Fiat Currencies are S***coins too.
There is no question that most cryptocurrencies are at best ‘experiments’ and at worst ponzi shitcoins. But, we must remember that most fiat currencies are shitcoins too. For example, in the last X months, one of the most famous cryptocurrency shitcoins, Dogecoin, appears to have outperformed many national currencies. Judged by X, Y, Z it compares well with fiat currencies such as X, Y, Z.,
This article will review the relative values of many national currencies over 20th century and in recent history.
One simple way to compare national currencies in comparison with crypto is to look at the timelapse of the coinmarketcap.
During periods of hyperinflation (for example X), some money became so cheap that it was effectively useless. A shopping bag full of banknotes was needed to run a simple errand. As a result, central banks printed new money with fewer zeros. Highlighting the command and control nature of fiat currencies, a million could become ten with a simple edit. This is known as ‘redenomination’.
Some interesting examples
(Brave Chinese workers in 1955 are looking forward to the communist future)
Little did they know, the Great Leap Forward three years later led to a famine in 1959 where 15-40 million people starved to death. That said, the Chinese currency has been relatively stable since late 1990s as it was pegged to the USD for much of that time.
Indian Rupee (1917)
(Mahatma Gandhi looks so optimistic)
1966 Economic crisis - Lack of monsoon and the 1965 war with Pakistan caused major production crisis and foreign currency reserves were very low. The government of India intervened to devalue Rupee by over 40% against the US Dollar.
1991 Economic crisis - Due to the fall of Soviet Union which was the major export region for India the foreign exchange reserves depleted rapidly. This was coupled with Gulf crisis (Kuwait and Iraq war) that supplied majority of the crude oil to India. These factors led to huge current account deficit for India. In response to this crisis Government of India devalued Rupee against major currencies.
2016 - Indian government works with central bank to demonetize the currency giving the people mere hours to turn in their worthless bills.
(Frans Kaisiepo looks at you with disapproval)
The rupiah has been subject to high inflation for most of its existence (which as an internationally recognised currency should be dated to 1950). Various attempts have been made to maintain the value of the currency, but all were abandoned. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_rupiah#Exchange_rate_and_inflation)
This currency is not very stable, just some examples:
“After the 1959 devaluation, inflation, which had been running at 25% per annum 1953–1959, grew exponentially, with rates over 100% in 1962, 1963, and 1964, and 600% in 1965. Despite the official Rp 45 to US$1 rate, two further export certificate trading systems, of March 1962 – May 1963, and then from April 1964 onwards, showed premiums of 2,678% July 1962 (an effective rate of Rp 1,205), 5,100% August 1965 (Rp 2,295) and 11,100% in November 1965 (Rp 4,995).”
Russian Ruble (1937)
(Grandpa Lenin looks on you as someone who needs a communist revolution)
Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. Debauched currency would also repeatedly destroy the resolve of the Russian people during the soviet era. Just a few dates when all your hard earnings get stolen by fault of governments.
1919 - After WW1 had ended and following the revolution, the soviets started to print the Sovznak currency to fund the civil war which became worthless after the civil war in 1924
1946 - Poof, all your money became 10 time cheaper.
1992 - Following the collapse of the USSR, inflation rate jumps to 2,333.3% annualized inflation in December 1992
(Head of República doesn’t look at you at all)
The modern real (Portuguese plural reais or English plural reals) was introduced on 1 July 1994. The new currency replaced the short-lived cruzeiro real (CR$). The reform included the demonetisation of the cruzeiro real and required a massive banknote replacement.
At its introduction, the real was defined to be equal to 1 unidade real de valor (URV, “real value unit”) a non-circulating currency unit. At the same time the URV was defined to be worth 2750 cruzeiros reais, which was the average exchange rate of the U.S. dollar to the cruzeiro real on that day. As a consequence, the real was worth exactly one U.S. dollar as it was introduced. Combined with all previous currency changes in the country’s history, this reform made the new real equal to 2.75 × 1018 (2.75 quintillions) of Brazil’s original “réis”. LOL, it’s 275,000,000,000,000,000,000%; this would even give bitconnect a run for its money.
(Feel like a millionaire by owning this banknote)
- 1966 – 1 U.S. dollar = 9 Turkish lira
- 1980 – 1 U.S. dollar = 90 Turkish lira
- 1988 – 1 U.S. dollar = 1,300 Turkish lira
- 1995 – 1 U.S. dollar = 45,000 Turkish lira
- 2001 – 1 U.S. dollar = 1,650,000 Turkish lira
Honourable Mention: Zimbabwe
(Epworth’s balancing rocks are a symbol of eternal stability)
Under the wise stewardship of one of the most educated presidents in history, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe experienced one of the worst hyperinflations the world has ever seen. These one hundred trillion dollar notes are now worth something to collectors who fancy themselves trillionaires.
In the long-run, the value of all fiat currency is zero. Things have come a long way since the era of roman coin-debasement. In the 20th century, governments perfected the art of shitcoins. While most cryptocurrencies are definitely shitcoins, time will tell if currencies like Dogecoin will hold their value better than a lot of national currencies.
Authors: Alex Lebed, David Genest
Reviewers: Darshan Honale, Scott McKenzie