Affordable Housing Crisis Demands ADUs And DADUs, PDQ

Rising mortgage rates mean fewer would-be buyers can afford first homes. That takes them out of the land of the American Dream, and places them squarely, and possibly interminably, back in renting country. These folks, who otherwise would have left the renting population, are instead adding to the cohort.

Their increased demand is helping propel monthly rents northward. Everywhere, it seems, the affordable housing crisis is growing, and there exists no indication it will be reversed or even slowed anytime soon.

If there are solutions to the crisis, one may be found in the concept of the Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit, or DADU. Known in some places as granny flats or coach houses, these compact dwellings are legally permitted on parcels of existing homes,

They provide additional housing options to those who otherwise likely wouldn’t have hope of finding one. And for that reason, many municipalities are making way for them. Seattle’s ADUniverse website is one example of how accepting they’ve become.

Johnston Architects

Pacific Northwest-based Johnston Architects has addressed the concept with its Twisp Cabin, which was originally designed as a vacation cabin located in the Methow Valley of Washington State. The home design has since proven remarkably adaptable.

It can be customized to almost any kind of home site or individual’s needs and has even turned up as a family home on Orcas Island, Washington. It can also be built from multiple materials, among them Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). What’s more, it was designed to meet Seattle’s ultra-tough energy codes, the nation’s most rigorous.

The 1,300-square-foot Twisp Cabin, whose plans can be bought for $7,000, is one of a number of Johnston Architects’ customizable home designs available for purchase.

“We’ve seen housing prices increase year over year since the recession, to the point where a lot of residents couldn’t even qualify for their homes today if they had to buy them all over again,” says Jack Chaffin, a partner at Johnston Architects.

“With a chunk of their net worth tied up in the value of their houses, some homeowners, especially on fixed incomes, are vulnerable to economic downturns or unexpected expenses, like a health care crisis or increased property taxes. One way to increase affordable housing in urban areas and keep existing homeowners more secure is by building ADUs or DADUs . . .

[They] could be a solution to ‘aging in place.’ Build yourself a smaller house to live in and rent out your larger home to someone else.” Johnston Architects isn’t the only architectural firm getting in on the growing interest in ADUs nationwide. Read on for insights into two others, as well as their ADU plans.

Artisans Group

This award-winning, women-owned design studio has teamed with three municipalities in the Puget Sound area to deliver four distinctive designs featuring pre-approved construction sets eligible residents can obtain at no cost. Each of the designs might be appropriate as a backyard cottage, vacation home or adorable small dwelling.

In a prepared statement, the firm acknowledged that as many cities experience unprecedented growth, available housing stock is depleted and what housing does remain available grows ever more unaffordable. “Looking at current municipal codes, ADUs can provide an opportunity to increase the density of established neighborhoods without demolishing the neighborhood character,” the statement noted.

“However, designing a quality ADU that maximizes space and use within a minimal footprint is a challenge, takes careful consideration and is expensive for most people.”

In recognition, Artisans Group reported it got to work developing functional, beautiful and malleable predesigned ADUs, each offering savings from $25,000 to $40,000 in design fees. A number of these designs offer varying roof lines and pitch alternatives, as well as an array of entryway and view considerations.

“On a practical level,” the firm reports, “five people can purchase the same exact ADU plan and come away with five very different-looking ADUs.”

Shape Architecture

Denver, Colo.-based contemporary architecture firm Shape Architecture takes pride in designing homes that offer reduced square footage, smaller carbon footprints and lowered cost, yet meet clients’ needs for space. Homes include features highly familiar to Japanese designers, including sliding walls able to convert living rooms into guest bedrooms or family rooms into playrooms.

Shape Architecture crafted one of Seattle’s 10 pre-approved DADU designs and has built a number of DADUs across the country, some overcoming incredibly limited space parameters. In a prepared statement, the firm noted its ADU design experience has evolved into helping clients interested in multi-generational “family compounds” featuring attached or detached accessories.

Bottom line? If this admittedly limited sample is any indication, it appears very small dwellings may hold a key to helping address a very large national problem.

I launched my freelance writing career in 1989 and have since produced more than 5,000 bylined articles for a wide array of traditional and web-based

Source: Affordable Housing Crisis Demands ADUs And DADUs, PDQ

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Here’s How Long It Takes For Stocks To Recover From Bear Markets

With the stock market on one of its worst losing streaks in decades amid a relentless selloff that has pushed the S&P 500 nearly 20% below its record highs, recession risks are rising—but history shows that not all bear markets lead to long-term downturns and stocks can often rebound over the next year.

The benchmark S&P 500 index briefly fell into a bear market last Friday—at one point down over 20% from its peak in January—and continues to hover near that territory as surging inflation and rising rates lead to recession fears.

The last bear market was in March 2020, when coronavirus pandemic lockdowns sent the U.S. economy into a recession, but that downturn was uncharacteristically brief compared to others in the past (the bear market between 2007 and 2009 lasted for 546 days).

“No two bear markets are exactly alike,” notes Bespoke Investment Group, pointing out that 8 out of 14 prior bear markets since World War II have preceded recessions, while the other 6 did not.

Once the S&P 500 does hit the 20% threshold, stocks typically fall by another 12% and it takes the index an average of 95 days to hit the end of a bear market, according to Bespoke data.

In more than half of the 14 bear markets since 1945, the S&P 500 hit a low point within two months of initially falling below the 20% threshold—and forward returns were largely positive, Bespoke points out, with the index rising an average of 7% and nearly 18%, respectively, over 6- and 12-month periods.

If the U.S. economy can avoid falling into a recession, then stocks would be in a better position going forward: Bear markets that occur before a recession are more prolonged (lasting 449 days compared to 198 days with no recession) with steeper losses (an average decline of 35% compared to 28%), according to Bespoke.

It has been several decades since the stock market has had such a long streak of heavy losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently posted its eighth down week—its longest losing streak since around the time of the Great Depression in 1932, while the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite have moved lower for seven straight weeks, their longest losing streaks since the dot-com crash in 2001.

The last four times the Nasdaq posted such a streak of weekly losses of 1% or more was in 1973, 1980, 1990 and 2001, according to Bespoke data. In every instance, those streaks occurred “either right before or very early into a recession.”

The S&P 500 has only posted a losing streak of seven weeks or more three times—in 1970, 1980 and 2001, according to Nationwide’s chief of investment research, Mark Hackett. “Unfortunately, the index was negative over the next 12 months each time,” he says. The index could tank by between 11% and 24% if the economy falls into a recession in the near-term future, major Wall Street firms have warned.

“Persistent inflation, another Fed policy mistake and recession fears have unnerved investors,” with the S&P 500 briefly falling into bear market territory, says Edward Moya, senior market analyst for Oanda. The widespread selling will likely “only accelerate” as investors will remain wary until the Fed “starts to show signs that they are worried about financial conditions and that they may stop tightening so aggressively.”

I am a senior reporter at Forbes covering markets and business news. Previously, I worked on the wealth team at Forbes covering billionaires

Source: Here’s How Long It Takes For Stocks To Recover From Bear Markets

Critics:

A chaotic day on Wall Street extended the longest period of market turmoil since 2001, with stocks on Friday briefly descending into bear market territory, a symbolic marker of investors’ deep pessimism about the health of the global economy and the buying power of the American consumer.

The S&P 500 has fallen for seven consecutive weeks, its worst stretch since the dot-com bubble burst more than two decades ago. After a 3 percent drop this week, the index is down 14 percent since early April.

Friday afternoon, the S&P 500 crossed the bear market threshold of a 20 percent decline from its peak on Jan. 3. But with less than 30 minutes left before trading ended, after hours of churn and a drop of as much as 2.3 percent, the market rallied and ended a hair above where it had started the day.

That was little consolation for investors, many of whom have grown accustomed to years of robust returns and have never seen a market upheaval like this.

With this week’s relentless slide and Friday’s wild swing was a constant worry on Wall Street that rising inflation, compounded by the war in Ukraine, might tip the economy into a recession. At the heart of those fears was fresh evidence reported this week from retailers like Walmart and Target that rising costs were now hitting corporate America.

During the darkest days of the pandemic, the American economy was propelled by consumers. Even as the costs of goods, transportation and labor increased, companies were able to pocket record profits by raising prices, confident that people would continue buying. But this week brought indications that some consumers may have reached their limit, and profits have started to shrink.

“What the companies are telling us is that they are starting to notice that their consumer is responding to inflation,” said Jay Sole, a retail analyst at UBS. “We were worried about this moment and we were waiting for this moment, and now it’s here.”

Recessions have often followed bear markets, though one does not necessarily cause the other. A bear market occurred in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but it was the shortest on record, lasting just 33 days before stocks began to rally. Less than six months later, the S&P 500 began hitting new highs again, climbing 42 percent above its prepandemic level before starting to slide in January. Now the index is down more than 18 percent from its high point.

Friday’s turbulent trading came after months of investors fretting about how serious and long-lasting inflation would be and how aggressively the Federal Reserve would have to raise rates to slow the rising cost of living.

James Bullard, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said during an interview on Fox Business on Friday that raising interest rates by half a point at coming central bank meetings was “a good plan for now.”

Mr. Bullard struck a relatively unconcerned tone about markets, despite the day’s volatility. “You would expect with the Fed raising rates, that all of these assets — trillions of dollars worldwide — would have to be repriced,” Mr. Bullard said.

What set this week apart was a grim earnings report on Tuesday from Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, which confirmed many investors’ worst fears about inflation.

For the first time in many years, Walmart said its quarterly profits had fallen, a sign to many analysts that the retailer could not pass along many of its rising costs to consumers without risking a slowdown in sales. Target and Kohl’s also said quarterly profits had plunged, adding to Wall Street’s unease.

Walmart said that some of its customers were buying less-expensive meats and other food items as costs soared, and that sales of certain discretionary goods like clothing had slowed, as budget-conscious shoppers focused instead on buying necessities like groceries. The company’s executives said they saw no signs of inflation starting to abate.

“There is a lot of uncertainty moving forward,” Walmart’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Tuesday. “Things are very fluid.”

Globally, investors can find little comfort. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the response from other countries has disrupted crucial supplies of energy, wheat and other staples. Poor countries face a gathering catastrophe over hunger and debt.

Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury secretary, said high food and energy prices were creating “stagflationary effects” — the combination of high inflation and a stagnating economy. China’s economy, the world’s second-largest after that of the United States, is laboring under the government’s strict pandemic lockdowns. Before the war in Ukraine and Covid’s resurgence in China, the International Monetary Fund was projecting global growth of 4.4 percent this year. Now its forecast is 3.6 percent.

Wall Street had been expecting that torrid consumer demand would have to slow at some point. Government stimulus checks that provided Americans with billions in spending money during the pandemic stopped long ago. The hope of both the Trump and Biden administrations was that the economy could eventually be weaned off the stimulus and that consumer demand would stay relatively strong.

But inflation, which has risen faster and remained more persistent than many investors and even the Fed initially expected, has thrown the recovery into doubt.

Unemployment is approaching the lowest rate in decades, and the economy has regained nearly 95 percent of the 22 million jobs lost at the height of coronavirus lockdowns. Average hourly earnings in the U.S. rose 5.5 percent in the year through April, but many of those gains are being eroded by inflation. Over that same period, prices rose 8.3 percent.

“The government just turbocharged the economy, and we were partying on buying goods,” said Scott Mushkin, the founder of R5 Capital, a retail-focused consulting and financial research firm. “People wondered what the hangover would be like. We have never seen anything like this.”

To be sure, some retailers said that not every consumer was pulling back or shifting spending. Walmart said better-off shoppers continued to spend freely on bigger-ticket items like patio furniture, and Target said it was not seeing a broad retreat in spending, either. Home Depot, which has benefited from a pandemic remodeling boom, said it was seeing no big slowdown in business.

But Mr. Sole of UBS worries that if prices continue to climb, higher-income consumers will eventually shift their spending, too. “Right now, lower-income consumers are feeling inflation more acutely,” he said. “The worry is, what if it affects all income and demographic groups?”For months, the mixed signals have been confounding Wall Street as it tries to forecast future profits and how high interest rates will climb.

The current conditions are also confusing to even the most experienced executives, who are finding it difficult to plan their inventory and staffing. Walmart, which is known for successfully navigating the last period of persistently high inflation, in the 1970s, acknowledged this week that it had too many employees in the first quarter and that it had not anticipated how rapidly the increase in gasoline prices would inflate costs in its supply chain. The company’s 25 percent decline in profit from the previous year was a big surprise to analysts.

“If these companies can’t handle this, it tells you something really unusual is afoot,” Mr. Mushkin said.

By:

S&P 500 Briefly Plunges Into Bear Market As Stocks Fall For Seventh Week In A Row

Here’s The Worst Case Scenario For Stocks, According To Goldman, Deutsche Bank And Bank Of America

Investors Have ‘Nowhere To Hide’ As S&P 500 Nears Bear Market Territory

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Expert Reveals How To Protect Your Finances From Volatile Market

Calamos Investments CEO John Koudounis argued on Sunday that market volatility will continue for “a long time,” but noted that the current situation presents buying opportunities.

“I don’t see it [market turbulence] going away,” Koudounis told “Fox News Live” on Sunday. “It depends how the Fed tries to land this. It’s going to be very difficult to have a soft landing. It’s never been done.”

“There will be some good times, there will be some bad times,” the CEO of the global investment firm specializing in investment management added. “Our advice to our customers, you have to be in it because the upside comes around, and you have to be invested.”

Koudounis provided the insight two days after the S&P 500, the broadest measure of the U.S. stock market, slipped into bear market territory before clawing back above that level.

The benchmark fell over 20% from its January high of 4,796.56 before erasing losses to close at 3,901.36. An official bear market would require the benchmark to close at or below 3,837.25.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, which entered a bear market earlier this year and has fallen 29% year to date.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 31261.9 +8.77 +0.03%
SP500 S&P 500 3901.36 +0.57 +0.01%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 11354.617127 -33.88 -0.30%

Koudounis stressed that the current situation “absolutely” presents “some value.”

“There’s been a rotation between the growth and value stocks,” he noted. “Now the growth stocks have been beaten up so much that active managers, the professionals, are starting to pick some and add to those positions. And the companies that are fundamental, have issues, they’ve lowered those positions.”

“So if you are an active manager, you’re actually looking at this as an opportunity to get rid of some companies that haven’t been doing well and add to the ones you think are going to do well,” Koudounis continued. “So there is opportunity out there and over the course of time if you have a balanced portfolio you’ll do fine.”

Markets have been experiencing volatility in recent weeks as concerns over Federal Reserve rate hikes and high inflation continued to worry investors.

On Wednesday U.S. stocks saw steep selling as more retailers revealed the negative impact of inflation amounting to the worst day for stocks since 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 1,100 points, or 3.6% on Wednesday.

Earlier this month it was revealed that inflation cooled on an annual basis for the first time in months in April, but rose more than expected as supply chain constraints, the Russian war in Ukraine and strong consumer demand continued to keep consumer prices elevated.

The Labor Department announced earlier this month that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price for everyday goods including gasoline, groceries and rents, rose 8.3% in April from a year ago, below the 8.5% year-over-year surge recorded in March. Prices jumped 0.3% in the one-month period from March. Those figures were both higher than the 8.1% headline figure and 0.2% monthly gain forecast by Refinitiv economists.

The Federal Reserve faces the tricky task of cooling demand and prices without inadvertently dragging the economy into a recession. “Inflation is here, and it is very difficult for the Fed to control this,” Koudounis argued, stressing that everybody getting “hurt” by the price hikes.

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated his commitment to curbing the highest inflation in decades, indicating the central bank will raise interest rates as high as necessary in order to tame consumer prices.

Fed policymakers hiked the benchmark federal funds rate by a half point earlier this month, and Powell has all but promised that two, similarly sized increases are on the table at the forthcoming meetings in June and July. He echoed that sentiment on Tuesday as the Fed races to catch-up with runaway inflation and bring it back down to the 2% target.

Koudounis warned that “it is going to be difficult to avoid” a recession.  “We’re hoping that the Fed can avoid it,” he continued, noting the central bank is expected to raise rates at each upcoming meeting. “My guess is 50 basis points each time,” Koudounis said.

“If they keep course and stop buying and of course keep raising [rates] right through the end of the year, it is going to be tough to avoid it.”Koudounis added that he believes inflation will stick around and will not hit the Fed’s 2% target by the end of the year.

Source: Volatility in markets will stick around for ‘a long time’: Investment expert | Fox Business

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US pours $3.5 Billion Into Direct Air Capture Hubs For Carbon Removal

As part of its ambitions to move to a net-zero economy by 2050, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has been ramping up its plans to facilitate removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and drive down the cost of the technology required to do so. These efforts are set to receive a massive cash injection, with the Biden administration announcing US$3.5 billion in funding for a set of regional direct air capture hubs.

The announcement follows a string of far smaller investments that began with $22 million in 2020 and a further $24 million last year, designed to accelerate research into carbon capture technology. As part of the the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) signed by President Biden in November last year, the the DOE also announced its Carbon Negative Shot initiative. This is centered on deploying carbon capture technologies on a gigaton scale by 2050, by driving down the cost of carbon capture and storage to $100 per ton.

A gigaton is equivalent to one billion metric tons, and to put things into perspective, the world’s largest direct air capture plant currently collects around 4,000 tons of CO2 each year. Humans pump out around 30 billion tons each year, while a single gigaton is about the amount generated annually by the US’s entire light-duty vehicle fleet.

The DOE has today released a Notice of Intent, which acts as a kind of high-level draft ahead of an official funding opportunity announcement later in the year. The $3.5 billion in funding will go towards hubs that will act as regional centers for direct air capture projects, with applicants needing to demonstrate an ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it. The DOE expects each of these hubs to permanently sequester a million metric tons of CO2 each year.

“The UN’s latest climate report made clear that removing legacy carbon pollution from the air through direct air capture and safely storing it is an essential weapon in our fight against the climate crisis,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is funding new technologies that will not only make our carbon-free future a reality but will help position the US as a net-zero leader while creating good-paying jobs for a transitioning clean energy workforce.”

The project in question, the Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs program, is funded under the bipartisan infrastructure law and will involve the construction of four regional hubs for carbon dioxide removal.CO2 removal involves sucking carbon dioxide from the surrounding air and either storing it underground or using it for products that do not release it back into the air.

It is a separate process from carbon capture, which aims to prevent the initial release of emissions outright.“CDR is a key element in scenarios that likely limit warming to 2°C or 1.5°C by 2100,” the report states. “Strategies need to reflect that CDR methods differ in terms of removal process, timescale of carbon storage, technological maturity, mitigation potential, cost, co-benefits, adverse side-effects, and governance requirements.”

Source: US pours $3.5 billion into direct air capture hubs for carbon removal

Carbon removal is the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locking it away for decades, centuries, or millennia. This could slow, limit, or even reverse climate change — but it is not a substitute for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This is because carbon removal is generally slow-acting and may not be able to be deployed at scales commensurate with society’s current greenhouse emissions. Carbon removal is sometimes referred to as carbon dioxide removal or CDR, and technologies for implementing carbon removal are sometimes called Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs).

Some prominent ideas for carbon removal include:

  • planting massive new forests (afforestation/reforestation)
  • using no-till agriculture and other practices to increase the amount of carbon stored in soils (soil carbon sequestration)
  • creating charcoal and burying it or plowing it into fields (biochar)
  • capturing and sequestering carbon from biofuels and bioenergy plants (bioenergy with CCS or BECCS)
  • spreading crushed rocks over land to absorb carbon dioxide from the air or exposing them to carbon dioxide-rich fluids (enhanced mineralization)
  • building machines that would suck carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere and bury it (direct air capture)
  • oceans-based methods, including:
  • spreading alkaline materials, such as lime, over the ocean (ocean alkalinization)
  • fertilizing selected areas of the ocean by spreading nutrients, such as iron, over the surface (ocean fertilization)
  • fertilizing selected areas of the ocean by pumping nutrient-rich waters from the depths to the surface (artificial upwelling)
  • accelerating the transport of carbon to the ocean depths by pumping surface waters downward (artificial downwelling)

More contents:

The trouble with negative emissions”.

The Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting” 

Forests and climate change”.

Forest Protection & Climate Change: Why Is It Important?”

“Greenhouse Gas Removals: Summary of Responses to the Call for Evidence”

Managing woody bamboos for carbon farming and carbon trading”

“Carbon Farming

“Carbon Farming: Hope for a Hot Planet – Modern Farmer

Can Dirt Save the Earth?

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Despite The Crypto Crash, Bitcoin Still Has a Bright Future

You might call it the cable that changed history. In the mid-19th century there were various attempts to lay cables across the Atlantic Ocean between Britain (Ireland) and the US.

It took several failures, numerous bankruptcies and over ten years before they got it right. But eventually they did and on July 27 1866 Queen Victoria broadcast a message to US President Johnson…

Money is a form of communication technology

Here’s what the first transatlantic cable said:

Osborne, July 27, 1866 

To the President of the United States, Washington 

The Queen congratulates the President on the successful completion of an undertaking which she hopes may serve as an additional bond of Union between the United States and England.

Johnson replied:

Executive Mansion Washington, July 30, 1866 

To Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 

The President of the United States acknowledges with profound gratification the receipt of Her Majesty’s despatch and cordially reciprocates the hope that the cable which now unites the Eastern and Western hemispheres may serve to strengthen and perpetuate peace and amity between the governments of England and the Republic of the United States.

To send a message by ship could take ten days or more; now it was a matter of minutes. So somebody came up with the slogan “two weeks to two minutes”.

Transmission speeds improved rapidly; Morse code became words and it was soon possible to send multiple messages at once. By the end of the 19th century, Britain, France, Germany and the US were all linked by cable.

Personal, commercial and political relations were altered for all time.  Back then gold was money, of course, as were paper notes representing gold. You couldn’t send gold down the cable, however, nor paper. But you could send a promise.

And, within a fortnight of Queen Victoria’s message, that’s what two parties who trusted each other did. An exchange rate between the dollar and the pound was agreed and then published in the New York Times on 10 August. That is why, to this day, GBP/USD exchange rate is known as “cable”.

My purpose with this story is to illustrate a point: what is money, but a form of communication?

Look at a £20 note (if you still use them) and you will see the words “I promise to pay the bearer”.  Of course, promises disappear; gold doesn’t. The two are quite different forms of money: one is belief, the other is real.

Nevertheless, since the dawn of civilisation, we have been using promissory money. In Ancient Mesopotamia, people used mud tokens, representing sheep or barley, baked inside clay balls to log debts owed. They found it more efficient to draw pictures of the tokens in the mud for the same purpose, which is how the first system of writing developed.

In Ancient China, people recorded their debts on bits of leather; after the invention of printing they started using paper. Today the promises are recorded and exchanged between trusted third parties on computers.

Millions, probably billions, of promises are sent across the internet every second, transferring as quick as words, probably quicker. Not only does (promissory) money evolve with communication technology, it is often the spur, the impetus for communication technology to evolve.

Now bitcoin, with its blockchain, obviates the need for trusted third parties altogether – that is one of many reasons it is so special. Here is a money communication network backed instead by mathematical proof and the most powerful and resilient computer network ever known to man: the trusted third party is the blockchain.

Why would you not want to own a share of such a breakthrough technology? That, effectively, is what owning some bitcoin is – owning shares in a new monetary technology. And it’s not like they are doing any roll backs.

Money has evolved like language

I want to explore this idea of money as communication further.  It’s often said (by me at least) when considering politicians: look at what they do, not at what they say. What we do says more about us than what we say – what we do with our money says even more.

And what we do with our money communicates value, not just between buyer and seller, but across the economy. What is the price of this thing? What is its value? The answer is constantly being sent and received, digested and acted upon; and so does the economy constantly, incrementally evolve and develop with each new signal: the how, why and when, of what needs producing and where.

Money, then, is like a language, constantly evolving and changing. Nobody is really in charge – it wasn’t really planned, it has just constantly evolved. The architects of fiat money did not plan what we have today, they just used it to get out of a tight fiscal spot – extenuating circumstances at the time.

Similarly, nobody planned the language we speak today. Language is hard to plan and regulate, try as many have over the years – and still do. The English we speak today is a long way from the English of Chaucer, Shakespeare or Dickens. There are probably fewer words; certainly fewer tenses. Grammar is simpler. Yet English is far more widely spoken. The network has grown.

Mandarin may have three or four times more native speakers, but English is more widely spoken. There may well come a time when everybody in the world speaks it. It is the dominant linguistic network.

Meanwhile, other languages fade away. Cornish has gone. Few now speak Welsh or Gaelic. The local dialects of France and Italy are disappearing. Similarly, there are no doubt a plethora of African, Asian and American languages that are on the way out, if they haven’t already gone.

The question to ask is this: how scalable is the language? English has the potential to become the default language of the world. Despite having more native speakers, that’s unlikely to be the case with Mandarin. It’s certainly not going to happen to Gaelic, Neapolitan or Swahili.

How many different monies have there been in history? Shells, whale teeth, metals, paper, cigarettes, mackerel packs, cognac, Zimbabwe dollars, reichsmarks, denarii, farthings, shillings. Most have died. Only gold goes on.

But, as with transatlantic cables, you can’t send gold over the internet. Only golden promises between trusted parties.

Bitcoin is money for the internet

The US dollar is the global reserve currency. You can send that over the internet. But it’s hard for people who aren’t American to get US dollar bank accounts. Foreign exchange fees are expensive. Money transfers can take several days sometimes.

It’s a national currency that is used internationally. A country – and several do – could use it as their national currency, but they would be importing US monetary policy too, and so subjecting themselves to US political whims. Which is why most countries with their own political agenda issue their own currencies.

Thus, though “international”, as a national currency, the US dollar is limited by its national borders and its politics. The same goes for any national currency.

But language is not limited by national borders – or at least English isn’t. If only there was an apolitical, borderless currency for the borderless economy that is the internet, then that really would be scalable in a way that no national currency is. A network that has evolved organically, and is constantly growing.

You don’t need a bank account to start using bitcoin. You only need a phone with an internet connection. We are not far off that point when everyone who wants one has one. My argument is this: if money is language, then bitcoin is English. It has a potential to scale that no other currency has.

Just as an aside on how quickly money evolves – it’s worth remembering that as recently as the 19th century, the pound had greater global recognition than the dollar. In emulation of Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg, who went Around The World in 80 Days, in 1889-1890 American journalist Nellie Bly went on a trip around the world in 72 days.

She took pounds, but she also brought some dollars, “as a test to see if American money was known outside of America”. She went east from New York, and did not see American money until Colombo, Sri Lanka, where $20 gold pieces were used as jewellery. They accepted her dollars – but only at a 60% discount.

It’s a bit of an ask – though possible – to get people to accept bitcoin in the physical world. But that is not what it is for. It is money for the internet.

Dominic Frisby author headshot

Source: Despite the crypto crash, bitcoin still has a bright future | MoneyWeek

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