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Regulating BlockchainTechno-Social and Legal Challenges$
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Philipp Hacker, Ioannis Lianos, Georgios Dimitropoulos, and Stefan Eich

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198842187

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198842187.001.0001

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Old Utopias, New Tax Havens

Old Utopias, New Tax Havens

The Politics of Bitcoin in Historical Perspective

(p.85) 4 Old Utopias, New Tax Havens
Regulating Blockchain

Stefan Eich

Oxford University Press

Cryptocurrencies are frequently framed as future-oriented, technological innovations that decentralize money, thereby liberating it from centralized governance and the political tentacles of the state. This is misleading on several counts. First, electronic currencies cannot leave the politics of money behind even where they aim to disavow it. Instead, we can understand their impact as a political attempt to depoliticize money. Second, the dramatic price swings of cryptocurrencies challenge their self-fashioning as a new form of money and reveal them instead as speculative assets and securities in need of regulation. While the preferential tax and regulatory treatment of cryptocurrencies hinges on their nominal currency status, it is ironically precisely their success as speculative assets that has undermined these claims. Finally, far from heralding a radical break with the past, electronic currencies serve as a reminder of the unresolved global politics of money since the 1970s. To support these three interrelated theses this chapter places the rise of cryptocurrencies in the historical context of the international politics of money between the end of the Bretton Woods system and the response to the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Keywords:   money, Financial Crisis, cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, shadow banking, politics of money, 1970s, depoliticization

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