Ten years before Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention, the 1976 Nobel Prize winner for economics had imagined that an online P2P coin would be created thanks to new technologies.
“I think that the Internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the role of government. The one thing that’s missing, but that will soon be developed, is a reliable e-cash whereby on the Internet you can transfer funds from A to B without A knowing B or B knowing A”.
The full video of Friedman’s 1999 interview with John Berthoud, President of the National Taxpayers Union, during which the famous economist talked about anti-trust, Internet and fiscal freedom, is available on YouTube.
Milton Friedman became famous not only for winning the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976 “for his achievements in the fields of consumer analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of the stabilisation policy”, but also for having been the founder of monetarism.
Many of his studies have in fact been conducted on the currencies and especially on the monetary policies of the central banks, with particular attention to the phenomenon of inflation.
However, during the 1999 interview, Friedman focused on another aspect, that of financial freedom, namely the fact that new peer-to-peer technologies would allow online financial transactions without intermediaries, and therefore potentially anonymous.
Friedman was one of the main opponents of government intervention in the financial markets, so it is not surprising that in 1999 he focused his attention on the Internet’s ability to allow direct, P2P transactions without intermediaries and potentially undetectable by governments.
Even before the launch of Bitcoin on January 3rd, 2009, there had been several other attempts to create electronic coins online, so in 1999 the idea was not completely new. What was new, at the time, was the idea that these coins could be peer to peer. In fact, the first fully P2P coin that ever really worked was Bitcoin, about ten years after Friedman’s interview.