BITCOIN meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
Bitcoin Denominations – Sharing Experiences
Bitcoin Units & Denominations - Explained Simply Bitcoin ...
What is Bitcoin? Current BTC price, charts and history ...
/r/hex, I mean /r/btc is really going bonkers and about to crucify Bitcoin Fake Jesus. HEX is just an excuse, the real reason is that Roger did not pump their bags enough. This happens when you cater to the lowest common denominator crypto-socialists, and ban all the capitalists.
The fate of large denomination currency notes in the US and what it means for Bitcoin
The US currently prints currency in denominations no larger than $100. However, many years ago, much larger denominations were in circulation including $500, $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 and $100,000 notes. These larger notes were used primarily used for large transactions amongst government agencies and financial institutions. However, these large notes were retired because the advent of electronic money systems and concerns about the bearer form of currency notes (which meant they could be used for money laundering and to execute illegal transactions). By having the largest notes be $100, illegal transactions of significant size and money laundering is very difficult due to the cumbersome nature of physical money. Using the banking system is difficult for miscreants due to anti-money laundering laws and reporting requirements for large money transactions. What does this mean for bitcoin? Bitcoin enables the anonymous, convenient large scale money transactions that large denomination bills used to allow. In time it is highly likely governments will restrict the use of such digital currencies to ensure they are not exploited to circumvent the existing protections against illicit money movements. I put the oveunder at 24 months before Bitcoin is "dead money" (no pun intended).
Putting $400M of Bitcoin on your company balance sheet
Also posted on my blog as usual. Read it there if you can, there are footnotes and inlined plots. A couple of months ago, MicroStrategy (MSTR) had a spare $400M of cash which it decided to shift to Bitcoin (BTC). Today we'll discuss in excrutiating detail why this is not a good idea. When a company has a pile of spare money it doesn't know what to do with, it'll normally do buybacks or start paying dividends. That gives the money back to the shareholders, and from an economic perspective the money can get better invested in other more promising companies. If you have a huge pile of of cash, you probably should be doing other things than leave it in a bank account to gather dust. However, this statement from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor exists to make it clear he's buying into BTC for all the wrong reasons:
“This is not a speculation, nor is it a hedge. This was a deliberate corporate strategy to adopt a bitcoin standard.”
Let's unpack it and jump into the economics Bitcoin:
Is Bitcoin money?
No. Or rather BTC doesn't act as money and there's no serious future path for BTC to become a form of money. Let's go back to basics. There are 3 main economic problems money solves: 1. Medium of Exchange. Before money we had to barter, which led to the double coincidence of wants problem. When everyone accepts the same money you can buy something from someone even if they don't like the stuff you own. As a medium of exchange, BTC is not good. There are significant transaction fees and transaction waiting times built-in to BTC and these worsen the more popular BTC get. You can test BTC's usefulness as a medium of exchange for yourself right now: try to order a pizza or to buy a random item with BTC. How many additional hurdles do you have to go through? How many fewer options do you have than if you used a regular currency? How much overhead (time, fees) is there? 2. Unit of Account. A unit of account is what you compare the value of objects against. We denominate BTC in terms of how many USD they're worth, so BTC is a unit of account presently. We can say it's because of lack of adoption, but really it's also because the market value of BTC is so volatile. If I buy a $1000 table today or in 2017, it's roughly a $1000 table. We can't say that a 0.4BTC table was a 0.4BTC table in 2017. We'll expand on this in the next point: 3. Store of Value. When you create economic value, you don't want to be forced to use up the value you created right away. For instance, if I fix your washing machine and you pay me in avocados, I'd be annoyed. I'd have to consume my payment before it becomes brown, squishy and disgusting. Avocado fruit is not good money because avocadoes loses value very fast. On the other hand, well-run currencies like the USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, etc. all lose their value at a low and most importantly fairly predictible rate. Let's look at the chart of the USD against BTC While the dollar loses value at a predictible rate, BTC is all over the place, which is bad. One important use money is to write loan contracts. Loans are great. They let people spend now against their future potential earnings, so they can buy houses or start businesses without first saving up for a decade. Loans are good for the economy. If you want to sign something that says "I owe you this much for that much time" then you need to be able to roughly predict the value of the debt in at the point in time where it's due. Otherwise you'll have a hard time pricing the risk of the loan effectively. This means that you need to charge higher interests. The risk of making a loan in BTC needs to be priced into the interest of a BTC-denominated loan, which means much higher interest rates. High interests on loans are bad, because buying houses and starting businesses are good things.
BTC has a fixed supply, so these problems are built in
Some people think that going back to a standard where our money was denominated by a stock of gold (the Gold Standard) would solve economic problems. This is nonsense. Having control over supply of your currency is a good thing, as long as it's well run. See here Remember that what is desirable is low variance in the value, not the value itself. When there are wild fluctuations in value, it's hard for money to do its job well. Since the 1970s, the USD has been a fiat money with no intrinsic value. This means we control the supply of money. Let's look at a classic poorly drawn econ101 graph The market price for USD is where supply meets demand. The problem with a currency based on an item whose supply is fixed is that the price will necessarily fluctuate in response to changes in demand. Imagine, if you will, that a pandemic strikes and that the demand for currency takes a sharp drop. The US imports less, people don't buy anything anymore, etc. If you can't print money, you get deflation, which is worsens everything. On the other hand, if you can make the money printers go brrrr you can stabilize the price Having your currency be based on a fixed supply isn't just bad because in/deflation is hard to control. It's also a national security risk... The story of the guy who crashed gold prices in North Africa In the 1200s, Mansa Munsa, the emperor of the Mali, was rich and a devout Muslim and wanted everyone to know it. So he embarked on a pilgrimage to make it rain all the way to Mecca. He in fact made it rain so hard he increased the overall supply of gold and unintentionally crashed gold prices in Cairo by 20%, wreaking an economic havoc in North Africa that lasted a decade. This story is fun, the larger point that having your inflation be at the mercy of foreign nations is an undesirable attribute in any currency. The US likes to call some countries currency manipulators, but this problem would be serious under a gold standard.
Currencies are based on trust
Since the USD is based on nothing except the US government's word, how can we trust USD not to be mismanaged? The answer is that you can probably trust the fed until political stooges get put in place. Currently, the US's central bank managing the USD, the Federal Reserve (the Fed for friends & family), has administrative authority. The fed can say "no" to dumb requests from the president. People who have no idea what the fed does like to chant "audit the fed", but the fed is already one of the best audited US federal entities. The transcripts of all their meetings are out in the open. As is their balance sheet, what they plan to do and why. If the US should audit anything it's the Department of Defense which operates without any accounting at all. It's easy to see when a central bank will go rogue: it's when political yes-men are elected to the board. For example, before printing themselves into hyperinflation, the Venezuelan president appointed a sociologist who publicly stated “Inflation does not exist in real life” and instead is a made up capitalist lie. Note what happened mere months after his gaining control over the Venezuelan currency This is a key policy. One paper I really like, Sargent (1984) "The end of 4 big inflations" states:
The essential measures that ended hyperinflation in each of Germany,Austria, Hungary, and Poland were, first, the creation of an independentcentral bank that was legally committed to refuse the government'sdemand or additional unsecured credit and, second, a simultaneousalteration in the fiscal policy regime.
In english: *hyperinflation stops when the central bank can say "no" to the government." The US Fed, like other well good central banks, is run by a bunch of nerds. When it prints money, even as aggressively as it has it does so for good reasons. You can see why they started printing on March 15th as the COVID lockdowns started:
The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.
In english: We're going to keep printing and lowering rates until jobs are back and inflation is under control. If we print until the sun is blotted out, we'll print in the shade.
BTC is not gold
Gold is a good asset for doomsday-preppers. If society crashes, gold will still have value. How do we know that? Gold has held value throughout multiple historic catastrophes over thousands of years. It had value before and after the Bronze Age Collapse, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and Gengis Khan being Gengis Khan. Even if you erased humanity and started over, the new humans would still find gold to be economically valuable. When Europeans d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ g̶e̶n̶o̶c̶i̶d̶e̶d̶ went to America, they found gold to be an important item over there too. This is about equivalent to finding humans on Alpha-Centauri and learning that they think gold is a good store of value as well. Some people are puzzled at this: we don't even use gold for much! But it has great properties: First, gold is hard to fake and impossible to manufacture. This makes it good to ascertain payment. Second, gold doesnt react to oxygen, so it doesn't rust or tarnish. So it keeps value over time unlike most other materials. Last, gold is pretty. This might sound frivolous, and you may not like it, but jewelry has actual value to humans. It's no coincidence if you look at a list of the wealthiest families, a large number of them trade in luxury goods. To paraphrase Veblen humans have a profound desire to signal social status, for the same reason peacocks have unwieldy tails. Gold is a great way to achieve that. On the other hand, BTC lacks all these attributes. Its value is largely based on common perception of value. There are a few fundamental drivers of demand:
Means of Exchange: if people seriously start using BTC to buy pizzas, then this creates a real demand for the currency to accomplish the short-term exchanges. As we saw previously, I'm not personally sold on this one and it's currently a negligible fraction of overall demand.
Criminal uses: Probably the largest inbuilt advantage of BTC is that it's anonymous, and so a great way to launder money. Hacker gangs use BTC to demand ransom on cryptolocker type attacks because it's a shared way for an honest company to pay and for the criminals to receive money without going to jail.
Apart from these, it's hard to argue that BTC will retain value throughout some sort of economic catastrophe.
BTC is really risky
One last statement from Michael Saylor I take offense to is this:
“We feel pretty confident that Bitcoin is less risky than holding cash, less risky than holding gold,” MicroStrategy CEO said in an interview
"BTC is less risky than holding cash or gold long term" is nonsense. We saw before that BTC is more volatile on face value, and that as long as the Fed isn't run by spider monkeys stacked in a trench coat, the inflation is likely to be within reasonable bounds. But on top of this, BTC has Abrupt downside risks that normal currencies don't. Let's imagine a few:
A critical software vulnerability is found in the BTC codebase, leading to a possible exploitation.
Xi Jinping decides he's had enough of rich people in China hiding their assets from him and bans BTC.
Some form of bank run takes hold for whatever reason. Because BTC wallets are uninsured, unlike regular banks, this compounds into a Black Tuesday style crash.
Blockchain solutions are fundamentally inefficient
Blockchain was a genius idea. I still marvel at the initial white paper which is a great mix of economics and computer science. That said, blockchain solutions make large tradeoffs in design because they assume almost no trust between parties. This leads to intentionally wasteful designs on a massive scale. The main problem is that all transactions have to be validated by expensive computational operations and double checked by multiple parties. This means waste:
BTC was estimated to use as much electricity as Belgium in 2019. It's hard to trace where the BTC mining comes from, but we can assume it has a huge carbon footprint.
A single transactions is necessarily expensive. A single transaction takes as much electricity as 800,000 VISA transactions, or watching 50,000 hours of youtube videos.
There is a large necessary tax on the transaction, since those checking the transaction extract a few BTC from it to be incentivized to do the work of checking it.
Many design problems can be mitigated by various improvements over BTC, but it remains that a simple database always works better than a blockchain if you can trust the parties to the transaction.
You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
A whole new kind of lightning & fiat interface through debit cards? Announcing lastbit
Soon after Satoshi made his big announcement more than a decade ago, a lot of concerns emerged pointing towards a crucial problem on his solution: scalability. Particularly since Mt. Gox, a lot started to change for Bitcoin. Out in the open, a multitude of crypto exchanges started popping up making Bitcoin and other coins easily accessible to pretty much anyone. Nevertheless, the original concerns on Satoshi’s proposal remained. In parallel and away from the spotlight, a group of passionate developers started crafting the solution to Bitcoin’s scalability problem. Today the solution is here and it’s name is the Lightning Network. Currently, users can access for free a wide range of Bitcoin Lightning wallets. Nevertheless, instant Bitcoin payments are still far from mainstream. Most of these wallets are extremely hard to use and as such are only catered to the most experienced of users. Despite that, the future of Lightning looks bright. As of today, there are over 11K Lightning nodes out there and this number is steadily growing. Lightning’s case of becoming the solution to Bitcoin’s woes looks strong. Holding that as a North star, we started building a solution to combine hardware level security with Lightning to enable instant Bitcoin to fiat transactions on hardware at a POS through debit card emulation.This project was overly ambitious and we quickly realized not enough people cared enough about hardware level security for payments. But the ground we covered was not in vain. During the process of building our hardware solution and talking to our beta users we came across a powerful discovery: enabling small and instant Bitcoin payments with zero fees to mainstream users via Lightning could be the way to finally make Bitcoin a widely and globally used means of payment. During the last few years, we’ve seen titans, such as Coinbase and Binance, emerge. Undeniably, these projects have helped Bitcoin tremendously by raising awareness and making onboarding to the cryptocurrency easy and intuitive globally. Nevertheless, an equivalent figure to position Bitcoin as a globally usable currency via Lightning is yet to come. With this in mind, we built an interoperable payments layer between Bitcoin (Lightning & On-Chain) and Euros (to start with), using payment instruments familiar to mainstream consumers, namely IBAN’s and debit cards. This means, users can move between Bitcoin and Euros in either direction, with a single interface. This will allow users to: -(i) Send and receive Bitcoin payments both form and to Lightning wallets and Bitcoin on-chain wallets; -(ii) Send and receive Euro payments both from and to IBAN’s and debit cards; -(iii) Make Bitcoin payments, both Lightning and on-chain, directly from Euro denominated IBAN’s and/or a debit cards; and -(iv)Top-up Euro denominated debit cards directly with Bitcoin. All of this was carefully built in response to what we heard from the community and as we mention throughout our story. We’ve dedicated the last few years of our lives and the foreseeable future to make this happen and we simply want to make it possible for more people to do things with Bitcoin. TLDR: Lastbit is putting out a beta application that contains a single interface to Bitcoin, Lightning, Euros and debit cards. This app will allow users to move between these payment instruments in any direction they like. Get paid in Euros from a Lightning invoice? Sure. Pay Euros to a Lightning invoice? Sure. Swipe a debit card and pay for your purchase with a Lightning invoice? Sure. And more. *We are still in beta and will soon start to roll-out in Europe
The greatest wealth transfer of this century! An analysis: British-US-Chinese Empires: Gold, Silver, Bitcoin, Ethereum!
"Inflation makes you pay 50 dollars for the 20 dollar haircut you used to get for 5 dollars when you had hair!" Let's embark on a journey that made the United States the number 1 economy of the world.
1. Despite the British Empire's claim that it would for ever remain the leading empire,history can serve as a harbinger for what's to come...
At the peak of its power, in 1913, "the empire on which the sun never sets", controlled 25% of the planet's land mass and about the same percentage of the world's population. Britain was both the naval an imperial power of the 19th century, and between 1812-1914, its dominance resulted in relative peace in Europe and the rest of the world. The industrial revolution transformed Britain into the workshop of the world. By the start of the 20th century things changed as both Germany and the United States started to challenge Britain's economic and influential leadership. As often happened during human history such challenging lead to war and although Britain achieved its largest territorial influence after WW1, the war had destroyed much of its economic strength, with losses in industrial and military power marking the begin of its demise. During WW2, Japan occupied Britain's colonies, and after WW2, India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence. Much of the British Empire's influence is now enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter, stating shared values like democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The United Kingdom's pound sterling was its world's reserve currency during its reign and by controlling the supply of money, Britain was able to influence its global power. "Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!"Mayer Amschel Rothschild
2. The US Empire repeats this blueprint by claiming the U.S. Dollar's reserve currency status as its birthright!
The Federal Reserve Act. The Panic of 1907 triggered many American's belief that The Federal Reserve Act, passed by the 63rd United States Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on December 23, 1913, was necessary for financial and economic stability. The law created the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States. The Bretton Woods System. The FED ended immobile reserve issues and the inelastic currency problems and successfully internationalized the U.S Dollar as the global reserve currency. The usage of the prior nationally used U.S. Dollar expanded a first time when the Allies agreed to the terms of the Bretton Woods System, establishing the rules for commercial as well as financial regulations among the United States and its allies. Canada, Western Europe, Australia and Japan accepted the U.S. Dollar, which was backed by a gold exchange standard, making the U.S. Dollar "as good as gold". This was only possible because the United States controlled two thirds of the world's gold reserves. Soviet representatives, who claimed that institutions like the IMF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) were Wall Street branches, didn't participate in Bretton Woods and later proved to be right, as the United States printed too much money (not backed by its gold reserves) to wage war on Vietnam, destroying a big part of the value of the U.S. Dollars held by its allies, due to the inflation of the U.S. Dollar money supply. Yet, the initial demand for U.S. dollars created the American way of life: a consumer driven economy fueled by products made outside the U.S. in return for U.S. Dollars. As the Allied countries couldn't really buy any "Made in America"-products, due to the fact that the United States' elites rather outsourced their manufacturing, they instead invested their hard labor into U.S. Treasuries. On August 1971, President Richard Nixon announced the unilateral cancellation of the direct international convertibility of the United States dollar to gold, in a response to halt the Allied countries' continuous attempts to exchange their U.S. Dollars for Gold. By 1973, the Bretton Woods system was replaced by the current freely floating fiat currency system. The petro dollar system. The second wave of U.S. Dollar adoption was the result of the petro dollar, making the global trade of oil U.S. Dollar denominated. Every country on this planet needed and still needs oil to operate and grow its economy, creating an enormous growth in U.S. Dollar demand and like mentioned before, those dollars had to be earned. Especially China served the United States consumer model by producing almost everything Americans can buy in Wall Mart and other stores. By relying on the U.S. Dollar reserve currency status, the American elites have made the mistake of outsourcing manufacturing to China, as often predicted by Donald Trump in the 1980's. The y figured it was easier to just print wealth. The tradewar. President Donald Trump, decided it was time to bring jobs back to the U.S. and started an ongoing trade war with China, the country that supplied the U.S. consumer driven economy, and proud owner of $1.07 trillion in Treasury holdings. The trade war has negatively impacted the economies of both the United States and China and will most likely result in the decoupling of both economies. What is to come? My personal insights. I see huge problems for the U.S. and the rest of the western liberal democracies. But especially the United States, who's currency amounts to no less than 60% of all the world's reserve assets, is vulnerable if and when China who only accounts for 1 or 2 %, says it is time for change. Most likely we will experience another banking crisis, with or without Covid-19, and unfortunately a bigger one when compared to the 2008 dissaster. Did you know that the global debt tripled since then? Many economists and politicians advocate the end of the U.S. Dollar reserve currency system and predict a reset. Every financial system has a limited lifespan similar to a human live: it is created, it grows, it matures, and unfortunately, it ages, weakens and dies. It happened to the Brittish Pound Sterling, and I am afraid that the days of this financial hegemony are numbered as well. And I did write "afraid", why? History tells us that these transition periods are particularly dangerous and have often led to full-blown military conflicts if not world wars. The current wealth transfer, the result of manufacturing outsourcing to mainland China, impoverished the United States and destroyed its middle class. President Donald Trump's analysis that the U.S. needs a strong manufacturing base is correct, yet without its allies the United States will not be able to turn the tide. It took China decades to build its manufacturing base, and President Trump doesn't have the privilege of having the political luxury to design five year plans, as the United States capitalistic and political model specializes more on presidential campaigning and less on economic planning, which is exactly China's strength.
3. The Chinese 'digital' empire.
China is ideally positioned to become the new global power: it produces many of our products and dominates most supply chains. It has been hoarding gold and mines most of the Bitcoin. It might just have the right reserve assets to back its DCEP, the digital Yuan, which will be pilot tested during the 2022 Winter Olympics hosted by China. Despite the fact that the United States and other western nations might not want to adopt the Yuan or allow it to be part of the world's reserve assets, China can demand payment in Yuan for its products. It's that simple! This is why outsourcing is such as stupid economic voluntarily yet fatal policy. If you only print money and don't produce goods, how long will the world play ball? One of the results of Trump's trade war is that China and other countries such as Russia and Iran no longer want to be vulnerable to U.S. sanctions that come in the shape of being denied access to the financial system through Swift. The United States can indeed destroy a big part of Iran's economy, but Iran is now becoming a big cryptocurrency player. In other words, bullying those countries might work in the short-term, but in the long-term they will simply adopt a new standard: and I believe that the Yuan will likely play a major role in the financial system they will adopt. This trend means that the expansion of the demand in U.S. Dollars will stop and reverse, when countries no longer want to use the currency whose issuer can economically destroy them through sanctions. The alternatives for such countires are cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and many others, national CBDC's (Central Bank Digital Currencies), and the adoption of the digital Yuan. This digital Yuan will be attached to the One Belt, One road initiative, finding adoption whilst developing huge infrastructure projects that will lead to a Eurasian trading zone. If the U.S. Military leaves the Middle East, as Trump brings home troops, this will create the right conditions for China to emerge as the victor.
4. Surveillance Capitalism - Insights on the DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment, DC/EP):
This centralized digital financial system works on blockchain and cryptographic principles and aims to increase the circulation of the RMB, in the hope it can become a reserve currency like the U.S. Dollar.
Created and sanctioned by the Chinese Government, it is the only legal digital currency in China.
The system offers Chinese regulators better monitoring abilities and will be an efficient tool against anonymous counterfeiting, money laundering and illegal financing. At the same time it reduces costs involved in maintaining and recycling bank notes and coins.
As mentioned above, China aims to bypass Swift, which it regards to be a U.S. entity, and will be able to collect real-time data related to money creation, bookkeeping, essential information for the implementation of monetary policies.
The pilot institutions for DCEP, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, will serve as a production test for China's new currency system, after which the DCEP will be distributed to large fintech companies such as Tencent and Alibaba to be used in WeChat Pay and AliPay. Transfers will not go through bank accounts, but through electronic wallets.
By mandating that all merchants who accept digital payments must accept DCEP, the DECP will become the most accepted digital currency in the world.
5. Sings of hope.
If the United States adopts blockchain and issues a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) backed by Bitcoin, they will have a reasonable chance to offer the western democracies a new type of dollar standard that can be an anchor versus the coming RMB. If not, I fear the worst is yet to come for the U.S. Dollar and its economy. Many smart American economists and Wall Street goeroe's have finally figured out the remarkable strength of Bitcoin, the world's first and most favorite digital form of gold. Some of the smartest investment capitalists like Ray Dalio and Warren Buffet have allocated more money into gold, a clear sign of trouble. Bitcoin might be a step too far for Warren Buffet, but rest assure that Wall Street investment management companies have figured it out by now, have you? You can expect more institutions to allocate a % of their portfolio's wealth into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as a hedge against the systemic risk in our global financial system, which will inevitable start feeling the effects of the trillions that have been printed. "Inflation makes you pay 50 dollars for the 20 dollar haircut you used to get for 5 dollars when you had hair!"
Worst Case Scenario, Bitcoin Really Does Go To The Moon, and Beyond. Let's Discuss
This is an entirely hypothetical scenario where the price of btc really does go to the moon, or even beyond in a manner similar to PlanB's stock to flow model. Phase 1, bitcoin continues to rise in price from its current level of about $12,000. Some in the investing industry take notice and move into btc as a reserve asset, but so far bitcoin continues to remain an asset few are thinking about and fewer are investing in. Phase 2, the price of bitcoin has risen to $50,000 and what was once one or two corporations investing is now a handful. Bitcoin is now in the news fairly regularly and CNBC now displays a ticker. A few more corporations are investing and the Robin Hood crowd is starting to really take notice. The DXY has dropped from the low 90's to the high 80's. Congress finally passed another round of stimulus and even more people are beginning to seriously discuss UBI as both parties want to do whatever it takes to get into office. Phase 3, a modest UBI was finally passed subject to yearly congressional renewal. At first, everyone is extremely happy and the economy begins to boom. Stocks are making all time highs again. Covid restrictions begin to greatly ease and the economy is on the mend. Inflation is modest when using the official statistics and nobody is too worried. Perhaps the fans of MMT were right all along. Phase 4, bitcoin continues to rise. Countries quietly and sometimes not so quietly grumble about both the level of debt the US has, the falling strength of the dollar, and the US's ability to control sovereign nations via the use of the dollar and sanctions. North Korea announces it is going to start mining and accruing bitcoin. The world laughs. Phase 5, more companies are beginning to move into bitcoin and and price moves about $100,000. The market cap is now 2 trillion and about a thrid of the market cap of gold. Several additional small countries make public that they are mining bitcoin and strategically accruing it at a national level. The DXY begins to inch closer to 80. Phase 6, the DXY drops below 80. Several small countries announce they are going to being to lower their holdings of dollar denominated treasuries in an effort to diversify risk. Several fortune 500 companies announce they are going to diversify into bitcoin as well. The price of bitcoin quickly rises to $200,000. Phase 7, China announces that it will no longer hold US treasuries. At first, this seems of no consequence because they had been lowering their holdings for years. The Bank of Japan announces it will continue to buy US treasuries. Many see this as a means of Japan to assure its national safety and the protection of the US. The DXY continues to slowly fall and is now in the high 70's. Phase 8, several countries now announce that they will allow the use of bitcoin for international trade as it is a perfect medium of exchange between countries. Additionally, many countries are now accruing bitcoin and gold for their national reserves. Bitcoin passes $750,000. Phase 9, the DXY falls below 75. Countries where the population was holding dollars now see that it has lost a quarter of its value. In a panic they all rush to the only obvious alternative which is bitcoin. The ability to use the lightning network makes it very inexpensive to buy and sell. Phase 10, the cost of all imports have doubled in the recent months. Everyone is blaming everyone else. Rioting has continued to be a nightly occurrence and has moved into the suburbs as there is little left in the cities to take. Phase 11, the US blames China for the fall of the dollar and claims they committed an act of war. The US begins to quietly strategically mine bitcoin and to purchase bitcoin as a reserve asset. Talk abounds about another confiscation like FDR did in the 30's. Phase 12, hundreds of bitcoin millionaires leave the US and acquire passports in other nations. Many are willing to provide a passport if you are willing to maintain a deposit with them of 0.5 btc in one of the local banks. Phase 13, the US announces that all citizens must trade in 1/2 of their bitcoin holdings in exchange for the current market price of US dollars. People with money on the exchanges and in custodial banks have it taken automatically. Talk circulates about going after people that have their bitcoin in hardware wallets. Phase 14, the US dollar continues to fall and loses a half of its value again with respect to btc in the last month. Bitcoin now flees the exchanges and banks in an effort to prevent another possibility of a confiscation. Phase 15, the US has a bank holiday and announces both a digital currency and a peg to bitcoin at a rate of 10 satoshies to 1 dollar. Severe austerity is announced. ...to be continued.
Stop measuring your wallet size in USD and start measuring in terms of REAL ASSETS
I've been considering the recent posts regarding Schiff's definition of real money, the Fed and the Founding Father's definition. Bitcoin, gold and silver meet the standard, while the USD barely scrapes by. What does the USD have that Bitcoin doesn't? We denominate the real economy in USD. The USD is backed by the biggest economy in the world. Goods, services, assets, commodities, real estate, precious metals and even crypto are all denominated in USD. Stop measuring your wallet size in USD - start measuring it in Wheat futures, oil Futures, Gold and Silver. Therefore, what we ultimately need is a new 'COMEX', a new 'NYSE' - one that is denominated in Bitcoin. Essentially we can put this into practice ourselves by denoting our crypto profits in REAL ASSETS - when crypto goes up against any of those REAL ASSETS (NOT USD), take profit and buy gold, silver or commodity futures. Whenever Bitcoin is weak against real assets, sell your futures and buy crypto. A practical way to do this is to use https://www.dailyfx.com/bitcoin charts - eg type XAGUSD/BTCUSD into the symbol field to see the current ratio of SilveBitcoin. This article talks about how to trade ratios and ratio trends: https://www.dailyfx.com/gold-price/trading-the-gold-silver-ratio.html In addition I strongly recommend accumulating physical bullion - we don't know what will happen to our futures when the economy collapses - but if all the crypto holders have real bullion, we will have the means to rebuild a real economy to back our digital assets. I've been stacking both crypto and silver since the start of the year, and patting myself on the back for it. Now I'm learning to trade Bitcoin off real assets to accumulate both. Ultimately I'd like to see someone start an exchange denominated in Bitcoin - but it is already possible to do something like that via a CFD exchange - just take your signals from dailyfx.com
What will undoubtedly happen from a macroeconomic (big picture) perspective... idiots
OKAY. So demand has been reduced dramatically around the world, our $21 trillion GDP has basically been paused for 2 months, so to keep it afloat (rough math), the government had to add $3.5 trillion to keep the economy running somewhat smoothly. That's a lot of printing, you idiots probably expect inflation. Wrong, step away from the US and look at what other countries are doing, the ECB (European Central Bank) and BOJ (Bank of Japan) are having to print trillions of dollars worth of EURO and YEN to keep their economies going, along with every other country getting pounded. Not only that, but since the US dollar makes up 70% of global transactions, in liquidity terms, trillions worth of euro and yen is MUCH MUCH more than any amount Jpow feels like printing, there's no way our printing could offset what the rest of the world is doing, so inflation isn't coming. If you want proof, just look at the euro/usd (going lower) and literally ANY emerging market currency is getting absolutely clapped vs the dollar. Furthermore, not only is US corporate debt at an all time high, but emerging markets, the eurozone, and asia has borrowed more dollars than ever before at any point in history, basically everyone around the world's debt is denominated in US DOLLARS. So what's about to happen? It's already happening, demand for US dollars is going up because everyone around the world wants to borrow more to offset cash flow concerns and pay off existing debts, which will cause the dollar to increase in value. What happens when the whole world has debt in dollars and the dollar goes up in value? DEBT BECOMES MORE EXPENSIVE. This is DEFLATION, and in particular and even more terrifying DEBT DEFLATION, a phrase that would make Jpow absolutely shit himself (and he knows its coming). This has already started before the whole beervirus nonsense, look at Venezuela and Zimbabwe, they had too much dollar debt, no one wanted to lend to them anymore and whoops, their currency is worthless now. It's going to be like a game of musical chairs for people trying to get access to dollars, starting with emerging markets and eventually moving into the more developed economies. The result: massive corporate bankruptcies, countries defaulting on debt (devaluing their currencies) and eventually a deleveraging of massive proportions. This WILL occur and no amount of printing can stop it, it's already too far gone. It doesn't matter what the stock market does, other markets around the world will be fucked, honestly it might cause the market to go up because of all the money fleeing other countries trying to find a safe place to live. Here are the plays assholes. TLT will go up because no matter what Jpow says, he doesn't control the fed funds rate, the market does, and US treasury bond yields have already priced in bonds going negative. CPI shows that we may see up to -3% inflation (3% deflation), meaning at .25% fed funds rate, the REAL rate is 3.25%, that is the worst thing possible during a deleveraging because it makes it harder to stimulate the economy, the fed has no choice, rates MUST go lower. Rates go lower, bond prices go up, TLT 12/18 $205c. Remember how I said scared foreign money will want to find a nice safe place to go when we go into the biggest debt crisis the world has seen in over 300 years? GLD 12/18 $240c. Finally, the dollar will rise in value as well so UUP 12/18 $28c. As far the actual market, we hit a high of SPY 339.08 in February, fell to a low of 218.26 by mid March, and have since then retraced EXACTLY to the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level at 290, and started to bounce lower from there. I'm no technical analyst, but I do know history. During the greatest crashes in stock market history, 1929, 2001, 2008, the Nikkei in 1989 (Japan) this exact same thing happened, market got scared and fell to lows, then smoked that good hopium for a few weeks or month to retrace between 50% and 61.8% back to previews highs, then absolutely fell off a cliff. If you don't believe me, go look at the charts. Now, I'm personally not going to be betting on the US market falling because of the fact that its just straight up not reflecting reality and there are much better ways to trade on what's occurring (see trades above), but I PROMISE, that we will not be seeing new highs at any point any time soon. TLDR; The world is going to shit due to the dollars over-dominance of the world market, we will soon see the worst deleveraging in human history, and may very well have to come up with a new fiat money system (probably not bitcoin, but it wouldn't hurt to have some). TLT 12/18 $205c, GLD 12/18 $240c, and UUP 12/18 $28c. If you wanna be an autist and buy weeklys, I can't help you, but I basically just gave you the next big short, so you're welcome. DISCLAIMER: I didn't say what price to buy at for a reason, timing is extremely important for trades like this, so don't FOMO in and overpay, you will get clapped.
This is how I've been doing things in my Digital Perdition chronicle / narrative for Shadowrun for years. If this is useful, feel free to steal it. I assume this probably isn't a new idea, but in my world, Nuyen is a form of cryptocurrency, like bitcoin or ethereum. It's also a "smart" currency, in that it can autonomously do things, all by itself. Any "nuyen app" on any comlink can, with a very simple user-facing interface, create things like escrows, trusts, provisional holdings, task verified transactions, etc. As long as the system can autonomously verify the information some how in the outside world, it can interact with it. (This also means the system is somewhat fallible and can be hacked / spoofed / fooled, which can lead to interesting emergent narratives / plots all on its own). The fact that it's a cryptocurrency also informs the logic of what happens if Nuyen is copied. Ordinarily, this doesn't happen, and "naked nuyen" (nucoin outside of a wallet app or not encrypted on a credstick) is very suspicious, and if you're going to accept it, you need to be able to verrify it in real time, like right now, and transfer it to your account before you leave this dark alley / a abandoned warehouse transaction, or not accept it at all if you don't have signal. But if you do some how manage to clone some Nuyen, then just like crypto, and there's two of the exact same nucoin, then it's whoever syncs it to their account first. The other is considered the forgery. So that can create a "race against the clock" scenario if two opposing forces have the bag, the same bag, and need to get back to civilization before the other guy does. (This might not even come up in your games, but I play in a lot of areas like, in the middle of the ocean, pirates and atolls, as well as extremely rural northern Canada, South American jungles, and sub-Saharian Africa, exploring ancient blood mage / cultist desert ruins, etc, so often, "spotty signal" is an environmental hurdle / plot point.) We also have "credcoins" in addition to regular old credsticks. A "credcoin" is basically like an SD card, but with a poker-chip style plastic housing around it, to make it more handleable. The chip holds the actual encrypted nucoin (like a credstick) so they're not naked nuyen (see above), but they've also got an optical code, like a QR code, printed on them. They can be used in vending machines in 3rd world areas where signal might be spotty, or traded in physical transactions. The way they work, is that we've written into the narrative that a certain block of numbers in the "nuyen hash" of each nucoin, maybe like the last five digits or something, who knows, but that there's a world wide industry standard number to indicate that these nuyen are dedicated for physical use. Sort of like how some IP addresses are reserved for localhost or LAN. If any system, any wallet app, sees these digits, it wont let them be "deposited". Only a physical bank can do it. This prevents someone from just scanning a credcoin, depositing the nuyen, and now the coins still look valid, but are useless. If you wanted to "deposit" them, you'd take them to a bank, they would scan them and verify, add them to your account, and remove those coins from circulation immediately by physically destroying them (or feeding them into a hopper to be able to 3d print new ones). They'd also charge you a fee for the overhead of the cost of actually producing currency, sort of like those CoinStar machines at Walmart that charge you a fee for counting all your change. Speaking of counting change... That there's an optical code on credcoins makes that easy, too. Anyone with AR (augmented reality -- so basically, anyone, even if it's only through a hand held comlink screen, but usually AR contact lenses, glasses, goggles, or cybereyes) can just look at a credcoin and immediately know how much it is. You can also dump them out on the table, stand back so you get them all in frame, and just see a total for how much the value of all of them are. Each credcoin already has an ARO, but if there's a shit load of them together in close proximity, the AROs just merge together into a single one so as not to be "spammy". If you want to block the AROs, you can store your credcoins in signal blocking bags, containers, or metal coin rolls. Credcoins are also slightly different sizes and colors to tell the denomination at a glance, as well. Anyway, I hope some of those ideas are useful for your games. :)
A criticism of the article "Six monetarist errors: why emission won't feed inflation"
(be gentle, it's my first RI attempt, :P; I hope I can make justice to the subject, this is my layman understanding of many macro subjects which may be flawed...I hope you can illuminate me if I have fallen short of a good RI) Introduction So, today a heterodox leaning Argentinian newspaper, Ambito Financiero, published an article criticizing monetarism called "Six monetarist errors: why emission won't feed inflation". I find it doesn't properly address monetarism, confuses it with other "economic schools" for whatever the term is worth today and it may be misleading, so I was inspired to write a refutation and share it with all of you. In some ways criticizing monetarism is more of a historical discussion given the mainstream has changed since then. Stuff like New Keynesian models are the bleeding edge, not Milton Friedman style monetarism. It's more of a symptom that Argentinian political culture is kind of stuck in the 70s on economics that this things keep being discussed. Before getting to the meat of the argument, it's good to have in mind some common definitions about money supply measures (specifically, MB, M1 and M2). These definitions apply to US but one can find analogous stuff for other countries. Argentina, for the lack of access to credit given its economic mismanagement and a government income decrease because of the recession, is monetizing deficits way more than before (like half of the budget, apparently, it's money financed) yet we have seen some disinflation (worth mentioning there are widespread price freezes since a few months ago). The author reasons that monetary phenomena cannot explain inflation properly and that other explanations are needed and condemns monetarism. Here are the six points he makes: 1.Is it a mechanical rule?
This way, we can ask by symmetry: if a certainty exists that when emission increases, inflation increases, the reverse should happen when emission becomes negative, obtaining negative inflation. Nonetheless, we know this happens: prices have an easier time increasing and a lot of rigidity decreasing. So the identity between emission and inflation is not like that, deflation almost never exists and the price movement rhythm cannot be controlled remotely only with money quantity. There is no mechanical relationship between one thing and the other.
First, the low hanging fruit: deflation is not that uncommon, for those of you that live in US and Europe it should be obvious given the difficulties central banks had to achieve their targets, but even Argentina has seen deflation during its depression 20 years ago. Second, we have to be careful with what we mean by emission. A statement of quantity theory of money (extracted from "Money Growth and Inflation: How Long is the Long-Run?") would say:
Inflation occurs when the average level of prices increases. Individual price increases in and of themselves do not equal inflation, but an overall pattern of price increases does. The price level observed in the economy is that which leads the quantity of money supplied to equal the quantity of money demanded. The quantity of money supplied is largely controlled by the [central bank]. When the supply of money increases or decreases, the price level must adjust to equate the quantity of money demanded throughout the economy with the quantity of money supplied. The quantity of money demanded depends not only on the price level but also on the level of real income, as measured by real gross domestic product (GDP), and a variety of other factors including the level of interest rates and technological advances such as the invention of automated teller machines. Money demand is widely thought to increase roughly proportionally with the price level and with real income. That is, if prices go up by 10 percent, or if real income increases by 10 percent, empirical evidence suggests people want to hold 10 percent more money. When the money supply grows faster than the money demand associated with rising real incomes and other factors, the price level must rise to equate supply and demand. That is, inflation occurs. This situation is often referred to as too many dollars chasing too few goods. Note that this theory does not predict that any money-supply growth will lead to inflation—only that part of money supply growth that exceeds the increase in money demand associated with rising real GDP (holding the other factors constant).
So it's not mere emission, but money supply growing faster than money demand which we should consider. So negative emission is not necessary condition for deflation in this theory. It's worth mentioning that the relationship with prices is observed for a broad measure of money (M2) and after a lag. From the same source of this excerpt one can observe in Fig. 3a the correlation between inflation and money growth for US becomes stronger the longer data is averaged. Price rigidities don't have to change this long term relationship per se. But what about causality and Argentina? This neat paper shows regressions in two historical periods: 1976-1989 and 1991-2001. The same relationship between M2 and inflation is observed, stronger in the first, highly inflationary period and weaker in the second, more stable, period. The regressions a 1-1 relationship in the high inflation period but deviates a bit in the low inflation period (yet the relationship is still there). Granger causality, as interpreted in the paper, shows prices caused money growth in the high inflation period (arguably because spending was monetized) while the reverse was true for the more stable period. So one can argue that there is a mechanical relationship, albeit one that is more complicated than simple QTOM theory. The relationship is complicated too for low inflation economies, it gets more relevant the higher inflation is. Another point the author makes is that liquidity trap is often ignored. I'll ignore the fact that you need specific conditions for the liquidity trap to be relevant to Argentina and address the point. Worth noting that while market monetarists (not exactly old fashioned monetarists) prefer alternative explanations for monetary policy with very low interest rates, this phenomena has a good monetary basis, as explained by Krugman in his famous japanese liquidity trap paper and his NYT blog (See this and this for some relevant articles). The simplified version is that while inflation may follow M2 growth with all the qualifiers needed, central banks may find difficulties targeting inflation when interest rates are low and agents are used to credible inflation targets. Central banks can change MB, not M2 and in normal times is good enough, but at those times M2 is out of control and "credibly irresponsible" policies are needed to return to normal (a more detailed explanation can be found in that paper I just linked, go for it if you are still curious). It's not like monetary policy is not good, it's that central banks have to do very unconventional stuff to achieve in a low interest rate environment. It's still an open problem but given symmetric inflation targeting policies are becoming more popular I'm optimistic. 2 - Has inflation one or many causes?
In Argentina we know that the main determinant of inflation is dollar price increases. On that, economic concentration of key markets, utility price adjustments, fuel prices, distributive struggles, external commodity values, expectatives, productive disequilibrium, world interest rates, the economic cycle, stationality and external sector restrictions act on it too. Let's see a simple example: during Macri's government since mid 2017 to 2019 emission was practically null, but when in 2018 the dollar value doubled, inflation doubled too (it went from 24% to 48% in 2018) and it went up again a year later. We see here that the empirical validity of monetarist theory was absent.
For the first paragraph, one could try to run econometric tests for all those variables, at least from my layman perspective. But given that it doesn't pass the smell test (has any country used that in its favor ignoring monetary policy? Also, I have shown there is at least some evidence for the money-price relationship before), I'll try to address what happened in Macri's government and if monetarism (or at least some reasonable extension of it) cannot account for it. For a complete description of macroeconomic policy on that period, Sturzenegger account is a good one (even if a bit unreliable given he was the central banker for that government and he is considered to have been a failure). The short version is that central banks uses bonds to manage monetary policy and absorb money; given the history of defaults for the country, the Argentinian Central Bank (BCRA) uses its own peso denominated bonds instead of using treasury bonds. At that time period, the BCRA still financed the treasury but the amount got reduced. Also, it emitted pesos to buy dollar reserves, then sterilized them, maybe risking credibility further. Near the end of 2017 it was evident the government had limited appetite for budget cuts, it had kind of abandoned its inflation target regime and the classic problem of fiscal dominance emerged, as it's shown in the classic "Unpleasant monetarist arithmetic" paper by Wallace and Sargent. Monetary policy gets less effective when the real value of bonds falls, and raising interest rates may be counterproductive in that environment. Rational expectations are needed to complement QTOM. So, given that Argentina promised to go nowhere with reform, it was expected that money financing would increase at some point in the future and BCRA bonds were dumped in 2018 and 2019 as their value was perceived to have decreased, and so peso demand decreased. It's not that the dollar value increased and inflation followed, but instead that peso demand fell suddenly! The IMF deal asked for MB growth to be null or almost null but that doesn't say a lot about M2 (which it's the relevant variable here). Without credible policies, the peso demand keeps falling because bonds are dumped even more (see 2019 for a hilariously brutal example of that). It's not emission per se, but rather that it doesn't adjust properly to peso demand (which is falling). That doesn't mean increasing interest rates is enough to achieve it, following Wallace and Sargent model. This is less a strict proof that a monetary phenomenon is involved and more stating that the author hasn't shown any problem with that, there are reasonable models for this situation. It doesn't look like an clear empirical failure to me yet. 3 - Of what we are talking about when we talk about emission? The author mentions many money measures (M0, M1, M2) but it doesn't address it meaningfully as I tried to do above. It feels more like a rhetorical device because there is no point here except "this stuff exists". Also, it's worth pointing that there are actual criticisms to make to Friedman on those grounds. He failed to forecast US inflation at some points when he switched to M1 instead of using M2, although he later reverted that. Monetarism kind of "failed" there (it also "failed" in the sense that modern central banks don't use money, but instead interest rates as their main tool; "failed" because despite being outdated, it was influential to modern central banking). This is often brought to this kind of discussions like if economics hasn't moved beyond that. For an account of Friedman thoughts on monetary policies and his failures, see this. 4 - Why do many countries print and inflation doesn't increase there? There is a mention about the japanese situation in the 90s (the liquidity trap) which I have addressed. The author mentions that many countries "printed" like crazy during the pandemic, and he says:
Monetarism apologists answer, when confronted with those grave empirical problems that happen in "serious countries", that the population "trusts" their monetary authorities, even increasing the money demand in those place despite the emission. Curious, though, it's an appeal to "trust" implying that the relationship between emission and inflation is not objective, but subjective and cultural: an appreciation that abandons mechanicism and the basic certainty of monetarism, because evaluations and diagnostics, many times ideologic, contextual or historical intervene..
That's just a restatement of applying rational expectations to central bank operations. I don't see a problem with that. Rational expectations is not magic, it's an assessment of future earnings by economic actors. Humans may not 100% rational but central banking somehow works on many countries. You cannot just say that people are ideologues and let it at that. What's your model? Worth noting the author shills for bitcoin a bit in this section, for more cringe. 5 - Are we talking of a physical science or a social science? Again, a vague mention of rational expectations ("populists and pro market politicians could do the same policies with different results because of how agents respond ideologically and expectatives") without handling the subject meaningfully. It criticizes universal macroeconomic rules that apply everywhere (this is often used to dismiss evidence from other countries uncritically more than as a meaningful point). 6 - How limits work?
The last question to monetarism allows to recognize it something: effectively we can think on a type of vinculation between emission and inflation in extreme conditions. That means, with no monetary rule, no government has the need of taxes but instead can emit and spend all it needs without consequence. We know it's not like that: no government can print infinitely without undesirable effects.
Ok, good disclaimer, but given what he wrote before, what's the mechanism which causes money printing to be inflationary at some point? It was rejected before but now it seems that it exists. What was even the point of the article?
Now, the problem is thinking monetarism on its extremes: without emission we have inflation sometimes, on others we have no inflation with emission, we know that if we have negative emission that doesn't guarantees us negative inflation, but that if emission is radically uncontrolled there will economic effects.
As I wrote above, that's not what monetarism (even on it's simpler form) says, nor a consequence of it. You can see some deviations in low inflation environment but it's not really Argentina's current situation.
Let's add other problems: the elastic question between money and prices is not evident. Neither is time lags in which can work or be neutral. So the question is the limit cases for monetarism which has some reason but some difficulty in explaining them: by which and it what moments rules work and in which it doesn't.
I find the time lag thing to be a red herring. You can observe empirically and not having a proper short/middle run model doesn't invalidate QTOM in the long run. While it may be that increasing interest rates or freezing MB is not effective, that's less a problem of the theory and more a problem of policy implementation. Conclusion: I find that the article doesn't truly get monetarism to begin with (see the points it makes about emission and money demand), neither how it's implemented in practice, nor seems to be aware of more modern theories that, while put money on the background, don't necessarily invalidate it (rational expectation ideas, and eventually New Keynesian stuff which addresses stuff like liquidity traps properly). There are proper criticisms to be made to Friedman old ideas but he still was a relevant man in his time and the economic community has moved on to new, better theories that have some debt to it. I feel most economic discussion about monetarism in Argentina is a strawman of mainstream economics or an attack on Austrians more than genuine points ("monetarism" is used as a shorthand for those who think inflation is a monetary phenomenon more than referring to Friedman and his disciples per se).
Can someone explain to me what the point of ampleforth is?
I mean I get the essentials. The rising market cap translates into a rise in the quantity. But why is this a desired trait? I don't get it. Let's take a generic token B and compare it to ampleforth A. A has a marketcap of 1m and B too. Let's say both cost $1. Now let's say you own 10 of both and send 1 of each to a different person. Now overnight the marketcap of both rises to 2m. You now own 9 of B which is worth $18 in total because the price doubled, and 18 of A worth $18 because the quantity doubled. So in the end you still effectively transfered $2 in value because you missed out on the additional token you would have gotten. You have effectively done the same thing with both tokens. If the point of ampleforth is to be a (semi) stablecoin it fails to do so. Now on top of that the whole existence of ampleforth is depending on the existence of another currency in which its price target is denominated. It can't be independent of such a currency, so if the goal is to be a currency that replaces all others, then it fails to do so as well. I've also read that ampleforth tries to be a DeFi primitive. The context was that if you use collateral such as ETH, then you might get liquidated if the price changes, but whenever this was mentioned, it was never explained how ampleforth prevents this. It makes no sense to me. Let's say you lock up $100 of ETH and $100 of ampleforth in a smart contract, and get 2 C tokens, one backed by ETH and one by AMPL. Let's say the liquidation price is $50. If the market cap of both lose 50% of their value, then your ETH would get liquidated. But since the quantity of ampleforth has been halved as well the smart contract holds half of the originally locked up AMPL, which will make the smart contract liquidate your assets as well. You could prevent this by excluding ampleforth in smart contract wallets from contraction/expansion but then people would just deposit them in smart contract when they know that there will be a contraction the next day, which makes this solution unfeasible. So as a collateral it also fails. They also say that ampleforth is worth investing in because its price is uncorrelated to bitcoin. But this makes only sense to me if the quantity you hold is fixed. If the marketcap of ampleforth correlates to bitcoins, then the quantity you hold and thus the value you hold in ampleforth will fluctuate as much as bitcoin. Which means that it is no different from any other token which also correlates to bitcoin, even if the price is uncorrelated. So as an investment it makes no sense as well. Especially since this projects only redeeming quality makes absolutely no difference in the end. Please can someone explained to me what the purpose of ampleforth is? There seem to be a lot of people that are really excited but I haven't found a single one that could explain to me what exactly it is that makes ampleforth worth it.
Scaling Reddit Community Points with Arbitrum Rollup: a piece of cake
https://preview.redd.it/b80c05tnb9e51.jpg?width=2550&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=850282c1a3962466ed44f73886dae1c8872d0f31 Submitted for consideration toThe Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off Baked by the pastry chefs atOffchain Labs Please send questions or comments to [[email protected] ](mailto:[email protected]) 1. Overview We're excited to submit Arbitrum Rollup for consideration to The Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off. Arbitrum Rollup is the only Ethereum scaling solution that supports arbitrary smart contracts without compromising on Ethereum's security or adding points of centralization. For Reddit, this means that Arbitrum can not only scale the minting and transfer of Community Points, but it can foster a creative ecosystem built around Reddit Community Points enabling points to be used in a wide variety of third party applications. That's right -- you can have your cake and eat it too! Arbitrum Rollup isn't just Ethereum-style. Its Layer 2 transactions are byte-for-byte identical to Ethereum, which means Ethereum users can continue to use their existing addresses and wallets, and Ethereum developers can continue to use their favorite toolchains and development environments out-of-the-box with Arbitrum. Coupling Arbitrum’s tooling-compatibility with its trustless asset interoperability, Reddit not only can scale but can onboard the entire Ethereum community at no cost by giving them the same experience they already know and love (well, certainly know). To benchmark how Arbitrum can scale Reddit Community Points, we launched the Reddit contracts on an Arbitrum Rollup chain. Since Arbitrum provides full Solidity support, we didn't have to rewrite the Reddit contracts or try to mimic their functionality using an unfamiliar paradigm. Nope, none of that. We launched the Reddit contracts unmodified on Arbitrum Rollup complete with support for minting and distributing points. Like every Arbitrum Rollup chain, the chain included a bridge interface in which users can transfer Community Points or any other asset between the L1 and L2 chains. Arbitrum Rollup chains also support dynamic contract loading, which would allow third-party developers to launch custom ecosystem apps that integrate with Community Points on the very same chain that runs the Reddit contracts. 1.1 Why Ethereum Perhaps the most exciting benefit of distributing Community Points using a blockchain is the ability to seamlessly port points to other applications and use them in a wide variety of contexts. Applications may include simple transfers such as a restaurant that allows Redditors to spend points on drinks. Or it may include complex smart contracts -- such as placing Community Points as a wager for a multiparty game or as collateral in a financial contract. The common denominator between all of the fun uses of Reddit points is that it needs a thriving ecosystem of both users and developers, and the Ethereum blockchain is perhaps the only smart contract platform with significant adoption today. While many Layer 1 blockchains boast lower cost or higher throughput than the Ethereum blockchain, more often than not, these attributes mask the reality of little usage, weaker security, or both. Perhaps another platform with significant usage will rise in the future. But today, Ethereum captures the mindshare of the blockchain community, and for Community Points to provide the most utility, the Ethereum blockchain is the natural choice. 1.2 Why Arbitrum While Ethereum's ecosystem is unmatched, the reality is that fees are high and capacity is too low to support the scale of Reddit Community Points. Enter Arbitrum. Arbitrum Rollup provides all of the ecosystem benefits of Ethereum, but with orders of magnitude more capacity and at a fraction of the cost of native Ethereum smart contracts. And most of all, we don't change the experience from users. They continue to use the same wallets, addresses, languages, and tools. Arbitrum Rollup is not the only solution that can scale payments, but it is the only developed solution that can scale both payments and arbitrary smart contracts trustlessly, which means that third party users can build highly scalable add-on apps that can be used without withdrawing money from the Rollup chain. If you believe that Reddit users will want to use their Community Points in smart contracts--and we believe they will--then it makes the most sense to choose a single scaling solution that can support the entire ecosystem, eliminating friction for users. We view being able to run smart contracts in the same scaling solution as fundamentally critical since if there's significant demand in running smart contracts from Reddit's ecosystem, this would be a load on Ethereum and would itself require a scaling solution. Moreover, having different scaling solutions for the minting/distribution/spending of points and for third party apps would be burdensome for users as they'd have to constantly shuffle their Points back and forth. 2. Arbitrum at a glance Arbitrum Rollup has a unique value proposition as it offers a combination of features that no other scaling solution achieves. Here we highlight its core attributes. Decentralized. Arbitrum Rollup is as decentralized as Ethereum. Unlike some other Layer 2 scaling projects, Arbitrum Rollup doesn't have any centralized components or centralized operators who can censor users or delay transactions. Even in non-custodial systems, centralized components provide a risk as the operators are generally incentivized to increase their profit by extracting rent from users often in ways that severely degrade user experience. Even if centralized operators are altruistic, centralized components are subject to hacking, coercion, and potential liability. Massive Scaling. Arbitrum achieves order of magnitude scaling over Ethereum's L1 smart contracts. Our software currently supports 453 transactions-per-second for basic transactions (at 1616 Ethereum gas per tx). We have a lot of room left to optimize (e.g. aggregating signatures), and over the next several months capacity will increase significantly. As described in detail below, Arbitrum can easily support and surpass Reddit's anticipated initial load, and its capacity will continue to improve as Reddit's capacity needs grow. Low cost. The cost of running Arbitrum Rollup is quite low compared to L1 Ethereum and other scaling solutions such as those based on zero-knowledge proofs. Layer 2 fees are low, fixed, and predictable and should not be overly burdensome for Reddit to cover. Nobody needs to use special equipment or high-end machines. Arbitrum requires validators, which is a permissionless role that can be run on any reasonable on-line machine. Although anybody can act as a validator, in order to protect against a “tragedy of the commons” and make sure reputable validators are participating, we support a notion of “invited validators” that are compensated for their costs. In general, users pay (low) fees to cover the invited validators’ costs, but we imagine that Reddit may cover this cost for its users. See more on the costs and validator options below. Ethereum Developer Experience. Not only does Arbitrum support EVM smart contracts, but the developer experience is identical to that of L1 Ethereum contracts and fully compatible with Ethereum tooling. Developers can port existing Solidity apps or write new ones using their favorite and familiar toolchains (e.g. Truffle, Buidler). There are no new languages or coding paradigms to learn. Ethereum wallet compatibility. Just as in Ethereum, Arbitrum users need only hold keys, but do not have to store any coin history or additional data to protect or access their funds. Since Arbitrum transactions are semantically identical to Ethereum L1 transactions, existing Ethereum users can use their existing Ethereum keys with their existing wallet software such as Metamask. Token interoperability. Users can easily transfer their ETH, ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens between Ethereum and the Arbitrum Rollup chain. As we explain in detail below, it is possible to mint tokens in L2 that can subsequently be withdrawn and recognized by the L1 token contract. Fast finality. Transactions complete with the same finality time as Ethereum L1 (and it's possible to get faster finality guarantees by trading away trust assumptions; see the Arbitrum Rollup whitepaper for details). Non-custodial. Arbitrum Rollup is a non-custodial scaling solution, so users control their funds/points and neither Reddit nor anyone else can ever access or revoke points held by users. Censorship Resistant. Since it's completely decentralized, and the Arbitrum protocol guarantees progress trustlessly, Arbitrum Rollup is just as censorship-proof as Ethereum. Block explorer. The Arbitrum Rollup block explorer allows users to view and analyze transactions on the Rollup chain. Limitations Although this is a bake-off, we're not going to sugar coat anything. Arbitrum Rollup, like any Optimistic Rollup protocol, does have one limitation, and that's the delay on withdrawals. As for the concrete length of the delay, we've done a good deal of internal modeling and have blogged about this as well. Our current modeling suggests a 3-hour delay is sufficient (but as discussed in the linked post there is a tradeoff space between the length of the challenge period and the size of the validators’ deposit). Note that this doesn't mean that the chain is delayed for three hours. Arbitrum Rollup supports pipelining of execution, which means that validators can keep building new states even while previous ones are “in the pipeline” for confirmation. As the challenge delays expire for each update, a new state will be confirmed (read more about this here). So activity and progress on the chain are not delayed by the challenge period. The only thing that's delayed is the consummation of withdrawals. Recall though that any single honest validator knows immediately (at the speed of L1 finality) which state updates are correct and can guarantee that they will eventually be confirmed, so once a valid withdrawal has been requested on-chain, every honest party knows that the withdrawal will definitely happen. There's a natural place here for a liquidity market in which a validator (or someone who trusts a validator) can provide withdrawal loans for a small interest fee. This is a no-risk business for them as they know which withdrawals will be confirmed (and can force their confirmation trustlessly no matter what anyone else does) but are just waiting for on-chain finality. 3. The recipe: How Arbitrum Rollup works For a description of the technical components of Arbitrum Rollup and how they interact to create a highly scalable protocol with a developer experience that is identical to Ethereum, please refer to the following documents: Arbitrum Rollup Whitepaper Arbitrum academic paper (describes a previous version of Arbitrum) 4. Developer docs and APIs For full details about how to set up and interact with an Arbitrum Rollup chain or validator, please refer to our developer docs, which can be found at https://developer.offchainlabs.com/. Note that the Arbitrum version described on that site is older and will soon be replaced by the version we are entering in Reddit Bake-Off, which is still undergoing internal testing before public release. 5. Who are the validators? As with any Layer 2 protocol, advancing the protocol correctly requires at least one validator (sometimes called block producers) that is honest and available. A natural question is: who are the validators? Recall that the validator set for an Arbitrum chain is open and permissionless; anyone can start or stop validating at will. (A useful analogy is to full nodes on an L1 chain.) But we understand that even though anyone can participate, Reddit may want to guarantee that highly reputable nodes are validating their chain. Reddit may choose to validate the chain themselves and/or hire third-party validators.To this end, we have begun building a marketplace for validator-for-hire services so that dapp developers can outsource validation services to reputable nodes with high up-time. We've announced a partnership in which Chainlink nodes will provide Arbitrum validation services, and we expect to announce more partnerships shortly with other blockchain infrastructure providers. Although there is no requirement that validators are paid, Arbitrum’s economic model tracks validators’ costs (e.g. amount of computation and storage) and can charge small fees on user transactions, using a gas-type system, to cover those costs. Alternatively, a single party such as Reddit can agree to cover the costs of invited validators. 6. Reddit Contract Support Since Arbitrum contracts and transactions are byte-for-byte compatible with Ethereum, supporting the Reddit contracts is as simple as launching them on an Arbitrum chain. Minting. Arbitrum Rollup supports hybrid L1/L2 tokens which can be minted in L2 and then withdrawn onto the L1. An L1 contract at address A can make a special call to the EthBridge which deploys a "buddy contract" to the same address A on an Arbitrum chain. Since it's deployed at the same address, users can know that the L2 contract is the authorized "buddy" of the L1 contract on the Arbitrum chain. For minting, the L1 contract is a standard ERC-20 contract which mints and burns tokens when requested by the L2 contract. It is paired with an ERC-20 contract in L2 which mints tokens based on whatever programmer provided minting facility is desired and burns tokens when they are withdrawn from the rollup chain. Given this base infrastructure, Arbitrum can support any smart contract based method for minting tokens in L2, and indeed we directly support Reddit's signature/claim based minting in L2. Batch minting. What's better than a mint cookie? A whole batch! In addition to supporting Reddit’s current minting/claiming scheme, we built a second minting design, which we believe outperforms the signature/claim system in many scenarios. In the current system, Reddit periodically issues signed statements to users, who then take those statements to the blockchain to claim their tokens. An alternative approach would have Reddit directly submit the list of users/amounts to the blockchain and distribute the tokens to the users without the signature/claim process. To optimize the cost efficiency of this approach, we designed an application-specific compression scheme to minimize the size of the batch distribution list. We analyzed the data from Reddit's previous distributions and found that the data is highly compressible since token amounts are small and repeated, and addresses appear multiple times. Our function groups transactions by size, and replaces previously-seen addresses with a shorter index value. We wrote client code to compress the data, wrote a Solidity decompressing function, and integrated that function into Reddit’s contract running on Arbitrum. When we ran the compression function on the previous Reddit distribution data, we found that we could compress batched minting data down to to 11.8 bytes per minting event (averaged over a 6-month trace of Reddit’s historical token grants)compared with roughly 174 bytes of on-chain data needed for the signature claim approach to minting (roughly 43 for an RLP-encoded null transaction + 65 for Reddit's signature + 65 for the user's signature + roughly 8 for the number of Points) . The relative benefit of the two approaches with respect to on-chain call data cost depends on the percentage of users that will actually claim their tokens on chain. With the above figures, batch minting will be cheaper if roughly 5% of users redeem their claims. We stress that our compression scheme is not Arbitrum-specific and would be beneficial in any general-purpose smart contract platform. 8. Benchmarks and costs In this section, we give the full costs of operating the Reddit contracts on an Arbitrum Rollup chain including the L1 gas costs for the Rollup chain, the costs of computation and storage for the L2 validators as well as the capital lockup requirements for staking. Arbitrum Rollup is still on testnet, so we did not run mainnet benchmarks. Instead, we measured the L1 gas cost and L2 workload for Reddit operations on Arbitrum and calculated the total cost assuming current Ethereum gas prices. As noted below in detail, our measurements do not assume that Arbitrum is consuming the entire capacity of Ethereum. We will present the details of our model now, but for full transparency you can also play around with it yourself and adjust the parameters, by copying the spreadsheet found here. Our cost model is based on measurements of Reddit’s contracts, running unmodified (except for the addition of a batch minting function) on Arbitrum Rollup on top of Ethereum. On the distribution of transactions and frequency of assertions. Reddit's instructions specify the following minimum parameters that submissions should support: Over a 5 day period, your scaling PoC should be able to handle:
100,000 point claims (minting & distributing points)
75,000 one-off points burning
We provide the full costs of operating an Arbitrum Rollup chain with this usage under the assumption that tokens are minted or granted to users in batches, but other transactions are uniformly distributed over the 5 day period. Unlike some other submissions, we do not make unrealistic assumptions that all operations can be submitted in enormous batches. We assume that batch minting is done in batches that use only a few percent on an L1 block’s gas, and that other operations come in evenly over time and are submitted in batches, with one batch every five minutes to keep latency reasonable. (Users are probably already waiting for L1 finality, which takes at least that long to achieve.) We note that assuming that there are only 300,000 transactions that arrive uniformly over the 5 day period will make our benchmark numbers lower, but we believe that this will reflect the true cost of running the system. To see why, say that batches are submitted every five minutes (20 L1 blocks) and there's a fixed overhead of c bytes of calldata per batch, the cost of which will get amortized over all transactions executed in that batch. Assume that each individual transaction adds a marginal cost of t. Lastly assume the capacity of the scaling system is high enough that it can support all of Reddit's 300,000 transactions within a single 20-block batch (i.e. that there is more than c + 300,000*t byes of calldata available in 20 blocks). Consider what happens if c, the per-batch overhead, is large (which it is in some systems, but not in Arbitrum). In the scenario that transactions actually arrive at the system's capacity and each batch is full, then c gets amortized over 300,000 transactions. But if we assume that the system is not running at capacity--and only receives 300,000 transactions arriving uniformly over 5 days-- then each 20-block assertion will contain about 200 transactions, and thus each transaction will pay a nontrivial cost due to c. We are aware that other proposals presented scaling numbers assuming that 300,000 transactions arrived at maximum capacity and was executed in a single mega-transaction, but according to our estimates, for at least one such report, this led to a reported gas price that was 2-3 orders of magnitude lower than it would have been assuming uniform arrival. We make more realistic batching assumptions, and we believe Arbitrum compares well when batch sizes are realistic. Our model. Our cost model includes several sources of cost:
L1 gas costs: This is the cost of posting transactions as calldata on the L1 chain, as well as the overhead associated with each batch of transactions, and the L1 cost of settling transactions in the Arbitrum protocol.
Validator’s staking costs: In normal operation, one validator will need to be staked. The stake is assumed to be 0.2% of the total value of the chain (which is assumed to be $1 per user who is eligible to claim points). The cost of staking is the interest that could be earned on the money if it were not staked.
Validator computation and storage: Every validator must do computation to track the chain’s processing of transactions, and must maintain storage to keep track of the contracts’ EVM storage. The cost of computation and storage are estimated based on measurements, with the dollar cost of resources based on Amazon Web Services pricing.
It’s clear from our modeling that the predominant cost is for L1 calldata. This will probably be true for any plausible rollup-based system. Our model also shows that Arbitrum can scale to workloads much larger than Reddit’s nominal workload, without exhausting L1 or L2 resources. The scaling bottleneck will ultimately be calldata on the L1 chain. We believe that cost could be reduced substantially if necessary by clever encoding of data. (In our design any compression / decompression of L2 transaction calldata would be done by client software and L2 programs, never by an L1 contract.) 9. Status of Arbitrum Rollup Arbitrum Rollup is live on Ethereum testnet. All of the code written to date including everything included in the Reddit demo is open source and permissively licensed under the Apache V2 license. The first testnet version of Arbitrum Rollup was released on testnet in February. Our current internal version, which we used to benchmark the Reddit contracts, will be released soon and will be a major upgrade. Both the Arbitrum design as well as the implementation are heavily audited by independent third parties. The Arbitrum academic paper was published at USENIX Security, a top-tier peer-reviewed academic venue. For the Arbitrum software, we have engaged Trail of Bits for a security audit, which is currently ongoing, and we are committed to have a clean report before launching on Ethereum mainnet. 10. Reddit Universe Arbitrum Rollup Chain The benchmarks described in this document were all measured using the latest internal build of our software. When we release the new software upgrade publicly we will launch a Reddit Universe Arbitrum Rollup chain as a public demo, which will contain the Reddit contracts as well as a Uniswap instance and a Connext Hub, demonstrating how Community Points can be integrated into third party apps. We will also allow members of the public to dynamically launch ecosystem contracts. We at Offchain Labs will cover the validating costs for the Reddit Universe public demo. If the folks at Reddit would like to evaluate our software prior to our public demo, please email us at [email protected] and we'd be more than happy to provide early access. 11. Even more scaling: Arbitrum Sidechains Rollups are an excellent approach to scaling, and we are excited about Arbitrum Rollup which far surpasses Reddit's scaling needs. But looking forward to Reddit's eventual goal of supporting hundreds of millions of users, there will likely come a time when Reddit needs more scaling than any Rollup protocol can provide. While Rollups greatly reduce costs, they don't break the linear barrier. That is, all transactions have an on-chain footprint (because all calldata must be posted on-chain), albeit a far smaller one than on native Ethereum, and the L1 limitations end up being the bottleneck for capacity and cost. Since Ethereum has limited capacity, this linear use of on-chain resources means that costs will eventually increase superlinearly with traffic. The good news is that we at Offchain Labs have a solution in our roadmap that can satisfy this extreme-scaling setting as well: Arbitrum AnyTrust Sidechains. Arbitrum Sidechains are similar to Arbitrum Rollup, but deviate in that they name a permissioned set of validators. When a chain’s validators agree off-chain, they can greatly reduce the on-chain footprint of the protocol and require almost no data to be put on-chain. When validators can't reach unanimous agreement off-chain, the protocol reverts to Arbitrum Rollup. Technically, Arbitrum Sidechains can be viewed as a hybrid between state channels and Rollup, switching back and forth as necessary, and combining the performance and cost that state channels can achieve in the optimistic case, with the robustness of Rollup in other cases. The core technical challenge is how to switch seamlessly between modes and how to guarantee that security is maintained throughout. Arbitrum Sidechains break through this linear barrier, while still maintaining a high level of security and decentralization. Arbitrum Sidechains provide the AnyTrust guarantee, which says that as long as any one validator is honest and available (even if you don't know which one will be), the L2 chain is guaranteed to execute correctly according to its code and guaranteed to make progress. Unlike in a state channel, offchain progress does not require unanimous consent, and liveness is preserved as long as there is a single honest validator. Note that the trust model for Arbitrum Sidechains is much stronger than for typical BFT-style chains which introduce a consensus "voting" protocols among a small permissioned group of validators. BFT-based protocols require a supermajority (more than 2/3) of validators to agree. In Arbitrum Sidechains, by contrast, all you need is a single honest validator to achieve guaranteed correctness and progress. Notice that in Arbitrum adding validators strictly increases security since the AnyTrust guarantee provides correctness as long as any one validator is honest and available. By contrast, in BFT-style protocols, adding nodes can be dangerous as a coalition of dishonest nodes can break the protocol. Like Arbitrum Rollup, the developer and user experiences for Arbitrum Sidechains will be identical to that of Ethereum. Reddit would be able to choose a large and diverse set of validators, and all that they would need to guarantee to break through the scaling barrier is that a single one of them will remain honest. We hope to have Arbitrum Sidechains in production in early 2021, and thus when Reddit reaches the scale that surpasses the capacity of Rollups, Arbitrum Sidechains will be waiting and ready to help. While the idea to switch between channels and Rollup to get the best of both worlds is conceptually simple, getting the details right and making sure that the switch does not introduce any attack vectors is highly non-trivial and has been the subject of years of our research (indeed, we were working on this design for years before the term Rollup was even coined). 12. How Arbitrum compares We include a comparison to several other categories as well as specific projects when appropriate. and explain why we believe that Arbitrum is best suited for Reddit's purposes. We focus our attention on other Ethereum projects. Payment only Rollups. Compared to Arbitrum Rollup, ZK-Rollups and other Rollups that only support token transfers have several disadvantages:
As outlined throughout the proposal, we believe that the entire draw of Ethereum is in its rich smart contracts support which is simply not achievable with today's zero-knowledge proof technology. Indeed, scaling with a ZK-Rollup will add friction to the deployment of smart contracts that interact with Community Points as users will have to withdraw their coins from the ZK-Rollup and transfer them to a smart contract system (like Arbitrum). The community will be best served if Reddit builds on a platform that has built-in, frictionless smart-contract support.
All other Rollup protocols of which we are aware employ a centralized operator. While it's true that users retain custody of their coins, the centralized operator can often profit from censoring, reordering, or delaying transactions. A common misconception is that since they're non-custodial protocols, a centralized sequencer does not pose a risk but this is incorrect as the sequencer can wreak havoc or shake down users for side payments without directly stealing funds.
Sidechain type protocols can eliminate some of these issues, but they are not trustless. Instead, they require trust in some quorum of a committee, often requiring two-third of the committee to be honest, compared to rollup protocols like Arbitrum that require only a single honest party. In addition, not all sidechain type protocols have committees that are diverse, or even non-centralized, in practice.
Plasma-style protocols have a centralized operator and do not support general smart contracts.
13. Concluding Remarks While it's ultimately up to the judges’ palate, we believe that Arbitrum Rollup is the bakeoff choice that Reddit kneads. We far surpass Reddit's specified workload requirement at present, have much room to optimize Arbitrum Rollup in the near term, and have a clear path to get Reddit to hundreds of millions of users. Furthermore, we are the only project that gives developers and users the identical interface as the Ethereum blockchain and is fully interoperable and tooling-compatible, and we do this all without any new trust assumptions or centralized components. But no matter how the cookie crumbles, we're glad to have participated in this bake-off and we thank you for your consideration. About Offchain Labs Offchain Labs, Inc. is a venture-funded New York company that spun out of Princeton University research, and is building the Arbitrum platform to usher in the next generation of scalable, interoperable, and compatible smart contracts. Offchain Labs is backed by Pantera Capital, Compound VC, Coinbase Ventures, and others. Leadership Team Ed Felten Ed Felten is Co-founder and Chief Scientist at Offchain Labs. He is on leave from Princeton University, where he is the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs. From 2015 to 2017 he served at the White House as Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer and senior advisor to the President. He is an ACM Fellow and member of the National Academy of Engineering. Outside of work, he is an avid runner, cook, and L.A. Dodgers fan. Steven Goldfeder Steven Goldfeder is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Offchain Labs. He holds a PhD from Princeton University, where he worked at the intersection of cryptography and cryptocurrencies including threshold cryptography, zero-knowledge proof systems, and post-quantum signatures. He is a co-author of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, the leading textbook on cryptocurrencies, and he has previously worked at Google and Microsoft Research, where he co-invented the Picnic signature algorithm. When not working, you can find Steven spending time with his family, taking a nature walk, or twisting balloons. Harry Kalodner Harry Kalodner is Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Offchain Labs where he leads the engineering team. Before the company he attended Princeton as a Ph.D candidate where his research explored economics, anonymity, and incentive compatibility of cryptocurrencies, and he also has worked at Apple. When not up at 3:00am writing code, Harry occasionally sleeps.
It is no doubt Grayscale’s booming popularity as a mainstream investment has caused a lot of community hullabaloo lately. As such, I felt it was worth making a FAQ regarding the topic. I’m looking to update this as needed and of course am open to suggestions / adding any questions. The goal is simply to have a thread we can link to anyone with questions on Grayscaleand its products. Instead of explaining the same thing 3 times a day, shoot those posters over to this thread.My hope is that these questions are answered in a fairly simple and easy to understand manner. I think as the sub grows it will be a nice reference point for newcomers. Disclaimer: I do NOT work for Grayscale and as such am basing all these answers on information that can be found on their website / reports. (Grayscale’s official FAQ can be found here). I also do NOT have a finance degree, I do NOT have a Series 6 / 7 / 140-whatever, and I do NOT work with investment products for my day job. I have an accounting background and work within the finance world so I have the general ‘business’ knowledge to put it all together, but this is all info determined in my best faith effort as a layman. The point being is this --- it is possible I may explain something wrong or missed the technical terms, and if that occurs I am more than happy to update anything that can be proven incorrect Everything below will be in reference to ETHE but will apply to GBTC as well.If those two segregate in any way, I will note that accordingly.
ETHE is essentially a stock that intends to loosely track the price of ETH. It does so by having each ETHE be backed by a specific amount of ETH that is held on chain. Initially, the newly minted ETHE can only be purchased by institutions and accredited investors directly from Grayscale. Once a year has passed (6 months for GBTC) it can then be listed on the OTCQX Best Market exchange for secondary trading. Once listed on OTCQX, anyone investor can purchase at this point. Additional information on ETHE can be found here.
So ETHE is an ETF?
No. For technical reasons beyond my personal understandings it is not labeled an ETF. I know it all flows back to the “Securities Act Rule 144”, but due to my limited knowledge on SEC regulations I don’t want to misspeak past that. If anyone is more knowledgeable on the subject I am happy to input their answer here.
How long has ETHE existed?
ETHE was formed 12/14/2017. GBTC was formed 9/25/2013.
How is ETHE created?
The trust will issue shares to “Authorized Participants” in groups of 100 shares (called baskets). Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create these baskets and they do it on behalf of the investor. Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 39 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here Note – The way their reports word this makes it sound like there is an army of authorizers doing the dirty work, but in reality there is only one Authorized Participant. At this moment the “Genesis” company is the sole Authorized Participant. Genesis is owned by the “Digital Currency Group, Inc.” which is the parent company of Grayscale as well. (And to really go down the rabbit hole it looks like DCG is the parent company of CoinDesk and is “backing 150+ companies across 30 countries, including Coinbase, Ripple, and Chainalysis.”) Source: Digital Currency Group, Inc. informational section on page 77 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here Source: Barry E. Silbert informational section on page 75 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here
How does Grayscale acquire the ETH to collateralize the ETHE product?
An Investor may acquire ETHE by paying in cash or exchanging ETH already owned.
Cash: The investor pays the subscription amount in cash and the Authorized Participant will use that cash to purchase ETH.
ETH: The investor transfers the ETH to the Authorized Participant, which will contribute the ETH in-kind to the Trust.
Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 40 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Where does Grayscale store their ETH? Does it have a specific wallet address we can follow?
ETH is stored with Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC. I am unaware of any specific address or set of addresses that can be used to verify the ETH is actually there. As an aside - I would actually love to see if anyone knows more about this as it’s something that’s sort of peaked my interest after being asked about it… I find it doubtful we can find that however. Source: Part C. Business Information, Item 8, subsection A. on page 16 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Can ETHE be redeemed for ETH?
No, currently there is no way to give your shares of ETHE back to Grayscale to receive ETH back. The only method of getting back into ETH would be to sell your ETHE to someone else and then use those proceeds to buy ETH yourself. Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Why are they not redeeming shares?
I think the report summarizes it best:
Redemptions of Shares are currently not permitted and the Trust is unable to redeem Shares. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, the Trust may in the future operate a redemption program. Because the Trust does not believe that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, the Trust currently has no intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.
Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the fee structure?
ETHE has an annual fee of 2.5%. GBTC has an annual fee of 2.0%. Fees are paid by selling the underlying ETH / BTC collateralizing the asset. Source: ETHE’s informational page on Grayscale’s website - Located Here Source: Description of Trust on page 31 & 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the ratio of ETH to ETHE?
At the time of posting (6/19/2020) each ETHE share is backed by .09391605 ETH. Each share of GBTC is backed by .00096038 BTC. ETHE & GBTC’s specific information page on Grayscale’s website updates the ratio daily – Located Here For a full historical look at this ratio, it can be found on the Grayscale home page on the upper right side if you go to Tax Documents > 2019 Tax Documents > Grayscale Ethereum Trust 2019 Tax Letter.
Why is the ratio not 1:1? Why is it always decreasing?
While I cannot say for certain why the initial distribution was not a 1:1 backing, it is more than likely to keep the price down and allow more investors a chance to purchase ETHE / GBTC. As noted above, fees are paid by selling off the ETH collateralizing ETHE. So this number will always be trending downward as time goes on. Source: Description of Trust on page 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
I keep hearing about how this is locked supply… explain?
As noted above, there is currently no redemption program for converting your ETHE back into ETH. This means that once an ETHE is issued, it will remain in circulation until a redemption program is formed --- something that doesn’t seem to be too urgent for the SEC or Grayscale at the moment. Tiny amounts will naturally be removed due to fees, but the bulk of the asset is in there for good. Knowing that ETHE cannot be taken back and destroyed at this time, the ETH collateralizing it will not be removed from the wallet for the foreseeable future. While it is not fully locked in the sense of say a totally lost key, it is not coming out any time soon. Per their annual statement:
The Trust’s ETH will be transferred out of the ETH Account only in the following circumstances: (i) transferred to pay the Sponsor’s Fee or any Additional Trust Expenses, (ii) distributed in connection with the redemption of Baskets (subject to the Trust’s obtaining regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program and the consent of the Sponsor), (iii) sold on an as-needed basis to pay Additional Trust Expenses or (iv) sold on behalf of the Trust in the event the Trust terminates and liquidates its assets or as otherwise required by law or regulation.
Source: Description of Trust on page 31 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Grayscale now owns a huge chunk of both ETH and BTC’s supply… should we be worried about manipulation, a sell off to crash the market crash, a staking cartel?
First, it’s important to remember Grayscale is a lot more akin to an exchange then say an investment firm. Grayscale is working on behalf of its investors to create this product for investor control. Grayscale doesn’t ‘control’ the ETH it holds any more then Coinbase ‘controls’ the ETH in its hot wallet. (Note: There are likely some varying levels of control, but specific to this topic Grayscale cannot simply sell [legally, at least] the ETH by their own decision in the same manner Coinbase wouldn't be able to either.) That said, there shouldn’t be any worry in the short to medium time-frame. As noted above, Grayscale can’t really remove ETH other than for fees or termination of the product. At 2.5% a year, fees are noise in terms of volume. Grayscale seems to be the fastest growing product in the crypto space at the moment and termination of the product seems unlikely. IF redemptions were to happen tomorrow, it’s extremely unlikely we would see a mass exodus out of the product to redeem for ETH. And even if there was incentive to get back to ETH, the premium makes it so that it would be much more cost effective to just sell your ETHE on the secondary market and buy ETH yourself. Remember, any redemption is up to the investors and NOT something Grayscale has direct control over.
Yes, but what about [insert criminal act here]…
Alright, yes. Technically nothing is stopping Grayscale from selling all the ETH / BTC and running off to the Bahamas (Hawaii?). BUT there is no real reason for them to do so. Barry is an extremely public figure and it won’t be easy for him to get away with that. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust creates SEC reports weekly / bi-weekly and I’m sure given the sentiment towards crypto is being watched carefully. Plus, Grayscale is making tons of consistent revenue and thus has little to no incentive to give that up for a quick buck.
That’s a lot of ‘happy little feels’ Bob, is there even an independent audit or is this Tether 2.0?
Actually yes, an independent auditor report can be found in their annual reports. It is clearly aimed more towards the financial side and I doubt the auditors are crypto savants, but it is at least one extra set of eyes. Auditors are Friedman LLP – Auditor since 2015. Source: Independent Auditor Report starting on page 116 (of the PDF itself) of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here As mentioned by user TheCrpytosAndBloods (In Comments Below), a fun fact:
The company’s auditors Friedman LLP were also coincidentally TetheBitfinex’s auditors until They controversially parted ways in 2018 when the Tether controversy was at its height. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything shady about DCG - I just find it interesting it’s the same auditor.
“Grayscale sounds kind of lame” / “Not your keys not your crypto!” / “Why is anyone buying this, it sounds like a scam?”
Welp, for starters this honestly is not really a product aimed at the people likely to be reading this post. To each their own, but do remember just because something provides no value to you doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to someone else. That said some of the advertised benefits are as follows:
Access to trading within a tax advantaged retirement account
Institutions can easily and safely get exposure to crypto in a more legal-friendly manner
Ease of use for those who are not very technologically savvy
Ease of access for someone who doesn’t want to set up a Coinbase account
Perceived trust in institutional platforms over something like Coinbase or Kraken
Degen traders who just want access to the volatility ETHE provides that have no interest in crypto beyond that
So for example, I can set up an IRA at a brokerage account that has $0 trading fees. Then I can trade GBTC and ETHE all day without having to worry about tracking my taxes. All with the relative safety something like E-Trade provides over Binance. As for how it benefits the everyday ETH holder? I think the supply lock is a positive. I also think this product exposes the Ethereum ecosystem to people who otherwise wouldn’t know about it.
Why is there a premium? Why is ETHE’s premium so insanely high compared to GBTC’s premium?
There are a handful of theories of why a premium exists at all, some even mentioned in the annual report. The short list is as follows:
ETHE is NOT redeeming shares and as such doesn’t have an effective arbitrage mechanism
ETHE has a 1 year wait to be sold on the secondary market, again negating the ability to effectively arbitrage the premium
People may simply be willing to pay a premium for the benefits stated above.
Why is ETHE’s so much higher the GBTC’s? Again, a few thoughts:
ETHE hasn’t been around as long, so there is less secondary market supply to go around
ETHE was listed at an insanely high premium to begin with
ETHE might simply be more popular at the moment
Could just be sheer stupidity (investors think ETHE is a 1:1 ratio not 1:11)
Are there any other differences between ETHE and GBTC?
I touched on a few of the smaller differences, but one of the more interesting changes is GBTC is now a “SEC reporting company” as of January 2020. Which again goes beyond my scope of knowledge so I won’t comment on it too much… but the net result is GBTC is now putting out weekly / bi-weekly 8-K’s and annual 10-K’s. This means you can track GBTC that much easier at the moment as well as there is an extra layer of validity to the product IMO.
I’m looking for some statistics on ETHE… such as who is buying, how much is bought, etc?
There is a great Q1 2020 report I recommend you give a read that has a lot of cool graphs and data on the product. It’s a little GBTC centric, but there is some ETHE data as well. It can be found here hidden within the 8-K filings.Q1 2020 is the 4/16/2020 8-K filing. For those more into a GAAP style report see the 2019 annual 10-K of the same location.
Is Grayscale only just for BTC and ETH?
No, there are other products as well. In terms of a secondary market product, ETCG is the Ethereum Classic version of ETHE. Fun Fact – ETCG was actually put out to the secondary market first. It also has a 3% fee tied to it where 1% of it goes to some type of ETC development fund. In terms of institutional and accredited investors, there are a few ‘fan favorites’ such as Bitcoin Cash, Litcoin, Stellar, XRP, and Zcash. Something called Horizion (Backed by ZEN I guess? Idk to be honest what that is…). And a diversified Mutual Fund type fund that has a little bit of all of those. None of these products are available on the secondary market.
Are there alternatives to Grayscale?
I know they exist, but I don’t follow them. I’ll leave this as a “to be edited” section and will add as others comment on what they know. Per user Over-analyser (in comments below):
As asked by pegcity - Okay so I was under the impression you can just give them your own ETH and get ETHE, but do you get 11 ETHE per ETH or do you get the market value of ETH in USD worth of ETHE?
I have always understood that the ETHE issued directly through Grayscale is issued without the premium. As in, if I were to trade 1 ETH for ETHE I would get 11, not say only 2 or 3 because the secondary market premium is so high. And if I were paying cash only I would be paying the price to buy 1 ETH to get my 11 ETHE. Per page 39 of their annual statement, it reads as follows:
The Trust will issue Shares to Authorized Participants from time to time, but only in one or more Baskets (with a Basket being a block of 100 Shares). The Trust will not issue fractions of a Basket. The creation (and, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redemption) of Baskets will be made only in exchange for the delivery to the Trust, or the distribution by the Trust, of the number of whole and fractional ETH represented by each Basket being created (or, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redeemed), which is determined by dividing (x) the number of ETH owned by the Trust at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the trade date of a creation or redemption order, after deducting the number of ETH representing the U.S. dollar value of accrued but unpaid fees and expenses of the Trust (converted using the ETH Index Price at such time, and carried to the eighth decimal place), by (y) the number of Shares outstanding at such time (with the quotient so obtained calculated to one one-hundred-millionth of one ETH (i.e., carried to the eighth decimal place)), and multiplying such quotient by 100 (the “Basket ETH Amount”). All questions as to the calculation of the Basket ETH Amount will be conclusively determined by the Sponsor and will be final and binding on all persons interested in the Trust. The Basket ETH Amount multiplied by the number of Baskets being created or redeemed is the “Total Basket ETH Amount.” The number of ETH represented by a Share will gradually decrease over time as the Trust’s ETH are used to pay the Trust’s expenses. Each Share represented approximately 0.0950 ETH and 0.0974 ETH as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation
In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.
Typical securities frameworks will cost Canadians millions of dollars (ie Sarbanes-Oxley estimated at $5m USD/yr per firm). Implementation costs of this proposal are significantly cheaper.
Canadians can maintain a diverse set of exchanges, multiple viable business models are still fully supported, and innovation is encouraged while keeping Canadians safe.
Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:
Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.
Regular Transparent Audits
Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.
Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.
Background and Justifications
Cold Storage Custody/Management After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems: • Funds stored online or in a smart contract, • Access controlled by one person or one system, • 51% attacks (rare), • Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or • Some combination of the above. For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program. The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms. • 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective. • The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated. The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II. On The Subject of Third Party Custodians Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems. However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies. There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both. On The Subject Of Insurance ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC. However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.” ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance. In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework. A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians. On The Subject of Fractional Reserve There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds. There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past. Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis. The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users. Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit. The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided. Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense. Hot Wallet Management The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets. However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process. A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage. Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.
Current Draft Proposal
(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage. (a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet. (b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time). (c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. (d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds. (e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers. (2) Regular and transparent solvency audits. (a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row. (b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored. (c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process. (d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify. (e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible. (3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions. (a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets. (b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy. (c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage. (d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange. (e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.
Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized. The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges. The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
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