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The Bitcoin Tsunami: A Catalyst for US Government Bankruptcy?

The Bitcoin Tsunami: A Catalyst for US Government Bankruptcy?

Feb 21, 2024
Bitcoin Basics

The Bitcoin Tsunami: A Catalyst for US Government Bankruptcy?

The question of whether Bitcoin could potentially bankrupt the US government is a subject of significant debate. This article examines the hypothetical scenario in which widespread adoption of Bitcoin might impact the financial stability of the US government, particularly in terms of its ability to finance debt.

Historical Context

To contextualize the discussion, it's essential to understand the historical precedent set by the United States during the Great Depression. In 1933, under Executive Order 6102, President Franklin D. Roosevelt mandated the confiscation of gold, which underpinned the value of the US dollar at the time. This action was possible because of the direct linkage between gold and the US currency.

FDR Executive Order 6102 confiscates gold | Pundit House

In contrast, the modern US dollar is not backed by Bitcoin or any other digital asset. Therefore, the rationale for a similar government action targeting Bitcoin does not have the same basis as the gold confiscation in 1933.

The Thought Experiment

Let's consider a hypothetical scenario where an individual investor, Joe, reallocates 1% of his retirement portfolio from US Treasuries to Bitcoin. This action, on a small individual scale, would increase the demand for Bitcoin, potentially raising its price, while simultaneously exerting upward pressure on Treasury yields due to the sale of US government bonds.

If such behavior were to become widespread, the cumulative effect could lead to a significant rise in interest rates for US government debt as bond prices fall. This scenario assumes a mass migration from traditional government-backed securities to Bitcoin.

Real-World Implications

Several high-profile companies, such as MicroStrategy, have already converted substantial cash reserves into Bitcoin. If the trend continues and major corporations like Apple follow suit by divesting from US Treasuries in favor of Bitcoin, the impact on government bond markets could be profound.

Source: Bloomberg

The Geopolitical Landscape

The credibility and attractiveness of US Treasuries as a global reserve asset are also influenced by geopolitical developments. The ability of the US government to freeze assets, as exemplified by sanctions against Russia, may deter foreign governments from investing in US debt securities. Historical buyers of US Treasuries, such as Russia, China, and Japan, have shown reduced appetite or capacity to purchase additional US debt, raising questions about who the marginal buyers of this debt might be.

Source: South China Morning Post

Inflation and Treasury Yields

US Treasuries currently offer yields below the true rate of inflation experienced by consumers. This disparity results in a real loss of purchasing power for holders of US debt. The Federal Reserve, as the buyer of last resort, may be compelled to increase its purchases of Treasuries to finance government spending, leading to more dollar printing and potential inflationary pressures.

Bitcoin's Role in the Financial Ecosystem

Bitcoin's limited supply cap of 21 million coins contrasts with the ability of central banks to print fiat currency, which can devalue the currency and potentially make Bitcoin more attractive as a store of value. As Bitcoin's price appreciates in response to increased demand and limited supply, it may draw more investment away from traditional government securities.

Who Creates New Bitcoin? | River

Potential Government Response

In a scenario where Bitcoin significantly undermines the demand for US government debt, the US government may consider a regulatory or legislative response to protect its financial interests. This could manifest as an attempt to regulate the Bitcoin space more stringently or even as outright bans or restrictions on Bitcoin holdings and transactions.


While the hypothetical scenario of Bitcoin bankrupting the US government remains speculative, it raises valid concerns about the potential impact of Bitcoin on traditional financial systems and government financing operations. The US government's ability to navigate this evolving financial landscape may hinge on its response to the growing influence of Bitcoin.


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