Matt Odell is host of the Citadel Dispatch and venture partner at Ten31. In this interview, we discuss why each additional positive act of privacy protection improves Bitcoin's resilience and value. Perfecting privacy is not the goal; making a start is, as we don’t know what the future holds. - - - - Our privacy is continuously being eroded. Current best estimates are that 2.5 million terabytes of data are produced every day. A material amount of that information has extremely lax privacy protection: 98% of Internet of Things data is unencrypted; 83% of companies encrypt less than half the data they store on the cloud; 25% of websites are visited without encryption. Vast amounts of the data we freely shed are stored, analysed and triangulated for commercial reasons. These tactics are so sophisticated that it’s not uncommon for people to think companies are listening to their conversations. We are being squeezed for our data in almost all aspects of our lives while cash, traditionally the only semi-private way of transacting, is being removed from society, and CBDCs inch closer to reality. Imagine if companies or governments could access and track your income, store of wealth and all those with whom you transacted. What is currently unnerving behaviour by those who track our data could rapidly become something much more maligned and coercive. Bitcoin is freedom money. But using bitcoin privately isn’t an easy task. The vast majority of Bitcoin is bought using exchanges that have stringent KYC/AML requirements. When you pair these onramps with surveillance firms like Chainalysis, using bitcoin goes from being pseudonymous to almost entirely transparent. But there are things you can do to gain good privacy with bitcoin. Tools like coinjoin and non-KYC exchanges like Bisq are getting better all of the time, and more and more people are using the Lightning Network for cash like transactions, which offers improved privacy. Perfect privacy, whether with bitcoin or not, is a pipedream. The goal is to continually improve in protecting a fundamental human right, privacy.
The What Bitcoin Did Podcast
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Bitcoin & Crypto Trading, Strategy, Business and Mining
In this interview with American HODL, we discuss escaping from social media echo chambers, stablecoins and altcoins, whether free speech has limits, Bitcoin’s current price activity, the need for reasoned thinkers in Bitcoin, and the protocol being a perfect machine. - - - - Bitcoin’s volatility remains a persistent feature: all-time highs are followed by precipitous falls and statements of its imminent demise. And yet, many Bitcoiners unwaveringly advocate for people to continue to hodl through these cycles. Whilst their advice has been proven right many times, it’s appropriate to be testing such convictions during a bearish period for Bitcoin. Many see the current price fluctuations as a positive sign that the asset is maturing, and it is now subject to the same macro headwinds as other globally significant investment vehicles. Hodlers faith is rooted in a maximalist sentiment: Bitcoin was a “zero to one” moment. Other versions don’t and won’t match its elegant design, clarity of purpose and first-to-market network effects. The issues emanating from algo stablecoins and projects offering wild returns have vindicated and hardened these positions. But does that mean it’s Bitcoin or bust? Stablecoins do have utility for those living in countries suffering currency debasements. So, can stablecoins support people as a short-term fix to economic crises, whilst Bitcoin is the longer-term solution? What about the current state of Bitcoin Twitter and the wider discussions about freedom of speech? Toxicity and unoriginal talking points cast Bitcoin’s community in a poor light; can a new wave make a compelling case with an authentic voice? Further, whilst freedom of expression is a pillar of Americanism and a bulwark against the rise of China, should all speech be free? Irrespective of these issues, American HODL is holding the line. He believes Bitcoin will transcend other assets and innovations. He believes it is an unstoppable perfect machine.
Preston Pysh is a co-founder of The Investor Podcast Network. In this interview, we discuss credit cycles depending on increasing debasement of the USD, accelerating inflation, and other signs of the long-term debt cycle ending. We also talk about Bitcoin changing the economic order. - - - - Every day we read new stories about economic turmoil: the UK's cost of living crisis resulting in people missing meals, Sri Lanka debt default resulting in an economic and social meltdown, raging inflation in Turkey, global food shortages, the slide of Japan’s Yen, bond funds bleeding billions etc. etc. etc. It is obvious these are not normal times. So what is actually happening? Ray Dalio has spoken at length about the long-term debt cycle: how the economy goes through regular patterns of growth and recession that result in the build-up of sovereign debt, and how over a longer period of time that debt becomes unmanageable and a deleveraging occurs. Many believe we are going through that process now. Preston Pysh is one such person, and he has the evidence to hand. The precipitous rise in the monetary base, capital becoming a liability, global credit cycles being dependent upon increasingly higher levels of USD debasement, the top-heavy state of equity markets - the data is all there; it’s happening. The question is how do governments respond? Is it possible to unwind from these situations, or are global debt levels too high? Can nations wean themselves off quantitative easing, or are they locked into a death spiral? And what will be the response of citizens to rising inflation and material impacts on their quality of life? The answers to these questions will impact the direction of our civilisation for centuries to come. The fear is that we repeat the past. The experience of an advanced country going through a hyperinflationary event still casts a shadow over our collective political culture. The destruction of a functioning society and its replacement by a machine of terror, recalibrated the global order for the next 75 years. But we have Bitcoin. Can that see us through?
Harry Sudock is a Vice President of Strategy at Griid. In this interview, we discuss whether Bitcoin’s real innovation is the fusion of Proof of Work and the difficulty adjustment. This enables it to exert a gravitational pull that’s disrupting money, assets, technologies and organising structures. - - - - Bitcoin's impact on society is far exceeding what anyone could have envisioned. While its properties as sound money are well established, the 2nd and 3rd order effects are still being discovered. Bitcoin is unique. It's centred on the combination of proof of work and the difficulty adjustment. These two fundamental parts of the system incentivise trustless honesty whilst providing security. In today's digital world with encroaching authoritarianism, there is no substitute. Bitcoin's power is having a gravitational pull on the settled cosmos of modern society, drawing more things into the singularity of its innovation. If money touches everything in society, and Bitcoin is the best form of money, it's seemingly inevitable that Bitcoin will change everything. Bitcoin is a black hole.
Peter Doyle is the Co-Founder and MD of Horizon Kinetics. In this interview, we discuss investment in an economic climate marked by accelerating inflation, a debt crisis, an energy crisis, war and the potential for Bitcoin to upend the monetary system. - - - - The world’s economic leaders are publicly admitting that inflation is not the transitory phenomenon they were claiming it to be only a few months ago. Some observers think that behind closed doors they never really believed inflation would pass; given the extreme levels of debt, rising inflation makes sense as an unofficial government policy. Irrespective, inflation has to be controlled. But taming inflation is a delicate balancing act. The trick is to achieve a ‘soft landing’: reducing inflation without triggering a recession. This proved impossible during the 1970s and early 1980s when inflation last ravaged the US economy. The dilemma is the current economic and fiscal environment is much worse than during the 1970s. Interest rates have been at unprecedented low levels for over a decade. These have enabled governments to take on increasingly precarious levels of debt to shore up economies during pandemic lockdowns. Even modest interest rate rises risk triggering both sovereign default and recession. Whilst reducing the size of the state is problematic given its oversized share of GDP. At the same time, there is a limit to what governments can do to control inflation. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in a spike in energy prices. However, energy costs were already rising due to decades of underinvestment influenced by ESG mandates. This is a systemic issue affecting global markets. The expectation is for a prolonged period of inflation. Investments need to now consider an environment where “cash is trash”. However, what is becoming increasingly clear is that investment managers are seeking more than just inflation-beating returns. In the face of possible scenarios where inflation can’t be controlled, Bitcoin is becoming part of portfolios designed to protect wealth.
Lane Rettig is a former Ethereum Core Developer who now works as a core developer for Spacemesh. In this interview, we discuss the Terra/Luna crash, trust and the discipline of Bitcoin; the history, theory and reality of current Web3 initiatives; and Bitcoin’s future. - - - - On Friday Jack Dorsey’s Block announced that it is building “Web5” on Bitcoin. It is purposefully bypassing Web3, which Jack has previously criticized. In fact, Jack stated in a tweet to launch the initiative “RIP web3 VCs”. So, why are Jack, and many other bitcoiners, so fiercely against what in theory is supposed to be a revolution of the internet enabling it to decentralise? Maybe it is the same issue being raised about the crash of Terra/Luna, the issue raised about the much-critizsed ICOs and IPOs within the industry, and the issue raised about the motivation for VCs aligned with the “crypto” ecosystem. Rigged incentives and asymmetric risk where the VCs always win? Greed dressed as innovation and utility under the cynical rebranding of Web3? The problem is, by the time these flaws have been realised, the VCs have already exited and made a tidy profit. And as always, it’s retail investors who get hurt. Maybe Web5 is just what is required, for the internet, for retail investors, and for Bitcoin.
Steven McClurg is a Co-Founder of Valkyrie Investments. In this interview, we discuss how Steven called Bitcoin’s top, watching the Fed for policy indications, protecting wealth against high inflation, how governments should fight inflation, supply chain issues, and inflation hedges. - - - - Today, US CPI data shows that rather than inflation slowing as had been expected, it continues to accelerate. Year-on-year inflation currently stands at 8.6% - the highest in 40 years. Prices in May alone rose by 1%. But maybe this wasn’t a surprise for everyone. Janet Yellen, who previously characterised inflation as “transitory”, told Congress on Tuesday “inflation is really our top economic problem at this point and that it’s critical that we address it.” This is happening across the world: the ECB plans a “gradual but sustained” path of interest rate rises; India may need to dampen growth to control inflation; in Turkey inflation is out of control. So, how bad could it get? The great inflationary period of the 1970s? Or could it be worse? Some commentators talk of extreme examples such as when hyperinflation tore the fabric of the Weimar republic apart. Most think this can’t be a rational possibility: surely politicians and policy wonks are students of history and they’ll stop spending. But yet, there is talk another $5-10 trillion could be printed. Whatever the outcome, we’re entering a new paradigm in respect of the cost of living. Whilst there are opportunities in every market, the focus is turning to wealth protection ahead of wealth creation. Is this the time for Bitcoin? It has long been regarded by advocates as an inflation hedge. Yet, its current price performance would suggest otherwise. Maybe we need to recalibrate our understanding of what constitutes an inflationary emergency. Block’s recent survey has shown a strong correlation between inflation rates and viewing Bitcoin as a safe haven: Argentina came out top with nearly 50% of respondents stating they saw Bitcoin as protection against inflation. At the time inflation was north of 40%; it’s currently 58%.
Michael Moynihan is a correspondent for Vice News and co-host of The Fifth Column podcast. In this interview, we discuss identity politics and its effect on framing issues such as the Russia Ukraine conflict. We also cover culture wars, toxicity, mainstream media, and freedom of speech. - - - - US polarisation has turned society into isolated camps with defined ideologies and narrow cultural perspectives. Issues are expressed in binary terms: you’re expected to have a for or against a position. And the determination of which position to take is increasingly made as a reaction to what the other side believes. Politics is tribal. There are obvious issues with this trend. People become increasingly deaf to consideration of opposing views. The Socratic method has been ditched in favour of blind alliance to a given group. Critical thinking is decreasing; vitriolic rhetoric is on the rise. Identity politics is resulting in a balkanisation of our communities, as like seeks like, reinforcing the divide. The impacts are becoming increasingly disorientating, as both sides of the political divide align with beliefs that were previously antithetical to their respective ideologies. For example, the right and left have changed their relative positions in terms of support and distrust of government agencies. And, instead of trying to break down these barriers, our representatives and media are increasingly fermenting and exploiting these culture wars for financial gain. Media is becoming beholden to audience capture, both in terms of the large mainstream media corporations, and the wave of independent voices rising from social media. Real journalism is on the wane. The result is the true nature of life becomes clouded, including events of huge geopolitical significance such as the Ukraine Russian conflict. We’re unable now to distinguish fact and spin. The real problem is that people are unable to unite and coalesce around nationally vital policies. And as the world problems become more complex, how will this all play out?
Dan McArdle is co-founder of Messari Crypto and creator of casebitcoin.com. Dan has been in Bitcoin since 2011. In this interview, we discuss the history of Bitcoin cycles and events: Mt. Gox hack, rise of altcoins and stablecoins, Ethereum DAO Hack, and 2017 Bitcoin cycle. - - - - Bitcoin is volatile: its history has been dominated by large swings in both directions; albeit, Bitcoin is volatile to the upside: in 10 years it is up well over 500,000%! But, in each cycle, new adopters can be forgiven for thinking they’re in the cycle that finally breaks the pattern. It is easy to question the investment when seeing the value drop by 80% for the first time. This is where experience is vital. Each cycle has seen events that have had the potential to destroy Bitcoin. Exchange hacks and exploits, the proliferation of competing coins with marketing buzz aimed at attacking Bitcoin, the realisation of altcoin failings, scams, bans, FUD. The most recent has been the UST and Luna crash. Each one destroys confidence and value. Yet, the one thing the critiques fail to mention is that each of these events has been external to Bitcoin. Each event has highlighted weaknesses in innovations in the ecosystem that has developed around Bitcoin. But Bitcoin has remained secure - the protocol itself has not been hacked. In fact, the “move slow and build things” ethos has strengthened through each event. This is why long term hodlers who have served one “tour of duty” (a four year Bitcoin cycle) are more inured to Bitcoin’s volatility. They have experienced Bitcoin being declared dead, only to reemerge stronger and more resilient. What hurts you can make you stronger. To look forward and speculate about the future it is therefore important to look back and see where we’ve been. Many believe Bitcoin is a paradigm shift not just because of ideology, but because the technology has been repeatedly tested and passed. That’s why it is being considered as an emerging global macro asset.
Lyn Alden is a macroeconomist and investment strategist. In this interview, we discuss the macro environment. We zero in on the current inflationary crisis, focusing on the demand/supply problems with energy, prospects for recession, and the impact on markets and countries. - - - - The last time inflationary pressures seriously concerned the US was the 1970s. The decade ended with inflation at nearly 15%. Many believe current inflation, real inflation, not the figures provided by the US Dept of Labor, is at least 15% if not higher. And yet, we are in a much more precarious position now than in the period of the 1970s referred to as the “The Great Inflation”. Global debt is at an all-time high. US government debt is over 137% of GDP. Unprecedented money printing during the global financial crisis was followed by more extreme money printing during the pandemic. Most countries are now bloated with debt. Further, interest rates are still at abnormally low levels. Economies are precariously balanced. Recession is close at hand. At the same time, there is an energy crisis. Decades of underinvestment in energy infrastructure, poor policy decisions, and geopolitical issues means we have insufficient energy supply and price spikes. In the UK 40% of households could be deemed to be in energy poverty soon. There is talk of oil reaching $300 a barrel. Then there is an emerging food crisis. The war between Russia and Ukraine is affecting some of the biggest suppliers of wheat, sunflower oil, and fertilizer. According to the World Food Programme 276 million face famine. A cost of living crisis is hitting the most vulnerable in all corners of the globe. We are in very uncertain times. History suggests such pressures fuel populism, protest, and conflict. How should we protect our investments in such times? What assets could weather these storms? Who can we trust?