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Money as social construct

In Matt Levine’s latest Money Stuff newsletter he talks about how money is really just a social construct. In his words, money is “a way to keep track of what society thinks you deserve in terms of goods and services.”

But over the years, we have learned that it can be manipulated through the actions of central banks and other authorities. This, he argues, has become more obvious in the last 15 or so years. Which is one of the reasons why people continue to argue that cryptocurrencies are both a good thing and something we need more of.

Crypto is neutral, or at least that is the intent. But at the same time, it too remains a social construct. Cryptocurrencies have value because that is what we have collectively decided to layer on top of their math-based blockchains — a global market cap of nearly $2 trillion.

Ironically, the more value we ascribe to them the less neutral they are likely to become. Because the more they ingratiate themselves into mainstream society, the more likely they are to get regulated. But Matt’s overarching argument is that this is in fact a good thing.

Monies exist through webs of interdependencies that generally keeps us all in check by encouraging “prosocial behavior.” So the fact that authorities can intervene, when needed, isn’t a bug, it is a feature. It means that when you clearly misbehave, the world can punish you by doing things like freezing your foreign reserves.

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