Narrative maps are fascinating attempts to frame the evolution of various theories building the foundation of a political economy. Ben Hunt, for example, formulates narrative maps to categorize and compare economic keywords or phrases across huge troves of mainstream news data (for his blog, Epsilon Theory). Hunt maps key terms such as inflation or austerity, multiplied by more grand narrative categories such as The Golden Age of the Central Banker.
Categorizing and mapping narratives across thousands of news articles using Natural Language Processing is certainly glorious. However, to try to build a narrative map of my own design, I was fixated by a simpler (and perhaps underestimated) tool: Google Trends. While it is difficult to gain insight on sophisticated stories such as Abstraction in Financial Markets using Google Trends alone, it a notable proxy metric for worldwide interest in the exploration of a given topic.
Measuring Google Trends for a wide variety of powerful economic terms may inspire a special kind of speculative insight for the intellectual wanderer. Of course, we are mapping apples to oranges to economic austerity. However, the fates of these various terms and theories are inevitably intertwined. As a proxy for public fixation on a given topic, widespread understanding of each of these economic terms ultimately materializes to affect the others:
Global searches for Capitalism are superseded by Socialism, for example. Which is then intertwined with a worldwide fixation on Liberalism versus Conservativism. Interest in Populism spiked unprecedented highs after Brexit and the Trump election, alongside Modern Monetary Theory. Debt maintains a strong foothold of global interest since 2004, although most of these searches are likely regarding household debt (as opposed to government or any larger theory). However, nearly all of these powerful economic terms combined are at risk of being overshadowed by one term alone: Bitcoin.
As with any of the Economic Terms, Bitcoin itself possesses many competing narratives. Trapped within a brazen gambling device that is also a hyper-volatile, hack-prone, censorship-resistant, darknet-facilitating, digital gold: therein lies a potent economic theory. A global economic term that is overwhelming all others. And as with any keyword of the Global Economic story, Bitcoin’s evolution contains multitudes.
So while the global advancement of Quantitative Easing meets populists empowered by Modern Monetary Theory, thereby shifting deflation or inflation in unexpected ways… Followed by austerity or outright hyperinflation…
The previous narratives and interest in the economic paradigms of the past provide only a glimpse of the indeterminate future. Bitcoin, despite its many flaws and varying narrative degrees of infamy, will likely play a role to come.
To dig into the chart without commentary, check out the plot.ly link here.