All posts by Andre Wendt

Vernon Smith Prize 2019 – The Winners

vernon smith prize 2019 winners
Vernon Smith Prize 2019:  Winner photo. Source: Liechtensteiner Volksblatt

The winner of the 12th International Vernon Smith Prize are:

1. Prize: Kristoffer Mousten Hansen (DK)

Institutionalized Tyranny: the Scourge of our times

2. Prize: Amos Zweig (CH)

On Tyranny and Liberty

3. Prize: Sam Crocker (CA)

Democracy and Freedom: The Dangers of Conflation

The prizes have been awarded on the basis of originality, grasp of subject, and the logical consistence of the argument. An international jury did judge the essays and the winners were invited to present their papers at a special event in Vaduz, the Principality of Liechtenstein on Monday, February 10, 2020.

The 2019 topic was: ‘When the People fear their Government, there is Tyranny. When the Government fears the People, there is Liberty.’

A democratic government derives its authority from the consent of the governed and is loosely defined as a set of institutions through which we adjudicate our disputes, defend our rights and protect honestly acquired property. Under the rule of liberty the government is assigned the duty of impartial umpire, and each individual gives reason, intent and moral scope to his own life. As long as a person does not violate the rights of others he is sovereign over his own affairs.

Tyranny on the contrary, is characterized as a government that is an active player in people’s affairs. From a dictatorship to the benevolent welfare state all shapes of despotism wield their political authority and legitimized power of coercion to assure certain outcomes or forms of behavior considered desirable to determine how the members of the society may live, work, and associate with each other. Thus, the challenge in a democratic society is to keep government constrained and limited so that individuals can prosper and solve problems as free, independent and responsible citizens. However, it is the character rather than the volume of government activity that is important and ought to be specified in a constitution.

The prize money given to winners:

1st Prize: €4,000  |  2nd Prize: €3,000  |  3rd Prize: €2,000

The International Vernon Smith Prize for the advancement of Austrian Economics is an annual essay competition sponsored and organized by ECAEF – European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein).

Die Herrschaftsordnung Ihres Vertrauens

Stärken und Schwächen von Nationalstaaten gegenüber einem supranationalen Staatenbund.

Beitrag von Ekkart Zimmermann*, erschienen im Schweizer Monat Nr. 1027, Ausgabe Dezember 2019

Derr Schweizer Philosoph und Aufklärer Johann Georg Zim­mermann meinte im 18. Jahrhundert sinngemäss, so wie der Esel seinen Stall habe, so gehe es dem Bürger mit der Nation. Nun
sind beide, Esel und Zimmermann, kluge Wesen. Doch wohin führt uns diese Klugheit?

Im 19. Jahrhundert war der nationalstaatliche Rahmen zu gross ausgelegt für die bestehenden Gemeinschaften, er musste erst aus­ gefüllt werden. Mit den Worten von Eugen Weber: “Bauern mussten erst zu Franzosen werden, durch eine national orientierte Erzie­hung ebenso wie durch Strassen­ und Eisenbahnbau”. Der Staat war der proaktive, der nach vorn gerichtete Rahmen. Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg kam der Nationalstaat vor allem in den letzten 50 Jahren unter Druck: durch multinationale Unternehmen und Nichtregierungsorganisationen, durch internationale Bündnisse und überstaatliche Vereinigungen sowie durch den Abbau von Hemmnissen für Handel, Ideen­ und Personenverkehr. Der Natio­nalstaat hat Wettbewerber erhalten und erwies bzw. erweist sich als relativ schwach. Er wirkt nun für viele nicht mehr vorwärts­, sondern rückwärtsgewandt und ist in die Defensive geraten.

Von Heimatgefühl, der engen regionalen Bindung an Familie, Landschaft und vertraute Kultur, über Nationalbewusstsein, also das Gefühl der Zugehörigkeit zu einer grösseren kulturellen und sprachlichen Gemeinschaft, bis zum Nationalstaat, also der Idee, dass kulturelle Gemeinsamkeiten und historisches Schicksal ei­ner breiten Bevölkerungsgruppe sich in einem Staat mit eigenen Institutionen, eigener Identität und Werten finden sollten, exis­tiert ein breites Kontinuum. Der Staat, auch der Nationalstaat, ist durch die Dreiheit von Territorium, Grenzen und institutionali­sierter Staatsgewalt gekennzeichnet. Minderheiten werden in ei­nem solchen Nationalstaat von der Mehrheit höchstens geduldet, sind aber selten gleichberechtigt. Staatsgebilde, Territorium und kulturell und sprachlich relativ einheitliche Bevölkerung sollen möglichst eine Einheit bilden. Häufig sind in den Nachbarländern aber Landsleute anzutreffen. Im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert war da­bei oft von Irredenta, unerlösten Gebieten, die Rede, die notfalls mit Gewalt einverleibt werden sollten …

Weiterlesen ->
Die Herrschaftsordnung Ihres Vertrauens (PDF)

*Ekkart Zimmermann ist emeritierter Professor für Makrosoziologie an der Technischen Universität Dresden. Von 2011 bis 2016 war er Gastprofessor an der ETH Zürich.

The Matter with Blockchain

by Henrique Schneider

Image source:

Summary: This paper examines the economics of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Three questions focus on the most important aspects: 1. What is the economics behind cryptocurrencies, or, are cryptocurrencies money? 2. Which are possible value-drivers of
cryptocurrencies, or, are cryptocurrencies a bubble? 3. How does blockchain influence the structures of governance, or, is blockchain revolutionary? While cryptocurrencies can be used as money, they are not without problems. Their commitments to a limited quantity as well as the absence of quality criteria ensuring temporal liquidity pose dangers to their further development. However, according to this paper, the most important contributions of the blockchain are to provide for a means with almost unlimited spatial liquidity and an innovative system of governance.

Keywords: Blockchain, cryptocurrency, parallel currencies, governance, distributed ledger, transparency, liquidity, bubble.

The Matter with Blockchain: Cryptocurrencies and more

The matter with cryptocurrencies and blockchain is convoluted: There are discussions about the technology, its programing code, its use and usefulness. There are controversies about whether cryptocurrencies are money, about their supply, transactions, and costs. There are disputes about their use, volatility, legality, links to the illegal world, and impact on the stability of financial systems. There is even debate about their energyconsumption. Settling all these issues is an impossible task. But it is useful to develop a framework of orientation from a non-partisan perspective. Non-partisan means that cryptocurrencies at large, and more generally, the blockchain technology, deserve an analysis that goes beyond hailing it as the all-innovative disruptor …

Continue reading ->
The Matter with Blockchain: Cryptocurrencies and more

A trillion euros on the wrong policy

GIS* statement by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein

There are several cost-efficient and market-friendly policies that could be implemented by both Germany and the European Union to reduce the impact of carbon emissions on the environment. However, these solutions are being cast aside while the European Commission attempts to create a planned economy through “green” measures.

So far the European Commission has not revealed how it plans to finance the trillion euros it intends to spend on climate change (source: GIS)

The European Commission proposes to spend one trillion euros over the next seven years to fight man-made climate change. The European Investment Bank will be in charge of administering and investing these funds. How this trillion euros will be financed remains somewhat obscure so far.

Obviously, it is important to fight pollution and waste and minimize their effect on the environment. However, natural changes in climate, which have always existed, will continue to take place. Furthermore, European emissions account for only a small percentage of global pollution, and our continent is continuously improving.

European emissions account for only a small percentage of global pollution

This trillion euros to be spent instead appears to be the financial basis of a centrally planned and guided economic stimulus. Unfortunately, this will also act as a tool to redirect our successful market economy model toward a planned economy …

Continue reading -> 
A trillion euros on the wrong policy

*GIS is a global intelligence service providing independent, analytical, fact-based reports from a team of experts around the world. We also provide bespoke geopolitical consultancy services to businesses to support their international investment decisions. Our clients have access to expert insights in the fields of geopolitics, economics, defense, security and energy. Our experts provide scenarios on significant geopolitical events and trends. They use their knowledge to analyze the big picture and provide valuable recommendations of what is likely to happen next, in a way which informs long-term decision-making. Our experts play active roles in top universities, think-tanks, intelligence services, business and as government advisors. They have a unique blend of backgrounds and experience to deliver the narrative and understanding of global developments. They will help you develop a complete understanding of international affairs because they identify the key players, their motivations and what really matters in a changing world. Our experts examine the challenges and opportunities in economies old and new, identify emerging politicians and analyze and appraise new threats in a fast-changing world. They offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and rigorous study.

Is 2020 good for CBDCs?

Illustration by Andre Wendt (ECAEF).

Can 2020 be a year that is good for CBDCs?

by Emmanuele Canegrati*

Many global central banks are developing projects to introduce own cryptocurrencies, and year-2020 could be the right one to observe the first examples.

J. Christopher Giancarlo, the ex-chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has established theDigital Dollar Foundationto evaluating the possible introduction of a digital dollar, issued by the Federal Reserve. An example of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), a revolutionary blockchain-based tool that may disrupt the global monetary system over the next years. It will not easy, after U.S. watchdogs have stopped Libra, Facebook’s digital currencies. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, warned the U.S. Congress this move could pave the way to Chinese supremacy on blockchain technology, with all the consequences on payment and banking system.

On the U.S. CBDC project, Giancarlo told that: “The digital 21st century is underserved by an analog reserve currency, a digital dollar would help future-proof the greenback and allow individuals and global enterprises to make payments in dollars irrespective of space and time. We are launching the Digital Dollar Project to catalyze a digital, tokenized U.S. currency that would coexist with other Federal Reserve liabilities and serve as a settlement medium to meet the demands of the new digital world and a cheaper, faster and more inclusive global financial system.”

Nevertheless, despite U.S. efforts, is China to have currently a competitive advantage in the CBDC arena. The People Bank of China, the Chinese central bank, has recently published the Outlines of ‘DCEP’ (Digital Currency Electronic Payment). Huang Qifan, the vice chairman of the China International Economic Exchange Center, explained that “the currency is not for speculation. It is different to bitcoin or stable tokens, which can be used for speculation or require the support of a basket of currencies.” The introduction of a “digital yuan”, on which the PBoC is spending time and resources, could really endanger the supremacy of the dollar in trade transactions, as warned by Japanese Government some days ago.

However, it is not only China. The European Central Bank is also speeding up plans for the introduction of its own CBDC to promote the “digital euro” and Russia could test a state-backed digital currency soon, considering issuing a digital currency backed by gold. They are acting like second movers, after their officials have always been skeptical on new monies for a long time.

The mood on digital currencies have radically changed over the last months. Even international watchdogs are opening the doors to the new currencies. The UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, for instance, said his organization must embrace the blockchain technology going forward, according to Forbes. The IMF has also explained the benefits of CBDCs in its blog, explaining how some countries are dynamically piloting the projects to explore the scope and the feasibility of CBDCs, by increasing resources allocated to CBDCs and fintech research at the central bank, sometimes in partnership with private sector advisors. A few nations are also reconsidering their legislation to fortify CBDCs prospects in case it were issued.

Investment banks have also jumped into the business. JP Morgan, led by CEO Jamie Dimon launched its token ‘JPM Coin’ last February, which along with the major cryptos, is used for interbank transfers to save time and money.

*Emmanuele Canegrati is an economist, senior analyst at the London-based Forex broker BP Prime. He is a Faculty Member of the Liechtenstein Academy Foundation. He works as economist at the Italian Parliament and the Italian Ministry of Economy. He is a guest professor of Economics at LUISS University and La Sapienza University in Rome. He was Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and at the Luxembourg Income Study Office.