Bitcoin Book Review: The 7th Property: Bitcoin And The Monetary Revolution
Eric Yakes creates a compelling account of how we’ve arrived at the monetary technology that is Bitcoin.
With an ever-growing number of Bitcoin books being published, choosing which book to read next can be difficult. “The 7th Property: Bitcoin and the Monetary Revolution” by Eric Yakes guides readers through a vast array of Bitcoin-related topics, turning seemingly complex topics such as Merkle roots and the mining algorithm into highly approachable subjects using effective graphics and analogies. Whether you’re looking to learn more about the history of money, the centralization of money and banking, or how Bitcoin actually works on a deeper level, “The 7th Property” has something for everyone.
Yakes starts by weaving through monetary history, using historical recent examples to describe the commonly-cited properties of money. He then dives into the historical trend towards centralization of money. Over centuries, society continuously traded trust for efficiency in money. Ultimately, these trade-offs led humanity to central banking, which, Yakes argues, is the mother of all moral hazards. While the traditionally cited properties of money — scarcity, durability, acceptability, portability, fungibility, divisibility — were effective for most of monetary history, Yakes introduces a vital seventh property: immutability. He defines immutability as the decentralized production and storage of money and shows how this seventh property has been eroded time and again. In Yakes’s own words: “If society can reclaim this property without trading away efficiency, that will be the next key evolutionary step in the development of money.”
As it progresses towards the modern form of money (i.e., fiat money), the book dives into all aspects of central banking. Yakes covers how and why central banks were established, their trend towards increasing centralization, and the cycles created by central banking. He then goes into great detail about the biggest central bank of them all: the Federal Reserve. Rather than a high-level overview that seasoned Bitcoiners have seen many times, “The 7th Property” takes a more granular approach by going deep into the Federal Reserve’s governance, structure, profit model, and incentives. Filled with various gold nuggets of information, one of the most mind-blowing facts from the book is that the Federal Reserve is both the world’s most profitable “company” and largest asset manager. Regardless of whether you subscribe to a more inflationary or deflationary worldview, the sheer level of malinvestment and moral hazard created by the Federal Reserve system is crystal clear after reading this book.
The first seven chapters set the scene of the need for a monetary revolution. Centuries of increasing centralization of money at the expense of immutability ultimately led to the behemoth of global manipulation and malinvestment that is the Federal Reserve. The remainder of “The 7th Property” is a thorough discussion of Bitcoin: where it came from, how it works, and, of course, its monetary properties. Yakes does a masterful job of putting complex topics into layman’s terms. While many Bitcoin books provide a high level overview of Bitcoin, Yakes goes far deeper, getting into how hashing, Merkle roots, and elliptic curves work while still providing a high-level summary of the most important Bitcoin concepts. As such, “The 7th Property” is a fantastic book for both entry-level and veteran Bitcoiners alike. As someone who had read many Bitcoin books before this one, “The 7th Property” provided me with a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for the technical details of Satoshi’s design and the problems it solves.
“The 7th Property: Bitcoin and the Monetary Revolution” is a thoroughly-researched book encompassing monetary history, Austrian economics, central banking, modern monetary policy, Bitcoin, the Lightning Network and much more. If you enjoy learning about any of these topics, you can rest assured Yakes will deliver new knowledge and insights with this book. Filled with helpful graphics, potent analogies, and more Mike Tyson quotes than you knew existed, “The 7th Property” is a must-read for Bitcoiners of all levels.
This is a guest post by Mitch Klee. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.