The Financial Literacy book review series #FinLit recommends thought-provoking books about money, investing, and personal finance. This post is about Easy Money by Ben McKenzie and Jacob Silverman (print, Hoopla ebook and eaudiobook, Libby eaudiobook).
There are not many good options for reading a comprehensive book about cryptocurrency. On one end are books promising the moon if only everyone would see the grand design of crypto and - most importantly - invest their life savings in it. On the other end are warnings and cautionary tales of scammers, crooked casinos, rug pulls, and bag holders. Easy Money is the latter kind of book.
Actor Ben McKenzie and journalist Jacob Silverman investigate the personalities and organizations behind cryptocurrency exchanges, including the shaky accounting behind Tether (which is the backbone of several crypto exchanges) and shameless plugs by celebrities. For instance, how many people saw Kim Kardashian or Matt Damon endorse crypto and asked themselves, why are they being paid in US dollars to promote the supposed digital currency of the future? How many US dollars are given to politicians to enable the trading of digital currency? Is crypto supposed to function as a store of value like gold or explode in value like a lottery ticket? Who profits in the meantime, and is anyone keeping them from taking everyone's money and running? These are some of the questions McKenzie and Silverman ask, and the answers more often than not point to lofty, broken promises.
If all of this sounds solidly anti-crypto, well, it is! But I recommend this book, even for crypto's true believers. Any financial product has the potential to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. You deserve to know what you're getting into.