ODNI prepares for “black swan” events – but what about the obvious ones?

black swan

Today a report at Coindesk sheds light on efforts by the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) focused on “black swan” events that would threaten the U.S. dollar.

Coindesk writer Nathan DiCamillo points to a job advertisement posted in 2019 with an end date at the end of this month.

According to DiCamillo, the National Counterproliferation Center, an arm of ODNI, is looking to create this research initiative to head off outlier events that would concern officials.

One of these, DiCamillo suggests, is the influence of cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

“While officials wouldn’t attribute the study’s initiation to any one event or trend, the post-doc researcher listing does cite predictions … that a global cryptocurrency or national digital currency could undermine the U.S. dollar, and mentions the growing economies of China and India,” DiCamillo writes.

To some outside observers, this is kind of laughable, because currency enthusiasts are anything but outliers. So any threat from cryptocurrencies would not really be a black swan event unless it was abnormal and difficult to anticipate. By contrast, you have Facebook’s Libra initiative, which was about as transparent and blatant as they come, shut down by U.S. regulators and legislators for that exact reason: their concern that it might threaten the U.S. dollar.

There are many black swan events, cryptocurrency fans could argue, that could disrupt the American economy, but the influence of cryptocurrency isn’t one of them. Even to critics, the “threat” of crypto is anything but subtle. Just look at U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman’s response to Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on Libra last year:

“Cryptocurrency either doesn’t work, in which case investors lose a lot of money, or it does achieve its objectives perhaps and displaces the US dollar or interferes with the US dollar being virtually the sole reserve currency in the world.”

That’spretty straightforward. Many believe that the blockchain and coins built on it represent an almost inevitable upgrade of a financial system that can benefit from the wide range of advantages that centralized and decentralized blockchains offer.

In fact, the Federal Reserve has talked about doing work on a digital dollar as a central-bank digital currency.

With that in mind, let’s think about what a black swan event represents, and what’s likely to happen in the next 10 years in terms of how we handle American currency.