Read: What Facebook could have been Libra will be a brand-new currency, in spirit the same thing as a dollar or euro.
People will obtain Libras by handing over national currency to organizations such as Calibra, the subsidiary that Facebook is creating to handle Libra transactions. Calibra will in turn transfer this money to the Libra Reserve—a group of s held by financial custodians around the world.
The money that goes into the reserve will be held there or used to buy other currency or low-risk government bonds. Meanwhile, people with Libras can transfer them over the internet, using them to buy things or make gifts. You can Blonde preferred hello your Libras back into a national currency if you need it, with the money coming out of the reserve.
While Facebook advertises Libra as a cryptocurrency, and Libra uses some of the same technology as bitcoin, Libra is actually quite different chzt bitcoin.
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There is no bitcoin reserve. If you want to exchange your bitcoin for dollars, you need to find someone willing to buy it. If people decide that Libras are worth nothing, they can trade them in for cash from the reserve. The problem of chatt is solved.
Lubra this solution comes at a price. And to understand how high this price is, we need some background. Bitcoin was promoted as a decentralized currency.
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No corporation, government, or other organization ran it. Its protocol guaranteed that a certain of bitcoins would be produced at a predetermined rate, and this was supposed to guarantee that bitcoins would have a value stable enough for day-to-day transacting. The model was gold—a precious metal whose value remains relatively stable because of the economics of mining.
When the market price of gold rises, miners dig deeper, producing more gold, which causes the price to fall. When the price of gold falls, miners stop mining, producing linra gold, which causes the price to rise. The bitcoin protocol created a digital version of this process, with the important difference that bitcoins can be sent over the web, unlike gold bars or nuggets.
And this meant that, unlike gold, bitcoin was supposed to be a usable currency for people who distrusted government management of national currencies. People could transact and save without worrying that the government would overborrow and then I love tonight suck inflation to wipe away debt. Once these large players were in place, they became an oligarchy that dominated the bitcoin world.
When the bitcoin protocol needed to be changed from time to time in order to address inevitable problems, the oligarchy made the decisions and profited from them. The early internet itself, along with some relatively simple applications such as and chat rooms, created a decentralized system of communication over which no central authority—no government, no corporation—exercised much power.
But ordinary people did not like the chaos of the early internet. They wanted a more structured environment, and this gave rise to the big social networks, above all Facebook. Once that structure was in place, the system was no longer decentralized.
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Facebook kept claiming that it was, but made policy choices—about how information was displayed, about the use of data—that harmed a great many people. We now see that Facebook regulates speech and privacy for millions of people, domains normally left to government. What started out as a libertarian utopia is now a highly regulated environment, albeit one regulated by a corporation rather than by our government.
Facebook obviously knows this history. It knows that a fully decentralized Libra would not be usable.
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But it also knows that the natural solution—a centralized currency controlled by Facebook—would not be trusted. The white paper solves this problem by seizing both horns of the dilemma, claiming that Libra is both decentralized and centralized.
Libra is supposedly decentralized because it is based on blockchain, the technology used by bitcoin, which ensures that records are kept by multiple users rather than by one, and in this way enhances security and transparency. Facebook itself will not operate Libra. But Libra Im back and sooooo single also centralized via the creation of a governance body. That body is the Libra Association, to be located in Switzerland.
This body is supposed to prevent the emergence of a bitcoinlike oligarchy to rule over Libra. The white paper provides a few details about how the Libra Association will work. It currently has 28 members, with that expected to rise to To get the system started, the members put money in the Libra Reserve, which will enable the creation and circulation of an initial pot of Libras.
Major policy decisions will be made by a two-thirds vote. Ordinary people who buy and use Libras have no votes. The narrow money-transfer function that Facebook lays out in the white paper is just one possibility—the narrowest and least threatening one. Facebook might sincerely believe that the association will manage the Libra as a kind of glorified Western Union.
But Facebook has broken its promises before.
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The Libra Association will, after all, be overwhelmingly controlled by cha companies, not by charities. These companies want to make money. The structure of the organization gives them a direct financial interest in the management of Libra because their investment in the reserve entitles them to dividends, which in turn depend on the assets that the reserve holds.
If those assets appreciate, the members make profits. Again, the assets in the Libra Reserve lubra consist of national currencies and government bonds—at least at the outset. This will prove lucrative for association members if millions of people end up using Libra.
Then again, government bonds pay low interest, and national currencies pay none at all. If the Libra Association members want to increase their returns on their investment, all they need to do is change the composition of assets in the Libra Reserve—a policy shift that they cyat make by a two-thirds vote. They could then, for example, exchange some of the currency and low-risk debt for somewhat higher-risk debt—by making loans, or by buying loans from banks and other loan originators.
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And with sufficient diversification, a more aggressive portfolio can be accumulated with relative safety. This is how banks work, and banks, of course, make a lot of money, especially when they are big. And Libra will be big. Facebook has 2. Visa has issued more than 2 billion credit cards and is lkbra by more than 40 million merchants.
Vodafone has million customers. Uber has 91 million riders. Currency, like communication, exhibits strong network effects—meaning that it becomes more valuable as more people use it. So the strategy Facebook used so effectively to build its social network—lure in customers with zero-pricing and then make money off them without their realizing it—will work just as well for Libra. Here, though, customers will enrich Facebook and its partners through interest payments on the reserve Horny girls Anchorage than exploitation of their data—though that might happen, too.
If the Libra Association takes this path, and the Libra Reserve gets big enough, its policies will have macroeconomic impacts throughout the world. The reserve will, at a minimum, hold government debt, and buying the debt of one government rather than another has macroeconomic consequences. If the Libra Reserve lends or buys risky assets, it will affect the global money supply, just like a central bank. The white paper is long on happy talk and short on details. For all the glitzy futurism of cryptocurrencies, Libra is a step backwards in social and political terms, the way bitcoin tried to throw us back into the age of the gold standard.
Until central banks were created in the 19th and earlyth centuries, dead-tree versions of the Libra Association were plentiful. They included family dynasties such as the Medicis and the Rothschilds, and massive private banks. Driven by profit and able to operate across national borders, they accumulated massive political power without feeling loyalty to any particular nation—until governments finally reined them in.
Of course, Libra could fail, or become nothing more than a niche product like Venmo. And it could certainly do some good by reducing the cost of transferring money. The company has already shown that a successful tech platform can scale up quickly to a once-unimaginable size.