The latest news in the story of the fall of the fiat dollar is a press release from, of all places, the online retailer and Web service provider Amazon.com. Headlined, "Introducing Amazon Coins," it announces "a new virtual currency." According to the release, "When Amazon Coins launches in the U.S. this May, Amazon will give customers tens of millions of dollars' worth of free Amazon Coins to spend on developers' apps on Kindle Fire in the Amazon Appstore. Amazon will also make it quick and easy for customers to buy additional Amazon Coins using their Amazon accounts."
One wonders, why would anyone want to store value, or transact, in "Amazon Coins" issued by Amazon CEO Jeffrey Bezos rather than in the notes issued by the Federal Reserve chaired by Ben Bernanke? Could it be that Mr. Bezos will prove a wiser steward of his money supply than Chairman Bernanke? Skeptics may point out that the Amazon Coins aren't backed by anything concrete, such as gold. But then again, neither are Federal Reserve notes. Mr. Bezos, in other words, isn't the only operator out there hawking "virtual" currency.
It wouldn't surprise FutureOfCapitalism if federal regulators tried to find some way to shut down Amazon coins, the same way they went after Bernard Von NotHaus on the grounds that, as an indictment claimed, "it is a violation of law for private coin systems to compete with the official coinage of the United States." The government doesn't like competition.
The Nobel Laureate economist Friedrich Hayek wrote a famous paper on the Denationalization of Money. Used copies are selling on Amazon for prices starting at $13.77. What they will cost in "Amazon Coins" a few years from now is anyone's guess, but the introduction of this new virtual currency is just the latest sign that "private money" isn't just some fantasy of a few George Mason University-trained economists, Ron Paul voters, and readers of Grant's Interest Rate Observer. One of America's largest retailers is getting into the action.