Category Archives: Crypto

Bitcoin Soars Above $9K, And This Time Is Different: “It’s Mostly Institutions Now”

The recent surge in bitcoin, and the entire cryptocurrency space accelerated over the weekend, coinciding with the latest massive protest in Hong Kong which may be among the catalysts for the aggressive buying, and sending bitcoin above $9,000 for the first time since May 10, 2018, a price that is almost triple where bitcoin traded at the start of the year, making it the best performing major asset class of 2019, with a market cap of $163 billion.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/BITCOIN%20SURGE.jpg?itok=4IICRiYk

And as the price of bitcoin surge, naturally so does its volatility, which has quadrupled from its near all-time lows hit at the start of April to 95 for the 30-day historical vol, in the process making it once again a favorite of traders desperate for highly-volatile assets.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/bitcoin%20volatility.jpg?itok=4vbzIxpJ

It’s not just Bitcoin’s volatility that has returned: so have volumes as what appears to be the latest reflation of the bitcoin bubble is drawing in investors from around the globe, hoping to make a quick profit. Only this time there is one major difference as JPMorgan explains.

According to JPMorgan’s Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou writes, there has been a sharp increase in reported trading volumes of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies  over the past few months, with Bitcoin trading volumes on crypto exchanges increasing to $445bn in April from a 1Q19 average of $220bn per month, and in May volumes increased further to around $725bn. This compares to previous peak volumes in Dec17 and Jan18 of $420bn. Curiously, for the three largest three cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, the combined volumes for May stand at above $1tr compared to a previous peak in Jan18 of around $685bn, suggesting that all else equal, there is an even greater interest in the crypto space .

Meanwhile, this development comes at a time when the market value of outstanding bitcoins is around half of its Dec17 high, and the combined market value of all crypto currencies is around a third of its previous high. While a substantial part of the increase in volumes in dollar terms reflects an increase in the market value of bitcoin and other crypto currencies, the volumes in bitcoin terms are also significantly above their previous peaks.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/bitcoin%20crypto%20futures.jpg?itok=1x7aQvcT

But there is more here than meets the eye.

As JPM explains, taken at face value, this volume surge would suggest a dramatic increase in cryptocurrency activity. But over the past year or so, concerns have increasingly been expressed over how authentic the reported volumes really are. To wit:

…  recently published work by Bitwise, a cryptocurrency asset manager, to the SEC as part of an application for a bitcoin ETF suggests that bitcoin trading volumes on many cryptocurrency exchanges are significantly overstated by ‘fake’ trading, e.g. exchanges reporting volume of trades that never took place or via wash trades, and that genuine trading volumes could be around 5% of the reported total. Similarly, the Blockchain Transparency Institute publish monthly market surveillance reports, and estimated in April 2019 that less than 1% of reported volume for some exchanges represented real trades.

If these estimates of the proportion of real trades are correct, i.e. “that only around 5% of trading is genuine,” that would imply that the genuine volumes of Bitcoin trading on cryptocurrency exchanges in May were around $36bn, rather than $725bn.

If this sharp revision in actual trading volumes is accurate, a critical implication, beyond the fact that the actual market size is markedly lower than reported numbers would suggest, is that as JPM notes, “the importance of the listed futures market has been significantly understated.” According to the Bitwise report, traded futures are credited as an important development in allowing short exposures that enabled arbitrageurs in properly engaging in arbitrage (and also resulted in a massive squeeze at the start of April that sent bitcoin breaking out again, and which we discussed previously), and that the futures share of spot bitcoin volumes increased sharply in April/May.

Indeed, when looking at aggregate volumes on both the CME and CBOE futures contracts (shown below), JPM estimates around $12bn of traded volume on these two futures exchanges in May. Indeed, the $12bn of bitcoin futures trading volume in May also represented a significant increase on the April’s $5.5bn and a 1Q19 monthly average of $1.8bn, suggesting that some rise in trading volume was genuine, even if the total volumes on cryptocurrency exchanges was  likely vastly overstated.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/combine%20daily%20volumes.jpg?itok=uWzdAHQ-

The conclusion to this overstatement of trading volumes by cryptocurrency exchanges, and by implication theunderstatement of the importance of listed futures, suggests that in the two years since bitcoin’s last major spike in 2017 the “market structure has likely changed considerably… with a greater influence from institutional investors.”

This also means that whereas bitcoin’s historic surge to its all time high of $20,000 in December 2017 was largely retail driven, and thus extremely fickle as the subsequent crash showed, this time it is largely the result of institutional buying, which is far more stable and far less prone to sudden, painful shifts in sentiment and volatility.

In other words, “this time may be different” for bitcoin in a good way: because with institutions now piling into the crypto space, this is precisely the investor group that bitcoin bulls wanted from the beginning as it creates a far more stable price base for the future. Add to this the potential return of retail buying from east Asian (or even US) retail clients, and it is possible that what we predicted in early April, namely that the 3rd bitcoin bubble is starting…

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/bitcoin%20log%20scale%20june%2016.jpg?itok=WigREcmf

… may soon be confirmed, and that the next bitcoin bubble peak will be somewhere between $60,000 and $100,000.

Source: ZeroHedge

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Will Globalists Sacrifice The Dollar To Get Their ‘New World Order’?

Trade is a fundamental element of human survival. No one person can produce every single product or service necessary for a comfortable life, no matter how Spartan their attitude. Unless your goal is to desperately scratch an existence from your local terrain with no chance of progress in the future, you are going to need a network of other producers. For most of the history of human civilization, production was the basis for economy. All other elements were secondary.

At some point, as trade grows and thrives, a society is going to start looking for a store of value; something that represents the man-hours and effort and ingenuity a person put into their day. Something that is universally accepted within barter networks, something highly prized, that is tangible, that can be held in our hands and is impossible to replicate artificially. Enter precious metals.

Thus, the concept of “money” was born, and for the most part it functioned quite well for thousands of years. Unfortunately, there are people in our world that see economy as a tool for control rather than a vital process that should be left alone to develop naturally.

The idea of “fiat money”, money which has no tangibility and that can be created on a whim by a central source or authority, is rather new in the grand scheme of things. It is a bastardization of the original and much more stable money system that existed before that was anchored in hard commodities. While it claims to offer a more “liquid” store of value, the truth is that it is no store of value at all.

Purveyors of fiat, central banks and globalists, use ever increasing debt as a means to feed fiat, not to mention the hidden tax of price inflation. When central bankers get a hold of money, it is no longer a representation of work or value, but a system of enslavement that crushes our ability to produce effectively and to receive fair returns for our labor.

There are many people today in the liberty movement that understand this dynamic, but even in alternative economic circles there are some that do not understand the full picture when it comes to central banks and fiat mechanisms. There is a false notion that paper currencies are the life blood of the establishment and that they will seek to protect these currencies at all costs. This might have been true 20 years ago or more, but it is not true today. Things change.

The king of this delusion is the US dollar. As the world reserve currency it is thought by some to be “untouchable”, a pillar of the globalist structure that will be defended for many decades to come. The reality, however, is that the dollar is nothing more than another con game on paper to the globalists; a farce that they are happy to sacrifice in order to further their goals of complete centralization of world trade and therefore the complete centralization of control over human survival.

That is to say, the dollar is a stepping stone for them, nothing more.

The real goal of the globalists is an economic system in which they can monitor every transaction no matter how small; a system in which there is eventually only one currency, a currency that can be tracked, granted or taken away at a moment’s notice. Imagine a world in which your “store of value” is subject to constant scrutiny by a bureaucratic monstrosity, and there is no way to hide from them by using private trade as a backstop. Imagine a world in which you cannot hold your money in your hand, and access to your money can be denied with the push of a button if you step out of line. This is what the globalists really desire.

Some people might claim that this kind of system already exists, but they would be fooling themselves. Even though fiat currencies like the dollar are a cancer on free markets and true production, they still offer privacy to a point, and they can still be physically allocated and held in your hand making them harder to confiscate. The globalists want to take a bad thing and make it even worse.

So, the question arises – How do they plan to make the shift from the current fiat paper system to their “new world order” economy?

First and foremost, they will seek a controlled demolition of the dollar as the world reserve currency. They have accomplished this in the past with other reserve currencies, such as the Pound Sterling, which was carefully diminished over a period of two decades just after WWII through the use of treasury bond dumps by France and the US, as well as the forced removal of the sterling as the petro-currency. This was done to make way for the US dollar as a replacement after the Bretton Woods agreement in 1944.

The dollar did not achieve true world reserve status, though, until after the gold standard was completely abandoned by Nixon in the early 1970’s, at which point a deal was struck with Saudi Arabia making the dollar the petro-currency. Once the dollar was no longer anchored to gold and the world’s energy market was made dependent on it, the fate of the US economy was sealed.

Unlike Britain and the sterling, the US economy is hyper-dependent on the dollar’s world reserve status. While Britain suffered declining conditions for decades after the loss, including inflation and high interest rates, the US will experience far more acute pain. A complete lack of adequate manufacturing capability within US borders has turned our nation into a consumer based society rather than a society of producers. Meaning, we are dependent on the demand for our currency as a reserve in order to enjoy affordable goods from outside sources (i.e. other manufacturing based countries).

Add to this lack of production ability the fact that for the past decade the Federal Reserve has been pumping trillions of dollars into financial markets around the globe. This means trillions of dollar held overseas only on the promise that those dollars will be accepted by major exporters as a universal store of value. If faith in that promise is lost, those trillions could come flooding back into the US through various channels, and the buying power of the currency would crumble.

There is a delusion within the American mainstream that even if such an event were to occur, the transition could be handled with ease. It’s fantastical, I know, but never underestimate the cognitive dissonance of people blinded by bias.

The rebuilding of a production base within the US to offset the crisis of losing the world reserve currency would take many years; perhaps decades. And this is in the best case scenario. With a plummeting currency and extreme price inflation, the cost of establishing new production on a large scale would be immense. While local labor might become cheap (in comparison with inflation), all other elements of the economy would become very expensive.

In the worst case scenario there would be complete societal breakdown likely followed by an attempted totalitarian response by government. In which case, forget any domestically funded economic recovery. Any future recovery would have to be funded and managed from outside the US. And here is where we see the globalist plan taking shape.

The banking elites have hinted in the past how they might try to “reset” the global economy. As I’ve mentioned in many articles, the globalist run magazine The Economist in 1988 discussed the removal of the dollar to make way for a global currency, a currency which would be introduced to the masses by 2018. This introduction did in fact take place as The Economist declared it would. Blockchain and digital currency systems, the intended foundation of the next globalist monetary structure, received unprecedented coverage the past two years.  They are now a part of the public consciousness.

Here is how Brandon Smith, Alt-Market believes the process will unfold:

The 2008 crash in credit and housing markets led to unprecedented stimulus by central banks, with the Federal Reserve leading the pack as the greatest source of inflation. This program of bailouts and QE stimulus conjured an even bigger bubble, which many alternative analysts have dubbed “the everything bubble”.

The growing “everything bubble” encompasses not just stock markets or housing, but auto markets, credit markets, bond markets, and the dollar itself. All of these elements are now tied directly to Fed policy. The US economy is not only addicted to stimulus measures and near-zero interest rates; it will die without them.

The Fed knows this well. Chairman Jerome Powell hinted at the crisis that would evolve if the Fed ever cut off stimulus, unwound its balance sheet and hiked rates in the October 2012 Fed minutes.

Without constant and ever expanding stimulus measures, the false economy will implode. We are already seeing the effects as the Fed cuts tens-of-billions per month in assets from its balance sheet and hikes interest rates to their “neutral rate of inflation”. Auto markets, housing markets, and credit markets are in reversal, and stocks are witnessing the most instability since the 2008 crash. All of this was triggered by the Fed simply exerting incremental rate hikes and balance sheet cuts.

It is also important to note that almost every US stock market rally the past several months has taken place while the Fed’s balance sheet cuts were frozen.  For example, for the past two-and-a-half weeks the Fed’s assets have only dropped by around $8 billion; this is basically a flat line in the balance sheet.  It should not be surprising given this pause in cuts (in tandem with convenient stimulus measures by China) that stocks spiked through early to mid-January.

That said, Fed tightening will start again, either by rate hikes, asset cuts, or both at the same time. The Fed’s purpose is to create a crisis. The Fed’s goal is to cause a crash. The Fed is a suicide bomber that does not care what happens to the US system.

But what about the dollar, specifically?

The Fed’s tightening policies do not only translate to crisis for US stocks or other markets. I see three primary ways in which the dollar can be dethroned as the world reserve.

1) Emerging economies have become addicted to Fed liquidity over the past ten years. Without continued access to the Fed’s easy money, nations like China and India are beginning to seek out alternatives to the dollar as a world reserve. Contrary to the popular belief that these countries would “never” be able to decouple from the US, the process has already begun. And, it is the Fed that has actually created the necessity for emerging markets to seek out other sources of liquidity besides the dollar.

2) Donald Trump’s trade war is yet another cover event for the loss of reserve status. I would note that the primary rationale for tariffs was to balance the trade deficit.  The trade deficit with China has done the opposite and is continually expanding each month.  This suggests much higher tariffs on China would be required to reduce the imbalance.

It must also be understood that the trade deficit with China has long been part of a larger agreement.  China is one of the largest buyers of US debt in the world and has continued to utilize the dollar as the world reserve currency.  If the trade war continues through this year, it is only a matter of time before China, already seeking dollar alternatives as the Fed tightens liquidity, will start using its US treasury and dollar holdings as leverage against us.

Bilateral agreements between multiple nations that cut out the dollar are being established regularly today. If China, the largest exporter/importer in the world, stops accepting the dollar as the world reserve, or if they start accepting other currencies in competition, then numerous other nations will follow their lead.

3) Finally, if the war of words between Trump and the Fed becomes something more, then this could be used by the establishment to undermine faith in US credit.  If Trump seeks to shut down the Fed entirely, the globalists are handed yet another perfect distraction for the death of the dollar. I can see the headlines now – The “reset” could then be painted as a “rescue” of the global economy after the “destructive actions of populists” who “bumbled into fiscal destruction” because they were blinded by an “obsession with sovereignty” in a world that “requires centralization to survive”.

The specifics of the shift to a global currency are less clear, but again, we have hints from the globalists. The Economist suggests that the US economy will have to be taken down a few pegs, and that the IMF would step in as the arbiter of Forex markets through its SDR basket system. This plan was echoed recently by globalist Mohamed El-Erian in an article he wrote titled “New Life For The SDR?”. El-Erian also suggests that a global currency would help to combat the “rise of populism”.

The Economist notes that the SDR would only act as a “bridge” to the new global currency. Paper currencies would still exist for a time, but they would be pegged to the SDR exchange rates. Currently, the dollar is only worth around .71 SDR’s. In the event of the loss of world reserve status, expect this exchange rate to drop significantly.

As the global crisis deepens the IMF will suggest a “reset” to a more manageable monetary framework, and this framework will be based on blockchain technology and a crypto currency which the IMF has likely already developed. The IMF hints at this outcome in at least two separate white papers recently published which herald a new age in which crypto as the next phase of evolution for global trade.

I predict according to the current pace of the trade war, Fed liquidity tightening and de-dollarization that threats to the dollar’s world reserve status will hit the mainstream by 2020.  The process of “resetting” the global monetary system would likely take at least another decade to complete.  The globalist preoccupation with their “Agenda 2030” sustainable development initiatives suggests a decade long timeline.

Without ample resistance, the introduction of the cashless society will be presented as a natural and even “heroic” response by the globalists to save humanity from the “selfishness” of destructive nationalists. They will strut across the world stage as if they are saviors, rather than the villains they really are.

Source: ZeroHedge
By Brandon Smith | Alt-Market.com

***

Mathematically possible…?

Secretive Crypto Firm Opens Books For 1st Time To Reveal Enormous Profits

Crypto prices surged on Wednesday after Beijing-based Bitmain published its long awaited IPO prospectus, publicly disclosing for the first time just how enormously profitable the purveyor of crypto mining rigs and chips has become since it was founded in 2013 by crypto billionaires Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan. The company, which controls roughly 85% of the market for crypto mining rigs and chips, has seen its profits expand from just $12.3 million at the end of 2015 to more than $700 million during the first six months of 2018 alone. Importantly, its revenues and profits have continued to expand, even as the market for cryptocurrencies has cooled since the start of the year.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018.09.26jpeg.JPG?itok=sVmSXi02

According to MarketWatch, the company’s profits increased by more than 800% from the prior year to $700 million. It revenues, meanwhile, expanded ten fold to $2.8 billion.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018.09.26bitmainrevenue.JPG?itok=I9zE48W_

Bitmain was founded in 2013 by Wu and Zhan just as bitcoin was entering the mainstream. The price of a single coin peaked at around $2,000 in November of that year before plunging to around $200 following the spectacular collapse of Mt. Gox in February 2014. At the time, Gox was the largest crypto exchange in the world.

Speculation about an IPO has been metastasizing for years, but many believed that the secretive company would shelve its plans following the $600 billion drop in aggregate crypto valuations.

According to its prospectus, Bitmain’s business model revolves around the design of ASIC chips for both crypto mining and AI purposes. According to a consulting firm cited in the prospectus, Bitmain is one of the largest ASIC-based crypto mining company. Still, the success of its IPO is far from certain. As Bloomberg points out, two of the company’s biggest rivals, Canaan Inc. and Ebang International Holdings Inc., are also pursuing IPOs. And some analysts cited by BBG fear that the company could lose its competitive edge. If it follows through with the IPO (which is a big if considering Hong Kong’s benchmark index has fallen 16% from its January highs), analysts will view the offering as the first big test of investor appetite for crypto firms working on an industrial scale.

But like we said – that’s still a big if.

Read the prospectus below:

Source: ZeroHedge

Modern Cryptocurrency Portfolio Theory

Summary

Modern Portfolio Theory doesn’t work with cryptocurrencies.

In a cryptocurrency portfolio, it’s all about managing risk.

As the cryptocurrency space matures, more high-level allocation models will become relevant.

This idea was first discussed with members of my private investing community, Crypto Blue Chips. To get an exclusive ‘first look’ at my best ideas, start your free trial today >>

Why Modern Portfolio Theory doesn’t work with cryptos

Aside from the obvious (that cryptocurrencies are not companies, they’re just software and the network of people involved), MPT asks the portfolio manager to make some basic assumptions.

  1. We are able to estimate the likely return of an asset (to compare it to the likely risk and determine the efficient frontier)
  2. We look for assets that are not highly correlated to reduce risk

Both of these are a big problem for cryptocurrencies, because the probable return is somewhere between zero and 100x, and nearly every cryptocurrency in the top 20 is highly correlated with bitcoin (at least for now).

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/7/22/49499619-15323029000211542_origin.pngImage Source: Sifrdata

Cryptocurrency projects by sector

What about building a cryptocurrency portfolio based on sector?

I’d like to tell you that it’s possible to just look at the different categories of cryptocurrency projects out there, and just build a sector weighted portfolio like you might do with traditional equities. If that were possible, you might want to use a chart like this to narrow down your choices.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/7/22/49499619-15323015832143135_origin.jpgImage Source: Twitter

Or, perhaps one like this.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/7/22/49499619-15323126278860574_origin.jpgImage Source: Reddit

But unfortunately, we can’t have nice things. Recall that 80% of ICOs in the last year are dead already or were simply scams in the first place (the real figure is probably over 90% now).

So, what can we do? We could just skip cryptocurrency all together, or we could take a different approach.

Building a cryptocurrency portfolio is about disciplined, rational reduction

When investing in cryptocurrencies, I suggest that you start off assuming everything is a scam and working backwards from there. Out of the 1900 or so cryptocurrencies listed on CMC, we might be able to argue for a handful as being legit projects that:

  • solve a real problem
  • aren’t a scam
  • didn’t start last week
  • have had their security model stress tested in the wild
  • have people working on them still
  • have an active community

In order to build your own cryptocurrency portfolio, I’m going to give you a list of questions to ask. This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start.

Can I replace the word “blockchain” with database?

This one comes from Andreas Antonopoulos. If the problem the project is trying to solve would work just as well without a blockchain, then we have a problem. Blockchains are slow, expensive data structures that when used properly can operate in a hostile environment with nobody at the helm.

If performance and control are important, a blockchain is probably not the correct tool for the job.

Is the code open source?

One of the main reasons that bitcoin has been successful is that the code is open source. This allows the community to share ideas and work together to solve problems that they find interesting and even exciting. Projects that hide their code away should be viewed with suspicion as many bugs could be lingering behind the walled gardens. Remember, closed systems maximize control while open systems maximize innovation at the edge.

Can I rent enough hash power to 51% this network right now?

Many cryptocurrencies are secured by proof of work. However, not all coins are created equal. Mining secures a PoW coin, but it can also be its downfall. For example, Ethereum (ETH-USD) shares a mining algorithm with Ethereum Classic (ETC-USD). However, Ethereum has attracted 20x more hash power than Ethereum Classic, which means that if you go to Nicehash, you can rent enough hash power to just take over Ethereum Classic for about $16,330 per hour. The reason for this is that the Ethash algorithm can be run on just about any GPU, so by using a marketplace for renting hash power, anyone that wants to can literally take over a the cryptocurrency of their choice if they pay the price.

However, not all coins can be hijacked in this way. Some coins like Bitcoin (BTC-USD) are so huge that only 1% of the necessary hardware could be rented for such an attack. Any coin that shares the SHA-256 algorithm is orders of magnitude easier to attack than bitcoin because bitcoin is the most profitable to mine, so that’s the network that the miners point their hardware at.

Bitcoin Cash (BCH-USD), for example, can be attacked with 1/14th the hardware that you would need to attack bitcoin, making it much less secure from a 51% attack standpoint.

See chart below.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/7/22/49499619-15323042289304018_origin.pngImage Source: Crypto51

Does the coin have a fancy new security model or data structure?

If it does, it might just be the next big thing. But, more likely the security model has major flaws that have yet to be discovered. Bitcoin’s blockchain and proof of work has been operating in the wild since 2009, and it has been attacked constantly.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/7/22/49499619-1532304896481929_origin.pngImage Source: Twitter

Smaller cryptocurrencies have the disadvantage of not being in the spotlight, so their networks’ bandwidth and security are tested at only a fraction of the pressure placed on larger networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

This doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to innovate, we just need to understand that the risk/reward ratio for these new concepts should be seen as orders of magnitude higher than that of Bitcoin and Ethereum because of the fact that they just haven’t been around long enough, they haven’t grown large enough to really be put to the test.

Some examples of this are the tangle, block lattice, and delegated proof of stake. They might be great ideas, they might even be the future, but betting on them now is a different animal than investing in Bitcoin.

Can this cryptocurrency be properly secured (preferably in a hardware wallet) in cold storage?

As I wrote about in my blog, part of the joy of investing in cryptocurrencies is understanding how to take custody of the assets. While there are many ways to secure cryptocurrency, my preference is to use a hardware wallet and store the coins offline (cold storage).

There are some really cool projects I’d like to invest in, but I just don’t want to deal with the mess of having to run full nodes of each project on my local machine, or worrying about if my paper wallet is safe.

A hardware wallet like Trezor or Ledger Nano S can store many of the top cryptocurrencies is a highly secure manner. As a fiduciary, I owe it to my investors to use the best security possible, so I rarely invest in cryptocurrencies that cannot be stored in a hardware wallet.

Is anyone using this cryptocurrency, and are there any software engineers working on the project still?

These seem like basic questions that you wouldn’t have to worry about if you were investing in a traditional company. I mean, nobody asks “I wonder if any software engineers at Amazon are writing code this month?” before buying Amazon (AMZN). But, with cryptocurrency things are a bit different.

Some projects I would like to invest in fail at this step. Either the number of transactions does not seem to be growing, or the development team seems to have wandered off.

Two projects I would be investing in if they were actively maintained are Dogecoin (DOGE-USD) and Litecoin (LTC-USD). See the development activity below.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/7/22/49499619-15323067888755922_origin.pnghttps://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/7/22/49499619-1532306813947775_origin.png

With no active development team, these projects simply can’t survive.

Does the team behind this project inspire confidence, and can they be identified?

In order to reduce the odds that the cryptocurrency project that you’re thinking about investing in is a scam, it’s worthwhile to take a look at the founders. If you can’t find a way to identify them, and their past work, then what kind of recourse do you have if they just take the funds and vanish?

Is there a whitepaper, and does it make sense?

You can learn a lot about a cryptocurrency project from the whitepaper. In fact, I think it’s a great place to start. Also, you might want to check that the entire thing wasn’t copied and pasted, because that’s a thing that happens all the time.

What is the token’s issuance model?

Bitcoin has a fixed issuance model that will result in 21 million tokens being created by the year 2140, but many other coins have no set maximum supply. Also, some of these ICOs have large portions of the tokens set aside for their foundation and early stage investors (and they probably bought it at a discounted rate before the rest of us even heard about the project).

Tokens that restrict the supply tend to be worth more as long as they can attract actual usage. It’s important to understand how new tokens are issued if you are trying to predict what they might be worth in the future if the project achieves the goals it set out for itself.

What the future of portfolio management might look like

I think that as the cryptocurrency market matures we will start being able to apply the more traditional valuation models. I think that when traditional assets start being tokenized, then it won’t be uncommon to have crypto assets in a traditional portfolio much in the same way that we have derivatives, ETFs, mutual funds and equities all in the same E-Trade (ETFC) account now.

Imagine having a basket of foreign currencies with some bitcoin thrown in, or a basket of utility companies that includes blockchain-based power tokens representing claims of future energy production.

I think that crypto assets will just become a tool, a technological means to an end in the future. Tokenizing existing assets and the discovery of new assets to tokenize may well define the digital revolution as we move into a world where the Internet of Things becomes a vivid reality.

Conclusion

It would be nice to apply modern portfolio theory to a cryptocurrency portfolio. However, the cryptocurrency market simply isn’t mature enough yet for this to be a reality. Today, the best we can do is look for signs of extraordinary risk and steer clear. This means taking a more skeptical approach and investing only in cryptocurrencies that might qualify as “Crypto Blue Chips.”

If you like this article, you will love Crypto Blue Chips, where this idea was discussed first. Besides posting articles early, there’s research in Crypto Blue Chips you can’t get anywhere else, like the BVIPE, the Bitcoin Value Indicator Professional Edition, posted with updates every week. Also, you can follow along as I build a portfolio of cryptocurrencies that we’ll be holding for the next 1-3 years. Get in on the ground floor with Crypto Blue Chips.

Source: by Hans Hauge | Seeking alpha

 

Bitcoin Whale Blows Up, Leading To Forced Liquidation, “Bail-Ins”

We may have found the reason for Bitcoin’s persistent weakness over the past week.

After hitting a price above $8,000 thanks to recent Blackrock ETF speculation, the cryptocurrency has dropped 10% in the past week, dropping as low as $7,300 today, leaving traders stumped what was causing this latest selloff in the absence of market-moving news.

It turns out the reason may have been a good, old-fashioned margin call forced liquidation, because as Bloomberg reports a massive wrong-way bet left an unidentified bitcoin futures trader unable to cover losses, resulting in a margin call that has “bailed-in” counter parties forced to chip in and cover the shortfall, while threatening to crush confidence in yet another major cryptocurrency venues.

According to a statement posted by Hong Kong’s OKEx crypto exchange on Friday, a long position in Bitcoin futures that crossed on Monday, July 30, had a notional value of about $416 million. After Bitcoin prices dropped sharply in subsequent days, OKEx moved to liquidate the position on Tuesday, “but the exchange was unable to cover the trader’s shortfall as Bitcoin’s price slumped.”

The exchange, which identified the problem trader only by an anonymous ID number 2051247, said the position was initiated at 2 a.m. Hong Kong time on July 31.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/bitcoin%20futs%20trade.jpg?itok=7FefGVJS

“Our risk management team immediately contacted the client, requesting the client several times to partially close the positions to reduce the overall market risks,” OKEx said. “However, the client refused to cooperate, which lead to our decision of freezing the client’s account to prevent further positions increasing. Shortly after this preemptive action, unfortunately, the BTC price tumbled, causing the liquidation of the account.”

The exchange was forced to inject 2,500 Bitcoins, roughly $18 million at current prices, into an insurance fund to help minimize the impact on clients. And since OKEx has a “socialized clawback” policy for such instances, it also forced other futures traders with unrealized gains this week to give up about 18 percent of their profits.

As Bloomberg notes, “while clawbacks are not unprecedented at OKEx, the size of this week’s debacle has attracted lots of attention in crypto circles.”

The episode underscores the risks of trading on lightly regulated virtual currency venues, which often allow high levels of leverage and lack the protections investors have come to expect from traditional stock and bond markets. Crypto platforms have been dogged by everything from outages to hacks to market manipulation over the past few years, a period when spectacular swings in Bitcoin and its ilk attracted hordes of new traders from all over the world.

“Everyone is talking about it,” said Jake Smith, a Tokyo-based adviser to Bitcoin.com, in reference to the OKEx trade.

And while everyone also wants to now how much capital was actually at risk, the biggest question is just how much margin there was in the trade. The problem here is that the exchange – ranked No. 2 by traded value – allows clients to leverage their positions by as much as 20 times.

For those who rhetorcially tend to ask “what can possibly go wrong” after every bitcoin slump, well now you know.

What happens next?

OKEx, which requires traders to pass a quiz on its rules before they can begin investing in futures, outlined planned changes to its margin system and liquidation procedures that it said would “vastly minimize the size of forced liquidation positions” and make clawbacks less frequent.

According to Bloomberg, clawbacks are unique to crypto markets and expose the exchanges who use them to reputational risks when clients are forced to absorb losses, said Tiantian Kullander, a former Morgan Stanley trader who co-founded crypto trading firm Amber AI Group.

“It’s a weird mechanism,” Kullander said.

Finally, judging by the bounce in bitcoin, the market appears relieved that it has identified the culprit of the selling, and with no more liquidation overhang left, is once again pushing prices across the crypto space higher.

source: ZeroHedge

The Cryptocurrency Insurance Business Is Booming

What is the next step when you have a speculative asset whose value ( may go to zero or $250,000 ) in the near future? Why start writing insurance policies on it, of course!  That’s the line of logic employed in the world of cryptocurrencies, as the newly formed crypto insurance business is booming.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/crypto%20heist%202.jpg?itok=NTGpQkCB

To be sure, there is ample demand and soaring interest in crypto insurance, according to Bloomberg. After all, with fat premiums and no insurer on record to date of ever paying out a claim, why wouldn’t there be?

Furthermore, one can rarely go a few weeks without a headline about a major crypto exchange getting hacked, sometimes with hundreds of millions of dollars being lost in the process. Such was the case with the hacks of Bitfinex and Mt. Gox. Remember this stud?

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/mark%20karpeles.jpg?itok=YpJF6kchMark Karpeles, Mt. Gox CEO

As a result of this “accident prone” asset class, major players in the insurance and finance industry believe that the future for crypto insurance is bright. As Bloomberg notes, a representative from Allianz said it “could be a big opportunity.” Which is why Allianz is offering the product:

“Insurance for cryptocurrency storage will be a big opportunity,” said Christian Weishuber, a spokesman for Allianz, which began offering individual coverage for digital-coin theft in the past year and is one of the few insurers that agreed to talk about the issue. “Digital assets are becoming more relevant, important and prevalent on the real economy and we are exploring product and coverage options in this area.”

In addition, two other major crypto-insurance shops – Marsh & McLennan and Aon – said business has been booming over the last year.

While the cost is still beyond reach for many fledgling companies, Marsh & McLennan and Aon, the two leading insurance brokers that help companies shop for crypto policies, say business has been brisk this year. For the first time, Marsh formed a team of 10 dedicated to servicing blockchain startups.

Aon, which claims to have over 50 percent of the market for crypto insurance, recently streamlined its standard policy form to speed up the underwriting process. It has also seen some insurers tweak general company policies to include crypto-specific protections.

Whil Marsh and Aon declined to identify their partners, people familiar with the matter say over a dozen underwriters, including Chubb and XL, currently provide coverage to crypto-related businesses. And here is a blast from the past: none other than AIG has also been adding crypto coverage into standard policy forms, and said it’s met with cryptocurrency custodians and trading platforms about coverage, however, the firm “declined to say how much in crypto-related premiums it’s taken in.”

There may be a simple explanation for the enthusiasm to sell insurance: Marsh and Aon said that, so far, they are not aware of any insurance companies that have had to actually pay out on any claims, even as 2018 is supposed to be the “busiest year for hacks on record”. It’s probably safe to say that it won’t be long before claims are paid out. Big ones.

With 2018 on track to be the busiest year for hacks on record, the potential for a reputational black eye is perhaps one reason many insurers have declined to speak publicly about crypto. Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market, published a bulletin this month with guidance on crypto coverage and asked its agents to “proceed with a level of caution that recognizes the risks.”

Meanwhile, demand for insurance will only grow as it gives start-ups an air of credibility when try to raise capital, providing some modest cover for a business that has generally been speculative and regarded as somewhat dangerous.

It’s no small irony that the crypto industry, which originally sprung out of a techno-utopian desire to liberate its users from the traditional financial system, is embracing insurance as a way to go mainstream.

“I see it is a required step,” said Lucas Nuzzi, director of technology research at Digital Asset Research. Coverage can reduce investor concerns and make it easier to work with banks. “It definitely helps legitimize the industry.”

For example, Trustology, a London-based startup focused on crypto custody services, is in talks to obtain coverage that would insure its customer accounts up to 85,000 pounds — the same standard as a U.K. bank account — to help attract more clients. It’s also looking at self-insuring client funds.

And while even major crypto exchanges like Coinbase are starting to buy this type of insurance, in the case of the most popular US crypto exchange, it is only on a “fraction” of their holdings.

Coinbase, one of the most widely used crypto exchanges, buys insurance for a fraction of the digital coins it holds. Funds stored in so-called hot wallets, which may contain up to 2 percent of client assets and are used in active trading, are covered. Coinbase’s disclosures don’t provide details on how much coverage is provided for its remaining coin deposits, which are stored offline as a security measure.

Finally, selling crypto insurance for now remains a goldmine, with insurance companies able to charge a significant premiums, as underwriters can charge a crypto-related company upwards of five times or more than your average business for coverage against loss or theft, according to Bloomberg.

That said, like with any other other financial security boom, where derivatives of derivatives wind up in bloom during the first stage, many are skeptical about how long of a runway the field of crypto insurance will have, especially given the fact that the underlying asset value would will likely be for the determined by regulators in the future – and the decision will likely prove to be extremely volatile, leading to a painful bust for the insurance industry.

Source: ZeroHedge

TechCrunch: Over 1000 Crypto Projects Are Considered ‘Dead’ Now

More than a thousand of crypto projects are “already dead” as of June 30, 2018, according to a recent TechCrunch report. The news outlet has based its claim on data from two websites: Coinopsy and DeadCoins.

Coinopsy provides daily reviews of various cryptocurrencies, including ones that are already “dead.” It defines a “dead” token as exhibiting at least one of the following:

“abandoned, scammed, website dead, no nodes, wallet issues, no social updates, low volume or developers have walked away from the project.”

According to Coinopsy’s list, there are 247 “dead” coins as of press time. These include the notorious Bitconnect that was shut down in January 2018 and is described by the website as “the most successful ponzi-scheme in crypto so far.”

DeadCoins similarly has a 830-item long list of “dead” cryptocurrencies. Among them is the recent Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services initial coin offering (ICO) that was shut dow by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for fraudulent practices.

According to the SEC’s press release, Titanium has raised $21 million from investors from the U.S. and other countries. In its statement, the SEC warned investors about ICOs as an extremely risky type of investment:

“Having filed multiple cases involving allegedly fraudulent ICOs, we again encourage investors to be especially cautious when considering these as investments.”

As Cointelegraph reported Friday, the volume of ICOs has reached $13.7 billion in 2018 so far, which is already twice as much as the market amounted to in the entire 2017. According to TechCrunch, scam and dead ICOs raised $1 billion in 2017.

On June 21, Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman warned that ICOs pose “serious risks” for retail investors, claiming that projects that raise money this way have “almost no oversight.”

Earlier in June, crypto evangelist John McAfee said that he will stop promoting ICOs due to alleged threats from the SEC.

Source: ZeroHedge