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Friday, August 30, 2019

1,000 Fake Gold Bars Discovered, Bitcoin's 10-yr Alpha is 338,433,233%, and Hong Kong Loves Crypto

  • Bitcoin's utility over gold has returned as fake gold bars have entered the market.
  • Data shows bitcoin’s performance has outstripped mainstream investments in internet firms since 2010 by 338,433,233%.
  • In Hong Kong, bitcoin is selling at a premium due to mass protests.   

Bitcoin's utility over gold has returned as fake gold bars have entered the market. 

One day back in 2017, someone noticed that two gold bars had the same ID number. Ooops. A Reuters report on Aug. 28 said that nearly 1,000 fake bars were found in the vaults of JPMorgan Chase & Co., one of the major banks at the heart of the market in bullion. 

"The forgeries are sophisticated," said the head of Switzerland’s biggest refinery, according to the article, "so thousands more may have gone undetected".

“The latest fake bars ... are highly professionally done,” said Michael Mesaric, the chief executive of refinery Valcambi.

As fake gold bars are being discovered all over the world, the price of gold has actually spiked due to asset quality concerns. Everything is overpriced and central banks are charging investors to deposit funds (negative rates). This is actually fueling more aggressive/risky investing and smart investors are looking for safe alternative investment opportunities like gold, real estate and bitcoin. The same reasons that are driving people to bitcoin are driving them to gold, but gold is flawed for two reasons: 1) it is heavy and 2) it can be faked.

Would you accept gold from someone you don't trust without verifying its authenticity? I like gold, but bitcoin requires no trust. The trust is built into the underlying technology.

Bitcoin’s performance has outstripped mainstream investments


It's not surprising that according to the CEO of blockchain-focused magazine Block Journal, bitcoin’s performance has outstripped mainstream investments in internet firms since 2010 by 338,433,233% based on the following data:




That's a lot of alpha. The price went from just a few cents to thousands of dollars over a 10-year period.

In some places like Hong Kong, bitcoin is even selling at a premium (several hundred dollars).


Why is bitcoin selling for a premium in Hong Kong?


The pro-democracy, anti-government protest movement in Hong-Kong is spurring wider adoption of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. 


Yahoo! Finance reported that the political upheaval in the city "has made local businesses and individuals switch to using non-sovereign and decentralized currency."  Hong Kong department store Pricerite announced that it would begin accepting bitcoin, litecoin and ether. Genesis Block has been operating 14 crypto ATMs across the city. 


That's not all. Earlier this month, protestors initiated an action to withdraw as much money as possible from their bank accounts. The goal: protect personal assets and send a warning to Chinese authorities. It has also been reported that a number of wealthy individuals ($100 million +) have begun moving wealth offshore.

This is happening all over the world and there's a common theme here. Bitcoin and democracy are linked because bitcoin is a democratized form of money, whereas fiat (like the dollar) is a centralized or authoritarian form of money. I talk about this link in the post: Bitcoin & America Have Common Goals: They Are Linked By The Ideal of Democracy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Yang Endorses Blockchain, Houston Rockets GM Buys More Bitcoin, and Binance Enters The Lending Game

Three big stories in the bitcoin space I'd like to share with you today: 

  • Bitcoin, crypto, and blockchain have become a 2020 U.S. presidential issue.
  • Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team, buys more bitcoin.
  • Binance enters the lending game; holders of Binance Coin, Ethereum Classic and Tether will be able to lend assets and earn interest.
  •  

Bitcoin, crypto, and blockchain have become a 2020 U.S. presidential issue. Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang endorsed blockchain (the technology that bitcoin sits on) and wants to implement a blockchain based mobile voting system.

Andrew Yang

"It’s ridiculous that in 2020 we are still standing in line for hours to vote in antiquated voting booths,"

"It is 100% technically possible to have fraud-proof voting on our mobile phones today using the blockchain. This would revolutionize true democracy and increase participation to include all Americans—those without smartphones could use the legacy system and lines would be very short."

-Yang Campaign Website

I couldn't agree more. This isn't surprising coming from Yang -- he's the only presidential hopeful talking about the real challenges facing the economy today, like automation. My personal dream-team is Yang/Tulsi, but I'll save that for another post. 


I became even more interested in Yang after president Trump tweeted that he thought bitcoin and other crypto were "unregulated crypto assets" that can "facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity." The truth is, most drug trades prefer the U.S. dollar.

I doubled down and donated to Yang after U.S. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin labelled bitcoin as a national security issue. I started making phone calls for Yang in May, when congressman Brad Sherman made a plea to abolish Bitcoin because he views it as a direct threat to the U.S. dollar. He wants to make the purchase of bitcoin illegal.

Thankfully, we have folks like Yang and Ron Paul coming out in favor of bitcoin because if the US bans bitcoin, it will mean that our fate is tied to the American dollar. You can read more about my prediction for the U.S. if it bans bitcoin in the post: An Argument Against The Ban of Bitcoin: Bitcoin Represents a Threat to The Permanent State, Not America. Namely, it will tie our demise to the U.S. dollar.

In other bitcoin news, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team, recently tweeted “I just bought more” in response to a pro-Bitcoin tweet. Morey is not alone. I've seen dozens of tweets like this. There's a long list of celebrities, athletes and musicians that are pro-Bitcoin. Billionaire tech investor Mark Cuban hinted at adding crypto payments last year. Why? Not only does bitcoin represent a safe haven from the coming financial crisis, but it comes with additional technological features that fiat does not, AND, as Obama said, it's like carrying a Swiss bank account in your wallet.

Last but not least in bitcoin news is one of my favorite places to buy crypto: Binance. In terms of new offerings for coins (ICOs), Binance is THE BEST. So imagine my surprise when I heard Binance was getting into the lending game. I'm going to write another post explaining why this is such a powerful move on Binance's part, but the most important takeaway here is that holders of Binance Coin, Ethereum Classic and Tether will be able to lend assets and earn interest through a new service called Binance Lending. Interest is paid out after the loan matures. So, at a time when the world's central banks are pushing negative interest rates, one of the strongest players in the crypto community wants to pay you interest. The irony.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Bitcoin & America Have Common Goals: They Are Linked By The Ideal of Democracy

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

                         -The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, JULY 4, 1776


In my last post: An Argument Against The Ban of Bitcoin: Bitcoin Represents a Threat to The Permanent State, Not America, I talked about my prediction for the U.S. if it bans bitcoin. Namely, it will tie our demise to the U.S. dollar. 

Ultimately, the post was a declaration of sorts. Like the Declaration of Independence quoted above, it was an attempt to declare the causes which should impel America to separate itself from the dollar and the U.S. central banking authority. And, the tool to bring about the separation is bitcoin.

In 2009, 53 police officers in Afghanistan were paid by a new mobile service called M-Paisa. This was a pilot program to see if public sector jobs could be paid with M-Paisa. When the officers received payment they also noticed a 30% pay raise. Perhaps this was compensation for participating in the pilot? No. This was the amount the officers should have been getting all along, but superior officers had been skimming off of salaries. M-Paisa payments made the police officers very happy, but the mayors, not so much. 

This is a micro example of what digital payment services can do to eliminate the middle-man and reduce corruption. Digital currencies have the same impact at the macro level. Here's a quote from an article in Forbes describing the impact of M-Pesa on Kenya's economy:

In Kenya, M-Pesa has been so successful that traditional banks have come to see it as a serious competitor.  At first, these banks sought to limit M-Pesa by seeking regulations from the Kenyan government, but increasingly they have begun to offer mobile banking services that attempt to disrupt M-Pesa’s monopoly of the mobile money market.

In other words, M-Pesa has gained so much traction that the government is worried because they are losing both power and money, but the end result is a more balanced economy.

To further support the theory, one study recently found that "increased access to mobile money has increased long-term consumption in Kenya and reduced the number of households in extreme poverty."  The study estimates that it lifted 2% of Kenyan households out of poverty, with the impact being more pronounced in female-headed households. Women using M-Pesa tended to move out of agriculture and into business (Science, p. 1288). Mobile Money, the study concludes:

...a service that allows monetary value to be stored on a mobile phone and sent to other Mobile money has therefore increased the efficiency of the allocation of consumption over time while allowing a more efficient allocation of labor, resulting in a meaningful reduction of poverty in Kenya.


Like toll-booths, intermediaries (banks, government, corporations) are there to collect some sort of tax or fee from us, but what happens when we can go from A to B without intermediaries?

Paradigm Shift: M-Pesa, M-Paisa, MCash, bKash and EasyPaisa

Today almost every household in Kenya uses M-Pesa. It allows anyone with a mobile phone to transfer money. It also has a financing and micro-financing service. Started in 2007 by the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania, the operation later expanded to Afghanistan, South Africa, India, Romania and Albania. 


The growth of the M-Pesa market mirrors bitcoin. The mobile phone market overall has over 900 million subscribers in Africa and over 3.7 billion in Asia. M-Pesa isn't the only mobile payment service. There's also M-Paisa in Afghanistan, Smart in the Philippines, MCash and bKash in Bangladesh, and EasyPaisa in Pakistan (2009).  According to the Global Mobile Systems Association (GMSA) there are now 277 live services across 92 markets (two-thirds of which are low- and middle-income countries). The report goes on to say that:

Registered accounts grew nearly six-fold in the last five years to more than half a billion in 2016, helped by a growing network of mobile money agents. In 2016, there were more than 4.3 million registered agent outlets, of which 2.3 million were active on a monthly basis; thirty countries now have ten times more active agents than bank branches, bringing mobile money within reach of millions of unbanked households.

So what can these experiments tell us about what we can expect will happen in the United States with more widespread use of bitcoin?

Poverty & Digital Currency

Bitcoin is much more than just a digital currency (for more on what bitcoin is, please click here). Likewise, M-Pesa is more than a cell phone service. The two have much in common, most importantly they cut out the middle-man which is impacting global economics at the micro- and macro-level.  

Scientists are attributing M-Pesa with lifting people out of poverty, which is something the U.N. is shining a spotlight on. In fact, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights has written a report about extreme poverty in America. 

It's hard to imagine that anyone in the United States, the richest country in the world, could be living in extreme poverty, but in Alabama 19 of 55 individuals tested positive for hookworm, a disease which was thought to have been eradicated in the U.S. by the 1980s. Hookworm tends to thrive in regions of extreme poverty with poor sanitation and it is thriving in certain parts of America as well. 

The only way for the richest country in the world to be home to conditions of extreme poverty is for rampant corruption to exist. The best place to put our collective energy (literally) is not in the hands of a new set of men and women to be corrupted by the 1% every four years, but in bitcoin and other related digital currencies in use around the world (for an example of what blockchain and bitcoin can do, take a look at what Estonia is doing here)

Final Thoughts: Transfer of Wealth

We are witnessing the largest transfer of wealth in modern history. The police officer example above is only a glimpse at the potential we stand to recoup. The current system is a zero-sum game, so what the uber-wealthy lose will not be lost, but transferred to its rightful owners through bitcoin and other digital currencies. All the money that used to go to bribes, government corruption and banks is now working its way back into the hands of "the people" which is reducing poverty worldwide.

Kenya's government couldn't shut M-Pesa down. Likewise, if the US government could forbid the use of bitcoin, it would have done so already. Bitcoin is more than voting with your dollars, it's investing in a new world order that brings all these payment systems together. You can even buy bitcoin with M-Pesa using LocalBitcoins, a peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange network.

Bitcoin has no nationality. It has no history of debt or corruption. It has no spoken language. It has no borders. It has no tribe. It is incapable of war. It is intangible in nature. And, best of all, it requires no assistance from corruptible minds. It is in the process of accumulating wealth from national currencies (G5). This is why the price of bitcoin will continue to rise with the fall of the dollar, pound, yen and euro.