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Long Reads Sunday - Issue #78

Long Reads Sunday - Issue #78
By Nathaniel Whittemore • Issue #69 • View online
The TL;DR on this week was that it was one in which a whole slew of the narratives competing for our attention in 2020 pushed their way into our consciousness. 
First, there was the role of bitcoin as a safe haven asset. Of course, this week that conversation happened in the context of Iran. There are many perspectives on this, but watching bitcoin parallel gold and crude is interesting, to say the least.
Next, there was the constantly shifting landscape of global regulation. In the US, we saw the SEC share its 2020 crypto priorities (which were much more extensive than 2019’s). But the big story was AMLD5 in Europe, which creates enough of a compliance burden that some crypto co’s like Deribit are packing up and moving. 
There was also - as there will be throughout the year - debate about the bitcoin halvening, which this week focused on the Efficient Market Hypothesis. 
January has already been much more active and interesting than this same time last year. 
Happy long reads - NLW 

On The Breakdown podcast this week
Long Reads Sunday #78
Long Reads Sunday #78. TL;DR: A stage setting week where all the narratives competing for our attention in 2020: China & central bank digital currencies Global regulatory arbitrage Bitcoin halvening + bitcoin as a macro asset Tokenized securities Came to play. Long Reads Time!
2/ The geopolitical situation underlying crypto (and all markets) this week was Iran’s missile response. As news broke, @travis_kling pointed out the price of bitcoin moving in parallel with gold and crude, as it had since the announcement of the killing of Suleimani the week previous.
3/ The next day, I had @Travis_kling join me on The Breakdown to discuss what this price action suggests in the ongoing debate about to what extent bitcoin is acting like a safe haven in times of geopolitical turbulence.
4/ For those interested in more of this, Travis also explained on the pod last year about *HOW* bitcoin could plausibly become a safe haven, not based on ideology but simply based on rational market actors behaving as you might expect
5/ Beyond bitcoin in the macro environment, another theme across this week was regulatory action and regulatory arbitrage. In advance of a deposition with the SEC, Telegram announced that TON would NOT be integrated with their messenger
6/ @TwoBitIdiot had an interesting take on the Telegram situation, writing that, interestingly, the presence of the tech-corporate coins was benefiting Ethereum & Bitcoin, while also predicting more protocol M&A to come
7/ Speaking of the SEC, their Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (sexy name, I know) announced their priorities for crypto in 2020 - which were significantly more extensive than last year’s edition.
8/ Still, it has to be said that the most significant regulatory news came from Europe. As the “Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive” (aka AMLD5) does into effect, crypto co’s are picking up and leaving with worry of the information and monetary costs of compliance.
9/ And then, of course, there’s China, where the People’s Bank of China this week published a paper saying that the “top-level” design of their digital currency is complete. Whatever the truth, it’s clear China *wants* to be seen as ahead in this race
10/ There’s no doubt, however, that Libra and China have awakened the attention of other global economic leaders. European Central Bank President @lagarde again commented on their explorations around a digital currency
11/ In other parts of the European central banking establishment, there is more skepticism. IMF chief Economist @GitaGopinath wrote in @FT last week that the key feature of reserve currencies isn’t technology or features but institutions and trust
12/ Over in the bitcoin realm, there was ongoing conversation about bitcoin and the halvening. Seeing one too many shitty arguments using a half-baked version of EMH or the Efficient Market Hypothesis, he dropped this primer. PICTURE
13/ Oh, you’re lazy and don’t want to spend the 29 minutes reading Nic’s piece? It’s cool. @Soonaorlater @tokendaily has you covered.
14/ @KyleSamani is less interested in EMH theory but suggests the halvening is “objectively bullish” due to 1) issuance cut in half; 2) increasing ease of big capital to enter; 3) lack of price sensitivity of big capital
15/ Jumping back to Iran and bitcoin in the macro context, one question some have had is “how useful is bitcoin as #DissidentTech if the internet can just be shut off?” @nwoodfine explains all the work going into addressing that question
16/ Three more quick things on bitcoin. First, 2020 predictions may be winding down, but if you’ve got just a little more attention, check out this multi-part series by @brian_trollz. There is a *ton* to churn through here
17/ Second, @bquittem is back with a very cool project cataloguing all of the prominent folks from across industries and domains who are quietly (or not so quietly) bit coiners
18/ Third, this thread last night from @BrookeRStoddard snuck in just as I was prepping LRS. Titled “Why I Invest In Bitcoin,” this is a great primer that one could use when chatting with their interested (or skeptical) friends and fam
19/ Let’s shift over to the Ethereum world for just a minute, where there were a couple of really interesting conversations. First, check out the responses to @CamiRusso’s questions about a DeFi passive income experiment
20/ Speaking of experiments, one of the predictions I heard a lot for 2020 was DeFi experimenting with undercollateralized loans. @AlexMasmej wrote about this while @tayvano_ is skeptical
21/ I loved this discussion kicked off by @sassal0x about “actual ETH bear theses.” It reminds me of a similar thread from @lrettig last year. I think this sort of community self-analysis is really valuable.
22/ Finally, a fascinating discussion kicked up by @teo_leibowitz on why we haven’t yet seen an ETH Silk Road
23/ Like I said at the beginning, this was an interesting week with little glimpses of lots of the narratives competing for our attention in 2020. But let’s close with something extra cool…
24/ After having to fight like hell, @SDinwiddie_25 has pushed through the tokenization of his NBA contract. @arjunblj argues that it is the continuation of a larger trend of people affiliating with players over teams.
25/ Between @SDinwiddie_25 and @RussellOkung, it’s increasingly looking like many folks in the mainstream are going to have their first exposure to bitcoin and crypto via a sports hero, rather than some ICO or other. This is a very good thing. 
26/ And on that positive note, we wrap! As always, you can get LRS via email
27/ For more bitcoin and crypto analysis everyday, subscribe to The Breakdown podcast! Catch it everyday on @CoinDesk or subscribe via your favorite podcast app
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Nathaniel Whittemore

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