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The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking Hardcover – April 24, 2018
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“Bitcoin has no owner, no authority that can decide on its fate. It is owned by the crowd, its users. And it now has a track record of several years, enough for it to be an animal in its own right. Its mere existence is an insurance policy that will remind governments that the last object the establishment could control, namely, the currency, is no longer their monopoly. This gives us, the crowd, an insurance policy against an Orwellian future.”–From the foreword by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
From the Inside Flap
When a pseudonymous programmer introduced "a new electronic cash system that's fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party" to a small online mailing list in 2008, very few paid attention. Ten years later, and against all odds, this upstart autonomous decentralized software offers an unstoppable and globally- accessible hard money alternative to modern central banks. The Bitcoin Standard analyzes the historical context to the rise of Bitcoin, the economic properties that have allowed it to grow quickly, and its likely economic, political, and social implications.
While Bitcoin is a new invention of the digital age, the problem it purports to solve is as old as human society itself: transferring value across time and space. Ammous takes the reader on an engaging journey through the history of technologies performing the functions of money, from primitive systems of trading limestones and seashells, to metals, coins, the gold standard, and modern government debt. Exploring what gave these technologies their monetary role, and how most lost it, provides the reader with a good idea of what makes for sound money, and sets the stage for an economic discussion of its consequences for individual and societal future-orientation, capital accumulation, trade, peace, culture, and art. Compellingly, Ammous shows that it is no coincidence that the loftiest achievements of humanity have come in societies enjoying the benefits of sound monetary regimes, nor is it coincidental that monetary collapse has usually accompanied civilizational collapse.
With this background in place, the book moves on to explain the operation of Bitcoin in a functional and intuitive way. Bitcoin is a decentralized, distributed piece of software that converts electricity and processing power into indisputably accurate records, thus allowing its users to utilize the Internet to perform the traditional functions of money without having to rely on, or trust, any authorities or infrastructure in the physical world. Bitcoin is thus best understood as the first successfully implemented form of digital cash and digital hard money. With an automated and perfectly predictable monetary policy, and the ability to perform final settlement of large sums across the world in a matter of minutes, Bitcoin's real competitive edge might just be as a store of value and network for final settlement of large payments--a digital form of gold with a built-in settlement infrastructure.
Ammous' firm grasp of the technological possibilities as well as the historical realities of monetary evolution provides for a fascinating exploration of the ramifications of voluntary free market money. As it challenges the most sacred of government monopolies, Bitcoin shifts the pendulum of sovereignty away from governments in favor of individuals, offering us the tantalizing possibility of a world where money is fully extricated from politics and unrestrained by borders.
The final chapter of the book explores some of the most common questions surrounding Bitcoin: Is Bitcoin mining a waste of energy? Is Bitcoin for criminals? Who controls Bitcoin, and can they change it if they please? How can Bitcoin be killed? And what to make of all the thousands of Bitcoin knock-offs, and the many supposed applications of Bitcoin's 'blockchain technology'? The Bitcoin Standard is the essential resource for a clear understanding of the rise of the Internet's decentralized, apolitical, free-market alternative to national central banks.
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Who should read the book:
People that are interested in the history of money.
People that are wondering what makes Bitcoin different.
People that are curious about what makes money work.
This is a wonderful book written by a world-class economist. Saifedean Ammous really knows his monetary history and has clear and logical explanations of not only how money works, but why some money works better than others. He makes a compelling argument for why Bitcoin is superior to other forms of money tried in the past. As a bonus, he goes into why so much of "blockchain technology" is mostly hype.
I've bought 20 copies already to hand out to friends.
That’s right. This book is the missing treatise on “Why Bitcoin?”. It is not technical from a coder’s point of view; however, it is technical on its treatment of economics. Don’t let that scare you away. If you ever considered “getting into Bitcoin”. If you never heard of Bitcoin. If you are a long-time holder of Bitcoin. This book is for you.
The book fills a gap on three fronts. First it helps those of us who became enamored with Bitcoin through individual and economic freedom explain our viewpoint in a succinct manner. Second, it serves as a philosophical on-ramp to the multitudes of speculators who flooded into Bitcoin in the past 6 months or so. It provides them a concrete reason to transform their time-preference (a key economic theme in the book) from trader to HODLer. Lastly, it is for people who have never heard of Bitcoin or have heard of it but don’t know or understand much about it. It provides these folks with the very best reason for converting at least some of their government-backed fiat money into the sound/hard money of Bitcoin.
Another overriding theme in the book is security. Without it there is no such thing as financial freedom. Near the beginning of the book Ammous explains:
“Should you come out of reading this book thinking that the bitcoin currency is something worth owning, your first investment should not be in buying bitcoins, but in time spent understanding how to buy, store, and own bitcoins securely.”
This is without a doubt the best advice one could possibly give regarding Bitcoin.
In reading the book you may find yourself wondering when he’s going to start getting to the Bitcoin part. The first seven chapters barely mention Bitcoin. Instead there is a gradual discussion of money and economics, including the various popular schools of economics. Ultimately, the conclusion is that Austrian Economics provides the fundamental basis of “Why Bitcoin?” In fact, those of us already schooled in Austrian Economics should celebrate the existence of this book. It can potentially spread the common-sense Austrian view to multitudes of people who otherwise would never learn of it.
If you know someone who bought bitcoins for speculation or to make some quick money buy this book for them and force them to read it. You may even have to go all “Clockwork Orange” on them, strapping them to a chair and pinning their eyes open. They may scoff at first, but they’ll thank you later (yet another benefit of having a low time-preference).
“The Bitcoin Bible”… er.. I mean “The Bitcoin Standard” is essential to read and understand for anyone even remotely interested in Bitcoin. Read it. Then read it again. Then pass it around to everyone you know and if they are reluctant, figure out non-violent ways to get them to read it. So, you probably shouldn’t resort to the “Clockwork Orange” method mentioned above. Just find a way.
If Roger Ver can be “Bitcoin Jesus” (or more accurately “Bitcoin Judas” at this point) then Saifedean Ammous is a “Bitcoin God”. Read his bible with the highest time preference so you can learn to have a low time preference when it comes to Bitcoin itself. BTFD and HODL!
Top international reviews
It reminds me of the way we were told that fat makes you fat and now we know it was actually sugar all along. The same is true of our economic theories. We’ve been sold a lie and our currencies are heading to zero.
Our modern levels of debt and quantitative easing are now unsustainable so either we return to the gold standard or we move on.
Enter Bitcoin. The hardest money ever.
Truly an eye opening book, especially the first half of it. If you can even borrow it from a friend, I recommend you do.
I got the audible version as well as paperback. Will sit nicely next to Mises in my library.
The book was first ordered by my friend to my address as he lives abroad and was planning to pick it up in a couple of weeks. I expected a slightly boring book with some propoganda, like Dr Julian Hosp's one, but I was pleasantly surprised to be very wrong. I ordered my own copy immediately.
Ammous argues that the gold standard was a far superior system to the fiat currency system we have today, and that the 'Bitcoin standard' will be its digital reincarnation. While this veneration of the gold standard may seem surprising or implausible to modern readers, Ammous argues his case well, citing the remarkable, indeed almost uninterrupted, economic boom that much of the West enjoyed during the years of the gold standard. This long period of prosperity under the gold standard is contrasted with the depressingly familiar 'boom and bust' cycle that has characterised the global economy since the abandonment of the gold standard in favour of the present system of 'fiat' currencies.
Having established his theoretical and historical case for why we need 'sound money', such as gold, Ammous spends the remainder of the book arguing why Bitcoin, and Bitcoin alone, is suited to perform the function of digital sound money. He argues that none of the alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) can fulfil this function, and that therefore Bitcoin itself should be the focus of any efforts to create a superior alternative to the current currency system. Finally he presents an idea for how Bitcoin could scale to the point of true worldwide use for the whole human population, namely a network of banks issuing currency backed by Bitcoin, thus the 'Bitcoin Standard' that gives the book its name.
My main quibble with the book is that Ammous only gives us a cursory explanation of how his long-term vision for Bitcoin as an international settlement currency would work. He states that Bitcoin's current transaction capacity of approximately 350,000 transactions per day would allow each bank in a network of 850 central banks to perform one final settlement transaction with every other bank in the network per day, and that if each of these banks served 10 million customers this would allow Bitcoin (or at least a central bank derived version of it) to be used by the world's entire population. Even putting aside the many significant problems that this approach would introduce, such as a return to (semi) trusted third parties and the possibility of these central banks running fractional reserve systems, Ammous never gives us any explanation of how this system would actually work, even in broad terms. For that reason I would rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars if Amazon allowed such a rating.
With that aside, I would nonetheless very much recommend this book for anyone interested in the economic, monetary, and historical case for Bitcoin as 'digital gold'. If Ammous's predictions for the future of Bitcoin and the world monetary system come to pass then it will be not only a highly entertaining and interesting book but an important one too.
The solution is unbelievable , yet simple. A must read for anyone who is at all curious or suspicious of those in control of ‘OUR MONEY’. A detailed journey how money must hold an intrinsic value to hold any lasting worth.
A great introduction to how bitcoin addresses virtually all of our current world problems.
Anyone familiar with Austrian Economics will enjoy it and the author’s criticism to the infamous Keynes and monetarists.
Russians have a similar currency to trade between bloc members in the Stans .
Very worth it, especially for the younger generation for whom this will be their reality.
“There was never an example of hyperinflation with economies that operated a gold or silver standard"