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1  Economy / Economics / Re: The Decline and Fall of the European Union on: January 22, 2019, 11:12:25 AM
There may be many direct parallels between the european union and social security in the USA.

Americans have spent the last 5+ decades discussing how social security will fail. The debate is so old, many believe social security will never fail simply because it hasn't happened yet although people have said it will happen for a long time. The basic fundamentals suggest social security is structured poorly in a way that is intrinsically unsustainable. Everytime this harsh reality emerges, and the program becomes insolvent, the state hikes taxes to make the program feasible again. Inevitably sometime in the future we will reach a point where it becomes infeasible to hike taxes further, the program will become unsustainable and collapse. This negative analysis applies to many nation's of the world whose respective governments adopt a pseudo science stance expecting high population growth coupled with expected tax revenue growth as a means to support pension and retirement programs like social security ad infinitum.

They don't name or address any of the real problems. They simply assume if global populations continue to grow @ a high rate, we'll reach a point where successive generations outnumber existing generations enough to cover the insolvency of pension programs like ss. This faulty analysis is further compounded by the potential for machines and robots to kill jobs and further reduce the tax collection potential of individuals to cover the widening wealth gap of pensions.

In terms of fundamental mechanics, many of the negative issues associated with the european union and social security stem from a hard insistence that none of the systemic flaws present should ever be named or addressed.

The european union suffers from a simple systemic flaw: rather than fixing economies or basic problems which contribute to economies being in dire straits, they rely perpetually on bailouts. Wealthy EU nations like great britain perpetually bailout the economies of weaker nation's like greece. None of the real problems ever get fixed. Countries with weak economies drag countries with stronger economies down with them, until eventually everyone is living in poverty.

It might be said that social security and the european union are both ticking economic timebombs. No one can be certain of the date or time these programs will explode causing widespread panic and disorder. But due to the inherent unsustainability of both, it may be inevitable that both will reach insolvency and collapse @ some point in time.
2  Economy / Economics / Do internet blackouts highlight a potentially fatal flaw in cashless societies on: January 22, 2019, 10:55:41 AM
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The rise in internet blackouts shows that the internet is becoming more centralized—and increasingly vulnerable to manipulation.

On the first day of the new year, the Democratic Republic of Congo cut internet connections and SMS services nationwide—for the second day in a row. The reason? To avoid the “chaos” that might result from its presidential election results. Not even a week later, on Jan. 7, Gabon’s government did the same after an attempted coup. On Tuesday, Zimbabwe cut off social media and internet access. The government restored much of the internet Wednesday but kept a WhatsApp ban in place. And it’s unlikely that these will be the last “internet blackouts” we hear about over the coming months. (All three of these incidents, ironically, took place after I outlined this piece.)

In fact, we’ll likely see a rise in internet blackouts in 2019, for two reasons: countries deliberately “turning off” the internet within their borders, and hackers disrupting segments of the internet with distributed denial-of-service attacks. Above all, both will force policymakers everywhere to reckon with the fact that the internet itself is increasingly becoming centralized—and therefore increasingly vulnerable to manipulation, making everyone less safe.

The first method—states deliberately severing internet connections within their country—has an important history. In 2004, the Maldivian government caused an internet blackout when citizens protested the president; Nepal similarly caused a blackout shortly thereafter. In 2007, the government of Myanmar apparently damaged an underwater internet cable in order to “staunch [sic] the flow of pictures and messages from protesters reaching the outside world.” In 2011, Egypt cut most internet and cell services within its borders as the government attempted to quell protests against then-President Hosni Mubarak. Libya then did the same after its own unrest. In 2014, Syria had a major internet outage amid its civil war. In 2018, Mauritania was taken offline entirely for two days when undersea submarine internet cables were cut, which was around the same time Sierra Leone’s government may have imposed an internet blackout in the same region.

When we think about terms like cyberspace and internet, it can be tempting to associate them with vague notions of a digital world we can’t touch. And while this is perhaps useful in some contexts, this line of thinking forgets the very real wires, servers, and other hardware that form the architecture of the internet. If these physical elements cease to function, from a cut wire to a storm-damaged server farm, the internet is affected, too. More than that, if a single entity controls—or can at least access—that hardware for a region or an entire country, government-caused internet blackouts are a tempting method of censorship and social control.

Which is to say: As countries around the world tighten control of the internet within their borders, we can expect to see some governments with relatively centralized internets—particularly authoritarians or those with authoritarian leanings—literally disconnect their domestic internet networks from the rest of the globe during unrest or other incidents.

As for the second method, we can expect a rise in distributed denial of service attacks against internet infrastructure as millions of wildly insecure Internet of Things devices—from smart thermostats to water-pressure sensors—are linked online. As many studies have documented, IoT devices typically have terrible security features, such as basic passwords and minimal encryption. Put another way, they’re not hard to hack. So, by compromising these devices en masse and turning them into a “botnet” army, hackers can completely overwhelm segments of the internet, channeling traffic to a single service until it’s overwhelmed and can no longer function.

If that sounds far-fetched, recall what happened in 2016, when the Mirai botnet took over hundreds of thousands of IoT devices, spread across multiple continents, and used them to flood traffic to the servers of the American internet company Dyn. At the time, it was the largest known DDoS attack on Earth; Twitter, Spotify, SoundCloud, Reddit, and a number of other sites were temporarily unavailable as a result. In other words, Mirai effectively took down part of the American internet.

Democratic governments in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere typically don’t exert control over major internet gateways or servers. It’d therefore be quite unlikely for them to cause a partial internet blackout themselves. Add to this the fact that the internet in the United States isn’t as centralized as it is in other countries, and it becomes clear why it’s harder to control all its major gateways to the global network at once, like Egypt did in 2011.

But even if a government can’t easily disconnect its whole country from the worldwide internet, Mirai demonstrated just how effectively third-party malicious actors can take down segments of a country’s internet.

In principle, policymakers have long argued that neither of the aforementioned scenarios were possible due largely to the internet’s decentralization. More and more, though, the internet has become centralized in countries where the government has controlled the buildout of infrastructure and where there’s little market competition for internet services. Even in countries with better market competition for internet services and with less government control of infrastructure, there are still pockets that remain centralized and vulnerable—as demonstrated by the Mirai botnet attack against Dyn.

All this matters for a few reasons. For one, democratic policymakers, in particular, will have to think more about cyber norms in the context of internet manipulation (i.e., disconnecting your country from the global network), not just offensive cyberoperations (i.e., hacking into another nation’s computer systems). Several events in 2018 already made this fact clear, like when American internet traffic was once again routed through China and Russia and underscored the vulnerability of core internet functions to manipulation. A sovereign and controlled model of the internet is spreading, and democracies must effectively fight it through, among other things, norms on and around the internet.

Two, the rising threat of botnets will create more pressure within the United States to generate technical standards for smart devices. Currently, there exist virtually no consensus rules for “minimum security” on these devices, which means that many industry organizations and government agencies are using IoT systems that have terrible security; this not only poses vulnerability to connected infrastructure systems and opens wearable-wearing government personnel to real-time GPS tracking, but it also means that the IoT market is flooded with devices that can be easily hijacked in service of DDoS attacks. Building these standards will give companies and government agencies guidance in building and acquiring smart devices, which in turn will bolster their security.

Finally, countries will have to take greater international action against botnets as a cybersecurity threat. As Jason Healey and Robert K. Knake wrote in a recent Council on Foreign Relations report, DDoS attacks via scores of hijacked smart devices can “cause serious harm by allowing foreign governments to stifle free speech abroad and enabling them to shut down countries’ domestic networks or even the internet globally.” Further, explains a report from the Council to Secure the Digital Economy, these incidents undermine “fundamental confidence and trust in the digital economy”—which depends on reliable availability and performance of internet services.

So, whether national or regional, caused by governments or hackers, internet blackouts are likely going to increase in frequency over the coming months, and their harms will take many forms. But recent hacks, a history of internet disconnections around the world, and an even longer history of distributed denial of service attacks, collectively, give us a sign of what’s to come. Policymakers would be wise to pay attention.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/01/internet-blackouts-government-drc-zimbabwe-gabon.html

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This could highlight one key reason why paper money might never disappear: consumers and businesses need an alternate currency to serve as a last resort in the event of the internet being compromised or shut down. Even a few hours lapse in electronic payment availability could be disastrous for the economy of a nation. Uptime and reliability of paper money carries a potential to rival any purported advantages people associate with a cashless society.

We've all read countless threads and posts on crypto forums posing the question: "when will bitcoin replace paper money". While mainstream bitcoin adoption could benefit many of us HODL'ers the answer to this question could be: never. Electronic currencies may never be 100% reliable or guaranteed availability around the clock. They are vulnerable to disruptions in service which could carry catastrophic consequences.

If supporters of cashless societies disagree with this base assessment, I would be curious to hear their reasons.
3  Economy / Economics / US academics say their shardy blockchain will be 10X faster than Visa on: January 21, 2019, 09:56:17 AM
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US academics are working together to create a new and improved cryptocurrency in a bid to rival Bitcoin.

According to Bloomberg, professors from seven US colleges (including MIT, University of California, Standford University, and Berkely) are looking to create a digital currency capable of processing thousands of transactions a second without sacrificing the basic principle of decentralization.

The project is run by Distributed Technology Research (DTR), a non-profit organization established by academics with support from Pantera Capital Management LP to develop decentralized technologies.

Unit-e, the digital currency currently in the works, is the DTR’s first initiative.


Bitcoin’s problems
Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology’s processing capability is limited by an average block creation time of 10 minutes, and the block size limit. Despite various proposed and active solutions, Bitcoin’s transaction processing capacity is estimated to be between 3.3 and 7 transactions per second. In contrast, Ethereum is able to support 10 to 30 transactions per second.

Despite the emergence of many altcoins over the years, Bitcoin is credited with being the first digital currency and trustless peer-to-peer payment network. It’s built up somewhat of a cult following among anarchists, developers, and speculators but has failed to gain mainstream adoption.

Joey Krug, co-chief investment officer at Pantera Capital in San Francisco and a member of the DTR council, told Bloomberg:

Quote
The mainstream public is aware that these networks don’t scale. We are on the cusp of something where if this doesn’t scale relatively soon, it may be relegated to ideas that were nice but didn’t work in practice: more like 3D printing than the internet.

Conscious that they’re up against a complex issue, the academics working on Unit-e are leveraging new instruments for reaching consensus.

They are relying on sharding – a process used to ensure that each node will only hold a part of the data on the blockchain, and not the entire set of information – and new payment channel networks to increase speed.

Pramod Viswanath, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign working on the project, said:

Quote
Bitcoin has shown us that distributed trust is possible but it’s just not scaling at a dimension that could make it a truly global everyday money. It was a breakthrough that has the capacity to change human lives but that won’t happen unless the technology can be scaled up.

Unit-e is expected to launch in the second half of this year and its proponents hope it will be able to process as many as 10,000 transactions per second, which far surpasses Visa’s capability to process around 1,700.

https://www.itechnologyupdates.com/us-academics-say-their-shardy-blockchain-will-be-10x-faster-than-visa.html

....

Here we have yet another ambitious blockchain startup claiming to have solved the "scaling" issue!

Will their claims pan out in terms of producing a viable real world application with tangible advantages over existing infrastructure or platforms? We will see!

I haven't looked into "sharding processes" and have no idea what they are or whether they could conceivably be utilized to produce a crypto currency with a transaction per second rate superior to credit cards. The concept originates from a consortium of college professors which could give it a little more credibility than the average ICO being promoted by Floyd Mayweather. Its nice to see crypto may still has some excitement to offer.

They're claiming an upper theoretical limit of 10,000 transactions per second, we can see if it pans out.
4  Economy / Economics / Russia Prepares To Buy Up To $10 Billion In Bitcoin To Evade US Sanctions on: January 16, 2019, 03:03:39 AM
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While the market has been increasingly focused on the rising headwinds in the global economy in general, and China's economic slowdown in particular, while the media is obsessing over daily revelations that Trump may or may not have colluded with Russia to get elected, a far more critical, if underreported, shift has been taking place over the past year.

As we reported in June, whether due to concerns over draconian western sanctions and asset confiscations following the poisoning of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal, or simply because it wanted to diversify away from the dollar, Russia liquidated virtually all of its Treasury holdings in the late spring and early summer, in the process sparking a major repricing of the 10Y US Treasury, whose yield jumped from 2.70% at the start of April to a high of 3.10% in May, a move which economists were struggling to explain at the time.

The obvious next question is what did Russia do with the proceeds, and it came as little surprise that, as we wrote back in July, as Russia was selling nearly $100BN worth of Treasurys, it was aggressively buying gold.

In addition to gold, the Kremlin also instructed the Russian finance ministry to load up on Yuan, something which we noted at the end of September, when we showed the surge in reserves allocated to the Chinese Yuan.

As part of its reallocation away from the dollar, Russia also bought a substantial amount of other non-USD currencies, and according to a recent report, the money pulled from the dollar reserves was redistributed to increase the share of the euro to 32%, the yuan to 14.7%, and another 14.7% of the portfolio was invested in other currencies, including the British pound (6.3%), Japanese yen (4.5%), as well as Canadian (2.3%) and Australian (1%) dollars.

And now, the final missing piece of Russia's massive capital reallocation out of the petrodollars has emerged, after the Telegraph reported that Moscow is preparing an investment in Bitcoin in a bid to tackle US sanctions, according to a Russian economist with close ties to the Kremlin.


According to Vladislav Ginko, an economist at the state-funded Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, the government is taking steps to minimize the impact of US sanctions that have hit the Russian rouble by replacing some of its US dollar reserves with the world’s most popular cryptocurrency.

Quoted by The Telegraph, Ginko said he believes Russia’s de-dollarization decision is fundamentally a move to "protect its national interests" due to a possible interruption of “US nominated payments flows for Russian oil and gas” and claims that the investment in bitcoin could be as much as $10bn (£7.8bn); a material enough amount to send the price of bitcoin sharply higher.

When would Russia's next capital reallocation take place? According to the Russian economist, the purchases could start as soon as next month.
Cryptocurrencies have seen a surge of interest in Russia, where President Putin has expressed an interest in the digital assets in recent months. Ginko believes Bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency industry now account for 8% of Russia’s GDP, and investment to bolster the country’s reserves with Bitcoin could start as soon as February.

“[The] Russian government is about to make a step to start diversifying financial reserves into Bitcoin since Russia [is] forced by US sanctions to dump US Treasury bonds and [take] back US dollars,” Ginko said.

“These sanctions and the will to adopt modern financial technologies lead Russia to the way of investing its reserves into Bitcoin.”

While the Central Bank of Russia has yet to confirm or deny the report and has yet to publish official plans, it said in a statement to The Daily Telegraph that it "publishes information on the foreign assets management with a six-month lag". As noted above, an asset reallocation would be expected by a country which has been aggressively de-dollarizing  by boosting its holdings of the euro, Chinese renminbi and Japanese yen.

Speaking to The Telegraph, eToro senior market analyst Mati Greenspan said that there is “definitely an interest from the [Russian] government to do this”.

What is most surprising is the sheer size of Russia's proposed reallocation: the alleged plan to invest in the digital asset would see the state acquire almost a sixth of the world’s Bitcoin float, though since the buy order would push the price and valuation sharply higher, that would reduce Russia's purchasing power.

Furthermore, since the Russian government would be unable to open an account with an exchange to buy cryptocurrencies, any investment plans could involve the setup of an “intermediary cryptocurrency” that can then be exchanged for Bitcoin. The new cryptocurrency would have to be offered by a broker such as Sberbank, a state-owned bank, and would act as what’s known as a utility token.

“The proposal that I understand is on the desk of the finance minister at the moment is to create some sort of intermediary cryptocurrency,” Greenspan said.

Putin has been a fan of cryptos for years, after he personally met with Vitalik Buterin, the 24-year-old Russian founder of cryptocurrency Ethereum in 2017 to discuss possibilities in the sector, and has also met personally with the Ethereum head in recent months according to The Telegraph.

“We know that Vladimir Putin is a big advocate of blockchain technology,” said Greenspan.


“Obviously he doesn’t like the sanctions that have been placed on him and he’s already said that these types of sanctions are going to lead to de-dollarisation. This is more or less the direction the Russian government is going.”

News of the potential Russian reallocation provided a sharp boost in crypto prices this morning, which have resumed their drift in the past week after bitcoin once again dipped below $4000 with many experts, the same ones who never anticipated bitcoin could reach $20,000 in December 2017, predicting that the crypto space is doomed.

If Putin indeed plans on buying up nearly 20% of the outstanding bitcoin float, not only will reports of bitcoin's imminent death prove to be greatly exaggerated, but should the market attempt to frontrun Russia and/or should the total float shrink dramatically, the third, and biggest cryptobubble yet is about to be unleashed, something which will likely be facilitated by Chinese capital outflows which as we reported earlier, appear to have returned, just as they did shortly before bitcoin exploded from $200 to $20,000.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-14/russia-prepares-buy-10-billion-bitcoin-evade-us-sanctions

....

For those who don't want to read the source, the gist of the story says russia sold off a massive stake of its US treasury holdings in 2018. With the capital raised from the sale, they bought gold, yuan, euro and may seek to purchase bitcoin. According to sources russia may be poised to purchase as much as $10 billion dollars in bitcoin starting in february of 2019.

If this is true we could see a respectable appreciation in the value of bitcoin and crypto currencies starting from february onwards. I hope publishing this news story helps zerohedge to shed the negative reputation it has earned for reporting on crypto news.

And I really hope this story pans out. It would be nice to see people excited and enthusiastic about crypto again.
5  Economy / Gambling discussion / Re: UFC Fight Night 143 on: January 11, 2019, 02:14:41 AM
John Lineker and Ion Cutelaba are both rumored to be out of their respective fights, with replacements being sought, according to Ariel Helwani:

https://twitter.com/arielhelwani/status/1083505158531792897

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Notes~

-Rachael Ostovich recently became estranged from her husband after he attacked her and put her in the hospital with a fractured orbital and assorted injuries. There's an audio recording of the incident on youtube. Not certain if that will affect her ability to compete but it could be a factor and part of the reason she opened as a betting underdog.

-Greg Hardy is a former NFL star making his UFC debut. He was featured on Dana White's Contender series twice and won both of his fights very quickly inside the 1st round via KO. He has good eyes and reflexes and his athleticism is great. It remains to be seen how far he can go with him not having as much experience as other MMA fighters. There's a chance Greg Hardy could go far due to heavyweight being a shallow division.

-Gregor Gillespie is a standout wrestler, Yancy could have a tough time if he can't stop Gillespie's takedowns. Some of Gillespie's credentials:

Quote
Gillespie attended Webster Schroeder High School where he was a standout in wrestling, winning two state titles. He continued wrestling for Edinboro University, where he was a four-time NCAA Division I All-American and won a national championship in 2007. He was the first true freshman All-American in school history, and also holds the school record for most career wins (152), most wins as a freshman (40), and highest winning percentage (.917).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregor_Gillespie#Background
6  Economy / Gambling discussion / Re: How much capital I need to be the House on: January 10, 2019, 11:51:28 PM
I've gambled recreationally over the last 8 or so years. Its a competitive industry where larger and more established gambling firms often hold considerable advantages over small and relatively unknown operations. There are also many underground gambling operations, which have ties to organized crime. Running a gambling business, these types of people would be your competition and you would vy against them for market share.

From a consumer's perspective, its not necessarily so much about start up capital. A person could conceivably run a gambling op with a low betting minimum of 0.00001 bitcoin and not need a lot of capital to sustain business.

I think that it is a competitive industry and people tend to forget success or failure can hinge upon how innovative or value intensive their end product is. Starting a business is like deciding one fine day to build and sell mousetraps. If you have a better mousetrap that makes things easier. But if your mousetrap is like everyone else's, your competition will often have many advantages and the luxury of experience which can be significant obstacles to overcome.
7  Economy / Economics / Re: When the tide goes out on: January 02, 2019, 05:07:28 PM
Bear market is kind of an eye-opener for you and reality check for your investment decisions

And this is the whole thing. Bear market allows you not only to see where your investments are going

....

Interestingly, we have little indication of a bear market. All economic and business metrics appear positive and hint at growth.

What we're seeing with the DOW is a massive dump by whales, executives and major stock holders. It could be coordinated and hint @ market manipulation.

These questions are difficult to answer. Especially for someone like me who hasn't paid much attention to markets for a long time and is constantly surprised at the low standards of information available.
8  Economy / Economics / Re: UBS Director Blames Trump White House for Dow Jones Sell-Off on: January 02, 2019, 04:53:54 PM
AFAIK the reason behind the decline involves CEO's and executives dumping their holdings in record numbers. Whenever there are significantly greater sellers in relation to proportion of buyers we see massive declines via fundamental market mechanics. The motive behind selling can be attributable to the federal reserve wanting to raise rates. It could be an organized attempt to pressure Donald Trump to abandon his trade and intellectual property disputes with china.

Blaming Trump for everything is too oversimplified and generalized an explanation. That answer will satisfy those who aren't knowledgeable and don't care about details. Its another indication of how journalism's standards have deteriorated over time and how the news can be an unreliable source of information.
9  Economy / Economics / Malaysia seeks $7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman Sachs on: December 24, 2018, 11:21:59 AM
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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia is seeking $7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) over its dealings with scandal-linked state fund 1MDB, the Financial Times (FT) reported on Friday, citing the finance minister.

Separately, Bloomberg reported that Singapore had expanded its criminal investigation of 1MDB to include Goldman Sachs, in a sign of increasing scrutiny of the bank’s role in the suspected multi-billion-dollar money laundering scheme.


Malaysian prosecutors this week filed charges against Goldman Sachs in connection with its role as underwriter and arranger of three bond sales that raised $6.5 billion for 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the first criminal action against the U.S. bank over the scandal.

Goldman Sachs has consistently denied wrongdoing and said certain members of the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to the bank about the proceeds of the bond sales.

In addition to the bonds’ total value, Goldman Sachs should also return $1 billion to cover $600 million in fees paid to the bank and bond coupons that were “higher than the market rate”, the FT quoted Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng as saying.

Lim also told the FT that reparations should at least be more than $1.8 billion, the sum Goldman Sachs has told investors it had set aside to cover potential losses related to 1MDB legal proceedings.

“Their figure is $1.8 billion. Ours is $7.5 billion,” Lim said.

Malaysia is not currently negotiating with Goldman, but charges filed on Monday could bring the bank to the table, Lim said.

A view of the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
In an emailed response to Reuters, a Goldman Sachs spokesman said the bank intended to “vigorously contest these charges”.

“The 1MDB bond offerings were meant to raise money to benefit Malaysia; instead, a huge portion of those funds were stolen for the benefit of members of the Malaysian government and their associates,” the spokesman said.

“Certain members of that government and 1MDB lied to Goldman about the use of proceeds from these transactions.”

Critics have said the fees earned by Goldman Sachs were far in excess of the normal 1-2 percent a bank could expect for helping sell bonds.

Goldman has said the outsized fees related to additional risks: it bought the unrated bonds while it sought investors and, in the case of a 2013 bond deal which raised $2.7 billion, 1MDB wanted the funds quickly.

Malaysia has sought jail terms and billions in fines from Goldman Sachs and four individuals who allegedly misappropriated about $2.7 billion from the 1MDB bond proceeds.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that a total of about $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB and used to buy, among others, real estate in London and New York, expensive jewelry and artwork, and a private jet.

EXPANDED INVESTIGATION
Bloomberg, citing unidentified sources, reported that Singapore has expanded a criminal investigation into fund flows linked to 1MDB to include Goldman Sachs.

Authorities in Singapore were trying to determine whether some of the $600 million in fees that Goldman earned from the three bond deals flowed to the Singapore subsidiary, the news agency said.

In response to the report, the Singapore police said their criminal investigation into entities involved in 1MDB-related offence in Singapore had been going on since 2015. They did not comment further.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs said in a statement: “The firm continues to cooperate with all authorities investigating this matter.”

Goldman Sachs (Singapore) PTE was one of the three units charged by Malaysia this week.

Shares of the U.S. investment bank fell to a two-year low this week after Malaysia filed the charges.

Two former Goldman Sachs bankers, Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, have been charged by Malaysia and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Singapore has banned Leissner, the bank’s former Southeast Asia chairman, from its securities industry for life after he pleaded guilty in the United States for conspiring to launder 1MDB money and violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The United States is also seeking extradition of Ng, who has been detained in Malaysia.


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-politics-1mdb-goldman/malaysia-seeks-7-5-billion-in-reparations-from-goldman-sachs-ft-idUSKCN1OK0GU

....

There has been a noticeable uptick in billion dollar lawsuits against tech giants and banks.

As deficits rise and states seek new streams of revenue to avoid cost cutting measures or more responsible spending, it is possible this precedent of fining the private sector will grow.

This case could represent a breakdown between private and public sectors where you have goldman sachs blaming the government and public sector for corruption and the government in turn blaming goldman sachs and the private sector. These two factions have done a good job of coordinating and cooperating in the past. But with the tendency of politicians to push anti-capitalist sentiment, it is possible we'll witness a departure from this in the future.
10  Economy / Gambling discussion / Re: UFC 232: Jones vs Gustafsson 2 Prediction and Info Thread on: December 24, 2018, 09:54:37 AM
Update: Jon Jones tested positive for steroids. This UFC event is being moved from Las Vegas to california due to the nevada state athletic commission declining to license Jon Jones to fight @ the event.

Its been said by USADA that Jon Jones positive steroid test represents the same steroids that were in his body the last time he tested positive. His system hasn't completely cleansed itself of the steroids yet.

I can't believe this is happening. So much drama surrounding Jon Jones. Always.
11  Economy / Economics / Re: How cash is becoming a thing of the past | DW Documentary (Banking documentary) on: December 22, 2018, 09:55:35 AM
There is no real incentive to adopt a cashless society outside of a pro centralization marketing campaign. Paper money will always be more efficient, a preferable payment system, in contrast to cashless transactions under some circumstances.

Cash will always be better and preferred for purchasing weed, drugs, tipping waiters and strippers. It will always be preferred for the unbanked and poorer demographics which cannot afford the minimum balance on a bank account or lack the personal documents necessary to get an ID. Some countries boast 15% and higher demographics of their entire population who lack access to electronic payment methods.

The proof of what I'm saying can be seen in china where their government recently made it illegal for anyone to refuse paper money for fear it could decrease confidence in currency issued by their central bank. There are countries like sweden who heavily favor a transition to a cashless society but I tend to think those who support those types of measures aren't necessarily the smartest people you will ever come across. Moreso the opposite.
12  Economy / Economics / Facebook Is Developing a Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp Transfers, Sources Say on: December 22, 2018, 09:40:37 AM
Quote
Facebook Inc. is working on making a cryptocurrency that will let users transfer money on its WhatsApp messaging app, focusing first on the remittances market in India, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is developing a stablecoin
-- a type of digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar -- to minimize volatility, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal plans. Facebook is far from releasing the coin, because it’s still working on the strategy, including a plan for custody assets, or regular currencies that would be held to protect the value of the stablecoin, the people said.

Facebook has long been expected to make a move in financial services, after hiring former PayPal president David Marcus to run its Messenger app in 2014. In May, Marcus became the head of the company’s blockchain initiatives, which haven’t been discussed publicly in detail. Facebook has been on a hiring spree, and now has about 40 people in its blockchain group, according to employee titles on LinkedIn.

"Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology," a company spokesman said in a statement. "This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share."

WhatsApp, the company’s encrypted mobile-messaging app, is popular in India, with more than 200 million users. The country also leads the world in remittances -- people sent $69 billion home to India in 2017, the World Bank said this year.


The past year has seen a boom in crypto projects related to stablecoins. At one point, there were more than 120 ventures related to this theme, according to Stable.Report, a website that tracks stable tokens. The concept was created to create a digital coin that would be far easier to use on daily purchases because it would be more stable than currencies like Bitcoin.

The idea has proven tough to carry out in real life, with at least one high-profile project shuttered in recent weeks. A stablecoin known as Basis recently closed after eight months. The Hoboken, New Jersey-based company said there was no apparent way around being classified as a security as opposed to a currency, which could significantly reduce the number of potential buyers. The swift collapse came after Basis drew well-known backers like Andreessen Horowitz and Kevin Warsh, a former governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Perhaps the most high-profile stablecoin to date, Tether, has also been surrounded by controversy. While Tether’s creators say each of its tokens is backed by one U.S. dollar, the company’s refusal to be audited has raised questions about whether that’s the case.

Facebook, which has 2.5 billion global users, more than $40 billion in annual revenue and greater experience navigating regulatory issues, may have a better chance of making a stablecoin that sticks. It would be the first large technology company to launch such a project. The company’s relationship with India has been fraught, mainly because some instances of fake news spread through WhatsApp have led to violence there. Still, Facebook sees tremendous growth opportunity in the country. India has 480 million internet users, second only to China. That number is projected to grow to 737 million by 2022, according to Forrester Research Inc.

....

More news from anonymous sources, which may or may not pan out.   Smiley

Facebook may be using this announcement as a publicity stunt in an effort to artificially inflate the value of its stock which has dwindled in recent times. Mark Zuckenberg came under fire earlier this year for facebook sharing end user data against ethical guidelines. Facebook's declining value could be a result of trust issues. Its an open question as to whether people retain trust in facebook sufficient for them to rollout a stablecoin or blockchain based solution for payment processors.

That said could this be an indication of how far blockchain and crypto currencies have progressed being that large tech giants now view them as being a viable prospect and platform for future growth.

edit link:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-21/facebook-is-said-to-develop-stablecoin-for-whatsapp-transfers
13  Economy / Gambling discussion / Re: UFC 232: Jones vs Gustafsson 2 Prediction and Info Thread on: December 22, 2018, 01:39:34 AM
Maybe he was too inexperienced in the first fight and don't know how to phased himself that's why he run out of gas. He is also throwing uppercuts with the Jones fight but he was not hitting squarely because Jones keeps moving as opposed to Glover just standing with no head movements. That's why his uppercut is very evident on that fight. I remember he hits Glover 3 or 4 successively, Teixeira is a stationary target.

Here are highlights from Gustafsson's fight with Glover Teixeira.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWVdOq_5zZs

Gustafsson's punches seem to land with more impact and force than they did earlier in his career when he fought Jon Jones. You can actually see Glover Teixeira's head snap back from the force of the punches, which mostly glanced off Jon Jones head as they lacked the same type of commitment or body weight behind them.

I re-watched the 1st fight between Jones and Gustaf from the link tokeweed posted above. The kicks to the body Jones landed and the spinning elbows could be what caused Gustafsson to tire.

Those are the impressions I get. Feel free to agree/disagree.

@Kemrait. What is phased?

@Hydrogen. Jon Jones also has improved his boxing. I reckon the biggest difference between his fights from before and the fight next week will be his hands. They will be faster, stronger and they will hit their targets.

My prediction is a doctor's stoppage on the 5th round because Alexander Gustaffson's eyes are closed shut courtesy of Jon Jones' boxing hehehe.

I think Kemarit meant to type "pace himself" instead of "phased himself".

Don't know if Jones has improved his boxing. He does most of his damage with kicks and spinning elbows. He's never inflicted serious damage with punches in a fight that I know of.
14  Economy / Gambling discussion / Re: UFC 232: Jones vs Gustafsson 2 Prediction and Info Thread on: December 21, 2018, 08:44:53 AM
@Hydrogen  - I don't see any improvement though after Gus first fight with Jones. It will be close again, but not that razor thin we have seen in the previous fight. I wouldn't say that Jones will dominant Gus but it's going to be a clear win for him.


If you want specifics, I think Alexander Gustafsson's cardio has improved since his first fight with Jon Jones. Gustafsson got tired and faded in rounds 4 and 5. This allowed Jones to mount a comeback in the championship rounds and make a case for him ultimately winning the fight. I don't think Gustafsson will get tired or fade in the rematch the way he did in the 1st fight.

Gustafsson's boxing also seems improved. The uppercuts he hit Glover Teixeira with were better than what he showed earlier in his career. If I'm remembering right, Gustafsson may have trained his boxing with the Klitschko brothers before his 1st fight with Jones. Not certain who his kickboxing coach is @ this point in time but it does seem as if his hands are sharper.

In mixed martial arts, everyone is improving, evolving and getting better over time. There are many old champions like Ben Henderson, Renan Barao, BJ Penn who failed to keep up and were left behind. Jon Jones has beaten the odds thus far. He has been able to get away with a lot of things the average MMA fighters couldn't get away with due to his exceptional athleticism. But there could come a time when active fighters like Alexander Gustafsson will continue to improve to a point where the gap between them and the Jon Jones of the world shrinks noticeably.
15  Economy / Economics / Re: Fake Crypto News Of The Day: "Why Neo-Nazis Love Bitcoin" on: December 21, 2018, 02:00:01 AM
It seems the main reason bitcoin is receiving criticism for this is because people are using it as a substitute for crowdfunding platforms like patreon, gofundme, etc.

Bitcoin allows them to avoid being completely banned by whatever centralized powers want to ban demographics with certain views and opinions.

Bitcoin isn't "bad" due to its technology or its userbase. Its deemed a negative as it can't be controlled by those with an agenda. It can't be controlled the way patreon, gofundme or paypal can. Where they can easily ban anyone who doesn't fit their narrative for the future and deny them what could be a basic right to having the type of financial freedom others enjoy.

At some point people will have to decide whether they should have the freedom to form their own thoughts and opinions or whether they should forfeit this right and allow others to do all of their thinking for them. There isn't much point in having a brain, if people won't bother using it.
16  Economy / Economics / Fake Crypto News Of The Day: "Why Neo-Nazis Love Bitcoin" on: December 20, 2018, 08:57:12 AM
Quote
For extremists, deregulated cryptocurrencies are a potent political statement as much as a means to fund their activities

The bitcoin battle is about to go up to a new level: the G20. Last week France and Germany announced that they would propose, at the March summit, a concerted clampdown on the cryptocurrency that is dividing the world.

In the global dispute about the future of the digital currency experiment some unlikely coalitions have taken shape: who would have thought that bankers and environmental activists would join forces one day? While the former seek to preserve the financial system, the latter want to protect the ecosystem. Even more obscure is the conglomerate of cryptocurrency enthusiasts fighting side by side to keep the bitcoin experiment alive: libertarians invest in their vision, speculators in their wallets, and criminals out of necessity.

As so often, when two quarrel a third rejoices: in the shadow of the bitcoin craze, extremist groups around the world have capitalised massively on the exponential rise in the value of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoins have enabled them to raise, transfer and spend money – “at a speed that I’ve never seen“, Heidi Beirich, the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, told me. She has been monitoring more than 200 “alt-right” bitcoin wallets, finding that “some folks are getting straight off rich from their bitcoin accounts, which will fuel their ugly activities”.

Similarly, pro-Islamic State groups have managed to fund their activities from their bitcoin revenues. For example, a German jihadist Telegram channel that trains its members to carry out cyber-attacks, and was probably involved in the hacks of hundreds of US schools last November, was able to generate enough money to reward its “cyber-jihadists“. “We have exchanged parts of our bitcoins to equip the brothers who helped in our last missions with computers,” one of the group’s members wrote in their private chat group in December.


The high volatility of bitcoin may backfire in the long run, according to financial experts. Yet neo-Nazis, identitarians and jihadists aren’t short of incentives to invest: they share the anti-establishment sentiment with the libertarians, the desire to make quick money with the speculators, and the need to find alternative transaction routes with the criminals.

In the aftermath of the lethal white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last August, many extremists had their accounts removed from mainstream crowdsourcing platforms such as Patreon and GoFundMe, and their credit cards blocked by online payment providers such as PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay. This has triggered a mass migration by extremists to alternative crowdsourcing platforms such as Hatreon, and a shift to cryptocurrencies. “They are secure, instant and anonymous,” one user on the neo-Nazi platform Stormfront explained to me.

But extremists view the decentralised, deregulated currency as more than a means to make money. “It’s also a political statement,” believes John Bambenek, an American cybersecurity expert who built a neo-Nazi bitcoin transactions tracker. “If you believe the banks are part of the Jewish world conspiracy nonsense, well, then there are only two ways to make financial transactions: it’s either cash or it’s bitcoin.”

This explains why the use of bitcoins by extremists predates both the cryptocurrency hype and the crackdown on neo-Nazi accounts after Charlottesville. The American white nationalist Richard Spencer already called bitcoin the “currency of the alt right” before its boom. And the Black Hat hacker Weev wrote back in 2014: “I heartily encourage you to consider cryptocurrency, including bitcoin.”

Like most extremists, Weev stressed that he prefers Monero, “which best maintains our privacy”. A shift to Monero and other less transparent alt-coins could bring new challenges to cybersecurity and intelligence services. “As an intelligence analyst I love that extremists use bitcoins,” Bambenek tells me. The high level of transparency of the blockchain technology, which is the backbone of any bitcoin transaction, has allowed analysts to speed up their investigations.

However, even in the case of transparent digital currencies, merely watching extremists multiply their income and conduct their business is hardly satisfying. Some countries have taken crucial steps to regulate bitcoin: China plans to restrict bitcoin mining, South Korea wants to ban its trading, and Egypt’s grand mufti, Shawki Allam, even declared the digital currency haram. But can national bans, regulations or capitalisation requirements have any tangible impact?

Bitcoin is a bit like Marmite: you love it or you hate it, and even if some countries impose bans and regulations, they won’t be able to stop its production or its spread. Only joint action by the G20 countries, as proposed by France and Germany, could be enough to become a game changer. And yet detours through countries such as Russia – already looking at developing a “crypto-rouble“ – may always provide opportunities to circumvent international regulations.

Wherever the bitcoin bubble and battle are heading, the global cat-and-mouse game between extremists and intelligence agencies will continue: we need to become faster than extremists at identifying future loopholes that can be exploited to promote their activities.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/24/bitcoin-currency-far-right-neo-nazis-cryptocurrencies

....

This would appear to hint @ bitcoin's latest downtrend as being politically motivated and orchestrated rather than a product of natural market mechanics.

Banks desire a centralized financial industry they control as it would give them the power to censor individuals and groups whose perspectives they disagree with. Centralized paradigms within finance, economics and politics have a tendency to be preferred for this reason. They offer greater control over populations and make it easier to force compulsory guidelines on everyone.

Whether people believe banks or any single authority having the power to punish or reward people for their beliefs, views or opinions is a positive for society is open for debate.

Perhaps its enough to acknowledge a power struggle is occurring @ the highest levels. The implications of which could have deep and long lasting effects.
17  Economy / Gambling discussion / Re: UFC 232: Jones vs Gustafsson 2 Prediction and Info Thread on: December 20, 2018, 08:08:28 AM
Notes.

--Montel Jackson aspired to wrestle in the olympics and found MMA when wrestling was briefly removed as an olympic sport. Could be a future prospect. Lost a close fight against Ricky Simon one of the more underrated and dangerous fighters in the division.

--Alexander Volkanovski trains out of City Kickboxing with Israel Adesanya, Shane Young and Dan Hooker. All of them have shown high level kickboxing I wouldn't count Volkanovski out even being a betting underdog. Volkanovski has also displayed good wrestling.

--BJ Penn didn't appear to have more than 1 round in him in his last fight with Dennis Siver. He tired quickly and didn't have much to show outside of a slim puncher's chance at ending things, against a guy also past his prime and not considered particularly dangerous.

....

Main event.

Most assume the dominant super athlete of the past will show up in Jon Jones. My impressions are Jones deteriorated a little on his last comeback. Jones didn't look impressive in his comeback fight with Ovince St Preux. Jones took a lot more punches to the head in his last fight with Daniel Cormier than Jones would have absorbed in his prime.

Alexander Gustafsson is the opposite, his skills have shown improvement over time.

The fight could be closer than experts are expecting although its difficult to say how close given Jones being out so long and it being relatively unknown whether or not he has been taking care of himself during his USADA suspensions.
18  Economy / Economics / Ohio Congressman: We can fund border wall with “WallCoin” ICO on: December 14, 2018, 06:44:41 AM
Quote
Author of proposal for regulating ICOs thinks one could help secure border.

As President Donald Trump threatened to allow a government shutdown if Congress did not provide funding for his proposed wall along the Mexican border, a Republican congressman from Ohio offered up alternative routes to getting the wall built: through Internet crowdfunding or through an initial coin offering.

During an interview with NPR's Morning Edition on December 12, Rep. Warren Davidson said that he had offered what he referred to as a "modest proposal" in the form of his "Buy a Brick, Build a Wall Act." The bill, which he submitted on November 30, would authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to accept monetary gifts from anyone "on the condition that it be used to plan, design, construct, or maintain a barrier along the international border between the United States and Mexico." The funds would go into an account called the "Border Wall Trust Fund," and a public website would be set up to process donations electronically.

Rep. Davidson told NPR's Steve Inskeep that the donations could come from anyone and be gathered in a number of ways."You could do it with this sort of, like, crowdfunding site," Davidson explained. "Or you could do it with blockchain—you could have Wall Coins."


Ars reached out to Davidson's office for further comment but has not received a response. Davidson, a member of the Republican Party's Freedom Caucus, is also drafting proposed legislation to regulate cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings. Davidson announced his plans at the Blockland Solutions conference in Cleveland on December 3. At the same conference, Ohio Lieutenant Governor-Elect Jon Husted spoke on the potential of using blockchain as a means for citizens to communicate with government as part of the InnovateOhio government modernization initiative.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/12/ohio-congressman-we-can-fund-border-wall-with-wallcoin/

....


After reading his ICO proposal for accepting donations to fund Trump's Wall.

Is it my imagination or does it seem as if politicians responsible for drafting regulatory legislation for ICO's and crypto currencies not seem to understand how either of those things work?

In politics that usually means politicians communicate with banks and ask them to write the regulation. Politicians "drafting" anything is a mere formality as they lack the expertise, experience and knowledge necesssary.

Anyways, if there's any question in the future as to why state regulation is ineffective, dysfunctional or fails to work as it should in theory. Perhaps this topic will come up again. We might question how computer illiterate politicians can be expected to draft internet regulation in terms of net neutrality. And how crypto currency illiterate politicians can create effective regulation for ICOs.
19  Economy / Economics / China says rejecting physical cash is illegal amid e-payments popularity on: December 13, 2018, 06:24:56 AM
Quote
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s central bank on Monday warned that rejecting cash as a form of payment was illegal, saying that such practices could eventually could cause the loss of confidence in physical money and was unfair to those not accustomed to electronic payments.

Its comments, made in a post on its official WeChat account, come as electronic payments via Alibaba Group’s Alipay or Tencent Holdings’s WeChat have become increasingly popular in China where they are accepted on platforms such as public transport and at retailers like coffee shops.

The ease of use has meant that some vendors, especially in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, have stopped accepting physical cash.

“Electronic payments has given us a new way to pay, but it must not replace cash payments,” the People’s Bank of China said. “Over time, the practice can become second nature and people could lose confidence in cash.

It added that it was particularly unfair to the elderly and people who lived in underdeveloped parts of the country who would have difficulty in mastering the processes needed for electronic payment.


The central bank also pointed out that some local authorities were promoting their technology advancements with taglines like “cashless city”, but said that this should not mean that they no longer accepted money.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-payment/china-says-rejecting-physical-cash-is-illegal-amid-e-payments-popularity-idUSKBN1O902F

....

China appears to be adopting the inverse polar opposite of a cashless society.

This makes for an interesting contrast with other nations many of whom view a transition to cashless payment systems as being a natural progression.

If someone wanted to cite reasons behind china adopting the opposite of a cashless society, while many other nations of the world embraced the opposite abstract--how would they explain this? What would the main motive behind differences in policy be?

20  Economy / Economics / Re: The mining downward spiral FUD was predicted months ago on: December 12, 2018, 09:31:01 AM
The current bitcoin crash reminds me of 2013/2014 when chinese imposed restrictions and the closing of silk road conspired to crash bitcoin. I would be interested to know how heavily bitcoin mining is centralized within china and how vulnerable it is to chinese regulation strangling bitcoin miners in china as the crash may have occurred without significant cause. Anyways sorry guys I have no real insight into this. The US stock market is also crashing which could suggest that both are related and produced by analysts projecting a holiday retail season that falls short of expectations.

Amazon's earnings and revenues reported for 3rd quarter 2018 would seem to suggest weaker than expected consumer spending(as did other retailers iirc). That could translate to decreased utilization of payment exchange like bitcoin, suggesting declining transaction volume which led to the recent downturn.

If this is anything like the 2013/2014 bitcoin collapse, we may see a resurgence later on with greater all time highs.

It is possible, btc's latest downturn could also represent a correction in terms of mining difficulty resembling a bubble although I don't know enough to offer intelligent commentary on that.
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