BTC Investing vs. BTC Standard

Jimmy Song
4 min readApr 6, 2024

There’s a difference between investing in Bitcoin and being on a Bitcoin standard. It may seem like semantic hair-splitting, but it’s not, because the behavior of these two groups is very different, as is their mental model. In this article, I aim to explain what it means to be on a Bitcoin standard.

The Bitcoin Investors

The Bitcoin investors are the people that are looking for a dollar (or some other fiat money without loss of generality) return. Their base money is the dollar and that’s how they measure their wealth. That’s understandable, since that’s how they’ve been indoctrinated, but such a mentality is rigged from the start.

First, it’s hard to measure how much value your assets are increasing by. If you use strict dollar terms, you may have gained some percentage (say 30%), but over what time frame? If the asset is something like real estate, that may be over 10 years or 10 months. Obviously, the 10 months is better, but exactly how much of that value is real? How much can you buy with the returns and is the money you got back the same as the money you put in?

Inflation

Because, of course, there’s inflation to consider. Investing with the dollar as the base asset means you have to account for it. If you have an investment that goes up 30% at the same time that inflation is 30%, you haven’t actually gained anything. In fact, due to capital gains taxes, you likely have lost value.

Then there’s the question of what measure of inflation to use. Many investors use the CPI-indexed dollar to measure how much they’ve gained. But this too is flawed because the CPI is a gamed metric. There are hedonic adjustments that the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts in almost arbitrarily to output a CPI to be lower than the actual prices. So if your investment merely kept up with CPI, you again probably lost ground in terms of purchasing power. It’s not a good measure.

Monetary Expansion

The classical definition of inflation is monetary expansion and the M2 money supply is a popular metric to measure that. It was $287B in 1959 and was $19.4T in 2021 (more on that in a bit), so annualized, that’s about 7% per year. If you use that metric, most investments look pretty terrible. You’re most likely losing ground because it’s hard to get 7% every year consistently, even on average. Financial advisors use that 7% number to measure themselves and most don’t meet that mark. So if your investment keeps up with M2 monetary expansion, you have merely kept the numerator up in proportion to the denominator. Again, because of capital gains taxes, you’ve probably lost ground in terms of percentage of money supply.

But even here, the stats are not great. The Fed discontinued the M2 in 2021 and came up with something called the M2SL, likely to add more fudge factors that they can use for gaming the metric. Why would they do that? Because investors started measuring their returns against the M2. Especially during the pandemic, the M2 was going up so fast that most of the investment gains were known to be non-existent in M2 terms. So now, we have their modified measure of money supply called the M2SL. There are all sorts of problems with the M2 measurement, and aggregate statistics are notoriously unreliable. Hence, for investors, even this harsh measure is likely being gamed to make their gains look better.

The Bitcoin Standard

So what’s left? You can use gold or a cow or a custom men’s suit or even a big mac as a way to measure how you’re doing with your investments. They’re all useful ways to see how much purchasing power you have relative to points in the past, but all of them have flaws, are lagging indicators and are relatively easy to manipulate.

For the red-pilled investor, the real measure of wealth becomes Bitcoin because that’s the most difficult to manipulate. When you accept this, that’s when you are on a Bitcoin standard. In other words, Bitcoin becomes how you measure your investment gains, not the dollar, not the CPI-adjusted dollar or the M2-indexed dollar.

Conclusion

There are undoubtedly a lot of Bitcoin investors. Between exchanges, ETFs, even apps like Robinhood, Venmo and CashApp, there are a lot of people that own Bitcoin. But that’s not the same thing as being on the Bitcoin standard. The people that are most likely to hold for the long term are the people on the Bitcoin standard.

I know for myself that I finally flipped when I read Saifedean’s book by the same name. I have had a very different mentality about money since then and think of the dollar as the depreciating asset that it is. The measuring stick for me has changed. In economics, we would call that function of money the unit of account.

It’s been amazingly freeing because I don’t worry about my investments, mostly because I don’t have very many. I’m on a Bitcoin standard and I keep my value in my unit of account. We’re so used to being stolen from through the fiat system that we’ve learned to live with the debasement. Debasement is a continual and never ending burden.

The Bitcoin standard frees us from this investing burden. And it’s the game-theoretical end state of money. Hardest money wins. You can get there now or get there later.

--

--

Jimmy Song

Bitcoin Educator, Developer and Entrepreneur. Book: https://amzn.to/2RSlnTb PGP Fingerprint: C1D7 97BE 7D10 5291 228C D70C FAA6 17E3 2679 E455