“Uh, did you sell those bitcoins, like I suggested?”
Your roguish economist has four sons. Several of them invested in bitcoins. They thought it was the money of the future.
“Watch out,” cautioned their father. “Governments always try to look into the future, and prevent it from happening. And this is a future the feds are especially keen to stop. They have a monopoly on money. And there is no way they’ll give it up without a fight.”
Yesterday brought news that the fight had begun.
The feds began with a flank attack. They shut down the Silk Road, which they described as a “black market bazaar”.
A black market bazaar sounds like a good thing to us. Fewer zombies to worry about. Just crooks, scoundrels, and the usual riff-raff.
But a black market bazaar also sounds like the sort of things that the feds would like to stop. Who collects taxes in a black market?
Since the Silk Road is where many bitcoin enthusiasts turned their money into goods and services, its closing substantially reduces the value of the new currency.
We will come back to this subject in a moment. First, a quick market check.
Well, how do you like that?
Yesterday’s trading was almost a mirror image of the day before. Stocks down 58 on the Dow, gold up $36.
Up, down, up, down. No visible trend. What to make of it?
Nothing, let’s go back to the Silk Road and bitcoin.
Bill Bonner on markets, economics & the madness of crowds
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You are probably getting tired of us pointing out how the feds have failed. Quantitative easing (QE) has not produced a recovery. Bail-outs did not create strong companies. Zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) doesn’t lead to useful capital investment. Deficits don’t boost employment.
But arguments over whether the feds’ policies have succeeded or failed are nothing but wind unless you understand what the policies are really meant to achieve. Recovery? Full employment? Investment? The feds couldn’t care less.
Taking employment, for example, it would be stupidly easy to create jobs. A conversation yesterday explains why:
“Did you know that France had almost no unemployment in the 30 years after the war”, Elizabeth began. “Then, after Mitterrand, unemployment rates were always high.”
“Sarkozy, Chirac, every president promises to create jobs. Apparently, they’re not very successful. And small wonder. Mitterrand put in place so many laws to protect working people. Now, who wants to hire people in France? It’s so expensive.”
“You’d think they’d realise what’s going on. I mean, there’s an obvious connection between raising the cost and hassle of hiring someone and unemployment rates. If they really wanted to increase unemployment they’d abolish some of this employment legislation.”
One of the silly conceits of libertarians and Tea Party activists is that the feds are stupid. Not so. They only look stupid. Because their policies are usually at cross-purposes to their stated goals. The more legislation you pass to protect working people, for example, the worse off they become. You can see that easily in the US, where the typical, real, spendable earnings for a man of working age are now lower than they were 50 years ago. So, opponents say the feds ‘failed’.
But they miss the point. All political activity is aimed at 1) gaining power, 2) holding onto power, and 3) using it to transfer wealth, status and more power to the insiders. It doesn’t matter whether you call it ‘jobs creation’ or ‘foreign aid’. The real purpose is always the same – even when many of the insiders themselves don’t realise it.
Bitcoin represents a threat to the feds’ ability to rip people off by manipulating the value of the currency. This ‘exorbitant privilege’, as De Gaulle called it, is worth trillions of dollars. It is essential to many other policies and pretensions – including managing interest rates, controlling the money supply, and controlling inflation (their calculation of the consumer price index allows them to manipulate their costs – Social Security, Treasury Inflation Protection Insurance, adjustments and so forth – as well as the value of the money itself).
Think they’re going to give that up to a bunch of internet geeks? Not a chance.
Have the feds failed? Nope, they have been the most successful group on the planet.
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