13th June 2024

Tyler Cowen and his colleague Alex Tabarrok write some fascinating posts over at Marginal Revolution. Generally I agree with them, generally I disagree with them.

Then there are the instances after they totally perplex me — like this publish on Zeke Fake’s e book:

“One doesn’t get a positive impression of crypto from Quantity Go Up however in truth one doesn’t be taught a lot about crypto in any respect. Certainly, Fake’s e book isn’t actually about crypto it’s concerning the rise and collapse of a bubble and the ensuing insanity of crowds. It’s an outdated and acquainted story. Not that completely different from the tulip mania (see the image beneath), the dot-com increase, or the home flippers and mortgage increase of 2006-2008 (see the Massive Brief for comparable tales of extra). The insanity of crowds is fascinating, enjoyable, and good for a morality story but it surely doesn’t actually inform us a lot concerning the underling asset. Tulips by no means amounted to a lot, the web did nice, home costs are again up. Crypto? Jury remains to be out. Thus, I used to be entertained by Quantity Go Up, however didn’t be taught a lot.” (emphasis added)

I interviewed Zeke Fake on Masters in Enterprise to debate his foray into the world of stablecoins.1 Positive, all the same old features of investor psychology have been on full show. However that’s nearly a given, and never what I — or most different reviewers — targeted on. I used to be most greatly surprised by the wild and lawless free-for-all the e book presents.

To be blunt, it’s astonishing anybody might learn Quantity Go Up: Inside Crypto’s Wild Rise and Staggering Fall and never come away studying one thing fascinating and new about Crypto. Listed below are a number of objects I picked up from Zeke’s e book:

No Regulation: DeFi’s most obvious problem is the lawlessness of its coin backers, alternate managers and promoters. The utter lack of regulatory oversight within the entirety of the crypto business is a obvious issue.

The e book makes use of the meteoric rise and catastrophic collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried and his cryptocurrency alternate FTX as a big demonstrative plot level. Put up-publication, the collapse of Binance, the biggest crypto alternate on the earth, with the plea deal minimize by its former CEO Changpeng Zhao with the US authorities solely serves to verify that thesis.

Nevertheless it wasn’t simply the FTX and Binance collapse; the e book highlighted Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge hack, the TerraUSD/LUNA collapse, the Three Arrows Capital chapter, Voyager Digital’s fall, Celsius crash and liquidity disaster, and BlockFi’s chapter – and naturally, SBF’s crypto hedge fund, Alameda Analysis’s chapter.

These should not bit gamers failing; that is akin to the NYSE, Nasdaq, ISE and CBOE getting liquidated, together with Goldman Sachs and Blackrock, Vanguard and JPM, Millenium and Citadel, Bridgewater and Oaktree, all crashing and burning directly.

Criminality, Scams & Fraud: The sheer variety of thefts happening within the crypto world – see the way in which Fake explains “pig butchering” scams and the arrest of “Razzlekhan” on the earth’s largest heist — as additional examples.

International: Zeke is a gifted and dogged investigative journalist, who traveled around the globe wanting into crypto:.El Salvador, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, and Cambodia. This isn’t a localized problem.

Gamers: The seedy underbelly of the crypto business, is a solid of con artists and misfits. Not within the amusing Michael Lewis approach, however extra within the “Holy Shit, that is principally organized crime and terror state actors” sort of approach.

The Enterprise Mannequin: Actually stated from the stage at a convention: “Why purchase crypto? As a result of Quantity Go Up expertise means it’s going increased!

“Quantity Go Up” will not be, as was advocated, a expertise; reasonably, it has all the options of a bubble psychology, fueled by hype, greed, and a “get wealthy fast” mentality.

An answer in quest of an issue: What’s the precise utility and intrinsic worth of Crypto? Fake factors out that Crypto has been round for a similar size of time as in between the primary industrial web site and the launch of the iPhone.

Psychology by no means adjustments:  OK, I’ll give Tabarrok this one: Human nature is unchanging (bear in mind these geniuses?) and Crypto reveals our worst instincts and foibles — however that has nothing to do with bitcoin.

Didn’t be taught a lot” means you might be both an knowledgeable within the area, have poor studying comprehension expertise, or are participating in motivated reasoning.

There are many authentic debates round Crypto, stablecoins, DeFi, and so on. Whether or not this e book is a revealing foray into crypto that may inform you is decidedly not a kind of debates.

There’s a lot to be realized from this insightful, infuriating e book. It was one in all my favourite reads of 2023, and for those who haven’t devoured it but, you must…

Quantity Go Up
by Alex Tabarrok
Marginal Revolution, December 11, 2023

Cancelling Michael Lewis (October 5, 2023)

One-Sided Markets (September 29, 2021)


1. This was a number of weeks after Michael Lewis (his SBF/FTX e book is Going Infinite).

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