Central Bank Digital Currencies will ransom our future
Thank you Ed. Your article starts off slow, speeds up, is informative, and full of delightful humour - so I'm now a paying subscriber as well as admirer and supporter of your Hong Kong guardians getting to Canada. Best wishes forever to you and yours.
Ed, you keep killing it with great articles! Keep them coming!!
Dear Ed, while I share your concern with an e-dollar or a e-yuan regarding our privacy and the potential effects a police state could and certainly would have on our transactions, I don't agree with your generally positive view on (non-governmental) cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are a libertarian construct for people (rich, criminal etc.) who want to escape their societal obligations (like paying taxes, contributing their share to society) or who try to run away with their dubiously earned wealth (possibly from corruption or theft). To fight for the use of cash and to strenghten the institutions in our democratic societies seems for me a much better way of preserving that freedom and privacy we all are caring for. To weaken government by hiding in bitcoins is like preparing to leave for Mars (as Musk and Bezos are) instead of helping to clean up our planet down here.
My favourite reading material by my fave, non-family person, in the entire Planet today. I got to read this over and over to try to understand the dangers and cruelty of what we are facing in the hands of powerful men. It’s very scary and helpless to financially unwise people like me, to even contemplate the prospects of what it all means at the approach of the end of our lives… No place to hide, eh Mr Snowden? On a personal note, just wish you could have been granted asylum in Brazil. At least there, while visiting my family, I could have hoped to spot you in a street in Rio and tell you in person how much I admire and love you for what you’ve done and still do. Happy thanksgiving (Canadian one) to you and your family, special your little one.
I wish I had a mind for finances. I will have to read this a few times to appreciate all that is shared. I am a dinosaur in that I use cash for the very reason that I do not want to show an electronic/digital foot print of my transactions.
Thanks for the insightful article!
The legislation for CBDC is part of the Trojan horse called infrastructure bill and it can be expected that it will slip into law without any serious public discussion: https://decentralizedlegalsystem.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Review-US-Digital-Asset-Regulation-September-2021.pdf
The lowering of reporting requirements from 10 000 USD to 600 USD can be also seen as preparation so that people will easier accept the move to an even more increased level of financial surveillance by makeing the current system nearly as bad as CBDCs are intended to be.
I am just wondering which implementation they are considering. Either development is very well hidden from the public or they bet on some private initiative (DIEM - the rebooted Facebook led consortium?).
I think the biggest hurdle for CBDC are the commercial banks which have zero reason to support such a change where they lose the comfortable privilege to receive cheap central bank money and can use that for profitable investments rather than forwarding it to the population and economy. But that resistance might break in the event of a large scale banking crisis where the governmental insurance for deposits will fail to cover the bankrupt banks and their negotiation power and liquidity to fuel political lobbies will be on halt. This would be the perfect moment to launch the CBDC and the FED could play the role of bailing out people who had bank deposits (not too many anyway) by giving e-USD which will have the same denomination as USD but will quickly decline in purchasing power.
Never miss the opportunity of a crisis, the hidden secret for capitalism, will be their best advisor.
I hope I am wrong and the brainwash of the population will not be as successful as they expect.
Bitcoin will shine anyway long term as the CBDC would not solve any of the underlying problems but would only give them a bit of a break until the next event collapses the non-functional monetary system and with it the foundations of governments.
The enforcement power of the US has declined a lot and other countries will embrace Bitcoin as an asymmetric bet where they can win a lot and in case of failure will not make their bad situation much worse.
And beside all that there will be the climate crisis as huge wrench thrown into the machinery which drives our world and attempts to predict the future of those systems will get disrupted as never seen before.
SALUTE to you Mr. Snowden, yes, it was worth the wait; your brilliance and eloquence is like a cold spring drink to a thirsty soul. In case you missed my earlier comment, Thank you for who you are and what you do/have done. From this VN Vet you hold HERO status.
Mr. Waller and his cronies don't give two shits about Grandpa. He does, however, want to preserve the banks hegemony over currency transactions. If there is a way to preserve that and move to a state-controlled digital currency, all the better for Mr. Waller and friends. China may provide an example, but look at Denmark's system. They still run on the kroner so not a digital currency per se, but what's the difference when you can barely use cash and checks are no longer an accepted transaction. In Denmark everything goes through the government banking system - your paycheck, your taxes, your school tuition, your rent, your mortgage payment, close to everything! While the DK govt hasn't yet regulated transactions based on your health profile, etc., the power to do so is already there.
I’ve missed your writing. Please send more. I so look forward to reading your missives. I am seriously thinking of moving everything into BTC and ETH except my paycheck. I’d love to know your thoughts on this. I am scared for the obvious risk but also scared to do nothing. My crypto is growing and I am feeling BTC is safer then the bank at this point.. As always be safe..
I apologize in advance if this is the wrong place to post this comment.
First off it is great to see you back. It was a long wait, but the article that came out of it was definitely worth it. Good job!
Now for the second and much heavier part. I want to be honest with you and say that the 'Conspiracy' articles left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Perhaps it is just me reading too much into nothing, but as a reader it just felt very odd to see you post regular articles every week or two and then you posted the "The New Denialism" article followed by radio silence, only broken by an excerpt from Permanent Record roughly one month ago.
Notably after reading through the comments on it, you don't seem to have neither liked nor replied to any of them (other than a couple meta comments not related to the article). I know a rude person got involved and derailed some of the conversations but I was still left with the feeling that you were purposefully not engaging with the comments to avoid drama. If that is the case then I can only speak for myself, but I want to assure you that when I ask a question or write a comment it is because I want to hear your thoughts on it, not because I want you to reaffirm my world view, political opinions, etc.. In the words of a smart guy whose name I forgot:
"For fear of losing a job, or of losing an admission to school, or of losing the right to live in the country of your birth, or merely of social ostracism, many of today's best minds in so-called free, democratic states have stopped trying to say what they think and feel and have fallen silent."
I should clarify that I don't mind you not replying to my comments specifically. I am sure you have plenty of far more important things to do in your life than making sure you always reply to my crazy ramblings. (I guess this specific comment is the sole exception as I would appreciate a confirmation that you have actually seen it). Specifically the comments on the 'conspiracy' series you wrote were just a very stark contrast to how you usually interact with the comments and I hope that this is just me reading too much into something that isn't there.
You are spot on with this article and I enjoy all of your writings. Thanks again Ed. Keep it up for all of us free people. It’s very insightful and encouraging.
Hello Ed, thanks for sharing your understanding of currency. I do like that our deposit is insured by FDIC up to $100,000 which meets my threshold of risk. Ed, the fees and charges are disturbing to me, to avoid these I adopted a method for my family of elimination of the use of checks. To eliminate fees for the masses, keeping more of the money they have earned, could be accomplished using a central bank for all people that is owned by the people, where your deposit is made and disbursement are taken out for public utility, insurance, and investment is done on a regular monthly timeline, helping to free people from capitalist profit motivated industry. Like a credit union is geared towards the members instead of shareholders. Can you address this concept on a deeper less syndicated us versus them scenario. Putting the people first regardless of what corporate demand is about. Please come from a technology standpoint of efficacy and monetary policy that is suitable for our form of government. Where the people tell the government the way it's going to be run and managed. Thanks Ed
Good to see you back, but it's also lowkey concerning (not to mention depressing) that a $1 trillion dollar platinum coin was the first impetus to break the lull in activity. (I also am aware that your son is growing up quick from occasional tweets. I hope your family is doing well in this dire time.)
1) This reminds me: a $1 trillion USD coin sounds like nonsense talk an elementary school student makes up on a playground to impress other nearby classmates. Well, at least this piece of news, or "news", has more high level ramifications on everyone than "news" like a selfie taken by Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter.
2) If I could have $1 trillion dollars in that gaudy platinum coin or in $1 trillion USD in any "stable" cryptocurrency coin (so we can ignore minor fluctuations within short time spans), then I would always choose to have $1 trillion in Monero. This is literally a trick question - I would rather have genuine paranoia of the IRS possibly trying to chase me down due to converting Monero into actual cash for the rest of my life rather than be questioned by my own bank for weeks and months on end on why and how I ever came into possession of $1 trillion dollars (not via criminal activity or money laundering).
3) The Federal Reserve being called the "51st state" of the US is not an idea I'd ever expect to see anytime soon, especially after watching "Contingency" the Local58 YouTube channel (which is an unfiction analog horror piece that looks like an unaired 1960s public service announcement created to implicitly call US citizens to commit mass suicide in the case the US is taken over by an enemy force).
Though I doubt series creator Kris Straub intended for this interpretation beyond a speculative 51st state that doesn't exist to the public (sort of like District 13 from The Hunger Games series), I think in a sense the US is telling us to murder your own individual rights with respect to ownership of even your money is more real than crazy speak. The pair of "You will own nothing and be happy"/"They will own everything and be happy" is not just some conventional conspiracy theory babble tossed around by those who think the World Economic Forum. This is the mindset and philosophy of conspiracy practitioners, since this is the paradigm these megacorporations, which manufacture motherboards with soldered-on processors for laptops and system-on-chip Qualcomm processors for most smartphones, want to make true everywhere. (As you can tell, I've watched too many Louis Rossmann videos, and some other related videos a stone's throw away, on right to repair.)
Anyways, the point here is that you don't need some secret 51st state to "control the world", populated by figures like The Patriots from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The Fed as the 51st state (or, at least a candidate for the 51st state) hasn't even been trying to hide in plain sight this whole time.
4) "[P]lacing the State... at the center of monetary interaction" is the part that made me realize why you retweeted Jack Dorsey's tweet containing The Anatomy of State book earlier this year. I used that time to read it during the little Substack hiatus here. Now I realize that everything the US does on the international, federal, and even state level (sometimes city-level, if large enough, such as NYC) is done to worship the infinite feedback loop powered by mission and scope creep to monotonically increase government control over everything.
5) Dang, so China recently banned Bitcoin? Not to belabor readers of Permanent Record, but this is another instance of the US in denial of its comparison complex with China. On the outside, the US brands itself to seemingly care about human rights compared to China, but on the inside secretly wants to have the control. At least China is honest itself with its self identity to not compulsively lie about its surveillance capabilities, opting to straight up announce every advance with pride. Even if I think it's completely immoral (as do many others), at least China is much more philosophically and logically consistent. Anyone who has played the story mode of the fourth level of Hitman 3 in Chongqing, China will know this.
So, things are not panning out the way they were supposed to in Mr. Robot (in which China accepted Bitcoin while the US tried to oppose it by making E Coin for E Corp)... yet again, Sam Esmail never claimed to be telling the future. Well, it looks like there may be the same high level movement to try to make an E Coin after all, just using different low level components in order to try to make it happen - probably because Diem (formerly Libra) from Facebook has yet to emerge. But that's just speculation.
By the way, did you ever get to finish Mr. Robot? I'm wondering if you were satisfied with how the final fourth season ended.
My biggest question is one of strategy. You've done such a great job explaining why CBDCs are a disaster. But is it better for us to focus efforts on fending off any form of CBDC, or is it a better use of our time right now to expect they are coming and work to insert privacy and censorship resistance (into both policy and code)? Thanks!
fantastic stuff! I'd love to turn this into a video, asking the question "do we even need banks anymore" and focusing on the dangers of government-controlled programmable CBDCs
Nicely done with good hypotheticals, and we haven’t even discussed how crypto currency undermines the cudgel of debanking wielded by financial regulators with increasing enthusiasm.