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Long Reads Sunday - Issue #64

Long Reads Sunday - Issue #64
By Nathaniel Whittemore • Issue #55 • View online
The story of the week was the growing global power game around the future of digital money.
The latest salvos were France and Germany declaring their intention to block Facebook’s Libra, all the while exploring their own digital currencies. As someone put it, “Libra awakened the sovereigns.”
The point is that bitcoin and the entire cryptocurrency space is begat are inherently political. It is not just a technology. It is not even just financial. Its implications are about what type of power is available and to whom.
What’s more, this game is a global one. In addition to Libra’s European issues, we had events in Tel Aviv, Riga, and Singapore this week, each of which provide a lens through which to look at the larger trends.
The price may be hovering in place, but this industry is anything but static. Deep under the surface, the tectonic plates of money and power are shifting.
Keep watch for volcanos.
Happy Long Reads - NLW

Long Reads Sunday #64
Long Reads Sunday 64. This week’s story wasn’t some big flashy news, but the slow irrevocable shifting of the tectonic plates that underly money in the global order. With every day that passes, the stakes of this crypto enterprise grow. 
2/ What do I mean? Let’s start with this thread from @el33th4xor about a French official reaching out to talk crypto, where he perfectly sums up the context of this moment when he says “Libra awakened the sovereigns.”
3/ The context for this was news Wednesday from a speech by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire in which he said “I want to be absolutely clear: In these conditions, we cannot authorize the development of Libra on European soil.”
4/ The following day, Germany followed suit, expanding their ire to any “market-relevant private stablecoin,” saying that “Once a digital currency provider dominates the market, it will be quite difficult for competitors.”
5/ The first takeaway, as the best named man in crypto news @nathanielpopper writes here, is that it was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad week for Libra
6/ The second takeaway is bigger than any one project - even one with the scale of ambition of Libra, for underlying the France and Germany announcement were plans to explore their own digital currencies.
7/ Put differently, everyone knew, if they thought about it for a minute, that the future of money would be digital. Libra has made governments around the world wake up to the reality that, shockingly, they may have competition. 
8/ This point - the inherent competition and collision course between crypto currencies - was at the heart of @nic__carter excellent “A most peaceful revolution.” He expounded upon this in convo with @laurashin
9/ This point is also at the center of this recent podcast convo between @CoveringDelta and @EpsilonTheory, although Ben believes the outcome for bitcoin in that battle is likely to be dreary.
10/ Whatever the outcome, the game is now well and truly on. The story of the next few years will be written as permissionless public chains, corporate chains, and government surveillance monies compete for users - sometimes by allying with one another
11/ What’s more, this competition is happening in the context of the uncharted waters of the modern macroeconomy. On Wednesday, for example, Trump took to the bully pulpit to push for negative interest rates.
12/ The next day, the European Central Bank cut rates further, causing Trump to blast off apoplectically about how they were, in effect, winning the currency war through actions like this.
13/ One of the most important, as yet unresolved questions in all this is what it means for bitcoin in the short-medium term. This thread from the ever clear-eyed @krugermacro bears repeating
14/ @MustStopMurad takes a slightly different view - suggesting that, in effect, we’re at the beginning of the shift into bitcoin as a safe haven - a shift that will coincide with the world needing it desperately
15/ “Peep it from the political point of view” The key point of all of this is that, if ever there were a question of this, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies can’t be viewed as simply a technological or economic phenomena. They are a political force.
16/ Importantly, this is not the politics of any one jurisdiction but politics at the highest order of the global crossroads. The string of events around the world last week and upcoming show just how omnipresent this emergent space is. 
17/ Let’s start with Asia. In the lead up to @CoinDesk’s #InvestAsia2019 event last week, @joonian wrote that “the future of money is being built in Asia” referencing everything from infrastructure to regulatory experimentation
18/ Recapped by @WolfieZhao, a presentation from PwC at #InvestAsia2019 also put some numbers behind this claim, showing a dramatic shift in crypto financing and M&A away from the Americas and towards Asia
19/ On that same stage, as reported by @christine_dkim, @MinisterDPaul made the idea of an “initial country offering” literal and real as he discussed the Marshall Islands plans for a sovereign digital crypto and a pre-sale to go with it
20/ @Coinbase meanwhile intimated that they were exploring an initial exchange offering platform. While some were quick to argue that the IEO moment felt over, this is in many ways emblematic of the influence of highly experimental Asia-based exchanges on the world
21/ Next week, the Asia crypto story continues with Shanghai Blockchain Week, however as we speak, both Tel Aviv Blockchain Week (incl @EtherealSummit) and @hodlhodl #bh2019 are happening. 
22/ For coverage of Tel Aviv Blockchain Week, follow event organizer @mayazi, on the ground views from @La__Cuen, and video coverage from @BLOCKTVnews
23/ For more on HodlHodl, follow…basically any bitcoiner! But for a little more concentrated view, check out @MartyBent’s rad new @digg bitcoin channel - excited to see this new curation!
24/ By the way, speaking of new curation, shout out to @nomicsfinance for their new newsletter “Popular Crypto” covering wallets, hardware, staking and other crypto products.
25/ Now, let’s look at a few more newsy things and notable content before we bounce, starting with the big fat news that @BinanceAmerica would be opening next week - starting with 6 assets but exploring dozens more
26/ I covered the @BinanceAmerica news on Crypto Daily 3@3 on Thursday. My guess is that people will try to judge its success (or failure) based on *immediate* adoption instead of viewing it as a long term force.
27/ Another interesting bit of news this week was that @dapper_labs (of CryptoKittie fame) had raised money (including from Warner Music) and was planning on building Flow - an Ethereum alternative. Investor @AriannaSimpson threads it
28/ There was a fair bit of backlash - from arguments that VCs will always be incentivized to fund competing chains to questions of network effects - but also a sense that this might be a warning for those who care about the Ethereum ecosystem
29/ In the “good things to read and ponder column” both @nic__carter and @DoveyWan vociferously recommended this piece by @Erikcason
30/ From the MSM files, check out @jchatterleycnn #CryptoCrazy week. In this conversation @Travis_Kling puts bitcoin and cryptocurrency more broadly in generational terms
31/ From the “athletes are the ambassadors” files, check out @SDinwiddie_25 interesting new approach to his contract
32/ Speaking of ambassadors, 4-time WSoP bracelet holder @tsarrast has been an engaged bitcoiner for some time, but took some time to actually put together his thoughts on why it has value.
33/ From the “I didn’t know I wanted this but now I really want it” files @dhruvbansal of @unchainedcap releases this new “speculative fiction” series with a hyperbitcoinization backdrop
34/ Finally, your weekly reminder of the fact that, even though when the volatility flattens for a while it can feel like we’re in a holding pattern, this industry is evolving incredibly quickly. This time courtesy of @ericsavics1
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Nathaniel Whittemore

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