On the rise, for now.

Photographer: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Todays Agenda

Megan Thee Stallion, who has a Grammy but not yet a coin. 

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Bitcoin?

Lets say you run a sovereign nation that has the worlds biggest economy and the worlds reserve currency to boot, but one day a rival arises. Lets call it MeganTheeStallionCoin. It promises to do away with fusty old dollars like yours by being unregulated and secured by something called the blockchain, which burns the annual energy consumption of a large Texas family every hour. It also disappears forever if you lose your password, and youd never use it as actual currency because the MeganCoin you spend on a pizza today could be worth $60,000 tomorrow. But people ignore all that in hopes of making $60,000 and also its endorsed by not only Megan Thee Stallion but Elon Musk. Do you:

  1. Say, Oh well, money had a good run, and convert all your sovereign debt into MeganCoin;
  2. Use the mighty fist of the state to crush MeganCoin, its users and all other cryptocurrencies like it; or
  3. Create your own competing digital coin that solves not only most of MeganCoins problems but also the drawbacks of your own currency that made people turn to MeganCoins in the first place.

If you chose c, then youre thinking like Bloombergs editorial board. It suggests the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks respond to the crypto eruption by mostly letting people have their BitFun but then using what it learns from crypto to

create digital rivals that dont fluctuate wildly, ruin the planet or leave people digging through

landfills for lost millions. There would be risks, including that of government spying and a whole payments industry going up in smoke. But those can be managed, and the upside could be a truly secure and global digital payment system with, uh, JayPowellCoin at its heart. JanetYellenCoin? The name still needs some work. Read the

whole thing.

Further Free Advice for Financial Regulation Enthusiasts:

Pick Your Post-Covid Poison: Taiwan War, Measles or Inequality

Everybody assumes the pandemics end will bring one long V-E Day-style orgy of communal drinking, loud group singing and public displays of affection. But the world doesnt stop manufacturing new horrors just because were done with the current one.

Even as we speak, the

risk of armed conflict between China and the U.S. over Taiwan is growing, warns Max Hastings. Beijing has become increasingly belligerent on the subject, and President Joe Biden faces a dilemma: how to make a full takeover of the island painful and difficult without triggering a world war.

Meanwhile, all the masking and social-distancing weve done to slow Covid-19 has also kept a more-virulent disease, measles, in check, writes Mark Buchanan. Even as we wind down the fight against Covid, we must

ramp up global vaccinations for measles, or risk a new pandemic thats as deadly as this one.  

And though massive Fed stimulus and fiscal relief have prevented a depression and kept many people out of poverty, Mohamed El-Erian warns the Covid recession has

widened already yawning economic inequalities, setting the stage for many more crises if unaddressed.

Further Crisis Reading: Hong Kong is quarantining babies in a nonsensical reaction to a Covid outbreak.  Anjani Trivedi 

Do We Really Want to Raise Taxes?

Bidens next trick after passing a $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill is an even bigger infrastructure bill, and hes apparently planning major

tax hikes on the wealthy to help pay for it. This might win over those such as Joe Manchin who say theyre worried about the federal debt. But its exactly

the wrong way to fund infrastructure improvements, writes Noah Smith. The government should borrow while its cheap to bolster future growth, which makes paying debts easier. Boosting the economys potential will probably help markets better digest massive debt, writes Lena Komileva.

Beyond how you pay for infrastructure, though, theres

the problem of what you can actually build, warns Matthew Yglesias. It’s a dilemma that has ruined Infrastructure Weeks for many past presidents, as knotty conflicts and hidden costs frustrated big plans. 

At least some of our infrastructure problems may be solved locally, thanks to a

relief bill that has put tons of cash in the pockets of state and local governments. Their fiscal troubles hurt the recovery from the Great Recession, Brian Chappatta notes, but now theyve got the money to keep building, hiring and avoiding default.

Further Tax-and-Spend Reading:

Telltale Charts

Despite 40 years of worry,

inflation keeps not being a problem, notes Matthew Winkler. 


UAE keeps breaking with OPEC, most recently on letting customers resell its oil. Its a bad sign for the cartels future cohesion, writes Julian Lee, and evidence the UAE hopes to use its well-placed Fujirah port to make its oil more important to Asia. 

Further Reading


West should help Turkey end Syrias civil war.  Recep Tayyip Erdogan 


Dianne Morales would run New York.  Howard Wolfson 

Elon Musk declaring himself Technoking is just

the latest sign not all is normal at Tesla.  Liam Denning


ad agencies must respond to a crackdown on consumer data they get from Apple and Google.  Alex Webb 

David Solomons Goldman Sachs treats its bankers less like assets.  Matt Levine 

Foxconn could still salvage its Wisconsin plans by shifting to making electric cars.  Tim Culpan 

During Womens History Month, remember the

inventions that gave women more time and freedom.  Virginia Postrel 


People are

yelling at banks about not getting stimulus checks.

Better Covid vaccines may be possible.

The IRS has failed to collect $2.4 billion from millionaires.



animals seem glad visitors are back. (h/t Ellen Kominers)

Meet all the species that have

come back from near-extinction. (h/t Scott Kominers)

Scientists want to

store DNA in tubes on the Moon, just in case. (h/t Mike Smedley)

People are

stealing NFTs.

Notes: Please send NFTs and complaints to Mark Gongloff at [email protected]

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