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The Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. Is Half Full Node, Half Work of Art

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

The Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. Is Half Full Node and Half Work of Art

Bitcoin is a decentralized system of digital cash in which users don’t need to trust anyone else with their money; however, the full benefits of this technology are only seen when users operate a full node on the network. The vast majority of Bitcoin users do not operate their own full nodes, but one man is trying to change that with a piece of hardware he calls the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr.

There are many good reasons for individual Bitcoiners to operate a full node. Full nodes are responsible for validating transactions and blocks on the Bitcoin network. Only by running full nodes can users know with full certainty that they received a valid payment. Additionally, the more users that run full nodes, the more decentralized the Bitcoin network is, making it harder to shut down or corrupt.

And as Sia Co-Founder David Vorick pointed out in a talk at this year’s MIT Bitcoin Expo, those who do not operate their own full nodes do not get a say in the matter when hard forks are deployed on the network. “If you’re not running a full node … your opinion on whether or not you like a hard fork is less relevant because, ultimately, if you’re not validating the rules and someone gives you a transaction following a different rule set, you don’t have a way to detect that,” he explained.

Running a full node, however, has been a rather expensive proposition. As a result, larger, economically invested entities that are better able to support full nodes have had more of a say.

According to Vorick, users can be dragged along with miners and large businesses if the cost of running a full node is too high: “If full nodes are expensive to run, only people who are capable of running nodes really have any say in what happens in a contentious upgrade.”

Matthew Zipkin is the man behind the Bitcoin Block Clock. A sound engineer by trade, he has been working in his spare time on creating full nodes that are both affordable and fun to use. During a recent discussion with Bitcoin Magazine, Zipkin revealed his desire to create a piece of hardware for operating a low-cost Bitcoin full node that isn’t boring.

A Bitcoin Full Node That Isn’t Boring

When commenting on his reasoning for creating the Bitcoin Block Clock, Zipkin pointed to the full node devices made by Bitnodes before they were acquired by 21.

“I always wanted one, but they disappeared when they got bought out, so I decided to build my own,” said Zipkin.

While there are other full node options out there, such as Bitseed, Zipkin wanted to make something that was more than a piece of computer hardware that would sit on the floor next to a router. Zipkin wanted to turn a Bitcoin full node into a work of art, and that’s exactly what he did.

Zipkin built the first version of the Bitcoin Block Clock last year, and it was on display at the SF Bitcoin Meetup’s “Proof of Art” event in May of 2016. After receiving positive feedback at the event and on Reddit, Zipkin decided to make a smaller version of the full node hardware to sell.

The Bitcoin Block Clock included a screen that displayed various live information about the Bitcoin network. Zipkin put the original version of the Bitcoin Block Clock for sale on OpenBazaar and Purse.io, but it hasn’t sold.

“I priced it pretty high because it’s art and I love it and kind of want to keep it,” explained Zipkin. “So of course it still has not sold.”

Creating the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. With Bcoin

In an effort to create a version of the Bitcoin Block Clock that could be produced at a lower price, Zipkin turned to Raspberry Pi Zero and Bcoin, which is an implementation of the Bitcoin protocol written in Node.js.

“I discovered Bcoin was super easy to install and use, and the codebase was easier for me to review because it’s in Javascript instead of C++, and was built from scratch by a small group of developers (basically just two guys), so everything is really well labeled and consistent,” explained Zipkin.

Of course, the problem with using SPV mode is that it’s not a full node and the device won’t receive all of the information related to a new Bitcoin block as it’s mined on the network. Zipkin opted for the pruned full node option in Bcoin in an effort to lower the system resources required to operate the node on Raspberry Pi Zero.

“With pruning, I get all the fun block details I wanted to display,” said Zipkin. “I even submitted a pull request (which got merged!) to Bcoin to make my application work even easier.”

Zipkin described the LED displays on the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. as follows:

“The Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. has two LED rings. The outer ring of 24 LEDs indicates recent blocks. Each LED represents 2 minutes, and they “tick” clockwise around the ring. The color of the LED is determined by the block’s version (BIP 9 version bits combined with keywords from the Coinbase scriptSig like “/EXTBLK” or “/EB1/AD6/”). The inner 16-LED ring indicates the progress of the current difficulty period (2,016 blocks, or about two weeks). It starts blue and gradually turns more and more red as the meter fills up. The tiny little display screen indicates some details about the latest block: height, size, version (and extra scriptSig version) and the adjustment period progress. I added a little web interface so I could turn the lights off at night without having to SSH into the Pi every time.”

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An Economical Way to Contribute to the Network

While Zipkin noted that the original Bitcoin Block Clock displays much more information and also comes with full wallet functionality, he also pointed out that the latest model proves that Bitcoin users only need about $20 to run their own full nodes (at least in pruned mode).

Having said that, Zipkin admitted that the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. can struggle to keep up with the network at times.

“Bcoin plus my Python script and all the GPIO display output just barely hangs in there on this tiny underpowered computer,” said Zipkin. “The Python script has a method to restart Bcoin when it crashes and monitor it as it catches up to the network.”

All of the technical details of the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. are open source and can be found on GitHub.

Zipkin has now placed the Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. for sale on OpenBazaar and Purse.io.

The post The Bitcoin Block Clock Jr. Is Half Full Node, Half Work of Art appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Will Miners Signal? Bitcoin's Next Segwit2x Lock-in Period Starts Today

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

Will the next miner signalling period mean bitcoin finally gets SegWit? Through Segwit2x's BIP 91 proposal?

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The head of Yale's $22 billion endowment is calling out Wall Street

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

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) the day after the U.S. presidential election in New York City, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • According to David Swensen, the head of Yale's endowment, exchanges such as Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange pay brokers billions of dollars to send trades to their venues.
  • Wall Streeters and government officials are calling on the SEC to ban rebates because they view them as inefficient for markets.

David Swensen, the head of Yale University's $22 billion endowment is calling out some of the biggest players in finance for shelling out billions of dollars for what he calls "kickbacks" to attract business to their trading venues.

In a joint op-ed in the New York Times, Swensen, a former Wall Streeter, and Jonathan Macey, a professor of securities law at Yale, said trades are supposed to be executed on the exchange that offers the lowest price and quickest transaction time.

"But that’s not what is happening," Macey and Swensen wrote.

That's because exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq pay rebates to brokers, the folks who buy stocks for their clients, to incentivize them to send their orders to their exchange venue. According to Macey and Swensen, brokers frequently send their orders to the exchange where they are offered a rebate, rather than where it would be done the most efficiently. 

"As a result, the brokers produce worse outcomes for their institutional investor clients — and therefore, for individual pension beneficiaries, mutual fund investors and insurance policy holders — and ill-gotten gains for the brokers," Macey and Swensen concluded. 

IEX, which gained exchange status last June, has "refused" to pay rebates to brokers, according to Macey and Swensen. Yale has a small indirect investment in IEX. The firm's CEO, Brad Katsuyama, came down hard on the practice in late June during the House Financial Services Committee's US Equity Market Structure hearing. Here's Katsuyama (emphasis added):

In short, rebate practices cause clear and significant harm to investors. In addition, they are inextricably linked to much complex regulation that, although designed to serve the interests of investors, has had unintended consequences and could be reduced or eliminated if this conflict is removed.

IEX offers tighter spreads on stocks, according to Swensen and Macey, who said the exchange provides the best spreads for 497 stocks in the S&P 500.

Some folks on the Hill are calling on the SEC to take action. On July 14, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, called for the complete elimination of rebates in a letter to the newly confirmed chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Mark Warner"These reforms would help to strengthen alignment - rather than conflicts - of interest between brokers and clients, increase price transparency, reduce fragmentation, strengthen stability, and bring US equity markets closers to the competition mandate required by Securities Acts Amendments of 1975," Warner wrote. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission may implement a "pilot program" that would examine the degree to which rebates affect the markets.

Some exchanges view rebates in a different light. 

Responding to IEX's Katsuyama on the matter, for instance, CBOE President and COO Chris Concannon said:“This notion of banning rebates — it lacks understanding of how our market works."

Concannon said the majority of rebates go to buyers, not brokers, in order to incentivize them to provide liquidity for small companies and ETFs that don't draw enough interest from the markets. 

“Let me continue by saying that when brokers receive rebates, they are still subject to best execution," Concannon added.  

SEE ALSO: One of Goldman Sachs' most senior executives moonlights as a DJ in Miami

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SCHWARZMAN: 'Very few Americans' are proud of the US political system (BX)

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

Stephen Steve Schwarzman

He didn't use the same explosive words, but Blackstone Group CEO Steve Schwarzman empathizes with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon's frustration with the political gridlock on Capitol Hill. 

During an interview with CNBC Tuesday Schwarzman slammed the state of US politics, echoing Dimon's profanity-laden outburst from last week, albeit in a more restrained tone. 

"At this point there are very few Americans that are very proud about the functioning of the US political system," said Schwarzman, who is in Washington, DC, for a summit with Chinese business leaders. "I don't know who the great booster is in terms of getting things done."

Schwarzman said he caught up with Dimon at the summit about his comments during JPMorgan's quarterly earnings call last Friday, in which Dimon bemoaned to analysts that other countries' were investing in education and infrastructure and solving tax policy while the US languished. 

At one point, Dimon went so far as to say it was "almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to this stupid s--- we have to deal with."

"It's amazing to me that every single one of these countries understands that practical policies that promote business and growth are good for the citizens of these countries for jobs and wages and that somehow, this great American free-enterprise system, we no longer get it," Dimon said.

Schwarzman, the billionaire Blackstone founder who now also advises President Donald Trump, told CNBC that he'd use different words, but he didn't disagree with the criticism. 

"I say things differently than Jamie might in terms of language choice, but I haven't found anybody who thinks we're batting 100 out of 100 in terms of how things are being handled," Schwarzman said.

SEE ALSO: DIMON: It's embarrassing to travel the world as an American citizen given 'the stupid s--- we have to deal with'

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A $30 billion hedge fund identified a potential trigger for 'the next financial crisis'

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

seth klarman

Baupost Group, a $30 billion hedge fund, has laid out a road map for market chaos.

In a second quarterly private letter that was reviewed by Business Insider, Baupost said that the problem lies with a signature feature of current markets: low volatility.

That low volatility could be the harbinger of a crisis to come.

That's because when there is low volatility, investors tend to take on more leverage – borrowing money to juice bets – which could trigger problems later on.

"While leverage is not directly responsible for every financial disaster, it usually can be found near the scene of the crime," Jim Mooney, Baupost's president and head of public investments, wrote in the letter. "The lower the volatility, the more risk investors are willing to or, in some cases, required to incur."  

He added: "Structural leverage linked to low realized volatility may well prove destabilizing and the precipitant, or at least an accelerant for the next financial crisis."

Assets whose performance is linked to volatility include a huge amount of money – probably in the hundreds of billions of dollars, he estimated. These funds, including quant funds and so-called risk parity funds, target a specific level of risk, and when volatility spikes, sending risk upwards, it can trigger selling. That can then set off a cycle: volatility leads to selling, which leads to volatility, which leads to selling. 

"As such, any spike in equity market realized volatility, even to historical average levels, has the potential to drive a significant amount of equity selling (much of it automated). Such selling would, in turn, further increase volatility which would call for more de-leveraging and yet more selling."

To be sure, Mooney cautions that investors can't know whether an uptick in volatility is "imminent or even inevitable," nor that it would necessarily have cataclysmic effects, "although it certainly could."

"We remain in a market that is broadly expensive and largely indifferent to risk," Mooney wrote in closing the letter. "No one should be lulled into a false sense of comfort by the illusion of stability which surrounds us."

Mooney's warning contrasts with the VIX, an index measuring investors' fear. Last week, the index hit its lowest level in 24 years, a sign of investors' confidence in the bull market.

Baupost has been raising concerns for some time. Earlier this year, Baupost's founder, Seth Klarman told clients that investors were missing huge risks and raised red flags about the then-new Trump Administration's effects on markets. For instance, Klarman cited Trump's proposed tax cuts, which could considerably raise the government's deficit.

Baupost managed about $30.3 billion as of the start of this year, according to the Hedge Fund Intelligence Billion Dollar club ranking. Current performance was not available, though Baupost said in its letter that it has had positive performance this year. 

MUST READ: How teachers, firemen and college endowments ended up enriching America's hedge fund billionaires

SEE ALSO: The head of $5.7 trillion fund giant BlackRock says the biggest trend in investing is just getting started

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ETHEREUM COFOUNDER: Ethereum is 'a ticking time bomb'

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

Screen Shot 2017 07 18 at 2.38.45 PM

Ethereum, the red-hot rival to bitcoin, has been on a tear since the beginning of last year, but one of its founders thinks the cryptocurrency is in a bubble ready to pop, according to reporting by Bloomberg's Camila Russo.

Ethereum is up 1,700% over the last year, and that spike has occurred in tandem with the growth of the hottest new trend in fundraising: initial coin offerings. 

Approximately $500 million has been raised by the new cryptocurrency-based capital raising method, according to Business Insider's Oscar Williams-Grut. It is a trend that has sparked excitement across Wall Street. 

But the cofounder of the company behind the cryptocurrency, Charles Hoskinson, told Bloomberg that initial coin offerings will spell disaster for the currency's future. 

“People say ICOs are great for Ethereum because, look at the price, but it’s a ticking time-bomb,"  Hoskinson said. “There’s an over-tokenization of things as companies are issuing tokens when the same tasks can be achieved with existing blockchains. People are blinded by fast and easy money.”

A number of startups have used ICOs to raise capital. Gnosis, a prediction market for digital currency Ethereum,  raised $12 million in just 10 minutes in April. Brave, a new web browser startup set up by the founder of Mozilla, made that look pedestrian, raising $35 million in less than 30 seconds selling "Basic Attention Tokens" last month.

"Hoskinson joined the ethereum founding team in late 2013 and left in June 2014 as he advocated for a for-profit entity while others in the team led by Vialik Buterin wanted to keep it as not-for-profit," Russo wrote.

Ethereum was conceived by Vitalik Buterin, a young programmer who was told about bitcoin by his father and decided to create a platform for smart contracts; which bitcoin is not designed to do. 

Read the full story on Bloomberg.

SEE ALSO: 

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What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

FILE PHOTO: Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative 2014 (CGI) in New York, September 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours.

Goldman Sachs has a bond-trading problem.

The US bank beat earnings estimates on Tuesday, with a strong performance in equities trading, debt underwriting, and asset management helping power the beat.

But the troublesome fixed income, currency, and commodities client execution unit had a weak quarter, with revenue that was 40% lower than the second quarter of 2016 and 31% below its weak first quarter. The commodities business had its worst quarter on record. Goldman Sachs' first-half performance in FICC client execution was its worst since the US bank started reporting the results in the current format.

"We didn't navigate the market as well as we aspire to or as well as we have in the past," Goldman Sachs CFO analyst said on a call with analysts. 

Bank of America beat Wall Street expectations on net income and revenue after record quarters from its global banking and wealth management unitsA business that dogged the bank after the financial crisis hit a $2 billion milestone.

Flemming Ornskov, the CEO of the $50 billion drugmaker Shire, told us why big-ticket dealmaking has dropped"I have a few people I've worked with in the past that are investment bankers, and they moan about the tough times they're going through," he said. 

The stock market hasn't been this confident in 24 years. The head of $5.7 trillion fund giant BlackRock says the biggest trend in investing is just getting started. Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme ignited a $363 billion exodus by investors

A one-word change in Yellen's remarks could have big implications for interest rates. And the Fed's misleading view of the job market reflects "a huge intellectual failure," according to David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee.

An alarming number of Americans are worse off than their parents and we're not talking about it enough. The poorest Americans are suddenly worried about repaying their debts. There's a racial barrier to addressing America's huge inequality problem.

Amazon just launched a meal kit service and Blue Apron is dealing with the consequencesChipotle is sinking after customers report symptoms that are "consistent with norovirus."

Netflix's surging stock is destroying short sellers. Here's why all the Netflix bears were wrong, according to RBC. 

Snap slid below $15 for the first time. Harley-Davidson slashed its 2017 shipments forecast. Johnson & Johnson beat thanks to a boost from newer products. And UnitedHealth beat and raised its forecast.

Tesla added the CEO of Fox News' parent company to its board. And Tesla's stock price is "low if you believe in Tesla's future," according to Elon Musk. 

An iconic Swiss watch company opened an enormous museum with watches that belonged to Joe DiMaggio and JFK. Lastly, check out Bombardier's next generation $73 million Global 7000 private jet.

 

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Crypto Market Crosses $80 Billion As Ether, Bitcoin Prices Gain

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

The cryptocurrency markets were once again above $80bn on Tuesday after spending much of the weekend in the red.

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The BBC will reveal a huge gender pay gap among its biggest stars tomorrow

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

Laura Kuenssberg

LONDON — The BBC is poised to reveal that just a third of its best-paid stars are women.

The broadcaster will publish a list of TV and radio talent who earn more than £150,000 ($195,000) on Wednesday, exposing the gender pay gap for the first time.

BBC director general Tony Hall confirmed the disparity in an internal staff video on Tuesday, ahead of tomorrow's announcement.

His words were first reported by trade magazine Broadcast, but Business Insider has also seen a transcript of his message.

"At the moment, of the talent earning over £150,000, two-thirds are men and one-third are women. Is that where we want to be? No. Are we pushing further and faster than any other major broadcaster? Most certainly," Hall said.

Some 109 stars earned more than £150,000 at the BBC last year. If this figure remains steady this year, it will mean that around 36 women are named among the broadcaster's top earners on Wednesday.

BBC News anchor Fiona Bruce and political editor Laura Kuenssberg are two of the BBC's best-paid female stars. Bruce reportedly earns between £500,000 and £800,000, while Kuenssberg has a salary of between £300,000 and £350,000, according to the Telegraph.

As well as revealing that men significantly outnumber women among top earners, the BBC's disclosure could also show that men pick up much bigger pay cheques. Hall told staff that this is a complicated issue.

"Comparing people’s pay is not straightforward. Very few do precisely the same thing — people working at the same show may have other, or different, commitments," he explained.

The BBC has a "profound" aim to redress the balance

The BBC is making changes, however.

It has committed to ensuring that the number of lead actor or presenting roles is equally divided between men and women by 2020.

"This broader target will have a profound impact not just on BBC but on the whole media industry. It’s going to change dramatically the market for talent in this country," Hall said.

The BBC is publishing star pay after the government asked it to be more transparent about the way it spends its £3.7 billion income from TV licence fee payers.

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This New Tool Can Help Bitcoin Users Deal With Stuck Transactions

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

This New Tool Can Help Bitcoin Users Deal With Stuck Transactions

Samourai Wallet is becoming increasingly popular as a wallet that focuses on privacy and security for its users above all else, but a recent tool released by this wallet’s team of developers has a focus on user experience. The new app, called Bitcoin Afterburner, allows users of many different bitcoin wallets to boost transactions that have become stuck due to low fees.

The app works for transactions that have been sent or received, and it is compatible with all BIP 39 and BIP 44 wallets. Examples of compatible wallets include Mycelium, Blockchain.info, Airbitz and Electrum.

To get more details about Bitcoin Afterburner and the concept of fee bumping in general, Bitcoin Magazine reached out to the anonymous CEO of Samourai Wallet.

“Afterburner is one more example of how we are experimenting and developing ways of monetizing our business without resorting to accepting fiat or exposing our users to harmful KYC/AML collection,” said the CEO.

Samourai Wallet monetizes the Bitcoin Afterburner app by adding a $5.99 fee for helping users with their stuck transactions. This fee is added to the child-pays-for-parent (CPFP) transaction that is used to bump the user’s bitcoin transaction fee. CPFP is a process by which the recipient of a transaction can spend the inputs of an unconfirmed transaction by using them in a new transaction that has a higher fee (and incentivizes miners to mine both transactions at once).

The full question and answer session with the CEO of Samourai Wallet can be read below.


Bitcoin Magazine: Will fee bumping eventually become the norm on Bitcoin?

Samourai Wallet: We believe that over time as legitimate transactions start to fill block space, and a fee market begins to mature, wallets that have implemented sophisticated fee management mechanisms such as fee bumping will provide their users with the most competitive transaction fees and confirmation times. The tech is there today, the challenge — and it isn't a small challenge — is entirely UX. We're working on this today while others are playing catch-up.

BM: Could you compare and contrast this app with the transaction accelerators offered by ViaBTC and BTC.com?

SW: The difference between the miner operated TX Accelerators is that Afterburner is not an off-chain 1-to-1 with a specific miner. Instead, Afterburner broadcasts a bitcoin transaction to all miners using the standard bitcoin p2p network. All the miners on the network compete for the new transaction with the higher fee, meaning it often works much quicker than the miner operated TX Accelerators. Afterburner was very much a defensive response to the miners who have been blocking SegWit activation and broadcasting empty blocks, some of those same miners are the ones who run the TX Accelerators.

BM: Is Bitcoin Afterburner getting much use so far?

SW: Afterburner has a good number of installs, but not many paid 'Boosts.' A few days after we released Afterburner the transaction backlog that was driving up fees and confirmation times completely dried up. The fees required for next block confirmation dropped from 300 sat/b to 25 sat/b. Once the mempool gets saturated again, we will have a much better idea of the potential utility of the app.

BM: Why do you think more wallet providers don’t offer this sort of service?

SW: Many wallet providers — inexplicably the most well-funded ones are the most guilty — haven't invested any time into proper fee estimation and management until very recently. A misguided industry-driven quest to make the bitcoin wallet for “grandma” resulted in an unusable bitcoin wallet for actual users. Samourai has focused from inception on actual bitcoin users first.

BM: Do you think this sort of fee bumping will eventually be free? Does Samourai Wallet offer fee bumping like this natively or do they need to use this separate app?

SW: Samourai Wallet provides the exact same functionality as Afterburner natively. Afterburner was designed to allow users of any other BIP 44 HD wallet to boost their stuck transaction using CPFP (Child-Pays-for-Parent) under the hood. Hopefully they move over to Samourai Wallet if they are satisfied with the service. In addition to CPFP-based boosting more advanced users may opt-in to RBF-based boosting which is also available in the wallet. Both options are available to Samourai Wallet users free of charge.

The post This New Tool Can Help Bitcoin Users Deal With Stuck Transactions appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Ethereum surges back above $200

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

Ethereum is back above $200 an ether, trading up 5.29% following a Bloomberg report suggesting bitcoin's civil war may be coming to an end. A decision on whether or not bitcoin will be split is due on August 1. 

Tuesday's gains mark a second straight advance for the bewildered cryptocurrency, which had fallen as much as 65% from its record high of $395 set on June 13. Over the weekend, Ethereum crashed 25% amid ongoing concerns of a cryptocurrency bubble and rise in popularity of Initial Coin Offerings

Investors have also had to stomach a flash crash that saw Ethereum's value tumble from $295 to $0.10 in a matter of minutes before quickly recouping those losses. 

Ethereum has seen a meteoric rise in the cryptocurrency universe. At the beginning of the year, it made up just 5% of the market, but that number had swelled to 30% by June 22. 

Ethereum is up more than 2,100% in 2017.

Ethereum

 

 

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin is on a tear amid signs that its civil war is coming to an end

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Bitcoin is on a tear amid signs that its civil war is coming to an end

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

Screen Shot 2017 07 18 at 9.18.55 AM

Bitcoin is on track to recoup losses from its weekend crash thanks to signs that the civil war tearing the cryptocurrency community apart may soon reach resolution. 

Bitcoin tanked 20%, below $1,800 per coin over the weekend, but is now trading at around $2,300. 

According to reporting by Bloomberg's Yuji Nakamura, that may be because bitcoin miners are getting on board with a software created to bridge the gap between the two opposing camps in the bitcoin community. If enough miners start using so-called SegWit2x, then a bitcoin split could be avoided. 

"About 55 percent of blocks mined in the last 24 hours were done with SegWit2x," according to Nakamura. "If support reaches 80 percent and maintains that threshold from more than two days, it will move bitcoin closer to avoiding a split."

Antpool, the largest miner with $282.2 million in annualized mining proceeds, is one big player that has switched over to SegWit2x since its launch, according to Bloomberg. 

On one side of the bitcoin war, there are so-called core developers who want to keep the blocks that make up bitcoin's network limited in their size to 1 megabyte per block. On the other side, are the miners who want to increase the size of blocks to make the bitcoin network faster.

In order to find middle ground, some "business executives and miners" created a proposal called SegWit2X, which moves threshold for implementation down to 80% and also allows for a small increase in the size of blocks on the chain to 2 MBs, according to Paul McNeal, a bitcoin evangelist. 

To be sure, there are still "fundamentalists" on both sides of the argument standing their group. 

Arthur Hayes, the CEO of BitMex, a bitcoin derivative exchange, recently told Business Insider that he thinks a split, or fork, is very likely. When all is said and done, he thinks there could be up to four different bitcoin iterations. 

As a result, he predicts the price of bitcoin will continue to rise and fall sporadically until the deadline for SegWit2x implementation on August 1. 

"Sure, people are going to get out as a result of this uncertainty and the price will fall," Hayes said.

"But there are people with billions of dollars of skin in the game and they will ultimately go with the superior bitcoin network, and then the market will follow," Hayes concluded. 

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin is embroiled in a civil war — here's one way it can unfold

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What Could Happen to Bitcoin? A Visual Guide to Scaling Outcomes

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

Bitcoin is poised for a number of possible code changes this summer, so CoinDesk has compiled a chart to help users navigate the developing situation.

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Take a look at the new £10 note featuring Jane Austen and a new aid for the visually impaired

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

New £10

LONDON — The Bank of England on Tuesday unveiled the design of the new £10 note, the latest in a series of brand new polymer notes being brought into circulation by Britain's central bank.

In a ceremony at Winchester Cathedral, BoE Governor Mark Carney presented the new note, featuring an image of the author Jane Austen. Tuesday marks 200 years since Austen's death.

"Austen’s novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published," Carney said in a speech.

The new note will come into circulation on September 14, and like the polymer £5 will be both more durable and harder to counterfeit than cotton notes, but will be prone to sticking together at first. The polymer material sparked outrage among the vegan community after it emerged that it contained a tiny amount of tallow, a substance derived from animal fat.

"The new £10 note marks the next exciting step in our introduction of cleaner, safer, stronger polymer banknotes, and I am grateful to the cash industry for their work towards a smooth transition," the Bank of England's chief cashier Victoria Cleland said in a statement.

One new feature of the note that has never been seen before in British bank notes is a so-called "tactile feature" which will allow the blind and partially sighted to identify the notes more easily.

New £10

Austen's image is accompanied by a quote from Pride and Prejudice: "I declare after all that there is no enjoyment like reading!"

The quote has caused some consternation in some circles on the internet. In its original context, the character who utters the words, Caroline Bingley, is being more than a little disingenuous. Bingley has no real interest in literature and instead pretends to be an avid reader to attract the attentions of the book's heartthrob, Mr Darcy.

The currently circulated £10 notes cease to be legal tender in the Spring of 2018.

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Goldman Sachs has a bond-trading problem (GS)

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

lloyd blankfein

Goldman Sachs has a problem.

The US bank beat earnings estimates on Tuesday, with a strong performance in equities trading, debt underwriting, and asset management helping power the beat.

But the troublesome fixed income, currency, and commodities client execution unit had a weak quarter, with revenue that was 40% lower than the second quarter of 2016 and 31% below its weak first quarter.

On a call with analysts, CFO Marty Chavez said rates revenue was down significantly, while the commodities business had its worst quarter on record. "It was a difficult quarter on all fronts," Chavez said.

"We didn't navigate the market as well as we aspire to or as well as we have in the past," he added.

At $1.16 billion, FICC revenue was significantly lower than equities trading revenue, which came in at $1.9 billion. It's also the worst quarterly performance for FICC since the fourth quarter of 2015. Here's a breakdown of Goldman's FICC revenue in recent quarters:

  • Q2 2017 — $1.16 billion
  • Q1 2017 — $1.685 billion
  • Q4 2016 — $2 billion
  • Q3 2016 — $1.96 billion
  • Q2 2016 — $1.93 billion
  • Q1 2016 — $1.66 billion
  • Q4 2015 — $1.12 billion

To be sure, the weakness in FICC was not unexpected. But the scale of the decline at Goldman Sachs is likely to worry Wall Street analysts and investors. Here's a comparison with what other Wall Street banks have reported so far:

  • Goldman Sachs FICC revenue — $1.16 billion — down 40% year-on-year
  • JPMorgan FICC revenue — $3.2 billion — down 19% year-on-year
  • Citigroup FICC revenue — $3.4 billion — down 6% year-on-year
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch FICC revenue — $2.1 billion — down 14%

The weak second-quarter performance also follows a tough first quarter, when revenue ticked up by just 1% on the first quarter of 2016 and dropped from the final three months of 2016.

Goldman Sachs delivered $2.8 billion in FICC revenue in the first half, down 19% from the same period last year. That figure was $4.7 billion in 2015 and $5.1 billion in 2014, and it stood at more than $5.6 billion in both 2013 and 2012. In 2011, it was $5.9 billion, and in 2010 it was a whopping $9.4 billion. Goldman Sachs' latest first-half performance in FICC client execution was its worst since the US bank started reporting the results in the current format.

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A Chinese Bitcoin Tycoon and His Record-Breaking ICO

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

An initial coin offering led by noted bitcoin investor Li Xiaolai has set a record in China, but has also received criticisms.

Source

Some people are angry about the Jane Austen quote used on the new £10 note

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

New £10 note 2013

LONDON —The Bank of England is set to unveil its new £10 note on Tuesday, set to come into circulation later in the year.

However, even before it has been formally presented, it is causing outrage in some corners of the internet thanks to a quote featured on the note.

Concept designs for the new £10 feature an image of English author Jane Austen next to a quote from her magnum opus, Pride and Prejudice.

"I declare after all that there is no enjoyment like reading!" — the quote says, praising the art of reading, a sentiment that is hard to disagree with.

However, in its original context, the character who utters the words, Caroline Bingley, is being more than a little disingenuous. Bingley has no real interest in literature and instead pretends to be an avid reader to attract the attentions of the book's heartthrob, Mr Darcy.

As noted by the Guardian, Bingley utters these words to impress Mr Darcy while sitting next to him as he reads. She is "as much engaged in watching Mr Darcy's progress through his book, as in reading her own," Austen writes.

The use of the quote has drawn criticism online, with Twitter users taking to the platform to criticise the Bank of England for an apparent lack of research.

This is not the first time the bank's new notes have caused some form of outrage. The central bank attracted the ire of the vegan community last year when it emerged that the new £5 note contained a tiny amount of tallow, a substance derived from animal fat. The new £10 notes will be made in the same manner.

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Hackers reportedly stole $8 million of Ethereum in a disastrous startup fundraising attempt

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

bank vault money cash safe hacking security

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum have long had a reputation as being somewhat of a "Wild West," beset by hype bubbles, scams, and hacks — and that seems unlikely to change any time soon.

Amid the massive hype and speculation around Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), $8 million (£6.1 million) was stolen from would-be investors in one startup.

For the uninitiated, ICOs are a fancy new way of fundraising enabled by digital currencies like Ethereum — participants invest money and receive digital "tokens" in return. It's largely unregulated, and some observers believe the market is in a massive bubble — with some ICO crowdfunding events raising hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the case of Coindash, its ICO was rapid — and disastrous.

Motherboard reports that just minutes after it began, the company was forced to warn investors that their funds had been stolen due to a hack.

The attacker(s) had apparently hacked into the website and changed the address that investors were sending their funds to — meaning the cash was funnelled directly to them. It's the digital equivalent of changing the name on the paperwork so investors make out their cheques to the wrong person — and it's basically irreversible.

The alleged attacker's address currently holds almost 44,000 ether — more than $8.2 million (£6.2 million) at current prices.

Here's a screenshot of the company Slack channel as the ICO launched:

slack coindash

There is some unconfirmed speculation on Reddit that it could have been a deliberate hoax. "Is there any proof that this was a hack? What if Coindash put an address in and then cried hacker to get away with free ETH?" one user wrote. (There's no actual evidence for this right now.)

Coindash says this isn't the end, however. In a statement posted to Slack, a company rep said: "It is unfortunate for us to announce that we have suffered a hacking attack during our Token Sale event ... This was a damaging event to both our contributors and our company but it is surely not thr end of our company. We are looking into the security breach and will update you all as soon as is possible about the findings."

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Here comes Bank of America ... (BAC)

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

Bank of America

Bank of America is set to announce second-quarter earnings Tuesday at 6:45 a.m.

Wall Street estimates the firm will announce earnings of $0.43 per share, a 17% increase from last year. 

Here's what else analysts are expecting:

  • Net income of $4.7 billion, an 18% increase from last year.
  • Revenues of $21.8 billion, a 5% increase from last year.
  • Like other big banks, trading income is expected to take a hit. 

Bank of America's results will follow a generally strong showing from peers JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup last week. Each of the big banks beat estimates, with JPMorgan hauling in record earnings from its commercial banking and asset and wealth management units. 

Trading revenues have faltered across Wall Street, and Bank of America is expected to follow suit. The company said it anticipates a 10% to 12% decline in trading income from last year. 

The Charlotte-based bank posted strong results in the first quarter, including record investment-banking fees. 

Goldman Sachs will report earnings later Tuesday morning.

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2 new Harry Potter books are going to be published in October

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

harry potter

Publisher Bloomsbury has announced two new Harry Potter books will come out this year to mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the series.

To celebrate 20 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published, two new books will come out in October to accompany a Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library.

The titles are Harry Potter: A History of Magic, The Book of the Exhibition, which surveys the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Harry Potter, A Journey Through a History of Magic, which takes the reader on a historical journey of the Harry Potter world and delves into the stories behind spells, magical creatures and famous wizards and witches.

The books — which explore the magical world but are not new stories about the original Harry Potter characters — feed into the growing world of Harry Potter experiences, including the West End play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio tour, in north London. There is also an ongoing Kickstarter campaign to open a 'wizarding' pub in London next year, although the pub is not affiliated with the official Potter franchise.

The news comes as part of Bloomsbury's quarterly trading update, published on Tuesday. The company has reported a 19% year-on-year rise in total revenues for the three months ending 31 May 2017, driven by their Consumer division. In the Non-Consumer division, sales of digital resources are up 16%, and the Board expects profits for the year to be consistent with expectations.

Best selling Bloomsbury titles in the quarter included Tom Kerridge's Dopamine Diet, The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst, while the Harry Potter series also continues to be a best seller.

Meanwhile, Bloomsbury says that its digital resources are performing "well," reflecting the trend across the publishing and advertising industries towards online and digital. The company says academic trials of its new digital resource Bloomsbury Popular Music are proving popular, and Bloomsbury Professional Online has had a strong start to the financial year. The company plans to launch Bloomsbury Design Library later this month.

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CoinDesk Explainer: How BIP 91 Implements SegWit While Avoiding a Split

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

CoinDesk gives a broad overview of BIP 91, a code proposal that could prove integral to bitcoin's upcoming scaling upgrade.

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London is beginning to 'wobble' after Brexit — and Chinese millionaires are going off the UK

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

Brexit

LONDON — The UK's capital is beginning to feel the effects of Brexit and to "wobble," according to a new report by the Centre for London, while a separate study claims Chinese millionaires are cooling on the capital.

The Centre for London report says London is experiencing a faltering housing market, a slowdown in the number of EU citizens seeking work, and weaker job creation. Although London's unemployment rate is at a record low — 5.5% — job creation has slowed, and is now roughly on par with the rest of the UK, having been significantly higher after the 2008 financial crisis.

The number of foreign workers seeking employment has fallen by 15% in the last year, while business activity growth is at an 11-month low. The report said this is likely due to the political uncertainty caused by the snap election result and Brexit.

"London has shown remarkable resilience in the years following the recession. But its growth has not been painless. Levels of inequality have soared. Congestion, pollution and the housing shortage have all worsened," said Ben Rogers, founder and director of the Centre for London.

"While no-one knows how Brexit will play out, this new analysis suggests that London’s economy is beginning to wobble. It also highlights the need to tackle London’s critical challenges to ensure it is in the best possible position to deal with Brexit," he said.

Although the UK and London's economies performed better than expected in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, consumer confidence has dipped this year, and there has been an increase in inflation as well as negative wage growth.

The annual rate of London house price growth is now less than 3%, its weakest level since 2012, and is now slower than the rate of growth across the rest of the country.

"The next few years will be historically defining for the City, for our capital and for the country at large," said Catherine McGuiness, chairman policy and resources committee for the City of London Corporation. "Firms of all types are grappling with increasing uncertainty, underpinned by Brexit and political change."

The UK has also slipped from second to third place in the list of preferred destinations for Chinese millionaires, according to a separate report by Hurun Report and Visa Consulting Group. The US remains in the top spot, but Canada beat the UK to second place in the latest survey.

The report, which surveyed 304 Chinese millionaires worth between $1.5 million and $30 million, found that about half were considering moving out of China, which it attributed largely to pollution problems and education.

While this may not sound like much of a problem, overseas investment contributed £197 billion to the UK economy last year and China is one of the biggest global investors, both on a corporate level and in terms of overseas spending by its nationals.

Despite the survey of Chinese millionaires, the Centre for London's report shows that Chinese tourism levels remained consistent in 2016. Tourists from North America and Europe remained relatively consistent, owing in part to a weaker sterling. London also saw a significant increase in visitors from Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar.

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Another win for Frankfurt — Citi to set up a 'major new trading operation' in German city after Brexit

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

Traders work at their desks in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 20, 2017.

LONDON — American banking giant Citi is set to become the latest major financial firm to choose Frankfurt for its post-Brexit EU hub, reports late on Monday suggested.

Sky News' City Editor Mark Kleinman reports that the bank, which currently employs close to 9,000 people across the UK, plans to use the German financial centre as "the location for a major new trading operation."

Citing "insiders," Sky reports that Citi considered moving its EU hub to Paris, but eventually decided on Frankfurt, and will reveal its plan formally later this week. Citi has not commented on the report from Sky.

Financial centres across the EU — including Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, and Luxembourg — are battling to attract financial services work moving out of London as a result of Brexit as a result of expected legal changes that will make operating in the EU out of London tricky.

Britain is expected to lose financial passporting rights, which allow banks with a base in the UK to sell products and services to customers and financial markets across the EU.

Frankfurt is emerging as a popular destination for many international firms choosing a post-Brexit base. Three Japanese lenders, Daiwa, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, and Nomura, have all confirmed in recent weeks that they will set up new post-Brexit bases in Frankfurt.

However, a recent study from professional services giant EY suggested that Dublin is so far the post-Brexit favourite for financial firms.

Lobbyists in Frankfurt remain confident, especially when it comes to the lucrative euro clearing business. Hubertus Väth, managing director of lobby group Frankfurt Main Finance, told Business Insider earlier in July he was confident the EBA, Europe's banking authority, would move to Frankfurt. He added that he believes euro clearing should move to the city if it does move from London.

He said: "We are confident about it. I cannot say it will be the likely decision of such a complex body as the European Union, but I think we have very good arguments for it.

"If you look at it from a rational point of view, then I think everything speaks for Frankfurt."

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West Ham CEO Karren Brady is taking over as chair of Sir Philip Green's retail empire

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

West Ham United executive vice-chairman Baroness Karren Brady ahead of the game.

LONDON — Karren Brady, one of the UK's most high-profile business women, is taking over as chair of billionaire Sir Philip Green's retail empire.

Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge will chair Taveta Investments, the holding company that controls chains like Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, and Burton through its ownership of Arcadia. Sir Philip Green's wife Tina owns Taveta, where Brady has been on the board since 2010.

Brady rose to prominence as the youngest CEO of a listed British company after taking Birmingham City Football Club public in 1997. She is currently the CEO of West Ham United football club and is a regular on the UK version of The Apprentice.

Brady says in an emailed statement: "It is a privilege to have been invited to chair the board and I look forward to working with my colleagues as we concentrate on driving the Arcadia brands forward on their global expansion."

Brady replaces Lord Anthony Grabiner as chair at Taveta. The barrister chaired the private company for 15 years but was heavily criticised last year by MPs over his role in the sale of BHS, which Taveta sold for £1 in 2015. It subsequently collapsed last year.

A report by MPs into the collapse of BHS said Lord Grabiner was "the apogee of weak corporate governance" and then-Business Select Committee chair Iain Wright called Lord Grabiner "truly hopeless" in the House of Commons.

Sir Philip Green says in an emailed statement: "On behalf of the Taveta Board, I would like to thank Lord Grabiner for his fifteen years’ service and to wish him well for the future."

Brady's appointment comes at a difficult time of Taveta. Operating profit fell by 16% to £211 million last year and revenue was flat at £2 billion, as the retail giant struggles with the rise of online shopping and the fall-out from the BHS scandal.

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This map shows the towns frustrated Londoners are moving to to get on the property ladder — sending prices soaring

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

UK Housing

LONDON — It is a truth universally acknowledged that buying a house anywhere near the centre of London is impossible for people in their 20s unless they're a banker, or have lived on value baked beans and supermarket own-brand cornflakes for their entire life, saving every penny they earn.

The difficulty of buying a property in the capital has forced younger buyers into a variety of different solutions, including buying a house with strangers.

Simply leaving the capital for a town a few miles from the city and commuting back and forth every day is becoming a popular alternative.

But, as more and more people move to so-called commuter towns, so property prices in those areas rise.

In a new report focusing on the future of the British economy, Big Four professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers illustrates just how much commuter towns are seeing house prices grow.

"Many towns and cities within the commuter belt have recently experienced stronger price growth than London," the firm's UK Economic Outlook notes.

"One of the primary reasons for this is the affordability crisis within London, which has seen first-time buyers in particular struggling to buy in the capital. In 2016, house prices in London were 13 times median earnings, while the 15 commuter belt towns offer a lower (albeit still high) ratio of 9 times earnings," it continues.

Commuter towns to the east of London in Essex, like Braintree and Basildon, are currently experiencing the fastest growth, while those to the south and west of London in Surrey have seen prices stagnate.

Check out PwC's map of price growth below:

Commuter town house price growth

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Ether Price Analysis: Are We Heading to $100 Support Level?

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

Ether Price Analysis

As anticipated in the last ETH-USD price analysis, ETH-USD found a new low yesterday as the market continued its downward path within a cryptomarket-wide bear run. After making a Double Bottom a couple of weeks ago, ETH-USD has made a vicious run for lower prices. The figure below shows the Fibonacci Retracement values for our current, post-Double-Bottom-Reversal:

Post_DB_Reversal_Fib_jpeg.jpgFigure 1: ETH-USD, 2HR Candles, Gemini, Fibonacci Retracement Values

At the time of this article, ETH-USD is testing the first Fibonacci Retracement value at 23%. Before continuing to lower lows, it is very common to see retests of previous, significant support levels to establish the strength in the trend. The figure above shows the retracement path of the current bear run we are seeing. Before continuing to lower lows, the market likes to establish lines that were previously support values, and turn them into resistance lines:

Fib_Retest_jpeg.jpgFigure 2: ETH-USD, 2HR Candles, Gemini, Fibonacci Retracement Retests

Whether or not we make any significant upward progress with this bounce from the bottom remains to be seen. However, we have some indicators that will give us some insight into the health of this move:

1HR_Divergence_jpeg.jpgFigure 3: ETH-USD, 1HR Candles, Gemini, 1HR MACD Divergence

Looking at the 1HR MACD, one of the first things that pops out is the strong divergence the market is currently seeing. Divergence occurs when the price makes a new high, but the MACD fails to accompany the high with a new high on the MACD histogram. This is usually an indication of momentum loss and can often lead traders to begin the process of position exit and entry. In our case, we are currently testing two significant levels of support:

  1. The 23% retracement (mentioned above);

  2. The values that established the ETH-USD market’s previous low.

At the moment, the ETH-USD markets are at the mercy of whatever BTC-USD decides to do. Given that the entire cryptomarket is experiencing a very strong bear market, any noteworthy upward price movement must be well established with plenty of consistent volume. A failure to breach these values will almost certainly lead to a retest of our current low before any further upward progress can be seen. If our current low is broken, we can expect the next significant level of support to lie in the low $100 range:

Next_line_of_support_jpeg.jpgFigure 4: ETH-USD, 12HR Candles, Gemini, Next Line of Support

Summary:

  1. ETH-USD continues to make new lows as it begins to retest old support lines,

  2. Before any significant positive price movement is seen, more buy volume needs to flow into the market to establish firm support. Otherwise, we will continue to descend.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

The post Ether Price Analysis: Are We Heading to $100 Support Level? appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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