Bitcoin as legal tender

Right, but why do people have faith in the US government? Faith in the US dollar is backed by the US government’s (and the economy’s) ability to support the currency. What is oil traded in, for instance? You won’t get any argument from me that faith in the dollar can collapse, and probably will over time. But I suspect people will deal with a loss in faith in the dollar by migrating to another major currency.

No, it’s not the faith in the US government. It’s the wealth generated by every American that backs the US dollar. If I sell someone a bushel of tomatoes from my yard for $10 instead of accepting a chicken in trade, that has nothing to do with the US government. It just makes things easier to keep track of so that if I want my chicken next week or next month, I can then trade that $10 bill for a chicken at that time rather than having to hassle with a keeping the chicken in my yard for a month. Dollars are just a way of keeping track of our wealth. The wealth is what backs those dollars, not the full faith of the US government.

How do you explain hyperinflation then? The wealth of the country didn’t suddenly vanish.

It’s the creation of extra money without a corresponding creation of wealth. I like to think about it like increasing the value of a score in a sport. Maybe a basket being worth 200 points instead of two. The numbers on the scoreboard (money) increase, but the number of baskets made (wealth) is still the same. Yes, the government has some room to manipulate things, but even in Zimbabwe or Venezuela or Weimar Germany, there are / were still things of actual value underlying the money. It’s just that those governments, unwilling to deal with their countries not being as wealthy as they would like, tried to game the system by increasing the monetary supply in excess of the available wealth.

That makes no sense. Why in the world would governments deflate their money, making it worthless not only within the country but in international trade? In fact, it’s the exact reverse. Printing higher currency notes follows the rise in prices and/or the erasure of wealth, not precedes it.

Right. The amount of wealth, whether food, housing, water, medical care, toilet paper, whatever else, decreased because of government mismanagement. Usually this would be because the small group in charge got greedy and decided to keep the wealth for themselves, farmland in Zimbabwe, oil in Venezuela, and so on but ended up mismanaging it, leading to a wealth being destroyed. As part of their strategy to avoid a popular revolution due to the commoners being so poor (in terms of things of value) they issued more currency. Due to their unwillingness / inability to deliver on the things of value to go with the newly printed money, things spiraled out of control.

Apologies for the double post. To make a long story short, those governments mismanaged the wealth of their country. As a result they had to resort to manipulating their monetary supply to deal with having destroyed a substantial amount of wealth due to being unable or unwilling to create new wealth to replace that which had been destroyed.

Because of how dollars work. D’you know how sometimes it takes about 4 days for a refund to land in your account? Especially when said retailer is headquartered out of state (it’s actually District, of which there are 12, but cross country is almost always a different district). There’s a reason for that and its not just laziness on the part of a retailer. Dollars have to go through a complicated process of transfer, confirmation, custodianship, retransfer, etc before they land in your account. Until all of this is settled, at any point something can interrupt the transaction and it can fail. This is why you can’t withdraw money you place in a brokerage account for that period of time, even if they offer supposedly “instant access” to your money. What actually happens is a request for transfer is put in and it takes about 4 days to settle. They loan you that “instant” cash on their books and settle that loan when your actual money settles in the banking system.

It’s really fast ~1970’s technology… or in other words, extremely archaic.

I mispoke. I should have been careful to say effectively ban crypto. You can declare it illegal all you want, but if you can’t know who is using it and when, and you can’t prove someone used it later, well, you might as well not have a ban for all the good it will do you.

Yes, I suppose they can go full STASI if they so choose. And that’s not at all hyperbole. The degree, scale, and costs of such interrogations over a $0.20 tootsie roll purchase using XMR would almost certainly prevent governments from having any chance of actually attempting what you’re suggesting. What, the US is going to interrogate every single citizen for every possible purchase they have ever made? Because there’s no way to detect an XMR purchase. I walk up to a yard sale, ask how much the cool sneakers are, and he says 0.1 XMR, we make the transfer and I walk away with vintage sneakers. You think the cops are going to come swarming in, demanding to know where his sneakers went and where his dollars are for the sneaker purchase?

And on what legal grounds can the US government prevent private citizens from exchanging goods and services? At best the commerce clause might kick in for cross state purchases but even that’s a stretch. You’d have to craft a really… interesting law to make secrets illegal (that’s all XMR is, exchanges of digital secrets that can be confirmed post hoc).

Sources do not seem to agree.

I already spoke to the volatility concern in the thread above.

@Exapno_Mapcase Gish galloping is not a way to make an argument. Do you have an actual argument to make or are you just going to spam sources without actually making a salient point?

Hyperinflation occurs whenever faith is lost in the future value of a currency. Often, it is the result of a massive surge of money printing. If you want specific details, you’ll have to specify which historical hyperinflation.

You… are mixing terms. Deflation refers to the increase in value of a currency. Governments are hesitant to do this because of things like:

  • Government indebtedness, as state issued debt is denoted in currency, not purchasing power, so as the currency increases in value the total real value (ie, barrels of oil) owed increases. Nobody wants to owe more, least of all governments
  • The Stickiness of Wages, where people will absolutely refuse to accept a lower wage, even if the currency underlying said wage gains much more purchasing power
  • Decreased investment, due to an increase in the requisite estimate of reward to justify an investment. That is, the risk adjusted return of an enterprise must exceed the “risk free” savings rate, and this is measured in real value so risky ventures with a low return on investment will be passed over more frequently

Did you mean inflate their currency? That happens every single time they deficit spend. Why would a politician want to spend money they don’t have? I don’t think I need to spell that out for you.

I have to ask, though, did you read your link at all? It outlines Hyperinflations and does not at all suggest that printing follows price increases. Printing can cause the price increases by destroying faith in the currency. It’s an excellently written article and you seem to have taken the exact opposite of what it’s saying…

You should get better sources. The President got a lot of pushback from his original plan which was to require BTC be accepted everywhere, especially since something like 75% of El Salvador’s merchants have no actual mechanism for accepting BTC payments at all.

Bitcoin will soon be ‘legal tender’ in El Salvador – here’s what that means - Phil Davis (thestreet.com)

As that source says:

You’re obviously one of the cryptobugs who thinks crypto is the answer to all the world’s problems, so your response about its volatility was unpersuasive and clearly fueled by an unreasonable view on the future of crypto.

You may have “spoken” to the volatility concern, but you did nothing to meaningfully address its salient points.

Governments also have tremendous capacity to undermine crypto. The massively inflated value of currencies like BTC exist because you can easily exchange them for fiat dollars, the process of exchanging them for fiat dollars can be regulated and criminalized in many, many ways. For example the U.S. could start imposing sanctions on any financial institution that transacts business with any cryptocurrency business, which would make it much more difficult to get USD for BTC, which is the ultimate end use-case for most crypto speculators. Governments have already started criminalizing operating mining centers.

The big thing that has helped BTC and other inflated crypto is the U.S. has basically done nothing regulatory against cryptocurrency at all, it’s mostly been Asian countries. There would be a massive collapse in crypto’s value across all tokens, if the U.S. imposed an anti-crypto regulatory regime. Not that I necessarily expect it, but the idea the government can’t render cryptocurrencies near-useless just isn’t realistic. By curtailing its ability to attach to the fiat currency financial system, the currencies would certainly still exist in a technological standpoint, but their value and utility would be extremely low because there is minimal economic activity tied to using the currency as an actual currency (meaning you buy X with BTC, and the seller happily keeps BTC to use in future transactions.) Almost all the value of current cryptocurrencies is tied into their store of value and speculative value, and without an easy mechanism to connect to the fiat currency financial system cryptocurrencies become worthless in those regards.

Sure, but not because they are not crypto.

Again, this is not because Dollars are not crypto, it’s because US banks have decided to stick with outdated technology. In part because they get to not pay anyone interest for a couple of days while they money is in limbo.

In the Euro region paying money from your account to another takes a day, because most transfers within a country already did and the EU legislated the banks had to make any transfer within the Euro zone equivalent to one within their home country.

Yes. Brain fart, since I was obviously talking about inflation.

Actually, yes it does. Here:

If GDP, which is a measure of the production of goods and services in an economy, isn’t growing, businesses raise prices to boost profits and stay afloat. Since consumers have more money, they pay the higher prices, which leads to inflation. As the economy deteriorates further, companies charge more, consumers pay more, and the central bank prints more money—leading to a vicious cycle of hyperinflation.

And here:

If a government isn’t managed properly, citizens can also lose confidence in the value of their country’s currency. When the currency is perceived as having little or no value, people begin to hoard commodities and goods that have value. As prices begin to rise, basic goods—such as food and fuel—become scarce, sending prices in an upward spiral. In response, the government is forced to print even more money to try to stabilize prices and provide liquidity, which only exacerbates the problem.

And here:

The theft forced the government’s central bank to print excessive amounts of money so it could take care of its financial obligations.

Of course hyperinflation occurs when citizens “lose confidence in the value of their country’s currency.” This is my point as well. Currency is backed by confidence. Governments don’t print excess money deliberately to lose people’s confidence, but in response to an already present need.

Crypto is nothing but confidence. People lose faith in crypto every day. Sometimes they gain faith, true. But that extreme built-in volatility is why crypto is a supplement or local alternative to real currencies, not a substitute for them.

And what bitcoin and other proof of work currencies is backed up by the the destruction of wealth. If you destroy 1 BTC worth of valuable energy and computer time we will reward you with 1BTC. Effectively its rewarding behavior like this guy:

Except rather than fiat which are just measures of value, bit coin miners are burning the actual value itself.

I made a previous thread exploring whether there was a way this could be corrected by using the proof or work to do actual useful work and generate wealth rather than destroy it. But unfortunately the general consensus answer was no.

As @Martin_Hyde already told you, the government doesn’t need to go after each and every individual; they could just write laws that regulate institutions. If a person has to stay underground to use crypto…what’s the point?

For the record, I’m not predicting a ban on crypto anytime soon - at least not in the U.S. But regulation or policy of some sort is almost certainly coming.

Confidence in a currency is buoyed by the belief that the country’s economic system has intrinsic value that make a currency worth something. In Zimbabwe’s case, it once had an agricultural economy that supported their dollar. Mugabe’s “reforms” not only destroyed farming; it chased off people who were making money for the country. Less income, less tax revenue, less money for the people of Zimbabwe. So in purely objective terms, people knew that the currency had declined in intrinsic value.

But there’s also the realistic view that a country with a government that corrupt and incompetent is unlikely to deal with their problem in an manner that objectively satisfies that problem. So now people lose further confidence in the value of the currency for that reason, which has more to do with human psychology than the art, er, science of macroeconomics.

Predictably, Mugabe dealt with a decrease in the currency’s value and purchasing power by just creating more currency - the only tool he had at his disposal. And as the Romans and so many others have learned over the years, printing money when you have nothing of value to back it up destroys confidence in the currency. It stops becoming currency and starts becoming the butt of jokes.

Bitcoin is less of a currency and more like a meme stock. It’s an example of aspirations of future gains being divorced from the reality of its very real vulnerability and lack of objective value.

On the good side for bit coin holders, I think Bit Coin has probably reached too big to fail status. So bit coin may to some extent also be backed by the faith and credit of the United States and other countries who don’t want some 1.5 trillion dollars in assets suddenly going poof.

The problem regulators have right now is that nobody really knows the true extent to which it has wormed its way into our economies, which is the typical way that financial crises get started. BTC itself isn’t too big to fail - you can’t bail out a currency. But we might have to bail out some of those entities that have exposure from BTC losses. We just hope that the ones with the most exposure are not, in fact, the cornerstones of the financial system.

When I said too big to fail I didn’t mean bailing out, the same way we bailed out AIG, I just meant that the government might take action to prevent, or avoid taking actions that might cause, BTC to crash.

Platforms like Coinbase could be treated as “brokers” and subjected to the same IRS reporting requirements as other investments. The key, I think, is to make crypto as transparent as possible. It’s the lack of transparency that makes me worry about crypto’s potential to destabilize markets.