Now that bitcoin has become a familiar name to MOST people, and is headed to more new highs (almost $5,000), here is a great piece that reflects on just why the crypto coin was invented in the first place. Great, easy read.
“People used to pay each other in gold and silver but obviously, that was difficult to transport & difficult to divide.
Paper money was invented. A claim to gold in a bank vault. Easier to transport and divide.
Banks gave out more paper money than they had gold in the vault. They ran “fractional reserves”. A real money maker. But every now and then, banks collapsed because of runs on the bank.
Central banking was invented. Central banks would be lenders of last resort. Runs on the bank were thus mitigated by banks guaranteeing each other’s deposits through a central bank. The risk of a bank run was not lowered. Its frequency was diminished and its impact was increased. After all, banks remained basically insolvent in this fractional reserve scheme.
Banks would still get in trouble. But now, if one bank found themselves in sufficient trouble, they would all be in trouble at the same time. Governments would have to step in to save them.
All ties between the financial system and gold were severed in 1971 when Nixon decided that the USD would no longer be exchangeable for a fixed amount of gold. This exacerbated the problem, because there was now effectively no limit anymore on the amount of paper money that banks could create.
From this moment on, all money was created as credit. Money ceased to be supported by an asset. When you take out a loan, money is created and lent to you. Banks expect this freshly minted money to be returned to them with interest. Sure, banks need to keep adequate reserves. But these reserves basically consist of the same credit-based money. And reserves are much lower than the loans they make.
This led to an explosion in the money supply. The Federal Reserve stopped reporting M3 in 2006. But the ECB currently reports a yearly increase in the supply of the euro of about 5%…”