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G7 finance leaders lay out guidelines for central bank digital currencies

Group of Seven advanced economies said on Wednesday that any digital currency issued by a central bank must "support and do no harm" to the bank's ability to fulfill its mandate on monetary and financial stability, and must also meet rigorous standards......»»

Category: topSource: foxnewsOct 13th, 2021

G7 finance leaders lay out guidelines for central bank digital currencies

Group of Seven advanced economies said on Wednesday that any digital currency issued by a central bank must "support and do no harm" to the bank's ability to fulfill its mandate on monetary and financial stability, and must also meet rigorous standards......»»

Category: topSource: foxnewsOct 13th, 2021

Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Future of Surveillance And Control

Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Future of Surveillance And Control Submitted by Ronan Manly, BullionStar.com One of the most potentially far-reaching trends in the financial landscape right now is the imminent roll-out of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and the parallel attacks which central bankers are waging on private digital currencies and tokens as they tee up the launch of their CBDCs. First some clarifications. While the majority of central bank issued currencies (fiat currencies) in existence around the world are already in digital form, a fiat currency held in digital form is not the same as a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). What is a CBDC? A CBDC generally refers to electronic or virtual central bank (fiat) money that is created in the form of digital tokens or account balances which are digital claims on the central bank. CBDCs will be issued by central banks and will be legal tender. Many CBDCs that are being researched and developed employ Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), with the recording of transactions on a blockchain.  However unlike private cryptocurrencies which use a permissionless and open design, CBDCs that use DLT will use permissioned variants (deciding who has access to the network and who can view and update records in the ledger). See here for a discussion of permissionless vs permissioned blockchains. CBDCs - The antithesis to decentralized private cryptocurrencies and tokens Critically, as the name suggests, CBDCs will be centralized and governed by the issuing authority (i.e. a central bank). So, in their design and structure, CBDCs can be viewed as the very antithesis to decentralized private cryptocurrencies and tokens. Central banks have already working on two types of CBDCs, ‘wholesale’ digital tokens that would have access restricted to banks and financial entities to be used for activities like interbank payments and wholesale market transactions, and ‘general purpose’ (retail) CBDC for the general public to be used in retail transactions. It is this ‘general purpose’ CBDC which most people are referring to when they discuss central bank digital currencies, and it is these ‘general purpose’ CBDCs that will be most important to watch when  central banks and governments begin to attempt their roll-outs to distribute CBDCs to billions of people across the world either through account-based CBDCs or ‘digital cash’ tokens. As you can guess, account-based CBDCs will be tied to user identities and Digital IDs, and straight off the bat they allow for total surveillance by the State and torpedo any chance of anonymity. For this reason, they are already a favourite among central banks. Given that CBDCs will be centralized ledgers and can be programmable, the ‘digital cash’ token option is not much better in terms of privacy and freedom. The Bank for International Settlements - The Dark Tower of Basel Many central banks will probably opt for a hybrid model of both account-based and token based digital cash. As an example, Canada, the one time liberal democracy, perhaps illustrates the account-based vs token based choices best, where Canada’s central bank, the Bank of Canada, in it’s design documentation for CBDCs shows that at the end of the day, it's about surveillance and control, saying that: “anonymous token-based options would be allowable for smaller payments, while account-based access would be required for larger purchases.” Central banks are also experimenting with various models for distribution of CBDCs to the masses, including using private commercial banks and payment providers who will intermediate on the central banks’ behalf, and also direct distribution of payments by a central bank to a population. Either way, you can see that CBDCs greatly facilitate the statists to advance their Orwellian plans for Universal Basic Income (UBI) and dependency on the state.    Accelerating rollout CBDCs are not just a buzzword or a hazy innovation that may appear sometime in the distant future. They are actively being developed now, and in widespread fashion. In January 2020, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) issued the results of a survey on CBDCs that it had conducted in the second half of 2019, and to which 66 central banks had responded. Strikingly, 10% of central bank respondents (which represented a fifth of the world’s population) said that they were likely to issue a ‘general purpose’ CBDC (for the general public) in the near future (within the next 3 years). Another 20% of central bank respondents said they would likely issue a ‘general purpose’ CBDC in the medium term (within 6 years). In August 2020, the BIS published a comprehensive working paper on CBDCs titled “Rise of the central bank digital currencies: drivers, approaches and technologies” one part of which analysed the BIS database of central banker speeches and found that between December 2013 and May 2020, there had been 138 central banker speeches mentioning CBDCs, with a dramatic increase in CBDC related speeches since 2016, a timeframe which coincided with central banks launching research projects on CBDCs. The same BIS report also highlighted that, (totally coincidentally) the Covid-19 'pandemic'  "accelerated work on CBDCs in some jurisdictions."  BIS slide on CBDC global project status - August 2021. Source. Fast forward to right now, and on the website of the globalist Atlantic Council (headquartered in Washington D.C.), there is an interesting Central Bank Digital Currency Tracker which lists all the countries that have either launched or piloted a CBDC or are developing or researching a CBDC. Here we find that 5 central banks have already launched a CBDC, 14 have a CBDC in pilot, 16 have a CBDC in development, and another 32 central banks are at the research stage with their CBDC. That makes 67 central banks (countries in total). While the 5 currency areas that have already launched a CBDC are all islands in the Caribbean, the central banks at the pilot stage include heavy weights such as China, South Korea, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.   Those at the development stage include the central banks of Canada, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, France and Nigeria. Those at the research stage include the central banks of the US, UK, Australia, Norway, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. So as you can see, this is not some theoretical issue. Centrally controlled digital currencies are coming down the pipe in a big way, and some will be appearing, if not imminently, then very soon. And given the ease with which governments have imposed lockdowns and restrictions on their compliant populations during 2020 and 2021, it is not hard to envisage that these same pliable masses will be easily influenced to embrace CBDCs as being in their 'best interests'. BIS Switzerland - The Usual Suspect    In fact, one third of the entire BIS annual report 2021 is focused on CBDCs in a section titled “CBDCs: an opportunity for the monetary system”. Here, the BIS predictably trumpets the benefits of introducing central bank issued centralized digital currencies while at the same time attempting to undermine private cryptocurrencies. The BIS wording reveals the fact that central banks are in panic over the competitive threat of private cryptos and have accelerated the development of CBDCs partially due to this fear, with the BIS stating that: “Central bank interest in CBDCs comes at a critical time. Several recent developments have placed a number of potential innovations involving digital currencies high on the agenda. The first of these is the growing attention received by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies; the second is the debate on stablecoins; and the third is the entry of large technology firms (big techs) into payment services and financial services more generally.” The BIS then attempts to dismiss each of these 3 threats: Cryptocurrencies, claims the BIS “are speculative assets rather than money, and in many cases are used to facilitate money laundering, ransomware attacks and other financial crimes”. Bitcoin comes in for some special mention with the BIS saying that “Bitcoin in particular has few redeeming public interest attributes when also considering its wasteful energy footprint’. Stablecoins, says the BIS “attempt to import credibility by being backed by real currencies” that are “ultimately only an appendage to the conventional monetary system and not a game changer.” The entry of large tech firms that dominate social networks, search, messaging, and e-commerce into the realm of financial services and payments provision infrastructure seems to especially bother the BIS, and it spins it’s criticism into the argument that although these platforms have large network affects, this creates “further concentration” in the market for payments. The irony is not lost on the fact that it’s the BIS, as the central bank of central banks and one of the most concentrated power centres in the world, that is criticizing others’ “concentration” of power.   Throughout this CBDC pitch, the BIS report refers at numerous points that digital currencies should be “in the public interest”, which really means that digital currencies should be controlled by the BIS and its central bank members, as well as perpetuate their centralized monetary power structure. The BIS even has the gall to claim that CBDCs should respect privacy rights, when in fact the whole architecture, rationale and design of central bank digital currencies will allow central banks and national authorities to invade totally on privacy rights.  But sometimes the BIS let's it's guard down, and reveals it's authoritarian plans for CBDCs. A case in point is a recent interview with Agustín Carstens general manager of the BIS, where he chillingly said:  "We don’t know who’s using a $100 bill today and we don’t know who’s using a 1,000 peso bill today. The key difference with the CBDC is the central bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that expression of central bank liability, and also we will have the technology to enforce that.” See video segment below for Carstens' remarks: Singing from the Same Song Sheet With the BIS is Basel Switzerland as the conductor and orchestrator, it's not surprising that central bank governors and country heads are now singing from the same song sheet, the song being ‘private digital currencies bad, central bank digital currencies good’. Earlier this month (September 2021) at a banking conference in Stockholm, the governor of Sweden’s central bank (Riksbank), Stefan Ingves, commented that ‘private money usually collapses sooner or later’, while conveniently failing to mention the hundreds of government and central bank issued paper currencies that have collapsed throughout history due to overprinting, depreciation and hyperinflation. Nor did Ingves mention Voltaire’s famous quote that “Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value - zero”. Ingves, whose country is one of the leaders in promoting a cashless society, also took a derogatory swipe at Bitcoin saying “sure, you can get rich by trading in bitcoin, but it’s comparable to trading in stamps.” All the while the Riksbank is pushing ahead with it’s central bank digital currency, called the e-krona, a CBDC which uses distributed ledger technology, and which the Swedish central bank is currently testing in conjunction with Handelsbanken, one of Sweden’s largest retail banks. In the same week as Ingves’s comments in Sweden, the governor of Mexico’s central bank, Alejandro Diaz de Leon, was also taking a shot at private cryptocurrencies and for good measure he also put the boot into precious metals. Diaz de Leon said that Bitcoin is more like a method of barter than ‘evolved’ fiat money, and continued “in our times, money has evolved to be fiat money issued by central banks. Bitcoin is more like a dimension of precious metals than daily legal tender.” That comment, which attacks two birds with one stone (crypto and precious metals), will definitely please his central bank governor colleagues at thee BIS, and may even earn Diaz de Leon a nomination as the next BIS general manager, to succeed his fellow countryman Agustín Carstens.    Speaking of the BIS, Benoit Coeure, head of the BIS Innovation Hub, also gave a WEF style speech about CBDCs in early September, acknowledging the convenient catalyst of the covid 'pandemic', and the accelerated development of CBDCs by central banks:  "the world is not returning to the old normal. Payments are a case in point. The pandemic has accelerated a longer-running move to digital .... the world's central banks are stepping up efforts to prepare the ground for digital cash – central bank digital currency (CBDC): "A CBDC's goal is ultimately to preserve the best elements of our current systems while still allowing a safe space for tomorrow's innovation. To do so, central banks have to act while the current system is still in place – and to act now." Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also recently joined in the attack on private digital currencies, while simultaneously promoting Turkey’s CBDC. At an event on 18 September, the Turkish president stated that:  “we have absolutely no intention of embracing cryptocurrencies” “on the contrary, we have a separate war, a separate fight against them. We would never lend support to [cryptocurrencies]. Because we will move forward with our own currency that has its own identity.” PBOC SAYS ALL CRYPTO-RELATED TRANSACTIONS ARE ILLEGAL So the digital yuan is a complete disaster eh? — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 24, 2021 China: Digital Yuan - An Ominous Blueprint  A huge red flag over CBDCs and user privacy is that these central bank digital currencies are programmable, as details on China’s ‘Digital Yuan’ already show. For example, the Digital Yuan can be programmed to be activated on a certain date, programmed to expire on a certain date, programmed to be only valid for certain purchases, and ominously, programmed to be only available to citizens who meet certain pre-conditions. As a potential blueprint for other CBDCs, people across the world need to sit up and take notice, because the issuing authorities of these CBDCs coming down the pipe can therefore decide who gets access to CBDCs, what they can transact using those currencies, and how long the purchasing power remains valid. Central Banks can thus influence and control the behaviour of the recipients of this centralised digital cash,  as well as exclude those who they want to penalize or who don’t comply with the State's rules or parameters. And right on cue as this article was just published, Chinese authorities have now announced (on 24 September)  a total ban on all cryptocurrency transactions. Except of course, it's upcoming authoritarian Digital Yuan.    The future according to WEF's Klaus Schwab and his Elite private banker handlers Conclusion - Slavery or Monetary Freedom Although central banks will claim that they are introducing CBDCs for reasons such as improving payments efficiency, boosting financial inclusion for the unbanked and tackling illicit transactions, their real motivations, as always, are for surveillance and control. Surveillance of a population via complete visibility into financial transaction flow and user identities, and centralized control of the money supply within a cashless financial system. Think China’s social credit system on a global dystopian scale, where vax passes evolve into digital IDs and digital IDs link to CBDC issuance and use. In fact, the entire coercion around implementing vaccine passports and digital IDs looks to be a pre-planned stepping stone for the roll-out of central bank digital currencies and global social credit systems. The timing of the accelerated emergence of CBDCs may partially be an attempt by central banks to outflank the numerous private cryptocurrencies, tokens and decentralized finance ecosystems that have emerged and that are a threat to the power of the centralized banking system at whose apex sits the BIS. But it would be naïve to think that central banks that knew in advance about the initiation of a‘WEF’ global technocratic and corpocratic takeover that would begin in 2020, are not now orchestrating the rollout of CBDCs as part of a long-term global agenda, that agenda being the global socialist Agenda 2030, and a future in which, according to the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) “You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy”. BIS and central bank attacks against private cryptocurrencies are to be expected. After all, the same central banks and the BIS have waged a very long war against physical gold and silver. And precious metals have been money since 4000 B.C.. With the launch of CBDCs by central banks and their elitist private banking controllers, that war looks set to intensify. So, do you want a future of monetary freedom, or a future of perpetual slavery to central banker CBDCs?  If you want monetary freedom, then ownership of physical precious metals and private and anonymous digital currencies are now some of the only ways to counter and protect against the ominous CBDC plans which the BIS and its central bank members are intent with imminently rolling out. *  *  * This article originally appeared on the BullionStar.com website under the same title "Central Bank Digital Currencies – A Future of Surveillance and Control" Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 15:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 26th, 2021

Inside the World of Black Bitcoin, Where Crypto Is About Making More Than Just Money

“We can operate on an even playing field in the digital world” At the Black Blockchain Summit, there is almost no conversation about making money that does not carry with it the possibility of liberation. This is not simply a gathering for those who would like to ride whatever bumps and shocks, gains and losses come with cryptocurrency. It is a space for discussing the relationship between money and man, the powers that be and what they have done with power. Online and in person, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., an estimated 1,500 mostly Black people have gathered to talk about crypto—decentralized digital money backed not by governments but by blockchain technology, a secure means of recording transactions—as a way to make money while disrupting centuries-long patterns of oppression. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “What we really need to be doing is to now utilize the technology behind blockchain to enhance the quality of life for our people,” says Christopher Mapondera, a Zimbabwean American and the first official speaker. As a white-haired engineer with the air of a lecturing statesman, Mapondera’s conviction feels very on-brand at a conference themed “Reparations and Revolutions.” Along with summit organizer Sinclair Skinner, Mapondera co-founded BillMari, a service that aims to make it easier to transmit cryptocurrency to wherever the sons and daughters of Africa have been scattered. So, not exactly your stereotypical “Bitcoin bro.” Contrary to the image associated with cryptocurrency since it entered mainstream awareness, almost no one at the summit is a fleece-vest-wearing finance guy or an Elon Musk type with a grudge against regulators. What they are is a cross section of the world of Black crypto traders, educators, marketers and market makers—a world that seemingly mushroomed during the pandemic, rallying around the idea that this is the boon that Black America needs. In fact, surveys indicate that people of color are investing in cryptocurrency in ways that outpace or equal other groups—something that can’t be said about most financial products. About 44% of those who own crypto are people of color, according to a June survey by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. In April, a Harris Poll reported that while just 16% of U.S. adults overall own cryptocurrency, 18% of Black Americans have gotten in on it. (For Latino Americans, the figure is 20%.) The actor Hill Harper of The Good Doctor, a Harvard Law School friend of former President Barack Obama, is a pitchman for Black Wall Street, a digital wallet and crypto trading service developed with Najah Roberts, a Black crypto expert. And this summer, when the popular money-transfer service Cash App added the option to purchase Bitcoin, its choice to explain the move was the MC Megan Thee Stallion. “With my knowledge and your hustle, you’ll have your own empire in no time,” she says in an ad titled “Bitcoin for Hotties.” Read more: Americans Have Learned to Talk About Racial Inequality. But They’ve Done Little to Solve It But, as even Megan Thee Stallion acknowledges in that ad, pinning one’s economic hopes on crypto is inherently risky. Many economic experts have described crypto as little better than a bubble, mere fool’s gold. The rapid pace of innovation—it’s been little more than a decade since Bitcoin was created by the enigmatic, pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto—has left consumers with few protections. Whether the potential is worth those risks is the stuff of constant, and some would say, infernal debate. Jared Soares for TIMECleve Mesidor, who founded the National Policy Network of Women of Color in Blockchain What looms in the backdrop is clear. In the U.S., the median white family’s wealth—reflecting not just assets minus debt, but also the ability to weather a financial setback—sat around $188,200, per the Federal Reserve’s most recent measure in 2019. That’s about eight times the median wealth of Black families. (For Latino families, it’s five times greater; the wealth of Asian, Pacific Island and other families sits between that of white and Latino families, according to the report.) Other estimates paint an even grimmer picture. If trends continue, the median Black household will have zero wealth by 2053. The summit attendees seem certain that crypto represents keys to a car bound for somewhere better. “Our digital selves are more important in some ways than our real-world selves,” Tony Perkins, a Black MIT-trained computer scientist, says during a summit session on “Enabling Black Land and Asset Ownership Using Blockchain.” The possibilities he rattles off—including fractional ownership of space stations—will, to many, sound fantastical. To others, they sound like hope. “We can operate on an even playing field in the digital world,” he says. The next night, when in-person attendees gather at Barcode, a Black-owned downtown D.C. establishment, for drinks and conversation, there’s a small rush on black T-shirts with white lettering: SATOSHI, they proclaim, IS BLACK. That’s an intriguing idea when your ancestors’ bodies form much of the foundation of U.S. prosperity. At the nation’s beginnings, land theft from Native Americans seeded the agricultural operations where enslaved Africans would labor and die, making others rich. By 1860, the cotton-friendly ground of Mississippi was so productive that it was home to more millionaires than anywhere else in the country. Government-supported pathways to wealth, from homesteading to homeownership, have been reliably accessible to white Americans only. So Black Bitcoiners’ embrace of decentralized currencies—and a degree of doubt about government regulators, as well as those who have done well in the traditional system—makes sense. Skinner, the conference organizer, believes there’s racial subtext in the caution from the financial mainstream regarding Bitcoin—a pervasive idea that Black people just don’t understand finance. “I’m skeptical of all of those [warnings], based on the history,” Skinner, who is Black American, says. Even a drop in the value of Bitcoin this year, which later went back up, has not made him reticent. “They have petrol shortages in England right now. They’ll blame the weather or Brexit, but they’ll never have to say they’re dumb. Something don’t work in Detroit or some city with a Black mayor, we get a collective shame on us.” Read more: America’s Interstate Slave Trade Once Trafficked Nearly 30,000 People a Year—And Reshaped the Country’s Economy The first time I speak to Skinner, the summit is still two weeks away. I’d asked him to talk through some of the logistics, but our conversation ranges from what gives money value to the impact of ride-share services on cabbies refusing Black passengers. Tech often promises to solve social problems, he says. The Internet was supposed to democratize all sorts of things. In many cases, it defaulted to old patterns. (As Black crypto policy expert Cleve Mesidor put it to me, “The Internet was supposed to be decentralized, and today it’s owned by four white men.”) But with the right people involved from the start of the next wave of change—crypto—the possibilities are endless, Skinner says. Skinner, a Howard grad and engineer by training, first turned to crypto when he and Mapondera were trying to find ways to do ethanol business in Zimbabwe. Traditional international transactions were slow or came with exorbitant fees. In Africa, consumers pay some of the world’s highest remittance, cell phone and Internet data fees in the world, a damaging continuation of centuries-long wealth transfers off the continent to others, Skinner says. Hearing about cryptocurrency, he was intrigued—particularly having seen, during the recession, the same banking industry that had profited from slavery getting bailed out as hundreds of thousands of people of color lost their homes. So in 2013, he invested “probably less than $3,000,” mostly in Bitcoin. Encouraged by his friend Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, one of the largest platforms for trading crypto, he grew his stake. In 2014, when Skinner went to a crypto conference in Amsterdam, only about eight Black people were there, five of them caterers, but he felt he had come home ideologically. He saw he didn’t need a Rockefeller inheritance to change the world. “I don’t have to build a bank where they literally used my ancestors to build the capital,” says Skinner, who today runs a site called I Love Black People, which operates like a global anti-racist Yelp. “I can unseat that thing by not trying to be like them.” Eventually, he and Mapondera founded BillMari and became the first crypto company to partner with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to lower fees on remittances, the flow of money from immigrants overseas back home to less-developed nations—an economy valued by the World Bank and its offshoot KNOMAD at $702 billion in 2020. (Some of the duo’s business plans later evaporated, after Zimbabwe’s central bank revoked approval for some cryptocurrency activities.) Skinner’s feelings about the economic overlords make it a bit surprising that he can attract people like Charlene Fadirepo, a banker by trade and former government regulator, to speak at the summit. On the first day, she offers attendees a report on why 2021 was a “breakout year for Bitcoin,” pointing out that major banks have begun helping high-net-worth clients invest in it, and that some corporations have bought crypto with their cash on hand, holding it as an asset. Fadirepo, who worked in the Fed’s inspector general’s office monitoring Federal Reserve banks and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is not a person who hates central banks or regulation. A Black American, she believes strongly in both, and in their importance for protecting investors and improving the economic position of Black people. Today she operates Guidefi, a financial education and advising company geared toward helping Black women connect with traditional financial advisers. It just launched, for a fee, direct education in cryptocurrency. Crypto is a relatively new part of Fadirepo’s life. She and her Nigerian-American doctor husband earn good salaries and follow all the responsible middle-class financial advice. But the pandemic showed her they still didn’t have what some of his white colleagues did: the freedom to walk away from high-risk work. As the stock market shuddered and storefronts shuttered, she decided a sea change was coming. A family member had mentioned Bitcoin at a funeral in 2017, but it sounded risky. Now, her research kept bringing her back to it. Last year, she and her husband bought $6,000 worth. No investment has ever generated the kinds of returns for them that Bitcoin has. “It has transformed people’s relationship with money,” she says. “Folks are just more intentional … and honestly feeling like they had access to a world that was previously walled off.” Read more: El Salvador Is Betting on Bitcoin to Rebrand the Country — and Strengthen the President’s Grip She knows frauds exists. In May, a federal watchdog revealed that since October 2020, nearly 7,000 people have reported losses of more than $80 million on crypto scams—12 times more scam reports than the same period the previous year. The median individual loss: $1,900. For Fadirepo, it’s worrying. That’s part of why she helps moderate recurring free learning and discussion options like the Black Bitcoin Billionaires chat room on Clubhouse, which has grown from about 2,000 to 130,000 club members this year. Jared Soares for TIMECharlene Fadirepo, a banker and former government regulator, near the National Museum of African American History and Culture There’s a reason Black investors might prefer their own spaces for that kind of education. Fadirepo says it’s not unheard-of in general crypto spaces—theoretically open to all, but not so much in practice—to hear that relying on the U.S. dollar is slavery. “To me, a descendant of enslaved people in America, that was painful,” she says. “There’s a lot of talk about sovereignty, freedom from the U.S. dollar, freedom from inflation, inflation is slavery, blah blah blah. The historical context has been sucked out of these conversations about traditional financial systems. I don’t know how I can talk about banking without also talking about history.” Back in January, I found myself in a convenience store in a low-income and predominantly Black neighborhood in Dallas, an area still living the impact of segregation decades after its official end. I was there to report on efforts to register Black residents for COVID-19 shots after an Internet-only sign-up system—and wealthier people gaming the system—created an early racial disparity in vaccinations. I stepped away to buy a bottle of water. Inside the store, a Black man wondered aloud where the lottery machine had gone. He’d come to spend his usual $2 on tickets and had found a Bitcoin machine sitting in its place. A second Black man standing nearby, surveying chip options, explained that Bitcoin was a form of money, an investment right there for the same $2. After just a few questions, the first man put his money in the machine and walked away with a receipt describing the fraction of one bitcoin he now owned. Read more: When a Texas County Tried to Ensure Racial Equity in COVID-19 Vaccinations, It Didn’t Go as Planned I was both worried and intrigued. What kind of arrangement had prompted the store’s owner to replace the lottery machine? That month, a single bitcoin reached the $40,000 mark. “That’s very revealing, if someone chooses to put a cryptocurrency machine in the same place where a lottery [machine] was,” says Jeffrey Frankel, a Harvard economist, when I tell him that story. Frankel has described cryptocurrencies as similar to gambling, more often than not attracting those who can least afford to lose, whether they are in El Salvador or Texas. Frankel ranks among the economists who have been critical of El Salvador’s decision to begin recognizing Bitcoin last month as an official currency, in part because of the reality that few in the county have access to the internet, as well as the cryptocurrency’s price instability and its lack of backing by hard assets, he says. At the same time that critics have pointed to the shambolic Bitcoin rollout in El Salvador, Bitcoin has become a major economic force in Nigeria, one of the world’s larger players in cryptocurrency trading. In fact, some have argued that it has helped people in that country weather food inflation. But, to Frankel, crypto does not contain promise for lasting economic transformation. To him, disdain for experts drives interest in cryptocurrency in much the same way it can fuel vaccine hesitancy. Frankel can see the potential to reduce remittance costs, and he does not doubt that some people have made money. Still, he’s concerned that the low cost and click-here ease of buying crypto may draw people to far riskier crypto assets, he says. Then he tells me he’d put the word assets here in a hard set of air quotes. And Frankel, who is white, is not alone. Darrick Hamilton, an economist at the New School who is Black, says Bitcoin should be seen in the same framework as other low-cost, high-risk, big-payoff options. “In the end, it’s a casino,” he says. To people with less wealth, it can feel like one of the few moneymaking methods open to them, but it’s not a source of group uplift. “Like any speculation, those that can arbitrage the market will be fine,” he says. “There’s a whole lot of people that benefited right before the Great Recession, but if they didn’t get out soon enough, they lost their shirts too.” To buyers like Jiri Sampson, a Black cryptocurrency investor who works in real estate and lives outside Washington, D.C., that perspective doesn’t register as quite right. The U.S.-born son of Guyanese immigrants wasn’t thinking about exploitation when he invested his first $20 in cryptocurrency in 2017. But the groundwork was there. Sampson homeschools his kids, due in part to his lack of faith that public schools equip Black children with the skills to determine their own fates. He is drawn to the capacity of this technology to create greater agency for Black people worldwide. The blockchain, for example, could be a way to establish ownership for people who don’t hold standard documents—an important issue in Guyana and many other parts of the world, where individuals who have lived on the land for generations are vulnerable to having their property co-opted if they lack formal deeds. Sampson even pitched a project using the blockchain and GPS technology to establish digital ownership records to the Guyanese government, which did not bite. “I don’t want to downplay the volatility of Bitcoin,” Sampson says. But that’s only a significant concern, he believes, if one intends to sell quickly. To him, Bitcoin represents a “harder” asset than the dollar, which he compares to a ship with a hole in it. Bitcoin has a limited supply, while the Fed can decide to print more dollars anytime. That, to Sampson, makes some cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, good to buy and hold, to pass along wealth from one generation to another. Economists and crypto buyers aren’t the only ones paying attention. Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Reserve have indicated that they will move toward official assessments or regulation soon. At least 10 federal agencies are interested in or already regulating crypto in some way, and there’s now a Congressional Blockchain Caucus. Representatives from the Federal Reserve and the SEC declined to comment, but SEC Chairman Gary Gensler assured a Senate subcommittee in September that his agency is working to develop regulation that will apply to cryptocurrency markets and trading activity. Enter Cleve Mesidor, of the quip about the Internet being owned by four white men. When we meet during the summit, she introduces herself: “Cleve Mesidor, I’m in crypto.” She’s the first person I’ve ever heard describe herself that way, but not that long ago, “influencer” wasn’t a career either. A former Obama appointee who worked inside the Commerce Department on issues related to entrepreneurship and economic development, Mesidor learned about cryptocurrency during that time. But she didn’t get involved in it personally until 2013, when she purchased $200 in Bitcoin. After leaving government, she founded the National Policy Network of Women of Color in Blockchain, and is now the public policy adviser for the industry group the Blockchain Association. There are more men than women in Black crypto spaces, she tells me, but the gender imbalance tends to be less pronounced than in white-dominated crypto communities. Mesidor, who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti and uses her crypto investments to fund her professional “wanderlust,” has also lived crypto’s downsides. She’s been hacked and the victim of an attempted ransomware attack. But she still believes cryptocurrency and related technology can solve real-world problems, and she’s trying, she says, to make sure that necessary consumer protections are not structured in a way that chokes the life out of small businesses or investors. “D.C. is like Vegas; the house always wins,” says Mesidor, whose independently published book is called The Clevolution: My Quest for Justice in Politics & Crypto. “The crypto community doesn’t get that.” Passion, she says, is not enough. The community needs to be involved in the regulatory discussions that first intensified after the price of a bitcoin went to $20,000 in 2017. A few days after the summit, when Mesidor and I spoke by phone, Bitcoin had climbed to nearly $60,000. At Barcode, the Washington lounge, Isaiah Jackson is holding court. A man with a toothpaste-commercial smile, he’s the author of the independently published Bitcoin & Black America, has appeared on CNBC and is half of the streaming show The Gentleman of Crypto, which bills itself as the one of the longest-running cryptocurrency shows on the Internet. When he was building websites as a sideline, he convinced a large black church in Charlotte, N.C., to, for a time, accept Bitcoin donations. He helped establish Black Bitcoin Billionaires on Clubhouse and, like Fadirepo, helps moderate some of its rooms and events. He’s also a former teacher, descended from a line of teachers, and is using those skills to develop (for a fee) online education for those who want to become crypto investors. Now, there’s a small group standing near him, talking, but mostly listening. Jackson was living in North Carolina when one of his roommates, a white man who worked for a money-management firm, told him he had just heard a presentation about crypto and thought he might want to suggest it to his wealthy parents. The concept blew Jackson’s mind. He soon started his own research. “Being in the Black community and seeing the actions of banks, with redlining and other things, it just appealed to me,” Jackson tells me. “You free the money, you free everything else.” Read more: Beyond Tulsa: The Historic Legacies and Overlooked Stories of America’s ‘Black Wall Streets’ He took his $400 savings and bought two bitcoins in October 2013. That December, the price of a single bitcoin topped $1,100. He started thinking about what kind of new car he’d buy. And he stuck with it, even seeing prices fluctuate and scams proliferate. When the Gentlemen of Bitcoin started putting together seminars, one of the early venues was at a college fair connected to an annual HBCU basketball tournament attended by thousands of mostly Black people. Bitcoin eventually became more than an investment. He believed there was great value in spreading the word. But that was then. “I’m done convincing people. There’s no point battling going back and forth,” he says. “Even if they don’t realize it, what [investors] are doing if they are keeping their bitcoin long term, they are moving money out of the current system into another one. And that is basically the best form of peaceful protest.”   —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein and Simmone Shah.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 15th, 2021

IMF warns of the danger to the financial system from "disappearing" crypto coins and the instability of stablecoins

The IMF warned countries about risks that came with the growing crypto space, such as missing coins and volatile stablecoins, in a report Tuesday. Bitcoin balloon Andriy Onufriyenko The IMF warned countries about the risks that came with the growing crypto space in a report Tuesday. More than 16,000 tokens have been listed on exchanges, but only around 9,000 exist today, the report said. The fund said stablecoins were vulnerable to volatility and investor runs despite being pegged to another asset. Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued a warning about the growing risks in the expanding cryptocurrency space, including fraud, excess speculation and potential "runs" on seemingly more stable assets, in a report on Tuesday. Crypto in all its forms, such as digital coins like bitcoin and stablecoins like the USDC, has been spreading around the globe. Nearly half of the world's central banks have looked into creating their own digital currencies, which would be centralized and be more secure than pure cryptocurrencies. "Investor protection risks loom large for crypto assets and decentralized finance," the report said in the executive summary document. More than 16,000 tokens have been listed on various exchanges like Coinbase, Binance and Kraken over time, but only around 9,000 exist today, the report said. Some of these tokens were purely speculative and impacted solely by social media trends. "Investors are - likely to face losses from tokens ceasing to exist-something that is less common in regulated securities markets," the IMF said. Some countries such as Argentina, Mexico and Thailand have stopped exchanges from offering tokens that display particular characteristics, the report said. Regulators around the world have stepped up their oversight of the crypto market, while some commercial banks have stopped their customers from transferring money to certain crypto exchanges. China's recent banning of all crypto mining and trading is the harshest example so far of the kind of pressure the sector can come under. Another factor the IMF emphasized was stablecoins, which are pegged to an underlying asset such as cash or bonds, were vulnerable to volatility and investor runs.A few months ago, investors saw the value of a decentralized finance token called titan, which was part of an algorithmic stablecoin project from Iron Finance, drop in hours from around $60 to a tiny fraction of a cent. Whale accounts unloaded their shares and triggered the equivalent of a bank run, as smaller traders rushed to recoup their money. The meltdown even caught billionaire Mark Cuban off guard. "I got hit like everyone else," he tweeted at the time. "An investor run in one country can also lead to cross-border spillovers if large global crypto exchanges are involved. The concentrated ownership of stablecoins by market makers could also trigger wider contagion," the report said. Stablecoins have also come under fire on account of the composition of their reserves - the most prominent so far is the tether token, which claimed to be fully backed by US dollars, but is largely backed by short-term corporate debt. The IMF recommended countries collaborate to address the technological, legal, regulatory, and supervisory challenges that crypto assets can bring."Where standards have not yet been developed, regulators need to use existing tools to control risk and implement a flexible framework for crypto assets," the report said. The IMF said central bank digital currencies could resolve some of the stability and transparency issues around the crypto market.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 13th, 2021

Snowden: Your Money AND Your Life

Snowden: Your Money AND Your Life Submitted by Edward Snowden via Continuing Ed, 1. This week's news, or “news,” about the US Treasury’s ability, or willingness, or just trial-balloon troll-suggestion to mint a one trillion dollar ($1,000,000,000,000) platinum coin in order to extend the country’s debt-limit reminded me of some other monetary reading I encountered, during the sweltering summer, when it first became clear to many that the greatest impediment to any new American infrastructure bill wasn’t going to be the debt-ceiling but the Congressional floor. That reading, which I accomplished while preparing lunch with the help of my favorite infrastructure, namely electricity, was of a transcript of a speech given by one Christopher J. Waller, a freshly-minted governor of the United States’ 51st and most powerful state, the Federal Reserve. The subject of this speech? CBDCs—which aren’t, unfortunately, some new form of cannabinoid that you might’ve missed, but instead the acronym for Central Bank Digital Currencies—the newest danger cresting the public horizon. Now, before we go any further, let me say that it’s been difficult for me to decide what exactly this speech is—whether it’s a minority report or just an attempt to pander to his hosts, the American Enterprise Institute.  But given that Waller, an economist and a last-minute Trump appointee to the Fed, will serve his term until January 2030, we lunchtime readers might discern an effort to influence future policy, and specifically to influence the Fed’s much-heralded and still-forthcoming “discussion paper”—a group-authored text—on the topic of the costs and benefits of creating a CBDC. That is, on the costs and benefits of creating an American CBDC, because China has already announced one, as have about a dozen other countries including most recently Nigeria, which in early October will roll out the eNaira. By this point, a reader who isn’t yet a subscriber to this particular Substack might be asking themselves, what the hell is a Central Bank Digital Currency?  Reader, I will tell you. Rather, I will tell you what a CBDC is NOT—it is NOT, as Wikipedia might tell you, a digital dollar. After all, most dollars are already digital, existing not as something folded in your wallet, but as an entry in a bank’s database, faithfully requested and rendered beneath the glass of your phone. In every example, money cannot exist outside the knowledge of the Central Bank Neither is a Central Bank Digital Currency a State-level embrace of cryptocurrency—at least not of cryptocurrency as pretty much everyone in the world who uses it currently understands it. Instead, a CBDC is something closer to being a perversion of cryptocurrency, or at least of the founding principles and protocols of cryptocurrency—a cryptofascist currency, an evil twin entered into the ledgers on Opposite Day, expressly designed to deny its users the basic ownership of their money and to install the State at the mediating center of every transaction.  2. For thousands of years priors to the advent of CBDCs, money—the conceptual unit of account that we represent with the generally physical, tangible objects we call currency—has been chiefly embodied in the form of coins struck from precious metals. The adjective “precious”—referring to the fundamental limit on availability established by what a massive pain in the ass it was to find and dig up the intrinsically scarce commodity out of the ground—was important, because, well, everyone cheats: the buyer in the marketplace shaves down his metal coin and saves up the scraps, the seller in the marketplace weighs the metal coin on dishonest scales, and the minter of the coin, who is usually the regent, or the State, dilutes the preciosity of the coin’s metal with lesser materials, to say nothing of other methods. Behold the glory of thelaw The history of banking is in many ways the history of this dilution—as governments soon discovered that through mere legislation they could declare that everyone within their borders had to accept that this year’s coins were equal to last year’s coins, even if the new coins had less silver and more lead. In many countries, the penalties for casting doubt on this system, even for pointing out the adulteration, was asset-seizure at best, and at worst: hanging, beheading, death-by-fire. In Imperial Rome, this currency-degradation, which today might be described as a “financial innovation,” would go on to finance previously-unaffordable policies and forever wars, leading eventually to the Crisis of the Third Century and Diocletian’s Edict on Maximum Prices, which outlived the collapse of the Roman economy and the empire itself in an appropriately memorable way: Tired of carrying around weighty bags of dinar and denarii, post-third-century merchants, particularly post-third-century traveling merchants, created more symbolic forms of currency, and so created commercial banking—the populist version of royal treasuries—whose most important early instruments were institutional promissory notes, which didn’t have their own intrinsic value but were backed by a commodity: They were pieces of parchment and paper that represented the right to be exchanged for some amount of a more-or-less intrinsically valuable coinage. The regimes that emerged from the fires of Rome extended this concept to establish their own convertible currencies, and little tiny shreds of rag circulated within the economy alongside their identical-in-symbolic-value, but distinct-in-intrinsic-value, coin equivalents. Beginning with an increase in printing paper notes, continuing with the cancellation of the right to exchange them for coinage, and culminating in the zinc-and-copper debasement of the coinage itself, city-states and later enterprising nation-states finally achieved what our old friend Waller and his cronies at the Fed would generously describe as “sovereign currency:” a handsome napkin. Sovereign currency, as known to history Once currency is understood in this way, it’s a short hop from napkin to network. The principle is the same: the new digital token circulates alongside the increasingly-absent old physical token. At first. Just as America’s old paper Silver Certificate could once be exchanged for a shiny, one-ounce Silver Dollar, the balance of digital dollars displayed on your phone banking app can today still be redeemed at a commercial bank for one printed green napkin, so long as that bank remains solvent or retains its depository insurance.  Should that promise-of-redemption seem a cold comfort, you’d do well to remember that the napkin in your wallet is still better than what you traded it for: a mere claim on a napkin for your wallet. Also, once that napkin is securely stowed away in your purse—or murse—the bank no longer gets to decide, or even know, how and where you use it. Also, the napkin will still work when the power-grid fails. The perfect companion for any reader’s lunch. 3. Advocates of CBDCs contend that these strictly-centralized currencies are the realization of a bold new standard—not a Gold Standard, or a Silver Standard, or even a Blockchain Standard, but something like a Spreadsheet Standard, where every central-bank-issued-dollar is held by a central-bank-managed account, recorded in a vast ledger-of-State that can be continuously scrutizined and eternally revised. CBDC proponents claim that this will make everyday transactions both safer (by removing counterparty risk), and easier to tax (by rendering it well nigh impossible to hide money from the government).  CBDC opponents, however, cite that very same purported “safety” and “ease” to argue that an e-dollar, say, is merely an extension to, or financial manifestation of, the ever-encroaching surveillance state. To these critics, the method by which this proposal eradicates bankruptcy fallout and tax dodgers draws a bright red line under its deadly flaw: these only come at the cost of placing the State, newly privy to the use and custodianship of every dollar, at the center of monetary interaction. Look at China, the napkin-clingers cry, where the new ban on Bitcoin, along with the release of the digital-yuan, is clearly intended to increase the ability of the State to “intermediate”—to impose itself in the middle of—every last transaction. “Intermediation,” and its opposite “disintermediation,” constitute the heart of the matter, and it’s notable how reliant Waller’s speech is on these terms, whose origins can be found not in capitalist policy but, ironically, in Marxist critique. What they mean is: who or what stands between your money and your intentions for it. What some economists have lately taken to calling, with a suspiciously pejorative emphasis, “decentralized cryptocurrencies”—meaning Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others—are regarded by both central and commercial banks as dangerous disintermediators; precisely because they’ve been designed to ensure equal protection for all users, with no special privileges extended to the State. This “crypto”—whose very technology was primarily created in order to correct the centralization that now threatens it—was, generally is, and should be constitutionally unconcerned with who possesses it and uses it for what. To traditional banks, however, not to mention to states with sovereign currencies, this is unacceptable: These upstart crypto-competitors represent an epochal disruption, promising the possibility of storing and moving verifiable value independent of State approval, and so placing their users beyond the reach of Rome. Opposition to such free trade is all-too-often concealed beneath a veneer of paternalistic concern, with the State claiming that in the absence of its own loving intermediation, the market will inevitably devolve into unlawful gambling dens and fleshpots rife with tax fraud, drug deals, and gun-running.  It’s difficult to countenance this claim, however, when according to none other than the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the US Department of the Treasury, “Although virtual currencies are used for illicit transactions, the volume is small compared to the volume of illicit activity through traditional financial services.” Traditional financial services, of course, being the very face and definition of “intermediation”—services that seek to extract for themselves a piece of our every exchange. 4. Which brings us back to Waller—who might be called an anti-disintermediator, a defender of the commercial banking system and its services that store and invest (and often lose) the money that the American central banking system, the Fed, decides to print (often in the middle of the night). You’d be surprised how many opinion-writers are willing to publicly pretend they can’t tell the difference between an accounting trick and money-printing. And yet I admit that I still find his remarks compelling—chiefly because I reject his rationale, but concur with his conclusions. It’s Waller’s opinion, as well as my own, that the United States does not need to develop its own CBDC. Yet while Waller believes that the US doesn’t need a CBDC because of its already robust commercial banking sector, I believe that the US doesn’t need a CBDC despite the banks, whose activities are, to my mind, almost all better and more equitably accomplished these days by the robust, diverse, and sustainable ecosystem of non-State cryptocurrencies (translation: regular crypto).  I risk few readers by asserting that the commercial banking sector is not, as Waller avers, the solution, but is in fact the problem—a parasitic and utterly inefficient industry that has preyed upon its customers with an impunity backstopped by regular bail-outs from the Fed, thanks to the dubious fiction that it is “too big too fail.” But even as the banking-industrial complex has become larger, its utility has withered—especially in comparison to crypto. Commercial banking once uniquely secured otherwise risky transactions, ensuring escrow and reversibility. Similarly, credit and investment were unavailable, and perhaps even unimaginable, without it. Today you can enjoy any of these in three clicks. Still, banks have an older role. Since the inception of commercial banking, or at least since its capitalization by central banking, the industry’s most important function has been the moving of money, fulfilling the promise of those promissory notes of old by allowing their redemption in different cities, or in different countries, and by allowing bearers and redeemers of those notes to make payments on their and others’ behalf across similar distances. For most of history, moving money in such a manner required the storing of it, and in great quantities—necessitating the palpable security of vaults and guards. But as intrinsically valuable money gave way to our little napkins, and napkins give way to their intangible digital equivalents, that has changed. Today, however, there isn’t much in the vaults. If you walk into a bank, even without a mask over your face, and attempt a sizable withdrawal, you’re almost always going to be told to come back next Wednesday, as the physical currency you’re requesting has to be ordered from the rare branch or reserve that actually has it. Meanwhile, the guard, no less mythologized in the mind than the granite and marble he paces, is just an old man with tired feet, paid too little to use the gun that he carries.  These are what commercial banks have been reduced to: “intermediating” money-ordering-services that profit off penalties and fees—protected by your grandfather. In sum, in an increasingly digital society, there is almost nothing a bank can do to provide access to and protect your assets that an algorithm can’t replicate and improve upon. On the other hand, when Christmas comes around, cryptocurrencies don’t give out those little tiny desk calendars. But let’s return to close with that bank security guard, who after helping to close up the bank for the day probably goes off to work a second job, to make ends meet—at a gas station, say.  Will a CBDC be helpful to him? Will an e-dollar improve his life, more than a cash dollar would, or a dollar-equivalent in Bitcoin, or in some stablecoin, or even in an FDIC-insured stablecoin? Let’s say that his doctor has told him that the sedentary or just-standing-around nature of his work at the bank has impacted his health, and contributed to dangerous weight gain. Our guard must cut down on sugar, and his private insurance company—which he’s been publicly mandated to deal with—now starts tracking his pre-diabetic condition and passes data on that condition on to the systems that control his CBDC wallet, so that the next time he goes to the deli and tries to buy some candy, he’s rejected—he can’t—his wallet just refuses to pay, even if it was his intention to buy that candy for his granddaughter. Or, let’s say that one of his e-dollars, which he received as a tip at his gas station job, happens to be later registered by a central authority as having been used, by its previous possessor, to execute a suspicious transaction, whether it was a drug deal or a donation to a totally innocent and in fact totally life-affirming charity operating in a foreign country deemed hostile to US foreign policy, and so it becomes frozen and even has to be “civilly” forfeited. How will our beleagured guard get it back? Will he ever be able to prove that said e-dollar is legitimately his and retake possession of it, and how much would that proof ultimately cost him? Our guard earns his living with his labor—he earns it with his body, and yet by the time that body inevitably breaks down, will he have amassed enough of a grubstake to comfortably retire? And if not, can he ever hope to rely on the State’s benevolent, or even adequate, provision—for his welfare, his care, his healing?  This is the question that I’d like Waller, that I’d like all of the Fed, and the Treasury, and the rest of the US government, to answer:  Of all the things that might be centralized and nationalized in this poor man’s life, should it really be his money? Subscribe here Tyler Durden Sun, 10/10/2021 - 20:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 10th, 2021

Hedge Fund CIO: China"s Attempt To Crush Digital Assets Has Backfired Spectacularly

Hedge Fund CIO: China's Attempt To Crush Digital Assets Has Backfired Spectacularly By Michael Every, CIO of One River Asset Management “Is it your intention to ban or limit the use of cryptocurrencies, like we’re seeing in China?” asked Ted Budd, Republican congressman from North Carolina. “No,” replied Fed Chairman Jay Powell. “No intention to ban them?” asked Budd again. “No intention to ban them, but stablecoins are like money market funds, they’re like bank deposits; they’re to some extent outside the regulatory perimeter, and it’s appropriate that they be regulated,” answered Powell. And as it sunk in that the world’s largest economy would not chase China to stifle private sector innovation in the field of blockchain technology, digital assets prices surged Getting Real The US dollar is the world’s reserve currency. 59.2% of all official foreign exchange reserves are held as US dollars. 20.5% are euros. 5.8% are Japanese yen. 4.8% are British pounds sterling. 2.6% are Chinese renminbi -- slightly more than the 2.2% of reserves held in Canadian dollars. 1.8% are Australian dollars. The remaining few percent are various other small currencies that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Swiss francs would be an example. Some reserves are held in gold. Someday, there will be digital asset reserves too. For a foreign nation to hold dollars in reserve, it must first acquire them. It can either purchase those dollars in foreign exchange markets, or it can acquire the dollars by selling its goods, services, hard assets, or financial assets. There are consequences to such transactions. One of them is that the dollar’s value relative to other currencies is higher than it would be if these nations were not buying and holding dollars in reserve. Another is that by acquiring so many dollars and holding them in reserve, the US is forced to run a current account deficit. When the US runs large deficits, it consumes more than it produces, buying goods/services/assets from foreign nations. This supports economic growth in those nations, job creation, etc. In a world of ever-expanding globalization, such a dynamic was seen as a benefit by almost everyone. Even Americans who lost their manufacturing jobs to foreigners tolerated this for a while. It fed easy credit and cheap consumer goods. Those on the losing-end of globalization remained subdued. That changed in recent years. And it is manifesting politically. Were the US dollar to lose its reserve currency status, it would decline relative to other currencies. The US current account deficit would have to shrink. In the extreme, US deficits would turn to surpluses – foreign investors, or the lack thereof in this case, would be imposing austerity on US policy. This would be an unmitigated disaster for nations that have built economies to export products and services – almost every nation in the world. So, would any of these countries want to see that? It’s hard to imagine why they would. And it is easy to imagine these nations would try desperately to avoid such an outcome.   So, if the cost of having the world’s dominant reserve currency includes running large current account deficits, having an overvalued currency, and losing manufacturing jobs, why would any nation want this? It appears no nation really does. The Germans buried their deutschmark by adopting the euro. The Europeans wouldn’t tolerate the cost of having the dominant reserve currency. The Japanese sell the yen whenever it gets too strong. There is only one other nation that has an economy that is big enough to potentially bear the costs required to shoulder the burden of issuing the world’s reserve currency – China. China has several large problems. It is now ageing. Its working age population is shrinking. And unlike Japan, which became a rich nation before starting its demographic collapse, China is still quite poor. Being poor is rough, growing old is tough, experiencing both simultaneously is brutal. After spending decades building the means of production to supply the world with manufactured goods, it may be difficult for China to convince the world they have the fluidity to accommodate being the world’s reserve currency. The benefits to China are clear – the promise of more consumption with more access to global credit at comparatively low interest rates. But the costs are extraordinary and include a loss of control at a time when China is fixated on exerting its dominion.     * * * Anecdote “All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they,” appeared unexpectedly in Xi’s empty mind, the Lao Tzu quote disturbing his morning meditation. Agitated, he inhaled deeply, pausing momentarily, his lungs full, in search of stillness. “Humility gives it its power,” further penetrated Xi’s thoughts, interrupting the moment. As a child, Xi studied the philosophical teachings of Lao Tzu, committing his ancient wisdom to memory. “If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. And if you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.” This of course, is the source of Xi’s greatest anxiety. China’s swift rise from utter destitution required the state to dominate the activities of its citizens. “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield,” now leaked into Xi’s mind, his meditation a mess, haunted by Lao Tzu. “As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.” As China rises and its centrally controlled bureaucracy flourishes, it grows increasingly brittle. All such structures ultimately do. “If you are untrusting, people will not trust you.” Lao Tzu’s words gnawing at Xi, his security state tightening its grip on individuals in ways that would’ve made an East German Stasi blush. Beijing’s latest technological vice is its central bank digital currency, which in a nation where the government remains above the rule of law, gives leaders vast new power over its 1.46bln subjects. Xi had naturally hoped Washington would follow Beijing’s lead, undermining the source of America’s strength - which is to defend the value of the individual over the collective. But now it appeared Washington would do no such thing. The WSJ reported Washington would instead seek to regulate private-sector US dollar stablecoin using existing law. Limiting government dominion in sensible ways. Paving the way for innovation. Xi sighed. “The world belongs to those who let go.” “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak,” whispered Xi to himself, refocusing on Sun Tzu wisdom, pushing Lao Tzu to the far recesses of his rattled mind. Xi recognized the near impossibility of his renminbi overtaking the US dollar, and yet there is value in having so many people believe this is his plan. The world’s nations hold $7.1trln in official US dollar reserves (22.7x the world’s $312bln renminbi held in official reserves). “Know yourself and you will win all battles,” thought Xi, recounting his favorite Sun Tzu quote, as true today as when the general wrote it in 530 BC, penning the Art of War. Xi’s decision to outlaw cryptocurrency trading was a risk he had preferred to avoid. It revealed a great weakness. When given the opportunity, Chinese citizens sell their renminbi to escape an economic system where his government remains above the rule of law. So, naturally, Xi restricted his subject’s ability to exchange renminbi for dollars. In the digital world, absent political coercion, the free market overwhelmingly chose the US dollar as the ecosystem’s stablecoin with 98% of that market’s $126bln now linked to dollars (representing over $100trln/yr in turnover). A large percentage of trading in US dollar stablecoin originated in China. Xi outlawed this activity too. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting,” thought Xi, ordering yet more fighter planes to violate Taiwan’s airspace, distracting those who might otherwise see his nation as nearing the apex of its power, the world shifting away from globalization, as China’s working age population enters its inexorable decline. And now the US will allow digital assets to trade alongside its dollar. For all of America’s obvious weaknesses, it remained sufficiently confident to allow its citizens to choose. “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across,” whispered Xi, beginning to wonder whether his adversaries would someday grant him such a path. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/03/2021 - 16:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 3rd, 2021

El Salvador Is Betting on Bitcoin to Rebrand the Country — and Strengthen the President’s Grip

Will the country's adoption of the digital currency help its people, or just its president? When Roman Martinez was growing up in El Zonte, a small coastal village in El Salvador, the American Dream loomed large. Beyond the local fishing industry, which Martinez’s parents worked in, there weren’t a lot of opportunities. “Young people just wanted to leave, to go to the U.S.,” he says. “But now we have a Salvadoran dream.” It’s a dream about Bitcoin. Two years ago an anonymous American donor sent more than $100,000 in the decentralized digital currency, or cryptocurrency, to an NGO that Martinez works for in El Zonte to pay for social programs. As the team began encouraging families and businesses to use Bitcoin, many of the town’s residents, most of whom had never had a bank account, began saving their money in the currency, making gains as its value surged. Curious tourists flooded into the town and foreign businesses set up shop. The project gave El Zonte the nickname “Bitcoin beach,” simultaneously a philanthropic endeavour and one of the world’s largest experiments in cryptocurrency. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “People with little income, who didn’t have access to a financial system, with $5 worth of Bitcoin they can start building something that can be the legacy they leave to their children,” Martinez says, over video call, wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with Bitcoin’s orange logo. It was partly El Zonte’s experiment that inspired El Salvador last month to become the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender—alongside the U.S. dollar, which El Salvador has used as its currency since 2001. The Bitcoin law, which came into force on Sept. 7, makes taxes payable in Bitcoin, obliges all businesses to accept it, and paves the way for the government to disburse subsidies in it. The government has built a network of 200 Bitcoin ATMs and a digital Bitcoin wallet app, called Chivo, through which it has distributed $30 worth of Bitcoin to every Salvadoran citizen in a bid to kickstart the Bitcoin economy. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele claims 2.1 million Salvadorans have used Chivo so far, in a country of 6 million people. Bukele is touting Bitcoin as a way for Salvadorans to reduce the fees they pay to send and receive remittances—which make up 22% of El Salvador’s GDP, mostly from the U.S.—and as a way for the 70% of Salvadorans who are unbanked to access financial services. He’s not alone in advocating for cryptocurrencies as a way for developing economies to bypass a global financial system in which access to services and investment are geared towards the world’s richer countries and individuals. Crypto has achieved its highest penetration mostly in countries where banking systems are costly and complicated to use, or where local economies and currencies are unstable. But critics say making Bitcoin—notoriously volatile and not subject to controls by any central bank—into legal tender is an unjustifiable gamble for El Salvador’s already ailing economy. The $200 million of taxpayer money congress has devoted to the project equates to 2.7% of the government’s total budget for 2021, or almost three times the agriculture ministry’s budget for the year. The uncertainty introduced by the Bitcoin policy has sent the price of government bonds tumbling, and halted negotiations for a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the country is seeking to plug a $1.5 billion hole in its public finances. ‘The coolest dictator in the world’ For the President, a 40 year-old with the casual wardrobe and cheeky communication style of a tech entrepreneur, Bitcoin is about more than its immediate economic impact, though. It’s a chance to rebrand El Salvador, from a country known primarily for gang violence and a sluggish economy that drives emigration to the U.S., to an independent, modern crypto pioneer. For young Salvadorans like Martinez, that means creating a Salvadoran dream. For the international community, it’s a rebuke to a world order that casts El Salvador as the backyard to the U.S.—which Bukele has increasingly railed against since taking power in 2019. Instead, he casts El Salvador as an independent hub of innovation, aligned with the anti-establishment crypto community, members of which have flooded and celebrated the country in recent months and will return for a large crypto conference in November. Envisioning the transformation he witnessed in El Zonte taking place across the country, Martinez is excited—despite doubts among the wider population. “We’re used to new things happening in the U.S. or Canada or Europe,” Martinez says. “Now we’ve changed the narrative about El Salvador and started moving forward. Michael Nagle—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesNayib Bukele, El Salvador’s president, speaks in a prerecorded video during the United Nations General Assembly via live stream in New York on Sept. 23, 2021. But there’s another narrative unfolding in El Salvador. Since Bukele’s party, New Ideas, won a landslide victory at parliamentary elections in February, he has moved rapidly to undermine the structures of El Salvador’s democracy. In May, parliament voted to replace opposition-linked judges on the supreme court with Bukele allies, bringing all levers of power under his control. In September—a few days before the Bitcoin launch—the same court ruled that Bukele can run for a second term in 2024, in defiance of El Salvador’s constitution, triggering sanctions from the U.S. He has also stepped up attacks on the media, including launching criminal investigations into news organizations and kicking critical journalists out of the country. Analysts say the Bitcoin experiment is part of Bukele’s proto-strongman trajectory. “He’s fallen in love with his own power and wants to nurture this cool millennial President image through this adventure into the Bitcoin world,” says Tiziano Breda, a Central America analyst at the International Crisis Group, a think tank. It’s working for him, largely. The Bitcoin law has sparked the first major protests of his presidency, with 8,000 people marching in San Salvador on Sept. 15— a significant number of people in a country where street protest is unusual. But the President’s approval ratings still stand above 85%. With that backing, Bukele is deeply dismissive of global concern about his leadership. On Sept 18, he changed his bio on Twitter to “Dictator of El Salvador,” clearly trolling the international press. Then, a couple of days later he changed it again, to “The coolest dictator in the world.” El Salvador’s rapid transformation On the night that Bitcoin launched in El Salvador, Nelson Rauda, a reporter for independent newspaper El Faro, went to a party. At a sleek hotel bar next to an infinity pool overlooking the pacific ocean in the department of La Libertad, crypto enthusiasts and internet celebrities from the U.S., including YouTuber Logan Paul, danced and let off fireworks to celebrate a major moment for the cryptocurrency. Some wore headdresses and carried orange signs featuring Bitcoin’s white B logo. Almost everyone was speaking English. ”The scenery, and the location was a beach in El Salvador, but it could have been anywhere else in the world,” Rauda says. “[The crypto community] want to portray themselves as bringing a future and development to El Salvador through Bitcoin— a kind of white saviorism in that sense. But most of them are not interested in the country, just business.” Bukele’s government welcomes their business. The President claims that if 1% of the world’s Bitcoin were invested in El Salvador, it would raise GDP by 25%. He has offered permanent residency to anyone who spends three Bitcoin (currently around $125,000). He has also highlighted the fact that, since Bitcoin is legal tender, rather than an investment asset, foreigners who move to El Salvador will not have to pay capital gains tax in the country on any profits made if the cryptocurrency’s value increases. To that he adds, in English, “Great weather, world class surfing beaches, beach front properties for sale” as reasons that crypto entrepreneurs should move to El Salvador. This pragmatic, salesman-like tone is something that Salvadorans appear to appreciate from their President. Though he served as mayor of the capital, San Salvador until 2018, Bukele ran for the presidency in 2019 as a political outsider. He used his direct link with millions of followers on social media to pit himself against the right and leftwing parties that had ruled the country since its civil war in the 1980s. That conflict, in which the U.S. played a decisive role by funding opponents of leftist rebels, sowed the seeds of many of El Salvador’s current problems: chronically low economic growth, weak institutions vulnerable to corruption, the world’s worst rates of gang violence and one of the lowest rates of direct foreign investment in Central America. Bukele argued, convincingly, that the postwar governments had failed to meaningfully address those woes over three decades. Since taking office, Bukele has projected an image of ruthless efficiency. In February 2020, he and a group of armed soldiers stormed into parliament in order to pressure lawmakers to pass his budget plan. He has slashed rates of gang violence, with the country’s homicide rate falling from 51 per 100,000 in 2018 to 19 per 100,000 in 2020 (Experts debate whether this is a result of Bukele’s security policy, gang trends independent of him, or a secretive quid pro quo deal he may have struck with gang leaders). He adopted a hardline response to COVID-19, ordering one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns and giving security forces the right to put any rule-breakers in detention centers, a move human rights watchdogs say led to violent repression. The unprecedented popularity Bukele has enjoyed has allowed him to move faster than Latin America observers expected to take anti-democratic steps, such as intervening in the judiciary, Breda says. “For many other sort of authoritarian governments in the region, it took [many] years to do the things that Bukele has done in such a sweeping way. The pace is definitely surprising.” Marvin Recinos—AFP/Getty ImagesIlluminated drones form figures inspired by the Bitcoin logo in El Sunzal Beach, El Salvador, on Sept. 7, 2021. ‘Bitcoin is costing the country dearly’ Those who are most sceptical of Bukele—conservative economists—see his Bitcoin law as new packaging for an old move for populist authoritarian leaders in Latin America. The policy was labelled a “Bitcoin scam” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “They’re always trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat,” says Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at the John Hopkins University and director of the Troubled Currencies Project at the libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. “They say: ‘We’ve had all these financial problems because of all these irresponsible leaders we’ve had in the past. And now here I am riding a white horse and I’ve got some new gimmick that’s going to solve it all. It’s called Bitcoin.’” Hanke helped advise the Salvadoran government on the country’s dollarization, when it adopted the U.S. dollar as its sole currency in 2001. From 1993 the Salvadoran colón had been pegged to the U.S. dollar on a fixed exchange rate, in a successful effort to keep previously rampant inflation under control. After eight years, the government opted to fully replace the colón with the dollar. That made the economy more stable and lowered the cost of borrowing, but limited Salvadoran governments’ freedom to spend money, particularly in times of financial crisis. Hanke and others have speculated that the Bitcoin move is a first step towards scrapping dollarization altogether and issuing a national digital currency. That would both enable looser public spending, and reduce the impact of U.S. sanctions. But for local economists, the immediate concern is how Bitcoin could complicate El Salvador’s path out of a deep pandemic recession. “Public finances in El Salvador are on a knife edge. Public debt stands at close to 90% of GDP and the government needs to find almost $1.5 billion to close the year and pay its obligations,” says Alvaro Trigueros Arguello, director of economic studies at FUSADES, a San Salvador-based development thinktank. Though El Salvador’s economy is growing—with the Central Bank saying Sept. 29 that GDP is on course to surge by 9% this year—Trigueros Arguello says this is mostly due to a temporary factors, including the reopening of businesses after COVID-19 restrictions and a surge in remittances after the disbursement of pandemic aid packages in the U.S. The Bitcoin rollout has complicated El Salvador’s relationship with the IMF, from which it is seeking a $1 billion assistance package. In June the fund denied a request by El Salvador to assist in its Bitcoin rollout. It cited the lack of transparency in cryptocurrencies, arguing that the difficulty of tracing who makes Bitcoin transactions has facilitated criminal activity elsewhere, as well as environmental concerns about widening the use of Btcoin, which requires vasts amount of energy to produce. Fears over the cryptocurrency’s impact on El Salvador’s macroeconomic stability have stalled negotiations between El Salvador and the IMF, Trigueros Arguello says. “The government needs international credit and because of Bitcoin, it’s not getting it,” Trigueros Arguello says. “Bitcoin is costing the country dearly.” Camilo Freedman—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesDemonstrators hold signs during a protest against President Bukele and Bitcoin in San Salvador on Sept. 15, 2021. The backdrop to El Salvador’s experiment hasn’t undermined the excitement for those who want crypto currencies to be more widely used. Bitcoin Twitter has filled with tweets celebrating how easy it is for Salvadorans to use the currency in places like Starbucks, and praising Bukele’s foresight. “I’m totally excited about what’s happening in El Salvador. [Particularly] the fact that it’s happening in Latin America,” says Cristóbal Pereira, CEO of Blockchain Summit LatAm, a regional conference covering the blockchain technology that underlies Bitcoin, which will host events at El Salvador’s own Bitcoin conference in November. “If people end up using it widely, there’s a good chance other countries and people will end up using it more too.” It’s too early to tell if the buzz will be matched by the significant investments Bukele is hoping for. Analysts say businesses will likely wait and see how the bitcoin rollout affects El Salvador’s economic stability before striking any major deals. Mike Petersen, an American who moved to El Zonte in 2005 and helped found the Bitcoin beach, says he’s received a “a huge flood of [enquiries from] businesses that want to set up shop here, because, for the first time they are realizing, hey, Salvador is a forward looking country.” Those include companies in the Bitcoin space, such as exchanges and ATM networks, but also real estate developers, manufacturing companies and “some lighting and architectural companies that are now outsourcing, hiring architectural students here to do design and and put together bids for them. Because they can pay them in Bitcoin.” Peterson says he doubts that concern about the political situation in El Salvador will have any impact on investors. “Elite media circles are the ones that are more focused on that. I think, in the business climate, people are more pragmatic and practical about things. And they see that Bukele is extremely popular.” What’s not necessarily popular, so far, is Bitcoin. Bukele claims that a third of Salvadorans are actively using Chivo, but it is unclear how many are only using the app to access the initial $30 gift from the government. Media outlets in El Salvador reported long queues for the ATMs, where most people were converting their Bitcoin to take dollars home with them. In the first week of the rollout, one of the country’s largest banks told The Financial Times that the cryptocurrency accounted for fewer than 0.0001 % of its daily transactions. Rauda, the El Faro reporter, says he knows “no one” who’s using Bitcoin on a regular basis. Teething troubles The government gave itself just three months after parliament approved its Bitcoin law in June to introduce the currency, leading to a series of technical issues with the Chivo wallet app. Crypto bloggers reported cash taking days to show up in their Chivo accounts after being transferred by other users, bugs making the app unusable, and an initial inability to transfer any sum below $5. Bukele, who took to Twitter throughout the launch to offer emoji-laden tech support messages, claimed most of the technical problems were resolved within a few days. The bumpy rollout helped trigger a 10% fall in the value of Bitcoin against the day it became legal tender, and further falls since. On Sept. 20 Bukele said his government had “bought the dip” and acquired 150 more coins, bringing the country’s total holding to 700 (around $22 million). Chaotic rollouts of new government programs are not unique to El Salvador. But some in the Bitcoin community have concerns about the structure of the country’s experiment, beyond the initial hiccups. Marc Falzon, a New Jersey-based Bitcoin YouTuber who visited San Salvador to document the rollout, says he became concerned about Salvadoran taxpayers footing the bill despite opposition to the policy, and about Article 6 of the Bitcoin law, which says that all economic actors in the country must accept Bitcoin if they have the technical capacity to do so. “Forcing people to accept a decentralized currency from a centralized authority ebbs away at the legitimacy of not just Bitcoin, but cryptocurrency in general,” he says. Supporters of the project point out that Salvadorans don’t have to keep their money in Bitcoin if they don’t want to, with the government guaranteeing their ability to transfer them into U.S. dollars via its national development bank and a range of services allowing businesses to make that transfer automatically. But Falzon says that the positive image of EL Salvador’s rollout generated by Bitcoin influencers on Instagram and Twitter didn’t reflect what he saw. In a health store near his hotel, for example, the shopkeeper said she couldn’t afford to restock because so many Bitcoin payments made by customers had simply never shown up in her Chivo app account. “For people in the Bitcoin and crypto community, El Salvador is a ‘told you so moment,’ proof that this isn’t just a fad. And I think that in that enthusiasm, we can lose sight of both the bigger picture—in how future countries may start to follow suit—and also of the individual experiences of the people that are in these countries.” Some individuals are happy though. Martinez, the community activist who grew up in El Zonte, says the town’s experience suggests hesitancy to use Bitcoin—and opposition to the Bitcoin law—will fade as Salvadorans become more used to the technology, and become widespread within a few years. He’s not concerned, he says, by how Bitcoin may play into Bukele’s larger political project. “As an NGO, we’re apolitical. We support anything that can make a better El Salvador. And I think we’re walking towards a better future.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 1st, 2021

How London Became a Global Center for Fintech and What U.S. Tech Hubs Can Learn From It

When Silicon Valley veteran Eileen Burbidge moved to London in 2004, it was only meant to be temporary. With more than a decade of experience at tech stalwarts including Apple, Sun Microsystems and Verizon Wireless, the Chicago native felt a stint in Europe might help advance her career back in the U.S. With no language… When Silicon Valley veteran Eileen Burbidge moved to London in 2004, it was only meant to be temporary. With more than a decade of experience at tech stalwarts including Apple, Sun Microsystems and Verizon Wireless, the Chicago native felt a stint in Europe might help advance her career back in the U.S. With no language barrier and an emerging software-development market, London was an obvious choice. She took on a job as product director for a newly launched startup named Skype. Nearly 20 years later, Burbidge is still there. Now co-founder and partner of early-stage venture-capital firm Passion Capital, she has established herself as an intrinsic part of London’s financial technology, or “fintech,” scene. Burbidge was the digital representative on former Prime Minister David Cameron’s business advisory panel and was honored by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 as a member of the Order of the British Empire—or MBE—for services to U.K. business. She also served as tech ambassador for the office of the mayor of London, and is now a fintech envoy to the U.K. Treasury. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] It’s little surprise then that Burbidge sees London firmly at the beating heart of the tech-forward financial world. “It’s got the unique combination of a financial-services heritage, with 300 of the world’s banking headquarters based here, plus progressive policy-makers who support fintech innovation,” she tells TIME over video call from her home office in North London. The U.K. capital has for centuries been a center of global finance, with long-established trading exchanges and trusted banking and insurance institutions. In the digital era, it has become an emerging hub for fintech companies, which use technology to improve financial services. Not even the uncertainty presented by the U.K.’s departure from the European Union in early 2020, coupled with the disruption of the global pandemic, has stemmed growth. Venture-capital firms invested $4.57 billion in U.K.-based fintech companies last year, making the country second only to the U.S., where investment was $19.6 billion, according to growth platform Tech Nation’s annual report on the U.K. tech sector. And in the first half of 2021 alone, U.K. tech companies raised more than $18 billion worth of venture-capital funding, according to figures compiled for the U.K.’s Digital Economy Council. “Investors showing their confidence in London’s fintech offering reinforces our city’s position as a leading global hub for this important and growing industry,” Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, says in a statement. “Despite the impact of Brexit and the pandemic, we’ve seen record levels of funding for fintech businesses in the first six months of the year.” The success story of this boom in fintech innovation has undoubtedly been so-called challenger banks— digital-only banking apps that use cloud-based infrastructure, embedded artificial intelligence, and agile frameworks to give consumers easier and faster access to banking services and financial products. Companies like Revolut, Starling Bank and Monzo have raised increasingly large sums of money and established themselves as household names among their tech-savvy, largely millennial and Gen Z consumer base, many of whom have eschewed traditional retail banking in favor of these more user-friendly banking apps. How London evolved to become a challenger to established hubs for innovation in the U.S. has lessons for entrepreneurs and investors who find an increasingly difficult regulatory environment and a shrinking talent pool for development in California, New York or Texas. Burbidge, one of the key architects of the fintech boom, sees a changing of the guard. “Before long my colleagues [in the U.S.] stopped asking when I was coming back and by 2016 were instead coming across to join me,” she says. When Burbidge set about building her team at Skype in 2004, the lack of qualified workers was one of the biggest challenges she faced. “Despite this burgeoning tech and digital sector in London, it was impossible for me to find a product manager, and the first few hires I made all came over from the States.” Now, she says there is a “wide concentration of developers, so much more than San Jose or New York.” That change has been helped in part by shifts in London’s economic ecosystem in the past decade. As a bruised City of London emerged from the financial crisis, it had lost its shine for some workers, who had seen how antiquated technology and a lack of innovation were stagnating progress and career development. Public attitudes toward the City had cooled amid austerity measures that also exacerbated problems for those who were unbanked or underserved by traditional outlets. It was this environment that led Starling Bank’s founder Anne Boden—who spent 30 years working for traditional banking heavyweights that had been battered by the crisis, like ABN Amro, Royal Bank of Scotland and Allied Irish Banks—to launch her own bank in 2014. “I noticed that banking hadn’t progressed technologically, and this frustrated me,” says Boden. “The big banks seemed to be stuck in the past … Their systems were slow and yet no one seemed to be improving them. I realized that if I wanted to see a real digital bank in action, I would have to launch one myself.” Boden says she founded Starling as “a more human alternative to the banks of the past.” The digital bank, which counts Fidelity and the Qatar Investment Authority among its backers, was recently valued at $1.7 billion. Many others in the financial industry had similar sentiments to Boden’s, and left the industry to join some of London’s burgeoning startups or create their own fintechs. As attitudes have shifted, the conveyor belt that once took the brightest young minds from the halls of Europe’s top universities to the trading floors and deal rooms of investment banks has slowed, and fintechs have been reaping the benefits. Nikolay Storonsky, the British-Russian CEO of Revolut, says it was London’s talent pool that was most compelling when he established the company in 2015. “We have a hugely diverse U.K. workforce—more than 80 nationalities—many of whom were Londoners already, and others who were enthusiastic to come here.” Dan Kitwood—Getty ImagesLondon’s Canary Wharf business district, where fintech company Revolut is based Storonsky, a former derivatives trader at Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse, was also able to tap two talent pipelines to fuel the company’s phenomenal growth. “London’s eminence as a world financial centre is a huge advantage. There’s deep experience and talent here, both from the financial sector and from the startup world,” he says in an email. Burbidge found that what wasn’t as established in London was the early-stage venture-capital funding network that startups need to grow, and that creates unicorns. In the U.K., venture-capital firms have typically been later-stage investors, meaning startup founders have had to rely on angel investors, bank loans and even their own cash for early funding. Burbidge and her two business partners at the time, Robert Dighero and Stefan Glaenzer, who has since left the firm, decided to replicate the Silicon Valley model of first-round funding through Passion Capital when they founded it in 2009. They were determined to back exciting and dynamic startups, leading to standout investments in GoCardless in 2011 and Monzo in 2015. The latter neobank, known for its distinctive colorful debit cards that can be used abroad without fees, has since surpassed a $1 billion valuation and is piloting a beta version of its app in the U.S. in partnership with Sutton Bank. A major reason challenger banks have been able to thrive in London is a supportive regulatory environment, says Storonsky, whose Revolut is now valued at $33 billion, making it the U.K.’s most valuable tech company in history. U.K. watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has taken an active role, engaging with banks and new fintech companies on consumer-focused solutions, and it has established a world-class sandbox, where approved new fintech firms can test products with real consumers. Yet by 2016, just as the fintech industry was becoming established in London, storm clouds loomed on the horizon. That summer, the British public voted to leave the E.U.—although notably voters in London backed Remain by 60-40. London’s financial industry grew into what it is today partly because its rules mirrored those of the E.U., allowing for seamless transactions. Many in the London-based fintech industry were concerned about how Brexit might change the legal framework that the City operates within. The U.K. ultimately left the bloc last January, but Burbidge says that there has been no doomsday scenario so far: “We certainly haven’t seen the big asset managers or banks clear out of London. Perhaps that’s because it’s been the home of traditional financial-services institutions for so long—there’s still a draw.” The regulatory environment remains advantageous for fintech companies post-Brexit, she says. “If you’re going to be a fintech you do have to be regulated and domiciled, which means you’re subject to compliance. And the U.K. is one of the most progressive and forward-thinking homes for fintech.” For the industry to continue growing, however, it will also require the pool of talent to be continually replenished, but restrictions on freedom of movement between the U.K. and the E.U. may make that harder. The U.K. fintech industry employed 76,500 people in 2017, and that was projected to reach 105,500 by 2030 if immigration rules remained as they were. Simon Schmincke, a partner at venture-capital firm Creandum, which has invested in several U.K. fintech companies, says that bringing in talent from other countries is becoming a headache for many companies: “I am stunned that in two years, we still haven’t figured out how to bring smart people in quickly. And that is having both a negative impact on individual companies and on the country’s image.” It used to be that “everyone was welcome as long as you worked hard and smart,” Schmincke says. “Now, that image is fading.” Last year, after the U.K. formally left the E.U., Britain’s Finance Minister Rishi Sunak commissioned businessman Ron Kalifa to chair an independent strategic review of how the U.K. government, regulators, and companies can support the growth and widespread adoption of fintech and maintain Britain’s global reputation in the sector. The government has committed to adopting a number of the report’s recommendations. “We’ve set out a road map to sharpen the U.K.’s competitive advantage and deliver a more open, green and technologically advanced financial-services sector,” a spokesperson for the U.K. Treasury said. The government plans to support U.K. fintech companies by introducing new visa routes for foreign workers, enhancing its regulatory toolbox, reforming its market-listing rules and exploring a central-bank digital currency, the spokesperson said. These kinds of reforms will be necessary for London to retain its competitive edge, according to Shampa Roy-Mukherjee, associate professor and director of impact and innovation at the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, University of East London. European countries such as Malta and Lithuania are taking advantage of the uncertainty caused by Brexit to offer new homes to London-based fintech companies, she says. “These countries are able to provide the fintech companies regulatory authorization to trade with the E.U., which the U.K. currently cannot provide.” U.S. investors haven’t been scared off by Brexit—and in fact have helped to power the U.K.’s fintech industry to greater heights. John Doran, general partner at U.S. growth-capital firm TCV, an investor in Revolut, says in an email that the company’s fundamentals were the key consideration. “We look to invest behind exceptionally driven visionary founders, who are building category leaders in industries undergoing a massive structural shift, and Revolut has all of these things.” It also has the size and clout to pursue growth in the U.S. market. Similarly to Monzo’s relationship with Sutton, Revolut currently partners with Metropolitan Commercial Bank, but it applied for an independent U.S. banking license in March and began offering services to small and medium-size businesses in the U.S. Burbidge is skeptical that the success of London could be as easily replicated across the pond. “It’s definitely down to the culture and ecosystem,” she says. “Because the U.S. is so siloed in terms of regulation, the success of financial-services hubs would be difficult to replicate.” She says entrepreneurs in London are more mindful of customer outcomes than their U.S. counterparts. Partly in an effort to avoid comparisons with payday-loan apps that have been criticized for predatory tactics in recent years, many U.K. founders have worked to ensure that “wellness and mental health are built in at the core of new startups,” Burbidge says. “Historically this hasn’t been part of the startup culture in the U.S.” She adds that the FCA is more attuned to these issues and wields “a far greater influence” in the U.K. than regulators do in the U.S. “While attitudes toward financial inclusion and customer outcomes are shifting over there, I believe if they had started thinking earlier about it as a proposition, they would have attracted further investment and customers. It’s a missed opportunity for the U.S.” America’s biggest bank has taken notice of the particular advantages the U.K. market offers too. On Sept. 21, JPMorgan Chase launched its digital bank, Chase, in the U.K., marking the commercial bank’s first foray outside the U.S. in its 222-year history. It is attempting to attract U.K. consumers in the competitive market with a range of cash-back and savings offers. The bank has indicated it is in it for the long haul, and is prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to become profitable in the U.K. Burbidge isn’t planning on leaving London anytime soon either, and remains its biggest cheerleader. “It’s a city with a massive commercial center, but it’s also the policymaking hub of the U.K. and additionally so creative and diverse that it’s as if you combined all of San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles all into one megacity,” she says. “It’s hard to beat.” —With reporting by Eloise Barry/London.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 1st, 2021

PayPal and Visa are among the companies that will help the Bank of England work on a UK digital currency

Two forums will help the BoE and the UK Treasury department understand the technological and practical challenges surrounding a CBDC. The BOE hasn't decided yet to launch a digital pound sterling. Thomson Reuters Representatives from Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Morgan Stanley will participate. UK officials haven't yet decided whether they will launch a central bank digital currency. But British finance minister Rishi Sunak previously dubbed a possible BoE-backed cryptocurrency 'Britcoin'. See more stories on Insider's business page. The Bank of England and the UK Treasury department said Wednesday that PayPal, Amazon and Visa will be among the corporate representatives participating in two advisory groups that are exploring a possible central bank digital currency."Britcoin" is what British finance minister Rishi Sunak dubbed a possible BoE-backed cryptocurrency. Earlier this year, the UK formed the advisory groups - the Technology Forum and the Engagement Forum - as well as a separate task force to coordinate exploratory work on a potential CBDC. The Technology Forum, which held its first meeting this month, will help the BoE understand the technological challenges of designing, operating, and implementing a digital fiat currency.Among the group's members is Edwin Aoki, PayPal's chief technology officer for blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital currencies; and David MacKeith, principal technology advisor at Amazon Web Services. Visa's head of solution architecture, Max Malcolm, as well as Mastercard's vice president of blockchain and digital assets, Patrick O'Donnell, are also part of the Technology Forum. The Engagement Forum will aid the central bank and the Treasury understand the practical challenges surrounding a CBDC. That group will include key stakeholders from the areas of industry, civil society and academia. Representatives from banking heavyweights Morgan Stanley and HSBC will serve in that group, which will hold its first meeting later this year. The majority of the world's central banks are studying the benefits and drawbacks of CBDCs, according to a survey by the Bank for International Settlements. Using CBDCs could slash costs and time off of cross-border payments, the BIS said in a report published Tuesday. A prototype of a digital currencies platform showed transfer speeds of cross-border payments were cut down to seconds from days. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 29th, 2021

Distraction As Policy While Our Economic Rome Burns

Distraction As Policy While Our Economic Rome Burns Authored by Matthew Piepenberg via GoldSwitzerland.com, Desperation and distraction are masquerading as economic policy. Below we see how and why...and at what cost... COVID: The Great Economic and Political Hall-Pass If every time I stole a cookie from the jar in front of my mom (age 8), or drove dad’s car (sometimes into a tree) without permission (age 16), failed a dorm-room inspection (age 17), broke a lawnmower for driving over a fence post (each year) or forgot a key anniversary (eh-hmm), it would have been so convenient to have a universal “hall pass” to excuse what is/was otherwise just plain stupid behavior. Luckily for the grown children running our global financial system into the ground, the COVID pandemic is becoming precisely that: “A global hall pass for excusing decades of stupid.” As we’ve written many times, inexcusably high debt levels, tanking growth data, struggling work force figures, embarrassing wealth disparity and insider market rigging between Wall Street and DC was well in play long before COVID made the headlines. But now, the architects of such “pre-COVID stupid” have the current COVID narrative to justify and excuse even, well… more stupid. The Latest Jobs Report “Explained” … Take, for example, the latest job reports data from those DC-based creative writers at that comic-book publication otherwise known as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Known for years on Wall Street as mathematical magicians capable of turning 12% inflation into a 2% CPI lie, that same BLS is operating yet again to fib away the latest (and otherwise telling) jobs data. The September jobs report was the second consecutive and disappointing report from the BLS, which they were quick to blame on “pandemic-related staffing fluctuations.” Hmmm. That’s a nice phrase, no? “Pandemic-related staffing fluctuations.” But the real description boils down to something more PRAVDA-like under the new Biden Vaccine Mandate, namely: “Obey or we take your job away.” Needless to say, not everyone is obeying. Since 2020, employment in local government education is down by 310,000; in state government education, employment is down by 194,000 jobs, and in private education the numbers are down by 172,000. Ouch. Why such “staffing fluctuations”? The answer is simple: Many educated folks in the education sector don’t like being mandated to inject a vaccine into their bodies which by all reports from vaccinated infection rates, is no vaccine at all, but a debatable form of treatment at best. Thankfully for all of us, I’m not interested in debating the hard vaccine data here, as folks like me should not be proffering unwanted medical expertise, which I clearly lack. No one, myself included, really knows everything about mutating virology, but I’d wager to say that many of us are more mathematically dubious than Fauci is medically honest… Jefferson (and History) Ignored For followers of American history and markets, however, certain ideals and facts are easier to track despite distraction-as-policy tactics. We are reminded, for example, of how passionately Thomas Jefferson warned us circa 1776 that a private central bank would eventually destroy our nation, and that only an educated population could save it. Sadly, the new President is taking the inverse approach: Firing teachers and propping bankers. Fast-forward some 240+ years from our founding fathers to our semi-conscious Biden, and we discover a nation wherein a private central bank effectively finances our national debt while the teachers, students and institutions charged with making citizens wiser, educated and free now find themselves locked out of their offices, classrooms and lecterns. Seems a little upside down, no? Red or blue, most of us can agree than nothing coming out of the White House in recent memory remotely resembles the vision or freedom-driven intellect of founding fathers like Jefferson, despite his known flaws. Instead, we have seen red and blue administrations whose grasp on coherency, let alone math, history, economics or even Afghan geography is questionable at best. Biden’s Response And what does Biden (or his “advisors”) have to say about the recent and scary numbers within a gutted and “locked-out” educational labor force? Well, you’ll have to see it to believe it.. Really? Really? Really? That’s right folks. The President of the United States, home to the world’s reserve currency and former beacon of global freedom, is telling Americans not to worry about the slow death of genuinely informed dissent (as well as educational access and jobs) or the attempted popularizing of otherwise tyrannical mandates, but to focus instead on the vaccine rates at United Airlines? Yes. Really. The leader of the free world is boastfully telling us that the “bigger story” is a fully vaccinated United Airlines (who were forced to choose between a jab or job), so why worry about the problems in that silly ol’ educational sector or outdated Bill of Rights? Playing with Minnows While Ignoring Whales Where ever one stands on the understandably divisive vaccine issue, how can anyone compare a private airline’s vaccine rate to a national education, civil liberty and employment crisis? Why are politicians, Davos dragons, statisticians, media bobble-heads and central bankers focusing our/your attention more on a virus with a case fatality rate of less than 0.5% than they are on openly addressing whale-sized issues like unsustainable debt, rising inflation, embarrassing labor inequality, a dying currency or even more declining GDP? Deliberate and Desperate Distraction as Policy Well, history tells us why. As anyone not banned from a classroom knows, the history of desperate leaders seeking to distract, censor and control the masses in times of a self-inflicted and debt-induced cycle of internal economic rot is long and distinguished. As Biden doubles down on the bad (yet deliberately distracting) hand of what was hoped to be an optically humanitarian policy of vaccine mandates, the masses are getting restless as well as fired… Solution? Criminalize the non-consenting as anti-vaccine, anti-science or anti-American “flat-earthers” while denying open discussion on such otherwise relevant topics as basic math, constitutional law, calm science or individual rights… Meanwhile, those who won’t tow Biden’s increasingly incoherent mandate (or Don Lemmon’s always coherent ignorance) are losing jobs and/or forced to prioritize (in a Jeffersonian way) individual liberty over financial security. Ben Franklin, of course, said those who surrender liberties for security deserve neither. In such a polarized backdrop, everyone, pro or anti-vaccine, loses. Informed, open and calm debate has been replaced by a contradictory, censored, sanctimonious and hysterical autocracy from prompt-readers to political puppets. So much for leading the free world… Let me remind Biden to consider the words of another founding father, Thomas Paine: “I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.” As someone who studied and practiced constitutional law, worked within a rigged Wall Street and read nearly every book I could find on America’s founding fathers, I can say without hyperbole that I no longer recognize the country (or values) of my birth nation. As Franklin also noted, “All democracies eventually die; usually by suicide.” Hmmm. But let’s get off my high-horse and back to those job reports… Conviction vs. Employment As Bloomberg recently noted, the result of these “pandemic-related staffing fluctuations” is a bit alarming. The following critical industries are witnessing the following job-loss percentages: Nursing and Residential Care (-1.26%); Local Government Education (-1.83%); Community Care for the Elderly (-2.20%) and lodging (-2.25%). But thank goodness that despite a deliberate weaning of nurses, teachers and elderly care experts, United Airlines is nearly fully vaccinated and our Motion Picture Industry (universally known for its astounding political and financial wisdom) is seeing a +4.21% job increase. Awe, but as Johny Mellencamp would say, “Aint that America?” Now instead of more employed and free-thinking nurses, teachers and students allowed to gather, speak and think freely at their own campus or clinic, we can be glad that jobs in Hollywood, like DC, are growing to keep us living on more fantasy rather than actual, informed and hard-earned knowledge. Oh, and the Economy… But rather than just rant otherwise rhetorical sarcasm, let’s get back to those other barbaric (and soon-to-be empty) old-school disciplines like economics… Biden’s mandates are more than just evidence of distraction as policy and constitutional interpretation/usurpation, they have direct impacts on our financial lives outside of the deliberately exaggerated vaccine debacle/debate. Let’s go down the list of what economics taught us years ago, when we were allowed to enter a classroom: Stagflation Ahead. As more and more folks are locked out of work, the entitlement costs for these “un-American” free-thinkers will rise, placing greater inflationary pressures upon a deliberately constrained rather than open economy. Rising inflation + slowing economic activity = stagflation. Prepare for this, as that’s what’s coming. Inflation, by the way, is an invisible tax on those who can afford it the least. Thanks again Powell et al for shafting the middle class… A Divided States of America A country which once revered open rather than censored debate, investigative rather than complicit journalism, and respected rather than polarized differences of opinion, is becoming increasingly factionalized, divided and angry. Jab or no jab, I fully respect both views. Can’t we all do the same without a “mandate”? Like Thomas Paine, I hope so, because as Thomas Jefferson warned, we face far greater economic and political threats ahead than COVID. Rather than accountability, transparency and cooperation, leadership today is defined by fantasy and magic, from magical money created at the Fed to magical employment and CPI data downplayed at the BLS. Such left or right fantasy-as-policy is as old as history—it’s darker side, that is. Just ask Lenin, Castro, Nixon or Greenspan. Whenever backed into a debt corner of their own design, leaders employ a familiar combo of boogeyman and salvation narratives to divert the masses away from the slow-drip erosion of their personal liberties, dying currencies and debt-driven stagnation. This distraction-as-policy is happening right now. The rise of the COVID narrative in 2020 is more than a coincidence. It’s a conveniently exploited opportunity for political and financial opportunists. More Centralized Controls and Fake Markets With debt levels far beyond the Pale of productivity levels (i.e., embarrassing debt to GDP ratios), the U.S. and other developed economies are mathematically and factually unable to ever grow their way out of the debt hole they have been digging us into for years. Period. Full stop. If I know this, and if you know this, well…they certainly know this too in DC. The only difference is that these policy makers, like most kids caught with a hand in the cookie jar, are incapable of admitting fault. Instead, today’s “leadership” can blame their economic and policy failures (and self-preservation rather than “service” instincts) on something else—i.e., “COVID did it.” But as we’ve voiced elsewhere, the debt time bomb, growth declines, social unrest, wealth disparity and failing political credibilities in play today were already a major problem BEFORE COVID. Now, as then, the empirical data objectively confirms that tanking manufacturing data, jobs growth, economic productivity, broken supply chains, scary transport numbers and political mistrust can never service the over $28.5T in public debt sitting on Uncle Sam’s bar-tab. As a natural result, we can therefore expect far more “accommodation” (i.e., monetary expansion) from the Fed, and far more “Fiscal Stimulus” (i.e., deficit spending) from our comical legislature ahead. Stated otherwise: Get ready for more real debt, fake money, centralized controls and hidden wealth destruction. Zombie Stocks, Bonds and Bankers: Too Big to Fail 2.0 Sadly, one of the only forms of income which Uncle Sam enjoys today is the capital gains receipts from a bloated, rigged and artificially Fed-supported stock market. This means we can anticipate more “stimulus” for a zombie, crack-up-boomed market well past its natural expiration date. The same is true of for government IOU’s.  No one wants our bonds. 2020 saw $500B in foreign outflows rather than inflows for US Treasuries. So, who will pay Uncle Sam’s bar tab now? Easy:  Uncle Fed at the Eccles Building down the avenue from a Treasury Department now led by a former Fed Chairwoman. One really can’t make this crazy up. It’s all that real, that rigged and that true. The U.S. debt crisis is now being “solved” by a circular loop of a Wall Street and a White House children tossing their hot potatoes of bad debt (MBS and sovereign) around until they are bought with money created out of thin air by the Fed. And yet despite such insider support, rigged markets and “accommodated” securities, even the rising tax receipts from these bloated markets are not enough to cover the interest expense on Uncle Sam’s bar tab. In short, US Treasury bonds and stocks are openly supported Frankenstein-assets kept alive by a central bank and White House cabal (sorry, Mr. Jefferson…) who blame every problem (and justify every expenditure) on a virus rather than confess to the cancerous reality of over 20+ years of their open and obvious mismanagement of a rigged banking and distorted financial system. But rather than account for such sins, we can expect a bigger bail-out rather than an honest confession… In 2008, for example, the response from DC and NYC to bankers gone mad was to declare bankrupt banks as “Too Big to Fail.” Fast-forward some 13 years later and that same toxic duo of bankers and politicos have now effectively telegraphed that bankrupt government bonds and private stocks are also “too big to fail.” That ought to anger an informed population. But instead, we are fighting about masks, vaccine shaming and Prince Harry’s sensitive upbringing. So far, the distraction-as-policy technique seems to be working in favor of the foxes guarding our financial henhouse. Signal More Currency-Debasing “Miracle Solutions” Which brings us right back to a harsh but increasingly undeniable yet ironic reality. If objectively broken bonds, stocks and financial regimes are too big to fail, then the only way to “save” them is with more mouse-click-created currencies which are too debased to succeed. As precious metal and other long-term, real-asset investors long ago understood, currency expansion is just another name for currency debasement. In other words, eventually, all that “system saving” new money simply drowns the system it was allegedly designed to save in ever more debased dollars. Again, it’s just that tragic and just that simple. Yes: More monetary and debt expansion can buy time and rising markets. But those markets are measured in currencies which time has equally taught us lose their value with each passing second. And the only ones paying for that time are you and I–with dollars, euros, yen and pesos whose purchasing power and inherent value are tanking faster than the credibility of the folks who brought us to this historical and debt-driven turning point. Stated bluntly: The financial and political leadership of the last 20+ years has placed the global financial system into a debt corner for which there is no exit other than deliberate inflation (and hence currency debasement). This foreseeable disaster, however, is now conveniently blamed on a current pandemic rather than a grotesque history of equally grotesque mismanagement by policy markets who have confused debt with prosperity and double-speak with accountability. Wouldn’t it be nice if such economic topics were making at least as many headlines as the latest infection rates? Meanwhile, the mainstream media pursues plays chess with context-empty headlines, bogus job data and ignored debt bombs as our economic Rome (and currencies) burns silently around us all. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 10:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge19 hr. 13 min. ago

Futures Jump On Profit Optimism As Oil Tops $85; Bitcoin Nears $60,000

Futures Jump On Profit Optimism As Oil Tops $85; Bitcoin Nears $60,000 One day after the S&P posted its biggest one-day surge since March, index futures extended this week’s gains, helped by a stellar bank earnings, while the latest labor market data and inflation eased stagflation fears for the time being. . The 10-year Treasury yield rose and the dollar was steady. Goldman Sachs reports on Friday. At 715 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 147 points, or 0.42%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 16.5 points, or 0.37%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 42.75 points, or 0.28%. Oil futures topped $85/bbl, jumping to their highest in three years amid an energy crunch that’s stoking inflationary pressures and prices for raw materials. A gauge of six industrial metals hit a record high on the London Metal Exchange.  Energy firms including Chevron and Exxon gained about half a percent each, tracking Brent crude prices that scaled the 3 year high. Solid earnings in the reporting season are tempering fears that rising costs and supply-chain snarls will hit corporate balance sheets and growth. At the same time, the wider debate about whether a stagflation-like backdrop looms remains unresolved. “We don’t sign up to the stagflation narrative that is doing the rounds,” said Hugh Gimber, global strategist at the perpetually optimistic J.P. Morgan Asset Management. “The economy is being supported by robust consumer balance sheets, rebounding business investment and a healthy labor market.” “After a choppy start to the week, equity markets appear to be leaning towards a narrative that companies can continue to grow profits, despite the combined pressures of higher energy prices and supply chain disruptions,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in London. Bitcoin and the crypto sector jumped after Bloomberg reported late on Thursday that the Securities and Exchange Commission is poised to allow the first U.S. Bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund to begin trading in a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency industry. Bitcoin traded off session highs having tested $60k during Asian hours, but will likely rise to new all time highs shortly. Also overnight, Joe Biden signed a bill providing a short-term increase in the debt limit, averting the imminent threat of a financial calamity. But it only allows the Treasury Department to meets its financial obligations until roughly Dec. 3, so the can has been kicked for less than two months - brace for more bitter partisan battles in the coming weeks. This week’s move into rate-sensitive FAAMG growth names looked set to continue, with their shares inching up. Moderna rose 3.0% after a U.S. FDA panel voted to recommend booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older and high-risk people. Western Digital slipped 2.5% as Goldman Sachs downgraded the storage hardware maker’s stock to “neutral” from “buy”. Here are some of the key premarket movers on Friday morning: Virgin Galactic (SPCE US) shares slump as much as 23% in U.S. premarket trading as the firm is pushing the start of commercial flights further into next year after rescheduling a test flight, disappointing investors with the unexpected delay to its space tourism business plans Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks rise in U.S. premarket trading after a report that the Securities and Exchange Commission is poised to allow the first U.S. Bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund to begin trading.  Bit Digital (BTBT US) +6.7%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) +4.6%, Marathon Digital (MARA US) +3.6% Alcoa (AA US) shares jump 5.6% in thin volumes after co. reported profits that beat the average analyst estimate and said it will be paying a dividend to its shareholders Moderna (MRNA US) extends Thursday’s gains; Piper Sandler recommendation on Moderna Inc. to overweight from neutral, a day after co.’s Covid-19 booster got FDA nod for use in older, high-risk people Duck Creek Technologies (DCT US) shares fell 12% in Thursday postmarket trading after the software company projected 2022 revenue that fell short of the average analyst estimate 23andMe Holdings (ME US) soared 14% in Thursday postmarket trading after EMJ Capital founder Eric Jackson called the genetics testing company “the next Roku” on CNBC Corsair Gaming (CRSR US) shares fell 3.7% in post-market trading after it cut its net revenue forecast for the full year Early on Friday, China's PBOC broke its silence on Evergrande, saying risks to the financial system are controllable and unlikely to spread. Authorities and local governments are resolving the situation, central bank official Zou Lan said. The bank has asked lenders to keep credit to the real estate sector stable and orderly. In Europe, gains for banks, travel companies and carmakers outweighed losses for utilities and telecommunications industries, pushing the Stoxx Europe 600 Index up 0.3%. Telefonica fell 3.3%, the most in more than four months, after Barclays cut the Spanish company to underweight. Temenos and Pearson both slumped more than 10% after their business updates disappointed investors. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Devoteam shares rise as much as 25% after its controlling shareholder, Castillon, increased its stake in the IT consulting group to 85% and launched an offer for the remaining capital. QinetiQ rises as much as 5.4% following a plunge in the defense tech company’s stock on Thursday. Investec upgraded its recommendation to buy and Berenberg said the shares now look oversold. Hugo Boss climbs as much as 4.4% to the highest level since September 2019 after the German apparel maker reported 3Q results that exceeded expectations. Jefferies (hold) noted the FY guidance hike also was bigger than expected. Mediclinic rises as much as 7.7% to highest since May 26 after 1H results, which Morgan Stanley says showed strong underlying operating performance with “solid metrics.” Temenos sinks as much as 14% after the company delivered a “mixed bag” with its 3Q results, according to Baader (sell). Weakness in Europe raises questions about the firm’s outlook for a recovery in the region, the broker said. Pearson declines as much as 12%, with analysts flagging weaker trading in its U.S. higher education courseware business in its in-line results. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks headed for their best week in more than a month amid a list of positive factors including robust U.S. earnings, strong results at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and easing home-loan restrictions in China.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained as much as 1.3%, pushing its advance this week to more than 1.5%, the most since the period ended Sept. 3. Technology shares provided much of the boost after chip giant TSMC announced fourth-quarter guidance that beat analysts’ expectations and said it will build a fabrication facility for specialty chips in Japan. Shares in China rose as people familiar with the matter said the nation loosened restrictions on home loans at some of its largest banks.  Conditions are good for tech and growth shares now long-term U.S. yields have fallen following inflation data this week, Shogo Maekawa, a strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management in Tokyo. “If data going forward are able to provide an impression that demand is strong too -- on top of a sense of relief from easing supply chain worries -- it’ll be a reason for share prices to take another leap higher.”  Asia’s benchmark equity gauge is still 10% below its record-high set in February, as analysts stay on the lookout for higher bond yields and the impact of supply-chain issues on profit margins.  Japanese stocks rose, with the Topix halting a three-week losing streak, after Wall Street rallied on robust corporate earnings. The Topix rose 1.9% to close at 2,023.93, while the Nikkei 225 advanced 1.8% to 29,068.63. Keyence Corp. contributed the most to the Topix’s gain, increasing 3.7%. Out of 2,180 shares in the index, 1,986 rose and 155 fell, while 39 were unchanged. For the week, the Topix climbed 3.2% and the Nikkei added 3.6%. Semiconductor equipment and material makers rose after TSMC said it will build a fabrication facility for specialty chips in Japan and plans to begin production there in late 2024.  U.S. index futures held gains during Asia trading hours. The contracts climbed overnight after a report showed applications for state unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest since March 2020.  “U.S. initial jobless claims fell sharply, and have returned to levels seen before the spread of the coronavirus,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a market strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo. “The fact that more people are returning to their jobs will help ease supply chain problems caused by the lack of workers.” Australian stocks also advanced, posting a second week of gains. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7% to close at 7,362.00, with most sectors ending higher.  The benchmark added 0.6% since Monday, climbing for a second week. Miners capped their best week since July 16 with a 3% advance. Hub24 jumped on Friday after Evans & Partners upgraded the stock to positive from neutral. Pendal Group tumbled after it reported net outflows for the fourth quarter of A$2.3 billion. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3% to 13,012.19 In rates, the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield rose over 3bps to 1.54%. Treasuries traded heavy across long-end of the curve into early U.S. session amid earning-driven gains for U.S. stock futures. Yields are higher by more than 3bp across long-end of the curve, 10- year by 2.8bp at about 1.54%, paring its first weekly decline since August; weekly move has been led by gilts and euro-zone bonds, also under pressure Friday, with U.K. 10-year yields higher by 3.3bp. Today's bear-steepening move pares the weekly bull-flattening trend. U.S. session features a packed economic data slate and speeches by Fed’s Bullard and Williams.   In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed even as the greenback weakened against most of its Group-of-10 peers; the euro hovered around $1.16 while European and U.S. yields rose, led by the long end. Norway’s krone led G-10 gains as oil jumped to $85 a barrel for the first time since late 2018 amid the global energy crunch; the currency rallied by as much as 0.6% to 8.4015 per dollar, the strongest level since June. New Zealand’s dollar advanced to a three-week high as bets on RBNZ’s tightening momentum build ahead of Monday’s inflation data; the currency is outperforming all G-10 peers this week. The yen dropped to a three-year low as rising equities in Asia damped demand for low-yielding haven assets. China’s offshore yuan advanced to its highest in four months while short-term borrowing costs eased after the central bank added enough medium-term funds into the financial system to maintain liquidity at existing levels. In commodities, crude futures trade off best levels. WTI slips back below $82, Brent fades after testing $85. Spot gold slips back through Thursday’s lows near $1,786/oz. Base metals extend the week’s rally with LME nickel and zinc gaining over 2%. Today's retail sales report, due at 08:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show retail sales fell in September amid continued shortages of motor vehicles and other goods. The data will come against the backdrop of climbing oil prices, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, factors that have rattled investors and have led to recent choppiness in the market. Looking at the day ahead now, and US data releases include September retail sales, the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for October, and the Empire State manufacturing survey for October. Central bank speakers include the Fed’s Bullard and Williams, and earnings releases include Charles Schwab and Goldman Sachs. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 4,443.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 467.66 German 10Y yield up 2.4 bps to -0.166% Euro little changed at $1.1608 MXAP up 1.3% to 198.33 MXAPJ up 1.2% to 650.02 Nikkei up 1.8% to 29,068.63 Topix up 1.9% to 2,023.93 Hang Seng Index up 1.5% to 25,330.96 Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,572.37 Sensex up 0.9% to 61,305.95 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.7% to 7,361.98 Kospi up 0.9% to 3,015.06 Brent Futures up 1.0% to $84.83/bbl Gold spot down 0.5% to $1,787.54 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.92 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg China’s central bank broke its silence on the crisis at China Evergrande Group, saying risks to the financial system stemming from the developer’s struggles are “controllable” and unlikely to spread The ECB has a good track record when it comes to flexibly deploying its monetary instruments and will continue that approach even after the pandemic crisis, according to policy maker Pierre Wunsch Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance says fourth issuance of BTP Futura to start on Nov. 8 until Nov. 12, according to a statement The world’s largest digital currency rose about 3% to more than $59,000 on Friday -- taking this month’s rally to over 35% -- after Bloomberg News reported the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission looks poised to allow the country’s first futures-based cryptocurrency ETF Copper inventories available on the London Metal Exchange hit the lowest level since 1974, in a dramatic escalation of a squeeze on global supplies that’s sent spreads spiking and helped drive prices back above $10,000 a ton A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded higher amid tailwinds from the upbeat mood across global peers including the best day for the S&P 500 since March after strong US bank earnings, encouraging data and a decline in yields spurred risk appetite. The ASX 200 (+0.7%) was positive as the tech and mining sectors continued to spearhead the advances in the index in which the former took impetus from Wall St where the softer yield environment was conducive to the outperformance in tech, although mining giant Rio Tinto was among the laggards following weaker quarterly production results. The Nikkei 225 (+1.8%) was buoyed as exporters benefitted from the JPY-risk dynamic but with Fast Retailing failing to join in on the spoils despite an 88% jump in full-year net as its profit guidance underwhelmed with just 3% growth seen for the year ahead, while Taiwan's TAIEX (+2.2%) surged with the spotlight on TSMC earnings which reached a record high amid the chip crunch and with the Co. to also build a factory in Japan that could receive JPY 500bln of support from the Japanese government. The Hang Seng (+1.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) were initially indecisive amid the overhang from lingering developer default concerns although found some mild support from reports that China is to relax banks' mortgage limits through the rest of 2021. Focus was also on the PBoC which announced a CNY 500bln MLF operation, although this just matched the amount maturing this month and there are mixed views regarding prospects of a looming RRR cut with ANZ Bank's senior China strategist recently suggesting the potential for a 50bps cut in RRR or targeted MLF as early as today, although a recent poll showed analysts had pushed back their calls for a RRR cut from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022. Finally, 10yr JGBs marginally pulled back from this week’s advances after hitting resistance at the 151.50 level, with demand hampered amid the firm gains in Japanese stocks and the lack of BoJ purchases in the market today. Top Asian News Hong Kong Probes Going Concern Reporting of Evergrande U.S. Futures Hold Gains as Oil Hits 3-Year High: Markets Wrap Toyota Cuts November Outlook by 15% on Parts Shortage, Covid Yango Group Wires Repayment Fund for Onshore Bond Due Oct. 22 Bourses in Europe have held onto the modest gains seen at the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.4%; Stoxx 600 +0.3%), but the region is off its best levels with the upside momentum somewhat faded heading into the US open, and amidst a lack of fresh newsflow. US equity futures have remained in positive territory, although the latest leg lower in bonds has further capped the tech-laden NQ (+0.2%), which underperforms vs the ES (+0.3%), YM (+0.3%) and RTY (+0.7%), with traders on the lookout for another set of earnings, headlined by Goldman Sachs at 12:25BST/07:25EDT. Back to Europe, bourses see broad-based gains, whilst sectors are mostly in the green with clear underperformance experienced in defensives, with Telecoms, Utilities, Healthcare and Staples at the foot of the bunch. On the flipside, Banks reap rewards from the uptick in yields, closely followed by Travel & Leisure, Autos & Parts and Retail. Renault (+4%) drives the gains in Autos after unveiling a prototype version of the Renault Master van that will go on sale next year. Travel & Leisure is bolstered by the ongoing reopening trade with potential tailwinds heading into the Christmas period. Retail meanwhile is boosted by Hugo Boss (+1.8%) topping forecasts and upgrading its guidance. Top European News Autumn Heat May Curb European Gas Demand, Prices Next Week Bollore Looking for Buyers for Africa Logistics Ops: Le Monde U.K. Offers Foreign Butchers Visas After 6,000 Pigs Culled Europe’s Car-Sales Crash Points to Worse Year Than Poor 2020 In FX, the Greenback was already losing momentum after a relatively tame bounce on the back of Thursday’s upbeat US initial claims data, and the index failed to sustain its recovery to retest intraday highs or remain above 94.000 on a closing basis. However, the Buck did reclaim some significant and psychological levels against G10, EM currencies and Gold that was relishing the benign yield environment and the last DXY price was marginally better than the 21 DMA from an encouraging technical standpoint. Nevertheless, the Dollar remains weaker vs most majors and in need of further impetus that may come via retail sales, NY Fed manufacturing and/or preliminary Michigan Sentiment before the spotlight switches to today’s Fed speakers featuring arch hawk Bullard and the more neutral Williams. GBP/NZD/NOK - Sterling has refuelled and recharged regardless of the ongoing UK-EU rift over NI Protocol, though perhaps in part due to the fact that concessions from Brussels are believed to have been greeted with welcome surprise by some UK Ministers. Cable has reclaimed 1.3700+ status, breached the 50 DMA (at 1.3716 today) and yesterday’s best to set a marginal new w-t-d peak around 1.3739, while Eur/Gbp is edging closer to 0.8450 having clearly overcome resistance at 1.1800 in the reciprocal cross. Similarly, the Kiwi continues to derive impetus from the softer Greenback and Aud/Nzd flows as Nzd/Usd extends beyond 0.7050 and the Antipodean cross inches nearer 1.0500 from 1.0600+ highs. Elsewhere, the Norwegian Crown is aiming to add 9.7500 to its list of achievements relative to the Euro with a boost from Brent topping Usd 85/brl at one stage and a wider trade surplus. CAD - The Loonie is also profiting from oil as WTI crude rebounds through Usd 82 and pulling further away from 1.5 bn option expiry interest between 1.2415-00 in the process, with Usd/Cad towards the base of 1.2337-82 parameters. EUR/AUD/CHF/SEK - All narrowly mixed and rangy vs the Greenback, or Euro in the case of the latter, as Eur/Usd continues to straddle 1.1600, Aud/Usd churn on the 0.7400 handle, the Franc meander from 0.9219 to 0.9246 and Eur/Sek skirt 10.0000 having dipped below the round number briefly on Thursday. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures remain on a firmer footing, aided up the overall constructive risk appetite coupled with some bullish technical developments, as WTI Nov surpassed USD 82/bbl (vs 81.39/bbl low) and Brent Dec briefly topped USD 85/bbl (vs 84.16/bbl low). There has been little in terms of fresh fundamental catalysts to drive the price action, although Russia's Gazprom Neft CEO hit the wires earlier and suggested that reserve production capacity could meet the increase in oil demand, whilst a seasonal decline in oil consumption is possible and the oil market will stabilise in the nearest future. On the Iranian JCPOA front, Iran said it is finalising steps to completing its negotiating team but they are absolutely decided to go back to Vienna discussions and conclude the negotiations, WSJ's Norman. The crude complex seems to have (for now) overlooked reports that the White House is engaged in diplomacy" with OPEC+ members regarding output. UK nat gas prices were higher as European players entered the fray, but prices have since waned off best levels after Russian Deputy PM Novak suggested that gas production in Russia is running at maximum capacity. Elsewhere, spot gold has been trundling amid yield-play despite lower despite the Buck being on the softer side of today’s range. Spot gold failed to hold onto USD 1,800/oz status yesterday and has subsequently retreated below its 200 DMA (1,794/oz) and makes its way towards the 50 DMA (1,776/oz). LME copper prices are on a firmer footing with prices back above USD 10,000/t – supported by technicals and the overall risk tone, although participants are cognizant of potential Chinese state reserves releases. Conversely, Dalian iron ore futures fell for a third straight session, with Rio Tinto also cutting its 2021 iron ore shipment forecasts due to dampened Chinese demand. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Sept. Retail Sales Advance MoM, est. -0.2%, prior 0.7% 8:30am: Sept. Retail Sales Ex Auto MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 1.8% 8:30am: Sept. Retail Sales Control Group, est. 0.5%, prior 2.5% 8:30am: Sept. Retail Sales Ex Auto and Gas, est. 0.3%, prior 2.0% 8:30am: Oct. Empire Manufacturing, est. 25.0, prior 34.3 8:30am: Sept. Import Price Index MoM, est. 0.6%, prior -0.3%; YoY, est. 9.4%, prior 9.0% 8:30am: Sept. Export Price Index MoM, est. 0.7%, prior 0.4%; YoY, prior 16.8% 10am: Aug. Business Inventories, est. 0.6%, prior 0.5% 10am: Oct. U. of Mich. 1 Yr Inflation, est. 4.7%, prior 4.6%; 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 3.0% 10am: Oct. U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 73.1, prior 72.8 10am: Oct. U. of Mich. Current Conditions, est. 81.2, prior 80.1 10am: Oct. U. of Mich. Expectations, est. 69.1, prior 68.1 DB's Jim Ried concludes the overnight wrap A few people asked me what I thought of James Bond. I can’t say without spoilers so if anyone wants my two sentence review I will cut and paste it to all who care and reply! At my age I was just impressed I sat for over three hours (including trailers) without needing a comfort break. By the time you email I will have also listened to the new Adele single which dropped at midnight so happy to include that review as well for free. While we’re on the subject of music, risk assets feel a bit like the most famous Chumbawamba song at the moment. They get knocked down and they get up again. Come to think about it that’s like James Bond too. Yesterday was a strong day with the S&P 500 (+1.71%) moving back to within 2.2% of its all-time closing high from last month. If they can survive all that has been thrown at them of late then one wonders where they’d have been without any of it. The strong session came about thanks to decent corporate earnings releases, a mini-collapse in real yields, positive data on US jobless claims, as well as a further fall in global Covid-19 cases that leaves them on track for an 8th consecutive weekly decline. However, inflation remained very much on investors’ radars, with a range of key commodities taking another leg higher, even as US data on producer prices was weaker than expected. Starting with the good news, the equity strength was across the board with the S&P 500 experiencing its best daily performance since March, whilst Europe’s STOXX 600 (+1.20%) also put in solid gains. It was an incredibly broad-based move higher, with every sector group in both indices rising on the day, with a remarkable 479 gainers in the S&P 500, which is the second-highest number we’ve seen over the last 18 months. Every one of the 24 S&P 500 industry groups rose, led by cyclicals such as semiconductors (+3.12%), transportation (+2.51%) and materials (+2.43%). A positive start to the Q3 earnings season buoyed sentiment, as a number of US banks (+1.45%) reported yesterday, all of whom beat analyst estimates. In fact, of the nine S&P 500 firms to report yesterday, eight outperformed analyst expectations. Weighing in on recent macro themes, Bank of America Chief, Brian Moynihan, noted that the current bout of inflation is “clearly not temporary”, but also that he expects consumer demand to remain robust and that supply chains will have to adjust. I’m sure we’ll hear more from executives as earnings season continues today. Alongside those earnings releases, yesterday saw much better than expected data on the US labour market, which makes a change from last week’s underwhelming jobs report that showed the slowest growth in nonfarm payrolls so far this year. In terms of the details, the weekly initial jobless claims for the week through October 9, which is one of the most timely indicators we get, fell to a post-pandemic low of 293k (vs. 320k expected). That also saw the 4-week moving average hit a post-pandemic low of 334.25k, just as the continuing claims number for the week through October 2 hit a post-pandemic low of 2.593m (vs. 2.670m expected). We should get some more data on the state of the US recovery today, including September retail sales, alongside the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for October. That optimism has fed through into Asian markets overnight, with the Nikkei (+1.43%), the Hang Seng (+0.86%), the Shanghai Comp (+0.29%) and the KOSPI (+0.93%) all moving higher. That came as Bloomberg reported that China would loosen restrictions on home loans amidst the concerns about Evergrande. And we also got formal confirmation that President Biden had signed the debt-limit increase that the House had passed on Tuesday, which extends the ceiling until around December 3. Equity futures are pointing to further advances in the US and Europe later on, with those on the S&P 500 (+0.30%) and the STOXX 50 (+0.35%) both moving higher. Even with the brighter news, inflation concerns are still very much with us however, and yesterday in fact saw Bloomberg’s Commodity Spot Index (+1.16%) advance to yet another record high, exceeding the previous peak from early last week. That was partly down to the continued rise in oil prices, with WTI (+1.08%) closing at $81.31/bbl, its highest level since 2014, just as Brent Crude (+0.99%) hit a post-2018 high of $84.00/bbl. Both have posted further gains this morning of +0.58% and +0.61% respectively. Those moves went alongside further rises in natural gas prices, which rose for a 3rd consecutive session, albeit they’re still beneath their peak from earlier in the month, as futures in Europe (+9.14%), the US (+1.74%) and the UK (+9.26%) all moved higher. And that rise in Chinese coal futures we’ve been mentioning also continued, with their rise today currently standing at +13.86%, which brings their gains over the week as a whole to +39.02% so far. As well as energy, industrial metals were another segment where the recent rally showed no sign of abating yesterday. On the London metal exchange, a number of multi-year milestones were achieved, with aluminum prices (+1.60%) up to their highest levels since 2008, just as zinc prices (+3.73%) closed at their highest level since 2018. Separately, copper prices (+2.56%) hit a 4-month high, and other winners yesterday included iron ore futures in Singapore (+1.16%), as well as nickel (+1.99%) and lead (+2.43%) prices in London. With all this momentum behind commodities, inflation expectations posted further advances yesterday. Indeed, the 10yr US Breakeven closed +1.0bps higher at 2.536%, which is just 3bps shy of its closing peak back in May that marked its highest level since 2013. And those moves came in spite of US producer price data that came in weaker than expected, with the monthly increase in September at +0.5% (vs. +0.6% expected). That was the smallest rise so far this year, though that still sent the year-on-year number up to +8.6% (vs. +8.7% expected). That rise in inflation expectations was echoed in Europe too, with the 10yr UK breakeven (+5.6bps) closing at its highest level since 2008, whilst its German counterpart also posted a modest +0.7bps rise. In spite of the rise in inflation expectations, sovereign bonds posted gains across the board as the moves were outweighed by the impact of lower real rates. By the end of yesterday’s session, yields on 10yr Treasuries were down -2.6bps to 1.527%, which came as the 10yr real yield moved back beneath -1% for the first time in almost a month. Likewise in Europe, yields pushed lower throughout the session, with those on 10yr bunds (-6.3bps), OATs (-6.2bps) and BTPs (-7.1bps) all moving aggressively lower. To the day ahead now, and US data releases include September retail sales, the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for October, and the Empire State manufacturing survey for October. Central bank speakers include the Fed’s Bullard and Williams, and earnings releases include Charles Schwab and Goldman Sachs. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 07:50.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

Ripple, Avalanche join independent group to support the development of a digital UK pound

The Digital Pound Foundation will run 'hands-on' exploratory projects aimed to help roll out a digital UK currency. UK officials are looking into possibly launching a digital pound sterling. Thomson Reuters Blockchain-based companies Ripple and Avalanche have joined a group to support the creation of a digital UK pound. The Digital Pound Foundation is an independent group aiming to support the launch of a 'well-designed" digitized currency for Britain. The Bank of England is working on what UK's finance minister has dubbed a potential "Britcoin". Ripple and Avalanche will work on advancing the creation of a digitized UK pound through an independent forum, as UK officials explore the possibility of a central bank digital currency.The Digital Pound Foundation will support the implementation of a "well-designed digital Pound" and digital-money ecosystem, the group said in a statement for its launch Thursday. The independent organization was incorporated in June and proposed a model under which public and private sectors could work together to drive the UK's transition to a digital economy."If the UK is to maintain its globally competitive lead in fintech and financial innovation, it needs to create a digital Pound, and a healthy ecosystem for digital money," the foundation said Thursday. Ripple said it is a founding member of the group and that Susan Friedman, its head of public policy, will join the board. Avalanche was listed as an associate member on the foundation's website. Lee Schneider, general counsel for blockchain software company Ava Labs, which created Avalanche, is listed as an originating member. The Bank of England and the UK Treasury are spearheading discussions about potentially implementing a central bank digital currency or CBDC.Members of the Digital Pound Foundation will conduct research and run 'hands-on' exploratory projects, among other activities, aimed to help roll out a digital pound. The foundation said ​​CBDCs and other digital-money forms can leverage technology to develop features such as programmable money, more inclusive payments services, and a "more robust and resilient" payments infrastructure. The Bank of England and the UK Treasury are spearheading discussions about potentially implementing a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. "Britcoin" is what British finance minister Rishi Sunak earlier this year dubbed a possible cryptocurrency backed by the Bank of England. The foundation, citing a 2020 study by the Bank for International Settlements, said 10% of central banks surveyed representing 20% of the world's population are likely to issue a CBDC for the general public in the next three years or less.​​CBDCs and other digital-money forms can leverage technology to develop features such as programmable money, more inclusive payments services, and a "more robust and resilient" payments infrastructure, the independent group said. "Technology is transforming human interaction and money must adapt to that. The world has become a global laboratory realizing the benefits of a new form of money," said Jeremy Wilson, chairman of the Digital Pound Foundation, in a statement. Wilson also serves as chairman of the Whitechapel Think Tank, a forum focused on disruptive innovation in financial services. Ripple's XRP token during Thursday's trading session rose 5.5% at $1.15, according to CoinGecko, and Avalanche's AVAX token gained 3.6% to $55.60.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 14th, 2021

How Climate Change and Technological Advances Are Reshaping the Insurance Industry

The insurance industry of today is reaching a tipping point – past which two factors will force it to reshape: climate change and technology. Climate change is bringing reinvention to the way the industry invests – largely in fossil fuels – and its underwriting responsibilities. The manner in which insurance companies deal with both of […] The insurance industry of today is reaching a tipping point – past which two factors will force it to reshape: climate change and technology. Climate change is bringing reinvention to the way the industry invests – largely in fossil fuels – and its underwriting responsibilities. The manner in which insurance companies deal with both of these fronts is thus expected to drastically change in the coming years. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Technological advancement is the second factor reshaping the insurance industry, though in a radically different way to that of climate change. Insurance companies’ technology and operations functions have historically worked separately, with the former merely assisting the latter in being the principal driver of corporate performance. However, this relationship is transforming, as insurers are increasingly allocating more resources to technology functions rather than operational ones. According to Statista, the largest insurance brokers in the US by revenue are: Marsh & McMellan Cos. Inc. (NASDAQ:MMC) Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NASDAQ:AJG) Hub International Inc. (NASDAQ:HBG) Effects of Climate Change Underwriting Liabilities The most apparent way in which climate change will reshape the insurance industry is the number of property and casualty claims that insurers can expect. Climate stress tests are beginning to turn over eye-opening results for insurers, and the picture will only become clearer as stress-testing becomes more commonplace. For example, stress tests held by the central bank of France earlier in 2021 found that natural disaster-related insurance claims could increase five times in the nation’s most affected regions; this would cause premiums to surge by as much as 200% in 30 years. In a webinar hosted by S&P Global Sustainable1 in June 2021, Dave Jones, the former California Insurance Commissioner, stated that: “on the underwriting side, one has only to look at both regional and global losses that are driven by catastrophic weather events that in turn are being driven by climate change to understand the enormity of the exposure that insurers have”. Insurers extend coverage to many structures and belongings that may be destroyed or otherwise damaged by climate change through its property and casualty business line. Climate change has only exacerbated extreme weather events over the last twenty years. Moreover, the U.S. experienced 22 extreme weather and climate-intensified disasters that caused over $1B in losses each, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accumulatively, these events induced over $95B in damages insurers are liable for and killed at least 262. The increased frequency of such natural disasters is starting to lead insurers to reshape the way they provide underwriting coverage. Put simply, this often causes decreased affordability (and thus availability) of insurance in most areas that are often affected by disasters. When private insurance becomes too costly, individuals must seek state-backed coverage as a last resort, or forego insurance entirely and rely on the funds of the Federal Emergency Management Agency when a loss occurs. For example, residential non-renewal of insurance in California grew by 31% statewide between 2018-2019. Investment Liabilities Another liability that climate change exposes insurers to is that of investment. It was found that, out of 4,000 insurance investment portfolios across the US, the industry had nearly $582 billion invested in a combination of oil, gas, coal and other activities relating to fossil fuel in 2019, a $70 billion increase from the year prior. Moreover, despite total assets under the management of these insurers’ portfolios growing each year, the percentage of fossil fuel-exposed assets remained at 9%, meaning investment in this area is increasing alongside that of total assets. This represents a liability to insurers because there are concerns that fossil fuels have the potential to become stranded assets, that is, assets that can experience sudden and erratic write-downs or devaluation - in this case caused by the ongoing innovation in the renewable energy resource sector. Dave Jones, California’s insurance commissioner during 2016, asked Californian insurers to voluntarily divest from fossil fuel. He expounded that he felt such a request was appropriate due to his responsibility to make certain that insurers address any potential financial requests. US insurers have been criticised by regulators for being far slower to move away from fossil fuels than their international counterparts; corporations in Australia and Europe are increasingly excluding fossil fuels from their investment portfolios. Several US insurers have committed to exit coal financing (e.g. Axa wants to completely exit coal by 2040). The number of insurers making the change is still too few. Whilst the number of insurers withdrawing coverage for the coal sector doubled in 2019, and 37% of the insurance industry assets around the globe were found to be earmarked for plans to exit the coal sector, it’s not quick enough. It is conventional wisdom that the insurance industry has been historically slow to change the way it operates its business on multiple occasions, but when it comes to climate change this cannot be allowed to happen. Effects of Technological Advances The Insurtech Effect Insurtech describes the use of technology in the insurance industry; it has now become so big it is an industry sector of companies within itself. Its use of technologies has accelerated the improvement of traditional insurance processes and arguably threatens them to keep up or risk being left behind. Insurtechs, such as UPC Insurance, or Duck Creek Technologies, are entering the insurance sector and taking advantage of new technologies to provide improved coverage to a customer base that is more digitally literate. Not unlike their counterparts in banking, fintechs, the initial focus of insurtechs has been on the retail segment; 75% of their business is in serving retail clientele. As the young, digitally-savvy segments begin to take over as the largest demographic of their customer-base, insurtechs are tailoring their services for these customers’ preferences. They value convenience and like to execute transactions by mobile (if possible without interaction with the company); it is infinitely more preferable to receive a quote or submit a claim through digital channels than in branch. Insurtechs are also focussing on the commercial segment of their business as well. This does involve bringing innovation to products (e.g. peer-to-peer and digital brokerage), but primarily focuses on loss prevention and efficiency. This can be seen in AI becoming increasingly prevalent in “Big Data” and data analytics to inform increasingly precise and segmented underwriting decisions. Skyway A new technological innovation by UPC insurance, called Skyway Technologies, is one example of the direction insurance agencies are likely to move in going forward. Skyway.com allows condo owners in Florida to buy condo insurance online, in real time. UPC’s insurance start-up Skyway Technologies has created an entirely new sales channel for UPC, selling direct to consumers through an omnichannel experience that takes a consumer through a streamlined, easy-to-use digital buying process that can take a few minutes. The service enables condo owners to find a quote and go on to buy HO6 insurance at almost the same time. For UPC, which has been providing insurance to condo owners in the natural disaster-prone coastal cities of Florida for over twenty years, this was a logical step. The insurance agency is being reshaped by technologies such as this because of the overarching trend across all forms of business during recent years to provide increased convenience. Thought to have stemmed from Amazon’s generational leaps forward in delivery service, and the consequently higher expectations of customers, consumers are increasingly choosing the convenience of online solutions that are quick and effective. Duck Creek Technologies Duck Creek Technologies is one of the tech companies helping fuel the insurtech trend. For example, Duck Creek designed Duck Creek OnDemand to make it easy for insurance companies to follow the path that best fits their specific circumstances. A great example of this approach is UPC Insurance, which used Duck Creek OnDemand to launch Skyway Technologies, Duck Creek CEO Mike Jackowski told investors in the Q3 2021 Earnings Call. Duck Creek OnDemand platform is increasingly gaining popularity in the insurance industry. Since earlier this year, the company had 20 customers successfully go live with Duck Creek products, including notable industry leaders like IAT, Auto-Owners Insurance, American National, and The Doctors Company. At the same time, GEICO, the second-largest private passenger auto insurer in the US, completed the rollout of their auto and motorcycle business on Duck Creek across all 50 states. Final Take The insurance industry is not alone in its quest to innovate during peak climate change: numerous industries have to contend with this factor and the rise of AI. In the case of the abovementioned companies, challenges are turned into opportunities. Updated on Oct 13, 2021, 3:15 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 13th, 2021

A crypto collapse is "plausible" and regulation of the market is urgently needed, Bank of England"s deputy governor says

"Such a collapse is certainly a plausible scenario, given the lack of intrinsic value and consequent price volatility," Cunliffe said in a conference. Britain's Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Jon Cunliffe. REUTERS/ Jonathan Brady/Pool A crash in the crypto market is "plausible" given the volatility of the space, Bank of England's Jon Cunliffe said. He called for the regulation of digital assets, saying it is a "matter of urgency." Cunliffe also warned of the risks of DeFi during a conference reported by Reuters. Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell. A crash in the cryptocurrency market is "plausible" and regulatory clarity is urgently needed, Bank of England Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe said on Wednesday."Such a collapse is certainly a plausible scenario, given the lack of intrinsic value and consequent price volatility, the probability of contagion between cryptoassets, the cyber and operational vulnerabilities, and of course, the power of herd behavior," he said during a speech at the SIBOS conference.As the market capitalization of digital assets balloons to more than $2 trillion this year, the nascent space remains highly unregulated as authorities globally bring their heads together on how best to increase oversight.The International Monetary Fund in its report published Tuesday also warned about the growing risks in the space, including fraud, excess speculation, and potential "runs" on seemingly more stable assets. Meanwhile, China imposed an almost blanket ban by prohibiting all cryptocurrency transactions in September.For his part, Cunliffe compared the digital asset space to the US mortgage market that dragged the global economy to the brink of collapse, pointing out the sub-prime market was valued at around $1.2 trillion in 2008.He also zeroed in on decentralized finance, or DeFi, saying England's central bank has begun working on managing risks and protecting consumers. DeFi is an umbrella term for various applications - lending, borrowing, trading, saving, derivatives, options, stocks - that use public blockchains and crypto assets to disrupt traditional financial sectors.Still, he sees positive potential in cryptocurrencies, but only if clear rules come soon."Indeed, bringing the crypto world effectively within the regulatory perimeter will help ensure that the potentially very large benefits of the application of this technology to finance can flourish in a sustainable way," he said. "It needs to be pursued as a matter of urgency."In the UK, about 2.3 million adults hold cryptoassets, according to a June survey by the Financial Conduct Authority. While the percentage of people who viewed crypto trading as gambling slipped, it still stood at more than one third of the respondents. An increasing percentage, however, saw digital assets as a complement or as an alternative to their mainstream investments. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 13th, 2021

Futures Rebound From Overnight Slide As Oil Keeps Rising

Futures Rebound From Overnight Slide As Oil Keeps Rising US equity-index futures erased earlier declines, rebounding from a loss of as much as 0.8% helped by the start of the European session and easing mounting concerns about stagflation from rising energy prices, signs of widening regulatory scrutiny by China, and the upcoming third-quarter earnings which is expected to post a sharply slower pace of growth and beats than recent record quarters. At 730am ET, Dow e-minis were up 5 points, or 0.1%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 7.25 points, or 0.16%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 46.75points, or 0.31%. Oiil rose 0.3% to $83.86/bbl while the dollar dipped and 10Y yield drifted back under 1.60%. Gains in tech stocks kept Nasdaq futures afloat on Tuesday, while energy names rose as Brent resumed gains, trading around $84/bbl on expectations that a power crisis from Asia to Europe will lift demand and tighten global balances. Higher oil prices and supply chain disruptions have set off alarm bells for businesses and consumers ahead of the third-quarter reporting season that kicks off on Wednesday with JPMorgan results.  "We believe that market participants could stay concerned over high energy prices translating into further acceleration in inflation, and thereby faster tightening by major central banks," said Charalambos Pissouros, head of research at JFD Group. In the pre-market, Tesla rose 0.7% after data showed the electric vehicle maker sold 56,006 China-made vehicles in September, the highest since it started production in Shanghai about two years ago. Oil firms including Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp gained 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively, as Brent crude hit a near-three year high on energy crunch fears. Here are the notable movers: China’s Internet sector is one of the “most undervalued” in Morningstar’s coverage, says Ivan Su, an analyst, adding that Tencent (TCEHY US) and Netease (NTES US) are top picks MGM Resorts (MGM US) rises 2% in U.S. premarket trading after stock was upgraded to outperform from neutral and price target more than doubled to a Street-high $68 at Credit Suisse Quanterix (QTRX US) jumped 20% in Monday postmarket trading after the digital-health company announced that its Simoa phospho-Tau 181 blood test has been granted breakthrough device designation by the U.S. FDA as an aid in diagnostic evaluation of Alzheimer’s disease Relay Therapeutics (RLAY US) fell 7% in Monday postmarket trading after launching a $350 million share sale via Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Cowen, Guggenheim Securities Westwater Resources (WWR US) rose as much as 26% in Monday postmarket trading after its board of directors approved construction of the first phase of a production facility in Alabama for battery ready graphite products TechnipFMC (FTI US) in focus after co. was awarded a substantial long-term charter and services contract by Petrobras for the pipelay support vessel Coral do Atlântico Fastenal, which was one of the first companies to report Q3 earnings, saw its shares fall 2.4% in premarket trading on Tuesday, after the industrial distributor said the Covid-related boost was fading. The company said growth in the quarter was slightly limited by either slower expansion or contraction in sales of certain products related to the pandemic, when compared to the previous year quarter. While there was an uptick in sales of certain Covid-related supplies, the unit price of many products was down significantly, the company said in a statement.  Third-quarter sales and profit were in line with the average analyst estimate "While investors want to believe the narrative that stock markets can continue to move higher, this belief is bumping up against the reality of how the continued rise in energy prices, as well as supply-chain pressures, are likely to impact company profit margins,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in London. In Europe, losses led by basic resources companies and carmakers outweighed gains for utilities and tech stocks, pulling the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down 0.1%. Metals miner Rio Tinto was among the worst performers, dropping 2.7%. European equities climbed off the lows having lost over 1% in early trade. Euro Stoxx 600 was down -0.35% after dropping as much as 1.3% initially, led by basic resources companies and carmakers outweighed gains for utilities and tech stocks. The DAX is off 0.3%, FTSE 100 underperforms in a quiet morning for news flow. Miners, banks and autos are the weakest sectors after China reported a sharp drop in auto sales; utilities, tech and real estate post modest gains. European tech stocks slide, with the Stoxx Tech Index dropping as much as 1.4% in third straight decline, as another broker downgrades TeamViewer, while Prosus and chip stocks come under pressure. TeamViewer shares fall as much as 5.1% after Deutsche Bank downgrades the remote software maker to hold from buy following recent guidance cut. Asian stocks fell, halting a three-day rally as uncertainty over earnings deepened amid elevated inflation, higher bond yields and the risk of a widening Chinese crackdown on private industry. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid as much as 1.2%, led by technology and communication shares. Alibaba plunged 3.9% following a rally over the past week, while Samsung Electronics tumbled to a 10-month low after at least five brokers slashed their price targets, as China’s power crisis is seen worsening supply-chain disruptions. “Given the run-up in tech so far, it’s not difficult for investors to harvest profits first before figuring out if techs can maintain their growth when yields rise,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners. Shares in Hong Kong and the mainland were among the worst performers after Chinese authorities kicked off an inspection of the nation’s financial regulators and biggest state-run banks in an effort to root out corruption. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is down 12% from a February peak, with a global energy crunch lifting input prices and the debt crisis at China Evergrande Group weighing on the financial sector. Investors are waiting to see how this impacts earnings, according to Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia.  “Increasing concerns on inflation potentially being more persistent have started to show up,” he said. “This comes along with the global risk-off mood overnight, as investors look for greater clarity from the earnings season on how margins are holding up, along with the corporate economic outlook.” Japan’s Topix index also fell, halting a two-day rally, amid concerns about a global energy crunch and the possibility of a widening Chinese crackdown on private industry. The Topix fell 0.7% to 1,982.68 at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 declined 0.9% to 28,230.61. SoftBank Group Corp. contributed the most to the Topix’s drop, decreasing 2.4%. Out of 2,181 shares in the index, 373 rose and 1,743 fell, while 65 were unchanged. “Market conditions were improving yesterday, but pushing for higher prices got tough when the Nikkei 225 approached its key moving averages,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.  The Nikkei’s 75-day moving average is about 28,500 and the 200-day moving average is about 28,700, so some investors were taking profits, he said. Japan’s spot power price increased to the highest level in nine months, as the global energy crisis intensifies competition for generation fuel before the winter heating season. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index reversed an overnight gain as the greenback slipped against all of its Group-of-10 peers. Risk sensitive Scandinavian currencies led gains, followed by the New Zealand and Australian dollars. The pound was little changed while speculators ramped up wagers on sterling’s decline at the fastest rate in more than two years, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show, further breaking the link between anticipated rate increases and currency gains. The yen steadied after three days of declines. The Turkish lira extended its slide to a record low after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted at a possible military offensive into neighboring Syria. Fixed-income was quiet by recent standards: Treasury futures were off lows of the day, improving as S&P 500 futures pare losses during European morning, and as cash trading resumed after Monday’s holiday. The 10Y yield dipped from 1.61% to 1.59% after hitting 1.65% based on futures pricing on Monday, but the big mover was on the front end, where 2-year yields climbed as much as 4bps to 0.35% the highest level since March 2020 reflecting increased expectations for Fed rate hikes, as Treasury cash trading resumed globally. Two coupon auctions during U.S. session -- of 3-and 10-year notes -- may weigh on Treasuries however.  Treasury and gilt curves bull-flatten with gilts outperforming at the back end. Bunds have a bull-steepening bias but ranges are narrow. Peripheral spreads tighten a touch with long-end Italy outperforming peers. In commodities, Crude futures drift higher in muted trade. WTI is up 0.25% near $80.70, Brent trades just shy of a $84-handle. Spot gold remains range-bound near $1,760/oz. Base metals are mixed with LME lead and nickel holding small gains, copper and aluminum in the red. Looking at the day ahead, central bank speakers include the Fed’s Vice Chair Clarida,Bostic and Barkin, as well as theECB’s President Lagarde, Makhlouf, Knot, Villeroy, Lane and Elderson. Data highlights from the US include the JOLTS job openings for August, and the NFIB’s small business optimism index for September which came in at 99.1, below last month's 100.1. The IMF will be releasing their latest World Economic Outlook. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,351.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.6% to 454.90 MXAP down 0.9% to 194.41 MXAPJ down 1.0% to 635.42 Nikkei down 0.9% to 28,230.61 Topix down 0.7% to 1,982.68 Hang Seng Index down 1.4% to 24,962.59 Shanghai Composite down 1.2% to 3,546.94 Sensex little changed at 60,149.85 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,280.73 Kospi down 1.4% to 2,916.38 German 10Y yield fell 6 bps to -0.113% Euro up 0.1% to $1.1565 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $84.01/bbl Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,757.84 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 94.29 Top Overnight Headlines from Bloomberg The EU drew record demand for its debut green bond, in the sector’s biggest-ever offering. The bloc registered more than 135 billion euros ($156 billion) in orders Tuesday for a sale of 12 billion euros of securities maturing in 2037 Investors are dumping negative-yielding debt at the fastest pace since February as concerns about inflation and reduced central bank stimulus propel global interest rates higher French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a 30-billion-euro ($35 billion) plan to create the high-tech champions of the future and reverse years of industrial decline in the euro area’s second-largest economy British companies pushed the number of workers on payrolls above pre-coronavirus levels last month, an indication of strength in the labor market that may embolden the Bank of England to raise interest rates. As the Biden administration and governments around the world celebrate another advance toward an historic global tax accord, an obscure legal question in the U.S. threatens to tear it apart Chinese property developers are suffering credit rating downgrades at the fastest pace in five years, as a recent slump in new-home sales adds to concerns about the sector’s debt woes German investor confidence declined for a fifth month in October, adding to evidence that global supply bottlenecks and a surge in inflation are weighing on the recovery in Europe’s largest economy Social Democrat Olaf Scholz’s bid to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor is running into its first test as tensions emerge in talks to bridge policy differences with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats A more detailed breakdown of global markets from Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mostly lower following the indecisive mood stateside where the major indices gave back initial gains to finish negative amid lingering inflation and global slowdown concerns, with sentiment overnight also hampered by tighter Beijing scrutiny and with US equity futures extending on losses in which the Emini S&P retreated beneath its 100DMA. ASX 200 (-0.3%) was subdued as weakness in energy, tech and financials led the declines in Australia and with participants also digesting mixed NAB business survey data. Nikkei 225 (-0.9%) was on the backfoot after the Japan Center for Economic Research noted that GDP contracted 0.9% M/M in August and with retailers pressured after soft September sales updates from Lawson and Seven & I Holdings, while the KOSPI (-1.4%) was the laggard on return from holiday with chipmakers Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix subdued as they face new international taxation rules following the recent global minimum tax deal. Hang Seng (-1.4%) and Shanghai Comp. (-1.3%) adhered to the downbeat picture following a continued liquidity drain by the PBoC and with Beijing scrutinising Chinese financial institutions’ ties with private firms, while default concerns lingered after Evergrande missed yesterday’s payments and with Modern Land China seeking a debt extension on a USD 250mln bond to avoid any potential default. Finally, 10yr JGBs eked minimal gains amid the weakness in stocks but with demand for bonds limited after the recent subdued trade in T-note futures owing to yesterday’s cash bond market closure and following softer results across all metrics in the 30yr JGB auction. Top Asian News Alibaba Stock Revival Halted on Concerns of Rising Bond Yields Iron Ore Rally Pauses as China Steel Curbs Cloud Demand Outlook China’s Star Board Sees Rough Start to Fourth Quarter: ECM Watch Citi Lists Top Global Stock Picks for ‘Disruptive Innovations’ European bourses kicked the day off choppy but have since drifted higher (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.4%; Stoxx 600 Unch) as the region remains on standby for the next catalyst, and as US earnings season officially kicks off tomorrow – not to mention the US and Chinese inflation metrics and FOMC minutes. US equity futures have also nursed earlier losses and reside in relatively flat territory at the time of writing, with broad-based performance seen in the ES (Unch), NQ (+0.2%), RTY (-0.2%), YM (Unch). From a technical standpoint, some of the Dec contracts are now hovering around their respective 100 DMAs at 4,346 for the ES, 14,744 for the NQ, whilst the RTY sees its 200 DMA at 2,215, and the YM topped its 21 DMA at 34,321. Back to Europe, cash markets see broad-based downside with the SMI (-0.1%) slightly more cushioned amid gains in heavyweight Nestle (+0.6%). Sectors kicked off the day with a defensive bias but have since seen a slight reconfiguration, with Real Estate now the top performer alongside Food & Beverages, Tech and Healthcare. On the flip side, Basic Resources holds its position as the laggard following yesterday's marked outperformance and despite base metals (ex-iron) holding onto yesterday's gains. Autos also reside at the bottom of the bunch despite constructive commentary from China's Auto Industry Body CAAM, who suggested the chip supply shortage eased in China in September and expected Q4 to improve, whilst sources suggested Toyota aims to make up some lost production as supplies rebound. In terms of individual movers, GSK (+2.3%) shares spiked higher amid reports that its USD 54bln consumer unit has reportedly attracted buyout interest, according to sources, in turn lifting the FTSE 100 Dec future by 14 points in the immediacy. Elsewhere, easyJet (-1.9%) gave up its earlier gains after refraining on guidance, and despite an overall constructive trading update whereby the Co. sees positive momentum carried into FY22, with H1 bookings double those in the same period last year. Co. expects to fly up to 70% of FY19 planned capacity in FY22. In terms of commentary, the session saw the Germany ZEW release, which saw sentiment among experts deteriorate, citing the persisting supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products. The release also noted that 49.1% of expects still expect inflation to rise further in the next six months. Heading into earnings season, experts also expect profits to go down, particularly in export-tilted sectors such a car making, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. State-side, sources suggested that EU antitrust regulators are reportedly likely to open an investigation into Nvidia's (+0.6% Pre-Mkt) USD 54bln bid from Arm as concessions were not deemed sufficient. Top European News Soybeans Near 10-Month Low as Supply Outlook Expected to Improve EasyJet Boosts Capacity as Travel Rebound Gathers Pace Currency Traders Are Betting the BOE Is About to Make a Mistake Citi Lists Top Global Stock Picks for ‘Disruptive Innovations’ In FX, the Buck has reclaimed a bit more lost ground in consolidatory trade rather than any real sign of a change in fundamentals following Monday’s semi US market holiday for Columbus Day and ahead of another fairly light data slate comprising NFIB business optimism and JOLTS. However, supply awaits the return of cash Treasuries in the form of Usd 58 bn 3 year and Usd 38 bn 10 year notes and Fed commentary picks up pace on the eve of FOMC minutes with no less than five officials scheduled to speak. Meanwhile, broad risk sentiment has taken a knock in wake of a late swoon on Wall Street to give the Greenback and underlying bid and nudge the index up to fresh post-NFP highs within a 94.226-433 band. NZD/AUD - A slight change in fortunes down under as the Kiwi derives some comfort from the fact that the Aud/Nzd has not breached 1.0600 to the upside and Nzd/Usd maintaining 0.6950+ status irrespective of mixed NZ electric card sales data, while the Aussie takes on board contrasting NAB business conditions and confidence readings in advance of consumer sentiment, with Aud/Usd rotating either side of 0.7350. EUR/CAD/GBP/CHF/JPY - All rangy and marginally mixed against their US counterpart, as the Euro straddles 1.1560, the Loonie meanders between 1.2499-62 with less fuel from flat-lining crude and the Pound tries to keep sight of 1.3600 amidst corrective moves in Eur/Gbp following a rebound through 0.8500 after somewhat inconclusive UK labour and earnings data, but hardly a wince from the single currency even though Germany’s ZEW survey missed consensus and the institute delivered a downbeat assessment of the outlook for the coming 6 months. Elsewhere, the Franc continues to hold within rough 0.9250-90 extremes and the Yen is striving to nurse outsize losses between 113.00-50 parameters, with some attention to 1 bn option expiries from 113.20-25 for the NY cut. Note also, decent expiry interest in Eur/Usd and Usd/Cad today, but not as close to current spot levels (at the 1.1615 strike in 1.4 bn and between 1.2490-1.2505 in 1.1 bn respectively). SCANDI/EM - The Nok and Sek have bounced from lows vs the Eur, and the latter perhaps taking heed of a decline in Sweden’s registered jobless rate, but the Cnh and Cny remain off recent highs against the backdrop of more Chinese regulatory rigour, this time targeting state banks and financial institutions with connections to big private sector entities and the Try has thrown in the towel in terms of its fight to fend off approaches towards 9.0000 vs the Usd. The final straw for the Lira appeared to be geopolitical, as Turkish President Erdogan said they will take the necessary steps in Syria and are determined to eliminate threats, adding that Turkey has lost its patience on the attacks coming from Syrian Kurdish YPG controlled areas. Furthermore, he stated there is a Tal Rifaat pocket controlled by YPG below Afrin and that an operation could target that area which is under Russian protection. However, Usd/Try is off a new ATH circa 9.0370 as oil comes off the boil and ip came in above forecast. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are choppy and trade on either side of the flat mark in what is seemingly some consolidation and amid a distinct lack of catalysts to firmly dictate price action. The complex saw downticks heading into the European cash open in tandem with the overall market sentiment at the time, albeit the crude complex has since recovered off worst levels. News flow for the complex has also remained minimal as eyes now turn to any potential intervention by major economies in a bid to stem the pass-through of energy prices to consumers heading into winter. On that note, UK nat gas futures have been stable on the day but still north of GBP 2/Thm. Looking ahead, the weekly Private Inventory data has been pushed back to tomorrow on account of yesterday's Columbus Day holiday. Tomorrow will also see the release of the OPEC MOMR and EIA STEO. Focus on the former will be on any updates to its demand forecast, whilst commentary surrounding US shale could be interesting as it'll give an insight into OPEC's thinking on the threat of Shale under President Biden's "build back better" plan. Brent Dec trades on either side of USD 84/bbl (vs prev. 83.13-84.14 range) whilst WTI trades just under USD 81/bbl after earlier testing USD 80/bbl to the downside (USD 80-80.91/bbl range). Over to metals, spot gold and silver hold onto modest gains with not much to in the way of interesting price action, with the former within its overnight range above USD 1,750/oz and the latter still north of USD 22.50/oz after failing to breach the level to the downside in European hours thus far. In terms of base metals, LME copper is holding onto most of yesterday's gains, but the USD 9,500/t mark seems to be formidable resistance. Finally, Dalian and Singapore iron ore futures retreated after a four-day rally, with traders citing China's steel production regaining focus. US Event Calendar 6am: Sept. SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM 99.1,  est. 99.5, prior 100.1 10am: Aug. JOLTs Job Openings, est. 11m, prior 10.9m 11:15am: Fed’s Clarida Speaks at IIF Annual Meeting 12:30pm: Fed’s Bostic Speaks on Inflation at Peterson Institute 6pm: Fed’s Barkin Interviewed for an NPR Podcast DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap It’s my wife’s birthday today and the big treat is James Bond tomorrow night. However, I was really struggling to work out what to buy her. After 11.5 years together, I ran out of original ideas at about year three and have then scrambled round every year in an attempt to be innovative. Previous innovations have seen mixed success with the best example being the nearly-to-scale oil portrait I got commissioned of both of us from our wedding day. She had no idea and hated it at the closed eyes big reveal. It now hangs proudly in our entrance hall though. Today I’ve bought her a lower key gamble. Some of you might know that there is a US website called Cameo that you can pay famous people to record a video message for someone for a hefty fee. Well, all her childhood heroes on it were seemingly too expensive or not there. Then I saw that the most famous gymnast of all time, Nadia Comăneci, was available for a reasonable price. My wife idolised her as a kid (I think). So after this goes to press, I’m going to wake my wife up with a personalised video message from Nadia wishing her a happy birthday, saying she’s my perfect ten, and praising her for encouraging our three children to do gymnastics and telling her to keep strong while I try to get them to play golf instead. I’m not sure if this is a totally naff gift or inspired. When I purchased it I thought the latter but now I’m worried it’s the former! My guess is she says it’s naff, appreciates the gesture, but calls me out for the lack of chocolates. Maybe in this day and age a barrel of oil or a tank of petrol would have been the most valuable birthday present. With investor anticipation continuing to build ahead of tomorrow’s CPI release from the US, yesterday saw yet another round of commodity price rises that’s making it increasingly difficult for central banks to argue that inflation is in fact proving transitory. You don’t have to be too old to remember that back in the summer, those making the transitory argument cited goods like lumber as an example of how prices would begin to fall back again as the economy reopened. But not only have commodity aggregates continued to hit fresh highs since then, but lumber (+5.49%) itself followed up last week’s gains to hit its highest level in 3 months. Looking at those moves yesterday, it was a pretty broad-based advance across the commodity sphere, with big rises among energy and metals prices in particular. Oil saw fresh advances, with WTI (+1.47%) closing above $80/bbl for the first time since 2014, whilst Brent Crude (+1.53%) closed above $83/bbl for the first time since 2018. Meanwhile, Chinese coal futures (+8.00%) hit a record after the flooding in Shanxi province that we mentioned in yesterday’s edition, which has closed 60 of the 682 mines there, and this morning they’re already up another +6.41%. So far this year, the region has produced 30% of China’s coal supply, which gives you an idea as to its importance. And when it came to metals, aluminium prices (+3.30%) on the London Metal Exchange rose to their highest level since the global financial crisis, whilst Iron Ore futures in Singapore jumped +7.01% on Monday, and copper was also up +2.13%. The one respite on the inflation front was a further decline in natural gas prices, however, with the benchmark European future down -2.73%; thus bringing its declines to over -47% since the intraday high that was hit only last Wednesday. With commodity prices seeing another spike and inflation concerns resurfacing, this proved bad news for sovereign bonds as investors moved to price in a more hawkish central bank reaction. Yields in Europe rose across the continent, with those on 10yr bunds up +3.0bps to 0.12%, their highest level since May. The rise was driven by both higher inflation breakevens and real rates, and leaves bund yields just shy of their recent post-pandemic closing peak of -0.10% from mid-May. If they manage to surpass that point, that’ll leave them closer to positive territory than at any point since Q2 2019 when they last turned negative again. It was a similar story elsewhere, with 10yr yields on OATs (+2.6bps), BTPs (+3.9bps) and gilts (+3.1bps) likewise reaching their highest level in months. The sell-off occurred as money markets moved to price in further rate hikes from central banks, with investors now expecting a full 25 basis point hike from the Fed by the end of Q3 2022. It seems like another era, but at the start of this year before the Georgia Senate race, investors weren’t even pricing in a full hike by the end of 2023, whereas they’re now pricing in almost 4. So we’ve come a long way over 2021, though pre-Georgia the consensus CPI forecast on Bloomberg was just 2.0%, whereas it now stands at 4.3%, so it does fit with the story of much stronger-than-expected inflation inducing a hawkish response. Yesterday’s repricing came alongside a pretty minimal -0.15% move in the Euro versus the dollar, but that was because Europe was also seeing a similar rates repricing. Meanwhile, the UK saw its own ramping up of rate hike expectations, with investors pricing in at least an initial 15bps hike to 0.25% happening by the December meeting in just two months’ time. Overnight in Asia, stocks are trading in the red with the KOSPI (-1.46%), Shanghai Composite (-1.21%), Hang Seng (-1.20%), the Nikkei (-0.93%) and CSI (-0.82%) all trading lower on inflation concerns due to high energy costs and aggravated by a Wall Street Journal story that Chinese President Xi Jinping is increasing scrutiny of state-run banks and big financial institutions with inspections. Furthermore, there were signs of a worsening in the Evergrande debt situation, with the firm missing coupon payments on a 9.5% note due in 2022 and a 10% bond due in 2023. And there were fresh indications of a worsening situation more broadly, with Sinic Holdings Group Co. saying it doesn’t expect to pay the principal or interest on a $250m bond due on October 18. Separately in Japan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday that he will raise pay for public workers and boost tax breaks to firms that boost wages to try and improve the country’s wealth distribution. Back to yesterday, and the commodity rally similarly weighed on thin-volume equity markets, though it took some time as the S&P 500 had initially climbed around +0.5% before paring back those gains to close down -0.69%. Before the late US sell-off, European indices were subdued, but the STOXX 600 still rose +0.05%, thanks to an outperformance from the energy sector (+1.49%), and the STOXX Banks Index (+0.13%) hit a fresh two-year high as the sector was supported by a further rise in yields. On the central bank theme, we heard from the ECB’s chief economist, Philip Lane, at a conference yesterday, where he said that “a one-off shift in the level of wages as part of the adjustment to a transitory unexpected increase in the price level does not imply a trend shift in the path of underlying inflation.” So clearly making a distinction between a more persistent pattern of wage inflation, which comes as the ECB’s recent forward guidance commits them to not hiking rates “until it sees inflation reaching two per cent well ahead of the end of its projection horizon and durably for the rest of the projection horizon”, as well as having confidence that “realised progress in underlying inflation is sufficiently advanced to be consistent with inflation stabilising at two per cent over the medium term”. Turning to the political scene, Brexit is likely to be in the headlines again today as the UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost gives a speech in Lisbon where he’s expected to warn that the EU’s proposals on the Northern Ireland Protocol are insufficient. That comes ahead of a new set of proposals that are set to come from the EU tomorrow, with the two sides disagreeing on the extent of border controls required on trade from Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK. Those controls were put in place as part of the Brexit deal to prevent a hard border being put up between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, whilst also preserving the integrity of the EU’s single market. But the UK’s demands for adjustments have been met with opposition by the EU, and speculation has risen that the UK could trigger Article 16, which allows either side to take unilateral safeguard measures, if the protocol’s application “leads to serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade”. On the data front, there wasn’t much data to speak of with the US holiday, but Italy’s industrial production contracted by -0.2% in August, in line with expectations. To the day ahead now, andcentral bank speakers include the Fed’s Vice Chair Clarida,Bostic and Barkin, as well as theECB’s President Lagarde, Makhlouf, Knot, Villeroy, Lane and Elderson. Data highlights from the US include the JOLTS job openings for August, and the NFIB’s small business optimism index for September. In Europe, there’s also UK unemployment for August and the German ZEW Survey for October. Lastly, the IMF will be releasing their latest World Economic Outlook.     Tyler Durden Tue, 10/12/2021 - 07:56.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 12th, 2021

Futures Slide As Soaring Oil Nears $85

Futures Slide As Soaring Oil Nears $85 While cash bonds may be closed today for Columbus Day, which may or may not be a holiday - it's difficult to know anymore with SJW snowflakes opinions changing by the day - US equity futures are open and they are sliding as soaring oil prices add to worries over growing stagflation (Goldman and Morgan Stanley both slashed their GDP estimates over the weekend even as they both see rising inflation), fueling concern that a spreading energy crisis could hamper economic recovery (as a reminder, yesterday we had one, two, three posts on stagflation, showing just how freaked out Wall Street suddenly is). Rising raw material costs, labor shortages and other supply chain bottlenecks have raised concerns of elevated prices hammering corporate profits while rising rates are suggesting that a tidal wave of inflation is coming. And while cash bonds may be closed, one can easily extrapolate where they would be trading based on TSY futures which are currently trading at a 1.65% equivalent. But while cash bonds may be closed, the big mover on Monday was oil, with WTI surging nearly 3% and touched a seven-year high as an energy crisis gripping the major economies showed no sign of easing. Meanwhile, Brent rose just shy of $85, rising to the highest since late 2018 when the Fed abruptly reversed tightening course. Over in China, coal futures reached a record as flooding shuttered mines. The surge in oil lifted shares of Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and APA Corp between 1.2% and 3% in premarket trading. At the same time, rising rates hit FAAMGs, with Apple, Microsoft and Amazon all falling between 0.6% and 0.8%. The surge above 1.6% for 10-year Treasury yields is intensifying debate among strategists over how to position investor portfolios amid anxiety over whether transitory inflation is transitioning into stagflation. Lucid Group rose 2.2% and Occidental Petroleum climbed 3.1%, leading gains in the U.S. premarket session. Here are some of the biggest movers and stocks to watch today: U.S.-listed Chinese tech stocks soar 2% to 5% in premarket trading, extending their recent rebound. Rally supported by Beijing slapping a smaller-than-expected fine on food delivery giant Meituan and last week’s news that U.S. President Joe Biden was planning to meet with Xi Jinping before the end of the year. Alibaba (BABA US +5%) leads gains, while JD.com (JD US) and Baidu (BIDU US) rise 2% apiece Watch U.S. energy stocks as oil surges past $80 a barrel as the global power crunch rattled a market in which OPEC+ has only been restoring output at a modest pace. Exxon Mobil (XOM US +1.1%), Chevron (CVX US +1%) and Occidental (OXY US +3.1%) among top risers in premarket trading. Robinhood (HOOD US) dropped 2%; the company was under pressure in U.S. premarket trading as a looming share sale by early investors and a toughening regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies are adding to the headwinds in the stock market for the darling of the U.S. retail trading mania. ChemoCentryx (CCXI US) up 2% in U.S. premarket trading, adding to Friday’s massive gains after the drug developer won U.S. approval for Tavneos as a treatment for a rare autoimmune disorder Cloudflare (NET US) slides 1.8% in U.S. premarket trading after Piper Sandler downgraded stock to neutral Akerna Corp. (KERN US) gained in Friday postmarket trading after Matthew Ryan Kane, a board member, bought $346,032 of shares, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. “We see rising risks to global growth and evidence of more persistent inflation, which makes us more cautious on the outlook for global markets overall,” Salman Ahmed, global head of macro and strategic asset allocation at Fidelity International, wrote in a note to clients. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index fell 0.2%, led by declines in travel and property firms. Miners and energy stocks were the two strongest-performing sectors in Europe on Monday on rising prices for iron ore and oil. The Stoxx 600 Basic Resources Index climbed as much as 2.4%, while the Energy Index gains as much as 1.5% to the highest since Feb. 24, 2020. European banking stocks also advanced on Monday, following four weeks of gains, and traded about 1.3% below pre-pandemic high. The sector has gained 36% ytd, is the best performer among 20 European sectors in 2021. Up 0.7% today, outperforming a slightly weaker broader Stoxx 600 Index and as investors tilt toward cyclical sectors. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks jumped, buoyed by Hong Kong-listed technology shares including Meituan, which was consigned a lower-than-expected regulatory fine. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 0.9%, driven by the consumer-discretionary and communication sectors. Alibaba and Meituan were the top contributors to the gauge, each surging about 8% in the first trading in Hong Kong after the food-delivery giant was handed a $533 million fine for violating anti-monopolistic practices.  The result of the investigation into Meituan is “a relief and likely to provide closure to the share price overhang,” Citigroup analysts wrote in a note Friday, when the penalty was announced.  Hong Kong’s stock gauge was among the top performing in the region. Japan’s benchmarks also climbed as the yen weakened to an almost three-year low against the dollar and new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he’s not considering changes to the country’s capital-gains tax at present. Improved sentiment in China is providing much-needed support to Asian equities, which declined for four straight weeks amid uncertainty circling global markets. Power shortages in China and India, supply-chain woes, inflation risks and rising bond yields are all on the radar as the earnings season kicks off. “We are still in a market that is very, very concerned about the growth outlook,” said Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG Markets. These sort of rallies that appear almost inexplicable are “symptomatic of the market still trying to piece together all pieces of the puzzle,” he added. Australia The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3% to close at 7,299.80, with most subgauges taking a hit. Miners advanced, posting gains for a third session, offsetting losses in healthcare and consumer discretionary stocks.  Star Entertainment was the worst performer after a report saying the company had enabled suspected money laundering, organized crime and fraud at its Australian casinos for years. Fortescue surged after the company said it plans to build a green energy factory to rival China.  In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 0.5% to 13,019.37. In FX, the pound crept higher to touch an almost 2-week high versus the dollar and the Gilt curve shifted higher, led by the front-end, after the Bank of England’s Michael Saunders, one of the most hawkish members of the Monetary Policy Committee, suggested in remarks published Saturday that investors were right to bring forward bets on rate hikes. Hours earlier, Governor Andrew Bailey warned of a potentially “very damaging” period of inflation unless policy makers take action. Australia’s dollar led gains among G-10 currencies on the back of increases in oil, natural gas and iron ore prices and as Sydney emerges from a 15- week lockdown on Monday. Iron ore futures extended gains as improved rebar margins at Chinese steel mills buoyed demand prospects. The yen dropped against the dollar, with analysts forecasting more weakness ahead as the nation’s yield differentials widen. As noted above, treasury futures slumped in U.S. trading Monday, with the cash market closed for Columbus Day; they implied a yield of 1.65% on the 10Y. 10-year note futures price is down 8+/32, a price change equivalent to a yield increase of about 3bp. Benchmark 10-year yield ended Friday at 1.615%, its highest closing level since June, as investors focused on the inflationary aspects in mixed September employment data. China's10-year government bond futures declined to a three-month low while the yuan advanced as the central bank’s latest liquidity draining weakened expectations of fresh monetary policy easing. Futures contracts on 10-year notes fall 0.4% to 99.14, the lowest level since July 12. It dropped 0.4% on Friday. 10-year sovereign bond yields rose 5bps, the biggest gains in two months, to 2.96%. Looking ahead, upcoming reports on third-quarter company profits which start this week are seen as the next potential pressure point in a market already under siege from slowing global growth, sticky inflation and tighter monetary policies. Global earnings revisions are sliding - an omen for U.S. stocks that have taken their cue from rising earnings estimates all year. “The coming earnings’ season in the U.S. will be heavily scrutinized for pricing power, margins and clues on the shortage situation, as well as wage pressures,” according to Geraldine Sundstrom, a portfolio manager at  Pacific Investment Management Co. in London. “Already a number of large multinationals have issued warnings about production cuts and downgraded their Q3 outlook due to supply chain and labor shortages.” Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 4,371.25 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 456.41 German 10Y yield up 1.5 bps to -0.135% Euro little changed at $1.1568 MXAP up 0.8% to 196.45 MXAPJ up 0.7% to 642.13 Nikkei up 1.6% to 28,498.20 Topix up 1.8% to 1,996.58 Hang Seng Index up 2.0% to 25,325.09 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,591.71 Sensex up 0.5% to 60,358.30 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,299.79 Kospi down 0.1% to 2,956.30 Brent Futures up 1.9% to $83.98/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,755.02 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.11% to 94.17 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The U.S. labor market will see “ups and downs” as the pandemic lingers, but it’s premature to judge that the recovery is in peril, said San Francisco Federal Reserve President Mary Daly Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she expects Congress to take action soon to bring the U.S. into line with a global minimum tax agreed on last week by 136 countries Chinese builders are looking to payment extensions or debt exchanges to avoid default on imminent bond obligations as liquidity conditions tighten for the real estate sector Austria will get a new chancellor, though the career diplomat stepping into Sebastian Kurz’s shoes is a close ally of the departing conservative leader who resigned over a corruption scandal Just because pandemic inflation is transitory doesn’t mean it’s going away anytime soon. That’s the awkward conclusion that policy makers and investors are arriving at, as prices accelerate all over the world. European natural gas has climbed 25% in two weeks, and oil topped $80 for the first time since 2014. Fertilizers hit a record on Friday, which means food prices -- already at a 10- year peak -- will likely rise even higher A more detailed summary of overnight news from Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly positive but ended the day somewhat mixed after having shrugged off the early weakness stemming from last Friday’s lacklustre performance stateside and disappointing NFP jobs data. Note, markets in Taiwan and South Korea were closed. ASX 200 (-0.3%) was the laggard with underperformance in tech, consumer stocks and defensives overshadowing the gains in commodities and with Star Entertainment the worst hit with losses of more than 20% after media outlets alleged that it enabled suspected money laundering, organised crime, fraud and foreign interference which the Co. said were misleading reports. However, downside for the index was limited as New South Wales businesses reopened from the lockdown that lasted for over three months. Nikkei 225 (+1.6%) reversed opening losses as exporters cheered a weaker currency and with the government mulling over JPY 100bln financial support for chip factory construction. Hang Seng (+2.0%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) were both positive following talks between China's Vice Premier Liu He and USTR Tai on Saturday in which China was said to be negotiating for a cancellation of tariffs and sanctions. The advances in Hong Kong were led by tech stocks including Meituan despite the Co. being fined CNY 3.4bln by China’s market regulator for monopolistic behaviour, as the amount was seen to be a slap on the wrist, while the gains in the mainland were only mild as participants also reflected on the substantial liquidity drains by the PBoC totalling a net CNY 510bln since Saturday. Finally, 10yr JGBs were pressured amid the gains in Japanese stocks and lack of BoJ purchases in the market, while price action was also not helped by the continued weakness in T-note futures amid the semi-holiday conditions in US for Columbus Day in which the NYSE and the Nasdaq will open but bonds trading will remain shut. Top Asian News Australian IPOs Heading for Biggest Haul Since 2014: ECM Watch Syngenta’s Shanghai IPO Proposal Suspended For Earnings Update China Junk-Rated Dollar Bond Rout Deepens Amid Builder Worries China’s 10-Year Bond Yield Jumps By The Most Since August Bourses in Europe are mostly but modestly lower (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.1%, Stoxx 600 -0.2%) whilst the FTSE 100 (+0.2%) bucks the trend, owing to firm performances in its heavyweight sectors. US equity futures meanwhile trade within tight ranges with broad-based losses of some 0.3-0.4%. Fresh fundamental catalysts have remained light, although inflation and stagflation remain on traders' minds heading into this week's US and Chinese inflation metrics and against the backdrop of rising energy prices. Thus, the sector configuration sees Basic Resources, Oil & Gas and Banks at the top of the bunch, whilst the downside sees Travel & Leisure, Real Estate and Retail, with no overarching theme to be derived. Basic Resources is the marked outperformer as base metals are bolstered in what seems to be a function of the coal shortage in Asia, with iron ore contracts also surging overnight and copper following suit, in turn boosting the likes of Rio Tino (+3.2%), Antofagasta (+3.1%), Glencore (+3.1%), BHP (+2.8%). The top of the Stoxx 600 is dominated by metal names. In terms of individual movers, Carrefour (-2.2%) is softer after sources stated that exploratory talks over a Carrefour-Auchan tie-up ended due to the complexity of the deal. Evotec (+0.7%) holds onto gains as it seeks a Nasdaq listing. Roche (+0.6%) and Morphosys (+3.7%) underpin the health sector after the Cos received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the US FDA for gantenerumab for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Top European News BOE Officials Double Down on Signals of Imminent Rate Hike Brexit Clash on Northern Ireland Means Headaches for Johnson Asos CEO Beighton Steps Down as Sales Growth Slows Adler Shares Flounder After Asset Disposal Plan, Past M&A Report In FX, the Aussie has secured a considerably firmer grip of the 0.7300 handle vs its US rival as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed in NSW and base metals tread water after a mostly positive APAC equity session overnight. However, Aud/Usd is also firmer on the back of ongoing Greenback weakness and long liquidation from what some are calling ‘stretched’ levels of IMM positioning going in to Friday’s NFP release, while the Aud/Nzd cross has rebounded further above 1.0550 in wake of a rise in NZ virus cases that has prompted the PM to keep Auckland on level 3 alert for another week pending review. Hence, Nzd/Usd is capped around 0.6950 and continues to lag on the unwinding of Kiwi longs built up in advance of last week’s universally anticipated 25 bp RBNZ hike. Back to the Buck, but looking at the index in relation to where it was before and after the latest BLS report, 94.000 is providing some underlying support on Columbus Day that is not a full US market holiday, but will see cash Treasuries remain closed. Moreover, the DXY is gleaning momentum within a narrow 94.028-214 range via marked Yen underperformance amidst the latest rout in bonds and more pronounced technical impulses as Usd/Jpy extends beyond 112.50 and sets yet another 2021 peak around 112.95. GBP - Sterling is taking up post-payrolls Dollar slack as well, but firmer in its own right too as comments from BoE Governor Bailey and MPC member Saunders add to the growing expectation that rate hikes may be delivered sooner than had been expected before the former revealed that policy-setters were evenly divided at 4-4 in August on the subject of minimum criteria being achieved for tightening. Cable is hovering under 1.3650 and Eur/Gbp is sub-0.8500 in response, with the latter not really fazed by the UK-EU rift on NI protocol. CAD/NOK - The Loonie remains firm against its US peer after the stellar Canadian jobs data and Usd/Cad continues to probe support/bids at 1.2450 against the backdrop of strength in oil prices that is also keeping the Norwegian Krona afloat and Eur/Nok eyeing deeper sub-10.0000 lows irrespective of marginally mixed vs consensus inflation metrics. CHF/EUR/SEK - All rather rangy, aimless and looking for inspiration or clearer direction as the Franc straddles 0.9275 vs the Greenback, but remains firmer against the Euro above 1.0750 following only a faint rise in Swiss domestic bank sight deposits. Meanwhile, the Euro is pivoting 1.1575 vs the Buck and looks hemmed in by decent option expiry interest just outside the range given.1 bn rolling off between 1.1540-50 and 1.6 bn from 1.1590-1.1600 at the NY cut. Elsewhere, the Swedish Crown is slipping on risk-off grounds towards 10.1250 having tested resistance circa 10.1000. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures continue the upward trajectory seen during the APAC session, with the complex underpinned heading into the winter period and against the backdrop of higher gas prices. The gains have been more pronounced in the US counterpart vs the global benchmark with no clear catalysts behind the outperformance, although this may be a continuation of the unwind seen after reports suggested a release of the US SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) is unlikely. For context, reports of such a release last week took the WTI-Brent arb to almost USD 4.2/bbl vs USD 2.7/bbl at the time of writing. Furthermore, there have also been reports of lower US production under President Biden's "build back better" initiative, which puts more weight on renewable energy, with some energy analysts also suggesting that OPEC+ sees less of a threat from a "shale boom" as a result. Back to price action, WTI has been in the limelight after topping the USD 80/bbl overnight and extending gains to levels north of USD 81.50/bbl (vs low 79.55/bbl), whilst the Brent Dec contract topped USD 84.00/bbl (vs low USD 82.50/bbl). In terms of other news flow, sources suggested the fire at Lebanon's Zahrani fuel tank has been put out after the energy minister suggested the fire was contained – the cause of the fire is not yet known. Gas prices also remain elevated with UK nat gas futures relatively flat on the day but still north of GBP 2/Thm vs GBP 1/Thm mid-August and vs GBP 4/Thm last week, whilst the Qatari Energy Minister said he is unhappy about gas prices being high amid negative follow-through to customers. Over to metals, spot gold and silver are somewhat lacklustre, but with magnitudes of price action contained, with the former meandering just north of USD 1,750/oz and the latter above USD 22.50/oz heading into this week's key risk events. Overnight, iron ore futures were bolstered some 10% in Dalian and Singapore Exchanges amid fears of coking coal supply shortages - coking coal is an essential input to produce iron and steel. Traders should also be cognizant of the Chinese metrics released this week as another elevated PPI metric could see the release of more state reserves, as had been the case over the recent months. Using the Caixin PMIs as a proxy for the release, the PMI suggested sharp increases in both input costs and output prices – largely owed to supply chain delays, with the "rate of inflation was the quickest seen for four months, amid reports of greater energy and raw material costs. This, in turn, led to a solid increase in prices charged". The measure for output prices its highest in three months, whilst "the pressure of rising costs was partly transmitted downstream to consumers, as the demand was not weak." US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap A reminder that it’s Columbus Day today where US bond markets are closed. Equity markets are open but expect it to be quiet. Ahead of this, this morning we have published our latest monthly survey results covering over 600 global market participants. See here for more. For the first time since June, the biggest perceived risk to markets is now higher yields and inflation, whilst direct Covid-19 risks are out of the top 3 for the first time. A further equity correction before YE remains the consensus now. 71% expect at least another 5% off equities at some point before YE (68% correctly suggested that last month). A very overwhelming 84% thought the next 25bps move in 10yr US Treasury yields would be up. Of some additional interest is that the definition of stagflation is varied but that the majority think it’s a high or very high risk for the next 12 months. The extreme of this view surprised me. While I’ve long thought the market has underestimated the inflation risks I would still say there is enough of a growth cushion for 2022. However it’s clear the risks have built. Anyway, lots more in the survey. Thanks for filling it in and see the results for details. The week ahead will centre around the US CPI release on Wednesday but it might be a touch backward looking given that energy has spiked more recently and that used car prices are again on the march after a late summer fall that will likely be captured in this week’s release. Elsewhere, we’ve got a potentially more challenging US earnings season than that seen over the last year will commence with the big financials from Wednesday. In addition minutes from the last FOMC will give clues to the latest taper thinking on Wednesday as well. The IMF/World Bank meetings will generate plenty of headlines this week with their latest world outlook update tomorrow the highlight. The best of the rest data wise consists of JOLTS (Tuesday),which we think is a better labour market indicator than payrolls albeit a month behind, US PPI (Thursday) which will give a scale of building pipeline price pressures, US retail sales and UoM consumer sentiment (Friday), and China’s CPI and PPI (Thursday). With all that to look forward to, markets have started the week on a strong note, with equity indices including the Hang Seng (+2.02%), Nikkei (+1.57%), CSI (+0.32%) and Shanghai Composite (+0.32%) all moving higher, whilst the Kospi (-0.11%) has seen a slight decline. Japanese stocks have been buoyed by comments from new PM Kishida over the weekend that he isn’t currently considering changes to the country’s capital-gains tax. That comes with just 20 days remaining until the country’s general election. Separately in China, the country’s energy woes continue with 60 of 682 coal mines closed in the Shanxi province due to heavy floods, with Chinese coal futures up +8.00% this morning. And the property market issues are continuing to persist, with a new Chinese developer Modern Land seeking a 3 month extension to a $250 million dollar bond due to mature on October 25. By the end of last week, a Bloomberg index of Chinese junk-rated dollar bonds had seen yields climb to a decade-high above 17%, so clearly one to still look out for. Unlike in Asia, equity futures are pointing lower in the US and Europe this morning, with those on the S&P 500 down -0.21%. In terms of the main highlight it’s clearly US CPI mid-week. Given my views that inflation risks have been massively understated this year I’ve been saying for months that these reports have potentially been the most important monthly data we have seen for years. But since they mostly come and go with a “meh… mostly transitory” and a relative whimper, I’ve clearly been wrong to over hype them. So ignore me when I say that this month’s report might not be that interesting. With energy soaring over the last month and signs of inflation pressures continuing to build elsewhere then I’m not sure we can read too much into this month’s figures. Take used cars. Given the 2-3 month lag between actual prices and their CPI impact, this month will more than likely reflect a softening of prices in the summer. However September saw prices rise +5.4% so this will probably show up towards the end of the year along with the recent rise in energy costs. Our economists expect a +0.41% headline (vs. +0.27% previously) and +0.27% core (vs. +0.10%) mom rate. This is a bit above consensus and would take the yoy rate to 5.4% (up a tenth) and 4.1% (unch) respectively. Speaking of inflationary pressures, this morning has seen energy prices take a further leg higher, with WTI oil (+1.90%) moving back above $80/bbl for the first time since late 2014, whilst Brent crude (+1.42%) has moved above $83/bbl. European natural gas prices will continue to be an important one to follow amidst the astonishing price surge there, but the declines at the end of last week mean prices finished the week down by more than -45% since their intraday peak on Wednesday, before the comments from Russian President Putin that brought down prices. The rest of the day-by-day calendar is at the end as usual but although it’s a second tier release normally, tomorrow’s JOLTS will be interesting in as far as it might confirm that the main labour problems in August were a lack of supply rather than demand. The report’s full value is reduced by it being a number of weeks out of date but there’s a reasonable argument for saying that this is a better gauge of the state of the labour market than the payroll release. We go through Friday’s mixed report at the end when looking back at last week. Outside of data, it’s that time again as earnings season gets going, with a number of US financials kicking things off from mid-week. In terms of the highlights, we’ll hear from JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock and Delta Air Lines on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, we’ll get UnitedHealth, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, US Bancorp and Walgreens Boots Alliance. Finally on Friday, we’ll hear from Charles Schwab and Goldman Sachs. For more info on the upcoming earnings season, you can read DB’s equity strategists Q3 S&P 500 preview here. Back to markets, it was interesting over the weekend that the BoE’s Saunders chose to endorse market expectation of an earlier start to the hiking cycle in the UK rather than push back against it. He is on the more hawkish end of the spectrum but it was an important statement. Earlier, Governor Bailey suggested that there could potentially be a very damaging period of higher inflation ahead if policy makers didn’t react. Interestingly our survey showed that the market thinks the BoE is likely to make a policy error by being too hawkish so a battle seems likely to commence over policy here in the UK over the coming weeks and months. The November meeting appears live. Those comments have helped to support the pound this morning, which is up by +0.16% against the US Dollar. Looking back to last week now, risk sentiment was supported in the first full week of Q4 by easing European energy prices and a cease fire on the debt ceiling that avoided disaster and bought Washington lawmakers 8 weeks to find a more permanent solution. Global equity indices thus gained on the week: the S&P 500 picked up +0.79%, with a slight -0.19% pullback on Friday, and European equities kept pace with the STOXX 600 rallying +0.97% (-0.28% on Friday). Cyclical stocks led the way on both sides of the Atlantic; energy stocks were among the best performers whist financials benefitted from higher yields and a steeper curve. Speaking of which, US 10yr Treasury yields gained a punchy +14.1bps to close the week at 1.603%, their highest levels since early June. The benchmark gradually increased 3.0bps after Friday’s employment data. Inflation compensation continued to drive rate increases, as US 10yr breakevens gained +13.5 bps to finish the week at 2.515%. We need to go back to May to find higher levels. The sovereign yield increases were global in nature, with German bunds gaining +7.3bps and UK gilts +15.6bps higher. German 10yr breakevens gained +3.9bps while UK breakevens were +12.0bps higher. US nonfarm payrolls increased +194k in September, well below consensus expectations of a +500k gain, though private payrolls increased +317k and net two month revisions were up +169k. The unemployment rate ticked down to a post-pandemic low of 4.8% on the back of a declining labour force participation rate. Average hourly earnings were robust, increasing +0.6% mom (+0.4% expected). Taken in concert, the print likely cleared the (admittedly low) bar to enable the FOMC to announce tapering at the November meeting, whilst also feeding the creeping stagflation narrative (see survey results). Elsewhere, building on a preliminary July deal, the OECD said 136 nations have signed up to implement a 15% minimum global tax rate to address adequate taxation of multinational tech firms. As part of the deal, countries agreed not to impose any additional digital services taxes.       Tyler Durden Mon, 10/11/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 11th, 2021

The "War On Cash" Endgame Is Here

The 'War On Cash' Endgame Is Here Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org, “Programmable Digital Currency”: The next stage of the new normal? The war on cash’s endgame is here: money replaced by vouchers subject to complete state control. Building on the bitcoin model, central banks are planning to produce their own “digital currencies”. Removing any and all remaining privacy, granting total control over every transaction, even limiting what ordinary people are allowed to spend their money on. From the moment bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies first emerged, sold as an independent and alternative medium of exchange outside the financial status quo, it was only a matter of time before the new alternative would be absorbed, modified and redeployed in service of the state. Enter “Central Bank Digital Currencies”: the mainstream answer to bitcoin. For those who have never heard of them, “Central Bank Digital Currencies” (CBDCs) are exactly what they sound like, digitized versions of the pound/dollar/euro etc. issued by central banks. Like bitcoin (and other crypto), the CBDC would be entirely digital, thus furthering the ongoing war on cash. However, unlike crypto, it would not have any encryption preserving anonymity. In fact, it would be totally the reverse, potentially ending the very idea of financial privacy. Now, you may not have heard much about the CBDC plans, lost as they are in the tangle of the ongoing “pandemic”, but the campaign is there, chugging along on the back pages for months now. There are stories about it from both Reuters and the Financial Times just today. It’s a long, slow con, but a con nonetheless. The countries where the idea progressed the furthest are China and the UK. The Chinese Digital Yuan has been in development since 2014, and is subject to ongoing and widespread testing. The UK is nowhere near that stage yet, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak is keenly pushing forward a digital pound that the press are calling “Britcoin”. Other countries, including New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Malaysia, are not far behind. The US is also researching the idea, with Jerome Powell, head of Federal Reserve, announcing the release of a detailed report on the “digital dollar” in the near future. The proposals for how these CBDCs might work should be enough to raise red flags in even the most trusting of minds. Most people wouldn’t like the idea of the government monitoring “all spending in real-time”, but that’s not the worst it. By far the most dangerous idea is that any future digital currency should be “programmable”. Meaning the people issuing the money would have the power to control how it is spent. That’s not an interpretation or a “conspiracy theory”, just listen to Agustin Carstens, head of the International Settlement Bank, speaking earlier this year: Here’s that quote again, with some emphasis added: The key difference [with a CBDC] is that the central bank would have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that expression of central bank liability, and the have the technology to enforce that.” …which tells you not only that they want and are seeking this power, but how they justify it to themselves. They transform other people’s money into an “expression of their liability”, and so consider it’s only right that they control it. An article in the Telegraph, back in June, was just as candid [our emphasis]: Digital cash could be programmed to ensure it is only spent on essentials, or goods which an employer or Government deems to be sensible The article goes on to quote Tom Mutton, a director at the BoE: You could introduce programmability […] There could be some socially beneficial outcomes from that, preventing activity which is seen to be socially harmful in some way. Governments and employers making sure the money they issue can only be used on “sensible” things, and not be used in “socially harmful” ways? It doesn’t take much imagination to see just how this system could evolve and re-shape society into a truly dystopian nightmare. In China the process is already beginning, with a trademarked lack of subtlety. As they progress toward the release of their digital currency, they are banning all cryptocurrencies to remove competition and it’s already known the digital yuan will be programmable. The West’s approach will probably be less direct, but no less controlling for that. Britcoin will likely be programmed in only “special circumstances”. Starting, as the Telegraph says, with state benefits. They will be flagged to be spent only on “essentials”. (Of course, if Universal Basic Income is put in place, then it’s possible the majority of people could end up on “state benefits”.) It’s also not hard to see programmable money feeding into the “protect the NHS narrative”, where people aren’t allowed to spend state money on sugar, cigarettes or alcohol. Or people on organ waiting lists, or diagnosed with certain conditions, have their wages and spending controlled. By and large, however, it is the nature of British tyranny to be unofficial. So the UK government will make a big show of renouncing their own power to program the money, thereby positively contrasting themselves with China…but at the time will take no steps to prevent large companies “programming” the wages they issue. So, while the state controls the digital yuan in China, the digital pound will be subject to corporate control and used to enforce the unspoken state-corporate partnership that defines true fascism. It will likely start in small, predictable ways designed to “limit competition”. McDonald’s, for example, will make it impossible to spend their wages at Burger King, and vice versa. Coke and Pepsi. Starbucks and Costa. You get the idea. We’ve witnessed the rise of cancel culture, the cultivated age of identity politics, and virtue signalling. Well, imagine how programmable currency fits into that. Companies could commit to “combatting hate”, and stop their employees from donating money to black-listed political parties, religious groups, charities or individuals. In the age of Covid we have seen how authors/actors/singers who step out of line are subject to poisonous witch hunts, but imagine a world where companies could “renounce those who spread misinformation”, by making it impossible to spend wages they issue on art/films/music/books by outspoken critics of the government. Maybe companies will make it so that employees who aren’t vaccinated have more limitations placed on their wages than vaccinated ones. Maybe an unvaxxed paycheck can’t be spent at cinemas or nightclubs, to “stop the spread of the virus”. John Cunliffe, deputy director of the Bank of England, told the Telegraph: You could think of smart contracts in which the money would be programmed to be released only if something happened. So maybe employers will remove choice altogether, and make a negative test and/or a vaccine booster a prerequisite for unlocking your wages. That could be applied to all kinds of behaviours moving forward. The World Economic Forum has a clear vision of the future where people “own nothing and are happy”, combine that with a prolonged war on homeownership, and you can see employers and governments issuing money which can be spent on rent, but not on a mortgage. Now imagine the nascent “Green New Deal”. Hard limits on how much money you can spend on petrol, plastic, or meat. Only X dollars on flights per year. Only Y pounds on beef. All for the good of the planet. Money will turn from an expression of independence into nothing but a voucher system operated completely at the whim of corporate monoliths. The year is 2030. To reduce your CO2 footprint, your food purchase with digital cash been declined because you went over your car mileage limit. Its all tracked with your digital ID. 15 social credit score points have been deducted from your climate change passport. — PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) September 29, 2021 All of this would have sounded like rampant paranoia just two years ago, but would you honestly be surprised to see that suggestion in the Guardian, these days? A programmable digital currency would have, coded into it, the ability to control our entire society. And it looks like that’s where The New Normal is heading next. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/10/2021 - 08:10.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 10th, 2021

One Ring To Rule Us All: A Global Digital Fiat Currency

One Ring To Rule Us All: A Global Digital Fiat Currency Via SchiffGold.com, We’ve written extensively about the “war on cash.” In a nutshell, governments would love to do away with cash in order to better track and control their citizens. There have been numerous moves closer to a cashless society in recent years, from capping ATM withdrawals to doing away with large-denomination bills. Last year, China launched a digital yuan pilot program and the US has floated moving toward a digital dollar. We got a first-hand look at what happens when governments restrict access to cash when India plunged into a cash crisis after the country’s government enacted a policy of demonetization in November 2016. It’s bad enough that various countries are exploring ways to move toward cashlessness, but there’s an even worse scenario - a global digital currency. Economist Thorsten Polleit compares it to the “master ring” in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings. The following article was originally published by the Mises Wire. 1. Human history can be viewed from many angles. One of them is to see it as a struggle for power and domination, as a struggle for freedom and against oppression, as a struggle of good against evil. That is how Karl Marx (1818–83) saw it, and Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) judged similarly. Mises wrote: The history of the West, from the age of the Greek Polis down to the present-day resistance to socialism, is essentially the history of the fight for liberty against the encroachments of the officeholders. But unlike Marx, Mises recognized that human history does not follow predetermined laws of societal development but ultimately depends on ideas that drive human action. From Mises’s point of view, human history can be understood as a battle of good ideas against bad ideas. Ideas are good if the actions they recommend bring results that are beneficial for everyone and lead the actors to their desired goals; At the same time, good ideas are ethically justifiable, they apply to everyone, anytime and anywhere, and ensure that people who act upon them can survive. On the other hand, bad ideas lead to actions that do not benefit everyone, that do not cause all actors to achieve their goals and/or are unethical. Good ideas are, for example, people accepting “mine and yours”; or entering into exchange relationships with one another voluntarily. Bad ideas are coercion, deception, embezzlement, theft. Evil ideas are very bad ideas, ideas through which whoever puts them into practice is consciously harming others. Evil ideas are, for example, physical attacks, murder, tyranny. 2. With Lord of the Rings, J. J. R. Tolkien (1892–1973) wrote a literary monument about the epic battle between good and evil. His fantasy novel, published in 1954, was a worldwide success, not least because of the movie trilogy, released from 2001 to 2003. What is Lord of the Rings about? In the First Age, the deeply evil Sauron—the demon, the hideous horror, the necromancer—had rings of power made by the elven forges. Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. But Sauron secretly forges an additional ring into which he pours all his darkness and cruelty, and this one ring, the master ring, rules all the other rings. When Sauron puts the master ring on his finger, he can read and control the minds of everyone wearing one of the other rings. The elves see through the dark plan and hide their three rings. The seven rings of the dwarves also fail to subjugate their bearers. But the nine rings of men proved to be effective: Sauron enslaved nine human kings, who were to serve him. Then, however, in the Third Age, in the battle before Mount Doom, Isildur, the eldest son of King Elendils, severed Sauron’s ring finger with a sword blow. Sauron is defeated and loses his physical form, but he survives. Now Isildur has the ring of power, and it takes possession of him. He does not destroy the master ring when he has the opportunity, and it costs him his life. When Isildur is killed, the ring sinks to the bottom of a river and remains there for twenty-five hundred years. Then the ring is found by Smeagol, who is captivated by its power. The ring remains with its finder for nearly five hundred years, hidden from the world. Over time, Sauron’s power grows again, and he wants the Ring of Power back. Then the ring is found, and for sixty years, it remains in the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, a friendly, well-meaning being who does not allow himself to be seduced by the power of the One Ring. Years later, the wizard Gandalf the Gray learns that Sauron’s rise has begun, and that the Ring of Power is held by Bilbo Baggins. Gandalf knows that there is only one way to defeat the ring and its evil: it must be destroyed where it was created, in Mordor. Bilbo Baggins’s nephew, Frodo Baggins, agrees to take the task upon himself. He and his companions—a total of four hobbits, two humans, a dwarf, and an elf—embark on the dangerous journey. They endure hardship, adversity, and battles against the dark forces, and in the end, they succeed at what seemed impossible: the destruction of the ring of power in the fires of Mount Doom. Good triumphs over evil. 3. The ring in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is not just a piece of forged gold. It embodies Sauron’s evil, corrupting everyone who lays hands or eyes on it, poisons their soul, and makes them willing helpers of evil. No one can wield the cruel power of the One Ring and use it for good; no human, no dwarf, no elf. Can an equivalent for Tolkien’s literary portrait of the evil ring be found in the here and now? Yes, I believe so, and in the following, I would like to offer you what I hope is a startling, but in any case, entertaining, interpretation. Tolkien’s Rings of Power embody evil ideas. The nineteen rings represent the idea that the ring bearers should have power over others and rule over them. And the One Ring, to which all other rings are subject, embodies an even darker idea, namely that the bearer of this master ring has power over all other ring bearers and those ruled by them; that he is the sole and absolute ruler of all. The nineteen rings symbolize the idea of establishing and maintaining a state (as we know it today), namely a state understood as a territorial, coercive monopoly with the ultimate power of decision-making over all conflicts. However, the One Ring of power stands for the particularly evil idea of creating a state of states, a world government, a world state; and the creation of a single world fiat currency controlled by the states would pave the way toward this outcome. 4. To explain this, let us begin with the state as we know it today. The state is the idea of the rule of one over the other. This is how the German economist, sociologist, and doctor Franz Oppenheimer (1864–1946) sees it: The state … is a social institution, forced by a victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominion of the victorious group over the vanquished and securing itself against revolt from within and attacks from abroad…. This dominion had no other purpose than the economic exploitation of the vanquished by the victors. Joseph Stalin (1878–1953) defined the state quite similarly: The state is a machine in the hands of the ruling class to suppress the resistance of its class opponents. The modern state in the Western world no longer uses coercion and violence as obviously as many of its predecessors. But it, too, is, of course, built on coercion and violence, asserts itself through them, and most importantly, it divides society into a class of the rulers and a class of the ruled. How does the state manage to create and maintain such a two-class society of rulers and ruled? In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, nine men, all of them kings, wished to wield power, and so they became bearers of the rings, and because of that, they were inescapably bound to Sauron’s One Ring of power. This is quite similar to the idea of the state. To seize, maintain, and expand power, the state seduces its followers to do what is necessary, to resort to all sorts of techniques: propaganda, carrot and stick, fear, and even terror. The state lets the people know that it is good, indispensable, inevitable. Without it, the state whispers, a civilized coexistence of people would not be possible. Most people succumb to this kind of propaganda, and the state gets carte blanche to effectively infiltrate all economic and societal matters—kindergarten, school, university, transport, media, health, pensions, law, security, money and credit, the environment—and thereby gains power. The state rewards its followers with jobs, rewarding business contracts, and transfer payments. Those who resist will end up in prison or lose their livelihood or even their lives. The state spreads fear and terror to make people compliant—as people who are afraid are easy to control, especially if they have been led to believe that the state will protect them against any evil. Lately, the topics of climate change and coronavirus have been used for fear-mongering, primarily by the state, which is skillfully using them to increase its omnipotence: it destroys the economy and jobs, makes many people financially dependent on it, clamps down on civil and entrepreneurial freedoms. However, it is of the utmost importance for the state to win the battle of ideas and be the authority to say what are good ideas and what are bad ideas. Because it is ideas that determine people’s actions. The task of winning over the general public for the state traditionally falls to the so-called intellectuals—the people whose opinions are widely heard, such as teachers, doctors, university professors, researchers, actors, comedians, musicians, writers, journalists, and others. The state provides a critical number of them with income, influence, prestige, and status in a variety of ways—which most of them would not have been able to achieve without the state. In gratitude for this, the intellectuals spread the message that the state is good, indispensable, inevitable. Among the intellectuals, there tend to be quite a few who willingly submit to the rings of power, helping—consciously or unconsciously—to bring their fellow men and women under the spell of the rings or simply to walk over, subjugate, dominate them. Anyone who thinks that the state (as we know it today) is acceptable, a justifiable solution, as long as it does not exceed certain power limits, is seriously mistaken. Just as the One Ring of power tries to find its way back to its lord and master, an initially limited state inevitably strives towards its logical endpoint: absolute power. The state (as we know it today) is pushing for expansion both internally and externally. This is a well-known fact derived from the logic of human action. George Orwell put it succinctly: “The object of power is power.”  Or, as Hans-Hermann Hoppe nails it, “[E]very minimal government has the inherent tendency to become a maximal government.” Inwardly, the state is expanding through all sorts of interventions in economic and social life, through regulations, ordinances, laws, and taxes. Outwardly, the economically and militarily strongest state will seek to expand its sphere of influence. In the most primitive form, this happens through aggressive campaigns of conquest and war, in a more sophisticated form, by pursuing political ideological supremacy. In recent decades the latter has taken the form of democratic socialism. To put it casually, democratic socialism means allowing and doing what the majority wants. Under democratic socialism, private property is formally upheld, but it is declared that no one is the rightful owner of 100 percent of the income from their property. People no longer strive for freedom from being ruled but rather to participate in the rule. The result is not people pushing back the state, but rather coming to terms and cooperating with it. The practical consequence of democratic socialism is interventionism: the state intervenes in the economy and society on a case-by-case basis to gradually make socialist ideals a reality. All societies of the Western world have embraced democratic socialism, some with more authority than others, and all of them use interventionism. Seen in this light, all Western states are now acting in concert. What they also have in common is their disdain for competition, because competition sets undesirable limits to the state’s expansive nature. Therefore, larger states often form a cartel. Smaller, less powerful states are compelled to join—and if they refuse, they will suffer political and economic disadvantages. But the cartel of states is only an intermediate step. The logical endpoint that democratic socialism is striving for is the creation of a central authority, something like a world government, a world state. 5. In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the One Ring, the ring of power, embodies this very dark idea: to rule them all, to create a world state. To get closer to this goal, democracy (as we understand it today) is proving to be an ideal trailblazer, and that’s most likely the reason why it is praised to the skies by socialists. Sooner or later, a democracy will mutate into an oligarchy, as the German-Italian sociologist Robert Michels pointed out in 1911. According to Michels, parties emerge in democracies. These parties are organizations that need strict leadership, which is handed to the most power-hungry, ruthless people. They will represent the party elite. The party elite can break away from the will of the party members and pursue their own goals and agendas. For example, they can form coalitions or cartels with elites of other parties. As a result, there will be an oligarchization of democracy, in which the elected party elites or the cartel of the party elites will be the kings of the castle. It is not the voters who will call the tune but oligarchic elites that will rule over the voters. The oligarchization of democracy will not only afflict individual states but will also affect the international relations of democracies. Oligarchical elites from different countries will join together and strengthen each other, primarily by creating supranational institutions. Democratic socialism evolves into “political globalism”: the idea that people should not be allowed to shape their own destiny in a system of free markets but that it should be assigned and directed by a global central authority. The One Ring of power drives those who have already been seduced by the common rings to long for absolute power, to elevate themselves above the rest of humanity. Who comes to mind? Well, various politicians, high-level bureaucrats, court intellectuals, representatives of big banking, big business, Big Pharma and Big Tech and, of course, big media—together they are often called the “Davos elite” or the “establishment.” Whether it is about combating financial and economic crises, climate change, or viral diseases—the one ring of power ensures that supranational, state-orchestrated solutions are propagated; that centralization is placed above decentralization; that the state, not the free market, is empowered. Calls for the “new world order,” the “Great Transformation,” the “Great Reset” are the results of this poisonous mindset inspired by the one ring of power. National borders are called into question, property is relativized or declared dispensable, and even a merging of people’s physical, digital, and biological identities—transhumanism—is declared the goal of the self-empowered globalist establishment. But how can political globalism be promoted at a time when there are (still) social democratic nation-states that insist on their independence? And where people are separated by different languages, values, and religions? How do the political globalists get closer to their badly desired end of world domination, their world state? 6. Sauron is the undisputed tyrant and dictator in his realm of darkness. He operates something like a command economy, forcing his subjects to clear forests, build military equipment, and breed Orcs. There are neither markets nor money in Sauron’s sinister kingdom. Sauron takes whatever he wants; he has overcome exchange and money, so to speak. Today’s state is not quite that powerful, and it finds itself in economies characterized by property, division of labor, and monetary exchange. The state wants to control money—because this is one of the most effective ways to gain ultimate power. To this end, the modern state has already acquired the monopoly of money production; and it has replaced gold with its own fiat money. Over time, fiat money destroys the free market system and thus the free society. Ludwig von Mises saw this as early 1912. He wrote: It would be a mistake to assume that the modern organization of exchange is bound to continue to exist. It carries within itself the germ of its own destruction; the development of the fiduciary medium must necessarily lead to its breakdown. (6) Indeed, fiat money not only causes inflation, economic crises, and an unsocial redistribution of income and wealth. Above all, it is a growth elixir for the state, making it ever larger and more powerful at the expense of the freedom of its citizens and entrepreneurs. Against this backdrop, it should be quite understandable why the political globalists see creating a single world currency as an important step toward seizing absolute power. In Europe, what the political globalists want “on a large scale” has already been achieved “on a small scale”: merging many national currencies into one. In 1999, eleven European nation-states gave up their currencies and merged them into a single currency, the euro, which is produced by a supranational authority, the European Central Bank. The creation of the euro provides the blueprint by which the world’s major currencies can be converted into a single world currency. This is what the 1999 Canadian Nobel laureate in economics, Robert Mundell, recommends: Fixing the exchange rates between the US dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British pound against each other and also fixing them against a new unit of account, the INTOR. And hocus pocus: here is the world fiat currency, controlled by a cartel of central banks or a world central bank. 7. Admittedly, creating a single world fiat currency seems to have little chance of being realized at first glance. But maybe at second glance. First of all, there is a good economic reason for having a single world currency: if all people do business with the same money, the productive power of money is optimized. From an economic standpoint, the optimal number of monies in the world is one. What is more, nation-states have the monopoly of money within their respective territory, and since they all adhere to democratic socialism, they also have an interest in ensuring that there is no currency competition—not even between different state fiat currencies. This makes them susceptible to the idea of reducing the pluralism of currencies. Furthermore, one should not misinterpret the so-called rivalry between the big states such as the US and China and between China and Europe, which is being discussed in the mainstream media on a regular basis. No doubt that there is a rivalry between the national rulers: they do not want to give up the power they have gained in their respective countries; they want to become even more powerful. But the rivalry between the oligarchic democracies of the West has already weakened significantly, and there are great incentives for the oligarchic party elites to work together across borders. In fact, it is the oligarchization of democracy in the Western world that allowed for the rapprochement with a socialist-communist regime: the state increasingly taking control of the economic and societal system. This development could be called “the Chinacization of the West.” The way the Western world has dealt with the coronavirus—the suspension, perhaps the termination of constitutional rights and freedoms—undoubtedly shows where the journey is headed: to the authoritarian state that is beyond the control of the people—as is the case in Communist China. The proper slogan for this might be “One System, Many Countries.” Is it too farfetched to assume that the Western world will make common cause with Communist China not only on health issues but also on the world currency issue? The democratic socialists in the West and the Chinese Communist Party have a great deal of common ground and common interest, I would think. It is certainly no coincidence that China has pushed hard for the Chinese renminbi to be included in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights, and that the IMF already agreed in November 2015. 8. The issue of digital central bank money, something the world’s major central banks are working on, could be a catalyst in the creation of a single world currency. The issue of digital central bank money not only heralds the end of cash—the anonymous payment option for citizens and entrepreneurs. Once people start using digital central bank money, it will be easy for the central bank and the state to spy on people’s transactions. The state will not only know who pays what, when, where, and what for. It will also be in a position to determine who gets access to the deposits: who gets them and who doesn’t. China is blazing the trail with its “social credit system”: behavior conforming to the Communist regime is rewarded, behavior that does not is punished. Against this backdrop, digital central bank money would be particularly effective at stifling unwanted political opposition. Digital central bank money will not only replace cash, but it will also increasingly compete with money from commercial banks. Why should you keep your money with banks that are exposed to the risk of default when you can keep it safe with the central bank that never goes bankrupt? Once commercial bank deposits can be exchanged one to one for digital central bank money—and this is to be expected—the credit and monetary system is de facto fully nationalized. Because under these conditions, the central bank transfers its unlimited solvency to the commercial banking sector. This completely deprives the financial markets of their function of determining the cost of capital—and the state-planned economy becomes a reality. In fact, this is the type of command and control economy that emerged in National Socialist Germany in the 1930s. The state formally retained ownership of the means of production. But with commands, prohibitions, laws, taxes, and control, the state determines who is allowed to produce what, when, and under what conditions, and who is allowed to consume what, when, and how much. In such a command and control economy, it is quite conceivable that the form of money production will change—away from money creation through lending toward the issue of helicopter money. The central bank determines who gets how much new money and when. The amount of money in people’s bank accounts no longer reflects their economic success. From now on, it is the result of arbitrary political decisions by the central banks, i.e., the rulers. The prospect of being supplied with new money by the state and its central bank—that is, receiving an unconditional basic income—will presumably drive hosts of people into the arms of the state and bring any resistance to its machinations to a shrieking halt. 9. Will the people, the general public, really subscribe to all of this? Well, government-sponsored economists, in particular, will do their very best to inform us about the benefits of having a globally coordinated monetary policy; that stabilizing the exchange rates between national currencies is beneficial; that if a supranational controlled currency—with the name INTOR or GLOBAL—is created, we will achieve the best of all worlds. And as the issuance of digital central bank money has shut down the last remnants of a free capital market, the merging of different national currencies into one will be relatively easy. The single world currency creature that the political globalists want to create will be a fiat money, certainly not a commodity money. Such a single world fiat currency will not only suffer from all the economic and ethical defects which weigh on national fiat currencies. It will also exacerbate and exponentiate the damages a national fiat currency causes. The door to a high inflation policy would be pushed wide open—as nobody could escape the inflationary single world fiat currency. The states are the main beneficiaries: they can get money from the world central bank at any time, provided they adhere to the rules set out by the world central bank and the special interest groups that govern it. This creates the incentive for national states to relinquish sovereignty rights and to submit to supranational rules—for example, in taxation and financial market regulation. It is therefore the incentive resulting from a single world currency that paves the way toward a world government and a world state. In this context, please note what happened in the euro area: the starting point was not the creation of the EU superstate, which was to be followed by the introduction of the euro. It was exactly the opposite: the euro was introduced to overcome national sovereignty and ultimately establish the United Nations of Europe. One has good reason to fear that the idea of issuing a world fiat currency—which the master ring relentlessly pushes for—would bring totalitarianism—that would most likely dwarf the regimes established by Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and other criminals. 10. In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, evil is eventually defeated. The story has a happy ending. Will it be that easy in our world? The ideas of having a state (as we know it today), of tolerating it, of cooperating with it, of giving the state total control over our money, of accepting fiat money, are deeply rooted in people’s minds as good ideas. Where are the forces supposed to come from that will enlighten people about the evil that the state (as we know it today) brings to humanity? Particularly when in kindergartens, schools, and universities—which are all in the hands of the state—the teachings of collectivism-socialism-Marxism are systematically drummed into people’s (especially impressionable children’s) heads, when the teachings of freedom, free market and free society, and capitalism are hardly or not at all imparted to the younger generation? Who will explain to people the uncomfortable truth that even a minimal state will become a maximal state? That states’ monopolies over money will lead to a single world currency and thus world tyranny? It does not take much to become bleak when it comes to the future of the free economic and social order. However, it would be rather shortsighted to get pessimistic. Those who believe in Jesus Christ can trust that God will not fail them. If we cannot think of a solution to the problems at hand, the believers can trust God. Because “[e]ven in the darkest night, there is a bright light shining somewhere.” Or: please remember the Enlightenment movement in the eighteenth century. At that time, the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant explained the “unheard of” to the people, namely that there is such a thing as “autonomy of reason.” It means that you and I have the indisputable right to lead our lives independently; that we should handle it according to self-imposed rules, rules that we determine ourselves based on good reason. People back then understood Kant’s message. Why should such an intellectual revolution—triggered by the writings and words of a free thinker—not be able to repeat itself in the future? Or: the fact that people have not yet learned from bad experience does not mean that they won’t eventually learn from it. When it comes to thinking about changes for the better, it is important to note that it is not the mass of people that matters, but the individual. Applied to the conditions in today’s world, among those thinkers who can defeat evil and help the good make a breakthrough are Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe—and all those following their teachings and fearlessly disseminating them—as scholars or as fans. They are—in terms of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings—the companions. They give us the intellectual firepower and the courage to fight and defeat evil. I don’t know if Ludwig von Mises knew Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. But he was certainly well aware of the struggle between good and evil that continues throughout human history. In fact, the knowledge of this struggle shaped Mises’s maxim of life, which he took from the verse of the Roman poet Virgil (70 to 19 BC): “Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito,” which means “Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.” I want to close my interpretation with a quote from Samwise Gamgee, the loyal friend and companion of Frodo Baggins. In a really hopeless situation, Sam says to Frodo: “There is something good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” So if we want to fight for the good in this world, we know what we have to do: we have to fight for property and freedom and against the darkness that the state (as we know it today) wishes to bring upon us, especially with its fiat money. In fact, we must fight steadfastly for a society of property and freedom! Tyler Durden Sat, 10/09/2021 - 22:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 9th, 2021

The Economy Needs Higher Rates

The Economy Needs Higher Rates Submitted by The Swarm Blog, In a RealVision interview, Greenlight capital’s founder David Einhorn recently said: “I’m not in the transitory-inflation crowd. The private sector is allocating all the money to the fast-growing software, eating-the-world companies. It’s not allocating money to companies that actually make things and provide other kinds of services that people find less exciting, meaning there are shortages of these things now.” In fact, after two decades of a downturn in economic activity, it is possible to argue that low interest rates policy has been a failed experiment. There is no free lunch in economics, meaning that every decision taken by authorities has consequences, even when it comes to supplying cheap money. I have already discussed the negative externalities due to lose monetary policies and infinite bailouts, such as a growing squeeze of working and middle classes (see There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch – Part 1), and capital misallocation (see Part 2). Those policies are based on the idea that low rates will favor investment decisions and fuel a powerful economic boom, which is a fallacy. Of course, authorities may provide temporary forms of relief when a crisis occurs in order to stabilize the system and to avoid a spiral of defaults. However, such measures should not become the new paradigm, as capitalism is based on the relationship between risk and return. Said differently, interest rates need to be high enough so as to incite wealthy agents to invest in new projects, looking for high returns on equity, and so that they can repeat that again and again on the long run. Besides, the economy evolves towards a form of punctuated equilibrium, which means that crises should not be treated as “accidents” but rather as structural and necessary events. In other words, the objective of any serious political or monetary authority should not be to avoid downturns at any cost, but to fight distortions and to ensure stability. Today, we live in countries where what matters the most is to make quick and significant capital gains. People are no longer investing in projects, they are just gambling on markets, willing to be part of the next major vertical move. This means buying stocks of young technology companies with absolutely no balance sheet and selling a vague promise of a killer product, or panic-buying shares of zombie firms with absolutely no future prospect, and let’s not even talk about NFTs. Even if some people argue that we have entered the so-called “exponential age” where only digital activities would matter, manufacturing remains the lifeblood of an economy. According to Czech-Canadian thinker Vaclav Smil, there is no innovation and no sustainable growth perspectives without a healthy manufacturing sector [1]. And this can only occur in an environment characterized by normalized interest rates. The economy can survive to higher rates. On the long run, it even needs them. The thing is, everyone is afraid of the consequences of such a move. Indeed, the corollary of that idea is the necessity for Western countries to solve their debt problem. As long as the debt situation worsens, the economy will continue to evolve towards an ultra-speculative machine that will destroy any serious prospect of creating long-term tangible assets, jeopardizing America and Europe’s chances for the future. Like it or not, but China has taken a reformist turn since 2015. Unfortunately, I deem such a change very unlikely. First, too many people are being fooled by soaring asset prices. Even in the financial industry, people are convinced that bull runs reflect the fact that the economy is doing well. You would be surprised to find out how many people really believe in the efficient markets hypothesis. Meanwhile, every folk who tries to alert on risks is mocked and called “Cassandra.” Some persons even had the privilege of receiving a visit from the SEC just because of that, as if spreading bearish opinions was a federal crime in some democracies. The second problem is the fact that a worrying number of political leaders are too corrupt to do anything about that. Beyond the case of Fed presidents trading stocks or municipals bonds, everyone should bear in mind that the speaker of the House has been making millions thanks to call options trades. If the people in charge of changing the rules are influenced by market prices, then who is going to push for serious reforms? Last but not least, central banks are trapped as they opened a Pandora’s box in 2020 by adding too much risk to their balance sheet. Indeed, a growing share of the value of major currencies like the dollar or the euro is now backed by risky assets such as corporate bonds (including high yield ETFs). Therefore, the Fed and the ECB must ensure that the market price of those securities never fall, in order to guarantee the value of their currencies. Otherwise, that would mean losing control over the currency. But as capital markets are now conditioned to infinite QE policy, central banks have no choice but to keep expanding their balance sheet to support the value of those assets, meaning that they are forced to buy even more risky things (Janet Yellen once suggested that the Fed should buy stocks), leading to a problematic vicious circle. Nevertheless, at some point, we will have no choice but to change direction, wishing that this be done with discipline and without malice. Of course, one should expect a significant crisis, given that speculative excesses will not be absorbed smoothly. But everything comes with a price, and the economy really needs higher rates. If we do not initiate change on our own, then sooner or later our countries will be impacted by even more dramatic events. As Jonathan Tepper conjectured [2], “risk is like energy and cannot be destroyed, it can only be transformed.” * * * [1] Smil, V. (2013) Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing. MIT Press. [2] Tepper, J. (2020) "COVID-19 Has Exposed Our Financial Fragility." UnHerd. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/09/2021 - 16:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 9th, 2021

A Gen Z crypto hedge fund founder says bitcoin is in its "rocketship" growth phase - even after passing the $1 trillion mark

Rahul Rai, the 24-year-old millionaire co-head of Market Neutral at BlockTower Capital, said bitcoin is accelerating at a rate that is out of this world. Rahul Rai Rahul Rai "Crypto is just getting started, and is in its rocketship growth phase," crypto fund manager Rahul Rai told Insider. 24-year-old Rai became a millionaire when he sold the fund he'd co-founded to BlockTower Capital. Bitcoin has shot above $50,000 this week and now has a market value of over $1 trillion. Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell. Rahul Rai, a 24-year-old millionaire crypto hedge fund founder, believes bitcoin is accelerating at a rate that is out of this world. Rai - the co-head of Market Neutral at BlockTower Capital, which runs the BlockTower Gamma Point Market Neutral Fund - said he believes crypto will upend the entire traditional financial system. "Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are the underpinnings of a new financial infrastructure, and are going to reshape massive sectors of the global economy," Rai told Insider in a recent interview."Crypto is just getting started, and is in its rocketship growth phase," Rai said. Cryptocurrencies are not the only ones to have accelerated in this space. Roughly half of the world's central banks are at some stage of developing their own digital currencies, for example.The assets locked on decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, such as non-fungible tokens, have soared in popularity. The market is worth around $100 billion and counting as everyone from celebrities, to artists and sports stars have raced to endorse and issue these unique digital collectors' items. "It's absolutely mind-boggling. And as much as I wish I could say that I had the foresight, there's no way that I could've imagined how rapidly this entire ecosystem would accelerate," he said.Rai, who worked at Morgan Stanley on its foreign-exchange hedge funds team, set up his own crypto hedge fund in January this year with Sanat Rao and Eash Aggarwal. Five months later, Gamma Point Capital was sold to digital asset manager BlockTower Capital for $35 million.With bitcoin's return to above $50,000 this week, it recaptured a market value of $1 trillion for the first time in months. Rai believes this is just the start of a bigger rally - not just for bitcoin, but for cryptocurrencies and digital assets more widely. Bitcoin has risen 442% over the past 12 months, and it isn't the only coin whose value has shot up over that time frame. Ether is up 986%, dogecoin has surged 3,022%, and solana's sol has climbed 2,351%.Rai said the growth in the ecosystem has been a big part of his own success. "Being in a hyper-growth industry makes it much easier to build and scale rapidly," he said."I have been incredibly fortunate to work in a field that I love, with brilliant teammates, and there's nothing else I want to be doing with my time," he added.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 8th, 2021