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In Praise of Bitcoin

By Ben Hunt | April 28, 2021 | 56 Comments

What made Bitcoin special is nearly lost, and what remains is a false and constructed narrative that exists in service to Wall Street and Washington rather than in resistance.

The Bitcoin narrative must be renewed. And that will change everything.

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Homeschooling Resources on ET Forum?

I think a homeschooling VMPT is a natural for the ET Forum!

On last week’s Office Hours conversation, ET Pack member Dan W. brought this up:

I would love to have a conversation about the state of public education in the US right now. My wife taught in public schools for ~10 years before deciding she wanted to stay home with our children (and homeschool them, something ET deserves a lot of credit for). Over the past year, several friends have reached out to us because they’re suddenly contemplating either homeschooling or… something different. It’s kind of heartbreaking – people in our circle are desperately looking for some kind of option that doesn’t seem to exist at present. I am not that interested in the politics of public education, but very interested in pack-sourcing some solutions for people that have had their confidence in public education shaken over the last year. Thanks!

— Ben Hunt | May 23, 2021 | 8:41 am

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“Yay, Environment!”

In Epsilon Theory-speak, we use “Yay, Good-Thing!” as shorthand for a narrative that takes a linguistic construction that we all agree is a Good Thing (something like “capitalism” or “freedom” or “democracy”) and turns it into a behaviorally powerfully argument for something that is decidedly not that Good Thing, but can be painted with other behaviorally powerful words into something that sorta kinda looks like that Good Thing if you squint really hard and you say the behaviorally powerful words loudly enough.

In rhetorical construction, “Yay, Good Thing!” is a variation on begging the question (in the correct way of understanding that phrase, where the conclusion is assumed in the proposition), or if you’re in marketing or sales you would recognize this as a variation of the assumptive close. The typically-but-not-always unspoken corollary to the “Yay, Good Thing!” narrative construction is “You’re not against Good Thing, are you?”, which is the linguistic stick to the “Yay, Good Thing!” carrot.

Socrates would call “Yay, Good Thing!” sophistry, and he hated the Sophists with a deep and abiding passion. Same. In the modern world, the Sophists are powerful government and corporate interests (aka the Nudging State or the Nudging Oligarchy if we’re going to continue in Epsilon Theory-speak), and the “Yay, Good Thing!” construction is their go-to narrative weapon in the Forever War of stripping away our autonomy of mind.

If you want to read more about our take on “Yay, Good Thing!” narratives, here’s the Epsilon Theory note that started all that.

Anyhoo … I was thinking about “Yay, Good Thing!” today because of how the “Yay, Environment!” implementation of this narrative device is being used to shape the politics of two issues that we’ve been writing a lot about recently: work and crypto.

“Yay, Environment!” is now one of the primary threads in the narrative-world battle over the future of work.

It’s a very powerful narrative thread. It’s a big reason why “Remote work is here to stay!” is winning this narrative war, and you are going to see a lot more “Yay, Environment!” rationalizations for remote work policies in the future.

Similarly, “Yay, Environment!” is now one of the primary narrative threads in the narrative-world battle over the future of Bitcoin.

Here’s the latest, from Elizabeth Warren, but you’re no doubt familiar with Elon Musk’s oeuvre here, as well.

And yes, this construction of “Yay, Environment!” does indeed speak the usually silent part – “You’re not against the Environment, are you?” – out loud. And yes, you’re going to be seeing A LOT more of this narrative. Not because it’s right. Not because it’s wrong. But because it WORKS.

It’s all just another weapon in the ongoing narrative war for Wall Street control and US Treasury visibility over Bitcoin.

— Ben Hunt | June 10, 2021 | 9:24 am

Fiat News in Action

It wasn’t enough for ProPublica to do actual news reporting by publishing these tax records.

The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax

No, they had to tell you how to think about their news reporting.

They had to turn news into Fiat News by constructing a metric of “true tax rate” based on unrealized capital gains, because … you know … the actual true tax rate just wasn’t damning enough for ProPublica’s purposes.

To capture the financial reality of the richest Americans, ProPublica undertook an analysis that has never been done before. We compared how much in taxes the 25 richest Americans paid each year to how much Forbes estimated their wealth grew in that same time period.

We’re going to call this their true tax rate.

What is Fiat News? It’s the presentation of opinion as fact. It’s an interpretation of factual events projected with the same authority as the factual events themselves.

Fiat News (in this case the opinion that wealth in the form of unrealized capital gains should be taxed) is to hard news (in this case the tax filings of the very wealthy) what fiat currencies are to hard currencies.

We write a lot about Fiat News. Here’s the money quote from the note that started it all, Fiat Money, Fiat News:

There’s really no such thing as “real money”, i.e., gold and silver as a medium for exchange or a store of value, in existence in the world today. That used to be the meaning of gold, but those days are long gone. Today fiat money completely and utterly dominates all global commerce and exchange. Why? Because it supports the existential aims of government: taxation (sovereignty), price control (stability), and liquidity provision (growth). Without the invention of fiat money, global GDP today would be at … I dunno, maybe mid-18th century levels? Something around there, I’d guess.

Fiat news serves exactly the same existential aims of government, just in a less overt (but more powerful for being hidden) fashion. There’s just too much at stake for status quo regimes, what with modern referenda like Brexit and national elections like we just experienced in the U.S. and are forthcoming this year throughout Europe, for regime institutions to do anything other than double-down in their embrace and promulgation of fiat news.

Ten years from now we will be awash in “news” to a degree that we can hardly imagine today. That’s what happened with fiat money, and that’s what I think happens with fiat news.

The exponential growth in fiat news is still ahead of us, not behind us.

Gresham’s Law: bad money drives good money out of circulation.

Hunt’s Law: fiat news drives hard news out of circulation.

— Ben Hunt | June 8, 2021 | 9:42 am

What Do We Need To Be True?

By Rusty Guinn | April 6, 2021 | 42 Comments

Modeling common knowledge by analyzing missionary statements and their reverberations works. Except when it doesn’t.

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A Tiger Can’t Change Its Stripes

By Ben Hunt | March 30, 2021 | 30 Comments

What do you get when you give a raccoon billions of dollars AND invisibility from regulators? Collusion and insider trading.

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Hot and Cold

By Rusty Guinn | March 23, 2021 | 26 Comments

Most of us are under the impression that a protracted conflict within China will increase national unity. Not this time.

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Recent Notes

Financing the American Home

By Marc Rubinstein | May 18, 2021

As a non-American there are many things I don’t understand about America.

Most of all though, I don’t understand the most American of products: the 30-year fixed-rate fully prepayable mortgage.

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ET Zeitgeist: Ransom Paid

By Ben Hunt | May 14, 2021

The Colonial Pipeline embarrassment will accelerate the US gov’t’s efforts to control and co-opt crypto.

Binance, Kraken, BitMEX … they’re all squarely in the wrathful gaze of the Eye of Sauron now.

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Wage Inflation Isn’t Coming. It’s Already Here.

By Ben Hunt | May 12, 2021

Over the past four quarters, the United States has generated more wage inflation than at any point over the past 40 years.

This is not an anomaly. This is not a single quarter aberration. A wage-price inflation cycle is here.

I’m not predicting. I’m observing.

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I’m Trying To Understand Hedonic Adjustments

By ET_Pro_Trial_June | May 10, 2021

A Honda Accord cost $12,000 in 1990 and it costs $25,000 now.

A Mustang was $9,000 and now it’s $27,000.

The BLS has new car prices close to unchanged over the past 30 years.

ET contributor Brent Donnelly tries to wrap his brain around hedonic adjustments to CPI.

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ET Zeitgeist: Now Hiring

By Ben Hunt | May 7, 2021

Our weekly digest on what we’re working on …

Including this article from the WSJ: Millions Are Unemployed. Why Can’t Companies Find Workers?

I dunno, if only there were some mechanism by which companies could entice people to work for them. Weird.

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ET Podcast #10 – In Praise of Bitcoin

By Ben Hunt | May 5, 2021

Bitcoin has been subverted by the neutering machine of Wall Street and the regulatory panopticon of the US Treasury Dept.

What remains is a constructed narrative that exists in service to Wall Street and Washington rather than in resistance.

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What Sort of Business is Investment Banking?

By Marc Rubinstein | May 4, 2021

What do investment banks do, and why are European investment banks so bad at doing it?

Great piece by new ET contributor Marc Rubinstein!

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The Zeitgeist – April 30, 2021

By Ben Hunt | April 30, 2021

Here’s what we’re reading and working on this week at Epsilon Theory.

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In Praise of Bitcoin

By Ben Hunt | April 28, 2021

What made Bitcoin special is nearly lost, and what remains is a false and constructed narrative that exists in service to Wall Street and Washington rather than in resistance.

The Bitcoin narrative must be renewed. And that will change everything.

Read more

Bitcoin Market Profile

By ET_Pro_Trial_June | April 28, 2021

ET contributor Brent Donnelly gives a crash course in Market Profile analysis and applies it to Bitcoin since the Coinbase IPO.

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Image of Wormwood, the father and slick car salesman from Matilda

Manheim Steamroller

By Rusty Guinn | April 26, 2021

When we talk about and plan for inflation in our businesses and portfolios, we are usually focused on direction and magnitude. We also usually abstract away from price volatility.

We shouldn’t.

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ET Podcast #9 – Make, Protect, Teach

By Ben Hunt | April 22, 2021

How do we change the world? Not through corporations and political parties from the top-down, but through free-thinking citizens from the bottom-up. Not as an alienated flock, but as a cooperative pack. Not with abstractions and transactions, but with making, protecting and teaching.

Let’s gooooooo!

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The Zeitgeist – April 19, 2021

By Ben Hunt | April 19, 2021

Here’s what we’re reading and working on this week at Epsilon Theory.

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Mailbag: ET Forum Edition

By Ben Hunt | April 16, 2021

We are now more than 900 Pack members strong on the ET Forum, with more than 1,000 posts contributed by smart, clear-eyed, full-hearted people from all over the world and all walks of life. Like you.

Here, I’ll show you. Here is some of the best and most thoughtful content on the internet today.

Here is the Mailbag that we need.

Here is the Mailbag that we deserve.

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What Do We Need To Be True?

By Rusty Guinn | April 6, 2021

Modeling common knowledge by analyzing missionary statements and their reverberations works. Except when it doesn’t.

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ET Podcast #8 – Leverage and Its Discontents

By Ben Hunt | April 2, 2021

Three blow-ups in three months: Archegos, Greensill, and Melvin Capital.

What do they have in common? Insane leverage employed to maximize private gain while socializing potential losses.

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A Tiger Can’t Change Its Stripes

By Ben Hunt | March 30, 2021

What do you get when you give a raccoon billions of dollars AND invisibility from regulators? Collusion and insider trading.

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Hot and Cold

By Rusty Guinn | March 23, 2021

Most of us are under the impression that a protracted conflict within China will increase national unity. Not this time.

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Office Hours 3.16.2021

By Harper Hunt | March 18, 2021

Our March 2021 Office Hours. Talking about our latest notes and podcasts.

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A Conversation with Howard Marks

By ET_Pro_Trial_June | March 17, 2021

ET contributor Brent Donnelly talks with Howard Marks about why traditional value investing is likely permanently impaired as a strategy and why Growth vs. Value is a false dichotomy. Boomshakalaka!

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