Starting August 20, 2020, the Bitcoin Standard podcast will be releasing a recording of the weekly saifedean.com discussion seminar. The seminar is open to learners on saifedean.com, and focuses on discussing the material of the courses, as well as a broader discussion of Bitcoin, Austrian economics, and various current affairs. Sign up by purchasing a course from saifedean.com/academy.
Is Bitcoin Democratic? Debate with Alex Gladstein, Oct 15, 2020
We are joined this week by Stephan Livera who moderates a debate between Saifedean and Alex Gladstein, of the Human Rights Foundation, on the question of whether bitcoin is a democratic technology.
Alex has written on how bitcoin can protect free speech.
Articles and Books mentioned in the episode:
How to grill a steak and beat fiat food, Oct 8, 2020
After five years of eating nothing but meat, Saifedean explains everything he learned about how to grill a steak, and why to grill it. Being well-nourished with meat is the best way to avoid getting addicted to highly-addictive processed junk. In this week’s seminar, Saifedean discusses the most important things he learned about sourcing and preparing meat to stay healthy, as well as some of the most relevant readings that have shaped his thinking on this topic, and the connection between fiat money and fiat food.
Saifedean’s page with meat resources is saifedean.com/meat
zerocarbzen.com: the website that first got me to try a meat-only diet
Diagnosis-Diet: Dr. Georgia Ede’s website with some eye-opening articles on the benefits of meat and the dangers of plant-foods.
Eat meat, not too little, mostly fat. Amber O’Hearn’s good intro to the diet
The Savory Institute uses grazing animals to rejuvenate dead soil
Otto Wilde is the best grill ever invented and I highly recommend it. Use the code saifedean to get 10% off.
The Cinder grill is the best indoor grill and a great plastic-free sous-vide machine. Use the code BTC to get $50 off.
The Bitcoin Standard Podcast Seminar 6, October 1, 2020
The Bitcoin Standard Podcast Seminar 6 with Pierre Rochard
We are joined this week by Pierre Rochard, of the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute: https://nakamotoinstitute.org/, to talk about:
The fixed supply of bitcoin
How bitcoin differs from other moneys
The significance of having a supply that can be verified cheaply
The importance of savings
The difference between savings and investments
BitcoinAcks.com: Pierre’s new initiative for open source financing of bitcoin development
Some of my favorite articles by Pierre:
Chart referenced by Pierre on market structure:
The Bitcoin Standard Podcast Seminar 5, September 24, 2020
The Bitcoin Standard Podcast Seminar 5 with Michael Saylor
Join the Saifedean.com seminar as we host Michael Saylor, CEO of Microstrategy, the publicly traded company that announced it was making bitcoin its primary treasure reserve asset, and purchasing 38,250 BTC (~$425m). Saylor explains how this was a deliberate decision to put the company on a bitcoin standard.
To stay informed of progress on Saifedean’s upcoming book, The Fiat Standard, sign up on saifedean.com/email
Saifedean’s paper Michael mentioned, on Bitcoin monetization scenario, and how banks are “fiat miners”: https://saifedean.com/product/report-title-2/
All of Saifedean’s research papers written after The Bitcoin Standard can be found on saifedean.com/research
Saifedean’s The Bitcoin Standard, out in 21 languages: saifedean.com/book
Inflation tiers according to Michael, by annual change in prices:
<0%: technology, information, anything that can be dematerialized digitally, capital-intensive goods, goods with high fixed cost of production and low marginal costs.
0 to 2%: Unskilled labor, non-premium land and property, labor-intensive goods
6-8%: High quality education, medical care, property, naturally scarce goods.
8-24%: Debt, equity, prime, luxury property, and elite products.
The Bitcoin Standard Podcast Seminar, September 10, 2020
Makes the productivity of mining in bitcoin terms:
1- Part of the consensus parameters of the network
2- Independent of demand
Mining of coins is more similar to a sports competition than mining. The reward is like a trophy, it is fixed regardless of how many competitors take part. Whereas in mining of natural resources, the more miners participate, the more output is produced.
Allows for the distribution of coins to happen gradually over a century. Without it, the entire mining output could be mined early if the price rises. Which would make it unlikely to spread. By slowing down the production, it allows it to remain open and competitive for a very long time.
The irresistible monetary juggernaut that’s been growing relentlessly for 11 years and consuming all that comes in its way.
1- Hardest money ever
Ensures bitcoin will have the lowest supply growth rate of any money ever used.
Highest stock-to-flow of a monetary asset ever is coming around 2025. It will keep rising from then until infinity around a century later.
2- First strictly scarce asset
First technology for capping the supply of anything.
The only money whose supply is completely irresponsive to demand.
The only thing other than human time that is strictly scarce.
3- Adapts to the correct size
As bitcoin grows, it ensures that the reward stays the same in bitcoin terms. As the value of the bitcoin token rises, the difficulty adjustment ensures that the rise results in an increase in the cost of mining, rather than in the output of mining.
If bitcoin declines in value it causes the reward to drop and decreases the investment into mining. It ensures bitcoin continues at the size it needs to survive.
If governments were to crack down on bitcoin, and all the current fiat on-rails get shut down, that could cause a significant drop in the price of bitcoin. In this situation the price drops, and the difficulty follows, and more miners stop mining. More mining goes underground and larger mines get shut down by governments. Bitcoin shrinks to a size that can hide. It could survive as a much smaller underground black market monetary system, but it would likely survive, because it no longer needs very large mining facilities. Even with a very large reduction in mining capacity, and a very large reduction in price, the difficulty adjusts downward and the blocks continue to clear every ten minutes.
No mining death spiral
4- Essential component of bitcoin security
Protects bitcoin from attack. It’s really expensive to mess with bitcoin. You can always attack bitcoin transactions, but it’s always expensive.
Decentralizes the mining of bitcoin, making it less vulnerable to attacks and centralizations.
5- Ruthless market efficiency at all times
How hard it is to run a successful operation without a market signal.
In ECO11 See lecture 7 on Prices and the Market Order, and Lecture 8 on Profit and Loss. In ECO12, see Lecture 1 on economic calculation.
You see the essential role of prices and calculation in making economic production possible.
Without it, it’s very hard to organize economic production. It is very hard to organize a bureaucracy or agency without price signals and profits and feedback from the market.
The difference in efficiency between private and public enterprise. When you are optimizing for dollars, it’s very different from optimizing for abstract nouns.
This means it’s really hard to run a hostile mining operation. At the level of scale of mining currently existing, even securing 10% of the bitcoin network is an enormous capital investment. On top of the power infrastructure needed, there is also the mining equipment needed. Producing the power and the mining equipment and deploying them is a long production process that is very capital intensive. Government central planning does not do these things well.
See: Quaero: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaero
Power generation capacity:
Bitcoin uses around 8GW of electric capacity, which is around as much electric generation capacity as these entire countries:
That’s a very large amount of capital that requires active management. It’s very hard to manage it successfully if money is not the motivation. Without market discipline, and without the need to be responsive to prices, management lacks the means to direct resources most effectively.
A government-funded enterprise does not face the critical pressure of needing to deliver to survive. It can fail to take best advantage of an opportunity and continue to be subsidized regardless. It can commit fatal mistakes and continue to get bailed out. Managers and insiders are likely to focus their jobs on maintaining their own positions rather than achieving profitability. Politics will take over.
On the other hand, honest miners are constantly facing the brutal market test of producing blocks to survive. The least efficient are constantly being culled. The mistakes are constantly being punished. Bad managers are constantly being replaced or shutting down. Not all private miners are efficient, but all the ones that are inefficient are soon to become ex-miners. Only the strongest survive on the market.
As the mining hashrate continues to grow, and the amount of infrastructure needed to own miners becomes more roundabout and sophisticated, it becomes less and less likely that miners not motivated by profits can compete.
Follow up notes on democracy and monarch discussion:
Arab monarchies vs republics inflation
Have you read Hoppe’s follow up essay called from aristocracy-monarchy-democracy? I love all your points why it could be better, but Hoppe argues monarchy got ruined because kings sided with people against the aristocracy. I believe with social media kings would be more likely to side with people against the rich, resulting in dictators.
The Bitcoin Standard Podcast Seminar 2: Sep 3, 2020
This seminar focuses on the economics of energy. How does the economic way of thinking help us understand the energy market, and recent events like the California blackouts. I discuss the content of the economics of energy chapter in my forthcoming textbook, Principles of Economics, and how marginal analysis can help us understand the limitations of unreliable energy sources, as well as the world’s continued reliance on hydrocarbons for energy.
To purchase access the draft of my forthcoming textbook, along with a signed hardcover copy delivered to you, click here.
My paper on the economics of energy and Bitcoin mining.
Global energy production composition, 1900-2016:
Alex Epstein’s website, based on his excellent book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels
Michael Schellenberger’s book: Apocalypse Never
Alex and Michael’s recent interview on the California energy crisis.
Global Warming Policy Foundation report finds UK consumers face £2-3 Billion Annual Bill To Prevent Green Energy Blackouts.
Report on Germany’s renewables threatening its grid and economy
Ball and Lee, Energy Aftermath
Think Markets, the blog of the NYU Colloquium
Robert Breedlove’s interview with Stephan Livera where they discuss Mises’ contribution to Bitcoin
The Bitcoin Standard Podcast Seminar 1: Aug 20, 2020
Main points on Monarchy vs Democracy
- Time preference
- Security of property
- Democracy has perverse selection
- Democracy legitimates government
- Kings don’t owe anybody anything
- Rise of civilizations under monarchy
Relevant quote from Hoppe: “Traditional monarchies only resemble dictatorships superficially. Instead, dictatorships are a regular outgrowth of mass democracy. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao were distinctly democratic rulers as compared to the former Emperors of Russia, Germany, Austria, and China. Indeed, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao (and almost all of their smaller and lesser known successors) were outspoken in their hatred of everything monarchic and aristocratic. They knew that they owed their rise to democratic mass politics, and they employed democratic politics (elections, referenda, mass rallies, mass media propaganda, etc.) throughout their reign.”
Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed
Hoppe, Political Economy of Monarchy and Democracy
Hoppe, The Myth of National Defense
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Monarchy and War
Leland Yeager, A Libertarian Case for Monarchy
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