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Ideological and Irrational Exuberance

  • Bitcoin
June 10, 2011

Tags Monetary TheoryMoney and Banking

David Kramer on Bitcoin—Just Another Bogus Medium of Exchange

I’m sure by now many of you have heard about Bitcoin. The fact that it’s called “virtual currency” gives you an idea about its actual value as a real medium of exchange. While many people who are touting it on Facebook are enamored with the fact that it was voluntarily created by the marketplace (i.e., is not forced down our throats by a private central bank), I’m afraid that those people are losing sight of how a real medium of exchange arises in a free market. A medium of exchange arises from something that had a material use/value in the market prior to becoming a medium of exchange, i.e., it was also a good being bartered for other goods and services. Over the centuries, gold and silver won out as the two most preferred mediums of exchange—with gold holding the number one position due to it being more scarce than silver.

What was Bitcoin’s prior material use/value? Zero. It is just bits in a computer. And what’s with the “fixed” amount of Bitcoins? Who determined the “proper” amount? A computer programmer? Only the free market can voluntarily determine how much of a real medium of exchange is needed in the marketplace over time. While the idea of attempting to get rid of the Bankster monopoly on creating money out of thin air is commendable, Bitcoin is also money created out of thin air. Bitcoin is just substituting one bogus medium of exchange for another.

UPDATE: I’ve been getting a lot of reader response trying to “explain” to me the economic virtues of Bitcoin. Some responders have even mistakenly used Austrian economics to rationalize their views. I would suggest that before you write to me about the Austrian economics view of a medium of exchange, you should read the two books by one of the two giants of Austrian economics, Murray Rothbard, on what a medium of exchange is. Here is the pdf for Rothbard’s What Has Government Done to Our Money and here is the pdf for Rothbard’s The Case Against the Fed. For those of you who have not yet read any Austrian economics, please do not waste your time writing to me trying to explain the “scientific” breakthrough of the bogus Bitcoin computer program.

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