Discussing How The Dollar Became The Hyperpower Currency
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[00:01:29] AG: I based my essay, in large, part on a book called Super Imperialism, written in 1972, one year after the US went off the gold standard and defaulted on its debt. It was written by a guy named Michael Hudson. He used to work on Wall Street, and then he went into academia.
He’s definitely a left-leaning academic, which is why I thought it was interesting, because he was analyzing how the dollar became so prominent from a left perspective. I felt like, it was one that anyone could learn from, regardless of your political inclination. Because I thought he spoke a lot of truth in that book, which was an inconvenient truth. It’s not a book that’s commonly known today. It’s outside of the economic orthodoxy, but it’s very powerful when you read it.
You’re like, “Wow, they didn’t teach this in school.” I felt like it was worth diving into and looking at it from a Bitcoin lens, which is obviously what I’m trying to do here through my essays at Bitcoin Magazine. In a nutshell, the thesis is, okay, the world at a geopolitical level used to transact between countries on a gold standard, basically. We can debate about domestically, what each country, what standard it was on and how honest countries were. Basically, at the end of the day, until about a 100 years ago, when countries would settle commerce with each other, they would settle the balance of payments with gold. That was the ultimate monetary good and financial asset.
Today, it’s the U S treasury. It’s American debt is the thing that is traded at the top of the monetary pyramid, let’s say. If you have a monetary hierarchy, if you have the ultimate money, how did the ultimate money go from gold, which is scarce and neutral and provably works, like had worked for thousands of years, how did we go from that to literally, the debt of one country with 4% of the world’s population? That was the quest for this essay. You try to unpack that. It’s like a sequel to the petrodollar article, because the petrodollar article focuses in detail on one aspect of this that was – as we’ll get to a very important aspect, but it’s one chapter in a longer story.
Just to give some brief detail, World War I, Germany, the UK, warring parties left the gold standard to fight the war. That work certainly could not have been fought to the extent it was if the countries had not left the gold standard. They waged unbelievable carnage and destroy each other. The United States was able to, until the end, sit on the sidelines and sell weapons and goods and food and all kinds of stuff to these countries and build this industrial capacity. It was also able to make loans throughout and afterwards.
Basically, the US coming from this trajectory of a revolutionary nation that had broken off of a larger empire, actually, post-World War I, became the world’s most powerful economic country, and eventually, the world’s largest creditor nation. Our balance of payments was positive. We were making more than we consumed. That put us in a very advantageous position with regard to gold. Even though the European nations had gone off the gold standard in World War I, they tried to go back to it after. In 1922, they gathered in Genoa, Italy, and they decided to go to something called the gold exchange standard, which is important because it’s not the gold standard. What it meant is that all these nations in Europe, as they sought to rebuild from the rubble, they would use fiat currencies as savings inside central banks, but those would be exchangeable to gold, redeemable to gold at a certain rate. That would predict the Bretton Woods System, which we’ll get to later.
You had Europe, basically, already de-financializing gold. Gold was being centralized and consolidated and moved to London and New York. You already had a major evolution here in terms of what were countries saving in and settling in. It was not so much the precious metal anymore. It was really promises to pay at a certain rate. Now, through the 20s and 30s, some other interesting things happened. Of course, the United States did something that no other country ever did, more or less in history, which is that we asked the allies, who we fought the war with to pay us back, which was not done.
That was just historically considered a cost of war. Britain, France, they had to pay us back, which is not something they were maybe expecting. That put enormous constraint on their countries. What this ended up doing is just putting massive constraint on Germany. Because everybody had to pay back Germany, because Germany was the belligerent, according to the world, and had to pay everybody back.
Germany’s trying to dig out of the destruction of the war, and it has to pay back these reparations. It enters its hyperinflationary phase, which a lot of you are familiar with. Its money dies. Its productive capacity struggles. It can barely pay anything back. In a lot of ways, the United States didn’t want to help the rest of the world, so we had a very protectionist policy. We kept our tariffs really high. Germany couldn’t even make the money to pay us back, because it they couldn’t sell its goods in our market. Same thing with European nations.
Instead of trying to cooperate, we took a very adversarial position, and these countries ended up suffering and retreating into a nationalist, what we call an autarkic position, where they were quite as isolationists. This helped lead to this nation global, let’s say, the Depression-era period. Another interesting thing that the book points out is that actually, we wanted Britain to pay us back. That was the one country who wanted to pay us back. We purposely lowered interest rates, so that Britain could try and pay us back. What that ended up doing is creating a massive boom in equities in the United States. This was one of the reasons we have this massive stock market bubble.
After that popped, again, we are in this autarkic, nationalistic, isolationary phase in world history. FDR decides to take the next step and demonetize gold from the United States. We’re familiar with 6102, various accompanying legislation and was made a felony to hold gold. Gold was removed from the domestic monetary system, basically.
[00:07:49] CK: Hey, Alex. Not to interrupt, but I just wanted to point in so many aspects of, I guess, 1910s, 1920s really rhyme with what’s happening today a hundred years later, in terms of isolationists, globalization breaking down, debt, a lot of these aspects, maybe very low interest rates, stock market’s booming. Did you see the connections when you were writing this?
[00:08:13] AG: I think, the meta view is that the world’s previous system was under stress and was breaking. Yeah, I think that’s a good parallel today, which we’ll certainly get to. In any event, what you’re pointing out, all of these trends, all these factors pointed to one big trend, which was that the United States had just so much gold. Not only were we earning it through our industry and through the European nations paying us back to the debts they had, but there was what was called refugee gold in the ’30s.
All of these country companies and wealthy people in Europe, they started to realize there was going to be war again. Germany stopped paying its reparations back to the allies. People felt unsafe and a lot of the gold came to United States. There was this huge wave of gold coming. By the end of World War II, 70% of all the non-Soviet gold at the government level was held by just the United States. We were in this massively prohibitive advantage against anyone else. At the end of World War II, as we all know, 44, the allies got together at Bretton Woods, including the USSR. We tried to figure out what the new monetary system was going to be.
The British, led by Keynes, they wanted to make what was called the Bank Corp, which is going to be an internationally managed currency. United States says, “No. We want you all to use dollars.” What I would describe as the greatest rug pull ever began to be put together. What we ended up doing is just convincing everybody to use dollars, because we said we would promise to pay that each dollar back at a rate of $35 per ounce of gold. That was the outcome of the Bretton Woods System. The World Bank and the IMF were largely put in place to reinforce this system.
Okay. The ’40s, the ’50s, the world was using dollars increasingly, instead of gold. Dollars became the monetary standard. It was seen as, okay, because you could just cash in the dollars for gold. This was a extension of the gold exchange system. It worked for a little while, because the US was in a, again, a creditor position. Its economy was dominant, but that started to change. What’s interesting is that Korea, the Korean war was the time and the era where we lost our creditor position. We started having a balance of payments deficit due to that war. Due to cold war policy, generally. we were in this existential struggle. Washington policy-makers thought to defeat the Soviets. We decided to spend.
In the late ’50s, the system came under tremendous stress. Eisenhower, one of the last things he did before he left office was to ban Americans abroad from owning gold, which was a loophole. We really wanted to get rid of gold. We did not like gold, that we did not want people using gold. We had banned it domestically. We banded it abroad. We had tried to consolidate gold from other countries. We were really trying to kill gold as part of the monetary system, because we didn’t like how that restrained us. This was very much the trend that Hudson describes in his book.
Especially, JFK gets elected, there’s a lot of inflationary expectations JFK promise to do more inflationary monetary policy. Then we have Vietnam and the stress gets too much. The fix that the allies tried to do to put a band-aid on the fact that the $35 per ounce was something that the United States government was increasingly seen as not able to do, was something called the London Gold Pool, which is created in ’61, which is basically a price fixing mechanism.
All these out countries, like in Europe and United States government that had all this gold, they would basically just dump their reserves on the market when the price got too high. They were dealing with inflows of gold from two enemy countries, let’s say, South Africa and the Soviet Union, who were the two world’s largest producers of gold. They would be selling the gold into the market, which would help bring the price down. Whenever the price got too high, they would dump. They were basically just trying to fix and manipulate the price of gold throughout the 60s.
America kept spending, spending in Vietnam. Eventually, what happened is the pool collapsed. France left in ’67. In ’68, they basically gave up and said, “Okay, there’s going to be a market price for gold,” which went later to a $100 to $200 per ounce. Then, there’s going to be the government price. The Bretton Woods System was dying, basically. Everybody saw that it was dying. The thing is, and this is what Hudson describes in the book, this mechanism that he describes as super imperialism is the gradual realization of the United States that it can control all the other countries in the world through money, as opposed through war.
It was something that was done, because of one particular mechanism. That’s this catch 22 situation that the allies found themselves in, where let’s say you’re Japan or Germany. It’s the late 1960s, and you have all these dollars that you’ve been forced to use, but you don’t want them anymore. If you reject the dollar, or if you sell your treasuries, you sell your US debt, you’re going to cause a crash in the dollar price. Now what’s going to happen is that the dollar then is going to get devalued. Then, America’s going to have more competitive exports.
Your industries at home, if you’re Japan or Germany, are going to suffer. They’re really stuck. They can’t reject the system, because it’ll hurt them. They’re forced to keep eating this debt. This is the mechanism that America used to basically, consolidate its control to the point where August 15th, 1971, when Nixon said, “We’re not going to redeem all those dollars out there. 50 billion dollars of short-term dollar liabilities. We’re not going to redeem them anymore, because we can’t.” The world didn’t dump all their dollars for other things. They couldn’t really, because of this really genius mechanism that had been gradually put into place. It was through the promise that these dollars would be redeemable for gold.
That was how they convinced the world to do it. Then Nixon betrayed the promise in ’71. All of a sudden, you had all these dollar debt around the world. That dollar that was getting a lot more – was losing a lot of value really quickly after ’71. Not only were people trying to gradually move into other things. They couldn’t move too quickly. Otherwise, again, you’d hurt your own economies. There was basically, a need for American policymakers to find someone else to buy the debt and to start propping up the dollar, because it lost a lot of value.
Basically, the dollar lost 50% of value versus the German mark between ’70 and ’74. We’re talking a massive inflationary event. There was more inflation in the early 70s in United States from a monetary perspective than since the Civil War. Meaning, it was the most inflationary event in American history since the Civil War. American policymakers are like, “Oh, my God. Who’s going to buy all our debt? Who’s going to prop up the dollar?” They found that their solution in the petrodollar system. That’s where that comes in.
The Saudis had and the OPEC nations as a result of quadrupling the oil price had just this enormous amount of money. America, basically negotiated in ’73, ’74, the system that I described in my previous essay, where the Saudis would agree to only sell oil for dollars, so everybody had to get dollars around the world to buy oil. Then with those petrodollar earnings, they would reinvest those dollars back into US debt treasuries. They would keep the money either in euro dollar banks in Europe, or in the United States.
Now, this was a brilliant plan by US policymakers. Really kept the dollar afloat. Kept demand for US debt going. Through this whole system, which lasted, the Arabs eventually ran out of money in the 80s when the oil price crashed, but the US was able to convince Japan to take over buying the debt. Then eventually, China. Up until about 10 years ago, this system worked pretty well. We got everybody else to pay for our stuff. That’s the interesting thing about this whole system is that never before had there been an empire, or whatever you want to call it, like a global dominant power, a hegemon that forced other people to pay for its stuff.
Classic imperialist powers did not do that. They went in, exploited and they stole, but they did it to build their own power financially. This was a way that America used a new imperialism. This author argues, the Central Bank imperialism to force other countries to pay for our stuff. Basically, the Vietnam War later, the forever wars that we’ve seen, this has all been paid for by in large part, other countries buying our debt. That’s the thesis. Then, where do we go from here?
Since 2013, the other countries have been net negative on US debt. They’re like, they’ve stopped buying it. They’re doing other things. This system is running out of time. The United States Federal Reserve is now the biggest buyer of our debt. This is one of the reasons you’re seeing all these inflationary pressures right now. This system that Hudson described in ’72, 50 years later, is starting to break down. Obviously, I think that Bitcoin is a serious contender to replace American debt.
We have this system where the world went from asset money at the base, let’s say, to debt or liabilities, basically. I think, we’re going to go back to asset money at the base, and I think that’s going to be very powerful. I think, it’s going to cause a new global Renaissance. I’m pretty excited about that. Anyway, that’s the whole thing. Let’s get into the questions, or comments from our esteemed friends up here.
[00:16:59] MO: I like to jump in real quick here. First of all, Gladstein, thank you for this piece. It was an absolutely epic piece. I thought I knew a lot about this topic, but apparently, I didn’t. I guess, most people understand that with Bretton Woods in 1944, 1945, the Bretton Woods System, it also created the IMF and the World Bank, which are basically American-focused institutions, they are based here.
At that time, the US, I guess, this is from my perspective as a hodlr, the US had two-thirds of the gold in the world, supposedly. Now, we have 25%. Germany has 10% and the IMF has 8%. Those are the top three holders of gold in the world. Would you say our policy was a failure if we ended up with way less gold today than when we started the whole thing?
[00:17:50] AG: No. I guess, what I’m saying is that it was a success. What ended up happening is that we did something that no other power had ever done before, and we actually spent down our gold. We had 700 million ounces of gold, as you point out at the end of World War II. More than two thirds of all the gold that governments held, we held. We spent it down to less than 300 million ounces by the ’70s.
We used our gold. We had a much worse position. It was successful, because we had been able to convince the world to instead of use gold, to use promises to pay for stuff. Basically, to use our debt. The IMF is important, because in ’69, they came out with what they called paper gold, or SDRs. This was another way of that Hudson says, bailed out the US. Because this new entity created these units of currency that all the major powers were obliged to consider money. They just printed them out of thin air and they gave a bunch to the United States.
This whole system was very successful for American elites and for American power abroad, of course. It was not successful for a lot of other people. It was not successful over time for the average American, whose savings obviously got destroyed and whose jobs in many cases, were exported abroad as a result of this policy. It was not very successful for a lot of developing countries, who and I get into this quite a bit, who yes, of course, in many cases, they have a higher, what they would call a real income than today, rather today than before.
Many of them actually don’t. There are tons of developing world countries whose real income is the same as it was 30, 40 years ago, or worse. This system, which has benefited Washington elites, actually sucked value out of a lot of other countries and made them dependent on us. One of Hudson’s other theses is that American food policy, essentially, is what has driven our foreign policy for 80 years. That the reason we agreed to join it and took control of it was we were worried that other nations would start to become agriculturally independent. We used the World Bank and IMF to make them dependent on buying food from us.
That’s something he goes into quite detailed, which I didn’t know a huge amount about, which was shocking to me. There was this whole thing in the 70s about Malthusian advocacy at the World Bank. The World Bank, basically told poor countries, “You have to stop having kids. You have to reduce your population growth to match your food output.” It was really sinister. In fact, India ended up forcibly sterilizing millions of people. Really crazy history. There was this belief in the 70s that was not – it was not some conspiracy. It was literally in all the public statements of the World Bank that all these developing countries had to reduce their demand, so that the system could keep going.
Basically, you can look at it as America and Europe fed off of all these countries in a way. It’s screwed up, but it is what it is. Yeah, everybody grew. It’s true. Pretty much. But rich countries grew much faster than poor countries. There was a big differential difference here. That’s all part of this system, which was really screwed up. Yeah. I don’t know. Go ahead, Matt.
[00:20:50] MO: Obviously, it’s widely regarded as a success from a US policy standpoint, and your article made that clear. I meant, if we’re watching this all unravel, which I feel is most of our perspectives here that there’s a short-lived success, if you say 50 years is a short time, or 60 years is a short time, we’re left with way less gold than we had to begin with.
[00:21:10] AG: Yeah. The point is that, our policy was to understand that gold was the most important monetary good. Our policy systematically was to attack it, both domestically is what FDR did and Eisenhower later, and then internationally. Nixon put the nail in the coffin. You’re seeing Russia and China buy more gold, right? They’re starting to realize that maybe, we’re trending back in that direction. Yeah. Look, it was a sacrifice. Basically, US policymakers in the late 60s and 70s looked and said, if we continue on this route, we’re going to spend all our gold. We’re not going to have any left.
They were like, “That’s not going to work for the war machine. We need to fight this war in Vietnam for whatever reasons. We need to design a new system.” That’s what led to everything I just described, was that success in their eyes was creating a new system that didn’t rely on gold. For US policymakers, the fact that we have proportionally less gold than we did before, it doesn’t really matter anymore. In fact, in ’69, the last link between federal reserve notes and gold was cut. Each federal reserve note used to have to be backed by 25% gold. That was cut even before Nixon gave his speech.
It’s been a whole process of demonetizing gold. What I described in my article is that’s why I think Bitcoin is different. Bitcoin was literally designed – I think, Satoshi knew most of this, or maybe all of it. They chose their birthday as April 5th, which is the day 6102 happened. They chose their birth year as ’73, which was the year that there was a law passed saying that citizens would be allowed to own gold again.
I think, this whole idea of how they took gold away from us in order to force us to use paper money, or promises to pay was very much in Satoshi’s as they created Bitcoin. Bitcoin is designed to not be vulnerable in the same way. Because what had happened with gold historically, is that as good as it was as a store of value, it was pretty terrible as a medium of exchange. It was too valuable, Gresham’s law, like people wanted to save it. It ended up being put into banks and centralized. Over time, it was centralized into the most powerful country in the world. We add all this gold and we were able to suck it up from everybody else. That was something that I think Satoshi saw very clearly and they were like, “I’m going to design a system that’s different.”
I think, the two ways that a government can attack gold were A, confiscation and centralization. Also, manipulating gold through paper markets, so through derivatives. That’s what’s happened. Gold bugs will say that the real price of gold should be way higher than it is today. But that, because governments control it all, they’re able to manipulate the price. If you think about Bitcoin, the fact is, governments don’t control the Bitcoin. People control Bitcoin. Holders control it all around the world. There are tons of whales that have more Bitcoin than Russia, or the United States, or China. Most of these countries don’t even technically own any Bitcoin yet.
Not only can they not confiscate it all, that’s why the not your keys, not your coins is such an important thing for us to be pushing right now in the coming years. They also can’t really manipulate its spot price very much if they don’t have it. As I was describing with the London Gold Pool, really, the best way of manipulating a spot price is by controlling the flow of it and dumping it onto the market when the price gets too high. Then, also, through paper markets.
Arthur Hayes wrote a good piece recently on the BitMEX blog about this. Very hard to do when you don’t control the gold. Basically, what we have in Bitcoin is something that may be able to avoid the fate of gold and give us a money that governments can’t just debase at will. Does that make sense, Matt?
[00:24:36] MO: Yeah, I appreciate the insight. Thanks, Gladstein.
[00:24:39] AG: Cool.
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[00:26:44] CK: We got a lot of people on stage. Sinclair, you requested. Do you have a question or something in mind for Alex?
[00:26:50] S: Yeah. First of all, thank you. Thank you for the context. I’d come into Bitcoin from an engineering background, and so much of this rabbit hole is giving me a better understanding of sound money and the importance of sovereignty and what consensus means. I think, in some of these conversations, we somehow – we missed one of the biggest influences economically over the last few hundred years and that’s been colonialism and enslavement of human beings.
When we talk about the significance of gold, I didn’t realize until I got into Bitcoin, that these things were all fictions. Literally, gold is a rock. When there’s a pandemic and everybody’s dying, the person with the most goats would probably beat the person with the most gold, because you can’t eat gold. In a real way, I think there’s a context when we talk about even if we have so much Bitcoin. Muammar Gaddafi had lots of gold, but he was murdered.
I think, some of the things that we talk about, the skills, or the economic policies, that there’s really a brutal military consequence that really is the specter behind the US dollar that we don’t talk about. I’ve done projects in Zimbabwe trying to, again, help them deal with their hyperinflations under US draconian sanctions. Literally, their policies weren’t being dictated locally. Their policies were being dictated by the UK and by the United States.
The only reason they went with it wasn’t because there was such great policy. If you don’t lay down, you see all these coups taking place in Africa right now, under Biden’s administration. These countries are afraid of resisting the US hegemony. Haiti. Literally, the head of state of Haiti was assassinated 80 miles from the United States. For us not to think that in this surveillance society, that that wasn’t a signal to someone and that the United States was very aware of it, these things undermined policy.
I just think we need to be also aware. I only say that contextually as a US citizen, is that what happened to Afghanistan may not have anything to do with gold reserves, or even who has Bitcoins, but we as Americans can have an influence on that destruction if we start connecting dots, as well as work in a society with sound money without intermediaries who are rich seekers. I think, there’s a two piece of this that I don’t see enough in our political sophistication.
[00:29:20] AG: Thank you for that. Do you have a pointed question, or do you just want me to generally respond to what you said?
[00:29:25] S: You can generally respond to it. Thank you.
[00:29:26] AG: Okay, thanks. Yeah. Look, colonialism is largely the legacy of people with more capital and power taking gold from other people. I mean, you had the European powers taking gold and precious resources from Africa, from India for generations. Again, because it was able to be centralized in custody fairly easily. We’re looking at a new century ahead of us where things are different. It’s interesting to look at Nigeria now, where trillions of dollars in today’s terms of labor and resources were stolen by the British.
Now, it’s like, all these young Nigerian innovators who are into Bitcoin, maybe the tables turn here, because the British aristocracy are pretty arrogant and they’re very anti-Bitcoin. Just read the financial times. It’s like, you can read their heartbeat by reading it. These people fucking hate Bitcoin. Maybe they’ll get wrecked. We’ll see. That would be somewhat satisfying from a certain perspective. We’ll see. I think, that all this big global exploitation stuff just gets a little harder when individuals control the money, and they can resist confiscation through good operational security, through multisig, through stuff like that. I’m very excited to see where we go here. Okay. I guess we’ll take the next question.
[00:30:35] CK: Yeah. Hey, really quick. After you ask the question, I may be taking you off stage just to make room for new folks to jump in. Let’s go with BK.
[00:30:44] BK: Hey, Alex. Thanks for giving the whole history and context. I think, the key thing that I got out of this is that we basically forced our hegemony on everyone else by forcing them to take on our debts, which is crazy. Like you said, right? China, Russia, and I’m from India. Or I grew up in India, basically. I moved here. For us, in India, gold is actually a currency. It’s a store of value. You pass it down through generation by generation. I wonder if you could display some of the differences that are happening in the east versus the west as to Bitcoin adoption here, versus maybe gold there. Are there maybe two standards? Is there one standard? How do you see it playing out?
[00:31:22] AG: What’s interesting is that we talk about – We say, the US had 70% of the world’s gold after World War II. What we’re talking about governmental gold, right? It’s impossible to say how much gold people have. I’ve seen estimates that say the Indian people actually have more gold than the United States government, which is interesting. I think, there’s a very strong culture of.
Again, however, gold has all these vulnerabilities. I do think what you’ll see is at least in India and this is one reason I think it’s interesting that Jack Dorsey is focusing his B trust charity on India and also Africa, but is that you got 1.3, 1.4 billion people in both places. In the Indian case, a huge historical respect for the role of gold in society. That helps me believe that I think that I don’t think. I’m just looking at data. Indians are going to adopt Bitcoin like crazy in the next decade, because they’re going to realize it’s digital gold, and they already are. It’s unclear, but there’s some data coming out of just exchanges in India, where it certainly seems there’s tens of millions of people in India who are in the Bitcoin space, or at least the wider cryptocurrency space. It’s pretty crazy. Now, the question is like, will they actually own their own Bitcoin? That’s an educational piece. Or is it just sitting on some exchange? Because it’s important for Indians to know, like everybody else, that if you just buy your Bitcoin on with your ex or whatever, and you leave it there, it’s not helping anybody.
[00:32:48] BK: Yeah. I think, I agree with you in the sense that Indians, I think, they will adopt to the owning of their own self-custody, if we’re talking about that. Just because they don’t have the education yet. Once they do, it’s almost like gold. When I used to go back to India all the time, my grandmother literally had gold in her own vault, her own safe. It was almost like, that was worth more than owning our own house at one point. For them, that self-custody portion becomes so much more important than owning your own land, because technically, maybe they own 50% of their land, or 25%. The bank owns the other half. You never know. Something like Bitcoin, I agree. I think, if self-custody becomes really educated down there, they’ll see it akin to gold, basically. Thanks for answering the question.
[00:33:32] AG: Sure.
[00:33:34] CK: All right. Let’s go with Mark, and then we’ll go Matt and Mitch.
[00:33:37] MARK: Hey, Alex. Yeah. Firstly, just, big fan. Thanks for all the learning over the years. So much good material. You talked a lot about how, that history of gold and governments. Do you think that governments can rehypothecate, or weaponized paper against Bitcoin? Obviously, I know the auditable differences of Bitcoin versus gold. What are ways that they can monetize and embrace Bitcoin, akin to how they use gold before this rug pull, as you said? Do you think in its final form, Bitcoin will retain that asset commodity status, or will mature to a purely currency medium of exchange? I’m going to give you a few here.
In that, do you think the US will ever create an SDR, or a bond that are based on Bitcoin holdings? Will we ever see it? Ultimately, will there ever be a practical removal of Bitcoin-US dollar pairs?
[00:34:33] AG: Yeah. Thanks for the question, Mark. It’s my theory, and theories change as we see new evidence. As of today, globally, at some point, our current path is completely unsustainable, as most people, regardless of your ideology should understand. There’s going to be some devastating thing that happens in the coming decade. I’m more convinced of that. I think out of that rubble, it is very possible that governments have to go back to this idea of asset exchange for their currency.
There may be this, who knows, but it could be a Bitcoin exchange system, where dollars and euros and yuan, or whatever are exchangeable for a certain amount of gold. I think, that’s a transitionary phase at the – there’ll be the swan song of fiat currency is my theory. I think that what happens though rather quick, merchants wanted paper, because it was more convenient than actually having the gold. That’s so different with Bitcoin. You can start to see how all these incentives are so different. Merchants are just going to want your Bitcoin. If they could take it with a swipe, or a QR, they don’t have to worry about custodying the gold, or like, “Oh, my God. Is somebody going to steal these gold coins that are in the back of my store?”
That’s one of the reasons why we went to paper gold promises, as opposed to actually the gold itself was just convenience, security, etc., etc., scaling. The thing here is that eventually, to me, it makes sense that Bitcoin actually just becomes the currency that we use day-to-day, because I think merchants are going to want it. I think, that’s eventually what’s going to drive that. I think long-term, I find it hard to believe that Bitcoin long-term just isn’t going to be the dominant, daily currency that people use. I do think that there’s going to be this phase in between where maybe we have this, almost a Bretton Woods type standard, where the governments have their fiat, but it’s exchangeable for Bitcoin at a certain rate. There’ll be all kinds of shenanigans and power struggles, and God knows what. I think, that eventually just gives away to people just using. Yeah. At least, that part.
[00:36:24] CK: All right. Let’s keep it rolling. Matt, why don’t you jump in?
[00:36:27] MATT: Hey. Thanks, Bitcoin Magazine. Thanks, Alex, for taking the time for all of us. Absolutely loved the article. I tore through it, probably a little too quickly. I’d love for you to discuss the portion on, I loved how you compared technology deflation as probably being a bigger reason second and third-world nations were able to pull themselves up out of poverty and improve the living conditions of their people, far more than central world banks providing loans and US dollars.
On that note, do you think that can explain why Bitcoin adoption per capita is absolutely exploding and outpacing the US in some of these nations? I’m looking at the latest chart that lists — it looks like seven, eight other nations, including Asia and South America that have a higher per capita adoption than the US, despite most of the mining now being in the US. Your thoughts.
[00:37:26] AG: Yeah. I posed the question to the reader of technology, deflation is something that should be considered when we’re looking at the rising living standards of people in poor countries. The important takeaway of that section, of course, I think is that even those people grew more slowly. Their rate of growth was way worse than rich countries. If you’re going to go make a case for the world bank and the IMF and the dollar system as rescuing people from poverty, I think you need to explain why then it increased to the inequalities globally. That’s what I’d like that person to explain.
As far as why you’re seeing rates of adoption higher elsewhere, I think that’s just simply because it’s more obvious to people that their money is broken. Even today, 6%, 7% inflation, whatever we have here that they tell us, people are starting to get a little worried. This is just how people have always lived in a lot of places. We’re talking places that have, again, there’s 1.6 billion people who live under CPI, double digit, triple digit inflation. Forget asset inflation. They’re just used to it, and I think it just makes a lot more sense for them.
The faster your currency that you earn in and that denominates things around you is collapsing,
the more appealing Bitcoin is going to be. I think, that’s to me, that’s just pretty straightforward. Thank you for your question.
[00:38:37] MATT: Following up on that, we’re pretty familiar with the Cantillon effect. Do you think there’s a Cantillon effect of technology where let’s face it, the biggest breakthroughs get enjoyed by the first-world nations far before the rest of the world sees them in their lives? We’ve had some loud voices saying that it’s not Bitcoin, but AI that will be our savior and trust in an AI future. Do you see that as just missing the forest for the trees, or is that just a different conversation?
[00:39:09] AG: No, there’s no Cantillon effect with technology, but it’s true that meaning, it’s not like a cellphone’s less valuable for someone in Nigeria than it is for the person who got it first. That’s not how it works.
[00:39:17] MO: No, of course. But just that –
[00:39:19] AG: No, I get it. I get it. Basically, it is true though, that generally speaking, technology waves have hit more advanced countries first and it benefited them first. That’s not happening with Bitcoin. If I go out and I survey 30 people in downtown San Francisco, most of them are going to be like, “What the fuck are you talking about? Bitcoin?” Yet, there are tens of millions of people across the emerging markets using it. It’s not the same. This is what people point to me as – Quite obviously, a lot of you are down in El Salvador right now. That’s the first country and that’s a whole different conversation, but that’s some poor central American country is the first one to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender. Not Germany, let’s put it that way. I think, that’s a really good a summary of what’s happening here. The innovation is happening elsewhere. Thank you though.
[00:40:03] CK: Actually, I think this is a perfect opportunity to jump over to Mitch, who has been talking and thinking about leapfrogging for a long time. I think that has to do with what Alex just talked about. Mitch, do you have any comments on this this leapfrogging effect with technology, as well as a question for Alex regarding the article?
[00:40:22] MITCH: Yeah. The comment on the leapfrogging and democratization of technology and the Cantillon effect. I think, it’s really interesting that these countries just lost – They continue to lose and lose value, yet they gain new technology that is supposed to give them more value for less time. I guess, my question I had for Alex is, Satoshi gave clues to 6102 gold. What vulnerabilities do you see that Bitcoin has for a possible 6102? Then how can we possibly avoid that?
[00:40:57] AG: Yeah. Obviously, the big one is if people don’t actually be their own bank, which is why again, I think, it’s powerful that being your own bank and proof of keys and get your money off the exchanges has been a meme throughout Bitcoin’s history. Bitcoin is powered by memes in many ways. I think that those memes are very important, and we need to keep those memes going. That is the failure point, right?
I don’t really see it as possible to fail, so to speak. If not enough people own the Bitcoin, we’re going to have a worse world, let’s put it that way. We need to have a culture of self-custody. Otherwise, it just becomes harder to change the system. Look at it this way. If there’s 40 or 50 million Americans “using Bitcoin,” but only 5 million of them are custodying and the other 45 just have their money on Coinbase, or whatever. The US government is in some desperate thing and just decides to just seize all that money, or go to Coinbase and take it, or try to tax it, or God knows what, you’re not getting that benefit. The overwhelmingly most important thing is to push self-custody. I think, that’s the main vulnerability and fear and that’s what we should all work on.
[00:42:03] MITCH: I’ve got a quick run-up to that question as well, if you have time. Do you see Bitcoin as some certain protocol advantages that would incentivize holding your own keys, or incentivize not having – yeah, I guess not having banks, or quasi-banks holding them?
[00:42:20] AG: What do you mean protocol? Do you mean changes in Bitcoin itself?
[00:42:23] MITCH: Yeah. Or, anything that’s already working under the hood of Bitcoin that incentivizes that.
[00:42:29] AG: Yeah. I think it’s all about wallet. It’s all about the user interface. How does the user connect to Bitcoin? It’s on the wallet makers. It’s on non-custodial, free and open source wallet makers to make their products elegant and beautiful and things that people want to use. That’s why I’m a fan of what the Muun wallet is doing, because that’s what they do. The wallet is elegant and as good as other apps that are not free and they’re part of the legacy system, or better arguably.
That’s what we need to be. We need to be better, and then people will use it. I think, that has nothing to do with the product. The Bitcoin protocol is just fine. It’s the actual wallet makers. That’s where, when the Human Rights Foundation is looking at its Bitcoin development fund, for example, we’re going to have a lot of focus on helping wallet makers in the coming years, for sure. Thank you though.
[00:43:16] CK: Hey, real quick. Matt, I just sent you a invitation to come back on, but I think, you think about 6102 a lot. Feel free to jump in. Also, Tonbay is still in the chat. Feel free to request again, too. I think, I accidentally rejected you on accident. Who wants to jump up next? We have we have a couple of new people on stage. Masuda, I see you. You are requesting. Do you want to jump in?
[00:43:39] MASUDA: Yes. Thank you so much. This is such an interesting discussion. Look, I work on Afghanistan and there is a crisis right now, as a humanitarian and economic collapse. I’m not an economist. I’m just trying to help. We’ve created an organization to unfreeze Afghanistan’s aid and help find a way to unfreeze the nine and a half billion dollars of assets. 2 to 3 billion of which are individual people’s money. Afghan civilian population is really suffering.
My question to you is the problem in Afghanistan is there is a lack of cash notes in both local currency money, any and lack of US dollars. As we think about Bitcoin and as using about policy, what would you suggest Afghanistan should do. Is there a solution somewhere in Bitcoin for this problem?
[00:44:26] AG: Yeah, it’s tricky. I think that number one, Bitcoin has been a solution for Afghans for a while.
[00:44:32] MASUDA: Very small scale, right? I’m talking about –
[00:44:33] AG: Right. The only reason it wouldn’t be more is that there just wasn’t more education about it. My friend Royo was paying the women who worked for her in 2013 and 14 in Bitcoin on self-custodial phone apps. It worked. It’s just a matter of very few other people outside of her community joined. Then back then, it was like, the currency was so volatile. Today, people are still skeptical about Bitcoin. Back then it was reasonable to be skeptical about Bitcoin. It was in a different world. You had the currency going from 1,200 bucks to 200 bucks. It was much harder to defend. Today, it’s a little easier to defend. I think, it should be baked into education. I don’t think it’s something you can grasp it on.
[00:45:13] MASUDA: Can I ask you a technical question though? The way that we’ve been looking at it is yes, they can receive Bitcoin on the other end, etc. It’s being used, like you said, by some of these female entrepreneurs. They need to cash out on that side, because it’s a cash-based economy. Are you saying that maybe, there needs to be wider adopt? Clearly, if there’s wider adoption, it helps, but how do you deal with it in a cash-basis?
[00:45:36] AG: Well, what Roya was telling me is that the traditional people who run the hawala system in Kabul, in Herat are starting to accept Bitcoin.
[00:45:43] MASUDA: Yes, but the hawala dealers are running out of cash too, and they have to cash out at some point.
[00:45:49] AG: I think, what eventually is going to happen is that the people who sell goods and services are going to accept Bitcoin. It starts to become a circular economy. I think, that’s where it’s eventually heading. For now, no, there’s no easy fix. It’s a disaster. Anyone who says there’s an easy fix is just lying. I think, it’s a gradual thing, where you have a long-term time preference. We bake in Bitcoin financial literacy into education, so that people who are 12, 13, 14, 15 years old today, they have the power to understand this thing and they use it.
There is no magical fix here. It is encouraging that the hawala system is starting to integrate Bitcoin. I think, that’s helpful. Because as you say, foreign powers have decided that the government of Afghanistan now is not allowed to have its money, basically. All that stuff’s getting super scarce. I get it. Which sucks. As much as I think that government is evil, or whatever, it doesn’t help to do these countrywide sanctions, or freeze an entire country’s money. That’s a terribly cruel thing to do in my opinion. It causes massive human suffering.
Look, this is one of the byproducts of the whole system I just described, is that one country can just decide to turn another country’s money off. I think that’s insane. Hopefully, we move to a new world where that’s not the case. For now, again, technically, we’re going to be supporting some educational efforts at a small scale and seeing what we can do. I think, that’s where we need to be. You can’t force technical solutions on somebody if they don’t understand Bitcoin. We’re seeing that now in El Salvador. It’s very hard.
I think, you have to start with education. That’s where we all started. I was clueless about it at one point, too. In order to use it and to believe in it and to share it, you have to learn about it. There’s going to be a lot of discussion about Afghanistan, but I think education is the one thing we should try to at least focus on. Thank you for your question. It’s a tough one.
[00:47:34] MASUDA: Thank you.
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[00:49:36] CK: Hey, real quick. Just a reminder, don’t be offended if I take you off stage. We can only have so many people on stage and lots of people requesting. Nothing personal. After you asked a question and maybe taking you off stage. Matt, we were talking about 6102. Alex gave some insightful answers on it, but I’m curious what your take is on 6102, since it’s something that you’ve been thinking about a lot.
[00:49:59] MO: I tend to agree with everything Alex was saying. I would just add that we should all assume that it will happen in at least a few countries as Bitcoin monetizes and becomes what we expect to be the world reserve currency. People need to start taking precautions on their own and practice personal responsibility, learn how to hold their own keys, use their own node, privacy best practices. Because if the attacks start, it’s going to be too late at that point. You have to do that before that time. A great guide in terms of a lot of those things I just discussed is a bitcoinprivacy.guide. Check that out. Cheers.
[00:50:37] CK: Thanks a lot. All right, let’s go to Dinero. You have a question?
[00:50:41] D: Oh, sure. I have a Cuban background. I talk to Cuba all the time about Bitcoin also. Quite a couple of people in Cuba use it for sure. Yeah, I just wanted to know what do you guys think Bitcoin would do to actually free the people of Cuba?
[00:50:59] AG: That’s a great question. This summer, I spent a lot of time talking to Cubans who use Bitcoin. I wrote an essay for Bitcoin Magazine called Inside Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution. I would encourage you to check that out. Also, there’s a Spanish language version of it as well. I think, the short answer is Bitcoin is already giving freedom to people in Cuba. It’s already helping people achieve financial freedom. I would encourage people to consider the cruelty of the double problem that the Cubans face where their currency has been devalued in a massive way that they’ve lost two-thirds of their purchasing power in the last year.
They’re now forced to live in a system where they by and large, earn pesos, which the government is printing and printing, which will print into nothing eventually. Where the goods they need to buy in stores can only be purchased through something called an MLC, which is almost like a gift card that needs to be topped up with hard currency. The government is playing this game, this cruel game where it won’t allow you to buy things in the good stores with the money that you make in public sector jobs, or with pensions.
The pensioners and the public sector workers, which account for most Cubans, they actually have to take their earnings and go into the black market at some insane rate and exchange that money that they’ve earned through their time and labor for MLCs at this huge rate. It gives the government massive seigniorage. At the same time, the government is getting the friends and family of all of these people to top up these gift cards with pounds, or Brazilian money, or Canadian dollars, or whatever. It’s allowing the government to increase its foreign exchange reserves. I think, that system is totally screwed up.
At the same time, you have the United States, which has got this horrible embargo, which prevents Americans from interacting with their Cuban families and things like that. They’re really isolated and stuck between a rock and a hard place. That’s why Bitcoin so important is because it allows them to take their time and effort, put into a currency that the communist party doesn’t control and also, connect with different family and friends abroad. You could argue that Bitcoin is doing more for freedom and Cuba than anybody else right now. Thank you for your question.
[00:53:01] CK: Awesome. Let’s go to Heritage. What’s up, Heritage?
[00:53:04] H: Yes. Good day, everyone. I’m Heritage [inaudible 00:53:06]. I’m a software developer and Bitcoin educator speaking from Nigeria. I’ve actually been listening to what Alex and have been seen in regards to education, in regards to enabling adoption, as far as the Bitcoin ecosystem is concerned. I must say, I resonate with that idea. Why I’m saying that is that I’m very excited when Alex was talking about the population in India and comparing it out to Jack Dorsey hve been willing to enable adoption in Africa.
One major issue is that, I tend to tell folks listening from the USO [inaudible 00:53:40] that when you come to Africa, you tend to understand that Bitcoin in Africa itself means freedom, because people are experiencing a lot in early times, because there are different use cases, and you told that [inaudible 00:53:52] building generational wealth.
I also want to put it out here that the population of the countries are about 200 million. The present people adopting Bitcoin is at the youth, and the population of those people are about 32 million. There’s still long way to go. What we should focus on is preaching adoption. Presently, we have indigenous wallets. We have problem in regards to government, crackdowns, even prominent to the P2P system, people trying to adopt Bitcoin. I know this like –
[00:54:24] CK: Hey, Heritage. We lost you.
[00:54:26] AG: Yeah. Maybe he’ll come back. Just to weigh in, yeah, a 100%.
[00:54:31] H: [Inaudible 00:54:32].
[00:54:32] CK: Hey, Heritage. Not to interrupt you, but we lost you for about 20 seconds there. I’m curious if you can cut to a question, just so Alex can react. Yeah. You keep cutting in and out. It may be your VPN.
[00:54:45] H: Yes. Yes. Because of the VPN. Three times we [inaudible 00:54:48]. Let me ask my question quickly. My question to Alex would be, in regards to fiat currency, that is dollar becoming the iPod power of currency as you stated above. In regards to a jurisdiction, whereby the assets, the fiat currency is deflationary. That is, there is a lot of inflation. People are trying to boycott inflation with Bitcoin, but there are crunch downs and problems in regards to adoption. What do you advise me in such scenarios?
[00:55:17] AG: Yeah. Thank you. It’s true. Governments are doing their best to restrict people. Our friend here has to go and use a VPN just to get on Twitter. The Nigerian government has tried to basically shutter bank accounts of folks who they can they can figure out are using Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Much respect to our Nigerian friends.
Yeah. Look, I think it’s interesting, because the answer is the same for every country. I think, it just starts with learning, education, sharing with the people you care about, teaching them about best practices. What is already starting to happen of course, is not only a circular economy, but a parallel economy where people are earning money in other countries in cash, in whatever country they’re in, buying a gift card with the cash as a Nigerian worker, and then they’re using the gift card to Bitcoin.
They’re either using the Bitcoin gift card to buy Bitcoin, or they’re taking a picture of the gift card and sending it back to their family in Legos, or wherever. Then, the family member is selling the gift card over at Paxful or something for Bitcoin. You’re starting to see this parallel economy emerge. I think, it’s really interesting that you don’t need to interact with the financial system anymore in terms of you can earn cash, buy gift cards, sell the gift card for Bitcoin. Use Bitrefill to buy pretty much anything you need with the Bitcoin. You can buy phone minutes, you can buy gasoline, you can buy food with gift cards that you can purchase through Bitcoin without touching the dollar system in countries like Nigeria.
I think it’s fascinating to track. Again, I think education is what we should focus on. There is no magic solution. The Bitcoin revolution is not about a magic solution. It’s not easy. It’s hard, actually. It’s really hard. It’s hard work that pays off and they can’t be easily stolen from you. I think, it’s worth committing to. Thank you for your question.
[00:57:03] CK: Awesome. We have Jeff, we have Erin. You guys have a question, or a comment for Mr. Gladstein?
[00:57:08] J: I just wanted to jump in, Alex, while you’re on stage and just tell you that I just so appreciate what you’re doing. I love your knowledge of Bitcoin and how you blend it with just a huge heart for people around the world. That’s one of the things that I get most excited about is actually at the Bitcoin Conference last year that got me so jacked about, I came into this market as basically, a speculator and Bitcoin has awesome risk adjusted returns that’s great for investors here in the US and in developed nations.
[00:57:35] CK: Thinking about this. Because even amongst Bitcoiners, I feel like, you’ve been really trailblazing along this freedom narrative, as well as just unveiling these stories.
[00:57:42] AG: Yeah. Thank you. Appreciate that. Look, look, Bitcoin is the incentive for me, because I learned about Bitcoin and then I started questioning everything about money. Really, the stories that I’ve been trying to follow are not about Bitcoin. They‘re are about the broken financial system, and it’s something that. Is incredible to watch the mainstream economic orthodoxy ignore. You had this whole debate over Jack’s tweet, about hyperinflation. It revealed that first of all, people refuse to believe that could ever happen.
They also don’t understand that extreme inflation, wild inflation is a very common thing that’s happened in history in the fiat world, over the last, really anytime a country has gone off an asset standard, there has been hyperinflation, at least up until somewhat recently when the US has been able to somewhat stabilize things.
You go back in time, you look at ancient China, you look at issues, obviously, John Law. There’s all kinds of historical examples for when people go into a paper standard, things get super hairy. There’s always economic crises. I think, that we’ve been just led to believe that the system we’re in is fine and that there’s no other way. That to me is crazy, because what underlies it is just so many issues and problems and contradictions. I’m trying to dig those up through my writing and trying to stay positive.
I’ll just give a shout out. I’ve had the privilege of reading Allen Farrington and Sasha Meyer’s new book, Bitcoin is Venice, which is amazing. It’s an incredible work. That’s going to come out soon. I know you guys are working on that with them, which is great. I got asked to do the foreword. I’ve been working on that and just finishing the manuscript. I feel like, that book is really spiritually aligned with a lot of my writing, because I think Bitcoin is Venice. the book shows what happens when society – they call it the dominant political economy since ’71. What happens to society under that dominant political economy and what happens to people and individuals in that political economy.
A lot of it is in-line with Parker Lewis’s writings as well. Just the fact that all over the world, we’ve gone into debt and we’ve gone into this great financialization. It has created really perverse incentives in our society, which are hidden by the, just overall indefatigable progress and march of humans in a way. Things could just be so much better. Someone asked me the other day, they’re like, “Wow, America’s done so well.” Even though they were pointing at that chart that Bitcoiners like to share that shows the dollar collapsed by 99% since a 100 years ago. They’re making fun of it and saying something like, “But look how good we have it.” It’s, “Yeah. Do you know how much better it would be if we hadn’t debased our currency and went off the gold standard to fight the Vietnam war? Do you know what I mean?”
People assume that today is right and proper and the only way it could have been, and they lose sight of what happened in the past. Happy to dig into these things with you, guys. Thank you. Thank you, CK.
[01:00:39] CK: You mentioned Alan’s book. I know you’re working on something yourself. I don’t want to tease it too soon, but if that’s –
[01:00:46] AG: Yeah. Sure. I’m going to turn my writings for Bitcoin Magazine into a book that Bitcoin Magazine is helping me publish. I guess, it should be out by Q2 next year. It’ll be most likely called, Check Your Financial Privilege, based on the essay with the same name. It’ll be 12 chapters. Yeah, I’m excited for that. Because I feel a lot of people, like I’m really proud of all the writing I’ve done. I hope that each piece can contribute to starting discussions and dialogue.
I know that a lot of people have maybe read one or two of my pieces, but certainly not all of them. I think, that’ll be really nice to have it in one place. I hope that the book can be something that can be shared much like I think Allen’s book will be shared hopefully, among non-Bitcoiners to just get the conversation going. I’m hoping to make an impact to check your financial privilege and you have really happy to be working with you guys on that. I’m really excited for that. Yeah.
[01:01:34] CK: We’re lucky to have you, man. That’s for sure. Dr. Jeff, welcome back to the stage. You want to start your thought over and frame that towards Alex? Then Matt, we’ll go to you next.
[01:01:43] J: All right. Hey, thanks again, guys. Sorry, I think I broke the Internet before I was getting all impassioned and everything just crashed.
[01:01:50] CK: Twitter can feel your energy, man. Step it down a little bit on this one, so we don’t crash.
[01:01:55] J: I’ll try to take it down a notch. I don’t even know where I got cut off, so I’ll just start over to say, Alex, first of all, I just have mad respect for you, for your intelligence of Bitcoin, but also just your huge heart for humanity and all of the suffering that’s going on around the world. As you teach so many people all the time, so much of that suffering is caused by these governments and their crappy currencies and just crushing the purchasing power of their people and all of that stuff. We don’t have to get into any of that. I just want to say, I just really respect what you do, and I’m really thankful for you.
I have a lot of people who when I try to talk to them about Bitcoin, they cannot get on board in terms of, you can make a lot of money. It’s a great speculative play, blah, blah, blah. When we talk about how it’s better, and it’s truly social justice for oppressed people around the world, those are the kinds of things that a lot of my relatives who did Peace Corps and stuff, they jive with that. They can see that. They’re like, this is an actual practical way to really alleviate human suffering around the world. I didn’t have much more than that other than just, I respect what you do. I’m really thankful for you. I hope to join you someday and on your missions and wherever you are around the world.
I think actually, Bitcoin missions is even more powerful than medical missions and that’s something coming from a former doctor. Keep it up. I got your back, and, Bitcoin is better money and it’s changing the world. I’m really excited to be a part of this movement as well.
[01:03:17] AG: Thank you.
[01:03:17] CK: All right. Not so much a question, but I fully agree with everything you said, Dr. Jeff. Matt, why don’t you jump in here?
[01:03:23] MO: Hey, thanks. Thanks again, Alex, for answering all of our questions. A fun one, a more hypothetical one here. We hear over and over that the US will probably adopt last, or onboard way after the fact. I keep looking at adoption per capita, and the US is already top 10. Just mathematically, eventually, Bitcoiners and Bitcoin Maxis will make their way into all the halls of government and institutions in the US. My question is, what do you think is different about some of the Western powers in Europe, that they don’t even crack the top 20 in terms of Bitcoin adoption per capita? We can charitably say, Ukraine makes the list, but one would not think of them as some of the old-world European powers.
[01:04:12] AG: Sure. Look, I think this data is hard to trust at this point. We’ve got very little data on big-win adoption. It is certainly in my opinion, way more than what we think. We don’t have a lot of indicators. In many ways, people don’t want to tell you if they have Bitcoin. I think, it’s going to be hard to grasp the actual extent. I could assure you that there are in fact millions of Bitcoiners throughout continental Europe, whether or not the charts and surveys show it, I’m not sure, but there are massive communities in Germany and Spain and other countries. I wouldn’t be too worried about them.
I think the governments, yes, I agree that there’s a very big difference. The EU seems to be taking a much more aggressive stance against Bitcoin than the US government. That’s because of its centralization. It’s not as federated in a way. Whereas weirdly, even though those are all sovereign nations, that EU’s monetary policy is much more united around the idea of fighting Bitcoin. Whereas in America, even though we are one nation and we don’t have different sovereign states, rather sovereign countries inside of our union, those states have a lot of power and those politicians and leaders of some of those states are starting to be very pro-Bitcoin. That makes a huge stumbling block.
Whereas in Europe, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be very many pro Bitcoin voices, at least right now, among important policymakers that makes the path forward very clear and very obvious and easy. In America, okay. if the Biden administration wants to pass something progressive on Bitcoin, oh, there’s going to be a debate on that. It’s weird to say, given that Europe is technically more federated, let’s say because it’s sovereign nations. In a way, America is built very well for this. Yeah, I was just in DC a few weeks ago. Look at Cynthia Lummis, she’s part of a bipartisan finance committee, where people want Americans to own Bitcoin.
There are progressive candidates across the country putting Bitcoin into their platform. There are conservative candidates. There are libertarian candidates. There are all kinds of candidates adding Bitcoin to their platform. I think, America is well-positioned to be a place where hopefully, it doesn’t become illegal to own.
My whole thesis, the whole time has been that Bitcoin is very exceptionally American it in its values, and what it promotes in terms of free speech and property rights and open capital markets. I think that it’ll be a much stronger nation, because of Bitcoin, which is something that people don’t agree with. They feel like, the dollar is what makes America, and I would argue the opposite. I would say, the dollar is one of the nastier parts of our history. I think, we can do better than that. I’m excited about the future of Bitcoin in this country. I look forward to the day when I can go into a Walmart and buy an ASIC off the shelf and go mine at home and contribute to network security and buy a node at Walmart as well. Things like that. I think that’s a possible feature here. I think, we get very dark sometimes. I don’t know, man. I think, there’s also some room for optimism.
[01:06:57] CK: All right, y’all. We got four more minutes. Alex, you’ve been with us for almost 90 minutes here, so really appreciate your very valuable time. Switch Labs, do you have a question for Alex? Then after that, maybe we can close it out with a last from Alex.
[01:07:10] SL: I just wanted to know, most of the talk when it comes to maxis, Bitcoin maximalist is always, how they talk about alts. I don’t really worry about that, that much. The only part that worries me a little bit is the amount of toxicity that there is towards Bitcoin entrepreneurs. It’s a little weird to me, but I just want to know what you guys think about that.
[01:07:35] CK: What do you mean? Off topic. Maybe we can just skip that.
[01:07:38] AG: Yeah, we’ll just skip that.
[01:07:39] CK: I don’t know if there’s any really toxicity towards entrepreneurs. Maybe people want to print tokens and yeah, I think there’s lack of tolerance to that. Yeah, let’s go to last words, Alex.
[01:07:50] AG: Sure. Look, thanks everybody for joining me. I hope you read the article. I’m going to continue exploring some of these ideas. Check out Super Imperialism. As I try to point out, I think you’re not going to agree with everything in it. It’s quite provocative. It’s 50-years-old. I mean, at the time, I think it really was a snapshot of something really powerful that was happening that again, if you read my article, you’ll see that the author actually has made numerous predictions throughout the years, that there’s going to be some other currency that comes to power that might challenge the dollar, and here we are. Satoshi Nakamoto. That’s pretty interesting.
There’s also some stuff in there, I intend to explore more. There’s a book called Capital as Power written by these two political scientists out of Israel that I’m very interested in. I cite some of their work on inflation and on differential power in the article. I’m going to be trying to dig into that for you guys in the future for sure. Yeah, I’m also intrigued by what’s happening with the Navajo nation and how they’re adopting Bitcoin mining. I think, that’s a whole interesting story, too. Something I might be looking at in the near future. Yeah. Hey, thanks so much, CK, for organizing this. Thanks everybody. Thanks, Matt Odell, and the rest of you.
[01:08:58] J: Thank you, Alex.
[01:09:00] AG: Lots of gratitude. Thanks, guys. Have a great day.
[01:09:03] CK: All right, y’all. Well, hey, I highly recommend going to Alex’s author page on Bitcoin Magazine, reading all of his articles. All of them should be read by Guy Swann as well. If you prefer listening, go check out Bitcoin Audible. Go check out the reads on Bitcoin Magazine without comment, or ads. Yeah, you consume all of the Alex’s stuff and keep an eye out for what comes next, including the book.
[01:09:25] AG: Take care. Thanks everybody.
[01:09:27] CK: Cheers. Bye.