The credible case for crypto

Glenn Lawrence, writing from Santa Fe, New Mexico—This is the first of a two-part series examining the use of the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an excuse to disparage cryptos and gold.

I’ve read with pained interest some recent opinion pieces on cryptos. I’m saddened that those with fervent anti-crypto agendas are using the horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine as a contrived excuse to criticize cryptos.

In an Op-Ed in The Washington Post, “Ukraine is a big moment for cryptocurrency, but not for the reasons its promoters think,” the author criticizes the “crypto crowd” for using the Ukrainian crisis as “the chance to hawk their holdings as a force for justice…” And, what’s much worse, goes on to state that this is “…more evidence that crypto mainly reflects a desire from the analog world: the yearning to look cool.”

Really? I seriously doubt that a Ukrainian citizen resisting the Russian invasion (who gratefully benefits from a Bitcoin transfer) is yearning to look cool.

I was also horrified when the author made a fundamental mistake in confusing and misusing the terms and concepts of money and currency. For example, she states that a Ukrainian crypto exchange “…is also assisting the government in converting crypto to fiat. This real money is much more useful…”

Again, really? Conflating fiat currency with “real money”? Any high school economics student should know better. Currency is not money.

Through the advancement of civilization, money has emerged as a medium of exchange for goods and services and as an essential store of value. Gold, and to a large extent silver, emerged through thousands of years of real-world experimentation as the primary form of money most valued by societies.

But gold is nowhere near perfect. A significant weakness is that it is difficult to use as a medium of exchange for frequent and smaller transactions. Thus paper receipts backed by gold and silver—aka currency—emerged as a more convenient means for day-to-day transactions.

The modern currency world began in 1971 when President Nixon severed the last link between the U.S. dollar (currency) and its monetary backing (gold). Thus fiat currency (rather than paper currency backed with anything of tangible value) became the basis of the world’s financial system.

Whether made with paper currencies or a digital accounting of currency units in your bank or fintech accounts, fiat currency exchanges, not money, facilitate everyday transactions. Fiat currency is simply a promissory note, a stand-in for something else that supposedly holds the real value.

The author gets right that crypto is not as useful as fiat currency in payment for goods and services. There’s no question that cryptos are not ready to supplant fiat currencies for routine transactions. They function more like crypto money—they are a store of value and function as a medium of exchange, but not for everyday purchases (exchanges) for gasoline, gum, and groceries. 

For this reason, the cryptocurrency moniker is premature. The crypto universe is growing and evolving, but it’s not at a steady-state level of maturity where crypto functions as everyday currency—accepted as readily as dollars and euros for daily transactions. Today, cryptocurrencies act more like monetary assets or digital commodities than as a digital form of currency. Coins, such as Bitcoin, definitely function more like money than currency given their eternally limited supply.

The author further criticizes cryptos because the need to convert them into fiat currency is a type of “friction” on the ability of Ukrainians to use fundraising proceeds in the form of cryptos.

Once again, the author misses the point—a crucial one at the heart of cryptos. Getting international fundraising proceeds (currency) into Ukraine requires bankers’ efforts and functioning banks connected to a global funds transfer network like SWIFT. This is the actual “friction” in the banking and payments transfer arrangement.

Many people assume SWIFT is just an electronic transfer system, but it falls far short of that ideal. SWIFT is not a “system” per se, but rather a human-managed process where payment orders are exchanged and processed between correspondent banks (the exclusive club of large global banks that have accounts with each other).

And what happens to the ability to transfer fiat currency (or the author’s mistaken “real money”) if Russia seizes Ukrainian banks? Talk about friction!

The movie The Graduate had one word for us that would surely drive a post-1960s economic revolution: plastics.

So here’s one word that encapsulates what the crypto revolution is all about: disintermediation. 

While establishment types may put the word disintermediation in the same league as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, the concept of reducing or eliminating the use or requirement for intermediaries like banks and brokers is critical to crypto’s viability.

The growth curve of crypto assets as money will be linked to the advancement of the disintermediation of the banking system: cutting out the inefficient friction of humans processing payment orders while charging fat fees for the privilege. This is the real fear of the crypto-haters—that cryptos will act as a universal solvent and dissolve the need for financial intermediaries like commercial and central banks.

Cryptos are at their best as a universally empowering workaround to traditional banking. How will people transfer the author’s supposed “real money” into Ukraine if Russia seizes Ukrainian banks?

Will the SWIFT transfer process resort to tin cans and a length of string across the border? I don’t think so. Whereas a wireless network connection, even via satellite, can enable access to asset value transfers via the blockchain. Yes, cryptos may not be as convenient as fiat currency for buying a loaf of bread. However, they still enable the holding and transfer of value—which may become an even more crucial alternative if Russia gains control of the Ukrainian banking system.

Today, cryptos do not offer a fully evolved financial ecosystem. But they’re getting there. And they are continually being embraced by more and more consumers, financial institutions, and even governments.


L. Glenn Lawrence is co-founder and managing partner of Sovereign X.


Sovereign X launches public Beta platform

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (March 4, 2022)—Sovereign X (SX) announced the release of its public Beta platform ( SX utilizes a unique one-platform, two-channel approach geared to audiences interested in crypto technical trading and/or expat and international living.

SX Wealth provides premium subscription advisory services that include innovative technical models and indicators, trading signals, and real-time market analysis for the crypto market. SX International delivers digital products to prospective expats interested in living and working abroad. Both channels offer consulting services and will release separate Master Class series this year.

The platform has been in development since late 2018. Until now, SX’s free and premium digital content, products, and services have been available to a private group of Beta users. However, products and services can be purchased or reserved during its public Beta. 

SX Wealth— Your life. Your assets. Your terms™

The SX Wealth™ VolatilityEdge© system is the engine for SX Wealth Advisory Services—powering institutional-grade research and proprietary trading signal systems and technical indicators to inform human-curated briefings, drive advanced trading analysis, and deliver actionable next steps. 

Co-founder L. Glenn Lawrence, a commodity trading advisor and risk management & trading consultant, writes the SX Wealth crypto advisory’s daily commentary. 

SX Wealth’s crypto advisory shows users how to turn crypto market volatility into their greatest asset versus a conventional “buy and hold” strategy. In addition, SX Wealth’s 30-day trial subscription includes a free private consultation with Lawrence. 

Lawrence developed SX’s Wealth’s trading signals using the high-tech, old-school trend following models he created in 1998 and has used successfully for private global institutional and individual clients, primarily in the energy and financial derivatives markets. 

In 2018, co-founder Brett Holmes and Lawrence recruited a colleague of Lawrence’s, Damon Hart, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based commodity trading advisor and systems consultant. Hart collaborated in backtesting and optimizing SX Wealth’s algorithmic models specifically for crypto assets. The results exceeded expectations. 

Based on these findings, SX built a team, retaining a technical designer and programmer, a former tenured analyst for Goldman Sachs and crypto expert, and a content editor. SX also engaged an initial group of Beta-testers. For more than 30 months, SX Wealth’s team tested their web-based models for functionality, usability, reliability, and accuracy. 

“Too many investors mistakenly use a traditional ‘buy and hold’ strategy or try to use their own ‘crystal ball’ to make sense of crypto’s market volatility,” said Lawrence. “SX Wealth’s technical trading methodology provides a systematic way to buy and sell crypto that helps remove uncertainty, giving you a disciplined approach designed to make more from your investments while managing the crypto market’s wild swings.”

SX Wealth | Crypto Advisory’s models will cover Bitcoin and Ethereum (Ether), and cover crypto’s top 50 coins starting in late summer.

SX International— Life on your terms™

SX International demystifies expat life, helping users identify and simplify strategies for “internationalizing” their lives. The channel offers digital books, reports, and briefs—inexpensive, easy-to-digest solutions for living and working anywhere in the world.

SX International’s digital products are sourced, written, and produced by Sovereign X team members who have lived, worked, run businesses, and raised children as expats. 

Digital products range from the ‘Ultimate Plan A Blueprint to an International Life’ to the ‘5 Best Global Second Passports [Third Edition]’ to 101 briefs and reports for top-ranked countries for expats, including editions written explicitly for prospective women expats. 

“SX International includes SX Expat Advisor, a free online assessment that provides the perfect starting point for becoming an expat,” said Holmes, an entrepreneur and marketing consultant who has spent the majority of his time since 2001 living and working from outside of the United States.

Holmes and Lawrence met in San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era town in the mountains of central Mexico, in November 2001. Holmes had recently moved from Los Angeles to San Miguel, seeking a better lifestyle for his young family following the dot-com bubble burst. They met during a visit by Lawrence, who was exploring a move from New York. Lawrence and his family relocated in August 2002.

Their commonality? Both Holmes and Lawrence were highly successful yet seeking to build a more rewarding lifestyle outside of the conventional for themselves and their families. 

Some 15 years later, they started work in earnest on the Sovereign X business model, convinced that there were significant growth opportunities in the crypto technical trading space and the expat and international living segment. Furthermore, they recognized important synergies among these demographics, thus their one platform, two-channel approach.

Sovereign X will formally launch in fall 2022.

For more information, contact Brett Holmes at [email protected] or +1 (713) 244-4178.


Living in Color

Glenn Lawrence, writing from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

My family and I had only been in San Miguel for two days when I declared, “we’re going to move here.”

That was in the summer of 2000 when we had first arrived for a two-month stay. My resolve was even stronger when we returned to the United States. Strangely, it seemed much drabber than the place we’d left only two months before. Then it hit me—in San Miguel, we’d been living in color, and only upon returning did we realize that we had been living in black and white in our previous life. And we’d been living in color both figuratively and literally.

Literally, in the sense that Mexican colonial houses are typically painted in bright colors, both inside and out. The food is spicy and colorful. The mountains and countryside are visually stunning with color. The local artwork is alive with color. And colorful pink, purple and red bougainvillea are everywhere.

And beyond color, we were continually entranced by the artistic beauty of the incredible architecture and stonework that would be cost-prohibitive to replicate in the modern world: beautiful cathedrals and church towers at every turn, numerous picturesque plazas, and stunning courtyards that belong in Architectural Digest yet hide in plain sight behind walls of color.

All of this became part of our routine daily experience. It was an opportunity to continually lift our spirits and appreciate our decision to live there. We didn’t have to work in the black and white world for 50 weeks a year to live in color for a couple of weeks of vacation—it became a rich fabric of our everyday lives. More important than San Miguel’s literal color was its figurative color. We enjoyed a more dynamic and active lifestyle.

We left the extreme temperatures of New York and Austin behind for a pleasant year-round climate. We walked almost everywhere, yet we weren’t beset with the costs and stress of a dense urban environment. And we took advantage of the climate by eating in outdoor restaurants year-round (which eventually became a huge advantage during Covid).

Upon returning to the U.S. from those first two months in San Miguel, and realizing what we had been missing, I wanted more. I wanted to live in color everywhere and all the time. I started to understand how challenging it is to try to live in color in a drab environment that sucks the oxygen out of you.

So, we decided to move to the color rather than attempt to remake our environment with limited ability and success. I wanted to give direction to our lives—to live life in color by choice, not to live in black and white by default. And that’s when I decided to become an expat: live independently, treat the world as my playground, and introduce my children to the vast, wonderful, and colorful world, not just the black and white suburban playground down the street.

Of course, living in color isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is suited to be an expat. Some prefer the seeming comfort and perceived security of living in a drab world. And, I don’t begrudge their choice; everyone should be content with their life. It’s just that I’ve seen people blossom and grow beyond what they could have ever imagined when they venture out of their black and white world and experience living in color.

It was easy to declare that we were moving here on the first weekend in San Miguel. But admittedly, making it happen was not as easy as the dream.

For the devil was in the details—making sure to identify the right country for the right time of our lives, moving our household belongings from the U.S., navigating immigration requirements and establishing legal residency, opening a bank account, purchasing property in a foreign country, finding high-quality schools for our children, integrating into the expat community, finding doctors and dentists and various service personnel, working remotely, managing our business from afar, handling our tax obligations as foreign residents, etc. Yep, it took a while, but we made it happen by navigating steep learning curves with dogged determination.

And we’re still learning along the way in our multi-decade, multi-country expat adventure.

And that’s where SX International can help.

Recently, I wrote an investment guide for my children, who are now young adults, starting up their careers. They are saving money and want to learn how to invest in an increasingly uncertain world. I wanted to share what I wish someone had taught me at their age. [Incidentally, these are the same children who were educated in San Miguel and earned degrees from top-flight U.S. universities.]

In the spirit of sharing with my children what I wish I’d been taught at their age, our mission at Sovereign X is to provide the guidance, direction, and knowledge we wished someone had shared with us when we began our expat journey. The lessons we learned along the way are proofed and packaged in our digital books, reports, briefs, and Master Class series.

We wish you the best of success with your expat journey—should you choose to pursue it—and I hope that SX can be of value to you in your adventurous path forward. _________________________________________________________________________________________  L. Glenn Lawrence is co-founder and managing partner of Sovereign X.