China flirts with a Bitcoin mining ban (again)
In what has become an annual rite of policymakers in China, the government there announced this week that it would once again consider banning distasteful economic activity such as Bitcoin mining and hand-slaughtering of livestock. The ban proposals are open for public comment, but authorities have not announced any definitive decisions. The last such ban considered was in January 2018, but was not enacted.
"China’s state planner wants to eliminate bitcoin mining in the country, according to a draft list of industrial activities the agency is seeking to stop in a sign of growing government pressure on the cryptocurrency sector. ... 'The NDRC’s move is in line overall with China’s desire to control different layers of the rapidly growing crypto industry, and does not yet signal a major shift in policy,' said Jehan Chu, managing partner at blockchain investment firm Kenetic."
"Without the ability to modify the code running on hardware, the user really isn’t buying hardware at all. They’re paying for hardware+software with no right to modify the software. Today’s ASICs have fairly capable Linux computers that control the ASIC chips themselves. If software was entirely unrestricted, ASIC owners and competitive vendors would be free to develop tools and systems that suit their needs, both open and closed. In this regard, our complaint is really about ownership. We buy ASICs, and we would like to be able to use them in any way that we see fit. The only way that owners are going to be able to use their ASICs for any purpose they’d like, without restriction, is for hardware manufacturers to return to their actual role: making hardware."
"John Maynard Keynes, the secular saint of left-leaning economists, called gold a 'barbarous relic.' Milton Friedman, his counterpart on the right, said a gold standard for the dollar 'is not feasible because the mythology and beliefs required to make it effective do not exist.' In 2012, a survey of leading economists by the University of Chicago Booth School of Management found that 34 percent disagreed with a gold standard and 66 percent disagreed strongly. Yet both of President Donald Trump’s apparent picks for open seats on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Stephen Moore and Herman Cain, are interested in fixing the price of the dollar in quantities of gold—bringing back a system that President Richard Nixon abandoned in 1971."
"The world economy will grow 3.3 percent this year, down from the 3.5 percent the IMF had forecast for 2019 in January, the fund said Tuesday in its latest World Economic Outlook. The 2019 growth rate would be the weakest since 2009, when the world economy shrank. It’s the third time the IMF has downgraded its outlook in six months. 'This is a delicate moment' for the global economy, Gita Gopinath, who recently became the IMF’s chief economist, said at a press briefing in Washington. A projected pickup in growth next year is precarious, she said."
"From today, Bitfinex has removed its $10,000 minimum equity threshold, opening the world’s most advanced trading platform to everyone. The update comes in response to overwhelming demand over the past six months from a wide variety of traders seeking to access the unique professional experience available at Bitfinex, but without requiring the upfront equity."
"Britain’s economy would be hit seven times harder than the rest of the EU and slip into recession in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the IMF forecast on Tuesday in a special analysis in its flagship World Economic Outlook. As Prime Minister Theresa May attempts to broker a Brexit compromise with the Labour party and persuade the EU27 to allow another delay in the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc, the IMF’s analysis suggests the economic stakes could not be higher."
"In Q4 2018, these funds realized the second largest percentage loss in assets since the 1950’s and the largest loss since 2008. As Tavi Costa pointed out on Twitter, the more than 5% drop in assets leads many to believe that the retirement funds of tens of millions of people are likely to be exposed to a much higher degree of risk than previously understood. ... So what should these institutions do? As I have been saying for months, they need to immediately evaluate the option of gaining exposure to Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain industry. The assets have proven to be low correlation to date and have an asymmetric return profile. A simple 1% allocation has the potential to materially negate any losses that could be experienced through an equity market fall."
"Jacob Burrell Campos, who had been in custody without bail since he was arrested in August last year, was also forced to forfeit $823,357 in illicit profits. He plead guilty on October 29, admitting he had operated a Bitcoin exchange without previously registering the business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) of the US Department of Treasury. He also admitted he had not implemented the necessary anti-money laundering procedures (AML)."
"Joblessness will reach 44.3 percent in 2019 and will slam nearly half of Venezuela’s labor force in 2020, the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook published on Tuesday. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s joblessness was 50 percent in 1996, immediately after its 3 1/2-year domestic war, according to the multilateral’s database. The Venezuelan depression is among the deepest economic catastrophes ever suffered by a nation outside of wartime. This year alone, the Andean nation’s output will shrink by a quarter -- the most worldwide since the 2014 start of the Libyan civil war, according to the IMF. The contraction has become so large that it’s generating 'sizable drag' on growth not just in Latin America, but also in emerging markets as a whole."
"Despite these challenges, psychology and politics can change quickly. As the enormity of the climate crisis sinks in and the hoped-for carbon savings from renewables don’t add up, nuclear can become the new green. Protecting the environment and lifting the developing world out of poverty are progressive causes. And the millennials and Gen Z’s might rethink the sacred values their boomer parents have left unexamined since the Doobie Brothers sang at the 1979 No Nukes concert. If the American public and politicians can face real threats and overcome unfounded fears, we can solve humanity’s most pressing challenge and leave our grandchildren a bright future of climate stability and abundant energy. We can dispatch, once and for all, the self-fulfilling prophesy that we’re cooked."
"Over the last two years, as Amazon’s clean energy promises have stalled out, Earth’s most customer-centric company has aggressively courted the fossil fuels industry, landing deals and partnerships with companies like BP, Shell, and Halliburton, offering data-based services such as machine learning for enhanced exploration, internet of things-enabled oilfield automation, and remote site data transportation. All this has occurred during a period in which the threat of climate change has been widely and clearly articulated by the top scientists in the field, and the urgency they say is necessary to reduce carbon emissions has never been better understood."