With the approaching tsunami of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) looming ever closer, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when central banks shill their coins at the expense of sounder assets. Recently, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde went so far as to say that cryptocurrency is “worth nothing.” According to Lagarde, crypto has “no underlying asset” like the upcoming digital euro. But fiat money’s secret source of value is the real explosive scandal.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde recently remarked that crypto is “worth nothing” and needs to be regulated. Nevermind the humor in trying to regulate something worthless, or her failure to understand subjective value, but the once-convicted criminal Christine said something that was very interesting:
[With crypto] there is no underlying asset to act as an anchor of safety.
She was making this observation in comparison to the upcoming digital euro central bank digital currency (CBDC), and claimed that “any digital euro, I will guarantee — so the central bank will be behind it and I think it’s vastly different.”
This begs the question of what guarantees the value of the euro itself, or the U.S. dollar, or any fiat currency. As their worth is supposedly established by the decree of governments (groups of mere individuals just like you and me), what then is the “underlying asset” which gives these currencies their value? In the case of government money, the answer might blow you away.
Guns vs. Gold, Silver, and Cowry Shells
Gold is sought after for its beauty, rarity, and utility. Societies across time have valued it almost ubiquitously, so it naturally became a good means of exchange and store of value.
Cowry shells have also historically enjoyed great currency (pun intended), and thanks to their limited quantity, ease of transport and transfer, and basically uniform units, were employed similarly. I’ve written an op-ed before on the erroneous idea that money is primarily a creation of the state. Money naturally arises in any given society where trade is occurring, regardless of politics: Jack has a wagon wheel. I have butter. I need a wagon wheel. Jack doesn’t need butter. A problem. But if we both like and have gold, or cowry shells, or bitcoin to trade — hey, problem solved.
States historically debase and devalue money, as Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek notes above, inflating it and building unsustainable credit bubbles. An early example of this is the Roman Empire, with the state progressively lowering the silver content of the denarius until it was almost nil. A modern example is the current global inflation crisis, brought on by the reckless and virtually endless printing of money.
Now, when a population is coerced into using certain monies at the forced exclusion of others they prefer, we are in the world of fiat, and there is effectively no (easy)…
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