What does stagflation mean?
Stagflation is a rare thing that can happen when the economy isn’t growing. Stagflation is different from inflation and economic growth, which happens when prices go up and the economy produces more.
When the economy isn’t growing fast enough to meet the needs of its people, the economy is said to be “stagnant.” Stagflation is when the economy doesn’t grow and prices go up at the same time. Stagflation might seem like a contradiction because these things don’t usually go together.
When an economy is in stagflation, it grows so slowly that unemployment goes up. While prices keep going up, it seems like companies are selling everything they can make. There is less demand for goods and services, which could cause more people to lose their jobs.
When there is a lot of inflation, people don’t know how much money they will have to spend in the future. Because no one knows what their income will be in the future, inflation makes it hard to plan and invest in the present. This makes things even less certain and slows down growth. So, stagflation is a combination of two words: stagnant economy and rising prices.
One of the best examples of stagflation was in the 1970s, when fuel shortages around the world caused several developed economies to have slow economic growth, high unemployment, and rising prices. Stagflation can also be caused by monetary or fiscal policy, like when the US dollar was taken off the gold standard during that time.
Why does stagflation happen?
Stagflation can happen when the cost of living goes up faster than consumer demand or production levels, or when the gross domestic product goes down, which can happen when the government takes austerity measures. Stagflation can also be caused by supply shocks and mistakes in monetary policy, among other things.
A supply shock is an event that makes prices go up even though neither the total amount of demand nor the amount of inventory in companies has changed. People can cause these shocks by doing things. For example, a war between two countries could raise the price of oil or another important part of the production process. This could lead to cost-pull inflation, which is when prices go up because wages and raw materials go up.
Prices going up because of natural disasters are another type of supply shock that can cause prices to go up. Simply put, a change in the way something is made causes the supply of goods or services to go down. This is called demand-pull inflation, which is a type of inflation caused by a shortage of goods.
Monetary policy errors have to do with how a country’s central bank handles the money supply. Let’s say they lend out too much money because interest rates are low. In that case, interest rates will go down, which will push up wages and prices for consumers. But stagflation can also happen when interest rates are very high and the economy slows down.
How does stagflation affect the markets for cryptocurrency?
There haven’t been cryptocurrencies for very long. So, there isn’t much information about whether cryptocurrency is a good investment during stagflation or whether stagflation is good or bad for the markets in general.
If you want to know if investing in cryptocurrency is a good idea during stagflation, you can look at how traditional markets act during inflation or stagflation and why. Stagflation is bad for traditional markets, and since cryptocurrency markets have a high correlation with general indexes, negative sentiment can spread to cryptocurrencies, which are digital assets managed with cryptographic algorithms.
In general, investors who have their money in traditional instruments may be more willing to ride out periods of economic uncertainty than those who invest in cryptocurrencies that go along with higher volatility. So, there may be less demand for cryptocurrencies than usual during stagflation.
Stagflation may also hurt cryptocurrency markets because it makes retail investors less interested in buying digital assets. After all, high inflation directly impacts how much money people have to purchase cryptocurrency, which is considered a more risky investment.
Yet, depending on one’s cryptocurrency investing strategy, one may choose to invest in these assets over traditional financial instruments. Cryptocurrencies run on a blockchain and are not tied to any particular country’s monetary policy like fiat currencies are. When inflation rises in one country but not in another, investors can still make money through cryptocurrency investments, even if inflation causes their home currency to lose value.
Investors will often look for a way to protect their wealth from stagflation, especially in countries like Venezuela or Argentina, where hyperinflation occurs. Hyperinflation is when there is a speedy and uncontrollable price increase of vital goods and services in an economy. Here cryptocurrency investments work well during stagflation as they provide an alternative payment means and protect against hyperinflation. Individuals may choose to flee hyperinflation by re-directing some of their reserves into Bitcoin (BTC) (BTC).
What does stagflation mean for Bitcoin?
As stagflation goes alongside high inflation and economic downturn, BTC can be seen as a hedge against inflation and simultaneously as a risky asset whose price could fall during an economic decline.
BTC may be seen through the same lens as gold, which traditionally functioned as a hedge against inflation. Indeed, BTC could naturally be an excellent hedge against inflation. First, BTC is a decentralised global means of payment beyond the control of central authorities. Governments have no control over it, making it almost immune to potential corruption and monetary policy.
In addition, BTC is a scarce asset, as a maximum of twenty-one million can come into circulation and deflationary since the number of Bitcoin that goes into circulation halves approximately every four years. It is also called “digital gold” or a “store of value” because it is limited and hard to get.
In general, the prices of risky investments fall when interest rates rise. As the cryptocurrency market developed a significant correlation with the stock markets, much will depend on if and when BTC can break its correlation. This process will likely take time, also given institutional adoption.
Stagflation could be a catalyst for BTC and cryptocurrency adoption. This could happen if it turns out that the debt economy we build on is unsustainable. When Bitcoin is seen as an alternative or hedge against a failing financial system, prices and adoption can increase in economically uncertain times. A tipping point could come when public trust in BTC exceeds trust in the current economic system.
How to fight stagflation?
The government can fight stagflation by putting in place monetary, fiscal, and other policies that help the economy grow. Cryptocurrency may also prove to be a tool in itself.
The first tool is fiscal policy. As part of an expansionary fiscal policy, the government can spend more or cut taxes to boost aggregate demand and boost economic growth. The government can cut spending to help lower demand for goods and services, which could slow down inflation.
The second tool is monetary policy, which involves manipulating interest rates to try and stimulate the economy. Central banks use a low interest rate policy to decrease the cost of borrowing money. Interest policy can also reduce the amount of money in circulation to decrease the money supply, which may help boost economic growth over time.
The third tool is to try and reduce unemployment through active labour market policies. However, here there is the risk of built-in inflation, which refers to the demand for wage increases in the labour markets to meet the rising cost of living. Yet, this often results in businesses increasing the prices of goods and services to offset increasing wage costs.
If these don’t work, other options include raising tariffs or devaluing the domestic currency to make export prices more competitive on foreign markets. Selling bonds or other financial instruments can decrease the money supply by taking that amount out of circulation.
Cryptocurrencies may also help directly fight stagflation by making it possible for people all over the world to trade with each other without going to a bank or another institution. People can have better access to international markets, which can help improve the world economy and lead to more stable growth overall.