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.
There is a constant war being fought between goldbugs, like Peter Schiff, and Bitcoin enthusiasts so I decided to make an outline, with links, comparing and contrasting gold and Bitcoin. I made this in November of 2019 (thus the information therein is based on figures from that time) but, being scatter brained, neglected to post this for the Bitcoin community to see. The yardsticks I used to compare the two assets included the following: shipping/transactions costs, storage costs, censorship factor, settlement time, stock to flow, blockchain vs clearing house, validation, etc. I will also touch on Roosevelt's gold confiscation executive order in 1933, transporting gold during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, and the hypothetical cost for Venezuela to repatriate its gold more recently. I will provide a brief summary first then follow that with the outline I made. This information can be used as a tool for the Bitcoin community to combat some of the silly rhetoric coming from goldbugs such as Peter Schiff and James Rickards. I would like to make it clear, however, that I am not against gold and think that it performed its role as money very well in a technologically inferior era, namely Victorian times but I think Bitcoin performs the functions of money better than gold does in the current environment. I have been looking to make a contribution to the Bitcoin community and I hope this is a useful and educational tool for everyone who reads this. Summary: Shipping/transaction costs: 100 ounces of gold could be shipped for 315 dollars; the comparable dollar value in Bitcoin could be sent for 35 dollars using a non-segwit address. Using historical precendent, it would cost an estimated $32,997,989 to transport $1 billion in gold using the 3.3% fee that the Soviets charged the Spaniards in 1936; a $1 billion Bitcoin transaction moved for $690 last year by comparison. Please note that the only historic example we can provide for moving enormous sums of gold was when the government of Spain transported gold to Moscow during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. More information on this topic will be found in the notes section. Storage costs: 100 ounces of gold would require $451 per year to custody while the equivalent value of Bitcoin in dollar terms could be stored for the cost of a Ledger Nano S, $59.99. $1 billion USD value of gold would cost $2,900,000 per year while an Armory set up that is more secure would run you the cost of a laptop, $200-300. Censorship factor: Gold must pass through a 3rd party whenever it is shipped, whether for a transaction or for personal transportation. Gold will typically have to be declared and a customs duty may be imposed when crossing international borders. The key take-away is gatekeepers (customs) can halt movement of gold thus making transactions difficult. $46,000 of gold was seized in India despite the smugglers hiding it in their rectums. Settlement time: Shipping gold based on 100 ounces takes anywhere from 3-10 days while Bitcoin transactions clear in roughly 10 minutes depending on network congestion and fee size. Historic confiscation: Franklin Roosevelt confiscated and debased the paper value of gold in 1933 with Executive Order 6102. Since gold is physical in nature and value dense, it is often stored in custodial vaults like banks and so forth which act as a honeypot for rapacious governments. Stock to flow: Plan B's stock to flow model has become a favorite on twitter. Stock to flow measures the relationship between the total stock of an asset against the amount that is produced in a given year. Currently gold still has the highest value at 62 while Bitcoin sits at 50 in 2nd place. Bitcoin will overtake gold in 2024 after the next halving. Blockchain vs clearing house: gold payments historically passed through a 3rd party (clearinghouse) in order to be validated while Bitcoin transactions can be self validated through the use of a node. Key Takeaway from above- Bitcoin is vastly superior to gold in terms of cost, speed, and censorship resistance. One could theoretically carry around an enormous sum of Bitcoin on a cold card while the equivalent dollar value of gold would require a wheelbarrow...and create an enormous target on the back of the transporter. With the exception of the stock to flow ratio (which will flip in Bitcoin's favor soon), Bitcoin is superior to gold by all metrics covered. Notes: Shipping/transaction costs Gold 100 oz = 155,500. 45 x 7 = $315 to ship 100 oz gold. https://seekingalpha.com/instablog/839735-katchum/2547831-how-much-does-it-cost-to-ship-silver-and-gold https://www.coininvest.com/en/shipping-prices/ 211 tonnes Venezuela; 3.3% of $10.5 billion = 346,478,880 or 32,997,989/billion usd http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/08/23/how-to-get-12-billion-of-gold-to-venezuela/ (counter party risk; maduro; quotes from article) Bitcoin 18 bitcoin equivalent value; 35 USD with legacy address https://blockexplorer.com/ https://bitcoinfees.info/ 1 billion; $690 dollars https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/09/someone-moved-1-billion-in-a-single-bitcoin-transaction/ Storage costs Gold .29% annually; https://sdbullion.com/gold-silver-storage 100 oz – $451/year $1 billion USD value – $2,900,000/year Bitcoin Ledger Nano S - $59.00 (for less bitcoin) https://shop.ledger.com/products/ledger-nano-s/transparent?flow_country=USA&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3ILV5O-Z5wIVTtbACh1zTAwqEAQYASABEgJ5SPD_BwE Armory - $200-300 cost of laptop for setup https://www.bitcoinarmory.com/ Censorship factor (must pass through 3rd party) Varies by country Gold will typically have to be declared and a customs duty may be imposed Key take-away is gatekeepers (customs) can halt movement of gold thus making transactions difficult $46,000 seized in India https://www.foxnews.com/travel/indian-airport-stops-29-passengers-smuggling-gold-in-their-rectums Settlement time Gold For 100 oz transaction by USPS 3-10 days (must pass through 3rd party) Bitcoin Roughly 10 minutes to be included in next block Historic confiscation-roosevelt 1933 Executive Order 6102 (forced spending, fed could ban cash, go through and get quotes) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102 “The stated reason for the order was that hard times had caused "hoarding" of gold, stalling economic growth and making the depression worse” Stock to flow; https://medium.com/@100trillionUSD/modeling-bitcoins-value-with-scarcity-91fa0fc03e25 (explain what it is and use charts in article) Gold; SF of 62 Bitcoin; SF of 25 but will double to 50 after May (and to 100 in four years) Blockchain vs clearing house Transactions can be validated by running a full node vs. third party settlement Validation Gold; https://www.goldismoney2.com/threads/cost-to-assay.6732/ (Read some responses) Bitcoin Cost of electricity to run a full node Breaking down Venezuela conundrum; http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/08/23/how-to-get-12-billion-of-gold-to-venezuela/ “The last (and only) known case of this kind of quantity of gold being transported across state lines took place almost exactly 75 years ago, in 1936, when the government of Spain removed 560 tons of gold from Madrid to Moscow as the armies of Francisco Franco approached. Most of the gold was exchanged for Russian weaponry, with the Soviet Union keeping 2.1% of the funds in the form of commissions and brokerage, and an additional 1.2% in the form of transport, deposit, melting, and refining expenses.” “Venezuela would need to transport the gold in several trips, traders said, since the high value of gold means it would be impossible to insure a single aircraft carrying 211 tonnes. It could take about 40 shipments to move the gold back to Caracas, traders estimated. “It’s going to be quite a task. Logistically, I’m not sure if the central bank realises the magnitude of the task ahead of them,” said one senior gold banker.” “So maybe Chávez intends to take matters into his own hands, and just sail the booty back to Venezuela on one of his own naval ships. Again, the theft risk is obvious — seamen can be greedy too — and this time there would be no insurance. Chávez is pretty crazy, but I don’t think he’d risk $12 billion that way.” “Which leaves one final alternative. Gold is fungible, and people are actually willing to pay a premium to buy gold which is sitting in the Bank of England’s ultra-secure vaults. So why bother transporting that gold at all? Venezuela could enter into an intercontinental repo transaction, where it sells its gold in the Bank of England to some counterparty, and then promises to buy it all back at a modest discount, on condition that it’s physically delivered to the Venezuelan central bank in Caracas. It would then be up to the counterparty to work out how to get 211 tons of gold to Caracas by a certain date. That gold could be sourced anywhere in the world, and transported in any conceivable manner — being much less predictable and transparent, those shipments would also be much harder to hijack. How much of a discount would a counterparty require to enter into this kind of transaction? Much more than 3.3%, is my guess. And again, it’s not entirely clear who would even be willing to entertain the idea. Glencore, perhaps?” “But here’s one last idea: why doesn’t Chávez crowdsource the problem? He could simply open a gold window at the Banco Central de Venezuela, where anybody at all could deliver standard gold bars. In return, the central bank would transfer to that person an equal number of gold bars in the custody of the Bank of England, plus a modest bounty of say 2% — that’s over $15,000 per 400-ounce bar, at current rates. It would take a little while, but eventually the gold would start trickling in: if you’re willing to pay a constant premium of 2% over the market price for a good, you can be sure that the good in question will ultimately find its way to your door. And the 2% cost of acquiring all that gold would surely be much lower than the cost of insuring and shipping it from England. It would be an elegant market-based solution to an artificial and ideologically-driven problem; I daresay Chávez might even chuckle at the irony of it. He’d just need to watch out for a rise in Andean banditry, as thieves tried to steal the bars on their disparate journeys into Venezuela.”
Lines of Navigation | Monthly Portfolio Update - July 202
Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be - Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H. This is my forty-fourth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary
Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund - $716 680
Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund - $41 103
Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund - $77 788
Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund - $111 667
Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) - $202 336
Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) - $54 872
Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) - $230 058
Telstra shares (TLS) -$1 785
Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) - $6 449
NIB Holdings shares (NHF) - $5 316
Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) - $124 756
Secured physical gold - $20 070
Ratesetter (P2P lending) - $9 881
Bitcoin - $173 010
Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) - $17 258
Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) -$2 619
BrickX (P2P rental real estate) - $4 471
Total portfolio value: $1 800 119 (+$34 376 or 1.9%) Asset allocation
Australian shares - 41.1%
Global shares- 22.2%
Emerging market shares - 2.2%
International small companies - 2.9%
Total international shares - 27.3%
Total shares - 68.4% (6.6% under)
Total property securities - 0.2% (0.2% over)
Australian bonds - 4.5%
International bonds - 9.1%
Total bonds - 13.6% (1.4% under)
Gold - 8.0%
Bitcoin - 9.6%
Gold and alternatives - 17.7% (7.7% over)
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The portfolio has substantially increased this month, continuing the recovery in portfolio value since March. The strong portfolio growth of over $34 000, or 1.9 per cent, returns the value of the portfolio close to that achieved at the end of February this year. [Chart] This month there was minimal movement in the value of Australian and global equity holdings, There was, however, a significant lift of around 6 per cent in the value of gold exchange traded fund units, as well as a rise in the value of Bitcoin holdings. These movements have pushed the value of gold holdings to their highest level so far on the entire journey. Their total value has approximately doubled since the original major purchases across 2009 to 2015. For most of the past year gold has functioned as a portfolio stabiliser, having a negative correlation to movements in Australian equities (of around -0.3 to -0.4). As low and negative bond rates spread across the world, however, the opportunity cost of holding gold is reduced, and its potential diversification benefits loom larger. The fixed income holdings of the portfolio also continued to fall beneath the target allocation, making this question of what represents a defensive (or negatively correlated to equity) asset far from academic. This steady fall is a function of the slow maturing of Ratesetter loans, which were largely made between 2015 and 2017. Ratesetter has recently advised of important changes to its market operation, and placed a fixed maximum cap on new loan rates. By replacing market set rates with maximum rates, the peer-to-peer lending platform appears to be shifting to more of a 'intermediated' role in which higher past returns (of around 8 to 9 per cent) will now no longer be possible. [Chart] The expanding value of gold and Bitcoin holdings since January last year have actually had the practical effect of driving new investments into equities, since effectively for each dollar of appreciation, for example, my target allocation to equities rises by seven dollars. Consistent with this, investments this month have been in the Vanguard international shares exchange-traded fund (VGS) using Selfwealth. This has been directed to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares. Fathoming out: franking credits and portfolio distributions Earlier last month I released a summary of portfolio income over the past half year. This, like all before it, noted that the summary was prepared on a purely 'cash' basis, reflecting dividends actually paid into a bank account, and excluding consideration of franking credits. Franking credits are credits for company tax paid at the company level, which can be passed to individual shareholders, reducing their personal tax liability. They are not cash, but for a personal investor with tax liabilities they can have equivalent value. This means that comparing equity returns to other investments without factoring these credits can produce a distorted picture of an investor's final after-tax return. In past portfolio summaries I have noted an estimate for franking credits in footnotes, but updating the value for this recently resulted in a curiosity about the overall significance of this neglected element of my equity returns. This neglect resulted from my perception earlier in the journey that they represented a marginal and abstract factor, which could effectively be assumed away for the sake of simplicity in reporting. This is not a wholly unfair view, in the sense that income physically received and able to be spent is something definably different in kind than a notional 'pre-payment' credit for future tax costs. Yet, as the saying goes, because the prospect of personal tax is as certain as extinction from this world, in some senses a credit of this kind can be as valuable as a cash distribution. Restoring the record: trends and drivers of franking credits To collect a more accurate picture of the trends and drivers of franking credits I relied on a few sources - tax statements, records and the automatic franking credit estimates that the portfolio tracking site Sharesight generates. The chart below sets out both the level and major different sources of franking credits received over the past eleven years. [Chart] From this chart some observations can be made.
The level of franking credits has grown substantially over the past ten years - from a total of under $1 000 per year to around $8 000 annually.
Recent years have seen a particularly high accrual of franking credits - such that by value, over half of the total value of franking credits has been received over the past three financial years.
These credits now constitute a significant element in total realised returns - in the last financial year the value of franking credits represented a 12 per cent boost to the total level of cash distributions, and over the past two years they have contributed around $8 000 each year to the total level of after-tax returns. This is the equivalent of the portfolio paying nearly $700 per month in tax liabilities.
The key reason for the rapid growth over the recent decade has been the increased investment holdings in Australian equities. As part of the deliberate rebalancing towards Australian shares across the past two years, these holdings have expanded. The chart below sets out the total value of Australian shares held over the comparable period. [Chart] As an example, at the beginning of this record Australian equities valued at around $276 000 were held. Three years later, the holding were nearly three times larger. The phase of consistently increasing the Australian equities holding to meet its allocated weighting is largely complete. This means that the period of rapid growth seen in the past few years is unlikely to repeat. Rather, growth will revert to be in proportion to total portfolio growth. Close to cross-over: the credit card records One of the most powerful initial motivators to reach financial independence was the concept of the 'cross over' point in Vicki Robins and Joe Dominguez's Your Money or Your Life. This was the point at which monthly expenses are exceeded by investment income. One of the metrics I have traced is this 'cross-over' point in relation to recorded credit card expenses. And this point is now close indeed. Expenditures on the credit card have continued their downward trajectory across the past month. The three year rolling average of monthly credit card spending remains at its lowest point over the period of the journey. Distributions on the same basis now meet over 99 per cent of card expenses - with the gap now the equivalent of less than $50 per month. [Chart] The period since April of the achievement of a notional and contingent form of financial independence has continued. The below chart illustrates this temporary state, setting out the the extent to which to which portfolio distributions (red) cover estimated total expenses (green), measured month to month. [Chart] An alternative way to view the same data is to examine the degree to which total expenses (i.e. fixed payments not made on credit card added to monthly credit card expenses) are met by distributions received. An updated version of this is seen in the chart below. [Chart] Interestingly, on a trend basis, this currently identifies a 'crossing over' point of trend distributions fully meeting total expenditure from around November 2019. This is not conclusive, however, as the trend curve is sensitive to the unusual COVID-19 related observations of the first half of this year, and could easily shift further downward if normal expense patterns resume. One issue this analysis raises is what to do with the 'credit card purchases' measure reported below. This measure is designed to provide a stylised benchmark of how close the current portfolio is to a target of generating the income required to meet an annual average credit card expenditure of $71 000. The problem with this is that continued falling credit card spending means that average credit card spending is lower than that benchmark for all time horizons - measured as three and four year averages, or in fact taken as a whole since 2013. So the set benchmark may, if anything, be understating actual progress compared the graphs and data above by not reflecting changing spending levels. In the past I have addressed this trend by reducing the benchmark. Over coming months, or perhaps at the end of the year, I will need to revisit both the meaning, and method, of setting this measure. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 82.6% 111.5% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 100.7% 136.0% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 80.7% 109.0% Summary One of the most challenging aspects of closing in on a fixed numerical target for financial independence with risk assets still in place is that the updrafts and downdrafts of market movements can push the goal further away, or surprisingly close. There have been long period of the journey where the total value of portfolio has barely grown, despite regular investments being made. As an example, the portfolio ended 2018 lower than it started the year. The past six months have been another such period. This can create a sense of treading water. Yet amidst the economic devastation affecting real lives and businesses, this is an extremely fortunate position to be in. Australia and the globe are set to experience an economic contraction far more severe than the Global Financial Crisis, with a lesser capacity than previously for interest rates to cushion the impact. Despite similar measures being adopted by governments to address the downturn, it is not clear whether these are fit for purpose. Asset allocation in this environment - of being almost suspended between two realities - is a difficult problem. The history of markets can tell us that just when assets seem most 'broken', they can produce outsized returns. Yet the problem remains that far from being surrounded by broken markets, the proliferation appears to be in bubble-like conditions. This recent podcast discussion with the founder of Grant's Interest Rate Observer provided a useful historical context to current financial conditions this month. One of the themes of the conversation was 'thinking the unthinkable', such as a return of inflation. Similar, this Hoover Institute video discussion, with a 'Back from the future' premise, provides some entertaining, informed and insightful views on the surprising and contingent nature of what we know to be true. Some of our little systems may well have had their day, but what could replace them remains obscured to any observer. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
The Next Crypto Wave: The Rise of Stablecoins and its Entry to the U.S. Dollar Market
Author: Christian Hsieh, CEO of Tokenomy This paper examines some explanations for the continual global market demand for the U.S. dollar, the rise of stablecoins, and the utility and opportunities that crypto dollars can offer to both the cryptocurrency and traditional markets. The U.S. dollar, dominant in world trade since the establishment of the 1944 Bretton Woods System, is unequivocally the world’s most demanded reserve currency. Today, more than 61% of foreign bank reserves and nearly 40% of the entire world’s debt is denominated in U.S. dollars1. However, there is a massive supply and demand imbalance in the U.S. dollar market. On the supply side, central banks throughout the world have implemented more than a decade-long accommodative monetary policy since the 2008 global financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the need for central banks to provide necessary liquidity and keep staggering economies moving. While the Federal Reserve leads the effort of “money printing” and stimulus programs, the current money supply still cannot meet the constant high demand for the U.S. dollar2. Let us review some of the reasons for this constant dollar demand from a few economic fundamentals.
Demand for U.S. Dollars
Firstly, most of the world’s trade is denominated in U.S. dollars. Chief Economist of the IMF, Gita Gopinath, has compiled data reflecting that the U.S. dollar’s share of invoicing was 4.7 times larger than America’s share of the value of imports, and 3.1 times its share of world exports3. The U.S. dollar is the dominant “invoicing currency” in most developing countries4. https://preview.redd.it/d4xalwdyz8p51.png?width=535&format=png&auto=webp&s=9f0556c6aa6b29016c9b135f3279e8337dfee2a6 https://preview.redd.it/wucg40kzz8p51.png?width=653&format=png&auto=webp&s=71257fec29b43e0fc0df1bf04363717e3b52478f This U.S. dollar preference also directly impacts the world’s debt. According to the Bank of International Settlements, there is over $67 trillion in U.S. dollar denominated debt globally, and borrowing outside of the U.S. accounted for $12.5 trillion in Q1 20205. There is an immense demand for U.S. dollars every year just to service these dollar debts. The annual U.S. dollar buying demand is easily over $1 trillion assuming the borrowing cost is at 1.5% (1 year LIBOR + 1%) per year, a conservative estimate. https://preview.redd.it/6956j6f109p51.png?width=487&format=png&auto=webp&s=ccea257a4e9524c11df25737cac961308b542b69 Secondly, since the U.S. has a much stronger economy compared to its global peers, a higher return on investments draws U.S. dollar demand from everywhere in the world, to invest in companies both in the public and private markets. The U.S. hosts the largest stock markets in the world with more than $33 trillion in public market capitalization (combined both NYSE and NASDAQ)6. For the private market, North America’s total share is well over 60% of the $6.5 trillion global assets under management across private equity, real assets, and private debt investments7. The demand for higher quality investments extends to the fixed income market as well. As countries like Japan and Switzerland currently have negative-yielding interest rates8, fixed income investors’ quest for yield in the developed economies leads them back to the U.S. debt market. As of July 2020, there are $15 trillion worth of negative-yielding debt securities globally (see chart). In comparison, the positive, low-yielding U.S. debt remains a sound fixed income strategy for conservative investors in uncertain market conditions. Source: Bloomberg Last, but not least, there are many developing economies experiencing failing monetary policies, where hyperinflation has become a real national disaster. A classic example is Venezuela, where the currency Bolivar became practically worthless as the inflation rate skyrocketed to 10,000,000% in 20199. The recent Beirut port explosion in Lebanon caused a sudden economic meltdown and compounded its already troubled financial market, where inflation has soared to over 112% year on year10. For citizens living in unstable regions such as these, the only reliable store of value is the U.S. dollar. According to the Chainalysis 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, Venezuela has become one of the most active cryptocurrency trading countries11. The demand for cryptocurrency surges as a flight to safety mentality drives Venezuelans to acquire U.S. dollars to preserve savings that they might otherwise lose. The growth for cryptocurrency activities in those regions is fueled by these desperate citizens using cryptocurrencies as rails to access the U.S. dollar, on top of acquiring actual Bitcoin or other underlying crypto assets.
The Rise of Crypto Dollars
Due to the highly volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, USD stablecoin, a crypto-powered blockchain token that pegs its value to the U.S. dollar, was introduced to provide stable dollar exposure in the crypto trading sphere. Tether is the first of its kind. Issued in 2014 on the bitcoin blockchain (Omni layer protocol), under the token symbol USDT, it attempts to provide crypto traders with a stable settlement currency while they trade in and out of various crypto assets. The reason behind the stablecoin creation was to address the inefficient and burdensome aspects of having to move fiat U.S. dollars between the legacy banking system and crypto exchanges. Because one USDT is theoretically backed by one U.S. dollar, traders can use USDT to trade and settle to fiat dollars. It was not until 2017 that the majority of traders seemed to realize Tether’s intended utility and started using it widely. As of April 2019, USDT trading volume started exceeding the trading volume of bitcoina12, and it now dominates the crypto trading sphere with over $50 billion average daily trading volume13. https://preview.redd.it/3vq7v1jg09p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=46f11b5f5245a8c335ccc60432873e9bad2eb1e1 An interesting aspect of USDT is that although the claimed 1:1 backing with U.S. dollar collateral is in question, and the Tether company is in reality running fractional reserves through a loose offshore corporate structure, Tether’s trading volume and adoption continues to grow rapidly14. Perhaps in comparison to fiat U.S. dollars, which is not really backed by anything, Tether still has cash equivalents in reserves and crypto traders favor its liquidity and convenience over its lack of legitimacy. For those who are concerned about Tether’s solvency, they can now purchase credit default swaps for downside protection15. On the other hand, USDC, the more compliant contender, takes a distant second spot with total coin circulation of $1.8 billion, versus USDT at $14.5 billion (at the time of publication). It is still too early to tell who is the ultimate leader in the stablecoin arena, as more and more stablecoins are launching to offer various functions and supporting mechanisms. There are three main categories of stablecoin: fiat-backed, crypto-collateralized, and non-collateralized algorithm based stablecoins. Most of these are still at an experimental phase, and readers can learn more about them here. With the continuous innovation of stablecoin development, the utility stablecoins provide in the overall crypto market will become more apparent.
In addition to trade settlement, stablecoins can be applied in many other areas. Cross-border payments and remittances is an inefficient market that desperately needs innovation. In 2020, the average cost of sending money across the world is around 7%16, and it takes days to settle. The World Bank aims to reduce remittance fees to 3% by 2030. With the implementation of blockchain technology, this cost could be further reduced close to zero. J.P. Morgan, the largest bank in the U.S., has created an Interbank Information Network (IIN) with 416 global Institutions to transform the speed of payment flows through its own JPM Coin, another type of crypto dollar17. Although people argue that JPM Coin is not considered a cryptocurrency as it cannot trade openly on a public blockchain, it is by far the largest scale experiment with all the institutional participants trading within the “permissioned” blockchain. It might be more accurate to refer to it as the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) instead of “blockchain” in this context. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that as J.P. Morgan currently moves $6 trillion U.S. dollars per day18, the scale of this experiment would create a considerable impact in the international payment and remittance market if it were successful. Potentially the day will come when regulated crypto exchanges become participants of IIN, and the link between public and private crypto assets can be instantly connected, unlocking greater possibilities in blockchain applications. Many central banks are also in talks about developing their own central bank digital currency (CBDC). Although this idea was not new, the discussion was brought to the forefront due to Facebook’s aggressive Libra project announcement in June 2019 and the public attention that followed. As of July 2020, at least 36 central banks have published some sort of CBDC framework. While each nation has a slightly different motivation behind its currency digitization initiative, ranging from payment safety, transaction efficiency, easy monetary implementation, or financial inclusion, these central banks are committed to deploying a new digital payment infrastructure. When it comes to the technical architectures, research from BIS indicates that most of the current proofs-of-concept tend to be based upon distributed ledger technology (permissioned blockchain)19. https://preview.redd.it/lgb1f2rw19p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=040bb0deed0499df6bf08a072fd7c4a442a826a0 These institutional experiments are laying an essential foundation for an improved global payment infrastructure, where instant and frictionless cross-border settlements can take place with minimal costs. Of course, the interoperability of private DLT tokens and public blockchain stablecoins has yet to be explored, but the innovation with both public and private blockchain efforts could eventually merge. This was highlighted recently by the Governor of the Bank of England who stated that “stablecoins and CBDC could sit alongside each other20”. One thing for certain is that crypto dollars (or other fiat-linked digital currencies) are going to play a significant role in our future economy.
There is never a dull moment in the crypto sector. The industry narratives constantly shift as innovation continues to evolve. Twelve years since its inception, Bitcoin has evolved from an abstract subject to a familiar concept. Its role as a secured, scarce, decentralized digital store of value has continued to gain acceptance, and it is well on its way to becoming an investable asset class as a portfolio hedge against asset price inflation and fiat currency depreciation.Stablecoins have proven to be useful as proxy dollars in the crypto world, similar to how dollars are essential in the traditional world. It is only a matter of time before stablecoins or private digital tokens dominate the cross-border payments and global remittances industry. There are no shortages of hypes and experiments that draw new participants into the crypto space, such as smart contracts, new blockchains, ICOs, tokenization of things, or the most recent trends on DeFi tokens. These projects highlight the possibilities for a much more robust digital future, but the market also needs time to test and adopt. A reliable digital payment infrastructure must be built first in order to allow these experiments to flourish. In this paper we examined the historical background and economic reasons for the U.S. dollar’s dominance in the world, and the probable conclusion is that the demand for U.S. dollars will likely continue, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, accompanied by a worldwide economic slowdown. The current monetary system is far from perfect, but there are no better alternatives for replacement at least in the near term. Incremental improvements are being made in both the public and private sectors, and stablecoins have a definite role to play in both the traditional and the new crypto world. Thank you. Reference:  How the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, Investopedia  The dollar is in high demand, prone to dangerous appreciation, The Economist  Dollar dominance in trade and finance, Gita Gopinath  Global trades dependence on dollars, The Economist & IMF working papers  Total credit to non-bank borrowers by currency of denomination, BIS  Biggest stock exchanges in the world, Business Insider  McKinsey Global Private Market Review 2020, McKinsey & Company  Central banks current interest rates, Global Rates  Venezuela hyperinflation hits 10 million percent, CNBC  Lebanon inflation crisis, Reuters  Venezuela cryptocurrency market, Chainalysis  The most used cryptocurrency isn’t Bitcoin, Bloomberg  Trading volume of all crypto assets, coinmarketcap.com  Tether US dollar peg is no longer credible, Forbes  New crypto derivatives let you bet on (or against) Tether’s solvency, Coindesk  Remittance Price Worldwide, The World Bank  Interbank Information Network, J.P. Morgan  Jamie Dimon interview, CBS News  Rise of the central bank digital currency, BIS  Speech by Andrew Bailey, 3 September 2020, Bank of England
Testing the Tide | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - June 2020
We would rather be ruined than changed. -W H Auden, The Age of Anxiety This is my forty-third portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $726 306 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $42 118 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $78 730 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $111 691 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $201 745 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $39 357 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $231 269 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 668 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 310 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $5 532 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $117 757 Secured physical gold – $18 913 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $10 479 Bitcoin – $148 990 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 841 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 553 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 484 Total portfolio value: $1 765 743 (+$8 485 or 0.5%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 42.2% (2.8% under) Global shares – 22.0% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 27.3% (2.7% under) Total shares – 69.5% (5.5% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 4.7% International bonds – 9.4% Total bonds – 14.0% (1.0% under) Gold – 7.7% Bitcoin – 8.4% Gold and alternatives – 16.2% (6.2% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The overall portfolio increased slightly over the month. This has continued to move the portfolio beyond the lows seen in late March. The modest portfolio growth of $8 000, or 0.5 per cent, maintains its value at around that achieved at the beginning of the year. [Chart] The limited growth this month largely reflects an increase in the value of my current equity holdings, in VAS and A200 and the Vanguard retail funds. This has outweighed a small decline in the value of Bitcoin and global shares. The value of the bond holdings also increased modestly, pushing them to their highest value since around early 2017. [Chart] There still appears to be an air of unreality around recent asset price increases and the broader economic context. Britain's Bank of England has on some indicators shown that the aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown represent the most challenging financial crisis in around 300 years. What is clear is that investor perceptions and fear around the coronavirus pandemic are a substantial ongoing force driving volatility in equity markets (pdf). A somewhat optimistic view is provided here that the recovery could look more like the recovery from a natural disaster, rather than a traditional recession. Yet there are few certainties on offer. Negative oil prices, and effective offers by US equity investors to bail out Hertz creditors at no cost appear to be signs of a financial system under significant strains. As this Reserve Bank article highlights, while some Australian households are well-placed to weather the storm ahead, the timing and severity of what lays ahead is an important unknown that will itself feed into changes in household wealth from here. Investments this month have been exclusively in the Australian shares exchange-traded fund (VAS) using Selfwealth.* This has been to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares. A moving azimuth: falling spending continues Monthly expenses on the credit card have continued their downward trajectory across the past month. [Chart] The rolling average of monthly credit card spending is now at its lowest point over the period of the journey. This is despite the end of lockdown, and a slow resumption of some more normal aspects of spending. This has continued the brief period since April of the achievement of a notional and contingent kind of financial independence. The below chart illustrates this temporary state, setting out the degree to which portfolio distributions cover estimated total expenses, measured month to month. [Chart] There are two sources of volatility underlying its movement. The first is the level of expenses, which can vary, and the second is the fact that it is based on financial year distributions, which are themselves volatile. Importantly, the distributions over the last twelve months of this chart is only an estimate - and hence the next few weeks will affect the precision of this analysis across its last 12 observations. Estimating 2019-20 financial year portfolio distributions Since the beginning of the journey, this time of year usually has sense of waiting for events to unfold - in particular, finding out the level of half-year distributions to June. These represent the bulk of distributions, usually averaging 60-65 per cent of total distributions received. They are an important and tangible signpost of progress on the financial independence journey. This is no simple task, as distributions have varied in size considerably. A part of this variation has been the important role of sometimes large and lumpy capital distributions - which have made up between 30 to 48 per cent of total distributions in recent years, and an average of around 15 per cent across the last two decades. I have experimented with many different approaches, most of which have relied on averaging over multi-year periods to even out the 'peaks and troughs' of how market movements may have affected distributions. The main approaches have been:
An 'adjusted income' approach - stripping out the capital gains components of Vanguard funds to reach an estimate of underlying income generation, both across the entire investment period, and during the sharpest low of the Global Financial Crisis
A long-term asset class approach - relying on long-term historical data on averages of the income produced by various asset classes
A 'tax method' approach - this derives an income estimate as a percentage of the portfolio by drawing on taxable investment income totals from tax return records
Simple historical rolling average - this is a rolling three-year measure, based on the actual distributions record of the portfolio
Average distribution rate approach - this method uses a long-term average of annual distributions received as a percentage of the total portfolio since 1999
Each of these have their particular simplifications, advantages and drawbacks. Developing new navigation tools Over the past month I have also developed more fully an alternate 'model' for estimating returns. This simply derives a median value across a set of historical 'cents per unit' distribution data for June and December payouts for the Vanguard funds and exchange traded funds. These make up over 96 per cent of income producing portfolio assets. In other words, this model essentially assumes that each Vanguard fund and ETF owned pays out the 'average' level of distributions this half-year, with the average being based on distribution records that typically go back between 5 to 10 years. Mapping the distribution estimates The chart below sets out the estimate produced by each approach for the June distributions that are to come. [Chart] Some observations on these findings can be made. The lowest estimate is the 'adjusted GFC income' observation, which essentially assumes that the income for this period is as low as experienced by the equity and bond portfolio during the Global Financial Crisis. Just due to timing differences of the period observed, this seems to be a 'worst case' lower bound estimate, which I do not currently place significant weight on. Similarly, at the highest end, the 'average distribution rate' approach simply assumes June distributions deliver a distribution equal to the median that the entire portfolio has delivered since 1999. With higher interest rates, and larger fixed income holdings across much of that time, this seems an objectively unlikely outcome. Similarly, the delivery of exactly the income suggested by long-term averages measured across decades and even centuries would be a matter of chance, rather than the basis for rational expectations. Central estimates of the line of position This leaves the estimates towards the centre of the chart - estimates of between around $28 000 to $43 000 as representing the more likely range. I attach less weight to the historical three-year average due to the high contribution of distributed capital gains over that period of growth, where at least across equities some capital losses are likely to be in greater presence. My preferred central estimate is the model estimate (green) , as it is based in historical data directly from the investment vehicles rather than my own evolving portfolio. The data it is based on in some cases goes back to the Global Financial Crisis. This estimate is also quite close to the raw average of all the alternative approaches (red). It sits a little above the 'adjusted income' measure. None of these estimates, it should be noted, contain any explicit adjustment for the earnings and dividend reductions or delays arising from COVID-19. They may, therefore represent a modest over-estimate for likely June distributions, to the extent that these effects are more negative than those experienced on average across the period of the underlying data. These are difficult to estimate, but dividend reductions could easily be in the order of 20-30 per cent, plausibly lowering distributions to the $23 000 to $27 000 range. The recently announced forecast dividend for the Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) is, for example, the lowest in four years. As seen from chart above, there is a wide band of estimates, which grow wider still should capital gains be unexpectedly distributed from the Vanguard retail funds. These have represented a source of considerable volatility. Given this, it may seem fruitless to seek to estimate these forthcoming distributions, compared to just waiting for them to arrive. Yet this exercise helps by setting out reasoning and positions, before hindsight bias urgently arrives to inform me that I knew the right answer all along. It also potentially helps clearly 'reject' some models over time, if the predictions they make prove to be systematically incorrect. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 81.0% 109.4% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 98.8% 133.5% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 79.2% 106.9% Summary The current coronavirus conditions are affecting all aspects of the journey to financial independence - changing spending habits, leading to volatility in equity markets and sequencing risks, and perhaps dramatically altering the expected pattern of portfolio distributions. Although history can provide some guidance, there is simply no definitive way to know whether any or all of these changes will be fundamental and permanent alterations, or simply data points on a post-natural disaster path to a different post-pandemic set of conditions. There is the temptation to fit past crises imperfectly into the modern picture, as this Of Dollars and Data post illustrates well. Taking a longer 100 year view, this piece 'The Allegory of the Hawk and Serpent' is a reminder that our entire set of received truths about constructing a portfolio to survive for the long-term can be a product of a sample size of one - actual past history - and subject to recency bias. This month has felt like one of quiet routines, muted events compared to the past few months, and waiting to understand more fully the shape of the new. Nonetheless, with each new investment, or week of lower expenditure than implied in my FI target, the nature of the journey is incrementally changing - beneath the surface. Small milestones are being passed - such as over 40 per cent of my equity holdings being outside of the the Vanguard retail funds. Or these these retail funds - which once formed over 95 per cent of the portfolio - now making up less than half. With a significant part of the financial independence journey being about repeated small actions producing outsized results with time, the issue of maintaining good routines while exploring beneficial changes is real. Adding to the complexity is that embarking on the financial journey itself is likely to change who one is. This idea, of the difficulty or impossibility of knowing the preferences of a future self, is explored in a fascinating way in this Econtalk podcast episode with a philosophical thought experiment about vampires. It poses the question: perhaps we can never know ourselves at the destination? And yet, who would rationally choose ruin over any change? The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
Coinbase - The reference platform for investing in cryptocurrencies: here is the complete guide. Coinbase is currently the most famous website or web platform for trading cryptocurrencies. This is not a classic Exchange but a real Broker that allows you to buy, sell and convert many of the main cryptocurrencies - Bitcoin and Ethereum among others - using traditional currency such as the Euro. In this complete guide to Coinbase we will try to explain all its features in detail. Founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, it was born as a simple online Bitcoin wallet. Over time it has transformed into a cryptocurrency trading site that now reaches over 33 countries. Being a broker, registering on the site requires all the necessary steps (KYC) to verify the user who holds the account. By signing up via the following secure link you can immediately earn 10 Dollars which will be credited to you by Coinbase. Complete Guide to CoinBase Coinbase as well as an intermediary for the purchase and sale of over 15 cryptocurrencies directly in Euro, also provides a real exchange (crypto exchange site) called Coinbase Pro (ex-GDax): The exchange behaves as a normal stock trading site with purchases and sales in real time with obviously much lower commissions when compared with those of classic trading platforms. What Coinbase Pro offers. Coinbase can receive crypto from other exchanges and specifically generates more permanent online wallets that will always remain at your disposal. To all intents and purposes, Coinbase's main task is to act as an archive for its cryptocurrencies for all those who do not want to try their hand at decentralized wallets. The transfer between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro, for example, will be quick and free (but this does not apply to other exchanges) thus allowing all those who wish to trade between the main cryptocurrencies to be able to avoid expensive passages on other exchanges. Coinbase Pro allows you to exchange a range of cryptocurrencies with each other higher than that of its brother site but at a much lower cost. While on Coinbase the exchange between cryptocurrencies involves the payment of a maximum commission of 2%, on Coinbase Pro the rates fluctuate between 0.15 and 0.25%. Values that will tend to decrease as the volumes traded increase. The Coinbase account will also allow you to operate on Coinbase Pro. However, an additional request for user verification via Webcam may occur. All these levels of security are obviously necessary to protect customers and comply with the stringent regulations of the various countries in which the company operates. Thanks to the guide, let's see what the interface shows us. In this complete guide to Coinbase we also want to clarify the visual aspect. Once inside the site you will find yourself in the Dashboard or Home Page which will show from top to bottom the value of your Portfolio with its historical graph, the list of cryptocurrencies that you decide to keep under observation, a box that shows the 5 heaviest cryptocurrencies in your Portfolio (a pie chart is also available) and a second box with the latest transactions. In the center of the page there is also the link to register with Coinbase Earn. By subscribing to the waiting list, you will have the opportunity to receive an invitation that will make you earn additional cryptocurrencies simply by following some very short video courses lasting a few minutes. In addition to the Home Page, there is the Prices page with the listing of all the cryptocurrencies available on Coinbase and a very long list of those not available. By selecting the star on the right you can decide which ones to always keep in the foreground on the home page. Clicking on one of them will open a new screen that will offer a large amount of technical and historical information on the crypto in question as well as a fair number of constantly updated news. Your funds are well organized. The Portfolio page will report the amount of the balance in Euro of all the cryptocurrencies deposited on Coinbase. Here you can send and receive crypto to external wallets. By clicking on Overview you will be sent back to the Prices page just described. The Safe item, on the other hand, allows you to set aside cryptocurrency at a higher level of security. Finally, a brief description of the "Make Transactions" item visible at the top right and present in almost all Coinbase pages. By clicking on it in any position you find it on the site, a small screen will open with the items "Buy, Sell, Convert". To purchase, you will first need to associate a payment method to your account. The Credit Card would be the most immediate choice due to its rapidity in crediting if it were not for the high commissions required by Coinbase. We therefore recommend that you be patient and use a normal Sepa standard bank transfer to credit the funds. Selling your cryptocurrencies on Coinbase, depositing them in your Euro account, is simple and immediate as well as foolproof thanks to the Preview that will always be shown before confirming the transaction. This will involve the payment of a commission between 0.99 and 2.99 Dollars. Rather high fees due to its wallet nature. For those who love trading, we obviously recommend moving to the Pro version. The site offers a complete and comprehensive technical support page: https://support.coinbase.com/ We conclude this complete guide to Coinbase with a note on the mobile versions. There are two versions of for smartphones: a standard one called Coinbase Bitcoin Wallet and a personal one called Coinbase Wallet. This second app allows you to transfer your cryptocurrencies from Coinbase Standard to an encrypted wallet on your smartphone (Coinbase Wallet). The substantial difference is the following: Coinbase Standard is an online wallet and therefore subject to the remote risk of an external cyber attack while Coinbase Wallet stores the encryption key locally on the phone. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.coinbase.android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.toshi We remind trading enthusiasts of the availability on our blog of the article dedicated to Exodus Wallet. If you liked this article and would like to contribute with a donation: Bitcoin: 1Ld9b165ZYHZcY9eUQmL9UjwzcphRE5S8Z Ethereum: 0x8D7E456A11f4D9bB9e6683A5ac52e7DB79DBbEE7 Litecoin: LamSRc1jmwgx5xwDgzZNoXYd6ENczUZViK Stellar: GBLDIRIQWRZCN5IXPIKYFQOE46OG2SI7AFVWFSLAHK52MVYDGVJ6IXGI Ripple: rUb8v4wbGWYrtXzUpj7TxCFfUWgfvym9xf By: cryptoall.it Telegram Channel: t.me/giulo75 Netbox Browser: https://netbox.global/PZn5A https://www.coinbase.com/join/rosa_fj https://coinbase.com/earn/eos/invite/6r5m2fwn https://coinbase.com/earn/oxt/invite/tkdjy946
Two Roads Diverge | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - May 2020
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken This is my forty-second portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $727 917 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $42 128 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $78 569 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $110 009 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $187 003 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $39 987 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $225 540 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 726 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 741 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $5 652 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $117 714 Secured physical gold – $18 982 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $11 395 Bitcoin – $159 470 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 357 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 492 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 477 Total portfolio value: $1 757 159 (+$62 325 or 3.7%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 41.4% (3.6% under) Global shares – 22.2% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 27.4% (2.6% under) Total shares – 68.8% (6.2% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 4.4% International bonds – 9.7% Total bonds – 14.1% (0.9% under) Gold – 7.8% Bitcoin – 9.1% Gold and alternatives – 16.9% (6.9% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments This month featured a further recovery in the overall portfolio, continuing to effectively reduce the size of the large losses across the first quarter. The portfolio has increased by around $62 000, leading to a portfolio growth of 3.7 per cent. This means that around half of the large recent falls have been made up, and the portfolio sits around levels last reached in October of last year. [Chart] Leading the portfolio growth has been increases in Australian shares - particularly those held through the Betashares A200 and Vanguard VAS exchange traded funds, with both gaining over four per cent. Most other holdings remained steady, or fell slightly. Markets appear to be almost entirely disconnected from the daily announcements of the sharp effects of the global coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions. Bond and equity markets seem to have different and competing expectations for the future, and equity markets - at best - are apparently intent on looking through the immediate recovery phase to a new period of strong expansion. [Chart] On some metrics, both major global and Australian equity markets can be viewed as quite expensive, especially as reduced dividends announced have largely yet to be delivered. Yet if historically low bond yields are considered, it can be argued that some heightening compared to historical equity market valuations may be sustainable. Reflecting this moment of markets holding their breath before one of two possible futures plays out, gold and Bitcoin remain elevated, and consequently above their target weightings. Perhaps the same contending forces are in evidence in a recent Australian Securities and Investment Commission study (pdf) which has found that average Australian retail investors have reacted to uncertainty by activating old brokerage accounts, trading more frequently, and holding securities for shorter periods. My own market activity has been limited to purchases of Vanguard Australian shares ETF (VAS) and the international share ETF (VGS), to bring the portfolio closer to its target allocations. Will Australia continue to be lucky through global slow downs? Despite this burst of market activity in the retail market, it is unclear how Australian markets and equities will perform against the background of a global economic slowdown. A frequently heard argument is that a small open trade exposed commodities provider such as Australia, with a more narrowly-based economy, may perform poorly in a phase of heightened risk. This recent Bank of England paper (pdf) makes the intriguing suggestion that this argument is not borne out by the historical record. In fact, the paper finds that industrial production in Australia, China and a mere handful of other economies has tended to increase following global risk shocks. A question remaining, however, is whether the recovery from this 'risk shock' may have different characteristics and impacts than similar past events. One key question may be the exact form of government fiscal and monetary responses adopted. Another is whether inflation or deflation is the likely pathway - an unknown which itself may rely on whether long-term trends in the velocity of money supply continue, or are broken. Facing all uncertainties, attention should be on tail risks - and minimising the odds of extreme negative scenarios. The case for this is laid out in this moving reflection by Morgan Housel. For this reason, I am satisfied that my Ratesetter Peer-to-Peer loans have been gradually maturing, reducing some 'tail risk' credit exposures in what could be a testing phase for borrowers through new non-bank lending channels in Australia. With accrued interest of over $13 000, at rates of around 9 per cent on average, over the five years of the investment, the loans have performed relatively well. A temporary sheltering port - spending continues to decline This month spending has continued to fall even as lockdown and other restrictions have slowly begun to ease. These extraordinary events have pushed even the smoothed average of three year expenditure down. [Chart] On a monthly basis credit card spending and total expenses have hit the lowest levels in more than six years. Apparently, average savings rates are up across many economies, though obviously individual experiences and starting points can differ dramatically. Total estimated monthly expenditure has also fallen below current estimates of distributions for the first time since a period of exceptionally high distributions across financial year 2017-18. The result of this is that I am briefly and surprisingly, for this month, notionally financially independent based on assumed distributions from the FIRE portfolio alone - at least until more normal patterns of expenditure are resumed. Following the lines of drift - a longer view on progress made Yet taking a longer view - and accounting for the final portfolio goal set - gives a different perspective. This is of a journey reaching toward, but not at, an end. The chart below traces in purely nominal dollar terms the progress of the total portfolio value as a percentage of the current portfolio goal of $2.18 million over the last 13 years. It also shows three labels, with the percentage progress at the inception of detailed portfolio data in 2007, at the start of this written record in January 2017, and as at January 1 of this year. [Chart] Two trend lines are shown - one a polynomial and the other exponential function - and they are extended to include a projection of future progress out to around 18 months. The line of fit is close for the early part of the journey, but larger divergences from both trend lines are evident in the past two years as the impact of variable investment returns on a larger portfolio takes hold. There are some modest inaccuracies introduced by the nominal methodology adopted - such as somewhat discounting early progress. A 2007 dollar had greater 'real' value and significance than is assigned to it by this representation. The chart does demonstrate, however, the approximate shape and length of the early journey - with it taking around 5 years to reach 20 per cent of the target, and 10 years to reach around half way. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 80.6% 108.4% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 98.3% 132.3% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 78.8% 106.0% Summary With aspects of daily life slowly and incrementally adjusting to a 'new normal', the longer-term question for the portfolio remains around how markets and government actions interact in a recovery phase. The progress of the portfolio over the past 13 years has seemed, when viewed from afar as in chart above, predictable, and almost inevitable. Through the years it has felt anything but so smoothly linear. Rather, tides and waves have pushed and pulled, in turn stalling progress, or pushing it further ahead than hopes have dared. It is possible that what lays ahead is a simple 'return leg', or more of the same. That through simple extrapolation around 80 per cent of the challenges already lay behind. Yet that is not the set of mind that I approach the remainder of the journey with. Rather, the shortness of the distance to travel has lent an extra focus on those larger, lower probability, events that could delay the journey or push it off-course. Those 'third' risks types of tail risks which Morgan Housel points out. In one sense the portfolio allocation aims to deal - in a probabilistic way - with the multiple futures that could occur. Viewed in this way, a gold allocation (and also Bitcoin) represents a long option on an extreme state of the economic world arising - as it did in the early 1980s. The 75 per cent target allocation to equities can be viewed as a high level of assurance around a 'base case' that human ingenuity and innovation will continue to create value over the long term. The bond portfolio, similarly, can be seen as assigning a 15 per cent probability that both of these hypotheses are incorrect, and that further market falls and possible deflation are ahead. That perhaps even an experience akin to the lengthy, socially dislocating, post-bubble phase in Japan presided over by its central bank lays in store. In other interesting media consumed this month, 'Fire and Chill', the brand new podcast collaboration between Pat the Shuffler and Strong Money Australia got off to an enjoyable start, tackling 'Why Bother with FIRE' and other topics. Additionally, investment company Incrementum has just published the latest In Gold We Trust report, which gives an arrestingly different perspective on potential market and policy directions from traditional financial sources. The detailed report questions the role and effectiveness of traditionally 'risk-free' assets like government bonds in the types of futures that could emerge. On first reading, the scenarios it contains appear atypical and beyond the reasonable contemplation of many investors - until it is recalled that up to a few years ago no mainstream economics textbook would have entertained the potential for persistent negative interest rates. As the paths to different futures diverge, drawing on the wisdom of others to help look as far as possible into the bends in the undergrowth ahead becomes the safest choice. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
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Coinviva Market Weekly Report - Week of 05/04/2020
BTC/USD Hourly Chart The Bitcoin price was able to break out of the upper Keltner channel at $6,540 and reached as high as $7,285 at one point. It went back to $6,818 which is near the resistance level from last December. The higher highs and higher lows show that the price is back on an upward trend. The BTC price is expected to test the $7,140 resistance next week. If the momentum keeps up, the price can potentially go back to $7,650 in the medium term. For the time-being, wait for the price to break above the Keltner channel again near $7,000 and then enter a long position, with support at around $6,650. Review of the week: Despite the economic downturn induced by the coronavirus pandemic, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell predicts that Bitcoin (BTC) and the crypto industry as a whole will perform well in the months ahead. In an interview with Forbes, Powell reveals that while many companies are laying off workers, the San Francisco-based exchange is increasing its staff by nearly 10% due to an uptick in interest in the cryptocurrency market at large ever since the coronavirus surfaced in China. He says that both the cryptocurrency and traditional markets have their share of retail investors who make trades on a whim, and that Bitcoin has remained relatively stable, with the price rebounding by 30% plus last week. A closely-watched Bitcoin (BTC) whale Joe007, who earned $20 million in realized profits on Bitfinex between February and March, says he expects more pain ahead for the global economy and predicts waves of volatility as governments push to prop up traditional markets and combat a devastating loss of jobs: “It is going to be the biggest economic shock of our generation. It will unfold in waves and over time, giving false hopes and then crushing them. The focus of the crisis will be shifting through different areas. Attempts to alleviate and solve one crisis will lead to more mess.” He expects investors to continue shifting assets to US dollars – a dynamic that pummeled equities and the crypto markets in March. In a letter to investors, CEO and co-founder of Quantum Economics, Mati Greenspan, says Bitcoin’s recent crash, along with traditional markets, is not surprising. He argues that concerns are overblown regarding whether the leading cryptocurrency still has a future after the volatile pullback: “There seems to be an existential question going around the crypto market at the moment where people are saying that if bitcoin can’t rise in this environment then it probably doesn’t have much of a reason to exist at all. After all, the narrative of using bitcoin as a safe haven in times of financial stress has been a rather strong one throughout the years and so now should really be BTC’s time to shine. Bitcoin was invented to give us an alternative to money that is controlled by governments and banks. The volatility is largely due to the fact that it’s quite new and adoption rates are unstable, which leads to large levels of speculation. So, a measure of success would be to see bitcoin remain on a slow but steady incline, rather than zooming towards the moon due to global uncertainty.” Disclaimer: The above market commentary is based on technical analysis using historical pricing data, and is for reference only. It does not serve as investment or trading advice. About Coinviva: Coinviva aims to create the best crypto financial services ecosystem for both institutional and individual investors. We provide reliable fiat funding options, excellent trading liquidity, bank security level custody and one-stop high liquidity provision on-site & off-site. Our founding management team all come from top tiered investment banking (e.g. JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch), with fully comprehensive financial institution operation experience. Homepage: https://coinviva.com/ Telegram: https://t.me/coinviva
Bitcoin is the most censorship resistant money in the world.
You don't have to buy a “whole” bitcoin so don't freak out if you look at the price. You can buy a piece of one no problem.
The Dallas Mavericks accept Bitcoin on their website. You don't trust Mark Cuban. He's the best shark.
Bitcoin is the best performing asset of the last decade (better than S&P500).
Diversify your current portfolio.
It's not illegal in the USA.
You holding just one satoshi slightly limits the supply and can rise the price for everyone else.
[In late 2019] hash rate is the highest it has ever been
Suicide insurance; if Bitcoin rises in price there is no worse feeling than regret.
Some of the smartest people in computer science and cryptography are working on it. Trust nerds.
Look at the all time historical chart. No technical analysis just tell me what you think when you look at it.
Money is a belief system... and I want to believe.
Transparent ledger, no funny business going on it's easy to audit.
Elon Musk appears to be a fan. How's that for an appeal to authority
There is a fixed limit in the number of bitcoins that will exist. 21 million bitcoin, 7 billion people on earth. Do the math.
There are so many examples of governments inflating their currency to the point where it becomes unusable. Read the wikipedia page for Venezuela or Zimbabwe.
Altcoins make sacrifices in either security or centralization. There are altcoins out there that claim to be innovating but just check the scoreboard nothing has flipped Bitcoin in market value or even gotten close.
With technology developing at a rate faster than law, governments and for-profit businesses have the ability to monitor our purchases, location, our habits, and all of this has happened without consent. People made jokes and conspiracy theory, but sometimes conspiracy is real. Most people are good, but there is absolutely evil out there. There are absolutely evil people in positions of power. There are absolutely evil people that work together in positions of power. Does anyone actually believe that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide. Go read about Leslie Wexner. Go read the cypherpunk manifesto.
The upcoming halvening in 2020 will reduce the number of Bitcoin created in each block, making them more scarce, and if history repeats more valuable.
Bitcoin has lower fees than traditional banking.
Gold has the advantage of being a physical thing. But unlike gold you know Bitcoin is not forged, or mixed with another metal, and you can easily break it into tiny pieces and send it over the internet to someone.
Bitcoin could spark new interests maybe you start to read more into economics, computer science, or Brock Pierce.
Bitcoin has survived with no leader, marketing team, public relations, or legal team.
Because Wired magazine said Bitcoin was dead at $2, Forbes said it was dead at $15, NY Times at $208, and CNN at $333.
Just do a cost benefit analysis. What happens if Bitcoin fails and it goes to zero vs. what happens if it succeeds, and becomes world money.
Bitcoin encourages long term thinking, planning, saving. Due to inflation we are punished by holding on to cash. Look up the statistics on the average savings account while we are bombarded with consumerist bullshit like Funko pop heads, Loot crate subscription services, and new syrup flavors for coffee. Currently we are encouraged to spend now, seek immediate gratification, and ignore what we are becoming as Amazon picks out our clothes and toothpaste ships it to the house and we sit and watch streaming services where content is pushed to us and I'm supposed to buy that this garbage is actually “trending”. Our lives have become so comfortable that idiots spend $60 to escape a room and have someone take your picture when you get out. What would our ancestors think.
Maybe you're a day trader looking to use a trading bot in an unregulated market.
Bitcoin has 7 letters in it. Lucky number 7.....
Bitcoin promises to bank the unbanked, and provide services to those not otherwise “qualified” to open a bank account.
It's just cool, don't you want to seem smart to all your friends.
The origin story is so nuts there's going to be a movie or several movies about the early days of Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto remains anonymous to this day. Imagine if the inventor of the cell phone was anonymous.
If you have money to burn, don't buy soda, weed, or some girls private snapchat it's a dead end put it towards Bitcoin and give it to your child in the future.
To avoid getting ripped off by foreign exchange fees just because you were born one place and your friends were born in another place.
Can't live off the grid in your log cabin and still use Mastercard. Bitcoin is one piece of opting out.
If one country adopts BTC as the national currency, it doesn't take much thought to realise that others will follow.
Join a welcoming and unique community. Everyone is super nice because they want your money.
You can stick it to the baby boomers.
You can stick it to the vegans.
You can stick it Roger Ver.
Maybe your IQ is 70 and you'll do whatever CNBC Fast Money recommends.
Maybe a hacker infects your computer, records you doing that thing, and threatens to release the tape if you do not pay them 1.5 Bitcoin.
You're a risk taker looking for some risky investment.
Aliens attack like Independence Day, blow up major cities in major countries, your money is still safe with Bitcoin. As long as there is a some guy, some person, living on an island with a copy of the ledger out there on your'e good. We're all good.
Many proposals to scale the number of transactions, may the best plan win.
One day you might have to use BTC to pay taxes, buy food, and charge your Tesla.
You want to support a political group and remain private.
You can trust math more than you can trust people to set an emission rate.
Government don't know how much you have.
The first response to Bitcoin being published by Hal Finney stated that Bitcoin was positioned to reach million dollar valuation. Hal was the first bull and passed away in 2014, missing a lot #doitforHal.
Baddies can't freeze your money if they mad at you.
The Big Bang Theory mentioned it, maybe you want to be like Sheldon the bazinga guy.
Be contrarian. In a world where everyone zigs it's sometimes good to zag.
Don't have any hobbies, and you just need a reason to get up in the morning.
Enjoy learning? Bitcoin is a topic where there is so much to learn, and so much development, that it really becomes a never ending journey. For someone who likes learning, it's more productive than speedrunning a video game.
Yolo. You only live once. This isn't a dress rehearsal, if there's something your kind of interested in pursue it. That's true for anything not just Bitcoin. But if you're reading this I'm assuming you're interested.
Bitcoin is not a ponzi scheme. The difference is Bitcoin does not need new people buying in to work, blocks being added will continue even if the community stopped growing.
With religion on the decline maybe you want to join a cult. Crypto twitter is a great echo chamber to meet like minded people.
Satoshi Nakamoto found a way to distribute a global currency in a fair way with the ability to adjust the mining difficulty as we go, it's really incredible. You still need computers and electricity to mine new bitcoin today but it's an extremely fair way for people to earn. There was no premine of Bitcoin. Everyone who has Bitcoin either bought it at what the market said, or they earned it.
No CEO in charge of Bitcoin to make bad decisions or a board of directors that can make changes. The users, an ever growing number, are in charge.
Bitcoin has no days off, it has no workers in charge who can get sick or take a holiday.
Bitcoin has survived 10 years (and more). While there will always be dangers, I'd argue that those first few years it was most vulnerable to fail.
Have some trust in the cypherpunks. Anyone who held and didn't sell bitcoin as it went from pennies to five figures is not looking to get rich. They want to change the world.
Potential president Tulsi Gabbard disclosed owning some.
Digital money is the future, anyone who has tried Venmo can see that. Well Bitcoin is a digitally native asset.
Refugees can use Bitcoin to store their wealth as they flee a failing country.
Bitcoin is an open source project. Anthony Pompliano likes to call it a virus but I like how the author of the Bitcoin Standard describes it. Bitcoin is like a song. As long as one person remembers it you can't destroy a song.
Triple entry accounting. When humans first started recording who owes who what we had single-entry accounting. The king's little brother would keep everything written down, but we had to really trust this guy because he could simply erase a line and that money would be gone. When double-entry accounting started to spread 500 years ago it brought with it massive innovation. Businesses could now form relationships across the ocean as they each kept a record. We did not have innovation again until Satoshi's Bitcoin, where blockchain can be used as the neutral third party to keep record. It might not sound important but blockchain allows us to agree upon an objective reality.
Bitcoin is non-political.
Bitcoin is easy to accept. I mean kind of. It's certainly easier than setting up a bank account.
A sandwich used to cost 10 cents in America, I walk into Subway and they don't even have $5 foot longs anymore. Inflation man..
It's a peaceful protest.
Critics say that mining wastes electricity, but if Bitcoin adoption continues the world will actually be incentivized to produce more renewable energy. There are so many waterfalls and sources of energy in the middle of nowhere right now. People might not see a reason to build a power plant over there now, but in the future it can make business sense. Take that waterfall mine bitcoin, and sell them to the people who can't mine. It allows for a business to sell their energy anywhere.
Get into debates around Bitcoin, build those critical thinking skills.
“Predicting rain doesn't count, building arks does”
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.”
"I never considered for one second having anything to do with it. I detested it the moment it was raised. It’s just disgusting. Bitcoin is noxious poison.”
The immaculate conception. No cryptocurrency can have a start the grassroots way Bitcoin did, it's just impossible given how the space has changed.
There are more than 1000x more U.S. dollars today than there were a hundred years ago.
Bitcoin is the largest transfer of wealth this decade from the least curious to the curious.
The concept of the Star Wars Cantina, Galt's Gulch, or young Beat Generation kids sitting in a basement smoking cigarettes and questioning the world can only exist if money remains fungible.
You can send money to your Dad even if he lives in a country run by bad boys.
Memorize your key, and walk around the world carrying your money in your head.
The Federal Reserve is objectively way too powerful.
John Mcafe promised that if bitcoins were not valued at 1 million dollars by the end of 2020 he would eat his own penis on national television. It will be a sad day if we don't hit that 1 million.
The Apple credit card.
If we ever get artificial intelligence it'll be able to interact with Bitcoin.
Katy Perry is aware of crypto so if by some chance you run into her, you get one chance to strike up conversation, so here's your chance to shine. You don't ask for a picture, you don't say she's pretty, or name your favorite song. Take your shot and ask about what type of cold storage she uses for her bitcoin.
Many people are afraid of a world currency because it's associated with a centralized world power taking control. Bitcoin allows for neutral world money.
Trading, psychology, and the benefits of Trading Bots.
https://preview.redd.it/8lhgwekhbmv31.jpg?width=823&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=35c417aa683b9fcdf37a126127c2e60c3ab405c2 Most beginners who open trading accounts on cryptocurrency exchanges and start independent trading, see only one goal — to earn as quickly as possible. This is a big mistake. The fact is that trading on the stock exchange will only become truly profitable when it becomes a priority for the person who came to trading. As a rule, to combine trade with any other occupation and at the same time everywhere to succeed will not work. Trading for a novice trader should be if not the main, then a very important and priority occupation. No need to wait for quick results. Trading on the stock exchange — the same profession as a doctor, Builder or engineer. The only difference is that she can’t go to University. Just as one learns to be a Builder for five years, so it takes years to learn all the wisdom and secrets of the trade. Trading on the stock exchange is not a Stayer distance, it is a marathon. And the winner is the one who will find the courage to reach the end. In addition, trade is very much changing a person, showing his qualities, which in everyday life he does not know. Over time, if a trader really wants to succeed in trading, he must completely rethink his life, change the system of values and look at many things, change himself.
Fear as a Component of Trading
The strongest emotion known to man is, of course, fear. What gives rise to the exchange’s fears? We can not predict the behavior of the market, and therefore fully control their money invested in its instruments. In addition to the unknown, when there is no understanding of how to safely get out of a predicament, we are afraid in advance of what traumatized us earlier. Because fear is so emotional, you need to surround yourself with the right facts to drive it away. We need to know for sure that our trading system should not generate more than three consecutive losing trades. Winners plan what to do if their trades fail. So only a systematic approach will protect us from ourselves. That is why the investment rules written in the trading templates exist not only to communicate the best market opportunities but, more importantly, to protect us from our own internal “demons”.
Emotions in Trading
Seekers of strong emotions, adrenaline forget everything in pursuit of excitement. It follows that a novice investor, overtaken by the “adrenaline curse”, will trade at the slightest opportunity. Yet Dostoevsky, one of the most famous and avid players, said that for him the most acute feeling in life — to win money. The second most acute feeling is to lose them. Paradoxically, few things give more pleasure than getting rid of the pain and torment of being in a losing trade. This creates a mental internal conflict. Awareness of losses brings “excitement” or a sense of exaltation, and our emotionality does not care what we pay for these experiences losses in the brokerage account. “Adrenaline curse” will drive us into the trade for thrills and extract them from there, regardless of the price.
Intuition on the Exchange
The mind of an intuitive investor tries to construct mental constructions of events. I will try to explain what mental construction is by the example of a chess player’s thinking. The grandmaster understands and remembers the position of each figure in terms of its mental constructions and relationships inherent in the arrangement of figures. The random arrangement of the figures does not fit into any of his mental constructs, and he cannot structure what he sees. Market patterns on cryptocurrency charts compared to chess compositions include an excessive element of chaos so that they can be interpreted intuitively. Investors with intuition are able to achieve success with the help of” flair”, but this flair often leaves them. The intellect of the rational trader, on the contrary, is manifested in his ability to logically comprehend what is happening to him and to the reality around him and to make on this basis the simplest and most correct decision. Intuition is the ability of a person to penetrate into the essence of things not by reasoning or logical thinking, but by instantaneous, unconscious insight. This is the ability of a trader to “ see the market not with his mind but with his heart.” But, even with a highly developed intuition, you can not act on the market, using only it.This is the trap of intuitive trading — it is impossible to learn.
Fear of Taking Responsibility
What distinguishes successful traders from losers who lose money? First of all look at life. Most people are very passive. If you ask people if they are happy with their lives, the answer is likely to be negative. On the question of who is to blame, I would say that the fault of the parents who have not given a good education, why now not get a good job; blame the employer who delays wages; blame the dollar, which is rising, then falling; to blame the President and the government who do not pay pensions, etc., In their troubles and problems most of the people blame anyone but themselves. The same thing happens in the market because the exchange is a mirror of our life. Talk to the trader losing money, ask why he can’t make money in the market. He replied that the fault of the insiders, manipulators, blame the binary options broker too much Commission, to blame the neighbor who suggested the deal, which turned into a heavy loss. In other words, he himself would have been a millionaire long ago, but for a number of reasons, certainly beyond his control, until that happened. If a person wants to achieve something-not just to lead a life, which are millions of ordinary people (every day to go to work, save five years for a car, twenty years for an apartment, etc.), and to live a full life, so that the financial issue went into the background, to work for fun, not for money, he needs to take responsibility for everything that happens in his life. A person needs to realize that the cause of everything that happens to him is himself.It is this view that allows you to succeed in life and in any business. And trade is no exception. This is the way successful traders look at life. Once you realize that the cause of all your losses is yourself, and not some mythical manipulators, then the case will move forward. ******************************************************************************************************* In the age of digital technologies, when artificial intelligence develops, computer technologies improve, mankind creates various tools to facilitate their own life and everyday life. If we pay attention to trading, then this direction is actively developing, getting new and unique tools. Since any trader (beginner or experienced specialist) is subject to emotions and various psychological factors, there are tools such as trading bots.
A trading robot (bot) is a program that has a certain algorithm. It buys or sells cryptocurrency assets, focusing on the situation in the market. The first trading robots appeared in 2012, and since then they have become more and more perfect. Currently, according to some estimates, 90% of short-term transactions are made either by bots or with their participation. Bots are usually developed for specific trading platforms. Most cryptocurrency exchanges have an API, and they are generally positive about free auto trading within their platform. In contrast to the positive attitude to exchange robots, exchanges often have a negative attitude to arbitration robots. On the rules of trade can be found in the official documentation of the exchange, and if there is no such information, the question can be asked directly to technical support.Some people wonder: is it possible to write your bot trader? This is not an easy option, which is suitable only for experienced programmers. After writing, bots are tested for a long time in the market, corrected numerous errors, corrected strategy. A programmer can also write a bot based on someone else’s code. Some bots are open source, and anyone can find it on GitHub and modify it to fit their needs. Buy a bot for trading cryptocurrency: there are inexpensive programs for trading (about $ 10), and the cost of more high-quality and complex exceeds more than $ 200 and even $ 1000. There is no maximum price limit for bots, top bots are written to order $ 1500 and more. Users are usually offered a choice of several tariff plans for crypto bots, from economy to luxury. The inexpensive option includes the most basic trading algorithms, and the expensive one brings maximum profit and works on more complex algorithms. Arbitration bots are a more expensive exchange. Known cases when downloading the bot, people got on your computer virus-miner or virus-cipher, which encrypt all your personal files and demanded a ransom in bitcoin, usually in bitcoin. Naturally, after transferring the ransom to the specified wallet, no decryption of the files occurred. Trading strategy of stock and arbitrage bots can be very simple, for example:- When the price of cryptocurrency decreases, you need to buy it.- If the price rises, it should be sold.- Or much more complicated. The algorithm can take into account historical data for the last time, indicators, navigate by signals. Quality bots analyze more than a hundred parameters when placing orders. Some programs do not change the algorithm, and there are bots that can connect or configure additional parameters. This option is well suited for experienced traders who have their own preferences in the style of trading. A standard bot can perform such actions:- To assess the market situation, to monitor the rate at a given period of time, to make a forecast. In manual trading, it can show signals to the trader.- Create buy or sell orders.- To report on the profit or loss received. On the example of our IMBA-Exchange, we came to the conclusion that we also need to provide an opportunity for each trader to use bots so that they can be in a comfortable trading environment. Our exchange specialists are developing their own bot for cryptocurrency trading, which will be an excellent and convenient addition to every trader who wants to eliminate the psychological factor and seeks to get stable earnings without losing personal time. ******************************************************************************************************* IMBA-ExchangeMetronix botmakes life easier for every investor. For example, Ing. Michael Eder the CEO of IMBA-Exchange, who has 10 years of experience in trading and the last 3 years in cryptocurrency trading, has firmly decided for himself that in the current realities trading on the exchange simply needs bots:
Throughout the time that I have been trading, I can confidently say that today trading bots are necessary for all traders as the main tool. No matter how long you are in exchange trading, but the nature of the person is designed so that under the influence of psychological factors, market conditions, etc. You still make mistakes and, as a result, this leads to financial losses.OurMetronix Trading Botwill help to solve these problems and eliminate negative consequences. A bot is a tool; it has no feelings. He performs a specific task for a given program and performs it almost unmistakably. The task of the trader is to monitor the situation on the market and correctly, as well as at the right time to configure your bot.
25 Tools and Resources for Crypto Investors: Guide to how to create a winning strategy
Lots of people have PM'd me asking me the same questions on where to find information and how to put together their portfolio so I decided to put a guide for crypto investors, especially those who have only been in a few months and are still confused. This is going to be Part 1 and will deal with research resources, risk and returns. In Part 2 I'll post a systematic approach to valuation and picking individual assets with derived price targets.
Getting started: Tools and resources
You don't have to be a programmer or techie to invest in crypto, but you should first learn the basics of how it functions. I find that this video by 3Blue1Brown is the best introduction to what a blockchain actually is and how it functions, because it explains it clearly and simply with visuals while not dumbing it down too much. If you want a more ELI5 version with cute cartoons, then Upfolio has a nice beginner's intro to the blockchain concept and quick descriptions of top 100 cryptocurrencies. I also recommend simply going to Wikipedia and reading the blockchain and cryptocurrency page and clicking onto a few links in, read about POS vs POW...etc. Later on you'll need this information to understand why a specific use case may or may not benefit from a blockchain structure. Here is a quick summary of the common terms you should know. Next you should arm yourself with some informational resources. I compiled a convenient list of useful tools and sites that I've used and find to be worthy of bookmarking: Market information
http://coinmarketcal.com - Keeping tabs of everything going on in crypto is tough, wouldn't it be great if there was some sort of calendar? Well this is a calendar of upcoming crypto events, whether its conferences, product releases, burns, exchange listings...etc. You can also filter by types of events, coins and month.
http://coin.fyi - Great for following the news related to a specific cryptocurrencies
Delta and Blockfolio are the major mobile apps, I personally recommend Delta.
For desktop I prefer to use a CoinMarketCap API Excel tracker that automatically draws live data from CoinMarketCap. Customize it to your own liking. There are also plenty of online tracking sites like AltPocket but I've never used them so can't recommend one.
Youtube I generally don't follow much on Youtube because it's dominated by idiocy like Trevon James and CryptoNick, but there are some that I think are worthy of following:
Crypto Investor - A background in finance gives Crypto Investor a much more nuanced approach, and he is very insightful in terms of investor behavioral psychology. Listening to his negativity and criticism of parabolic price action in a sea of lambo chasing is refreshing.
CoinMastery - Carter Thomas takes on a rational mid-term to long term approach to investing in crypto, and has been a voice of reason many times.
IvanOnTech - Brings a programmers perspective, goes through the Github and explains many programming issues with blockchains.
Constructing a Investment Strategy
I can't stress enough how important it is to construct an actual investment strategy. Organize what your goals are, what your risk tolerance is and how you plan to construct a portfolio to achieve those goals rather than just chasing the flavor of the week. Why? Because it will force you to slow down and make decisions based on rational thinking rather than emotion, and will also inevitably lead you to think long term.
Setting ROI targets
Bluntly put, a lot of young investors who are in crypto have really unrealistic expectations about returns and risk. A lot of them have never invested in any other type of financial asset, and hence many seem to consider a 10% ROI in a month to be unexciting, even though that is roughly what they should be aiming for. I see a ton of people now on this sub and on other sites making their decisions with the expectation to double their money every month. This has lead a worrying amount of newbies putting in way too much money way too quickly into anything on the front page of CoinMarketCap with a low dollar value per coin hoping that crypto get them out of their debt or a life of drudgery in a cubicle. And all in the next year or two! But its important to temper your hype about returns and realize why we had this exponential growth in the last year. Its not because we are seeing any mass increase in adoption, if anything adoption among eCommerce sites is decreasing. The only reason we saw so much upward price action is because of fiat monetary base expansion from people FOMO-ing in due to media coverage of previous price action. People are hoping to ride the bubble and sell to a greater fool in a few months, it is classic Greater Fool Theory. That's it. We passed the $1,000 psychological marker again for Bitcoin which we hadn't seen since right before the Mt.Gox disaster, and it just snowballed the positivity as headline after headline came out about the price growth. However those unexciting returns of 10% a month are not only the norm, but much more healthy for an alternative investment class. Here are the annual returns for Bitcoin for the last few years:
Keep in mind that a 10% monthly increase when compounded equals a 313% annual return, or over 3x your money. That may not sound exciting to those who entered recently and saw their money go 20x in a month on something like Tron before it crashed back down, but that 3X annual return is better than Bitcoin's return every year except the year right before the last market meltdown and 2017. I have been saying for a while now that we are due for a major correction and every investor now should be planning for that possibility through proper allocation and setting return expectations that are reasonable.
Quanitifying risk in crypto is surprisingly difficult because the historical returns aren't normally distributed, meaning that tools like Sharpe Ratio and other risk metrics can't really be used as intended. Instead you'll have to think of your own risk tolerance and qualitatively evaluate how risky each crypto is based on the team, the use case prospects, the amount of competition and the general market risk. You can think of each crypto having a risk factor that is the summation of the general crypto market risk (Rm) as ultimately everything is tied to how Bitcoin does, but also its own inherent risk specific to its own goals (Ri). Rt = Rm +Ri The market risk is something you cannot avoid, if some China FUD comes out about regulations on Bitcoin then your investment in solid altcoin picks will go down too along with Bitcoin. This (Rm) return is essentially what risk you undertake to have a market ROI of 385% I talked about above. What you can minimize though is the Ri, the aset specific risks with the team, the likelihood they will actually deliver, the likelihood that their solution will be adopted. Unfortunately there is no one way to do this, you simply have to take the time to research and form your own opinion on how risky it really is before allocating a certain percentage to it. Consider the individual risk of each crypto and start looking for red flags:
guaranteed promises of large returns (protip: that's a Ponzi)
float allocations that give way too much to the founder
no clear use case
Github with no useful code and sparse activity
a team that is difficult to find information on or even worse anonymous
While all cryptocurrencies are a risky investments but generally you can break down cryptos into "low" risk core, medium risk speculative and high risk speculative
Low Risk Core - This is the exchange pairing cryptos and those that are well established. These are almost sure to be around in 5 years, and will recover after any bear market. Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum are in this class of risk, and I would also argue Monero.
Medium Risk Speculative - These would be cryptos which generally have at least some product and are reasonably established, but higher risk than Core. Things like ZCash, Ripple, NEO..etc.
High Risk Speculative - This is anything created within the last few months, low caps, shillcoins, ICOs...etc. Most cryptos are in this category, most of them will be essentially worthless in 5 years.
How much risk should you take on? That depends on your own life situation but also it should be proportional to how much expertise you have in both financial analysis and technology. If you're a newbie who doesn't understand the tech and has no idea how to value assets, your risk tolerance should be lower than a programmer who understand the tech or a financial analyst who is experienced in valuation metrics. Right now the trio of BTC-ETH-LTC account for 55% of the market cap, so between 50-70% of your portfolio in low Risk Core for newbies is a great starting point. Then you can go down to 25-30% as you gain confidence and experience. But always try to keep about 1/3rd in safe core positions. Don't go all in on speculative picks. Core principles to minimize risk
Have the majority of your holdings in things you feel good holding for at least 2 years. Don't use the majority of your investment for day trading or short term investing.
Consider using dollar cost averaging to enter a position. This generally means investing a X amount over several periods, instead of at once. You can also use downward biased dollar cost averaging to mitigate against downward risk. For example instead of investing $1000 at once in a position at market price, you can buy $500 at the market price today then set several limit orders at slightly lower intervals (for example $250 at 5% lower than market price, $250 at 10% lower than market price). This way your average cost of acquisition will be lower if the crypto happens to decline over the short term.
Never chase a pump. Its simply too risky as its such an inefficient and unregulated market. If you continue to do it, most of your money losing decisions will be because you emotionally FOMO-ed into gambling on a symbol.
Invest what you can afford to lose. Don't have more than 5-10% of your net worth in crypto.
Consider what level of loss you can't accept in a position with a high risk factor, and use stop-limit orders to hedge against sudden crashes. Set you stop price at about 5-10% above your lowest limit. Stop-limit orders aren't perfect but they're better than having no hedging strategy for a risky microcap in case of some meltdown. Only you can determine what bags you are unwilling to hold.
Diversify across sectors and rebalance your allocations periodically. Keep about 1/3rd in low risk core holdings.
Have some fiat in reserve at a FDIC-insured exchange (ex. Gemini), and be ready to add to your winning positions on a pullback.
Remember you didn't actually make any money until you take some profits, so take do some profits when everyone else is at peak FOMO-ing bubble mode. You will also sleep much more comfortably once you take out the equivalent of your principal.
Along with thinking about your portfolio in terms of risk categories described above, I really find it helpful to think about the segments you are in. OnChainFX has some segment categorization to think about:
General Purpose Platform
IOT (Internet of Things)
I generally like to simplify these down to these 7 segments:
Core holdings - essentially the Low Risk Core segment
Finance/Bank settlement segment
Enterprise Blockchain solutions segment
Promising/Innovative Tech segment
This is merely what I use, but I'm sure you can think of your own. The key point I have is to try to invest your medium and high risk picks in a segment you understand well, and in which you can relatively accurately judge risk. If you don't understand anything about how banking works or SWIFT or international settlement layers, don't invest in Stellar. If you have no idea how a supply chain functions, avoid investing in VeChain (even if it's being shilled to death on Reddit at the moment just like XRB was last month). Buffet calls this "circle of competence", he invests in sectors he understands and avoids those he doesn't like tech. I think doing the same thing in crypto is a wise move. What's interesting is that often we see like-coin movement, for example when a coin from one segment pumps we will frequently see another similar coin in the same segment go up (think Stellar following after Ripple). Consider the historic correlations between your holdings. Generally when Bitcoin pumps, altcoins dump but at what rate depends on the coin. When Bitcoin goes sideways we tend to see pumping in altcoins, while when Bitcoin goes down, everything goes down. You should set price targets for each of your holdings, which is a whole separate discussion I'll go in Part 2 of the guide.
Summing it up
This was meant to get you think about what return targets you should set for your portfolio and how much risk you are willing to take and what strategies you can follow to mitigate that risk. Returns around 385% (average crypto market CAGR over the last 3 years) would be a good target to aim for while remaining realistic, you can tweak it a bit based on your own risk tolerance. What category of risk your individual crypto picks should be will be determined by how much more greed you have for above average market return. A portfolio of 50% core holdings, 30% medium risk in a sector you understand well and 20% in high risk speculative is probably what the average portfolio should look like, with newbies going more towards 70% core and only 5% high risk speculative. Just by thinking about these things you'll likely do better than most crypto investors, because most don't think about this stuff, to their own detriment.
Elaborating on Datadash's 50k BTC Prediction: Why We Endorse the Call
As originally published via CoinLive I am the Co-Founder at CoinLive. Prior to founding Coinlive.io, my area of expertise was inter-market analysis. I came across Datadash 50k BTC prediction this week, and I must take my hats off to what I believe is an excellent interpretation of the inter-connectivity of various markets. At your own convenience, you can find a sample of Intermarket analysis I've written in the past before immersing myself into cryptos full-time. Gold inter-market: 'Out of sync' with VIX, takes lead from USD/JPY USD/JPY inter-market: Watch divergence US-Japan yield spread EUUSD intermarket: US yields collapse amid supply environment Inter-market analysis: Risk back in vogue, but for how long? USD/JPY intermarket: Bulls need higher adj in 10-y US-JP spread The purpose of this article is to dive deeper into the factors Datadash presents in his video and how they can help us draw certain conclusions about the potential flows of capital into crypto markets and the need that will exist for a BTC ETF. Before I do so, as a brief explainer, let's touch on what exactly Intermarket analysis refers to: Intermarket analysis is the global interconnectivity between equities, bonds, currencies, commodities, and any other asset class; Global markets are an ever-evolving discounting and constant valuation mechanism and by studying their interconnectivity, we are much better positioned to explain and elaborate on why certain moves occur, future directions and gain insights on potential misalignments that the market may not have picked up on yet or might be ignoring/manipulating. While such interconnectivity has proven to be quite limiting when it comes to the value one can extract from analyzing traditional financial assets and the crypto market, Datadash has eloquently been able to build a hypothesis, which as an Intermarket analyst, I consider very valid, and that matches up my own views. Nicolas Merten constructs a scenario which leads him to believe that a Bitcoin ETF is coming. Let's explore this hypothesis. I will attempt to summarize and provide further clarity on why the current events in traditional asset classes, as described by Datadash, will inevitably result in a Bitcoin ETF. Make no mistake, Datadash's call for Bitcoin at 50k by the end of 2018 will be well justified once a BTC ETF is approved. While the timing is the most challenging part t get right, the end result won't vary. If one wishes to learn more about my personal views on why a BTC ETF is such a big deal, I encourage you to read my article from late March this year. Don't Be Misled by Low Liquidity/Volume - Fundamentals Never Stronger The first point Nicholas Merten makes is that despite depressed volume levels, the fundamentals are very sound. That, I must say, is a point I couldn't agree more. In fact, I recently wrote an article titled TheParadox: Bitcoin Keeps Selling as Intrinsic Value Set to Explode where I state "the latest developments in Bitcoin's technology makes it paradoxically an ever increasingly interesting investment proposition the cheaper it gets." However, no article better defines where we stand in terms of fundamentals than the one I wrote back on May 15th titled Find Out Why Institutions Will Flood the Bitcoin Market, where I look at the ever-growing list of evidence that shows why a new type of investors, the institutional ones, looks set to enter the market in mass. Nicholas believes that based on the supply of Bitcoin, the market capitalization can reach about $800b. He makes a case that with the fundamentals in bitcoin much stronger, it wouldn't be that hard to envision the market cap more than double from its most recent all-time high of more than $300b. Interest Rates Set to Rise Further First of all, one of the most immediate implications of higher rates is the increased difficulty to bear the costs by borrowers, which leads Nicholas to believe that banks the likes of Deutsche Bank will face a tough environment going forward. The CEO of the giant German lender has actually warned that second-quarter results would reflect a “revenue environment [that] remains challenging." Nicholas refers to the historical chart of Eurodollar LIBOR rates as illustrated below to strengthen the case that interest rates are set to follow an upward trajectory in the years to come as Central Banks continue to normalize monetary policies after a decade since the global financial crisis. I'd say, that is a correct assumption, although one must take into account the Italian crisis to be aware that a delay in higher European rates is a real possibility now. !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/947/content_2018-05-30_1100.png) Let's look at the following combinations: Fed Fund Rate Contract (green), German 2-year bond yields (black) and Italy's 10-year bond yield (blue) to help us clarify what's the outlook for interest rates both in Europe and the United States in the foreseeable future. The chart suggests that while the Federal Reserve remains on track to keep increasing interest rates at a gradual pace, there has been a sudden change in the outlook for European rates in the short-end of the curve. While the European Central Bank is no longer endorsing proactive policies as part of its long-standing QE narrative, President Mario Draghi is still not ready to communicate an exit strategy to its unconventional stimulus program due to protectionism threats in the euro-area, with Italy the latest nightmare episode. Until such major step is taken in the form of a formal QE conclusion, interest rates in the European Union will remain depressed; the latest drastic spike in Italy's benchmark bond yield to default levels is pre-emptive of lower rates for longer, an environment that on one hand may benefit the likes of Deutsche Bank on lower borrowing costs, but on the other hand, sets in motion a bigger headache as risk aversion is set to dominate financial markets, which leads to worse financial consequences such as loss of confidence and hence in equity valuations. !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/948/content_2018-05-30_1113.png) Deutsche Bank - End of the Road? Nicholas argues that as part of the re-restructuring process in Deutsche Bank, they will be facing a much more challenging environment as lending becomes more difficult on higher interest rates. At CoinLive, we still believe this to be a logical scenario to expect, even if a delay happens as the ECB tries to deal with the Italian political crisis which once again raises the question of whether or not Italy should be part of the EU. Reference to an article by Zerohedge is given, where it states: "One day after the WSJ reported that the biggest German bank is set to "decimate" its workforce, firing 10,000 workers or one in ten, this morning Deutsche Bank confirmed plans to cut thousands of jobs as part of new CEO Christian Sewing's restructuring and cost-cutting effort. The German bank said its headcount would fall “well below” 90,000, from just over 97,000. But the biggest gut punch to employee morale is that the bank would reduce headcount in its equities sales and trading business by about 25%." There is an undeniably ongoing phenomenon of a migration in job positions from traditional financial markets into blockchain, which as we have reported in the past, it appears to be a logical and rational step to be taken, especially in light of the new revenue streams the blockchain sector has to offer. Proof of that is the fact that Binance, a crypto exchange with around 200 employees and less than 1 year of operations has overcome Deutsche Bank, in total profits. What this communicates is that the opportunities to grow an institution’s revenue stream are formidable once they decide to integrate cryptocurrencies into their business models. One can find an illustration of Deutsche Bank's free-fall in prices below: !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/946/content_2018-05-30_1052.png) Nicholas takes notes of a chart in which one can clearly notice a worrying trend for Italian debt. "Just about every other major investor type has become a net seller (to the ECB) or a non-buyer of BTPs over the last couple of years. Said differently, for well over a year, the only marginal buyer of Italian bonds has been the ECB!", the team of Economists at Citi explained. One can find the article via ZeroHedge here. !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/953/content_2018-05-30_1451.png) Equities & Housing to Suffer the Consequences Nicholas notes that trillions of dollars need to exit these artificially-inflated equity markets. He even mentions a legendary investor such as George Soros, who has recently warned that the world could be on the brink of another devastating financial crisis, on lingering debt concerns in Europe and a strengthening US dollar, as a destabilizing factor for both the US's emerging- and developed-market rivals. Ray Dalio, another legend in the investing world and Founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, "has ramped up its short positions in European equities in recent weeks, bringing their total value to an estimated $22 billion", MarketWatch reports. Nicholas extracts a chart by John Del Vecchio at lmtr.com where it illustrates the ratio between stocks and commodities at the lowest in over 50 years. As the author states: "I like to look for extremes in the markets. Extremes often pinpoint areas where returns can be higher and risk lower than in other time periods. Take the relationship between commodities and stocks. The chart below shows that commoditieshavennot been cheaper than stocks in a generation. We often hear this time it is different” to justify what’s going on in the world. But, one thing that never changes is human nature. People push markets to extremes. Then they revert. " !(https://coinlive.io/ckeditor_assets/pictures/954/content_2018-05-30_1459.png) Bitcoin ETF the Holy Grail for a Cyclical Multi-Year Bull Run It is precisely from this last chart above that leads Nicholas to believe we are on the verge of a resurgence in commodity prices. Not only that but amid the need of all this capital to exit stocks and to a certain extent risky bonds (Italian), a new commodity-based digital currency ETF based on Bitcoin will emerge in 2018. The author of Datadash highlights the consideration to launching a Bitcoin ETF by the SEC. At CoinLive, our reporting of the subject can be found below: "Back in April, it was reported that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has put back on the table two Bitcoin ETF proposals, according to public documents. The agency is under formal proceedings to approve a rule change that would allow NYSE Arca to list two exchange-traded funds (ETFs) proposed by fund provider ProShares. The introduction of an ETF would make Bitcoin available to a much wider share of market participants, with the ability to directly buy the asset at the click of a button, essentially simplifying the current complexity that involves having to deal with all the cumbersome steps currently in place." Nicholas refers to the support the Bitcoin ETF has been receiving by the Cboe president Chris Concannon, which is a major positive development. CoinLive reported on the story back in late March, noting that "a Bitcoin ETF will without a doubt open the floodgates to an enormous tsunami of fresh capital entering the space, which based on the latest hints by Concannon, the willingness to keep pushing for it remains unabated as the evolution of digital assets keeps its course." It has been for quite some time CoinLive's conviction, now supported by no other than Nicholas Merten from Datadash, that over the next 6 months, markets will start factoring in the event of the year, that is, the approval of a Bitcoin ETF that will serve as a alternative vehicle to accommodate the massive flows of capital leaving some of the traditional asset classes. As Nicholas suggests, the SEC will have little choice but to provide alternative investments. Bitcoin as a Hedge to Lower Portfolios' Volatility Last but not least, crypto assets such as Bitcoin and the likes have an almost non-existent correlation to other traditional assets such as stocks, bonds, and commodities, which makes for a very attractive and broadly-applicable diversification strategy for the professional money as it reduces one’s portfolio volatility. The moment a Bitcoin ETF is confirmed, expect the non-correlation element of Bitcoin as a major driving force to attract further capital. Anyone Can BeWrongDatadash, But You Won't be Wrong Alone Having analyzed the hypothesis by Nicholas Merten, at CoinLive we believe that the conclusion reached, that is, the creation of a Bitcoin ETF that will provide shelter to a tsunami of capital motivated by the diversification and store of value appeal of Bitcoin, is the next logical step. As per the timing of it, we also anticipate, as Nicholas notes, that it will most likely be subject to the price action in traditional assets. Should equities and credit markets hold steady, it may result in a potential delay, whereas disruption in the capital market may see the need for a BTC ETF accelerate. Either scenario, we will conclude with a quote we wrote back in March. "It appears as though an ETF on Bitcoin is moving from a state of "If" to "When." Datadash is certainly not alone on his 50k call. BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes appears to think along the same line. On behalf of the CoinLive Team, we want to thank Nicholas Merten at Datadash for such enlightening insights.
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