The Return Of Bitcoin

Like a movie sequel bitcoin has blasted its way back into the news after being presumed finished after its dramatic crash last April. Like the Death Star it has returned in the exact same way as before and has re-ignited the debate over the value of an uncontrolled currency. As I write this bitcoin is hovering around the price of $450 and it will probably reach $500 soon enough. Its return has surprised commentators (such as myself) who had presumed the currency was done for.  Unfortunately, like the Death Star, it has the exact same flaw that will undo it as before. Bitcoin is soaring high at the moment, but it is only a matter of time before it crashes. Continue reading “The Return Of Bitcoin”

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The Bitcoin Bubble Has Burst

Well it has finally happened. We looked at those charts of ever rising price of bitcoin and said this cannot last, and it hasn’t. The bitcoin bubble has finally peaked and now all that is left is to watch its steady and inexorable decline. But this post will not simply be full of smug gloating (though I see no reason why there shouldn’t be at least a little bit of smugness). You see, the crash of bitcoin mirrors other financial crashes and gives us an opportunity to draw some conclusions. It is best to view bitcoin as a giant experiment of how an economy would operate without a central bank. Continue reading “The Bitcoin Bubble Has Burst”

The Irish Housing Bubble And Bust

The recent housing bubble in Ireland defied the laws of economics. Supply and demand rose simultaneously, the market rose to absurd heights before crashing to unheard of lows. It went from an extreme of being able to sell a house no matter how high the price, to one where you can’t sell a house no matter how low you drop the price. According to everything I have been taught about economics, this could not happen. Textbooks are useless in understanding the bubble. According to them the price is always right, that left alone the free market will make everyone better off. Bubbles or recessions don’t happen. Any exceptions are temporary; it’s not possible for a decade of boom to be replaced by a decade of bust. But that is what has happened. Continue reading “The Irish Housing Bubble And Bust”

Government Did Not Cause The Recession

We are in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Economists and commentators alike are united in blaming the banks and the lack of restraint on them for driving us over the cliff. Yet there is a myth common on the internet that it was the government that caused the recession. Allegedly it was the government that forced the banks to lend extra and fueled the boom. There are three parts to this argument. It is claimed the government caused the recession by guaranteeing to bail out banks if they got in trouble, by forcing banks to lend more through the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and by keeping interest rates artificially low. These arguments are unable to explain the timing of the crisis, its magnitude and the fact that it’s global effect. These claims simply do not stand up. Continue reading “Government Did Not Cause The Recession”

The Man Who Saw The Crash Coming

The financial crash in 2008 came as a surprise to most economists. The believed markets were sufficient and will produce prosperity for all if left to their own devices. However one little known economist had predicted it and developed a theory explaining it. He devised a theory explaining how lenders become lax with their standards, over optimistic and over extend themselves leading to a crash. Even more impressively he did this back in the 70s and 80s so can’t be accused of jumping on the bandwagon. His name is Hyman Minsky (1919-1996) and the theory is called “The Financial Instability Hypothesis”. Continue reading “The Man Who Saw The Crash Coming”