Robert Shiller Says Cryptocurrencies are Just Like “Time Money

Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller compares cryptocurrencies to “time money”

Photo from Princeton University Press

According to Robert Shiller, cryptocurrencies are just the latest versions of “time money” from the 1800s.

1827 saw the opening of the Cincinnati Time Store by Josiah Warner. Instead of using regular fiat currency, the store sold products in hours of work called “labor notes.” In 1829, Welsh textile manufacturer Robert Owen had tried to open the National Equitable Labour Exchange in London using “time money.”

Both Warner’s and Owen’s experiments had failed—an outcome that Shiller believes will befall cryptocurrencies as well.

According to Shiller, “no one” outside of the computer science industry can explain the way cryptocurrencies work:

“That mystery creates an aura of exclusivity, gives the new money glamour, and fills devotees with revolutionary zeal. None of this is new, and, as with past monetary innovations, a compelling story may not be enough.”

This is not the first time Shiller had spoken out about cryptocurrencies. In September of last year, Shiller told Quartz that Bitcoin was the “best example” of a speculative bubble.


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