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Tech and Banking Giants Join Forces with the Linux Foundation to Create New Open Source Blockchain 'Hyperledger'

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A group of top tech and finance companies including IBM, Wells Fargo and the London Stock Exchange Group, are joining forces to develop a new open source blockchain separated from the Bitcoin blockchain, Bloomberg Business reports.

The group will work with the Linux Foundation to create a public network that lets blockchain applications built on top of it communicate with each other. The open-source software will enable others to transform the way business transactions are conducted, according to a statement released by the Linux Foundation. The statement, not yet available in the open at the time of writing, has been shared on the Pastebin social sharing site.

The group also includes Accenture, ANZ Bank, Cisco, CLS, Credits, Deutsche Börse, Digital Asset Holdings, DTCC, Fujitsu, IC3, Intel, J.P. Morgan, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MFUG), R3, State Street, SWIFT, VMware.

“Distributed ledgers are poised to transform a wide range of industries from banking and shipping to the Internet of Things, among others,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “As with any early-stage, highly-complex technology that demonstrates the ability to change the way we live our lives and conduct business, blockchain demands a cross-industry, open source collaboration to advance the technology for all.”

Digital Asset Holdings is contributing the Hyperledger mark, which will be used as the project name, as well as enterprise grade code and developer resources. Digital Asset Holdings bought San Francisco-based Hyperledger in June. The hyperledger.com URL now redirects to blockchain.linuxfoundation.org.

“The blockchain for business is ready in 2016,” states the brand new website. “Linux Foundation has united industry leaders to advance blockchain technology with a new open ledger project to transform the way business transactions are conducted around the world.”

“We are delighted that The Linux Foundation is providing a broadly-supported vehicle through which we can contribute the Hyperledger brand and enterprise grade blockchain solutions to the open source community,” said financial superstar Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset Holdings. “The resulting impetus will benefit our clients and the entire global financial services industry who are seeking to build business applications on a trusted foundation."

IBM intends to contribute tens of thousands of lines of its existing codebase and its corresponding intellectual property to the open source project. R3 intends to contribute a new financial transaction architectural framework designed to specifically meet the requirements of its global bank members and other financial institutions. “These technical contributions, among others from a variety of companies, will be reviewed in detail in the weeks ahead by the formation and Technical Steering Committees,” notes the statement.

"Deutsche Börse group sees great potential in blockchain technology, and is delighted to join this initiative,” said Jeffrey Tessler, a member of the executive board of Deutsche Börse AG. “As a market infrastructure covering the entire value chain, we believe that the true value of the blockchain will only materialise as part of industry initiatives such as Hyperledger project.”

It seems plausible that the global payments innovation initiative recently announced by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) could be related to the Hyperledger project.

“The current blockchain is a great design pattern,” said IBM Vice President Jerry Cuomo, CTO of IBM’s software group, as reported by Wired. “Now, how do we make that real for business? What are the key attributes needed to make that happen? That’s what this organization is about.”

Cuomo added that the group intends to create something that is like the blockchain but separate. “We are very excited about blockchain, less as a once-and-only-once implementation of an idea, but as an idea that can be implemented and extended in ways that are consistent but enhanced,” he said. Wired notes that, by backing a new project separated from the Bitcoin blockchain, the group can exert more control over blockchain technology.

The post Tech and Banking Giants Join Forces with the Linux Foundation to Create New Open Source Blockchain 'Hyperledger' appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Report: How The Block Chain Will Revolutionize Charitable Giving

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The benefits of blockchain technology are creating new operating models for many types of organizations. Charities, which manage large amounts of money, require complex accounting and conduct a lot of research, have much to gain from block chain technology as digital transactions and smart technology increase. The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), based in London, U.K., recently released a 20-page report, “Giving Unchained – Philanthropy and the Blockchain,” which examines how block chain technology will affect the way charities raise money and operate. The report presents an example of how “smart” household appliances – appliances connected to the block chain – will […]

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Credit Card Skimmers Found in Colorado, California Safeway Branches

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A banking chain in Colorado told Krebs on Security that it discovered a skimming operation while investigating several fraud cases against its clients. It discovered a common link in all the cards that were drained at local ATM machines: they had all been used at the same Safeway stores. It wasn’t just the stores, however, as the investigators were even able to pin the operation down to a few specific lanes inside the stores.

The post Credit Card Skimmers Found in Colorado, California Safeway Branches appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Japanese Finance Regulators Mull Data Collection, Audits for Bitcoin Exchanges

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

New details have emerged about a proposed regulatory framework for bitcoin exchanges in Japan.

Blockchain Cybersecurity Solutions Will Be Used to Secure UK Nuclear Plants

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A new UK infrastructure deal will see Guardtime, a cybersecurity solutions collective, to be tasked with the duty of developing blockchain cybersecurity solutions for critical infrastructure installations in the United Kingdom. Guardtime, a collective of scientists, network architects, software developers and security specialists have today announced a partnership with Future Cities Catapult, a UK-based initiative that specializes in rapid ‘smart city innovation’ that will see Guardtime develop blockchain-based cybersecurity solutions. The task is a significant and an important one, as Guardtime will be coming up with measures to protect and safeguard critical infrastructure in the UK. Critical infrastructure includes nuclear […]

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What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Prime Finance is Business Insider's midday summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours.

Hedge funder Martin Shkreli has been arrested in a securities-fraud investigation.

Shkreli is accused of defrauding investors in his hedge fund by making "material misrepresentations" about the performance and assets under management. He's also accused of preventing investors from redeeming their capital.

In a press conference, US Attorney Robert Capers said Shkreli "essentially ran his companies like a Ponzi scheme."

Shares of the biopharmaceutical company KaloBios, where Shkreli is CEO, were down 50% in premarket trading on Thursday before being halted.

In other news, investment bankers are bullish on the prospects of there being more tech IPOs in 2016. Here are the five tech startups most likely to go public next year, according to CB Insights.

On a related note, JPMorgan sent a memo to staff outlining its aggressive investment in blockchain technology, big data, and robotics

Here are the top Wall Street headlines at midday -

A former New York Jets wide receiver just made a big Wall Street move - Former New York Jets wide receiver turned financial adviser Wayne Chrebet will be joining Stifel Financial Corp. from Barclays Wealth Management.

Wall Street has had a monster year in one key business - Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch have all recorded their highest annual M&A volumes on record.

Wall Street is getting bullish about itself - The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates on Wednesday, putting an end to the zero-interest-rate policy era. Investors and analysts expect those higher rates to help banks' bottom lines. 

BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR: 'A high probability that we're looking at a recession'You can add Sam Zell to the list of investors who think we're headed towards a recession.

A banking dream team is looking at technology that could 'impact financial services the way the Internet changed media' The banking dream team looking at blockchain — the technology that underpins bitcoin — is finally complete.

Elsewhere on the web -

We Can't Even With This Millennial ETF - Bloomberg

Beijing Probes Architects of Stock-Market Rescue - The Wall Street Journal

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Bitcoin Alternative Crypto Bullion (CBX) Announces Unprecedented PoSP Proof-of-Stake-Participation Algorithm

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin Press Release: The Crypto Bullion (CBX) Team is thrilled to present to the world its next major achievement: an evolutionary staking reward algorithm, Proof-of-Stake-Participation (PoSP) and the associated hard fork. This pioneering method for allocating staking rewards will revolutionize the crypto-currency arena by maximizing network security via the re-appropriation of stake rewards from non-participants to better incentivize participants who actively engage in the actions that increase network security and value for Crypto Bullion investors. Québec, Canada / December 17, 2015 Existing for more than two years in the crypto-currency market, Crypto Bullion enjoys a reputation that is the envy […]

The post Bitcoin Alternative Crypto Bullion (CBX) Announces Unprecedented PoSP Proof-of-Stake-Participation Algorithm appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Bitcoin Price Bubbling Under $500 After Fed Rates Lift-Off

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin price is trading sideways below $500 after the Fed fulfilled market expectations by raising its Fund Rate by 25 basis points. This analysis is provided by xbt.social with a 3-hour delay. Read the full analysis here. Not a member? Join now and receive a $29 discount using the code CCN29. Bitcoin Price Analysis Time of analysis: 15h00 UTC BTCC 1-Hour Chart From the analysis pages of xbt.social, earlier today: The rates "lift-off" is now a fact and a new economic era has begun. For how long it will go the way the Fed anticipates remains to be seen. In […]

The post Bitcoin Price Bubbling Under $500 After Fed Rates Lift-Off appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

New Bitcoin Exchange Coinlink.net is Launched

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin Press Release: Launched in July 2015, coinlink.net is a new promising bitcoin trading platform, registered in UK as COINLINK LIMITED, it offers the flexibility for members to trade bitcoins by placing buy or sell limit orders, and accept bitcoin payments in their e-commerce websites as merchants. The platform only supports USD for trading; however, the company took into consideration the fact that users from different countries would rather deposit funds in their local currencies than in USD, so the platform automatically converts those funds to the users’ USD balance using market exchange rates from the company’s banking partners. What […]

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EXCLUSIVE: This JPMorgan memo shows the bank is 'aggressively' investing in blockchain tech and robotics

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

robot spider

JPMorgan is "aggressively" investing in the next generation of technology like blockchain and robotics and is one of its "major priorities" in 2016, according to an internal memo seen exclusively by Business Insider.

A note sent to employees by Daniel Pinto, head of JPMorgan's Corporate and Investment Bank, shows that the lender wants to ensure its $9 billion (£6 billion) investment in technology continues in 2016.

Blockchain, big data, and robotics are the focus for JPM. Working groups are also being pushed to develop "market-leading platforms", with no detail on what they might be.

Here's an excerpt from the memo (emphasis ours):

As we look ahead to 2016, one of our major priorities will be to aggressively pursue the innovative technologies that we have been making investments in. Internal working groups have made significant advances this year and will be provided even more freedom to develop market-leading platforms in 2016.

We have also established teams dedicated to areas such as blockchain technology, big data applications and robotics.

Blockchain is a name for the software underpinning bitcoin that uses complex cryptography and distributed ledgers — copies of records in multiple places — to regulate, record, and enable transactions using bitcoin.

Right now, if you pay someone in pounds, one bank will have to get in touch with the other and tell them to update the balance. Then at the end of the day bulk transactions are moved between banks, via an intermediary, to make sure everyone has the right amount of cash.

With the blockchain, all that hassle is wiped out — you just pay another person directly into a digital wallet.

Banks are excited about the possibility of adapting this technology for use in traditional financial services, using bitcoin's blockchain or, more likely, a replica system — a private blockchain. This would allow banks to enjoy the benefits of the blockchain when dealing with each other.

JPMorgan has been instrumental in trying to bring blockchain to the mainstream, becoming one of the first banks to sign up to the R3 partnership. R3 is a startup convening the banking industry to develop sector-wide standards and use cases for the blockchain.

On Thursday software non-profit The Linux Foundation also "announced a new collaborative effort to advance the popular blockchain technology," involving JPM.

In his note to employees, Pinto expresses his "thanks and appreciation to all of you for the outstanding work," and says 2015 saw JPM evolve alongside the "momentous transformation" of the banking industry. This was done by radically growing investment in, and focus on, technology.

He goes on:

Being the industry leader means driving change, not following it, which is why we have also been working and investing alongside established technology companies, as well as ambitious, young start-ups that are looking at a wide range of technological advancements.

JPM has invested in peer-to-peer lender Prosper and payments startup Square among others.

'The momentous transformation' of the banking industry

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase, arrives at the White House in Washington, October 2, 2013, for a meeting of the Financial Services Forum with U.S. President Barack Obama. REUTERS/Jason ReedPinto's memo fits with the warning from JPM's CEO Jamie Dimon in his annual letter to shareholders in April.

Dimon said that "Silicon Valley is coming" and if banks don't up their game, then tech companies will take over the industry's business.

"There are hundreds of startups with a lot of brains and money working on various alternatives to traditional banking," Dimon wrote. "The ones you read about most are in the lending business, whereby the firms can lend to individuals and small businesses very quickly and — these entities believe — effectively by using Big Data to enhance credit underwriting.

"The ones you read about most are in the lending business, whereby the firms can lend to individuals and small businesses very quickly and — these entities believe — effectively by using Big Data to enhance credit underwriting.

"They are very good at reducing the 'pain points' in that they can make loans in minutes, which might take banks weeks. We are going to work hard to make our services as seamless and competitive as theirs. And we also are completely comfortable with partnering where it makes sense."

"Rest assured, we analyze all of our competitors in excruciating detail — so we can learn what they are doing and develop our own strategies accordingly."

Dimon's warning and JPM's push into blockchain, open data, and robotics come at a time where banks are starting to feel the pressure from the tech industry.

Ex-Barclays CEO Anthony Jenkins warned earlier this year that banks are facing an "Uber moment" that could reduce headcount by up to 50%. There are sign this could already be happening — 11 big banks have cut a combined 10% of their staff this year.

Analysis by the Financial Times showed that almost 100,000 banking jobs were cut this year, equivalent to 10% of the combined staff of the 11 big European and US banks that announced cuts. But much of this was due to a decline in client activity and cost-cutting in the face of stricter regulation.

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NOW WATCH: JIM CRAMER: 'YOU SHOW UP AND THAT'S THE REVENGE'

Happy Birthday, BTCPOP!

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin Press Release: In December 2014 BTCPOP was founded in the UK as a peer-to-peer lending company within the bitcoin domain. Despite some hesitancy when it comes to using the crypto-currency, the company has expanded rapidly over the past year, with exciting features, such as Initial Public Offerings (IPO), being added and developed. BTCPOP has established itself as a competitor within the bitcoin banking community as it challenges other bitcoin companies to match its low interest fees and the ability to take out instant loans; BTCPOP are the first company that offers such a service. BTCPOP are storming ahead with […]

The post Happy Birthday, BTCPOP! appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

R3 Blockchain Consortium Adds 12 More Banks; Will Soon Integrate Financial Services Firms

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Arguably, the most talked-about private blockchain consortium around has just had twelve additional banks signing up as members to the R3-led group of global banks looking to tap into and experiment with blockchain technology for securities settlements and payments. New York-based Fintech startup R3 has added 12 more banks as members to its blockchain consortium. The startup also revealed that it is welcoming financial firms that aren’t banks such as exchanges, clearing houses, standards bodies and infrastructure companies from Q1 2016. The latest additions to the consortium include: BMO Financial Group, Danske Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Natixis, Nomura, Northern Trust, OP […]

The post R3 Blockchain Consortium Adds 12 More Banks; Will Soon Integrate Financial Services Firms appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Bitcoin Foundation Disagrees With Board Members: Votes 2 Off

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

In light of the significant increase in bitcoin value over the last weeks, one of the biggest bitcoin advocacy groups, The Bitcoin Foundation, has just lost two members of its board. In a release of the meeting, 15 December, one member, Jim Harper, resigned and the other, Olivier Jansens, was voted off the board. According to a release from Bobby Lee, Vice Chairman of Bitcoin Foundation, this situation evolved around the organization's future and the role that it will play moving forward with operations. After Bitcoin Foundation Chairman Brock Pierce called the decision to remain or shutdown, Lee explains that “Jim […]

The post Bitcoin Foundation Disagrees With Board Members: Votes 2 Off appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Trading Bitcoin's Fluctuations on a Daily Basis

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoins are a class of investment widely known yet rarely fully understood. Accordingly, if you are willing to pursue a deliberate and dedicated approach to wealth creation within this sphere, you’ll so be equipped to at once benefit where others do not; and stand to grow your skills at delivering rapid returns in the market. If possession is nine-tenths of the law, knowing what to do when it comes to trading bitcoins is an absolute necessity. This is because bitcoins - like forex, binary options, futures and any other investments - are highly rewarding to those who know how to […]

The post Trading Bitcoin's Fluctuations on a Daily Basis appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

IBM is Developing an Open-Source Blockchain with Tech and Banking Giants

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

IBM is heading an open source project called the “Open Ledger Project” that is overseen by the Linux Foundation and includes major tech and banking giants. In essence, the Open Ledger Project will ostensibly lead to the creation of a pseudo-private(?) but open-source ledger that is likely to have applications beyond its participants, according to reports. Although details are currently limited to reports by WIRED, Fortune and Bloomberg, IBM has laid the foundation for a new open-source blockchain with the Open Ledger Project that is supported by the likes of Intel and Cisco in the tech spectrum, as well as […]

The post IBM is Developing an Open-Source Blockchain with Tech and Banking Giants appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Britain's insane property market is making 200 people a day millionaires

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

burning house

It's another sign of just how crazy the British property market is right now.

More than 200 people a day in Britain are becoming millionaires, simply by owning a home, thanks to the insane growth of property prices that we've seen in the past few years.

Online estate agent Zoopla says that there are now 620,000 privately-owned flats and houses across the UK worth more than £1 million ($1.49 million), 75,000 more than there were when they last surveyed the million-pound property market in January, and that's making a lot of people asset rich.

The boom in so-called "property millionaires" — people who own bricks and mortar assets worth more than £1 million— is being driven, obviously, by London, where the property market is so hot that there are serious fears of a bubble that will could soon burst. More than 10% of London residences are now worth more than a million, Zoopla says.

Within London, the rise of the property millionaire is being fuelled by the increasing gentrification of many areas in the east of the capital. All six of the London boroughs with the most new millionaires are out east, according to Zoopla's research. Areas like Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Waltham Forest, and Redbridge, were, until very recently, were not exactly places people were clamouring to live.

However, as central London grows ever more expensive, people are looking further out, and east London is becoming increasingly attractive, pushing up prices and creating a huge rise in the number of £1 million houses and flats in these boroughs.

Redbridge has 56% more property millionaires than in January, Newham a huge 88% more, and Barking and Dagenham has seen its number nearly triple, growing by 288%. Although, in fairness, this is an increase from three to ten seven-figure houses.

Boroughs traditionally seen as upmarket, like Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Islington, haven't seen big growth in the number of property millionaires, simply because most houses in those areas are already worth substantially more than £1 million.

Outside of the capital, the east of England, which gets a ripple effect from London property prices, has 28% more property millionaires than in January, while Yorkshire and the Humber is also doing nicely, seeing a 24% rise in £1 million homes. Every other region of the UK — except Scotland, which was hit by a new property tax in January — now has more property millionaires than at the start of 2015.

Zoopla's study follows a report from the National Association of Estate Agents that the price of a house in Britain is likely going to double in just ten years, and that by 2025 houses in London will be worth nearly £1 million on average.

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A banking dream team is looking at technology that could 'impact financial services the way the Internet changed media'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Mesut Oezil of Germany raises the World Cup trophy with teammates Kevin Grosskreutz, Roman Weidenfeller, Shkodran Mustafi and Erik Durm after defeating Argentina 1-0 in extra time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by )The banking dream team looking at blockchain — the technology that underpins bitcoin — is finally complete.

R3 on Thursday announced that 12 more banks have joined its project, taking the total number of banks signed up to 42. The doors are now closed on the first round of banking membership.

Here are the latest inductees:

Bank of Montreal, Danske Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Natixis, Nomura, Northern Trust, OP Financial Group, Banco Santander, Scotiabank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, U.S. Bank and Westpac Bank.

R3 is the startup convening the banking industry to develop sector-wide standards and use cases for the blockchain.

What's blockchain? Blockchain is a name for the software underpinning bitcoin that uses complex cryptography and distributed ledgers — copies of records in multiple places — to regulate, record, and enable transactions using bitcoin.

Right now, if you pay someone in pounds, one bank will have to get in touch with the other and tell them to update the balance. Then at the end of the day bulk transactions are moved between banks, via an intermediary, to make sure everyone has the right amount of cash.

With the blockchain, all that hassle is wiped out — you just pay another person directly into a digital wallet. 

Banks are hoping they can adapt this technology to let them deal directly with one another, making things faster, cheaper, and easier. This would involve either using bitcoin's blockchain or, more likely, building a replica system — a private blockchain.

New York startup R3, which launched in September, has taken charge of efforts to work out how exactly the world of finance will do this.

CEO David Rutter says in a statement today: "R3 has long believed that distributed ledger technology has the potential to impact the financial services sector the way the Internet changed media and entertainment."

R3 will now look to sign up non-bank financial institutions in the new years — asset managers and the like.

Here's the full list of banks signed up:

Banco Santander, Bank of America, Barclays, BBVA, BMO Financial Group, BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, CIBC, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Citi, Commerzbank, Credit Suisse, Danske Bank, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Macquarie Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group, Morgan Stanley, National Australia Bank, Natixis, Nomura, Nordea, Northern Trust, OP Financial Group, Scotiabank, State Street, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Scotland, SEB, Societe Generale, Toronto-Dominion Bank, UBS, UniCredit, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo and Westpac Banking Corporation.

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As Fed fog lifts, central bankers keep puzzling over China

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A man reads newspaper in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Beijing, China, December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Ann Saphir

SAN FRANCISCO(Reuters) - The world’s central banks are scrambling to assess the risk a slowing China poses to their economies and appear to be no closer than most other observers to working out what is going on in the world's second largest economy.

While the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of Japan have offices in Beijing, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank appear to rely on the same data - that may be flawed - as everyone else.

By raising interest rates on Wednesday the Fed removed one major source of uncertainty, leaving developments in China at the top of investors' and policymakers' watch lists, alongside the Fed's next steps.

China accounts for more than 10 percent of global trade and remains the single biggest contributor to global growth. A financial market selloff in China sent ripples around the world and caused the Fed to stay its hand when it considered a rate hike in September.

If anything, China's influence is growing. If Beijing allows the yuan to weaken further and re-pegs it to a basket of currencies instead of just the dollar, it could end up exporting deflation that might delay or reverse rate hikes globally.

"We try to get the best information we have... and we talk to everybody. But I don’t think we have any better information than anybody else," James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis told Reuters.

Economists have questioned China's economic statistics for years and turned to measures such as concrete, steel or electricity production to get a handle on an economy that has grown almost 10 percent a year for 30 years.

Now such gauges are less useful as China shifts to a harder-to-measure services economy from an export-driven manufacturing giant.

"I don’t think the Chinese government has that good information,” said Bullard.

SCANT CONTACTS

The issue, according to Fed insiders, former Fed employees and economists is that while the Group of Seven top industrial nations share a common policy language and well established communications channels, they are less developed at the Group of 20.

Neither does the People's Bank of China send policymakers to international economic meetings where they could mingle with top officials from the Fed, ECB, BOJ and other central banks.

Former and current Fed officials say there is no official hotline with China, although there is formal interaction.

"Almost uniformly, from central banks and international organizations, what I hear is that the Chinese side is reluctant to engage," said Michael Spencer, Deutsche Bank's Asia-focused economist.

An examination by Reuters shows the Fed relies on the same publicly available China data that other economists do, and U.S. central bankers acknowledge both publicly and privately that they cannot say they have any firmer handle on how shifts in the Chinese economy affect the United States than anyone else.

Both the Fed and the European Central Bank have small but growing cadres of analysts who specialize in China. The Fed, for its part, is now churning out at least one paper on China each month, compared with only three or four a year a decade ago, a Reuters analysis shows.

That is not counting the unpublished policy briefings and internal modeling that insiders say inform decisions, such as the Fed's September call to keep rates on hold.

Mark Speigel from the San Francisco Fed says his own research reflects the increased interest. A few years ago his main focus was on Japan, but now he devotes most of his time to China.

Officials from Fed Chair Janet Yellen down do have regular contact with Chinese central bankers and other government officials. On Oct. 8, for instance, Yellen spent 30 minutes with the deputy governor of the People's Bank of China at the G-20 meeting in Lima, Peru, her schedule shows. The Fed would not comment on what was said.

San Francisco Fed President John Williams, who makes an annual swing through Asia with Board Governor Jerome Powell, has said his meetings with Chinese officials give him greater confidence the authorities there will engineer a smooth transition from an export-led economy to a domestically driven one, even if that pivot is faster than expected.

"The shift is happening quickly," Williams said last month.

BLACK BOX

Still, despite economic data that some say is improving, China remains a black box in many respects. One of the challenges is simply the pace of structural change that makes historical data less useful in predicting future trends.

Even Chinese officials acknowledge their statistics raise questions. Premier Li Keqiang said in 2007 that the country's data were "man made".

Senior staff at major central banks in Europe say they have built up competence on China in recent years, but that gaps in data, plus the sheer pace of change make it a challenge.

They point to a lack of an import price index or comprehensive demand side data for national accounts as some of the obstacles.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has 10 analysts in its Beijing office churning out research on everything from wealth management to capital flows. The Bank of Japan also an office in the Chinese capital.

The RBA declined to comment directly for this story, although Assistant Governor and head of economics Christopher Kent told a conference last month the researchers helped the bank get a "feeling on the ground".

"They obviously talk a lot to the various authorities in Beijing, and travel a lot around the country."

Besides China's direct impact on the U.S. economy, the Fed is also concerned with the effect lower Chinese demand for commodities has on economies such as Australia, Canada and Chile.

One of the first things the new Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan did after taking office in September was to get his researchers to crunch numbers on China.

His staff estimates that each percentage point decline in China growth trims 0.2 percentage points from U.S. GDP growth.

"Understanding China’s slowdown is essential because China is still the largest individual contributor to global growth," Kaplan said in his first speech in the new role.

(Additional reporting by Frank Siebelt and Francesco Canepa in Frankfurt, Jason Lange, Howard Schneider and David Chance in Washington, Leika Kihara in Tokyo and Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by David Chance and Tomasz Janowski)

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Tech and Banking Giants Ditch Bitcoin for Their Own Blockchain

Wired, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Tech and Banking Giants Ditch Bitcoin for Their Own Blockchain

IBM, Intel, and Cisco are joining the London Stock Exchange, JP Morgan, and others to create their own version of bitcoin's worldwide ledger.

The post Tech and Banking Giants Ditch Bitcoin for Their Own Blockchain appeared first on WIRED.











A bunch of huge companies are creating a free technology to radically change how business is done

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

excited

On Thursday a bunch of giant companies joined forces with the Linux Foundation and vowed to create a free and open source version of a new technology called "distributed ledgers."

The companies involved include ANZ Bank, Cisco, CLS, Credits, Digital Asset, Fujitsu, IC3, IBM, Intel, London Stock Exchange Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MFUG), State Street, SWIFT, VMware and Wells Fargo.

Their goal is to create a distributed ledger that can be used by anyone and is maintained by a group. They are starting with technology from Digital Asset called Hyperledger, which Digital Asset is contributing to the group. Many of the other companies are also contributing technology they've been working on separately. 

Applications built on top of a distributed ledger have the power to completely change how anything of value is tracked and traded.

What are distributed ledgers?

By now, you may have heard of bitcoin, a digital form of cash.  The technology used to keep track of who has the cash, and who is paying who with it, is known as "blockchain." And it turns out blockchain can be used for all sorts of other things besides tracking bitcoins.

blockchain app stackBlockchain is basically a way of taking a database and splitting it up among many, many computers, so that one entity doesn't control the database. Blockchain uses encryption to protect the data and keep track of who is making payments, who is getting paid, and their balances. Altogether this is known as "distributed ledgers."

It's a completely new and fast way of trading and tracking things of value that can, for instance, speed up payments processing, enable manufacturers to share production logs with their suppliers, and do all sorts of things because many parties share a database and a ledger.

One publicly traded company, Overstock, just received SEC approval to use blockchain to issue stock.

But before all these wondrous apps can be built and start changing how business is conducted, the industry has to have a blockchain and distributed ledger system that they feel is safe and secure and compliant with regulatory needs.

That's what the group hopes to build together. 

SEE ALSO: The 27 best apps of 2015 for doing your job

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NOW WATCH: 'House of Cards' ran a realistic-looking political ad during the Republican presidential debate

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