National fiat currencies have dominated the world financial system for centuries. The first fiat currency dates back to 11th century China and was widely used under the Yuan and Ming dynasties.
Fiat currency didn’t really take hold until bills of credit became widespread in 18th and 19th century America. Generally, fiat currencies could be redeemed for gold or silver but this fell apart in 1971 when the USD became unpegged from gold. This was the dissolution of the Bretton Woods Agreement, known as the Nixon Shock. At that point, fiat currency could be printed without being backed by anything and global fiat currencies became independent of the USD and could be printed at will by their respective central banks.
This marked the beginning of the end for fiat currency and until 2009, there was no viable alternative to fiat currency. That was the year Bitcoin was launched.
Bitcoin is an automated program that is decentralized, meaning no one controls it. There is a fixed maximum supply of 21 million Bitcoins that will be reached when mining is complete, and no more can be created beyond this. This is the opposite of fiat currencies that can be printed at will by their central banks. This makes Bitcoin a deflationary currency, while fiat currencies are inherently inflationary.
Central banks typically print currency to fund national budgets and some have gone beyond this by issuing bonds denominated in their respective fiat currencies. The United States currently has USD 21.3 trillion of debt, mostly achieved through issuing bonds. Some economists believe the nation is on track to economic collapse due to this debt situation. The US has become dependent on issuing debt to maintain the budget and economy; without the money gained from bond sales, some believe the economy would be unsustainable.
Eventually, a point will be reached where the interest being paid for the bonds will be more than the US can afford, which will force money printing to pay the interest and to fund the budget in general. Unchecked money printing has historically led to hyperinflation. Recent examples in Zimbabwe and Venezuela show this progression, from money printing to extreme devaluation of national currencies. Others like Turkey and Iran are not in a collapse yet but entering hyperinflation. These smaller countries are a good illustration of what the end game of fiat currency could be, even for the mighty US dollar.
Citizens of Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Iran and Turkey have been trying to buy as much Bitcoin as possible to protect their savings, since saving in their local fiat currencies has become impossible. For the first time, a decentralized currency that can be used globally exists, available to all.
Bitcoin has worldwide infrastructure and demand, giving it value anywhere you are on Earth. It is a solid alternative to fiat currency with a fixed supply, so it won’t ever be devalued by money printing. There is no central organization leveraging Bitcoin to pay for budget deficits, unlike all the fiat currencies.
The mere fact that Bitcoin is a true alternative to fiat currency may very well accelerate the worldwide collapse of fiat currency some economists have predicted, including the US dollar.
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