The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewEamonn Fingleton Archive
Three Big Questions About Bitcoins (Beyond the Obvious)
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

The obvious question about bitcoins is who invented them. The obvious answer – certainly obvious to me – is that it was not Satoshi Nakamoto. For sure the arcane treatise that launched the bitcoin concept was authored by a person of this Japanese-sounding name. But after nearly 27 years watching the world from a base in Tokyo, I claim some understanding of Japanese culture: my strong instinct is that Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym for someone who is anything but Japanese. Japan is far too regulated for the sort of “freelance activity” involved here. And if Japanese citizens took part at a corporate or governmental level, they would present their role in quite a different manner – taking fully traceable credit if they were proud of their role.

All in all, I am convinced that Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times got it right last week in naming Nick Szabo, a Hungarian-American former student at George Washington University, as the real inventor. But this only raises further questions.

Here are some of them:

  1. Why has Szabo gone to ground?Although by all accounts what he has done is a remarkable achievement, he seems to have avoided all contact with the media — and even with routine acquaintances — for more than a year. (It is hard to imagine Alexander Graham Bell or Guglielmo Marconi, let alone Henry Ford or Steve Jobs being so self-effacing.)
  2. Has Szabo profited from the invention? If so, by how much? There has been speculation that the inventor might have made as much as $200 million. That is sufficiently serious money to be hard to hide, if only because the beneficiary might want to move to nicer digs.
  3. Who are the losers from bitcoins? As someone long ago pointed out, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If Szabo and associates have profited, others have lost. At the most obvious level, anyone who bought bitcoins during the late-2013 boom will have lost their shirt. Sellers at that time by contrast have made out like proverbial bandits. But all this may be pocket change compared to what may be in store. In the larger scheme of things the biggest loser may be the U.S. economy. To the extent that bitcoins have already become a rival to the U.S. dollar, they undermine, however marginally at this stage, the dollar’s purchasing power both at home and abroad. The interesting thing is not so much what damage has already been done but how much more damage could be done in future.
(Republished from Forbes by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Economics • Tags: Bitcoins 
Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Eamonn Fingleton Comments via RSS
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
Hundreds of POWs may have been left to die in Vietnam, abandoned by their government—and our media.