Senior Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
F R A N Ç O I S   V E L D E
BITCOIN and the Future of Digital Currencies

Tuesday, April 1, 5:30-8:30pm

The Lounge at Iwan Ries, 19 South Wabash

Cocktails at 5:30, presentation 6:00-6:30 followed by discussion and more cocktails.    
$40 includes drinks, two cigars, and sandwiches.   
Reservations are required.


Mt. Gox, until recently the largest Bitcoin exchange, lost half a billion dollars and filed for bankruptcy last month, then found a quarter of the missing coins (and maybe later all of them, if you believe the tweets) in old wallets.  Silk Road, an exchange mostly for buying and selling illegal drugs using bitcoins, with hundreds of millions of dollars a year in trades, was seized by the US government and shut down.  Speculators are buying bitcoins in addition to gold; Argentines are buying bitcoins in addition to dollars.  The value has fluctuated between $1 and $1000 per coin.

Bitcoin is a crypto-currency invented by the (presumably pseudonymous) computer scientist Satashi Nakamoto, and uses open-source software maintained by a collection of core developers unaffiliated with any government or central bank. In November 2013, the market capitalization of Bitcoin exceeded ten billion dollars. 

New York Times on Silk Road
Wall Street Journal on Mt Gox
CNET on Mt. Gox's latest findings
News from the Twitterati

Our speaker, François Velde writes, "Bitcoin (and virtual currencies) have been much in the news lately. What is it exactly, how does it work, and what does it mean? I will try to explain its nature as a purely fiduciary currency (perhaps the purest ever invented), in what ways it is different from anything else, and distinguish the potential outcomes for Bitcoin itself from the broader implications for currencies and payments systems."

In this private event, Dr. Velde will be speaking in a personal capacity and not as a representative of the Chicago Fed or the Federal Reserve System.

Velde photFrançois Velde is a senior economist and research advisor in the economic research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Velde's primary research on monetary history and monetary theory has been published in numerous journals. His research topics include medieval currency debasements, the monetary history of the United States, dollarization in Argentina and the macroeconomics of the French revolution.

In 2002, Velde and Thomas Sargent co-authored the book The Big Problem of Small Change (Princeton University Press), which studies how monetary systems in Western European economies evolved in response to recurring shortages and depreciation of small change.

Prior to joining the Chicago Fed as an economist in 1997, Velde was an assistant professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University. He is currently a visiting lecturer at the University of Chicago.

Velde earned an undergraduate degree at the École Polytechnique in France and a Ph.D. in economics at Stanford University.


About the Cigar Society of Chicago

ONE OF THE OLDEST AND greatest traditions of the city clubs of Chicago is the discussion of intellectual, social, legal, artistic, historical, scientific, musical, theatrical, and philosophical issues in the company of educated, bright, and appropriately provocative individuals, all under the beneficent influence of substantial amounts of tobacco and spirits.  The Cigar Society of Chicago embraces this tradition and extends it with its Informal Smokers, University Series lectures, and Cigar Society Dinners, in which cigars, and from time to time pipes and cigarettes, appear as an important component of our version of the classical symposium.  To be included in the Cigar Society's mailing list, write to the Secretary at