Archive for the ‘finance’ category

Sep 18, 2015

What if U.S. had raised interest rates?

Posted by in categories: economics, finance, government, policy

At the end of 2015, the US national debt will be 18.6 trillion dollars. With such a big number, it’s tempting to put it in perspective by comparing it with things more easily envisioned. 98e2c31e5c194d21be9fd3922dc45fde9207f454Alas, I can not think of anything that puts such an oppressive and unfair burden into perspective, except to this:

US debt represents a personal obligation of $60,000 for each American citizen. And it is rising quickly. Most of our GDP is used simply to pay down interest on that debt. Few pundits see a way out of this hole.

bretton_woods-aIn my opinion, that hole was facilitated in August 1971, when the US modified the Bretton Woods Agreement and unilaterally terminated convertibility of the US dollar to gold. By forcibly swapping every dollar in every pocket and bank account with the promise of transient legislators, individual wealth was suddenly based on fiat instead of something tangible or intrinsic.

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Sep 15, 2015

What is a Blockchain?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, finance, government, internet, transparency

This short post is not about Bitcoin. It’s about a new method of organizing and arbitrating communications that is at the heart of Bitcoin

We hear a lot about the blockchain. We also hear a lot of misconceptions about its purpose and benefits. Some have said that it represents a threat to banks or to governments. Nonsense! It is time to form a simple, non-political, and non-economic explanation…

What is a Blockchain?

The blockchain is a distributed approach to bookkeeping. It offers an empowering, efficient and trusted way for disparate parties to reach consensus. It is “empowering”, because conclusions built on a blockchain can be constructed in a way that is inherently fair, transparent, and resistant to manipulation.

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Sep 8, 2015

What gives Bitcoin Value?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, Elon Musk, finance

For most of us, figuring out the value of something that we want, comes from research. If you want a new set of wine glasses, you check the price online. Perhaps you consult a catalog. If the set of 8 stemware goblets that you like are a current model from a major company, there are probably many places to buy them. If there are multiple Ebay sellers and many recently completed sales, then you can establish the value with precision.

I’ve written a lot of Bitcoin articles on this Lifeboat Blog and elsewhere, so, let’s dig a bit deeper this time. Let’s talk about from where value really comes.

Supply and Demand

In the end, an item’s value is a direct result of supply and demand. It’s no different with a currency. And let’s be clear: Despite a raging debate, Bitcoin is a currency and not just a payment instrument. How can I be certain? Try this mental exercise—

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Sep 8, 2015

Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures and Citi Ventures Back Stock-Trading Startup — By Anna Irrera | The Wall Street Journal

Posted by in category: finance


Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures and Citigroup’s Citi Ventures have backed a New York-based startup that lets retail investors place orders for securities on news websites, financial blogs and mobile apps, as investments in young financial-technology companies continue to grow.

Read more

Jul 7, 2015

Passfaces: Strong authentication for the masses

Posted by in categories: big data, business, computing, encryption, finance, information science, internet

Last year, Google began experimenting with hardware-based schemes for user-authentication, while Apple added two factor authentication to iCloud and Apple ID users. They began sending a verification code to users via a mobile number registered in advance.

Security pundits know that two factor authentication is more secure than simple passwords. As a refresher, “Factors” are typically described like this:

  • Something that you know (a password — or even better, a formula)
  • Something that you have (Secure ID token or code sent to cell phone)
  • Something that you are (a biometric: fingerprint, voice, face, etc.)

The Google project may be just another method of factor #2. In fact, because it is small (easily misplaced or stolen), it simplifies but does not improve on security. I suggest a radical and reliable method of authentication. It’s not new and it’s not my idea…


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Jul 6, 2015

Major bank admits bitcoin could destroy banks, brokers & exchanges

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, finance, geopolitics

July 9 update:
3 days after posting, Visa acknowledged that Bitcoin has a future in payments. This is an understatement, of course. The bank described below goes a step further by acknowledging that the entire financial infrastructure may cave to cryptocurrencies.

burning-cashFrench bank BNP Paribas warned customers and investors that the technology behind bitcoin might one day overtake conventional, account-based financial institutions, thus rendering existing companies redundant (that’s British for “obsolete”).* It’s a tectonic acknowledgement from one of the world’s biggest banks.

Analyst Johann Palychata writes in the company’s magazine Quintessence that Bitcoin’s blockchain, the underlying architecture that allows cryptocurrency to function, “should be considered as an invention like the steam or combustion engine,” that has the potential to transform the world of finance and beyond.

Check out the full story by Oscar Williams-Grut at Business Insider.

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Jun 11, 2015

Bitcoin Adoption: Series of reactions

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, finance, government

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin-05-t-sSure—You know the history. As it spread from the geeky crypto community, Bitcoin sparked investor frenzy. Its “value” was driven by the confidence of early adopters that they hitched a ride on an early train, rather than commercial adoption. But, just like those zealous investors, you realize that it may ultimately reduce the costs of online commerce, if and when if it becomes widely accepted.

But what is Bitcoin, really? To what class of instruments does it belong?

• Ardent detractors see a sham: A pyramid scheme with no durable value; a house of cards waiting to tumble. This is the position of J.D, an IRS auditor who consults to The Cryptocurrency Standards Association. As devil’s advocate, he keeps us grounded.

Continue reading “Bitcoin Adoption: Series of reactions” »

Jun 6, 2015

Exponential Finance: Financial Advice In the Age of AI and Long Life — By Jason Dorrier SingularityHub

Posted by in categories: economics, finance

Ric Edelman is one the top financial advisors in the US. His firm, Edelman Financial Services, has 41 offices across the country. And he thinks, all things constant, most financial advisors as we’ve known them won’t be around much longer.

At Exponential Finance, Edelman said, “I firmly believe that in the next ten years, half of all the financial advisors in this country will be gone.” Read more

Jun 2, 2015

The Arctic’s Internet Is So Expensive That People Mail the Web on USB Drives — Via Motherboard

Posted by in categories: business, computing, economics, finance, governance, hacking, policy, strategy


“Canada’s domestic digital divide, with the North as its epicenter, has been a point of growing concern over the last several years. Much of the internet in the northernmost regions of the country is still beamed down by satellites, but a plan to link Europe and Asia with fiber optic cable via Nunavut is currently being negotiated by a Toronto-based company called Arctic Fibre.”

Read more

May 27, 2015

MIT’s President: Op-ed on Innovation

Posted by in categories: business, disruptive technology, economics, education, finance, government, innovation, policy, science, strategy


“[T]he United States needs a more systematic way to help its bottled-up new-science innovators deliver their ideas to the world.”

A better way to deliver innovation to the world

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