Two Economists. Two Views on Bitcoin’s Ability to Disrupt Fiat Money

“Half of the audience here is like, ‘I hope you die in a fire.’”

As a libertarian, comedian and podcast host Dave Smith has a lot of common ground with bitcoin enthusiasts, who have a reputation for having a libertarian bent. But when he and others argue that bitcoin isn’t going to replace government-issued currencies, Smith argues (jokingly, of course) that this is the response he gets.

Smith’s opening Soho Forum, a monthly debate in south Manhattan, attracting a group of mostly libertarians, or people that believe less government input in people’s lives would improve the world’s standard of living.

Monday’s topic is whether bitcoin is “suited” to help with that, by taking on central banks, the powerful entities across the world that control national money supplies, for better or worse. Judging by the fact that it’s a libertarian debate, most in the crowd were agreement on the point that the role of central banks should be audited or diminished, if not eliminated altogether.

Bitcoin takes control over the creation of money from any one entity, including governments. It sounds like a libertarian fantasy. Yet, many libertarians seem pretty skeptical it will actually pan out as a currency that will replace government currencies.

The precise wording of the resolution up to debate was: “Bitcoin is poorly suited to the purpose of becoming any nation’s main medium of exchange,” or an object that can be transferred for goods. Think the dollar.

With economist George Selgin arguing in favor of this resolution, while “The Bitcoin Standard” author and economist Saifedean Ammous argued against.

Selgin likes the goals of bitcoin. introducing more currency competition where governments currently have sole power. In fact, he’s the director of a research wing of the Cato Institute exploring alternatives to central banks.

But bitcoin, he argued, “isn’t up to the task.”

Ordinary people

“The first question about money is,…

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