Bitcoin as the Ultimate Haven from Hyperinflation: A Country By Country Analysis Of Worldwide Fiat Currency Inflation

December 26, 2018 / by Zachary Mashiach

Bitcoin was created during the Great Recession that started in 2008, when the governments of the world printed trillions of dollars to bail out banks and corporations. Satoshi Nakamoto intended Bitcoin to be a decentralized form of money that could not be printed by governments at will. In the the Genesis Block Satoshi included the message “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of the second bailout for banks.”

Fiat currencies continue to be the dominant form of global currency, but it seems logical that, if fiat currencies were to hyperinflate and collapse, Bitcoin would become the dominant global currency.

This is because Bitcoin can be sent instantly anywhere in the world and is cryptographically secure. It is easy enough to integrate Bitcoin into any e-commerce store or physical store, and the customers of the future will be able to send Bitcoin from their smartphones via QR codes. Therefore, if fiat currency becomes obsolete, Bitcoin could seamlessly take its place and keep the global economy running.

There has been plenty of hype that fiat currencies are collapsing, but this article will explore the current state of major fiat currencies in the world to ascertain the true situation. This is important information since the rate of fiat currency inflation by country is an important factor that will determine Bitcoin adoption rates and ultimately Bitcoin’s price.  

United States’ Inflation Rate

The United States is perhaps the best place to start an analysis of global fiat inflation, since the USD is the world’s dominant fiat currency and perhaps the most stable long term. That being said, there is 2-3 percent annual inflation in the United States.

If we split the difference at a 2.5 percent annual inflation rate, it means $100,000 stored in a bank will lose a whopping $22,400 of value over the course of 10 years, corresponding to 22.4 percent inflation per 10 years. Therefore, even in the United States, saving money long term seems impractical, and this essentially forces people to risk their savings by investing in the hopes that the money earned from investing will outpace inflation.

It appears inflation will only worsen in the United States since the national debt is approaching $22 trillion, with a budget deficit of $1 trillion per year and growing. This situation will likely lead to increased money printing, which would increase the inflation rate. Therefore, saving money in USD long term does not make financial sense. Bitcoin is an alternative way to store money long term, although Bitcoin has yet to mature and can be extremely volatile from year to year.

Euro (EUR) Inflation Rate Is 37.5 percent Relative To USD During The Last 10 Years

One of the primary global currencies besides the USD is the Euro (EUR). For the rest of this global analysis, fiat currencies will be compared to the USD exchange rate to determine inflation, but it must be kept in mind that the USD itself is inflating at the rate of 2 to 3 percent per year.

When the EUR launched in 1999, the exchange rate was one USD per 0.85 EUR. By 2002 the EUR weakened to 1.16 EUR per USD. The EUR then entered a period of vigorous strengthening, and the exchange rate fell to 0.64 EUR per USD by 2008. The Great Recession caused the EUR to begin weakening versus the USD long term, and currently each USD is worth 0.88 EUR. This represents 37.5 percent inflation relative to the USD in roughly 10 years.

Back to the storing money in a bank analogy, $100,000 of EUR stored over the past 10 years would have lost the EUR inflation rate + the USD inflation rate. With this sort of inflation rate it seems dangerous to store money in EUR long term.

It gets worse. The EUR is one of the top global fiat currencies, and there are many currencies doing worse than the EUR.

United Kingdom’s Pound Has 65 Percent Inflation Relative to USD in 11 Years

The United Kingdom (UK) is one of nine European Union (EU) countries that does not use the EUR, and eventually, the UK will leave the EU via the Brexit. However, the native Great Britain Pound (GBP) has done far worse than the Euro, with the exchange rate going from 0.48 GBP per USD in 2007 to 0.79 GBP per USD currently. This is 65 percent inflation relative to the USD during the past 11 years.

Canada’s Inflation Rate Is 45.2 Percent Relative to USD During the Last 7 Years

The United States’ neighbor to the north is similar to the United States in many respects. It is a fully developed and industrialized first world country. However the native fiat currency, the Canadian Dollar (CAD), has been experiencing severe inflation since the Great Recession. In 2011 1 USD was worth 0.95 CAD, and now the exchange rate is 1.36 CAD per USD. This represents 43.2 percent inflation relative to the USD since 2011, and of course, the USD has an underlying inflation rate as well of 16.2 percent during the last 7 years.

Even in the first world country of Canada, it is becoming impossible to save cash for retirement or even for short-term goals like buying a house, forcing people to invest in the risky stock market.

Mexico’s Inflation Rate Is 97.6 Percent Relative to the USD During Past 10 Years

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the exchange rate of the Mexican Peso (MXN) has gone from 10.12 MXN per USD to 20 MXN per USD. This represents 97.6 percent inflation relative to the USD, and USD inflation means the true Mexican inflation rate is well over 100 percent per 10 years. This sort of inflation rate ensures that people have to work their entire lives and can never retire, and overall, this sort of inflation can cause the entire economy of Mexico to struggle. Bitcoin seems like an obvious alternative to holding MXN long term.

It is quite shocking that a country bordering the United States has such high inflation, yet the mainstream media never mentions it.

Russia Has 194 Percent Inflation Relative to USD Since the 2008 Great Recession

Russia is a global superpower, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.58 trillion versus the United States’ $19.39 trillion GDP. Despite being a superpower, the native currency of Russia, the Russian Ruble (RUB), has gone from 23.48 RUB per USD in 2008 to 69.08 RUB per USD currently. This yields a 194 percent 10 year inflation rate relative to the USD. Clearly, the Great Recession that started in 2008 is a common point when fiat inflation accelerated in many countries around the world.

Japan’s Inflation Rate Is 46 Percent Relative to USD Over the Past 7 Years

Japan is a first-world country and has one of the most important stock markets in the world. The GDP of Japan is ranked number three in the world at nearly $5 trillion. However, its inflation rate is far higher than the United States, at least since 2011. In 2011, the exchange rate was 76 JPY per USD, but it has now risen to 111 JPY per USD, a 46 percent inflation rate relative to the USD over the past 7 years. This is actually almost exactly the same as Canada’s inflation rate.

China’s Inflation Is Only 14.4 Percent Relative to USD Since 2013, but China Tightly Controls the CNY

China is the second ranking economy in the world with a $12 trillion GDP. Its position as the number one trading partner of the United States gives it power to manipulate the exchange rate of its native currency the Chinese Yuan (CNY). The CNY actually strengthened greatly versus the USD until 2013, when China relaxed its control over the CNY exchange rate to make it more competitive in the global import and export markets. Chinese control over the CNY and therefore, control over the profitability of Chinese imports, is a primary reason for the “trade war” between China and the United States.

Since allowing the CNY to lose value relative to the USD, the exchange rate has gone from 6.04 CNY per USD in 2013 to 6.91 CNY per USD currently, a 14.4 percent inflation relative to the USD in 5 years. China is an outlier and has one of the lowest inflation rates relative to the USD.

Switzerland Has One Of The Lowest Inflation Rates At Less Than 5 percent Relative To The USD In 7 Years

Switzerland has remained independent of the European Union and does not use the EUR. Instead, it uses the Swiss Franc (CHF). The CHF actually strengthened greatly relative to the USD during the Great Recession, but the trend reversed in 2011. There was a rapid devaluation of the CHF relative to the USD from 0.76 CHF per USD to 0.94 CHF per USD during 2011. In The 7 years since then, the CHF has roughly five percent inflation relative to the USD and sits at 0.99 CHF per USD currently.

That being said, it cannot be forgotten that the USD itself is experiencing 2.5 percent inflation per year, so even countries that have low inflation rates relative to the USD have a significant inflation rate overall.

India Has Seen 79 Percent Inflation Relative to USD Since the Great Recession Began

India has the sixth highest GDP in the world at $2.6 trillion, and the second highest population at 1.34 billion. Since the Great Recession began, the Indian Rupee (INR) has gone from 39.18 per USD to 70.14 INR per USD, a 79 percent inflation relative to the USD in 11 years. Unfortunately, India is slowly making Bitcoin more illegal and could fully outlaw it, so citizens may have to break the law in the future in the event that inflation accelerates and Bitcoin becomes a preferred way to store money.

Indonesia Has 76 Percent Inflation Relative to the USD in Seven Years

Indonesia has a population of 265 million, not far behind the United States, but its GDP is 20 times less than the United States at $1 trillion. Part of the reason Indonesia’s economy is weaker may be that the native fiat currency, the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) has gone from 8,250 per USD in 2011 to 14,550 IDR per USD currently. This is 76 percent inflation relative to the USD in 7 years, around the same rate as India. However, Indonesia has banned Bitcoin as of 2018, which would make it difficult for citizens to use Bitcoin in the event inflation spirals out of control.

Brazil Has 152 percent Inflation Relative To USD In Past Seven Years, Despite Being the Strongest Economy In South America

Brazil has the most powerful economy in South America with a $2 trillion GDP. However, South America as a whole is experiencing out of control hyperinflation, and Brazil seems to be feeling the effects. The Brazilian Real (BRL) has gone from 1.55 per USD in 2011 to 3.91 BRL per USD currently. This is 152 percent inflation relative to the USD in 7 years. There does not appear to be any inflation safe haven in South America, and this could make South America a Bitcoin adoption hotspot.

Venezuela Has Ridiculous Inflation Around One million  percent Per Year; Bolivar Collapsing

The end game of fiat currency inflation, if left unchecked, is currency collapse. A classic example of currency collapse is the situation in Venezuela, where the Cafe Con Leche Index suggests 400,000 percent inflation per year, although if a shorter term average is used it is 1 million percent per year or more. It would be shocking if the native fiat currency of Venezuela, the Sovereign Bolivar (VES), is still usable one year from now. Bitcoin is legal in Venezuela, and there is plenty of news which indicates people are abandoning the VES for Bitcoin.

South Korea Has Zero Inflation Relative to the USD

South Korea is considered a powerful economy relative to most of the world, with a GDP of $1.5 trillion despite the country’s small size. The South Korean Won (SKW) has essentially zero inflation relative to the USD long term aside from an exchange rate shock during the 2008 Great Recession. That being said, inflation is still a reality in South Korea since the USD has average inflation of 2.5 percent per year.

Australia Has 53 Percent Inflation Relative to the USD in Seven Years

Australia essentially has a continent to itself, but it is not isolated from the global fiat inflation crisis. The AUD actually strengthened massively versus the USD from 2001 to 2011. However, the trend reversed, and the exchange rate has gone from 0.93 AUD per USD in 2011 to 1.42 AUD per USD currently. This is 53 percent inflation relative to the USD in seven years.

Israel Has Zero Inflation Relative To USD Long Term

Israel is in the Middle East but does not have strong connections to the economy of the rest of the Middle East and, apparently, a different monetary policy than most of the rest of the world. Israel is only comparable to the United States, South Korea, and perhaps Switzerland when it comes to fiat currency since the Israeli New Shekel (ILS) has practically zero inflation relative to the USD long term although there are shorter term oscillations. Like the other countries listed with zero USD relative inflation, inflation still exists because the USD itself is inflating.

In total, there are 180 fiat currencies in the world, and here, we’re covering just 16 of them. We could keep going, but the trend is already clear. Even in major countries with powerful economies, inflation has become a serious issue, with some major countries experiencing 50-200 percent inflation relative to the USD over the past decade, and those numbers don’t even take in the 2.5 percent per year USD inflation underlying them.

It is possible that worldwide fiat inflation will accelerate due to the growing global debt crisis. That’s especially true if an economic recession occurs since that would force a rapid increase in money printing.

So we’re in a global situation that needs to be actively monitored. Even if the status quo is maintained long term, most of the world’s population cannot realistically save money for the future because it’s going to lose value over time. This is a major shift from our parents’ generation when saving money was the smart thing to do.

The good news is Bitcoin is waiting on the sidelines. It’s ready to become the global currency if fiat currency collapses worldwide. Even if fiat does not totally collapse, perhaps once Bitcoin matures and becomes more stable, it will be a good option for saving money long term since its value is independent of fiat inflation.