Nik Bhatia is the founder of ‘The Bitcoin Layer’ & author of ‘Layered Money’. This interview delves into Nik’s work in the Bitcoin industry and his background in trading interest rates. We discuss the impact of low-interest rates on the economy, the relationship between inflation and interest rates, and the impact of central bank actions on markets. The conversation expands to include global recessions, the Chinese economy, and the future of Bitcoin.
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The unprecedented period of low-interest rates that followed the 2008-09 financial crisis was deemed a golden opportunity for those leveraging debt. However, this environment hid many significant dangers. Chief among them was the encouragement of irrational investments. The problem comes, as we have seen, when this period of low interest ends. A reasonable cost of capital provides a check on such behaviour.
Interest rates are influenced by both the market and central banks, with central banks often lagging behind market movements. When the central bank raises rates, they are adjusting the target rates for various lending markets. There is therefore an interplay between central bank actions and market forces in determining interest rates. In addition, there is feedback as investors anticipate interest rate hikes and adjust their investments accordingly.
As we have seen, central banks have used interest rates to temper inflation. This is a crude tool and can risk tipping economies into recession. Purchasing Managers’ Indexes (PMIs) can be used to analyse economic activity at the nation-state level; the PMIs in Europe are all in contractionary territory, indicating a deteriorating economy. The issue is, that in our globalised economy, such problems leak into other economies, such as China.
The underlying issue in such a situation is the significant risks associated with the traditional financial instruments of the fiat economy. Financial institutions’ liabilities are approaching concerning levels. The problem is that such liabilities are essentially infinite. This is why Bitcoin’s value tends to rise when central banks implement easing measures, as many can see the eventual unwinding of the fiat system. The question is how close are we to this unwinding?