To be successful, money must be both a medium of exchange and a reasonably stable store of value. And it remains completely unclear why BitCoin should be a stable store of value.
No one will deny that Bitcoin is currently extremely volatile. This is not an examination of that point. This is focused purely on the question of whether, historically, Bitcoin has proven to be a good store of value. No one can predict the future, so the best we have is historical data. This is particularly of interest to me, give the recent tumble in Bitcoin price, as well as recent reports of the third worst collapse of the dollar in the past decade. Methodology To examine the quality of Store of Value, I examined the historical prices of seven different assets. I envisioned a buyer of the asset purchasing it on a given day, and holding it for some length of time (X), ranging between one day and about 3.5 years (which is all the data we have for Bitcoin). The measurement is this: if you choose a random day to buy the asset, and you buy it at the mid-point price that day, and hold it for X days, what is the probability that it will still have 100% of its value after X days. It seems like a reasonable assumption is that an asset that is a good store of value would perform well in this scenario, and retain 100% of its value a high percentage of the time. The seven assets were:
Bitcoin Freely Exchangeable: For this measurement, I used Mt. Gox prices as mentioned above, until May 13, 2013 (the day before the US Government seized funds), and Bitstamp prices since then. This is an attempt to eliminate the odd pricing on Mt. Gox due to the withdrawal challenges.
The Dow Jones FXCM Dollar Index, data provided by Google Finance. The data for this index was available going back to 4/18/2011. It's an index of the dollar, presumably comparing to other currencies. (This may be mislabeled, calling it a fund. Not sure.)
Spider Gold Shares GLD, an ETF for Gold. Data provided by Yahoo Finance. This data goes back to 11/18/2004.
Spider Gold Shares GLD, for the period that Bitcoin has been traded. Same data source as #5, but a subset of the data.
In all cases, I used the average of the daily high and the daily low, when available. In the case of the Dollar (1914-2013), I used monthly inflation rates. In all cases, I set the purchase date to one of the days that the asset was traded. In the case of the Dollar (1914-2013), I utilized the first of the month. And I set the ending valuation date as the next time the asset traded, after X days elapsed. In the case of the Dollar (1914-2013), this would be the first of some future month, after X days had passed. Results Here's the Graph. The best performing asset was buying Bitcoins on Bitstamp. In all cases historically, if you held the asset for 274 days, the asset was still worth 100% of your original investment. Mt. Gox and the Freely Exchangeable Bitcoin measurements were similar: After 622 days, 100% of the time, your original invested value was retained. The Dollar fund (index, actually) underperformed all Bitcoin options, when measuring periods less than 243 days. But for periods of between 471 days and 1033 days, 100% of the time, the dollar fund retained its complete value. (No data for periods longer than 1033 days). The Gold ETF underperformed Bitcoin, whether you looked at the period of Bitcoin being on the market, or the life of the ETF. And, no surprise, the dollar as measured by inflation, came in dead last. In the past 100 years, it has only retained its value month-over-month about 15% of the time. And the longer you held it, generally, the worse off you were. All data is available at the sources above, and the computations are available. The graph of the results is licensed for you to use widely with attribution. I hope this helps when you are talking to the Krugmans of the world. (Edit: it's -> its)
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