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Against the IFP

Centralizing control over a currency’s infrastructure is a seemingly obvious mistake.

One would think any Austro-libertarian worth their salt would be able to see thru such a charade. Yet here we are, again. Face to face with economic illiteracy. Not garden variety lefist economic illiteracy, but one far more stinging and painful - one which comes from within our own community, rather than from without. 

First, Bitcoiners faced the economic illiteracy of maximalism and small blockers. Attempts to masquerade money’s primary function as value storage (Ammous) or rejecting Menger’s Regression Theorem altogether (Szabo) are luckily demonstrably false. Nevertheless, the shock of our fellow Bitcoiners illiteracy was like an unexpected slap in the face. Suddenly, we were forced to confront the fact that the ignorance of our allies in the fight for sound money, had led them astray. Yet, thru BCH we were thankfully able to keep Satoshi’s dream of peer to peer cash intact. 
Well, crypto anarch…

An Agorist Theory on the Stock Market




There are few subjects that are as touchy as the Stock Market to bring up in a casual conversation in some of my (off-line) social circles - And for a good reason! Like with all good ideas, once the state has laid its evil roots at the core of it, it turns slowly into a bastardized version of what it is supposed to be.  I will use my agorist lense to look at the concept and give you my view on one of the most powerful markets available to us freedom-loving people and what is required to unleash it.




The idea of the Stock

Businesses and entrepreneurs face several problems when they try and establish themselves on the market: Can you find and convince costumers of the value of your product (marketing)? How do you create these things you want to produce (knowledge)? How do you get it into the hands of your customer (distribution)? Should I have storage (logistics)? How do I get the capital to start or expand (finance)?

The last part is what the stocks are made to help out with. It doesn't necessarily have to be to get your enterprise starting, it can be a way to expand your current one as well, but the main point is to raise capital and spread the risk of doing business amongst more individuals. Everyone that is interested can chip in a stake into your vision, product, service or what-have-you and they get something of value in return: The stock. The proof of owning a part of the entrepreneurial undertaking that is going on. Simply put, an investment with the hopes of returns.

Now, as a creator of the stocks, you can give several perks to anyone owning stocks in your company, like board membership, voting power, dividends, and other ideas to sweeten the deal. It is a partnership on agreed terms that both can end or transfer to a third party (if the agreement, or contract if you will permits it). The state has invented ways to corrupt this partnership as I will show later in this essay.



The idea of the Stock Market

When enough assets float around in the form of stocks they become sort-of collectible and valuable because they reinforce each other. A market will eventually be created to trade the collectibles on. Once the stock is on an open market, its price will rise and fall to the whims of anyone interested in getting that piece of the company. The performance of the company will be evaluated and new price tags will be nailed to the stocks themselves on trends in the general economy. Risk and rewards of owning stocks will be weighted in the market all the time, which is the whole game of exchange psychology.

Agorists understand that if there is a market for something, there will be. Even without a state, there would be demand for stocks to be issued somewhat uniformly and for them to make sense when compared side to side. The ones interested in the stocks will have several demands that will guide the buyers, sellers, and issuers down a certain path because of one big thing: Security. The more secure the stock is and the more insured it is, the more trust potential buyers will have in the collectible. A good stock market, if it wants to stay in business, can check this box off by itself. [1]

The stock exchanges in a free market compete amongst themselves to innovate (be the most reliable), while the stock market in our world is regulated and chained. It is naive to believe that a stock market in a potential libertarian future won't have restrictions, be regulated and so forth - But it will be consumer driven, voluntary and not because of false securities. This market will be reputation-based and nobody is going to invest through an exchange that can't guarantee you are buying non-pirated, phony assets.

A market with competition finds excellence faster (given enough incentives and market signals) than any bureaucrat can dream up in a parliament. The engineers of the market will be more plentiful and intelligent every time. It will also be driven by people in the business and with the know-how, something that isn't a guarantee when you deal with politicians or political representatives.


The Regulated Stock Market
"A stock market is crucial to the existence of capitalism and private property. For it means that there is a functioning market in the exchange of private titles to the means of production. There can be no genuine private ownership of capital without a stock market: there can be no true socialism if such a market is allowed to exist" - Ludwig von Mises

Rules ensure fair play and no (or at least less) dirty tricks, which I am sure many agree have some value. The reality of the exchanges of the world today is that they are heavily controlled and ruled over by the political class and their bureaucrats. I suggest they are excessive and counter to the idea of the stock and the stock market.

Who gets to trade in stocks? The stockbroker has to have a license (and the attached government approved schooling to get that permission, as it were), follow the laws of this economic area of society and associate only with state-approved companies (employs him or her and what he or she trades in).  This goes in opposition to the idea of the stock, as it adds gates you need to go through before you are "allowed" to invest in good ideas. You separate the human from the idea in several steps, in a sense.

Kickstarter (and similar companies) moves us closer to the ideas. The market place of ideas. By allowing consumers and investors to pitch in money for projects of their interest, the relationship is much less complicated and more transparent in nature. Project managers need to convince consumers to help out their specific project with the details required and with the direct channels of communication with the creators which allow them to craft FAQ-documents on the fly or make videos and upload directly to the platform. Continuous updates and perks of investment (stretch goals) at the tip of your fingers.

This is closer to the "Raise capital and spread the risk of doing business among more individuals" principle. It has been more profitable for me in percent to buy the right board games off Kickstarter and re-selling them than my stock investments. Why? Two things: No broker fee and no capital gains tax. The business of doing business is expensive when the state is involved in the business.



Capital gains tax eating large chunks of my investment money is such a bummer and the saying "Taxation is theft" reaches final-stage levels when it comes to the Capital gains taxation: I've invested (risked capital) and if it pays off, the state stakes a claim on the profits. The government becomes a silent partner, of sorts, and it's doing this to fund the security, using that word loosely, of overlooking the affairs on the market against any wishes I might have.

The scale of money "lost" via buying a dud on Kickstarter isn't as big as the tax and broker fee, because I can recover some of the money by selling below expectation - Or play with the game and write it off as a hobby expenditure. [2]


In the years to Come.

With the advent of tokenization, blockchain smart contracts and other technical developments we are creeping closer to making a government-proof stockmarket - A process that has taken years of development with lots of casualties along the way (GLBSE, for example, you can read more about it here). 

Any future stock exchange that wants to operate under a more agorist, libertarian principle has a blueprint in the Kickstarter platform or the Silk Road to copy and build upon. What we should be looking for is more people willing to participate in the gray and black markets, convert more entrepreneurs to the agorist ideals to set themselves free. I'd gladly buy a stake in an aquaponics farm, ammunition maker, private security force, or any of a thousand ideas floating around that don't want any nosey state-thugs nosing around. We need more producers of freedom.



ALEX UTOPIUM 


Scandinavian anti-establishment blogger, editor for the Utopium Blog. Counter-economics, agorist-separatism and Free Market advocate.
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[1] Even un-secure marketplaces have a place, for good and for bad. To quote Albert Einstein: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe". Anyone should be free to shoulder any risks they want.

[2] Commodity markets have several disadvantages as well: VAT, import tax, shipping, and so forth. But, there are ways around that, but I don't want to go too deep in the technicalities of that here.

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