szabo did. I had not worked out how to eliminate the physical backing entirely, but I was spot on the concepts of cryptography and decentralization.
If any of the links on this blog disappear from the Internet, you may find them archived on the Wayback Machine.