A conjurer emerges from cyberspace to rewrite our understanding of monetary and fiscal policy. Ryan Tate of Wired tells the story of a Georgia lawyer who goes by “Beowulf” online, the man who came up with the (now defunct) $1 trillion platinum coin trick everyone has been raving about:
It’s been a remarkable journey. The path of the trillion-dollar coin, as Beowulf described it to Wired, began with a “silly question” in a “pointless … online bull session” in the comments section of financier Warren Mosler’s blog. Anonymous supporters helped spread the concept to the comments of other economics blogs and ultimately into posts on such sites. The idea soon attracted attention from more prominent liberal economists like James Galbraith and Paul Krugman, and then from writers like Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein. From there it was a short hop into the center mainstream.
Interestingly, although the coin has been embraced by liberals as a useful political hack and rejected by Republicans as absurd and dangerous, the man who came up with it voted for Mitt Romney. Beowulf says he would have advised the 2012 Republican presidential candidate to use the same trick had he been elected president.
“We’re not real political,” he says of his circle of online pals, who he likens to players in a fantasy football league, but for the monetary system. “It’s like 4chan says — we’re just in it for the — what is it? LOLs? -– lulz, lulz.”
Come to think of it, wasn’t that the same thing Keynes said? “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money started as a silly question in a pointless bull session. I’m just in it for the lulz.”
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