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Author Topic: Post bubble pop benefits for society  (Read 462 times)
theta
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December 10, 2013, 02:52:11 PM
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Almost every bubble in history has had some positive side effects even after bursting. The associated investment during the boom years resulted in infrastructure or capital building that benefited society even after a lot of the original investors went bust. Telegraph, railways, fibre optic cables, housing, alternative energy, you name it. During the inflation of the bubble, investors pile up, supply increases as a response. After the pop, prices drop but the capital stock remains and society as a whole benefits from the increased capital formation, even if some people are hurt if the bubble came with associated credit expansion and then credit collapse/balance sheet recession, like in the recent housing bubble. Obviously there always is some malinvestment along the way (McMansions in suburbia, lots of failed dotcoms) but if for every 100 Webvans there's one Amazon and one Google, the overall balance is positive.

So I was wondering if the same can be said for bitcoin. We are in the boom phase, a lot of investment is happening at the moment, in many areas (hardware for mining, numerous applications and services creating an ecosystem, etc.). At the same time the price is exploding, which helps to further fuel the arms race. People are increasingly interested as price goes up, more and more services come up, more hardware is built, and a virtuous circle is unfolding. At some point this will stop. It could end up in a number of ways, with the most extreme being bitcoin going to zero because of something better that replaces it and bitcoin becoming the dominant global currency reaching orders of magnitude of its current price. Given market dynamics, in either scenario there will be a market overshoot in both price and infrastructure investment. How do you envision the adjustment after that overshoot? Obviously the ecosystem infrastructure will retain its value (assuming it's not replaced by a superior system) regardless of the price, but what about the dedicated hardware for example? Old PCs and GPUs can be re-purposed, but ASIC miners? Could one change the firmware to make them do something else (eg folding) after it's uneconomical to mine for bitcoins?
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