What are the odds for ETH value to go down to zero?

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The Ethereum Network will prevail but the ETH value will plummet to zero wrote Techcrunch contributor Jeremy Rubin in an article published on Sunday.

The piece caused some stir on Twitter and probably affected the ETH price. In the article, Rubim gives a hypothetical example of a BuzzwordCoint created using ETH protocol.

Requiring every BuzzwordCoin transaction to also depend on ETH for fees creates substantial risk, third party dependency, and artificial downwards pressure on the price of the underlying token (if one must sell BuzzwordCoin for ETH ahead of time to run a BuzzwordCoin transaction, then the sell-pressure will happen before the transaction requires it, and must be a larger sale than necessary to ensure sufficient funds to cover the transaction).

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin gave a thoughtful answer to the Techcrunch piece on Reddit admitting he has every incentive to disagree with Jeremy Rubin.

In Ethereum as it presently exists, this is absolutely true, and in fact if Ethereum were not to change, all parts of the author’s argument (except the part about proof of stake, which would not even apply to Ethereum as it is today) would be correct. However, the community is strongly considering two proposals, both of which have the property that they enshrine the need to pay ETH at protocol level, and furthermore the ETH gets burned, so there’s no way to de-facto take it out of the loop by making the medium-of-exchange loop go faster. 

He listed two main proposals for a solution. First:

The modified fee market described in the draft paper here: https://ethresear.ch/t/draft-position-paper-on-resource-pricing/2838 , where average gas usage is targeted to 50% of a (2x higher than today) gas limit, using a self-adjusting minimum transaction fee to do the targeting, where the minimum fee gets burned. This fee would be charged to the block proposer, so the block proposer could charge fees in spankchain tokens or whatever other ERC20, but the block proposer would still be responsible for coming up with the ETH to pay the minfee.

Second:

Storage maintenance fees (aka “rent”): pay N wei per byte per block to keep data in storage, or else it gets “hibernated” and you need to submit a Merkle proof to revive it. This fee also gets burned.

Techcrunch’s contributor argues in the article that there’s no basis for ETH value if all the applications and transactions cab run without ETH.

[…]if miners are uncoordinated, mutually disinterested, and rational, they would prefer to be paid in assets of their own choosing rather than in something like ETH. Furthermore, risk-averse users would want to minimize their exposure to volatile assets they don’t have to use. Lastly, token developers benefit because pricing in their native asset should serve to reduce sell-pressure. Thus, in a stateless ecosystem, replacing ETH is a Pareto Improvement (i.e., all parties are better off). The only party disadvantaged is existing ETH holders.

Vitalik Buterin claims he has analyzed all the scenarios given in the article and the results the models and simulations he performed result with a nonzero equilibrium value for ETH.

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