One year into Pierre Poilievre’s experiment with digital cryptocurrency, the results remain dismal.
Back in March 2022, Poilievre bought a shawarma with bitcoin and announced that, “Competition can give Canadians better money… it can also let Canadians opt-out of inflation with the ability to opt-in to crypto currencies.”
In April 2023, the number of bitcoins needed to pay for shawarmas, groceries, fuel, shelter and all the other living expenses in Statistics Canada’s average family budget was 40.8 per cent higher than one year earlier.For those still using Canadian dollars, a currency disparaged by Poilievre as “inferior,” Statistics Canada reported that the annual inflation rate was 4.4 per cent.
While that number remains above the one to three per cent target range agreed upon by the Bank of Canada governor and minister of finance, the latest reading is down from the recent peak of 8.1 per cent in June 2022.Firing Bank Governor Tiff Macklem for missing his assigned target is high on Poilievre’s to-do list as Prime Minister.along with redesigning the target measure to ensure better coverage of “asset price inflation” – presumably housing.
A dedicated Poilievre follower could have tried to opt out of inflation in Canadian dollars by paying all expenses with a bitcoin-linked credit card.Not only did prices measured in bitcoins rise almost 10 times faster than prices in Canadian dollars over the past year, but those paying with bitcoins suffered through many terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days along the way.
The market value of cryptocurrency is subject to sharp changes from one day to the next.On days when bitcoin’s value falls dramatically in Canadian dollars, the number of bitcoins needed to cover daily living costs jumps.
There were 17 days over the past year when the inflation rate for bitcoin users on that day alone was higher than the 4.4 per cent inflation rate for Canadian dollar users over the entire year.For example, bitcoin’s value in Canadian dollars dropped by 16.7 per cent on June 14 last year.“Opt-outers” paying with bitcoins experienced higher inflation in one day on June 14, 2022, than in any year in Canadian history except 1920.
Of course, on days when bitcoin’s value rises in Canadian dollars, the number of bitcoins needed to cover daily living costs falls.
For example, on February 12 of this year, bitcoin owners enjoyed a 12.2 per cent gain in the value of their crypto holdings.This meant a commensurate drop in prices measured in bitcoins – in other words, rapid price deflation in a single day.
Over the entire year through April 2023, steep falls in bitcoin’s daily valuations outweighed increases.The result was a 40.8 per cent annual inflation rate for those who tried to opt out of inflation with bitcoin.Managing a household budget would have been challenging for any family inspired by Poilievre to venture down this path.
After Poilievre’s bitcoin blunder, I would not turn to this man for personal financial planning advice.Nor would I vote to give Poilievre the power to pick the next Bank of Canada Governor or redesign the inflation target.
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