Intelligence Squared

Tuesday, May 22 at 2:00 pm

Bitcoin Is More Than A Bubble And Here To Stay

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:
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 leadership, Overstock.com became first business with more than $1 million in revenue to accept bitcoin as a payment method. Later, using the familiarity gained with the blockchain technology at the heart of digital currencies such as bitcoin, Byrne created Medici Ventures, a subsidiary within Overstock.com devoted to advancing blockchain-based technology solutions. In 2015, he used Medici’s t0.com securities trading platform to become the first person to purchase a digital bond entirely on the bitcoin blockchain.

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" in e-mail to geometrically spread an internet product to its market was instrumental to the successes of Hotmail, Skype, and Yahoo Mail. It has since been adopted as a standard marketing technique by hundreds of businesses. Draper has been recognized as a leader in his field through numerous awards and honors. He has been ranked 46th on the list of the 100 most influential Harvard alumni and 7th on the Forbes Midas List.

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 Wall Street Journal and Slate. He is currently the Kirkland and Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. Posner is the author of several books, including “Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society,” which will be published in May. Posner is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Law Institute.

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 of the financial markets. She is the author of Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe and Saving the Sun: A Wall Street Gamble to Rescue Japan from its Trillion Dollar Meltdown. Her latest book, The Silo Effect, published in 2015, looks at the global economy and financial system through the lens of cultural anthropology. Tett was named Columnist of the Year by the British press in 2014.

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