Beyond Blockchain: The Death of the Dollar and the Rise of Digital Currency

Erik Townsend


Without repeating what all the other reviewers have said, I recommend this book. Erik Townsend was a pioneer in what ultimately became known as service-oriented architecture in the software community and then after selling the software company that he founded in the 90’s became a hedge fund manager. Since leaving the hedge fund business, he now narrates a weekly podcast where he interviews the brightest and best folks from all facets of the financial world (it is free and all are welcome). His background and experiences are an excellent match for the concepts discussed in the book. The book is easy to follow and does a great job at summarizing the current fractional banking system in place today, the US dollar as the worlds reserve currency, for now, the origins and hurdles needed to overcome the creation of the blockchain technology and Bitcoin, the differences among several of the more notable cryptocurrencies, and then finally how Erik believes the end-game will ultimately be a government or governments endorsed digital currency (the book explains the differences between a distributed ledger and a permissioned distributed ledger). Erik specifically states that the concept of the book was not to get into the weeds of how everything works, or present any conspiracy theories, but to give the reader a sense of how it might (might being the operative) all work, and open the readers mind as to the possibilities that will exist, when not if, a digital currency replaces the worlds paper fiat currencies. Erik describes what he sees as advantages of a digital currency in society and more notable the disadvantages and potentially Orwellian attributes that a government could pursue which could potentially put our freedoms and liberty at risk, if we the people are not aware of the transition that is bound to take place.

I would also highly recommend that in addition to reading this book, go to his website, and under the Timeless Series tab watch both the Anatomy of the US Dollar End Game and the Eurodollar University (it is all free no catch). This is mentioned in the book but I wanted to throw it out there. Both are excellent presentations by extremely knowledgeable people. They both add to the historical background of the book.

There are 2 historical topics I would have added a point to each. The issues discussed were accurate and added to the theme of the book but were not the main topics. The first point related to Nixon and the closing of the gold window on August 15, 1971. Although Erik discusses Bretton Woods in 1944 and the gold convertibility for other nations and events that led to ending this convertibility, the reader might come away with the idea that it was Nixon’s fault for eliminating the gold standard and turning the US dollar along with all the world currencies into the paper fiat currencies backed by nothing. These are the fiat currencies we use today. Although the manner in which Nixon may have handled the explanation to the American people on prime time television may have been “sleezy”, which I do not disagree, it should be understood that the handwriting was already on the wall before Nixon was elected. He just happened to be the one without a seat when the music stopped. He had no choice but to shut the gold window down, otherwise the U.S.’s gold reserves would have been depleted at $35 an ounce. This could not happen, Nixon acted. Sure there were other more responsible actions that could or should have been taken at the time, but the world had already been enjoying the massive explosion of the money supply over the prior decade and a half. There was no putting that genie back in the bottle.

The second point relates to the GFC (great financial crisis) in 2008. Although there were many causal factors leading to the GFC in 2008. In my opinion, no conversation of the GFC should be made without a mention of the 1977 CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) signed by Carter and expanded upon by Clinton. In my opinion, it was the 1977 CRA that created the seed leading to the housing bust of 2008. It was the CRA that in many ways forced the big banks to take actions that they otherwise might not have taken. Naturally, once directed, the banks seem to invent all kinds of ways to benefit and profit at the expense of the little guy. (As an aside, I believe as part of the Eurodollar University, J Snider goes through the actual details of the straw that broke the camel’s back causing the GFC).

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