BREAKDOWN: WTF Happened in 1971? (And in Afghanistan?)

Big-picture power shifts from the past, present and future shape the financial world.

This episode is sponsored by NYDIG.

On this episode of “The Breakdown,” host NLW takes a step back from the nitty-gritty of markets and politics to examine current events from the global macro perspective, including:

  • The 50th anniversary of the “Nixon Shock” – aka the end of the gold standard
  • Afghanistan news and the fall of Kabul

This weekend marked the 50th anniversary of when President Richard Nixon decoupled the USD from the gold standard. That event in 1971, which upended the world of finance, contributed in a large way to the rise of cryptocurrencies.

The site “WTF Happened In 1971?” has chronicled the impacts of Nixon’s decision in the years since with extensive data covering wages, productivity and more. Can 50 years of financial transformations be traced back to one event?

In global news, the Afghan government’s struggle against the Taliban has reached a critical point as Taliban forces have taken Kabul, the capital. The news comes after the U.S. withdrew its troops after a 20-year war. This global event is bound to affect the financial system, but it also has ties to cryptocurrencies as they are a new, completely external tool to provide citizens in tumultuous regions agency over their money in a way that has never been possible before. 

NYDIG, the institutional-grade platform for Bitcoin, is making it possible for thousands of banks who have trusted relationships with hundreds of millions of customers, to offer Bitcoin. Learn more at

“The Breakdown” is written, produced by and features NLW, with editing by Rob Mitchell and additional production support by Eleanor Pahl. Adam B. Levine is our executive producer and our theme music is “Countdown” by Neon Beach. The music you heard today behind our sponsor is “Only in Time” by Abloom. Image credit: Paula Bronstein/Stringer/Getty Images News, modified by CoinDesk.

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