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Bitcoin Is More Than a Bubble and Here to Stay

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  • Debating Decentralization

    Would freeing currency from central banks actually yield positive results for consumers? Patrick Byrne and Eric Posner debate.

  • In Case of Emergency, Use Bitcoin?

    Patrick Byrne argues that Bitcoin could be a much-needed alternative currency when states or their economies collapse. Gillian Tett rebuts, saying a warzone is no place for computer-based money.

  • The Role of Regulators

    Would Bitcoin regulations alleviate risk or stifle innovation?

  • Will the King of Cryptocurrency be Dethroned?

    Given the rise of other coins, like Ethereum and Dash, can Bitcoin retain its current status in the cryptocurrency space?

  • Farewell, Fiat?

    Will Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies like it completely replace fiat currency in the future? Tim Draper and Gillian Tett debate.

Debate Details

Is Bitcoin here to stay, or is it a bubble waiting to pop? Less than a decade old, Bitcoin is worth billions. The cryptocurrency promises to revolutionize global finance by placing control of currency in the hands of users, not nations, and make financial exchanges more transparent, efficient, and democratic. And it seems to be taking hold: Earlier this year both the Cboe and CME debuted Bitcoin futures. But is Bitcoin really a safe bet? Proponents say the hype around the cryptocurrency is warranted, and previous critics – including executives at JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs – are increasingly jumping on the Bitcoin (block)train. On the other hand, skeptics suggest this highly volatile digital currency offers a platform for illicit activity, including money laundering and trafficking of humans and drugs, free from government oversight and regulation. And, they argue, Bitcoin has no intrinsic value – the price is based on market enthusiasm rather than actual utility. This debate is presented in partnership with the Adam Smith Society. The Adam Smith Society — a project of the Manhattan Institute — is an expansive, chapter-based network of MBA students, professionals, and business leaders who work to foster debate about the moral, social, and economic benefits of capitalism.

The Debaters

For the motion

Patrick Byrne

Patrick Byrne

Founder, Overstock.com & CEO, tZero

Patrick Byrne is CEO and co-founder of the internet retail company Overstock.com and is CEO of tZero, an ICO training platform he founded. Under his... Read More

Tim Draper

Tim Draper

Venture Capitalist & Founder, Draper Associates & DFJ

Tim Draper is a venture capital investor and founder of Draper Associates and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. His original suggestion to use "viral marketing"... Read More

Against the motion

Eric Posner

Eric Posner

Law Professor, University of Chicago

Eric Posner is a legal scholar and frequent media commentator, having written op-eds and columns for a number of national publications including the... Read More

Gillian Tett

Gillian Tett

U.S. Managing Editor, Financial Times

Gillian Tett is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, and the U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times, where she oversees global coverage... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Bitcoin is going mainstream. The Cboe and CME recently debuted Bitcoin futures, and Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs has announced plans to launch a desk to trade bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

  • By placing control in the hands of users – not nations – Bitcoin promises to revolutionize global finance. This decentralized currency is free from government oversight, and thus not liable to the types of political and corporate corruption rampant in traditional fiat currencies.

  • Bitcoin is a force for good. The currency without a nation allows users to send money to friends and family across international borders instantly without paying high fees, which directly advantages low-income immigrants.

  • For those living in unstable and unpredictable economies, including Venezuela and Argentina, investing in bitcoin offers an unprecedented opportunity to safeguard assets against rampant inflation, regulatory uncertainty, and political unrest.

     

Against The Motion
  • Bitcoin is a bubble. The cryptocurrency is extremely volatile and, though its creator set limits on its manufacturing, others could easily create bitcoin substitutes that drive down its value and render the cryptocurrency obsolete.

  • The American dollar is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. By comparison, bitcoin was created by a man who can’t be identified and is monitored by a network of users who remain anonymous. Consumers are unlikely to adopt the cryptocurrency in the numbers necessary for it to truly challenge fiat currencies in the global market.

  • Bitcoin serves as a conduit to crime. Free from government oversight, bitcoin has been used to slight international sanctions and move funds to criminal groups including terrorists, drug dealers, and human traffickers.

  • Trust in bitcoin’s benevolence is misguided. Unlike central governments and established global institutions, bitcoin creators and users face few consequences should they choose to destroy or devalue the cryptocurrency for personal gain.

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The Research

The Research

The Wired Guide to Bitcoin

Klint Finley
February 1, 2018

“Bitcoin has come an enormous way since its origins as a paper by a pseudonymous author. But it still has a long way to go to fulfill its creator’s dream.”

The Bitcoin Boom: In Code We Trust

Tim Wu
December 18, 2017

“Bitcoin’s fans don’t entirely distrust human institutions. It is rather that they’d prefer not to need to trust humans to keep their promises, when we know that we humans are deeply fallible.”

Bitcoin: The Most Impressive Speculative Bubble In Modern History

Christopher Whalen
December 19, 2017

“Stripped down to its basic elements, bitcoin is a classical fraud, a form of high-tech gaming that has captured the imagination of millions of greedy and gullible people around the globe.”

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