How The Post-Brexit World Could Belong To Bitcoin
At 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time the day of the Brexit vote, the men’s and women’s winner of the ongoing Wimbledon Championships, the professional tennis tournament that is perhaps the biggest international sporting event held in the United Kingdom each year, were slated to receive $3,003,200 in prize money. Less than 24 hours later, that figure had dropped over 9% to $2,727,609, according to a tweet from ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell, due to a dramatic free fall in the pound.
While few people will lose sleep over what is likely to be two already highly compensated professional athletes losing out on nearly $300,000, it’s yet another, if minor, illustration of how drastically life changed for some following June 23, when Britons, in a close vote, elected to depart the European Union.
Of course, Britain’s decision to bolt the EU follows years of financial and market turmoil, both in Europe and across the globe. Economies as disparate and geographically disconnected as France, Brazil and Japan are still struggling to cope with the aftershocks from the financial crisis, along with a long list of institutional and structural challenges. As a result, the world’s central bankers are continuing to adopt extraordinary measures in an effort to spur more growth, including, most recently, negative interest rates.
But given how universal such easy money policies have become, currency valuations have vacillated wildly from country to country as investors have sought safety, and that has created greater levels of volatility than this market has seen in decades. The Brexit vote has only exacerbated this trend.
To a very large degree, therefore, it’s reasonable to conclude that the only thing central bankers have accomplished since the end of the financial crisis is to offer near definitive proof that they have next to no ability to provide permanent fixes for ailing economies. Think about Europe, where a decades-long partnership of 28 countries is coming undone, in part, due to the fragility of many of its members’ economies. Or Japan, which has instituted negative rates and continues its swoon. Or the United States, which no doubt remains the strongest, most creative and healthiest economy in the world but nonetheless is still weighed down by lower than usual growth rates and stagnant inflation, despite an aggressive and active Federal Reserve.
With all this in mind, it might be time to accept that master central banking and planning policies simply do not work. Perhaps the ‘leave’ voters were right, even if the short-term consequences they brought upon themselves could be dire: Maybe individual sovereignty is a better approach.
And if you take this argument one step further, this is where the concept of alternative currencies begins to make more sense. All of which brings us to Bitcoin. While some investors will always gravitate to alternative currencies (think gold) during times of hyper volatility, this could be different. Indeed, whereas gold is prone to conspiracy theories and, in my view, not a good long-term investment, Bitcoin may have more lasting potential.
For one, Bitcoin is easy to store and can be used to make purchases. That alone makes it a better alternative than gold. But in the grander scheme of things what really makes Bitcoin attractive relative to other currencies is a practice known as ‘halving,’ a little understood process outside the Bitcoin world that, when weighed against broader global financial trends, could help it gain more widespread adoption and put it in prime position to grow going forward.