A Grand Puzzlement

There are certain things that I just don’t “get”. No matter how hard I try and wrap my mind around the topic, it just stubbornly refuses to engage, sitting in a little sullen lump in the corner and obstinately saying “No.” Because of this, the higher mathematic fields have always been closed to me, either through natural disinclination or having been traumatized in getting blind-sided by the New Math in the third grade. Wisely, I stuck to the simpler, practical methods to do with numbers, and left esoteric maths to those who had a bent for them. I have other talents.

That being admitted and perhaps in relation to such an inability, I could never quite grasp the method and appeal of bitcoin.

Why was it a ‘thing’, other than a lot of people seemed to believe that bitcoinage was a ‘thing’? Bitcoin always seemed to me to be like the medium of exchange used in on-line role-playing games; a thing of value because everyone involved insisted on and agreed that it was. As for the concept of ‘mining bitcoin’, other than it involved a lot of time on the computer, and something to do with solving long and complicated formulae … Nope, just could not “get” how that all worked, and what if anything, bitcoin was based on, other than being trendy. It was all vaporous, it meant whatever anyone said that it meant, and no two people seemed to agree on how bitcoins were generated. So my daughter and I were never particularly drawn towards anything to do with bitcoin, or bitcoin wallets, investments or exchanges … especially since so many of the communications that we (my daughter more than me) received about bitcoinage appeared to be scammers. Something so thoroughly fenced around by a poisonous reek of scam made us both wary and we declined involvement, in any way, shape or form. Sensible in hindsight, considering the near-apocalyptic collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s Futures Exchange.

A truism to live by – like high-explosives, if you don’t understand it, don’t play around with it.

Well, it could have been worse – might have been tulip bulbs. (Oh, that Charles Mackay is not alive in this century – how many more chapters could he have added to his magnum opus!) It was curious and ironic that Bankman-Fried and his merry band of wonderkind were so elevated by the finance press … as if he had discovered some great hitherto unknown secret to grubbing wealth unfathomable, secrets unknown to the rest of us mere mortals. The subsequent crash and burn, as well as the fury of those rooked out of their very real investments is a matter of academic interest to those of us who had the native intelligence not to go messing about in something we really didn’t understand.

Bankman-Fried and his friends appear to be the children of privilege – just like Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos ill-fame, who by striking coincidence, was sentenced this week. Like Bankman-Fried, Holmes was taken up by the press and by the great, good, and the well-connected, few of whom appeared to have actual specific knowledge of the field that she claimed expertise in. She conned a great many people who ought to have been warier or known better into backing her blood-testing enterprise – an undertaking that I am certain was as mysterious as is the generation of bitcoinage to laymen… or laywoman. But she fooled the well-connected and media outlets for years, just like Bankman-Fried did, and now everyone who ever bought into the hype has egg, metaphorically-speaking, on their faces. One wonders how much of it was due to the intensely favorable press … and how much the assumption from those who enthusiastically backed Theranos, that ‘she’s one of us, one of the elite, well-connected, graduate of a prestigious university, the daughter of so-and-so; she couldn’t possibly intend to pull a scam on us!’ I assume that it was the same with Bankman-Fried: ‘Oh, he couldn’t possibly scam us! He’s one of us!”

Comment and discuss as you wish.

45 thoughts on “A Grand Puzzlement”

  1. There are several reports circulating that not only was Mr. Bankman-Freid extraordinarily well connected to Democrat movers & shakers, his crypto exchange was apparently part of the Ukraine money laundering scheme for wealthy Democrats. The media does not report this of course, because the media do what they are told. If the message is — slobber over this guy, that is exactly what they will do.

    Not to worry. The FBI and other government agencies are on the case. Perhaps FSB will go to trial within our lifetimes; just don’t bet on it.

  2. I gather that the “well-connected” often rely on the media to do their due diligence for them. Since the media are in the entertainment business, and ordinary investigations are boring, due diligence tends to turn into reciting press releases.

    But we all get plenty of metaphorical bull-baiting and juggling shows, and roller-coaster “news.”

  3. The words “Ponzi Scheme” should resonate for anyone regardless of mathematical expertise.

    Or regardless of connections to the Powers That Be.

  4. FTX says absolutely nothing about the viability of bitcoin. If you maintain your own bitcoin wallet (which is rather the point) then nobody can steal your bitcoin. FTX was a ‘crypto exchange,’ which means a bank that mostly accepts deposits in various crypto currencies. But to do bank stuff, the exchange is the one who owns/controls that crypto, just like how a conventional bank once had to have your high-quality paper to do bank stuff with it.

    Mind, a lot of people are just as confused about what FTX means for the crypto space, and that is driving the price of bitcoin (and other crypto currencies) down. But make no mistake: FTX is a banking scandal, not a demonstration of how broken crypto is.

    And Sgt. Mom is right in one respect: crypto currencies don’t even have a government’s word that they’re worth anything. All they can promise is that if you don’t give out your account/password you’ll have as much of it tomorrow as you have today.

  5. It has long been known that J School students come from the lower IQ score students. Why should we be surprised that they can be manipulated with ease by weasels?

  6. “FTX says absolutely nothing about the viability of bitcoin. ”

    I wouldn’t be so sure. The value of Bitcoin (and other crypto currencies) depend entirely on the ‘shared delusion’ that they are valuable. If the FTX fiasco damages that shared delusion, it may do great (possibly fatal) harm to crypto currencies generally. This will become more likely if there are a cascade of crypto failures following (and partially caused by) the FTX collapse.

  7. “it meant whatever anyone said that it meant, and no two people seemed to agree on how bitcoins were generated”

    In the same breath you clearly admit you have no idea what you’re talking about and yet also make absolutely categorical – and cateogrically wrong – statements about the subject.

    Why do people do this?

    If you don’t understand something, and especially if you KNOW you don’t understand something, DON’T RUN YOUR GODDAMN MOUTH ABOUT IT.

    Bitcoins are generated in one and only one way. If two people disagree on that, one of them is wrong.

    The appeal of bitcoin in particular and blockchain in general is that blockchain is a ledger that is publicly visible and publicly verifiable and therefore unfalsifiable. The argument that bitcoin is (or could be) a superior form of money to Federal Reserve Notes – or to gold coins – is that the value of FRNs or gold coins can be diluted by the issuing authority, which can control the number entering circulation. The number of possible bitcoins in existence is determined by a complicated mathematical algorithm, which has a large but limited number of possible solutions. The number of bitcoins in actual existence corresponds to the number of solutions found for this mathematical algorithm THAT HAVE BEEN PUBLICLY VERIFIED AND PUBLISHED IN THE BLOCKCHAIN.

    “Mining” is simply the act of computationally working through potential solutions to the mathematical algorithm, discarding ones that don’t work, and in the increasingly less likely case that a new valid one is found, publishing it to the blockchain – and getting credit for it, in the form of having a bitcoin now being allocated to the individual who published that solution. (I don’t know what happens if two people find the exact same solution at the same time; I presume there are safeguards to handle such cases.)

    You cannot “fake” a bitcoin because all the already-identified solutions have already been published and allocated – and all subsequent trades of the bitcoin (or its divisible parts) get added to the blockchain, all of it publicly verifiable and visible. (Yes, this means it is constantly growing; yes, this is one of the key weaknesses of the technology.)

    There are no other valid explanations for how this works.

    Now, whether the idea as outlined ACTUALLY works or can work or whether there are unsolvable problems or serious but solvable problems, and whether it ends up being actually better than a currency controlled by corruptible human beings rather than a publicly visible and unfalsifiable ledger that NOBODY controls – this is an open question, and it is absolutely valid to raise questions about it. But simply asserting that the concrete and specific explanations DO NOT EXIST is unmitigated bullshit and you should not do that.

  8. “Bitcoin always seemed to me to be like the medium of exchange used in on-line role-playing games; a thing of value because everyone involved insisted on and agreed that it was.”

    So glad the dollar is different!

  9. One can just as easily say for any currency — and particularly for fiat currencies — that they are “a thing of value because everyone involved insisted on and agreed that it was.” That is, more or less, the definition of money. Hence prisoners using cigarettes, or certain aboriginal tribes using large stones. As long as everyone agrees, it works. And when that trust erodes, traditional or crypto, things can fall apart…

  10. It has always been hilarious to me that the biggest believers in crypto value crypto in…dollars.

    So as a business owner, I can take in exchange for my goods and services good old fashioned dollars with it’s inherent risks, or bitcoin, which has wild swings on valuation. Not that the dollar relative to other currencies doesn’t swing, but in this initial phase of adoption you can get ruined pretty quickly as people stampede to the exits. Like now.

    As for FTX and Sam, it should have been easy for anyone who could be bothered to look under the hood that it was a total scam and he was just another carnival barker. But people couldn’t be bothered. There will be more.

    I would be more interested in crpyto in general if everything wasn’t a scam and blowing up all over the place. As Jeffrey Carter noted in David Foster’s link above, the trust has been violated.

    I do believe that there may be a place someday for Eth and it’s associated smart contracts, but it will take a long time for the trust to be there. Bitcoin is just greater fool theory.

  11. “ a thing of value because everyone involved insisted on and agreed that it was.‘

    You mean like dollar bills?

  12. Off the wall thought: it seems to me that the Dem Party’s financial beliefs have been/are doing to the dollar what FTX is doing to bitcoin.

  13. I propose ENRONCOIN. Paper Crypto. No energy used. The number of shares of Enron is FIXED–no more can be issued and there is no intrinsic value to them–like crypto. Enron shares are the perfect Store of Value IF one can prevent more from being created. The problem is going to be in making the circulating medium for these Enron shares and the costs of maintaining this ENRONCOIN system. To make this “work” we would have to guarantee that no more Enron shares could be created. The next problem is how to cover the costs of this ENRONCOIN system. Perhaps that could be managed by finding other bankrupt companies’ shares, say a WTGRANTCOIN maybe, and selling them.
    But the Basic Principle remains: Crypto coins are the same thing as shares of Enron are now!

  14. You don’t tug on Superman’ s cape,
    You don’t spit into the wind,
    You don’t pull the mask off that ol’ Lone Ranger,
    And you don’t put faith in something you can’t hold in your hand.

  15. GOLD has some attributes that have made it a useful currency for millennia. It is difficult to mine and purify, which limits the growth of the amount in circulation. It is divisible, unlike, say, sea shells. It does not erode or disintegrate. And, yes, it can be formed into objects which are beautiful and even useful.

    Bitcoin attempts to capture the benefits of gold (except for the last one) while adding additional ones. The way the ‘mining’ process is defined makes it increasingly difficult over time to ‘mint’ new bitcoins, simulating the physical difficulty of gold mining. And, unlike gold, it can be transported electronically and essentially instantly. Because of the inherent limits on quantity, Bitcoin should offer resilience against hyperinflation caused by government money-printing.

    It should be noted that BANK RUNS, resulting in the loss of depositor money, can occur and did occur even in an economy which is gold-based rather than fiat-money-based. Medieval goldsmiths, evolving into bankers, would store gold for customers…and at some point realized that they could *lend some of it out at interest*, because it was unlikely that all customers would demand their gold back at the exact same time. This is known as fractional-reserve banking, and is inherently subject to bank runs because even though the assets still exist, they aren’t necessarily available at the point that the customer wants them.

  16. For those that don’t understand the difference, a pile of Monopoly Money looks just like a pile of any other country’s paper currency. In much the same way, hyperinflated pyramid schemes like FTX look just like properly monitored and auditable blockchains like BTC. In a lot of cases, the only way laymen can tell the difference is how the extremely humorless accountants at an actually functional blockchain publicly announce when their money has disappeared for mathematically arcane reasons, versus people at a Ponzi Scheme never suffering any drawbacks or credit losses until the whole thing abruptly implodes.

  17. “Bitcoin always seemed to me to be like the medium of exchange used in on-line role-playing games; a thing of value because everyone involved insisted on and agreed that it was.”

    So glad the dollar is different!

    The dollar IS different. The dollar is backed! Not by gold, of course (I wish it was backed by some commodity like that).

    No, it’s backed by “dudes with guns who will take your stuff if you don’t pay your taxes in dollars”. It’s much better backing than crypto has… but still not great.

    As to crypto more generally… I deeply understand the *desire* for a non-government-controlled currency, which is what I think is the primary driver. Unfortunately, unless it is backed by something (which Bitcoin, et al, are not), it’s tulip bulbs.

  18. Deoxy…”No, it’s backed by “dudes with guns who will take your stuff if you don’t pay your taxes in dollars”. I’m not seeing how that represents a form of Backing. Collecting taxes in a currency doesn’t imply any restrictions on how much more of that currency can be created. I’m pretty sure that the Weimar government in Germany continued to collect taxes during the period of extreme hyperinflation, ditto for Venezuela, et al.

  19. It’s all very simple. Just search “Bitcoin” on YouTube and a tutorial will pop up with a wonderfully and convincingly reasoned argument why it’s the best investment and store of value ever. And if you don’t like that reason, well, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, “I have others.”

    Let me explain it to you in personal terms. When I was out on a road trip with my son, he expressed surprise that one of the lesser types of virtual currency, Chainlink, had dropped to a very low price of around $12. He suggested it would be a good idea for me to take the plunge and buy, as it was such a good deal. Bored, and with some money burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to join the fun, buying not only Chainlink, but later some Bitcoin and Ethereum. This was in January, 2021. Sure enough, the price of most of the virtual currencies took off. By May, the value of Chainlink had shot up to nearly $40. Having lived through the Hunt brothers inspired silver bubble back in 1979-80, at that point I lost my nerve and sold out, making a tidy bundle in the process. At that point, Chainlink and the others began a long, slow swan dive, losing about half their value in the next few months. Thanks to my dumb luck, I was touted by my son and his pals as a financial genius. If the wizards of Wall Street had caught wind of it, I would surely have enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame as a brilliant investment counsellor. Caught up in the hubris of the moment, I took the profit from my fortuitous trade and reinvested it in the cryptos.

    Alas, my luck had run out. By March of 2022, Chainlink was trading at around $15. Once again, I lost my nerve and sold out again. Chastened, but still holding about half of my original profits in my hot little hand, I closed all my crypto accounts and vowed never to try anything so foolhardy again, at least until the next time. Meanwhile, Chainlink has dropped to around $6. Such a deal! Time for you to take the crypto leap, Sgt. Mom?

    Now, I ask you, wasn’t that fun? Can you find entertainment that absorbing on Netflix or Disney+? I think not! I’m sure you can now understand the “value” of cryptos.

  20. Even if cryptocurrency dies completely, we’re still stuck with its first cousin, Modern Monetary Theory, which insists that money does grow on government trees.

  21. Enjoying all of these ponzi schemes coming due. Note how they always explain that they are “fully collateralized” when what they actually have is the same thing FTX relied upon: Made up “coins” which not only have zero actual value but also only exist as an electronic blip. Any significant call on them to back up their bets in the real world causes immediate collapse. Binance, currently being held up as the responsible member, is exactly the same.

  22. David F: “Collecting taxes in a currency doesn’t imply any restrictions on how much more of that currency can be created.”

    That is true. On the other hand, the ability of a heavily-armed government to take what it wants from a supine population is indeed some kind of “backing”. The Gold Bugs whose gold was requisitioned by FDR could have testified to that.

    The key issue is that money is theoretically both a medium of exchange and a store of value. When the government kicks in your door and takes your dollar bills, it is immediately redistributing those dollar bills to someone else — money as a medium of exchange. Certainly, the government could print some more dollar bills instead of kicking in your door. That would bring in the issue of money as a store of value — which money throughout history has failed to be. Our government prints more paper; the Roman Empire filed down their gold coins.

    Store of value is the tough issue, because anything is worth only what someone else is prepared to trade for what you hold (bitcoin, dollars, artwork) on the day you want to exchange it.

  23. One can just as easily say for any currency — and particularly for fiat currencies — that they are “a thing of value because everyone involved insisted on and agreed that it was.”
    Wrong. Specie has inherent value. Silver, gold, gems (not so much), cigarettes, are all things that have actual value. Gold is useful for a lot of things civilization needs because of its properties. Silver, the same. Cigarettes are a barter currency and have inherent value as long as someone who has other things of value smokes. Specie is generally a solid item that has inherent value because of its usefulness. It’s not useful as currency simply based on someone’s say-so.

  24. I deeply understand the *desire* for a non-government-controlled currency, which is what I think is the primary driver.
    I understand it, too. But I also understand this is where libertarianism is a cousin of Progressivism: the belief in humans as a lot being able to overcome human nature. Government-controlled* currency becomes necessary as human nature comes into play. It allows for a measure of fraud and thievery prevention. Some of those bits are partially built into crypto, but they still rely on human nature not being inherently sinful to continue working.

    (“Government-controlled” runs a spectrum, imo, from simply setting the measures – a dinkydoo of silver is this much, a dinkydie of silver means that much, etc. – to actual fiat currency, redeemable or not. I would certainly prefer the days when coins had actual value, at the very least, but would not like to return to the days of hauling around a money pouch to buy some bread. Or chickens. That is, not carrying around chickens to buy bread and clothing.)

  25. About Specie…There is a sad-yet-hilarious anecdote about Weimar Germany in which a man literally had to haul his wages to market in a wheelbarrow (because so many Marks were needed to make even the smallest purchase).  The man stopped at a shop and went inside to make his purchase, leaving his wheelbarrow of money outside because it wouldn’t fit through the door.  When he came back out, all of the money was still there, in a pile upon the ground… but the wheelbarrow was gone.

  26. Government control – interesting note on another site about an international security consultant who was asked by the Chinese government about an alternate money/banking system(guessing an early attempt to bypass western banking/money), and he proposed a gold backed system that had very little government control built in. The Chinese must have broken out in hives….they did(very politely, of course) say no to the plan.

  27. Have I mentioned that I have a number for sale? It’s a very large number, mint, in box. It may be a Bitcoin or ETH or MON. It’s like a lottery where your chances of winning just slightly more than infinitely less than Power Ball. Do I have any offers? First come-first served, but don’t worry, I have plenty.

    I remember reading long ago that that there were only 10^100 (1 with 100 zeros) either atoms or possibly particles in the universe. That number may have gone up, what with inflation and all, but each Bitcoin is a number far larger than that. So, when you buy a Bitcoin for whatever it’s selling for this minute, you are trading your money for a number that a computer algorithm assures you is a “real” Bitcoin, not one of the infinite number of non-Bitcoins. What could go wrong? We all know that computers and computer programs and computer programmers are infallible, incapable of error.

    And when the fan bois say that they are no different than dollars, for once, they’re completely right. A dollar is simply a number, deep in the bowels of the Federal Reserve. The only real difference is that you can pay your taxes with the dollar, buy part of a cup of coffee, etc. That is all subject to change come your choice of apocalypse. The dollars represented by numbers in your bank tied to the numbers in the Fed will dissolve into entropy. Any paper you happen to have isn’t even good kindling, I believe it is treated to be fire resistant. Guess what’s left of your Bitcoin? Those with a horde of gold had better hope their ammunition lasts longer than their gold.

    As to Ftx, I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that an enterprise rigorously structured to avoid any sort of regulation or scrutiny would countenance sharp dealing. What’s the world coming to? If this was anything but the latest of a long line of assorted frauds and thefts, the fan bois might have a point. This is just another alchemical fraud, SBF should be very grateful that he is unlikely to meet the fate of so many previous would-be gold conjurors, burning alive was among the less creative fates.

  28. Tend to agree with Boobah on crypto vs. crypto banking. Depositing crypto in FTX is the equivalent of depositing real money in an offshore account of a shady Caribbean bank. We’ll see if crypto maintains value, but that has very little to do with FTX.

  29. “inflation has sure hit the femme fatal market hard

    Some reports say that the young woman is a math wizard — as well as being a totally messed-up human being. Maybe SBF was interested in her mind, not her body? There is more than one kind of useful skill for a guy intent on pulling off a crypto-heist.

  30. The question I have is why did the ‘owners’ of bitcoin want to deposit their bitcoins in FTX? What did it offer in exchange for holding the bitcoin?
    AFAIK, one cannot use bitcoin to buy lumber, concrete, steel or the ingredients necessary to erect a building, they are pretty much non-negotiable unless the seller is into crypto.
    The above commentary is informative, and I for one, agree if it is inscrutable, then it is not necessarily a good investment, leaving me with the idea that bitcoin or crypto was a means to protect value from someone other than the ‘owners’ from tampering with its ‘valuation’. If mining were to be stopped tomorrow, the number of bitcoin would be fixed at .. whatever, and thus the individual value would/could/should be fixed also. Conversion back into other currencies at a future date could lead to losses due to inflation of those currencies, but generally, the bitcoin would have kept its ‘real’ valuation vs other currencies, with the bitcoin/crypto being equated to an increased(inflated) number of other currencies.
    Nah, dollars are a bad enough mechanism to hold ‘value’, without the arcane manipulations that are bitcoin/crypto. I *think* I sort of ‘get it’, but have no desire to invest…

  31. grumpyunk,
    My understanding is that the exchanges provide exchanges between different cryptos and fiat currencies both for purposes of speculation and transactions with the non crypto universe, all for a fee. In this case; 100%. The other service is security by supposed experts. considering the records of hacked exchanges, that seems questionable.

    As alluded to above, it’s possible for an individual to maintain their own repository, called a wallet. It’s supposed to be possible to transfer directly between wallets but of the same crypto but converting to currency or different crypto still requires an exchange. Considering the number of wallets that have been lost, stolen or hacked, this seems questionable as well.

  32. If I understood cryptobucks then I would be smart enough to understand–as one instance of many–how it was a few years ago that 15 million Greeks had borrowed so much old-fashioned money the old-fashioned way as to put Europe’s and the world’s banking system at risk.

    But I’m NOT that smart.

  33. “As alluded to above, it’s possible for an individual to maintain their own repository, called a wallet.”

    The entire point of my 0.0165 BTC was to make a wallet to put it in. Making a wallet in one of my Linux systems was fun, a technical exercise if you will. ;)

  34. I think Gavin’s answer to the ‘paying taxes backs fiat currency’ debate is close but not quite viable. One that I saw and which seems to work better is the observation that demanding tax payments in dollars or yen or marks generates general demand for those currencies, lest the guys enforcing the tax laws seize your actual hard assets or force you to work off your tax debt at prison wages. That general demand means there always people looking to obtain the currency which means there is a functioning market which provides liquidity and information about its relative value. Since nobody demands tax payments in cryptocurrency the market is restricted to the ‘greater fool’ theory when it comes to determining crypto values, the same problem you have when trying to value small company stocks that are not commonly traded.

  35. And, to add, there’s nothing particularly crypto about the collapse of FTX. SBF and his cronies were raiding the assets of the bank aka exchange to invest in politicians and other speculative assets, and got burned when people started to want to liquidate their deposits aka accounts, and they couldn’t cover the withdrawls. There is very little new under the sun.

  36. ” there’s nothing particularly crypto about the collapse of FTX.”
    Yes and no. Madoff shows that Ponzi lives on and thrives in the space between greed and good sense with every other con. The difference is that crypto is deliberately structured and intended to bypass all the laws and oversight that have grown up around banking in the last few centuries. Where Madoff took years of one-on-one cons to build up his grift, SBF managed yo do it wholesale in just months and largely out in the open.

    When you’re dealing with concepts that few people understand it makes it much easier to substitute hand waving and jargon for clear explanation and leave anybody that would queer the pitch with the job of having to be understood when the mark desperately wants the con to be true. As you say, nothing new but much easier starting from a base of mind numbing complexity, all hedged about with avoidance of oversight.

  37. Note that there are many pseudo-currencies in circulation without being called such. For instance, both the Giant and Safeway food stores issue ‘reward points’ which can be redeemed to buy gasoline at numerous stations, and maybe other things as well. Lots of similar ‘rewards’ or ‘loyalty’ programs…airline traveller miles and such, for instance.

  38. MCS, good points which I think also extend back in time to the collapse of mortgage derivatives circa 2008, the junk bond market implosion, the destruction of the savings and loan bank model in the 1980s, and probably back to a flower grower in Amsterdam if not farther. In a way SBF’s destruction was actually limited because most people shy away from the exotic and untried, another reason why commoners often give the side eye to ‘experts’ that get taken by these cons. A really big con requires a twist on something old and familiar.

    David, with respect, but that’s a stretch. Discount points and premium plans are highly specialized and very often quite specifically not exchangeable except by the person who earned them back to the issuer, and certainly not traded in any recognized forum. I’m old enough to remember actual hard copy stamp books which would have been tradable but those were on their way out decades ago, likely for that very reason.

  39. “… here’s a website for trading airline travel points:”

    People trade all kinds of things. After all, barter was the foundation of specialization & economics. When two neighbors agree to trade — you fix my car, while I mow your lawn — we could look at that as a substitute for a monetary exchange. The major issue, though, is that all those other kinds of “currencies” don’t amount to a hill of beans in the global economy. For now, fiat is it.

  40. David Foster
    November 25, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    Christopher…don’t know how ‘recognized’ it is, but here’s a website for trading airline travel points:

    I haven’t tried this in years but we used to buy frequent flier credits for travel. I once flew first class to Italy using them. Then airlines cracked down and a friend, who was taking his family to Egypt, had his tickets cancelled and had to buy them. It cost him $10,000 but fortunately he could afford it. I have no recent experience.

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