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.
Gold has had at least three millennia to establish itself as a store of value people turn to when social systems are in stress. Bitcoin has only existed for 11 years. While plenty of investors are willing to speculate on the possibility bitcoin might supplant or compete with gold, the idea is far from ingrained across society. When will it be more widely accepted? Perhaps when the international crisis of global leadership unleashed by COVID-19 undermines the capacity of institutions like the Federal Reserve to sustain economic and social confidence. Whatever new institutions and systems we create going forward will need to address how the internet has upended society’s centralized systems of governance. When that happens, we’ll need a decentralized, digital reserve asset as the base value layer. As I said, it will take time. Meanwhile, the developers will keep building.
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.
The latest saga in the cryptocurrency market and especially that related to the Ethereum is that the leading internet giant Google could have blacklisted “Ethereum” keyword from the company’s Ads platform. This comes after a Serbia –based blockchain startup, Decenter realized that the keyword ‘Ethereum’ can no longer be found on the Google Ads platform. The startup moved swiftly and made an announcement via Twitter where Google responded to the allegations almost instantly:
As is their wont, each faction described the growth of WBTC tokens, whose value is pegged one-to-one against a locked-up reserve of actual bitcoin, as proof of their coin’s superiority over the other. The Ethereum crowd said it showed that even BTC “hodlers” believe Ethereum-based applications provide a better off-chain transaction experience than platforms built on Bitcoin, such as Lightning or Blockstream’s Liquid. Bitcoiners, by contrast, took it as confirmation that people place greater value in the oldest, most valuable crypto asset, than in Ethereum’s ether token.
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.
Interestingly, USD Coin (USDC), the world’s second-largest stablecoin from Coinbase and Circle, was ranked at 1.00 by the Crypto Rating Council (CRC), whose members include Coinbase, Circle, Kraken, Bittrex, Genesis Capital, eToro, OKCoin, Radar, Anchorage, Cumberland, among others). The CRC supports and promotes regulatory clarity in the distributed ledger technology (DLT) space.
Why the Stock-to-Flow Bitcoin Valuation Model Is Wrong. Maybe you shouldn’t be banking all your finances on a halving-driven appreciation in bitcoin this year. In this op-ed for CoinDesk, contributor Nico Cordeiro picks apart one of the most commonly cited theories for why many people expect bitcoin’s baked-in quadrennial money supply decelerations to boost its price.
And while Ethereum fans crow about there being 12 times more wrapped bitcoin on their platform than the mere $9 million locked in the Lightning Network’s payment channels, the latter is making inroads in developing nations as a payment network for small, low-cost bitcoin transactions. Unlike WBTC, which requires a professional custodian to hold the original locked bitcoin, Lightning users need not rely on a third party to open up a channel. It’s arguably more decentralized.
BIS Plans New Central Banking Fintech Research Hubs in Europe, North America. The Bank of International Settlements – the central bank to the world’s central banks – is getting serious about its money tech R&D centers, opening innovation hubs in Toronto, Stockholm, London, Paris and Frankfurt. A coordinated, standardized approach to developing central bank digital currencies? Danny Nelson reports.
Though it’s too early to know who the eventual winners will be, I believe this trend captures the early beginnings of a new, decentralized global financial system. So to describe it, an analogy for the existing one is useful: bitcoin is the dollar, and Ethereum is SWIFT, the international network that coordinates cross-border payments among banks. (Since Ethereum is trying to do much more than payments, we could also cite a number of other organizations in this analogy, such as the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) or the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC).)
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