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Bitcoin Is More Than a Bubble and Here to Stay

The BriefGet Up To Speed

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 Adam Smith Society's 2018 National Meeting.


“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.”

Thursday, February 1, 2018
Klint Finley

“A Bitcoin is a digital token — with no physical backing — that can be sent electronically from one user to another, anywhere in the world.”

Sunday, October 1, 2017
Nathaniel Popper

A detailed summary of the pros and cons of bitcoin.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Edited by Timothy B. Lee
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Satoshi Nakamoto

“A new crypto-currency is born almost daily, often through an ‘initial coin offering’ (ICO), a form of online crowdfunding.”

Thursday, January 18, 2018
The Economist

“From Bitcoin to Litecoin to Ethereum, we explain how cryptocurrency transactions work.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2018
The New York Times
For The Motion

“To the people who say bitcoin's a bubble, I would say bitcoin is the pin that's going to pop the bubble. The bubble is the insane bond markets and the fake equity markets that are propped up by the central banks. Those are the bubbles."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Oscar Williams-Grut

“Bitcoin remains in wide use for drugs and other illegal goods, but the shadowy markets that made it famous, and infamous, are turning on it.”

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Annie Lowrey

“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.”

Monday, December 18, 2017
Tim Wu

“‘Tulips’, ‘Ponzi scheme’, ‘fraud’, ‘only used by criminals and drug dealers’ have been some of the descriptions of Bitcoin.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Financial Review

“Blockchain made me feel good, but there was something missing. There was something hollow about blockchain without Bitcoin.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Brian Kelly

“Bitcoin and other digital currencies like litecoin and dogecoin provide a way of inexpensively moving money across borders, an important alternative to a mainstay like Western Union.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Cade Metz
Against The Motion

“Bitcoin is a liability of nobody. This is its fatal flaw as a currency. There's nothing to stop its value from falling to zero.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

“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.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Christopher Whalen

“When a group that says it provides financial assistance ‘relating to the jihad’ sought to improve conditions for fighters in a squalid, sandbag-fortified trench in Syria late last year, it turned to a new funding conduit: bitcoin.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Brett Forrest and Justin Scheck

“The intersection of the dark web and Bitcoin, popularized by organized crime, perhaps poses the most significant threat. Much like organised criminals, terrorist organisations could use Bitcoin to purchase a range of weaponry, including firearms or bomb-making materials, or even false passports on the dark web.”

Monday, January 22, 2018
Antonia Ward

“Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University, said bitcoin was ‘the mother of all bubbles’ favoured by ‘charlatans and swindlers.’”

Friday, February 2, 2018
Angela Monaghan

“It is inconceivable that the government would simply accept enormous revenue losses from a larger underground economy and from tax dodges on trading profits.”

Monday, January 22, 2018
Richard Holden and Anup Malani

“Without a doubt, 2018 will be a landmark year for Internal Revenue Service enforcement of cryptocurrency gains.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Vincenzo Villamena
Mining Coins

“Even as bitcoin prices have tumbled about 40% from a December peak, the amount of computing effort expended by miners, also known as the hash rate, has continued climbing.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Stephanie Yang

“Creating a new Bitcoin requires electricity. A lot of it.”

Sunday, January 21, 2018
Nathaniel Popper
Blockchain Technology

“Yes, it’s driven by greed — but the mania for cryptocurrency could wind up building something much more important than wealth.”

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Steven Johnson

“Blockchain is a stripped-down payments system. It consists of a distributed ledger and peer-to-peer messaging.”

Monday, June 13, 2016
Frances Coppola
Bitcoin Around The World

Graphics and charts outline where bitcoin is tightly regulated.

Friday, March 2, 2018

“Germany and France said this month that new opportunities arise from cryptocurrencies, but they could pose substantial risks for investors and be vulnerable to financial crime without safeguards.”

Monday, February 26, 2018
Samuel Gibbs

“Critics predict that the petro could become what’s known in the trade as a shitcoin – digital currencies that become worthless over time or are considered scams.”

Monday, February 19, 2018
John Otis

“China will reportedly block anyone in the country from accessing websites that offer cryptocurrency trading services or initial coin offerings (ICOs).”

Sunday, February 25, 2018
David Meyer

For Russia, “mining bitcoin could be ‘10 times more lucrative than pumping oil.’”

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
David Gilbert

“Why is Iceland so popular? The answer is simple: location, location and volcanoes. Volcanoes provide Iceland with a cheap and abundant form of renewable energy.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

“Tokyo may have lost its status as Asia’s financial hub, but it appears regulatory framework is being built so as to not lose its place in the cryptocurrency space.”

Thursday, November 2, 2017
Ken Yagami