Pros and Cons Between Bitcoin and Goldcoin

Bitcoin… Monetary Nirvana?

If you don’t know what Bitcoin is, do a bit of research on the internet, and you will get plenty… but the short story is that Bitcoin was created as a medium of exchange, without a central bank or bank of issue being involved. Furthermore, Bitcoin transactions are supposed to be private, that is anonymous. Most interestingly, Bitcoins have no real world existence; they exist only in computer software, as a kind of virtual reality.

The general idea is that Bitcoins are ‘mined’… interesting term here… by solving an increasingly difficult mathematical formula -more difficult as more Bitcoins are ‘mined’ into existence; again interesting- on a computer. Once created, the new Bitcoin is put into an electronic ‘wallet’. It is then possible to trade real goods or Fiat currency for Bitcoins… and vice versa. Furthermore, as there is no central issuer of Bitcoins, it is all highly distributed, thus resistant to being ‘managed’ by authority.

Naturally proponents of Bitcoin, those who benefit from the growth of Bitcoin, insist rather loudly that ‘for sure, Bitcoin is money’… and not only that, but ‘it is the best money ever, the money of the future’, etc… Well, the proponents of Fiat shout just as loudly that paper currency is money… and we all know that Fiat paper is not money by any means, as it lacks the most important attributes of real money. The question then is does Bitcoin even qualify as money… never mind it being the money of the future, or the best money ever.

To find out, let’s look at the attributes that define money, and see if Bitcoin qualifies. The three essential attributes of money are;

1) money is a stable store of value; the most essential attribute, as without stability of value the function of numeraire, or unit of measure of value, fails.

2) money is the numeraire, the unit of account.

3) money is a medium of exchange… but other things can also fulfill this function ie direct barter, the ‘netting out’ of goods exchanged. Also ‘trade goods’ (chits) that hold value temporarily; and finally exchange of mutual credit; ie netting out the value of promises fulfilled by exchanging bills or IOU’s.

Compared to Fiat, Bitcoin does not do too badly as a medium of exchange. Fiat is only accepted in the geographic domain of its issuer. Dollars are no good in Europe etc. Bitcoin is accepted internationally. On the other hand, very few retailers currently accept payment in Bitcoin. Unless the acceptance grows geometrically, Fiat wins… although at the cost of exchange between countries.

The first condition is a lot tougher; money must be a stable store of value… now Bitcoins have gone from a ‘value’ of $3.00 to around $1,000, in just a few years. This is about as far from being a ‘stable store of value’; as you can get! Indeed, such gains are a perfect example of a speculative boom… like Dutch tulip bulbs, or junior mining companies, or Nortel stocks.

Of course, Fiat fails here as well; for example, the US Dollar, the ‘main’ Fiat, has lost over 95% of its value in a few decades… neither fiat nor Bitcoin qualify in the most important measure of money; the capacity to store value and preserve value through time. Real money, that is Gold, has shown the ability to hold value not just for centuries, but for eons. Neither Fiat nor Bitcoin has this crucial capacity… both fail as money.

Finally, we come to the second attribute; that of being the numeraire. Now this is really interesting, and we can see why both Bitcoin and Fiat fail as money, by looking closely at the question of the ‘numeraire’. Numeraire refers to the use of money to not only store value, but to in a sense measure, or compare value. In Austrian economics, it is considered impossible to actually measure value; after all, value resides only in human consciousness… and how can anything in consciousness actually be measured? Nevertheless, through the principle of Mengerian market action, that is interaction between bid and offer, market prices can be established… if only momentarily… and this market price is expressed in terms of the numeraire, the most marketable good, that is money.

So how do we establish the value of Fiat… ? Through the concept of ‘purchasing power’… that is, the value of Fiat is determined by what it can be traded for… a so called ‘basket of goods’. But his clearly implies that Fiat has no value of its own, rather value flows from the value of the goods and services it may be traded for. Causality flows from the goods ‘bought’ to the Fiat number. After all, what difference is there between a one Dollar bill and a hundred Dollar bill, except the number printed on it… and the purchasing power of the number?

Gold, on the other hand, is not measured by what it trades for; rather, uniquely, it is measured by another physical standard; by its weight, or mass. A gram of Gold is a gram of gold, and an ounce of Gold is an ounce of Gold… no matter what number is engraved on its surface, ‘face value’ or otherwise. Causality is the opposite to that of Fiat; Gold is measured by weight, an intrinsic quality… not by purchasing power. Now, have you any idea of the value of an ounce of Dollars? No such thing. Fiat is only ‘measured’ by an ephemeral quantity… the number printed on it, the ‘face value’.

Bitcoin is farther away from being the numeraire; not only is it simply a number, much as Fiat… but its value is measured in Fiat! Even if Bitcoin becomes internationally accepted as a medium of exchange, and even if it manages to replace the Dollar as the accepted ‘numeraire’, it can never have an intrinsic measure like Gold has. Gold is unique in being measured by a true, unchanging physical quantity. Gold is unique in storing value for thousands of years. Nothing else in reach of humanity has this unique combination of qualities.

In conclusion, while Bitcoin has some advantages over Fiat, namely anonymity and decentralization, it fails in its claim to being money. Its advantages are also questionable; the intent is to limit the ‘mining’ of Bitcoins to 26,000,000 units; that is, the ‘mining’ algorithm gets harder and harder to solve, then impossible after the 26 million Bitcoins are mined. Unfortunately, this announcement could very well be the death knell of Bitcoin; already, some central banks have announced that Bitcoins may become a ‘reservable’ currency.

Wow, sounds like a major step for Bitcoin, does it not? After all, the ‘big banks’ seem to be accepting the true value of the Bitcoin, no? What this actually means is banks recognize that they could trade Fiat for Bitcoins… and to actually buy up the 26 million Bitcoins planned would cost a meagre 26 Billion Fiat Dollars. Twenty six billion Dollars is not even small change to the Fiat printers; it is about a week’s worth of printing by the US Fed alone. And, once the Bitcoins bought up and locked up in the Fed’s ‘wallet’… what useful purpose could they serve?

There would be no Bitcoins left in circulation; a perfect corner. If there are no Bitcoins in circulation, how on Earth could they be used as a medium of exchange? And, what could the issuers of Bitcoin possibly do to defend against such a fate? Change the algorithm and increase the 26 million to… 52 million? To 104 million? Join the Fiat printing parade? But then, by the quantity theory of money, Bitcoin would start to lose value, just as Fiat supposedly loses value through ‘over-printing’…

We come to the key issue; why search for a ‘new money’ when we already have the very best money, Gold? Fear of Gold confiscation? Lack of anonymity from an intrusive government? Brutal taxation? Fiat money legal tender laws? All of the above. The answer is not in a new form of money, but in a new social structure, one without Fiat, without Government spying, without drones and swat teams… without IRS, border guards, TSA thugs… on and on. A world of liberty not tyranny. Once this is accomplished, Gold will resume its ancient and vital role as honest money… and not a moment before.

 

The Investable US Commercial Property vs other asset classes.

With the world still coming to terms with a major reformulation of the political order in Europe, and preparing for what promise to be unpredictable electoral contests in Germany and the US – investors currently face an uncertain world. Increasingly frequent terror attacks in Europe and elsewhere are fuelling a rise in right-wing populism and protectionism that threatens to destabilise the global economic order.

The confirmation of real estate mogul Donald Trump as candidate for the Republican Party in the US is a case in point, with Trump threatening to pull the US out of the World Trade Organisation in order to protect jobs in the US from the forces of globalisation.

In Europe also, protectionist instincts will need to challenged as new trading arrangements are determined with the UK and negotiations continue around the troubled Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US.

The picture is not clear then, and there are many moving parts which look set to disrupt markets over the medium term. So where should investors looking to hedge against current uncertainty turn?

Building confidence

While there is much uncertainty, and while stock markets globally took a hit following Brexit and are watching developments nervously, recent data from leading investment house MSCI could give pause for thought for those who think the days of double-digit returns are over.

A report issued by MSCI in February revealed that US commercial property funds in 2015 grew a staggering 15.6% according to the PREA/IPD US Quarterly Property Fund Index1. Even more remarkably, investments in US commercial property have seen a cumulative return of 129% over the past six years.

In fact, US commercial property has outperformed other asset classes, including US bonds (up 4.39% over the period 2011 to 2015), stocks (up 13.45%), corporate bonds (up 4.72%) and commodities (down 10.93%)2.

Simon Fairchild, an Executive Director at MSCI puts it like this;

“U.S. real estate open-end funds have produced double-digit returns for six straight years. This period encompasses the remarkable recovery from the doldrums of 2008/2009.”

But Brexit happened, a Trump Presidency looks far less unlikely than it did at the beginning of the year and growth continues to slow in China – surely these themes will change the dynamic? A key skill for any investor is being able to recognise opportunity – even in times of uncertainty. Market watchers should note of recent announcements from Juwai – China’s biggest international property portal – which is reporting interest in UK property having climbed 40% since the Brexit vote.

So, what is driving growth and interest, even against a backdrop of such uncertainty?

Market fundamentals

While uncertainty abounds, savvy investors realise that market fundamentals don’t change on the back of a single political development. And as in the UK, the fundamental forces at work in the US’ commercial property market create a sound environment for investors.

Global pressures and uncertainty are likely to keep interest rates in the US low over the medium term, ensuring a steady flow of foreign money into the US economy. This in turn will continue to drive demand, and ensure good returns for those willing to invest in supplying this dynamic.

One opportunity to do so are the investments from the Rycal Group, offering entry to the Carlton James Group who have an investment portfolio focused on the hospitality sector in the US. Carlton James been investing in this market for a while now, delivering returns averaging 17% for the last five years. With a strategy based upon wide-ranging geographical intelligence, Carlton James look also for additional Revenue Generators – for example taking into account a development’s proximity to highways, malls and economic infrastructure – as well as local economics.

Simon Calton, CEO of the Carlton James Sky Watch Inn Group and Rycal Group, says: “Geopolitical upheaval and changes of government have an immediate impact on share prices and investor confidence and can lead to rapid and unnerving market fluctuations. We saw this in the immediate aftermath of Brexit and we should expect more as November’s Presidential elections in the US draw nearer.

“What we have also seen in the subsequent weeks however, is these fluctuations correcting themselves as they adapt to the new reality. The lesson is that investors should keep an eye on the longer-term, and the market fundamentals.

“The US economy remains buoyant and, with the world unsure as to the status of relations between the UK and the EU, is likely to benefit from investors looking for a greater degree of certainty than is currently available in Europe.

“Rycal have a strong track record of making our investments work by developing detailed exit strategies, a diverse portfolio of properties and deep investment intelligence, and we expect Carlton James to be a real source of growth over coming years.”