Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) have received increasing interest since Facebook’s failed launch of Libra and China’s recent announcement that they are moving forward with the digital yuan after an early trial period. This is “why we Bitcoin”: because the damage, destruction, and inequality brought about by fiat money will only be magnified with the proliferation of CBDCs.
Although some manifestations of the US dollar are already digital, there are inherent differences in what can be done with these new digital currencies. First, money can be time-based, and the issuer (the People’s Bank of China in the case of the digital yuan) can set an expiration date for your money. Money can also be “fine-tuned” to be sector-based, meaning that it can be designated to only be spent in certain sectors or stores. Finally, China has already implemented a draconian social credit score system, and that the digital yuan could end up tying into the social credit score. For centralized governments, CBDCs have huge benefits over both the current fiat system and a decentralized, neutral currency. However, that is not the case for the sovereign individual.
With CBDCs, the central government has the ability to attach an expiration date to money. Following the economic shutdowns of 2020, many people questioned whether the stimulus payments would circulate into the real economy or whether they’d just stay on the sidelines as savings or debt payments. Enter CBDCs. The U.S. Federal Reserve’s initial interest in a CBDC was as a way to influence the velocity of money.
When the U.S. government granted stimulus payments to its citizens to keep the economy afloat, there was no guarantee that the recipients would use them as the government intended. Those payments were meant to help people who lost jobs make ends meet and otherwise keep the economy moving. Saving that money for a rainy day, paying off debt, and investing it all run counter to the desires of a government…