A review of Saifedean Ammous‘ ‚Bitcoin Standard‘: Delusions of Grandeur on Coffee Cruise
The Bitcoin Standard of Saifedean has his good moments. But it propagates a very extreme position toward hard and soft money, too often ignoring reality and reason. People who like this position will also like the book. All other will be detered from the long episodes of angry slobbering and the excessiveness of the argument.
To be honest, I never wanted to write a review of „The Bitcoin Standard“ from Saifedean Ammous, since I wrote a (German) book about Bitcoin myself, and it feels a bit like a conflict of interest. But after I have been asked about the book over and over again and it became THE Bitcoin book par se, I decided to give it a read and write a review.
The biggest surprise is that the Bitcoin Standard rarely is about Bitcoin. There are ten chapters, and only three are about Bitcoin, one of them being a completely unorganized list of questions and answers. Only 50 of 271 pages talk about Bitcoin in a structured way. To get there, you have, as the reviewer Frances Coppola writes, „wade through seven chapters of Austrian economics and hard-money fetishism before getting to the meat of the book. “
For about one chapter, this goes fairly well. Saifedean knows his Austrian economics, and he succeeds in applying their admirable clear concepts and terms on money in a short and precise way. He explains how Menger‘s theory of salability leads to the emergence of money by the market, how the stock-to-flow-ratio determines Gold to be the perfect metallic base for money, how the time-preferences of individuals establish patterns of actions, and how the economy with the harder money brings the one with the easier money to its knees. Nothing of this is new, but still insightful.
Abuse of History
Then the problems begin. The core of it is that Saifedean lays out a very extreme opinion about hard (sound) and easy money, and this opinion has an universal scope. Nothing is secure from it. Really nothing.
History is often the first victim of extreme opinions. So with Saifedean. He tells a world history of sound and easy money, starting with the old Greeks, ending with the abandoning of the Bretton Woods System in 1971. This history is a fairy tale of the world as Saifedean wants it to be. It contains many half-truths, speculations, monocausalisms, stretching and straight out lies, more than I am able to count. Here‘s just one example:
„After the economic and military collapse of the Roman Empire, feudalism emerged as the prime mode of organizing society. The destruction of sound money was pivotal in turning the former citizens of the Roman Empire into serfs under the mercy of their local feudal lord … Taxation and inflation had destroyed the wealth and savings of the people of Europe. New generations of Europeans came to the world with no accumulated wealth passed on from their elders, and the absence of a widely accepted sound monetary standard severely restricted the scope of trade, closing societies off from another and enhancing paochialism as once-prosperious and civilized trading societies fell into the Dark Ages of serfdom, diseases, closed-mindedness, and religious persecution.“
Sounds good? Maybe But nearly every single thing he mentions is wrong.
2 of 2 reviewers say it's worth paying for
0 of 2 reviewers say it's not worth paying for