By Neenah Payne
All Americans know everything costs a LOT more than it used to. However, many people don’t realize that inflation is driven by how much the value of the dollar has declined in the last 100 years. The chart below shows that the dollar has lost almost all its value.
End of the US Dollar?
The U.S. dollar became the dominant currency in the global economy soon after World War I. The Bretton Woods accord in 1944 solidified its position at the top. Since the dollar has been the world’s reserve currency throughout their lives, many Americans assume it will continue to be so forever – or at least for the foreseeable future.
However, as the chart below shows, there have been several global reserve currencies in the last 700 years – with an average span of 94 years – and two for only 80 years. The U.S. dollar’s dominance will end when a combination of factors causes investors, governments, and markets to abandon it. The U.S. can accelerate the dollar’s loss of status as the global reserve currency – and has been doing so by escalating debt, increasing inflation (which is now official Fed policy), declining domestic savings rates, and rising deficit.
There have been discussions for several years about replacing the dollar with a variety of currencies including the “Amero” for the North American Union to correspond to the “euro” in the European Union and the International Monetary Fund’s “Special Drawing Rights” (SDRs) – a basket of leading world currencies.
Given the fact that the dollar has lost so much of its value, it’s not unreasonable to recognize that it’s near the end of its run now and to consider what may replace it – and when. It’s also smart to prepare for that transition now as signs continue to suggest a replacement may be as early as January 1, 2021.
Gold or Bitcoin?
When President Richard Nixon severed the dollar’s final link to gold in 1971, it had major consequences that few people realize. 1971: The Year That Changed Everything links to the WTF Happened In 1971? website. Ron Paul and others have proposed a return to the gold standard to restore a sound US dollar. Paul’s monetary-policy epiphany came on Aug. 15, 1971 – the day the Fed shut its “gold window,” meaning foreign governments could no longer trade gold for dollars at the fixed rate of $35 an ounce. That shocked Dr. Paul, a successful Texas obstetrician. He said, “That’s why I ran for Congress”. Dr. Paul represented the 22nd congressional district from 1976-1977 and again from 1979-1985. He represented the Texas 14th congressional district from 1997-2013.
However, the video interview below explains why gold is no longer the best choice for a sound currency. The interview is with Ben and Collin Prentice who created the WTF Happened In 1971? site. These savvy Millennials are advocates of Bitcoin which they believe solves many of society’s problems. Ben says that, contrary to what boomers believe, gold has failed as a currency because a politician like Nixon could decouple it from our money supply at the stroke of a pen — and one politician destroyed the world’s economic system. So, they believe that bitcoin may be the ONLY chance for sound money because it cannot be controlled by anyone and turned into a fiat concurrency.
Many wise investors have diversified their portfolio with gold. However, since the introduction of bitcoin in 2009, even more savvy people have hedged their bets by getting into cryptocurrencies. The chart below shows that was a profitable choice. As gold rose about 30% from March to August this year, bitcoin soared about 130%.
The Inevitable, Imminent US Digital Dollar
The Coming US Digital Dollar (Part 1): What it is, and Why it Matters is a June 24 article by Dr. Garrick Hileman that explains why the US Digital Dollar is now inevitable and imminent. His bio says he is:
Head of Research at Blockchain.com and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics Garrick is best known for his research on monetary and distributed systems innovation, particularly cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Garrick was ranked as one of the 100 most influential economists in the UK & Ireland. He is a regularly invited speaker to various private and public sector institutions, including the CIA, US Army and Naval War Colleges, Federal Reserve, Bank of England, Bank of International Settlements, and the Financial Stability Board. Garrick is also frequently asked to share his research and perspective with the media, including the BBC, CNBC, FT, WSJ, and NPR.
The article warns:
Just over twelve months ago, few thought the creation of a new US digital dollar…would soon be on the policy and legislative “front burner” in Congress, the Federal Reserve, and other regulatory bodies….. But over the past twelve months there were several major developments that together have radically shifted forward the probability of introducing a broadly held and transacted US digital dollar:
- Facebook’s ambitious global Libra currency was announced in mid-June 2019, and it would be underpinned by blockchain technology…to service Facebook’s billions of users.
- China began testing in April 2020 its digital yuan, the DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment)
- US-China strategic competition and geopolitical tensions escalated
- The coronavirus pandemic struck, painfully demonstrating the antiquated nature of US monetary and financial infrastructure
- The ongoing growth in stablecoin and cryptoasset use, which present ever-growing competition to traditional fiat currencies.
Because Facebook is a global company, the world’s banks are afraid people around the world might switch to Facebook’s Libra digital currency. Amazon also has a digital currency. Coins by Facebook and Amazon are called “stablecoins”. JP Morgan Chase came out with its own digital coin in 2016. This key and growing shift in currency is happening outside the awareness of many Americans.
The article adds:
In late-March US digital dollar legislation was first introduced in Congress, and a subsequent growing stream of Congressional testimony, policy research papers, and various lobbying initiatives and proposals indicate growing momentum behind the creation of a US digital dollar….
The interest in a US digital dollar, and central bank digital currency more generally, was inspired early-on by the success of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC) and its underlying technology…..Bitcoin has reliably operated for over 11 years now, and surveys show awareness of bitcoin registering at over 80% in many countries. Tens of millions of people around the world own bitcoin, and it has a market value at present of approximately ~$175 billion USD.
While it is no longer credible to completely dismiss bitcoin’s extraordinary success, the vast majority of people still (quite understandably) do not yet use bitcoin, and this is due at least in part because they find cryptocurrency to be confusing. Indeed, the way bitcoin is primarily used today — less as a currency for payments and more as a scarce, “hard” asset that is frequently compared to gold — has led some including former-Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to state that bitcoin is misleadingly labeled when referred to as a currency. Instead of being called “cryptocurrency”, Carney and others believe a more accurate classification label for bitcoin is “cryptoasset”….
Increasingly, a US digital dollar is viewed not only as inevitable, but necessarily imminent…. it already is clear that the lack of a US digital dollar had a severe negative impact on the ability of the government and Federal Reserve to address the current pandemic. A US-government supported digital dollar (and wallet software) would have been extremely helpful in meeting the goal of rapidly deploying financial assistance to hundreds of millions of American citizens during this crisis.
Beyond speed, a US digital dollar would also offer a host of other benefits compared to mailing checks and other payment methods, including:
- Efficiency: Reducing the cost of payment delivery, which may run into the tens of millions with postal costs, etc. for checks.
- Financial inclusion: Facilitate payment to individuals lacking access to bank accounts or low-cost check-cashing services.
- Support the most vulnerable: Help ensure payment to some of those most in need who lack a physical mailing address, or those who have relocated recently (eg students).
- Efficacy: The receipt and use of digital payments can be more easily tracked to ensure individuals have received financial support and solve the significant “lost check” problem.
Such benefits, which are arguably just the tip of the total US digital dollar benefits iceberg….combined with the need to respond to competitive challengers like the digital yuan, Libra and decentralized cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, make the case in favor of a digital dollar extremely compelling.
The Coming US Digital Dollar: Why It Matters
The LA Blockchain Summit was livestreamed on October 6 and 7 and was watched by 40,000 people. The 40 hours of recorded sessions are now available. Blockchain technology is the platform for digital currencies much like the internet is the platform for email. These sessions are like attending university-level courses taught by top people in the field. It is amazing that all this information is available for people to watch for free at their convenience from home!
Part 1 is posted below, and the full playlist can be seen here.
The Coming US Digital Dollar — What it is, and Why it Matters is a session with Dr. Hileman and can be seen on Stage 2 of the October 7 livestream from about 6:54 to 7:14.
Dr. Hileman’s website is: https://www.blockchain.com/. He is currently a researcher at the London School of Economics, where he also received his PhD.
US Digital Dollar: News and Warnings
The following 2020 articles show how close we may be to a digital dollar now.
- Forbes 3/24/20: Shock U.S. Digital Dollar Proposals Set Bitcoin And Crypto Prices Alight
- Forbes 7/1/20: US Moves Closer to Digital Dollar reports: “On June 30th, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the future of the digital dollar. The pressures to create a digital USD are mounting as China recently began testing its own digital currency – the DCEP, which will be included in popular applications like WeChat and AliPay. Of particular concern is widespread adoption of a digital yuan in emerging markets and in international trade.”
- Wall Street Journal: The Coming Currency War: Digital Money vs. the Dollar – “Central banks are getting closer to issuing their own digital currency. If they do, the dollar might finally face real competition as the world’s dominant currency.”
- Coindesk 8/13/20: The Federal Reserve Is Experimenting With a Digital Dollar
- Bitcoin.com 8/14/20: US Federal Reserve Reveals Building a Digital Dollar Codebase With MIT “In addition to the Fed investigating a CBDC, Congress has proposed a number of bills discussing the invocation of a digital dollar this year. A Digital Dollar Foundation was also created in the U.S. this year.”
- The Circle Is Complete: Bank of Japan Joins Fed and ECB in Preparing Rollout of Digital Currency. This 10/9/20 article says “the world’s central banks are quietly preparing to unleash digital currencies on an unsuspecting population.”
The New Digital Dollar Is Coming — Discusses the dangers of a US digital dollar, including negative interest rates, and why having bitcoin (rather than gold) is an important protection.
Government Digital Currency: Why You Should Be TERRIFIED! — The video warns that it may be inevitable and imminent for the government to ban cash. If the government imposes negative interest rates (even as high as 5%) on the US digital currency, people will not be able to withdraw their money and may not be able to save the currency. The video explains how the digital dollar could be tied to each person’s “Social Score” – as in China – and used for control of each person’s everyday activities. It warns that bitcoin may be banned and gold confiscated!
The Next Steps Now?
The video fails to explain that while the government may ban the USE of cryptocurrencies, it cannot ban or confiscate true cryptocurrencies because they are protected by the blockchain – the underlying technology for peer-to-peer, decentralized, anonymous and uncensorable exchange. A ban on cryptocurrencies would force more people into a black or gray market. The COVID restrictions on businesses had the same effect on some major retailers this year. For example, one retail outlet whose store was marked “closed” was in full (but well-hidden) operation not far away.
So, there are only two credible existential threats to cryptocurrencies: quantum computing and an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) that takes down the entire grid. In the latter scenario, we’d have a lot more to worry about than how to spend our money.
The number of Americans invested in cryptocurrencies almost doubled from 7.95% in 2018 to 14.4% in 2019, an increase of 81% in one year. However, it can be daunting figuring out how to get started just relying on books or online videos. The best approach might be to find people who have invested and ask them for help getting started. It’s remarkable how easy it is then. Finder’s Guide to Cryptocurrencies may be able to help with key terms, providers and players in the crypto world.
It is not necessary to buy a whole bitcoin – which costs over $11,000 now. See the current price at CoinMarketCap. The satoshi is currently the smallest unit of the bitcoin currency recorded on the blockchain. It is a one hundred millionth of a single bitcoin (0.00000001 BTC). So, one bitcoin is 100,000,000 satoshis. The unit was named for Satoshi Nakamoto who is credited with creating bitcoin in 2009.
Once you get a “wallet”, you can buy a variety of cryptocurrencies and use them to make purchases. The KEY if you use a private wallet like Jaxx.io is to make sure you secure your 12-word Back Up Phrase! Since you are the only one who has that password, if you lose it, you will lose all your cryptocurrencies in that wallet! There will be no way to recover your password or your money! So, keep a printed copy in your safe or another secure place you will remember.
There are many potential advantages to learning about the blockchain and investing in cryptocurrencies. For example, the purse.io site offers a 5-10% discount for purchases on Amazon made with bitcoin (BTC) or bitcoin cash (BCH). How To Invest in a Bitcoin IRA: The 5 Best Crypto IRAs explains that up to $7,000 can be invested in a bitcoin IRA each year and is tax deductible.
People who fail to take action now may forever regret that decision starting as early as January 1, 2021.