26 Jun 2017

Bitcoin and government failure

I sent this to The Economist (no idea if they will publish):
Sir

I enjoy both the theory and empirical outputs of your BigMac Index, which gives an indication of whether currencies are over-/undervalued relative to the USD (and each other).

Given this success, it seems useful to promote a new index — The Bitcoin Governance Index (BGI) — as an indicator of the over-/underperformance of a government’s ministries of finance and treasury.

The index would compare official exchange rates to bitcoin exchange rates to see how much “leakage” is escaping to bitcoin.

The Indian Rupee, for example has a rate of INR 64.5 per USD, but it takes INR 185,026 per BTC. Given a USD 2,685 price per BTC, the BGI "exchange rate” is INR 68.91 per USD, indicating a discount of ~9 percent.

Although these differences are going to be arbitraged in liquid markets with traders in both currencies, they will not in illiquid markets. In Venezuela, for example, the central bank rate is VZB 2,640 per USD, but it takes VZB 21,800,000 per BTC. The BGI “exchange rate” is VZB 8,119 per USD, indicating a discount of ~67 percent.

The BGI, by showing the gap between market sentiment and government assertion, will help readers, traders and politicians understand just how well government policies are working.

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