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The record of all Bitcoin transactions that these computers are constantly updating is known as the blockchain.
Why do criminals like Bitcoin?
Criminals have taken to Bitcoin because anyone can open a Bitcoin address and start sending and receiving Bitcoins without giving a name or identity. There is no central authority that could collect this information.
Bitcoin first took off in 2011 after drug dealers began taking payments in Bitcoin on the black-market website known as the Silk Road. Although the Silk Road was shut down in 2013, similar sites have popped up to replace it.
More recently, Bitcoin has become a method for making ransom payments — for example, when your computer is taken over by so-called ransomware.
Why won’t the government just shut it down?
The records of the Bitcoin network, including all balances and transactions, are stored on every computer helping to maintain the network — about 9,500 computers in late 2017.
If the government made it illegal for Americans to participate in this network, the computers and people keeping the records in other countries would still be able to continue. The decentralized nature of Bitcoin is also one of the qualities that have made it popular with people who are suspicious of government authorities.
Can Bitcoin users give themselves more Bitcoins?
Anyone helping to maintain the database of all Bitcoin transactions — the blockchain — could change his or her own copy of the records to add more money. But if someone did that, the other computers maintaining the records would see the discrepancy, and the changes would be ignored.
Continue reading the main story
Are there legal uses?
Only a small percentage of all transactions on the Bitcoin network are explicitly illegal. Most transactions are people buying and selling Bitcoins on exchanges, speculating on future prices. A whole world of high-frequency traders has sprung up around Bitcoin.
People in countries with high inflation, like Argentina and Venezuela, have bought Bitcoin with their local currency to avoid losing their savings to inflation.
One of the most popular business plans is to use Bitcoin to move money over international borders. Large international money transfers can take weeks when they go through banks, while millions of dollars of Bitcoin can be moved in minutes. So far, though, these practical applications of Bitcoin have been slow to take off.
How can I buy a Bitcoin?
A Bitcoin A.T.M. in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.
Danny Ghitis for The New York Times
There are companies in most countries that will sell you Bitcoins in exchange for the local currency. In the United States, a company called Coinbase will link to your bank account or credit card and then sell you the coins for dollars. Opening an account with Coinbase is similar to opening a traditional bank or stock brokerage account, with lots of identity verification to satisfy the authorities.
For people who do not want to reveal their identities, services like LocalBitcoins will connect people who want to meet in person to buy and sell Bitcoins for cash, generally without any verification of identity required.
Who decides what a Bitcoin is worth?
The price of Bitcoin fluctuates constantly and is determined by open-market bidding on Bitcoin exchanges, similar to the way that stock and gold prices are determined by bidding on exchanges.
What is Bitcoin mining?
Bitcoin mining refers to the process through which new Bitcoins are created and given to computers helping to maintain the network. The computers involved in Bitcoin mining are in a sort of computational race to process new transactions coming onto the network. The winner — generally the person with the fastest computers — gets a chunk of new Bitcoins, 12.5 of them right now. (The reward is halved every four years.)
There is generally a new winner about every 10 minutes, and there will be until there are 21 million Bitcoins in the world. At that point, no new Bitcoins will be created. This cap is expected to be reached in 2140. So far, about 16 million Bitcoin have been distributed.
Every Bitcoin in existence was created through this method and initially given to a computer helping to maintain the records. Anyone can set his or her computer to mine Bitcoin, but these days only people with specialized hardware manage to win the race.
Continue reading the main story
Are there Bitcoin competitors?
Plenty. But these other virtual currencies do not have as many followers as Bitcoin, so they are not worth as much. As in the real world, a currency is worth only as much as the number of people willing to accept it for goods and services.
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
A man who some claimed was the Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto leaving his home in Temple City, Calif., in 2014.
Bitcoin was introduced in 2008 by an unknown creator going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto, who communicated only by email and social messaging. While several people have been identified as likely candidates to be Satoshi, as the creator is known in the world of Bitcoin, no one has been confirmed as the real Satoshi, and the search has gone on.
Satoshi created the original rules of the Bitcoin network and then released the software to the world in 2009. Satoshi largely disappeared from view two years later. Anyone can download and use the software, and Satoshi now has no more control over the network than anyone else using the software.
Continue reading the main story
Hey everyone! This is part of my Daily Crypto News Curation Series. It consists of articles and resources I found interesting that day. Let me know if you have any feedback or would like me to add anything to the list! Enjoy :)
One of the most influential ideas in the crypto & blockchain industry. Highly recommend the read. USV is one of the leading VCs in New York City and has been paying attention to blockchain startups for a long time now.
This Partner at Sequoia Capital Thinks Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Startups have Big Potential — and He’s Investing Millions
Huang, from Sequoia Capital, a leading VC firm, explains why they invest in crypto & blockchain startups and what he thinks about the industry’s potential.
The Lightning Network successfully performed a cross blockchain atomic swap.
Austrian entrepreneurs are proposing to utilize green energy to reduce Bitcoin’s massive power needs.
China’s exchange ban is struggling to ban all trade of BTC and cryptocurrencies as services such as www.localbitcoins.com gain customers.
Korean ATM manufacturer is adding Bitcoin support to their new ATMs.
Here’s a simple guide for those who may have Bitcoin Gold!
Thank you for reading the article! I hope you enjoyed it :)
Check out yesterday’s curation here: https://medium.com/@huangspenser/daily-crypto-news-curation-11-16-17-93852e4e40aa
You can learn more about me at www.spenserhuang.com
Feel free to leave a BTC tip at 3FoyrKXh1ap99iB1SDqc7vxmgsZTU62SEc
Thank you, I’m looking forward to sharing more of my blockchain learning with you!
Bitcoin has become stronger following the report of Jack Dorsey’s payments company Square Inc. (SQ.N). The cash payment app was involved in testing support for bitcoin which has certainly affected the price of the cryptocurrency, which edged closer to $8000 and posted a fresh all-time high at $7997.00 on November 17.
At the beginning of the November, the cryptocurrency smashed through $7000 and climbed to record high to $7888 on November 8. But over the following weekend, the price fell to $5555, subsequent to the SegWit2x cancellation.
A Square spokesperson declared “We’re always listening to our customers and we’ve found that they are interested in using the Cash app to buy bitcoin. We’re exploring how Square can make this experience faster and easier, and have rolled out this feature to a small number of Cash app customers. We believe cryptocurrency can greatly impact the ability of individuals to participate in the global financial system and we’re excited to learn more here.”
Moreover, Credit Suisse analysts described “how bitcoin buying option could help the stock,” sending Square up as much as five percent in the markets. The chart below shows the rise of the payment company’s stock since November 8.
Square tested bitcoin trading functionality within the Cash app during early November. Consequently, a report has been published that states how a bitcoin buying option could help the stock. One Wall Street analyst believes the test of bitcoin functionality will bring positive things for Square’s stock down the line, as it adds to the company’s reputation for innovation.
Evercore ISI analyst Rayna Kumar stated:
“We believe Square could generate revenue growth of 40 percent and 35 percent in 2018 and 2019, respectively, similar to the 41 percent we estimate for 2017. Following our meeting Wednesday with CFO Sarah Friar, we are upgrading Square to outperform. Square’s introduction of bitcoin on Square Cash reflects its ability to innovate.”
However, in the short-term, the company’s stock is not anticipated to be boosted by the experimental phase of bitcoin adoption. You can see for yourself Square’s app in action here.
According to CryptoCompare, in addition to Japan which accounts for around 56 percent of bitcoin trades, the US dollar share of bitcoin trading counts for approximately 25 percent. However, after the SegWit2x fork cancellation, bitcoin cash surged while ether was temporarily pushed into third place by market cap.
However, the wild fluctuations in the cryptocurrency market over the past week or so has adversely affected the price of other cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin Cash, which is now trading near $1000. According to Alex Sunnarborg, the founding partner of Tetras Capital “A lot of the recent volatility has been caused by the recent narrative and events surrounding Bitcoin and Bitcoin cash and the record-setting exchange trading volume between the two amongst large investors, miners, and retail investors in Asia.”
The post Following Square’s Testing Report, Bitcoin’s Price Nears $8000 appeared first on BTCMANAGER.
American Express has partnered with Santander UK and fintech firm Ripple to enable blockchain-powered international B2B payments. The solution is anticipated to speed up cross-border transactions between the UK and the US using the blockchain technology.
American Express’ customers will now be able to conduct payments on the FX International Payments (FXIP) platform that will route transfers via the Ripple’s enterprise blockchain network, RippleNet. According to companies, the service, which is already used by customers, will be expanded globally in the future.
”American Express has a long history of integrating new technologies into innovative products and services that differentiate and enhance the customer experience,” said Marc Gordon, chief information officer at American Express. “This collaboration with Ripple and Santander represents the next step forward on our blockchain journey, evolving the way we move money around the world.”
Unlike traditional payment systems, blockchain-based platform will reduce the cost of international transfers and simplify settlement process, while maintaining advanced security of payments.
“We’ve already seen evidence that blockchain technology is playing a transformational role in the way customers are served,” said Greg Keeley, Executive Vice President of Global Corporate Payments at American Express. “Not only does this partnership with Ripple help decrease the time it takes for international transactions to be processed, it can make our transactions more effective for our customers.”
Initially, the project will connect American Express’ customers in the US to UK Santander bank accounts, enabling instant, traceable cross-border non-card transactions.
“We’re taking a huge step forward with American Express and Santander in solving the problems corporate customers experience with global payments,” said Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple. “Transfers that used to take days will be completed in real-time, allowing money to move as fast as business today. It is just the beginning, and we look forward to growing this partnership to help other American Express FXIP customers.”
Santander was among the six major banks that partnered with Ripple last year to establish the first interbank group for the development of the blockchain network for global transfers.
Ripple leverages the power of the blockchain technology to enable frictionless payments all over the world. By using Ripple’s network, financial organizations can process their customers’ payments instantly and cost-effectively.
American Express is committed to transform business processes by using the blockchain technology. Earlier this year, the bank joined Hyperledger, the Linux Foundation-led cross-industry initiative aimed at creating an enterprise-grade, open-source distributed ledger technology. In 2014, the bank’s CEO, Kenneth I. Chenault, shared his view on the blockchain, saying it would play an important role in the industry.
The post American Express Launches Blockchain-Based Business Payments Using Ripple Technology appeared first on CoinSpeaker.
The work of bitcoin miners all over the world are contributing to a massive rise in electricity consumption. Recent data reveals that current levels of consumption surpass those of the country of Iceland.<
Proof-Of-Work & Transaction Fees
Bitcoin’s growth has been nothing short of explosive since its inception in 2009. It was introduced as a global, decentralized, peer-to-peer currency. To achieve this, Bitcoin uses a blockchain ledger that is distributed throughout the world where each transaction is recorded and verified.
This process of verification is called proof-of-work within the cryptocurrency community and is facilitated by volunteers from around the world, including enthusiasts of the concept. These volunteers use advanced computers to perform trillions of calculations per second. Each calculation is dubbed a hash.
As a reward for performing these complex calculations and contributing to the existence of Bitcoin, each volunteer receives a small amount of Bitcoin. Volunteers are typically known as miners, and their reward is called a transaction fee. This fee is paid by the sender during a transfer of Bitcoin between wallets.
Energy Costs of Mining
Because Bitcoin mining requires powerful computers, it also translates into more power being pulled from the electric grid. Since Bitcoin came into existence, many companies specializing in mining have also cropped up.
These companies use several computers, even hundreds and thousands of them, to profit from the transaction fees. This strategy has been successful for the most part, especially in countries where electricity is cheap or government subsidized.
All of this adds up to the fact that the worldwide energy usage due to Bitcoin alone is increasing by the day. Recently, the total power draw due to mining surpassed that of the entire country of Iceland.
Bitcoin’s annual electricity consumption is currently north of 20 terawatt hours (TWh) whereas Iceland’s is at a much lower number in comparison, only around 17.5 TWh. After surpassing Iceland, there are few countries that consume more electricity than the amount used for mining each year.
Estimates pin close to 80% of all Bitcoin mining pools to be based in China with the rest split up between Iceland, Japan, and other countries in smaller percentages. China, being an industrial nation, has significantly lower energy costs and is also responsible for the production of the computer hardware utilized for mining.
Efficiency in Numbers
According to the Bitcoin energy consumption index by Digiconomist, the power consumption has been rapidly increasing for quite some time now and is already responsible for 0.12% of the world’s electricity usage. In contrast, the second most popular cryptocurrency, Ethereum, is responsible for 0.05%, only 42% than that of Bitcoin.
A single Bitcoin transaction takes up as much as 195-kilowatt hours (KWh). For reference, an average US residence could be powered for roughly 6.6 hours with that much energy. Furthermore, Bitcoin’s annual energy consumption is estimated to be a staggering 27 times as much as that of VISA.
The proof of work setup that Bitcoin employs at this time is designed to be energy intensive, but can be tweaked to be more efficient, much like other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum are trying to do. If the consumption continues to rise at the rate that it is today, Bitcoin’s current growth may turn out to be unsustainable.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) were just blueprint found on the drawing boards of labs or a garage in the past. Due to the current infrastructure and technology, it has been a major tool for the future. With the help of some major breakthrough in science, AR/VR are already used in mainstream industries like marketing and online businesses.
WHAT IS AR/VR?
Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, haptics or GPS data. Just like the apps and games that have been trending on social media like Pokemon Go and AR EdiBear. On the other hand, Virtual Reality (VR) replaces the real world with a simulated one. There are a lot of applications for VR like business presentations, advertising/marketing, gaming and even the military use VR technology for test and skill enhancements.
WHAT IS CAPPASITY? WHAT IS ARTOKEN?
Cappasity is the platform/software used by content creators which uses blockchain infrastructure to create, rent and sell 3D content. It is a first of its kind which focuses more on model users and developers benefit from easy 3D object creation and delivery while businesses get access to a broad range of 3D content. The advantage of this is it ensures decentralized and trustless copyright storage and content exchange within the AR/VR ecosystem. While Artoken works as a fuel or mode of payment/utility token that facilitates AR/VR/3D content exchange among the ecosystem participants from all over the globe.
Total raised: $1.8M seed
Token sale: Hard cap: $50M, Phase 1 hard cap is $30M
ART/USD: 125 ART per $1
Total ARTs: 7,000,000,000 ART
Bonuses: First $10M (TIER 1) — 10% Second $10M (TIER 2) — 5% C
ontribution size bonus: $100K-$300K — 5%
WHY INVEST IN ARTOKENS?
For an investor, there are a lot of factors to consider before investing in a product or service. For me, I would consider the uniqueness and rarity of the product. The Cappasity platform is unique because it focuses on 3D as a commodity or resource. The creation, renting and selling of 3D contents has not been mainly introduced to the mainstream public but this will be a key advantage. This is an advantage because a lot of people are looking for something new all the time. Since Cappasity was already introduced to the e-commerce industry, this will be very beneficial due to the fact that a lot of the consumers are always online and tend to buy products with just a click of their mouse or smartphones. In connection to this demand, model users and developers will have their hands full trying to create new marketing/advertising strategies which would mainly use or focus on AR/VR contents. In simple terms, the market for the platform will always be there and the demand would mean faster and bigger ROI for the investor.
I am also confident about the vision and key ingredient that this platform has provided. It’s very ambitious at the same time, everything is based on facts:
What’s in the secret sauce? (Taken from https://artoken.io/assets/docs/cappasity_artoken_summary.pdf)
Cappasity is the first platform that leverages blockchain infrastructure to create, rent and sell 3D content. This approach ensures decentralized and trustless copyrights’ storage and exchange of creative content. Based on smart contract protocols and Ethereum blockchain, our decentralized platform is designed to empower users to protect and transfer their copyrights. Ecosystem participants will pay content makers for the right to use or rent their 3D models. The AR/VR/3D content marketplace and its mobile app will encourage 3D artists to create, rent and sell their products or to use them for personal purposes like demonstrating a 3D models portfolio or integrating them to AR/VR applications. Furthermore, the platform will provide with API and SDK to implement our technologies and community-developed tools as services and applications. In order to support active community members and developers with promising AR/VR software solutions, we will establish The Reward Fund for users and The AR/VR Innovation Fund.
Ethereum co-creator Joseph Lubin said there’s certainly “irrational exuberance” in the ongoing ICO craze. Yet Lubin was also optimistic, arguing ICOs are so promising that they are here to stay.
Lubin Notes Cons and Pros of ICO Mania
In a November 9 interview with CNBC, Ethereum’s co-founding developer Joseph Lubin mused on the status of the Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) marketplace as it stands today.
Lubin was fair, noting that there has been a great deal of cavalier speculation going on in the space, but he was also adamant in his position that such irrationality was the direct result of the exciting possibilities of the technology ICOs can bear:
“There’s certainly some irrational exuberance in the space, it’s such a profoundly powerful technology that people are excited about it and I think that that’s what’s driving this rush into the ecosystem.”
But Lubin was also clear that things would likely get worse before they get better.
The irrationality that defies the ever-growing ICO craze will continue accordingly in the short- and mid-term, as “People tend to, or groups of people tend to, operate in fear and greed cycles, and I think we are going to see that,” Lubin said. He added, “I think the growth in the ecosystem is going to continue quite dramatically.”
And where does Lubin see the ecosystem growing the most? Tokenized securities.
This is simply to say that, in the future, Lubin envisions launching their own personal ICOs, tokenizing themselves, as it were, whether such tokenizations are intended to pay for graduate school, start a non-profit foundation or any other similar kind of use cases.
“I think token launches, which are nonsecurity tokens, as well as tokenization of securities will be a huge paradigm,” Lubin concluded.
Buterin Comments On ICOs at Devcon3
Ethereum’s other co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, also recently chimed in on the ICO craze, remarking during the waning days of Devcon3 that “I’m concerned a lot of these token models aren’t going to be sustainable.”
For his part, Buterin envisions a future wherein smart contracts turn ICOs into layered processes in which rounds occur after certain development milestones have been reached.
The biggest problem Buterin sees now is ICOs raking millions of dollars’ worth of crypto without having a minimum viable product (MVP).
He argues for the implementation of investment protection mechanisms:
“The token models we have right now are lopsided and give skewed incentives. The worst part is the front-loading. Basically getting $140 million before you have a product. The right way to do that is to come up with a mechanism that either splits the ICO up across rounds or has a mechanism where if it doesn’t go well people can get refunds or anything similar.”
And yet, as the visionary behind the number two cryptocurrency by market capitalization right now, Buterin knows better than anyone the challenges inherent to bringing cryptoassets public.
“It’s definitely a complicated balance,” he noted.
“The Economist” Comes Out in Support of ICOs’ Promise
In a surprise op-ed, the editors at the well-established publication The Economist came out, like Lubin, in favor of the revolutionary changes ICOs can bring about.
Readers would expect the editors here to take a more traditional, conservative approach to the so-called ICO “bubble.”
Instead, they took the opposite position, arguing that ICOs may very well soon change the way companies are created going forward:
“ICOs may also give rise to new forms of the firm: because founders, employees, and users hold coins, everyone has an interest in seeing their network grow, as this will drive up the value of the token. Enthusiasts say that these ‘crypto co-operatives’ combine the advantages of a firm—lower transaction costs, aggregation of capital—with a [decentralized] structure that means no one controls it or the data it holds.”
Altogether, there is no ignoring the fact that ICOs are going to play a more significant societal role in the years ahead.
The post Ethereum Co-Founder Lubin Says ICOs Aren’t Going Anywhere appeared first on BTCMANAGER.
The post Singapore, Canadian Central Banks Unite on Blockchain Cross-Border Payments appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.
Blockchain technology clubs the merits of both – financial and technological worlds thereby coining out a new term known as ‘Fintech’. One of the major reasons blockchain technology has turned so prominent in the past year is because it is the same technology which supports the now most famous cryptocurrency ‘Bitcoin’.
Recently we have seen that companies associated with the Blockchain technology are getting a lot of visibility in the markets and Overstock.com is a classic example of this. Overstock, which is basically a retail company specializing in clothing and furnishings. However, over the past few years, the company has increased its exposure to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies and as a result, there has been a 31% uptick in the shares of Overstock.
Earlier this year, Overstock CEO Patrick Bryne announced that its e-commerce subsidiary ‘tZero’ will be launching an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) the private sale of which is to commence this week from November 15 and will go on till the end of 2017.
During this period, Overstock plans to gain a sum of whopping $500 million by the year-end. In this project of Automated Trading System (ATS) for the trading of digital tokens issued via ICOs, tZero has made a joint venture with other groups like RenGen and Argon Group.
D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte, who has been covering Overstock’s share price since long says that the company has recently hinted to sell out its home e-commerce business. Owing to this, Tom Forte has even corrected its target price to $85 from its initial target of $57.
This means that as per Forte, the stock still holds a potential rise of next 60% from the current levels. Forte believes that the markets have yet to realize and appreciate the potential of Overstock’s Medici Ventures Division which was launched back in 2014 and has spread its roots in the blockchain technology ever since.
Forte said, “We now see the possibility of unlocking value in its two most significant assets — its home e-commerce effort and Medici Ventures (portfolio of nine companies that, to varying degrees, leverage the blockchain).”
Another independent investor. Marc Cohodes has also been bullish on this stock and predicted back in October that the Overstock share price has the potential to touch $100. With Medici Ventures, Overstock made its first entry into cryptography technology and ever since then the company has been associated with nine different who have their strings attached to the Blockchain technology in one or the other way.
Slowly the widespread benefits and applications of Blockchain technology are being realized by multiple organizations who are now working on several projects to unlock its true potential. Not only private multinationals but government agencies are also trying out this technology across different sectors like infrastructure, banking etc. One thing is sure that the market is set to expand further and slowly with time we can see blockchain technology touching almost every dimension of businesses.
The post Overstock’s Share Price Shoots as tZero ICO Approaches Closer appeared first on CoinSpeaker.
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President Trump’s nomination of Jerome Powell as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve System is a bet that he will continue Janet Yellen’s policies and not rock financial markets. The expectation is that Powell will follow the Fed’s already-announced normalization schedule, which calls for slowly reducing the Fed’s $4.2 trillion balance sheet, by rolling off maturing mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and longer-term Treasuries, and gradually increasing the target range for the fed funds rate.
The presidential vote of confidence for Powell reflects the White House and Treasury’s desire for low interest rates to fund the public debt and support high asset prices, as well as the probability that the Senate will quickly confirm the nominee.
Mr. Powell also appears open to revisiting financial regulations, such as the Volcker rule and regulations that discriminate against smaller banks. In testimony, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, on June 22, 2017, Governor Powell set forth “Guiding Principles to Simplify and Reduce Regulatory Burden.” One of the key principles is that Fed policymakers “should assess whether we can adjust regulation in common-sense ways that will simplify rules and reduce unnecessary regulatory burden without compromising safety and soundness.” He emphasized that the Fed’s goal should be “to establish a regulatory framework that helps ensure the resiliency of our financial system, the availability of credit, economic growth, and financial market efficiency.” However, during his tenure on the Fed’s Board of Governors since May 2012, he has consistently voted in favor of tightening the Fed’s grip on financial regulation. Thus, one must remain skeptical about whether he would embrace market-friendly deregulation.
Unconventional Monetary Policy and Uncertainty
Unconventional monetary policy — in the form of quantitative easing (i.e., large-scale asset purchases) and ultra-low interest rates — has misallocated credit, distorted interest rates, encouraged risk taking, inflated asset prices, fueled government deficit spending, and done little to promote long-run private investment.
By purchasing massive amounts of high-risk MBS and long-term government bonds, the Fed helped lower longer-term interest rates but steered credit away from private investment, which was also impeded by stricter macro-prudential regulations. Moreover, by keeping short-run interest rates near zero for more than seven years, paying interest on excess reserves (IOER) above the effective fed funds rate, and convincing markets that rates would stay low for a long time (forward guidance), the Fed has increased the reach for yield and appears more interested in priming Wall Street than in letting markets set interest rates and allocate credit.
The Fed’s current operating procedure is to administer the target range for the fed funds rate using IOER and reverse repos, in contrast to the pre-crisis arrangement whereby the Fed’s open market desk bought or sold short-term Treasuries to increase or decrease bank reserves, and then let market participants determine the effective funds rate. As a result, changes in the monetary base are no longer “high powered” — the money multiplier has collapsed and the monetary transmission mechanism that prevailed prior to 2008 is broken.
Unconventional monetary policy, macro-prudential regulation, and the lack of any monetary rule have increased uncertainty about the future of monetary policy and, thus, have had a negative effect on private investment. To his credit, Mr. Powell has recognized some, but not all, of these problems. In January this year, he told members of the American Finance Association in Chicago that “the current extended period of very low nominal rates calls for a high degree of vigilance against the buildup of risks to the stability of the financial system.” However, he downplayed that risk by saying that “the bottom line is that there has not been an excessive buildup of leverage, maturity transformation, or broadly unsustainable asset prices.”
The Limits of Monetary Policy
The purpose of the Bernanke-Yellen monetary policy has been to lower longer-term rates and pump up asset prices creating a wealth effect to spur spending and real economic growth. But there has been a differential impact favoring the housing and government sectors, while private investment has been sluggish due to regime uncertainty, regulatory costs, and a fall in the private saving rate. From a long-run perspective, the Fed cannot permanently increase wealth by monetary policy. Powell recognizes the limits of monetary policy when he notes that “ultimately, the only way to get sustainably higher interest rates is to improve the broader environment for growth, by adopting policies designed to increase productivity and potential output over the long term — policies that are mainly outside the scope of our work at the Federal Reserve.” Recognition of the limits of monetary policy is an important first step toward sound monetary policy.
The Schizophrenic Nature of Fed Policy
In his January speech, however, Powell is silent on the schizophrenic nature of Fed policy — a policy designed to increase risk taking, allocate credit to favored sectors, and stimulate economic activity but that plugs up the monetary transmission mechanism by paying IOER, and discourages lending to productive ventures by an onerous system of macro-prudential regulation. As market analyst Brian Barnier notes, “Low interest rates don’t help if companies face high risk and uncertainty. Central banks that cause volatility and uncertainty have been defeating their own interest rate actions.”
Normalizing Monetary Policy and Instituting a Rules-Based Regime
Regime uncertainty could be reduced by first normalizing monetary policy by reducing the size of the Fed’s balance sheet and ultimately eliminating IOER and restoring a market-driven fed funds rate. A rule-based monetary regime could then be instituted to guide monetary policy. In the present unconventional regime — with the absence of a competitively determined fed funds rate and a weak link between base money (i.e., currency in circulation plus bank reserves), broad monetary aggregates, and nominal GDP — the implementation of monetary rules such as the Taylor rule and a final demand rule would fail.
Under unconventional monetary policy, we therefore are stuck in a fully discretionary fiat money regime — and, thus, in a fog of uncertainty. Maintaining such a system ignores the institutional uncertainty brought about by not having a credible monetary rule. Such a rule would help depoliticize monetary policy and incentivize the Fed to take a long-run perspective, thereby reducing uncertainty. As Karl Brunner has pointed out regarding the knowledge problem facing monetary policymakers,
We suffer neither under total ignorance nor do we enjoy full knowledge. Our life moves in a grey zone of partial knowledge and partial ignorance. More particularly, the products emerging from our professional work reveal a wide range of diffuse uncertainty about the detailed response structure of the economy. . . . A nonactivist [rules-based] regime emerges under the circumstances . . . as the safest strategy. It does not assure us that economic fluctuations will be avoided. But it will assure us that monetary policymaking does not impose additional uncertainties . . . on the market place.
In a speech at the Forecasters Club of New York in February, Powell argued that monetary rules can help guide policy, but he sees those rules as too simple to take account of the complexity confronting policymakers. He has in mind the Taylor rule, which would set the nominal fed funds rate based on a single equation:
(1) R = r* + π + a (π – πLR) + b (gap)
R = nominal federal funds rate
r* = neutral real federal funds rate
π = the inflation rate
πLR = 2 percent
gap = percentage deviation of output from its potential level or unemployment from its natural rate.
Taylor, in his 1993 article, set a = 0.5 and b = 0.5.
According to Powell,
I think it's fair to say that simple policy rules are widely thought to be both interesting and useful, but to represent only a small part of the analysis needed to assess the appropriate path for policy. I am unable to think of any critical, complex human activity that could be safely reduced to a simple summary equation. In particular, no major central bank uses policy rules in a prescriptive way, and it is hard to predict the consequences of requiring the FOMC to do so, as some have proposed. Policy should be systematic, but not automatic.
In fact, complexity is what makes a rules-based regime desirable. No one on the Federal Reserve Board or the Federal Open Market Committee predicted the 2008 financial crisis. The purpose of a systematic, rules-based monetary regime is to keep the economy on track and prevent a sharp decline in final demand. No rule can be perfect; there is always a learning process. But as Brunner noted, a nonactivist rule would reduce uncertainty inherent in a period-by-period discretionary monetary regime. A long-run strategy based on achieving a stable growth path of nominal final demand would avoid the type of errors associated with a purely discretionary regime.
The Great Moderation and the Case for a Final Demand Rule
During the “Great Moderation” (1987–2006), under Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, the trend rate of growth of final demand, as measured by nominal final sales to domestic purchasers (FSDP), was 5.4 percent per year — split into real growth of 3 percent and inflation of 2.4 percent. Cato’s former chairman Bill Niskanen found that variation around that trend “had significant effects on asset prices and the real economy, and most of this variation was a consequence of the Fed’s response to financial crises.” Figure 1 from his 2006 Cato Journal article is reproduced below.
Based on his research, Niskanen concluded that the Greenspan Fed implicitly followed a final demand rule but that it overreacted in increasing demand when faced with financial crises. Niskanen sees the primary duty of the Fed as maintaining “a steady increase in aggregate demand consistent with a low target rate of inflation.”
The Great Moderation was also in line with the Taylor rule but that rule depends on knowledge of r* and the output gap, both of which are difficult to estimate. As Powell noted in his February speech, “The neutral rate changes significantly over time, and estimates of its level entail substantial uncertainty.” Moreover, “there is particularly high uncertainty about measuring the deviation of output from its potential,” and the values of the coefficients, a and b, in Taylor’s rule need to be specified.
Niskanen prefers a final demand rule over an interest rate rule, in part, because it does not require imputing values to r*, or estimating the output gap. In the 2009 edition of Cato’s Handbook for Policymakers, he recommended that “Congress should amend the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 to clarify the congressional guidance on the conduct of monetary policy.” In particular, he argued that
Congress is best advised (1) to specify a target rate of increase of final sales and (2) to instruct the Federal Reserve to minimize the variance around this target rate. The target rate of increase of final sales may best be about 5 percent a year, sufficient to finance a realistic rate of economic growth of 3 percent and an acceptable rate of inflation of about 2 percent.
Niskanen saw nominal FSDP as “a feasible target” because it is “almost completely determined by U.S. monetary policy, whereas the rate of economic growth and the inflation rate are separately affected by a variety of domestic and foreign conditions.” The problem is that, under the Fed’s current operating procedure, the link between base money creation and final demand has been severed. Moving to a rules-based regime thus requires normalizing monetary policy and restoring the monetary transmission mechanism as discussed earlier.
Some congressional leaders think it’s time to create a rules-based monetary regime. The Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 (H.R 10), which recently passed the House, would make the Fed responsible for specifying a monetary rule and justifying to Congress any deviations from it. Whether the CHOICE Act passes or not, it is important to consider alternative monetary rules and to be prepared to make the case for rules over discretion when the opportunity for reform arises.
The Phillips Curve Is a Poor Guide for Monetary Policy
The Phillips Curve model of the economy, which posits an inverse relationship between unemployment and inflation, has been a poor guide for monetary policy, yet the Fed still incorporates that relationship into its thinking. With the rate of unemployment now at 4.1 percent, policymakers are puzzled why inflation hasn’t increased to the Fed’s target of 2 percent. They could look to their own operating procedures used since October 2008. Without IOER and Dodd-Frank type regulations, banks would be lending more, and base money would have a stronger impact on overall money growth and the price level.
Mr. Powell, no doubt, will be under pressure from the White House and Treasury to keep rates low — even if markets are pushing them upward. Intervening to postpone necessary adjustments, however, would only complicate future policy changes and increase the costs of adjustment.
It is essential that Powell understand the risks involved in the post-2008 operating techniques and the underpricing of risk that unconventional monetary policy has occasioned. His challenge will be making the transformation to a new policy regime that gets the Fed out of the business of allocating credit and pegging interest rates at artificial levels.
Congress has ultimate authority for monetary policy. During the confirmation process, there needs to be a discussion of the limits of monetary policy and how Mr. Powell sees the future of monetary policy, and the steps he would take in a crisis situation. Finally, Congress needs to make the Fed accountable for its mistakes and ensure it abides by the rule of law.
 See Binyamin Appelbaum, "In Choice of Fed Chairman, Trump Downgrades Deregulation," New York Times, October 29, 2017.
 There is no doubt that nonmonetary forces have contributed to historically low interest rates. Real rates have been declining for some time, due to slower productivity growth, demographics, and other factors (see Powell's January 7, 2017 speech). It is hard to deny, however, that Fed policy has not contributed to the low-interest environment and helped fuel selected asset prices. Indeed, Powell, in his January address to the American Finance Association, argued that, with regard to the impact of “highly accommodative monetary policies, … studies generally show that they lowered rates across the curve and moved other asset prices as well.” At the same time, he admitted that “isolating the effects of these policies is challenging.” If Mr. Powell is correct that rates are mostly reflecting nonmonetary factors, then asset prices may be sustainable, but if he is wrong, then there is a strong possibility that as the Fed exits its unconventional polices, there will be a significant market correction.
 For a detailed discussion of the Fed’s pre- and post-crisis operating procedures, see George Selgin, "Interest on Reserves and the Fed’s Balance Sheet," testimony before the House Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, May 17, 2016. See also Norbert Michel and Selgin, "Fed Must Stop Rewarding Banks for Not Lending," American Banker, May 30, 2017.
 The IMF is less sanguine. In its latest Global Financial Stability Report (October 2017), the IMF raises “concerns about a continuing buildup in debt loads and overstretched asset valuations [that] could have global economic repercussions” (p. 42).
 Thomas Hoenig, vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas, has argued “that monetary and regulatory policies have for some time been overly focused on short-run effects at the expense of long-run goals, which has unintentionally served to increase uncertainty and economic fragility.” See Hoenig, "The Long-Run Imperatives of Monetary Policy and Macroprudential Supervision," Cato Journal (Spring/Summer 2017), p. 195.
 Karl Brunner, “The Control of Monetary Aggregates,” in Controlling Monetary Aggregates III, p. 61. Boston: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 1980.
 Final sales to domestic producers (FSDP) is defined as “the sum of nominal gross domestic product plus imports minus exports minus the change in private inventories.” See Niskanen, “Monetary Policy and Financial Regulation,” in Cato Handbook for Policymakers (2009), 7th ed., p. 377.
 In his 1992 Cato Journal article, “Political Guidance on Monetary Policy,” Niskanen examined three viable monetary rules: (1) targeting the price of gold or a broad price index, (2) targeting a monetary aggregate, and (3) targeting nominal GDP or domestic final sales. He argued that “any one of these rules would be better than guidance based on interest rates or exchange rates, or on any real variable such as the growth of output or the level of the unemployment rate” (p. 281). His preferred rule, however, is to minimize “the variance around an approved target path of nominal domestic final sales” — an objective that “is probably the most that can be expected of monetary policy” (p. 285).
 Market monetarists, such as Scott Sumner and David Beckworth, prefer to target nominal GDP (NGDP) rather than final sales. Their arguments for a final demand rule, however, are similar to Niskanen’s. For example, Beckworth argues that “a NGDP target aims to stabilize total dollar spending. It is one target that has embedded in it both the supply of and the demand for money (i.e. total dollar spending = money supply x velocity of money). The beauty of a NGDP target is that the Fed does not need to know what is exactly happening to the money supply or money demand. All the Fed only needs to worry about is the product of the two components. There is no need to track the money supply or estimate money demand. By focusing on total dollar spending, the Fed will be fostering a stable monetary environment where movements in money supply and money demand are offsetting each other.” Bill Woolsey, in comparing a monetary rule targeting NGDP versus one targeting FSDP, finds no significant difference.
 See Title X of H.R. 10: “Fed Oversight Reform and Modernization.” H.R. 10 also calls for a Centennial Monetary Commission to examine the Fed’s history and to recommend reforms.
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FinTech company The NAGA Group AG aims to bring the advantages of financial technology to the masses through the first blockchain-based ecosystem for decentralized trading, investing, and education in financial markets, virtual goods, and cryptocurrencies.
[Note: This is a sponsored article.]
The NAGA Group AG is a German technology company whose mission is to “[identify and build] disruptive business models” and disrupt they have. After conducting one of Germany’s fastest recorded IPOs in the past 15 years, NAGA was listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in July, whereupon they saw a share price increase of 400% in less than three months.
Considered one of the top traded retail shares in Germany, NAGA’s current market cap exceeds 300 million EUR ($348 million USD). NAGA is the first publicly traded company to follow up a successful IPO with a token sale and, unlike the majority of other token sales, has an existing product already generating millions of dollars in annual revenues.
The NAGA ecosystem is an ambitious project that brings together NAGA’s core offerings – SwipeStox, Switex, and the NAGA wallet – to create a single platform that makes buying and selling stocks, cryptocurrencies, and virtual goods safer, more transparent, and more accessible to everyone.
SwipeStox is social trading at its best. It combines the features of social networks like Facebook and Twitter (chat, channels, video, follow and watch, etc…) with a robust trading platform. Designed to take the confusion out of trading, SwipeStox lets users copy and share stock trades with a single click.
Some of SwipeStox’ features include:
- Copy Trades
- Auto Copy
- CYBO robo-advisor
- News Feed
- Social features
In addition, users who choose to share their trades with the larger community earn a generous bonus, paid directly to their account, any time another user copies one of their trades. In an interview with CNBC, CEO Benjamin Bilski stated that there are users who are making $10 – $15,000 per month just from having their trades copied by other traders on the platform.
Launched in 2016, SwipeStox currently has tens of thousands of active users and a total trade volume to date of over $49 billion. The SwipeStox app is available for both Android and iOS devices and there is a web-based interface as well.
Currently in alpha, Switex will be the first independent, safe, and legal virtual goods exchange platform. Users of the platform will be able to buy in-game virtual items both from other gamers and directly from the game publishers themselves. Switex is not just for gamers, however. Practically any virtual item – concert tickets, movie tickets, e-gift cards – can be bought and sold in the marketplace.
Any item entering the Switex system will be secured against fraud and scamming as the legitimacy of the items, their origins, and the sellers’ right to sell will all be verified. Furthermore, Switex’ fully integrated clearance and settlement system will automatically transfer goods to the buyer upon purchase, ensuring a seamless and safe transaction for both parties.
The NAGA wallet plays a central role in the NAGA ecosystem. First and foremost, it is a secure multi-currency wallet that allows users to deposit and exchange cryptocurrencies as well as fiat currencies. Second, it serves as a central hub, pulling together SwipeStox, Switex, and any future projects into one easily accessible dashboard interface. Users will be able to invest in stocks, trade virtual goods, manage crypto portfolios, facilitate transfers of funds, and more.
Some of the key advantages of the NAGA wallet include:
- Connects to leading cryptocurrency exchanges
- Direct integration with SwipeStox and Switex user accounts
- Lowest foreign exchange and transaction fees
- Decentralized and risk-free storage
- Dedicated NGC bonus wallet inside the NAGA wallet where users will earn a percentage-based bonus per transaction volume on both Switex and SwipeStox
Currently, the NAGA wallet can be funded with BTC, ETH, LTC, and DASH. Users preferring FIAT currencies can fund their wallet using a credit card or bank transfer.
NAGA Token Sale and Pre-Sale
NAGA will be launching its token sale in two stages – the Pre-Token Sale and the main Token Sale. The exchange rate for NAGA Coin is 1 NGC = $1 USD. Investors can purchase tokens using BTC, ETH, LTC, and DASH. For those wishing to use FIAT currency, EUR and USD are also accepted.
- Token Name: NAGA Coin
- Ticker Symbol: NGC
- Token Price: 1 NGC = $1.00
- Min. Cap in Tokens: 1 million NGC
- Tokens Available for Sale: 220 million NGC (pre-sale and token sale combined)
- Minimum Purchase: 10 NGC
- Maximum Purchase: 10 million NGC
- Accepted Currencies: BTC, ETH, LTC, DASH, EUR, USD
- Start Date: November 20, 2017 (00:00 CET)
- End Date: November 27, 2017 (23:59 CET)
- Max Cap in Tokens: 20 million NGC
- Sale Bonus: 30%
- Start Date: December 1, 2017 (00:00 CET)
- End Date: December 15, 2017 (23:59 CET)
- Max Cap in Tokens: 200 million NGC
For more information about The NAGA Group AG, please visit their company website. You can learn more about the NAGA ecosystem and token sale at nagaico.com and by following them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, BitcoinTalk, and Telegram.
What facet of the NAGA ecosystem do you think will be of most interest to users? To investors? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of The Naga Group AG
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