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jacquesm 511 days ago | link | parent

Loaning out bitcoins you don't have is going to be pretty hard.

Bitcoins are closer to cash than it may seem at first glance and just like cash you can't really fake having it.



JumpCrisscross 511 days ago | link

Money consists of central bank money, or currency and deposits at the central bank, and private money. Bitcoin would replace central bank money. It does not, however, replace private money.

If I paint your fence and you give me an IOU, we just created money - real services were rendered and a nominal claim was accepted in return. Similarly, Bitcoins are as (if not more) theoretically fungible as Treasuries. Banks finance themselves in the wholesale markets collateralised by Treasuries. A repurchase agreement using Bitcoins is not beyond practical contemplation.

Note that fractional reserve banking originated on the gold standard.

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jacquesm 511 days ago | link

Sure, but you can't just turn around and ask the central bank of bitcoin to give you some more bitcoins fresh of the presses when you're low.

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waps 511 days ago | link

No ? Why not ?

Let's say the government does the exact same thing to make money that they do now : legislate that more money is printed. Now bitcoiners have 2 choices : use the modified code that specifically allows this transfer/money creation, or go to jail.

What do you think big players will do ?

Bitcoin is actually extra bad for this since it publishes a full financial record. To anyone with a sufficiently large source of identified transactions your accounts are an open book, if they can find just one transaction they're sure was done by you (say, paying your taxes). They don't have to contact 20 banks to find out where your funds went and who was involved, that information is public record. There is no way to pass through a bank in Saudi Arabia or some other bastard country to obscure and/or delay investigations.

Besides, having undeclared money in bitcoin is money laundering. Just having it. Penalty : up to 10 years jail time (Western Europe, and 50 km from here it's up to life in jail, gotta love the dutch). For the moment nobody's been found guilty, but that's mostly because it's only just starting to surface.

And frankly, this is exactly what we want. We may not like governments printing money and abusing it, but anybody who studied the great financial crises of the end of the 19th beginning of the 20th century, it is plainly obvious that the current situation (regularly "big financial scandal, you're probably overpaying your insurance $10") is better than what happened with the gold standard (regularly "surprise ! All your savings are gone. Oh and the same happened to the government so we're raising taxes 50%. Happy starving").

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temphn 511 days ago | link

  Let's say the government does the exact same thing to make 
  money that they do now : legislate that more money is 
  printed. 
Which government? The US government? Or the Russian and Chinese governments? The USG is in decline and everyone knows it. Its ability to enforce laws around the world is not absolute. And by coming out and showing that it really wants X (e.g. the death of Bitcoin), it becomes obvious to many other governments that an interesting way to stick a finger in the eye of USG is to allow not X (e.g. free use of Bitcoin).

Russia recently made it almost impossible to extradite Russian citizens to the US:

http://rt.com/politics/russia-us-moscow-medvedev-clinton-071...

And I don't think the USG is going to be renditioning Chinese citizens from the mainland anytime soon, given how broke the Americans are and how much they owe to China (not to mention that they are a nuclear power).

A lot of people wanted a multipolar world. We're going to get it, and among other things it means the USG will not be able to print money (and thereby dilute your stake, and seize your work product) for much longer.

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nunb 509 days ago | link

> Note that fractional reserve banking originated on the gold standard

Probably because the ledgers of the bullion vaults were kept secret.

Bitcoin is a global distributed ledger. You cannot claim to hold btc because the fact of the holding is verifiable through the ledger.

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wisty 511 days ago | link

> Loaning out bitcoins you don't have is going to be pretty hard.

> Bitcoins are closer to cash than it may seem at first glance and just like cash you can't really fake having it.

Really? Banks do the same thing with cash. It's called "fractional reserve banking", and unless you want to outlaw it (and have more lobbying power than all of Wall Street) it's not going away just because you've substituted paper money for a digital equivalent.

If you want to keep cash under your mattress, you are free to do so. Bitcoins offer no massive advantage here. If you want to have the bitcoin equivalent (a digital wallet), go for your life. But normal people will want the 1% interest the banks pay, and the security of not having their life savings stolen if some bot cracks their computer.

There's only 3 differences between bitcoins, and paper money - they are easier to send, much easier to steal (since crackers can do it), and don't lose value to inflation (which isn't really a new thing - it's just a return to the "gold standard").

People aren't going to stop using banks any time soon. I don't even see which way bitcoins will shift the balance - a few cipherpunks will build their own vaults, and a few grannies will no longer bury their savings under their tulips.

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einhverfr 511 days ago | link

now what we need is a bit-tally-stick to handle IOU's in bitcoin the way that split tally sticks were used to handle IOU's in medieval times. In this way I could loan out the same money I have several times, with the assumption that I get it back before I have to pay it out really.

This may sound a bit far-fetched but there were cases in the Middle Ages of artisans doing exactly that. In fact sometimes they'd even issue their own token-based currency and settle the accounts with other artisans after market day.....

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emiliobumachar 511 days ago | link

"Cash", or paper money, started out as IOU's for gold, and issuing extra expecting most people to not collect more than you could pay was always a possibility.

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jacquesm 511 days ago | link

Are you suggesting we back paper money with bitcoin?

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emiliobumachar 511 days ago | link

All I'm saying is that it won't be hard at all to loan out more bitcoin that you have, if you're a bank.

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jacquesm 510 days ago | link

Try borrowing me a bitcoin that you don't have so I can spend it as a bitcoin.

Then imagine doing that 'as a bank', either you have a bitcoin or you don't, you can't borrow one you don't have. Bitcoin is very subtle in this way and it seems as though lots of people underestimate the amount of thinking that went into it.

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einhverfr 511 days ago | link

We could have a bitcoin iou protocol.....

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