Recently I started investing in bitcoins and I’ve heard a great deal of talks about inflation and deflation but not lots of people actually know and think about what inflation and deflation are. But let’s focus on inflation.
We always needed ways to trade value and probably the most practical way to take action is to link it with money. Previously it worked quite well as the money that was issued was linked to gold. So every central bank needed enough gold to pay back all of the money it issued. However, during the past century this changed and gold is not what is giving value to money but promises. Since you can guess it’s very an easy task to abuse to such power and certainly the major central banks are not renouncing to do so. For this reason they’re printing money, so in other words they are “creating wealth” out of thin air without really having it. This process not only exposes us to risks of economic collapse nonetheless it results also with the de-valuation of money. Therefore, because money will probably be worth less, whoever is selling something has to increase the price of goods to reflect their real value, this is called inflation. But what’s behind the amount of money printing? Why are central banks doing this? Well the answer they might give you is that by de-valuing their currency they are helping the exports.
In fairness, in our global economy that is true. However, that’s not the only reason. By issuing fresh money we can afford to pay back the debts we’d, in other words we make new debts to cover the old ones. But that is not only it, by de-valuing our currencies we are de-facto de-valuing our debts. That is why our countries love inflation. In inflationary environments it’s better to grow because debts are cheap. But which are the consequences of most this? It’s hard to store wealth. If you keep carefully the money (you worked hard to get) in your money you’re actually losing wealth because your cash is de-valuing pretty quickly.
Because each central bank comes with an inflation target at around 2% we can well say that keeping money costs all of us at least 2% per year. This discourages savers and spur consumes. This is one way our economies are working, based on inflation and debts.
What about deflation? Well this is often the opposite of inflation and it is the biggest nightmare for our central banks, let’s see why. Basically, we have deflation when overall the costs of goods fall. This might be caused by an increase of value of money. Firstly, it could hurt spending as consumers will be incentivised to save lots of money because their value increase overtime. Alternatively merchants will undoubtedly be under constant pressure. They’ll have to sell their goods quick otherwise they will lose money because the price they will charge because of their services will drop over time. But if there is something we learned in these years is that central banks and governments do not care much about consumers or merchants, what they care probably the most is DEBT!!. In a deflationary environment debt will become a real burden since it will only get bigger over time. Because our economies are based on debt you can imagine what will be the consequences of deflation.
So in summary, inflation is growth friendly but is founded on debt. Therefore the future generations will pay our debts. Deflation alternatively makes growth harder but it means that future generations won’t have much debt to cover (in such context it would be possible to afford slow growth).
OK so how all this fits with bitcoins?
Well, bitcoins are designed to be an alternative for the money and to be both a store of value and a mean for trading goods. They are limited in number and we will never have more than 21 million bitcoins around. Therefore they’re designed to be deflationary. Now plateforme de trading en ligne have all seen what the consequences of deflation are. However, in a bitcoin-based future it would still be easy for businesses to thrive. The ideal solution will be to switch from a debt-based economy to a share-based economy. In fact, because contracting debts in bitcoins would be very costly business can still have the capital they want by issuing shares of these company. This could be a fascinating alternative as it will offer you many investment opportunities and the wealth generated will undoubtedly be distributed more evenly among people. However, just for clarity, I have to say that portion of the costs of borrowing capital will be reduced under bitcoins because the fees would be extremely low and there won’t be intermediaries between transactions (banks rip people off, both borrowers and lenders). This might buffer some of the negative sides of deflation. Nevertheless, bitcoins will face many problems unfortunately, as governments still need fiat money to cover back the huge debts that we inherited from the past generations.