What Is Inflation and Deflation and a Speculation About the Bitcoin Future
Recently I started buying bitcoins and I’ve heard a great deal of discusses inflation and deflation however, not many people actually know and consider 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. During the past 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, in the past century this changed and gold isn’t what’s giving value to money but promises. As you can guess it’s very easy to abuse to such power and certainly the major central banks are not renouncing to do so. That is why they’re printing money, so in other words they are “creating wealth” out of thin air without really having it. This process not merely exposes us to risks of economic collapse nonetheless it results also with the de-valuation of money. Therefore, because money will probably be worth less, whoever is selling something must raise the price of goods to reflect their real value, that 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 this is true. However, that is not the only real reason. By issuing fresh money we are able to 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 have been 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 the money (you worked hard to obtain) in your bank account you are actually losing wealth because your cash is de-valuing pretty quickly.
Because each central bank comes with an inflation target at around 2% we are able to well say that keeping money costs most of us at least 2% per year. This discourages savers and spur consumes. This is how our economies are working, predicated on inflation and debts.
What about deflation? Well this is often the opposite of inflation in fact it is the biggest nightmare for the central banks, let’s understand why. Basically, we have deflation when overall the costs of goods fall. This would be caused by a rise of value of money. Firstly, it would hurt spending as consumers will undoubtedly be incentivised to save lots of money because their value will increase overtime. Alternatively merchants will undoubtedly be under constant pressure. They will have to sell their goods quick otherwise they’ll lose money because the price they will charge for his or her services will drop as time passes. But if there is Bitcoin Revolution learned in these years is that central banks and governments usually do not care much about consumers or merchants, what they care 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 derive from debt you can imagine what will be the consequences of deflation.
So in summary, inflation is growth friendly but is based on debt. Which means future generations will pay our debts. Deflation alternatively makes growth harder nonetheless it implies 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 made to be an alternative for the money and to be both a store of value and a mean for trading goods. They’re limited in number and we will never have a lot more than 21 million bitcoins around. Therefore they’re designed to be deflationary. Now we have all seen what the results of deflation are. However, in a bitcoin-based future it could still be easy for businesses to thrive. The way to go will be to switch from the debt-based economy to a share-based economy. In fact, because contracting debts in bitcoins will be very costly business can still obtain 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 be distributed more evenly among people. However, just for clarity, I must say that the main costs of borrowing capital will undoubtedly be reduced under bitcoins as the fees would be extremely low and there will not 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 pay back the huge debts that we inherited from the past generations.