Easy Money is investigative non-fiction looking into the scams endemic to the crypto space. I am not a crypto-fan, but I am a tech worker and both curious about the space and annoyed by crypto-bros, so books like this are educational catnip for me.
Ben McKenzie was apparently an actor on the OC. Don’t know, never watched it. It turns out he also has a degree in econ, which he uses to great effect in this book. The subject matter is primarily an exploration of the space and an effort to understand it and the irrational exuberance around it. McKenzie describes how he lost money on crypto by dabbling, learned his lesson, and then watched with horror as 2021 happened and the insane bull-run fueling FTX, Binance, and Bitcoin at a $69k valuation per coin ravaged American culture.
From there, McKenzie describes interviews with key members of the crypto space, including currently-on-trial Sam Bankman-Fried. When speaking with an advocate for Tether, a stablecoin (which means its value is pegged to the dollar and always 1:1 backed by real dollars) he asks the question “how much of crypto is liquid currently?” Keep in mind he’s talking to the head of an exchange that allegedly deals with a crypto asset that is meant to be backed entirely by liquid funds. That makes the answer, “10-15%” shocking, and telegraphs a lot of the revelations later in the book.
You don’t need me to iterate over all the failed crypto exchanges and the absolute torpedoing of the space. Again, Bankman-Fried is on trial for being Bernie Madoff with shittier clothes. What makes the book interesting is all the interviews he gets, how unprepared these alleged luminaries of the space are for hard questions, and how much they admit about their space being a scam even as the bull run was ascendant. It is almost shocking at times.
You do not need to be a tech worker nor to know crypto to get value out of this book. It’s very Big Short in that way. I recommend it!