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College of Business and Economics News

Nearly 600 Gathered to Hear Economist William Luther Speak on “Is Bitcoin a Bubble?”

William Luther speaking at Boise StateThe 13th annual Brandt Foundation Lecture was held Monday evening, November 12 in the Jordan Ballroom of the SUB. Nearly 600 students and community members gathered to hear economist William Luther from Florida Atlantic University speak on “Is Bitcoin a Bubble?” Among the students were guests from Northwest Nazarene University and concurrent enrollment high school students from Bishop Kelly and Renaissance.

The lecture was preceded by a reception for VIP guests of COBE and the Brandt Foundation in the Lookout Room of the SUB, hosted by Dean Mark Bannister, friends of Boise State Kenny and Suz Bolton, Allen Dalton, Sandy Dalton, and Debbie Riedel, along with representatives from the Brandt Foundation, Bob Rathbone and Don Anderson.

Luther’s talk highlighted how Bitcoin is built upon the Blockchain public ledger that relies on verification by members of a distributed network. He noted that since Bitcoin is neither backed by a government requiring it to be used for legal tender nor redeemable into a useful commodity (such as gold or silver), Bitcoin’s value derives solely from its expected usefulness as a medium of exchange with other potential users. The greater the number of users (people in the Bitcoin network) the more likely it will be accepted in exchange, and the fewer users the less likely it will be accepted in exchange. Two problems exist for the widespread adoption of Bitcoin as a major currency. First, the distributed network nature of Bitcoin means only 3 – 7 transactions can be completed per second. In contrast, Visa handles an average of 1667 transactions per second. Second, existing government policies around the world, or changes in those policies, influence the number of users and Bitcoin’s value. In Bangladesh, for example, use of Bitcoin carries a penalty of 12 years in prison, effectively outlawing Bitcoin as a medium of exchange and reducing the size of the network. Threats by Russia to bar Bitcoin have reduced its potential network size, and reduce its value. On the other hand, Venezuela’s hyper-inflation increased the use of Bitcoin by Venezuelans and increased its value.

Find additional information on Bitcoin on William Luther’s website.

The Brandt Lecture is produced and coordinated by Allen Dalton, an adjunct instructor in the Department of Economics.

The Brandt Lecture is funded by the Brandt Foundation. John Brandt and his wife Orah were community leaders in Nampa throughout their lives, actively supporting private and public education and other community endeavors with both financial contributions and commitment of their time. Both John and Orah had an abiding belief in the value and virtue of free enterprise, and they established the John H. and Orah I. Brandt Foundation to support those values in perpetuity.

For additional information on the Brandt Lecture series and previous speakers, visit https://www.boisestate.edu/brandtfoundation/

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