Recently I started investing in bitcoins and I’ve heard a lot of talks about inflation and deflation however, not many people actually know and consider what inflation and deflation are. But let’s start with inflation.
We always needed ways to trade value and probably the most practical way to do it is to link it with money. Before it worked quite well because the money that has been issued was linked to gold. So every central bank needed enough gold to pay back all the money it issued. However, during the past century this changed and gold isn’t what’s giving value to money but promises. As possible 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 are printing money, so quite simply they’re “creating wealth” out of nothing 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 is 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 so? Well the answer they might offer you is that by de-valuing their currency they are helping the exports.
In fairness, inside our global economy this is true. However, that is not the only reason. By issuing fresh money we can afford to cover back the debts we’d, put simply we make new debts to pay the old ones. But that’s 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 easier to grow because debts are cheap. But what are the consequences of most this? It’s hard to store wealth. If you keep the money (you worked hard to obtain) 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 are able to 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 exactly the opposite of inflation and it is the biggest nightmare for our central banks, let’s see why. Basically, we’ve deflation when overall the costs of goods fall. This might be caused by an increase of value of money. To start with, it would hurt spending as consumers will undoubtedly be incentivised to save money because their value will increase overtime. However merchants will be under constant pressure. They will have to sell their goods quick otherwise they’ll 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 as time passes. Because our economies are based on debt you can imagine exactly what will be the consequences of deflation.
So to conclude, inflation is growth friendly but is founded on debt. Which means future generations will pay our debts. Deflation on the other hand makes growth harder nonetheless it means that future generations won’t have much debt to pay (in such context it would be possible to cover slow growth).
OK so how all of this fits with bitcoins?
Well, bitcoins are designed to be an alternative for money also to be both a store of value and a mean for trading goods. They are limited in number and we’ll 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 comparatif plateforme trading -based future it would still be easy for businesses to thrive. The way to go will be to switch from a debt-based economy to a share-based economy. Actually, because contracting debts in bitcoins will be very expensive business can still obtain the capital they need by issuing shares of these company. This could be a fascinating alternative as it will offer many investment opportunities and the wealth generated will undoubtedly be distributed more evenly among people. However, simply for clarity, I have to say that the main costs of borrowing capital will be reduced under bitcoins as the fees will be extremely low and there won’t be intermediaries between transactions (banks rip people off, both borrowers and lenders). This would 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 people inherited from the past generations.