2019 was arguably the year that Bitcoin entered the mainstream consciousness as a bona fide trend.
You see, in June, Facebook unveiled Libra, a cryptocurrency project that its founders said was partially based on Bitcoin.
The release of this digital asset led some of the world’s most prominent individuals — President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, now former International Monetary Fund (IMF) leader turned ECB chief Christine Lagarde, and many more — to talk cryptocurrency and its potential impact on finance and the broader economy.
Not to mention, individuals like Tesla’s Elon Musk and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey came out in support of Bitcoin, taking to their Twitter feeds followed by literal millions to shill the cryptocurrency and its ilk, touting the technology’s benefits.
With nearly everyone talking about digital assets, specifically in regards to their potential, some have begun to wonder if Bitcoin and its ilk will achieve what they set out to accomplish: replacing fiat and creating a more decentralized economy and world.
According to IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath, no.
Bitcoin Can’t Usurp Dollar: Report
In an op-ed published to the Financial Times, Gopinath noted that while she sees digital asset projects as “intriguing,” they are unlikely to make any move on the fiat system in the near term.
She specifically looked to the U.S. dollar’s role in effectively running the world’s economy, effectively stating that if the American currency lost monetary hegemony, the world would cease to function:
“The dollar holds strongly reinforcing roles in trade invoicing — it accounts for five times the US share of world trade — and global banking. These have created large network effects: the more people use the dollar, the more useful it becomes to everyone else.”
After noting how relatively irreplaceable the dollar is on a global scale, Gopinath went on to assert that a supernational digital asset is currently unfeasible, writing that the likelihood a payment system “that would give rise to a distinct unit of account disconnected from a fiat currency (something like Bitcoin) is remote, not least due to the complex and regulatory and jurisdictional issues involved.”
Deutsche Bank Begs to Differ
While the IMF official is certain that digital currencies aren’t the future, prominent analysts beg to differ.
Most notably, Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, recently gave a nod to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in its “Imagine 2030” report, claiming that this asset class could replace fiat.
Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid wrote in the report that there are currently a confluence of potential risk factors in the “current fiat system,” which he called “fragile” before adding that the “could unravel in the 2020s.”
Reid claimed that if the financial system as we now know it unravels, there will be a “backlash against fiat money and demand for alternative currencies, such as gold or crypto could soar.” The Deutsche Bank analyst specifically looked to the high levels inflations of the dollar in the 1970s, which led to a surge in the prices of gold.
While not lauding Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies in the slightest, the co-head of the world’s largest hedge fund has agreed with Deutsche Bank’s sentiment that the fiat system may be on the verge of collapse.
He wrote in a LinkedIn blog post that he thinks the “world has gone mad and the system is broken.” Dalio looked to a number of flaws in the economy, which include but aren’t limited to, extremely low, and even negative interest rates for the creditworthy, large government deficits that he believes are almost certain to “increase substantially,” the impending collapse of “sound finance” in “reserve currency countries and their currencies,” massive liabilities in pensions, and a growing wealth gap.