Bitcoin benefits everyone
At the Congress of the Democratic Party of the United States in August 2020, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes described Bernie Sanders‘ presidential campaign as „a movement aware of the exorbitant brutality of the economy, which is contributing to the rapid growth of inequality, where a small number of people are rich at the expense of the long-term stability of many“.
The fact that the current economic system favours few at the expense of many has become increasingly recognised by both major American parties in recent years. Although there are heated debates about the right solution, at least almost everyone agrees that there is a problem. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no political solution to the economic problem at its core. Unfortunately, because politicians of all ideologies will promise wealth by dividing people even more in the hopeless search for a non-existent political solution. At the same time, the lack of a political solution is fortunate, because history shows that trying to reconcile ideological opponents is a futile idea.
The disruption of the economic structure is obvious. Property inequality is growing all the time, becoming dangerous and causing economic instability everywhere. Stock market prices and the average cost of housing in the USA are once again breaking historical records, while millions of Americans are losing their jobs and half of society has virtually no savings. Economic equations do not work. This reality is hard to deny; many people suffer from it and it is relevant to the whole world. Politicians simply can’t help it. The fundamental problem with the current economic structure is not politics, but the currencies that coordinate economic activity (the dollar, euro, yen, peso, bolivar, etc.). You have to look for the weak spot in the foundation itself. No politician can solve the problems caused by the structural flaws inherent in modern money. If the foundation is repaired, then solutions will follow for higher-order problems, but before that any effort will be in vain.
Currency is the foundation of the economy, because it coordinates all economic activity. If the economy does not function properly, it is more correct to say that the currency that underlies it does not coordinate economic activity effectively: the currency is the entrance and the economy is the exit. In short, a spoonful of tar here is money. While many focus on how to deal with huge property inequality, few people see that the main source of injustice is the tool that is used to coordinate the entire system. It is not just that the economy is not working for many people, but that the dollar (the euro, the yen, etc.) as the main mechanism for coordinating economic resources is untenable for everyone. Economic imbalance and increasing inequality is a new norm, even if it is unnatural. In fact, it makes no economic sense at all. Balance is critical to the functioning of any economy, and in the normal course of business, an economy naturally removes imbalances. If an economy is unable to do so and allows the imbalance to persist, this is evidence of a disturbance in the economic structure. But the huge and growing economic imbalance that exists today has not been an inevitable and unavoidable consequence of free market capitalism. This is mainly the result of central banks‘ monetary policy, which allows economic imbalances to persist, which would otherwise have been impossible.
Central bank monetary policy is an external force that causes significant economic distortions and extreme levels of inequality. There is no injustice in the very existence of economic inequality. Unequal results are in fact natural and fully consistent with the economic equilibrium. On the other hand, the inequality caused and aggravated by an unsuitable monetary system is unnatural for a free market economy and therefore truly unfair. There is an external reason for this. The greatest responsibility for permanent economic imbalances lies in the structural insolvency of the fiat monetary system (the dollar, etc.). Huge, exorbitant property inequality is a consequence of this imbalance. All other distorting economic actions and measures exist at higher levels than the problems caused by money manipulation. This is where the root of all structural economic problems are, and until this is corrected, the world will be in an increasingly fragile state. The current monetary system centralises and concentrates wealth, and this is a consequence of continuing and deepening economic imbalances. Such a system works for some in the short term, but in the long term it is untenable for all because the ultimate outcome of monetary manipulation and the ever-growing economic imbalance is instability. The ability of the currency to coordinate economic activity is gradually deteriorating and is finally completely collapsing. And this inevitable price is being paid by everyone.
Bitcoin is the exact opposite. It is the only currency that works for everyone, now and in the future. It naturally removes the imbalance wherever it occurs and as soon as it occurs, because its supply cannot be manipulated. His supply is fixed and will never exceed 21 million coins. As acceptance grows, more and more people own bitcoins and each of them has a smaller and smaller share of a fixed, fixed offer. Ownership of the currency naturally becomes more distributed and less concentrated over time, which provides the basis for a better balance. Bitcoin levels the playing field for everyone and ensures that the monetary system alone cannot become a source of extreme injustice. This is achieved by protecting certain inalienable rights. Every currency holder has the guarantee that no more units will be created arbitrarily and that each unit is treated equally on the network. Bitcoin coordinates economic activity more effectively because no external forces can distort or manipulate its price mechanism, which is a fatal disadvantage of the current currency system. Fixed supply, equal protection and true price signals ensure a better balance. Bitcoin fixes the economic foundation for everyone, so that everything else starts to correct itself.
The role of money and the price system
For simplicity, money can be presented as a coordinating function in the economy. Money acts as an intermediary in exchange. Take it, hold it, spend it – it’s simple. Money is an intermediate commodity used both for determining value and for exchanging it. When the market converges on a common form of money, a price system emerges that makes it possible to measure the subjective concept of value more objectively. Money is a pricing mechanism that results in a price system. The price system provides information. It collects information about the preferences of the participants in the economy and communicates them through local prices, which are measured in total money. Changes in prices reflect changes in preferences.
Prices are not constant because preferences are not constant. In a developed economy, there are millions of products, each with its own price, which leads to billions of relative price signals. Relative price signals ultimately tell the exchange rates between different product combinations. Although the price of a certain product may remain static for some time, some prices in the economy are always changing, which is why relative price signals are constantly changing. The economy is constantly looking for balance through cumulative changes in price levels. Every participant in the economy reacts to those price signals that are most relevant to their personal preferences, which naturally change and are also subject to the dynamic influence of changing prices. Through the price system, market participants learn what others value and what they need to produce themselves in order to meet their needs. When prices change, behaviour also changes and everyone adapts. The price system is a visible hand that helps to achieve equilibrium and to identify and correct imbalances. This is how long-term economic stability is achieved, because the price system reports constantly changing information. It is the price fluctuations that characterise undistorted markets that actively prevent the formation of large-scale and systemic imbalances.
Shortcomings of central banks
The economic foundation is frustrated because the money that coordinates economic activity is constantly being manipulated. Most central banks, including the US Federal Reserve System (FRS), can create money arbitrarily and free of charge, and also perform the task of maintaining stable prices. This is a fatal combination for the functioning of any price mechanism and therefore the economy. When the central bank seeks to maintain stable prices, it actually acts against the natural course of the economy, which seeks balance and adapts to changing preferences through the price system. To make matters worse, the central bank seeks this stability by manipulating the money supply, which distorts the price mechanism on which the economy is based. With each attempt to achieve stable prices, the central bank actively contributes to maintaining the imbalance and sends bad information to the participants in the economy via false price signals, which in turn further increases the imbalance. Imagine that this happens every time the economy tries to find a balance. When an imbalance persists, those who benefit from it constantly profit from others.
Even worse, it actively prevents those at the bottom of the economic spectrum from making a greater contribution and getting a greater share of the economic resources. Artificially inflated asset prices create unequal conditions for those who do not own assets, and false signals contribute to bad economic decisions, disproportionately harming those at the bottom of the economic spectrum and least able to afford errors and disruptions. False and distorted economic signals caused by money supply manipulation are counterproductive to everyone in the long run, but are beneficial to those who benefit from the imbalance in the short run.
For example, when real estate values fell during the 2008 financial crisis, the price mechanism of the economy reported an imbalance. Taken together, market participants reported an increase in demand for money and a decline in demand for real estate. At that particular moment, the actual amount of money and the available real estate supply did not change rapidly. Economic preferences and relative price signals were changing. But instead of allowing the economy to rebalance and redress imbalances, the Fed increased its supply of dollars in an effort to „stabilise“ the dollar value of real estate. In fact, it created $1.7 trillion and used these new dollars to buy mortgage-backed securities to directly support real estate value. Those who owned real estate (e.g. residential) or did business related to the construction (or financing) of real estate benefited disproportionately from the rest. As a result, the existing imbalance has only increased, as is always the case when it is artificially supported.
The Fed not only manipulated the value of real estate but also distorted all price signals in the economy, significantly increasing the money supply. In order for the market to correct the imbalance, prices had to change. The Fed, on the other hand, chose the opposite solution. It devalued money (by increasing its supply), so that the value of real estate (and other goods) changed only minimally. Instead of correcting the imbalance, the Fed’s actions allowed it to persist and even increase. If you really understand the fundamental role that money and the price mechanism play in coordinating economic activity, it becomes clear as day that every time the Fed intervenes to stabilise prices, the imbalance is preserved. The stability achieved through manipulation simply suppresses the volatility. There is unnatural sluggishness in prices, whereas price fluctuations are a desired state and a natural consequence of the market reporting changing preferences. When an imbalance that could be corrected is artificially allowed to persist for a long time, it creates greater volatility in the long term and critically impairs the ability of money to coordinate economic activity, which is its main function. Every time the market is not allowed to correct an imbalance, it only plays into the hands of one at the expense of the others.
By manipulating price levels, the Fed not only prevents small natural fires from happening periodically, which leads to large-scale problems in the future. The Fed makes the fire itself, runs quietly at night through the emergency exit and then returns through the front entrance to put out the fire with petrol, while it is praised as a hero. A change in prices, even if it is particularly volatile, is not a fire to be put out. Artificially preventing price changes, or maintaining price stability, is the real reason for a fire. The Federal Reserve takes over the entire value chain of the pricing mechanism. Price changes are actually desirable, but the central bank counteracts this by manipulating the money supply. It is natural to create an imbalance in the economy, but it is unnatural and dangerous to create a centralised mechanism that prevents it from being eliminated. It also generates long-term economic instability by distorting price signals for decades and increasing property inequality, constantly playing into the hands of those on the right side of the imbalance. Thus, long-term instability and persistent economic imbalances are a predictable consequence of central banks‘ desire to maintain stable prices coupled with their ability to print money.
„In fact, in the case under discussion, the very measures recommended by the prevailing ‚macroeconomic‘ theory as a remedy for unemployment – namely, an increase in aggregate demand – have resulted in a systemic mismatch of resources that makes mass unemployment inevitable in the future. The constant injection of additional amounts of money into different parts of the economy where it creates temporary demand, which will inevitably disappear when the growth in the amount of money stops or slows down, together with the expectation of an indefinite rise in prices, attracts labour and other resources, which can only last as long as the growth in the amount of money continues at the same pace – or even accelerates at a certain rate. Such a policy does not create a level of employment that could not be achieved by other means, but a distribution of employment that cannot be maintained indefinitely and that after a certain period of time can only be maintained at a rate of inflation that will quickly lead to a disruption of all economic activity. A wrong theoretical view has led us to a dangerous situation where we cannot prevent the return of substantial unemployment; not because – as this view is sometimes misunderstood – this unemployment is deliberately created to combat inflation, but because it is predestined to be a sad but inevitable consequence of the wrong policies of the past once inflation stops accelerating,“ Friedrich Hayek „The Illusion of Knowledge“.
Most mainstream economics professors would be happy to agree that setting prices or quotas for certain economic goods naturally causes economic inefficiency and imbalances. However, the same experts are furiously defending central bank monetary policy without realising the fundamental inconsistency. Economic manipulation is an economic manipulation. The immobility of the price or quantity of an economic commodity caused by external forces leads to an imbalance, while variability promotes equilibrium. This is very logical and consistent. So why isn’t it understood as applied to money? When central banks manage interest rates by manipulating the money supply, an imbalance occurs, just as when the Venezuelan government arbitrarily sets the price per gallon of petrol below market value. It is ironic that money supply manipulation is more economically destructive because it distorts all prices in the economy and relative price signals are not adjusted proportionally. When the Fed pursues stable prices, it actively sends false price signals to the economy, maintaining an imbalance in supply and demand structures. Price stability means price manipulation, so it is quite predictable that when you manipulate the price of money to achieve stability by one definition or another, it causes far worse economic distortions than manipulation of a single market.
„We have to see the price system as a mechanism for transmitting information if we want to understand its real function – a function that, of course, it does not perform so perfectly when prices rise in an inelastic manner. (However, even when the prices that are announced become sufficiently inelastic, forces acting through price changes continue to act largely through changes in other contract terms). The most remarkable thing about this system is how it uses the knowledge economy, or how little individual participants need to know in order to do the right thing. Only the most important information is transmitted in abbreviated form, through a kind of symbol, and only to those affected by it. And it won’t be just a metaphor if we describe a price system as a mechanism for recording changes, or a telecommunications system that allows individual producers to follow the movements of just a few indicators, just as an engineer follows the hands of several dials in order to adapt their activities to changes of which they may not know more than what is reflected in price changes,“ Friedrich Hayek „Using knowledge in society“.
Consequences of the continuing imbalance
The consequences of persisting imbalances are best seen in the credit system, because it is the system that is directly affected by the Federal Reserve and therefore where distortion and imbalances are greatest. When the economy slows down and price levels begin to change contrary to the Fed’s preferred rate, the central bank increases the supply of dollars in the financial system by buying debt instruments (usually US Treasury bonds) and crediting newly created dollars to seller accounts. Initially, the credit system was just a monetary policy instrument, a mechanism by which the Fed pursued price stability. Increase the supply of dollars by buying credit instruments, reduce interest rates through the same mechanism, stimulate economic expansion with cheap credit – and stabilise overall price levels. That was the theory, and that was the intention. However, this pattern has predictably led to the emergence and maintenance of imbalances in the credit system itself. And now the tail is wagging a dog. Today, the entire American credit system is valued at $77.9 trillion, whereas in the banking system there is actually only $4.5 trillion. For every dollar there is approximately $17 debt. Again, this imbalance can only be created and maintained by the Federal Reserve. Every time the credit system tries to shrink, the Fed creates more dollars in order to maintain the size of the credit system and promote its further growth. Since the credit system is now several orders of magnitude larger than the monetary base, economic activity today is largely coordinated by the distribution and expansion of credit, not by the monetary base itself. As a result, the credit system has an implicit impact on prices, given its size compared to the monetary base. Because of its desire to maintain stable prices, the Fed is also trying to maintain the size of the credit system, and in order to do so it needs to manipulate the price of assets. This has become a vicious circle. The Fed used the credit system as a tool to stabilise prices, but now it needs to maintain the size of the credit system in order to maintain stable prices.
This vicious circle was only made possible by the Fed’s unilateral control of the money supply. In 1971, US President Nixon officially put an end to the convertibility of dollars into gold, and then in 1976, the US government finally unbound the value of dollars from gold. While the creation of the Fed in 1913 and the Roosevelt Presidential Decree banning private ownership of gold in 1933 paved the way, it was a complete departure from gold as a money anchor in the 1970s that removed obstacles to true money supply centralisation and enabled strong money inflation. When the latter obstacles were removed, the Fed was able to manage the economy more actively through the money supply, which is actually done through the credit system. A direct consequence was the expansion of the money supply and the credit system in a way that was otherwise impossible, which made it possible to continuously increase the imbalance and created long-term economic distortions.
When an imbalance occurs in the credit system (i.e. too much debt), the Fed provides more dollars to make the existing debt levels possible. Instead of writing off problem loans and reducing the existing debt levels, the imbalance is actively maintained. This is the real reason why the banking sector and the credit system have become so big. This would not have been possible if the Fed had not printed money to artificially maintain unsustainable debt levels in the interest of „price stability“. In fact, every time the banking sector needs to shrink, the Fed takes active steps to prevent this from happening. Reminds us of madness, but this is possible because the credit system is the main vehicle for central bank monetary policy. The Fed needs to support the credit system because it is trying to „manage“ the economy through it. The Fed finds manipulation of asset prices to support debt levels less destructive than restructuring and debt cancellation. In the Fed’s view, this is almost the same thing, only with less destabilization. In reality, one thing is economic manipulation of the worst kind, and another is a natural and organic restoration of economic equilibrium. The Fed chooses the first option – short-term stability leading to long-term instability and distortion.
Although it should be obvious that asset price manipulation is beneficial to those who have (the rich) assets and represents a regressive tax on those who do not (the poor), the Fed still seeks price stability. For those at the bottom of the economic spectrum, cash naturally represents most, if not all, of their savings. On the other hand, those at the upper end of the economic spectrum usually have both cash and business interests, real estate and financial assets such as stocks and bonds. Again, let us take the financial crisis of 2008. There was an imbalance in both the real estate and financial markets. Prices on these markets have reached unhealthy levels. When prices began to adjust in order to correct the imbalance, the Fed intervened to „stabilise“ asset prices. Imagine that you just joined the economy without saving, or you could not afford to buy a home and most likely did not own shares or bonds. Everyone who owned assets was saved at the expense of others, all for price stability.
When the supply of dollars increases to support the price of assets, every dollar naturally starts to cost less. Dollar wages for those at the bottom of the economic spectrum are devalued, while asset prices rise as a result of manipulation. Price inflation for most consumer goods follows. It is like getting hit from both sides. You can buy less and less for your salary every day, and it is much harder to accumulate savings to buy assets. Initially, the consequences are balanced: those at the top win and those at the bottom suffer. But in the end, everyone loses, because the result is economic instability. Think about the fact that the more expensive housing is, the less affordable it is, and then realize that the Fed is actively manipulating property prices. Also realise that housing prices in the US are now at an all-time high (above the levels of the 2007 bubble), while half the country has no savings. This is only possible where there is manipulation, and it hits those who have no savings.
The economists who lead all of this, and those who benefit the most from it, will say it is necessary every time; the winners write history, but all this dusting in the eye.
„Of course, it was a crazy experiment, but the Fed had no other choice. Just imagine how many people from the lower end of the spectrum would have been unemployed if it hadn’t been for the Fed’s actions. Without work, the poor would have been much worse off, and they couldn’t afford housing“.
At least that’s a common, predictable excuse. Of course, the recent actions of the Fed in response to the pandemic (printing $3 trillion) were justified in the same spirit. Despite its seeming logicality, defending price manipulation lacks fundamental economic arguments. It is becoming a vicious circle starting with economic imbalances (generated by decades of the same distorting monetary policy). Remember the arsonist who is praised as a hero fighting a fire. You cannot get out of a pit if you dig in the same direction. On a fundamental level, manipulating prices makes it possible to maintain an imbalance that would otherwise be eliminated. This disproportionally rewards those who have laid hands on and benefited the most from the imbalance itself. Those who have taken unreasonable risks receive help instead of punishment, and the imbalance persists. The benefits derived from manipulation of incentives are preserved, which would not have been possible without the Fed’s political decisions.
Economic structure without manipulation
Although there is no perfect balance, the economy seeks it through trial and error, which leads to price fluctuations. Each individual reacts to constantly changing price signals. People assess which business to create, which skills to gain and which job to look for, depending on the personal interests and abilities of each individual. An imbalance can naturally arise in an economy when people speculate and invest too much in certain segments based on imperfect consumer expectations. This is a trial and error method. Nobody knows the future; people use price signals to make the best possible decisions. A business or individual produces a product for X and tries to sell it for Y, and if there is not enough demand for it to be profitable, the market informs the producer. Perhaps next time, there will be more luck: create the same thing cheaper or create something else that is more valuable or appreciated by more people. Those who take the risk will also be lucky to have the consequences. It all comes down to an endless game that aims to reconcile your ideas and skills with the preferences of other market participants.
„Prices and profits are all that most manufacturers need in order to serve the needs of people they do not know. These are search tools like a spyglass that expands the field of vision of a soldier, hunter or sailor,“ Friedrich Hayek said.
Money is a tool used to coordinate resources and test the market by trial and error. It is the lifeblood of the economy, as it is the basis of the price system. With their help, information is communicated to all participants. The better the money, the more reliable the price system is. And the more reliable the price system, the better the balance in the economy. Naturally, the participants in the economy who give the most value to the greatest number of people receive the most money as a reward, but money would have little value to the producer if others did not produce the goods that he himself values. Without balance, the system would not have been viable. To buy a product or service from someone, you must first earn money. Receiving money by voluntarily providing services that are valued by others is much better for everyone than if the money was extracted in some other way. This is the only way to achieve a harmonious, repeatable cycle instead of something short-lived, where some people win at the expense of others. What good is it for a client who has run out of money or no money at all? In a balanced economy, every producer is someone else’s customer, and vice versa.
„Give a man a fish and he will eat one day. Give him a fishing rod – and he will eat for life.“
You don’t have to be religious to understand this wisdom. When there are more people who produce goods and services, and when everyone is motivated to produce something that other economic actors value, everyone benefits. Everyone is interested both in giving something of value to others and in others also giving something of value in return. But this is not just a naive or reassuring economic view of the world. There are clear advantages to trade and specialisation and, ultimately, a greater choice for everyone, which organically dictates the division of labour. Money coordinates the division of labour, and the form of money with the most reliable price mechanism will consistently bring the greatest value with the greatest choice and balance. The price mechanism with the least distortion provides the clearest signals of what others value, and therefore the greatest guarantee that the information conveyed is true. Money and the distortion-free price system ensure that imbalances are corrected, making it possible to restore balance and detect harmonious relationships in a constant process of trial and error.
Economic structure with manipulation and distortion
The Fed’s monetary policy is actively preventing restructuring and the economy from finding a balance. Attempts to maintain stable prices when there is an imbalance are tantamount to maintaining false price signals. Productive assets remain in the hands of a small number of people and the world is constantly in an imbalance state. Money that gets to those at the bottom of the spectrum eventually returns to those who control productive assets because structural imbalances are not eliminated. The Federal Reserve intervention prevents the natural healing process. The economic structure is unable to maintain an organic cash flow because there is no balance and the skills and preferences of market participants do not match. When the Fed injects money into a frustrated economy, it is like giving a man fish and saturating him for one day, while false signals prevent him from learning to fish himself. The imbalance signals that the composition of the economy does not meet the needs of market participants. Or rather, that the lion’s share of wealth would not have come from the assets and individuals that are now, if the economy were allowed to restructure.
The Fed’s economic structure generates injustice by preventing a rebalancing. This is what the market tries to do every time the Fed intervenes to preserve its illusion. It is possible that the Fed believes this is helping. The Fed’s economic theory is based on the fact that active money supply management is a positive driving force. This is embedded in its DNA. The Fed believes that it does not manipulate market signals, but smoothes them out. For Fed managers, the question is not whether or not to manipulate the money supply, but to what extent and when to do so. Can you expect the Fed to assess its actions honestly? It is like giving yourself an examination grade – objectivity is not possible here. Certain false assumptions have taken root in the minds of the Fed managers, which rules out objectivity. They look for answers everywhere, but not in the mirror, and apply the same policy over and over again, each time waiting for a different result.
„Inequality has been growing for over four decades, so it has nothing to do with monetary policy. There are many theories about its causes. One of them says that globalization and technology require an increase in skills, abilities and knowledge, which American education has not been able to cope with during this period,“ Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Fed (June 2020).
For example, Fed Chairman Powell recently answered the question of whether the Fed’s policies are increasing property inequality. Notice that he did not argue why central bank policy does not cause imbalances and inequality. Rather, it was a general statement followed by an excuse of „it’s not us“. Do not believe the myths that globalization and technology contribute to property inequality. There is nothing in technology, innovation and globalisation that causes permanent economic imbalances or increasing property inequality. To be valuable, innovation, by definition, must solve problems for a certain circle of people. But it will not be valuable if these people have no money for it. So there are two sides to value in this sense. It depends on the economic equilibrium. To believe in the fairy tale that technology and globalisation cause economic imbalances, you have to consciously turn a blind eye to the impact of centralisation of the money supply, which in turn has made central banks the epicentre and lifeblood of the economy, and which has allowed imbalances to persist for decades as a result of political decisions. There may be many theories, but manipulating all price signals in the economy is the starting point for economic imbalance and injustice, a fundamental structural flaw that creates unequal conditions, exacerbating all other influencing factors.
If A, then B; if not A, then not B
Money is the cornerstone of economic systems. Understanding the fundamental and fundamental role of money in the economy establishes a logical relationship between systemic economic problems of imbalance and artificial manipulation of money supply. Of course, there are other factors as well. Manipulation of economic activity is not just about the money supply. Tax policy, government spending and the regulatory apparatus all contribute. But to focus on this is like trying to fix windows on the 100th floor, when the lower 10 floors are held together by one brick. This is the relationship between the underlying problems of the monetary system (foundation) and all other economic problems (higher levels). The main problem solved by Bitcoin is precisely the foundation. If you show a little modesty, you can admit that there is no magic tool that can quickly solve the structural problem of increasing property inequality and economic imbalance. No one will improve the situation with any plan or law. The central administration cannot solve the imbalance it has created. Just the opposite. The only real hope is to fix the foundation first so that everyone can do what they want again without having to consciously control it. And then the balance will follow.
„But those who shout about ‚conscious control‘ – and who cannot believe that anything that has developed without intent (or even understanding) must solve problems that we cannot solve consciously – should remember: the challenge is exactly how to use resources beyond what one mind can control, and therefore how to get rid of the need for conscious control, and how to provide incentives that will encourage people to do what they want without someone telling them what to do,“ says Hayek „Using knowledge in society“.
With a fixed offer of 21 million, guaranteed on a decentralised basis and no one’s control, Bitcoin has completely eliminated the manipulation of the cash function. What do you do when naughty children cannot share a toy and play together? You take away the toy and put the children in the corner. This is roughly the connection between Bitcoin and central banks. No person (or institution) can be trusted to control the money supply, so the only practical solution is to remove this temptation altogether. Bitcoin’s only constant is its fixed offer: there will only be 21 million coins, and no one can change that. Everything about Bitcoin can change, but its constant supply will increasingly become the benchmark against which any other activity will be measured. This guarantees equal conditions and represents a source of truth that is not present in the current economic structure. Since supply cannot be manipulated, it is also impossible to manipulate price signals. Undistorted price signals provide better information. But better information and equal conditions must not be confused with price stability or the problem of volatility. If a bitcoin costs $12,000 today and $10,000 tomorrow, it is an undistorted transmission.
„Variability is information. Where there is no variability, there is no information… There is no freedom without noise – and there is no stability without volatility“, – Nassim Taleb and Mark Blythe, Foreign Affairs magazine, May/June 2011 issue.
Fixed supply guarantees that any price change is caused solely by a change in demand and not by artificial and unpredictable changes in the money supply (i.e. the economy will know about changed preferences). This removes from the equation a factor that significantly affects prices today and distorts information about preferences. Imagine that you are absolutely certain that all price changes are caused by changes in consumer preferences and not by an increase or decrease in the money supply. This is the difference between being able to consistently rely on true economic price signals and playing „who will not have enough chair when the music stops“ when you know that „music“ is controlled by someone else. The same principle is true today and will be true in the future. Everyone can be sure that changes in Bitcoin’s pricing system will always be true and will not be caused by unpredictable supply changes.
This fundamental difference between the current monetary structure and Bitcoin completely changes the rules of the game. False price signals against the true. False price signals are like taking an exam, thinking you have a cheat sheet with the right answers, whereas in the end it will turn out that you do not. Everyone thinks that they are reacting to true price signals without realising that the information being transmitted would be fundamentally different if money were not manipulated. Every time there is a shock in the system, everyone gets a hint that the price signals were transmitting bad information, but then the Fed intervenes to stabilise prices and everyone calms down and thinks again that they can rely on the same bad signals. The main reason why shocks are possible at all is that this process has taken place every time the economy has tried to find a balance over the last fifty years. Bad signals are trying to correct, but external forces are supporting and exacerbating them. With fixed money supply, this injustice is forever eliminated. It is no longer possible to maintain the imbalance. As long as Bitcoin exists, money will not be able to spread bad price signals. There is a difference between right, wrong and true. True price signals simply ensure that the information transmitted reflects the aggregate preferences of economic actors. In this sense, there is no right and wrong; the main thing is that you can reasonably rely on information as accurate and undistorted. There is no need to believe or doubt the truth of Bitcoin’s price signals, because this guarantees its fixed offer.
There is also no need to try to play a rigged game anymore, because this game is coming to an end. Days of monetary injustice will be a thing of the past once Bitcoin has spread around the world. The balance of power will again shift in favour of those who really create something of value, which is determined by the true price signals reported by those holding the currency. By putting aside taxes and regulations for a minute, if someone wants to buy Bitcoins, they must provide something valuable in return and the crypt currency will act as a measure of that value. Of the 21 million in circulation, there are already approximately 18.5 million bitcoins. These 18.5 million bitcoins belong to different people and organisations. If you want to buy a certain amount of coins, you have to give them to the holders of something valuable. And even for those Bitcoins that are not yet in circulation, you must also provide something of value. This is not the case in the current monetary system. Dollars can be earned by providing something valuable to other participants in the economy, but the Fed may also decide to give out more money. And this happens quite often. More than 80% of all existing dollars today are created and distributed by the Fed after 2008. (source), without providing value to other economic actors. Which system seems more equitable: balanced and conducive to streamlining incentives in the economy over decades and generations?
As people become more familiar with Bitcoin, the currency will move from those who have it to those who do not. Since the total nominal amount of Bitcoins is constant, everyone in the economic system will benefit. To join the economy, you have to give something of value to someone in the network. Value does not go beyond the system, and inefficiency through creating money does not penetrate it. Whether new members join the network, or the exchange takes place internally, value is always transferred, and even the transfer itself creates value. Remember that the value function of money is to coordinate economic activity. Creating money, on the other hand, does not bring anything of value, but only distorts the ability of money to function properly. The nominal amount of money is irrelevant. What matters is their ability to accurately communicate information to a wide range of economic actors.
This is why people will demand money, and because the rate of change in supply will eventually be zero, each participant can use Bitcoin to better understand their own productivity in relation to the productivity and preferences of others, without any distortion due to the changing money supply. Everyone (on average) can make better decisions by pursuing their goals while at the same time, by definition, providing something valuable to others to achieve those goals. A fixed amount of currency plus more people who value it equals a larger distribution of currency. Because of the fixed supply, there may not be more than 21 million Bitcoins in savings, and paradoxically, this change in motivation structure will encourage more people to save. Since there is an incentive to save (fixed supply), more people will do so. And as more and more people save in a currency with a fixed offer, more and more people will keep smaller amounts and this will create more stability. While centralised control of the money supply and the ability to maintain an imbalance leads to a concentration of wealth, a fixed money supply naturally contributes to increasing decentralisation and distribution of the currency, which leads to greater equilibrium.
Centralised money supply management allows distribution to concentrate as new units of currency are created and imbalances are maintained, while a decentralised management model that provides a fixed supply ensures that the distribution of currency will increase over time. The currency structure itself determines the opposite effect, which can be seen in real data. Savings in smaller amounts in bitcoins are increasing and savings in larger amounts are decreasing. As the currency and economic system grow, the currency becomes more distributed. Instead of being concentrated, the currency is distributed to a large number of people, and the nominal amount held by each of them decreases and the purchasing power increases. The more people demand the currency, the higher its value. But the final offer is fixed. When demand growth naturally outweighs the constantly slowing supply growth, there will only be one main way to get the bitcoins: by giving the existing holders of the currency something of value. The currency will gradually move from a relatively few early holders to a wider user base. Everyone wins. The usefulness of the network grows as more and more members volunteer to join and the distribution of currency becomes less and less concentrated, thus ensuring greater balance and reducing the systemic risks that arise with a few very large holders.
When cash incentives streamline individual and collective interests, balance and overall benefit become the default values. Bitcoin is available to everyone, and anyone who prefers to use it receives the same protection. Anyone who creates something valuable and exchanges it for bitcoins can be sure that the fruits of their activities will not depreciate in the future just because someone in a distant country creates new monetary units. Also, everyone can be sure of undistorted price signals. In Bitcoin, the rich and poor receive these guarantees equally. This does not guarantee that someone will value currency more or less, but it eliminates the possibility of arbitrary devaluation of labour and productivity that have been converted into money, which distorts economic activity and creates false price signals. If you put this possibility near the certainty of a worse outcome, the choice becomes obvious. Compared to the current economic structure, where the richest people have a better understanding of the consequences of active monetary depreciation and are in a better position to protect themselves and take advantage of it, those at the bottom end of the economic spectrum can benefit more from levelling off conditions. Still, it is not about the rich and poor. When money is not created arbitrarily and the economy is more balanced by better information, everyone wins.
„The idea that everyone can have an irrevocable right to own a fixed percentage of all the money in the world indefinitely seems very oligarchic.“
In this tweet for 2018, Vitalyk Buterin, the creator of the Etherium, beautifully and ironically described the advantages of owning a currency with a fixed offer that cannot be manipulated, actually defending the opposite viewpoint. At the same time, he presented the argument used by central bankers to justify their actions and described the benefits that a holder of a fixed-rate currency would gain. Although Buterine believes that the absolute right to own a fixed percentage of all the money in the world indefinitely is oligarchic, what if that right were extended to the poorest people on the planet? What if it were applied equally to all inhabitants of the Earth? And that is Bitcoin’s advantage. If you live in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, such as Nicaragua, and decide to exchange your value for Bitcoins, you will have the irrevocable right to own a fixed percentage of all the money in the world indefinitely. Only you can decide when, how and to whom to give it to in the future in exchange for something valuable. The poorest Nicaraguans suddenly find themselves in the same conditions as billionaires from New York, such as Paul Tudor Jones. In the Bitcoin network, everyone is equal. By default, everyone has the same rights. In the old financial system this is not possible. It is much more oligarchic to arbitrarily devalue someone else’s savings by increasing the money supply while at the same time determining whom to „reward“ with new money. This is no comparison to allowing those who earn money honestly by giving others something of value to determine how to manage them by exchanging them for something of value that will be given to them in the future.
The idea that Bitcoin can solve today’s problems, both rich and poor, puzzles many. Most consider the first crypt currency to be a speculative asset, and many, looking at its volatility, think that it is not suitable for those who do not have the savings they can afford to lose. Alas, this view is completely wrong and has no economic basis. Of course, it is easy, for example, to look at the economic disaster in Venezuela, where it is difficult for the vast majority of people to meet the most basic needs, to think that reliable access to food, water, energy and health care is more important than „buying“ Bitcoins. However, it is more difficult to ignore the fact that the economic collapse was caused by the depreciation of money that previously coordinated economic activity, and that the only long-term solution that will make it possible to recover everything is to use a form of money that better performs the coordinating function. Reliable access to food, water, energy and health care is impossible without money that coordinates resources. To rebuild the economy with new money, you have to take the first step, and if it is difficult to imagine, it does not change the fact that this is the only way. The first step provokes the second, third and so on. Whether it is Venezuela, some other country suffering from a rapidly deteriorating economy or some poor region in the developed world, the need for help is urgent, but there is no quick solution. Bitcoin cannot remove a socialist dictator, eliminate kleptocracy, cancel harmful tax policies or social programmes and magically make the poor rich or vice versa. But it can solve the problems of those who are willing to use it, regardless of wealth or economic status.
There is no reason why the best form of money should perform a function for some, but not for others, regardless of wealth, income levels or any other factor. We need to break the vicious circle, but the starting point for raising an individual or society is to find a way to produce more value than is consumed or demanded by others. The best way to achieve this is to use money to exchange value and coordinate economic activity. Bitcoin is not a tool for the rich that will benefit the poor once enough rich people own it. It doesn’t make any sense. On the contrary, it is the best way to level the playing field, even if it is harder for someone than for others. The demand for money is almost universal, and in time everyone who uses the form of money with the strongest foundation and the most true price signals will benefit from it. While the dollar (and other fiat currencies) benefits a few in the short term and no one in the long term, Bitcoin benefits everyone, now and in the future, because it fixes the economic foundation for everyone.
„Whether in Rome, Constantinople, Florence or Venice, history shows that a solid monetary standard is a prerequisite for human prosperity, without which society stands on the brink of barbarism and destruction,“ says Saifedin Ammus, „A Short History of Money“.