Bitcoin, disintermediation, and decentralized money


Bitcoin is surging again. Could it be due to Elon Musk adding Bitcoin to his Twitter bio? Whatever the cause, the price of Bitcoin has increased from around $32,000 to almost $38,000 overnight. No longer a hobbyhorse of the Winklevoss twins, who recently called Bitcoin the “trade of the century,” the value of Bitcoin surged nearly 400 percent in the course of a year, from roughly $8,000 on January 10, 2020 to over $40,000 a year later.

The first week and a half in 2021 saw the price per Bitcoin increase 38 percent. On January 6, the overall cryptocurrency market…

A destructive book full of bad reasoning and bad advice is topping the bestseller charts

On June 5th, Jonathan Capehart wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post entitled, “Dear White People, Please Read ‘White Fragility’.” In it, he writes that Robin DiAngelo, the book’s author, “forces white people to see and understand how white supremacy permeates their lives and to recognize how they perpetuate it. More importantly, she shows them what they can do to change themselves and dismantle this pernicious system.”

In the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death, race in America has shot to the top of the headlines. It comes as no surprise, then, that books like White Fragility and How to…

A story of lost income and lost lives


As economies across the world grapple with COVID-19, many are wondering how bad it could get. At this point, it is anyone’s guess. The virus is a black swan event that highlights a distinction drawn by late economist Frank Knight between risk and uncertainty. As Knight wrote:

Uncertainty must be taken in a sense radically distinct from the familiar notion of risk, from which it has never been properly separated. … The essential fact is that “risk” means in some cases a quantity susceptible of measurement, while at other times it is something distinctly not of this character; and there…

A liquidity injection is not a handout

Credit: Johannes Eisele (Getty)

This week, as equity markets went into a tailspin while the coronavirus spread across the globe, the Federal Reserve decided to inject $1.5 trillion into financial markets. The Fed’s rapid action was an attempt to stabilize financial markets in the wake of severe disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In response, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Democratic candidate for president, tweeted:

When we say it’s time to provide health care to all our people, we’re told we can’t afford it. But if the stock market is in trouble, no problem! The government can just hand out $1.5 …

Getting into the economic weeds

Credit: Sean Rayford (Getty)

Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, battling to win over the progressive wing of their party, have proposed a wealth tax as part of their policy platforms.

Warren’s proposal calls for an “Ultra-Millionaire Tax,” applying to households worth $50 million or more. Roughly, this includes the wealthiest 75,000 households—the top 0.1 percent. What would they pay? A 2 percent tax on every dollar of net worth in the $50 million to $1 billion range, and a 6 percent tax on every dollar beyond that.

The Sanders proposal has more categories. Married couples would see a 1 percent tax…

A response to Ben Burgis

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In a recent article for Arc Digital, philosophy professor Ben Burgis confronts the idea that socialism is inconsistent with human nature. In the course of his discussion, he invokes a Letter exchange between fellow Arc contributor Matthew McManus and me, and claims that I attribute a “human nature is actually good” view to the left.

Here’s a bit of context. In that exchange, McManus and I took a great deal of time and effort exploring the meaning of individualism in an age of social justice activism. Our overarching concern was human potential — and how various social and political institutions…

In an earlier article, I suggested AOC misconstrued “scarcity.” She might have been right.

Credit: Spencer Platt (Getty)

In a prior article for Arc Digital, I argued that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) misconstrued a basic principle of economics by conflating scarcity with distribution.

Here’s what originally caught my eye. During a town hall event to discuss education policy, Ocasio-Cortez took aim at the dearth of high-quality public schools in New York City. When a constituent in the audience tried to silence a heckler, the congresswoman remarked: “My concern is that this right here, where we’re fighting each other, is exactly what happens under a scarcity mindset.”

Given that Ocasio-Cortez was urging people to join her in a fight…

Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something

(L-R) Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) attend a Raise The Wage Act | Credit: Chip Somodevilla (Getty)

In mid-July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The bill has been ignored by the Senate and President Trump. But along with the Fight for $15 campaign, living wage calculators, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.)

Too often we jump from the fact of inequality to the supposed illegitimacy of capitalism. That’s too fast.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposed a wealth tax to address economic inequality. Motivated by a study showing that “the top 0.1 percent wealth share has risen from 7 percent in 1978 to 22 percent in 2012,” Warren drew attention to one of the central economic challenges of our time. …

On scarcity and distribution

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is popular for many reasons, but perhaps the most meaningful source of her appeal is her intrepid advocacy for economic policies that energize progressives. She has buoyed progressive hopes with her unapologetically ambitious vision of a society with revitalized infrastructure and a Green New Deal in which everyone has a job with a living wage, health care, and the ability to get a college education. …

Jonathan Church

Jonathan Church is an economist and writer. His publications are linked at, and he can be found on Twitter @jondavidchurch.

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