Tag Archives: Free Money

Are Bitcoins Money? The concept of digital currency and the desperate need for a Free Money supply

5/9/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

We would be remiss here at The Mint if we did not enquire and make an honest attempt to understand the phenomenon of bitcoins.  Bitcoins, according to wikipedia, are units of a peer-to-peer digital currency.  They are a purely digital attempt to solve the eternal problem of what to use as money.  Are they to be trusted?  Lets take a look.

First, we must look at them from a purely conceptual standpoint.  Are they money?  Yes, bitcoins, as we understand their operation, meet our pure definition of money in the sense that they are not debt.

However, they have a rather severe limitation in that universal or even regional recognition as money in exchange and convertibility to other forms of money could prove elusive.  This is a psychological barrier that theoretically could be overcome, however, it is difficult to assume that a majority of persons would, in time, learn what a bitcoin is and then take the time to sign up for and monitor a bitcoin account.

The market penetration for bitcoins could be as large as the number of internet and mobile phone users in the world but would more likely be similar to that of banking customers who use online and mobile banking services.  In other words, those who are comfortable storing a portion of their wealth in a digital media.

Given the barriers to recognition and acceptance, at this point, bitcoins are probably best thought of as a share of stock in an amorphous payment clearing mechanism whose business model consists of the free exchange of its own shares of stock between account holders and the constant validation of transactions and subsequent logging of ownership of said shares.

These shares, then, would need to be converted into a local currency to be of use outside of the realm of bitcoin account holders.

The validation of the exchange and the logging of ownership of the bitcoins must be done by someone for the bitcoins to maintain their integrity and therefore any value which others may attach to them apart from a fickle monetary premium which is, at present, compromised by the barriers of recognition and convertibility refered to above. 

This validation is currently undertaken voluntarily by the bitcoin account owners themselves and is accomplished by the users offering their resources, in the form of computer processing power and the use of computer hardware and electricity which makes the processing possible, to the greater bitcoin network for this purpose.

In return for the computer processing power and use of hardware and electricity which they dedicate to these processes, the bitcoin account owner receives a quantity of newly created bitcoins in exchange for the completion of a set quantity of computing (read bookkeeping and auditing functions) completed.  These newly issued bitcoins serve to dilute the overall stock of the existing bitcoins. 

The process of bitcoin creation realized through computer processing is refered to as “mining,” a name which is a fairly accurate description of the way in which bitcoins come into creation, even though the process more resembles accounting than strip mining.

As of this writing, we understand that mining bitcoins on a small scale is not profitable, which in layman’s terms means that the cost of the electricity needed to perform the computer processing involved in mining is greater than the amount of bitcoins which would come into existence as a result of the computer processing performed. 

This calculation is naturally expressed in dollars as we are not yet aware of a utility company which accepts bitcoins as payment for electric bills.

It would then follow that bitcoin creation would slow as long as this price relationship exists.  We will ignore, for the sake of simplicity, the fact that a great deal of bitcoin “mining” is done via bots which use the electricity and computer processing capacity of unwitting hosts, which makes mining profitable for some at the expense of others, and simply state that bitcoin creation, on net, is currently a losing proposition.

The fact that the mining of bitcoins is not profitable should make the existing bitcoins more valuable in the future as the stock of bitcoins will either cease to be diluted will be diluted at a lower rate.  This would theoretically cause the value of bitcoins to increase until it again became profitable to “mine” them, which in turn would lead to an increased rate of dilution of the bitcoin stock and lower relative value in exchange, etc.

In this sense, the economics of bitcoins is similar to that of mining precious metals.  Another similarity that the bitcoin has to precious metals is that theoretically there is a logarithm which ultimately will place an absolute limit on the number of bitcoins in existence.  The logarithm places a mathematical limit to the stock of bitcoins in the same way that nature places a theoretical limit on the extractable amounts of precious metals which can be used as money.

However, bitcoins have a distinct disadvantage to precious metals owed to the fact that bitcoins require constant bookkeeping and auditing to maintain the integrity and therefore value of the bitcoin as money.  Precious metals, on the other hand, do not rely upon administrative functions to maintain their value and rely entirely upon their relative value in trade.

Further, we must assume that the bookkeeping and auditing needed to maintain the integrity of the bitcoin will increase exponentially as bitcoin production approaches its logarithmically imposed limit, just as the incentive to perform these functions (mining, as it were) continues to diminish.

Given this inevitable dynamic, it is unclear if the integrity of the system can be maintained once the incentive to maintain the integrity of the system, which is currently supplied by the ability to “mine” bitcoins, is removed. 

Having said all of that, it is now time to point out the obvious flaw in the bitcoin model, the flaw which lands bitcoins squarely in the realm of equity and makes them unfit for long-term use as money:  The threat of competing digital currencies which would surely come into existence if the bitcoin were to gain widespread popularity and acceptance.

Even with the digital checks and balances on production which are mathematically built into the bitcoin model, the bitcoin, like gold, silver, seashells, and fiat currency, fails to completely solve the happy problem which has no solution:

That the infinite increases in trade due to the increased division of labor in the world will require money and debt markets with the flexibility and dynamism that only a completely free money supply can offer.

Gold and silver may hit physical limits, bitcoins may be limited by logarithms, and debt based fiat currencies tend to collapse upon themselves.  This is proof that none of them, by virtue of physical and psychological limitations, completely fulfill the role of money for man.  They were never meant to.  

The determination of what will serve as money must be left in the hands of the people who are involved in trade.  Left to their own devices, we would be amazed at the speed and efficiency with which the problem of what is money can be solved.

In other words, let those engaged in trade decide what is most suited as money at a given time and allow them to trade with it without hindrance.

For it is not the costs associated in the production of a monetary unit which remove value from the economy, rather, the administrative burdens, unnecessary conversion costs, and the rigidity of an imposed monetary unit which deals mortal blows to trade and consequently the ability of all humans to flourish to the greatest of their abilities. 

Unnatural restrictions on the money supply, which solutions like bitcoin attempt to solve, are devastating to trade.  The destruction wrought by monetary hegemony should surpass hunger, poverty, and climate change as global concerns, for allowing a free money supply to operate would serve to eradicate all of these problems and their symptoms, namely social unrest, terrorism, and health care crises.

Imagine.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for May 9, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.70

Oil Price per Barrel:  $96.42

Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.41

10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.84%

FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,589

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25% AWAY WE GO!

Unemployment Rate:  8.1%

Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.3%

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 12,835

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,275,100,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $9,832,700,000,000

Of Money and Metals, Part V – Free Money Refutes Gresham’s Law

1/31/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

 

{Editor”s note: The following is the long awaited conclusion of the series “Of Money and Metals.”  Please click here to view the Part IPart II, Part III, and Part IV

 

Free money also renders null and void any arguments as to what constitutes good or bad money, for this determination will be made on a daily basis by producers and consumers rather than a monetary authority who is acting on mere theory with severely limited data.

 

Absent the government declaration of what is money and how much said “money” is worth, there is no longer bad money driving out good money, as Gresham’s Law so perceptively observes.  What remains, then, as the ultimate determinant of what is money and how much it is worth are the two parties to a transaction, who are generally in the best position to determine such matters.

 

“But this would destroy exchange as we know it!” comes the cry from apologists of legal tender laws.  “No one will know what anything is worth, let alone how to pay for it!”

 

On the contrary, the free operation of the money supply would, by necessity, cause everyone engaging in exchange to be acutely aware of both what constitutes money and how much it is worth.  It is legal tender laws which serve to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes as to the true value of money.

 

When seen through a different lens, that of the free operation of the money supply, the absurdity of legal tender laws becomes clear.  Commodity (free) money is unhindered by the artificial restraint of existing debts and is constrained only by the productive will of society.  Commodity (free) money is free to accurately reflect the price of goods and services in light of the perceived supply and productive capacity of both goods being exchanged, that being offered in exchange and that offered in payment as money.

 

Money, as most people instinctively understand it, is simply an ordinary good whose utility and value are greatly enhanced by its wide acceptance in trade.  If one strives to remove the “cost” of producing money, as Adam Smith so nobly aspired to do, it is clear that the best way to do this is to allow the good which is acting as money to be produced in the most efficient way by the greatest number of artisans as are necessary to fulfill the present demand for money.

 

But how would all of these artisans, blindly creating all of this commodity money, know when to stop producing were it not for legal tender laws?

 

Here, there is no risk of oversimplifying the answer, for the answer is painfully simple.  As persons competing in the free market who have chosen to produce money, they are likely to be the first to know when there is too much money in circulation, for their orders for new money will uncannily drop when the economy has enough money to function efficiently.

 

Further, any commodity that is only marginally used in the production of money will quickly and smoothly have its supply directed to other, more efficient uses as the incentive (realized margin) to use it as money is incrementally reduced as supply begins to overtake demand.  Each producer is therefore free to choose his or her exit point.

 

Take the case of copper.  If copper becomes monetized by the free will of the participants in the economy, it stands to reason that it could be demonetized by the same free market operation.  Should economic activity slow to the point where the pace of saving and exchange no longer calls for copper to assume a role as money, as copper is demonetized those holding copper will find it more efficient to melt the copper that they have in monetary form and sell it as a consumer good.

 

European Jeton from 1598 courtesy of Wikipedia.org

 

The process of demonetization is simply a matter or free choice when something occurring in nature is used as money.  It first moves to the fringes of use as money, as a Jeton or modern day casino chip is used in place of money.  In time, the material will be demonetized completely.

 

Debt, when used as money, enjoys no such elasticity.  By necessity, when debt is forced into a role as money, it causes an unnatural proliferation of credit, so that when the inverse of Gresham’s law begins to operate (good credits push bad credits out of circulation) the unnatural restriction on the money supply assures that even the best of credits will go bad, and the money supply along with them.

 

When debt is demonetized, usually by force, the result is more often than not a severe hyperinflation followed by war.

 

Legal tender laws, such as the modern laws which declare that debt is money, are futile at best and generally destructive.  They do, however, permit a small group to reap the monetary margin that the artificial monopoly on money creation allows them for at time.

 

Accepting that an inanimate object is no longer worth what one thought it was can be disappointing, but at least one still has said inanimate object.  In the case of debt, accepting that someone cannot deliver what they promised tends to create feelings of resentment and remorse which, depending upon the size of the failure, can lead to violence.

 

Soon, the world will learn that using debt as money is a dangerous violation of the very laws of nature.  As with any violation of natural law, the consequences may be withheld for a time, but they are never avoided.  The longer they are artificially withheld, the more swiftly and severely the consequences will be meted out when they can no longer be repressed.

 

For no man, or group of men, regardless of their number, clairvoyance, or special powers they profess to have, can suspend or accelerate the operation of natural law.  The Creator alone reserves that power for himself.

 

There is a perfect balance in God’s creation.  Yin and yang, male and female, mercy and justice, heat cold, money and debt.  Calling one extreme the by the name of other is futile and leads only to confusion and destruction.

 

It is only a matter of time.

 

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

 

Stay Fresh!

 

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

 

Key Indicators for January 31, 2012

 

Copper Price per Lb: $3.79
Oil Price per Barrel:  $98.48

Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.39  
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.80%

FED Target Rate:  0.09%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,737 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  1.50%
Unemployment Rate:  8.5%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.0%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  12,633  

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,152,800,000,000 RED ALERT!!!  THE ANIMALS ARE LEAVING THE ZOO!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,782,800,000,000 YIKES UP $1 Trillion in one year!!!!!!!

Of Money and Metals – Part IV: The Operation of a Free Money Supply Explained

1/23/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

{Editor”s note: The following is a continuation of the series “Of Money and Metals.”  Please click here to view the Part IPart II, and Part III

Natural law is always operating, always demanding a balance of accounts in the real world, not simply on an accountant’s ledger or numbers on a bank statement.

It is then foolishness for anyone to assume that a central authority, no matter how clairvoyant, can properly estimate the money supply necessary for human economic activity to continue at the optimal rate, balancing both the quantity of debt and money to provide for both the present and future using all of the information which is collectively available.

It is for this reason that it is imperative that people be free to declare both what will serve as money as well as its value in exchange.  History has shown that, if people chose gold or anything natural as money, economic activity and the resulting benefits to society will accumulate so rapidly that the supply of gold will quickly act as a constraint.  If gold is money by decree, this becomes a problem. 

However, if gold has simply been chosen for use as money by the majority, the same majority will quickly and tacitly gravitate to a secondary natural source of money with which to augment the primary natural money supply.  Historically, this secondary source of money has been silver. 

Once economic activity further accelerates and the benefits continue to accrue to a larger portion of the population, the supply of silver will act as a restraint.  Again, if left to their own devices, the majority will quickly and tacitly adopt another item occurring in nature to be used as money.  Historically, this third source has been copper.

Yet even the supply of copper, abundant as it may be, will eventually serve as a restraint, and so on, and so forth.  Eventually, in this example of what we like to call “Free Money,” gold will tend to operate as a form of savings and settlement only in the largest of transactions, with silver serving as money at an intermediate level while copper would be the most widely circulated currency for smaller transactions.

The beauty of free money is that, should the supply of copper become a constraint, steel, nickel, or some other more abundant natural resource will take the place of copper for use in smaller transactions, and so on, so that the money supply, in a general sense, will always be perfectly suited for the rate of economic activity which is occurring.

It is important to note that, while history has shown a preference for metals to be used as money, in the free money (and by extension, free banking) theory there is no requirement that what be adopted as money be metal.  In fact, money can be anything that those participating in exchange bilaterally accept as payment for goods and settlement of debts.  As you will recall, the only thing that money should not be, by definition, is debt.

Yes, Mr. Cheney, Deficits do matter

 

While it is obvious that debt can be exchanged in the place of money for a time, as the past 100 years have shown us, common sense, logic, and natural law will demand that the debts which circulate be settled in real terms.  The creation of debt as money severely distorts economic reality and the more debt that is created, the greater the demanded settlement in real terms will be, regardless of how many times one chants the Keynesian mantra recently made famous again by former Vice President of the US Dick Cheney “Deficits don’t matter.”

The superiority of free money is that the money supply is free to adapt to the rapidly economic activity, which is nothing more than an expression of the changing wants and needs of consumers.  The money supply is not hindered by unnatural constraints which have nothing to do with economic reality and are imposed by what is at best an uninformed or disinterested and at worst a malicious monetary authority.

The current debt as money system, far from providing a perfectly elastic money supply, has created the economic equivalent of concrete, which is now hardening the economy instead of providing it with the much needed lubrication.  If this insanity carries on much longer, society will be shattered as economic reality takes a jackhammer to it.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for January 23, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.79
Oil Price per Barrel:  $99.93

Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.20  
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.07%
FED Target Rate:  0.10%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,677 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  1.50%
Unemployment Rate:  8.5%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.0%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  12,709  

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,167,800,000,000 RED ALERT!!!  THE ANIMALS ARE LEAVING THE ZOO!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,805,600,000,000 YIKES UP $1 Trillion in one year!!!!!!!