Bitcoin vs. Real Estate: Which Is The Better Store Of Value In Times Of Conflict ?

Introduction

We live in a highly digitalized world, but most of humanity still uses physical goods to store value. The most used store of value in the world is real estate. It is estimated that approximately 67% of global wealth is held in property. Recently, however, macroeconomic and geopolitical headwinds have highlighted the weaknesses of real estate as a physical store of value. What to do if a war breaks out? What happens if a home that was used as a store of value is destroyed?

In German, real estate translates to “Immobilie,” which literally means “to be immobile.” Owning real estate creates a local dependency that can pose a problem in a world of ever-increasing conflict and radicalization. In the event of war, you cannot take real estate with you and it can be easily destroyed.

This may sound like a dystopia, but I believe that if you are serious about long-term wealth management, you should consider the worst-case scenario and the possible global impact.

War And Destruction Of Wealth

Since the beginning of the 21st century, war has never cost humanity so much. Over 238,000 people were killed in conflict last year. Syria, Sudan, Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon – the global sources of conflict are increasing. Some of these areas have already suffered massive destruction. There are no more properties there and the value stored in them has literally evaporated. It's hard to imagine the financial setbacks people have had to endure, apart from the suffering and grief that war brings.

Syria 2017 © Eddy Van Wessel

Real estate is used as a store of value around the world, although there are some exceptions, such as Japan. With the threat of destruction increasing, the fruits of the labour of millions, possibly billions, of people are at stake. Alongside inflation and taxation, physical wealth destruction has historically been one of the greatest threats to overall prosperity. Already in ancient times, armies ruthlessly plundered cities and destroyed the residents' belongings.

Physical vs. Digital Store Of Value

Fortunately, with Bitcoin there is a solution to the threat of destruction of wealth stored in physical assets. As a digital, near-perfect mobile store of value, it is difficult to destroy and easy to move.

The introduction of Bitcoin in 2009 challenged the role of real estate as humanity's preferred store of value, as it represents a better alternative that allows people worldwide to protect their wealth with relative ease.

You can buy very small denominations of bitcoin, the smallest being 1 satoshi (1/100,000,000 of a bitcoin) for as little as ≈ $ 0.0002616 (on 2/12/2024). All you need to store it safely is a basic computer without internet access and a BIP39 Key generator — or just buy a hardware wallet for $50. In case you need to relocate, you can memorise 12 words, the backup (seed phrase) for your wallet, and “take” your bitcoin with you

Digitalization

Digitization optimises almost all value-preserving functions. Bitcoin is rarer, more accessible, cheaper to maintain, more liquid and most importantly, it allows you to move your wealth in times of crisis.

Bitcoin is wealth that truly belongs to you. With the threat of war looming around the world, I believe it is better to hold wealth in a digital asset like bitcoin than in physical assets like real estate, gold or art, which can easily be taxed, destroyed or confiscated.

Property Confiscation

If we look at history, it is clear that physical stores of value have left people vulnerable to government overreach. A historical example is the expropriation of Jews in Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, these repressions were not an isolated case in history. It happens all the time. Many lost their property in Cuba when Fidel Castro took over, as Michael Saylor likes to point out.

These painful history lessons underscore the significance of safeguarding wealth in a digital asset such as bitcoin, which proves challenging to confiscate, tax or destroy and easy to move.

The Socialist Revolutionary Leader Fidel Castro (Source).

Macroeconomic Changes

Additionally, shifts in the macroeconomic landscape can swiftly devalue real estate. Typically, real estate is purchased through a loan. Therefore, elevated interest rates translate to diminished affordability for financing, resulting in a decreased demand and subsequently lowering property prices. We can see this scenario playing out globally right now, the conjunction of increased interest rates and reduced demand is contributing to the decline in property values around the globe.

Bitcoin vs. Real Estate

​​Bitcoin is less affected by the problems of the traditional fiat financial system than real estate. Since it operates independently of the system. Variables such as interest rates, central bank decisions, and arbitrary governmental actions have limited influence on bitcoin. The price is predominantly determined by its supply, issuance schedule and adoption rate.

Bitcoin follows a disinflationary model that implies a gradual reduction in its supply over time until a hard limit is reached in 2140. Approximately every four years, the bitcoin awarded to miners for successfully ordering transactions (every 10 minutes) are halved.

The upcoming halving, set for Friday, April 19, 2024, is expected to halve the block reward from 6.25 bitcoin to 3.125, which translates to a daily issuance of 450 bitcoin instead of 900.

Currently, bitcoin has an annual inflation rate of around 1.8%, which is expected to drop to 0.9% after the upcoming halving. After that, the inflation rate will be almost negligible. In addition, a large number of bitcoin were lost and we can expect that many will be lost in the future. The continuous decline in finite supply increases the deflationary pressure of the Bitcoin network. As more and more people (and machines) are using bitcoin, increasing demand is countered by decreasing supply.

This extremely strong deflationary movement cannot be observed in real estate. Although real estate is also scarce due to the limited supply of building land, there is no hard cap. New building land can be developed and zoning laws can, for example, enable the construction of higher floors.

Absolute Scarcity

For most, it is difficult to imagine the impact of a fixed supply on the price of an asset. Prior to Bitcoin, there was no concept of an inherently scarce commodity. Even gold possesses an elastic supply. Increased demand prompts more intensive mining efforts, a flexibility not applicable to bitcoin.

Consequently, with each halving event, signifying a reduction in supply, the price of bitcoin ascends and continues to do so perpetually. This permanent increase persists as long as there is a corresponding demand, a likelihood attributed to bitcoin's exceptional monetary properties.

This dynamic is expected to continue even in the midst of a global economic crisis. The supply of bitcoin will continue to decrease and the price will most likely continue to rise. Due to the expected continued demand in times of crisis, as explained. Even inflation can have a positive impact on the price of bitcoin as it leads to increased availability of fiat currencies that can be invested in Bitcoin.

Conclusion

In a world marked by growing radicalization and a financial system undergoing a profound crisis, bitcoin emerges as a superior choice for storing value, especially during periods of macroeconomic fluctuations. The significance of bitcoin is anticipated to rise during these turbulent times, potentially overtaking real estate as humanity's preferred store of value in the distant future.

The aspiration is that an increasing number of individuals will recognize the advantages of Bitcoin, not only for wealth preservation but, in extreme circumstances, for securing their livelihood.

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This is a guest post by Leon Wankum. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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