William J. Luther


William J. Luther



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William J. Luther is an assistant professor of economics at Kenyon College, an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute's Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, and a fellow with the Atlas Network's Sound Money Project. He is currently ranked 48th on the Social Science Research Network’s Top 8,000 Economics Authors.

Luther’s research focuses primarily on questions of currency acceptance. He has published articles in leading scholarly journals, including Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Economic Inquiry, Public Choice, and Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance. His popular works have appeared in The Economist, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report.

An internationally renowned expert on cryptocurrencies, Luther has been cited by major media outlets, including NPR, VICE News, Al Jazeera, The Christian Science Monitor, and New Scientist.

Luther earned his MA and PhD in Economics at George Mason University and his BA in Economics at Capital University.
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    “I am a blockchain optimist. It is a cheaper way to process transactions,” said Luther.
    Robert McGarvey. “Is It Time to Declare Bitcoin the Cryptocurrency Winner?” Money’s Edge, Aug. 11, 2015.
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    “Venture capitalists are (funding) businesses to work with bitcoin as opposed to holding bitcoin as an asset,” said William Luther, an assistant professor of economics at Kenyon College and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. “That’s necessarily a long-term decision — they think that bitcoin is going to be a serious competitor in payments markets.”
    Greta Kaul. “Bitcoin Sees Biggest-yet Investment Despite Price Drop.” SFGate, Jan. 20, 2015.
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    “Competition in currency is a good thing. Governments traditionally frown on that sort of competition, and we’ve gotten relatively poor currencies as a result,” Luther says. Creating a currency that challenges existing forms of payment in the long run could produce a form of money worthy of rivaling government-backed currencies.
    Ruth Reader. “Russia’s Currency Needs Help, But Don’t Count on Bitcoin.” VentureBeat, Dec. 18, 2014.
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    William Luther, an economist at Kenyon College in Ohio, adds that the project may struggle to triumph over the limited opportunities to spend bitcoins and societal pressure to use more common currency. "It's not a slam dunk. You can give a student $100 worth of Bitcoin, but you can't make them use it," he says.
    Aviva Rutkin. “Free bitcoin for students: how will they spend it?” New Scientist, Nov. 29 2014.
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    “Simply put: network effects favor the status quo. … Bitcoin may fail to gain widespread acceptance even if it were superior to existing monies,” warned Luther and Olson.
    Vincent Ryan. “In Bitcoin We Don’t Trust.” CFO, April 24, 2014.
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    Luther, the economics professor, calls himself a "Bitcoin skeptic" — he's not convinced it will last — but he says questions like these are worth the ride.

    ”Bitcoin has brought the question of alternative currencies back to the table, and I think that's a good thing," he says. "Money is a very old concept, and it's difficult for me to think that there's not a better way to make transactions."
    Emily Siner. “If You've Ignored Bitcoin Up Until Now, This One's For You.” All Tech Considered, National Public Radio, Feb. 26, 2014.
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    “The fact that major governments are merely talking about Bitcoin rather than outright banning it could be seen as an implicit endorsement of its right to exist,” he says, noting that while the Chinese government did ban its national institutions from using it, the ban does not extend to individuals.
    Gloria Goodale. “Bitcoin Bashed in China and France: What That Means for the Crypto-currency.” The Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 5, 2013.
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    "If anything, the optimal block size debate at the moment demonstrates how well the Bitcoin community functions, and how intent the major players like Andresen and Hearn are to promote a truly decentralized payment system," William J. Luther, an economics professor at Kenyon College and an adjunct at the libertarian think-tank the Cato Institute, told VICE News.
    Colleen Curry. “Bitcoin Community in Disarray After New Software Introduced.” VICE News, Aug. 20, 2015.
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    “The U.S. government should find it awkward to regulate bitcoin on the grounds that it facilitates illegal transactions,” opines William J. Luther, Assistant Professor of Economics at Kenyon College and an adjunct scholar at the Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives at the Cato Institute […] “Its own currency — and the $100 bill in particular — has done so for years.”
    Jason Bloomberg. “Bitcoin: ‘Blood Diamonds’ of the Digital Era.” Forbes, March 28, 2017.
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    "Whereas the government of Venezuela has failed to manage the supply of bolivars in a reasonable manner, bitcoin's supply is pre-programmed to grow at a steady, predictable rate. Whereas the Venezuelan government can demonetise physical notes and confiscate digital balances, bitcoin balances are secured by encryption. And whereas the oppressive regime can track an individual's digital balance of bolivars from one bank to another, bitcoin's blockchain only reveals a string of characters, not the user's identity."
    Marcello Rossi. “Why Some Venezuelans Have Turned to Bitcoin Mining.” Al Jazeera, April 20, 2017.


Aug. 11-12

Applied Research in the PPE Framework

Mercatus Center

Arlington, VA

Oct. 5

“Will Bitcoin Survive?”

Creighton University

Omaha, NE

Oct. 6

“Getting Off the Ground: The Case of Bitcoin”

Creighton University

Omaha, NE

Oct. 13-15

Cryptocurrencies and the Future of Money

Liberty Fund

Indianapolis, IN

Nov. 16

35th Annual Monetary Conference

Cato Institute

Washington, DC

Nov. 17-19

“Cash, Crime, and Cryptocurrencies”

Southern Economic Association

Tampa, FL

Nov. 30-Dec. 3

Liberty and the War on Cash

Liberty Fund

San Antonio, TX

April 1-4

“Regulatory Ambiguity in the Market for Bitcoin”

Association of Private Enterprise Education

Las Vegas, NV

Aug. 10-11

Applied Topics in Policy

Mercatus Center

Arlington, VA