Can Bitcoin replace the old Bretton Woods system?

 a Student at HHX on Vejlbycentervej posted the above question on a LinkedIn forum.

I assume, maybe incorrectly, he is a student who needs to write a paper and felt like lendijng a hand.

 

Here is my response.

Dear Jonathan,

Interesting question.  There is a short answer and a longer one.

The short one is not in the immediate future.  The why will be part of the longer answer.

There is much to be written about the Bretton Woods system, but in simple terms it was a multinational agreement to maintain national currencies of participants at a certain exchange rate among themselves and between themselves and gold.  Countries kept their exchange rates by buying their own currencies (to push up the price) and selling them (to push it down) and, as a last resort, borrowing from the IMF, the World bank and other multilateral agencies and finally liquidating its gold reserves if nothing else worked.

Although it did not perfectly replace the old gold standard from before the two world wars. it provided an anchor for local currencies and it arguably helped fuel the post WWII world trade boom.

So, short answer, Bitcoin cannot be used to stabilize national currency exchange rates right now, because its value is still too volatile.  Even gold these days would be too volatile to act as an anchor for currencies as it did until over forty years ago.

Nevertheless, if Bitcoin continues to expand its user base and it begins to have a more stable relationship not with the USD, which is its main yardstick today, but to the price of goods like bread, gasoline, a residential square foot or an hourly wage, then it might become an anchor that governments will look at in order to stabilise their currency’s value.

They might have to sell their holdings of Bitcoin to push up the price of their currency against it, which would mean preventing local inflation, or they might work hard at convincing world investors and savers that their currency is likely to stay valuable because of their responsible fiscal and monetary policies.

In doing that, though, it might come a day when local currencies will become superfluous, because, after all if they have a set value against Bitcoin, why not use Bitcoin for everything?

Please let me know if this answer helps.

Claudio

 

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