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On The Brink with Castle Island

Aug 2, 2021

George Selgin, director of the Center of Monetary Alternatives at the Cato Institute joins the show to discuss Bitcoin, Free Banking, and stablecoins. In this episode: 

  • Why George refers to Bitcoin as a synthetic commodity money
  • Why George was excited by the possibility for synthetic commodity money
  • What conditions would have to hold for Bitcoin to be considered money
  • Why money is a spectrum rather than binary
  • Are stablecoins prone to bank runs?
  • Is Tether's melange of underlying collateral sufficient?
  • How should stablecoins be regulated?
  • Why are regulators looking into stablecoins today?
  • Comparing stablecoins to Money Market Mutual Funds
  • Why money market funds broke the buck in 08
  • Are stablecoins as systemic as money market funds?
  • George's objections to Gorton and Zhang's paper on free banking and stablecoins
  • George's definition of free banking
  • Was the 1830s-60s period in the U.S. a period of genuine free banking?
  • The actual causes of bank failures in the pre-Civil War period
  • Why 'unit banking' was so fragile
  • What lessons can be taken from Canada's experience with free banking in that era
  • Why the history of Free Banking is a red herring in the stablecoin debate
  • George's recommendations for a primer on free banking
  • George's reflections on Hal Finney's reference to his work
  • Why bank failures are often the consequence of regulation

Content mentioned in this episode: 

Sponsor notes: 

  • This episode is brought to you by Withum, a top 25 accounting firm with a cutting-edge Digital Currency and Blockchain Technology practice. To learn more, visit