In the Beginning

The Big Bang

I was running technology for Credit and Rates trading at MerrillLynch in January 2009 when BankOfAmerica completed its takeover. This was arranged in the fall of 2008 a day before Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and as Merrill’s stock was going into free-fall. (For those new to investment banking, “Rates” means government and semi-governmental debt and derivatives. “Credit” means corporate debt and derivatives, including the now-infamous credit default swaps (CDS).)

The takeover completed at the time the mortgage-driven crash was accelerating to its bottom. Perhaps not so coincidentally, January 2009 was when “Satoshi Nakamoto” posted version 0.1 …


I know it may seem lazy or worse, but Palmer states very precisely and clearly what the problem with crypto and decentralization is.

Palmer’s words follow:
I am often asked if I will “return to cryptocurrency” or begin regularly sharing my thoughts on the topic again. My answer is a wholehearted “no”, but to avoid repeating myself I figure it might be worthwhile briefly explaining why here…

After years of studying it, I believe that cryptocurrency is an inherently right-wing, hyper-capitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity.

Despite claims of “decentralization”, the cryptocurrency industry is controlled by a powerful cartel of wealthy figures who, with time, have evolved to incorporate many of the same institutions tied to the existing centralized financial system they supposedly set out to replace.

The cryptocurrency industry leverages a network of shady business connections, bought influencers and pay-for-play media outlets to perpetuate a cult-like “get rich quick” funnel designed to extract new money from the financially desperate and naive.

Financial exploitation undoubtedly existed before cryptocurrency, but cryptocurrency is almost purpose built to make the funnel of profiteering more efficient for those at the top and less safeguarded for the vulnerable.

Cryptocurrency is like taking the worst parts of today’s capitalist system (eg. corruption, fraud, inequality) and using software to technically limit the use of interventions (eg. audits, regulation, taxation) which serve as protections or safety nets for the average person.

Lose your savings account password? Your fault. Fall victim to a scam? Your fault. Billionaires manipulating markets? They’re geniuses. This is the type of dangerous “free for all” capitalism cryptocurrency was unfortunately architected to facilitate since its inception.

But these days even the most modest critique of cryptocurrency will draw smears from the powerful figures in control of the industry and the ire of retail investors who they’ve sold the false promise of one day being a fellow billionaire. Good-faith debate is near impossible.

For these reasons, I simply no longer go out of my way to engage in public discussion regarding cryptocurrency. It doesn’t align with my politics or belief system, and I don’t have the energy to try and discuss that with those unwilling to engage in a grounded conversation.

I applaud those with the energy to continue asking the hard questions and applying the lens of rigorous skepticism all technology should be subject to. New technology can make the world a better place, but not when decoupled from its inherent politics or societal consequences.


Let’s Set the Taleb

There is no reason to speculate on when Bitcoin will crash. Yes, many and many prominent critics have pointed out all its inherent problems and risks and those of all cryptocurrencies. This crowd of naysayers includes stars of financial and other risk disciplines Nouriel Roubini, Nassim Taleb, Daniel Kahneman, et al.

Ultimately, the responses to the growing Crypto believers comes down to the fervent belief of a massive and still growing “herd”. The volatility of Crypto creates a large majority of both winners and losers at any time. Losers don’t like to lose and winners love…


I am quoting what Jackson Palmer (creator of Dogecoin) said because it is the best and most concise observation of crypto and “decentralization” that has come along. And it deserves the widest of all possible audiences:

I am often asked if I will “return to cryptocurrency” or begin regularly sharing my thoughts on the topic again. My answer is a wholehearted “no”, but to avoid repeating myself I figure it might be worthwhile briefly explaining why here…

After years of studying it, I believe that cryptocurrency is an inherently right-wing, hyper-capitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity.

Despite claims of “decentralization”, the cryptocurrency industry is controlled by a powerful cartel of wealthy figures who, with time, have evolved to incorporate many of the same institutions tied to the existing centralized financial system they supposedly set out to replace.

The cryptocurrency industry leverages a network of shady business connections, bought influencers and pay-for-play media outlets to perpetuate a cult-like “get rich quick” funnel designed to extract new money from the financially desperate and naive.

Financial exploitation undoubtedly existed before cryptocurrency, but cryptocurrency is almost purpose built to make the funnel of profiteering more efficient for those at the top and less safeguarded for the vulnerable.

Cryptocurrency is like taking the worst parts of today’s capitalist system (eg. corruption, fraud, inequality) and using software to technically limit the use of interventions (eg. audits, regulation, taxation) which serve as protections or safety nets for the average person.

Lose your savings account password? Your fault. Fall victim to a scam? Your fault. Billionaires manipulating markets? They’re geniuses. This is the type of dangerous “free for all” capitalism cryptocurrency was unfortunately architected to facilitate since its inception.

But these days even the most modest critique of cryptocurrency will draw smears from the powerful figures in control of the industry and the ire of retail investors who they’ve sold the false promise of one day being a fellow billionaire. Good-faith debate is near impossible.

For these reasons, I simply no longer go out of my way to engage in public discussion regarding cryptocurrency. It doesn’t align with my politics or belief system, and I don’t have the energy to try and discuss that with those unwilling to engage in a grounded conversation.

I applaud those with the energy to continue asking the hard questions and applying the lens of rigorous skepticism all technology should be subject to. New technology can make the world a better place, but not when decoupled from its inherent politics or societal consequences.


When you see a picture like this, it’s hard to say whether to laugh or be stunned at how over-the-top the silliness, foolishness or just plain delusion exists in the blockchain/crypto/decentralization community.

Whatever else one might say about the chart above, it has to be one of the best illustrations of a pump-and-dump scheme in history. There are a fair number of such pictures in the space, but when one of the largest and most prestigious VC’s in America has poneyed up over $100M, you don’t have to guess where a lot of that peak price coin went.

But what…


$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

We in America, the land of self-reinvention, are long acquainted with the revolving doors between our government and its regulatory/policy remits and the “private” sector. I put “private” in quotes, since there are whole executive suites and partnerships that look like former cabinets or senate or house committees. All-to-often we see our “public servants” exit the “public” sector and join the “private” sector they used to oversee. And, worse, openly supply the “private” sector the means to undermine or circumvent exactly the kinds of things they oversaw or even prosecuted.

This is a list of people at a single firm…


I have to say up front that I have not written this. Instead, it is another writer here on Medium you should be reading: Robert Woodhouse: Robert Woodhouse

He has found and put the proverbial nail in a core argument/presumed virtue for BTC and Crypto. I won’t preview it here for you, instead I offer the link:
https://robertdwoodhouse2.medium.com/bitcoin-is-immoral-1dde5ddb3093

Please read it and clap and share. I would call it very significant and will soon start to reach out beyond the readership here.

Enjoy.


This is brilliant. There are many downsides to Crypto/BTC but most are either hard for non-technical or non-economic-fluent people to understand. And, for those who are benefiting from it, the other moral downside --the undermining of western liberal democracy-- is something people can relativize if they believe are going to be rich.

But most of all, this completely undermines the Libertarian/Austrian-Econ "moral outrage" directed at "inflation".

Absolutely brilliant. I will be borrowing... from your insight.


An excellent commentary. I was, however, disappointed with the swerve into a plug for Hedera. Hedera does mitigate some of the problems, but like all the attempts to achieve “decentralization” there is no point to it, no practical future and no reality to it.

Decentralization is a false virtue that was invented (for all practical purposes) in the fetid minds of Libertarian proto-economic anarchists who live and breath the nonsense of the “Austrian School”, if not pure anarchist visions of Murray Bookchin.

As I point out to those without any knowledge of the philosophical and political heritage of the Austrian…


Monday 2021–05–10 was DFinity’s big day. Four comments: 1) Whoa. 2) Yawn. 3) Yikes. 4) Good grief.

Let’s start with Whoa:

I have to go and purchase ICP Tokens to set up my canister to have a viable environment. For any purpose. So, this is the pay wall, as it were, or a subscription fee.

The token went up to $750 and then “settled” back down to $345. As of 23-Jul-2021 the price is $35.20. I’ll have to investigate further, but here it is again in the “decentralized” world: you never know what something is going to cost. From minute to minute. …

Joseph H Sadove

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