The Bitcoin Revolution
The exponential growth of US markets in the lead-up to the 2008 economic meltdown captivated economists around the world. China's Central Bank even dispatched a team of experts to the US, hoping to master the trade that supposedly offered massive profits and carried zero risk.
But the report that the team sent back to Beijing was unusually brief. It described the sale of subprime mortgage bonds as a practice involving "one candle and a million mirrors".
Chinese experts concluded that the reflection of the flame was undoubtedly bright, so long as the candle remains lit.
The ten long years of economic hardship that followed certainly proved the Chinese theory right.
And in the chaos that ensued after the US-manufactured crisis gripped much of the global economy, some of the world's sharper minds began exploring alternatives to the current financial system.
One of the things they came up with is crypto currency.
The birth of Bitcoin
Crypto currency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions.
By the end of 2017, there were over one thousand different crypto currencies in circulation. But the vast majority are very similar to, or directly derive from the first successfully implemented model - Bitcoin.
Likely invented by a group of individuals using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin was released as the first decentralized worldwide payment system in 2009 - without a central bank or a single administrator overseeing its transactions.
This entirely digital, heavily encrypted virtual currency has no middlemen like banks, and no transaction or credit card fees for small businesses.
Last year alone, bitcoin rose by more than 900% in value. In December, it was worth USD 16,000 per unit.
Just over five years earlier, a developer named Laszlo Hanyecz made the first bitcoin transaction, using 10,000 coins to buy a couple of pizzas. At the time, one bitcoin was worth a measly USD 0.08.
Interestingly, the value of bitcoin began to soar just after April 2013, when Cypriot banks confiscated Russian deposits under the pretext of the claim that the assets belonged to the Russian mafia. The move was part of a €10 billion bailout deal with the European Union.
Since then, many investors have turned to bitcoin. During last year's Thanksgiving weekend in the US, the number of users on the electronic bitcoin stock market exceeded 13,3 million.
And after accumulating hundreds of millions of dollars in investment capital, bitcoin has been equipped with the latest technology needed for ‘mining' - the process that creates the virtual coins.
According to unofficial sources, the largest concentration of this equipment - or mining ‘nests' - is located in China and Russia.
All of these advances are creating realistic conditions for the crypto currency to take over global monetary transactions, undermining the monopoly of the existing banking system.
Bitcoin vs. the US Dollar
If one is to use the US Dollar as a tool for measuring the financial value of any item, it is important to keep in mind that the American currency is constantly being printed at the behest of a consortium of private banks, operating under the umbrella of the US Federal Reserve.
Their relentless thirst for more, combined with American government expenses, quite literally leads to the production of a colossal sum of money each year.
As a result, the US dollar has lost no less than 97% of its purchasing power. In practical terms, an item that cost USD 1 in 1913 is now priced at USD 24. As such, it is difficult to see how the American currency can maintain its international standing in the long run.
On the other hand, crypto currency, unlike government-issued money that can be inflated at will, is mathematically limited to twenty-one million bitcoins, a number that is set and can never change.
This limited availability has only added to the existing demand. And as crypto currency quickly gains the reputation of a highly profitable investment, a growing number of people are looking to convert their dollars into bitcoin.
In one of the few quotes attributed to Satoshi Nakamoto, the mastermind or masterminds behind the bitcoin phenomenon, western governments are accused of falsifying the value of national currencies, while the banking system is blasted for handing out loans without having the minimal capital required to cover those credits.
It is clear that the emergence of crypto currency is essentially a revolt against the unjust monetary system, with the US dollar at the helm.
Every revolt is significant, no matter how small, and for the big bankers - or ‘banksters' - it can be especially dangerous.
The advanced technology used by bitcoin is one of its key assets, opening up a world of possibilities.
That said, it is impossible to predict just how effective this revolt is likely to be, especially in the short to medium term.
Those who feel threatened by bitcoin are extremely powerful, highly intelligent individuals that consider themselves the masters of the universe.
These individuals plan to confront bitcoin in many ways, and have already started weaving a dangerous net that may prove fatal to the crypto currency.
The Chief Executive Officer at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Jamie Dimon, told an investor conference in New York that he would fire any employee trading bitcoin for being "stupid".
"I'd fire them in a second. For two reasons: It's against our rules, and they're stupid. And both are dangerous," he said in September of last year.
Meanwhile, banks on Wall Street have all started creating their own crypto currencies, modeled on bitcoin and designed to counter it.
One of these is Ripple XRP. This crypto competitor recorded a whopping 36,018 percent growth in 2017, compared to bitcoin's 1,318 percent.
But despite the epic growth, the banks and other financial institutions still have some catching up to do. By January 2018, Ripple XRP was still trading at USD 2.89, whereas bitcoin is currently trading at just over USD 13,000.
An optimist might say that the night is darkest just before the dawn. The USD-dominated financial system is that darkness, and bitcoin or some other form of crypto currency is the dawn of a new day.