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
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.
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 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
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