Recently I started buying bitcoins and I’ve heard a great deal of discusses inflation and deflation but not many people actually know and consider what inflation and deflation are. But let’s focus on inflation.
We always needed a method to trade value and probably the most practical way to do it is to link it with money. Previously it worked quite well because the money that was issued was linked to gold. So every central bank had to have enough gold to pay back all the money it issued. However, in the past century this changed and gold isn’t what’s giving value to money but promises. Since you can guess it’s very an easy task to abuse to such power and certainly the major central banks aren’t renouncing to do so. That is why they are printing money, so put simply they’re “creating wealth” out of nothing without really having it. This process not merely exposes us to risks of economic collapse nonetheless it results also with the de-valuation of money. Therefore, because money will probably be worth less, whoever is selling something must raise the price of goods to reflect their real value, this is called inflation. But what’s behind the amount of money printing? Why are central banks doing so? Well the answer they would give you is that by de-valuing their currency they are helping the exports.
In fairness, inside our global economy this is true. However, that is not the only reason. By issuing fresh money we can afford to cover back the debts we’d, put simply we make new debts to pay the old ones. But that’s not only it, by de-valuing our currencies we have been de-facto de-valuing our debts. That’s why our countries love inflation. In inflationary environments it’s better to grow because debts are cheap. But which are the consequences of most this? It’s hard to store wealth. If you keep the money (you worked hard to get) in your bank account you are actually losing wealth because your money is de-valuing pretty quickly.
Because each central bank comes with an inflation target at around 2% we can well say that keeping money costs all of us at least 2% per year. This discourages savers and spur consumes. This is how our economies are working, based on inflation and debts.
What about deflation? Well this is exactly the opposite of inflation in fact it is the biggest nightmare for the central banks, let’s see why. Basically, we have deflation when overall the costs of goods fall. This would be caused by a rise of value of money. To begin with, it would hurt spending as consumers will undoubtedly be incentivised to save lots of money because their value will increase overtime. Alternatively merchants will be under constant pressure. They’ll have to sell their goods quick otherwise they will lose money as the price they will charge for their services will drop over time. But when there is something we learned in these years is that central banks and governments do not care much about consumers or merchants, what they care the most is DEBT!!. In a deflationary environment debt can be a real burden as it will only get bigger as time passes. Because our economies derive from debt you can imagine exactly what will be the consequences of deflation.
So to summarize, inflation is growth friendly but is founded on debt. Therefore Bitcoin Revolution can pay our debts. Deflation however makes growth harder but it implies that future generations won’t have much debt to pay (in such context it might be possible to afford slow growth).
OK so how all of this fits with bitcoins?
Well, bitcoins are designed to be an alternative for money and to be both a store of value and a mean for trading goods. They’re limited in number and we’ll never have a lot more than 21 million bitcoins around. Therefore they are designed to be deflationary. We now have all seen what the results of deflation are. However, in a bitcoin-based future it would still be possible for businesses to thrive. The ideal solution will be to switch from a debt-based economy to a share-based economy. Actually, because contracting debts in bitcoins would be very costly business can still obtain the capital they want by issuing shares of their company. This could be a fascinating alternative as it will offer you many investment opportunities and the wealth generated will be distributed more evenly among people. However, simply for clarity, I have to say that the main costs of borrowing capital will be reduced under bitcoins because the fees would be extremely low and there will not be intermediaries between transactions (banks rip people off, both borrowers and lenders). This would buffer a few of the negative sides of deflation. Nevertheless, bitcoins will face many problems unfortunately, as governments still need fiat money to cover back the huge debts that we inherited from days gone by generations.