Every year top names from industry, finance, academia and media gather in some of the world’s most beautiful locales to discuss world events. Since the meeting keeps its discussions private, individuals have concluded that the meeting is geared towards power consolidation on the planetary scale. Others defend Bilderberg as a mere confab of individuals who discuss the role they can play in making the world a more peaceful place. The key topics for discussion this year include:
• Is the economic recovery sustainable?
• Who will pay for the demographics?
• Does privacy exist?
• How special is the relationship in intelligence sharing?
• Big shifts in technology and jobs
• The future of democracy and the middle class trap
• China’s political and economic outlook
• The new architecture of the Middle East
• What next for Europe?
• Current events
As you can see, “big shifts in technology and jobs” lies smack dab in the middle of the list. This part of the meeting might focus on the peer-to-peer revolution that is revolutionizing the way people get around, lend and transact.
Many of this year’s attendees have commented publicly on bitcoin. Below is a list of those individuals and their comments.
USA Thiel, Peter A. President, Thiel Capital
Peter Thiel has been at the forefront of technology for a long time, as an early investor in Facebook and PayPal. In attendance at Bilderberg once again this year, Thiel represents a divisive figure, but perhaps never so divisive as now, especially with his founding of Palantir Technologies. About one year ago, Thiel’s Founder’s Fund led a capital raise of $2 million into BitPay.
Thiel is extremely confident in bitcoin’s potential. As he spoke at the Thiel Foundation Under 20 Summit last November, he said that in 1999 he commented on the end of monetary sovereignty and how encrypted money was going to “change the world”.
“I do think bitcoin is the first one of these that has the potential to do something like that,” he concluded.
“It is worth thinking about money as the bubble that never ends. There is this sort of potential that bitcoin could become this new phenomenon,” he continued.
Thiel is reported to be a member of the steering committee for Bilderberg.
USA Summers, Lawrence H. Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University
The former Treasury Secretary hasn’t totally endorsed digital currencies, but he has looked into them. He argues that digital currencies could serve a purpose, especially since the financial system is encumbered by “substantial inefficiency.”
Information technology has already become a key component of banking, Summers argues, yet “it has not been disrupted as the distribution of books or clothing has been.”
That makes finance now “ripe for disruption,” Summers believes.
Mr. Summers led the Treasury Department under President Clinton and has held jobs as President Obama’s chief economic adviser, Harvard University’s president and World Bank chief economist. He claims to have “no confident view on what will or won’t succeed” in the future. Instead, he is “much more confident that the world of payments will look very different 20 years from now than I am about how it will look.”
Summers acknowledged wild fluctuations in the bitcoin price and that restrictions imposed on online gambling demonstrate that if “governments are determined to choke something off, they can succeed.” That people think a digital-currency world is “going to be a libertarian paradise… is not a terribly plausible vision.” He continues:
“The people who rejected the Internet as a curiosity for scientists were on the wrong side of history, the people who rejected digital photography as really an artificial thing were on the wrong side of history, and the people who felt that non-gimmicky tennis racquets were made with wood were on the wrong side of history. So it seems to me that the people who confidently reject all the innovation here [in new payment and monetary systems] are on the wrong side of history.”
USA Schmidt, Eric E. Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
Google Chairman (and former CEO) Eric Schmidt has had some good things to say about bitcoin.
“[Bitcoin] is a remarkable cryptographic achievement,” he said. “The ability to create something which is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value.
“The bitcoin architecture, literally the ability to have these ledgers which can’t be replicated, is an amazing advancement,” he continued. “Lot’s of people will build businesses on top of that.”
CANADA Poloz, Stephen S. Governor, Bank of Canada
It was made clear the Bank of Canada was not worrying about bitcoin when the bank’s top policy officials said it was too early to know whether digital currencies like bitcoin will go mainstream.
“These are early days … and so far digital currencies have not made it to what we call money,” said governor Stephen Poloz.
“We’ve got a ways to go before we need to be thinking about policy implications,” Poloz added, although he said bank officials have been tasked to follow the virtual money.
INT Lagarde, Christine Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Christine Lagarde been the Managing Director (MD) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 5 July 2011. Previously, she held various ministerial posts in the French government: she was Minister of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment and before that Minister of Agriculture and Fishing and Minister of Trade in the government of Dominique de Villepin. Lagarde was the first woman to become finance minister of a G8 economy, and is the first woman to head the IMF. You’ll notice she labels her nationality on the Bilderberg list as “INT”, which presumably means “internationalist.”
When a woman asked Lagarde if bitcoin was good for the average person on the street, the IMF director sidestepped the question:
“You know what, just judging by the applause, it sounds really attractive, really alternative, and, hey, why not? But I’m concerned about one thing. And that is that, for the moment, those systems are also very nice channels to do some very unfortunate money laundering, tax evasion.”