At the start of 2021, Elon Musk briefly became the richest man in the world. The global pandemic was a boom time for American billionaires, many of whom saw their wealth rise even as much of the world was locked down. As Musk, Bezos, Gates and others jockeyed for first place in the world’s richest-man contest, the rise of cryptocurrencies was generating headlines about the fictive quality of money. “All forms of currency are acts of imagination”, says Jill Lepore: they require communal belief in their value - what economists sometimes call the Tinkerbell Effect. Musk started tweeting about Dogecoin - a cryptocurrency started as a joke, based on a meme about a dog - even dubbing himself 'The Dogefather'. Although Musk’s tweets looked ironic, jokey, irreverent, they seemed to be having a very real and destabilizing effect on financial markets.
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