A few days ago I was lucky enough to have Carlota Perez come to talk at my university. I only found out about the talk from my lecturer the day before she was due to speak and hadn’t heard of Carlota before this. When I arrived home that evening, I did what I do best and started my research. The first thing I arrived upon were these fantastic speeches on YouTube 1 2 and her book Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages. As a blockchain enthusiast I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard and came across some fascinating models. The technological surge cycle as Carlota puts it would have been invaluable to me in 2017 and even more appropriate in 2018.
For those of you that are unaware of who Carlota Perez 3 is, she is a British-Venezuelan scholar who specialises in technology and socio-economic development very apt if you ask me. Not only is Carlota world class in her field but she also has some of the biggest Venture Capital investors in the blockchain space hanging off her every word, Marc Andreessen 4 and Fred Wilson 5 are two of these investors. Marc Andreessen is the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz and an investor in Ripple while Fred Wilson is one of the early investors in Coinbase, no comment! So, what do both Marc and Fred have to say about Carlota Perez? “Our current moment in time fits right into Perez’s model of technological and societal change” Marc Andreessen. While Fred Wilson has based much of his firm’s investment concepts on Perez’s book. 6 7
Perez is a strong believer in something called smart green growth, she defines this as a constant increase in the proportion of intangibles in GDP and lifestyle, by multiplying the productivity of resources and not just labour, improving the quality of life for the greater majority, for a socially sustainable future. This would include things such as the use of renewables over fossil fuels and as another example making products more durable or shifting to a rental model, Omni anyone? 8 Carlota Perez believes that we are currently in a fifth technological revolution, and that we are only at the half way point.
As I listened to Carlota’s speech that morning her words started to resonate with me as she mentioned the sharing economy (Omni), dinosaurs who are stuck in their ways (Swift) and a focus on how the younger generation can shape our future seriously and in a profound way. She went onto talk about Joseph Schumpeter a fascinating political economist who is most famous for popularising the term creative destruction something I have always related to Ripple and Swift and the email and post example many of us are all too familiar with.
In regard to Perez’s model, she believes that we are currently at the turning point, this was music to my ears of course and alongside these senior figures within the VC community famous for their investments in blockchain, I was donning my hopium hat! You have to admit Mrs Perez’s model does looks uncanny!
Within the model lies an instillation period of 20-30 years followed by a frenzy period. Then comes a collapse/recession followed by a recovery and then into a golden age period, I started to salivate… it’s coming, it’s coming!! HODL, HODL!! I jest.!
Not so fast, at the start of Carlota’s speech she almost immediately spoke about cryptocurrency albeit very briefly and dismissively, making it out to be a type of casino finance which is in the nature of the turning point in her model. The turning point also comes with, xenophobia, inequality, feeble growth, social unrest, hopelessness and populist messianic leaders giving false promise to those who are willing to listen and believe, sound familiar to anyone?
I believe Carlota to be absolutely spot on with her assumptions including where the world is now in this turning point of hers. Everything Carlota was saying rang true, even the part likening Casino Finance to cryptocurrencies (my old self from 2017 would have hated her for saying this) what a difference a year makes. Although Carlota was right about pretty much everything so far, she was still in my opinion missing some key information about the blockchain and that was of course XRP.
In her speech Carlota Perez talked about growing inequality and how it is totally unacceptable that we have a such a huge divide between the 1% and 99% of the population, which I wholeheartedly agree with, hear, hear! This brought me onto thinking about our own conundrum within the XRP community and the potential to create a large amount of very wealthy individuals within the next few years, although this is where I believe a lot of us are a very different beast altogether.
After the talk I chased down Carlota as I had a list of questions burning a hole through my notepad. I decided to pick just two, one of which mentioned Mojaloop and the partnership a couple of days ago with the Orange group 9 in Africa who will be using the ILP, and the second a question about her opinions on the blockchain in general and how she sees this affecting the turning point and deployment phase of her model. As I started to talk, I told Carlota how I was almost knocked over backwards by her model and how spot on I thought she was in terms of the timeline which she sees us in, which she thanked me for and was happy that I agreed.
I decided to opt for the generic question about the Blockchain and the impact it could have on the turning point, deployment and golden age in the model. To my surprise, although as nearly all of us will know by now it should never be surprising, it almost felt as if I’d stepped on her toes. So not so surprisingly, she was not a believer in the blockchain and likened it to a one size fits all solution. Carlota wasn’t saying that she didn’t see a use case for the blockchain but that it wasn’t the be all and end all to solve all of the world’s problems. She had a valid point, and again I couldn’t argue with this, I’ve been guilty of this myself over the years, hyping the blockchain and crypto markets to the nth degree.
At that moment I took a giant step back put my big boy pants on and started to look at the bigger picture. As a first year finance and economics student it’s hard to have conviction in your words especially in front of a seasoned pro like Carlota, but as I stood there trying my best to listen with hundreds of questions running through my head I thought to myself, actually I’ve dedicated the last two years of my life to the blockchain, and although I am by no means an expert in Carlota’s field, I do relatively know an awful lot about the Blockchain, digital assets and some of the most promising use cases. Take Ripple and XRP as the prime example who are really attempting to make a huge difference in this golden age of which Carlota speaks about and this smart green growth which fits in almost perfectly with both Ripple’s values and XRP’s use case.
I started to tell Carlota about XRP, and Ripple and how they are partnered with the Gates Foundation who have developed an open source software called Mojaloop which connects to the ILP which Ripple created (I’m sure that part went over her head). And that the Gates Foundation through Mojaloop are now working with large telecommunications partners such as Orange in Sub-Saharan Africa in order to bring affordable micropayments to the continent and financial inclusion to the unbanked in the developing world.
I would have gone into interoperability, but that would have taken me and Carlota down the rabbit hole and we all know how deep that goes with Blockchain. Once you get a blockchain fanatic onto these topics it can be a bit like verbal diarrhoea or at least in my case it can be. I obviously didn’t want to subject Carlota to this, my fiancé is constantly telling me to reign this in, she is right. The problem is I that I feel so passionately about this topic and that I just want to let it all out! I laugh at myself while I’m writing this. I did manage to also squeeze in how XRP and Ripple were currently settling cross border transactions within seconds though and across the globe at a fraction of the costs we are used to seeing.
Carlota went onto explain to me, how she knew about the blockchain and its use cases, but that she had heard these cross-border payments were insignificant and only equal to hundreds of dollars. I decided not to push my point any further and listened to her speak eloquently about her views before she had to leave to get to another appointment. No doubt she was probably glad to see the back of me, just another one of those blockchain, and crypto fanatics, we sure must look like a bunch of crazies sometimes!
Interestingly Carlota had also mentioned during our brief conversation that she was looking to put a stop to VC investors using her name to quote the blockchain and that she saw it as damaging to her work, she was having a meeting about exactly this topic the next day.
The craziest thing out of all of this though is that Carlota Perez has some amazing ideas and a fantastic grip on the future of our world. She is a conscientious and caring human being full of intelligence and thought-provoking ideas. She is outspoken when it comes to inequality and is utterly convincing when it comes to green growth being the driving factor for changing a lot of our socio-economic problems and as the answer to our next golden age. Carlota mentions a need for strong policy guidance of the imaginative kind to make these things happen, something that is also needed deeply in our industry.
She believes the future is a digital one, and it is global, that nobody can stop it. But and it is a big but, in my eyes, if we are to be successful across the board and if we are to confront some of these socio-economic issues it must stem from green growth!
During her many speeches which you can find for yourselves Carlota talks about climate change and brings up the technological potential for using ICT in a green direction to transform our economy and our whole way of life, that it is in front of our eyes and yet we are not doing it! XRP?
After all of the amazing topics Carlota Perez brought up it is a real shame that she has developed negative opinions about blockchain and digital assets. There are long lists of things that can turn someone against the blockchain and digital assets, but for someone like Carlota Perez the buck surely stops at Bitcoin.
With Bitcoin maximalists resembling something of the messianic leaders that Carlota speaks about (Yes I know that’s a bit rich considering some of our community) the casino finance and manipulation of the whole market, plus all the nonsense between those two camps in the Bitcoin community throwing their toys out of the pram, it’s hardly surprising that someone who genuinely wants to change the world would be so anti crypto and the blockchain with Bitcoin as the poster boy! With it’s almost unbelievable energy costs and a carbon footprint to be ashamed of, how on earth will someone like Carlota Perez ever be able to take blockchain or cryptocurrency seriously.
This space needs people with Carlota’s experience though, yet her scepticism is justified at this current moment in time. On the other hand, there are some crucial things she needs to be shown and something so pivotal in this movement that the world is being denied from seeing because of Bitcoin and that my friends is XRP!
XRP has all the answers to her uncertainty about blockchain and digital assets, XRP is as green as green can be, and not in the traditional dollar sense. Although there may be an element of greed within our community just as there is across all communities there are also some fantastic people who are thinking about the long term, they are thinking big, and they are thinking green in a sustainable socio-economic sense.
I wish I’d had more time to speak to Carlota, to tell her more about Ripple and XRP and to dispel some of her fears about digital assets and the blockchain, to explain to her how green XRP is as a digital asset and all the amazing benefits I believe XRP can bring to the economy as a whole. Whether this being through micropayments and benefiting the developing world to creative destruction and bringing dinosaurs like swift to their knees. Bringing in a new paradigm for payments and helping to bring financial freedom and inclusivity to billions of unbanked people including the dismantling of Bitcoin and its proof of work nonsense is vital. In a world that is in desperate need of smart green growth this needs to be dealt with and not brushed under the carpet!
I for one am confident XRP will make some of our community wealthier than we could possibly imagine, and I’m sure along with many others we will be bringing our entrepreneurial spirit and XRP for good initiatives along with us. We have a fantastic community with so many amazingly talented and kind people and when the time comes, when we are in a privileged position just like the 1% we will band together to show the world what they’ve been missing. Using our new-found wealth to bring prosperity to others, and in Carlota Perez’s words to drive green growth, bringing her ideas closer to reality, I can’t wait!!!!
I hope you enjoyed the blog and that you enjoy listening to Carlota as much as I have done.