Crypto Impact: Fourth Turnings, End Times And Long-term Debt Cycles
by Ryan Shea
- “Winter Comes Again” is the opening chapter title of the 1997 book the Fourth Turning by Strauss and Howe. They outlined a cyclical view of history that prophesied two decades of tough times for the US beginning in 2005.
- Given the Great Recession, the most protracted global economic downturn since the Great Depression, hit just two years later, the book quickly achieved cult status.
- Since then its popularity has continued to grow, particularly recently given the surge in geopolitical tension and the palpable feeling that the American-led post-war order is being challenged.
- There is a strong thread in the crypto community that believes Bitcoin is the perfect money during Fourth Turnings because of the anticipated breakdown and eventual replacement of the old social order and institutions.
- While there is support in the data for a cyclical view of history, the Fourth Turning hypothesis does have its flaws. Also, when one takes a deeper look at its internal dynamics it is not the obvious crypto slam-dunk many seem to think.
- In fact, there is another cyclical model of social/economic history that is not only more statistically robust but its internal dynamics are more consistent with a crypto-friendly future.
History is seasonal and winter is coming.
The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 20251, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and the twin emergencies of the Great Depression in World War II.
The risk of catastrophe will be high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort — in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.
This time, America will enter a Fourth Turning with the means to inflict unimaginable horrors and, perhaps, will confront adversaries who possess the same.
These are the words Strauss and Howe wrote in their book The Fourth Turning2. To me, and I suspect many others, given the surge in geopolitical tension over the past 18 months and the palpable feeling that the American-led post-war order is being challenged, they make for very uncomfortable reading.
What makes these words even more powerful is that they were not penned recently; they were written over quarter of a century ago. At the time (1997), the superiority of the liberal democratic capitalist system was unquestioned following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. Globalization was being unleashed, allowing countries to reap the benefits of the peace dividend in the form of higher non-inflationary economic growth. As the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote earlier in the decade it was The End of History (and the Last Man3 to give the book its full title), by which he meant humankind had reached the end-state of its ideological evolution. Against such an optimistic backdrop, Strauss and Howe looked like the ultimate party poopers. Fast forward to today and, unfortunately, it is they who look more prophetic.
The basis for Strauss and Howe’s prediction is the notion that history is composed of cycles. Nothing new about that I hear you say, people have long put forward such hypotheses (50 year long Kondratiev4 waves being a prime example in the field of economies). However, what was interesting about their work is they provided a rationale for this cyclical behaviour, attributing it to generational differences.
The simplest – and most often used - explanation of the hypothesis is the well-known quote by the author G. Michael Hopf taken from his post-apocalytic novel Those Who Remain5. To wit,
“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.”
Intuitively, this is a concept we can all relate to. What Strauss and Howe did with their book was to put a framework and – importantly - a time frame around it.
I first came across the Fourth Turning hypothesis around the time of the Great Recession (GFC, or Great Financial Crisis, for non-economists) when, like many other tradfi people, I was scouting around for information/historical precedent/theories to try and make sense of what was going on in the hope it would give me an edge in thinking about the future.
As it transpired all the digging around paid off handsomely. Not only did it allow me to identify and anticipate the major economic trends (persistent low interest rates/inflation) and social trends (increased income/wealth inequality)6 that would characterize and shape the following decade(s), it also introduced me to a novel proof-of-concept called Bitcoin; some of you may have heard of it.
That the Great Recession, the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, came almost bang in line with their predicted time frame – they had 2005 pencilled in as the start date of the Fourth Turning - gave the hypothesis a great deal of credence with many (some very influential7) people and certainly contributed to its popularity.
New Age Woo Woo?
The Fourth Turning, and the follow-up book The Fourth Turning Is Here8 which is due to be published in the UK later this month, argues that society is influenced by an 80-odd year cycle – approximating to the length of a long human life - made up of four transitions, or turnings. These turnings occur every two decades or so and the authors describe them in the original book as follows:
- The First Turning is a High, an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism, when a new civic order implants and the old values regime decays.
- The Second Turning is an Awakening, a passionate era of spiritual upheaval, when the civic order comes under attack from a new values regime.
- The Third Turning is an Unraveling, a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order decays and the new values regime implants.
- The Fourth Turning is a Crisis, a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.
The population cohorts that drive these turnings are labelled: Nomads, Prophets, Heroes and Artists. Talk of awakenings, unravelings, heroes and prophets all sounds very like New Age Woo Woo stuff, which can be off putting to some. More substantively, the Fourth Turning hypothesis has been criticized for being pseudoscientific and lacking potentially falsifiable predictions.
The latter criticism is not entirely fair. One cannot deny Strauss and Howe’s hypothesis resulted in social/economic/political predictions that are more in tune with the current situation than almost any of their peers who deployed more standard extrapolation/mean-reversion forecast methods. If these linear forecasts, as opposed to Strauss and Howe’s cyclical forecasts, had proven to be more accurate then the Fourth Turning hypothesis would have been squarely debunked by now; but they weren’t, so it can’t.
What Has This To Do With Crypto?
I hadn’t realized when I decided to write this research note that some in the crypto community had already tried to connect the dots between the Fourth Turning (Crisis) and cryptocurrencies. Not only that, but it seems to be a topic of interest currently given one of the panels at the recent Bitcoin Magazine Amsterdam conference was entitled “Europe’s Fourth Turning9”.
As part of my background reading I came across various blog posts and podcasts10 discussing the interplay between the two. Reviewing these sources, there appears to be a strong thread in the crypto community that believes Bitcoin is the perfect money during a Fourth Turning.
Financial Crises – Fourth Turning Catalysts
As the book describes, Fourth Turnings are triggered by a catalyzing force and historically one of the most common catalysts identified by the authors is a financial crisis. Unsurprisingly, therefore, they chose the Great Depression, specifically the Black Tuesday stock market crash11, as the catalyst in the previous Fourth Turning.
Obviously, when the book was first published in 1997, neither Strauss nor Howe were able to identify ex ante what the catalyst would be in the current Fourth Turning and instead proposed various scenarios. Given how events have unfolded, Howe12, the sole surviving Fourth Turning author, now considers the (2007-2009) Great Recession to be the catalyst. As mentioned, not only did it perfectly line up with the Fourth Turning timeline but it was the deepest global recession since the Great Depression so it’s a very plausible candidate.
The Nexus Of Debt And Money
In addition to financial crises and economic contractions another hallmark of Fourth Turnings is rising indebtedness, particularly government indebtedness. In fact, Strauss and Howe consider this to be one of three core elements of Fourth Turnings, the others being civic decay and global disorder13. It is this aspect more than any other that makes the Fourth Turning hypothesis pertinent to a crypto audience.
In a fiat system the value of money is backed by the creditworthiness of the issuer, namely the government, and if this creditworthiness is jeopardized as a result of accumulating excessive debt, then non-government-issued monies (such as finite supply cryptocurrencies) come to be seen by the public as increasingly attractive alternatives for the reason I made clear in an earlier research note. To wit,
“My judgement is that cryptocurrencies will not only survive but thrive because the fiscal challenges facing pretty much all of the major economies in the world are of such a magnitude that it is highly improbable governments will be able to avoid deploying the printing press, resulting in the further erosion of fiat money’s purchasing power.”
A decade ago, when Bitcoin was still very much a tech plaything/proof-of-concept, such a prediction would have been dismissed as fanciful.
Not any more.
Following the Great Recession, and more recently the Covid Pandemic, government debt levels have surged. At present, the US government debt/GDP ratio stands around 120%, matching the peak seen during the previous Fourth Turning – see chart.
US Government Debt/GDP Ratio
(NB: Going even further back in time, one can observe that the debt/GDP ratio also rose sharply during the Civil War – an earlier Fourth Turning - albeit to levels that today would be considered fiscally virtuous.)
When looked at over such an extended time frame, US fiscal data certainly suggest there is a long-term debt cycle whose frequency is approximately 80 years – a time frame that lines up neatly with the Fourth Turning hypothesis.
Bridge (Over Troubled) Water
Obviously, Strauss and Howe are not the only people to have noticed this apparent long-term debt cycle. Over the past several years, Ray Dalio, founder of the successful hedge fund Bridgewater14, has produced a number of books, blog posts and Youtube videos which incorporates the debt cycle into a more encompassing framework which he describes as the “five big forces that have driven and are driving just about everything”. These five big forces are:
- credit/debt cycle
- internal (or domestic) peace/conflict cycle
- external (or international) peace/conflict cycle
- acts of nature
According to Dalio, the credit/debt cycle is composed of two different cycles, a short-term business cycle, lasting approximately seven years, and a long-term debt cycles, lasting approximately 75 years. In a Linkedin post published earlier this year he included a couple of charts15 showing a stylized version of this cycle. Based on his read of the situation, he believes the US economy is near the end of a multi-decade-long bull-run in debt accumulation – see chart.
Economic Cycles – Long And Short
Source: Ray Dalio, Bridgewater | via Linkedin
Rather disconcertingly, after recent events Dalio has also argued that the external peace/conflict cycle – another of his five big forces – is shifting less favourably as well. To wit,
“We should recognize that these two hot wars (the Israel-Hamas war and the Russia-Ukraine war) are not just between the parties directly involved in them … they will have big effects on the countries who are allies and enemies of the four sides in these two seemingly irreconcilable wars.”16
High government indebtedness, increased geopolitical tension and the potential escalation into a major hot war is an outlook very reminiscent of the Fourth Turning hypothesis proposed by Strauss and Howe.
It is quite possible Strauss and Howe’s book – and their preference for adopting a cyclical as opposed to linear way of analysing history - influenced Dalio’s own thinking. However, there is one notable difference between the two approaches. Dalio adopts a more data-driven, pragmatic approach when analysing long-term cycles whose outcomes are not assured (understandable given his investment background).
By contrast, Strauss/Howe’s Fourth Turning hypothesis, which is more narrative-driven than data-driven, has an almost deterministic cyclical nature that creates a strong sense of inevitability about how and when things will evolve. My suspicion is that this, along with its catchy moniker, is why crypto bulls are so keen to embrace the Fourth Turning hypothesis. It provides theoretical support for the popular “We’re still early” meme.
Not A Fourth Turning Fan
For the reasons just mentioned, I can see the appeal of the Fourth Turning hypothesis, but personally I admit to having some issues with it. For one thing, it feels overly-engineered. What do I mean by that? Superficially, there are similarities between the present time and the years preceding the start of World War II – the two most recent Fourth Turnings. However, there are also some glaring differences.
For instance, economically the past decade did not have much in common with the Great Depression: real GDP growth may have been lacklustre but it did not fall off a cliff, inflation was (at least until 2021) subdued rather than negative (deflationary) and unemployment rates did not surge to more than 20%. Also, importantly, the US debt/GDP ratio is almost certainly going to exceed the 120% peak that occurred during the prior Fourth Turning given the massive unfunded liabilities.
Moreover, divergences are not just seen in Fourth Turnings. The last Third Turning – the Unraveling – that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s did not have much in common with the prior Third Turning, which don’t forget encompassed World War I (hardly a minor global event).
A further hint that the Strauss/Howe hypothesis is massaged to fit the data is the Fourth Turning that occurred during the 19th century, coinciding with the civil war, lasted just five years according to their estimate. Out of all the turnings identified by the authors going back to the 15th century, this is the smallest by a factor of three and is considerably shorter than a typical 20-25 year generational window upon which the hypothesis is based.
Not A Crypto Slam-Dunk
The other issue I have in relation to the Fourth Turning is not about the hypothesis per se but rather how it has been embraced by some in the crypto community. Indeed, when one takes a deeper look at the dynamics of the Fourth Turning hypothesis it is far from obvious that it is the crypto slam-dunk many seem to think. To appreciate this point, we have to revisit the prior Fourth Turning.
In response to the Great Depression, FDR introduced the New Deal. Public works programmes were expanded and government spending ramped up17. As a result of these policy measures, the US government debt/GDP ratio rose from 20% in 1928 to just under 40% by the end of the 1930s. It was not until the US entered World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that the debt/GDP ratio really began to rip higher, eventually peaking out at 120%.
According to Strauss and Howe, this debt peak, which occurred in 1946, marked the culmination of the Fourth Turning and the start of the First Turning – the American High. The reduction in the debt load that occurred in the first several years of this First Turning was partly a natural follow-on from the cessation of war. The budget deficit improved due to less military spending by the government and real GDP growth was boosted due to returning armed forces personnel increasing the labour supply.
It was also facilitated by continued monetary accommodation by the Fed. I say continued, because the Fed had been running an accommodative monetary stance since the late 1930s18 when, worried by a double-dip in economic growth, they began implicitly targeting interest rates at the long-end of the yield curve as a complement to the explicit target in short-term interest rates19.
This interest rate policy regime (YCC or yield curve control in modern parlance) remained in place for several years after the end of World War II. It was only abolished in 1951 after a very public spat between the President and his Treasury Secretary and the FOMC20. The reason for this spat was that the yield cap proved to be a very effective tool for lowering the debt/GDP ratio – which the President and the Treasury Secretary liked – via higher inflation – which the Fed did not like. To give some idea as to how inflationary21 this period was the purchasing power of the US dollar fell by circa 45%22.
Cue a round of voilas from Fourth Turning crypto fans, but not so fast.
One thing about this debt reduction process, which recall occurred in the First Turning not the Fourth Turning, should readily jump out: the leading players were the government and the Federal Reserve – two highly centralized organizations.
Why is this observation important?
Because Howe and Strauss’s hypothesis puts a great deal of weight on the supply and demand for social order in their model; it’s what drives its cyclicality.
During the Fourth Turning crisis, the challenges facing the country become so profound that it provokes a tearing down of old institutions, an increase in demand for order and a rising sense of personal sacrifice, all of which paves the way for the “upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism” seen during the First Turning. If the Fourth Turning hypothesis is correct, it will be Millennials - the Hero archetype of the current Fourth Turning - who will increasingly drive things forward.
According to Strauss and Howe...
“… [N]ear the climax of Crisis, the full power of this rising generation [Millennials] will assert itself, providing their society with a highly effective instrument for imposing order on an unruly world. They will appear capable of glorious collective deeds, of conquering distant lands, of potently executing any command that may be issued. Quite the opposite of the Boomers' Awakening-era casualties in Vietnam, which weakened the public will to fight, the Millennials' heroic sacrifices will only add to the national resolve. As a Crisis-era president commits the society to clear a path for a bright future, the political juggernaut of Millennial youth will stand squarely with their beloved commander-in-chief.”[Ed note: My emphasis]
Fourth Turnings are defined initially by a low supply, or availability, of civic order but where the demand for civic order is rising and social structures begin gravitating towards unity. Institutions that were undermined and eroded in the two prior turnings are rebuilt, laying the foundations for a new era of increased civic responsibility and collective action.
To illustrate this point consider the following graphic, which was included in one of the blog posts I came across in my background reading. It neatly captures the cyclical behaviour of the demand and supply for order in the first three turnings, but it contains a rather obvious error in relation to the Fourth Turning. For the supply of order cycle to resolve (i.e. for the end the Fourth Turning to match the start of the First Turning), the supply of order has to increase during the latter part of a Fourth Turning as per my – admittedly wobbly - correction.
Supply And Demand Of Order – Strauss/Howe Model
Source: Author correction of original (see footnote 9)
The error in the graphic may appear a minor oversight, but the failure to appreciate that the Fourth Turning hypothesis requires an increase in the supply of social order in its climatic stage is not, and especially not for crypto.
This increase first in the demand and then supply of order during the Fourth Turning, constitutes a recentralizing of a decentralized world that flourished in the Third Turning but which is viewed by society as no longer fit-for-purpose. This is completely at odds with the crypto’s decentralized ethos that was established at inception via the design of the Bitcoin – the seminal cryptocurrency. If anything, this centralizing community-driven strengthening of institutions that begins in the Fourth Turning and blossoms in First Turnings sounds like much more fertile ground for a CBDC (central bank digital currency) than a private cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
Perhaps, this is why if you ever see Howe asked whether Bitcoin is the perfect money during a Fourth Turning he is cagey in offering his support. My sense is that the knows a decentralized cryptocurrency created by an long-gone anonymous genius23 does not fit well within his framework. If anything Bitcoin fits best within their view of the world if one thinks of it as a technological innovation that contributes to the undermining of institutions and civil order that completes during the Fourth Turning.
A Crypto Stepping Stone
Don’t get me wrong, if the Fourth Turning hypothesis turns out to be correct and the coming decade sees increased demand and supply of civic order, and a strengthening of centralized institutions who champion the introduction of CBDCs, I still expect private cryptocurrencies to thrive.
The reason is simple, CBDCs are a scary technology. They are a digital form of money that the government, and its agent the central bank, has absolute control over. Smart contracts mean CBDCs are programmable, providing governments with the ability to limit or restrict goods and services that can be purchased with this new form of public digital money24. In addition, financial privacy will be a thing of the past because unlike bank notes and coins CDBCs cannot be held anonymously.
As I argued in earlier research notes and video presentation as the public begins to understand and appreciate the major downsides of CBDCs the relative attractiveness of private cryptocurrencies will be raised, which should foster adoption. The sense of personal sacrifice, a belief in the greater good and the preference for centralized solutions envisaged by the Fourth Turning hypothesis won’t, in my view, stop this adoption but it probably should be expected to slow it down.
This is why I find myself a bit perplexed with the Fourth Turning’s popularity within the crypto community, especially as there are alternative cyclical-based models of social history that are inherently more crypto friendly.
One such example comes from Peter Turchin, author of a recently published book called End Times25. Turchin is complexity scientist, with a background in theoretical biology, who has developed a large historical database containing over 200 case studies...
“...to empirically test predictions from theories attempting to explain why and how complex human societies evolved, and why they periodically experience political breakdown.”26
Informed by this dataset Turchin has developed a structural demographic theory that seeks to account for the periodic crises that impact societies. His analysis suggests there are generalized patterns prior to crises, but unlike the near-deterministic Fourth Turning, how societies emerge from these crises is much harder (potentially impossible) to predict.
Underpinning Turchin’s theory is a model similar to the predator/prey models of biology (perhaps reflecting his background) where the elites, a small percentage of the population who are in charge of the system, are analogous to the predator and the majority, the workers who produce the economic output of the system, are the prey. The main drivers of his model are: immiseration (economic impoverishment that manifests itself as income inequality), elite overproduction, bad fiscal policy and geopolitical pressure.
Components Of Turchin’s Structural-Demographic Theory
Source: Modeling Social Pressures Toward Political Instability - Turchin (2013)
The path to crisis occurs when elites mobilize their concentrated social power to capture more than their fair share of the economic output. Income inequality rises causing immiseration to the majority of the population. Turchin labels this process the “wealth pump”.
In reaction to this rising trend of inequality, more people seek to join the elite class and the two avenues open to them are via wealth and/or education. Obviously, the offspring of current elites have the advantage of inherited wealth, but for elite aspirants – those seeking to become elites - they either have to create new wealth and/or increase their educational status to gain the necessary credentials to attempt the climb up the social “greasy pole”.
Tension arises in this model because the ability of society to absorb the burgeoning numbers of elite aspirants is limited as there are only so many positions of power in the business or political world ( i.e., members of parliament/Senate/Congress etc). Eventually this “overproduction” of elite aspirants becomes so great, and the competition for elite membership so challenging, that a proportion of those excluded express their frustration by turning against the established order. They do so by harnessing the resentment of the immiserated majority to overthrow the ruling regime. (Turchin cites Donald Trump as a textbook example of a counter elite). That these counter elites are intelligent, well-educated and well-connected makes them a much more powerful revolutionary force than the disgruntled workers of Marxist economics.
The power battle between elites and counter elites can, of course, take place in a relatively peaceful manner, via legal challenges27 and elections, but in severe situations the result can be military conflict (civil war) or popular uprisings (revolutions). With the creation of private cryptocurrencies though a new battlefront opens up.
Money is Power – a phrase everyone has heard of. People with more money typically have more power and influence. Best of all though is to have control of the money supply. As Mayer Amschel Rothschild was quoted as saying:
“Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
The ability of the elites to control the money supply gives them a very powerful advantage over the counter elites. It is rather like the home advantage enjoyed by football teams. Because private cryptocurrencies sit outside the incumbent monetary system and cannot be controlled or manipulated by elites, they have the potential to significantly weaken this advantage.
For cryptocurrencies to become an effective attack vector counter elites need to encourage wider crypto adoption. Luckily for them, but not so lucky for the elites, Turchin’s model contains a large pool of ready-made potential crypto adoptees in the form of the immiserated majority – people who have never experienced the Cantillon effect under a fiat money regime.
In comparison with Howe’s, admittedly more well-known and popular, Fourth Turning hypothesis, Turchin’s model is a more crypto-friendly cyclical model of social history28. Perhaps as more people within the crypto community become aware of his model, it will see a groundswell of support not unlike that enjoyed by the Fourth Turning. I guess time will tell.
The vast majority of people alive today have grown up in a period of relative peace and prosperity; political and economic stability were the norm. Many forecasters expected the good times to continue almost ad infinitum. A few mavericks instead believed in a more cyclical version of history, where society ebbs and flows between good times and bad times. Given the escalation in geopolitical tension over the past 18 months and the palpable sense that the American-led post-war order is being jeopardized – potentially including military conflict - it is the mavericks who look the more prophetic.
One of the most popular cyclical theories of history is Strauss and Howe’s Fourth Turning hypothesis, which first appeared in 1997. The theory received a major popularity boost after the Great Recession – the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression – came bang in line with the time frame predicted in the book.
Crypto fans have been keen to embrace the Fourth Turning because the tearing down and replacement of institutions due to fluctuating demand and supply of social order appears to provide theoretical validation for replacing fiat money with crypto. However, when one drills down into the underlying drivers of this hypothesis , a bullish crypto conclusion is far from assured. Instead, crypto fans with a penchant for cyclical models of social history should take a look at Turchin’s structural demographic theory outlined in his recently published book End Times. This data-driven model may be less well-known than the Fourth Turning, but its underlying mechanisms are a more natural fit for crypto than its better known predecessor.
Until next time.
1This date has been revised in the Howe’s follow-up book, The Fourth Turning Is Here to “sometime before the mid-2030s”. Remember, forecasting the future is hard! - see: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fourth-Turning-Here-Seasons-History/dp/1982173734
6If anyone is interested I am happy to provide my research notes from the time.
7Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist in the early years of his presidency, was a big fan of the book.
8See footnote 1 above.
10See: https://brandonquittem.com/bitcoin-rhythms-of-history/#Anatomy-of-a-Fourth-Turning and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2qlR3McSfI
11Late October 1929 included several “Black” days, when US stocks lost more than 10% of their value.
12Strauss passed away in 2007.
13See: Chapter 10 of the original book.
14Hence the terrible sub-header pun – apologies for that!
15I took the liberty of combining two charts for simplicity but don’t trust that I have done so honestly, verify – it is crypto after all! - see: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/where-we-big-cycle-brink-period-great-disorder-ray-dalio/
19The implicit target was first in the form of maintaining “orderly conditions in the government securities market”. In 1942, to aid war financing, it was changed to a cap of 2.5% on long bond yields. Contrary to current monetary policy thinking, this yield cap was never communicated to investors at the time - see: https://www.chicagofed.org/publications/economic-perspectives/2021/2
21Financial repression, capital controls and the banning of private ownership of gold were all imposed in the 1930s/40s, which severely limited the ability of the US public to avoid incurring the inflation tax. Perhaps, Strauss and Howe’s view that the rise demand and supply for social they anticipate late within Fourth Turnings and flourishing in the First Turning is not as robust as they suggest.
23 Although Satoshi’s true identity remains unknown, his profile on his personal page at the P2P Foundation included a birth date of April 5, 1975 meaning that, like me, he is a member of Gen X. Even though this is unlikely to be his real birth date – publicly revealing such an important data point is incongruous with someone who has taken a great deal of care to ensure their anonymity – his knowledge and skill-set probably does put him in this generation. This is how Howe describes Gen Xers:
“The very name “X” has an identity-cloaking quality, reflecting the fact that many Xers feel little generational center of gravity.
Xers learned young that they couldn’t trust older people and institutions to look out for their best interests. They needed to be resilient survivors who could trust their own instincts. While Boomers have always focused on their inner lives, Gen Xers tend to focus on bottom-line outcomes.”
That sounds like the perfect psychological make-up for someone who would conceive and develop Bitcoin.
24Prior to the introduction of CBDCs, the only form of digital money that the non-bank sector can own are privately issued by commercial banks.
27Lawyers come in for a lot of stick in Turchin’s model.
28Having seen several Turchin online presentations and interviews, it would appear that he is unaware of how crypto-friendly his model is – see: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-07-04/end-times-author-peter-turchin-on-inequality-counter-elites-bad-news-for-uk