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Breaking the Definintion of Money and Inhibiting Seigniorage (Money Printing) with Asset Backed Bitcoin

Veritaseum will be announcing asset-backed bitcoins after the end of the token sale. These are bitcoins that will have both the full value and capability of bitcoins that actually ride along the bitcoin blockchain plus the additional attribute of being backed by a variety of real world commodity assets. This essentially inflation-proofs the coin (more so than the possibly deflationary effect of limited supply) and in addition it puts a hard floor on the value of the coin - setting it aside from bitcoins not modified by Veritaseum.

The Accepted Defintions of Money

According to Wikipedia:

Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and servicesand repayment of debts in a particular country or socio-economic context.[1][2][3] The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, sometimes, a standard of deferred payment.[4][5] Any item or verifiable record that fulfills these functions can be considered money.

Money is historically an emergent market phenomenon establishing a commodity money, but nearly all contemporary money systems are based on fiat money.[4] Fiat money, like any check or note of debt, is without intrinsic use value as a physical commodity. It derives its value by being declared by a government to be legal tender; that is, it must be accepted as a form of payment within the boundaries of the country, for "all debts, public and private".[6] Such laws in practice cause fiat money to acquire the value of any of the goods and services that it may be traded for within the nation that issues it.

Commodity money, whose value comes from a commodity of which it is made consists of other things that have utility value in and of themselves in addition to the value attribuated to their use as money. Examples of such include goldsilvercoppersaltcocoa beans, oil and barley. These items historically ran into practical barriers as the global economy expanded - through limitations in storage, transport and rancity - basically techological barriers. As such they were overtaken by representative money. 

According to Wikipedia, representative money is defined as:

  • A claim on a commodity, for example gold certificates or silver certificates. In this sense it may be called "commodity-backed money".
  • Any type of money that has face value greater than its value as material substance. Used in this sense,fiat money is a type of representative money.

Unfortunaely, as fiat took hold, the former defintion of representative money failed to hold sway - the result of which has been rampant seignorage. Seigniorage is the action of exchanging sovereign-issued securities for freshly printed money by a central bank. This is in essence, borrowing real money and paying with "created" money - or basically not needing to repay at all. These actions are not without consequences. Monetary seigniorage is an action which takes this theme a step further, wherein the sovereign entity relies on seignorage as an active revenue stream through regular and routine debt monetization (printing new money to repay old money to meet budgetary targets. The use (or misuse) of these newly printed notes can exacerbate the inherent problems of rampant monetization. For many developed nations, seignorage is relied upon as a regular revenue source, despite the fact it has wrecked the economies of smaller nations.

 

Sweeping up the banknotes from the street after the Hungarian peng?was replaced in 1946.

The United States is certainly not immune from these effects. The economic thirst of war has pushed the US to the brink at least two times in the past. Continental currency (the precursor to the current USD) printed during the Revolutionary War reached a monthly inflation rate of 47% in November 1779. 

Again, during the U.S. Civil War, the 50 months preceeding April 1865 saw the Lerner Commodity Price Index of leading cities in the eastern Confederacy states increased from 100 to over 9,000.

The Confederate dollar was nearly worthless by the end of the civil war. Towards the north, greenbacks (the currency of the Union) were purposely inflated up to a 40% monthly inflation rate. In many of these instances, the money was purposely inflated to fund the war. This monetary seigniorage still exists today in the US and abroad. 

Seigniorage in the United How Much Does the U. S. Government Make from Money Production?

Referencing the study made by Federal Reserve Bank's own St. Louis Fed...

As you can see, monetary seingniorage has been and is, a profitable business for the US and has been such for some time.

Seiniorage has been responsible for paying between 1% to 3% of the federal budget of the largest single economy in the world - but that's before the crisis and QE, which we will get to in a minute.

Pay very close attention to this table, where the US.gov had its debt bought outright by the Fed. The number peaked in teh '71-'80 period at just over $12B. Be aware that, pre-Bernanke Fed did not have a mandate (as popularly interpreted) to purchase private debt.

Let's look at this from a 2014 perspective, and please notice the delta in the numbers...

The 3 rounds of US QE:

  1. QE1 (December 2008). In December 2008, the Fed started buying longer-term Treasury securities as well as the debt and the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs).[3] The Fed announced it would purchase up to $100 billion of the GSEs’ debt and up to $500 billion of their MBS from both banks and the GSEs themselves.
  2. QE2 (November 2010). In November 2010, the Fed announced that it would purchase $75 billion per month of longer-termed Treasuries, for a total of $600 billion. These purchases were to be concentrated in Treasury securities with maturities of two to 10 years, though the Fed also intended to purchase some shorter-term and some longer-term securities.
  3. QE3 (September 2012). In September 2012, the Fed announced its third round of easing, now referred to as QE3. Under QE3, the Fed’s combined securities purchases (long-term Treasuries, GSE debt, and MBS) were increased to approximately $85 billion per month. Unlike its counterparts, QE3 was an open-ended commitment. Rather than commit to purchasing a fixed amount of securities by a certain date, the Fed declared that it would make purchases until it decided that the labor market had sufficiently improved.

So we, go from $12B in US .gov debt to somewhere around $500B of the same in 2007, in addition to a category labeled as "All Other" to $4.4 Trillion as of last year, including unheard of asset classes in the comparable tables above - MBS, etc.). Even if one were to exclude such (and I query as to the reason why one would do that), there is still over $2 Trillion of note and bond purchases. If one were to linearly extrapolate the relationship between monetary senioriage in the tables above as a percentage of the US Federal Budget and the Fed's balance sheet bloat as a result of QE, it would look something like this...

 Now, we're not economists at Veritaseum, and I'm sure this little analysis may be rife with holes, but its purpose is to illustrate the vast revenue and profit machine that is Monetary and Fiscal Seigniorage, ex. money printing. QE, NIRP, ZIRP generates funny money at the expense of the holders of said money. Reference this graphic from "How the Danish Central Bank is Destroying the Danish Citizens' Wealth Form Both Sides While Stressing It's Banks":

 Other examples of current day seignorage and their results are exemplified by the Currency War series linked below. We, @Veritaseum, are using the power of the blockchain to resurrect commodity money and commodity-backed money in a fashion that brings it into the 21st century through our smart contracts technology. We will infuse bitcoins with a definitive floor value (but the coins will also feature the value of bitcoin itself, hence be able to float freely above said floor) based on the following liquid commodities:

  1. Gold
  2. Brent crude and heating oil
  3. Natural gas
  4. Copper
  5. Aluminum
  6. Corn
  7. Wheat

More info will be available after the Veritas sales end. Institutions and accredited investors who are interested in learning more can reach us here.

The Currency War Series:

Interesting tools for the community: