Cal Berkeley Genius Economic Professor Brad Delong Said This About Bitcoin At The End Of 2013 | Exploring Markets

Cal Berkeley Genius Economic Professor Brad Delong Said This About Bitcoin At The End Of 2013

First, Brad DeLong writes this. It is quite complicated, but we've also shared an example to help clarify what he says after this segment:
Underpinning the value of gold is that if all else fails you can use it to make pretty things. Underpinning the value of the dollar is a combination of (a) the fact that you can use them to pay your taxes to the U.S. government, and (b) that the Federal Reserve is a potential dollar sink and has promised to buy them back and extinguish them if their real value starts to sink at (much) more than 2%/year (yes, I know). 
Placing a ceiling on the value of gold is mining technology, and the prospect that if its price gets out of whack for long on the upside a great deal more of it will be created. Placing a ceiling on the value of the dollar is the Federal Reserve’s role as actual dollar source, and its commitment not to allow deflation to happen. 
Placing a ceiling on the value of bitcoins is computer technology and the form of the hash function… until the limit of 21 million bitcoins is reached. Placing a floor on the value of bitcoins is… what, exactly?

He then goes gives the following example:
You want to get richer. You can either work doing something useful, or you can set up a botnet to mine BitCoins, or you can fork the code behind BitCoin and set up your own slightly-tweaked virtual cryptographic money network. Setting up a new, alternative network is really cheap. Thus unless BitCoin going can somehow successfully differentiate itself from the latecomers who are about to emerge, the money supply of BitCoin-like things is infinite because the cost of production of them is infinitesimal. 
How can BitCoin successfully keep itself differentiated from the latecomer copiers?
  • By asserting, over and over again, simply that it was first. And this might work. But I am skeptical. 
  • By stressing that it has a trustworthy track record of being a safe store of value–and thus appealing to a history that the latecomers do not have. This works until someday, for some reason, demand for BitCoins falls. Then supply and demand drives the value down. BitCoin is then no longer differentiated as a safe store of value. Then the people who were holding BitCoin because they thought it was a safe store of value dump it, its price falls even more, and so it becomes even more questionable as safe store of value. And the downward spiral continues.

Read the full piece right here.