Fire at Bitcoin Mine Destroys Millions in Equipment Data ...
Fire at Bitcoin Mine Destroys Millions in Equipment Data ...
Thais turn to digital assets as regulators embrace ...
A Fire Took Out a Huge Bitcoin Mining Operation
Coinbase – Buy & Sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and more with trust
Fire destroys massive Bitcoin mining operation based in ...
TL:DR: The Bitcoin mining fire in Thailand actually happened last month and everyone got it wrong. Journalism needs better standard. The author who wrote the CoinDesk article is alleged made up character by CoinDesk with no Internet history before CoinDesk was founded.
When I was at university, my perception of happiness was based on graduating and quitting my "shitty" job at the local supermarket. When I started my corporate career, I found the FIRE movement, so that perception shifted to wanting to grow my bank account and retire early to work on my side hustle.
When I did FIRE, I was so miserable, it almost broke my spirit.
First I want to extend a big thank you to this community. I have learned so much from here. There are some threads on here where I have read the replies so many times that I almost know them by heart ;) I achieved my FI by 1.Having a high paid corporate job I managed to climb up the corporate ladder in a relatively short time span not because I was so skilled at what I do, but because I have always worked on my social skills. (no that doesn't mean that I sold my ass lol) 2.Investing I started with a term deposit account then bought gold, then index funds, then individual stocks. The usual except that I also sold stock options which paid me handsomely. 3.Always having a second source of income from a plethora of side hustles that I had started over the years. - Dropshipping was the most consistent business I owned. - Day trading bitcoin was the most profitable. 4.Frugality: This is where my views diverge a little from the common dogma. I just chose not to waste my best years pinching pennies and not doing the things that I want (not necessarily need) to do. Not material things but more experiences. As an example, travelling has literally changed me as a human being and my net worth could have been a lot bigger without travelling every single year, but I believe that travelling when young is very different than when I have settled down and/or matured. My Story Early 2016, although my net worth by most calculators out there told me that I have to work for at least a few more years before I make these calculators happy, I decided that my safety net is large enough to retire and I am capable of making my side hustle at the very least cover my expenses. So I quit my job. The mornings feel so damn different when you are not a corporate slave. Everything seemed more enjoyable from getting coffee in the morning to taking random walks during the day. I started to enjoy my interactions with others so much more. Maybe the facade of the corporate world had trivialised the small things for me. Leaving my corporate job was no excuse for being lazy. I was working 14 hour days on growing my e-com business. and it was definitely paying off. I was either behind a computer screen, at the gym, or with my girlfriend. Around 3 weeks in, I started talking to walls as all my friends were at work during the day and I started feeling some loneliness. I found a job at a local gym. 3 nights a weeks. Working at a gym is something that I have always had on my bucket list. I loved it. It kept me sane. I started having what Financial Samurai calls an identity crisis. I was good at my job, financially stable. I consider myself a very confident individual. But I hadn’t realised that most of my sense of self worth was tied to my job. Now that it was gone and everyone around me including my girlfriend were still at work. My self esteem started to suffer. The gym closed. Now my loneliness was exacerbated. Combine that with a fluttering self esteem. My relationship started to suffer. I broke up with my girlfriend at the time, 4 months after quitting work. I've had many break ups, but I still carry the deep scar of this one as it represented more than a breakup. It represented the collapse my identity that I had built over the years. Viktor Frankl's A man's search for meaning describes this perfectly. I lost my purpose. Now severe depression set in. I cannot describe to you how debilitating that was. I didn't want to do anything. I literally felt that there was an invisible door stopping me from leaving my room, let alone the house. Stopped answering calls let alone talking to other human beings. I didn't even know what day it was and I didn't care. I was prescribed antidepressants and Valium. I refused the antidepressants and on a whim,pushed by my siblings, decided to travel ,alone, for the first time in my life. A silent retreat in India. Bungee jumping in a dodgy place in Thailand. Learning meditation and yoga. Scuba diving. Catching up with childhood friends and family members across different countries. I started feeling better. So much better very quickly. Then I went to Bali. I wanted to live the "nomad" lifestyle, so I signed up at Hubud and the Dojo (2 renown coworking spaces in the digital nomad community) This was life changing. One the best experiences in my life. I felt a sense of belonging to a tribe of like minded people. I was so motivated to work because the energy around me was contagious. I closed my e-com store (too many negative emotions attached to it) and started leverage trading bitcoin (on Bitmex). I bought all kinda courses, joined paid groups, newsletters and it did pay off... I was averaging $200-$300 days which is incredible for a noob. Imagine waking up, meeting up with friends for breakfast at the beach, going to the co-working space, making money, then having fun at night with your friends. You know that picture marketers paint in our heads of some dude running a business from his laptop at the beach? That's real. Then comes the wake up call. I quickly noticed that people come and go. I would develop friendships (even a great relationship) then a few weeks later, my new found friends would go back home and I'd have to start from scratch. Then the novelty of working from the beach and not answering to a boss started to lose its meaning. Also, the visa run wasn't my favorite thing to do. At that crossroad, I had a call from a recruiter who had worked with me in the past, about a new alluring opportunity. My decision was based on this: I can always go back to FIRE but the longer I stay out of the workforce the harder it will be to find a job. So I went back to the corporate world. This is not the end of my story as I know that office work will never be a long term option for me. But I had to retreat and regroup for now…. I am as usual working on a side hustle - I am still trading options. Lessons learned *I didn’t realise this at the time, but for me now, the end goal of FI isn't necessarily early retirement...but a sense of freedom. I can quit whenever I want which makes work a lot less stressful. Hell, I enjoy my work a lot more now just knowing that. *Early retirement is still on the agenda, but I will not do it alone. I will make sure that I have a better support system (a business partner / a spouse on the same journey / a team). *Loneliness is a bitch. I know that there are many introverts like me amongst you, but social isolation can literally KILL you based on multiple studies like https://heart.bmj.com/content/102/13/1009 *When you shift your paradigm, be psychologically prepared to conquer your demons and centre your self identity. You are not your net worth. You are not your job. *I understand the gravity of mental diseases a lot more now and I have a massive amount of empathy towards people who suffer from them. *Oh, and I have zero regrets. If I were to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. I am grateful for the opportunity to fail and learn from my mistakes. Thank you for reading!
https://i.imgur.com/fgRQHpY.jpg I apologize for my shameless bragging, I'm just really relieved and happy about this and not a soul alive knows about my net worth so I can't exactly go out and talk about it IRL. Some background. I've worked since my early 20s, have made anywhere from $70,000 to $130,000 a year since, amount varies from year to year. I'd say about half my net worth is from my saved salary, the other half is purely investment gains from stock I invested the saved salary in. I live a pretty frugal and minimalist life, I drive a used car and live in the same starter home I've lived in for a decade. Material things don't really interest me, but I will spend money on cool experiences. My original (naive) plan when I got out of college was to FIRE when I hit one million. I reached that 2-3 years ago and realized quickly one million doesn't go as far as I thought anymore. I still don't feel $2 million is enough. I don't love my job but the stress is manageable, so I'd like to stay until 40 and then leave. We shall see. In terms of what investments I have, it's largely US large cap banks and tech companies. No early day bitcoin, no Google IPO, just good old fundamental analysis, value investing and buy-and-hold. I haven't bought any new stock for several, several years, I did almost all of my buying from 2009 to 2012 as we were stumbling out of the Great Recession. I thought we were in overbought territory in 2013-2015, so the stock market's rise since proves that I don't know what I'm doing and market timing is for suckers, heh.  I have gotten a couple of questions about my house and about my dating situation and what I spend money on. My house is cheap, I live in the south. Land is cheap here, even in the major cities. It was valued at around $125,000 before the subprime meltdown. It went into foreclosure then like half of the homes in my neighborhood. My lender obviously could not offload it in foreclosure, so it sat on the property for almost a year. No buyers surfaced because no one could get a mortgage loan. I scraped together about $80,000 in cash and put in an offer that was accepted. I was motivated by the $8,000 Obama housing stimulus credit, so my final bill came in at $72,000. The home is currently appraised at over $140,000. I need to update it on my Mint profile. My dating situation. I'm probably never getting married or having kids. It's a personal decision, I'm too selfish and value my freedom too much to ever do either. Being a millionaire is a rather recent occurrence for me and I haven't told anyone, so I haven't and don't ever plan on flaunting money to get a lady to like me. It seems really sad and desperate to me when older guys do that and I don't want to be that guy. Just being myself, being kind and listening has worked in getting ladies to like me, amazingly enough. I feel exceptionally lucky that I didn't get married early and am divorced and miserable now. Like so many other guys my age that I know. I caught the travel bug about two years ago. I travel once every 2-3 months. It is expensive but it's worth it, plus airfares out of my primary airport have dropped like a rock thanks to growing competition, cheap fuel and new fuel efficient planes like the 787 and A350. Round trip airfare to Europe or Asia is as low as $400 bucks during a sale. Round trip airfare domestically to either coast is $90 to 110 bucks during a sale on non-budget airlines. Have traveled to the UK, France, Thailand, NYC, LA and Chicago so far this year. It's been wonderful.
EDIT: Nord is having a 75% off sale AND All plans have 30-day money-back guaranteeYou can claim that deal by using our special link! @ www.buy-nord.com NordVPN has been growing at a very fast pace since launching in 2012, and it’s now one of the largest VPN services on the market with over 12 million customers worldwide (according to NordVPN themselves). NordVPN has grown so much that it now claims to be the “best VPN service provider of 2019” but we all know that’s easier said than done, right? We needed to understand how good NordVPN really is and answer questions our readers have been asking us:
Is NordVPN safe?
How fast is it?
Does it work with Netflix?
Is torrenting and P2P allowed?
Is NordVPN easy to use?
We, therefore, tested it extensively for weeks, and in this detailed review, you will see exactly what we discovered.
But before we dive into it, let's take a quick look at NordVPN’s pros and cons: Pros
Very fast VPN speeds
Log-free & no IP, DNS & WebRTC leaks
Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer & more
P2P & torrenting allowed on many servers
Huge server network: 5,600+ servers across 60 countries
User-friendly apps for PC, Mac, iOS, & Android with ad-blocker
Alternative VPN protocols have to be manually configured
Obfuscated servers don't always work in China
No obfuscated servers for iOS
Works with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Sky, HBO, Torrenting, Kodi Available on Windows Mac Ios Android Linux Price from $2.99/mo Still, want to know more about NordVPN and whether it’s the right VPN for you? We’ve carefully tested every single NordVPN app so you can rest assured that we left no stone unturned. Without further ado, let's get right into this review starting with NordVPN’s speed. Speed & Reliability Very fast speeds across the world NordVPN is a very fast VPN – as long as you connect to nearby VPN servers. It’s not the fastest VPN there is (these VPNs are currently faster), but NordVPN is still very quick and you won’t experience any speed issues. Both same-country (UK server to UK server) download and upload speeds are impressive, with minimal internet slowdown (around a 5-6% drop from our normal internet speeds). This makes NordVPN a very good choice for both streaming fans and torrenters. Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server. Before using NordVPN: DOWNLOAD Mbps 94.83 UPLOAD Mbps 91.8 PING ms 3 When connected to NordVPN: DOWNLOAD Mbps 90.51 UPLOAD Mbps 86.28 PING ms 5 Download speed without NordVPN: 94.83Mbps Download speed with NordVPN: 90.51Mbps Our download speed loss when NordVPN is running: 5% As you can see, NordVPN registered very impressive speeds when we connected to a nearby VPN server. It’s less impressive – but still very usable – over long-distance connections, though. Here are the average download and upload speeds connecting out from the UK to NordVPN’s servers: USA: 47Mbps (download) & 48Mbps (upload) Germany: 78Mbps (download) & 77Mbps (upload) Singapore: 17Mbps (download) & 6Mbps (upload) Australia: 22Mbps (download) & 3Mbps (upload) Ping times are also fairly low on most of NordVPN’s servers, which is good for gaming although there are better VPNs available to gamers. Server Locations Over 5,600 VPN servers spread across 60 countries worldwide Globe with a blue flag 60 Countries Image of a city landscape 90+ Cities Image of a pink marker 5,600+ IP Addresses See all Server Locations NordVPN’s server list covers 60 countries – it isn’t the widest VPN server range we’ve seen, but it should almost certainly ensure there is a server located near you. Screenshot of NordVPN Server List in App NordVPN provides a whopping 5,600 VPN servers, none of which are virtual, with each server given a static IP address. This is the highest number of VPN servers provided by a top VPN service, which is impressive. Even better, NordVPN owns all of the servers in its network. NordVPN’s server network covers all of the popular server locations such as the UK, the US, Australia, and Canada, as well as less common locations including Argentina, Egypt, and Albania. NordVPN provides city-level server choices in five different countries, too: Australia (five locations, 200+ servers) Canada (three locations, 400+ servers) Germany (two locations, 200+ servers) India (two locations, 20+ servers) The US (20 locations, 1,800+ servers) NordVPN used to offer city-level choice in the UK (London and Manchester) but recently removed the Manchester VPN servers as “their performance was lacking.” NordVPN have added even more servers in London in order to ensure the best speeds for those located in the UK. Streaming & Torrenting An excellent choice for streaming & torrenting Thanks to its SmartPlay technology, NordVPN consistently works with popular streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. To watch Netflix, simply click on the US or UK VPN country server and the NordVPN app will automatically find the best option for you. NordVPN also unlocks loads more Netflix libraries, including Canada, Japan, France, Italy, and Germany. Not all of NordVPN’s UK servers provide access to BBC iPlayer, but a quick message to live chat will let you know which ones are currently working. That will save you the trial-and-error of testing out all of NordVPN’s hundreds of UK servers. This is a big plus, as many other VPN providers can’t unlock BBC iPlayer. Unrestricted access to streaming services doesn’t stop there. Many of NordVPN’s customers use the VPN service to stream: Amazon Prime Video Hulu HBO Sling TV Sky Now TV Torrenting Torrenting (and other P2P traffic) isn’t allowed on every single NordVPN server, but there’s still more than enough server choice to keep torrenters and Kodi streamers happy. You can torrent while connected to almost every country on NordVPN’s server list – these are listed under ‘Speciality Servers’ within in the app settings. However, the following countries do not permit P2P: Argentina Costa Rica Chile Cyrpus Egypt Georgia Indonesia Malaysia South Korea Taiwan Thailand Vietnam Ukraine United Arab Emirates If you attempt to torrent while connected to a VPN server that doesn’t support P2P NordVPN will simply re-route your traffic through a dedicated server located in either Canada or the Netherlands. With plenty of added security features – such as its VPN kill switch – and a no-logs policy, NordVPN is without a doubt one of the safest VPNs for torrenting. Fast uploads and downloads make it a great choice too. Bypassing Censorship Obfuscated VPN servers work in China intermittently Since the VPN crackdown in China, NordVPN has become a little less reliable for residents or visitors in China, but it’s still a pretty good choice of VPN. Users have reported that NordVPN’s obfuscated servers often bypass the Chinese censors, but others have experienced difficulties connecting to them. NordVPN’s obfuscated servers are spread out fairly evenly, with options in North America, North Africa, Asia, and Europe, so you shouldn’t be too far away from one. There are no obfuscated VPN servers available on the NordVPN iOS app, though, so iPhone users may struggle to connect from China without some manual configuration. See our latest VPN recommendations if you’re looking for a reliable VPN for China, or you can read our ExpressVPN review or our VyprVPN review, two of our top choices. That’s just China, though – in other high censorship countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia NordVPN remains a solid VPN choice to bypass censorship. Platforms & Devices Protect all your devices with a wide range of custom VPN apps Apps Windows Logo Windows Mac Logo Mac iOS Logo iOS Android Logo Android Linux Logo Linux Router Logo Router NordVPN has simple native VPN apps for all major operating systems: Windows macOS iOS Android Linux (yes, even Linux) If your device is not compatible with the custom apps above, you can also install NordVPN on your router. What’s more, you can use NordVPN on up to six devices at the same time using just one VPN subscription, which is one of the highest allowances we’ve seen. Games Consoles & Streaming Devices AppleTV Logo AppleTV Amazon Fire TV Logo Amazon Fire TV Chromecast Logo Chromecast Nintendo Logo Nintendo PlayStation Logo PlayStation Roku Logo Roku Xbox Logo Xbox NordVPN has an Android TV app, meaning you can use the VPN app with streaming devices such as Android TV and the Amazon Fire TV Stick without any manual configuration. In fact, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for the Fire TV although it is not our top recommendation. If you own a Firestick and want to use a VPN app with it, take a look at our roundup of the best VPNs for Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. If you want to run NordVPN on your other streaming devices or games consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, though, you’ll need to install it at router level. It’s not too difficult and it means that all devices connected to the router will be protected. Browser Extensions Chrome Logo Chrome Firefox Logo Firefox NordVPN provides VPN extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. These VPN add-ons encrypt your browser traffic, but protection ends there so we always suggest using NordVPN’s extensions in conjunction with the main VPN application or client. The extensions also have an in-built WebRTC leak blocker, which is an extremely useful bonus. NordVPN doesn’t yet have VPN extensions for Safari or Opera browsers. Encryption & Security Secure VPN with advanced features but lacking protocol flexibility Protocol IKEv2/IPSec OpenVPN (TCP/UDP) WireGuard Encryption AES-256 Security DNS Leak Blocking First-party DNS Supports TCP Port 443 VPN Kill Switch WebRTC Leak Blocking Advanced features Double VPN TOR via VPN Server Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more. NordVPN has only one choice of VPN protocol by default, but it’s our personal favourite: OpenVPN. The iOS and macOS apps (available to download directly from the Apple App Store) run on IKEv2, though. OpenVPN provides the perfect blend of speed and security. It encrypts all your internet traffic using the ‘unhackable’ AES-256 cypher. Screenshot of NordVPN Settings Menu in App You can also use IKEv2 with NordVPN’s Windows and Android apps if you like, but it requires an extra download and a lot of advanced setup (manual configuration). The VPN kill switch feature protects your IP address in the event of a connection drop, and NordVPN’s privately owned and operated DNS servers ensure end-to-end protection. NordVPN provides Double VPN (multi-hop) and Tor over VPN (Onion over VPN) for extra encryption. As with all the VPN providers we review, we carried out extensive testing to find IP and DNS leaks when using NordVPN and we are happy to report that we found no leaks whatsoever. Screenshot of browserleaks.com test results for NordVPN Leak test results on browserleaks.com while connected to a NordVPN US server. We test from the UK. NordVPN has recently released a new technology for Linux users called NordLynx that’s based on the WireGuard VPN protocol. WireGuard is a new VPN protocol that aims to be faster and more secure than the current standards, but it’s still in development so should be considered experimental at this point. Logging Policy No-logs VPN in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction NordVPN doesn’t log your traffic or store any user logs, making it a safe and trustworthy VPN. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the information it does collect: Server loads That is the full extent of the information NordVPN collects, making it a true no-logs VPN. Server loads are monitored to maintain the optimal performance of VPN servers for users, and nothing else. Your privacy is upheld above all else, and NordVPN absolutely will not sell your personal data to any third parties. Jurisdiction NordVPN was founded in 2012 is operated by Tefincom & Co S.A. which is headquartered under the legal jurisdiction of Panama, putting it beyond the reach of US and EU data retention laws. Panama does not require VPN companies to store or report any of their data, nor is it part of any agreements that compel it to share information with other countries. Being based in Panama gives NordVPN the power to deny any third-party data requests, so there is absolutely no way that any of your online activity can be traced back to you. In 2018, NordVPN came under some heat as it was accused of not being headquartered in Panama. The reason for the controversy is that when you purchased NordVPN on Google Play Store, at the time the Seller of NordVPN was listed as CloudVPN INC. (a company registered in the US), and not Tefincom & Co S.A. It turns out that CloudVPN INC. is a payment processor and NordVPN was simply using it to handle payments, similarly to how other VPN providers use payment processing companies to manage these type of transactions. Ease of Use Quick and easy setup with simple custom apps How to Install & Set Up NordVPN Screenshot of NordVPN Download Button Downloading the software is as simple as going to Nord's website and clicking the download button for the appropriate platform. Screenshot of NordVPN Installation Progress You can check the progress of your installation here, which usually only takes a couple of minutes at most. Screenshot of NordVPN App Login Screen Once the software is installed, all that's left to do is log into the app and you're ready to go. Screenshot of NordVPN Desktop App Main Screen The main NordVPN app view with server locations to the left, which are also presented as pins on the map. Screenshot of NordVPN Specialty Servers On the left-hand side of the app, you can see the full list of server locations and speciality servers for P2P, Double VPN, etc. Screenshot of NordVPN City-Level Servers Hover over a country name and click on the three horizontal dots that appear in order to select a city-level server. Screenshot of NordVPN Connected Screen You will know when NordVPN is working because the server location you are connected to and your new IP address will be displayed at the bottom of the app. Screenshot of NordVPN General App Settings You can find the general settings by clicking 'Settings' at the top of the app. These consist of simple toggles for general settings, including the VPN kill switch. Screenshot of NordVPN Advanced App Settings Scroll down to the bottom of the settings menu to find the advanced options. After confirming that you know what you're doing, you can toggle between TCP/UDP and use obfuscated servers. The NordVPN website has comprehensive VPN setup guides for whatever platform you happen to be using, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever need them. All of NordVPN’s custom VPN apps run smoothly and are almost entirely self-explanatory. If you want to play around with advanced settings then you’re welcome to do that too – they’re clearly labelled and the app even warns you not to do so unless you know what you’re doing. Browser Extensions Screenshot of NordVPN Chrome Extension It couldn’t be much easier to set up NordVPN’s browser extensions – just go to the Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox store and download the add-on to your browser. Once you’ve logged on you can choose a server and connect. We’d recommend enabling ‘Block WebRTC’ from the settings menu to prevent any potential IP leaks. Customer Support Helpful live chat support & useful online resources 24/7 Live chat support Online Resources NordVPN provides excellent quality customer support both through its extensive knowledge base and via online live chat. Email support isn’t as good and we’ve found responses to be slow at times. There is really no reason to email customer support, though, as NordVPN’s live chat service is 24/7. Encounter any issues? NordVPN running slow, perhaps? No problem – support agents respond quickly and are extremely friendly and helpful, managing to fix most of our VPN issues within a couple of minutes. NordVPN’s troubleshooting guides are very useful, too, covering a variety of potential VPN issues and providing a range of possible solutions. Pricing & Deals Fantastic value for money on longer plans NordVPN Coupon NordVPN logo NordVPN Get 58% off NordVPN's 12-month plan TestedEnds 1 Sep Get Code10 Terms NordVPN Pricing Plan NordVPN is one of the best VPN services on the market, and it’s not very expensive at all. Also, every NordVPN price plan offers exactly the same VPN features. NordVPN costs a fairly pricey $11.95 if you pay month-by-month, but the price drops by almost half to $6.99 a month for annual plans. For the biggest savings, NordVPN’s three-year special deal costs just $2.99 per month, a saving of 75%. Monthly US$11.95/mo Billed $11.95 every month 12 Months US$6.99/mo Billed $83.88 every 12 months Save 41% 2 Years US$3.99/mo Billed $95.75 every 2 years Save 66% 3 Years US$2.99/mo Billed $107.55 every 3 years Save 75% All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee This is the best option available, $107 for 3 years coverage is unbeatable in the VPN sector. You can claim that deal by using our special link! @ www.buy-nord.com Payment & Refund Options NordVPN accepts a few different payment options, but it recently made the decision to stop accepting PayPal. The VPN service now uses Adyen for credit card payments, which it claims offers a greater level of privacy for customers due to its self-contained nature. Here are the accepted payment methods, which include some cryptocurrencies for those seeking higher levels of privacy: Credit and debit cards Direct debit Amazon Pay Bitcoin Ethereum Ripple Alipay UnionPay NordVPN no longer comes with a free VPN trial, but it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can cancel your NordVPN subscription within 30 days by contacting the customer support team through live chat. You will have to go through a troubleshooting process first, but the refund should be processed within 10 business days.
Hi Bitcoiners! I’m back with the 27th monthly Bitcoin news recap. For those unfamiliar, each day I pick out the most popularelevant/interesting stories in Bitcoin and save them. At the end of the month I release them in one batch, to give you a quick (but not necessarily the best) overview of what happened in bitcoin over the past month. A recap of Bitcoin in March 2019 Adoption
A few months ago my life was in shambles, slowly being torn apart by our good friend Chronic Epiditymitis or however you spell this cursed condition. I was in constant pain, with my only relief being my supportive boxer briefs and whatever narcotic I had for the day. Often drowning in a compost of weed, liquor and my girlfriends leftover narcos. The stress was intense. The not knowing of if this ever ended was torture. Sex became an infrequent chore i performed weekly to keep my relationship together. Even when there was no pain I felt my libido was gone. One of my favorite things in life was torn away from me. I felt less than a man.
I work as a wild land firefighter in the Pacific North west during the summer months. It's a job I love and one of the few things in life that gives me value. I feared in the months before fire season that my condition would keep me from being able to perform and that I would lose my career as well. The result was stress. The things I loved became painful and KNOWING the things that brought me joy were being taken away from me STRESSED me to no end. I stopped hiking, exercising, going out with friends. Really anything that didn't involve icing my balls, epsom salt baths or complaining just... kinda stopped. In April I took a vacation to Thailand (Props to my brother for buying those bitcoin back in the day) It was an amazing and relaxing experience. I even got a magical sak yant tattoo from a monk. It was here that i began to find relief from stress and my condition. It seemed like relaxing, being happy, and simply not thinking about it made it sooooo much better. The pain returned along with my luggage at baggage claim. I was determined however not to live with the pain anymore. I had seen the light of relief and I intended on putting it in full mount and beating its face in until it followed me around the metaphorical prison yard holding on to my pocket. I started fucking my girlfriend more. "To hell with the pain, I am man here me roar!" ...and soon my relationship was a bit better and I stressed less. I forbid any of my family or friends from mentioning my condition... Lions aren't concerned with the the opinions of sheep ( or testicular nerve conditions ) "Be gone from my brain frail beast!" I started eating healthier cutting out red meats and other inflammatory foods... "Try to live without your precious nutrients daemon!" and I started training for fire season again..."One more step, my balls don't hurt, one more step, my balls don't hurt." This condition wasn't going to take from me anymore I will take from it I will feast upon its warm corpse. Slowly the pain began to dull, it became less frequent. It would be gone for weeks at a time until something made me think about it and suddenly the pain would be back until I drove it from my mind. This post for example is giving me horrible pain for the first time in weeks. My doctor told me that nerves can learn to be in pain from a traumatic event and that often causes chronic pain condtionss. I think in a way what i did. What I'm still trying to do is unlearn that pain. In summation here is my advice. Stress less. Excersise more. Eat healthier. Stay hydrated. TAKE YOUR FUCKING LIFE BACK!
When Secret Service Agent Matthew Britsch began trawling for major counterfeiters in the shadowy marketplaces of the dark web, he acted like any smart consumer on eBay — he studied the reviews. Britsch knew he had struck gold when he found Billmaker, the online moniker of an anonymous counterfeiter who promised a high-quality $100 bill and a money-back guarantee. He even had a loyal fan base who praised his work and customer service with scores of positive reviews. "Very good quality and got here quick,” one gushed. "All passed with no issue whatsoever,” another wrote, approvingly. "FRESH CLEAN BILLS!" agreed a third. “Billmaker was a five-star guy,” said Britsch. “He wanted those five-star reviews to help him sell more bills. That was clearly his goal.” The agent clicked “buy” and in September 2017 purchased four fake $100 bills for $120 in bitcoin, the online cryptocurrency. The counterfeits arrived on time and were as good as promised. An analysis by Secret Service experts linked the fraudulent bills to thousands of others that had been passed with a total face value of $4.1 million. That made Billmaker the nation’s most prolific domestic counterfeiter. Britsch’s buy sparked a nine-month investigation into the murkiest corners of the dark web, where cyber-savvy criminals use online bazaars to anonymously buy and sell goods ranging from firearms and illegal drugs to fake identification and stolen cars. “It’s all there for sale,” said Glen M. Kessler, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s five-agent Savannah office. “Right in the open. But while it provides anonymity to criminals, it also provides anonymity to law enforcement. They can’t tell who they are selling to. And so we went fishing.” The Secret Service, best known for protecting presidents, was formed in 1865 to fight an epidemic of counterfeiting that was strangling the U.S. economy. Today counterfeit U.S. bills are only a tiny fraction of currency in circulation. Even so, the Secret Service made more than 1,580 counterfeiting-related arrests last fiscal year, seizing $204 million in phony bills. Banks and retailers collected an additional $107 million. Once dominated by artisans who minted carefully forged greenbacks on large offset presses, domestic counterfeiters now typically rely on computers, scanners and laser printers. And some use the dark web to sell their high-quality fakes online. The dark web’s backbone is a system called the Onion Router, known as Tor, a network of software and online connections that mask those who use it. Tor has attracted both criminal and legitimate users — political dissidents overseas, for example — seeking to avoid government surveillance. In 2017, Kessler turned an office supply room into a hub for dark web counterfeit investigations. He had two rules: Targets had to be real players — “Not your guy printing $2,000 off on an inkjet at home,” Kessler said — and live in the United States. “We thought it would be too difficult to catch the ones operating in South America or overseas,” he said. Agents used the customer reviews as a guide and quickly came across Billmaker. In addition to the bitcoin-backed guarantee, Billmaker offered free tracking of his packages through the U.S. mail. That was a mistake. Secret Service agents were able to track Billmaker’s shipment to Britsch from the Oklahoma City area, a crucial starting clue. They were impressed when the red-and-blue envelope arrived. The fakes — reproductions of $100 bills phased out in 2013 in favor of a harder-to-fake currency had been printed on high-quality laser printers and specialty paper. The bogus Benjamins had a decent fake security strip. They even felt real. Within a month, thanks to analysis by Secret Service experts in Washington, the agents knew they were chasing Daniel Johnson, a notorious counterfeiter who had been printing and passing fake bills since at least 2015. His last known address was near Oklahoma City. Johnson, 34, was also considered dangerous. He was a firearms enthusiast and a member of the “prepper” movement, activists who stockpile food, ammunition and other supplies because they believe a nuclear war or other catastrophe is likely to occur. Johnson had served three years in federal prison for selling pirated copies of Microsoft Office. But he was arrested again in February 2016 on counterfeiting charges. Released on bond, he turned down a plea deal offer and vanished. In February 2017, a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of counterfeiting and growing marijuana. Johnson was so angry at the justice system that his lawyer, M. Michael Arnett, worried he might resort to violence if arrested. Arnett said he consulted legal ethics experts before he passed a warning to federal prosecutors. “I was concerned he was not going to be taken alive if officers tried to arrest him, and that toll would be higher if they were not forewarned,” Arnett said. With that danger in mind, agents in Savannah returned to the dark web in October 2017 to buy more counterfeit bills. But the marketplace had disappeared. Billmaker’s online trail went cold. Marissa Elliott, a university student and bartender in Norman, Okla., met Johnson when he took a seat at her bar in June 2017 and she caught his “big blue eyes” lingering on her. Tall and muscular, he was also quiet and reserved. He didn’t even offer his name. But the bartender checked his driver’s license before serving him a beer and saw he was Ross Moore, 36, from Florida. It was the first of many lies. They soon started dating. They celebrated his fake birthday that July and moved in February 2018 into a converted shed in Noble, about 30 miles south of Oklahoma City. The tiny house was hidden in dense woods. A talented artist, Johnson rendered hand-drawn portraits of relatives and friends. He initially said he worked in information technology and had attended college, majoring in psychology. Elliott found a Harvard diploma and ID card in a drawer; she didn’t know they were fakes. Johnson never used credit cards or wrote checks. He explained to Elliott that he relied on cash because he was an investor in a marijuana business that was prohibited from using banks. He told her he had been divorced, which was true, and that a screen-saver photo of a young girl on his computer was of his niece, which was false. It was his daughter. As the months passed, Johnson suffered frequent nightmares and spent time on strange conspiracy websites. Elliott believed his stress stemmed from secret work he claimed he had done for the government. “He told me he had seen horrible things,” she said. When they drove to a cabin where he was preparing for the demise of society, he insisted she put her cellphone in a Faraday bag, a shielded satchel that blocks electronic signals, so they couldn’t be tracked. In the late spring of 2018, he bought tickets so Elliott and her mother could take a bucket-list vacation in Thailand. They spoke daily by phone. But one morning in May, he seemed distant and distracted. “It was like he was in a rush to get someplace,” she said. The Secret Service was closing in. After falling off the map, Billmaker suddenly had popped up on other dark web marketplaces. In January 2018, agents bought four fake $100 bills from him. They did it again in April. Working with agents in Oklahoma City, the Savannah squad narrowed its hunt to around Norman, about 20 miles away. U.S. postal inspectors studied Johnson’s tracking numbers and examined dozens of bags of mail. They discovered he had mailed his packages from blue post boxes across the parking lot from the Norman Police Department. After several weeks of surveillance, federal agents determined Johnson was driving a black Ford F-250 pickup. It was registered to Ross Moore of Florida, a real person who had reported his identity had been stolen. Johnson had bought the truck for $58,000 in cash. Agents traced him to an apartment in Norman, where he probably collected mail and supplies; a house in the Oklahoma City suburb of Yukon, which was his main counterfeiting plant; and his secluded home in Noble. As he drove out of his gravel driveway in Noble on May 17, 2018, a 10-car convoy of federal and local law enforcement officials led by the U.S. Marshals Service closed in, sirens blaring. Johnson swerved to the shoulder, hopped out and began firing an AR-15 rifle. A gun battle raged for nearly a minute before Johnson was killed. No agents were injured. Searching the house in Yukon, agents found about $300,000 in fake $100 bills, lined up and hanging to dry in neat rows. Agents also seized several computers protected by encryption, which the Secret Service has not been able to crack. “There are so many questions I would have liked to ask him,” said Wesley Gillespie, a Secret Service agent who chased Johnson for a year. “How did he learn to make these so well? Who taught him? Where is the bitcoin?” Investigators may have a clue. When they searched Johnson’s body, they found a computer thumb drive jammed in an ankle holster. The device contained 50 screen grabs of text messages. Agents suspect it is a digital key to unlock a bitcoin or computer vault. Even so, they concede they may never crack the counterfeiter’s dark web of secrets.
1: Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda assume their seats on the United Nations Security Council / Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, becomes the American Capital of Culture and Vilnius and Linz become the European Capitals of Culture / Slovakia adopts the euro as its national currency, replacing the Slovak koruna / Sixty-six nightclub-goers die in the Santika Club fire in Bangkok, Thailand. 3: The first ("Genesis") block of the blockchain of the cryptocurrency and decentralized payment system Bitcoin is established by the creator of the system, known as Satoshi Nakamoto. 12: The UN Security Council votes unanimously to expand sanctions against North Korea. 13: Germany's center-right government led by Angela Merkel unveils an economic stimulus package worth about $67 billion. The package includes investments for railways, roads and schools and tax relief. 15: US Airways Flight 1549 ditches in the Hudson River in an accident that becomes known as the "Miracle on the Hudson" as all 155 people on board are rescued. 18: Gaza War - Hamas announces they will accept Israel Defense Forces offer of a ceasefire, ending the conflict / Fareed Zakaria characterizes George Bush's "single most significant bad decision" during his presidency as his tax cut. "Rather than pay down debt and save in good times for the inevitable bad times, Bush squandered it all so that all of us – particularly high income earners – could indulge in a bit more consumption." Bush, of course, believed that the tax cut would stimulate economic growth and create more tax revenue. 20: A protest movement in Iceland culminates as the 2009 Icelandic financial crisis protests start / Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, becoming the first African-American to hold the office. 21: Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip, officially ending its three-week war with Hamas. However, intermittent air strikes by both sides continue in the weeks to follow / Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host takes issue with fellow Republicans who say they support President Obama. Limbaugh describes himself as "a thinker" and too many others as emotional in their belief in or support for Obama. He tells fellow conservative Sean Hannity that he is worried that Obama will ruin the U.S. by giving the government too large of a role in the economy, with "many people thinking that just because they're Americans they're entitled to things." He says that his critics will complain that he "is not with the program." 25: The Vatican condemns President Obama's move to restore funding for family planning clinics abroad. It is referring to Obama's repeal of a policy that was begun by President Reagan in 1984, rescinded by President Clinton in 1993, and reinstated by President Bush in 2001. That policy required nongovernmental organizations that receive federal funds to refrain from performing abortions or citing abortion services offered by others. 26: The first trial at the International Criminal Court is held. Former Union of Congolese Patriots leader Thomas Lubanga is accused of training child soldiers to kill, pillage, and rape / The Icelandic government and banking system collapse. Prime Minister Geir Haarde immediately resigns / An annular solar eclipse took place in Indian Ocean, and was the 50th solar eclipse of Saros cycle 131. 31: Protest rallies erupt in cities across Russia, supported by Russia's Communist Party. Some outside Russia are blaming the United States for the global economic crisis. The protestors in Russia are blaming Putin and want him to step down. Police break up demonstrations.
In case you missed it: Major Crypto and Blockchain News from the week ending 12/14/2018
Developments in Financial Services
A cryptocurrency exchange-traded product (ETP) that trades on Switzerland’s Six Exchange saw record trading volumes on Thursday and Friday last week, suggesting that institutional investors may be buying the dip in cryptocurrencies. Four major cryptocurrencies underlie the HODL ETP, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple (XRP), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). While HODL ETP’s one-month average daily trading is 20,000 shares, on Thursday, December 6th, and Friday, December 7th, 53,233 shares and 62.986 shares were traded, respectively.
A report published last week by global anti-money laundering policymaker, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), indicates that cryptocurrency exchanges in the United Kingdom pose a, “low risk,” for money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The report, however, does highlight that such activities on UK cryptocurrency exchanges are an, “emerging risk,” although there is not yet enough evidence to suggest that these activities are occurring through cryptocurrency exchanges. In its report, the FATF urged UK regulators to, “Continue to develop an understanding of emerging risks (such as virtual currencies) and intelligence gaps, and take appropriate action.”
Andreas Utermann, CEO and CIO of Allianz Global Investors, called on global financial regulators to ban cryptocurrencies while speaking at a panel discussion in London. According to a report by Reuters, Utermann said, “You should outlaw it,” while participating in a panel alongside Andrew Bailey, the head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority. Bailey responded by saying that Utermann’s comments were, “quite strong,” before adding that cryptocurrencies have, “no intrinsic value.”
Basis, a major US-based stablecoin project, is shutting down its operations and returning most of its funds to investors, according to a report by crypto news outlet The Block. The report by The Block cited, “multiple people with direct knowledge of the situation,” in claiming that the algorithmic stablecoin project, which generated UDS$133mm of funding through private investments in April, will return funds to investors. According to the Co-Founder and CEO of competing stablecoin project Nevin Freeman, Basis’ shutdown is due to regulatory concerns around one of its token types. Freeman explained, highlighting that algorithmic stablecoins implement a “secondary token”, known as a “bond token”, to help maintain the primary token’s peg. In many cases, regulators like the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) consider these secondary tokens to be securities.
Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume, announced that it has added Circle’s US dollar-pegged stablecoin, USD Coin (USDC), to its combined Stablecoin Market. Circle, a company backed by Goldman Sachs, first released its stablecoin in September of this year. Binance’s combined Stablecoin Market features other notable stablecoins, like Tether (USDT), that trade against cryptocurrencies as interchangeable base pairs.
Coinone, a South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange, has officially launched Cross, a cross-border payments application that leverages Ripple’s xCurrent product to increase efficiencies. The application, released by Coinone’s payments subsidiary, Coinone Transfer, targets unbanked or underbanked South Koreans by enabling the transfer of funds to Thailand or the Philippines at a low cost.
Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange heralded by the Winklevoss twins, released an official company blog post this weekend announcing that the firm will support Bitcoin Cash (BCH) custody and trading. The exchange will support only the Bitcoin Cash ABC network at this time, adding that they, “are continuing to evaluate Bitcoin SV over the coming weeks or months, and we may or may not choose to support withdrawals and/or trading of Bitcoin SV in the future.” Additionally, the company detailed that its listing of BCH is pending regulatory approval by the New York State Department of Financial Services.
Gemini, the cryptocurrency trading platform founded by the Winklevoss twins, announced the launch of a mobile crypto trading application in an official blog post today. Accompanying the launch of the crypto trading app is a new investment vehicle, dubbed, “The Cryptoverse,” that is comprised of a basket of cryptocurrencies weighted by market capitalization. While speaking to Bloomberg today, Cameron Winklevoss said that, “A lot of our decisions have perhaps given off a perception that we’re more institutional-based. The reality of the situation is that we have a diverse customer base. And the retail story is just beginning.” The Winklevoss twins went on to detail of a goal to expand reach to Asian markets by 2019’s end.
Good Money, a US neo-banking platform, has closed its Series A investment round that generated USD$30mm led by cryptocurrency-focused merchant bank Galaxy Digital and the founder of EOS (EOS) Block.one. Good Money aims to provide a variety of banking service and certain financial instruments to US account holders while exploring innovative changes to traditional banking practices. “Modern banking is a primary driver of so many issues we as a society face – from economic inequality, institutional racism, environmental destruction to political corruption,” said Good Money founder Gunnar Lovelace. Specifically, Good Money eliminates ATM fees while offering each bank user equity in the company.
Kraken, a notable cryptocurrency exchange, is seeking to raise funding with a USD$4bn valuation for the company and a USD$100,000 investment minimum, according to CoinDesk. In an email to investors, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell wrote, “There is presently a limited time opportunity available to a very small select number of clients to purchase shares.” The email goes on to detail that the exchange will close its offer on December 16th.
OKEx, the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume, will begin listing Bitcoin Cash ABC under the original Bitcoin Cash ticker (BCH), as per an official announcement Tuesday. Additionally, OKEx will change the Bitcoin Cash SV ticker from BCHSV to BSV. The announcement by OKEx comes after other notable cryptocurrency exchanges have made the same switch, including Coinbase and Gemini.
PayPal, an online payments portal, has launched its own internal private blockchain platform that will allow staff to trade and exchange tokens while generating ideas and participating in programs to foster innovation, as per a report by news outlet Cheddar. The private blockchain network, which was built by 25 PayPal employees in just 6 months, will allow employees to earn more for enrolling in learning and development programs. The PayPal tokens are not tradeable, or worth anything for that matter, outside PayPal’s blockchain.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a big four consulting firm, is partnering with Bitfury Group, a large blockchain software and mining firm, to develop a blockchain accelerator specific to Russian businesses. As per an official press release by PwC, the partnership will leverage Exonum, Bitfury’s open source framework to build blockchain applications, for educational courses and seminars. The partnership aims to meet the, “current needs,” of PwC’s enterprise clients in Russia.
Revolut, a digital banking alternative with an in-application cryptocurrency exchange, announced that it has been awarded a European banking license. Seeking to become the, “Amazon of banking,” the license will allow Revolut to offer traditional banking services alongside its current cryptocurrency offerings to European customers. Nikolay Storonsky, Founder and CEO of Revolut, said in regards to the newly acquired license that, “With the banking license now secured, commission-free stock trading progressing well, and five new international markets at final stages of launch, we are living up to our reputation as the ‘Amazon of Banking’. Our vision is simple: one ap with tens of millions of users, where you can manage every aspect of your financial life with the best value and technology.”
Shinhan Bank, the second-largest commercial bank in South Korea, is launching a new project to implement blockchain technology in its internal processes with a goal of eliminating human error. According to a report by news outlet The Korea Times, Shinhan also recently completed a training program for its staff to increase their knowledge of blockchain technology across various applications. After Shinhan implemented blockchain technology for interest rate swap transactions on November 30th, South Korea’s second-largest bank is now aiming to apply the technology in its record-keeping process to enhance overall efficiencies.
SolarisBank, Germany’s second-largest and Europe’s ninth-largest stock exchange, is partnering with Stuttgart Exchange Group, a German fintech company, to jointly develop a cryptocurrency exchange. As per a report by Cointelegraph Germany, the joint cryptocurrency exchange venture, “is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019.” This news comes after SolarisBank announced plans to launch a zero-fee cryptocurrency trading application this past May.
The Canadian city of Calgary is becoming the first city in Canada to launch a digital version of its local currency, according to a report by the Global News. Dubbed as the Calgary Digital Dollar, the digital currency will be exclusive to Calgary and operate alongside the country’s Canadian Dollar. Calgary-based businesses will now be required by law to accept at least 10% of a payment in digital currency, although they are allowed to accept up to 100%.
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is launching a pilot of its Global Payment Initiative (GPI) to combat growing blockchain and fintech solutions, according to an official announcement last week. Currently, the SWIFT Network is used by global financial institutions to conduct global financial payments and cross-border transfers of fiat currency. Although the project is still in its early stages, the GPI pilot hopes to, “build the foundation of a new integrated and interactive service that will significantly improve efficiencies in the payments process and which will ultimately be made available to all 10,000 banks across the SWIFT network.”
The United Arab Emirates’(UAE) central bank is partnering with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) to develop a cryptocurrency to facilitate cross border transactions between the two countries, according to a report by news outlet GulfNews. In a meeting pertaining to global banking standards and regulation in the Arab region, Mubarak Rashed Al Mansouri, the governor of the UAE’s central bank, said, “This is probably the first time ever that witnesses the cooperation of monetary authorities from different countries on this topic and we hope that this achievement will foster similar collaboration in our region.” The prospective digital currency will be used by both central banks and financial institutions in the countries.
TokenSoft, a security token offering (STO) startup, has acquired a 20% stake in regulated broker-dealer Marpine Securities LLC in order to launch its own regulated broker-dealer. After acquiring the 20% stake, TokenSoft will launch its new regulated broker-dealer entity, called TokenSoft Global Markets, that will be registered through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The new regulated broker-dealer entity will allow TokenSoft to advise token issuers through every step of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) process. Additionally, TokenSoft will now be able to legally operate in services related to insurance and management.
Tom Lee, co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors and a notable cryptocurrency pundit, believes that the current fair value of Bitcoin (BTC) is between USD$13,800 and USD$14,800, according to a note published on Thursday. Lee arrived at this valuation by taking into account the number of active wallet addresses, usage per account, and other supply and demand metrics. Additionally, Lee forecasted that the fair value of BTC will reach USD$150,000/coin once BTC wallets account for 7% of Visa’s 4.5bn account holders.
UAE Exchange, an exchange based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is partnering with Ripple to launch a blockchain-based cross-border remittances platform by 1Q2019, as per a Reuters report on Thursday. The report details further that Finablr, a payments and foreign exchange company that owns UAE Exchange, observes a high level of remittance inflows from expatriate workers in the Middle East region. “We expect to go live with Rippel by Q1, 2019 with two other Asian banks,” said Finablr CEO Promoth Manghat, adding, “This is for remittances to start with, from across the globe into Asia.”
De Nederlandsche Bank, the Netherlands’ central bank, will soon require domestic cryptocurrency providers to obtain a license from the regulator to operate, as per a report by Dutch news outlet DeTelegraaf. The Netherlands' central bank is taking these measures in the hope that it will, “prevent such cryptocurrencies from being used to launder money obtained through crime or to fund terrorism.” In order to receive a license, cryptocurrency firms must maintain Know-Your-Customer procedures and report any suspicious activity to the Dutch central bank.
Eddie Hughes, a conservative member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament, suggested that Bitcoin (BTC) should be accepted as legal tender for tax and utility payments, according to news outlet Express.co.uk. The article discusses that Hughes, who is a self-described, “crypto enthusiast with amateur knowledge,” recently met with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which accepts cryptocurrency donations. This news comes after the US state of Ohio announced that it would begin accepting BTC as legal tender for tax payments.
Following a case in Canadian courts that resulted in a ruling ordering mistakenly sent crypto funds to be returned to their owner, a blog post from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law is noting that there could be repercussions with the case potentially setting a precedent for lost or stolen cryptocurrency claims. The Canadian court case’s ruling will require defendant Brian Wall to return USD$370,482 worth of Ethereum (ETH) tokens to the plaintiff, Copytrack. The blog post from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law reads, ‘This precedent may have major repercussions for the enforcement of claims regarding lost or stolen cryptocurrencies,” adding that the ruling allows the plaintiff to recover tokens, “in whatsoever hands those Ether Tokens may currently be held.”
Japan’s government is considering plans to ease cryptocurrency taxes in an effort to revitalize the domestic cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. This week, Japanese Congressman Takeshi Fujimaki proposed four significant changes to taxation requirements pertaining to digital assets, which include: a reduction on the cryptocurrency gains tax from 55% to 20%; elimination of taxes on crypto-to-crypto payments; elimination of taxes on miniscule cryptocurrency payments; and an adjustment that would allow cryptocurrency investors to carry forward losses across quarters and years, effectively until cryptocurrencies are ‘cashed’ out.
Jay Clayton, Chairman for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (US SEC), said during a speech that Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), “can be effective,” for fundraising, but that, “securities laws must be followed.” Clayton went on in his speech to comment on the US SEC’s work regarding distributed ledger technology (DLT), digital assets, and ICOs, saying that it is an, “area where the Commission and staff have spent a significant amount of time,” and, “that this trend will continue in 2019.”
Jay Clayton, the Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), expressed his optimism for distributed ledger technology’s potential impact on traditional financial markets in a testimony before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs yesterday. According to a transcript published on the SEC’s website, Clayton said, “I am optimistic that developments in distributed ledger technology can help facilitate capital formation, providing promising investment opportunities for both institutional and Main Street Investors.” Additionally, Clayton highlighted that the SEC is, “Focusing a significant amount of attention and resources on digital assets and initial coin offerings (ICOs).”
Maxim Akimov, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, announced that no significant changes will be made to the draft of a bill concerning cryptocurrency regulation in the country, as per news outlet Finmarket. The bill was already approved by Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, in May 2018, although the bill has generated substantial discussion since. Since approval of the bill, all cryptocurrency and token-related terminology have been removed and replaced with the term “digital rights”. At the beginning of December, Pavel Krasheninnikov, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma, said that the bill needed to be, “significantly,” changed.
Pan Gongsheng, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, highlighted that Security Token Offerings (STOs) in China are illegal while speaking at a summit in Beijing. As per a report by news outlet the South China Morning Post, Gongsheng told the summit that, “illegal financing activities through STOs and ICOs were still rampant in the mainland despite a nationwide clean-up of the cryptocurrency market last year.” In citing reasoning for the continued ban on STOs, Gongsheng explained that, “Virtual money has become an accomplice to all kinds of illegal and criminal activities.”
Pantera Capital, a blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused investment firm and hedge fund, is warning investors that as much as a quarter of their ICO project could potentially be violating US securities laws, according to a Bloomberg report. In a newsletter to clients, Pantera Capital warned, “While we believe the vast majority of the projects in our portfolio should not be affected, approximately 25% of our fund’s capital is invested in other projects with liquid tokens that sold to US investors without using Regulation D or Regulation S”
Russia has no intention of implementing Venezuela’s state-backed digital currency, the Petro, into commercial operations, according to a report by news outlet RIA Novosti. While speaking to reporters this week, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak said, “Representatives from our tax service and central bank... got acquainted with the cryptocurrency Venezuela is introducing,” adding, “But no more than that. As for payments, they’re not happening yet.”
South Korea’s representative body, the National Assembly, held its first official meeting with seven of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges on Monday. The purpose of the meeting was to debate cryptocurrency regulation between stakeholders of South Korea’s cryptocurrency industry. Cryptocurrency exchanges Bithumb, CobitCoin, Coinone, Upbit, Gopax, Coinplug, and Hanbitco were among the attendees of the debate, which reportedly focused on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) customer protections and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures.
The United Kingdom’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental financial security body, is calling on the country’s government to increase monitoring of cryptocurrency markets. According to an official report last week, the UK must overhaul its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and combat terrorist financing (CFT) efforts in order to prevent illicit activities with cryptocurrencies. “Virtual currency exchange providers are not yet covered by AML/CFT requirements,” the report details, adding, “this is an emerging risk and there is not yet evidence to suggest that broad scale ML/TF is occurring in the UK through this relatively small sector.”
The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is interested in learning more about the Ethereum (ETH) network, its technology, and the markets build around it. On Tuesday, the CFTC published a Request for Input (RFI) that requests the public’s feedback on different questions concerning Ethereum. The RFI explains that its goal is to inform the CFTC about Ethereum and similar emerging technology, saying, “The input from this request will advance the CFTC’s mission of ensuring the integrity of the derivatives market as well as monitoring and reducing the systematic risk by enhancing legal certainty in the markets. The RFI seeks to understand the similarities and distinctions between certain virtual currencies, including here ether and bitcoin, as well as ether-specific opportunities, challenges, and risks.”
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (US SEC) is ordering that cryptocurrency asset manager CoinAlpha Advisors LLC pay a USD$50,000 fine, alleging that the firm conducted an unregistered securities sale. After forming in October 2017, CoinAlpha raised more than USD$600,000 from investors to invest in digital assets. In an official release, the US SEC said that CoinAlpha did not file a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities, meaning that the firm breached securities laws by soliciting securities investors. Additionally, the firm allegedly did not adhere to proper know-your-customer procedures to verify that investors were accredited.
Venezuela is reportedly beginning to convert its citizens’ monthly pension payments into Petros, Venezuela’s controversial state and oil-backed cryptocurrency, according to a report by local economics blog the Caracas Chronicles. The conversion of Venezuelan pensioners’ payments into Petros came after the country already sent pensioners their monthly payment in the form of a check for Venezuelan Bolivars -- normally, upon receiving their check, pensioners would deposit their funds into a bank account where they could then withdraw fiat from local branches. The Venezuelan government, however, converted pensioners’ fiat payments into the Petro upon their deposit into a bank. In the first few weeks of the Petro’s existence, its value has risen from 9,000 to more than 15,000.
Warren Davidson, an Ohio Congressman and notable advocate of blockchain and digital assets, is floating blockchain technology as a solution to fund US President Donald Trump’s prospective US-Mexico border wall. While interviewing with NPR, Congressman Davidson suggested, “the American people, or whomever should choose to donate,” could pay for the border wall, adding, “you could do it with sort of like a crowdfunding site or you could do a blockchain and you could have WallCoins.”
“The long-term value of Bitcoin (BTC) is more likely to be USD$100 than USD$100,000,” says Kenneth Rogoff, a former Chief Economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the current Harvard University Professor of Economics and Public Policy. While writing an article for major UK news outlet The Guardian, Rogoff highlighted that, because BTC’s use is limited to transactions, it makes the digital asset more vulnerable to a bubble-like collapse. Rogoff also cited that BTC’s energy-intensive verification processes is, “vastly less efficient,” than systems that leverage, “a trusted central authority like a central bank.”
A new report by PeckShield, a blockchain security company that monitors various cryptocurrency ecosystems, details that decentralized applications (DApps) on the EOS (EOS) blockchain have lost as much as USD$1mm in hacks since July 2018. The report details further that DApps on the EOS network have sustained 27 breaches since July, which are responsible for the up to 400,000 EOS that have been compromised from hacks. Guo Yonggang, a blockchain security expert cited in a report on the matter by crypto media firm Blockchain Truth, believes that the hacks can be attributed to security problems with the DApps themselves, rather than with the EOS network.
A new study published by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance on Wednesday finds that the number of unique ID-verified cryptocurrency users nearly doubled in in the first 3 quarters of 2018. The study details that total ID-verified users increased to 35mm in the first three quarters of 2018 from 18mm at the end of 2017, representing an increase of 94%. As per an analysis of the study by Bloomberg, the growth of crypto’s userbase despite the market decline, “could signal that an eventual recovery could be coming.”
Amid the continued cryptocurrency sell-off, only two cryptocurrency mining machines remain profitable, according to real-time data from ASICMinerValue.com. ASICMInerValue.com, which calculates the profitability of Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miners, indicates that only indicates that only the Ebank Ebit E11++ and ASICminer 8 Nano 44Th mining models are profitable for mining cryptocurrencies based on the SHA-256 hash function -- notable cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) use this has function.
Bitmain, a large Chinese cryptocurrency mining firm, announced that it is closing its development center in Israel, citing current cryptocurrency market conditions. In closing Bitmaintech Israel, the crypto mining giant was forced to fire all 23 employees. Among the employees let go is Gadi Glikberg, head of Bitmain’s Israeli branch and Vice President of International Sales, who said on the recent market turmoil, “The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation.”
Busan, a major South Korean city, will be the beneficiary of the South Korean government’s plan to spend 4bn Korean won (USD$3.5mm) to establish a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant (VPP). As per a report by South Korean news outlet Yonhap News Agency, the project will be angled as a national competition in 2019, hosted by South Korea’s largest electric utility, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). The VPP will integrate the idle capacities of multiple energy resources through a cloud-based distributed ledger in order to optimize power generation and decrease costs.
Church’s Chicken, a large international fast food franchise, is partnering with Dash Venezuela to accept cryptocurrencies in its Venezuelan locations. According to an official press release, 13 Church’s Chicken establishments will begin accepting Dash (DASH) as payment following, “extensive and rigorous days of training,” staff to understand cryptocurrencies. With the addition of Church’s Chicken, more than 2,200 establishments in Venezuela accept DASH as payment.
Crypto.com, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency payments platform, announced the appointment of former PayPal executive Tyson Hackwood to serve as the firm’s Vice President and Head of Global Merchant Acquisition in an official press release today. Crypto.com aims to increase cryptocurrency adoption by both merchants and consumers through their point-of-sale (PoS) transaction terminals. Crypto.com CEO Kris Marszalek believes that Hackwood will be integral in furthering this goal, saying, “As we develop the Crypto.com Chain to fulfill the current industry need to pay and be paid in crypto, Tyson will play an important role in expanding the number and quality of merchants that are part of our network.”
Hyperledger, a notable blockchain consortium, is continuing its robust expansion after announcing the addition of 16 new members at the Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland. Among the notables to join the consortium are, Alibaba Cloud, Citigroup’s Citi Ventures arm, and Deutsche Telekom. The latest addition of 16 members brings the total membership of Hyperledger to more than 260 different companies. In a public statement, Hyperledger Executive Director Brian Behlendorf said that, “The growing Hyperledger community reflects the increasing importance of open source efforts to build enterprise blockchain technologies across industries and markets. The latest members showcase the widening interest in and impact of DLT and Hyperledger."
Jeremy Henrickson, the former Chief Product Officer at Coinbase, has departed the US-based cryptocurrency exchange after serving since July 2016. “Jeremy’s contributions to Coinbase over the past two years were invaluable,” said a Coinbase spokesperson, adding that, “he helped to build our scrappy startup team into a high-functioning product and engineering organization -- overseeing a 5x+ growth of the team.” Henrickson’s departure comes after long-term Coinbase executives Adam White and Hunter Merghart left the US-based cryptocurrency exchange in recent months.
LinkedIn’s, “2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs,” report released on Thursday ranks the role of blockchain developer as the fastest growing job in the United States. The report by LinkedIn indicates that blockchain developer jobs have increased 33-fold in the past 12 months alone. San Francisco, New York City, and Atlanta are among the cities with the highest demand for blockchain developer jobs.
Orbs, a unique hybrid blockchain platform, raised more than USD$15mm in cryptocurrencies to fund its development of a public blockchain, according to a company blog post. South Korean application provider Kakao lead the fundraising efforts with a representative telling CoinDesk that the company, “always seeks to invest and support innovative startups, and Orbs is a good example.” In total, Orbs raised 139,000 Ether (ETH) and 892 Bitcoin (BTC), amounting to roughly USD$15.4mm. Orbs aims to build a public blockchain with this funding that is, “universal,” and, “scalable,” for decentralized applications (DApps) with the, “liquidity of a base layer.”
Samsung has reportedly filed patent applications for three different blockchain-related trademark requests that all pertain directly to smartphones, according to news outlet Galaxy Club. Specifically, the patents named “Blockchain KeyStore”, “Blockchain Key Box”, and “Blockchain Core” all pertain to cryptocurrency custody capabilities on smartphones. This news comes amid the release of HTC’s Exodus 1 and Sirin Labs’ FINNEY, both of which are being marketed as blockchain smartphones with cryptocurrency custody capabilities.
My weekend with Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services, TBIS
This is my first ever blog post so please excuse me if I don’t adequately meet up to your writing expectations or answer all of your questions. Just a warning I tend to be wordy. In the Telegram world, my name is “Titanium Big Fish” and I hold a 6-figure amount of Titanium’s utility token, TBAR. As many of you know, Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure was hacked February 21, 2018. Prior to the hack, I had always been active on the telegram channel and enjoyed talking of our future riches to others as I found myself loving the banter and comradery. Moon landings and Lambo’s were often the fun conversation. Unfortunately, this hack happened immediately after I sold my business and a week after my first child was born. I went from someone mentally retired on Titanium and crypto to someone unemployed with a newborn, having to now bust out my 2011 resume. By February 21st, I was known to the top level in the company as a 6-figure token holder and I was still actively accumulating, so when I noticed A LOT of BAR being dumped on IDEX, I sent a telegram to Richard the COO questioning the ‘sale’ of so many tokens. Much to my surprise, and until today, I have kept this to myself, Richard asked me for my email and to sign an NDA and I was to call into a group chat. Much of what I write here might “bend” this NDA. Besides myself on the call there were a few top-level managers. I was informed that there was a hack. Michael, the CEO sounded extremely upset. I could hear despondence and stress in his voice. Before they decided to go with their plan A, they wanted a token holders’ thoughts. Someone who might have some other insight into a different idea and hear how the community might react. I came up with an idea that was not feasible at the time which was to fork into the ‘ingots’ but Richard said the blockchain would not be ready for a few months and not a solution to stop the hacker from profiting. They then discussed an actual fork, that Richard and James could start working on ASAP. Everyone agreed that the fork was the best idea to prevent the hacker from profiting and TBAR was created at this point. Apparently, the team had previously contacted the exchanges, because our call ended when the IDEX owner called for Michael and Michael had to get off the phone with us to take that call. There were 4 takeaways from this phone conversation that I had. One: I strongly suggested NOT to reveal this hack to the community and to make up ANY excuse but ‘hack’ to the token holders. I knew the mention of that word, would cause the BAR price to plummet and as a large holder I wanted to avoid that. Michael said, that we had to take the high road, and be honest and transparent. I really felt that was a strong statement for him to have made and it was something that I am certain that I would not have been able to do in that moment had I been the CEO. Two: I immediately noticed there was one top level manager NOT on the phone call, the CTO. I had been following Titanium and knew all the management and expected the CTO to be on this call. Literally that week I had run background checks on everyone so when someone was not there, I took notice, especially since his background check had some minor criminal issues. Three: when I asked whom I thought could possibly do something like this, it was evidently clear to me that the others on the call had a definite idea who the hacker was and it seemed Michael even wanted to blurt it out, saying something about not knowing who your true friends are. Four: I found myself somewhat on the ‘inside’ of the company. The next few weeks were basically a nightmare. I had added to my holdings all month leading into the hack and even had a 5-figure order on the books that the hacker grabbed up. To say I was fully invested is an understatement. I became the voice of reason to many on the telegram channel, because I really believe in the project, and knew they would pull through and also suspected they knew whom the hacker was and his being caught was inevitable. Also, hearing Michael and Richards voices on the call to discuss options, gave me confidence that they had nothing to do with this. I also felt it best to be reasonable about my holding and think everything through logically and clearly before taking a negative stance on this. My logic and reasoning led me to fully believe in the team after seeing how hard they were working on resolving this. I always felt, if it was not for Hitbtc, this would have been a minor issue that would have been incredibly resolved quickly, brilliantly and with almost no loss of BAR. Over time, I started to grow closer to Richard and others on the team in my private discussions about the hack and my own Sherlock Holmes investigations. Unfortunately, I am still under my NDA and even now can not reveal things that I know because mostly they are circumstantial or might hinder the investigation. My NDA also prevented me from revealing other things that I had known in the past. For example, when a youtube interview was rescheduled, people blamed Michael for this. He seemed to be an easy fall guy, whom everyone felt just didn’t show up. However, I had known all along that it was cancelled by the interviewer and Michael was actually ready for the interview. One of the team members took the fall blaming themselves for this miscommunication. People questioned this when it was revealed, but I saw it as a team that never places blame on others and never speaks negatively about anyone, nor do they try to counter FUD even when they can and should. To me that is the sign of a company specifically thinking long term. I still have not seen a team member bad mouth anyone or any company (even HBTC). On a whim, I reached out to Richard and said that I wanted to meet him, to see the office and meet Michael. I was concerned about my purchase, of course, and felt as a token holder I needed to see what was going on. There was a blockchain event coming up in LA and I was told that weekend would work as Martha, the CCO, would also be there. For this trip, I rented my own car, paid for my own airfare and rented my own hotel room. Titanium did not pay for me to come out to LA and they did not suggest that I come. Titanium is not paying me to write this nor are they demanding I say or not say anything. I never intended to write anything about my trip and my trip was not intended to answer Q and A for myself, nor did I take notes until the last day. My purpose of the trip was not to learn roadmap details nor product details, so I apologize to those that think I will fill you all in on the goodies. I was told many goodies, but I took them in stride as a big whole positive picture. I went to see if this was a long-term hold, if I should actually buy more, and to meet the humans behind Titanium, to get a feel for them specifically. I have been careful in what I have written as to not excite people too much with mentioning things not fully completed nor have I mentioned things told to me that might violate others NDA and I do not go into detail at all on any road map dates nor many specific products really. For example, we discussed the Element wallet in detail, but I won’t mention it in this blog at all, nor will I mention many of the products being worked on. All I will say is that there are a lot of things going on. It took me 2 weeks to get this blog out, and as we know in crypto 2 weeks is a lifetime, so many of the issues discussed below have been resolved, as well as some of the questions at the end, have already been answered. My initial meeting with Richard and Martha was brief. It was a cordial meeting- the conversation focused on HITBTC, the big hack, the twitter hack, as well as the fud group. I initially asked what the plan was for HITBTC. Richard had told me he was waiting on their contact there to do what is asked of them, and though they seem to want to help, and they have agreed to help, they always seemed to stop short of helping. I asked if HITBTC wanted money to resolve this, he said yes, and he was willing to pay. Plan B, Richard said, will take place very soon. Although It is not an ideal solution, Richard would have to have each of the 1500+ wallet holders left on HITBTC send in proof that they have BAR on HITBTC, prove when that purchase was made, and individually, each wallet will be sent TBAR if they qualified. It would be a slow and tedious endeavor, that would use up a lot of manpower, but it would get done. The conversation then turned to the hacker. I can’t speak to most of this as it is under investigation and I don’t know the full details, neither did Richard nor Martha. We all have our suspicions, and everything is unfortunately circumstantial at this point, so we just had an in-depth conversation on the circumstantial evidence. I can’t really discuss some of this information however, it is my opinion that this hack was a hack of vengeance, and not really for profit for they would have waited for a much better time to hack and BAR was really under the radar at this point with very low volume. This person does not want Titanium to succeed and more so, has a personal vendetta against Michael. The amount of people on this list is very, very small and it seems apparent that this is what the FUD group was set up for. Interestingly, this same person that I suspect is often in the FUD group. I suspect the person that publicly stated they did not want a fork and also publicly insinuated we should have paid the hacker, is to blame. You can all decide on that one… Interestingly, when I asked the telegram group to send over some Q and A, only 1 person asked about the hack. It seems that people are starting to move on from it. The conversation then turned to the twitter hack and the FUD group (note: this group is currently shut down as of the writing of this blog). Much to my surprise these two things did not seem to bother Richard nor Martha very much at all as they were already past this and implemented new company protocols and procedures. They felt that they have done nothing wrong and were not concerned as the price of the token was moving downward with the market and was now currently sitting near or above ICO Ethereum price (actually as I finish this, it is double the ICO ETH price). It seems Richard was focused more on moving forward, hiring and getting the product created and out. Laser focused actually! We all suspected the twitter hacker and this FUD group are related. I suspect the same people. I learned, there is only 1 person that no longer works with the team, that would have access to the ‘released’ database (that was threatened to be released), and that person is active in that FUD group. That person still had access to the websites and I learned, apparently had shut them down a few times over the weeks. Richard said they are not even investigating the twitter takeover as it would not lead to much and they needed to focus on putting resources where they are better served. There were a lot of conversations back and forth between the founder of the FUD group and Richard. The founder of that group, was asking a large sum of ETH to do an AMA right after the hack. She was pretty upset that she was being ignored, to me it just made sense that during this moment of crisis, she obviously would not be priority #1, nor would a discord AMA be worth the price of many dozens of ETH. It is now old news, so lets move on. Prior to my arrival in LA, I received a message from someone on Telegram who had “secret information” and correspondence from Michael regarding moving the office to Europe. This individual had once worked for the team and worked on setting up a possible international office and wanted me to know this information. I thought that would be a great idea, to get away from the regulations of the USA. Initially the person seemed to be telling me this as if it was secret FUD that he had, but when questioning him more, he said this was discussed months earlier and definitely not an escape plan, but more so to expand our offices internationally. I asked Richard his thoughts on moving the company, and he said that there are definitely no plans on doing so, however they do plan on running the DEX exchange in a favorable European country. Malta (where Binance recently opened office), Switzerland and Belarus had all come up, but no decisions were being made as to where. They went as far as looking into the intricacies of opening bank accounts and offices if necessary in these European locations, but it has not moved forward at this moment. More details might be released soon, and if so, it is not FUD, but a well thought out plan by Titanium. They truly thought everything through on this. After about 90 minutes, Richard and Martha were heading to the office to meet Michael and interview 2 new engineers. My takeaway from the initial meeting was that I was surprised to hear Martha had recently just met Michael that morning, in person, for the first time. I had always thought they knew each other well, Michael always acted on the telegram that he was very personal with Martha, but I soon found out he is very warm and friendly to everyone. Richard and Martha had also just recently met face to face and only knew each other from Core through the ICO. My initial impression of meeting Richard is that he does not seem phased by anything. Every amount of FUD thrown his way he seemed to brush off with his answer of “we did nothing wrong, the product will speak for itself”. This seems to be his true belief. He is pretty certain of whom the hacker is, and does show some emotion when discussing that. Regarding the investigation, all Richard could say was that he was told something was definitely happening and news will be released soon. He is pretty calm and collected for someone basically running the helm here. Martha seemed to have her ducks in line and was very passionate about the project. She has the high energy and the knowledge it takes to fill her position with the company. That night I met Richard and Martha in bar in LA. We had a few drinks and the topic of course turned to Titanium. Most of the discussion that we had made me super excited, as it detailed many of the future products. I recall texting “Dr Hodler” the telegram manager, that night and telling him I am loading up on more TBAR (since my trip my position has increased by 5 figures). Much of my memories of the conversation revolved around the master nodes. This is where my NDA really kicks in, so I can’t go into detail about them. I know they will be tiered and they will exist, though Richard mentioned unlike regular master nodes that we know of, because those pay a dividend and as a utility token we have to avoid paying a dividend. They will be blockchain rewards based. So token holders that have master nodes will earn block rewards. This was very well thought out. What I will say, and this was a running theme for the weekend, is that Richard is extremely brilliant. Not the nerdy brilliant, one-subject brilliant or boring brilliant but the type of brilliant that probably knows more about your profession, than you do. The Jeopardy champion brilliant. He thought of so many intricate details on every product and regarding these nodes, and this company, that his excitement, passion and intelligence made me excited. He did go into technical detail on these things, but I would never be able to explain it correctly. It was very detailed and thought out. Though after this evenings conversation, I do see why Michael mentioned Elon Musk once in a telegram chat. What I would later find out about Richard was that at age 12 he was building and taking apart computers, and probably charging more to tutor people in computers, than a doctor was charging. He is someone that can lead Titanium to the top, someone that is motivated to, desires to, has the financial ability to, financial incentive to, and someone that will certainly be a huge success story in anything he wants. I am extremely confident in him and Titanium. Everyone wants to hear Michael speak, but Richard in my opinion is really the man behind the tech here. Unfortunately, like many tech guys (or geeks, though he does not come across as that), he is more comfortable behind the scenes instead of in front of a camera and never seemed to bite on my idea of getting him to do weekly video updates. The next day we met at the Blockchain conference. It was not a great conference, but I did end up meeting 3 guys from the LA office, the amigos as Richard would say. They seemed excited to be working for Titanium. They were all intelligent and high energy, amicable and knowledgeable on this space. They were open to doing whatever it is that Richard asked of them. They were however not engineers and are part of the admin team working with Michael out of the LA office and they were there to help network with some of the youtube speakers at the conference and to get TBIS name out. Eventually one of the guys, Alex, got us in the backroom with the main speaker and a youtube personality that I follow. I was excited that this happened however that youtuber seemed only interested in how we could help him, and since his future ICO seemed like shit to me, that was not gonna happen. One takeaway was that I was a little dismayed at the teams elevator pitch. Hopefully in the future if they get to sit down with a big player off-the-cuff like that, it would be a bit more organized. I know it was the first time something like this might have happened, so next time hopefully they prepare better. Sales is extremely important in this space, and being able to spew EXACTLY what you need, what you do and how you do it, all within 30 seconds, has to be practiced. I can tell it was not. It did not matter because this guy was a dud, even though he was a main youtuber, it just goes to show these youtubers just are out only for themselves. Interestingly, in later conversation, I asked if Titanium ever paid “Supoman” and I was not surprised to hear that they 100 percent never had. Our next stop after the conference was to head to the new office to meet Michael. One of my many reasons for investing into the ICO was because this was a USA based company, something located close enough that I could visit if I needed and because of Michael. When I first met Michael, I could see he was extremely well liked by his staff. A few of the guys that I met had come along to the office, and he hugged them when he saw them and seemed to be very warm, friendly and easy going. I have only heard great things about Michael from people that know him and worked with him and I remember our conversation on the phone after the hack how he seemed pleasant even in crisis. He was very professional as well as friendly, we shot the breeze a bit. It was mostly small talk. I had wanted to bombard him with a bunch of questions, but at the time, it didn’t seem appropriate as I was not one on one with him. Richard had already told me there was an investigation going on, but that it was secret and unless I could get alone with Michael I foresaw that was not going to be answered. He definitely seemed more the sweet, caring, puppy loving, family loving, honest and easy-going type, rather than anything else I could have imagined. I didn’t see any ‘snake oil salesman’, ‘used car salesman’ type at all. In fact, how this guy could have any enemies anywhere actually is surprising. I immediately liked him and could see why he would be good in sales. I assume anyone that does not like him, has clearly never met him. When I thought about the office, I envisioned it where every techie developer on the team would be flown in worldwide, living out of a commune together and working 24/7 on Titanium. I envisioned team brainstorming meetings in a huge conference room with 100s of people running around. Well this I have come to understand is not what happens in the real ICO world. Titanium has a really nice office (the new carpet smell was prevalent) though it was not set up completely. It is perfect size for a start-up and I suspect mostly will be Michael’s home base /private office. Especially since Richard said he was not only not moving to LA, but that he was opening up his own office in Oregon (apparently Eugene is a tech town). Much to my dismay, the LA office is just not going to be an active hub of developers and engineers burning the midnight oil. What I have come to know is that the best developers and engineers, just don’t live in LA, nor do they want to, and I can definitely understand that. So, although Richard interviewed a few developers the day before, that might work in the office, he even said they could probably work from home (after implying he was hiring them). The LA office will house most of the admin people working for Michael and possibly the future sales staff, but really won’t be much of an active office with engineers working so anyone wanting that 24/7 camera set up in the LA office, I have given my two cents that it is stupid idea and a complete waste of time, money and energy as there will not be people burning that midnight oil like I suspected. Previously, Richard had mentioned to me and to the telegram group that they have hired about 40 contractors and subcontracted engineers and Michael agreed with that statement when I brought it up. Richard has also told me they are hiring up to about 60 in total. I was pleasantly surprised to hear such a large number. He said they will be located worldwide and did mention what cities he was advertising in, but I have since forgotten. For the most part, people working for Titanium, will work remotely. Richard did state that anyone working for TBIS moving forward will be solely employed exclusively by TBIS and not allowed to work on any other project but ours. That was also refreshing. Other things that were discussed with Michael was the FUD group. Again, I found it interesting that Michael did not seem to care too much about this group. I was under the impression he did not even know much about them at all. Seems the team doesn’t feel they have anything to worry about. The common theme is that they are a utility token, a product, sold to the public for future use in their ecosystem. When asked by me if they thought about getting a cease and desist on the group, they shrugged off the idea. Interestingly, everyone that bought into the ICO is now up money on TBAR compared to ETN, ETH and probably every other coin used to purchase BAR (unless fiat was used) Titanium is trading spectacularly compared to the rest of the market. One last thing that happened in the meeting with Michael was that when I revealed someone wanted me to reach out to the ex CTO for a conversation with him, Michaels demeanor completely changed. He went from a smiling happy guy shooting the breeze about the office furniture, to a complete 180 turn, becoming a stern father figure telling me exactly not to go play in shit. Basically, he gave me warning that it would be a bad idea and lets just leave it at that. That night we ended up going back to Richards Airbnb. We all played a bit on the telegram and chatted about how inexpensive TBAR was. It was here that one of the main team members that I was with went on IDEX and purchased 12,000 TBAR after confirming the price was just too cheap at .25 cents. I also was told that recently another main team member bought a larger amount of TBAR in the 40 cent range. That was confidence building for me. Then it came up that immediately after the hack happened Richard and Martha confirmed that Richard went through ALL 22000+ wallets, one at a time, to take a snap shot of each wallets BAR holdings, to know who had what at the time. This took many hours. I was impressed. It seems that he has a lot of passion for this company and desire for it to succeed and, also that he doesn’t mind taking a back seat to all the work he does. I felt at that moment that I should write a little blog about my trip so that others can see how much work these guys are doing. Martha is also completely on the ball. She is overwhelmed I am sure with her duties, but seemed to handle everything perfectly in stride. She is also very intelligent and has her Master’s Degree in Communications from an amazing school. So even though she came from CORE, seems she is a great fit for the job. Sunday afternoon we spent a little time going over some questions that were asked of me on the telegram chat. Much like some of my blog, some of the issues and questions have already been resolved. I apologize it took me so long to get this out. I do want to make clear, the purpose of my trip was not for me to get answers to certain questions, it was for me to meet the team, see real substance, and get a better understanding of Titanium, it was not a Q and A session for me. It was about absorbing and getting a feel for TBIS. It was for myself and not really to make this blog. I am not technical, so I could not dig too deep into technical details, if you want those answers, hopefully the new Q and A weekly newsletter will answer those for you. I am under an NDA so some of the questions or concerns that I might have answers to, are tough for me to relay. But here are a few paragraphs of what came from these questions. As far as partnerships are concerned, Titanium is obviously seeking out many strategic partnerships, but the product is high priority right now. Politically it is hard to discuss potential partnerships before they actually happen, so there was no set name of a partner that was mentioned. Nor did I ask. This seemed to be the theme with exchanges as well. There was a mention to me of a few exchanges that were seemingly definitely coming, but they cannot be revealed by me because there are NDA’s with those exchanges and of course things could change. I assure you from what was randomly said to me, possibly by accident, there is a real great one coming. But again, that can always change. Product completion is imperative for acquiring customers as well, but I was happy to hear Richard and Michael are flying to Thailand to meet with a potential customer. That seems to be something Michael mentioned in a video and it was confirmed with me that it was indeed definitely happening. As for seeing Michael more, Michael is now focused on the big picture of Titanium as a whole and will be fostering past and new relationships and partnerships for the most part. Due to this he won’t be available as much for video interviews going forward. Hopefully that changes, but the team feels that it is a positive for him to concentrate on the connections he has first and foremost. Masternodes will be tiered and might be set up like block rewards as opposed to dividends. The larger the amount of tokens, the more possible rewards could be earned……. No word yet on how many tokens are needed for MN, rewards will be based off the new token and not TBAR. 10,000 was recently confirmed as one tier. The way it is set up, the # of tokens will not be diminished in our lifetime, I am not sure exactly where this supply is coming from but when I asked where do the never ending supply of blockchain rewards come from, I was told, block rewards are similar to how bitcoin works and the economy is designed to last longer than any of our lifetimes. Tbar will not be minable. There are plans to un ban everyone that has been banned in telegram and start a new slate, once things clear up with all the TBAR HITBTC nonsense. It might be read only or they might open it back up with a short leash, but that is definitely on the agenda. I myself will probably unban everyone banned to read only shortly. There are no patents at the moment- can’t really patent some of this kind of software but if they can they will try. They are looking into all IP patents however, and any patents they can get, they certainly will. Technical whitepaper- a new version is coming with more tech specs and with a tech write up but not how things will work, that isn’t going to be released. No public github but Richard will write a readme writeup for github explaining their open source stance. Some will be open source but it takes longer to open source. Companies often do this. Telegram for example has their app open sourced and some server tech but not all of it. Titanium is concentrating on only hiring the best people around. When asked exactly how many are currently hired full time the answer was- there were already 35 direct hires and they have some contract employees working on a couple of the projects with them (I guess this is the 40 total mentioned before). The website is being redeveloped because it was still in control of the ex CTO, who actually might have crashed it multiple times and took the ICO site offline a few times. Hmmmm, interesting. Some of the new projects will have one-of-a-kind technology. Some were explained in depth and sound awesome… As far as competitors go, Richard seemed happy that Google and others have been very clear on what they will be creating and he says it is not anything like what TBIS is doing. Here are some other direct questions answered briefly. How can long term holders be rewarded? Staking of their tokens for services as well as Master Node options. Is there an ever a reduction of supply? Burning is being heavily considered as services are being paid for. Premium Michael promised after the hack? ICO supporters will have something. It is not solidified yet, the team can’t wait for ICO buyers to hear about it in the official announcement. When can we expect a working product? They currently have working versions of their product and it’s constantly evolving. Open Betas and Alphas are upcoming but I couldn’t get exact dates yet. Apparently, software design is often tricky but they have a good team and always hiring. As far as some past FUD I would like to answer. Many brought up the home address as the address of record on TBIS website and incorporation. Those of you who question this have clearly never set up a small business in the USA. The process is simple. You can NOT lease an office without a corporate bank account, you can NOT get a corporate bank account without incorporating and you can NOT incorporate without an address. It is all one big catch 22. So, the VAST majority of business have 1 or 2 options. One is to use a home address or maybe a PO Box though I don’t think that is allowed in my state, the other option is to pay a ‘registered agent’ to collect your mail and use their random address. This is what a lot of companies do, but it costs money and there is no need for it. There is absolutely NO FUD nor concern that TBIS used a residential address as their initial address. All of my businesses have been incorporated at a residential address. Also, I ran a background check on the 5 current and an ex main player of Titanium and 4 of the 5 background checks (the 4 current and new employee) were clean as can be, completely stellar, the 5th was not. I also have a friend that works for the FBI. She is a psychological forensic profiler. Now I personally do not have an answer to whom was contacted regarding the hack, but my FBI friend said there is no chance, zero chance that the FBI will discuss any ongoing investigation with any Joe from the general public. She went on to say, unless you are an interviewed suspect or the victim, you would not be told about an ongoing investigation. She was very adamant about this. Even stating, “Do you think they would have fielded your call about Madoff?” However, she went on to say that the FBI would be the wrong people to contact regarding a crypto hack and that a private company that specializes in this stuff would be better, as FBI agents (in her words have no clue about this stuff) and make about 1/3 what a private company would pay their hackers. So, this sums up my visit. I learned many things and I hope I could help you with some of your questions. I know I could not answer the whodunit question nor give a price prediction of the future of TBAR, nor resolve HITBTC for you, sorry. One of the most important things I realized is that this is truly a startup. If you are looking for a quick buck it is probably not happening. I think this frustrates many of you, causing unnecessary FUD. Much like my newborn stretching and kicking and making awkward faces, Titanium is in the newborn phase doing similar things. Finding their strong points, falling down a little, scratching themselves and even maybe a little crying / firing. Eventually, like my son, things will fall into place and what we will end up with is a very successful operation because all the groundwork is being laid right in front of our eyes. I was privileged to see the office blueprints, hear conversations about the hiring of team members, meet the CEO, hear about other offices being started, and the intricacies of products that are being built. I believe that once they overcome the hack and hitbtc and the fud, things will be smooth sailing when they can truly focus on all things positive. Those that are interrupting this process are like the big dumb schoolyard bully that doesn’t realize that instead of picking on the cool nerdy kid, they should join forces with this kid, help him off his feet as this will one day grow into something extremely successful. But like the big dumb bully, unfortunately you just can’t reason with stupid.
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Because the ASIC price is quite high. Sale of machine and managing after sales service is quite difficult. Because the machine is at the customer. A lot of settings Need to teach and the machine must be turned on all the time. This causes heat problems and electricity is equal to 18,000 BTU air per unit. It is a great barrier to selling out the machine. The company saw the opportunity to build an ASIC facility for Cloud Mining with a capacity of 2 megawatts on an area of over 30 acres to provide services for those who want to hash up digital money. But no knowledge of Blockchain technology or knowledge of the machine. We also have the confidence to let users access our Mining farm site at any time. We can say that we are the first and only digital money hasher in Thailand that open to the public. HashBx Global Official launch of ASIC (Algorithm specified integrated circuit) from the Bitmain manufacturer of Antminer and owner of Antpool the world’s largest hashing pool on July 7, 2015. At the present Hashbx Global Headquarters is located at №90, CW Tower, Unit A, 3002–3, 30th Floor, Ratchadapisek Road, Huaykwang, Bangkok 10310 and has a branch office at Phanat Nikhom to place ASIC machines. Hshbx’s Mining farm allows visitors to visit the place and see the machines. This is to eliminate the problem of the business of cloud mining, which is a matter of credibility itself. When asked about how to solve the problem of the image of the Cloud Mining that is currently considered a negative because there are many that were created just a website. No machine exists. And there are other safety measures. In other words, the user’s bitcoin are stored in cold storage and the bitcoin compensation is returned to the user in the event of a cold storage being stolen or a factory fire. Website “Hashbx.io” The services of HashBx is to provide renting services “Hashing power” that the company prepared through the website. The user is able to put digital money into the system to rent the Hashing power by the hash after delivery of the force already. Users will receive digital money from hashing the next day. On a daily based It will be entered into the account page (Balance) of users on the website “Hashbx.io”
US Futures Jump On Fresh Hopes For China Trade Deal, Dovish Powell Speech
In a generally quiet overnight session, renewed hopes for a thaw in U.S.-China trade relations at the upcoming G20 summit helped global shares rise to a one-week high on Wednesday, though lingering fears of a no-deal outcome weighed on European bourses. U.S. futures rose, extending on Tuesday's rebound and tracking gains in Asia as investors rekindled their risk appetite before a key speech by Fed chair Powell who many hope will reverse yesterday's hawkish rhetoric by Clarida, and come off as dovish, especially after this morning's report that Steve Mnuchin has been pushing for a shift from hiking rates to balance sheet reduction. The dollar and Treasuries were steady. While President Donald Trump talked tough on the trade tariffs issue ahead of a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday, markets focused on comments by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who held open the possibility that the two countries would reach a trade deal. Kudlow’s comments helped Wall Street close higher and allowed Chinese and Japanese shares to rally 1% as the MSCI index of Asian shares ex-Japan gained 0.7%. The mood however fizzled into the European session, with the pan-European index giving up opening gains to trade flat and Germany’s DAX trading unchanged. Technology companies and retailers were the best performers in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, which struggled to maintain early gains as a Tuesday report that Trump may soon decide about new taxes on imported cars, still weighed on sentiment, keeping Europe’s auto sector shares 0.6 percent in the red. "An expectation is being priced into markets ahead of the G20 meeting that we will see some deal or at least a framework for a deal between Trump and (Chinese President) Xi Jinping,” said Bernd Berg, global macro strategist at Switzerland-based Woodman Asset Management. “But if they come out with nothing this weekend, it’s going to be very bad." Traders are also focusing on a speech at 12pm ET by Fed Chair Jerome Powell to see if he offers clues on how many more times the Fed could raise interest rates, following yesterday's modestly hawkish if cautious take from vice chair Clarida. While Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida took a less dovish stance on Tuesday than some had expected and backed more rate rises, Powell and his colleagues have in recent weeks alluded to global volatility, leading many to speculate the bank’s three-year-long rate rise campaign could pause in 2019. Continued uncertainty over global trade as well as Brexit and Italy’s ongoing conflict with the European Union, have supported the U.S. dollar, which rose to a two-week high and approached the highest level hit in 2018. While the main driver for the greenback is the U.S. interest rate path, Rodrigo Catril, senior strategist at National Australia Bank, said it was also benefiting from the uncertain mood. “Markets seem to be jumping at shadows at the moment and against this backdrop of uncertainty, the dollar remains the preferred option for weathering the storm,” Catril said. Investors are also monitoring developments in Italy’s row with the EU over its budget spending, with Germany’s Handelsblatt and Italy’s La Stampa quoting EU commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis as saying the draft budget needed “substantial correction”. The 10-year Treasury yield drifted ahead of Jerome Powell’s speech as European bonds nudged higher and the Euro was range bound. Italian bond yields flatlined after sharp rallies that were triggered by what appeared to be a more conciliatory stance from the government over the issue. The dollar was mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers, trading in narrow ranges ahead of key events this week and EUUSD hovered below 1.1300; Treasuries were little changed with the 10-year yield at 3.05%. Sweden’s krona gained even after retail sales and an economic tendency survey missed estimates. The pound trimmed some of the previous session’s losses as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to back down in a key Brexit battle with Parliament. Brent crude handed back earlier gains to trade little changed. Brent (-0.4%) and WTI (-0.1%) are lower heading into the US open after initially trading positive. A larger than expected build in API crude stockpiles of +3.453mln compared to the expected build of +0.8mln had little impact on the price rebound at the time which instead focused on the larger than expected gasoline draw. Additionally, three North Sea forties crude cargoes which were scheduled to load in December have been cancelled due to the temporary closure of the 150,000 BPD capacity Buzzard oilfield. Saudi Energy minister Al Falih stated this morning that Saudi will not and cannot reduce output on their own, and is hopeful that upcoming meetings will result in agreement to stabilise the market. Gold is slightly lower as the dollar continues to firm, although the yellow metal has rebounded from lows of USD 1211.3/oz in the previous session. Separately, copper is higher following a 3-session decline although, gains for the metal have been restricted by ongoing US-China tensions, with the most recent comments coming from White House Economic Advisor Kudlow saying that US President Trump is prepared to raise tariffs if G20 talks are not constructive. On other markets, cryptocurrency bitcoin jumped 6 percent to above $4,000, its biggest one day jump since the summer, and extending its rebound from a low of $3,475 touched on Sunday. Today's expected data include mortgage applications, wholesale inventories, and new home sales. Burlington Stores, Royal Bank of Canada, Tiffany, and Weibo are among companies reporting earnings. Market Snapshot
S&P500 futures up 0.1% to 2,686.75
STOXX Europe 600 up 0.06% to 357.60
MXAP up 0.7% to 152.77
MXAPJ up 0.7% to 490.34
Nikkei up 1% to 22,177.02
Topix up 0.6% to 1,653.66
Hang Seng Index up 1.3% to 26,682.56
Shanghai Composite up 1.1% to 2,601.74
Sensex up 0.8% to 35,785.59
Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.06% to 5,725.08
Kospi up 0.4% to 2,108.22
German 10Y yield fell 1.3 bps to 0.337%
Euro down 0.05% to $1.1283
Italian 10Y yield rose 2.0 bps to 2.92%
Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.2 bps to 1.556%
Brent futures down 0.3% to $60.05/bbl
Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,213.28
U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 97.38
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin privately asked bond dealers and investors in October whether they want the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy by raising interest rates or through faster cuts in its securities portfolio, six people familiar with the matter said; Mnuchin’s question could be seen as suggesting a way for the central bank to accomplish its goal of preventing a strong economy from overheating without triggering the ire of President Donald Trump
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has backed down in a key Brexit battle with Parliament, ditching moves to stop lawmakers trying to re-write her plans, according to an official. Risk of no-deal Brexit choking ports rising, U.K. lawmakers say
President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping will meet over dinner Saturday evening in Buenos Aires marking a pivotal moment in the escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Trump-Xi meeting puts emerging markets on pain-or-pleasure watch
President Donald Trump renewed his attack on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, telling the Washington Post he’s “not even a little bit happy” with his choice to head the central bank
Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday sprinkled small doses of concern into otherwise upbeat assessments of the U.S. economy. Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Clarida backs Fed’s gradual hikes with neutral rate uncertain
The U.K.’s effort to rejoin a key World Trade Organization agreement that governs public procurement opportunities worth $1.7t a year gained provisional backing on Tuesday
Credit Suisse Group AG is set to make Madrid its post-Brexit trading hub in the European Union after initially planning to move only some investment banking positions to the Spanish capital from London, according to people with knowledge of the matter
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the budget negotiations with the European Union “won’t be easy,” as the government sticks to its spending plans, according to an interview published by Corriere della Sera
Asian equity markets traded mostly positive following a similar lead from Wall St. but with the session initially mired by lingering uncertainty regarding US-China trade relations. Nikkei 225 (+1.0%) outperformed as the index coat-tailed on the recent advances in USD/JPY, while ASX 200 (-0.1%) was subdued by weakness in miners after the metals complex felt the brunt of the recent USD strength and with financials subdued by AMP Capital amid risk of further mischarging cases and provisions. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+1.3%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.0%) were higher but with price action choppy in early trade amid tentativeness heading into the Trump-Xi showdown at this week’s G20 and as participants mulled over various comments from officials including White House Economic Adviser Kudlow who affirmed that Trump could hike tariffs if no constructive talks occur at G20 and that the White House is disappointed in China's response to the trade issue. However, Kudlow also noted that Trump is open to a deal with China and there were recent comments from China’s Vice Premier Liu that China wants a negotiated solution on trade based on mutual respect. Finally, 10yr JGBs weakened amid a lacklustre tone in T-note futures and with the BoJ’s presence in the bond market overshadowed by the outperformance of Japanese stocks. China's US envoy said selling or reducing purchases of US Treasuries would be very dangerous like playing with fire, while the envoy doesn't think anybody in Beijing is seriously thinking about pulling back from US Treasury debt market should tensions worsen. Furthermore, there were reports that China’s Ambassador to the US warned of dire consequences if the trade war leads to economic separation and that China prefers a negotiated solution, while the Ambassador warned that China will retaliate in proportion to any US sanctions regarding Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. Top Asian News - Bank of Thailand Minutes Signal an Interest-Rate Hike Is Coming - Furor Over Gene-Altered Babies Deepens With China Project Halted - Pakistan’s Umar Says No Hurry for IMF Deal as Talks Resume - Turkey Sinks to Last on Emerging-Market Scorecard; Malaysia Tops - Brookfield Is Said to Be in Talks to Invest in Dubai’s Meraas In a slightly choppy session thus far, European equities (Eurostoxx 50 +0.3%) have held on to opening gains seen in the wake of the upbeat US and Asia-Pac sessions, despite lingering trade concerns. The most recent interjection came from White House Economic Adviser Kudlow who commented that Trump is open to a deal with China and that the raising of tariffs to 25% is not a "certainty" but will be implemented if no constructive talks occur at the G20. In terms of sector specifics, IT names are the clear outperformers at this stage of the session with Wirecard (+1.3%) and Dialog Semiconductor (+3.1%) notable gainers in the tech-space after trying to recoup recent losses with not much else in the way of key newsflow. Noteworthy individual movers include EDF (+3.1%) with shares buoyed by reports that that a potential increase in the French government’s stake in the Co. would take place next year. To the downside, Tenaris (-8.2%), sit at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after the Co.’s chairman was indicted in a graft case, whilst Continental shares (-5.4%) have been weighed on by negative comments from Redburn who have warned over the group’s EBIT prospects in 2019. Top European News
Continental AG Falls After CFO Sees Margin Pressure Persisting
Italy Premier Says Social Stability Takes Priority Over Finances
LafargeHolcim Says Cost-Cutting Drive Will Lift 2019 Profit
Commerzbank, Helaba Are Said to Drop Out of NordLB Bidding
In FX, the DXY was off bet levels but retaining an underlying bid with supportive month end flows alongside HIA and SOMA redemption (24.9bln comes due on Friday) all impacting, while market participants keep a close eye on Fed Chair Powell’s speech scheduled for later today where he may stop the USD in its tracks or exacerbate the rally. The index has gained more ground above 97.000 to just over 97.500 before losing some momentum but still on the course to challenge the YTD high at 97.693, technically if not fundamentally. EUR: more choppy trade for the single currency with EUUSD trading around the middle of a 1.1267-1.1304 range having taken out stops at 1.1275. Italian politics keep weighing on the currency with the European Commission unimpressed as it will begin disciplinary actions on Italy regarding debt before Christmas. EU Commissioner Dombrovskis also added that a cut of 0.2% of the 2019 budget target is not enough. EUUSD is being drawn towards a large amount of option expiries between 1.1275 – 1.1300 (1.5bln). Looking ahead, markets will be keeping a close eye on the budget discussion between the Italian PM, two Deputy PM and Finance Minister for any hints of a budge towards EC’s direction. CAD – Another victim of the USD strength and global trade jitters as Trump’s economic advisor Kudlow said the USMCA agreement is to be signed on Friday at the G20 summit, but sticking points remain in regards to dairy. Note, choppy oil prices have hardly helped the Loonie slide to fresh multi-month lows around 1.3330. JPY - Edging closer to 114.00 vs. the buck with heavy option expiries around 113.50-55 (1.47bln) and 114.00 (1.9bln). EM – Mostly weaker as the greenback hold firm with RUB as the standout underperformer amid the ongoing escalation between Russia and Ukraine, though Germany and France stated they are against stricter Russian sanctions for now, while there were witness reports of a Russian minesweeper ship heading towards the Sea of Azov share by Russia and Ukraine. On the flip side, the Russian Central Bank governor emerged earlier with a hawkish tilt whilst keeping options open for the next meeting. Note, USD/RUB is at 67.4000. In commodities, Brent (-0.4%) and WTI (-0.1%) are lower heading into the US open after initially trading positive. A larger than expected build in API crude stockpiles of +3.453mln compared to the expected build of +0.8mln had little impact on the price rebound at the time. Additionally, three North Sea forties crude cargoes which were scheduled to load in December have been cancelled due to the temporary closure of the 150,000 BPD capacity Buzzard oilfield. Saudi Energy minister Al Falih stated this morning that Saudi will not and cannot reduce output on their own, and is hopeful that upcoming meetings will result in agreement to stabilise the market. Gold is slightly lower as the dollar continues to firm, although the yellow metal has rebounded from lows of USD 1211.3/oz in the previous session. Separately, copper is higher following a 3-session decline although, gains for the metal have been restricted by ongoing US-China tensions, with the most recent comments coming from White House Economic Advisor Kudlow saying that US President Trump is prepared to raise tariffs if G20 talks are not constructive. Looking at the day ahead, the focus for the market is likely to be squarely with Fed Chair Powell’s speech. Away from that we also have the second revision of Q3 GDP in the US where no change from the +3.5% qoq saar estimate is expected. The October advance goods trade balance reading should also be closely watched with the consensus expecting a widening in the deficit to $77bn from $76bn last month. Also due out in the US will be October new home sales and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index print. It is another busy day for ECB speakers however with Coeure, Guindos and Praet all due to speak. The BoE’s Carney will also speak at the Financial Stability Report press conference this afternoon when we will also get the latest annual bank stress test results. US Event Calendar
7am: MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -0.1%
8:30am: Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.4%, Retail Inventories MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.1%
8:30am: GDP Annualized QoQ, est. 3.5%, prior 3.5%; Personal Consumption, est. 3.9%, prior 4.0%
8:30am: Core PCE QoQ, est. 1.6%, prior 1.6%
10am: New Home Sales, est. 575,000, prior 553,000
10am: Richmond Fed Manufact. Index, est. 15, prior 15
12pm: Fed’s Powell Speaks to Economic Club of New York
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap One thing I haven’t heard much about this year is a Santa Claus rally but the US has now had two up days in a row for the first time since mid month so maybe Santa is trying to get some momentum going. In fact given the conviction with which markets have moved in recent weeks, yesterday was a actually a rare calmer day with US equities opening lower but floating upward into their close. The S&P 500 ended +0.33% despite opening down -0.66%, while the DOW gained +0.44% and the NASDAQ closed flat. Attention continues to focus on this weekend’s meeting between Presidents Trump and Xi. The White House’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow confirmed today that the two leaders will have dinner on Saturday night at the G-20 in Buenos Aires. He said that “there is a good possibility that we can make a deal” and “I don’t want to go overboard, but he [Trump] has indicated some optimism.” So hopes are continuing to build, and emerging market equities, which would benefit from a benign trade outcome, outperformed yesterday gaining +0.70%. Apple continues to struggle and traded -0.22% lower yesterday as concerns continue regarding the company’s demand outlook and possible tariffs on components for their goods. Notably, Microsoft overtook it to become the world’s largest company by market cap again for the first time since October 2003! The last time Microsoft was larger than Apple was back in May 2010 (though at that time, Exxon Mobile was larger than either of the tech giants). Since Apple peaked in early October, it has shed around $300 billion of market cap, while Microsoft has shed ‘only’ $60 billion, or the equivalent of Pakistan’s GDP to the equivalent of Panama’s respectively. So in 7 weeks Apple has lost the entire annual GDP of a country with 197 million people in terms of market cap. Europe struggled after an early positive open to close slightly lower across the board with the STOXX 600 ending -0.26%. Part of the reason for the dip in Europe seemed to lie with a story in the German business magazine WirtschaftsWoche (WiWo) which reported that President Trump may, as soon as next week, impose tariffs on cars imported into the US. However the details of the story appeared vague with the source also referencing “EU circles,” while the EU later rebutted the story. That said, autos lagged the wider market in the STOXX 600 yesterday with the sector down -2.52% with EU Trade Commissioner Malmstrom also repeating the warning of the risk of US tariffs on cars. Making much less of impact on markets yesterday than his speech from two weeks ago were the comments from Fed Vice-Chair Clarida. It’s hard to argue that there was much new information for the market with many of his points a rehash from the October speech. Interestingly, there was no mention of financial conditions, global growth, or recent market volatility which is perhaps a touch hawkish at the margin, as it potentially signals the Fed isn’t hugely concerned about recent developments. Also, Clarida had previously outlined both upside and downside risks to the inflation outlook, but yesterday he dropped his reference to the downside scenario. The flip side however was Clarida’s mention that market- and survey-based measures of inflation expectations had slipped and also that, with an uncertain r-star, the Fed should infer its level from incoming market and economic data. Treasuries appeared fairly nonfussed though with 10-year yields moving as much as +1.8bps higher but quickly snapping back before ending the session close to flat at 3.055%. The USD index gained +0.31%. Later in the session, Chicago Fed President Evans highlighted that inflation is at target and said he favours getting policy back to neutral. The market did not react, but his comments are significant as he will be a voting member of the FOMC in 2019. His most recent vote was a dissent against the rate hike in December 2017. Staying with the Fed, today the baton passes to Fed Chair Powell when he speaks at the Economic Club of New York at 5pm GMT on “The Federal Reserve’s framework for monitoring financial stability.” Our US economists previously highlighted that they expect Powell to reiterate the Fed’s plan to get back to neutral. However, since Powell has previously emphasized that neutral is highly uncertain, they are also watching for any hints that Powell sees recent market developments and/or slower activity in rate sensitive sectors like housing and capex as evidence that neutral could be lower than previously thought. This morning in Asia markets are following Wall Street’s lead with Nikkei (+0.96%), Hang Seng (+0.91%), Shanghai Comp (+0.86%) and Kospi (+0.30%) all up with a rally largely driven by technology shares. Elsewhere, futures on S&P 500 (+0.03%) are pointing towards a flat start. Moving on. Yesterday’s slew of data in the US was unlikely to move the dial for policy makers much at the Fed. The S&P CoreLogic National Home Price Index rose 0.33% mom and 5.15% yoy on a seasonally adjusted basis, roughly in line with expectations. The FHFA purchase only house price index rose +0.2%, the third weakest month since January 2015. Higher interest rates and tax changes continue to weigh on the housing sector. On the other hand, consumer confidence and the labour market continue to look strong, with the Conference Board Consumer Confidence index printing at 135.7 as expected, down 2.2pts but near its multi-decade high. The labour market subindex rose to 34.4, a new cycle high. In other news, the daily Italy update consisted of another comment from the League suggesting that the deficit could be lowered to the 2.2% to 2.3% range, this time from Armando Siri. Reuters also reported that EU government delegates are today expected to back the EC’s disciplinary move against Italy, however a formal disciplinary proceeding may not begin until February. Also out yesterday was an MNI article suggesting that the ECB might be willing to consider OMT as an option for Italy should spreads come under further pressure. The story did appear to be rightly ignored by the market however, especially considering that OMT is conditional on an ESM programme. We are not close to being there yet, even if our head of research David Folkerts-Landau believes that the ESM and structural reforms will need to eventually be negotiated together in a grand bargain to deal with the Italian problem (see the op-ed here from David). After a good run, BTPs were slightly weaker yesterday with two-year yields closing +3.3bps higher and 10-year yields +2.0bps. As we go to print Italian daily Corriere Della Sera reported PM Conte as saying that dealing with the EU over the budget wont be easy while adding that Italy will push ahead with reforms as social stability is more important for Italy. Elsewhere, the EC VP Dombrovskis said in an interview with La Stampa that Italy needs a “significant correction” of its budget. Indeed as we’re pressing the send button HB is reporting that the EU will open deficit procedures before Christmas. So the pressure is still high even if the news flow has improved of late. Over to Brexit, where Prime Minister May continues to try to sell her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to the public and to lawmakers. The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, said yesterday that “as far as I can see, this [deal] is not going through parliament” and the pound dropped -0.73% versus the dollar, as passage looks less and less likely and a hangover from the Trump comments the previous night on it being a better deal for the EU and that it precludes a UK/US free trade deal percolated. Nevertheless, a reminder that we turned bullish on the pound on Monday due to two key factors: first, the Government will allow amendments during the legislation process, and second, Labour has signaled their willingness to work through the amendment channel rather than try to topple the government. Together, these ingredients should enable the ‘soft Brexit’ majority in Parliament to coalesce around a non-disruptive exit plan. Voting on the motion to accept or reject the Brexit deal will start in the House of Commons at 7 p.m. on December 11 but the “Meaningful Vote” debate will start on December 4. There will be five days of 8hrs debate, each led by a different cabinet minister. So we may get an idea of potential amendments from next week. As far as the day ahead is concerned, as noted earlier the focus for the market is likely to be squarely with Fed Chair Powell’s speech. Away from that we also have the second revision of Q3 GDP in the US where no change from the +3.5% qoq saar estimate is expected. The October advance goods trade balance reading should also be closely watched with the consensus expecting a widening in the deficit to $77bn from $76bn last month. Also due out in the US will be October new home sales and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index print. This morning in Europe it’s quiet with December consumer confidence in Germany and the October M3 money supply reading for the Euro Area the only data due. It is another busy day for ECB speakers however with Coeure, Guindos and Praet all due to speak. The BoE’s Carney will also speak at the Financial Stability Report press conference this afternoon when we will also get the latest annual bank stress test results.
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