The original Ethereum value driver was the ICO (initial coin offering), another casino on Meth. The regulators did what they do well and snuffed it out but crypto at its base is a way of creating value outside of the maw of fiat monopolies and you can’t keep that at bay indefinitely. So snuffing out ICOs didn’t snuff out Ethereum, it just left it ticking over until the distributed computer got another hit app. Here it is.
That network now sustains its financial system, a decentralized microcosm of the massive traditional one. It takes tokenized versions of the underlying currencies that users most value (whether bitcoin or fiat) and provides disintermediated mechanisms for lending or borrowing them or for creating decentralized derivative or insurance contracts. What’s emerging, albeit in a form too volatile for traditional institutions, is a multifaceted, market for managing and trading in risk.
If you have wondered why sites that give away free cryptocurrencies exist at all, here is the answer; Sites and apps that offer you a way to get free Ethereum make their money from advertising, and sometimes by using your CPU to help with their mining activities. They are also introducing you to cryptocurrency, in the hope that you will buy related services from them later.
Decentralized exchanges (DEXs), which allow peer-to-peer crypto trading without centralized exchange (CEX) taking custody of your assets, have integrated WBTC into their markets to boost the liquidity needed to make them viable. Sure enough, DEX trading volumes leapt 70% to record highs in June. (It helped, too, that June saw a surge in “yield farming” operations, a complicated new DeFi speculative activity that’s easier to do if you maintain control of your assets while trading.)
Two of these DeFi platforms are AAVE and Compound and you should zip over and take a look. I had some Ethereum sploshing about so I popped $23 worth in and in seconds I was watching the value tick up 79 billionth of a dollar every second or so. I’m going to have to wait a year to make a $1 but that’s not the point. I just opened a deposit account in one minute, transferred money into it in seconds and now I’m watching it grow instantaneously and that purely from landing on the beach of a new continent of financial services that can spin off from this.
The yield cap policy would be new for the Fed, but it’s really an extension of an ongoing effort to do one thing: get the market to believe its intentions. The way monetary policy works these days, it’s meaningless unless the market behaves according to what the Fed wants. It’s not about what the central bank does per se; it’s about what it says and whether those words are incorporated into investor behavior. But the more it doubles down on this, the more the Fed creates situations in which it risks having its words held against it. And that puts it at risk of losing its most important currency: the public’s trust. Commitments to price targets are always especially risky – ask Norman Lamont, the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had to abandon the pound’s currency peg in 1993 because the market didn’t believe the U.K. would back its promises. The Fed has unlimited power to buy bonds, but whether it always has the will to do so will depend on politics and other factors. Once it’s locked into a commitment, the stakes go up. For now, the markets – most importantly, foreign exchange markets – still trust the Fed. But, as the saying goes, trust is hard to earn, easy to lose.
Decenter continued the push for more information on the issue and clarification from Google Ads in an appeal through Reddit’s dedicated Ethereum board, asking users to open queries as to any policy changes that could have led to the sudden banning of the key word. In addition, Decenter posted an update stating that their previous ad campaigns feature “ethereum” have been removed, furthering the implication that there is some form of censorship going on,
TRUST ME, BOND MARKET, PLEASE. James Glynn at The Wall Street Journal had a piece this week about how the Federal Reserve is considering following Australia’s lead in using “yield caps” as a policy tool to keep long-dated interest rates down. The thinking is if the central bank explicitly signals it will always institute bond-buying if the yield on a benchmark asset such as the 10-year Treasury note rises above some predefined ceiling, the market will be less inclined to prematurely believe the Fed is going to start tightening monetary policy. In other words, we won’t see a rerun of the 2013 “Taper Tantrum,” when the U.S. bond market, worrying that the Fed would start tapering off its bond-buying, or quantitative easing, drove down bond prices, which pushed up yields. (For bond market newbies, yields, which measure the effective annual return bondholders will earn off a bond’s fixed interest rate when adjusted for its price, move inversely to price.)
OF MONEY AND MYTHS. I’m reading Stephanie Kelton’s book “The Deficit Myth.” In a future edition of Money Reimagined, I’ll have more to say on the most influential modern monetary theory proponent’s explanation of its ideas. But for now I’ll just say that, while I’m not likely to be a convert to all its prescriptions, it seems clear that MMT is widely misunderstood by folks on both the left and the right – also, very much by the crypto industry. The latter is perhaps because people in crypto tend to skew more to the metallist school of money, rather than to chartalism. Either way, a clearer grasp of what MMT is all about would, I believe, help improve the industry’s discussion around government, money, trust and how blockchain-based systems can integrate with the existing one.
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I like POW (proof of work) crypto currencies where the system is ruled on the basis of how much computing power you can apply to maintaining the system. I’ve steered clear of Ethereum because it is heading towards POS (proof of stake,) a system where oligarch-sized owners of the coin get to call the shots and likely do what oligarchs do best, poop on the little people and fight to the death amongst themselves. Crypto is politics in software form, so to me the political framework of cryptocurrencies is all important. The POS future for Ethereum is a killer for me long term, but right now it is not that “in the long term we are all dead” that is the key, it is that visibility of the long term itself is all but dead.
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