In an economic reality where those in charge of central
banks around the world are akin to little kids running around a park
frantically blowing bubbles, it is often hard to spot what is real and what
isn’t; what is the true worth of certain assets given today’s scenario. The policy du jour is excess liquidity, i.e.,
unprecedented devaluation, coming from all dams (central banks) emptying out
their seemingly never-ending reservoirs (printing press) of fiat money and
raising the water (price) levels little by little as this river (liquidity, no
pun intended) flows through all towns and cities, with tributaries running into
all sorts of sectors until it dumps out into the great oceans (world markets),
effectively raising global averages.
Enter bitcoin, a ‘cryptocurrency’ developed by someone using
the pseudonym, “Satoshi Nakamoto” got the world’s attention in 2009 as a potential
alternative to the current system of government created fiat currencies. Given the recent extreme rise in popularity,
bitcoins have become the center of attention and the media’s darling as its
valuation soars higher and higher against the dollar, euros, et al. Many ‘experts’ are calling for higher prices,
the very same analysts that predicted markets and housing would continue
upwards unimpeded in 2007.
Other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin have been created,
spun off from bitcoin itself now serve as a less expensive substitute with an
easier point of entry as many ‘investors’ (speculators) have been effectively
priced out of bitcoins due to their current valuation. This could be analogous to the ratio between
gold and silver, silver being the poor man’s gold; Litecoin may be the poor
digital man’s bitcoin.
This alternative form of exchange is indeed innovative and
offers many a way out of their fiat currency malaise. Cryptocurrencies can be used as vehicles for wealthy
individuals looking to place their holdings elsewhere to evade onerous
government regulations and even taxation.
A fine endeavor indeed as taxation run to its logical end is nothing
more than [legalized] theft. Moreover,
as more outlets accept this form of payment for their products by consumers a
broader market develops encouraging its use and diminishing the need to hold
onto other ‘fiduciary media.’
As an open source peer-to-peer electronic money and payment
network, it uses what is called cryptography to secure its transactions, hence
the title ‘cryptocurrency.’ Below is a
brief description of its process directly from Wikipedia:
“Digitally signed payment messages are broadcast to and
verified by a decentralized network of computers all over the world. Specialized computers use a proof-of-work
system to prevent people from copying and spending the same bitcoin multiple
times, a problem for digital currencies known as double-spending. The operators of these computers, known as
“miners,” are rewarded with transaction fees and newly minted bitcoins.
Bitcoins are stored by associating them with cryptographically
generated addresses. These may be stored
on web services, on local hardware PCs and mobile devices, or on paper print
outs. A collection of bitcoin addresses
is known as a wallet. Thefts of bitcoins
from web services and online wallet services have been covered in the media,
prompting assertions that the safest way to store bitcoins is in a paper wallet
generated by the owner on an uncompromised computer.”
Essentially the system itself differs only in its
decentralization. In today’s system one
could reword the above to say:
“Digitally created currencies are broadcast to and verified
by a centralized network of central banks all over the world. Specialized printers use a proof-of-work
system to prevent counterfeiting, or using the same bills multiple times over
without government sanction. The
operators of this network, known as “commercial banks,” are rewarded with
transaction fees and newly printed fiat.
Fiat is stored within given central and commercial bank
accounts in several different digital or physical addresses. These may be store in digital banking
services, local authorized branches, or on ‘paper’ print outs. A collection of these print outs can be found
in a wallet. Thefts of dollars from
[investment] banks, government taxation, and central bank devaluation have not
been (accurately) covered by the media, prompting assertions that the safest way
to store fiat is in a pillow or under an uncompromised mattress.”
Bitcoin has been blamed for usage in underground markets
involving illegal drugs among other things, also no different than the
immensity of such exchanges conducted in dollars or other currencies. However, as aforementioned, it has slowly
garnered more support by legitimate businesses and its use as a medium of
exchange is increasingly being solidified, although composing only a small
percentage of the global market place.
It is still a ‘vehicle’ relegated to speculators due to its rather still
infant stage of development. Many are
still unaware of its inner workings, much less of how to use it as a mode of
What is really quixotic about this new digital creation is
that it does not require, rather it does not have a central authority
determining its next step or course. In
essence, it retains no driver behind its algorithmic steering wheel as far as
it is known. It has been set on
autopilot by its purported creator and disseminated to the masses of computer
savvy users for its promulgation and ultimately adopted by the sundry businesses
now accepting it. In these days of so
much revolutionary talks and ideas of libertarianism, limited
keeping the tentacles of the bureaucracy out of our daily lives and finances,
this presents a very attractive solution for many. It is the romantic modern ideal of a
classical liberal global free market gold standard.
However, is such a statement too provocative and too soon for
this rather immature ‘currency?’ A
veritable cornucopia of online forums and threads have popped up and are solely
dedicated to tips and tricks, know-hows, and other topics relating to this new
form of currency. Young adults always
easily persuaded by such new ideas and eagerly wanting to be early adopters are
devoting their time into learning more and more and getting involved in this
new wave of ‘money.’ Everyone in the
digital world, the media, and now even Wall St. is apparently talking about
bitcoin. This is reminiscent of the
recent bubbles experienced by all, more recently in the housing market where
even college students were remarking about how they planned to purchase or flip
homes, home depot and its big box competitors popped up along communities
throughout the United States just like the above mentioned dedicated
websites. Could this just be a temporary
rush into something, fueling what can already be alluded to a bubble in its
early stages? Perhaps it is one of the
many channels into which all of this new excess liquidity is being funneled into
at this time. It is hard to tell due to
the intricacies involved.
Considering its nebulous activities, bitcoin could also be a
ruse and turn out to be the 21st century equivalent of the Tulip
Mania in the Dutch golden age. It could
also have been the tool of a central authority looking to thwart markets their
way and establish a new equilibrium favoring their currency, essential a
financial coup d'etat yet to be unmasked.
All distant possibilities aside, this wave could go on as it has not yet
crashed on the nearest reality shore, or so it seems. Bitcoin could continue to rise into
unexpected territories, as analysts have recently said, upwards of $98,500. Much remains to be seen in this still speculation
laden alternative. Should this truly be
the first taste of a free market oriented and provided alternative to the fiat
monetary system in which all are imprisoned with no way out at the moment, then
may it run its course and be a pioneering and turning event in favor of a
re-establishment of freedom of exchange unencumbered by a select few, “a gang
of thieves writ large” (Murray Rothbard) manipulating prices by setting desired
interest rates in accordance with what is necessary to maintain the [statist]
In this vlog I succinctly cover the importance of a pocket square to bring some life into what could otherwise just be another bland jacket lost in a sea of suits in the business world or in any fancy occasion and even a casual event.
Thanks for watching as always and remember to follow me on IG and Twitter @DavidKishere
In a world teeming with state interventions every where one looks, it is amazing to see how the free market continues its march unabated towards creative solutions treading through the heavily canopied forest of government growth. Much like the lowly conifer trying to find uncharted territory where it will not be usurped by the preeminence of angiosperms, the market is always looking for room to flourish into a healthy retreat far away from the intermingled gov't branches which block out the sun of opportunity.
Along comes a company called Kickstarter, Inc. To describe its primary function I will briefly summarize it. Anyone with an idea - entrepreneurial in nature - can apply for a spot in its website by following its guidelines. This enables the individual to formulate a page describing the purpose of their creation or project and providing detailed information on it. People who visit the site are free to look at any of these postings and donate or 'back' a specific project that is to their liking or if they see it as a potential success. Each project usually offers several layers or categories of backers, from the lowest dollar amount to the highest. Depending upon the level of donation by a backer, the project owner provides certain incentives as a thank you. These incentives may range from a simple written appreciation of your support, one of its products to be shipped to you upon launch or even perhaps a stake in the project. Once meeting a certain goal of a particular 'funding amount' the entrepreneur is tasked with putting his plan into motion. Here, he or she is responsible for maintaining timely updates about its progress to backers. In a nutshell, this is Kickstarter.
As great as the service that this website offers is, imagine for a moment how this could be applied in a grander scale. In a society sans central planning, without the involuntary redistribution of money (see taxation) to be allocated for specific projects which must go through loads of bureaucratic filters (see gov't) before it reaches the planning table and is actually put into action, I see the aforementioned as a modern voluntary alternative.
Nowadays, money must be "raised" through taxes and apportioned for a specific budget catered for a particular district in order to see a bridge be built, or a road re-paved. The process offered by Kickstarter would effectively end these boondoggles that end up costing much more than forecasted leaving taxpayers on the hook for even more money.
Sticking to the subject of bridges, instead of them going 'nowhere' as most make-work programs seem to do; bridges would indeed be built based upon the demand of that particular locale. A specific budget would be set aside that must be met prior to construction taking place. Should enough be raised to meet this goal by backers that reside within the surrounding areas, the bridge would be built based upon pure market demand and not artificially and arbitrarily by a congressman or senator looking to be re-elected by 'creating [temporary] jobs' within the local economy. Money would not be wasted ex-ante and backers would only be charged if the amount necessary was achieved, otherwise the quantity donated by each individual would be returned. Likewise, the project could be proposed once more with a smaller budget that may find a more willing audience that would be more likely to help fund it. Such trial and error is the essence of market function, proposals that are not within the needs of a community would certainly be met with failure and those within the right scope would be rewarded with success.
One of the best descriptions and simplistic adaptation of the division of labor is found in one simple essay. In "I, Pencil" Leonard Read captures the dynamism of the market in doing whatever is necessary to meet demands. The coming together of thousands if not millions of individuals to act together freely, unbeknownst to them, each with their own little bit of focused knowledge and expertise, to create a final product that so many superciliously take for granted. Why is it that anything really requires a centralized function known as government in order to operate? Instead of natural flow, this results in an arbitrarily forced congruence with regard to specific processes that may otherwise not have come into being, or perhaps another more efficient version of itself would be in existence sans this consolidated mandate. True harmonious [sans government] collaboration is easily found, all one has to do is look around for the smallest things and realize the amazing voluntary cooperation of free thinking individuals that went into the making of any particular object. The sundry industries participating in the creative force and manifesting the energies necessary to supply the world with what it needs (nature -> commodities -> capital -> labor -> product).
As much as one cannot explain a tree's creation and composition in fine detail - a task relegated only to a supreme intelligence and initial cause of all things - one cannot also explain the process of something as basic as a pencil in detail. Not one mind has the wherewithal to do so. This is the very myopic view that many inherit naturally when attempting to view a world where functions such as defense, first-class mail delivery, road construction and etc is done without governmental edict. One mind cannot grasp the enormity behind these services, however, seeing as if simple objects require the coming together of many individuals, why is it that this same principle cannot be applied as a broad stroke of the brush when it comes to everything provided to us via public entities? I submit that it certainly can. Now go and indulge your brain and read this wonderful essay at Mises.org: http://mises.org/daily/4736