Thursday, May 15, 2014

The global trade and reserve currency problem, Bitcoin, and why you should care

I am no economist but this is pretty clear to all who read about world events: the fact that the US dollar is currently used as a global medium of exchange brings both tangible and intangible benefits and responsibilities to the United States.  You can find endless discussion about this via a quick Google search.  However, just by looking at the debt of various economies, it should be clear to all involved that there is a non-trivial chance that the dollar's reign as the global medium of exchange will end in the next 5-10 years. 

You may debate whether the US has been a good steward of this trust, however that is not the purpose of this post.  Instead I would like you to consider what will replace it.  Most bets are on the Chinese Yuan, simply because since they export so much stuff they own a lot of gold and other nation's currencies.

As a member of a free nation, as a citizen (not a subject) protected by a bill of rights, I would be deeply worried if the currency of a nation without these concerns starts to be used as the global medium of exchange, conferring the power and influence that comes from being "first among equals" to that nation.  Since I have no direct experience with China I will let you make your own decision about whether China should be that nation.  Go ahead and start with the concept of "Leftover Women" here and then please search for "human rights violations".

Recently the central bank of China (PBOC) has significantly discouraged the use of Bitcoin within the country.  Anonymous reporters from inside China say that the main reaction to this has been mystification -- why would this organization that oversees the entire 10 trillion USD Chinese economy worry itself over an obscure technology with a total economic activity of a few billion bucks?

I think that the reason is because Bitcoin, and ONLY Bitcoin, is capable of becoming the next global reserve currency.  Why this is true is complex and cannot be fully discussed here.  I'd prefer that you trust me or your technologist friend about this.  However, in short, Bitcoin is like gold that can be sent electronically.  Nobody controls it, nobody decides how much can be printed.  There is no "central bank of bitcoin".  For these same reasons, gold is a great choice (in fact HAS BEEN the defacto international medium of exchange and is still used as a reserve) for an international currency except for one problem; it cannot be sent electronically.  It must be physically moved, which is slow, expensive and vulnerable to theft.  Bitcoin solves these problems.  It is the first engineered sound money; gold is natural sound money, national currencies are engineered but unsound.

Therefore if you can see ANY possibility, no matter how small, of the end of the petrodollar and the beginning of the petroyuan, if you are a woman or not a member of the Chinese ruling class, if you care about personal freedom, human rights or due process of law, I strongly urge you to give Bitcoin a try!  Buy some at a Bitcoin ATM and then pay your friend for your half of lunch in Bitcoin.  Buy some gyft cards, attempt to use them for ebay or etsy purchases by contacting the seller.  Search the web for merchants that accept bitcoin and buy your stuff there.  In this, think globally, act locally: sure its a cliche but in this case totally appropriate.  Your use of Bitcoin makes it stronger, and this nascent currency must get stronger if it is to be ready to challenge the Yuan as the defacto international trade and reserve currency.