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Long Reads Sunday - Issue #63

Long Reads Sunday - Issue #63
By Nathaniel Whittemore • Issue #54 • View online
The defining question this week is why, when so much is going right (price above $10k, Bakkt opening warehousing, new DeFi announcements), does it feel so gloomy?
I asked this question earlier this week and got some interesting responses - ranging from creeping worry about the global economy to simple impatience. Still, the most common answer had to do with the decoupling of BTC from Alts, or, as one person put it the BTC bull disguised the Alt bear.
Still, it’s hard not to see the rapid increase in activity around China’s digital currency and the increasingly heated regulatory battles around Libra as part of a larger recognition of the shifting tectonic plates of the economy. In the piece of the week, Nic Carter writes why bitcoin is an inherently and irrevocably revolutionary force.
What do you think? Are you seeing the same malaise? Is it just my filter bubble?
Let me know what you think by responding and I’ll include the most interesting comments in next week’s LRS.
Thanks as always for reading - NLW

Long Reads Sunday #63
Long Reads Sunday #63. A week that should have been exuberant - BTC prices sustained above $10k, Bakkt begins warehousing as planned, interesting new announcements - instead seemed muted, if not downright glum. What the hell is going on? 
2/ @Melt_Dem nailed this sentiment when sharing @FredWilson’s post “Some Thoughts On Crypto” - which argued that 1) bitcoin is closest to product market fit as digital gold; 2) ethereum is confounding; 3) regulation & lack of use are disappointing. 
3/ I asked people this same question and got a ton of interesting responses - from a simple lack of patience and off time preferences to a larger creeping macro economic insecurity
4/ Still, while there were many answers, the utter decoupling of bitcoin from everything else was the most referenced culprit. @DoveyWan captured this “Bitcoin Bull disguising an Altcoin Bear”
5/ Some of the companies who track data have noticed this decoupling as well. In this clip, @TheTIEIO discusses the break between BTC and alts reflected in their NVTweet ratio metric with @BLOCKTVnews
6/ Still, not all are gloomy about the prospects of alts - or at least, Ethereum. @paddypisa points out that behind the scenes, a huge amount of work is happening that may not be reflected in the public price.
7/ Certainly, there was a fair bit of discussion of DeFi this week. @OpenLawOfficial announced @TheLAOOfficial - a for profit limited liability entity for funding blockchain startups.
8/ @prestonjbyrne was not impressed will the LAO’s plans, effectively saying it’s an overly and unnecessarily complex version of existing legal structures. Even if you disagree with his conclusions, his essay on the topic will help you understand key points of skepticism
9/ Speaking of skepticism, @Obstropolos just released a new piece arguing in effect that there is a difference between “decentralized” and “open” finance that ought to be recognize lest we get caught in our own hyperbole
10/ One of the DeFi protocols that has gotten the most attention recently is @compoundfinance. @Ameensol teamed up with a hacker to look at both the security risk and incentive system involved.
11/ @danrobinson over at Paradigm introduced a new DeFi primitive called yTokens that @TheBlock__ likened to an Ethereum-based version of zero coupon bonds
12/ For a more overarching take on the evolution of Ethereum and DeFi in the larger historical context of crypto, check out @jessewldn’s latest, in which he updates his “eras” model from last year and suggests that we think in terms of blockchain layers.
13/ Yet for all the discussion of the state of DeFi, it does feel like the big questions in the industry at the moment lay elsewhere. In particular, to me there is no bigger question than the trifurcated battle for global digital money between permissionless bitcoin, corporate coins, and central bank digital currencies. 
14/ With more rumblings from China on its digital currency, @Coindesk @WolfieZhao wrote this banger of a piece on their acceleration to beat Libra to the punch
15/ @delrayman flagged this ad in the @Telegraph in the UK, paid for by the Chinese government and all about the value proposition of their forthcoming digital currency
16/ Meanwhile, @mikejcasey dug in around Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s idea for a “synthetic hegemonic currency” - a collaboration between central banks to weaken the USD as the global reserve
17/ Because he hates his mentions, @TheStalwart wrote in the @markets newsletter that one of the biggest reasons that bitcoin is likely to have a hard time replacing the dollar on the global stage is the lack of a lender of last resort
18/ This was somewhat opposite of this viral tweet from @100trillionUSD, who argued that bitcoin is, in fact, the “logical next step” in money.
19/ Whatever happens, it’s clear that there is a simmering conversation about changes in the global financial order. As @Travis_Kling points out, when it comes to the history of global reserve currencies, this is nothing new.
20/ In the most discussed and important piece of the week, @nic__carter puts bitcoin’s position in all of this plainly.
21/ A similar sentiment in a couldn’t-be-more-dissimilar-delivery-package came from this Epic-Rap-Battles-Of-History-esque debate between Hamilton and Satoshi produced by @reidhoffman and featuring cameos from @zooko @soonaorlater @SatoshiLite and many others
22/ Perhaps then, to return to the question that started this thread, the strange unease that surrounds crypto isn’t just unwatered bagholders moping, but a recognition (or reminding) of the stakes of this industry. It is easy, in the hullabaloo of price action and in the rhetoric games of Twitter, to lose sight of the forest for the trees. 
23/ Keeping it a little shorter this week, so let’s wrap with this: yesterday was my 35th birthday, so I asked people to create a list of 35 things they wished they’d known getting into bitcoin/crypto. Some phenomenal insights
24/ So there you have it. What do you think? Are you also feeling the malaise? Is it larger global economic issues? Poor alt performance? Something else? Thanks as always for reading, and sign up to get LRS via email:
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Nathaniel Whittemore

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