Cryptocurrencies sank Friday, taking Bitcoin to the lowest level in more than five months as risk aversion again swept across global markets.
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Cryptocurrencies sank Friday, taking Bitcoin to the lowest level in more than five months as risk aversion again swept across global markets.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb has posted a bunch of incendiary tweets about bitcoin over the past six months. The author of “The Black Swan” and “Antifragile” has compared the most valuable cryptocurrency to an infectious disease, dismissed it as worthless, and said it doesn’t serve as a hedge against anything.
In the summer, Taleb said in an analysis dubbed the “Bitcoin Black Paper” that bitcoin wasn’t a currency, a store of value, an inflation hedge, or a haven from government tyranny or catastrophe. He has used Twitter to amplify his view that bitcoin is a fragile bubble built on speculation instead of genuine value.
1. “View BTC is as a contagious disease. It will spread, spread & its price will rally until saturation, that is ~every sucker stupid enough to buy the story is invested. When all suckers are in, the prevailing belief will make it an ‘obvious’ investment. That’s maximal fragility.” (January 17)
2. “Almost nothing in financial history has been more fragile than bitcoin.” (July 3)
3. “Bitcoin has been a magnet for imbeciles.” (He was blasting critics who accused him of being too rigid in his views about bitcoin, even though he shifted from being excited about its potential to deciding it was worthless in 2020.) (July 30)
5. “1- Bitcoin is no hedge for adversity 2- Bitcoin is no hedge for inflation 3- Bitcoin is no hedge for deflation 4- Bitcoin is no currency 5- Bitcoin is nothing.” (December 4)
6. “It is an awkward, clunky & already obsolete product of low interest rates. It should collapse with inflation.” (December 28)
7. “If after this morning you still think that #BTC is a hedge against world events, or represents ‘diversification’, you must stay out of finance, & take up some other hobby s.a. stamp collecting, bird watching or something less harmful to yourself & others.” (November 26)
8. “I am not ‘bearish’ on #BTC. It is a tulip-bubble (without the aesthetics & disguized as a “currency”), hence it is as irrational to buy it as it is to SHORT it, perhaps even more. Gabish?” (October 21)
Even if a country doesn’t agree with the fundamentals of bitcoin, they will be forced to acquire some as a form of insurance, Fidelity wrote in a recent report.
Laurent Kssis, a crypto exchange-traded fund (ETF) expert and director of CEC Capital, said there are few signs of renewed interest from institutional investors, so a big price bounce soon looks unlikely. “A good barometer is always the asset under management and inflows into crypto exchange-traded products and ETFs. So far we have recovered only $1 billion of inflows versus $4 billion that has left these products alone in January,” Kssis told CoinDesk in a Telegram chat.
Inflows into the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF listed on the New York Stock Exchange (BITO) have slowed. “BITO now holds less than 5,000 CME futures contracts for the first time since November, and its AUM has reached its lowest level since Oct. 19, signaling dwindling interest for BTC exposure through futures-based ETFs,” Arcane Research said in last week’s research note, referring to assets under management.
“Long vega and long gamma [buying call or put options or both] are good solutions with some costs, for implied volatility is too low for the sell side, which means an improper risk-reward ratio,” Ardern said in a Telegram chat. Being long vega means holding options positions that will benefit from a rise in volatility.
Seasoned traders typically buy both call and put options at the same time when the implied volatility is cheap and sell options when the metric is too high. Over the past four weeks, the one-month implied volatility has crashed from an annualized 84% to 59%, according to data source Skew. As of writing, the metric hovered well below its lifetime average of 76%, looking cheap by historical standards.
CEC Capital’s Kssis foresees a retest of $40,000 should the cryptocurrency fail to establish a foothold above $43,000 this week and favors protective strategies to insure against a possible deeper decline. Traders typically buy put options or sell futures as a hedge against a long position in the spot market.
Put-call skews, which measure the spread between prices of puts, or bearish bets, and calls, bullish bets, were trading little changed at press time, implying a neutral bias. One-month futures listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) barely drew a premium to the spot price while those on other exchanges were trading at a premium of less than 5% annualized, a far cry from the double-digit figures observed in October and November. That’s perhaps the result of traders selling futures to hedge their exposure.
According to Pankaj Balani, CEO of Delta Exchange, bitcoin remains vulnerable to a more profound drop due to the lack of buying demand. “We are not seeing any bottom fishing at these levels, and the interest to own bitcoin risk around $40,000 remains low,” Balani told CoinDesk in a WhatsApp chat. “We could retest $40,000 and should that break; we can see a fresh round of selling come through.”
Agranat and his wife home-school their three children, and for their 14-year-old, they’ve customized the curriculum to include crypto-related topics, including NFTs, crypto games, and token swapping.
Not everyone is happy about the influx of new residents.
For one, locals aren’t thrilled about the fact that they don’t qualify for the capital gains tax exemption, which is designed for non-Puerto Ricans. Mendez tells CNBC the local rate in Puerto Rico is 15% for long-term capital gains, and the disparity has strained relations between some locals and new residents. An organization that goes by #AbolishAct60 has pushed back on the tax breaks via social media.
There is also a question as to whether the tax breaks are achieving what the government set out to do, including, among other things, creating jobs, and sinking more cash into the local economy. Economist and Nobel-prize winner Joseph Stiglitz told a crowd in San Juan in December that he was skeptical of the economic benefits of the tax scheme.
The flood of the crypto rich into Puerto Rico has also helped to drive up real estate prices.
“The lack of inventory and the high demand has resulted in prices that we have never seen before in Puerto Rico,” said Francisco Diaz Fournier of Luxury Collection Real Estate.
“I’ve been tracking the markets for several years, and I was not expecting this…You have properties in Dorado Beach that have been sold for more than $20 million,” said Fournier, who tells CNBC that there are other properties listed on the market right now for $27 million, $30 million, and $34 million, numbers which have increasingly become par for the course.
Rising real estate prices and the growing cost of living have fanned the flames of resentment.
But Keiko Yoshino, who was a government employee in Washington, D.C., for seven years before making the move to Puerto Rico, is trying to close this divide by running programs that pull the two groups together to facilitate a knowledge transfer. Which, in theory, is part of what the tax incentive program set out to do in the first place.
Yoshino, who runs the Puerto Rico Blockchain Trade Association, plays a major role in planning and running Crypto Curious meet-ups. But a big part of what she’s trying to do is dispel stereotypes.
“I had been called a crypto colonizer,” Yoshino said. “I’m not crypto rich. I was a government employee for seven years. I don’t even have incentives….We need to work on stereotypes going both ways. That’s what I really like about crypto: It’s not a political issue. It doesn’t need to be a social issue. It’s an opportunity to build community.”
The feel-good hits of the week are these: A homeless man finds The Lightning Network and is suddenly banked. An art dealer buys and sells using Bitcoin. Plus, the Bitcoin Smiles campaign gets coverage in a major magazine. We’re going around the world for this one, Netherlands, Nigeria, and El Salvador. All in the name of feeling good. Bitcoin is changing the world for the better and we’ll do our part to highlight the little stories that make the big picture.
Even though Bitcoin’s main use case is in developing economies, there are unbanked people in the so-called first world. The subject of our main story is a perfect example of that, the person known as Homeless Mokum. We learn a lot about the Netherlands by reading the article “How I became homeless and unbanked in Amsterdam and then became Bitcoin millionaire.”
For example, when a mysterious woman tells Homeless Mokum about Bitcoin, this is the reaction.
“Now I am forever grateful to her for showing the way. But at that time I even thought she was trying to scam me. Bitcoin is considered a scam in the Netherlands because it says so in the papers.”
Wow! So, that’s why adoption in Europe feels slow. Besides the fact that there’s not a real need, there’s media manipulation mixed in. However, that’s not Homeless Mokum’s case. How did this person end up in his situation?
“I was stuck in a bad relationship with big money debts. Then I had no money to pay for a room, nor a working bank account, only debt. When I worked all the money automatically disappeared in my debts. I ended up on the street.”
Homeless Mokum tried to get help from Dutch organizations, but they would just place Mokum on a list and forget about it. “Because I was too old or too young. Not stable enough, or not mentally ill enough. Not homeless enough but economic homeless.” This is just an example of how normal people can find themselves unbanked in the first world. Luckily, Bitcoin fixes this.
The angel in this story is a woman on a bench at the airport
“She showed me how to download a Blue lightning wallet on my phone and send me 10 satoshi, the smallest bit of Bitcoin. She also showed me this Sarutobi game she played to earn satoshis.”
BTC price chart on Bitbay | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com
Even though Mokum thought it was a scam at first, there was something real there. He had satoshis. That was a fact.
“I spent days at the public library, I remembered the girl and the wallet. On Twitter I found people talking about this Lightning. There were people sending Lightning QR invoices to each other with satoshis. I started with making lightning invoices, going to lightning faucets and reading more on Bitcoin. I got more sats from Bitcoin people online, they were giving them away.”
— HomelessAmsterdam (@HomelessMokum) August 24, 2021
Of course, the Bitcoin community came to the rescue. That’s what the Bitcoin community does. “I got so much help online. I was so thankful. It was unbelievable, so much kindness.” And here comes the realization, Mokum figured out that he was his own bank.
“I am practically unbanked in the Netherlands with only debt to my name and suddenly I was my own bank and saving money. It gave me more than hope, I saw a future for myself with satoshi. This was so important to me. It gave me a feeling of security and even sometimes self-confidence. Powerful feelings.”
Is there a more revealing feel-good story than this one? So many things that the Bitcoin community discusses in abstract form are at display here. And right in the middle of the so-called first world. Moluk finishes with the hope we need, “I am still unhoused and have a lot of problems but I have found hope, a sense of belonging to something better and a way of saving money for my future, seeing a way out.”
Donate to Homeless Moluk:
The second feel-good story is about Joseph Ebuka from Lagos, Nigeria. An art collector and dealer on the rise, “I’ve just started my journey into the art collection and I have about four artworks in my gallery already.” And we’re not just talking digital art:
“My recent purchase was a physical painting, so I went to the artist’s studio. He also owns a Paxful Wallet, which made the transaction easier and faster. All I did was ask for his wallet address and send him my BTC payment. Since it was an internal transfer, I was charged with 0 fees and the artist received my payment instantly.”
That same process is the norm with any Lightning Network wallet. Except for Chivo, that is. This feel-good story ends with recommendations and ideas for people with similar interests.
“Joseph also attends art auctions on Telegram, where he connects with international and local artists selling their works on blockchain platforms. He spreads the word about Bitcoin and blockchain technology with others who aren’t very familiar with it, whenever possible.”
We’ve covered the Bitcoin Smiles campaign in our “News From The Salvador”than once. But a specialized publication like us is one thing, a legacy publication that the masses trust publishing a feel-good story about them is another altogether. What did Forbes say about Bitcoin Smiles?
“Local dentist Enrique Berrios has been waiving fees at his practice and traveling to isolated, rural patients ever since he arrived in the town 17 years ago. After crossing paths with the bitcoin community that set up shop in El Zonte, his good deeds have now won international backing.”
And then, for maximum feel-good effect, they highlight the incredible generosity of the Bitcoin community:
“In less than five months, Bitcoin Smiles has blasted through its fundraising target to reach a total of 1.88239BTC, as of 19:10 GMT on Friday, December 31, 2021. The bonus funds will help Berrios afford the portable equipment he needs to reach patients who can’t make the journey to his practice themselves.”
Featured Image: Homeless Mokum's tent from his post | Charts by TradingView
When Beijing kicked out all its bitcoin miners in May 2021, Kazakhstan seemed like a logical destination. Beyond the fact that it was right next door, the country is also a major energy producer.
Mining is the energy-intensive computing process used to create new coins and maintain a log of all transactions. Kazakhstan is home to coal mines that provide a cheap and abundant supply of energy, which is a major incentive to miners who compete in a low-margin industry where their only variable cost is typically energy.
It also helps that the Kazakh government typically has a more lax attitude about building, which is good for for miners who need to construct physical installations in a short period of time.
Bekbau runs Xive, a company that provides hosting services to international miners and sells the specialized equipment needed for mining. In the last several months, he’s fielded countless inbounds from Chinese miners looking for a safe place to plug in their gear.
Kazakhstan is just behind the U.S. in terms of its share of the global bitcoin mining market, with 18.1% of all crypto mining, according to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.
But the government hasn’t exactly been thrilled about its burgeoning crypto mining industry.
For months, Kazakh lawmakers have been setting down new rules to discourage mining, including a law that will introduce extra taxes for crypto miners starting in 2022. Experts expect the move will significantly change the incentives for people looking to deploy capital inside Kazakhstan.
“The internet outage comes at the heels of efforts to impose a de facto ban on new mining in the country, so miners will have been well aware of the political risk there,” said Nic Carter, co-founder of Castle Island Ventures.
“These bans just underscore why miners are increasingly locating themselves in politically stable jurisdictions,” continued Carter.
Several mining experts also tell CNBC they think that Kazakhstan was always intended to be a temporary stopover on a longer migration west.
Alex Brammer of Luxor Mining, a cryptocurrency pool built for advanced miners, said that large miners were going to Kazakhstan in the short-term with older equipment.
“But as older-generation machines reach the end of their service lives, those companies will likely deploy new machines into more stable and energy efficient and renewable jurisdictions,” Brammer said.
The U.S. has fast become a mecca for crypto mining, in part because it is home to some of the cheapest sources of energy on the planet, many of which tend to be renewable.
If miners do make their way west, it could bode well for the larger debate around bitcoin’s carbon footprint.
Carter points out that Kazakh energy is carbon-intensive, so just like the Chinese ban, a prolonged outage in the Central Asian country would likely have the net effect of further decarbonizing bitcoin mining.
But not all are convinced of an imminent crypto mining exodus from Kazakhstan.
Alan Dorjiyev is president of the National Association of Blockchain and Data Centers Industry in Kazakhstan, whose membership is mostly comprised of mining companies. Dorjiyev tells CNBC that after speaking to owners of mining farms across the country, it is his understanding that most data centers are safe, because they are located in regions where there are no protests.
Bekbau also remains optimistic, tweeting that he hopes by next week, “everything will be okay.”
Whether miners make the move out of Central Asia or not, industry experts tell CNBC that the biggest takeaway of this entire ordeal is the fact that bitcoin mining has, yet, again, survived another stress test with little drama.
“As we saw with China, when a country demonstrates it’s unstable for mining bitcoin, miners in that country will move elsewhere,” said bitcoin mining engineer Brandon Arvanaghi, who now runs Meow, a company that enables corporate treasury participation in crypto markets.
“This is how the bitcoin network gets more resilient over time. Miners migrate towards the most favorable jurisdictions, making disruptions less and less frequent.”
What can AI do for you? A lot, as the recent Intel® AI Summit 2021 has shown. Artificial intelligence opens up a broad range of possibilities, from tiny devices to the massive cloud. Suppose you don’t know where to start or how to develop and scale up your ideas and innovation further. In that case, the two-day summit’s contents are now available on-demand to inspire you with the latest from the Intel® AI technology stack, as well as successful customer use cases from the Asia Pacific and Japan Territory (APJ-T).
AI is no longer the purview of those in the know. In the executive keynote, Dr. Nash Palaniswamy gave an overview of Intel®’s AI strategy: “Taking AI from being specialized, proprietary and for the few – to being ubiquitous, open and for all.” The Vice President, SMG, General Manager, AI, HPC, and Datacenter Accelerators Solutions and Sales at Intel® also shared the company’s cutting-edge offerings in the field – from hardware and software applications to AI deployment in the cloud and edge ecosystems. His address was just the beginning of a virtual event featuring over 20 industry expert speakers leading more than 25 innovative sessions, which you can view at your leisure until May 2022.
An overview of how users implement AI on the Intel® Architecture (IA) platform was presented by Hong Wei Yi, Asia AI Sales Director, DCG Sales Group at Intel®. She curated some examples of how AI and the platform led to easier deployment, better performance, and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) in various applications such as drug discovery, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and more.
Get a front-row seat to the fireside chats and hear how organisations make wonderful things with Intel® AI, such as Tokopedia, the largest e-commerce start-up in Indonesia, and Max Kelson, an AI consultancy based in Australia.
The fireside chat with Tokopedia brought together three speakers representing the collaboration between the start-up, Intel® and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), that helped the company scale up and turn AI into ROI (return on investment): Tahir Hashmi, technical fellow, and VP of growth engineering at Tokopedia; Erwin Huizenga, APAC Solution Lead Machine Learning at GCP; and Ayu Ginanti, APJ-T Cloud Lead at Intel®. They discussed how they achieved success, from overcoming funding shortfalls, skills, and data challenges to measuring the success of AI projects as they went from lab demo to live, daily.
Tokopedia was launched in 2009 and became a unicorn six years later. It has been using Google Cloud since 2018. In May, it merged with ride-hailing and payments unicorn GoJek to create the GoTo Group. GoTo is currently Indonesia’s most prominent digital services platform and contributes about 2% of the country’s GDP, with more than 100 million active users. Last July, GoTo announced its collaboration with Google Cloud for its next growth phase.
“We look forward to our continued partnership with Intel® and Google Cloud as a key technology partner to support GoTo’s continued expansion across cloud infrastructure, data with cloud artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as well as productivity and collaboration needs with Google Workspace. We hope that this partnership can also empower us to provide the convenience of accessing high availability and scalable services from anywhere at any time for business, especially MSMEs, and consumers,” said Herman Widjaja, Chief Technology Officer, Tokopedia, in the announcement.
Meanwhile, the meldCX breakout presentation shed light on how GCP built its Edge AI solutions on Intel® technology. Joy Chua, EVP of strategy and development at meldCX, shared how the independent software vendor (ISV) overcame its business challenges and accelerated its IoT (Internet of Things) journey with AI building blocks. She illustrated the process from product ideation to deployment for its customers like Australia Post and Westpac.
Australia Post upgraded its package shipping with meldCX Concept SALi (Smart Automated Lodgement API) self-service kiosks last year. The kiosks use machine learning and computer vision technology to scan and detect each package, thus automating the parcel delivery operations. This led to a 67% reduction in queues and 95% accuracy in recognizing handwritten labels at Australia’s number one provider of postal services. Concept SALi leverages Intel® AI technology such as Intel® Core Processors, Intel® Movidius™, and the Intel® OpenVINO™ Toolkit.
The Intel® AI Summit on-demand sessions also featured Demo Showcases with a line-up of specialists from Intel® and its partners, namely Databricks, Dell Technologies, Fortanix, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, LAB3, Lenovo Global Technology, and L&T Technology Services. All sessions from Day 2 of the summit are also available such as the keynote address by Pradeep K Dubey, senior fellow and director of parallel computing lab at Intel®, and his special guests. They talked about how Intel® technology, software, and innovations help clear the path forward in AI by making it more scalable, productive, performant, and intelligent.
The Intel® AI Summit 2021 on-demand can be accessed here. Begin something extraordinary with AI today.
Melania Trump is previewing the second of her Non-Fungible Token (NFT) auctions, along with the auction of an original watercolor painting, and the Hervé Pierre hat worn and signed by the former First Lady during the first formal State visit of French president Emmanuel Macron in 2018.
The three items can be seen at MelaniaTrump.com, and will go on sale in an online-only auction running from January 11–January 25, 2022, and it will have an opening bid the equivalent of $250,000. Bids will be accepted using the Solana (SOL) cryptocurrency.
Mrs. Trump launched her first series of NFTs in December, a series of digital artworks titled “Melania’s Vision.” The NFTs originally sold for 1 SOL each (approximately $175 at the time) and are currently auctioning for approximately 0.075 ETH ($290) per NFT on OpenSea.
The digital artwork was created by French artist Marc-Antoine Coulon, who also created the watercolor that will go on sale at the next auction.
Part of the proceeds from both auctions will go to support individuals who have been in the foster care community with access to computer science and technology education. The first round of scholarships will be granted by Mrs. Trump in the first quarter of 2022.
“I was very proud to represent the United States and to welcome President and Mrs. Macron during the State Visit with the Republic of France; and I am excited to offer a piece of history during this auction,” said Mrs. Trump in an exclusive comment to Breitbart News.
“The couture, white hat by Hervé Pierre speaks volumes about this moment. Now someone else can own and enjoy this historic, one-of-a-kind piece.”
Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs are unique and non-interchangeable units of data stored on blockchains, the decentralized ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. NFTs are typically used to identify proof of ownership of a digital or physical asset, including pictures, videos, and audio files.
NFTs are often compared to certificates of authenticity, which are used to verify that a work of art or other item is authentic or original, as opposed to a copy.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.
Things are looking bleak for cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin was hit by a precipitous price drop on Wednesday, following a draconian crackdown in Kazakhstan — the second-largest hub for Bitcoin mining after the US in the world, Reuters reports. Prices fell below $42,000 on Thursday, which means that anyone who bought in at its recent high of $69,000 in early November has now gotten cleaned out.
Behind the price drop is a series of violent revolts in the former Soviet republic, spurred in part by the country’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who ordered security forces to “kill without warning” to quell protesters. On Wednesday, the government enforced a country-wide internet blackout that lasted eight hours — and halted any crypto mining in its tracks.
The ban resulted in a drop in “hashrate,” a term used to describe the amount of computing power used by a crypto network. Larry Cermak, vice president of research at crypto news site The Block, tweeted that Bitcoin’s hashrate had fallen by 12 percent in the hours after Kazakhstan’s internet blackout.
While fewer Bitcoin miners might seem like it’d actually be a boon to the prices — after all, less supply might mean Bitcoin prices should rise — the inverse seems to be true. The crackdown seems to have scared off investors enough to begin selling their Bitcoin, resulting in its drop.
Trouble in Kazakhstan isn’t the only thing fueling the fall. The looming news that the US Federal Reserve is considering raising interest rates was enough to cause a drop in prices across a wide variety of asset classes, from cryptocurrencies to stocks.
Combined, it’s a perfect storm that’s caused investors to be very hesitant on whether or not to put their money in riskier assets. If history is any indication, though, the market typically bounces back after dips like this.
Regardless, it’s important to keep perspective: this might just be a down month or so for you. But for others, it’s the bloody culmination of violent turmoil against an authoritarian regime. Maybe the dip really isn’t that bad when you think about it.
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