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Bitcoin The Almighty Buck Politics

With Euro Zone Problems, Bitcoin Experiencing Boost In Legitimacy 430

Posted by Soulskill
from the any-old-port-in-the-storm dept.
derekmead writes "Despite being used for drugs and beef jerky, Bitcoin is finding legitimate purposes. Bitcoin's decentralized convenience means international efficiency, in areas where local restrictions on money transfers to foreign companies make legal businesses cumbersome. 'I've been able to have cash in my bank account in a matter of hours using Bitcoin, rather than three days with traditional banking,' one British businessman in China told Reuters. In embattled Europe, Bitcoin offers some a viable alternative against central banks, said a Greek owner of an island bar and restaurant who accepts payment in Bitcoin. 'I don't put money in the banks. I trust the euro as a note, but I don't trust banks. I don't want them making money out of my earnings.' Indeed, Europe's financial woes are caused an unprecedented surge of interest in the alternative currency, as the continent loses economic credibility with each new bailout, according to a report by the Financial Post."
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With Euro Zone Problems, Bitcoin Experiencing Boost In Legitimacy

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  • What?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Let me be first to say:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    You know what has more legitimacy than bitcoin? Zimbabwe Dollar!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:22AM (#40305105)

    "Despite being used for drugs and beef jerky, Bitcoin is finding legitimate purposes"
    Is buying beef jerky NOT a legitimate purpose?

    Or is "beef jerky" here a euphemism... and if so, dare I ask what for? ("prostitution" would be the obvious companion to drugs, and I'm familiar with a handful of "beef" related euphemisms, but jerky? Hookers with hard, dry vulvas that will abrade the skin off your dick?)

    • Hey, I was already wondering at the drugs part.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sound+vision (884283)
        There's at least 1 site/community active now (which I will decline to name) that uses TOR and BitCoin to create a semi-anonymous network for international mail-order drug trade. Besides the technological sophistication, these places are a world apart from any "online pharmacy"-type web sites that may spam your inbox. (Those have all been credit-card-info honeypots for a decade or longer, besides.) They simply don't advertise, period - the TOR/BitCoin-based communities are way underground. Private torrent tr
        • by anyGould (1295481)

          So yes, BitCoin is being used for drug trade.

          I honestly don't get why this is news. People are trading BitCoins for drugs - so what? People have been trading US Dollars for drugs for a lot longer.

    • by Entropius (188861) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:49AM (#40307199)

      Hookers with hard, dry vulvas that will abrade the skin off your dick?

      *or vagina

  • ... the one about a month ago where someone stole lots of bitcoins or spoofed or whatever...

    Yeh... sure... mod me vague, or offtopic for bringing it up, but if you know what link I'm too lazy andon-a-phone to dig up, you're probably right with me on the disbelief of bitcoin as a smart idea.

    The gist of the article, IIRC, was that an exploit to the system existed that produced undeserved wealth for one guy and everyone else got devalued....

    Who has the link???

    • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:28AM (#40305163) Homepage

      And no one has ever robbed a bank of course.

      Not sure what you mean by the latter part of your post.
      Its not possible to exploit the system that way. Some of the websites or groups using Bitcoin perhaps, but not Bitcoin its self.

      • by bmo (77928)

        >And no one has ever robbed a bank of course.

        Banks are insured.

        Bitcoin brokers aren't. They simply can't get insurance. They get robbed, and it's simply *gone.*

        --
        BMO

        • And what do you suppose the finances of insurance look like? It's not like the money appears out of thin air or anything. Sure, the insurance company will pay out when someplace is robbed, but that just means that all your transactions with them are more expensive. You pay for that reduced risk.

          If you think bitcoin brokers should be insured, go ahead and start one that is and see if people think the risk reduction is worth the price you pay.

          • by tftp (111690)

            Sure, the insurance company will pay out when someplace is robbed, but that just means that all your transactions with them are more expensive. You pay for that reduced risk.

            Amazingly, not only bank's clients don't have to chip in for the insurance - the bank even pays them INTEREST! Imagine that!

            Who then pays for the insurance? Those who want to borrow money today in exchange of returning more money tomorrow. Without them banks would close their doors.

            But of course banks' losses from robberies are a

            • by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:48AM (#40307619) Homepage

              >Who then pays for the insurance? Those who want to borrow money today in exchange of returning more money tomorrow. Without them banks would close their doors.

              Wrong. In every single respect. Moneylending predates banking and banking developed independently of moneylending - the two only merged (in historical terms) quite recently. Moneylending is a way to fund the operation of banks but it's certainly not the only way and it's definitely not a requirement of the concept of banking. Banking isn't even about MONEY per se.

              Banking is simply the provision of a secure storage service for other people's property - usually money, but most banks also offer things like safety-deposit boxes to protect other kinds of property.

              Until quite recently in fact (as in - within my lifetime) in many countries it wasn't even LEGAL to call yourself a bank if you didn't have a deposit/secure-storage service - lending companies had to go by more descriptive names such as "bond associations".

              There are many different funding models for banks that can and have been used. The first real banks were established by the Knights Templar to protect the money of pilgrims - they didn't do any lending, they just did it as religious charity. More recent models have included mutualisms and even non-profit mutualisms (sometimes such mutualisms would use the deposited money to give loans INTEREST FREE).

              These are all valid forms of banking - lending is something else, it's only one model that combines them. In that model, of course, that source of income is how insurance is paid.

      • by obarthelemy (160321) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:35AM (#40305219)

        When a bank is robbed, its customers don't lose money. When a bitcoin repository is robbed... ?

        • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:46AM (#40305287)

          Not necessarily true. Banks are only insured so much against failure. Including, for example, if they hold massive amounts of loans to construction companies and construction workers in spain and will not be able to collect those loans.

          Thus far the Eurozone has, through various mechanisms, organized bailouts of banks to prevent them from collapsing and to prevent bank runs. However, there is not actual insurance system keeping the banks afloat. There's just the implicit expectation that eurozone governments will cough up the cash to keep all their banks from collapsing and taking the rest of the economy with them.

        • All depends on whether it's robbed from the inside or the outside, and whether it's "too big to fail"...

        • by sFurbo (1361249) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @03:23AM (#40306081)
          The customers also don't lose money: "Both Palatinus and Tong have said they'll cover the loss for their customers." [arstechnica.com]. At least if you choose a good broker. How to evaluate good brokers is left as an exercise to the reader.
  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:28AM (#40305167)

    I trust banks more than bitcoin and mattresses, coming from someone who has little credit, zero debt, and as the bank stated a "substantial" account (not that I am rich by any means I just dont go racking up debt ... mainly since I have never had much of any credit from 18 to 33)

    life is not all peaches n cream like that either, its GREAT to be debt free ... when you have the crap you want, but more difficult when you sort of need it. Though times get rough its a comfort to know that there's a stash in the savings that may only be earning fractions of a percent a year for when the car blows up, or I break a leg versus HOPING bitcoin values are not tanked, if even still around.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:51AM (#40305319)
      There are plenty of problems with banks:

      A) Capital controls. If you look at the places that have had currency troubles this is the first thing that happens. It starts innocently enough, first you have to "declare" that you have a "large" amount of cash and fill out a form. Next there are limits to how much cash can be brought in and out of the country. Next there are limits to how much money you can take out of the ATM and spend on your debit card.

      B) Government reporting.

      C) Possibility of collapse. I'm not just talking about a major economic crisis but minor ones such as 9/11 where many banks were not open and were not functioning fully.

      D) Inflation will eat up your savings. How much interest is your savings account earning? My guess is ~.5% depending on your bank. The Federal Reserve's official (manipulated) inflation statistics say inflation is at 2.3%, using the older methods of calculating inflation which are not prone to manipulation, inflation is somewhere around 5%. That means you are taking a guaranteed loss. Of course putting cash in something else such as gold, silver, stocks, land, or heck, bitcoins carries some risk, there is at least a potential for reward, it is not a guaranteed loss.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That 2.4% inflationary loss isn't a good long term investment.

        Losing 80%, like many have in bitcoin, is fucking retarded.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          People have lost 80%, or even larger amounts investing in traditional financial systems too... Look at the large "safe" companies/banks that have collapsed in recent years.
          A high risk investment is a high risk investment.

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        its not my only investment, and like the ac stated below

        That 2.4% inflationary loss isn't a good long term investment.

        Losing 80%, like many have in bitcoin, is fucking retarded.

      • by artor3 (1344997) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:48AM (#40305615)

        A) The limits on withdrawals on your debit card are for your own protection. You don't want someone cleaning you out because they stole your card. If bitcoin were to catch on (big if), it would need something equivalent to a debit card, and such cards would have limits. There are likewise good reasons to be suspicious of people carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash across national borders.

        B) "Government reporting" is pretty vague. What exactly is the problem?

        C) Bitcoin can collapse just like any other currency. I'm not sure what could lead you to think otherwise.

        D) Inflation affects bitcoin just like everything else. You're right that the GP is silly for thinking that his "fractions of a percent a year" is at all meaningful, but that 2-3% loss each year is a constant, and it will hit you regardless of whether or not you're investing your money. So it's always a guaranteed loss. It should be treated as a sunk cost, and investing versus not investing should be looked at separately.

        • A) The limits on withdrawals on your debit card are for your own protection. You don't want someone cleaning you out because they stole your card. If bitcoin were to catch on (big if), it would need something equivalent to a debit card, and such cards would have limits. There are likewise good reasons to be suspicious of people carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash across national borders.

          funny that... they're actually planning reducing the daily amount of cash you can withdraw as a means of pre

  • As I understand it, inflation is when the government prints more money than the value of goods and services produced.

    So for example, in a static economy with fixed production, the government prints 5% more currency per year and spends it, so that inflation is 5% and the value of peoples' money gradually diminishes. (The for-real economy grows with increases in efficiency of production etc, and money wears out and needs to be replaced, but the principle is the same.)

    This is a hidden tax on money. It devalues savings, and encourages people to spend and invest rather than save.

    It occurs to me that bitcoins can't be abused in this way. It's impossible for a government to blithely print money except by mining, for which there are diminishing returns.

    Take away the governments ability to raise revenue by inflating the currency, and you take away a large portion of their income and some of their influence over the economy.

    Hmmm... I wonder what will happen when governments eventually figure this out?

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      Ideally they start cutting back, just like you would during a time of decreased income or even no income, realistically they rack up enormous debt to keep the pockets full of those least effected.

      For the next guy who shouts BAMMA or BUSH, piss off, this has been "the way" for longer than most of your parents lifetime, and its going to be a bitch to break.

      • The only reason governments cut programs during a time of recession is that they can't get their shit together when things are good. Ideally a government should save more during the good times and spend more during the bad in order deflate bubbles and stimulate the economy respectively. As for bitcoin, the idea that it is a serious competitor to the euro is ludicrous, at best it's a competitor to casino based money laundering services.
    • The problem with bitcoins is at the end of the day, at the end of the system, they are still worthless. A fun project, fun to have, fun to look at all the technical details, but still worthless. The only value that fake money has (such as the dollar and Euro today) is that you can use them to pay the thieves that demand your income (via taxation) something that bitcoins can't and will most likely never be able to do.

      The better solution would be to barter directly or use barter substitutes that are unive
      • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:34AM (#40305555)

        Now the problem with barter is inefficiency, that you can't really pay me in chickens for software with effective granularity. So we really need a unit of exchange that can be broken down into small parts that are easily tradable. Say rice. Well the problem with rice if you have a bumper crop you have massive inflation in rice, and anyone who can grow rice will grow rice rather than something actually useful, since they think they're printing money. If crops fail there's not enough rice to supply both food and currency needs and everyone goes broke. So then we try gold. Gold has it's perks. It can be broken down a lot, it doesn't degrade, it has only limited commercial value which derives mostly from it's being money at all (jewelry). But then there's a constant tick of inflation in gold assuming production can keep up with inflation, and since china, south africa and australia produce a crap load of gold (and especially the latter two who out produce the US), you can end up with one country controlling the value of gold in the US or China or wherever, offering to supply gold cheap, or flooding the market with gold, preventing the US from buying goods abroad or the reverse, making things prohibitively expensive. Oh and since they have gold, they can pay for an army to defend themselves.

        Since rice, and gold don't work. lets come up with a new system. The Bimetal, erm.. bigood system, which uses both as a currency, but their individual problems remain. So now lets add into the mix iron, silver, nickel, oil and a few other things, a giant aggregate basket of things to barter with. So to buy a video game from me you need to give me 1 chicken, 25g of silver, 10g of iron, and 250ml of oil. Or just one half of a barrel of oil, but since a barrel of oil is 158 litres, trying to carry around 79 litres of oil is kind of a pain, I'd rather the chicken and the metal, a barbecued chicken sounds good right now. .

        So now we've done this for a while, and you get sick of carrying around a large jar of oil, and having to have armed guards for your 2 bricks of gold in your basement, and the equipment needed to shave off slices for payments for valuable things. We agree that we're going to just write down these transactions. But since I don't trust you, because you're a raving fucking loon, and you don't trust me, because I'm an asshole who makes software we need a 3rd party to do it. You and I agree that Okian Warrior is a sufficiently neutral party that any exchanges we make we'll file with him on paper, and it's up to him to decide how much value things have. We start by having everything considered as 'equivalent to gold' but since everything in our wagons full of things used as money fluctuates relative to gold and frankly, we don't want to think about this shit anymore, we have actual work to do, we leave it up to him. He decides that the best way to do this is to only have official notes that he issued and tracked, of course this takes time for him, so he takes a cut. But then, we don't have to pay for armed guards for our gold, so we're net ahead. In the course of this little experience I've had kids, and they're in the software business, and you've had kids and they're in the gold/rice/oil/iron business. And Okian now has to make sure they can get enough of his notes to account for the fact that they have increased the production of software and other goods. More people = more production. So he starts making more notes. The problem with this plan is that he's not really sure how productive my kid is. Lines of code is a terrible metric. So he decides it's better to err on the side of caution, and create a little bit more money than we need, rather than to little. Because if he creates too little you and I can't fulfill our contracts, and never will, but if he creates just a little bit too much we can still fulfill our contracts and we've only lost out a little bit. We still don't need to lug around jars of oil and bricks of gold, or have personal guards for our gold, and we just pay a lit

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Governments understand this perfectly well. In fact bitcoins are built with an explicit inflationary mechanism in mind, as it can be inflated indefinitely to a point.

      Once you end up with a fixed total currency you end up with a much much much much much more insidious problem than inflation. Deflation.

      Governments don't just print money to devalue currency. They print money to keep up the supply of money with population growth, economic growth etc. If they undershoot then the currency per person goes down

      • by Orgasmatron (8103) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:33AM (#40305551)

        Ha!

        The currency generation function in bitcoin is a shift operator. Bitcoins are limited to a precise discrete value. A move to wider registers could allow that number to be higher by a tiny, tiny, tiny amount. There is no "indefinitely" about it.

        The rest of your post is just Keynesian nonsense. We get the message. You love debt. You want to reward debtors, which is the same thing as punishing savers.

        Deflation is the natural state of an advancing world. Computers have deflated massively against other technologies, and we are all cheering about it. The only people that think that inflation is better are statists and bankers (when they own the statists). Banks create money out of thin air, and they get to sell it (to you!) right away, before it starts chasing assets and driving their prices up. If inflation came from a different mechanism, bankers would hate it too, since it would devalue their holdings then, just like it devalues yours and mine.

        It doesn't matter why governments devalue currency, what matters is that they do. Always and without fail. In practical terms, Congress really likes having a bottomless checkbook. That it destroys the value of our currency is a problem for someone else to solve, like our kids.

        • by Prune (557140)
          Actually, the natural rate is zero. And I'd take professor Mitchell's word (not to mention the MMT-based rationale) over yours any day. http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=4656 [economicoutlook.net]
        • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @03:32AM (#40306127) Journal
          . You want to reward debtors, which is the same thing as punishing savers.

          Surely this only applies is wealth is fixed. But wealth is created. My understanding of this is that by turning a much of bits of metal and oil into a refrigerator, we create "wealth", since a fridge is worth a lot more than its raw materials.

          But the economics of this require someone owes someone something at some point. Given that a borrower pays back the loan with interest, and the savers get a share of that interest, debt rewards savers and debtors.
      • ...as it can be inflated indefinitely to a point.

        Indefinitely... to a point? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      As I understand it, inflation is when the government prints more money than the value of goods and services produced.

      Inflation is an increase in the average price level. It can be caused by an increase in the quantity of money, or a decrease in the velocity of money, or a decrease in goods and services in the economy.

      This is a hidden tax on money. It devalues savings, and encourages people to spend and invest rather than save.

      It's an explicit tax on risk-free saving. It's particularly damaging in the curr

    • by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:13AM (#40305465)

      Oh for god's sake....

      This is also one of the main flaws in bitcoin. There are a set amount, therefore there must be deflation if it ever takes off. Deflation encourages hoarding because money is likely worth more tomorrow than today. Hoarding encourages further deflation, and we go round.

      A small inflationary pressure encourages use, rather than hoarding, of money, and helps grow economic activity. Furthermore, having a central control on currency allows the adjustment of the amount of money to ensure there is enough of it to keep the economy rolling.

      A bitcoin-based county-sized economy would be as much a failure as the old gold-based ones were. You, as a hoarder, may feel that inflation is theft. I, as a realist, see moderate inflation as essential.

      • by this great guy (922511) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:34AM (#40305557)

        You are wrong. The "hoarding" argument has been beaten to death. Current evidence shows that people are NOT hoarding the coins: every day, 40 thousand coins change hands on the single largest exchange: http://bitcoincharts.com/markets/mtgoxUSD.html [bitcoincharts.com] This is six times the number of coins created daily by the network (7 thousand).

        In other words, people are not hoarding them, but are trading them very, very frequently.

        And this is just measuring MtGox's volume. Other trades (merchant sales, other exchanges, etc) are likely doing even bigger volume...

        • by Nursie (632944)

          40k? So what? 40k coins traded daily is irrelevant noise, especially if it's often the same coins going round and round and round.

          AFAICT Gox is the not only the largest BTC exchange, but the main financial activity in bitcoin, dwarfing any/all other use. I'd be fascinated if you had data to the contrary.

          Also note that the deflationary argument becomes more relevant as the size of the bitcoin economy grows. I see no convincing data that there is a bitcoin economy outside of the exchanges, let alone that it'

        • Why aren't people hoarding, if they know BitCoins are supposed to be more valuable tomorrow than they are today? My guess is people still don't trust that their BitCoins will be worth anything at all tomorrow.

      • by Orgasmatron (8103)

        Who cares if money is hoarded? The real problem is hoarding of wealth.

        If that doesn't make sense to you, it is because you think that money is wealth, but it is not.

        Inflation encourages people to hold onto their assets, because tomorrow those same assets will buy more dollars, and the dollars they buy with them tomorrow won't be able to buy the same asset back the next day. Wealth at work is capital. Money at work is debt.

        • by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:45AM (#40305607)

          If the money supply is hoarded then more and more economic power goes to the hoarders, who are doing nothing but sitting on it.

          If you wish to reward inactivity then be my guest. This is not a system I feel I can endorse.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        What I'm more concerned about is that lax security will make bitcoins easier to steal than to spend unless you're a technophile. Already it's valuable enough to be specifically targeted by malware.

        So if it succeeds it will make geeks an elite.

        That plus the sheer lulz of destroying a fortune of someone else's bitcoin stash by sending it to 0 or nuking their wallet will encourage some mavericks to try to ruin one person's wealth to make their own a little more valuable.

        • by Nursie (632944)

          Ah, the 'goldfinger' gambit! I like it.

          Though of course because it's a currency based on mutually agreed value, instead of a commodity in itself, you would have to do this without destroying confidence in the whole thing. A tricky balance to strike methinks...

      • Yep. The economic term for this is "Velocity".

        Sure your money might diminish by 5% but if it's sitting in a savings account its value is 0% as far as GDP is concerned.

        If I have $100 and I spend all $100 on a haircut and then you spend $100 on a massage and then the masseuse spends $100 on software and so on and so forth. From the GDP's perspective you have 400% the value of the $100 being spent in a day, great return!. Obviously that example is impossible since there is going to be loss of value at each

      • If everyone really thought the price would go up, the price would be that high already. If we knew 100% for sure that tomorrow Bitcoin would trade at 100 USD/BTC, guess what the price would be *right now*? $100 minus the price of time. This is also known as the Black–Scholes formula. There's no positive feedback loop here. Much of analyzing supply and demand revolves around the equilibrium, maybe you've heard of it. The price to buy Bitcoin is, you know, where supply meets demand.

        I'm not sure what you

      • A bitcoin-based county-sized economy would be as much a failure as the old gold-based ones were.

        They weren't a failure, when the world economy was traded on gold, the economy of the US (and world) grew quite a bit.

        I'm not advocating a gold standard, just pointing out that ultimately economic growth is a result of humans producing things, and humans will do that no matter what kind of currency manipulation is going on. At one point in US history when currency was rare, people started using postage stamps as cash. The currency system can be a small hindrance, but the economy will grow (or shrink) eith

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Meneth (872868)
        But we don't want the economy to grow any more. The planet can't support it. [youtube.com]
    • by wrook (134116) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:38AM (#40305573) Homepage

      Inflation is a feature not a bug. In fact, you have listed the main benefits yourself without realizing it.

      Imagine a world where your currency didn't devalue. Let's take an extreme example, where your currency actually increased in value. Sounds great, doesn't it? Put money under your mattress and in 10 years time it's worth a lot more than when you got it. Except, how would that work? Let's say that the world produces an amount of goods and services which we'll call X. Let's say we have a perfect economy where people receive money equivalent to the goods and services they produce -- also X. So in year 1 we sell all our goods and services and have X dollars.

      The next year we don't produce any more money since we don't want it to devalue. Everyone is expecting the currency to go up in value so they save 10% of what they earned (0.1X) and spend 90% (0.9X). Since there is less money for the same amount of goods, this means that the currency goes up in value. Hurray! Everyone again saves 10%. Now there is 0.19X saved and 0.81X in circulation. Let's do this for 10 years. At that point we have about 0.65X in savings and about 0.35X in ciculation. And the currency is worth nearly 3 times it's original. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Let's spend our savings!

      But the entire output of the economy is 0.35X and we have 0.65X in savings to spend. If we spend it, it causes the value of the currency to crash dramatically. The problem is that the currency value was being kept artificially high by limiting its availability. As soon as we want to spend it, we're in big trouble.

      The point of a currency from an economic point of view is to ease trade. If you can not get access to the resources you need, you can't produce. We want to distribute as much money as we can to people who can use it to produce something. Saving (some call it "hording" to distinguish it from investing) causes massive problems when you reintroduce the money into the economy. So you want to encourage people to either spend or invest money rather than putting it under a mattress.

      Another major issue is borrowing. If you have a job to do but do not have the resources you need, you won't produce value. If you have money, you can buy the resources. What do you do if you don't have money? Ideally we want to be able to borrow the money. Remember we want as many people as possible to have money if they are able to use it productively. What happens if we have a currency without inflation?

      Let's say I borrowed Y on year one. In the first year I can afford to pay back 0.1Y. But in the second year there is less currency around (people are saving) so I can only pay back 0.09Y. The next, I can only pay 0.081Y, etc etc. By year 10 I can only pay back 0.035Y. I'm paying back the same amount of value each year, but since the currency is deflating, I get to a point where I may never be able to pay back the loan fully.

      To avoid this problem, people will avoid borrowing money. This means that they will not be productive and society suffers.

      Deflationary currencies are extremely bad. Currencies with moderate inflation are exactly what we want. Our current fiscal problems do not come from the inflationary nature of the currency. They come because of bad loans. Money was lent to people who were not going to be productive with the money (for example they simply invested it in an overstocked property market that was at the height of it's price). Our problems really *are* due to unscrupulous and stupid commercial banks. It is highly regretteble that we were forced to bail out most of them. It is even more regrettable that the average voter can not understand the issue well enough to ensure that the government doesn't allow it to happen again.

    • by Prune (557140)
      Your understanding is deeply flawed. I started writing a point-by-point but then realized I'd just be duplicating work that's already done more eloquently and in extensive detail. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1905625 [ssrn.com]
    • If anything like bitcoin ever really took off the government would label it a good/service and start taxing it like it does gold and silver coins to maintain its monopoly position with regards to currency. That would still be better than dealing in a currency that is hyper inflating but the US and Europe aren't quite there yet.
  • Tought that they were becoming widely used in Greece instead of euros, at least were a lot of talk about it [ajc.com]... bitcoins werent even under the radar.

    Money is losing its original meaning, going back to barter could have some sense.

    • So I want to open a widget factory. What do you propose I barter to get financing?

      Money evolved precisely because bartering does not scale well. You cannot build a large scale economy with such a system. Even the Romans knew that. They didn't build an empire by trading chickens and bushels of wheat.

    • by Prune (557140)
      It doesn't make sense unless you want to abolish government, since government needs fiat currency to have serious impact on the economy. This is the case whether you're a fiscalist or a monetarist--different approaches, still economic levers. Even heterodox economics such as the Austrians believe in having some sort of currency and don't go for direct barter (though their ideas are little better).
      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        It doesn't make sense unless you want to abolish government, since government needs fiat currency to have serious impact on the economy.

        Government should not have the ability "to have serious impact on the economy".

        This is a bug, not a feature.

        Governments that have the levers of a national economy at their disposal and try to manage an economy always end up screwing it up badly. This has always been true. Governments are notoriously and historically horrendous at managing national economies.

        See: The US and the EU/PIGS for more recent examples.

        Strat

        • by Prune (557140)
          If you think it's a bug, go somewhere else where government does not have the ability to seriously impact the economy. Oh, wait, no such place! I guess people learned their lesson from the Great Depression, which was greatly exacerbated by having gold-backed currency.
    • by Prune (557140)
      This won't become widespread. In most places, barter is fully taxable, and you can only pay tax to a government in the currency it issues. Indeed, this is the primary purpose of taxation--enforce use of the government-issued currency.
      • What the fuck are you talking about? Taxation predates currency of any kind by a thousand years at least, and probably much longer than that( and since the earliest urban societies has had the same primary function to create a centralized infrastructure. Whether that's canals, armies, bureaucracy, courts or whatever, that is the purpose of taxation.

  • by EzInKy (115248)

    So how many bitcoins do I need to plunk into the soda machine to get a coke, and what bank to I go to to have a few of them jingling in my pocket?

  • by oobayly (1056050) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:09AM (#40305743)

    They'll do anything to avoid paying tax. It's the main reason why their economy is so fucked.

    Example: A mate of mine is an RYA (Royal Yachting Association) Instructor, and has been asked to run a course down in Greece, so he has to book some accomodation - decides on a nice 4 star hotel. After he booked, he was called up and told that if he paid in cash it would be half price. There they are complaining of austerity measures, whilst not paying tax.

  • From The Economist, "Leaving the euro: My big fat Greek divorce" http://www.economist.com/node/21556583 [economist.com]

    Some economists think that Greece could nonetheless avoid a sudden departure from the euro. The government could pay some of its bills by issuing its own IOUs direct to its domestic creditors. These notes (“scrip”) would start to circulate at a steep discount to euros. In effect, argues Thomas Mayer, an adviser to Deutsche Bank, Greece could create its own parallel and depreciated currency while still remaining in the monetary union.

    Something similar happened in Argentina as it struggled to retain its rigid link between the peso and the dollar before the link eventually snapped in early 2002. Bankrupt regional governments started to pay their workers in scrip, such as the patacones issued by Buenos Aires Province. But these desperate measures were desperately unpopular because the patacones immediately fell in value. Within just a few months, the Argentine government restricted withdrawals of bank deposits, defaulted on its debts and broke the link with the dollar, allowing the peso to devalue.

    Mario Blejer, who was Argentina’s central-bank governor in the middle of the crisis, says that resorting to scrip would be even worse than creating a new currency outright (which he thinks would be disastrous). It would create monetary chaos and generate inflationary pressure before the exit that would inevitably ensue.

    So if you are in Greece, you seem to have a bad option for storing your cash, and an even worse one.

    Take your pick.

    • by Prune (557140)
      MMT predicted long ago that the Euro is a horrible idea and would end in disaster. It makes no sense to have a single currency for such a heterogeneous collection as the various Eurozone members. Without fiscal and economic integration, a monetary one makes no sense. A mercantilist economy such as Germany, with its trade surplus driven by wage suppression at home, hoards Euros and beggars its neighbors. The weakest one feels the deepest pain from the Eurozone's cannibalistic process. Say Greece exits. What

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