Earthquake Reality and the Importance of Cryptocurrencies…

Young folks don’t remember this but I do remember it as if it were yesterday. In 1999, ten thousands of people had been killed in two powerful earthquakes in the Sea of Marmara and in the country of Kaynaşlı, causing huge financial losses, besides countless deaths. More than 10% of GDP had been lost. Businesses across Kocaeli and Sakarya hadn’t been able to cover their losses and gather their strength back for a very long time.

But, the things I witnessed during the search and rescue operations, I still remember them as if they happened only yesterday. Every person rescued from the wreckage had first wanted to find out whether their family was alive, and they hadn’t want to leave their position even though they were injured, saying their savings were buried under the wreckage. Rescue teams hadn’t been able to persuade the earthquake victims to get out of the wreckage no matter how hard they tried. Apparently, some people who seemed like they were trying to help the injured had in fact come for pillage and plunder. The lack of confidence in TRY then, visible signs of the approaching crisis, and political instability, they had all led people to keep their savings at their homes. A large portion of these secret savings that we call “under the mattress” had been buried beneath the ground during the 1999 quakes. That period of time was a shocking memory for me because my friend with whom I was visiting the quake-stricken areas had lost his parents in this deadly cataclysm.

Eventually, a new election took place following the bitter-sweet incidents in the period of 1999-2001 and everybody in Turkey entered a deep sleep stage during the period of 2002-2013. The earthquake reality was forgotten along with Turkey’s economic fragility. Despite the fact that Turkey was struck by more quakes during that period, large shopping malls were built on the designated evacuation areas and assembly points in major cities. Meanwhile, we thought we were getting better at certain parameters such as democracy, diplomacy, current account deficit, budget deficit, inflation, production that we have previously failed to manage properly. And for the last 4 years, we have had a run of bad luck. First hit by a nefarious coup attempt which was followed by deteriorating relations between neighbouring countries and the world, sharp rises in exchange rates, economic shrinkage and worsening public finance, Turkey is now being struck by quakes.

I sadly didn’t have chance to visit the quake-stricken areas in Elazığ and Malatya but my friends there tell me that nothing has changed for the better. The same scenario repeats itself: Amidst all the chaos, people rescued from the wreckage are asking for their families and their savings buried beneath the soil…

The recent quakes in Elazığ and Malatya have once again showed us that how dangerous it is to keep savings at homes. Especially, people who do not trust in banks, as a matter of principle or faith, do this all the time. And the fact that the Government keeps issuing stricter regulations about people’s preferences and styles in saving and investment behaviour has pushed people to keep more of their money at home.

As you can see, another reason why cryptocurrencies were invented is to prevent people from being dependent on papr money which safety cannot be guaranteed when it’s kept at home or in our pockets. If these earthquake victims only knew that an authentic and autonomous store of value existed and no one could touch their savings when stored as a cryptocurrency, it would be easier for them to overcome the a serious post-earthquake complications and traumas. “A man’s life revolves around his possessions” they say. Once your life is saved, the first thing you think about would be your money.

Though a bit late, it’s time to explain the importance of cryptocurrencies as a reliable store of value as well, besides being a unit of account, and a medium of exchange.

If humans’ “opportunism” could be defeated by “wisdom”, maybe we wouldn’t be able to prevent the next big deadly earthquake in Istanbul, but maybe we could have prevent people’s money from being lost.