Mailbag: An Important Follow-Up on Digital Currencies and Must-Read Books

|December 12, 2022
Stack of old letters on a wooden bookcase.

It will be a busy week for Wall Street.

As we told our paid subscribers last week, stocks sit at a critical technical level. Any move we see is likely to be sustained for the next month.

In other words… if stocks jump on Powell’s words Wednesday afternoon, look for a strong late-year rally.

If stocks fall… the recent bull run will officially fizzle out.

We’ll have plenty of time to cover whatever happens as the week ticks on. For now… we’ve got some loose ends to tie up.

The mailbag exploded last week.

Your fellow readers were talking books… and digital money.

We’ll start with the latter…

Digital currency scares me. It puts way too much power in the hands of the government. Cash must be preserved because the government cannot control our cash. – Reader G.R.

That, of course, is the rub in all this.

The folks in charge will tell you that cash is used by criminals… that it’s the tool of tax cheats… and that if you’re doing nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

We’ve heard it all before.

But what happens when the next “crisis” occurs? What happens when the zealots take charge? Or when your spending records get hacked and put on Twitter for all the world to see?

Digital money is great for the folks behind it. It’s hell for the folks below it.

Here’s a good question that hits at a misconception…

How would they deal with all of the tens of trillions of dollars of debt that the U.S. has now if they allow this new digital currency to replace the dollar? – Reader D.R.

We hear this one a lot. A central bank digital currency wouldn’t replace the dollar… at least, not at first. Our debt would remain, and our buying power wouldn’t change. It’s just how all that money changes hands that would be transformed.

Down the road, of course, having an all-digital currency would make it much easier to manipulate things. Right now, we need to “print” money with a convoluted scheme of asset buying and government spending.

With digital money… it could all happen with the press of a button.

Our debt may not be molested at first. But there’s no doubt the vultures in Washington wouldn’t be able to resist scavenging all they could out of the system. Again… they never let a good crisis go to waste.

We’d be just one government-funded meltdown away from a debt jubilee.

That’d be fun…

Yep… even if he reads only Manward.

Speaking of Manward, a few folks wrote in last week asking a good question… What books do Alex and Amanda read? They may not get the face time others do in our little rag… but they’re certainly responsible for bringing it to life.

Here’s what they had to say.

From Amanda…

After joining Manward, I quickly learned that there was always more to the story… no matter what you read or where you read it. That’s why I was so interested to read Adam Grant’s Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

Through storytelling and lots of evidence, Grant makes the case for keeping an open mind and striving to be a lifelong learner… and he shows how you can help others do the same by “dancing” with them instead of “battling” against them when you disagree.

One amusing experiment proved that Yankees and Red Sox fans could actually get along.

And it’s not just about social relationships…

His research shows the best leaders and CEOs are humble, admit when they don’t know something and embrace conflict with those who challenge them.

He explains how Blackberry’s founder, Mike Lazaridis, hurt the business by refusing to change his mind about what customers wanted out of a phone…

He also explains how a team of misfits at Pixar – who pushed boundaries and challenged others – created the Oscar-winning animated film The Incredibles. It was the most complex film the company had made at the time.

Staying curious and embracing new ideas… These are tools for a richer and more fulfilling life.

That last line is powerful. Read it again.

And here’s what Alex had to say…

As the father of two young kids, my recreational reading has been stifled in 2022 (unless you count youth novels about mermaids and wizards). But of the handful of books that actually made it from my nightstand into my brain, I’d most recommend Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach.

The book is essentially a collection of anecdotes, interviews and stories about the unglamorous realities of space travel. For example, it turns out the low gravity on the moon meant the astronauts who walked on its surface kicked up HUGE clouds of dust, which turned their space suits black – and made a real mess inside Apollo 11. Another chapter recounted the experiences of the team that conducted centrifugal force experiments… with cadavers. And yes, the book reveals how astronauts go to the bathroom.

But what struck me most was the portrayal of the headstrong individuals who’ve made space exploration possible. At a time when neighbors are shunning neighbors over political and ideological differences, it’s inspiring to hear tales of people from all over sharing a single seemingly impossible ambition… and achieving it. Even if things (often) got quite messy.

We can vouch for this one. Hardly a day goes by when Alex doesn’t mention a powerful idea from this book.

Maybe next year, we’ll get his nose out of those mermaid tales.

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