An Open Letter to PM Abiy Ahmed About Money

I hope this heartfelt letter in my own ridiculous attempt to help stimulate the economy reaches you, I have a feeling deep down if you read it, the world will never be the same again!

Ethiopia if Abiy Ahmed reads this letter :)

For anybody reading this: this letter will tell you a story of what is going on with Ethiopia & Africa’s economy, and suggest a method to save it. I want to make the case of why the economy seems to be heading in a very poor direction unless we change something. Perhaps those in charge have their own effective plans that I don’t know of. But what I’m sure of is that, if you follow along, I will suggest a ‘guaranteed to work’ method to escape our foreign currency shortage and ride our way through this global economic crisis with shining colors. So, let’s talk about the economy.

The world economy is a complex and elaborate multiplex. The billionaire Ray Dalio tries to simplify its mystery by saying the world economy “is just a simple machine that does basic transactions”. Andrew Yang says it’s best to imagine the world economy as an invisible, floating, giant elephant that many get to interact with often only once before they decide on what it is. Meaning, some people will see only the elephants legs and say “the economy is a leg”. Some will feel his trunk and say “the economy is this thing”, some will feel the the tail and say “its this thing”, but it is difficult for all of them to fully picture it as an elephant without seeing the entire animal. I will not pretend to have seen the elephant but I can see a major revolution coming — One that is inevitable because it is necessary. And the way I see it, there are MANY ways we can ride this revolution & be rich, and when I say “we”, I mean “we” as a country, and hopefully as a continent. There is needless suffering by countless countries and people because of how difficult it can be to envision this elephant and work with it.

First lets talk about the obvious major miscalculations in the current world economy module that effect almost every country:

Counterfeit Currency

One of the main problems of physical cash-based economies is that there is always fraudulent counterfeit cash circulating. How much exactly? Who knows. This obviously affects the supply and demand chain. Government prints X amount of currency, redistributes it and calculates its exchange rate based on the assumed amount of circulating currency(supply). But circulating currencies can be a complete illusion because (1) the currency being circulated isn’t always real / is counterfeit. (2) money can be destroyed (people die after hiding significant wealth, people literally burn $$, people smuggle & move money outside of the country…) — so we don’t exactly know how much currency/scarcity there is, and therefore there are lots of variables that are met with human speculation when deciding on what the correct exchange rate should be. Human speculation obviously has a high error margin for something that shouldn’t ideally have any miscalculations. The human variable that decides what an exchange rate for a currency should be, is often motivated by politics and is prone to invisible government tampering.

Currency exchange rate prices can be determined in two ways, a fixed number (like how we do it in Ethiopia) or a floating number, which are determined by an open market. Both these things at the end of the day, in theory, should be determined by the supply and demand of the local currency and other foreign reserve currencies, ETFs, bonds etc. that a country has saved up. The bad news is, again, we let (often politically motivated) humans tell us how much foreign reserve currency is stored. This causes inflation and foreign currency shortage, because more local currency is printed based on the idea that there it is backed by something with intrinsic and unwavering value, when it’s not.

For example, we will be told that the true value of 1 USD is X amount of Birr when in reality it is X+(x/2), or some significant number in the black market. This is a trend many countries are caught in, and it doesn’t lead to a bright future. It’s a matter of time until our actual foreign currency supply runs out and we can’t trade.

This module surprisingly sort of works because the Ethiopian government gets to manage the supply side of things. Say you have 1million Birr (25k USD) in the bank, they may let you only have a small portion of that in foreign currency. But this means you can’t have expensive imported things. No matter how rich. You just can’t; the country can’t. The maximum you can spend to import from other countries is a few thousand USD a year. It’s no secret that this is unideal for development as people are limited to a smaller pool of people to trade with.

There is a good example in how this is affecting the economy and people’s livelihoods. The analogy I use to describe how bad its gotten is, every Ethiopian driving ANY shitty car is driving a TESLA. That might sound strange so let me unpack without going into too much detail. The currency exchange rate is so wrong, when a hardworking Ethiopian who saved all their lives spends about 17,000$ USD worth of their money, all they can buy is a used up 1998 model Yaris/Vitz/Toyota that doesn’t even have a trunk or proper lights. Why is this? This Ethiopian can afford better cars if they spend that much of their money anywhere else? Yes, but because the exchange rate isn’t perfectly accurate, the government has to tax imports heavily to make up for the loss, and because of this no one can have nice imported material goods. Big problem for people living there. The world outside of Ethiopia seems truly foreign from the inside because there is basically no trading on individual level.

The good news is, it’s not just Ethiopia. This effects basically everyone else too. Most countries pump their currency, lie to the global market and there is not much anyone can do about it. Countries are known to abuse this by just printing more currency and saying there is less quantity than the amount circulating. This also won’t last in a globally connected economy.

Ethiopia’s USD Foreign Currency Shortage

Mind you the United States Dollar isn’t backed up by anything, not gold, not diamonds. It was. but now it’s just backed up by empty promises of a government that is in unbelievable debt that it will never pay off. Mind you, for the US government, the US Dollar is just paper they print whenever they want.

For us, its a lifeline.

The monetary supply of the USD is increasing by ~10%-20% of a year — losing significant amount of its buying power every year — I am not claiming to be a an economist so take some of these numbers with a grain of salt

Michael Saylor in a podcast with Pomp[1] mentions monetary supply in the US has been increasing by at-least 10% every year over the last decade. Unlike the government’s inflation estimate of 2%, the actual inflation rate, according to the increasing monetary supply, should be between 7–10%, every year. The inflation rate on long bonds, according to Saylor, is way over the top at a whopping 22%. This subsequently will result in Real Yield (RY) turning up at -10% for at least the next three years.

If you store 100 Million Dollars in US Dollars, in under 100 Years the buying power of that 100 Million is diminished to only 5 Million Dollars. (We lose about 95% of its buying power just in one generation!)

Ethiopia uses US Bonds and US Dollars to store significant amount of our circulating assets/wealth — This means, one Ethiopian’s hard earned money, when saved up, is eventually used by the banks to buy US Dollars, which inflates badly in its buying power every year. Another way of saying this is, every country gives the US their resources, and the US gives them paper back. This isn’t something new, for instance just recently:

There were only about 1.2 Trillion US Dollars cash in circulation in the world before Covid, but when Covid hit, the US needed to stimulate it’s economy and simply “borrowed”/created another 4 Trillion US Dollars into its economy like its nothing. Mind you most of these new dollars are digital, are controlled by US banks heavily to not leave the US, and won’t reach most of the world outside of the US, yet this devalues the buying power of every country holding USD as a foreign reserve currency. Because the IMF now tells countries to print their currencies together to not lose buying power against each other, Average Joe will not notice much difference in his buying power against other currencies and deflationary assets except known scarce assets (Gold, Bitcoin, Platinum…) — it’s like nobody noticed or talks about it. Other countries in conjunction with US print money, The FED (The US Federal Reserve) pumps the stocks and for the innocent eye, everything looks fine.

But your gut knows it can’t possibly be fine. A groundbreaking number of people lost their jobs in unprecedented series of events. The world is not the same. It’d be crazy to believe all of that when the US is about to print another 900 Billion $ (they are trying real hard not to say a TRILLION). And it won’t be the last.

The world will pay every time the US decides to print more of its currency and devalue the USD. But, third world countries with isolated economies?— we will be obliterated. Our economy’s are becoming more and more difficult to navigate because of how badly we store assets, how hard is it to liquidate our larger resources, and just outright incompetence/corruption causing government to spend foreign currency in secrecy.

Ethiopia’s GDP

The previous Ethiopian regime reported the Ethiopian GDP was growing about 7% a year. This means if in 2018 the GDP was 84 Billion USD$, in 2019 the GDP will be 89 Billion USD$. From just looking at these numbers it looks like our buying power is increasing year after year.

But here is a surprise, the way we store and invest our assets and foreign currency reserve (USD, US Bonds, Treasuries…) are inflating in their buying power at-least ~7-10% every year. So instead in a year we end up with 80.1 Billion USD$ (8.9 Billion gone like its nothing) of buying power instead.

So we aren’t even breaking even in our buying power. We grow by 7% — but we need to earn ~10% more to maintain our buying power as last year and actually record a growth in our buying power.

Only way we can see actual appreciation in our ever increasing GDP’s buying power is if our growth rate is significantly higher than the USD inflation rate. And that is just a big ask. expecting our GDP to increase another 4%+ in the short term so we break even with our buying power is just a preposterous and unrealistic expectation. Tradition investment methods into the public and trade aren’t gonna cut it. It will not give us anywhere near the growth rate we need. WE NEED ANOTHER PLAN. WE NEED PLAN B.

Most Ethiopians and the IMF know 7% growth is an exaggeration when the everyday lives of Ethiopian’s haven’t changed. When you take that into consideration, the possibility of long term thinking by using the US Dollar is diminished. If money your country imports as GDP is quickly inflating away, its an immediate big red flag.

The short story is this:

US Government: Oh Fred, we need 900,000,000,000,000$ new face paper (Dollars) this year because of the virus

US Fed: OK Dave, I’ll make some right now.

Every other country: At our cost?

21% of All US Dollars were printed in 2020 (Source: Daily Shot)

Paper the US Government creates whenever it wants is scarce for us. Its our lifeline. Its how we trade with the world. Its what we need to survive. Yet, its hard to come by for us. Not even 5% of it crosses over our continent let alone reach us. And when we find it, IT’S INFLATING FAST? WHAT? THERE MUST BE A WAY OUT OF THIS….

For the reasons I described above, the current world economy module only makes sense if we have perfect scarcity. Otherwise its riddled with many lies and to some extent, is fake. If we know how much money X country has at any given time, in real time, then we as a global society can function more efficiently.

Enter 2011.

Bitcoin.

The short reason why bitcoin is a valuable asset is: there can only be 21 Million Bitcoins.

YES, IT’S VERY SCARCE. It is not mathematically possible to create more Bitcoins. This is something no government can print. There will always be only 21 Million. So why is this related? Bear with me, its about to get a LOT BETTER…

Bitcoin addresses all the problems I described above. In its module, you can have monitored scarcity. This is because the network is decentralized and isn’t controlled by anyone. Bitcoins aren’t hosted on some computer somewhere. Every bitcoin transaction is part of every wallet and is verified by everyone who owns bitcoins automatically. SO NO FAKE TRANSACTIONS. NO FAKE BITCOINS. Bitcoins are just numbers that can be stored anywhere — on paper, or digitally. They are encryption keys that allow only the owner to move it.

EVERY OTHER COUNTRY: It’s reasonable to believe every major economy is probably panicking and reconsidering changing their reserve currency or asset to something that isn’t USD when they see the US printing trillions and taking away their buying power…

WHY SHOULD ETHIOPIA BUY BITCOIN

In 2011, 1 Bitcoin was worth ~0.008$ —Yes, that is 3 zeros. At the time of writing this, 1 Bitcoin is worth ~17,000$ USD — just 9 years later. If you bought 10,000 Bitcoin in 2011 it would’ve cost you around 27$. Right now that 27$ is 182,161,881$. YES! HEFTY! There is no commodity in history that multiplied its value many million fold like Bitcoin. The world is waking up to realize digital decentralized currencies are the only way forward. Not cash, not credit, not centralized banking. This isn’t snake oil. This is an actual revolution! Musk says “If you can’t stop them, join them.”

Recently Paypal allowed 300,000,000 of its users to buy bitcoin with a click of a button. Almost all bitcoins are being bought up as soon as they are available by gigantic investment funds. A Brilliant billionaire has switched his company’s (MicroStrategy NASDAQ: $MSTR) balance sheet from US Dollars to Bitcoin. And grew his company by 3x just in few month.

Before Michael Saylor bought bitcoin, his company’s stock was trading at 102$ /share in March 2019. After he switched his company balance sheet from US Dollars to Bitcoin, his company is now trading at nearly 334$ / share — Just in few months the company managed to grow 3x. Imagine if you could multiply your even a little part of your country’s economy 3 FOLD in few months. AND YOU CAN. ONLY YOU CAN, ABIY AHMED!

Guggenheim Partners, an investment firm with nearly a Trillion Dollars to manage, predicts bitcoins soon will be as high as $400,000 USD / Bitcoin. [0]

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with over $7.81 Trillion, has showed significant interest in Bitcoin.[1]

Grayscale, another large asset management firm has a trust fund for holding bitcoin. It is now holding $8.35 billion worth of Bitcoin. [2]

Square owns about $200 Billion. Countless institutional funds are joining the game.

MicroStrategy owns about $1.7 Billion (their entire net worth, in Bitcoin) [3] — their stock went up literally 3x in few months.

PayPal has already bought 70% of newly minted bitcoin, while Square is estimated to be buying about 40%. So, There is more demand than supply. And the trend is only going to grow.

And a lot of institutional investment firms and banks are buying bitcoin for the long run. Its a matter of time until sovereignty funds starts doing the same. Because of all the told and untold reasons to hold. It doesn’t make sense for it to lose value when its this scarce and demand for it is this high.

Ethiopia is the land of pioneers. While that might be forgotten by the current generation, we were the founders of some of the most complex ancient civilizations (Axum, Lalibela..). Ethiopia has led Africa to make better economic and cultural decisions countless times. Ethiopia is an inspiration and breath of hope for the whole of Africa for having resisted colonization. Ethiopia can lead the way into the future… When all other endeavors are looking dark, whats wrong in looking?

I believe Abiy Ahmed is a daring revolutionary. He understands risks and he understands gains.

Ethiopia could be the first sovereign nation to buy bitcoin. If we put even 1% of our wealth, or even just 1 Million$ worth for next generation — I guarantee it will be at least 100x more useful than the USD we leave future generations. It will be many times better than the Middle East discovering oil. Oil is temporary, Bitcoin is forever.

Lets just compare how owning Bitcoin’s buying power vs Argentinan peso just in the last 12 months:

If you are Argentinian, you lost about -77% of your buying power against bitcoin just over the course of 12 Months — This is virtually true for almost all third world countries. Almost every other non first world country is experiencing hyperinflation. and while we may not feel it, it affects us too.

Bitcoin is actually worth a lot more

How much more? Well, I personally believe one bitcoin, in the long run, can be worth as high as 1Trillion$. That might sound like a stretch to some of you so lets just settle for a number I believe will be hit within the next 5 years: 1Million$ per 1Bitcoin.

The main reason why this valuation is high is because of scarcity. Because there can only be 21 million bitcoins that can be created. And given we have hoarders in every economy, there will soon be a scarcity of everybody wanting to own at least one bitcoin. If every millionaire in the US bought one, all of them would be gone. (there are about ~25million millionaires in the US alone, only 18 Million Bitcoins in circulation HA!).

There are about 47m Millionaires in the world, again, only 18 Million bitcoin’s in circulation — even if all of them want one each, they can’t get it. And its a matter of time until that starts happening.

Ok! So there is a small limited SUPPLY of bitcoin. What about DEMAND? Well, demand is obviously growing, very fast — (hence the 9 year price pump). Now maybe the time every big banking institution, government and investment firm will realize how scarce bitcoins are and decide to buy them. PayPal investing in Bitcoin also means another BIG thing, they have the go-ahead from the US government.

So its a matter of time until the world wakes up and cashes in on this really useful asset. Even if countries want to pave their own way by creating their own cryptocurrency, it will have, in one way or another, some association with bitcoin.

Bitcoin right now has a total market capital of ~303,000,000,000$ (303Billion$) — I expect this number to skyrocket soon as more and more corporations and high income individuals in the world start experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out) on this great economic revolution that will ultimately impact everyone.

Here is a twitter bot that I wrote, that will tweet out how much 1,000,000 USD in Bitcoin (53 Bitcoins, or 39,000,000 Birr at time of writing) will be worth every week. I hope Ethiopia puts at least that much in its federal reserve. Follow the bot, @bootloaderE

Follow @bootloader.eth for updates on how much our investment of 1 Million could be worth someday.

I sincerely ask the Ethiopian government to put at least 1,000,000 USD (money that is plenty to a country like Ethiopia) in this digital asset and invest in its future generation. While USD is just paper and more can always be printed, that’s not true with Bitcoin. One is very clearly more valuable. We don’t have to do much - putting 1m$ USD could mean miraculous returns in few years.

Abiy Ahmed is an intelligent man. I believe he understands, if Ethiopia does this, and puts in even 1$, more people will follow, and the price will only go up. The possibility of risk for Ethiopia, is practically zero.

If we buy and store 1 Million Dollars worth of bitcoin today, in 100 Years, we won’t lose 95% its value like we do with USD. If it keeps going up 100% each year, we will instead be left with a staggering ~10,000% profit of whatever we put in. The future will be rich.

Bitcoin has gone up at least +100% every single year. EVERY SINGLE YEAR! THE USD goes down ~10% every year! We are getting poorer and poorer with one. We can recover 10 years of USD loss, just by storing bitcoin for one year.

The potentials for Ethiopia to monetize Bitcoin are actually huge. with the Grand Rennasiance Ethiopian Dam, and its unassigned energy use, Ethiopia could make upto 20bn$ USD dollars with only 20m$ investment in hardware.

Alternatively, If we can allocate even 1% of our wealth into this, it will be the best investment Ethiopia ever made. Seeing we lose about at-least ~7% of our foreign currency reserve buying power year after year, 1% of this foreign currency allocated to crypto seems fairly manageable! Money is energy. Bitcoin will forever hold a big portion of that energy. Because energy is too valuable to be left to inflate away, we should instead reserve it. This truly is a once in a lifetime buying opportunity.

Investments are surely a risk, but this asset, given its history, given what it does and what's going on in the world right now, its really not something to miss. This sweet deal is comparable to the 1970s Gold rush. Let’s not miss it again. I think if we can invest money in things we don’t need, we can put away 1m$ for an investment that makes sense and hopefully in a decade or two, brings us out of the foreign currency shortage hell we are in. I just invite you to look into it with your doors locked just for one full day. I promise, it will change everything.

If you made it this far, I LOVE YOU. ❤

publishing non technical bugs & rants I don’t publish on my blog. For technical blog: paulosyibelo.com