Bulgaria’s GDP is about $52.4 billion (2016), so it is quite a shock that the Bulgarian Government is sitting on an approximate $3 billion worth of Bitcoins seized in an anti-corruption operation back in May. Putting this into a little more glaring context, Bulgaria is holding 18% of the national debt in bitcoins… Fun fact: today's bitcoin prices have been interesting enough that there was a significant difference in how much Bulgaria had in USD between me writing this story and my editor editing it. — Nikhilesh De (@nikhileshde) December 7, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 9, 2017.
In an October 2017 interview, Jamie Dimon famously lambasted Bitcoin as a ‘fraud’ and the people who bought it as ‘stupid’ which, temporarily, halted the ascent in the Bitcoin price. It also led to much heated debate in the mainstream media and much anger across the crypto community. In a just as incendiary follow up, Dimon sat down for another interview, this time as ‘The Economic Club of Chicago’. We wondered whether he would confirm recent reports that JPMorgan Chase would buy and sell Bitcoin futures for clients after the upcoming launch on the CME. Sadly, he wasn’t pressed on this question. Instead, he had some striking comments about the longevity of Trump’s Presidency, as Reuters reports. Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co, on Wednesday said he expects to see a new U. S. president in 2021 and advised the Democratic party to come up with a ‘pro-free enterprise’ agenda for jobs and economic growth instead. Asked at a luncheon hosted by The Economic Club of Chicago how many years Republican President Donald Trump will be in office, Dimon said, ‘If I had to bet, I’d bet three and half. But the Democrats have to come up with a reasonable candidate … or Trump will win again.’ Dimon, who in the past has described himself as ‘barely’ a Democrat, has been going to Washington more often since the 2016 elections to lobby lawmakers on issues including changes in corporate taxes, immigration policies and mortgage finance.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 23, 2017.
It’s been nearly two months since Chinese cryptocurrency exchanges were abruptly shuttered by local regulators, part of President Xi Jinping’s ongoing crackdown on capital outflows and potentially embarrassing or destabilizing market forces in the weeks ahead of last month’s National Party Congress. But now that China’s new president emperor has cemented his grip on power by installing political allies on the Politburo and successfully lobbying to have his name enshrined in China’s Constitution, the exchanges are taking tenative steps to figure out if it’s safe to do business in China again, and what constraints would apply to their operations going forward. And while providing an online exchange for fiat-to-digital currency transactions is still expressly prohibited, a couple of the country’s biggest exchanges are rolling out an OTC model that resembles the popular peer-to-peer bitcoin trading website Local Bitcoins, and which will “also support fiat currency transactions.” Here’s CoinDesk: Some of China’s top bitcoin exchanges are now shifting to the over-the-counter (OTC) market in the wake of a crackdown by regulators in the country. In announcements made on Oct. 31, both OKEx and Huobi Pro said they will introduce peer-to-peer trading platforms that support fiat currency transactions, including the Chinese yuan, as an alternative for the country’s domestic cryptocurrency investors. Based in Hong Kong, the two exchanges had previously provided solely crypto-to-crypto trading since being founded by their respective parent exchanges, Beijing-headquartered OKCoin and Huobi. They will now pivot toward a combination of the existing structure and the direct, peer-to-peer model.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 4, 2017.
We’ve had a seemingly never-ending parade of crony capitalists, bankers, and politicians calling bitcoin everything from a ‘fraud’ to ‘Enron’ to ‘junk.’ Yesterday, though, a big name came out on the side of bitcoin. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. Notice that while people like JP Morgan’s Jamie Demon and Mastercard CEO, Ajay Banga, have never actually created any real wealth in their lives, Wozniak played a very crucial role in the development of personal computers which has led to the internet… which led to bitcoin… which has created massive amounts of wealth and freedom for the world.
This is the begging-for-the-overthrow-of-a-corrupt-status-quo economy we have thanks to the Federal Reserve giving the J. P. Morgans and Jamie Dimons of the world the means to skim and scam the bottom 95%. Dear Jamie Dimon: quick quiz: which words/phrases are associated with you and your employer, J. P. Morgan? Looting, pillage, rapacious, exploitive, only saved from collapse by massive intervention by the Federal Reserve, the source of rising wealth inequality, crony capitalism, privatized profits-socialized losses, low interest rates = gift from savers to banks, bloviating overpaid C. E. O., propaganda favoring the financial elite, tool of the top .01%, destroyer of democracy, financial fraud goes unpunished, free money for financiers, debt-serfdom, produces nothing of value to society or the bottom 99.5%. Jamie, if you answered “all of them,” you’re correct. The only reason you have a soapbox from which you can bloviate is the central bank (Federal Reserve) saved you and your neofeudal looting machine (bank) from well-deserved oblivion in 2008-09, and the unprecedented, co-ordinated campaign by global central banks to buy trillions of dollars of bonds and stocks.
It is altogether fitting that crypto currencies, in particular Bitcoin, have witnessed a meteoric rise in this illusionary age. Not only has their monetary value gone to dizzying heights, but they are now being touted as the destroyer of the current, crumbling monetary order and the next paradigm upon which a new money and banking system will emerge. In an era where sacrifice, hard work, loyalty, ingenuity, tradition, and independent thought are considered anathemas, while affirmative action, sloth, effeminacy, office seeking, and something-for-nothing schemes are endemic in every walk of life, it is not surprising that non-tangible, computer-generated currencies would become a ‘natural’ feature of such a world. While it has always been a haven for charlatans, traitors, cheats, thieves, liars, and serial adulterers, contemporary political life has become even more of a sham. The most glaring example of politics’ utter corruption can be seen in the recent departed chief executive officer of the US. Unless one abandons all critical thinking, Obummer was unqualified to be president because of the obvious fact that he was not born on American soil. Not only did this disqualify him, but his educational and professional backgrounds have not been verified. Neither his collegiate records nor his supposed teaching career at the University of Chicago Law School have ever been exposed to public scrutiny. From the few utterances he has made about his supposed specialty – constitutional law – it appears that he has only a rudimentary knowledge of the subject.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 21, 2017.
As Ukraine’s crackdown on corruption continues, three lawmakers from Ukraine’s ruling party revealed this week that they own a combined $45 million in bitcoin, according to a report by RIA Novosti, a Russian foreign news service. Their holdings came to light during mandatory financial disclosures by members of the Ukrainian parliament, part of an IMF-approved strategy to tamp down corruption in Ukraine. The country’s democratic institutions, which were never very robust to begin with, have been further destabilized by the civil war that’s seen pro-Russian separatists seize control of two regions in eastern Ukraine. Lawmakers must now disclose their assets and wealth in an online database.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 16, 2017.
Mining bitcoins is a notoriously electricity-intensive process better suited for areas where resources are subsidized by the government (like the mountainous Northern China, where a cluster of some of the world’s largest mining pools are located), or are at least exceedingly cheap. Cities like New York, are, of course, not ideally suited for the task of mining. But then again, if you’re not paying for the electricity, then it may as well be free, right? *** That, essentially, was New York City teacher Vladimir Ilyayev’s plan when he started mining bitcoin on his work computer, running the software during the evening while monitoring it from home, according to CoinDesk, which discovered paperwork relating to Ilyayev’s hearing before the BOE’s Conflicts of Interest Board. ‘According to a recently published disposition from the City of New York Conflicts of Interest Board, department employee Vladimir Ilyayev admitted to mining bitcoin between for a period of several weeks between March and April 2014. Bitcoin mining is an energy intensive process by which new transactions are added to the blockchain, generating new coins with every block that is created.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 1, 2017.
As observed yesterday, one of the main reasons for the post New Year’s Day surge in Bitcoin to above $1,000 both in China and the US, is that over the past week, in order to further curb capital outflows, Beijing implemented a new set of capital controls according to which Chinese banks would be required to report all yuan-denominated cash transactions exceeding 50,000 yuan (around 7,100 US dollars) to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), down from the current level of 200,000 yuan, according to a PBOC document released on Friday. Cross-border transfers more than 200,000 yuan by individuals will also be subject to the report process. In terms of foreign currencies, the report threshold remains at the equivalent of 10,000 US dollars for both cash transactions and overseas transfers. Amusingly, as Xinhua reported over the weekend, “the policy stoked worries that the government is trying to impose capital control in a disguised form” to which PBOC economist Ma Jun had the following retort “It is not capital control at all.” Translation – it is. And that’s not all, because overnight, China’s currency regulators, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) added its own round of capital controls when it said that it wanted to close loopholes exploited for purposes such as money laundering and illegally channeling money into overseas property. While the regulator left unchanged quotas of $50,000 of foreign currency per person a year, citizens faced draconian new disclosure requirements from Jan. 1, first and foremost requiring foreign currency buyers to indicate how they plan to use the money and when they plan to spend it.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 3, 2017.
Bitcoin and banks were never supposed to go hand-in-hand. So, in 2015, when the world’s largest financial institutions began investigation the technology behind Bitcoin, blockchain, it took many people by surprise. Now, approximately two years after those efforts began in earnest, it seems there’s somewhat of a clash taking place between Bitcoin and the consortium through which the world’s largest banks investigate blockchain technology, R3. The blockchain consortium, whose main goal is to cut costs for the back office processes at major banks, seems to have no problem lobbying legal threats at members of the Bitcoin Community who do not follow the consortium’s line.
Last month the U. S. State Department launched the “American Innovation Roadshow” with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Senior members of U. S. Secretary of State’s John Kerry’s economic team led business delegations from financial investors, U. S. multinational and early stage companies. In two stunning speeches, the State Department began advocating the adoption blockchain technology. Ambassador David H. Thorne, senior adviser to the secretary of state, was among those attending the roadshow. The ambassador leads a departmentwide effort to ‘position economic and commercial issues more prominently within the U. S. foreign policy landscape’ and to ‘elevate the importance of entrepreneurship, technology and innovation in the State Department’s promotion of global prosperity.’ Thorne gave speeches at both the March 3 @America Innovation at Innovation and Entrepreneurship Presentations at Pacific Place in Jakarta, Indonesia and the March 7 Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology Innovation Conference in Hanoi. Speeches given by the ambassador encouraged these countries to adopt blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Both the Vietnam and Indonesia (prepared) remarks included the following similar, if not identical, recommendations: ‘…[W]e would like to encourage the development of new financial technology or ‘FinTech’ innovations – blockchain and distributed ledgers, mobile banking, etc – which will provide a backbone to the e-commerce activity … These kinds of tools naturally encourage fiscal and business transparency, not just for start-ups but for everyone, which is a key for reducing corruption and improving efficiency.’ Bitcoin Blockchain Advances Last year the White House named Dr. Ed Felten deputy U. S. chief technology officer. Felten was previously the director of the Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) at Princeton University, and is a well regarded Bitcoin researcher.
Russian software architects and entrepreneurs Alex Paperno, Eugene Porubaev and Vlad Kravchuk plan to take the insurance company out of insurance. Their Teambrella, a Bitcoin-based peer-to-peer insurance platform, allows users to provide each other coverage for whatever they want, however they want, and without requiring any trusted intermediaries. Paperno: ‘Anyone who ever needed a reimbursement knows that insurance companies are actually not interested in paying out at all; it’s not in their benefit to help their customers. We intend to remove that conflict of interest, and make insurance fair and transparent.’ ‘Team Coverage’ So, what is Teambrella? In essence, Teambrella is a platform that allows people to form teams that offer each other coverage. If one person within that team requires reimbursement, the rest of the team chips in to provide it. Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Paperno explained:
A group of Ukrainian officials signed a memorandum late last week to move multiple levels of elections to the Ethereum blockchain using E-vox, a platform developed by a group of companies including Ambisafe, Distributed Lab, and Kitsoft. The goal of this memorandum is to create “a decentralized, transparent and accessible system for group decisions making [sic] via blockchain-based instruments” for political primaries, elections and online petitions or referenda. This new platform could serve as a beacon of transparency and accountability in a polarized country ravaged by the “Orange Revolution,” a series of protests against corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud during the 2004 election of President Viktor Yanukovych. The list of signatories includes the head of the state agency for e-government, the Head of IT of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, an adviser to the president of Ukraine, a group of NGOs, and blockchain companies such as Ambisafe, Distributed Lab and KitSoft. While most blockchain and Bitcoin election platforms employ colored coins, E-vox will rely on smart contracts in order to fulfill a number of Ukrainian legal requirements. By involving major players in the Ukrainian government early in the process, Ambisafe CEO Andrey Zamovskiy doesn’t feel regulations or laws will hinder the implementation of E-vox.
Earlier this year, Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja released the Lightning Network white paper. In it they theorize how a layer on top of the Bitcoin blockchain can allow for instant and cheap bitcoin transactions, while vastly improving its scalability. As a result of the block-size limit debate, the Lightning Network has been getting a lot of attention lately. But, unfortunately, wild myths have started to dominate the discourse. Suddenly thrown in the middle of a long-lasting conflict of visions, Poon and Dryja’s concept is hailed both as the great savior solving all of Bitcoin’s problems – and as a source of deep corruption within Bitcoin’s development community. This article will not seek to explain how the Lightning Network is set to function on a technical level. Such explanations can be found here and here , and for those who really want to immerse themselves with all of the nitty-gritty details of how it all works, here. Rather, this article addresses 11 common myths surrounding the Lightning Network, in hopes of putting these to bed for good. Myth #1: Core developers are crippling Bitcoin to force users onto the Lightning Network. Although Poon and Dryja, along with several others, are currently realizing their own Lightning Network-based startup, Blockstream has been the only company funding the development of the Lightning Network so far. Specifically, the Bitcoin business with a $21 million seed round under its belt empoyed Paul ‘Rusty’ Russel to work on an implementation of the concept. Meanwhile, some of Bitcoin’s most prominent developers — such as Gregory Maxwell and Pieter Wuille — are on Blockstream’s payroll, too. This has led some to believe that Blockstream is working nefariously. It’s been alleged that the company is blocking any increase of Bitcoin’s block-size limit, as this will drive up transaction fees, forcing bitcoiners to use the Lightning Network instead. This logic, however, seems very farfetched at best.
This is one of those sad times when The Onion realizes it has badly, and permanently, missed its IPO window. Just released from the Department of Justice Former Federal Agents Charged With Bitcoin Money Laundering and Wire Fraud Agents Were Part of Baltimore’s Silk Road Task Force Two former federal agents have been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and related offenses for stealing digital currency during their investigation of the Silk Road, an underground black market that allowed users to conduct illegal transactions over the Internet. The charges are contained in a federal criminal complaint issued on March 25, 2015, in the Northern District of California and unsealed today. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U. S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge Jos M. Martinez of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael P. Tompkins of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lori Hazenstab of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General in Washington D. C. made the announcement. Carl M. Force, 46, of Baltimore, was a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Shaun W. Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, was a Special Agent with the U. S. Secret Service (USSS). Both were assigned to the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity in the Silk Road marketplace. Force served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, aka ‘Dread Pirate Roberts.’ Force is charged with wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and conflict of interest. Bridges is charged with wire fraud and money laundering.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 03/30/2015.