Why This Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Thinks Bitcoin Should Be “Outlawed"

Economist Joseph Stiglitz explains why surging cryptocurrency bitcoin should be banned.


As the cryptocurrency Bitcoin reached new heights in market trading, surpassing for the first time ever the price of $11,000 per bitcoin, some are not quite as bullish on its prospects and question its very nature. In an interview with Bloomberg television, Nobel-Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said that bitcoin creates no value for society and only works by getting around the role of the government in controlling currency and as such should be outlawed. 

Stiglitz, who teaches at Columbia University, is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank. He shared the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 for creating models that analyze “markets with asymmetric information.”

In an interview with Francine Lacqua and Tom Keene, Stiglitz expressed his view that bitcoin is only so successful because it gives its owners the "potential for circumvention, lack of oversight" with respect to the government, whose function it is to create and manage currency.  

"So it seems to me it [bitcoin] ought to be outlawed,” Stiglitz said. “It doesn’t serve any socially useful function.”

Bitcoin surged more than 12 times its value during 2017, thrilling some but also causing warnings of a bubble that will surely burst. Stiglitz thinks people will ride it as long as they can.

“It’s a bubble that’s going to give a lot of people a lot of exciting times as it rides up and then goes down,” Stiglitz said.

Here’s the excerpt from the interview where Stiglitz discussed bitcoin:

The economist added that while he's sceptical of bitcoin, he would like to see the move away "from paper" referring to paper currency, and into "the 21st century of the digital economy".

Here's more on how Bitcoin works:

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

Sponsored
  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.