Famous Economist Explains: Proof-of-Stake Tokens are Money, Bitcoin Isn't

in #steem4 years ago (edited)

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Professor Steve Keen is famous for predicting the 2008 crisis along with its cause as well as the scope of the damage. Not only that, the model he used to forecast the crisis using complex systems theory also predicted the "great moderation" that preceded it. That's how I first came across Professor Keen. Like many of us, the Great Recession forced me to reevaluate everything I thought I knew about economics. My first step was to study all of the people who had "predicted" the crisis. After a while it became clear that just because someone "predicted" the crisis didn't necessarily mean that they were "right." Many were just "perma-bears" whose most valuable insight is that if you always forecast a crisis, you'll always be right ... eventually. Many others predicted the recession, but for the wrong reasons which eventually became apparent over time when their predictions would break down.

Not Just an Economist, More of an Anti-Economist

Professor Keen's insights, on the other hand, held up both against deep inquiry as well as against the test of time. He isn't just an economist, mathematician, and econometrician, but he is also a historian of the field of economics which I believe gives his work a level of depth and sophistication that places it at the forefront of the field. It is therefore no surprise that he is using complex systems theory, a relatively new field that is revolutionizing many other disciplines as well. It is complex systems theory which turned weather forecasting from the equivalent of palm-reading to a legitimate science.

As someone who has been interested in cryptocurrencies for many years now (something I also think was driven by the 2008 crisis) I've long been waiting for Keen to weigh in on what we're doing. At the same time there was some reticence as I feared his criticism. If this man I respected so much were to pick apart our work, I would be forced to pay serious attention to his claims. At the same time, I had hope that he would see what we're doing, especially what we at Steemit are doing, and see it as a valuable evolution of the technology. After all, I am quite familiar with his work and don't personally see any conflict between what he says, and what we built.

Today That Hope Became Reality

In a recent appearance on the YouTube channel "Nugget's News" he addressed my concerns head-on saying, "Proof-of-Work is barter, Proof-of-Stake is ... very close to mirroring what money is."

Earlier in the video he goes into more detail on this issue saying:

"The thing that I think was difficult about Bitcoin is that, of course, it wants to have a non-trusted system. You don't need a trusted party. Well that's fundamentally saying, 'We don't need money to do what money does.' And what has actually happened instead is this enormous cost of the verification process... Proof-of-Stake is actually modeling money. Proof-of-Work is modeling barter. If we did actually use gold for transactions you and I would be out in the hills regularly trying to dig the stuff up and then putting large amounts of our physical energy into digging holes in the ground, pulling out a bit of gold and putting it back in another hole in the ground after we got it out. That's a barter model of capitalism. Capitalism is not a barter system."

One of the amazing things about being in this field has been getting to watch as everyone else caught on to what we were doing. To see someone I respect so much not just acknowledge the work generally, but to specifically highlight the type of protocol in which we are pioneers, is more than I ever hoped for.

Thank You Professor Keen

I want to thank the Professor for joining the conversation, and extend an invitation to discuss this matter more fully from a member of the team that launched the fastest blockchain in the world (made possible by its use of Proof-of-Stake) which processes more transactions than both Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Why We Use PoS

It's interesting to note that the team chose Proof-of-Stake (Distributed or Delegated Proof of Stake specifically) for very pragmatic reasons. They assessed that DPoS was as secure as PoW but far more efficient which enabled additional features that might never be possible with Bitcoin like storing text on the blockchain as well as 3-second transfers and fee-less transfers. These features have enabled it to process the number of transactions it does while utilizing just .26% of the network's total capacity. Steem does all of this while meeting Keen's definition of money and consuming orders of magnitude less energy than PoW blockchains, a valid concern of Keen's considering the threat of global climate change.

All of that being said, I'm sure Steem isn't perfect which is precisely why we need people like Keen to get involved in the conversation: so that we can make it even better.


Smart guy. I liked it.

Crypto talk starts around 26 minute and proof of work 32 minute in video.

"These features have enabled it to process the number of transactions it does while utilizing just .26% of the network's total capacity. Steem does all of this while meeting Keen's definition of money and consuming orders of magnitude less energy than PoW blockchains, a valid concern of Keen's considering the threat of global climate change."

Shall i say steem at it best with Blockchain technology

BTC is the nestcape of crypto, good idea at first. But not workable on a global level.

Very cool, I actually didn’t really know much about poW vs Dpos, however, this is a good way to distingush their mechanics within a social structure.

This prof sounds pretty interesting, ill have to check out some of his other work, you know... for proof that he’s as awesome as u say he is ;)

I think I would disagree with Keen. To me, PoS is more closely related to ownership shares within a given system, not currency.

From this Quora post, we can observe that a currency must meet these requirements:

  1. Generally Accepted
  2. Durable
  3. Divisible
  4. Stable/Consistent
  5. Transportable
  6. Scarce
  7. Easily recognizable
  8. Difficult to Counterfeit

PoS tokens do not fulfill points 4, 5, or 7 and may or may not fulfill point 2's requirements depending on the size of the system.

On the other hand, ownership shares (or a security) represents ownership in a system unique to that system. The ownership share is generally not used for exchange for common goods and services, but is first converted into a currency for market trade.

So for these reasons, PoS tokens seem to act more as demonstrating ownership, or belonging to, a given system.

Curious for your thoughts.

Currency used to represent a store of value, before the 70's, when the US was still on a Gold Standard. That time is nothing more than fairy stories now. Currency is now simply the fuel for our day to day existence. It could intrinsically be worth absolutely nothing, but as long as you can buy the gas for your car and food for your belly with it, it's going to be the only thing you really care about.

Money has become a corrupt instrument of control, a shell of its former theory and function, serving to adhere us to "norms" rather than grant us any liberty. We live in measures of government-subsidized poker chips, and as long as the casino is open, no one is complaining. It stands to reason that blockchain-based currency, a consensus value asset, would reward those who participate in the community, rather than someone who can arbitrarily dig a hole in the ground (metaphorically) the fastest.

Fixed supply PoS coins are going to be the functional reality of cryptocurrency, as their value will be far more consistent and predictable than PoW coins, that are all just trying to emulate Bitcoin anyway. The writing is on the wall folks, Bitcoin is the first (and therefore worst) crypto protocol digital currency platform. Like every other early internet venture it will become a relic when its evolved rivals, who have been carefully studying the competition, start to demonstrate their improved coding platforms. Once users begin to grow accustomed to crypto-utility in practice, Bitcoin will suddenly lose all of its hyperbolic demand. Then, sensing the inevitable, traders will cash out, locking up the network and simultaneously dropping the market price.

It was fun while it lasted, but Bitcoin and PoW are on their last leg.

It may be cliche these days on Steemit, but this is a fantastic post!

Ever since I heard about PoS and blockchains like Bitshares and Steem I felt they were FAR superior in so many ways, especially the ones that really matter for healthy and sustainable revolution to the world.

I have never heard of Keen but now I am very exited to look into his work as I love being on the cutting edge.


The digging gold out of the ground is a good analogy of Proof of Work. I've been trying to come up with a clever version of the DPoS model, but it really isn't that easy.

The best I can come up with right now is to say that those who have continuous proved that they have performed good work, are more likely to succeed.

Take for an example, why someone would win a contract for a job. If prior results show that they have continuously provided good services by investing in their companies growth with machinery, they have staked their own money back into their own company, there by being more likely to succeed and increases the possibility of the next client trusting the company. This is what PoS does.

Downloaded the video onto my phone and will watch it on the way home! Good post!

Well one way to look at it is that it's just a representative democracy. Instead of requiring everyone digging up gold just so that no one has to manage the money supply we democratically elect people and PAY them (in Steem) to manage the money supply for us in a manner that we have predefined beforehand so as to guarantee that if they fail to do their job they will be immediately replaced and there would be no damage.

@andrarchy as you sure Blockchain is democratic? Absence of central trust

That’s really clear. Great analogy.

An interesting watch but Steve seems to know a lot more about economics than he does about cryptocurrencies. He makes a good point about POW being a huge waste of energy though although this energy could be come from renewable sources in future. The Steem dPOS is very clever and I think we'll begin to see more projects using a similar system beginning with EOS in June or whenever it properly launches

I know am a bit wiser as to the difference between pow and pos Truly greatful for this article will definitely resteem!

I just watched the Max Keiser vs Steve Keen debate so I'm looking forward to watching him in this video too

@andrarchy Very nice informative post and video. Thank you for sharing. I think that Patreon needs to blockchainize and gamify their platform. IMHO, most younger people would prefer to receive donations and crowdfunding in a basket of cryptocurrencies of their choice instead of fiat.

I think once cryptocurrency prices reach steady state (a more reliable store of value), then it'll make more sense to be used as a donation vessel on something like Patreon. Also, the gateway from crypto to fiat needs to improve drastically for crypto to be a desirable modality of donation revenue for content creators. At the end of the day, especially for the creators who've devoted their lives to growing their channels, people value liquidity and spendability over all else and crypto isn't there quite yet. While I'm hopeful for blockchain based used cases to penetrate the donor market, it'll take some time. ;)

I'm not really an economist and honestly I didn't understand much of the economic jargon and terms you used, I managed to comprehend the last section of your post though and I must say I completely agree with you.

Fee less transactions and the ability to store text on the blockchain is apparently a big deal. Getting rewarded for creating original content is pretty much a big deal.

I'm glad top professionals in fields that involve studying how our present world is being run are finally accepting and seeing the potential in cryptocurrencies and the blockchain. Great leap forward....

Das Leben ist so Kompliziert!

I don't follow how PoS allows Steem to process more transactions.

The ability to produce a candidate block, propagate it to the network efficiently, store it on a server and access the data is quite separate from the consensus method of creating or validating the block header (such as Proof of Work, Proof of Stake, Delegated Proof of Stake) which allows it to become part of the blockchain.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but would it not be possible to modify Graphene to create a PoW blockchain that can process the same number of transactions as the Steem blockchain? The only issue I can see arising from this is a high rate of orphaning, but blockchains can function pretty well even with high orphaning rates, it's just a frustration for miners.

My understanding of the benefit of Delegated Proof of Stake is that it functions essentially as the same consensus model as Proof of Work but makes the system economically more efficient (ie. as Bitcoin gets more expensive, they necessarily must increase the amount of energy burnt every day until miners are getting normal but not supernormal profit), rather than efficient at the level of nodes and transaction processing. That energy represents spent capital for the system as a whole, a cost avoided by DPoS while retaining the same incentives (trying to cheat in block production incurs risk of financial loss in both models).

TLDR: Proof of Work is wasteful, but it doesn't limit how many transactions a blockchain network can process. The limits imposed in Bitcoin and others including Ethereum are arbitrary values with the goal of limiting "centralization" due to high cost of operating a non-mining node.

My point is that DPoS is an integral part of a system that can process that many transactions. You take away DPoS and everything changes and no, you can't say that if you removed DPoS everything would work exactly the same and the network would process just as many transactions, especially if you replace it with PoW. The network would take longer to come to consensus. The amount of energy consumed by the network in order to achieve consensus would be orders of magnitude larger and that cost would have to be paid by someone through fees. You're saying that simply because you can not draw a causal line from DPoS to more transactions, that DPoS is not integral to a system that is capable of processing that many transactions. Of course that begs the question, "Then why are no other blockchains running PoW and capable of processing that many transactions?" DPoS has many consequences within the system. Even just the fact that it enables more frequent hardforks is a factor because that enables the community to make changes to the platform that help improve performance.

The time it takes for a network to come to consensus is the time it takes for a block to be propagated and validated across the network. That is a function of block size and network latency/bandwidth.


Block time in general is a decision made as part of the protocol development, weighing the value of granularity of information vs. the fears of centralization where network latency gives an advantage to larger players working together. Ethereum and others could have chosen faster block times from a technical perspective, but weighed them up in this way.


In my estimation, they are just fears. Every time block time has been reduced or block sizes have been increased they have been found to work well without serious drawbacks.

"Then why are no other blockchains running PoW and capable of processing that many transactions?"

I can't answer that with certainty but my view is that it is a matter of fear. There is a certain culture pervasive in the crypto community which does not seem to be or have been present in the development of Steem. Steem has firmly embraced the idea of nodes being run by institutions from the start, not held back by the expectation that end users must run full nodes to validate everything locally. Most other cryptocurrencies have inherited that from the Bitcoin community. Even Bitcoin Cash has maintained 8MB limits (despite successfully testing 1GB blocks) out of conservatism.

I agree with your points on the financial costs added to the system and the comparative ease of hard forks allowing faster development progress.

It seems Bitcoin Cash (and all associated that are now cooperating) are considering unlimited blocks, but if I understand it correctly there is still a risk (a fear and maybe just a fear, I'm not certain) that the limit is needed to avoid an attack.

I used to be sceptical of any Bitcoin forks, but as of late my respect have grown for them. The Bitcoin forks that is, not for anyone in particular that might be working on or supporting them.

Proof of Stake is definitely the way to go, for all your finely stated reasons. Thanks for sharing the video.

Very interesting, I agree.. I mean nothing is perfect... hopefully steemit continues to grow though :)

Agreed, my hope is steemit continues to grow in popularity and use!

Many speak ill of her because she is afraid of her and believe that with ugly comments to her from her position of power, they can destroy her.

But I do not think they can.

thought DPOS isn't perfect , we can make it better and better.

All of that being said, I'm sure Steem isn't perfect....

Do you really mean Steem isn't perfect ? or its more of having people like Keen to spread the words to make it perfect ?

Nothing is perfect

What?! But... but! My mom said I was the perfect son. How dare you.

in all honesty though, I appreciate the pragmatism

@andrarchy see the number of ethereum hackings in recent past but blockchain technology is seen as one very hard for hacking.

Not even blockchain

POW is obsolete and outdated! Bitcoin consumes too much electricity, ETH consumes too much, but POS is abuseable and has a lot of vulnerabilities.

it won't consume a lot of energy when they update the protocol and turn the entire current blockchain into 1 single hash

MONEY is MONEY... but bitcoin remains bitcoin ... until it reaches million to zillion. I believe the value will not stop rising! Please read my future posts thanks . . .

follow me cutsyifa kasi pinoy ka same tyu pinoy din ako i will follow you also

Thank you for sharing this.

fuk RT propaganda from russian totalitarism! Agressive stupid channel!

Apart from the shilling / advertorial, this is really interesting. It's an excellent analogy that Keen makes between PoW and PoS.

I suppose the obvious rejoinder is that the early cryptohackers and Bitcoin enthusiasts were drawn to it precisely because it was not like "society". Keen here of course means society as it is, not just any group of people. In other words, the rich decide by right of their riches.

I do not disagree that that is a practical way to proceed, only I disagree that it is some kind of massive oversight. It is not.

Awesome post mate. Not really that technically minded so can't say I understood everything but the bits I did unc=derstand sounded good. :)

Thanks for the info. :)

good news for tokens.. I believe BTC is here to stay also

I could not read your whole post because I'm a little busy now. When I'm free, I'll read your whole post. I know you do not post a mistake or post well. So before commenting, I will read it later.

great article keep the good work

Ja gut gemacht

No project is perfect. Just continuous improvement :)

Kein Mensch ist Perfekt! Sogar Die besten Maschinen Roboter und Computerprogramme können (kaputt gehen ,versagen das gegenteil bewirken oder einfach keinen sinn ergeben!

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Does this mean that Bitcoin is now backed by fiat?

Very interesting, I'll have to research more on it.

Thanks for this! Actually very useful!

It would be great to read your post.

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Now we just Steem's use and hence value to grow. I could live with it being worth more than bitcoin.

Excellent post, thank you for the upload!

JAKARTA - Bank Indonesian (BI) said it has signed regulations on financial information technology (fintech) on Wednesday 29/11/2017 overnight. The plan, this rule will be published on Monday 4/12/2017 future. Under this regulation, BI prohibits transactions using digital currencies such as bitcoin, because transactions using bitcoin have many risks. Executive Director of BI Payment System Policy Chief Eni Panggabean said that the use of bitcoin would violate Law no. 11 of 2017. Under the law, explaining that the rupiah is the legal currency of the country. In addition, the circulation of bitcoin is illegal, because it is not reachable by the central bank. In addition, BI only strengthens the ban on transactions using bitcoin between individuals only. The reason is the prohibition of bitcoin for providers of financial services has been regulated in Bank Indonesia Regulation Number 18 Year 2016 regarding Pengelenggraan Payment Transaction Processing. Providers of financial services or banks caught using bitcoin as a transaction will lose their licensing rights and are subject to sanctions by the government. However, for now BI has not been able to impose sanctions on bitcoin transactions that occur between individuals, because the regulations made BI can only arrive at the payment system only. Therefore, BI does not impose sanctions on individual bitcoin transactions in fintech regulations. Thus, Eni hopes the assistance of the Police of the Republic of Indonesia to oversee the bitcoin transactions used among individuals. Moreover, so far bitcoin is used for criminal transactions such as credit card fraud, data cloning, and other crimes

Good article .I am agree to know about pow vs dpos.

nice post, i like this information.

Crypto is still new in my mind and I know more about it after being active ini steemit platform. Beside, this post not only tell me some about it but also makes me study more about. It's a good time to study more from you i think.. Thanks....

Great article, but have you heard Bitcoin's developers aren't developing Bitcoin and 2018 is going to crash https://vellicore.com/bitcoin-crash-developers-leaving-dont-invest/

Thank you so much for get knowledge.

Personally I found the comparison interesting as a thought experiment, but I'm not sure I think "barter" is the best term or that suggesting PoS is more "money" is the best way of putting it.

PoW was an attempt to mirror gold mining for a specie money. Not just for barter or for mining as such.

If anything, (allegorically) PoS can be seen as more "fiat" than PoW.
In other words there is no "specie", in this case represented by virtual bitcoins mined in a costly way, supporting it.

This can have both negative and positive implications. But the difference between the two is still less than between state issued fiat and gold money / predetermined to be deflationary or less inflationary cryptocurrency.

Look at this: Discussion between Max Keiser, host of Keiser Report, and Professor Steve Keen, an economist based at London's Kingston University Is it Bitcoin Or Bitcon? Max Keiser vs Prof. Steve Keen (30Nov17)

Wanna watch the whole interview?? Here you go

Keen is mistaken about people not spending Bitcoin, maybe they are "idiots" but why is an economist wasting his time making psychological claims? Why does he bother thinking others will do what he thinks is prudent? There is plenty of evidence that most people have high time preference (they want something now, rather than waiting for it), the amount of debt and growth of debt in the economy is a perfect indicator that people would rather get something now and pay more over the long run, rather than save up money and buy something later at a discounted price. Obviously this is slightly distorted by monetary policy which lowers interest rates and can artificially drive up demand for loans, but that also doesn't account for the fact that things keep getting cheaper, technology gets cheaper, all we do know is what we see in the Market and that people prefer having things now rather than later.

Also BitPay has seen sales growth of 328% since 2016!

On the other hand, I think he is right that the price has to come down (or at least not rise as much as the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies) once people realize transaction fees are higher than competing cryptocurrencies. This is more to do with public discover of these alternatives and not so much about preferences. Which to me is good if it happens, that means Bitcoin will have broken any inhibition they had and people will start acquiring and using other cryptocurrencies.

I mean we can kind of see that now, even though Bitcoin has risen a lot this year it has actually lost relative to other cryptocurrencies going from 85% to as low as 40% of market dominance before coming back to 56%:
What that means is Bitcoin at $11,117 would have been $16,874 if it could have kept it's dominance at 85%. So the Bitcoin bubble popping might just show up as slow growth relative to the rest of the market, not necessarily a crash in the price.

This guy is a complete idiot like most economists.

Idiot sagt mann nicht ! kennt sich vieleicht doch nicht so gut aus!

Hi , man.I 've just registered here. Can You help me to make some money . Hare Krishna

Thanks for sharing @andrarchy. Congratulation for this kind of post really it is a informative post.
I said nothing is good at the beginning but step by step it become famous and wonderful.
your regards @skwth

This is an awesome perspective to hear. I'm a student who will be doing a year long research project, part of which will be on developing my own protocol to replace proof-of-work for our use case. During this time of planning, I've had to delve into a lot of research, where I've personally found that I am quite fond of proof-of-stake. It uses substantially less energy, simplifies the system, and allows for some new functionality that wasn't possible before. The system I'm designing for my research is a protocol that will be based on proof-of-stake in certain ways.

Sounds interesting, Cardano has an interesting implementation as well if you haven't checked that out

I honestly wasn't aware of Cardano, but now that you said it I noticed it now had the 9th biggest market cap, wow. It sounds really interesting, I like how their website claims they have a research driven approach. I'm gonna read their whitepaper, thanks for the info!


Well explained!

Ok well This is great, and i noticed his NEW interview on RT with Max kaiser which had him and Kaiser debating Bitcoin but if they had just talked about STEEM they would have AGREED! hahaha

We are blazing through the competition now! its going to be amazing, were part of the turbo startup

just wait until people start building killer apps for us, and we get decentralized hospitals like @steemitqa talking about the airclinic and all the new @kaiserreport stuff like stacery herbert talking to us and yeahhhh

EOS up man, $3.63 Im flying on that PercoJet, makin money like you know whats next! crypto market time travel, careful or that time matrix will unravel!

Fuck with EOS and get some money!

Seems to have done well. There are so many things going on . Hard to be everywhere. 👍🏻

converting electricity used by miners to secure the Bitcoin blockchain means Bitcoin isn't "real money" – Proof of Stake (aka.. just holding the token) is "real money?" LOL okay.. go home

Whoa, that was very interesting. Thanks for the introduction to this guy.

never herd of him.
appeal to authority comes to mind.

Good post! Visit our blog and see the latest news and the best tops :D Greetings

Very nice explanation. A good catch enjoyed going through. Thank you for streeming @andarchy

Very Good Posting Thesks

muzakirpb upvote, posting is perfect

This is incredibly informative and extremely well written! Thank you!

Good piece of work!
Thanks for sharing!

This is amazing news then sir @andrarchy. While not understanding fully yet how POW or DPOS works, I can say that the direction BTC is heading to,to me, hasno future,other than investors making massive gains from their initial investments.

Despite several forks, transaction fees are still through the roof, difficulty in mining is scalling up rapidly, and energy consumption by mining machines are eating up massive loads of energy.

Whst does that mean for the futre? probably nothing, but who know?

What I wish not to happen though, is for the price of BTC to continually affect the prices of all alt coins.

Great info, thanks.
Best regards from Thailand

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