My question is, what then will happen when Bitcoin stabilizes, that is, when the time to new coin mined approaches practically infinity? Let's assume the global economy grows at 4% per year. Do Bitcoin's proponents believe a constant 4% deflation rate will be somehow compatible with capitalism? Why lend, why build new companies, when simply storing it is more than enough? Take shocks such as bubbles and demand-side crises. Could a economy based on Bitcoin survive them, and not crash inevitably into a deflationary spiral? I claim it won't.
The party line usually argues for the evils of inflation. What they don't understand, I think, is that capitalism, in its revolutionary (in the sense of production) facet, needs inflation, feeds from it. Inflation might screw lenders, and favor debtors, sure. But deflation is just the inverse: a gift for the leecherous rentier class, and a massive "fuck you" to entrepreneurs.
If that doesn't make sense, think of it like this. Inflation is similar to nuclear fusion and deflation is like nuclear fission. When the former goes critical, you can just shut off the spigots and things more or less fix themselves(albeit with some collateral damage) without the whole system crashing. However, with the latter, there may be no fixing without dismantling everything and starting over.
I think this argument can be discounted simply by looking at the current state of things--people are still spending bitcoins even though the recent appreciation dwarfs any built-in deflation. Sellers may need to discount their price to get people to pay in bitcoins, but even that doesn't seem to be happening yet.
People aren't really spending bitcoins in a meaningful way. They're using it as a passthrough for the dollar, basically. I have a Bioshock Infinite key that I want to sell. Will let it go for 1.5 btc. Why won't this offer be taken up now, when just a couple of weeks ago it would've been considered a fair deal, and just a couple of months ago it would have been considered a GREAT deal?
But that's not to say that centrally-managed currencies don't fluctuate either, because they do--just, typically, in the other direction. If I tried to find a gas station that would sell me a gallon of gas for $2USD today I'd be out of luck, but 2-3 years ago I'd be able to go anywhere in America and get that deal.
That illustrates that the price of oil fluctuates. The USD hasn't dropped in value by 50% in the last two years.
Most of currency is fluctuation is fluctuation relative to other currencies. If the price of the Icelandic krona plummets relative to USD and GBP, it doesn't mean that all the prices in Iceland immediately rise to compensate. People in Iceland are still paid in krona and buy things in krona for approximately the same number of krona.
But if the price of BTC rises suddenly, prices do suddenly decrease because at the moment it's just a proxy. There's no real internal market: there aren't people who are paid in BTC and have their savings account in BTC and make their mortgage payments in BTC and buy their food in BTC.
So BTC really isn't like other currencies. It's fluctuating massively even from an internal market perspective.
Regardless, it is certainly a consumer's right to store their assets in something that is not inflationary, as most do. Is the population holding empty real estate or gold instead of currency really that much better for the economy? No.
Smart money will simply shift out of cash in an inflationary environment, and the value will not necessarily be productively invested.
An opposing viewpoint more thoroughly articulated:
Owning Real Estate (and making money off of it) entails taking care of it. People taking care of their land (so that it can appreciate in value) is a good thing. The typical Real Estate "investor" adds a ton of value to their home, not just through maintenance, but also additions (ie: a new deck).
This maintenance is true value added to the economy. True value that wouldn't have been added if the investor just left his cash in something else.
No one wants to buy a 30-year old home that had no maintenance on it. Unless you're a fan of buying homes with leaky roofs and a flooded basement...
Relative to what? The USD?
Gold is an asset that holds its purchasing power pretty well. It is what it is. It is not however a "piss poor" investment.
After all, Gold reached a glorious bubble of inflation-adjusted $2200+ / ounce in 1970s, and has fallen since then. (yes, even with today's inflated prices, Gold is no where near its inflation-adjusted high).
Lets take a more reasonable graph of Gold, ehh? Something longer term... and see what happens to your trend.
Gold's trend is downward compared to the majority of the market. Each valley is lower, and each peak is lower than the last (with exception of stagflation period in the 70s)
VIX for the S&P 500 is 13.58, while Gold VIX is 13.13. Stocks are both holding their buying power as well as Gold, and still offering better returns right now.
Gold's "stability" is a myth. It is no more stable than any other investment. Bonds offer a conservative, stable investment platform. Gold does not.
Stocks as investment:
And of course, ycombinator. You know... the angel fund / venture capitalist firm that runs this website? We're all here because of investors investing into technology. They do so because they believe they can ultimately make money with technology investments. At least, more so than Gold, Real Estate, or even Stocks.
You might be able to make a little bit of money, but unless the global economy collapses entirely, I doubt we'll see another major increase. Gold actually has gone down in value before, so it could easily happen again again.
Do you know something that the Chinese, Germans and Russians don't ?
"Central Banks Bought Most Gold in Nearly 50 Years"
"The Russian central bank will continue to buy gold as it seeks to diversify its foreign reserves away from paper assets it views as risky"
"The startling news that Germany is repatriating its gold reserves from the United States and France has got precious metals speculators worried that this is the first major sign that trust between central banks across the globe could be deteriorating."
"How Much Gold Does China Really Have?... China is the world’s leading gold producer and also the world’s leading gold importer. And surprisingly their official gold holdings haven’t risen an ounce in over three years."
Germans are bringing gold back into their own country, as opposed to holding it in other exchanges. They have neither increased nor decreased their supply.
China and India are world-class consumers of gold for jewelry, as expected of the world's most populous countries with a rising middle class. Gold is also used in microelectronic components. Chinese Banks on the other hand, have not increased their holdings according to your link. IE: China is not investing into Gold. They're using it.
As for Russian and Iraqi Central Banks buying up Gold between 2012 and today... well... they've already lost 10% on their investment as Gold has dropped in value between last year and today. I mean, if you wanna follow the example of Russian and Iraqi banks, you're welcome to do so. But I don't think anyone considers them a paragon of the investing world.
Why are Germany repatriating their gold? Why do they want it in their own hands? Why go through all that trouble instead of just selling? Why would they want to keep holding onto a "piss poor investment"?
Regarding China, the article's author believes that China has been accumulating gold. The last known official figure is from 2009 and since then imports continue to rise, which in the authors opinion, have been destined for the Central Bank.
As for Russia, they have been accumulating gold for a few years now, and it's right there in the article. "It owned 400 tonnes of gold at end of 2006... At the end of last year, the central bank held nearly 950 tonnes of gold".
If you want to dismiss gold as a "piss poor investment" that's fine, but not everyone shares your view or your investment objectives.
Kraut here. Quite easy to explain, really.
The tabloids and some politicians made up a story along the lines that none of our politicians or central bankers has ever had access to the gold stash in the US and that probably this stash no longer exists.
So as to calm down people, the German central bank has declared they will repatriate 700 tons of gold (out of ~2000t stored in the US, UK, and France).
I still disagree with you of course, but that is what the free market is for. Good luck with your investments.
"Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the last two investment banks left standing, will become traditional bank holding companies, marking the end of an era for Wall Street.
The Federal Reserve's surprise announcement, which came at 2.30am London time, places the banks under the supervision the bank regulators and gives them easier access to credit to help them ride out the financial crisis."
This is a foolish statement no matter what the subject:
>dotcom stocks are a piss-poor investment
>railroads area piss-poor investment
>Apple is a piss-poor investment
All of these are true and false at some point. You can't make blanket statements like that. There are times when Gold as a store of value makes more sense than a central-bank inflated currency. There are times when the opposite is true.
What is certainly true is that Gold is a very good long-term store of value, and the prices of Gold relative to other things, such as a loaf of bread, a barrel of oil, a parcel of land are quite stable over a long period of time.
People often make the mistake of comparing Gold against fiat currencies and decide that Gold may be going up or down in value. What they don't do is look at Gold vs other things, which typically are rising in price just as fast as Gold.
Certainly one thing is for certain, putting your savings into a fiat currency is a very bad long term plan.
Wanna take a bet on that?
Gold is out there, sometimes swinging by 1,700% over a decade... while the CPI doesn't change any more than ~100% / decade.
Dollars (and investments measured in dollars: ie Inflation-protected Bonds like TIPS) retain their value better than Gold, while providing a more stable platform. A 10-year note at even 2% offers you 21% growth over 10 years... much better than the long "valleys" that Gold investments suffered across the last century. (And with historic rates sometimes hitting 14.56%, it was possible for 10-year notes to hit 370% growth over 10 years).
Gold doesn't grow in value in the long term. And as shown in Gold Volatility Index, Gold is also a very unstable investment historically.
In fact, Gold's volatility today is the same as the S&P 500 Index.
So it is just as volatile as stocks... while offering poor gains historically. Neither the conservative nor aggressive investor would want this kind of investment. That makes gold a "piss poor" investment in my books.
Meanwhile, most consumer price indices don't include the things which increase in price the most, like fuel and food. So the inflation numbers you're seeing are already artificially low.
In this kind of environment, it seems pretty likely that gold has further to climb.
Also, most stocks these days don't give dividends, which makes them pretty much equivalent to gold from an investor's perspective. Greater fool and all that.
Investing in just one thing is dumb, of course. But not investing in commodities and gold at all seems equally dumb.
Energy (included inside of "housing category"): 5.096%
If you're curious, you can further subdivide that into milk and eggs. But the list becomes way too unwieldy at that point. The averages are then computed using a geometric mean.
Also, Bond bankers are willing to accept a loss on TIPS, because a fair number of them are betting the opposite of inflation: the potential of deflation between 2008 and 2012.
When big banks were buying up US Treasuries constantly because they're worried about deflation... to the point where some bonds are offering a negative return... the switch of Monetary Policy that favors inflation is the obvious move. Notice: Gold Dropped in value since last year, while big investors continue to run towards the safety of US Treasuries... pushing yields to absolute lows. Why? Because during 2012, the major banks and investors were worried about deflation risk.
Buying commodities and gold when there is considerable deflation risk is dumb.
The Core CPI is used to calculate "Core Inflation," which is the main thing that the Federal Reserve tries to monitor.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_inflation. So although there are alternative CPIs which do include food and energy prices, they are not as important to the people making monetary policy in the United States.
I'm not really sure what you're trying to show with that graph of deflation probabilities. If I'm reading it right, the probability of deflation through 2017 is currently 0%. Since the year is currently 2013, the "probability of deflation between 2008 and 2012" is also 0%, since I just lived through those years, and... it didn't happen.
The reason why people were buying treasury bonds in 2008-2012 is because the rest of the economy was imploding and they wanted a safe port in the storm. I lived through those years and so did you. You ought to know this already.
I don't really know what else to say. If you think it's a good idea to buy a bunch of treasury bonds with super-low interest rates in 2013, knock yourself out! I think anyone with an ounce of sense can see that our government is going to inflate away its debts over the next few years. In the meantime, you'll be helping to keep USGov in the black, so... thanks, I guess.
You're creating the ultimate strawman. You're ignoring the statistics I've presented (statistics using "real" CPI which include food values), and then criticizing statistics that I'm not using. Why don't you read my argument?
Second, even including food prices / energy prices, there were periods of deflation through 2008. Yes, I lived through those periods, do you know what happened to bond investments during that time? I got something like a 20% gain during that period of deflation while the rest of the market crashed.
Anyway, this is the free market. You can continue to invest into Gold if you think its best! We'll both know the answer in a year, so there's no real need to argue about it.
The Federal Reserve's policy of ignoring food and energy prices when making interest rate decisions is often confused with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' measurement of the CPI. The BLS publishes both a headline CPI which counts food and energy prices, and also a CPI for All Items Less Food and Energy, or "Core" CPI. None of the prominent legislated uses of the CPI excludes food and energy. However, with regard to calculating inflation, the Federal Reserve no longer uses the CPI, preferring to use core PCE instead.
So the people making the monetary policy decisions are ignoring food and energy prices, and hence, in my opinion, underestimating inflation.
Anyway, as someone else said in this thread, everything is a good investment at some period in time. The question is whether we are in that period of time.
So you'll see it spike in value right before panics, and slowly lose value after things stabilize.
Of course, gold or any commodity is a worse investment than a stock market index over time.
Buying desert property today and selling it for profit in 10 years when the city next door expands-- that is not wealth creation.
A population holding productive factories, tools, and land is a whole lot better for the economy than people hoarding gold.
It's really not as simple as "investment = good". It's good when it's for stuff that produces value. It's not good when it's invested for the sake of investing and ends up in the stocks of corrupt corporations and shady ventures.
I hear this argument a lot, but no nation that we know of has ever collapsed because of deflation, right? We've never (recently) been in a period of significant deflation, so how can we be so certain of its effects?
> deflation makes it more profitable to do nothing than to invest.
Investment won't ever stop, it just behaves more like a there is a minimum interest rate. No matter what the deflation is, I can still loan out $100 and expect $110 back within a year and make a bigger profit than holding on to it.
People will still work, and spend what they need to. And there's a limit to how much a currency can deflate before it cycles back. And hell, how do we even know that inflationary/deflationary cycles are unhealthy? Even if it causes some businesses to die, maybe this improves an economy in the long term by churning things up a bit.
But is that $10 profit going to be worth the risk of default when an investor could get a satisfactory return by just sitting on the money in the first place? What incentive does an investor have to take bets and possibly lose thousands or millions of dollars when his money appreciates considerably without doing anything?
To use a case from the bitcoin economy, we all know the story of the pizza that someone bought when the x-rate was something like 3 cents per coin. Today, the 10k btc spent on that pizza would have been worth $100k! This story is often told to try to incent people to get into btc, with the implication that "if you forgo the cost of one pizza, in a little while that will be worth thousands of dollars", without realizing that this exactly is the problem with a btc-based economy; if everyone is forgoing their metaphorical pizza in the hope of exponential growth in currency value, the market will be unusable.
People loans each other bitcoin in the bitcoin economy all the time, abiet with high interest rate.
if everyone is forgoing their metaphorical pizza in the hope of exponential growth in currency value, the market will be unusable.
The demand for pizza will be low, but not zero, because the desire for pizza competes with desire for monetary profit. At some point in the future, people decides that the waiting is enough, and they will buy pizza as reward for all their patience.
Of course, everyone likes deflation when it means they can buy more for less. Of course, if prices of things get so low that people start to purchase, then deflation will eventually reverse, unless you assume that deflation will continue forever until prices reach zero and everything is free. Of course, everyone force-fed a diet of Keynes assumes that hoarding relates to stuffing mattresses full of money instead of holding cash in banks, where the bank can lend the money out and still invest. They uncritically swallow the line that a central bank inflating at will is the best thing for an economy.
Inflation/deflation are just two phenomena with different winners and losers, the same as high/low currency values. Deflation favors lenders and savers, and inflation favors borrowers and spenders.
The inflationists always assume that the borrow/spend nexus is far more important than the lend/save. But of course saving drives all investment, so a period of deflation isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact we see deflation in specific markets like housing which helps to clear out the bad decisions and mistakes and set the base for future expansion.
Once you clear your head of the foolish 'borrow and spend' mantra of the last 80 or so years, and realise that investment and production are more important than spending and consuming, it becomes obvious that a bit of mild deflation isn't necessarily the hobgoblin it is made out to be.
The simple fact is that no economy and social order has ever imploded due to deflation, but inflation has some pretty terrible economic and social effects when it gets out of control. Deflation, like any long position, can only ever go down to zero. Inflation, however, is like any short position and can go to infinity.
As with anything, too much of any extreme is bad. Too much inflation or too much deflation. But with fiat currency, it's natural to expect steady inflation over time -- especially if it's not tied to a commodity (e.g. after we got off the gold standard). That's because there's value in lending money to some enterprise, and that's the time value of money. Organizations with good credit (e.g. banks) issue and lend money to organizations with worse credit. So they will expect a return in the enterprise, and overall if they guess right, the enterprise will have returned principal + interest to the lender. If they don't then the money disappears from the system, but in most booming economic times, more money is created, and eventually more money is printed to provide more base money in order to pay back all that interest.
So it's like an elastic money supply that's being prodded by lenders / banks looking for a return.
The financial systems works different.
You seem to be conflating wealth and money. Money doesn't disappear from the system when someone fails to repay a loan. (Unless you are taking a rather wide, but still sane, definition of money, and hold that lending increases the money supply.)
No extra money needs to be printed to pay back all that interest. That's because central banks pay a dividend to their governments.
Also I am not sure what mechanism you are describing when you say that central banks pay dividends to their governments. On the contrary, governments like the US use their central banking system to do open market operations on bonds they issue to finance their operations, and usually have to pay interest on that debt. No?
Please see e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_bank#Currency_issuance:
"The European Central Bank remits its interest income to the central banks of the member countries of the European Union. The US Federal Reserve remits all its profits to the U.S. Treasury."
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Bundesbank#Gewinn has some more information, but you have to speak German (or use Google Translate). Lower than expected profits of the Bundesbank have been in the news in 2011.
Periods of asset deflation after over-investment/economic distortions may act as a balance, but it isn't "good". Having your net worth halved is crippling.
>"The simple fact is that no economy and social order has ever imploded due to deflation"
No economy implodes due to deflation or inflation alone. Countries like Germany or Zimbabwe had production capacity collapse. That led to printing money (to stave off deflation), which in turn led to hyperinflation. Too much money chasing too few goods, remember? In order to have too few goods, the country's production has to go into the toilet.
Saying deflation isn't bad flies in the face of many of the greatest economic minds we know, with tons of research and theory to back it up.
I have not said deflation is good, or said that it is not bad.
I have merely stated it creates winners and losers, and that inflation isn't automatically better. The same as a 'high' or 'low' currency - the goodness or badness depends on the reference frame.
The assumption that inflation is automatically better is 'common knowledge' based on theories of economics developed that classify savings as bad, and spending as good, based on the assumption that deflation will cause consumption to be postponed, but which hand-waves away the problem of inflation bringing forward consumption with the trite statement of 'in the long run we are all dead'.
My point is that deflation isn't the bogeyman many have been trained to believe it is. Spending-based assumptions of economics have led the world down a garden path of unsustainable debt in the name of endless 'stimulus' and inflationary policies. Periods of mild deflation and creative destruction would have served the world better than endless shots of new cheap money.
That's only part of the argument.
Another part is that wages also must decrease with deflation (wages are an input price). And that's very difficult to pull off in a modern economy, and leads to unemployment. We are seeing that right now.
The fact of the matter is, we should be indifferent to either inflation or deflation, as long as we can see the changes coming and adjust quickly enough. In reality, we can't. Hence an ever-increasing money supply (to coincide with an ever-increasing demand for money) is the best bet.
>"based on theories of economics developed that classify savings as bad"
I've never encountered that argument.
>My point is that deflation isn't the bogeyman
Look at this thread. Look at Seeking Alpha. Look at Reddit. You think people are over-reacting to deflation? People everywhere are hyperventilating over out of control inflation, when, in fact, our current problems are associated with a deflationary event ($3.5TT wiped from the collective financial sector sheets).
"Having your net worth halved" happens in the inflation scenario. Deflation increases your net worth.
If you have $10,000 and there's inflation, then eventually it will only buy half as much stuff. If you have $10,000 and there's deflation, then eventually it will buy twice as much.
Interesting. We've been in a positive inflation environment since I've been born, and my net worth has increased exponentially.
Deflation will increase the purchasing power of your money due to the fall in prices, but decrease the value of assets you own priced in that currency. Something people seem to be forgetting around here are that wages also fall during deflation, and that results in lower purchasing power and unemployment. Your "work" isn't worth as much anymore. You get paid less. Good deal!
What happened when the housing bubble collapsed and there was massive deflation in home prices? Did those people get wealthier? Did it become easier for other people to spend their dollars on homes at the new low prices? The answer is no and no.
Why is the answer to this question "no"?
Note: I'm not saying I agree with them, just answering your question.
And which have collapsed from inflation? None, directly. Hyperinflation (and deflation) is an effect of an economy collapsing. Not a cause.
"Hyperinflation is often associated with wars, their aftermath, sociopolitical upheavals, or other crises that make it difficult for the government to tax the population, as a sudden and sharp decrease in tax revenue coupled with a strong effort to maintain the status quo can be a direct trigger of hyperinflation."
Note "decrease in tax revenue". Economic crisis > deflation > country can't pay the bills > hyper-inflates currency.
The Weimar Republic intentionally inflated their currency to reduce the WW1 reparations payments, which got out of control and reduced the value of the Mark to nothing.
Inflationary policies collapsed the tax base due to destroying the ability of the economy to function normally, not the other way around.
This is easily shown by the fact that as soon as the Weimar Republic re-introduced an asset-backed stable currency, the economic problems improved greatly, though there were deflationary periods after that caused by the massive economic upheaval.
By you, perhaps.
Economic crisis, couldn't pay the bills, so they inflated the currency. Just like I said. Are you really going to argue that there was no war or aftermath, social upheaval or other crisis (like, say, debilitating war reparations) that led to hyperinflation? Crisis comes first.
So often Wiemar Germany is trotted out as the example of what can happen when the government prints excessively. "It can happen to you! Wheel-barrows full of money to buy bread!" The reality, the country and its economy was in shambles. Not because of inflation.
Your turn: point to an economy that was happily chugging along, and hyperinflation came out of nowhere and took it down.
The Weimar Republic, arguably.
This makes no sense to me. If keeping 100 units makes one richer because they are worth more in a year, then any investment which has a positive return (that is, you end up with more than 100 units in a year) must be that much better... What am I missing?
So someone comes along and wants a loan, but they can't pay back 3% interest rate, only 2%. Why would you give that person your 100 units if you'll only get 102 units (in today's money) back in a year? Much better to hold on to it.
So someone comes along and can pay you 5% interest rate. Sounds better, right? However it's for a business. So you don't know if their business will survive, it might go backrupt. Let's pretend it's an early start up, so there's a 50/50 chance they go bust and your 100 units are a write off and gone. So that's only a 2.5% interest rate. Again, why loan it out if you can get a guaranteed 3% by doing nothing?
I know it's just an example, but no-one should ever lend at 5% if there's a 50% chance of losing the total sum, regardless of the currency involved and whether it's deflationary or inflationary. The EV of such a loan is -$47.50 for a one-year term.
>So someone comes along and wants a loan, but they can't pay back 3% interest rate, only 2%. Why would you give that person your 100 units if you'll only get 102 units (in today's money) back in a year? Much better to hold on to it.
Because if you don't lend, you keep your $100. If you lend, you get back $103. $103 will always be worth more than $100, regardless of whether your currency is inflationary or deflationary.
This is not true. There is no guaranteed rate of deflation.
The rate at which you can 'mine' bitcoin is limited and there is a hard limit to the total amount of bitcoin that can be mined.
Today, with dollars, you can get a risk-free return by investing in T-bills. Riskier investments pay a higher return in exchange for higher risk. The risk-free return from holding a deflationary currency plays essentially the same role as the risk-free return in T-bills.
With USD, you know the value of your currency will drop due to inflation. In order to keep up with inflation, you have to put your money in an investment vehicle that stands in as a proxy for the overall economy. Hypothetically, you could buy a perfectly proportional amount of every single listed stock, every bond, piece of real estate, and so on (this is what index funds attempt to approximate).
In the latter example, you also have managed to convert your currency into an ideal proxy for the entire economy. Any attempt to pick winners or losers will, statistically, give you slightly worse results on average than had you simply tracked the market as a whole.
Both examples are similar, except in the latter example, you've actually put your money back into the economy: a company issued the stock in order to raise the capital to expand and grow. In the former, your money is essentially removed from the overall money supply. It is available to no-one, and causes further deflation. The more money you hoard, the less money available for financial transactions. The less money available for transactions, the more valuable each unit of currency becomes.
If you sit on money you get from the economy, you are taking it out of the exchange system as long as you don't spend it, which slows exchange.
Savings would still be invested with a fixed money supply, because investment provides a return whether nominal prices are falling or rising.
Sound investments will account for either inflationary or deflationary trends, just as they do now.
This is clearly the case when nominal prices are falling. But when prices are rising, the reason they are rising is a contraction of the economy… and again, your money is still best left alone. Because while your investments might pay off when the economy rebounds, you'd still be statistically better off with your money sitting under the digital equivalent of your mattress; when the economy rebounds, prices will fall again, and your untouched money will be worth more in direct proportion to how much the economy has rebounded.
Not so with bitcoin.
Not so for staples.
Prices going down is merely a symptom of deflation, but it is not deflation.
That is, the price of good may fluctuate as function of how much current labor you need to buy it, or as a function of how much of your past savings it will cost.
The diference between those measurements is due to money supply (in part, for there are other complicating factors)
If you thing sitting in an empty room counting bit coins is better than buying caviar or plane travel or curing malaria or whatever, then hoarding is good.
This is a simple example. Some of this already occurs in the real world, since machinery depreciates over time. it's just that currency deflation is another force opposing investment and braking money flow.
If this is holds true, why do people buy from markets where prices regularly decrease? Wouldn't it follow that they will wait in perpetuity and never buy that new phone/laptop/etc?
People derive utility from those things. They make calls with their phone and do work on their laptop.
Bitcoin is entirely different. It's only purpose is to allow you to buy other stuff.
Therefore when you compare Bitcoins to the laptop, you're comparing the wrong things. The argument is:
"People will not spend deflationary currency [Bitcoin] on stuff [anything] because it's better to simply keep the deflationary currency [Bitcoin]"
the reply is:
"People do spend deflationary currency [Dollars] on stuff [laptops] even though it would be better to simply keep the deflationary currency [Dollars]"
Dollars are deflationary relative to laptops.
There is certainly utility in being able to buy stuff that cannot easily be bought with traditional (government) currencies. Namely, things that are illegal in various countries, like drugs or gambling.
Saving is investing. You're investing in your ability to manage your risk at a future date. If you have no savings, then you are at risk of any minor problem (e.g. an injury, decreased revenue, or a natural disaster) causing you a major setback.
The "common wisdom" you've heard about inflation being necessary for an economy is a lie. It's a lie that justifies the wealthiest class of individuals in this society to be "bailed out" again and again.
The investor class doesn't want bail-outs, though I'm sure they appreciate bail-outs when they happen. The wealthiest lost the most (in money, though not in utility/standard of living) in the 2008 crash. They'd have much rather avoided the 2008 crash's happening in the first place.
The lie, in actuality, is the idea deliberately promulgated by certain members of the investor class that inflation is evil. They do this for obvious reasons. It is precisely this lie to which you evidently subscribe.
Here's how it works: The banks have a balance sheet of debts owed to them. Some of the debts come from companies like General Motors and United Airlines. If one of those companies threatens to go bankrupt, then the bankers simply lobby the congress to "bail out" the troubled company. This allows the banks to keep the troubled asset on their balance sheet, and continue making an ongoing revenue stream. Of course, the "bail out" results in an increase in the money supply, which means every single holder of USD pays through a decrease in spending power of their dollars.
Do banks want to be bailed out? Sure. Who doesn't. Do rich bankers benefit more than the working class from higher inflation? Certainly not.
Yes, they do, because they are the first to get to spend the inflated money.
If you go back to a point in time when the royal mint could produce an inflated currency by diluting the metal content in coins, then they were the beneficiary of the inflated money by getting to spend it at the current price levels. By the time that money filters through the system to the poor, the prices have risen and the currency is worth less.
The same happens now when the central bank provides newly-minted funds to banks. The banks get first use of the money and get to use it at current price levels, before the flow-on effect of the increased supply takes hold.
In a hyperinflationary environment, here's how a million bucks in new money plays out:
In week one, it buys you a new house
In week two, it buys you a new car
In week three, it buys you a new friday
In week four, it buys you a restaurant meal
In week five, it buys you a newspaper
That is a necessarily exaggerated example, but the beneficiaries of newly inflated money are those that first get to use it. And that is the banks. This is all entirely by design; the true purpose of having a central bank and a fiat currency.
Of course, inflation can be very bad, too.
In a deflationary environment, people buy less stuff they don't need today, which leads to a higher quality of economic growth.
The problem is that if I won't buy it for $100 today because I can buy it for $50 tomorrow, I won't buy it for $50 tomorrow because I can buy it for $25 the next day, so you NEVER buy an iPhone
Technology always gets cheaper rapidly. Lots of people seem to buy it.
A 4% annual deflation rate would stop unhealthy debt expansion, which only stimulates short term growth and long term pain.
Higher quality growth comes when real economic value is created through transactions rather than speculation or inefficient investment.
Of course, all those who insist that inflation is a superior state can't explain the economic effects of everyone deciding to purchase today before the prices go up, leading to much weaker demand and production in the future.
Bringing forward spending excessively is just as problematic as send it backward into the future.
People make this kind of tradeoff all the time. I can either purchase a product for $100 from Best Buy, or, I can wait for two days and get the same product for $80 from amazon (or $83.99 and get it the next day).
There are times when I choose to be prudent and save the extra cash and wait 48 hours until the amazon package shows up. Other times, I would prefer the product sooner, rather than later and spend more money for the item.
> This means that no one buys anything
Think about technology. Every day, the cost of a new computer drops by $0.27 on average, let us say, or about $100 per year. Last year's models have a $100 discount, three-year-old machines have a $300 discount, five-year-old or older machines are bargain basement or even negative value (you have to pay someone to haul them away for recycling).
Every day, your money increases relative to the value of computers. Every day, when you wake up, you face an economic choice: You could buy that new machine today, and have it today, or you could buy it tomorrow, and have the new machine and $0.27 left in your pocket.
By your logic, everyone would always choose to postpone buying a computer.
Yet people buy new computers all the time, and have for several decades. How can you explain that? It's a real deflationary market that doesn't have this problem.
If the market reduces because of a lack of investment, wouldn't the currency reduce because you hold the same proportion of a smaller thing, creating an incentive to stop negative growth.
There is also the factor of the OP's so-called CryptoBarons. Money is just an idea until you actually spend it. If there are a number of people living it up because they got a bunch of bitcoin really early the result would be essentially another form of bitcoin creation. Those CryptoBarons would be adding currency into circulation as they spend, currency that was effectively frozen before that point.
I'm not sure what will happen in the end, but it will certainly be an interesting ride.
Isn't deflation for the buyer seen as inflation for the seller and vice versa?
Why would you then not (applying your deflationary spiral model) expect a "market death" from sellers not selling under currency inflation?
Person A: one who gives Bitcoins in exchange for Widgets.
Person B: one who gives Widgets in exchange for Bitcoins.
Notice the symmetry. The name buyer and seller are arbitrary designations depending on what you consider the currency and what you consider the good being sold.
The inflation/deflation symmetry exists but it is not in the same terms. Deflation for bitcoins is the same as inflation for widgets. The widget holders are desperate to trade their widgets for bitcoins since their widgets's purchasing power is decreasing, but bitcoin holders are reluctant to buy widgets since their value is decreasing.
Let's look at a single-currency country first. Prices fall. Including wages. Credit is tight - money appreciates without being invested and borrowers have to repay debts in more expensive currency tomorrow, making them more likely to default [Fisher]. People with money benefit - the rich get richer and the banks hoard capital, refusing to make loans. Inflation fuels asset bubbles as the economy over-invests; deflation fuels the opposite as the economy starves itself.
Yes, we have seen deflation. The U.S. and U.K. both experienced crippling deflation in the 1930s . Before that, remember the American populist movement's "Cross of Gold" speech ? That wasn't a reaction to an inflationary gold standard. The euro zone offers a more contemporary view of the effects of deflation, as does my Switzerland .
Uncertainty in the future path of deflation that is more toxic than deflation per se. The U.S. grew through the Great Deflation in the 1870s and Japan has had mixed real effects from its almost two decade deflation [Morana]. Theoretically, if deflation proceeded at a steady clip, markets could accommodate (Milton Friedman advocated for an economy deflating at the real interest rate [Friedman]).
But what if we have two currencies, e.g. U.S. dollars and Bitcoin? Argentinians have a choice between black market (or "blue") dollars and an available but inflating peso. Tellingly, Argentinians buy dollars primarily for overseas vacations . This is an example of a bad currency (the peso) and a good (the greenback). The Argentinians still execute the bulk of their transactions in pesos, not dollars.
Deflation is not likely to be Bitcoin's death knell, but rather a ceiling on its usage. A deflating Bitcoin will crimp transaction demand for the currency as spenders shift preference to more easily borrowed and spent dollars. Sellers would respond in kind (or, alternatively, sellers who respond in kind would gain market share).
Caveat: if Bitcoins are treated as a financial asset, for speculating versus spending. If so, deflation would proceed un-checked, with speculators driving out the transaction value of the currency. That said, gold has survived both deflation and speculation, so this isn't a fatal blow either.
[Fisher] http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/i332559 The Debt Deflation Theory of Great Depressions (1933)
 http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0143116800/ref=redir_mdp_mobil... See Norman Montagu; British depression
 http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/1c23c088-60c3-11de-aa12-00144... Swiss central bank moves to weaken franc (June 2009)
[Morana] http://www.icer.it/docs/wp2004/Morana29-04.pdf (2004)
[Friedman] http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1412804779/ref=redir_mdp_mobil... The Optimum Quantity of Money (1969)
 http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2013/01/17/argentinas-blue-... Argentina’s “blue” dollar blues (January 2013)
With a deflationary currency, you can pay your workers nominally slightly less each year while paying them the same or even slightly more in real terms.
How would the average person on the street react to being told "You've performed really well this year, so we're only going to decrease your salary by 1%. Congratulations on your raise!"?
From January 1995 to January 2010, Japan's CPI (2005=100) has fallen from 100.8797 to 99.5851, or or -0.08% per year. In that time, real wages grew 0.23% . Real GDP/capita at 0.61%. Hell, from 2010 to 2013 their CPI has fallen at 0.27% annually, but the hit has been mixed. Note that the Japanese monetary base (M2) has expanded at 2.5% annually from 1995 to 2010, so this is a demand-driven deflation, consistent with Morana. But the deflation we base our analysis on, the Great Depression, was similarly spurred by demand.
Similarly, Germany, through the Hartz reforms, engineered a wage deflation at the beginning of this century. Helping power the American recovery is wage deflation. The hope is austerity, structural re-alignment through deflation, will similarly fix peripheral Europe's bloated labour costs.
Yes, it appears people will take falling wages if forced. All this said, I do not believe a deflating national currency is the right model for Bitcoin. Instead, look to arguments levied as the world switched off gold, an international deflationary currency, to inflationary fiat ones.
 Own calculations from St. Louis Federal Reserve Economic Database
When 2140 comes around, and all the bitcoin is mined, then it will only deflate at the rate which coin is "lost into the ether" from people losing their wallets, etc. I highly doubt the deflation rate will be anywhere near 1%.
Ohhh, now I get it.
Hoarding is a derogatory term, intended to evoke an emotional response from the reader. I prefer the term "saving".
> Why lend, why build new companies, when simply storing it is more than enough? Take shocks such as bubbles and demand-side crises.
Most bitcoin proponents to indeed reject Keyensian, demand-side economics.
I, for one, think entrepreneurs would typically benefit from not relying on debt.
>capitalism[...] needs inflation, feeds from it
Increasing the money supply helps one class of people: the bankers. It doesn't help the middle class, it doesn't help entrepreneurs, and it definitely doesn't help the common person. It's an insidious hidden tax.
All this talk about inflation reminded me of a funny (in a dark way) propaganda video made in 1933 regarding inflation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUvm9UgJBtg.
I don't understand how something completely unsupported by the data is repeated as truth.
Historically, deflation is disastrous for everyone, and high inflation also disastrous for everyone. Moderate inflation has the effect of redistributing wealth from capital to work, and tight money the effect of redistributing wealth from work to capital. Compare Australia (loose money) to the Eurozone or America or Japan (tight money) for example.
Simple; it has never been conclusively and irrefutably disproven. Ergo, it must be true, or else it would have been disproven.
Religion isn't the only one with nutjobs ;)
"Investing" one's resources means putting them to work to create value. "Hoarding" them means the assets are as good as if they were buried in the ground. Investing is riskier and takes more work and more smarts, but any idiot can hoard.
What creates (or is more likely to create) more value? 1 million dollars distributed among promising startups, or 1 million dollars spent on mining gold? 1 billion dollars spent creating an airline, or 1 billion dollars spent on vast swaths of real estate?
Yes, sometimes saying "no" in the aggregate is the right call.
That's why we're laughing at you.
tl;dr; money is useless if no one spends it, that's the whole point.
another way to think about it is a stock. if a stock is priced, and no one is buying or selling at that price, is that price really valid? whats to keep another actor in the economy from pricing a stock totally different if there is a 'dumb' actor wiling to buy at that price.
I don't think there is good evidence of this "fact". Economics is not a hard science.
A few points, one, you can't argue that bitcoin deflates and therefore is worthless. The is an obvious inconsistency there. Second, imagine if bitcoin had built-in inflation. What would happen if someone would release bitcoin+ with inflation equal to zero (i.e. current bitcoin)? Obviously the "good money" would drive out the bad and everyone would save bitcoin+.
It's not related to your comment, but I'd also like to comment on the Ponzi scheme arguments. My question is, how would you design a cypto-currency to avoid to problem of early adopters getting wealthy (the new ripple has a different scheme, a terrible one, IMHO)? You have to introduce the currency somehow. If you are an early adopter of bitcoin, should you sell now at $100? Maybe you should have sold out when it got to $1.
"Inflation is bad, but deflation is worse. The reason is that in a deflationary environment, no one spends money — because whatever you want to buy is sure to become cheaper in a few days or weeks. People hoard their cash, and spend it only begrudgingly, on absolute necessities" from https://medium.com/money-banking/2b5ef79482cb
This isn't 1941 England and bitcoins aren't sugar. Early adopters in the right thing often make money. Usually on HN they are called investors and congratulated. Sour grapes on missing out? (I did too)
If you don't want to miss out again, buy Litecoins and Namecoins. Litecoin will never be worth as much as BTC (because there will be 80million of them as opposed to 20something million BTC) but it will slowly gain in value as it has some impressive features especially suited for online gaming payments with fast confirmation, secure online voting apps, or of course online gambling.
Litecoin is presently $1.30/each I see that going up to $4 at least by end of year now that more people are using it.
I am a fan of cryptocurrency in principle, but not of this particular oversimplification that was borrowed from some very sloppy thinking on the part of gold enthusiasts.
Limited supply does not reliably ensure certain price behavior independent of demand.
Is there any acceptance in commerce of these competitors? Unless there is an underlying demand created by available products, these coins will be worth nothing.
In my opinion, features won't matter. Bitcoin has critical mass, and it's unlikely to face real competition.
There's also PPcoin a low energy coin compatible with BTC miners that's getting more popular.
Another advantage to Litecoin is you don't see it in the news everyday with the words 'Drugs' and 'Blackmarket' beside it, meaning correspondent banks will still deal with you if you want to set up an exchange whereas a lot of banks now are dumping bitcoin startups out of paranoia
You should qualify that with the word "yet". Is there anything in Litecoin's design that doesn't allow it to be used for drugs and by black markets? No. Honestly, Litecoin doesn't even have that going for it. Acceptance as an actual currency is the difference between a cryptocurrency becoming a legitimate investment versus a speculative pump-and-dump scheme.
I assume that mining will tend to be modestly profitable. As Bitcoin scales up and as the reward goes down, either it will have to increase transaction fees and use an enormous amount of energy, or the mining reward will be too low compared to Bitcoin's value, there won't be enough miners, and 51% attacks will start to be profitable.
This isn't a problem for PPcoin, which gradually transitions to proof-of-stake instead of proof-of-work. It seems to me like it'd be more viable as a major currency.
I'm sure there are a lot of other "oops" and "fuck" moments in many bitcoin watchers' moments. If you can laugh about it, then more power to you. From what I've read, when they first came out, they were very hard to obtain and people were actually excluded from it (is this true?), so someone must have seen the value. I first came across it on github in late 2009 when searching for project ideas but skipped over it as some type of scam. Others only saw value in building bitcoin apps, rather than simply holding the coins.
What are you looking at now?
I don't know enough about litecoins to say.
2. Why take credit for business if you can save your own earned money which appreciates over time and have 100% stake at your own project?
3. How deflationary spiral is supposed to happen? Will people be paralyzed and dead of hunger and thirst holding their precious coins? Or they will trade with each other to get stuff done?
Some of the ways people handle their property is detrimental to society. If enough people do it, hoarding capital is one of them.
Regardless, many assets are deflationary. Rich people buy real estate and commodities because they are deflationary, or at least not inflationary. There is nothing wrong with assets that grow or maintain value.
Bitcoin is a liquid and easily transferrable deflationary value store, just like gold. Telling people they should submit to inflation for the greater good is ridiculous. Inflation works because it keeps those too poor to have real assets on the gerbil wheel. The wealthy (or smart) just store their money in non-inflationary assets and sit pretty.
Besides, if you can't get better than a 4% return, you probably shouldn't be investing in whatever it is you're considering anyhow.
Edit: I don't think space colonization matters here. Sure, it may be possible. But Mars is sufficiently far from Earth and the energy cost of transport sufficiently high that a populated Mars would effectively be an entirely separate economy for everything but intangibles. I don't think a Mars colony would permit Earthly exponential growth to continue, even though Martian exponential growth could occur for quite some time. (Until Mars' own unique limits were reached.)
So, everything but 90% of the economy in forty years' time?
Quite to the contrary, it gets the proletarians out of debt!
Yes. All the proletarians whose debt is at an interest rate under the rate of inflation. Which is exactly zero of them.
Price inflation only hurts wage earners when it is coupled with flat nominal wages-- but that is merely a (too powerful) psychological trick that people don't notice.
- Inflation does not help debtors, unless they don't pay interest. Inflation is added to interest rates, so it has no effect. Inflation only helps debtors if they have a fixed interest rate and inflation goes up, which clearly not desirable or sustainable over a long period. In fact, inflation encourages debt, which creates a further enslaves debtor class and enriches capital holders.
- Inflation does not hurt capital holders. Anyone with sufficient capital holds assets that are not inflationary, such as gold or real estate.
- Price inflation hurts wage earners because real wages drop rapidly and requires nominal "raises" which creates a false reward, thus the hamster wheel. Got that 10% raise after 3 years? Congratulation, you make the same amount of real wage. Further, low wage earners can not afford or don't have the savvy to purchase inflation resistant assets, so what little they do have either depreciates or is inflated, thus the hamster wheel.
I may sound like a Marxist, but I am not. I believe in the free market and real currency, not the modern mess we have.
I think you are wrong. Imagine living in such an economy and facing the choice between hoarding (4% deflationary gain) and a good investment (10% gain). What would you do? All I see happening is that less money is being spent on bad investments due to artificially low interest rates as it happens to today.
When there are no liabilities for holding an asset, there's not a big incentive to sell it.
How... what...? Please explain.
 If you rent out your land you start paying property tax, the government wants there own piece of that pie.
Plus, in the UK there are certainly liabilities for holding land that has a residential property on it. As the landowner, you'll be paying the council tax on it if you have no tenants, and with many councils now, that'll be a more expensive rate too (currently 150% of the standard rate for unoccupied property in my area). Of course, council tax isn't really a property tax, though it can act like one in some situations and basically covers similar things that US property taxes do.
houses are nearly always freeholds, whereas flats (apartments) are normally leaseholds, as it would be unfair if one flat owning tenant has land rights over the others.
recently the government has given leaseholders the right to purchase the freehold from their landlord (if they all agree), but this involves setting up a company that all leaseholders are shareholders/directors of, with all the rights and responsibilities that that entails.
Must be an English thing, that is certainly not the case in Scotland.
Jokes aside, any sort of investing in illiquid assets is fraught with risks. We are talking about a currency here which by definition requires liquidity to be useful, these are two very different things.
Yes, I'm arrogant and I'll deal with an idealized model where the same set of resources is transformed into final goods, but bear with me.
In order to get a real growth of 4% be it per year or per century in such a scenario, you need to find a better use of resources so that with the same resources you may produce an output which is 4% greater than before.
Which is the same as saying the the only way to grow is to find ways to produce final goods cheaper.
And because production is cheaper, more goods could be sold but.. entrepreneurs will still make a profit. Pretty much the same.
And the fact that final goods get cheaper means just that.. That goods get cheaper.
And you will not get rich by just holding bitcoins, or any other fixed supply money. Yes, you will be able to get more stuff for but only because the stuff get cheaper..
You'll still hold the same fraction of total purchasing power that as the day you decided to "hoard" your money for a while.
That's not what I call getting rich, and that's why loans and interest make sense and are safe with bitcoin.
P.S. Take you time. It's late in my TZ.
Let's work through an example. I buy 100 seeds for $1 each. I plant them, let them grow, and harvest the result. I now have 104 seeds. My real growth is 4%!
Now I want to sell the seeds back to recoup my investment. But I discover that prices have dropped by 4%: seeds now go for 96 cents apiece. My 104 seeds now are worth $99.84! I would have been better off not buying seeds at all, and instead just holding on to my money. Real output is reduced.
This illustrates how deflation inhibits growth.
Do the seeds or plants have any purpose other than the production of more seeds to eventually be sold?
In this model, seeds have no inherent depreciation, and our hero would have bought them from a seller, e.g. a storefront. In a deflationary environment, the nominal value of capital goods decreases, so anyone holding seeds, whether as inventory (the seed store) or investment (planted in the ground), would take a loss.
You are correct that, given deflationary expectations, fewer people would plant seeds. That is exactly what this scenario is meant to illustrate. Fewer people doing work is called unemployment!
And to your last question, let us say that seeds can be used as food. As seed suppliers drop out of the market, this inescapable demand for food will indeed drive their price up. Deflationary spirals do not terminate in starvation: equilibrium is reached, because of basic necessities. But the equilibrium is at a lower output level, and with higher unemployment.
It seems like the market will price seeds in a way that incentivizes optimal production.
But if you are serious, error is here: But I discover that prices have dropped by 4%
You do not simply drop prices, like that. Why did prices drop? (Price) deflation is just a descriptive name not a moving cause. (Price) deflation is not a knob which someone simple turns up and down.
Now depending on why exactly the prices did drop, and by how much you may be either in or out of luck.
In a case where monetary supply is fixed (ie gold), if you hold on to it for a period of time, you will get more goods for it than now. That 'more' will correspond to economic growth over the period. You will have the same fraction of the purchasing power pie as before, but now the pie is larger. Does not look like a win to me, but this is the judgement call for the reader.
PS. Yes, I am simplifying and ignoring some thing like velocity of money and fluctuations in economic output, and growth of capital, human resources, and technology.
A Rip van Winkle with a year savings (say clerks' job) falling asleep for a 100 years will not wake up a Rockefeller.
It's not like ~2035 (or whatever) rolls around and everyone's like "Holy crap! There aren't going to be any more of these! Better quadruple my bids!" No -- there's no profit to be made simply from the fact of supply increase stopping at some point, not when the entire market knows it as well.
So you can't really compare it to a situation in which a government (or affiliated central agency) controls the money supply, changing its mind at future dates, to arbitrarily hold the supply steady when it had been growing before -- which is what is required to get the results you've described.
Looking at PCs, DVD players, etc. it seems price deflation has been great for the consumer and overall "market". Perhaps it has been bad for the manufacturers, but the overall society has benefited from the deflation of those goods.
Electronics might also became cheaper due to, say, someone setting money on fire, so there's less to go around. Clearly in this case our real wealth would not be increasing, so it's not good. But it's not obvious why it should be bad, either.
The reason it's bad is due to our psychology. If the money supply shrinks (and nothing else changes), prices and wages must both go down. But people hate the idea of negotiating a lower wage, so instead wage drops are accomplished through layoffs and unemployment. That's bad because it means that people aren't working: the economy's real output is reduced.
So inflation provides a buffer that allows the economy to adjust wages downwards in a way that we find more palatable than negotiated nominal wage decreases.
A mistake 'economists' make with bitcoin is to draw macroecomic conclusions based on theories suited to single currency economies. Actually we need theories that allow for multiple currencies circulating that have different strengths to understand the effects.
Tl;dr Bitcoin won't change the way we price things, it just provides another option to transfer wealth.
Basically Bitcoin hoarders are not going to sit on their fortunes and passively watch Bitcoin dies.
This makes the assumption that people won't make their own forks of bitcoin. If there's a shortage of bitcoins, and not enough is being mined to meet demand, I think that will give more incentive to people to make their own forks of the currency. Maybe will see various communities forming their own currencies for their own trading purposes.
To me bitcoin is excellent for e-commerce because of it's secure signatures you can use for escrow, proof of payment, decentralization so nobody can interfere with your commerce and safety for me as a merchant to prevent fraud.
Deflation is not obviously bad. We had deflation during the whole industrial revolution and things were running smooth. If people hold on to savings rather than invest suppliers will quote higher prices in order to put the money back into system or hoard the money for themselves.
One thing for sure. You wont be robbed out of thin air and that whats inflation is for. Central bank has no money for retirment... fiiiine, let print more -> market will stabilize itself.
Plus if the value of bitcoin goes sky high. It will be lucrative to mine again. It has the mechanisms of selfhealing.
For example, if the economy will be in such a terrible state thanks to the deflation, somebody can do a fork of bitcoin that will not have halved mining reward (and thus not having finite number of bitcoins in existence), and if the miners will jump to this new version (and probably clients, too, not sure about that), this new currency will be used as easily as the old bitcoin.
If I am wrong technically, please correct me.
The nice thing about bitcoin is - nobody enforces anything.
Capitalism doesn't need inflation. Capitalism works best with a hard currency. Money gaining 4% per year in purchasing power isn't "deflation". The notion of "4% growth" is ill-posed.
I could back these statements up with logic and evidence, but experience shows that virtually no amount of rational argument ever convinces anyone of these points. Luckily, rather than arguing till we are hoarse, those of us who have swallowed the hard-money red pill can now put our money where our mouth is and buy some bitcoins.
Bitcoin's value is not held by how hard it is to mine them. It's held by how bad people want to use crypto-currency for trading behaviours.
When bitcoin's value become too high to be used for normal trading, it's value will decrease, simply because people will invent new types of crypto-currency(i.e litecoin, namecoin) to replace its function. When less people using bitcoins, no matter how 'hard' its mining algorithm gets, its price will drop.
Therefore crypto-currency is inflationary, and that's why Bitcoin will become inflationary eventually.
Currently bitcoin is not a currency but a very speculative investment.
Imagine a world where that wasn't true. Imagine you had to spend more and more every year just to get the same quality of phone or computer or TV. Now ideally, and depending on what's causing the inflation, your income would increase at exactly the same amount and so it wouldn't make a difference. The same quality TV would cost the same percent of your wage in 1960 as it would in 2013.
But with deflation it's the opposite. Your income will (on average) remain the same, since the amount of money in the economy hasn't changed and it's being divided over the same number of people. But prices will go down due to the economy growing, increasing efficiency, technological improvements, and all that good stuff.
You may see a slight flaw in my argument. Presumably the same amount of stuff is being produced in both economies, regardless how the currency is changing in value over time, and presumably there are the same amount of people to receive all the stuff being produced. So how can people in the deflationary economy be richer, on average, than people in the inflationary one?
Well on average, they aren't. Inflation as you are talking about it is caused by the money supply increasing. Usually due to the government printing more. Whoever gets the money first is suddenly richer, because prices haven't increased in response to inflation yet. The amount of money they have relative to everyone else has increased. Therefore everyone else has become poorer relative to them.
Only on average does everything stay the same, but it's a zero sum game where for one person to benefit, someone else has to lose. The amount of goods in the economy hasn't changed. But the person with more money (obtained through printing money) gets a bigger piece of the pie and therefore everyone else gets less.
Inflation is just a really confusing, inefficient, and indirect form of wealth redistribution. Whoever gets the printed money obviously gets to benefit from it, and everyone else is therefore poorer, including your entrepreneurs and investors and consumers and everyone else.
The only way this isn't true is if the money is distributed perfectly equally so the percentage everyone has is exactly the same as before. However this is not the case in the real world at all.
This can't be universally true. If food gets continually cheaper, unless the cost of owning land and farming it goes down by the same amount, farmers must eventually make less money than before (or be driven out of business entirely).
And I don't quite buy the comparison between technological progress (where things get cheaper due to massive amounts of competition and research) and switching to a fiat currency which is arbitrarily limited (bitcoin). Using bitcoin doesn't guarantee technological progress.
> Inflation as you are talking about it is caused by the money supply increasing. Usually due to the government printing more. Whoever gets the money first is suddenly richer, because prices haven't increased in response to inflation yet. The amount of money they have relative to everyone else has increased. Therefore everyone else has become poorer relative to them.
Yes, printing money is in effect a government tax for usage of that currency.
Or the same farmer could be producing more food than before, but at a reduced cost. He would make the same amount but the price of food would be lower.
>And I don't quite buy the comparison between technological progress (where things get cheaper due to massive amounts of competition and research) and switching to a fiat currency which is arbitrarily limited (bitcoin). Using bitcoin doesn't guarantee technological progress.
No but technological and economic progress is almost guaranteed anyways. A currency like bitcoin means you actually get the reward from it in the form of cheaper prices over time.
>Yes, printing money is in effect a government tax for usage of that currency.
Exactly. In that sense bitcoin and currencies like it are free of that form of taxation which is a good thing for everyone using them.
1) High tech sector has been experiencing massive deflation for decades and is thriving. Why? Is deflation really that bad when it comes from productivity? We know deflation due to massive decrease in money supply or velocity is bad, but what is wrong with slow, steady deflation from productivity?
2) With 2-3% steady deflation, won't interest rates adjust? People will lend their money out to earn a better risk adjusted rate than deflation. There isn't some magical number or percentage where people will start or stop lending. It's more like behavioral economics where people have several choices at different risk profiles.
3) The biggest proponent for an inflationary system is the banking system and economists who are funded/trained/selected by the banking system. This casts a lot of doubt on 'inflation is bad for lenders' statement. In a deflationary system, productivity gains go to the consumers (via lower prices). In an inflationary system, productivity gains go to capital owners (via debt and higher prices).
The US experienced very strong but volatile economic growth under a capitalistic fixed currency system (gold standard) that had periods of deflation and inflation in the 19th century. There is no historical basis that shows that capitalism needs inflation.
Unfortunately it seems like that's just not going to work at this point. I set the price at 2 BTC when the exchange rate was $35--like two weeks ago or so. That meant the BTC membership price was about in line with the USD price. But in a few weeks, the value of a Bitcoin has tripled. Since most people using BTC ultimately want to convert it to dollars, this insane instability makes BTC impossible to use for anyone interested in a pure BTC economy. Too bad.
This bounds their volatility in a way that bitcoin can't, and makes me wonder if the lack of a similar stabilizing mechanism isn't a long-term flaw in bitcoin's design.
The only way I can see bitcoin ever reaching a similar level of stability is for its market cap to reach a level such that it stabilizes under sheer weight and momentum rather than any built-in mechanic, which could require exceeding that of all other currencies combined (making speculation and market manipulation difficult or impossible), no small feat.
Flipping around the question, how could a risk-free rate of return exist in Bitcoin at all? Nobody has the power to create more currency or forcibly acquire some in order to satisfy a promised payout.
Even if there is no value in BTC as a medium of account, the quantity of economic transfer it could plausibly come to represent alone has a certain value.
BTC as a proxy for USD is still useful IMO, it gives us a way to avoid Paypal and other online processors. But for it to be a USD replacement, it needs to first settle down and stabilize.
How do you buy and cash out your BTC? You still have to make all those real money transactions, just with the exchange rather than directly with the merchant. Seems a bit pointless to me.
Although, a BTC exchange + BTC merchant together have to only beat out on Paypal's charges. BTC seems to be stable enough that Paypal's 2.9% charge per transaction makes BTC a useful competitor.
That said, now you have to trust both the BTC exchange and Merchant. But that is a bit easier if you can put up with the downsides to BTC (no chargebacks, etc. etc.)
You also don't have to trust any exchange, you can walk to your local coffee shop and trade for cash off the books with anybody from localbitcoins.com
In another common scenario where a Senator named Lieberman makes a press release accusing Wikileaks of criminal activity, and other payment processors simply refuse to conduct transactions for you, Bitcoin also comes out ahead.
Bitcoins offer no consumer protection right now. Once exchanged, the other party holds the money.
Bitcoins right now puts the consumer / supplier relationship upside down. The supplier is already right... not the customer. I wonder if any customers will prefer to paying BTC over Paypal, especially after they've been defrauded a few times.
I agree that the value of bitcoins changes faster than other currencies. However, the fact remains that the prices for all currencies change. Domain names are the exception, but inflation adjusts prices upwards of almost all commodities.
"BTC as a proxy for USD is still useful IMO, it gives us a way to avoid Paypal and other online processors. But for it to be a USD replacement, it needs to first settle down and stabilize."
I disagree with your definition of "proxy". Bitcoin fits the definition of currency, not "proxy-currency" in my opinion. It's true that the currency will benefit when it's value will stabilize, as the currency is currently being adopted.
Bitcoin is currently changing at a rate of 50% per month.
Volatility is a bad thing for currency. Bitcoin has too much of it right now.
And sorry, as long as BTC keeps changing by 50%+ per month, it will only be a proxy currency. If BTC is to become a true currency, it will need to settle down to ~3% / year volatility, like the other major currencies of the world.
For a merchant to offer something at a particular BTC price, that merchant would have to update its prices at least daily, if not more so. This to avoid losing money or overcharging himself out of the market, depending on the direction of the currency. It's just not practical at this point.
And, it's a catch-22: As long as it's a speculative investment, it's likely to remain volatile. And, as long as it remains volatile, it's likely to remain a speculative investment vs. a "true" currency.
While I think that a good deal of the BTC volatility is due to human expectations, it just bothers me when people try and use older macro ideas when explaining Bitcoin.
Scribophile cannot sell services based on BTC at the moment, because the BTC market keeps swinging by 50% or more each month. It is impossible to peg the price of anything to BTC right now.
The issue is not that the currency has volatility, but that they refuse to peg the value. Scribophile is facing menu costs, but the menu costs are of their own creation. Simply allowing their prices to fluctuate with value would solve the problem. My point was that technology can make volatility a much smaller issue than it was in the past, hence why using old currency paradigms hinders thoughtful examination of the costs and benefits of a currency like bitcoin.
Setting a target price in USD is the obvious answer, but then bitcoin becomes merely a way of exchanging dollars, not a currency in its own right.
My main point was just that for a traditional controlled currency, volatility would be bad, but for bitcoins, which rely on supply and demand to set the price (this includes speculative demand), volatility is not necessarily a bad thing.
Depends how you look at it. From BTC point of view it is the USD that's highly unstable and dropping in value... It's all relative.
Across all of our goods, the total change (ie: CPI) between January 2013 and Febuary 2013 changed from 230.280USD to 232.166USD. A difference of 0.8%
In the same period, BTC changed from 13.51 to 20.41, a difference of 51.1%
Considering that this is the largest spike in the history of Bitcoin, I would like to know what makes you think that.
"I think it will eventually stabilize."
So do I, but that is because I think it will eventually fail (and stabilize at $0/BTC).
How's that different from tulips?
> the price will be more stable and grows only as much as new wealth is created by the global economy and new people are born.
Err...how so? Fiat money can do that, but how does bitcoin correlate to much of anything?
The key difference is that the tulip burst happened in the past, so you can be quite certain that it was a speculative bubble.
http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/19t3uq/hey_rbitcoin... is the best that I could find (admin from Reddit talking about Reddit Gold revenue).
It's interesting that the accounting costs more than they bring in (though this is something that could obviously change with increased stability in the BTC/USD rate / increased volume / better processes). Somewhat concerning, considering that they host what seems to be one of the most active/vocal bitcoin communities out there.
Also, http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1auzjg/factorio_dev..., though this one may just be a case of not properly targeting for users.
1. The site audience tends to be a little older and not very tech-savvy, so Bitcoin isn't something that many are interested in comprehending.
2. Since the price was fixed at 2BTC a few weeks ago when 1BTC~=35USD, and now 1BTC~=100USD, people will see this is a raw deal. (The USD price for a membership is $65.)
It's #2 that's the hard part. I'm not interested in accepting BTC just so I can convert it to USD, but since everyone's so focused on the BTC->USD exchange rate as the measure of value for BTC, and since the rate is so insanely volatile, it's impossible for a merchant to fix a "fair" price without auto-adjusting the BTC price to the USD exchange rate.
There are really only two ways around it: easy convertibility into another currency that people already understand, or direct use-value of the currency commodity itself.
It's a question of social inertia. It's too early to expect people to think in BTC.
Using BTC as a "proxy" currency isn't unhealthy per se -- it's merely a transitionary step until people have adopted BTC more widely.
That's one of the major markers of a bubble - people convincing themselves that this time is different. There's a book about bubbles with that title.
A pretty brilliant scam if you ask me
I don't think "core bitcoin" users are scamming anyone. But at this point, the speed at which BTC has grown has triggered my "manipulation trigger". A decentralized currency is prone to manipulation... its not like there is an FCC out there to stop people from manipulating BTC.
> “If I was looking for a store of value, I'd buy gold, wouldn't I?” Edward Castronova, a professor of telecommunications, and an expert on virtual worlds and currencies, told Ars. “It's a hell of a lot safer than Bitcoin.”
Castronova, have you ever heard of things like 'margins' or 'fungibility' or 'walking and chewing bubblegum'? You know, people can buy both bitcoins and gold - shocking as this may seem. The question is not 'are people physically on the island of Cyprus who would be buying gold instead buying bitcoins?', the question is 'on the margin, are people worldwide buying bitcoins because of Cyprus?'
Nor is pointing out the recent rise an objection. The rise over the past months to $30 was relatively slow and gradual. The rise to $50 and then $105 has been meteoric and directly correlates with the sudden Cyprus crisis. Bitcoin literally started with criticism of bank failures and bailouts (check out the first block, by Nakamoto, in the blockchain) and immunity to this sort of shit is one of its main selling points. The burden of proof is on anyone who thinks that Bitcoin has suddenly just sorta accidentally tripled for no reason at all relating to Cyprus.
Instant credibility death.
Bitcoin is not a promise of future delivery. Like William Gibson said, "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed."
Bitcoin grows like crazy thanks to various entities of increasing credibility building an ecosystem around BTC. Like Coinbase, which I'm sure is why a lot of people here got into bitcoin.
Listen for about 30 seconds of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UKC7iaBKvs#t=830s
No, a transaction can take from 10 minutes to an hour to complete. You may have to pay a percentage to do that aswell.
You can already buy food at a couple places in Vegas where I live.
But as a society, bitcoins is still not an accepted form of exchange in general.
It'd also be interesting to look at the effects of deflation in the fledgling bitcoin economy, although the actual exchange of currency for goods and services is a bit small to judge this effectively.
When was the last time someone acquired a good or service with an ounce of gold? Perhaps we shouldn't consider gold a currency? Well I'm fine with that. Bitcoin probably isn't a proper currency yet either (in the sense that people aren't exchanging much with it yet). But not being directly relatable to utility in exchange certainly hasn't hurt gold in recent history. So I don't see why necessarily it will be a problem for bitcoins.
In the case of bitcoins, they do not have a utility outside of their use as a medium of value exchange. You can't really melt them down and use them to make jewelry, build cables or any of the myriad other uses that gold has.
edit: I think I mean it's "use value". The value of gold if it were not used a store of value.
Even if gold loses favor as a value store, there will be some minimum boundary on its price based on its usefulness in practical applications. That is not true of bitcoin.
The GP was implying that bitcoin has a commodity value, which it does not. It merely has value as a means of exchange. What that means is that bitcoin does not benefit from same lower price boundary that gold does. Therefore, it is much riskier.
What good would bitcoins do for you after a Hurricane Katrina-like event when there is no communications network or electrical service to speak of? What about gold?
If that's true, 30/1600 is about 2%, yet gold is still perceived as a fairly safe store of value.
Also, the claim that "gold only became a currency when it was stamped" is wrong. The value of gold on the commodity markets today does include a value store component and none of it is stamped.
When the czar's family fled russia they didn't grab rubles, the grabbed jewels. Why? Because their currency was worth nothing but their jewels could be traded for value in a very transparent manner wherever they might end up.
1) Store of value. Much easier to store gold/USD/Bitcoins than the food you will need in the future.
2) Medium of Exchange. Can be used to exchange for real goods, thus avoiding the headache of barter.
3) Unit of Account. e.g. is easily divisible.
Bitcoins aren't great at #2, but gold is terrible at #3. If bitcoins prove to be a lasting store of value, then it will almost certainly be more "money" like than gold.
But I wasn't trying to measure currency dick size. I was just making the point that not being good at 2 doesn't necessarily hurt its ability at 1.
Fact is, if I had "invested" in 100 BTC only 5 months ago when it was hovering around USD$10, that would have cost me about $1000. And now it would be worth $10000. There are not that many investments that have that kind of return in such a short time. You'd have to be dumb to believe that people aren't doing exactly this. You don't see 1000% returns and just ignore it and wonder about its utility. Right now, it's a volatile and risky currency exchange being intentionally used to ride the rising popularity into a cash la-la land.
At some point people are going to convert this toy back to a real-world currency and take their winnings home with them. I don't know what's going to happen then, but I don't believe it will be good. Perhaps 'stabilizing' would be a good optimistic name for it.
Equating a currency to a game of chance based on independent events—now that's irrational thinking.
My conclusions might not be valid, this isn't something I'm an expert at, but I really don't think that's a good example.
Why, my dear fellow, that is exactly how every government-backed currency works today!
And, thanks to its inflationary nature, it becomes virtually worthless over time:
Although inflation has remained low in recent years, it ravages the value of paper money over time. A dollar in 1900 is only worth about $0.04 in today's currency.
Quoted from: http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/bitcoin-prices-b...
Of course Bitcoin is deflating - it was designed that way. And of course fiat currencies are inflating - there is no limit to how much can be printed except reason, which is apparently in short supply.
Complete collapse is entirely possible. If governments crack down on exchange sites that allow for convertibility - that'll pretty much be it. I'd be very surprised this hasn't happened. I think they are waiting for all the major players to be massively invested in bitcoin so that when they pull the plug it'll take a very long time for an alternative to rise from the ashes.
I hope this doesn't happen. But what world do we think we're living in really?
Now the speculators are in........
I'd say it has been that way for a long time. When I dabbled in the community 2 years ago it was already brimming with speculators. Early adopting evangelists looking to legitimize their hoards and speculators who'd have been gambling on leveraged ETFs or FX if not BTC.
There's a fork of Bitcoin which actually has this built in.
I imagine we could see an interesting future with cryptocurrencies, where people are essentially betting/investing on the stability of the framework/algorithm and demand on it. Multiple ones could exist, and you're hoping for the best return, or greatest stability.
What would be REALLY interesting is if essentially one of these ends up seeming a better 'idea' than US currency (the de-facto currency now)
I do believe that will happen eventually, but it's too early right now. Bitcoin works by the law of numbers - after all it's all numbers and math. When its tiny in value, its growth can be very high. When it's already huge, the growth will slow down a lot.
Of course growth will probably come in fits and starts, not so smoothly.
Well, it is. As more people hold some BTC "for the future", they are more than willing to accept them as payment for their services. Imagine you are surrounded by people who have "hoarded" some BTC. Suddenly they can just trade in BTC without going to a bank (unless they have some spare cash which they haven't allocated to other purchases yet).
IE: Deflationary Spiral. It becomes hard to be a merchant who accepts bitcoins, because everyone expects BTC to keep rising in prices.
People who bought a domain name for 1 BTC a few weeks ago from Namecheap lost a lot of money. They should have instead "saved" that BTC. Therefore, people are discouraged from using BTC as a transaction vehicle.
Currently, hoarders are the ones benefiting from BTC, but no one else is. No merchant knows how to value their services in BTC, not when there is this much volatility around.
Sure they are. BitPay reports 2 million dollars in sale this month. The rate of transaction is accelerating too.
What you meant is "they will horde more and spend less on goods / services", but sales and transactions are clearly accelerating. How do you account for this?
The US GDP is about $15 trillion, so about $1.25 trillion in transactions happen in a month. If you take M2 of about $10 trillion as the US money supply, about 12.5% of the US money supply turns over each month and 87.5% is being hoarded. If you take M1 of about $2 trillion as the money supply, about 62.5% of the US money supply is used in a transaction each month, with only 37.5% being hoarded.
Compared to 62.5% or even 12.5%, 0.2% seems pretty unhealthy.
It's entirely possible that 99% of the value of a bitcoin is a self-reinforcing set of asset-bubble expectations, but this is something that really didn't exist before, that we don't have great paradigms to explain, that is undergoing massive daily shifts in its usage. It is explicitly not a stable national floating fiat currency with people who circulate the money their banking system provides & pay their taxes in those notes & denominate their salaries and grocery bills in sticky quantities of those notes, and so it's not directly comparable.
I don't have to. The fact is, no one prices their goods in BTC. Its absolutely ludicrous to price goods in BTC in the current market.
I think BTC has utility as a currency for exchange however. But on that side, you don't want to be in the position of hoarding BTC. You hoard dollars, and then use BTC to transfer dollars between people. Services like Bitpay allow you to keep most of your money in hard cash.
That's not true, BTC has many benefits to bitcoin users. There's plenty of bitcoin-only services, but more importantly, it provides freedom for many people who are facing government regulation. In the long run, bitcoin enables all kinds of innovation (good example is reddit's bitcointip service, which wouldn't really exist without bitcoins).
1BTC used to be a decent tip at $5. Today that is a $100 tip I'm giving someone. Anyone who gave money to Bitcointip is suffering from the volatility in the marketplace.
A true BTC enthusiast will be happy when BTC stops moving. It doesn't matter what value BTC has, as long as it is constant. Only hoarders want BTC to keep going up and up in value.
That'll never happen, bitcoin is doomed by math and economics to be forever a deflationary currency, worth ever more and more over time as the economy grows while the supply of bitcoins doesn't.
It really doesn't matter if a currency is inflating or deflating. It just shouldn't change that much over time. The less it changes, the better. (or, if it is changing, then it should at least change consistently. IE: People expect USD to inflate at 3% so it should).
Since no one can predict the value of BTC next week, or hell... even tomorrow's price of BTC... it becomes a very hard to use currency.
Anyone who buys with bitcoin can replace their bitcoin with dollars, if they want to stay invested in bitcoin.
"I can BUY things with these? Wait... I can sell things? I just need to paste a hash?!"
So the real question you should be asking is, "Who would benefit from a Bitcoin failure, and could they amass that much computing power?"
Here is a list of client security issues: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Common_Vulnerabilities_and_Exposu...
It seems like the biggest risk would be with the wallet websites, which is an issue that is present in other payment methods.
The biggest problem IMO is that there is no way to refund or right the wrongs done by an attack. If someone in russia or china steals half of the bitcoins, there is nothing anyone can do to get them back. I suppose they would all be logged and everyone could band together to block those BitCoins as payments, but that's probably not going to happen. That would be interest to watch play out.
You are not understanding the problem. Bitcoin is not a hash function, nor is Bitcoin a digital signature system. Bitcoin is a digital cash system, and so any discussion of Bitcoin's security must be based on the notion of security in a digital cash system.
There are two minimum security properties a digital cash system should have (informally): first, that the units of value cannot be counterfeited; second, that each unit of value can be spend by exactly one party at any given time. In both cases, it is commonly assumed that the attacker's work is bounded by some polynomial in the parameters of the system itself, so the system is secure if no polynomial time algorithm can break either property (but an exponential time algorithm might e.g. a brute-force approach). It is possible (and usually desirable) to prove that a system is secure using mathematical arguments, for example these systems:
(Sorry that these are paywalled, you can probably find them elsewhere)
Unfortunately for Bitcoin, while it seems to satisfy the first property (but no security proof is out there as far as I know), it fails the second property. Double spending in Bitcoin requires work that scales linearly with the parameters of the system (the "51% attack"), which is basically worthless as far as cryptography is concerned. The fact that Bitcoin uses a secure hash function and a secure signature system is irrelevant because the problem is with the protocol itself.
An easy way to illustrate the difference between using a secure cryptosystem and being a secure cryptosystem is the "surreptitious forwarding" problem. Suppose you receive a message from your boss that was signed with his secret key then encrypted with your public key which said, "You're fired!" Now what you might do is to re-encrypt the signed message with another person's key and send that to them; they would now believe that they were being fired. It is not the encryption system or the signature system that you attacked, it was the fact that composing signing with encryption in that manner does not prevent such forwarding (but there are ways to do that). Bitcoin has a similar problem.
It's worth noting that a 51% attack would only allow double-spending, and it's not something that could be realistically hidden; it would be very obvious what was happening. In addition, the amount of computing power available to the bitcoin network is becoming significant enough that it would be hard to exceed, even with a botnet.
It's also worth pointing out that people still use Paypal, despite all the stories of frozen accounts and people never getting their money back. People also still use credit cards, despite not every instance of fraud resulting in the victims getting their money back.
I agree that people may very well use Bitcoin despite a successful attack (plenty of people still use Hushmail), although I think a lot of confidence would be lost. Bitcoin has a lot of hurdles to overcome as it is, and the detection or announcement of a successful attack would add yet another.
A 51% attack is a possibility, and might be currently possible with the largest botnets known to exist today, but it would be pushing it. In future it becomes even more difficult.
It is not just about botnets (CPU "mining" is pretty slow); what do you think stops someone from spending their money on enough ASICs to pull off the attack? It is not all that expensive, maybe tens of millions of dollars in chips. Even if it were hundreds of millions of dollars, if Bitcoin were as threatening to the financial system as some people seem to think it is, that would not be a lot to spend on attacking it.
It is also important to recognize that the existence of an obvious polynomial time attack does not in any way rule out the existence of faster attacks, it only establishes an upper bound on the attack effort. The reason proofs of security in modern cryptography involve a reduction to an (assumed) infeasible problem is that it rules out all practical attacks (in fact, all theoretically feasible attacks).
Not all the tools we have for maintaining security are as good as public key encryption or symmetric encryption. In the world of bricks and mortar, $10 million buys you a lot of criminal clout. Is a safe deposit box safe against a determined attacker with that budget? Are all employees immune to million dollar bribes?
The law attempts to redress imbalances by making it difficult to get away with circumventing security to perpetrate financial crimes. The problem is not so much stealing from a bank, but getting away with it after the fact. The same problem applies to bitcoin if you want to execute a 51% attack; double-spending is financial fraud, after all.
Buying up $10 million worth of ASICs is relatively straightforward, but doing so in a way that can't be traced back to you is substantially more difficult. As well as the problem of trying to run that amount of hardware in secret, without a paper-trail, you'll also have problems in trying to convert any profits you make from the scheme back into fiat currency.
If one merely wanted to demonstrate the attack without profitting from it, then one could double-spend a small amount between accounts you own, in the same way that one could demonstrate an attack on a safe by buying one and then drilling into it. But that doesn't change the fact that there's a big difference between circumventing security, and illegally profitting from it without consequences.
They didn't make the goal but were not open the whole quarter so they may still be able to continue. I'll see if they post news or press release about it
The GDP stats for bitcoin is not systematically collected. The blockchain data only gives us a approximate picture.
So most people just rely on their guts and vague feeling about the size of the bitcoin economy. Bitcoin detractors tend to underestimate the size of bitcoin economy because they can't recall selling or buying goods or services. Bitcoin users tend to be more optimistic because they keep up with news of merchants opening up.
I think it would be very useful if somebody built a stats site dedicated to systematically report on economic activities occuring in bitcoinland.
Gold and silver stand in opposition to this statement.
You can't buy groceries with gold or silver coins, but they're a fantastic store of value and time-tested investment.
Furthermore, according to Gresham's Law, people keep "good money" (i.e. money that holds its value) out of the marketplace and spend their "bad money" (i.e. fiat) acquiring goods and services.
Real value of gold:
That is very much not my idea of a "fantastic store of value." Not unlike bitcoin, its value appears to vacillate wildly. The S&P 500 looks tame by comparison, and also has the added benefit of a much higher long-run rate of return.
Also, I don't know what "real gold price" means. Some details of the measurement would help.
> also has the added benefit of a much higher long-run rate of return
When measured in dollars, which have lost 98% of their value since 1913.
The real value of gold was (relatively) flat until gold convertibility ended in 1971 because the price was being fixed by the western powers under Bretton-Woods. Ever after it's been on a non-stop roller-coaster ride. If you bought gold in 1980, far from its value being "stored" it would have lost half its value in 10 years even if you bought after the spike.
It sounds like you don't value low CPI volatility very much (perhaps CPI goods and services are of little interest to you), which is fine, but many would use CPI volatility as the definition of a "store of value" as opposed to a speculative investment.
> When measured in dollars
No, when measured in real terms.
> which have lost 98% of their value since 1913.
Nobody would suggest that dollars are a useful store of value. They are a useful medium of exchange and in the short term, a useful unit of account.
But still, gold has never dipped below its 1918 low on that chart. Twice it shot up as a hedge against paper inflation, but it never went below where it started.
Isn't that a terrific store of value? I'm talking about a time frame of centuries here. Not just a few years during a bubble.
And before you counter that we're currently in a low inflation period - we're not. If the CPI was measured using the same metrics that the government used itself in the early 80's, inflation would be running at 9% annually.
Gold and silver are commodities, traded like any other metal, and the historically-motivated obsession people have with using gold as a store of value makes it more difficult to acquire gold for industrial uses (which would be a real, productive use of the metal).
In the two years I've been watching it I've seen no evidence that it's anything but an investment (and speculation) vehicle.
And there are a lot more not on this list. Bitpay alone (a Bitcoin payment processor) claims to have multiple thousands of merchants.
Furthermore, there is noone offering general groceries, household supplies or clothing, just niche approximations of those categories. Also critically lacking are complex B2B services(their professional services section is...well, not much to look at - I certainly would not be investing my business's money in any of them at this time).
You have to realize that the web is a long-tail ecosystem. There are tons of small merchants you have never heard of, while the biggest ones (Amazon, Newegg, etc) are just a few and represent <1%. What you call a "reputable" merchant exclude 99% of all merchants. Plus, the most reputable/biggest merchants will probably be the last ones to adopt Bitcoin (the bigger you are, the less likely you are to adopt a disruptive technology).
I invested in a payment system of the future.
If it ends up being used, I'll have (however many I invested in) BTC to spend, which could be worth significantly more or less than I paid for them.
If it ends up being useless, I'll lose my principal.
For a small-scale, but very instructive example that shows there are cases where simply increasing the money supply can sometimes create more value in the economy (or how deflation can destroy value), see the story of the Capitol Hill Babysitter Co-Op .
At a more serious scale, many prominent economists believe that an artificial restriction of the monetary supply led to, or exacerbated the Great Depression .
So, like Krugman , I think that BTC proponents really have to explain how the artificial restriction of the size of the BTC money supply is not a serious design flaw in the currency. Are BTC just crypotographic gold? If so, then is a successful BTC economy just a different gold standard (and all its associated problems)?
This was compounded by a case of retardism on the part of its managers, who refused to accept that different nights have different value, and that prices have to change to achieve equilibrium. So the supposed solution of inflation was actually replacing one artificial problem (a price floor) with another (temporary misvaluation of the new currency due to "money illusion").
Go find out how Krugman answers the question of "Why didn't they just let the exchange rate of scrip per hour float freely in response to differential weeknight demand and risk aversion?" (Hint: he doesn't, anywhere.)
The main problem with gold standards, is that governments don't like them, because it makes it really hard to fund wars and other expenditures. Eventually, this leads to gold confiscations , and the effective end of a gold standard. Bitcoin solves this by being resilient to confiscation, and also by having a value transfer mechanism built-in, so that you don't need to replace gold with paper receipts for the sake of convenience.
In essence, bitcoin has all the upsides of a gold standard, with none of the downsides.
The one problem associated with gold that it does solve is being as good a medium of exchange as visa/paypal (or better).
Anyone in the world would immediately accept gold standard, but this BTC, despite being a digital gold, will be difficult to overcome the initial fear/mist-trust. It doesn't matter what mathematical proof you provide - the laymen doesn't really understand it. May be one day, it becomes accepted, and BTC will then really be a new gold standard. But i don't see that day coming, because there are people who don't like the gold standard (as it prevents them from leeching money from society - i.e., various parties/entities who hold controlling interests in major central banks etc).
Buying bitcoin is essentially a bet on the probability it will be monetized. This probability will wax and wane in the minds of the population participating in the bitcoin market, who in turn will be influenced by media perceptions, the actions of the state etc. So the price will no doubt be quite volatile. But the increase in price, based on an increase in reservation demand, is self-reinforcing. It increases the desire of merchants to accept bitcoin in payment (since there are now a greater pool of holders who have greater savings looking for an outlet to spend those savings). And as new merchants begin accepting bitcoin in payment, the reservation demand increases. These two causalities are linked together and reinforce each other. At some point they become entrenched enough that the whole thing "lifts off", so to speak, and the commodity becomes money. Interestingly, the same thing happens with gold, except that one of the two causalities is short-circuited by the state: the reservation demand for gold does not spur merchants to accept gold in payment, because that is made illegal by the state. Thankfully bitcoin is so well engineered that the problem of the state banning use in transactions is essentially moot (no offense "Chuck" Schumer).
The annualised velocity of the M2 Money Stock for Q4 2012 2 was 6.152 . That is, the average dollar in the form of notes and coins in circulation (M0), traveller's cheques, checking account/demand deposits, savings deposits, time deposits/CDs under $100 000, and individuals' money market deposits was spent 1.538 times on economically useful activities in the fourth quarter of last year.
The annualised velocity of the Bitcoin Money Stock for Q4 2012 was 1.27. That is, the average Bitcoin in existence was transacted 0.32 times in the last 90 days of 2012. This includes economically useless transfer payments, i.e. transactions not involving the exchange of real goods or services, as well as economically useless hoarded or lost coins, i.e. Bitcoins not in circulation and so less a unit of "money" than a speculative asset (in the case of hoarding). Since this is a ratio, the two balance out, though it is still biased to the downside. For the 30 days ending on 29 March 2013, it was 1.86. Here is what it has been doing since February 2009 .
More encouragingly, Bitcoin Velocity has quadrupled YoY. M2 Velocity declined 4% over the same time. I would thus offer, very tentatively, that there is a substantial portion of the Bitcoin economy involved in real transactions (versus financial ones, e.g. trading on an exchange).
Curiously, yet to emerge (to my knowledge [EDIT: which was wrong]) is a majour vendor of Bitcoin mining equipment that accepts Bitcoin as a mode of payment. If that were to happen, the Bitcoin economy would have an endogenous "risk-free rate" in the form of mining yields, with power companies serving as the most salient factor. If it were not for the ceiling on the number of Bitcoins which can come into existence, it could very well have been the first currency pseudo-denominated in energy.
 http://imgur.com/f7oFZKb Annualised Bitcoin Velocity, Feb 2009 - March 2013
But interesting analysis. What do you think about the Bitcoin Days Destroyed metric  as a way to measure the health of the Bitcoin economy?
Rapid price increase doesn't always mean "bubble". Sometimes innovative things are created.
This place is really starting to depress me.
"Are you seriously trying to say the Internet has more value than a multi-billion dollar retail company?"
Bitcoin is like the Internet. It's an open protocol that changes the way we think about money, just like the Internet changed the way we thought about communication.
I was just reading a comment from someone who I think really nailed just how big this could potentially be, so instead of restating it I'll just link to it;
E.g. I myself and many of people I know are not going to sell a single Bitcoin unless any sort of personal or global disaster. And many of them are going to spend their BTC over time to avoid interaction with banking system as much as possible.
> I myself and many of people I know are not going to sell a single Bitcoin unless any sort of personal or global disaster.
In the case of global disaster, who's going to be buying a fringe currency?
What is the purpose of avoiding the banking system?
This notion that Bitcoin is some robust, untamperable currency system is simply incorrect.
It's sort of interesting how the liquid dollar market for bitcoins makes it impossible to judge whether someone accepting bitcoins as payment trusts it much.
I'm going to go with something closer to $300 to $150 at least. If there's a pop coming, it is a long ways off.
If bitcoin will become a major currency, it will have to have a phase where it cannot be used in general and only with a small number of companies. That's not evidence that bitcoin will not become a major currency, it's evidence that it hasn't yet, and nobody claims it has.
So at this point it's really an investment vehicle and a convenient method of exchange, not a replacement for fiat currencies.
add: in fact the ideology of bitcoin is steeped in disempowering central banks. So you are buying into an ideology, and so long as the tech can keep up with the ideology, and there's nothing with better tech, and central banks keep ripping people off, then bitcoin will rise. It's far from perfect, but I think the web itself was about unlocking information to empower people (as created by hippies), something like the advent of literacy to empower people to read the bible when it was limited to priestly classes. Bitcoin is like grade 1 spelling and grammar, or the first web browsers: sure is better than not having either.
Those PSPs compete and one dimension they compete on is breadth of payment methods. Who wants to be the only one who doesn't offer BTC?
Once PSPs have integrated bitcoins, many merchants will accept them.
The worldwide money supply is roughly 50 trillion USD (~20 trillion USD + ~20 trillion EUR + others).
If Bitcoin ends up capturing 0.1% of $50 trillion, this is $50 billion, divided by 21M bitcoins total = $2400 per bitcoin.
I've been looking at it lately though and thinking that it surely must drop back soon. I'm thinking a drop back down to 15 us is reasonable.
Right now its proponents are valuing it like a tech startup stock- what's its potential future value?
Its opponents have already decided it will fail.
Either side may be right at this point, though bitcoin has more going for it than it did six months ago.
To me, the trend is currently towards "it's going to work", so I think it's worth a gamble. But it's definitely a gamble.
I think cryptocurrency is without question a force for the future. It makes exchanging money too easy and too fast for it not to eventually dominate economic systems. Economies/companies that don't use it will be at a disadvantage.
What's in doubt for me is whether bitcoin will be the winner of the cryptocurrency market.
Right now it is an investment vehicle for speculation. And the crazy volatility suggests to me that most people won't feel comfortable using this as a currency for transactions, until the volatility decreases immensely.
It's the hope of some in the bitcoin community/industry that bitcoin becomes one of the top 3 currencies in the world.
Given that there is a hard limit of ~ 21 million bitcoins (half of which have already been given out), the only way to get in the top 3, is for each bitcoin to be massively valued.
I set up camp over the Golden Gate Bridge. I ask people if they'd be willing to throw their lunch into the water (use their computer's time/energy/money to mine Bitcoin), with no possibility of retrieving it, and in return I offer to give them a certificate stating that they've thrown their lunch away (a Bitcoin).
Now, I see no reason why anyone would expect why these certificates would have any value. But let's suppose they do have value, and people can trade their certificates, say, for a lunch (or perhaps half a lunch). NOW, suppose I have been secretly stashing away those lunches (really it doesn't need to be in secret - you don't care what happens to your lunch after you throw it away). Then there is now objectively more value in the world than there was before I set up shop - there are the same amount of lunches in the world, but there are also now certificates that have some positive value. We've made a free lunch!
This is a contradiction. If we could create value by this silly game, we could easily make as much value as we want, and we would have solved all the world's problem.
But this should be obvious in the first place! Why on earth would you expect to be rewarded with something of value (a Bitcoin) for doing something fundamentally useless to society (mining Bitcoin). Even though mining Bitcoin comes at a cost to you, this doesn't matter - it just means you're throwing your lunch away.
Now why does the US Dollar have value? Instead of throwing away our lunches for a certificate, we basically asked the government to store our lunches in Fort Knox. Today, lots of gold and other items of value are held there. Why are they held there? There is an implicit assumption that these items of value support the US Dollar. The government knows it could not start "eating those lunches" that it's got in its reserve! It would not yield society a free lunch - it would crash the US Dollar.
Does Visa provide value to society? "mining bitcoin" translates to "certifying the current outstanding global transaction registry". FYI.
I don't think the BTC will ever be a 'currency' as the USD or the GBP. It is also not necessary for the BTC to be at a 'fixed value' at any time. As a virtual currency it's ok for the BTC to fluctuate heavily as the only thing needed for it to still succeed is that payment systems are 'always on' and can determine a spot price for goods and services.
I would rather see the BTC tied to 'Pizza index' than USD. This would make it easy for people to use an in-app value determinator when making purchases.
Say you just tap your phone with a BTC wallet against a cash register. The register answers, well your burger will be 0.00065 BTC at spot price as of 188.8.131.52 PM. Accept/decline.
That's it. I see the BTC/LTC (Litecoin) as alternative currencies but still worthy of a HUGE market share for micro/everyday transactions.
90% of the value were lost in a few months. The market seem even frothier this time so I'd expect the eventual pop the be harsher as well.
A ban on bitcoin will work about as well as a ban on piracy.
This is the value over a larger time. Sustainable?
Gold is a tangible substance. BTCs are just data and we all know how volatile that can be.
Bitcoin will never reach that level of ease of use. But when it has something like a 5 step LiveCD it might start to get wider use.
 Something like insert CD, prepare anonymising stuff; load encrypted file from USB stick; load key from hardware token and enter short password; and have the distro wallpaper give idiot proof flowchart diagram instructions.
You install the bitcoin wallet.
You sell something for bitcoins, and you give them your private key address in your wallet.
You receive bitcoins.
You buy something with bitcoins else where, and you just hit send and specify an address.
Simple as an account # + routing number.
Now funding your wallet with fiat currency is a little harder, but Coinbase has mostly taken care of that. It's as hard as paying a credit card off - link your current bank account, press buy or sell.
So when you say "USD has fallen 80%" it always has to be qualified with something like "against BTC."
But yeah, it sounds ridiculous.
Its hard to compare against dollar. As bitcoin is newborn with freedom written all over it. If it gets adapted more chances are its gonna be rising in value and will become first a currency for savings later on a day to day activity currency.
Or is it a single unit or nothing?
BTC can be sent in any amount, all the way down to Satoshis at 0.00000001 BTC.
Also there is talk of making the default traded unit a mBTC, (I think) Its a unit that represents a thousandth of a unit. once this becomes the standard unit the psychology is there to allow BTC to rise even further.
This is one of the scenarios I think that would incorporate bitoin into the current financial system.
Bitcoin for larger sums, international or less timely.
The ASIC's will continue to dominate. Per watt of electricity they are far more efficient and we will see thousands of ASIC coming into existence this year. GPU mining Litecoin and converting over the USD or Bitcoin is actually more profitable.
I wonder how difficult it would be to build a ASIC yourself?
PCBs can be made for hobby projects. ASICs cannot, unless you have money literally coming out of your ears.
Other people are adopting it just in-case they're right.
What is the incentive for merchants to start accepting litecoin? Why not just bitcoin? Litecoin won't give them lower transaction fees (over bitcoin), it won't give them more customers (anyone who can pay in bitcoin can pay in litecoin).