You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
Stop measuring your wallet size in USD and start measuring in terms of REAL ASSETS
I've been considering the recent posts regarding Schiff's definition of real money, the Fed and the Founding Father's definition. Bitcoin, gold and silver meet the standard, while the USD barely scrapes by. What does the USD have that Bitcoin doesn't? We denominate the real economy in USD. The USD is backed by the biggest economy in the world. Goods, services, assets, commodities, real estate, precious metals and even crypto are all denominated in USD. Stop measuring your wallet size in USD - start measuring it in Wheat futures, oil Futures, Gold and Silver. Therefore, what we ultimately need is a new 'COMEX', a new 'NYSE' - one that is denominated in Bitcoin. Essentially we can put this into practice ourselves by denoting our crypto profits in REAL ASSETS - when crypto goes up against any of those REAL ASSETS (NOT USD), take profit and buy gold, silver or commodity futures. Whenever Bitcoin is weak against real assets, sell your futures and buy crypto. A practical way to do this is to use https://www.dailyfx.com/bitcoin charts - eg type XAGUSD/BTCUSD into the symbol field to see the current ratio of SilveBitcoin. This article talks about how to trade ratios and ratio trends: https://www.dailyfx.com/gold-price/trading-the-gold-silver-ratio.html In addition I strongly recommend accumulating physical bullion - we don't know what will happen to our futures when the economy collapses - but if all the crypto holders have real bullion, we will have the means to rebuild a real economy to back our digital assets. I've been stacking both crypto and silver since the start of the year, and patting myself on the back for it. Now I'm learning to trade Bitcoin off real assets to accumulate both. Ultimately I'd like to see someone start an exchange denominated in Bitcoin - but it is already possible to do something like that via a CFD exchange - just take your signals from dailyfx.com
A criticism of the article "Six monetarist errors: why emission won't feed inflation"
(be gentle, it's my first RI attempt, :P; I hope I can make justice to the subject, this is my layman understanding of many macro subjects which may be flawed...I hope you can illuminate me if I have fallen short of a good RI) Introduction So, today a heterodox leaning Argentinian newspaper, Ambito Financiero, published an article criticizing monetarism called "Six monetarist errors: why emission won't feed inflation". I find it doesn't properly address monetarism, confuses it with other "economic schools" for whatever the term is worth today and it may be misleading, so I was inspired to write a refutation and share it with all of you. In some ways criticizing monetarism is more of a historical discussion given the mainstream has changed since then. Stuff like New Keynesian models are the bleeding edge, not Milton Friedman style monetarism. It's more of a symptom that Argentinian political culture is kind of stuck in the 70s on economics that this things keep being discussed. Before getting to the meat of the argument, it's good to have in mind some common definitions about money supply measures (specifically, MB, M1 and M2). These definitions apply to US but one can find analogous stuff for other countries. Argentina, for the lack of access to credit given its economic mismanagement and a government income decrease because of the recession, is monetizing deficits way more than before (like half of the budget, apparently, it's money financed) yet we have seen some disinflation (worth mentioning there are widespread price freezes since a few months ago). The author reasons that monetary phenomena cannot explain inflation properly and that other explanations are needed and condemns monetarism. Here are the six points he makes: 1.Is it a mechanical rule?
This way, we can ask by symmetry: if a certainty exists that when emission increases, inflation increases, the reverse should happen when emission becomes negative, obtaining negative inflation. Nonetheless, we know this happens: prices have an easier time increasing and a lot of rigidity decreasing. So the identity between emission and inflation is not like that, deflation almost never exists and the price movement rhythm cannot be controlled remotely only with money quantity. There is no mechanical relationship between one thing and the other.
First, the low hanging fruit: deflation is not that uncommon, for those of you that live in US and Europe it should be obvious given the difficulties central banks had to achieve their targets, but even Argentina has seen deflation during its depression 20 years ago. Second, we have to be careful with what we mean by emission. A statement of quantity theory of money (extracted from "Money Growth and Inflation: How Long is the Long-Run?") would say:
Inflation occurs when the average level of prices increases. Individual price increases in and of themselves do not equal inflation, but an overall pattern of price increases does. The price level observed in the economy is that which leads the quantity of money supplied to equal the quantity of money demanded. The quantity of money supplied is largely controlled by the [central bank]. When the supply of money increases or decreases, the price level must adjust to equate the quantity of money demanded throughout the economy with the quantity of money supplied. The quantity of money demanded depends not only on the price level but also on the level of real income, as measured by real gross domestic product (GDP), and a variety of other factors including the level of interest rates and technological advances such as the invention of automated teller machines. Money demand is widely thought to increase roughly proportionally with the price level and with real income. That is, if prices go up by 10 percent, or if real income increases by 10 percent, empirical evidence suggests people want to hold 10 percent more money. When the money supply grows faster than the money demand associated with rising real incomes and other factors, the price level must rise to equate supply and demand. That is, inflation occurs. This situation is often referred to as too many dollars chasing too few goods. Note that this theory does not predict that any money-supply growth will lead to inflation—only that part of money supply growth that exceeds the increase in money demand associated with rising real GDP (holding the other factors constant).
So it's not mere emission, but money supply growing faster than money demand which we should consider. So negative emission is not necessary condition for deflation in this theory. It's worth mentioning that the relationship with prices is observed for a broad measure of money (M2) and after a lag. From the same source of this excerpt one can observe in Fig. 3a the correlation between inflation and money growth for US becomes stronger the longer data is averaged. Price rigidities don't have to change this long term relationship per se. But what about causality and Argentina? This neat paper shows regressions in two historical periods: 1976-1989 and 1991-2001. The same relationship between M2 and inflation is observed, stronger in the first, highly inflationary period and weaker in the second, more stable, period. The regressions a 1-1 relationship in the high inflation period but deviates a bit in the low inflation period (yet the relationship is still there). Granger causality, as interpreted in the paper, shows prices caused money growth in the high inflation period (arguably because spending was monetized) while the reverse was true for the more stable period. So one can argue that there is a mechanical relationship, albeit one that is more complicated than simple QTOM theory. The relationship is complicated too for low inflation economies, it gets more relevant the higher inflation is. Another point the author makes is that liquidity trap is often ignored. I'll ignore the fact that you need specific conditions for the liquidity trap to be relevant to Argentina and address the point. Worth noting that while market monetarists (not exactly old fashioned monetarists) prefer alternative explanations for monetary policy with very low interest rates, this phenomena has a good monetary basis, as explained by Krugman in his famous japanese liquidity trap paper and his NYT blog (See this and this for some relevant articles). The simplified version is that while inflation may follow M2 growth with all the qualifiers needed, central banks may find difficulties targeting inflation when interest rates are low and agents are used to credible inflation targets. Central banks can change MB, not M2 and in normal times is good enough, but at those times M2 is out of control and "credibly irresponsible" policies are needed to return to normal (a more detailed explanation can be found in that paper I just linked, go for it if you are still curious). It's not like monetary policy is not good, it's that central banks have to do very unconventional stuff to achieve in a low interest rate environment. It's still an open problem but given symmetric inflation targeting policies are becoming more popular I'm optimistic. 2 - Has inflation one or many causes?
In Argentina we know that the main determinant of inflation is dollar price increases. On that, economic concentration of key markets, utility price adjustments, fuel prices, distributive struggles, external commodity values, expectatives, productive disequilibrium, world interest rates, the economic cycle, stationality and external sector restrictions act on it too. Let's see a simple example: during Macri's government since mid 2017 to 2019 emission was practically null, but when in 2018 the dollar value doubled, inflation doubled too (it went from 24% to 48% in 2018) and it went up again a year later. We see here that the empirical validity of monetarist theory was absent.
For the first paragraph, one could try to run econometric tests for all those variables, at least from my layman perspective. But given that it doesn't pass the smell test (has any country used that in its favor ignoring monetary policy? Also, I have shown there is at least some evidence for the money-price relationship before), I'll try to address what happened in Macri's government and if monetarism (or at least some reasonable extension of it) cannot account for it. For a complete description of macroeconomic policy on that period, Sturzenegger account is a good one (even if a bit unreliable given he was the central banker for that government and he is considered to have been a failure). The short version is that central banks uses bonds to manage monetary policy and absorb money; given the history of defaults for the country, the Argentinian Central Bank (BCRA) uses its own peso denominated bonds instead of using treasury bonds. At that time period, the BCRA still financed the treasury but the amount got reduced. Also, it emitted pesos to buy dollar reserves, then sterilized them, maybe risking credibility further. Near the end of 2017 it was evident the government had limited appetite for budget cuts, it had kind of abandoned its inflation target regime and the classic problem of fiscal dominance emerged, as it's shown in the classic "Unpleasant monetarist arithmetic" paper by Wallace and Sargent. Monetary policy gets less effective when the real value of bonds falls, and raising interest rates may be counterproductive in that environment. Rational expectations are needed to complement QTOM. So, given that Argentina promised to go nowhere with reform, it was expected that money financing would increase at some point in the future and BCRA bonds were dumped in 2018 and 2019 as their value was perceived to have decreased, and so peso demand decreased. It's not that the dollar value increased and inflation followed, but instead that peso demand fell suddenly! The IMF deal asked for MB growth to be null or almost null but that doesn't say a lot about M2 (which it's the relevant variable here). Without credible policies, the peso demand keeps falling because bonds are dumped even more (see 2019 for a hilariously brutal example of that). It's not emission per se, but rather that it doesn't adjust properly to peso demand (which is falling). That doesn't mean increasing interest rates is enough to achieve it, following Wallace and Sargent model. This is less a strict proof that a monetary phenomenon is involved and more stating that the author hasn't shown any problem with that, there are reasonable models for this situation. It doesn't look like an clear empirical failure to me yet. 3 - Of what we are talking about when we talk about emission? The author mentions many money measures (M0, M1, M2) but it doesn't address it meaningfully as I tried to do above. It feels more like a rhetorical device because there is no point here except "this stuff exists". Also, it's worth pointing that there are actual criticisms to make to Friedman on those grounds. He failed to forecast US inflation at some points when he switched to M1 instead of using M2, although he later reverted that. Monetarism kind of "failed" there (it also "failed" in the sense that modern central banks don't use money, but instead interest rates as their main tool; "failed" because despite being outdated, it was influential to modern central banking). This is often brought to this kind of discussions like if economics hasn't moved beyond that. For an account of Friedman thoughts on monetary policies and his failures, see this. 4 - Why do many countries print and inflation doesn't increase there? There is a mention about the japanese situation in the 90s (the liquidity trap) which I have addressed. The author mentions that many countries "printed" like crazy during the pandemic, and he says:
Monetarism apologists answer, when confronted with those grave empirical problems that happen in "serious countries", that the population "trusts" their monetary authorities, even increasing the money demand in those place despite the emission. Curious, though, it's an appeal to "trust" implying that the relationship between emission and inflation is not objective, but subjective and cultural: an appreciation that abandons mechanicism and the basic certainty of monetarism, because evaluations and diagnostics, many times ideologic, contextual or historical intervene..
That's just a restatement of applying rational expectations to central bank operations. I don't see a problem with that. Rational expectations is not magic, it's an assessment of future earnings by economic actors. Humans may not 100% rational but central banking somehow works on many countries. You cannot just say that people are ideologues and let it at that. What's your model? Worth noting the author shills for bitcoin a bit in this section, for more cringe. 5 - Are we talking of a physical science or a social science? Again, a vague mention of rational expectations ("populists and pro market politicians could do the same policies with different results because of how agents respond ideologically and expectatives") without handling the subject meaningfully. It criticizes universal macroeconomic rules that apply everywhere (this is often used to dismiss evidence from other countries uncritically more than as a meaningful point). 6 - How limits work?
The last question to monetarism allows to recognize it something: effectively we can think on a type of vinculation between emission and inflation in extreme conditions. That means, with no monetary rule, no government has the need of taxes but instead can emit and spend all it needs without consequence. We know it's not like that: no government can print infinitely without undesirable effects.
Ok, good disclaimer, but given what he wrote before, what's the mechanism which causes money printing to be inflationary at some point? It was rejected before but now it seems that it exists. What was even the point of the article?
Now, the problem is thinking monetarism on its extremes: without emission we have inflation sometimes, on others we have no inflation with emission, we know that if we have negative emission that doesn't guarantees us negative inflation, but that if emission is radically uncontrolled there will economic effects.
As I wrote above, that's not what monetarism (even on it's simpler form) says, nor a consequence of it. You can see some deviations in low inflation environment but it's not really Argentina's current situation.
Let's add other problems: the elastic question between money and prices is not evident. Neither is time lags in which can work or be neutral. So the question is the limit cases for monetarism which has some reason but some difficulty in explaining them: by which and it what moments rules work and in which it doesn't.
I find the time lag thing to be a red herring. You can observe empirically and not having a proper short/middle run model doesn't invalidate QTOM in the long run. While it may be that increasing interest rates or freezing MB is not effective, that's less a problem of the theory and more a problem of policy implementation. Conclusion: I find that the article doesn't truly get monetarism to begin with (see the points it makes about emission and money demand), neither how it's implemented in practice, nor seems to be aware of more modern theories that, while put money on the background, don't necessarily invalidate it (rational expectation ideas, and eventually New Keynesian stuff which addresses stuff like liquidity traps properly). There are proper criticisms to be made to Friedman old ideas but he still was a relevant man in his time and the economic community has moved on to new, better theories that have some debt to it. I feel most economic discussion about monetarism in Argentina is a strawman of mainstream economics or an attack on Austrians more than genuine points ("monetarism" is used as a shorthand for those who think inflation is a monetary phenomenon more than referring to Friedman and his disciples per se).
Scaling Reddit Community Points with Arbitrum Rollup: a piece of cake
https://preview.redd.it/b80c05tnb9e51.jpg?width=2550&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=850282c1a3962466ed44f73886dae1c8872d0f31 Submitted for consideration toThe Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off Baked by the pastry chefs atOffchain Labs Please send questions or comments to [[email protected] ](mailto:[email protected]) 1. Overview We're excited to submit Arbitrum Rollup for consideration to The Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off. Arbitrum Rollup is the only Ethereum scaling solution that supports arbitrary smart contracts without compromising on Ethereum's security or adding points of centralization. For Reddit, this means that Arbitrum can not only scale the minting and transfer of Community Points, but it can foster a creative ecosystem built around Reddit Community Points enabling points to be used in a wide variety of third party applications. That's right -- you can have your cake and eat it too! Arbitrum Rollup isn't just Ethereum-style. Its Layer 2 transactions are byte-for-byte identical to Ethereum, which means Ethereum users can continue to use their existing addresses and wallets, and Ethereum developers can continue to use their favorite toolchains and development environments out-of-the-box with Arbitrum. Coupling Arbitrum’s tooling-compatibility with its trustless asset interoperability, Reddit not only can scale but can onboard the entire Ethereum community at no cost by giving them the same experience they already know and love (well, certainly know). To benchmark how Arbitrum can scale Reddit Community Points, we launched the Reddit contracts on an Arbitrum Rollup chain. Since Arbitrum provides full Solidity support, we didn't have to rewrite the Reddit contracts or try to mimic their functionality using an unfamiliar paradigm. Nope, none of that. We launched the Reddit contracts unmodified on Arbitrum Rollup complete with support for minting and distributing points. Like every Arbitrum Rollup chain, the chain included a bridge interface in which users can transfer Community Points or any other asset between the L1 and L2 chains. Arbitrum Rollup chains also support dynamic contract loading, which would allow third-party developers to launch custom ecosystem apps that integrate with Community Points on the very same chain that runs the Reddit contracts. 1.1 Why Ethereum Perhaps the most exciting benefit of distributing Community Points using a blockchain is the ability to seamlessly port points to other applications and use them in a wide variety of contexts. Applications may include simple transfers such as a restaurant that allows Redditors to spend points on drinks. Or it may include complex smart contracts -- such as placing Community Points as a wager for a multiparty game or as collateral in a financial contract. The common denominator between all of the fun uses of Reddit points is that it needs a thriving ecosystem of both users and developers, and the Ethereum blockchain is perhaps the only smart contract platform with significant adoption today. While many Layer 1 blockchains boast lower cost or higher throughput than the Ethereum blockchain, more often than not, these attributes mask the reality of little usage, weaker security, or both. Perhaps another platform with significant usage will rise in the future. But today, Ethereum captures the mindshare of the blockchain community, and for Community Points to provide the most utility, the Ethereum blockchain is the natural choice. 1.2 Why Arbitrum While Ethereum's ecosystem is unmatched, the reality is that fees are high and capacity is too low to support the scale of Reddit Community Points. Enter Arbitrum. Arbitrum Rollup provides all of the ecosystem benefits of Ethereum, but with orders of magnitude more capacity and at a fraction of the cost of native Ethereum smart contracts. And most of all, we don't change the experience from users. They continue to use the same wallets, addresses, languages, and tools. Arbitrum Rollup is not the only solution that can scale payments, but it is the only developed solution that can scale both payments and arbitrary smart contracts trustlessly, which means that third party users can build highly scalable add-on apps that can be used without withdrawing money from the Rollup chain. If you believe that Reddit users will want to use their Community Points in smart contracts--and we believe they will--then it makes the most sense to choose a single scaling solution that can support the entire ecosystem, eliminating friction for users. We view being able to run smart contracts in the same scaling solution as fundamentally critical since if there's significant demand in running smart contracts from Reddit's ecosystem, this would be a load on Ethereum and would itself require a scaling solution. Moreover, having different scaling solutions for the minting/distribution/spending of points and for third party apps would be burdensome for users as they'd have to constantly shuffle their Points back and forth. 2. Arbitrum at a glance Arbitrum Rollup has a unique value proposition as it offers a combination of features that no other scaling solution achieves. Here we highlight its core attributes. Decentralized. Arbitrum Rollup is as decentralized as Ethereum. Unlike some other Layer 2 scaling projects, Arbitrum Rollup doesn't have any centralized components or centralized operators who can censor users or delay transactions. Even in non-custodial systems, centralized components provide a risk as the operators are generally incentivized to increase their profit by extracting rent from users often in ways that severely degrade user experience. Even if centralized operators are altruistic, centralized components are subject to hacking, coercion, and potential liability. Massive Scaling. Arbitrum achieves order of magnitude scaling over Ethereum's L1 smart contracts. Our software currently supports 453 transactions-per-second for basic transactions (at 1616 Ethereum gas per tx). We have a lot of room left to optimize (e.g. aggregating signatures), and over the next several months capacity will increase significantly. As described in detail below, Arbitrum can easily support and surpass Reddit's anticipated initial load, and its capacity will continue to improve as Reddit's capacity needs grow. Low cost. The cost of running Arbitrum Rollup is quite low compared to L1 Ethereum and other scaling solutions such as those based on zero-knowledge proofs. Layer 2 fees are low, fixed, and predictable and should not be overly burdensome for Reddit to cover. Nobody needs to use special equipment or high-end machines. Arbitrum requires validators, which is a permissionless role that can be run on any reasonable on-line machine. Although anybody can act as a validator, in order to protect against a “tragedy of the commons” and make sure reputable validators are participating, we support a notion of “invited validators” that are compensated for their costs. In general, users pay (low) fees to cover the invited validators’ costs, but we imagine that Reddit may cover this cost for its users. See more on the costs and validator options below. Ethereum Developer Experience. Not only does Arbitrum support EVM smart contracts, but the developer experience is identical to that of L1 Ethereum contracts and fully compatible with Ethereum tooling. Developers can port existing Solidity apps or write new ones using their favorite and familiar toolchains (e.g. Truffle, Buidler). There are no new languages or coding paradigms to learn. Ethereum wallet compatibility. Just as in Ethereum, Arbitrum users need only hold keys, but do not have to store any coin history or additional data to protect or access their funds. Since Arbitrum transactions are semantically identical to Ethereum L1 transactions, existing Ethereum users can use their existing Ethereum keys with their existing wallet software such as Metamask. Token interoperability. Users can easily transfer their ETH, ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens between Ethereum and the Arbitrum Rollup chain. As we explain in detail below, it is possible to mint tokens in L2 that can subsequently be withdrawn and recognized by the L1 token contract. Fast finality. Transactions complete with the same finality time as Ethereum L1 (and it's possible to get faster finality guarantees by trading away trust assumptions; see the Arbitrum Rollup whitepaper for details). Non-custodial. Arbitrum Rollup is a non-custodial scaling solution, so users control their funds/points and neither Reddit nor anyone else can ever access or revoke points held by users. Censorship Resistant. Since it's completely decentralized, and the Arbitrum protocol guarantees progress trustlessly, Arbitrum Rollup is just as censorship-proof as Ethereum. Block explorer. The Arbitrum Rollup block explorer allows users to view and analyze transactions on the Rollup chain. Limitations Although this is a bake-off, we're not going to sugar coat anything. Arbitrum Rollup, like any Optimistic Rollup protocol, does have one limitation, and that's the delay on withdrawals. As for the concrete length of the delay, we've done a good deal of internal modeling and have blogged about this as well. Our current modeling suggests a 3-hour delay is sufficient (but as discussed in the linked post there is a tradeoff space between the length of the challenge period and the size of the validators’ deposit). Note that this doesn't mean that the chain is delayed for three hours. Arbitrum Rollup supports pipelining of execution, which means that validators can keep building new states even while previous ones are “in the pipeline” for confirmation. As the challenge delays expire for each update, a new state will be confirmed (read more about this here). So activity and progress on the chain are not delayed by the challenge period. The only thing that's delayed is the consummation of withdrawals. Recall though that any single honest validator knows immediately (at the speed of L1 finality) which state updates are correct and can guarantee that they will eventually be confirmed, so once a valid withdrawal has been requested on-chain, every honest party knows that the withdrawal will definitely happen. There's a natural place here for a liquidity market in which a validator (or someone who trusts a validator) can provide withdrawal loans for a small interest fee. This is a no-risk business for them as they know which withdrawals will be confirmed (and can force their confirmation trustlessly no matter what anyone else does) but are just waiting for on-chain finality. 3. The recipe: How Arbitrum Rollup works For a description of the technical components of Arbitrum Rollup and how they interact to create a highly scalable protocol with a developer experience that is identical to Ethereum, please refer to the following documents: Arbitrum Rollup Whitepaper Arbitrum academic paper (describes a previous version of Arbitrum) 4. Developer docs and APIs For full details about how to set up and interact with an Arbitrum Rollup chain or validator, please refer to our developer docs, which can be found at https://developer.offchainlabs.com/. Note that the Arbitrum version described on that site is older and will soon be replaced by the version we are entering in Reddit Bake-Off, which is still undergoing internal testing before public release. 5. Who are the validators? As with any Layer 2 protocol, advancing the protocol correctly requires at least one validator (sometimes called block producers) that is honest and available. A natural question is: who are the validators? Recall that the validator set for an Arbitrum chain is open and permissionless; anyone can start or stop validating at will. (A useful analogy is to full nodes on an L1 chain.) But we understand that even though anyone can participate, Reddit may want to guarantee that highly reputable nodes are validating their chain. Reddit may choose to validate the chain themselves and/or hire third-party validators.To this end, we have begun building a marketplace for validator-for-hire services so that dapp developers can outsource validation services to reputable nodes with high up-time. We've announced a partnership in which Chainlink nodes will provide Arbitrum validation services, and we expect to announce more partnerships shortly with other blockchain infrastructure providers. Although there is no requirement that validators are paid, Arbitrum’s economic model tracks validators’ costs (e.g. amount of computation and storage) and can charge small fees on user transactions, using a gas-type system, to cover those costs. Alternatively, a single party such as Reddit can agree to cover the costs of invited validators. 6. Reddit Contract Support Since Arbitrum contracts and transactions are byte-for-byte compatible with Ethereum, supporting the Reddit contracts is as simple as launching them on an Arbitrum chain. Minting. Arbitrum Rollup supports hybrid L1/L2 tokens which can be minted in L2 and then withdrawn onto the L1. An L1 contract at address A can make a special call to the EthBridge which deploys a "buddy contract" to the same address A on an Arbitrum chain. Since it's deployed at the same address, users can know that the L2 contract is the authorized "buddy" of the L1 contract on the Arbitrum chain. For minting, the L1 contract is a standard ERC-20 contract which mints and burns tokens when requested by the L2 contract. It is paired with an ERC-20 contract in L2 which mints tokens based on whatever programmer provided minting facility is desired and burns tokens when they are withdrawn from the rollup chain. Given this base infrastructure, Arbitrum can support any smart contract based method for minting tokens in L2, and indeed we directly support Reddit's signature/claim based minting in L2. Batch minting. What's better than a mint cookie? A whole batch! In addition to supporting Reddit’s current minting/claiming scheme, we built a second minting design, which we believe outperforms the signature/claim system in many scenarios. In the current system, Reddit periodically issues signed statements to users, who then take those statements to the blockchain to claim their tokens. An alternative approach would have Reddit directly submit the list of users/amounts to the blockchain and distribute the tokens to the users without the signature/claim process. To optimize the cost efficiency of this approach, we designed an application-specific compression scheme to minimize the size of the batch distribution list. We analyzed the data from Reddit's previous distributions and found that the data is highly compressible since token amounts are small and repeated, and addresses appear multiple times. Our function groups transactions by size, and replaces previously-seen addresses with a shorter index value. We wrote client code to compress the data, wrote a Solidity decompressing function, and integrated that function into Reddit’s contract running on Arbitrum. When we ran the compression function on the previous Reddit distribution data, we found that we could compress batched minting data down to to 11.8 bytes per minting event (averaged over a 6-month trace of Reddit’s historical token grants)compared with roughly 174 bytes of on-chain data needed for the signature claim approach to minting (roughly 43 for an RLP-encoded null transaction + 65 for Reddit's signature + 65 for the user's signature + roughly 8 for the number of Points) . The relative benefit of the two approaches with respect to on-chain call data cost depends on the percentage of users that will actually claim their tokens on chain. With the above figures, batch minting will be cheaper if roughly 5% of users redeem their claims. We stress that our compression scheme is not Arbitrum-specific and would be beneficial in any general-purpose smart contract platform. 8. Benchmarks and costs In this section, we give the full costs of operating the Reddit contracts on an Arbitrum Rollup chain including the L1 gas costs for the Rollup chain, the costs of computation and storage for the L2 validators as well as the capital lockup requirements for staking. Arbitrum Rollup is still on testnet, so we did not run mainnet benchmarks. Instead, we measured the L1 gas cost and L2 workload for Reddit operations on Arbitrum and calculated the total cost assuming current Ethereum gas prices. As noted below in detail, our measurements do not assume that Arbitrum is consuming the entire capacity of Ethereum. We will present the details of our model now, but for full transparency you can also play around with it yourself and adjust the parameters, by copying the spreadsheet found here. Our cost model is based on measurements of Reddit’s contracts, running unmodified (except for the addition of a batch minting function) on Arbitrum Rollup on top of Ethereum. On the distribution of transactions and frequency of assertions. Reddit's instructions specify the following minimum parameters that submissions should support: Over a 5 day period, your scaling PoC should be able to handle:
100,000 point claims (minting & distributing points)
75,000 one-off points burning
We provide the full costs of operating an Arbitrum Rollup chain with this usage under the assumption that tokens are minted or granted to users in batches, but other transactions are uniformly distributed over the 5 day period. Unlike some other submissions, we do not make unrealistic assumptions that all operations can be submitted in enormous batches. We assume that batch minting is done in batches that use only a few percent on an L1 block’s gas, and that other operations come in evenly over time and are submitted in batches, with one batch every five minutes to keep latency reasonable. (Users are probably already waiting for L1 finality, which takes at least that long to achieve.) We note that assuming that there are only 300,000 transactions that arrive uniformly over the 5 day period will make our benchmark numbers lower, but we believe that this will reflect the true cost of running the system. To see why, say that batches are submitted every five minutes (20 L1 blocks) and there's a fixed overhead of c bytes of calldata per batch, the cost of which will get amortized over all transactions executed in that batch. Assume that each individual transaction adds a marginal cost of t. Lastly assume the capacity of the scaling system is high enough that it can support all of Reddit's 300,000 transactions within a single 20-block batch (i.e. that there is more than c + 300,000*t byes of calldata available in 20 blocks). Consider what happens if c, the per-batch overhead, is large (which it is in some systems, but not in Arbitrum). In the scenario that transactions actually arrive at the system's capacity and each batch is full, then c gets amortized over 300,000 transactions. But if we assume that the system is not running at capacity--and only receives 300,000 transactions arriving uniformly over 5 days-- then each 20-block assertion will contain about 200 transactions, and thus each transaction will pay a nontrivial cost due to c. We are aware that other proposals presented scaling numbers assuming that 300,000 transactions arrived at maximum capacity and was executed in a single mega-transaction, but according to our estimates, for at least one such report, this led to a reported gas price that was 2-3 orders of magnitude lower than it would have been assuming uniform arrival. We make more realistic batching assumptions, and we believe Arbitrum compares well when batch sizes are realistic. Our model. Our cost model includes several sources of cost:
L1 gas costs: This is the cost of posting transactions as calldata on the L1 chain, as well as the overhead associated with each batch of transactions, and the L1 cost of settling transactions in the Arbitrum protocol.
Validator’s staking costs: In normal operation, one validator will need to be staked. The stake is assumed to be 0.2% of the total value of the chain (which is assumed to be $1 per user who is eligible to claim points). The cost of staking is the interest that could be earned on the money if it were not staked.
Validator computation and storage: Every validator must do computation to track the chain’s processing of transactions, and must maintain storage to keep track of the contracts’ EVM storage. The cost of computation and storage are estimated based on measurements, with the dollar cost of resources based on Amazon Web Services pricing.
It’s clear from our modeling that the predominant cost is for L1 calldata. This will probably be true for any plausible rollup-based system. Our model also shows that Arbitrum can scale to workloads much larger than Reddit’s nominal workload, without exhausting L1 or L2 resources. The scaling bottleneck will ultimately be calldata on the L1 chain. We believe that cost could be reduced substantially if necessary by clever encoding of data. (In our design any compression / decompression of L2 transaction calldata would be done by client software and L2 programs, never by an L1 contract.) 9. Status of Arbitrum Rollup Arbitrum Rollup is live on Ethereum testnet. All of the code written to date including everything included in the Reddit demo is open source and permissively licensed under the Apache V2 license. The first testnet version of Arbitrum Rollup was released on testnet in February. Our current internal version, which we used to benchmark the Reddit contracts, will be released soon and will be a major upgrade. Both the Arbitrum design as well as the implementation are heavily audited by independent third parties. The Arbitrum academic paper was published at USENIX Security, a top-tier peer-reviewed academic venue. For the Arbitrum software, we have engaged Trail of Bits for a security audit, which is currently ongoing, and we are committed to have a clean report before launching on Ethereum mainnet. 10. Reddit Universe Arbitrum Rollup Chain The benchmarks described in this document were all measured using the latest internal build of our software. When we release the new software upgrade publicly we will launch a Reddit Universe Arbitrum Rollup chain as a public demo, which will contain the Reddit contracts as well as a Uniswap instance and a Connext Hub, demonstrating how Community Points can be integrated into third party apps. We will also allow members of the public to dynamically launch ecosystem contracts. We at Offchain Labs will cover the validating costs for the Reddit Universe public demo. If the folks at Reddit would like to evaluate our software prior to our public demo, please email us at [email protected] and we'd be more than happy to provide early access. 11. Even more scaling: Arbitrum Sidechains Rollups are an excellent approach to scaling, and we are excited about Arbitrum Rollup which far surpasses Reddit's scaling needs. But looking forward to Reddit's eventual goal of supporting hundreds of millions of users, there will likely come a time when Reddit needs more scaling than any Rollup protocol can provide. While Rollups greatly reduce costs, they don't break the linear barrier. That is, all transactions have an on-chain footprint (because all calldata must be posted on-chain), albeit a far smaller one than on native Ethereum, and the L1 limitations end up being the bottleneck for capacity and cost. Since Ethereum has limited capacity, this linear use of on-chain resources means that costs will eventually increase superlinearly with traffic. The good news is that we at Offchain Labs have a solution in our roadmap that can satisfy this extreme-scaling setting as well: Arbitrum AnyTrust Sidechains. Arbitrum Sidechains are similar to Arbitrum Rollup, but deviate in that they name a permissioned set of validators. When a chain’s validators agree off-chain, they can greatly reduce the on-chain footprint of the protocol and require almost no data to be put on-chain. When validators can't reach unanimous agreement off-chain, the protocol reverts to Arbitrum Rollup. Technically, Arbitrum Sidechains can be viewed as a hybrid between state channels and Rollup, switching back and forth as necessary, and combining the performance and cost that state channels can achieve in the optimistic case, with the robustness of Rollup in other cases. The core technical challenge is how to switch seamlessly between modes and how to guarantee that security is maintained throughout. Arbitrum Sidechains break through this linear barrier, while still maintaining a high level of security and decentralization. Arbitrum Sidechains provide the AnyTrust guarantee, which says that as long as any one validator is honest and available (even if you don't know which one will be), the L2 chain is guaranteed to execute correctly according to its code and guaranteed to make progress. Unlike in a state channel, offchain progress does not require unanimous consent, and liveness is preserved as long as there is a single honest validator. Note that the trust model for Arbitrum Sidechains is much stronger than for typical BFT-style chains which introduce a consensus "voting" protocols among a small permissioned group of validators. BFT-based protocols require a supermajority (more than 2/3) of validators to agree. In Arbitrum Sidechains, by contrast, all you need is a single honest validator to achieve guaranteed correctness and progress. Notice that in Arbitrum adding validators strictly increases security since the AnyTrust guarantee provides correctness as long as any one validator is honest and available. By contrast, in BFT-style protocols, adding nodes can be dangerous as a coalition of dishonest nodes can break the protocol. Like Arbitrum Rollup, the developer and user experiences for Arbitrum Sidechains will be identical to that of Ethereum. Reddit would be able to choose a large and diverse set of validators, and all that they would need to guarantee to break through the scaling barrier is that a single one of them will remain honest. We hope to have Arbitrum Sidechains in production in early 2021, and thus when Reddit reaches the scale that surpasses the capacity of Rollups, Arbitrum Sidechains will be waiting and ready to help. While the idea to switch between channels and Rollup to get the best of both worlds is conceptually simple, getting the details right and making sure that the switch does not introduce any attack vectors is highly non-trivial and has been the subject of years of our research (indeed, we were working on this design for years before the term Rollup was even coined). 12. How Arbitrum compares We include a comparison to several other categories as well as specific projects when appropriate. and explain why we believe that Arbitrum is best suited for Reddit's purposes. We focus our attention on other Ethereum projects. Payment only Rollups. Compared to Arbitrum Rollup, ZK-Rollups and other Rollups that only support token transfers have several disadvantages:
As outlined throughout the proposal, we believe that the entire draw of Ethereum is in its rich smart contracts support which is simply not achievable with today's zero-knowledge proof technology. Indeed, scaling with a ZK-Rollup will add friction to the deployment of smart contracts that interact with Community Points as users will have to withdraw their coins from the ZK-Rollup and transfer them to a smart contract system (like Arbitrum). The community will be best served if Reddit builds on a platform that has built-in, frictionless smart-contract support.
All other Rollup protocols of which we are aware employ a centralized operator. While it's true that users retain custody of their coins, the centralized operator can often profit from censoring, reordering, or delaying transactions. A common misconception is that since they're non-custodial protocols, a centralized sequencer does not pose a risk but this is incorrect as the sequencer can wreak havoc or shake down users for side payments without directly stealing funds.
Sidechain type protocols can eliminate some of these issues, but they are not trustless. Instead, they require trust in some quorum of a committee, often requiring two-third of the committee to be honest, compared to rollup protocols like Arbitrum that require only a single honest party. In addition, not all sidechain type protocols have committees that are diverse, or even non-centralized, in practice.
Plasma-style protocols have a centralized operator and do not support general smart contracts.
13. Concluding Remarks While it's ultimately up to the judges’ palate, we believe that Arbitrum Rollup is the bakeoff choice that Reddit kneads. We far surpass Reddit's specified workload requirement at present, have much room to optimize Arbitrum Rollup in the near term, and have a clear path to get Reddit to hundreds of millions of users. Furthermore, we are the only project that gives developers and users the identical interface as the Ethereum blockchain and is fully interoperable and tooling-compatible, and we do this all without any new trust assumptions or centralized components. But no matter how the cookie crumbles, we're glad to have participated in this bake-off and we thank you for your consideration. About Offchain Labs Offchain Labs, Inc. is a venture-funded New York company that spun out of Princeton University research, and is building the Arbitrum platform to usher in the next generation of scalable, interoperable, and compatible smart contracts. Offchain Labs is backed by Pantera Capital, Compound VC, Coinbase Ventures, and others. Leadership Team Ed Felten Ed Felten is Co-founder and Chief Scientist at Offchain Labs. He is on leave from Princeton University, where he is the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs. From 2015 to 2017 he served at the White House as Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer and senior advisor to the President. He is an ACM Fellow and member of the National Academy of Engineering. Outside of work, he is an avid runner, cook, and L.A. Dodgers fan. Steven Goldfeder Steven Goldfeder is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Offchain Labs. He holds a PhD from Princeton University, where he worked at the intersection of cryptography and cryptocurrencies including threshold cryptography, zero-knowledge proof systems, and post-quantum signatures. He is a co-author of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, the leading textbook on cryptocurrencies, and he has previously worked at Google and Microsoft Research, where he co-invented the Picnic signature algorithm. When not working, you can find Steven spending time with his family, taking a nature walk, or twisting balloons. Harry Kalodner Harry Kalodner is Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Offchain Labs where he leads the engineering team. Before the company he attended Princeton as a Ph.D candidate where his research explored economics, anonymity, and incentive compatibility of cryptocurrencies, and he also has worked at Apple. When not up at 3:00am writing code, Harry occasionally sleeps.
The Next Crypto Wave: The Rise of Stablecoins and its Entry to the U.S. Dollar Market
Author: Christian Hsieh, CEO of Tokenomy This paper examines some explanations for the continual global market demand for the U.S. dollar, the rise of stablecoins, and the utility and opportunities that crypto dollars can offer to both the cryptocurrency and traditional markets. The U.S. dollar, dominant in world trade since the establishment of the 1944 Bretton Woods System, is unequivocally the world’s most demanded reserve currency. Today, more than 61% of foreign bank reserves and nearly 40% of the entire world’s debt is denominated in U.S. dollars1. However, there is a massive supply and demand imbalance in the U.S. dollar market. On the supply side, central banks throughout the world have implemented more than a decade-long accommodative monetary policy since the 2008 global financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the need for central banks to provide necessary liquidity and keep staggering economies moving. While the Federal Reserve leads the effort of “money printing” and stimulus programs, the current money supply still cannot meet the constant high demand for the U.S. dollar2. Let us review some of the reasons for this constant dollar demand from a few economic fundamentals.
Demand for U.S. Dollars
Firstly, most of the world’s trade is denominated in U.S. dollars. Chief Economist of the IMF, Gita Gopinath, has compiled data reflecting that the U.S. dollar’s share of invoicing was 4.7 times larger than America’s share of the value of imports, and 3.1 times its share of world exports3. The U.S. dollar is the dominant “invoicing currency” in most developing countries4. https://preview.redd.it/d4xalwdyz8p51.png?width=535&format=png&auto=webp&s=9f0556c6aa6b29016c9b135f3279e8337dfee2a6 https://preview.redd.it/wucg40kzz8p51.png?width=653&format=png&auto=webp&s=71257fec29b43e0fc0df1bf04363717e3b52478f This U.S. dollar preference also directly impacts the world’s debt. According to the Bank of International Settlements, there is over $67 trillion in U.S. dollar denominated debt globally, and borrowing outside of the U.S. accounted for $12.5 trillion in Q1 20205. There is an immense demand for U.S. dollars every year just to service these dollar debts. The annual U.S. dollar buying demand is easily over $1 trillion assuming the borrowing cost is at 1.5% (1 year LIBOR + 1%) per year, a conservative estimate. https://preview.redd.it/6956j6f109p51.png?width=487&format=png&auto=webp&s=ccea257a4e9524c11df25737cac961308b542b69 Secondly, since the U.S. has a much stronger economy compared to its global peers, a higher return on investments draws U.S. dollar demand from everywhere in the world, to invest in companies both in the public and private markets. The U.S. hosts the largest stock markets in the world with more than $33 trillion in public market capitalization (combined both NYSE and NASDAQ)6. For the private market, North America’s total share is well over 60% of the $6.5 trillion global assets under management across private equity, real assets, and private debt investments7. The demand for higher quality investments extends to the fixed income market as well. As countries like Japan and Switzerland currently have negative-yielding interest rates8, fixed income investors’ quest for yield in the developed economies leads them back to the U.S. debt market. As of July 2020, there are $15 trillion worth of negative-yielding debt securities globally (see chart). In comparison, the positive, low-yielding U.S. debt remains a sound fixed income strategy for conservative investors in uncertain market conditions. Source: Bloomberg Last, but not least, there are many developing economies experiencing failing monetary policies, where hyperinflation has become a real national disaster. A classic example is Venezuela, where the currency Bolivar became practically worthless as the inflation rate skyrocketed to 10,000,000% in 20199. The recent Beirut port explosion in Lebanon caused a sudden economic meltdown and compounded its already troubled financial market, where inflation has soared to over 112% year on year10. For citizens living in unstable regions such as these, the only reliable store of value is the U.S. dollar. According to the Chainalysis 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, Venezuela has become one of the most active cryptocurrency trading countries11. The demand for cryptocurrency surges as a flight to safety mentality drives Venezuelans to acquire U.S. dollars to preserve savings that they might otherwise lose. The growth for cryptocurrency activities in those regions is fueled by these desperate citizens using cryptocurrencies as rails to access the U.S. dollar, on top of acquiring actual Bitcoin or other underlying crypto assets.
The Rise of Crypto Dollars
Due to the highly volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, USD stablecoin, a crypto-powered blockchain token that pegs its value to the U.S. dollar, was introduced to provide stable dollar exposure in the crypto trading sphere. Tether is the first of its kind. Issued in 2014 on the bitcoin blockchain (Omni layer protocol), under the token symbol USDT, it attempts to provide crypto traders with a stable settlement currency while they trade in and out of various crypto assets. The reason behind the stablecoin creation was to address the inefficient and burdensome aspects of having to move fiat U.S. dollars between the legacy banking system and crypto exchanges. Because one USDT is theoretically backed by one U.S. dollar, traders can use USDT to trade and settle to fiat dollars. It was not until 2017 that the majority of traders seemed to realize Tether’s intended utility and started using it widely. As of April 2019, USDT trading volume started exceeding the trading volume of bitcoina12, and it now dominates the crypto trading sphere with over $50 billion average daily trading volume13. https://preview.redd.it/3vq7v1jg09p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=46f11b5f5245a8c335ccc60432873e9bad2eb1e1 An interesting aspect of USDT is that although the claimed 1:1 backing with U.S. dollar collateral is in question, and the Tether company is in reality running fractional reserves through a loose offshore corporate structure, Tether’s trading volume and adoption continues to grow rapidly14. Perhaps in comparison to fiat U.S. dollars, which is not really backed by anything, Tether still has cash equivalents in reserves and crypto traders favor its liquidity and convenience over its lack of legitimacy. For those who are concerned about Tether’s solvency, they can now purchase credit default swaps for downside protection15. On the other hand, USDC, the more compliant contender, takes a distant second spot with total coin circulation of $1.8 billion, versus USDT at $14.5 billion (at the time of publication). It is still too early to tell who is the ultimate leader in the stablecoin arena, as more and more stablecoins are launching to offer various functions and supporting mechanisms. There are three main categories of stablecoin: fiat-backed, crypto-collateralized, and non-collateralized algorithm based stablecoins. Most of these are still at an experimental phase, and readers can learn more about them here. With the continuous innovation of stablecoin development, the utility stablecoins provide in the overall crypto market will become more apparent.
In addition to trade settlement, stablecoins can be applied in many other areas. Cross-border payments and remittances is an inefficient market that desperately needs innovation. In 2020, the average cost of sending money across the world is around 7%16, and it takes days to settle. The World Bank aims to reduce remittance fees to 3% by 2030. With the implementation of blockchain technology, this cost could be further reduced close to zero. J.P. Morgan, the largest bank in the U.S., has created an Interbank Information Network (IIN) with 416 global Institutions to transform the speed of payment flows through its own JPM Coin, another type of crypto dollar17. Although people argue that JPM Coin is not considered a cryptocurrency as it cannot trade openly on a public blockchain, it is by far the largest scale experiment with all the institutional participants trading within the “permissioned” blockchain. It might be more accurate to refer to it as the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) instead of “blockchain” in this context. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that as J.P. Morgan currently moves $6 trillion U.S. dollars per day18, the scale of this experiment would create a considerable impact in the international payment and remittance market if it were successful. Potentially the day will come when regulated crypto exchanges become participants of IIN, and the link between public and private crypto assets can be instantly connected, unlocking greater possibilities in blockchain applications. Many central banks are also in talks about developing their own central bank digital currency (CBDC). Although this idea was not new, the discussion was brought to the forefront due to Facebook’s aggressive Libra project announcement in June 2019 and the public attention that followed. As of July 2020, at least 36 central banks have published some sort of CBDC framework. While each nation has a slightly different motivation behind its currency digitization initiative, ranging from payment safety, transaction efficiency, easy monetary implementation, or financial inclusion, these central banks are committed to deploying a new digital payment infrastructure. When it comes to the technical architectures, research from BIS indicates that most of the current proofs-of-concept tend to be based upon distributed ledger technology (permissioned blockchain)19. https://preview.redd.it/lgb1f2rw19p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=040bb0deed0499df6bf08a072fd7c4a442a826a0 These institutional experiments are laying an essential foundation for an improved global payment infrastructure, where instant and frictionless cross-border settlements can take place with minimal costs. Of course, the interoperability of private DLT tokens and public blockchain stablecoins has yet to be explored, but the innovation with both public and private blockchain efforts could eventually merge. This was highlighted recently by the Governor of the Bank of England who stated that “stablecoins and CBDC could sit alongside each other20”. One thing for certain is that crypto dollars (or other fiat-linked digital currencies) are going to play a significant role in our future economy.
There is never a dull moment in the crypto sector. The industry narratives constantly shift as innovation continues to evolve. Twelve years since its inception, Bitcoin has evolved from an abstract subject to a familiar concept. Its role as a secured, scarce, decentralized digital store of value has continued to gain acceptance, and it is well on its way to becoming an investable asset class as a portfolio hedge against asset price inflation and fiat currency depreciation.Stablecoins have proven to be useful as proxy dollars in the crypto world, similar to how dollars are essential in the traditional world. It is only a matter of time before stablecoins or private digital tokens dominate the cross-border payments and global remittances industry. There are no shortages of hypes and experiments that draw new participants into the crypto space, such as smart contracts, new blockchains, ICOs, tokenization of things, or the most recent trends on DeFi tokens. These projects highlight the possibilities for a much more robust digital future, but the market also needs time to test and adopt. A reliable digital payment infrastructure must be built first in order to allow these experiments to flourish. In this paper we examined the historical background and economic reasons for the U.S. dollar’s dominance in the world, and the probable conclusion is that the demand for U.S. dollars will likely continue, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, accompanied by a worldwide economic slowdown. The current monetary system is far from perfect, but there are no better alternatives for replacement at least in the near term. Incremental improvements are being made in both the public and private sectors, and stablecoins have a definite role to play in both the traditional and the new crypto world. Thank you. Reference:  How the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, Investopedia  The dollar is in high demand, prone to dangerous appreciation, The Economist  Dollar dominance in trade and finance, Gita Gopinath  Global trades dependence on dollars, The Economist & IMF working papers  Total credit to non-bank borrowers by currency of denomination, BIS  Biggest stock exchanges in the world, Business Insider  McKinsey Global Private Market Review 2020, McKinsey & Company  Central banks current interest rates, Global Rates  Venezuela hyperinflation hits 10 million percent, CNBC  Lebanon inflation crisis, Reuters  Venezuela cryptocurrency market, Chainalysis  The most used cryptocurrency isn’t Bitcoin, Bloomberg  Trading volume of all crypto assets, coinmarketcap.com  Tether US dollar peg is no longer credible, Forbes  New crypto derivatives let you bet on (or against) Tether’s solvency, Coindesk  Remittance Price Worldwide, The World Bank  Interbank Information Network, J.P. Morgan  Jamie Dimon interview, CBS News  Rise of the central bank digital currency, BIS  Speech by Andrew Bailey, 3 September 2020, Bank of England
It started with a sign. It stood at the entrance of the small community simple but clear: Welcome to Freetown. Enter only if you respect the Life, Liberty and Property of all here. Murderers, tyrants and thieves will be shot. The message was a practical one, not inspired by history or ideology but by clarity of purpose. It enumerated the things that would be defended with deadly force and warned away those that would harm them. As time went by and neighbours from time to time suggested alterations or additions to the sign it was always argued that brevity had power. It was unnecessary to explain in detail all the different types of property owned in the community and how it could be destroyed or stolen. It was understood by all what harm to life meant, what need was there to specify differences in degree between murder and assault. Liberty being a more philosophical concept was always harder to define, but all agreed that a good rule of thumb was that if someone came around telling anybody what to do with their property or their life shouldn’t be welcomed and, if telling escalated to threats or orders should promptly be shown the door. In any case even given the small number of neighbours at the time there was never unanimity to change it. If it’s difficult to get a handful of people to agree to anything, it could only get harder as their number grew. Certainly many would have liked to add more rules. Most in the community were Christian and wouldn’t have looked askance at the ten commandments… but freedom of religion seemed to most an important part of Liberty. Remembering the Sabbath, honouring your parents and not coveting could surely be left to individual consciences, whereas stealing and killing were pretty clearly community problems. So after many arguments Life, Liberty and Property remained as the common denominators. In time it grew to be a social contract of sorts, first in an unspoken, implicit way, but later it was written in the rules of the homeowners association which all new buyers and builders had to sign. So in many ways it was far more real a social contract and far more binding an agreement than any constitution ever approved by “representatives” but never actually accepted by the people, never mind all the people. The sign also had a selective effect on new residents. Some did not like the idea of violence, even defensive violence and would rather not buy a house or live in a place that so overtly threatened. The idea of many of your neighbours being armed simply did not appeal to many. Others did not believe in private property, but those that would have unlawfully occupied empty houses thought twice when they saw the sign and headed for easier pickings. Of course there are plenty of rich communists and their lack of respect for private property never stopped them from personally owning it... but this was no luxury community, at least when it started, so politicians and bureaucrats were rare. The first big change came in the police strike and riots. As cops were increasingly paid less, later and in depreciating currency they started to protest more, work less and turn back to some old ways of extortion. Mostly they just did not answer calls, but sometimes when they did they were expensive and less than helpful. So the community was quick to become self-reliant for protection, hiring a private guard for the main entrance and quickly coordinating a group of armed neighbours as backup should it be needed. When the first riots came more than a dozen neighbours stood behind the guard with enough weaponry in plain sight to deter anything short of an army. So the looting passed them by. Car burnings, break-ins, assaults and all types of chaos and vandalism happened in nearby neighbourhoods. The police were busy protesting for back pay. People took note. Similar signs started going up in many communities that had seen the difference between trusting authority and trusting your neighbours. One neighbourhood that actually shared the main road and access, simply asked to merge. Over the years the community would grow to ten times its size. However that was dwarfed by how far its example reached as thousands of neighbourhoods followed it. Actually the neighbours simply could not tell if they were being emulated… or if other people had just followed their own logic and reached similar common sense solutions to simple problems. The second big change came with the banking crisis. As savings were wiped out first by deflation then by inflation the community, just as the rest of the country, had to start saving again from almost nothing. This time they would not make the same mistake again, they would not work tirelessly for years while trusting the government and banks to secure the currency and their savings. They began to use Bitcoin and physical gold for their savings so that they could be personally responsible for the security of their wealth. They discovered another advantage of personal responsibility: privacy. Eventually most trade was done in hard assets and again the example spread far. Government money, fiat money was only used to pay government services… and as the first depreciated the second kept losing quality. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” well fiat money most definitely belonged to the government and they were welcome to have it. Some attempts were made by tax collectors to exact payments in hard assets and in some places they were allowed to do so. Others resisted with more or less force. Soon they learned which places to avoid for fear of tarring and feathering, or worse. Anyone who wanted to keep their property from the hands of the ever more rapacious and bankrupt government also learnt the lesson: keep your real assets in a Free Zone or lose them. It’s not that the government couldn’t muster, if pressed, the force to enter the a Free Zone and loot… but it was rare for a reason: Agents were unwilling to take risks for the meager pay they were receiving so the only way to make it worth their while was to let them share in the spoils. Any illusions that they were law enforcers went out the window after the first few times that happened. Honest cops quit. The ones still willing to loot were viewed by most citizens as what they were, a violent gang. They were too few and too cowardly to face any resistance. Police reform would come too late. Private security backed by citizen militias would prove cheaper both in peaceful and violent times, as well as far more respectful of the Life, Liberty and Property of its customers. Tax income withered. The death spiral was too fast and paralysing for the government to stop. The government would continue to pretend to offer services and a few people would pretend to pay for them. It would become obvious that there was nothing magical about a monopolistic administration that allowed it to build roads or schools more efficiently than local institutions, companies or communities. In fact it was hard to imagine how anybody had thought that the monopoly could ever do so with better quality than what consumers could expect from competing providers. Some people rejected this way of doing things and formed their own socialistic communes, syndicates and associations. Many saw a kibbutz revival in the making. Did people in the Free zones object? No. Live and let live. If they want communal property they were welcome to share theirs… as long as they did not try to take ours. Unsurprisingly most people preferred not to live in a commune. Localism, self-reliance and secure property rights eventually brought unprecedented prosperity, well-being and progress. But that was later, after we survived the invasion...
It started with a sign. It stood at the entrance of the small community simple but clear: Welcome to Freetown. Enter only if you respect the Life, Liberty and Property of all here. Murderers, thieves and tyrants will be shot. The message was a practical one, not inspired by history or ideology but by clarity of purpose. It enumerated the things that would be defended with deadly force and warned away those that would harm them. As time went by and neighbours from time to time suggested alterations or additions to the sign it was always argued that brevity had power. It was unnecessary to explain in detail all the different types of property owned in the community and how it could be destroyed or stolen. It was understood by all what harm to life meant, what need was there to specify differences in degree between murder and assault. Liberty being a more philosophical concept was always harder to define, but all agreed that a good rule of thumb was that if someone came around telling anybody what to do with their property or their life shouldn’t be welcomed and, if telling escalated to threats or orders should promptly be shown the door. In any case even given the small number of neighbours at the time there was never unanimity to change it. If it’s difficult to get a handful of people to agree to anything, it could only get harder as their number grew. Certainly many would have liked to add more rules. Most in the community were Christian and wouldn’t have looked askance at the ten commandments… but freedom of religion seemed to most an important part of Liberty. Remembering the Sabbath, honouring your parents and not coveting could surely be left to individual consciences, whereas stealing and killing were pretty clearly community problems. So after many arguments Life, Liberty and Property remained as the common denominators. In time it grew to be a social contract of sorts, first in an unspoken, implicit way, but later it was written in the rules of the homeowners association which all new buyers and builders had to sign. So in many ways it was far more real a social contract and far more binding an agreement than any constitution ever approved by “representatives” but never actually accepted by the people, never mind all the people. The sign also had a selective effect on new residents. Some did not like the idea of violence, even defensive violence and would rather not buy a house or live in a place that so overtly threatened. The idea of many of your neighbours being armed simply did not appeal to many. Others did not believe in private property, but those that would have unlawfully occupied empty houses thought twice when they saw the sign and headed for easier pickings. Of course there are plenty of rich communists and their lack of respect for private property never stopped them from personally owning it... but this was no luxury community, at least when it started, so politicians and bureaucrats were rare. The first big change came in the police strike and riots. As cops were increasingly paid less, later and in depreciating currency they started to protest more, work less and turn back to some old ways of extortion. Mostly they just did not answer calls, but sometimes when they did they were expensive and less than helpful. So the community was quick to become self-reliant for protection, hiring a private guard for the main entrance and quickly coordinating a group of armed neighbours as backup should it be needed. When the first riots came more than a dozen neighbours stood behind the guard with enough weaponry in plain sight to deter anything short of an army. So the looting passed them by. Car burnings, break-ins, assaults and all types of chaos and vandalism happened in nearby neighbourhoods. The police were busy protesting for back pay. People took note. Similar signs started going up in many communities that had seen the difference between trusting authority and trusting your neighbours. One neighbourhood that actually shared the main road and access, simply asked to merge. Over the years the community would grow to ten times its size. However that was dwarfed by how far its example reached as thousands of neighbourhoods followed it. Actually the neighbours simply could not tell if they were being emulated… or if other people had just followed their own logic and reached similar common sense solutions to simple problems. The second big change came with the banking crisis. As savings were wiped out first by deflation then by inflation the community, just as the rest of the country, had to start saving again from almost nothing. This time they would not make the same mistake again, they would not work tirelessly for years while trusting the government and banks to secure the currency and their savings. They began to use Bitcoin and physical gold for their savings so that they could be personally responsible for the security of their wealth. They discovered another advantage of personal responsibility: privacy. Eventually most trade was done in hard assets and again the example spread far. Government money, fiat money was only used to pay government services… and as the first depreciated the second kept losing quality. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” well fiat money most definitely belonged to the government and they were welcome to have it. Some attempts were made by tax collectors to exact payments in hard assets and in some places they were allowed to do so. Others resisted with more or less force. Soon they learned which places to avoid for fear of tarring and feathering, or worse. Anyone who wanted to keep their property from the hands of the ever more rapacious and bankrupt government also learnt the lesson: keep your real assets in a Free Zone or lose them. It’s not that the government couldn’t muster, if pressed, the force to enter the a Free Zone and loot… but it was rare for a reason: Agents were unwilling to take risks for the meager pay they were receiving so the only way to make it worth their while was to let them share in the spoils. Any illusions that they were law enforcers went out the window after the first few times that happened. Honest cops quit. The ones still willing to loot were viewed by most citizens as what they were, a violent gang. They were too few and too cowardly to face any resistance. Police reform would come too late. Private security backed by citizen militias would prove cheaper both in peaceful and violent times, as well as far more respectful of the Life, Liberty and Property of its customers. Tax income withered. The death spiral was too fast and paralysing for the government to stop. The government would continue to pretend to offer services and a few people would pretend to pay for them. It would become obvious that there was nothing magical about a monopolistic administration that allowed it to build roads or schools more efficiently than local institutions, companies or communities. In fact it was hard to imagine how anybody had thought that the monopoly could ever do so with better quality than what consumers could expect from competing providers. Some people rejected this way of doing things and formed their own socialistic communes, syndicates and associations. Many saw a kibbutz revival in the making. Did people in the Free zones object? No. Live and let live. If they want communal property they were welcome to share theirs… as long as they did not try to take ours. Unsurprisingly most people preferred not to live in a commune. Localism, self-reliance and secure property rights eventually brought unprecedented prosperity, well-being and progress. But that was later, after we survived the invasion...
AMA Recap: Heatherm Huang, Co-Founder of Measurable Data Token, discusses how Alternative Data rise midst of Covid Wave
https://preview.redd.it/qvvmwcnr9sa51.jpg?width=1080&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=454c1e1655920deb772f04071e731ad13e798d1f Guest Bio Heatherm Huang Huang is the Co-Founder of Measurable Data Token (MDT), a decentralized data exchange ecosystem connecting users, data providers, and data buyers and denominates the value of data. As a Serial Entrepreneur, Huang got himself involved in the Research & Development of the world’s first ever talk-and-hold voice chat system, TalkBox, then the number one mobile chat application in China and across Southeast Asia in 2010. The hype around Talkbox had Tencent offering to acquire the mobile chat application that was turned down. Tencent then released a new version of Wechat, that holds the same talk-and-hold voice chat system that Talkbox has, now familiar to all，and it was at that time that Wechat broke the telecommunications industry. Talkbox and its competitors faded in the industry soon after. Huang’s Talkbox venture was adapted in Chinese drama, Entrepreneurial Age, with renowned celebrities, Xuan Huang and Angelababy being the main characters. Kiana Shek Kiana formerly worked as Deputy General Manager of Business at Baidu. Along with her strong financial education background, Kiana holds rich experience in Big Data, AI, finance & international business development. She joined DigiFinex as Co-Founder at the end of 2017, and is committed to build a secure, convenient and transparent environment for high-quality blockchain asset transactions for users globally. She is also an active speaker at different industry conferences around the globe. The AMA Kiana Shek (Left) & Heatherm Huang (Right) Kiana: Hi Heatherm, it's our honor to have you here with us today. Could you please give us an introduction of MDT? Heatherm: Hi Kiana, my pleasure to be here today. Definitely. The MDT is a blockchain-based distributed computing platform with smart contracts securely stored in the Ethereum blockchain. It denominates the value of data in this new economy. It connects users, data providers, and data buyers and denominates the value of data. The MDT launched two products:
MyMDT Data Wallet, a decentralized application (Dapp) based on Ethereum that allows users to get rewarded for sharing anonymous data points and is a user-oriented portal in the MDT ecosystem.
Measurable AI, a business-oriented alternative data analysis platform that turns anonymous data into sophisticated consumer insights.
Kiana: That's such an interesting concept. I am curious to know, and I'm sure so does everyone, how did MDT come about? Heatherm: The mission behind MDT is to solve our own problems. Back in 2016, our team started venturing into data under the guidance under the guidance of Gmail creator, Paul Buchheit. Paul mentioned that the most valuable thing about Gmail is not the service itself, but the data. Gmail data enables Google to create personalized and intelligent products for its users, and helps Google build better artificial intelligence. Our product, Measurable AI, is also built to understand the market by gathering electronic receipts from billions of online consumers, thereby increasing consumer data value. The more familiar we are with the big data industry, the better we can understand its problems. In data, privacy and traceability have always been contradictory issues. Although Google uses user data to provide better services to users, it is still resisted by users to date. As data providers, we often try to prove that our data sources are real, and all data points come from real users of our own platforms. However, to prove this, the privacy and anonymity of real users will be compromised to some extent. On the other hand, data buyers also find it a challenge to ensure that the data products they will get are effective. In data, blockchain can solve this problem. After many years of exploration in the field of consumer products and big data, our team realized that we have to compensate consumers who have contributed valuable data. We finally launched MDT at the end of 2017. We believe that the monetization of user data will be ubiquitous in the future, and we hope to use the results we have established to start this ecosystem. Kiana: Thank you so much for explaining in such detail. I want to know who your target markets are and how you strategize in marketing your products across different regions of the world? Heatherm: Southeast Asia, China, Brazil, and India will be our main target markets. They all have huge potential to expand and sustain the development of Measurable AI. At present, the main promotion channel of MyMDT data wallet is still the mainstream of users based on MailTime. Our upcoming independent app that focuses on the concept of "data cashback" will also become a major promotion channel, and its audience covers not only the cryptocurrency user group, but also the mainstream user group. Promotion services in different regions will be tailored to local market conditions. For example, the most common transaction data in the European and American markets is still credit card data, but in some emerging markets such as China, it is mobile payment data, and the consumer behavior and habits of users are also different. In different countries and regions, we will also adopt different promotion forms and modify our products to suit varying needs. Kiana: Got it. Back to today's topic, what is MDT's alternative data that users should be concerned about? How is it related to MDT? Heatherm: Alternative data refers to unconventional, unexpected, and unidentified potential data. Unlike traditional data sources such as public financial reports, alternative data is not well known. This is where its value lies. Measurable AI is a blockchain-driven alternative data provider at the present day. Kiana: I believe users have a new understanding of alternative data now. Is MDT an option for both data providers and crypto asset investors? How will MDT benefit investors? Heatherm: Alternative data providers are responsible for collecting, cleaning, analyzing and understanding data collected from non-traditional sources. For example, providers can assess the community's response to crypto assets to predict their future value and price movements. Although they are valuable, they do not fully reflect the company's operating conditions. In today's data-driven era, investors need more than endless numbers on spreadsheets. They need insightful data to make informed decisions in the market. Certain financial markets, such as encrypted assets, do not revolve around traditional financial data sources. Cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or Bitcoin cannot be effectively analyzed through financial statements because their prices are determined by factors other than common data sources. Alternative data fills this gap. As the name suggests, alternative data refers to information obtained from non-traditional sources (such as social media and consumer trends), which helps investors have a deeper understanding of investment tools. Kiana: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is rampant, has Measurable Data been affected in development? What measures have you taken to counter the challenge for the safety of the team? What contribution has MDT made to society against COVID-19? Heatherm: Due to the pandemic, the MDT team worked at home for 3 months until May when the team returned to office. However, the great impact COVID-19 has on the global economy, the demand for alternative data has increased for hedge fund clients. In the past few months, we have served more than 10 hedge funds and seller research institutions, providing them with first-hand consumer insights for many listed companies to analyze the pandemic's impact on the revenue of these companies and the speed of recovery. A few weeks ago, I accepted an interview with Bloomberg. I mentioned that the recent pandemic and the Luckin Coffee scandal has greatly boosted the demand for alternative data because hedge funds hope to use alternative data to monitor the pandemic's impact on major companies and its recovery rate. This is the value of alternative data. Kiana: What do Alternative Data providers do? Is MDT an Alternative Data provider and Cryptoasset investor at the same time? How does the data benefit the investor? Heatherm: Alternative data providers are the ones responsible for collecting, cleaning, analyzing, and making sense of data collected from non-traditional sources. For example, a provider may assess how the community is reacting to a crypto asset to predict its value and price movements in the future. Though valuable, they don't give the full picture of how a company is doing. In today's data-driven landscape, investors require more than endless numbers on spreadsheets. They need insightful data that is actionable enough for them to make informed decisions in the market. Certain markets like crypto assets also don't revolve around traditional financial data sources. Cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or Bitcoin cannot be analyzed efficiently with financial statements since their prices are determined by factors outside of commonly used data sources. Alternative data fill this gap. As the name suggests, alternative data is information derived from non-traditional sources — like social media and consumer trends — that help investors obtain more in-depth insights on investment vehicles. Kiana: Wow, Alternative Data providers play such a crucial role in the economy. How does MDT ensure that data security and privacy are well protected under regulations like GDPR? Heatherm: In an increasingly digitized world, huge quantities of "alternative data" are being generated every day which can complement or substitute for traditional financial data (such as information on loan payments, defaults and bankruptcies) and open the door to financial services for previously unserved or underserved customers. Data protection and privacy require a new way of thinking and preparation as regulatory or institutional frameworks to protect individuals and firms either do not exist or are rapidly outpaced by technological advances. Kiana: Makes sense. The world will only get more digitized each day. Who do you consider your competitors and why do you think you are better than them? Heatherm: Projects that share similar ideas of compensating users for sharing rewards are DataWallet, and GXChain. DataWallet recently pivoted to a data compliance service platform for startups. GXChian also rewards users for sharing data, however, their focus is on users' personal information for credit checking and user profiling. MDT is focused on anonymous and aggregated consumer transactional data for industry insights' purpose, and we endeavour to never involve any personal data. Although we both reward users for sharing data points, we share different business models and positioning on what type of data to get involved in and how users can monetize over their data. We believe the scenarios MDT creates now is more likely to be adopted by the public.
It involves only aggregated and anonymous data points for a transparent purpose
It is easier for users to get started without privacy issues (on blockchain, but accessed through user-friendly dapps
It benefits the data buyers financially and socially for joining an initiative of a company compensating users for data.
THE POST-CORONAVIRUS ECONOMY 02/04/2020 I like to approach looking at economics like a physicist. There are very few maybes in physics. They mention and value going back to first principles when things go wrong. So does architecture, if you find the central idea of your design is lost. That's my background. If you understand game theory, it's quite apparent that so much of social structure is based on the Prisoner's Dilemma. This mindset seems prevalent also in many philosophical discussions, ancient and modern, such as Nietzsche and Diogenes, framing the human condition / human nature (HN) as being a weakness to overcome. I presume this comes from a mindset to overcome scarcity through dominion and therefore, cultures that reinforce our familiarity with that. However, despite our capacity for creativity and imagination and the absolute evidence that we have been able to overcome nature itself, we still create artificial, synthetic systems that are based on this old framework. We have stepped beyond overcoming natural systems and now play the game of overcoming systems themselves. The trouble is those systems are inherently disempowering because they are still built on fear based game theory that waste the most resources: war, politics, and finance are the most wasteful of all. Ideas for solutions and the present day, magic bullet or not, are still built on those same fear-based frameworks: to overcome HN. Despite so many people wanting empowered change, we think this is the exception, not the hope of the norm. Such a framework is also familiar to us so it's easy to find solutions within a comfort zone that doesn't really change very much and we may be waiting for a personality to lead us to that change without losing that comfort. Experience from previous and even current political and religious leaders has not led to empowered change. But it is not just large-scale problems. It's also small-scale where businesses are in perpetual debt. These dichotomies make great stories to trickle down for people to tell and write books about, but that doesn't resolve the problems. Many don't want those problems to be solved because there's no money in it. If we are to be leaders for the world to be a better place, then we must look at practical empowered systems that all people can use with little need for hierarchical goverance or fear. One of the best engineering companies, Arup, are renowned for their 2-level company structure and are renowned for some of the greatest engineering feats globally. We need to find trust-based systems built on the abundance of our creativity and imagination that includes all things. If you listen to people discussing authenticity and trust, there is a strong dividing line between someone is being sponsored or the product was bought with their own money. This already shows how powerful exchange really is in driving trust between people, or not. Look at how many YouTubers with their promotions stipulate where the product was given by a company or they bought it from their own money to preempt whether they are being honest or not. It's interesting to find that in so many solutions put forward for empowered change, the design frameworks of currency are seldom looked into. People may offer new processes for currency and exchange but they are still built on the same usury frameworks that incentivizes people to quantify wealth in terms of money with little regard of what created that money. My objective here is to offer you a model that incentivises and empowers all people to look at profit and wealth on qualitative frameworks that build trust, in both competitive and collaborative relationships, to value sustainable synergy in creating experiences to empower the most people for all. During this time with the coronavirus, with this mass devolution of economic empowerment, timed or opportunistic, it's essential to find solutions that don't revolve around panics like this again and be left to still more messengers wanting your sacrifice, confinement and/or self immolation to support the rest. So, let's get back to first principles. Let's look at the physics of humanity's identity and its relationship with nature, and discover the exchange model framework that supports the sustainable synergy of that to the greatest empowerment possible. . . . . . THE FUNDAMENTALS The objective here is to present a logic and the framework which empowers all people and has no need to compromise. This must be on qualitative terms where there is a dynamic empowered synergy that is adaptable and diverse dependent on location and capacity. I would find it hard to argue that the most self-actualised empowered people measure their highest wealth is ultimately how we create to empower the most people in the most sustainable way possible, to redundancy. Anything we do, has to support this absolute. It must be structured on the strongest people that possess and act in distributing empowerment to the rest of their community. From this central idea, we must build a adaptive social framework that incentivises such empowerment in the most constructive way possible. Let's look at the basic fundamentals to work with: Human Nature (HN): Adapts to it's environment. This is the beginning of how we build culture. In scarcity or abundance, we are valued by the excellence of what we create. Highest excellence empowers the most people to survive. Loves something to strive for. Is the only species that has overcome natures limitations. Thrives on creative capacity and imagination. Wants to be remembered. We want to trust more than fear others. Children are an excellent example of presenting this. Even as adults, we want to trust if we can, particularly government and authority. It's easier. Wants to be as lazy as it can possibly be to achieve the greatest gain. we always pick the easiest path to get something if it is possible. Whether that is through taking advantage of people, taking the past of least resistance, or being able to create something to make things easier for others, is dependent on the framework that creates the most status and wealth. When we govern such capacity with frameworks of disempowerment, it divides creative capacity, regardless of whether resources are scarce or abundant. This dissuades logic to empower cohesively and devolved to weakness being prioritised in decision making. We have built a model of exchange and social structures that promote weakness. Fundamentally, however, all people want to achieve excellence. How we design the framework defines whether that's against other people or with other people. If you define something about human nature on a negative framework, then it is more important to look at yourself and ask what is lacking in yourself to think such a thing. Environment (E): Resources are always scarce, but our creative capacity is limitless. Resources only those that are useful to the central idea. For resources to be their most plentiful, natural symbioses between them must be maintained and regenerative. Any adaptive social framework must support this. Social Frameworks (SF) How we value wealth define status. How we govern defines status. It doesn't matter whether it's from a disempowered or empowered framework, all that matters is how well we do that to achieve status with our greatest self-security in mind. If a framework is built around scarcity, then mainstream status will always be based on the success of overcoming this. If it is based on abundance, then mainstream status will be based on the best to cultivate that. Fear drives separation. Joy drives integration. We are also more likely to trust someone who offers an opportunity to overcome fear. This is most apparent in times of desperation. This usually doesn't end well. if social frameworks are built around fear, then it only establishes the fear. It does not overcome it. Money/Currency/Exchange (M) Money doesn't exist unless we create something and somebody wants it. If there is nothing to buy, money is meaningless. People's capacity to create is the real money. If we do nothing, there is no economy. Therefore, money must be directly based on the work people do. Basing money on something outside of that disconnects that basic fundamental. Wealth is not money if there is nothing to buy. Therefore, money is always servant to peoples' capacities to create. There are only three money structures to define and work with: usury (positive cost), demarrage (negative cost) and neutral (no cost). What defines which are empowering or not are dependent on how much is available, how it's distributed, I know if it is based on the work of people or something else. Usury does not mean exorbitant cost. If this was the case, then there is an undefined band of money which is little cost. This seems to be conveniently swept under the carpet. It also implies that it cost on currency is fundamental. It isn't. Anyone that promotes such a definition of exorbitant cost and/or interest is not interested in sustainable synergy solutions. Basing currency on something outside of work incentivises using it as a commodity of its own value. Basing it on work makes this impossible with the right parameters. Cryptocurrencies are not different to any other mainstream currency if it follows the same frameworks as usury currency. it is just the same thing delivered a different way. Bitcoin is quite different to every other alternate currency due to specific parameters that made it difficult to continue as an exchange mechanism versus a store of value that many people have tried to overcome. This brought on ICO commodity boom that was purely fictitious, totally missing the larger picture that Bitcoin wanted to present. That again shows how powerful changing currency can be for sustainable empowered change. Here are the parameters to scrutinise: What is it based on? Is the volume infinite or finite? How is that volume distributed? Is there a cost? There are also only three frameworks of currency cost: Usury (any interest or fee) Demurrage No cost (neutral). Unfortunately, we have been dealing with usury currency as a commodity for as long as humanity can remember and built our understanding of human nature from that. It is built on the framework of disempowering social structures that Prisoner's Dilemma game theory succinctly presents. It defines HN as a prisoner by default. Why? Money has almost always been created from violence and disempowerment to gain dominion to combat scarcity. David Graeber's book Debt: The First 5000 Years, establishes this. Usury currency has always been connected to political power disempowering people, regardless of whether it's capitalist or communist or anything in between. The only difference has been from the people who choose to have status to empower or disempower. As most democracies separate currency from governance, politics will not change anything unless you change fundamental frameworks to incentivize leadership to support people by default. What usury currency and the Prisoner's Dilemma really demonstrate is that we trust what people tell us to overcome our fears and we try and trust what they say because we're told we cannot trust ourselves. So we choose to accept fighting disempowerment rather than leveraging empowerment because we are led to believe it's easier to follow then be an independent peer competing and collaborating for the greater good. It seems the human condition is that a gravitates to fear and not trust itself instead of the opposite. That's quite different to defining human nature that objectifies humanity to be perpetually bad and need to be saved from itself. This is beyond ethics and virtue to be prevalent in creating empowering frameworks. It is more relevant to incentivise the ethics of excellence in empowering frameworks. It seems some people mistake the word excellence to mean self against others. No one achieves excellence without the help of others and so in-kind excellence supports excellence. That is the highest ethic. . . . . . BUXB It is here that I will present the parameters of the buxbi model and how it languages and incentivises people to want to be sustainable in the creativity regardless of their personality. It takes out the argument of whether humanity needs to be saved or not. It takes out objectifying people being good or bad, true or not. What they create and why will define whether they are worth your time. If they're not doing their best to create experience is to empower the most people, including yourself, in the most sustainable way possible to redundancy, then they are not going to be efficient with your time to warrant it. BUXB means Be yoU eXchange Bank. The denomination of currency is 'bux'. The parameters of bux are as such: It is created by the exchange of work between at least two people. If nothing is done there are no bux. As a result, no money is created independently of work done. BUXB is not able to be bought by other currencies. Total exchanges balance to zero, except in regards to education. In such a case, all people participating in an education platform are paid by the bank. The bank's deficit is the positive of education that is happening in the community. The volume and type of transactions recorded by the bank, irrespective of the amount, will show what interests the community or communities involved. This is transparent for everyone to see to know where to best use their energy, to the individual's greatest interest. No one is forced to exchange with another person if they choose not to. What people choose to create to exchange is transparent to everyone else in the community. again, this is to inform not just the community what has the greatest benefit to create but also the interest of the person in wanting to create it. It will also establish how good day are at it which only promotes them more. People are free to give what they wish and record it in the bank if they want to. If someone chooses to keep a transaction a secret, for whatever reason, they are welcome. the bank exists simply as a ledger of exchange and amount of what people choose to create. It cannot create any currency whatsoever. Anyone working for the bank is paid by the bank. There are no taxes taxes from the community to run it. Community projects are mandated by direct democracy which people at BUXB manage. The only advantage 4 people both at the bank and the community Ark pick the projects that best support empowering the most people in the most sustainable way possible to redundancy. Since this is the case, there is no compromise between self interest and the community. On a project being decided on, the best people who can do that most efficiently will be the people that will be paid. Such civil or community costs will be covered by the bank. the bank is not a separate entity or corporation or business that requires profit. It is simply a quantitative record of exchange between people in the community and communities that use the same currency. To overcome any misconceptions that charging more would mean more wealth, no one can be paid more than 60bux an hour. As prices of products are based on the amount of work that people do, there is a natural incentive of the price mechanism to fall for everything while quality increases. This establishes that products and services of higher quality cost less. There is no loss of a free-market. The natural consequence of presenting ideas to the community to use their time in the most efficient way possible to effectively empower others in the most sustainable possible to no longer at needing to be required is the incentive for people to give their time to such ideas. Competing ideas will be based on those parameters. If there is a conflict of which idea is better, the natural consequence of this is either consensus to follow one project or for both projects to work concurrently to find out which is best. This is still the most efficient means of using resources instead of conflict in resolving who is better without actually have any experience to know and learn from doing what the idea of say they were going to. Resources that people own using BUXB are not taking away from them. they only become available as they see fit while they become more comfortable and empowered using a model that has more options. It will become plain to realise that trying to find ways to look after properties you own when people are more independent is more difficult but you gain more connecting with people with what they make and don't lose your comfort for your security a,d experience; you gain it a different way Any business built by many people will have a part of the business in some way to attain part of that future profit. But as the price mechanism is quite different in BUXB, participants would game or by selling products at the price that it took to make it. Ask the price will be quite different to what it would be in usery currency, the real value is that quality increases ice prices fall. The true currency really is people's status in creating quality. The price is simply a transition mechanism as people become more comfortable to qualitative framework to value status. Controversially, an example of how BUXB would work in the community is the intentional community mentioned and discussed in the end of Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged. Entrepreneurs in her book get a bad rap but, as usual, we trust the messenger that delivers fear instead of logic. To say that entrepreneurs are bad because they are self-interested egoists is saying to love and improve yourself is bad.there should be no difference between an entrepreneur and a person. I must stipulate that saying an entrepreneur is an opportunist is incorrect. Whether we are people alone or together creating, the objectives of creating experience it's to empower the most people in the most stainboy possible to redundancy is the absolute objective to warrant any idea, and the work to do it, to be valued in its highest esteem. It is plainly clear that her hero entrepreneurs create the best for the least price. all value the quality of their work, and the people that do it not just for but with them. They are not just the entrepreneurs but the politicians we would like to see. They respect everyone who respects themselves in being their best. This is priceless. It is only in that intentional community where they can negate the disempowerment of compromised social structures and usury currency for the greater good. In this intentional community, we can focus purely on what her hero entrepreneur is a truly like. They are mindful empowered selfish creators self aware enough to create their best for the greater good. Any bastardisation of that interpretation has been made rampant by the wannabes. Alan Greenspan, a frequent guest at Ayn Rand's social events, is the epitome of the second-handers she despises. All her heroes are interested in education first, to offer the opportunity for everyone to be their best at what interests them. Hank Reardon makes the best alloy at the cheapest price than his competitors. Dagny runs the best railroad. Hiring a vehicle for $0.05 for the day. Who has the car is not important. All her hero entrepreneurs value creating the highest quality for the best price they can. All got their hands dirty being on the ground to experience the knowledge to be their best for those that will know better. In a commodity-driven world of wealth, there will always be the compromise between what to pay oneself vs the people under you doing the work. And the absolute genius to present how different this is in Ayn Rand's intentional community is the bank. Midas turned everything into gold. In business, everyone he backed succeeded. When he leaves to join the intentional community, he balanced his books to zero. Rand's subjective in pointing this out is Midas left without owing or being owed anything. That in itself is an extraordinary feat in a usury world. Arguably, if that were truly possible, this could only happen in a currency with no cost. It would be interesting to analyse that. But in the microcosm of the intentional community, Midas is picking the best in a barrel. They're all good. They all want to be better. Interestingly, the means of exchange is in gold. This can bring up whether people a mining for gold for currency or as a resource. What's more important is that the main purpose of Midas in the intentional community is simply being the creator of the means of exchange. There is no possible need or means or requirement to add any cost to the currency in such a community. It would be absolutely pointless. His objective is to create enough velocity of exchange as required. It is just he would, but he can only, only, give money to those who are the best at perpetuating empowerment. No one else is living there. Further, it is not required to compete with whom may have a car to lend or not as there is no need to create more cars if none are really required. There will be enough business for everyone until more cars required; then the best most sustainable people will make it, customised on demand. No one in the community would be bothered to make them if they are not needed. The ultimate empowerment in such an intentional community is no one is owned by anybody else and doesn't do anything for anybody unless they want to. Consequently they all do their very best for self and all because there's no better option. That is what selfish really means. Many say these ideas of economies will not work at scale but understand we are in economic models that create so much for nothing. There is so much waste that is not sold. That's not efficient or useful or sustainable or empowering for anybody. So what is created is dependent on the creativity also of the means of production but not for the sake of the economy, but the community. It is easy to create a Tesla production line that can be powered on demand if another vehicle is required and then turn it off again. Cars need not be bought but rented as needed. Any alternative to sharing resources is far more efficient than the waste usury currency economies create. People will assume and say that such ideas can only work in small communities. but the whole global market is a series of small communities connected together. What matters more are how sustainably they connect for the greatest benefit of all that lived there. I'm not just talking about humanity. Any human would know that if they want to at least survive, they must respect the environment. When a person says human nature or the human condition is inherently bad; when they say it cannot work at scale, they are only presenting the weakness in themselves. And this brings up the alignment of ethics and excellence. If we go back to first principles, this sphere of .ethics is very much built around the game theory of the prisoner's dilemma: people are not to be trusted and there will always be compromise. There will always be compromise if solution is not possible but to mitigate that is not built on rights or privilege or social standing in themselves. It is built on excellence. That is the highest ethic. What do we create to empower people and the environment without compromise for the greater good without self-immolation? You do want to live, right? The idea of self immolation as many religions value as a way to relinquish the weakness of human capacity is the largest most init oxymoron of human identity I could possibly imagine. The final book to establish the ultimate empowerment of excellence is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This is, incredibly, a seriously underrated book. it overcomes the duality and weakness we are presented with over and over again in being human and presents a simple monoism without making it a religion or a deity to follow. What Robert Pirsig makes abundantly clear with his first hand experience teaching his classes in Bozeman, Montana, is quantifying results disempowers people to create excellence and leverage empowerment. It is only when he conceals the marks that he must give because of the system he lives in that the students do their best independent work. Quality may be compared but it has no price. When quality is based on creating empowerment, there is no price-to-value such status. There is no greater wealth. We tell stories about people who have overcome the system. But why do we enforce a disempowering system to overcome? Do you think we will have no story to tell past the point of fear? Look at the work you are doing an ask yourself if it can attain the absolute of empowering the most people in the most sustainable way possible to redundancy. Ask yourself if you are attached to the object of the work you were doing as the status in itself, or it is truly a trajectory to reach that ultimate goal of self and community empowerment. If your work is based on the mindset of believes that the bigger picture is full of bad people to overcome, if it is based on absolute scarcity, if it is based on the character for people to follow and not the idea itself that can be given freely to empower, then you're not being honest and it won't work and it isn't worth doing. Who is it that said doing the same thing the same way leads the same results? While you argue for empowerment and freedom on frameworks of weakness, this reinforces itself. If you really want to do something different, you must change the way you value yourself. It's got nothing to do with commodity currencies. BUXB itself would become redundant in the same way that currency almost is in Ayn Rand's intentional community (ARIC?). Other pioneers believe completely moving forward past quantified exchange would be impossible. But it is certainly achievable. Look at Trekonomics. No one buys the Replicator. It replicates for free, on demand. Wealth is in the discovery of empowering all people to do the same. We are not all heroes, but in BUXB, you are fully supported to be the creator you want to explore. A master does not hide his evolution of being. He welcomes your interest, but what you do with it is your opportunity to be your own master. Not in ritual, not in obedience, but in creating to empower the most people the best way you can. And if you prefer to follow the master, that's fine, too. However, the fear of fearing people for their objective in connecting with you is allayed in every transaction. There is no need to swindle anyone participating in the BUXB. that would be the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. Instead that could alienate you. more likely, he would would look at you strangely saying 'You can be paid to be educated. What on earth are you thinking?' If you are absolutely dogmatic to want resolution to the object of renewable eenegy, climate change, overpopulation, modern monetary theory, steady state economies, degrowth, sustainability/regeneration, environmental/ecological/resource-based economics, discrimination, crime, slavery, famine, without looking at revaluing wealth on qualitative frameworks, then you are playing the object of being a changemaker, an activist, an icon for something better without actually changing anything. There's a long list of that. Another story to tell doing the same thing the same way and not getting any results. If you feel I have an attachment to 'BUXB', then you're looking at me, not the model. Wrong target. It is a tool for you, not against you. And it's free. It has the means to achieve whatever empowered endgame you want. All I have done is change the currency model framework and revalue wealth for what it really is. Not that complicated. In this short time during the coronavirus, it's clear we can act fast globally if we want to. Let's try to do it with something empowering instead of disempowering as a means towards identity. Frederick Malouf
The Day Advances | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - January 2020
The day advanced as if to light some work of mine Thoreau, Walden This is my thirty-eighth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $813 282 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $45 802 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $83 162 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $110 472 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $178 121 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $34 965 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $272 399 Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 046 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $8 970 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $6 492 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $106 701 Secured physical gold – $17 252 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $14 755 Bitcoin – $153 530 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $18 365 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 534 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 477 Total portfolio value: $1 873 325 (+$94 067) Asset allocation Australian shares – 42.8% (2.2% under) Global shares – 22.6% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.1% Total international shares – 28.1% (1.9% under) Total shares – 70.9% (4.1% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.5% International bonds – 9.5% Total bonds – 14.0% (1.0% under) Gold – 6.6% Bitcoin – 8.2% Gold and alternatives – 14.8% (4.8% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. Comments This month saw exceptional growth in the portfolio, with a net increase of $94 000 after a small fall last month. [Chart] This is the fastest growth in the past half year. It is also the second largest absolute increase in over three years of measurement. [Chart] As the histogram below - which counts the frequency of occurrences in a specified range of monthly value changes (with red denoting losses) - makes clear, this is one of the most positive outcomes in the three year record. [Chart] The sources of portfolio growth were generally buoyant global and Australian share markets. Just under half of the growth was also due to an increase in the price of both gold securities and Bitcoin. In addition, even bond holdings increased in value over the period. Distribution payments from the Vanguard retail funds, as well as the exchange-traded funds VAS, VGS and A200 were made through this month. These totalled around $14 000 and have begun to be gradually fed back into the portfolio. This is a process which will occur through to June - with new investments twice per month. So far this has led to additional purchases in Vanguard's Australian shares exchange-traded fund (VAS) to maintain the target allocation of Australian equities making up 60 per cent of all equity holdings. The bond allocation of the portfolio continues to be notionally under its target, but has not yet reached a position where further balancing investments are warranted. Fully excluding the value of Bitcoin, for example, it still sits on its target allocation of 15 per cent of the portfolio. If the same calculation is done for equities, they sit just above their target, at 77 per cent, and have drifted higher since early last year. Over the past months my position has been to take no portfolio balancing actions based purely on the volatile value of Bitcoin over time, and this remains my approach. There is no perfect answer to this issue - assigning no value to Bitcoin and ignoring it for asset allocation purposes is inconsistent with its role in the portfolio. Pushing either equity or bond allocations sharply out of target boundaries merely due to short-term Bitcoin movements is also not warranted. Taking a backcast 'moving average' approach might be one statistical solution, but I am not yet convinced it would do more than moderate the appearance of the issue. While expenditure has been higher over the holiday period, on average the gap between the rolling three-year average of distributions and credit card expenditure continues to close, and sits at just over a $300 per month gap at present. Flags of convenience - estimating hedging in the portfolio This month, out of a curiosity carried over from my recent review of my bond holdings, I have found the time to review of the overall currency hedging position of the portfolio. There are some excellent online research papers (pdf) and blog pieces, such as this one from Passive Investing Australia, for those interested in learning more about some of the associated issues. Currency risks have never previously been an object of much detailed thought on the journey. Rather, I had tracked a basic measure of broader exposure to foreign assets (including foreign equities, property securities, gold and more recently Bitcoin). The additional issue of whether my exposure to these assets was unhedged (meaning exposure to gains and losses from the relative movement in the Australian dollar and the foreign currencies) or hedged was not really front of mind. I suppose I had a dim awareness that some elements of the Vanguard retail funds that have until recently dominated the portfolio were hedged (for example, around 30 per cent of the Vanguard High Growth Diversified funds equity position is currency hedged), and judged that there was likely a well-considered rationale behind the amount of this hedging. The first step to understanding where any exposures exist is to understand and measure the current state of affairs. As of today, this is broadly as set out below:
Around 35 per cent of all portfolio assets are effectively unhedged - This includes Bitcoin, unhedged gold holdings, and unhedged international equities and bonds. All other things being equal, if the Australian dollar falls, the value of this part of the portfolio rises in relative terms.
The remaining 65 per cent of assets are either hedged or Australian-held assets - This includes Australian equities, Australian bonds, as well as international equities and bonds hedged back to the Australian dollar.
International equities are partially hedged - The portfolio has around $525 000 in international equities currently. Of this, around $140 000 is hedged back into Australian dollars - a hedging position of 27 per cent.
International bonds are nearly fully hedged - consistent with their portfolio role and discussed here.
The decision to invest in Vanguard's International Shares ETF (VGS), which is unhedged, is a significant event in this regard. The chart below shows the overall level of currency hedging in the international equity portfolio. Investments in VGS commenced from July 2019, and have started to affect the level of hedging. [Chart] As future contributions flow into VGS - absent any other action - a historically quite stable level of hedging will continue to fall. So far this is just a trend I am monitoring, until I have completed more research and thinking on the best approach in this area. There are many complicated, and some unknowable, issues to consider and balance in hedging decisions, such as the likely denomination of future costs, and the historical and future relationships between domestic currencies and equity markets. None avail themselves of short or easy answers. Until I have thought my way through them more fully, I remain hesitant to make any definitive decisions. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio Objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 85.2% 115.9% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 103.9% 141.4% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 83.3% 113.3% Summary This month has seen rapid progress, propelling the portfolio closer to both old and new goals. The portfolio gains this month have already closed nearly half of the additional distance created by increasing my portfolio target at the beginning of the year. The psychological forward push from distributions performance across 2019 (including, pleasingly, seeing it recognised here) has added to this sense of momentum. Additionally, this month I have also crossed the threshold to the target portfolio size needed to achieve 'credit card FI', a long-standing measure I have tracked. The long summer break that has just ended in some ways seemed like a foretaste of what some versions of financial independence could feel like. With the minimum of planning there was time to read, rest, exercise and write largely as I pleased. Returning to work following this has been infused with an unusual sense of being a temporary visitor in a new workplace. There is a greater philosophical detachment, in observing its rituals and rhythms, and less of a desire to seek to shape or resist its minutiae. Rather, what I have focused on is seeking to more deliberately make use of the freedoms it does not constrain, and pursue the best and most interesting use of the time that is outside of work hours. Through these recent strong Australian and US equity markets, this article has been a useful reminder of the 'survivorship' risks of focusing a FI target too narrowly on past performance. This excellent recent piece from Aussie HIFIRE has also, from another direction, usefully focused on separating out the decisions that do, and do not, materially matter in planning and executing on a passive indexing strategy over the long-term. For a challenging and entirely heterodox view on the potential long-term movement of equity markets upwards from here, this article has been thought-provoking. Finally, this month I have been discovering the Jolly Swagman podcast, which has long and fascinating interviews with the ex-head of the Reserve Bank of Australia, and Nobel Prize winning US economist Robert Shiller speaking on bubbles and narrative economics. During the long restful hours of summer break, the day has advanced. Though clouds may come in time, as the year starts - at least - the way forward looks bright. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
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