If you’ve been paying attention to international news, you might know that Greece has few good options when it comes to economics. Austerity failed and took a bailout from the Eurozone with it. Maybe Greece should have sucked it up and tightened its belt, but now, there’s going to be little enough good news no matter what it does. When you start hearing talk of a “Grexit” – Greece’s still-undetermined exit from the European Union – you know there’s problems.
Bitcoin has been suggested as a potential buffer for Greece’s economic woes. Some pundits aren’t so sure about Bitcoin as a viable option for the Greek government, though. Xapo CEO Wences Casares said of it in a TechCrunch aricle, “[S]witching to Bitcoin would be like trying to cure a headache with a bullet to the brain.”
Bitcoin’s deflationary nature would make a good investment for people who are nervous about inflation. Governments would have more problems with Bitcoin because they’re used to the idea of printing off more money when they need it. They would have to get used to the idea that they are going to have X number of monetary units and no more. That might be difficult for government officials that are used to answering every economic problem with a new monetary policy to wrap their heads around.
Which opens the door for individuals to pick up the ball when the government drops it. Given the current environment that includes a 50% chance that the “Grexit” will actually happen, Bitcoin could easily find a ready market in Greece. Buy it, hold it, use it for your transactions whenever possible as a hedge against poor economic management.
If you’re a believer in the value of a wisely managed monetary policy, you might see how government adoption of Bitcoin might be a poor idea. At most, a government might accept Bitcoin payments for taxes and use the Bitcoin received to buy up excess currency to destroy it. Such a thing might mean swallowing some pride and admitting that some national currencies have serious inflation problems. However, if Greece were to replace the Euro with Bitcoin, it would face some of the same issues as if it replaced the Euro with the Drachma. People would have to get used to calculating value in Bitcoin, the foreign exchange would go kinda loopy from suddenly having to add Bitcoin, and businesses would have to install new payment terminals for the sake of accepting cryptocurrencies. I would imagine that Greece’s central bank would not be too happy about it.
It might also clone Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency with no maximum number of units, and take advantage of cryptocurrencies’ ability to cut financial institutions out of the equation. Then there will be no such thing as a bank that is “too big to fail” when the nations’ citizens simply have the option of storing their liquid assets on their own computer and can take advantage of peer-to-peer lending networks similar to BTCJam if they want to invest in the money market.
That means less funny business with banks “creating” money through trickery in their bookkeeping and more people making their own decisions about how much risk they are willing to take with their own money. Some people may still lose everything from poor decision-making or pure bad luck, but at least it’ll involve only one person’s money when that happens and the damage is containable. In an ideal world, nobody would ever lose their savings, their home, or the value of their assets because a loan officer who only cares about his commissions gave out a lot of irresponsible mortgage loans.
Nations like Greece, Argentina, and pretty much any nation that has a bad inflation problem is proof enough of what happens when governments have abusive monetary policies that includes printing too much currency. This is where Bitcoin in the hands of citizens is useful. Widespread use of cryptocurrencies can send a message to governments that people now have a choice and aren’t going to be their government’s bagholders if they can possibly help it.