A Bitcoin Standard: Lessons from the Gold Standard

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This paper imagines a world in which countries are on the Bitcoin standard, a monetary system in which all media of exchange are Bitcoin or are backed by it. The paper explores the similarities and differences between the Bitcoin standard and the gold standard and describes the media of exchange that would exist under the Bitcoin standard. Because the Bitcoin standard would closely resemble the gold standard, the paper explores the lessons about how it would perform by examining the classical gold standard period, specifically 1880–1913. The paper argues that because there would be virtually no arbitrage costs for international transactions, countries could not follow independent interest rate policies under the Bitcoin standard. However, central banks would still have some limited ability to act as lenders of last resort. Based on the experience during the classical gold standard period, the paper conjectures that there would be mild deflation and constant exchange rates under the Bitcoin standard. The paper also conjectures how long the Bitcoin standard might last if it were to come into existence.