Despite bitcoin's latest worth rally, the world's largest cryptocurrency remains troubled to achieve mainstream adoption, and currently, the European Union (EU) has warned bitcoin and different decentralized cryptocurrencies might be derailed by the world's central banks.
Despite bitcoin's latest worth rally, the world's largest cryptocurrency remains troubled to achieve mainstream adoption, and currently, the European Union (EU) has warned bitcoin and different decentralized cryptocurrencies might be derailed by the world's central banks. /r/Bitcoin
Putting $400M of Bitcoin on your company balance sheet
Also posted on my blog as usual. Read it there if you can, there are footnotes and inlined plots. A couple of months ago, MicroStrategy (MSTR) had a spare $400M of cash which it decided to shift to Bitcoin (BTC). Today we'll discuss in excrutiating detail why this is not a good idea. When a company has a pile of spare money it doesn't know what to do with, it'll normally do buybacks or start paying dividends. That gives the money back to the shareholders, and from an economic perspective the money can get better invested in other more promising companies. If you have a huge pile of of cash, you probably should be doing other things than leave it in a bank account to gather dust. However, this statement from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor exists to make it clear he's buying into BTC for all the wrong reasons:
“This is not a speculation, nor is it a hedge. This was a deliberate corporate strategy to adopt a bitcoin standard.”
Let's unpack it and jump into the economics Bitcoin:
Is Bitcoin money?
No. Or rather BTC doesn't act as money and there's no serious future path for BTC to become a form of money. Let's go back to basics. There are 3 main economic problems money solves: 1. Medium of Exchange. Before money we had to barter, which led to the double coincidence of wants problem. When everyone accepts the same money you can buy something from someone even if they don't like the stuff you own. As a medium of exchange, BTC is not good. There are significant transaction fees and transaction waiting times built-in to BTC and these worsen the more popular BTC get. You can test BTC's usefulness as a medium of exchange for yourself right now: try to order a pizza or to buy a random item with BTC. How many additional hurdles do you have to go through? How many fewer options do you have than if you used a regular currency? How much overhead (time, fees) is there? 2. Unit of Account. A unit of account is what you compare the value of objects against. We denominate BTC in terms of how many USD they're worth, so BTC is a unit of account presently. We can say it's because of lack of adoption, but really it's also because the market value of BTC is so volatile. If I buy a $1000 table today or in 2017, it's roughly a $1000 table. We can't say that a 0.4BTC table was a 0.4BTC table in 2017. We'll expand on this in the next point: 3. Store of Value. When you create economic value, you don't want to be forced to use up the value you created right away. For instance, if I fix your washing machine and you pay me in avocados, I'd be annoyed. I'd have to consume my payment before it becomes brown, squishy and disgusting. Avocado fruit is not good money because avocadoes loses value very fast. On the other hand, well-run currencies like the USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, etc. all lose their value at a low and most importantly fairly predictible rate. Let's look at the chart of the USD against BTC While the dollar loses value at a predictible rate, BTC is all over the place, which is bad. One important use money is to write loan contracts. Loans are great. They let people spend now against their future potential earnings, so they can buy houses or start businesses without first saving up for a decade. Loans are good for the economy. If you want to sign something that says "I owe you this much for that much time" then you need to be able to roughly predict the value of the debt in at the point in time where it's due. Otherwise you'll have a hard time pricing the risk of the loan effectively. This means that you need to charge higher interests. The risk of making a loan in BTC needs to be priced into the interest of a BTC-denominated loan, which means much higher interest rates. High interests on loans are bad, because buying houses and starting businesses are good things.
BTC has a fixed supply, so these problems are built in
Some people think that going back to a standard where our money was denominated by a stock of gold (the Gold Standard) would solve economic problems. This is nonsense. Having control over supply of your currency is a good thing, as long as it's well run. See here Remember that what is desirable is low variance in the value, not the value itself. When there are wild fluctuations in value, it's hard for money to do its job well. Since the 1970s, the USD has been a fiat money with no intrinsic value. This means we control the supply of money. Let's look at a classic poorly drawn econ101 graph The market price for USD is where supply meets demand. The problem with a currency based on an item whose supply is fixed is that the price will necessarily fluctuate in response to changes in demand. Imagine, if you will, that a pandemic strikes and that the demand for currency takes a sharp drop. The US imports less, people don't buy anything anymore, etc. If you can't print money, you get deflation, which is worsens everything. On the other hand, if you can make the money printers go brrrr you can stabilize the price Having your currency be based on a fixed supply isn't just bad because in/deflation is hard to control. It's also a national security risk... The story of the guy who crashed gold prices in North Africa In the 1200s, Mansa Munsa, the emperor of the Mali, was rich and a devout Muslim and wanted everyone to know it. So he embarked on a pilgrimage to make it rain all the way to Mecca. He in fact made it rain so hard he increased the overall supply of gold and unintentionally crashed gold prices in Cairo by 20%, wreaking an economic havoc in North Africa that lasted a decade. This story is fun, the larger point that having your inflation be at the mercy of foreign nations is an undesirable attribute in any currency. The US likes to call some countries currency manipulators, but this problem would be serious under a gold standard.
Currencies are based on trust
Since the USD is based on nothing except the US government's word, how can we trust USD not to be mismanaged? The answer is that you can probably trust the fed until political stooges get put in place. Currently, the US's central bank managing the USD, the Federal Reserve (the Fed for friends & family), has administrative authority. The fed can say "no" to dumb requests from the president. People who have no idea what the fed does like to chant "audit the fed", but the fed is already one of the best audited US federal entities. The transcripts of all their meetings are out in the open. As is their balance sheet, what they plan to do and why. If the US should audit anything it's the Department of Defense which operates without any accounting at all. It's easy to see when a central bank will go rogue: it's when political yes-men are elected to the board. For example, before printing themselves into hyperinflation, the Venezuelan president appointed a sociologist who publicly stated “Inflation does not exist in real life” and instead is a made up capitalist lie. Note what happened mere months after his gaining control over the Venezuelan currency This is a key policy. One paper I really like, Sargent (1984) "The end of 4 big inflations" states:
The essential measures that ended hyperinflation in each of Germany,Austria, Hungary, and Poland were, first, the creation of an independentcentral bank that was legally committed to refuse the government'sdemand or additional unsecured credit and, second, a simultaneousalteration in the fiscal policy regime.
In english: *hyperinflation stops when the central bank can say "no" to the government." The US Fed, like other well good central banks, is run by a bunch of nerds. When it prints money, even as aggressively as it has it does so for good reasons. You can see why they started printing on March 15th as the COVID lockdowns started:
The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.
In english: We're going to keep printing and lowering rates until jobs are back and inflation is under control. If we print until the sun is blotted out, we'll print in the shade.
BTC is not gold
Gold is a good asset for doomsday-preppers. If society crashes, gold will still have value. How do we know that? Gold has held value throughout multiple historic catastrophes over thousands of years. It had value before and after the Bronze Age Collapse, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and Gengis Khan being Gengis Khan. Even if you erased humanity and started over, the new humans would still find gold to be economically valuable. When Europeans d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ g̶e̶n̶o̶c̶i̶d̶e̶d̶ went to America, they found gold to be an important item over there too. This is about equivalent to finding humans on Alpha-Centauri and learning that they think gold is a good store of value as well. Some people are puzzled at this: we don't even use gold for much! But it has great properties: First, gold is hard to fake and impossible to manufacture. This makes it good to ascertain payment. Second, gold doesnt react to oxygen, so it doesn't rust or tarnish. So it keeps value over time unlike most other materials. Last, gold is pretty. This might sound frivolous, and you may not like it, but jewelry has actual value to humans. It's no coincidence if you look at a list of the wealthiest families, a large number of them trade in luxury goods. To paraphrase Veblen humans have a profound desire to signal social status, for the same reason peacocks have unwieldy tails. Gold is a great way to achieve that. On the other hand, BTC lacks all these attributes. Its value is largely based on common perception of value. There are a few fundamental drivers of demand:
Means of Exchange: if people seriously start using BTC to buy pizzas, then this creates a real demand for the currency to accomplish the short-term exchanges. As we saw previously, I'm not personally sold on this one and it's currently a negligible fraction of overall demand.
Criminal uses: Probably the largest inbuilt advantage of BTC is that it's anonymous, and so a great way to launder money. Hacker gangs use BTC to demand ransom on cryptolocker type attacks because it's a shared way for an honest company to pay and for the criminals to receive money without going to jail.
Apart from these, it's hard to argue that BTC will retain value throughout some sort of economic catastrophe.
BTC is really risky
One last statement from Michael Saylor I take offense to is this:
“We feel pretty confident that Bitcoin is less risky than holding cash, less risky than holding gold,” MicroStrategy CEO said in an interview
"BTC is less risky than holding cash or gold long term" is nonsense. We saw before that BTC is more volatile on face value, and that as long as the Fed isn't run by spider monkeys stacked in a trench coat, the inflation is likely to be within reasonable bounds. But on top of this, BTC has Abrupt downside risks that normal currencies don't. Let's imagine a few:
A critical software vulnerability is found in the BTC codebase, leading to a possible exploitation.
Xi Jinping decides he's had enough of rich people in China hiding their assets from him and bans BTC.
Some form of bank run takes hold for whatever reason. Because BTC wallets are uninsured, unlike regular banks, this compounds into a Black Tuesday style crash.
Blockchain solutions are fundamentally inefficient
Blockchain was a genius idea. I still marvel at the initial white paper which is a great mix of economics and computer science. That said, blockchain solutions make large tradeoffs in design because they assume almost no trust between parties. This leads to intentionally wasteful designs on a massive scale. The main problem is that all transactions have to be validated by expensive computational operations and double checked by multiple parties. This means waste:
BTC was estimated to use as much electricity as Belgium in 2019. It's hard to trace where the BTC mining comes from, but we can assume it has a huge carbon footprint.
A single transactions is necessarily expensive. A single transaction takes as much electricity as 800,000 VISA transactions, or watching 50,000 hours of youtube videos.
There is a large necessary tax on the transaction, since those checking the transaction extract a few BTC from it to be incentivized to do the work of checking it.
Many design problems can be mitigated by various improvements over BTC, but it remains that a simple database always works better than a blockchain if you can trust the parties to the transaction.
Could Bitcoin practically replace the fiat money of one single country? Mental experiment
Lets take for example some compact, advanced, developed country, economy of which mostly relies on services(non industrial, non manufacture & etc, like retail, insurance, banking and small businesses peope2people) that would be Baltic country ESTONIA. So imagine that we are reform Ministry of Finances(or whatever it called in there) and Central Bank(if one does exist beside EU Central Bank), replace Euro with Bitcoin, complete liberalization of the market, no regulations from any department what so ever(usually Central Bank supports national currency one way or another), meaning that the only official currency in whole country is Bitcoin, people pay taxes in it, uses as a daily coffee payment method and fill up their cars for BTC(We don't talk about either it should or shouldn't be in a mempool here). Would that be a sustainable self-relying system at all? What flaws do you see except volatile price of BTC(though all the prices gonna be in BTC, so regular citizen could not bother and by his regular groceries for 0,004887108 BTC everyday).
Wall Street Breakfast: Volatile Week Ends In Quad Witching Session
U.S. equity futures held up overnight following another selloff on Wall Street that was led by major tech names. Contracts tied to the Dow and S&P 500 are hugging the flatline, while Nasdaq futures pared recent losses by climbing 0.6%. Mixed messaging around a potential coronavirus vaccine, as well as the passage of further fiscal stimulus, weighed on the market, while investors are gearing up for consumer sentiment data set for release at 10 a.m. ET. Don't forget that it's also quad witching day, which refers to the simultaneous expiration of market index futures, stock futures, market index options and stock options. "These days tend to get a lot of press for all of the volume they create, but historically they are nearly always a non-event," said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial. Spending deal to avoid government shutdown While there may be disagreement over another round of coronavirus relief, lawmakers are aiming to unveil a bipartisan spending bill today to avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1. The "clean" legislation, largely devoid of any controversial measures, should keep the government funded into mid-December. "I don't think anybody wants to be responsible for shutting down the government on the eve of an election in the middle of a pandemic, so it's a rare outbreak of common sense on both sides," said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. New round of farm aid "Starting next week my administration is committing an additional $13B in relief to help farmers recover from the China virus," President Trump announced a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin. The new aid is the second tranche of money issued as part of the Trump administration's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. In April, the administration unveiled $19B in relief for the agriculture sector under the CARES Act, including $16B in direct payments to farmers and ranchers and $3B in mass purchases of dairy, meat and produce. Fed mulls extension of bank dividend curbs Due to heightened economic uncertainty, the Federal Reserve is considering extending its caps on banks' dividends and stock repurchases for the rest of the year. The U.S. central bank made the announcement along with its release of hypothetical scenarios for the second round of stress tests that it's requiring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike an earlier round of stress tests this year, the Fed will release the results of the tests for each of the 33 lenders, rather than providing aggregate results for the group. Sub-zero rates The Bank of England held its benchmark policy rate at 0.1% on Thursday, but indicated it could cut interest rates below zero for the first time in its 326-year history. While recent domestic economic data has been a bit stronger than expected, it's "unclear how the economy will perform further out," according to the Monetary Policy Committee. Another major risk facing the U.K. economy relates to the post-Brexit trade discussions between the U.K. and the EU, which have recently soured. Terms of a TikTok deal The Trump administration spent Thursday reviewing proposals on the TikTok-Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) partnership, which currently has many moving parts. TikTok owner ByteDance (BDNCE) agreed to list the video-sharing app on a U.S. stock exchange, which could happen within a year, though there are still concerns over whether the Chinese parent would be allowed to retain a majority stake in the new company. Meanwhile, shares in China's Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY) tumbled into the U.S. closing bell following reports that its investments are drawing new national security attention. Exchange dealmaking Seeing off competing bids from Deutsche Borse (OTCPK:DBORY) and Switzerland's SIX, the London Stock Exchange (OTCPK:LNSTY) is in exclusive talks to sell Borsa Italiana to France's Euronext (OTCPK:EUXTF). Offloading the Milan stock exchange would help LSE achieve regulatory remedies for its $27B purchase of data provider Refinitiv, which is owned by Blackstone (NYSE:BX) and Thomson Reuters (NYSE:TRI). The deal is politically sensitive in Rome because of concerns about who could take control of Borsa Italiana's bond platform, which handles trading of Italy's government debt. New COVID-19 restrictions across Europe Targeted lockdowns and local restrictions are returning to Europe as the region tries to avoid broad economic damage amid a surge in coronavirus cases. "Weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March," the WHO's regional director for Europe Hans Kluge told an online news conference. "Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region." Pubs and restaurants must shut early and household mixing has been limited in northeast England, while social gatherings of more than six people have been banned across the country. French authorities are meanwhile preparing tighter restrictions in several cities, while Spain's Madrid has moved to "reduce mobility and contacts" in areas with high infection rates. Go Deeper: Israel becomes first developed country to enforce a second nationwide shutdown. Pandemic closures see restaurants hit the hardest About 60% of businesses that have closed their doors during the coronavirus pandemic will never reopen, and restaurants have suffered the most, according to new data from Yelp. The National Restaurant Association also said this week that 100,000 restaurants have closed either permanently or long term, adding that the sector is on track to lose $240B in sales this year. A number of factors have made it especially difficult for eateries, which tend to operate on thin margins even in the best of times. What else is happening... Unity (NYSE:U) to raise $1.3B in IPO, prices 25M shares above range. New York files civil charges against J&J (NYSE:JNJ) over opioids. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) hikes pay for about 165,000 hourly employees. Dave & Buster's (NASDAQ:PLAY) stumbles on bankruptcy speculation. Proposed Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX safety upgrades endorsed by NTSB. Nat gas tumbles by most in two years after stockpile gain. Today's Markets In Asia, Japan +0.2%. Hong Kong +0.5%. China +2.1%. India -0.3%. In Europe, at midday, London -0.2%. Paris -0.3%. Frankfurt +0.1%. Futures at 6:20, Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.6%. Crude +0.9% to $41.34. Gold +0.6% to $1961.40. Bitcoin +1.6% to $11005. Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 0.68%
What important crypto events happened last week? Cryptocurrencies The AAVE Token Arrives On Gemini Regulated cryptocurrency exchange Gemini has added support for AAVE (formerly LEND) tokens, of another protocol widely used in DeFi. At the moment, only custody and deposit services are available; trading will arrive shortly. RSK & RIF Integrate DAI Stablecoin The RSK team, which developed a sidechain extension of Bitcoin with support for smart contracts, announced that the stablecoin DAI is now available on its platform. This integration allows users to transfer DAI from Ethereum to the RSK sidechain, making the stablecoin available for usage in a DeFi ecosystem supported by Bitcoin. Litecoin Inches Closer To Greater Privacy With Mimblewimble Testnet The long-awaited Litecoin update, designed to increase the privacy level of the network, has come closer due to the test launch of MimbleWimble technology. Charlie Lee first announced his plans to integrate this technology in early 2019, but progress only appeared with the arrival of the Grin++ developer David Burkett in December 2019. The MimbleWimble update will allow users to hide their transactions and personal data. Projects And Updates Access To DeFi Oracles: Radix Integrates Chainlink Radix announced integration with Chainlink to make DeFi Oracles more accessible to developers, which will facilitate the spread of traditional financial services through decentralized applications. Radix is a first-level Protocol created specifically for DeFi. According to its CEO Piers Ridyard, the data access that developers will get after integrating with Chainlink is vital for providing the best infrastructure to build next-generation DeFi products. Brave Websites And Browser Now Available On TOR Brave web browser, which has user privacy its top priority, has announced that its websites will now be accessed directly from the dark web through .onion addresses. Greater integration with Tor will make users' experience with its services even more secure. Bitfinex Starts Staking On Cardano Bitfenix cryptocurrency exchange has announced the launching of Cardano (ADA) staking. There is no minimum amount to stake, and ADA stakeholders can expect an income of up to 4.3% per annum with weekly payouts. In most cases, users will be able to withdraw funds immediately. Switcheo Launches Zilswap, First Decentralized Exchange DEX On Zilliqa The team of developers of the decentralized trading platform Switcheo will launch an analog of the Uniswap exchange, specialized in trading the DeFi market’s tokens. The exchange named Zilswap will be based on the scalable Zilliqa blockchain and will be the first of its kind. Hacking KuCoin Exchange Hackers Identified The KuCoin exchange's CEO, Johnny Lyu, informed that his team found out who committed the hacking of the site on September 26. In his tweet, he noted that the company has substantial proof of the suspects' guilt and that the case is being handled by law enforcement officials. According to the official statement, the company has enough funds to cover all losses. Bungled Theft Of Bitcoin ATM Puts Canadian Business Out Of Action In the Canadian Kelowna, an attempt to steal a Bitcoin ATM ended with failure. The unlucky burglars could not take the ATM away but caused significant damage to the building by their truck. Regulations A Digital Euro May Be Imminent: ECB Could Launch Digital Euro Project In 2021 The European Central Bank is considering its cryptocurrency project. The decision will be made in mid-2021 after conducting surveys among EU citizens and consulting financial experts. People John McAfee Could Face A 5-year Jail Term Over Concealed Crypto-Assets And Tax Evasion Allegation John McAfee, the founder of the antivirus company McAfee, may end up in prison for tax evasion. His charge includes allegations of cryptocurrency frauds, registration of a property for the third persons, and using false names making bank transactions. Winklevoss-Founded Crypto Exchange Gemini Hires Former Morgan Stanley Exec Gemini crypto exchange has hired Andy Meehan, a former executive at Morgan Stanley investment bank, to expand in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the press release, Meehan will work with regulators "to promote smart regulations that drive adoption in this growing market". Exclusive Interview With David Waslen From HedgeTrade David Waslen, the CEO and co-founder of HedgeTrade, gave CoinJoy an interview in which he talked about new technologies, the accuracy of market predictions, and shared exclusive news about the project. That’s all for now! For more details follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, join our Telegram.
Trading digitals assets such as Bitcoin involves significant risks. The activities of Knaken Cryptohandel B.V. is not regulated or supervised by the Dutch central bank (DNB) or The Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank of the 19 European Union countries which have adopted the euro. Our main task is to maintain price stability in the euro area and so preserve the purchasing power of the single currency. The European Central Bank said Friday it will decide whether to pursue or abandon plans to issue a digital euro toward mid-2021. Releasing a report setting out the time schedule, the Frankfurt-based institution kickstarted a phase of experiments to consider the merits of minting central bank digital currency (CBDC).. Unlike bitcoin, whose value is based on demand and can become worthless ... The EU recently released a new research paper on a possible digital euro. Like many other official central bank reports, it assumes there is no possibility of an anonymous digital bank currency. The European Central bank says Europe should be ready to launch a digital Euro as a complement to physical cash. According to an announcement made October 2, European Central Bank (ECB) executive board member Fabio Panetta says the EU must be prepared to issue a digital Euro. The report highlights the spread of digitalization in all areas of modern life, creating an increased demand for ...
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