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U.S. Senate Mulls Reporting Requirements for Cryptocurrencies

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

USSenateBill

American Bitcoin holders may soon have to report their holding to the United States government.

First introduced on May 25, 2015, by Sen. Chuck Grassley [R-IA], Senate Bill S.1241, the
“Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017,” can have serious implications for those involved in the cryptocurrency space. The hearing for S.1241 was held with virtually no public notice on November 28, 2017; the full two-hour hearing can be viewed here.

Currently, the definition of “financial institution” includes banks, trust companies, credit unions, currency exchanges and the like. But according to Section 5312(a) of title 31, the new bill would amend the definition of “financial institution” to include “an issuer, redeemer, or cashier of prepaid access devices, digital currency, or any digital exchanger or tumbler of digital currency.” 

This is most specifically embedded in Section 13:

senatebilltextscreen.png

Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] said in her opening remarks of the hearing, “The bill criminalizes intentionally concealing ownership or control of a bank account.” Although, during the hearing, no further clarifications were given as to the effects this would have on the cryptocurrency community, based on the amended definition of “financial institution,” it would seem that the bill would criminalize anyone intentionally concealing ownership or control of a digital currency or exchange account. While there is no finalized bill yet, the implication would be that cryptocurrency holders need to fill in federal registration forms for tax disclosure, quarterly reporting and more.

Notably, while the purpose of the bill and hearing had to do with adding digital currencies and exchanges to the definition of financial institutions, there was almost no discussion on the topic other than briefly in reference to drug cartels using them to launder money. For example, nowhere in the testimony by Coinbase board of directors member Kathryn Haun Rodriguez does she mention digital currencies or exchanges, and at no time was she asked any questions about them.

Unsurprisingly, the bill is receiving pushback from some cryptocurrency holders. Activists on Reddit have started a social media campaign in opposition to the bill, and are suggesting others to tweet: “@senjudiciary that #Bitcoiners are not #Crooks Remove #DigitalCurrencies from Section 13 of S1241.” Others are contacting their senators directly.

The post U.S. Senate Mulls Reporting Requirements for Cryptocurrencies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin: 'I'm part of a crazy wave'

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

Three people share their experiences of buying Bitcoin.

STOCKS RISE: Here's what you need to know

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

gary cohn

Stocks finished up on Friday after the Federal Government narrowly avoided a complete shutdown with a two-week stopgap measure signed by President Donald Trump this morning.

Here’s the scoreboard:

  • S&P 500: 2,650.05 (0.50%)
  • Dow: 24,319.10  (+0.44%)
  • Nasdaq: 6,837.262(+0.37%)
  • Oil: $57.33 (+1.18%)
  • 10-year treasury: 2.36% (-0.02)
  1. The US economy added 228,000 nonfarm jobs in November, more than economists expected. The unemployment rate held at a 17-year-low of 4.1%.
  2. CNBC asked National Economic Council director Gary Cohn for his opinion on bitcoin’s astronomical rise. His response? ¯\_()_/¯
  3. Bank of America says the dollar is set for a big rebound after a difficult year.
  4. Brokerage giant TD Ameritrade is gearing up for bitcoin futures. Goldman Sachs plans to clear the product for some of its clients

In other news…

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The first bitcoin futures depend on trading at the Winklevoss twins' tiny exchange — and that could be a problem

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

winklevoss

  • Cboe Global Markets' bitcoin futures product launches Sunday. 
  • Cboe is basing its bitcoin futures contract on pricing on Gemini, the cryptocurrency exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins. 
  • Bitcoin futures will allow investors to bet on the future price of the red-hot cryptocurrency.
  • But a number of concerns hang over Gemini including low volumes on the exchange and system outages. 


All eyes will be on Cboe Global Markets on Sunday when it launches futures contracts for bitcoin.

The Chicago-based derivatives market is the first established exchange to roll-out futures for the red-hot digital currency. Futures are contracts that will let investors bet on the coin's future price. 

While bitcoin enthusiasts are excited about the attention — and big money — a new futures market could bring to the digital coin, concerns hang over Gemini, the cryptocurrency exchange Cboe is working with to launch the contracts. 

Founded in 2015 by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who reportedly own a billion dollars of bitcoin, Gemini is one of the best-connected firms in the cryptocurrency space. 

But Gemini is still small, and trading in its price-setting auction is thin enough that it could be manipulated, according to critics. Cboe will be basing the price of its futures on this auction, which means any sudden shift in the set price could make the difference between a contract that is a money maker or a money loser. 

Then there's the fact that Gemini has suffered outages when demand for bitcoin skyrockets.

Gemini tracks the overall market pretty closely with an average difference of just 0.01%, according to Cboe. The product was designed with one exchange to make it easier for traders to hedge their holdings of the underlying asset. And Cboe would rely on a backup index based on data from six exchanges if Gemini were to crash.

Gemini did not respond to an email seeking comment. 

Smallest among rivals

Gemini is much smaller than many of its rivals in the bitcoin-trading space. Ranked fourteenth globally by 24-hour trading volumes, the exchange sees only 1.4% of trading in the entire bitcoin market, according to data from CoinMarketCap. 

Screen Shot 2017 12 06 at 4.14.16 PMIts size is concerning to some trading firms which don't like the idea of an entire market for futures being based on data from one exchange with thin volumes. The logic is, since Gemini is so small, its activity can't paint an accurate picture of the broader crypto-market.

Cboe's futures will be based on the auction price of bitcoin on the Gemini exchange. Settlements for the contracts, the payout a trader either receives or pays out for their bet, will be determined each day at 4:00 p.m. The first settlement is not set to occur until January. 

"I'm concerned that the Gemini auctions often have very low volume and the lack of liquidity may lead to the futures settling at a price that is not indicative of where bitcoin is trading on other venues, due to the localized supply/demand imbalance in the auction," Garrett See, the CEO of DV Chain, the cryptocurrency trading arm of Chicago-based DV Trading, told Business Insider.  

Market manipulation

John Spallanzani, the chief macro strategist at GFI Group, told Business Insider Gemini's low volumes could be a problem because it could lead to market manipulation. 

"The lower the volumes, the easier to manipulate," he said. "Since the volume is low and [bitcoin] is unregulated it is conceivable."

"The last thing we want is another Libor-type scandal," he added, referring to a scandal in which banks rigged the price of the London Interbank Offered Rate to benefit their positions in the derivatives market. Banks have been fined billions of dollars for manipulating the rate, which provided the base for a loan market worth a $300 billion.

"This is one exchange which comprises a relatively small amount of bitcoin dollar traded volumes globally," Greg Dwyer, the head of business development at BitMEX, a bitcoin derivatives exchange based in Hong Kong, said, referring to Gemini. "So there are concerns that there could be adverse price movements due to this illiquidity or some bad actors in the space trying to move the price at settlement."

Such market manipulation would not easily get past regulators at the CFTC, the body that oversees futures in the US, according to Dwyer. It also wouldn't get by Cboe, which has information sharing in place and would watch for irregularities during the auction. As for Gemini, the exchange is required to know exactly the entities trading on the exchange during the auction because of Know-your-customer requirements by New York law. 

Crypto-insiders are also concerned about Cboe's futures product. I Am Nomad, a popular crypto-trader who declined to identify his identity for fear of reprisal from his employer, shared his criticism of Cboe's futures contracts in a recent Medium post. 

"The Gemini Exchange, while being a solid US-based exchange, makes up a very small percentage of the global volume," he wrote in a blog post. "More importantly, the auction itself sometimes has days where it has low volume or doesn’t complete at all."

Dave Weisberger, CEO of CoinRoutes, told Business Insider Gemini's size is irrelevant. He said the design of Cboe's futures contracts embeds more certainty into the market. Here's Weisberger in a LinkedIn post:

"Using a single point in time auction to create the settlement price at expiration, has advantages.  It is more deterministic (investors long bitcoin and short futures can precisely manage their exposure at expiration), and harder to manipulate."

Still, exchange clients appear to be concerned about Gemini's small command of the market. A person familiar with Nasdaq's futures contracts, which could launch as early as the second quarter of next year, told Business Insider clients of the exchange voiced their concerns about a product based on too few indexes. Nasdaq's bitcoin futures contract will track 50 indexes, whereas CME Group, Cboe's cross-town rival, is set to track four.  

Outages

geminigrounded

When volumes have increased on Gemini, the firm has faced challenges staying online. 

Earlier this month, the firm showed many users a "504 Gateway Time-out" message, which means its servers were not responding to requests. The company posted on its status page that "systems are currently experiencing degraded performance."

The exchange also experienced outages lasting as long as 10 hours in August, according to reporting by Quartz. 

“This is not the first scaling challenge we’ve encountered, and it won’t be the last,” Gemini said in a blog post. “We’re continuing to improve our performance and infrastructure monitoring so we can anticipate potential problems more quickly in the future.”

Outages in the crypto-world are commonplace, and Gemini is far from the only exchange dealing with such issues. See told Business Insider crypto-exchanges in a sense are still "websites" that lack "the industrial scale" of traditional exchanges. And with cryptocurrency volumes topping as much as $26 billion in a single trading day, exchanges and trading firms are under pressure to enhance their technology.  

Read more about blockchain, the technology powering bitcoin, here

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Cryptocurrency is the next step in the digitization of everything — 'It’s sort of inevitable'

SEC Commissioner Defends Bitcoin Expert Against Union Director’s Verbal Assault

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

[…]

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New ViaBTC Exchange to Use Bitcoin Cash as Base Trading Pair

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

Mining pool ViaBTC is launching a new cryptocurrency exchange based in the U.K., the company announced today.

Craigslist is getting on the bitcoin bus — sellers can now show they accept cryptocurrencies

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

Craigslist_button_cryptocurrency

  • Craigslist just added a new button where sellers can indicate that they'll take cryptocurrencies as payment.
  • The notoriously minimalist site won't process the payments. Buyers and sellers still have to exchange payment for goods at the point of sale.
  • Cryptocurrencies are widely believed to be a good way to exchange money in cases where you don't know or trust the person who's buying from you, since it is guaranteed payment unlike a check, which can bounce. 


Craigslist is making it easier than ever for customers to accept cryptocurrency when selling used goods on the online marketplace. 

The notoriously minimalist website added a new button which lets sellers indicate if they accept cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether in exchange for the thing they're trying to sell. Craigslist displays the new check box, first noticed by a Reddit user on Thursday, when sellers are creating a new listing. The box is in the "posting details" section of the listing form, near other standard fields such as "contact information."

Craigslist doesn't offer an on site payment option. Encouraging sellers to use cryptocurrencies could resolve a key concern they often face — finding a method of payment they can trust.

Checks can bounce, for example. And while cash is often the currency of choice on Craigslist for purchases of smaller items, it can be unwieldy or impractical for higher value items such as cars or televisions. 

It's this exact issue — the issue of trust — which makes bitcoin and other blockchain-based technologies useful. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies allow for the direct, nearly instantaneous, and guaranteed transfer of money from one person to another.

Read more about blockchain, the technology powering bitcoin, here.

SEE ALSO: Thieves stole potentially millions of dollars in bitcoin in a hacking attack on a cryptocurrency company

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: What those tiny rivets on your jeans are for

Bitcoin Market Cap Briefly Surpasses That of JPMorgan, World’s Largest Bank

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

[…]

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Bitcoin and tulipmania have a lot more in common than you might think

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

Columbia Road Flower Market

  • Tulipmania gripped the Netherlands in the 1600s as the price of tulip bulbs skyrocketed.
  • Bitcoin has been compared to tulipmania.
  • When the tulip bubble collapsed, much of the Dutch economy was unaffected, which is likely the case if bitcoin ever collapses, according to Capital Economics.
  • Watch the price of bitcoin move in real time on Markets Insider.

Tulipmania is a famous period in the 1600s when the Netherlands was enraptured by tulip bulbs, sending their prices sky high before collapsing in a spectacular fashion. Recently, people have been comparing bitcoin to that period in history because of the cryptocurrency's meteoric rise, and the two have a lot more in common than you might think.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said that bitcoin's is "worse than tulip bulbs," and added it's a fraud that would eventually blow up. Since those comments in mid-September, the price of bitcoin has spiked 268%. While Tulip bulbs rose as much as 1,100% in one month at the peak of their mania, its easy to see the similarities between the two.

But the comparisons don't stop there.

"Like bitcoin, tulips became popular "because of their strangeness and rarity" and because they were new, having arrived from the Ottoman Empire in the late 16th century," Andrew Kenningham, chief global economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients.

In addition to the novelty of the two, tulipmania and bitcoin were only enjoyed by a select portion of the population. Tulips, while talked about by much of the nation's population, were primarily traded among the elites and aristocrats who could afford the flower's high prices. Bitcoin gained notoriety on the backs of early adopters and enthusiasts, and its high volatility and climbing price have kept many people at bay. 

With the recent media hype, more people are trading bitcoin than ever before, evidenced by the record-high traffic at a number of the exchanges. Still a relatively small amount of the population is involved, making bitcoin more like the tulip bubble than the housing crisis of 2007 or tech bubble of 2000.

If the bitcoin "bubble" ever bursts, it would likely be equivalent to the stock market falling just 0.6%, according to Kenningham. Bitcoin is still a relatively small asset, with a market cap of about $240 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Meanwhile, the companies in the S&P 500 represent more than $24.8 trillion combined, according to data from Bloomberg.

While a stock market plunge would be devastating, the fallout from a bitcoin crash would likely be limited. Those who are personally invested in the cryptocurrency would feel the pain, but financial institutions and 401(k) plans would likely shrug off any decline in bitcoin's value, Kenningham says.

After the price of Tulip bulbs collapsed, specialty commissions were formed to help sort out the financial mess, but the Netherlands, where a majority of the trading was happening, continued to prosper. The system built up around tulips was shuttered, but the majority of the country's financial system continued humming along.

"There is no correlation between the prices of bitcoin and other risky assets, so a fall in its price should not affect wider financial conditions," Kenningham said.  

Read more about bitcoin, and the technology powering it, here.

bitcoin price

SEE ALSO: Here's everything you need to know about blockchains, the ground-breaking tech that could be as disruptive as the internet

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We talked to the bond chief at the $6 trillion fund giant BlackRock about the most important issue for markets right now

Bitcoin and tulipmania have a lot more in common than you might think

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

Columbia Road Flower Market

  • Tulipmania gripped the Netherlands in the 1600s as the price of tulip bulbs skyrocketed.
  • Bitcoin has been compared to tulipmania.
  • When the tulip bubble collapsed, much of the Dutch economy was unaffected, which is likely the case if bitcoin ever collapses, according to Capital Economics.
  • Watch the price of bitcoin move in real time on Markets Insider.

Tulipmania is a famous period in the 1600s when the Netherlands was enraptured by tulip bulbs, sending their prices sky high before collapsing in a spectacular fashion. Recently, people have been comparing bitcoin to that period in history because of the cryptocurrency's meteoric rise, and the two have a lot more in common than you might think.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said that bitcoin's is "worse than tulip bulbs," and added it's a fraud that would eventually blow up. Since those comments in mid-September, the price of bitcoin has spiked 268%. While Tulip bulbs rose as much as 1,100% in one month at the peak of their mania, its easy to see the similarities between the two.

But the comparisons don't stop there.

"Like bitcoin, tulips became popular "because of their strangeness and rarity" and because they were new, having arrived from the Ottoman Empire in the late 16th century," Andrew Kenningham, chief global economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients.

In addition to the novelty of the two, tulipmania and bitcoin were only enjoyed by a select portion of the population. Tulips, while talked about by much of the nation's population, were primarily traded among the elites and aristocrats who could afford the flower's high prices. Bitcoin gained notoriety on the backs of early adopters and enthusiasts, and its high volatility and climbing price have kept many people at bay. 

With the recent media hype, more people are trading bitcoin than ever before, evidenced by the record-high traffic at a number of the exchanges. Still a relatively small amount of the population is involved, making bitcoin more like the tulip bubble than the housing crisis of 2007 or tech bubble of 2000.

If the bitcoin "bubble" ever bursts, it would likely be equivalent to the stock market falling just 0.6%, according to Kenningham. Bitcoin is still a relatively small asset, with a market cap of about $240 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Meanwhile, the companies in the S&P 500 represent more than $24.8 trillion combined, according to data from Bloomberg.

While a stock market plunge would be devastating, the fallout from a bitcoin crash would likely be limited. Those who are personally invested in the cryptocurrency would feel the pain, but financial institutions and 401(k) plans would likely shrug off any decline in bitcoin's value, Kenningham says.

After the price of Tulip bulbs collapsed, specialty commissions were formed to help sort out the financial mess, but the Netherlands, where a majority of the trading was happening, continued to prosper. The system built up around tulips was shuttered, but the majority of the country's financial system continued humming along.

"There is no correlation between the prices of bitcoin and other risky assets, so a fall in its price should not affect wider financial conditions," Kenningham said.  

Read more about bitcoin, and the technology powering it, here.

bitcoin price

SEE ALSO: Here's everything you need to know about blockchains, the ground-breaking tech that could be as disruptive as the internet

Join the conversation about this story »

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What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

trader excited animated crazyWelcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

The US economy added 228,000 nonfarm payrolls in November, more than economists had forecast, a report on Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed. The unemployment rate held at a 17-year low of 4.1%.

Overall, the report demonstrated that job creation remained strong in the US even after deadly hurricanes slammed into the Southeast this fall and temporarily weakened hiring.

Here's the latest:

In Wall Street news, the founder of a $14 billion biotech hedge fund is stepping down after sexual harassment allegations. JPMorgan is taking customer pricing hints from Amazon.

President Donald Trump's long and winding history with Deutsche Bank could now be at the center of Robert Mueller's investigation. And Trump says penalties for Wells Fargo mortgage-lending scandal could be "substantially increased." 

In markets news, Bank of America has come up with the "ultimate tax reform trade" that everyone is missing. BlackRock's $1.7 trillion bond chief explained the key dynamic every investor needs to understand.

Lastly, a retired hedge fund manager has sold his 2-in-1 St. Barts estate that was listed for $67 million — take a look inside.

Join the conversation about this story »

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BARCLAYS: Snap's redesign could be a turning point (SNAP)

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

miranda kerr snap IPO

  • The tech sector, in general, is recouping some of its recent losses.
  • Snap is launching its biggest redesign ever, which could be a catalyst for higher revenues and a shift in the narrative around the company.
  • Watch Snap's stock price move in real time here.


Snap traded higher last week after Barclays upgraded the company from neutral to overweight with a price target of $18.00. It also saw a boost as the tech sector in general won back some of its recent losses. 

"We’ve been on the sidelines since the IPO, but feel now is a good time to start accumulating shares," Ross Sandler, an analyst at Barclays wrote in a note to clients.

Sandler had five main points for why he thinks Snap is set for a comeback:

  1. The possibility that the company could start hitting revenue estimates while accelerating growth.
  2. A changing narrative that sees Snap coexisting with its rivals.
  3. High short interest compared to its peers while the founders own 50%.
  4. Tencent's investment in the company.
  5. Buzzy new ad products that will add to the story in the near term.

"We think the worst is behind SNAP and the company is likely to get back on track in 2018," Sandler wrote.

The upgrade comes as the company's biggest redesign of its app starts to land on users' phones. Snap announced last week that it would be updating its app to better differentiate between personal content from friends and content from brands and celebrities.

Sandler said that Twitter and Facebook both benefitted from pivoting to an algorithm for their feeds, and Snap could see the same boost. Snap is quick to point out that its feed will contain only content its human curators approve, which contrasts with Facebook, Twitter and Google who are all under fire for controversial content surfacing on their platforms.

Snap boasts impressive user engagement numbers compared to its rivals, and the new design could help increase it even further, Sandler said. Low-end Android users sometimes experience tech issues with the app, so its new architecture could improve the experience of those users. Revenue could increase with more engagement and new ad products, like promoted posts in the brands feed.

The timing is perfect to invest in Snap, Sandler says. The short interest is currently high, and the narrative around the company is strongly negative. But, the redesign could spark a turnaround of the company's narrative. Tencent bought shares in the $14 to $15 range, effectively setting a floor for the stock, according to Sandler.

Sandler says that investing now would not be for the faint of heart, as going up against the Google and Facebook digital ad monopoly is a tough game to play. His $18 price target is 24% higher than the company's current price of $14.50.

Snap shares are 14.7% below their initial public offering price of $17.

Read more about Snap's redesign here.

snap stock price

SEE ALSO: The risks and potential upsides of Snapchat's big redesign

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NOW WATCH: How to buy and sell bitcoin using one of the most popular cryptocurrency apps on the iPhone

Major Gold Dealer APMEX Begins Accepting Bitcoin

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

One of the largest online gold dealers has announced that it will begin accepting bitcoin.

Op-ed: Bitcoin Is Not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started

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

Op-ed: Bitcoin Is Not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started

One of the most intriguing stories underpinning the recent rise of bitcoin prices is how financial institutions will interact with the currency.

The upcoming CBOE futures market is going to open the door for Wall Street giants to participate in the market. That could spell moon or doom for bitcoin, and everyone is speculating on what may happen next.

It is this Wall Street/BTC interaction (phenomenon) that may be driving the unbelievable price spike of the past few days — at least partially.

On the macro scale, however, we may be witnessing a more grand pattern forming; a price-correlated S-curve.

The S-curve is the classic adoption curve applied to the advent of new technologies. As a percentage of the population, adoption looks like a lag phase where the technology is utilized by the innovators of said technology, followed by an early adoption phase led by people who often take risks in order to be the first movers in a space. After the early adopter phase (~16% of the population is now participating), there comes a great “tipping point” where the wide use of the technology seems inevitable. The tipping point gives rise to the “Early Majority” joining in on the fun, followed by the late majority and, finally, the holdouts who allow the top of the S to asymptotically approach total adoption. The curve, as a factor of time and adoption, looks sort of like the following:

Screen_Shot_2017-12-08_at_9.56.44_AM.png

This curve correlates nicely with adoption of some of the greatest technological innovations in our recent history:

Screen_Shot_2017-12-08_at_9.57.15_AM.png

Some important things to note is that this is just U.S. adoption. Much of the world lagged behind the U.S. in the consumer appliance boom of the 1900s. All of these curves, however steep, do follow the same S-curve trend fairly nicely.

So what could that mean for bitcoin? It’s difficult to choose a metric to define bitcoin adoption, and, in fact, there are disputes about if one metric accurately captures it. However, for simplicity I’ll highlight Google searches for bitcoin and Coinbase user count as microcosms of the global adoption trend.

google search

Screen_Shot_2017-12-08_at_9.58.02_AM.png(from CNBC)

This seems to show a very similar pattern to what could be the transitional phase between “innovators” and “Early Adopters.” Just to harken back to the earlier statement though — it’s very difficult to put a number on bitcoin adoption.

So why is this remarkable? Bitcoin may be the first “buyable” S-curve. Because this is a capped-supply currency, more users adopting and using it necessitates an increase in price. Whether that correlation is even reflective of the current price action is a practically unanswerable question, and the obvious leaning would be towards there being a speculative additional value. However, with an increase in adoption, there seems to be a floor rising up to catch whatever “bubble burst” might occur, if and when it happens.

“Eternal September” is the phrase used to describe September of 1993, when widespread internet adoption began to look inevitable. It occured after AOL began a mailing campaign offering free trials of its internet service, leading to an influx of internet users that has since never ended. Hence “Eternal September.”

To compare bitcoin’s adoption to its complement — the internet — this may very well be the “Eternal September” episode for bitcoin.

If the S-curve adoption theory applies to bitcoin, then buckle up. I won’t pretend to be able to predict a spot price, but I will say I think we may be sitting close to another order of magnitude this time next year.

See y’all on the moon.

Corollary: Bulls sound smart in bull markets. We may look back and laugh at this thought, or it may hold true for years to come. Time will tell. ‘Til then, buy bitcoin.

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 Op-ed: Bitcoin Is Not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Coinbase warns that its platform could crash again in the future

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

Brian Armstrong Coinbase

  • Coinbase, the cryptocurrency trading platform, experienced an outage on Thursday as bitcoin soared by $3,000 in under three hours on its platform. 
  • The company's CEO Brian Armstrong said Friday the firm expects more outages during periods of high-volumes. 

 

Coinbase is taking an "honesty is the best policy" approach. 

The company's CEO warned users of the cryptocurrency trading platform that future outages on its app and mobile site might occur during periods of high trading volume. 

"We wanted to remind customers that access to Coinbase services may become degraded or unavailable during times of significant volatility or volume," Armstrong wrote in a Medium post Friday. "This could result in the inability to buy or sell for periods of time."

The price of bitcoin soared by $3,000 on its GDAX exchange platform Thursday to $19,500 in under three hours during a wild trading session. Customers experienced downgraded service during this period and couldn't log into their accounts. This isn't the first time Coinbase has experienced issues during periods of high volume. When bitcoin soared over $11,000 per coin in November, Coinbase experienced a "partial system outage," during which time many users found themselves locked out of their accounts.

Cryptocurrency exchanges, which don't have the industrial infrastructure of traditional exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq, are under pressure to handle record trading volumes. As such, they are building out their infrastructure and hiring more developers. Here's Armstrong on Coinbase's expansion:

"Over the course of this year we have invested significant resources to increase trading capacity on our platform and maintain availability of our service. We have increased the size of our support team by 640% and launched phone support in September. We have also invested heavily in our infrastructure and have increased the number of transactions we are processing during peak hours by over 40x."

Despite issues, Coinbase shot up to the top spot on Apple's App Store's most-downloaded free app chart on Thursday. But like Bitcoin's price, the App Store charts can be volatile, and it dropped to the no. 2 spot on Friday.

As for bitcoin, it was trading down at $14,944 early Friday afternoon. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The CIO of a crypto hedge fund reveals why you should be cautious of the ICO bubble

Bitcoin seen at $50000 in 2018 as volatility persists

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

[…]

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UBS: Microsoft is ramping up what may be its biggest profit machine yet (MSFT)

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

Microsoft

  • Microsoft plans to expand its margins in its cloud-computing-services business.
  • The Azure cloud-computing platform is said to drive much of Microsoft's revenue growth in the next five years, according to UBS analyst Jennifer Swanson Lowe.
  • Microsoft is expected to rake in over $50 billion in sales over the next five years.
  • Watch Microsoft's real-time stock price here.

 

Microsoft may be upping investment in its biggest profit machine, the Azure cloud-computing service, Jennifer Swanson Lowe, a UBS analyst, said.

She sees Microsoft's cloud-computing services adding $57 billion in revenue over the next five years, with $23 billion of that coming from Azure alone. 

Lowe has a price target of $105 for the stock, representing a 27.29% increase from its current level.

Companies are moving toward a so-called "digital transformation," whereby they adopt technologies in order to stay relevant or ahead of the competition. Lowe sees upside for Microsoft's Azure because more companies and individuals will eventually move towards the cloud.

In October, the company reported its commercial-cloud business hit $20 billion in annualized revenue, a milestone that it was hoping to reach in 2018, due to Azure and its Office 365 productivity suite, which both operate under the cloud.

Microsoft is up 1.67% on Friday at $83.87 per share. It has gained 34.04% this year.

To read more about how Microsoft's cloud competition, Google and Amazon, is faring, click here.

Microsoft stock price

SEE ALSO: Amazon's $18 billion cloud business continues to crush Microsoft and Google — here's the latest scorecard for the cloud war

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UBS: Microsoft is ramping up what may be its biggest profit machine yet (MSFT)

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

Microsoft

  • Microsoft plans to expand its margins in its cloud-computing-services business.
  • The Azure cloud-computing platform is said to drive much of Microsoft's revenue growth in the next five years, according to UBS analyst Jennifer Swanson Lowe.
  • Microsoft is expected to rake in over $50 billion in sales over the next five years.
  • Watch Microsoft's real-time stock price here.

 

Microsoft may be upping investment in its biggest profit machine, the Azure cloud-computing service, Jennifer Swanson Lowe, a UBS analyst, said.

She sees Microsoft's cloud-computing services adding $57 billion in revenue over the next five years, with $23 billion of that coming from Azure alone. 

Lowe has a price target of $105 for the stock, representing a 27.29% increase from its current level.

Companies are moving toward a so-called "digital transformation," whereby they adopt technologies in order to stay relevant or ahead of the competition. Lowe sees upside for Microsoft's Azure because more companies and individuals will eventually move towards the cloud.

In October, the company reported its commercial-cloud business hit $20 billion in annualized revenue, a milestone that it was hoping to reach in 2018, due to Azure and its Office 365 productivity suite, which both operate under the cloud.

Microsoft is up 1.67% on Friday at $83.87 per share. It has gained 34.04% this year.

To read more about how Microsoft's cloud competition, Google and Amazon, is faring, click here.

Microsoft stock price

SEE ALSO: Amazon's $18 billion cloud business continues to crush Microsoft and Google — here's the latest scorecard for the cloud war

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How to buy and sell bitcoin using one of the most popular cryptocurrency apps on the iPhone

A small New York City chain is siphoning off hungry burrito eaters as Chipotle struggles (CMG)

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

Dos Toros Test Kitchen

  • Leo Kremer and his brother Oliver founded Dos Toros in 2009.
  • The chain has 13 restaurants in NYC and just began expanding in Chicago, with its eye on more cities. 


On Sixth Avenue in New York City, one of Manhattan’s busiest thoroughfares, there’s a small burrito restaurant just down the block from its biggest competitor — Chipotle Mexican Grill. If you were distracted even for a moment, you could walk right by without even noticing the nondescript facade. 

That restaurant is Dos Toros. And ever since the micro-chain was founded in New York City eight years ago, it’s amassed a cult following of burrito lovers, spice enthusiasts, and most recently, consumers feeling less-than-appetized by Chipotle’s string of sickness outbreaks.

The company has grown quickly, but it won’t be easy to catch Chipotle. The burrito giant has a market cap of around $9.22 billion, despite losing 35% of its market value since May. Still, Dos Toros has plenty of ground to gain in the Latin American fast-casual market, an industry worth $19.8 billion last year, according to market research provider, Euromonitor International.

Business Insider recently talked to Dos Toros founder and co-CEO Leo Kremer (whose brother, Oliver, is the other chief executive) about Chipotle’s struggles, his chain’s success so far, its recent expansion to Chicago, and more. Here’s the full interview:

This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity:

Graham Rapier: How did the idea for Dos Toros come about? How’s business?

Dos Toros burritoLeo Kremer: It's been a wild ride. We started Dos Toros eight years ago and opened our first location by Union Square in New York City. The thesis was that we just loved burritos.

My brother and I, having grown up in the San Francisco Bay area, felt like you couldn't get a great burrito in New York City and there was an opportunity to bring it here.

We've been fortunate to have a great team and great guests, and just piece by piece we've figured out how to run a business and scale a little bit.

We got to 13 locations a couple months ago, and then opened in Chicago, our first market outside of NYC, in late summer. It's been a really exciting moment for the business and we're off to a really good start there.

We're excited. We know so much more than we used to about how to run a great restaurant company but we're still at the beginning of learning how to be in multiple markets and grow into that next stage.

Rapier: Did you have any restaurant or business experience beforehand? How did you get up to speed?

Kremer: We were totally flying blind, which I think is really interesting. You just start down the path and start cooking, looking around for locations, and meeting with experienced restaurant contractors, lawyers, accountants, and chefs. It's just one step at a time.

It's played to our advantage to be outsiders. We were always looking at the experience through the guest lens. We were really expert burrito consumers, so we just used that and said "how do WE want it to look, feel and taste?" We were our own kind of reference point.

A lot of the restaurant industry is old-school and almost antagonistic, with founders and teams having this kind of 'us vs. them' mentality.

A lot of the restaurant industry is old-school and almost antagonistic, with founders and teams having this kind of 'us vs. them' mentality.

We've always just tried to be friendly and humanist, treating everyone on our team like an individual. That also comes from really working in the trenches every single day, especially at the beginning and still today.

Whenever you're working in your restaurant, you can't put yourself on a pedestal — it forces you to connect with your team. 

Rapier: What’s the biggest differentiator between Dos Toros and Chipotle?

Kremer: We cook everything in house, which creates a large freshness difference and greater authenticity. I think our brand and design is just elevated and more modern.

We have the advantage of being smaller and having a more real service, experience, and culture. When you're smaller, you should use that to your advantage. We're growing but there are still more than a hundred Chipotles for every Dos Toros. 

When you're in one market, [the supply chain] is easier to control. Going to Chicago was a challenge; we spent a lot of time working on where we could get tortillas, making sure the avocados could to be up to spec, and all of that. It was months of leg work.

There are plenty of advantages that come with being a big, organized company. But I think coolness and passion and having a super dialed-in team — that's what's harder when you're at their size. I understand why Chipotle is making leadership changes. Hospitality is all about passion: That's what energizes your team and excites your guests. I'd be concerned they might lose some of that passion.

I understand why Chipotle is making leadership changes. Hospitality is all about passion: That's what energizes your team and excites your guests. I'd be concerned they might lose some of that passion.

Rapier: Did you see any bump in customers around Chipotle’s norovirus outbreak this summer or in 2015?

Kremer: Even if people weren't freaked out or turned off by those stories, maybe they became more open minded to trying something else. All it takes is little bit of a bump in the road to change someone's behavior.

I think it helped us in New York and Chicago, given the challenges Chipotle went through. I'm sure it wasn't just the case for Dos Toros, but for every comparable, $10, fast-casual lunch.

There are a lot of options in this increasingly competitive market. When you go through something like that, people try out the competition in every kind of cuisine.

Everyone's been even more focused on food safety and we're doing everything we can in terms of training our team, using a third-party auditor to inspect our locations, our own internal audits, visiting our vendors.

The other piece that matters isn't just checking the boxes but really building it into your culture as something you're passionate about, so it isn't just this work you need to do, but a point of pride. We're experts at food safety, which I hope is pretty common now after the Chipotle news. I think what Chipotle has done over their time in business has been amazing. They pretty much invented fast-casual. What they did with their supply chain and high-quality, naturally raised meats... I think their legacy is really a big deal.

What Chipotle has done has been amazing. They pretty much invented fast-casual ... I think their legacy is really a big deal.

Rapier: What’s the future of this fast-casual model that Chipotle pioneered? Is there still room for you to grow or for new concepts?

Kremer: There's no question that fast-casual will keep growing and there's always room for the best in class. We think we can be the best in class for that Mexican fast-casual segment. That's our focus right now and competition is only intensifying.

The environment that [Chipotle] kind of grew into early on was a blank canvas in terms of the competitive landscape. Things are never going back to that lack of competition. They will just be in a more challenging environment going forward. 

Rapier: What’s next for Dos Toros in terms of new menu items or new cities?

Kremer: We're really excited to do something with vegetables, to have a more compelling vegetarian offering. Not salad so much, but really hearty vegetables. A lot of our menu is already vegetarian or vegan, but in terms of that protein-equivalent that's really filling and goes in the center of your burrito or bowl. I think we can come up with something really delicious. 

SEE ALSO: A burrito chain that's a better alternative to Chipotle is expanding to Chicago — here's what it's like to eat there

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Trump says penalties for Wells Fargo mortgage-lending scandal could be 'substantially increased'

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

wells fargo protest anarchy

  • Reuters reported that President Trump's pick to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney, was considering easing penalties against Wells Fargo over improper mortgage lending practices.
  • Trump tweeted Friday that there would be no reduction in penalties against Wells Fargo.
  • In fact, he said, they could be "substantially increased."


President Donald Trump went after Wells Fargo on Friday after reports that a top consumer watchdog could ease penalties against the bank.

"Fines and penalties against Wells Fargo Bank for their bad acts against their customers and others will not be dropped, as has incorrectly been reported, but will be pursued and, if anything, substantially increased," the president said. "I will cut Regs but make penalties severe when caught cheating!"

Reuters reported on Thursday that Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget Director and newly appointed head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was reviewing whether to enforce millions of dollars in penalties against the bank for some of its mortgage-lending practices.

Wells Fargo admitted to improperly charging customers a fee to secure a lower rate mortgage between 2013 and 2017. According to Reuters, the bank the the CFPB had agreed to the terms of a fine in early November.

According to the report, Mulvaney froze the settlement and was reviewing it for possible reduction after taking over for former director Richard Cordray.

Wells Fargo is already planning to refund customers who were incorrectly charged the fee.

The mortgage issue is just another in a line of recent scandals that have hit Wells Fargo — most notably, the revelation that employees opened millions of checking and credit card accounts for customers without their knowledge.

The fake accounts scandal led to a $185 million fine from regulators — including the CFPB — congressional hearings, and the retirement of then-CEO John Stumpf.

SEE ALSO: Gary Cohn on bitcoin: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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NOW WATCH: Everything we know about Trump's unhealthy diet

BANK OF AMERICA: GOP tax reform is going to give the dollar a boost

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

jetpack

  • The dollar has fallen 8% this year against a basket of other G10 currencies. 
  • But it's poised for a rebound in 2018 if the GOP tax plan passes, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Right now, the market is pricing in "almost nothing" on taxes.
  •  Tax cuts would lift economic growth, prompting the Federal Reserve to raise rates faster than it expects, the firm's FX strategists said. 

 

2017 has not been the dollar's greatest year. 

Against a basket of G10 currencies, the greenback has lost 8% this year. Even the prospect of tax cuts hasn't made the dollar more attractive to currency traders. 

"It seems to us that the consensus is that the tax reform will not matter much, which is consistent with what our survey data and the feedback during our recent client meetings suggest," said Athanasios Vamvakidis, the global head of G10 FX Strategy at Bank America Merrill Lynch, in a note on Friday.

"In contrast, we have been arguing that the US tax reform is a big deal and will support the USD in early 2018." That the dollar has not gained since the Senate passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last weekend shows "the market seems to be pricing almost nothing," he added.

Vamvakidis sees traders buying the dollar on tax reform after selling the "rumor," or the period when uncertainty about its passage weighed on traders. The Senate passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the wee hours of Saturday morning. It's now set to resolve the differences between its bill and the House version that passed in mid-November.

The tax-cut boost to the dollar would take three forms, Vamvakidis said. Companies would be encouraged to repatriate funds they've left overseas for tax reasons, and some of these would be converted to dollars and used for capital expenditure. Tax cuts could boost annual gross domestic product growth by 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points over the next two years. And this could force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than it expects.

As for a specific recommendation, BAML says buying the dollar against the Swiss franc is a great way to position for repatriation. 

BAML's David Woo said in 2005, the last time companies got a tax break on overseas earnings, the franc was the second-worst performing currency against the dollar among G10 currencies given the outflows by foreigners. Switzerland contributed to 10% of total repatriated cash dividends by companies, second to Netherlands, Woo said in a recent note. 

'A difficult year'

"It was a difficult year for people like me and people who try to make a living trading or investing in foreign exchange," said Daniel Katzive, the head of North America FX strategy at BNP Paribas, at a media briefing on Thursday. 

Many investors did not expect the dollar to weaken in an environment where the Federal Reserve raises interest rates thrice, stocks surged, and tax cuts moved closer to becoming law. But as the dollar rose from 2014 through 2016,  it got expensive compared to most G10 currencies, Katzive said, especially those with low yields like the Swedish krona and the Norwegian krone. 

Like Vamvakidis, Katzive also forecasts a rally in the dollar, although this may only prevail through the middle of 2018. 

"We'd be getting closer to the ECB pulling the trigger on rate hikes and other G10 central banks tightening policy," Katzive said. The "writing will be on the wall for the dollar versus these currencies where it's very expensive. We think we'll see a lot of investor hedging of dollar exposure begin to really pick up by the middle of next year."

Screen Shot 2017 12 08 at 10.42.15 AM

SEE ALSO: Bank of America has come up with the 'ultimate tax reform trade' that everyone is missing

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Online brokerage giant TD Ameritrade is gearing up for bitcoin futures

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

cboe eurodollar traders

  • Cboe Global Markets' bitcoin futures product launches Sunday. 
  • TD Ameritrade is getting ready for a potential launch if the market for bitcoin futures meets its standards. 
  • The firm wants to make sure the market has enough market makers, liquidity and volume before it opens it up to its clients. 


"I'm not going to be watching football Sunday."

Instead, JB Mackenzie, a managing director on brokerage TD Ameritrade's futures and forex trading team, is going to be watching Cboe Global Markets' launch of bitcoin futures. He told Business Insider the firm is taking a "wait and see" approach, but is ready to potentially dive into the market if the conditions are right.

As such, the necessary risk protocols are in place and the back-office is prepped.

"With every new futures product we want to see how the marketplace comes together," Mackenzie said. "We want to make sure there are enough market makers, liquidity, and volume."

Cboe announced Monday its futures market would be ready to go live Sunday at 5 p.m. CT. It will allow investors to bet on the future price of the red-hot coin, which is known for its spine-tingling volatility. On Thursday its price whipsawed up and down, trading at dramatically different prices on the main global exchanges. Still, its eye-popping gains have gripped the attention of Wall Street. 

But Mackenzie said bitcoin's unique nature as a "Wild West" digital gold doesn't mean it's getting any special treatment. 

"We always take this approach," he said. "We are going to wait at least a full-cycle to watch how trading goes in Europe and Asia."

Morgan Stanley said TD Ameritrade would be the first to get on board with futures in a note out to clients Thursday.

"We see AMTD as most likely to lead the way, leveraging their leading technology platform and Forex offerings," the bank said.

A spokesman from rival Charles Schwab told Business Insider the firm had "nothing to report" on bitcoin futures but that it was evaluating it actively. And E-trade did not respond to messages seeking comment. Bloomberg reported that Ally Financial would offer bitcoin futures to its clients

Morgan Stanley identified some opportunities for brokerages offering bitcoin futures. The first - cross selling - is a common practice on the Street. Bitcoin futures could lure new customers, and brokerages could then push those customers other products.

"It could help expand the discount brokers' customer base via market share gains and new trading customers, with
potential cross-selling opportunities from new customers," the bank said. 

It could also allow boost firms' brand.

"In terms of brand enhancement, brokers that offer Bitcoin futures trading may appear more cutting edge than competitors without it, attracting more clients," the bank said. 

Market watchers are excited to see how bitcoin futures play out Sunday, because they think it might open the door to more interest in the space. If all goes well Sunday, it could push brokerages into other areas of the bitcoin market. 

"If it were 20 years ago, when the discount brokers were insurgents, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them as first movers in providing access to newly regulated areas of cryptocurrency trading," the bank said. "Over time, they may well move beyond Bitcoin futures."

Still, there are hurdles. Futures remain too fuzzy an area of finance for most retail investors to dive into and commissions tend to be much higher than that for the average stock trade. 

Read more about blockchain, the technology powering bitcoin, here

Join the conversation about this story »

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Ripple Price Leaps 13% After Company Escrows 55 Billion XRP

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

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The founder of a $14 billion biotech hedge fund is stepping down after sexual harassment allegations

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

Orbimed founder Sam Isaly

  • Sam Isaly, the 72-year-old founder of the $14 billion biotech hedge fund OrbiMed, is stepping down from his position as managing partner.
  • The firm said Thursday that the move is "pursuant to years-long succession planning discussions."
  • The news comes just days after Stat News detailed sexual harassment allegations against Isaly from former female employees.


Sam Isaly, the founder of biotech's largest hedge fund, is stepping down from the firm following sexual harassment allegations reported by Stat News on Tuesday

Isaly, 72, started OrbiMed in 1998. In a statement released Thursday, OrbiMed said that the move is "pursuant to years-long succession planning discussions."

“I am extremely proud of what my distinguished partners and I have accomplished at OrbiMed and the difference we have made in the lives of patients worldwide," Isaly said in the statement.

Stat reported Tuesday that former OrbiMed employees experienced lewd jokes, pornography, and sexist comments in the workplace between 2000 and 2015. One instance, experienced by Isaly's former assistant Delilah Burke, involved Isaly asking Burke to grab a file from his briefcase. When Burke opened the briefcase, a flesh-colored vibrator was inside. The next thing Burke heard was laughter coming from his office. 

"The vibrator thing is when I quit," Burke told Stat. "It was just, 'You’re disgusting. I'm leaving. This is it.'"

Isaly told Stat that he did not recall the event.

"The incidents cited are concerning and OrbiMed has retained the services of an outside independent law firm to investigate the matter," Orbimed told Stat in a statement after the initial report. "OrbiMed takes gender equality seriously and wishes to encourage a supportive work environment and equal opportunity for all employees."

The announcement of Isaly's departure came shortly before Stat came out with more allegations against him.

A former intern who worked at the firm in 2008 and 2009 told Stat on Thursday that Isaly often made vulgar comments to women in the office, including comments about their appearances. The intern often encountered female employees crying in the bathroom. 

Read the full Stat report here

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NOW WATCH: Economist Jim Rickards on gold versus bitcoin — intrinsic value is meaningless for both but the bitcoin prices aren't real

Gary Cohn on bitcoin: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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

gary cohn

  • Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser, was asked about bitcoin in an interview on Friday. He simply shrugged.
  • Cohn also addressed outstanding concerns around the Republican tax reform bill.


Gary Cohn isn't quite sure what to make of bitcoin.

CNBC's Jim Cramer on Friday asked the National Economic Council director and adviser to President Donald Trump for opinion on the cryptocurrency that has recently seen its price skyrocket.

In response, Cohn simply shrugged. He told Cramer, "I'm going to leave that to you. You're the expert today."

In an interview later on Bloomberg TV, Cohn said the Trump administration is keeping an eye on bitcoin and its "evolving market." But he said the recent surge in price was not a significant economic threat.

Bitcoin has experienced a week of wild gains, surging in value by more than $5,000 a coin. Its price fell sharply on Friday, diving below $15,000.

In a press briefing last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said bitcoin was something that Tom Bossert, the president's homeland security adviser, was keeping an eye on.

"I know this is something that is being monitored by our team here," she said.

Watch Cohn's reaction to the bitcoin question:

In addition to his comments on bitcoin, Cohn said the Republican tax reform bill is also in the process of evolving. The bill, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is heading to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions.

Cohn told both CNBC and Bloomberg that the conference would address the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. The SALT deduction is taken primarily in a handful of high-tax states like California, New York, and New Jersey.

Republican lawmakers from those states are concerned about a compromise that would allow people to continue to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes — but not state and local income or sales tax. Cohn said the White House is open to a compromise that would allow people to deduct either $10,000 in propoerty taxes or income taxes.

"There are 70 members of the House from SALT states, they have to have a solution that allows their residents to come away from this in a position, that allows those members to support those issues," Cohn said.

SEE ALSO: Republicans are about to confront Trump's 'red line' to fix problems in their tax bill

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Court Sentences Detroit Man For Trading Bitcoin Without Proper License

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

[…]

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Bull Trap? Bitcoin Cash Price Is Up, But Gains May Be Short-Lived

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

Bitcoin cash (BCH) is well bid today, but a close look at the numbers indicates the positive move could be deceptive.

Betting against bitcoin is about to get a lot more expensive

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

charts trader screen

  • The cost of shorting bitcoin could skyrocket once futures trading starts on Sunday, says S3 Partners.
  • The ultra-volatile cryptocurrency has seen massive fluctuations in recent days, and making bets on either side of it is about to get more expensive.


If you think the price of bitcoin has gotten out of hand, now is the time to make your wagers against the surging cryptocurrency.

New short positions on bitcoin are being charged an 18.5% fee right now. But that could swell to over 50% and possibly even approach 100% by the time Cboe Global Markets launches bitcoin futures trading on Sunday, according to financial analytics firm S3 Partners.

However, those who elect to short bitcoin should do so at their own peril, because the start of futures trading will also make it easier and safer for speculators to bet on further increases. Either way, transacting bitcoin is about to get more expensive for everyone involved, says S3.

"Both sides will be paying a premium in order to ride the bitcoin roller coaster once the CBOE futures start trading," Ihor Dusaniwsky, S3's managing director of predictive analytics wrote in a client note.

For context, the shorting method being analyzed by S3 involves the Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust, which is currently the only active exchange-traded fund whose performance is directly tied to the cryptocurrency's market price. But it may not be the only game in town for long, as ETFs backed by the Winklevoss twins and SolidX Partners may get a boost in their quest for regulatory approval once futures trading is live.

Anyone investing in bitcoin will have to contend with a great deal of volatility. Since December 5, the digital coin's price surged from just below $12,000 a coin to more than $17,000 at its peak. And in between, the cryptocurrency experienced intraday swings that created and erased billions of dollars of value in a matter of minutes.

Ultimately, if you think those rapid fluctuations will start being more pronounced to the downside, it's best to make your wagers now, before the price of transacting gets too steep.

Screen Shot 2017 12 08 at 9.48.14 AM

SEE ALSO: BlackRock's $1.7 trillion bond chief explains the key dynamic every investor needs to understand

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NOW WATCH: One type of ETF is taking over the market

Bitcoin Brokerage Coinbase Becomes Apple Store’s Top App, Surpassing YouTube

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

[…]

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What Bitcoin's Highs and Lows Mean for Businesses Using the Cryptocurrency

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

Bitcoin's volatile behavior has caused some businesses to reevaluate the digital currency.

Equity Podcast: Lyft’s driving fast, Blue Apron’s troubles and bitcoin infinity

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

 Welcome to Equity, our venture capital and tech business podcast. On the latest episode, we were joined by Nagraj Kashyap, who runs Microsoft Ventures. Topics this week included Lyft’s growing financials and its driverless cars. It looks like the company benefitted during Uber’s eventful year.  We also talked about the change of leadership at Blue Apron.The company has had a… Read More

Bitcoin Price Ebbs From $18,000 High as Market Continues to Set Records

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

[…]

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Bitcoin’s Recent Volatility Risks Deflationary Spiral

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

488159-bitcoin

If you know that a dollar today is worth $5 a year from now, you're going to fight like hell to avoid spending a single dollar more than you absolutely have to.

The post Bitcoin’s Recent Volatility Risks Deflationary Spiral appeared first on ExtremeTech.

Here's a super-quick guide to what traders are talking about right now

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

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Dave Lutz, head of ETFs at JonesTrading, has an overview of today's markets.

Here's Lutz:

Morning, and Happy Jobs Friday!  The street is at 195k, with the “whisper” closer to 220k. We are full “Risk On” as Congress passes a 2week spending bill, the UK/EU have come to terms on Brexit, and China posts strong trade figures.  QQQs leading to upside again, adding 40bp early, while those smallcaps are lagging the bid.   Wide sea o Green across the Atlantic, as DAX breaks out, gaining 1.3% behind a Huge Rally in EU banks on the Basel III post-crisis capital rules announcement.  Tech remains well bid, but Consumer gains tempered by another drop in Steinhoff.  FTSE adding 30bp with Banks jumping in London, with Barclay’s, Lloyds up 3%+, Builders enjoying headers from Berkeley, and even Miners are rallying.  Volumes are strong – with most major exchanges pacing 40% above trend.  In Asia, Nikkei jumped 1.4% on a upwards GDP revision - Hang Seng rebounded 1.2% - Shanghai up 50bp, with smallcap Shenzhen up 1.2% - KOSPI up small and Aussie up 30bp 

While we are waiting to lock down Fed next week (odds for hike at 92%), we have 2Y Gilt Yields leaping towards 18month peaks on a Brexit Breakthru, but it seems to be a “sell the News” for Sterling.  Weaker industrial production weighs on Euro, further propelling the Greenback.   Gold remaining under pressure, and nearing yesterday’s 4month lows, while the Bitcoin is off 7%.  Commodities are acting OK, with Ore rebounding 2.4% from yesterday’s Limit Down action, paring week’s decline to ~4%, while Copper continues minor gains.   WTI is up 1.2% despite the surging dollar, while Natty is rebounding from the recent shellacking as Traders awaken to Snow in Houston.

Here are the 10 things you need to know today.

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know before the opening bell

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NOW WATCH: The stock market is flashing warning signs

Here's a super-quick guide to what traders are talking about right now

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

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Dave Lutz, head of ETFs at JonesTrading, has an overview of today's markets.

Here's Lutz:

Morning, and Happy Jobs Friday!  The street is at 195k, with the “whisper” closer to 220k. We are full “Risk On” as Congress passes a 2week spending bill, the UK/EU have come to terms on Brexit, and China posts strong trade figures.  QQQs leading to upside again, adding 40bp early, while those smallcaps are lagging the bid.   Wide sea o Green across the Atlantic, as DAX breaks out, gaining 1.3% behind a Huge Rally in EU banks on the Basel III post-crisis capital rules announcement.  Tech remains well bid, but Consumer gains tempered by another drop in Steinhoff.  FTSE adding 30bp with Banks jumping in London, with Barclay’s, Lloyds up 3%+, Builders enjoying headers from Berkeley, and even Miners are rallying.  Volumes are strong – with most major exchanges pacing 40% above trend.  In Asia, Nikkei jumped 1.4% on a upwards GDP revision - Hang Seng rebounded 1.2% - Shanghai up 50bp, with smallcap Shenzhen up 1.2% - KOSPI up small and Aussie up 30bp 

While we are waiting to lock down Fed next week (odds for hike at 92%), we have 2Y Gilt Yields leaping towards 18month peaks on a Brexit Breakthru, but it seems to be a “sell the News” for Sterling.  Weaker industrial production weighs on Euro, further propelling the Greenback.   Gold remaining under pressure, and nearing yesterday’s 4month lows, while the Bitcoin is off 7%.  Commodities are acting OK, with Ore rebounding 2.4% from yesterday’s Limit Down action, paring week’s decline to ~4%, while Copper continues minor gains.   WTI is up 1.2% despite the surging dollar, while Natty is rebounding from the recent shellacking as Traders awaken to Snow in Houston.

Here are the 10 things you need to know today.

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know before the opening bell

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NOW WATCH: This is why you should be buying gold

Australian Finance Watchdog to Monitor Bitcoin Exchanges

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

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre has received the go-ahead to monitor bitcoin exchanges after the passing of a new bill.

Bitcoin Dips Below $15k on Weak Afternoon Trading

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

Bitcoin was among the worst performing assets in the 6:00 UTC to 12:00 UTC trading session on Friday

Novogratz: Governments Won’t Be Able To Muzzle Bitcoin

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

[…]

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Smart Home Specialist, Inspire Audio Visual, to Offer AV Services in Exchange for Bitcoin

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

[…]

The post Smart Home Specialist, Inspire Audio Visual, to Offer AV Services in Exchange for Bitcoin appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

Britain may have made a huge Brexit breakthrough — but it's still possible the UK doesn't actually leave the EU

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

Peter Dixon Commerzbank

  • Commerzbank's UK chief economist Peter Dixon says that there is as much as a 15% chance that Brexit doesn't happen.
  • Dixon argues that the UK could enjoy a long transition period before voters eventually decide that they don't really want to leave the bloc.
  • At that point, a second referendum could enable the UK to stay in the EU.
  • Dixon's comments echo those of Pantheon Macroeconomics' Samuel Tombs, who has Britain staying in the EU as his most likely scenario.

LONDON — Brexit talks may have seen a major breakthrough on Friday after it was announced that the UK and EU have reached an agreement on the so-called "divorce bill" that Britain will pay on exiting the bloc, but there's still a not insignificant chance that Brexit will not happen.

That's the view of Peter Dixon, the chief UK economist at Germany's second largest lender, Commerzbank. Speaking at a breakfast to launch Commerzbank's 2018 economic outlook for the UK, Dixon said that Brexit not happening is "not a "non-zero" event" — effectively arguing that there is as much as a 15% chance that Britain stays in the bloc.

Dixon argued any potential u-turn on Brexit would take place 10 to 15 years down the road, after the implementation of a transitional deal.

"If you want to be Machiavellian about it, the EU does not want to see the UK leave. For many reasons — for budget reasons, for trade reasons, and for credibility reasons," he said.

"So imagine that the EU and the UK come to some kind of transitional arrangement, a bit like they've done overnight, and you get a two year extension. Then in two years time you have to go through the rigmarole again, and prolong the agony."

Comparing the Brexit situation to what happened in Greece during the country's debt crisis — when it was widely believed that the country would be forced to leave the EU — Dixon said that the UK could "keep kicking the can down the road" on actually leaving the EU.

"Maybe Brexit gets kicked down the road. Just imagine that the UK continues to underperform economically over time, and a new generation of voters comes through. They then say 'Actually we kind of like the idea of what we had before, can we have it back please?'"

The politicians in charge at the time, whoever they may be, will say: 'Well OK maybe we think we can win a referendum this time around.'"

"Who knows, maybe 10-15 years down the track, the UK goes from being this sort of half in half out state, to one where they're asked [through a second referendum] whether or not they want to be in or out.

"Then, a younger electorate says 'We actually want to be in please.'"

Dixon ultimately described such a scenario as "unlikely, but not impossible." 

Commerzbank's economic outlook, released this week, said that a no Brexit outcome would be the "best option all round."

Dixon and Commerzbank add to a growing chorus of analysts and forecasters who think that Britain might end up staying as a member of the EU. Earlier this week, Pantheon Macroeconomics' Samuel Tombs said that no Brexit is his "base case" — the option he sees as most likely.

"The key issue is that leaving the single market would entail short-term economic pain in return for the possibility of long-term gain, in the form of closer ties with fast-growing emerging market economies," Tombs wrote in a client note.

"This sequencing of the costs and benefits means Brexit always will be unpalatable for any politician, given their myopia."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This is one of the best responses to Jamie Dimon calling bitcoin a fraud that we have heard so far

Why is bitcoin’s price so high?

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

 Bitcoin’s price has risen stratospherically, a fact that leaves many minor players in the market with massive gains and many bigger players millionaires. But is this a bubble? Are the gains real? And are the bitcoin whales in for a sad Christmas? First we must understand what drives bitcoin price and, in particular, this boom. The common understanding for current growth leads us back… Read More

Correction Coming? Bitcoin Retreats After $17k High

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

Bitcoin prices are taking a hit in the early U.S. session today, after a record spike to over $17,000 yesterday.

A British tabloid found Meghan Markle's dad in Mexico, who said he would 'love' to walk her down the aisle

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

meghan makle's dad

  • Thomas Markle spoke to the Daily Mirror newspaper from Rosarito Beach.
  • He said he'd "love" to attend his daughter's upcoming wedding to Prince Harry.
  • Meghan and Prince Harry are marrying in Windsor in May 2018.


A British tabloid newspaper tracked down Meghan Markle's father to a town in Mexico, where he told them he would "love" to be invited to the upcoming royal wedding and walk his daughter down the aisle.

The Daily Mirror traced Thomas Markle, 73, to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, to discuss the upcoming union between his daughter and Prince Harry, due to take place in May.

Reporter Chris Bucktin spoke to Markle, whom he described as "reclusive", in his first public comments since the engagement was officially confirmed.

The newspaper published a video online of Markle appearing to go about his daily business in the town before the conversation.

Prince Harry Meghan Markle engagement

Asked if he would be in attendance at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in May to walk his daughter down the aisle, he answered: "Yes. I’d love to."

"I’m very pleased. I’m delighted," he said but added that he could not say anything more. "I’m sorry. You know I can’t talk."

Bucktin then gave Markle a gift of a bottle of champagne "to toast the couple" and some Twinings English Breakfast tea, which comes complete with a royal warrant. 

"Thank you. That’s very kind," he replied.

Markle used to work as a TV lighting director in Hollywood, but, according to the Daily Mail, he moved to Rosarito Beach, near the US-Mexico border, in 2011. He and Meghan's mother have been divorced for years.

On Father's Day last year Markle posted a throwback photo of herself and her dad when she was a newborn to her Instagram account.

She captioned the post: "Happy Father's Day, daddy. I'm still your buckaroo, and to this day your hugs are still the very best in the whole wide world. Thanks for my work ethic, my love of Busby Berkeley films & club sandwiches, for teaching me the importance of handwritten thank you notes, and for giving me that signature Markle nose. I love you xo -Bean."

Markle's mother Doria, a yoga teacher and social worker, is yet to speak publicly about the royal engagement.

SEE ALSO: These are all of the ways Meghan Markle smashes traditional royal stereotypes

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NOW WATCH: This is one of the best responses to Jamie Dimon calling bitcoin a fraud that we have heard so far

Neo-Nazis are also profiting from bitcoin's massive boom

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

bitcoin

  • Cryptocurrency bitcoin has shot up massively in value over the last few days, currently sitting at $15,338.
  • That's profited anyone who holds the cyrptocurrency — including neo-Nazis forced to accept anonymous donations in bitcoin after being banned from legitimate fundraising services.
  • Pro-Nazi publisher Counter Currents and neo-Nazi internet troll Andrew "weev" Auernheimer have raised thousands of dollars in bitcoin.
  • The news will do little to counter bitcoin's reputation as a currency for criminals and other undesirable players.


The massive boom in the value of bitcoin has ended up profiting neo-Nazis who have taken thousands of dollars in donations, according to an investigation by Mic.

Mic used the @Neonaziwallets Twitter bot, created by security researcher John Bambenak, to track cryptocurrency transactions in and out of suspected neo-Nazi wallets over a period of several months.

In that time, bitcoin has gone up 243% in value and is currently sitting at $15,338. You can read a full primer on what bitcoin is here.

A quick scan of @Neonaziwallets' Twitter feed shows it's tracking accounts belonging to Counter Currents, a US white supremacist publishing house which has published books about the pro-Nazi spy Savitri Devi, and former BNP member Jonathan Bowden. It's also tracking neo-Nazi Andrew "weev" Auernheimer, white nationalist Richard Spencer, and his think tank the National Policy Institute, among others.

One of bitcoin's most famous attributes is that it lets you move the currency anonymously — but in order to accept donations, places like Counter Currents have had to publicise their bitcoin addresses. That's allowed Bambenak to track what goes in and out of their accounts.

Auernheimer, or weev, has reportedly received more than $1 million in bitcoin and, according to Mic, withdrawn $118,620 (£88,057) from his wallet between late August and December.

One wallet apparently belonging to Auernheimer has contained a total of 194 bitcoin over a period of several years. At today's bitcoin value, that would add up to more than $3 million.

According to the @Neonaziwallets bot, Counter Currents holds 5.79 bitcoin across its wallets, which equates to $91,156 (£67,566).

Other white supremacists haven't done so well: Richard Spencer only has around $1,000 sitting in his wallet and has conducted few transactions over the last few months. And having declared bitcoin the "currency of the alt right" in March, he also now says that its price reflects a bubble.

One reason neo-Nazis have turned to a largely anonymous and speculative currency to fund their activities: they're banned from just about everything else. Payment services such as PayPal and GoFundMe revoked support for neo-Nazi accounts after white supremacist violence during the Charlottesville march in Virginia in August.

SEE ALSO: One of the world's biggest video-game services, Steam, has stopped accepting bitcoin because it's so volatile

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10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, GS, CBO, FB, GOOG, AMZN)

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

Honduras protests

Here is what you need to know. 

It's jobs day in AmericaThe US economy is expected to have added 195,000 nonfarm jobs as the unemployment rate held at 4.1%, according to Wall Street economists surveyed by Bloomberg. 

The UK agrees to a Brexit divorce deal with the EU"I believe we have now made the breakthrough we needed," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a joint press conference with United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May.

Japan's economy grew way faster than first thought in the third quarterThe Japanese economy grew at a 0.3% quarter-over-quarter clip, double the pace initially reported, data from Japan's Cabinet Office showed. 

China's trade surplus swells. Imports surged by 17.7% in US dollar terms while exports grew by 12.3%, causing China's trade surplus to swell to $40.21 billion from October's print of $38.17 billion, according to China’s General Administration of Customs.

Bitcoin tumbles off its highsThe cryptocurrency trades down 16.79% at $14,012 a coin after hitting a high of $17,252 on Thursday evening, Markets Insider data shows. 

Goldman Sachs will clear bitcoin futures for some of its clientsBitcoin futures are set to go live at the Cboe Futures Exchange on Sunday, and Goldman Sachs will clear trading for some clients on a case-by-case basis, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The GOP tax plan could add billions to Amazon, Facebook and Google's bottom linesCowen estimates the tech giants will save a combined $4.5 billion on taxes in 2018 thanks to the GOP tax bill.

Stock markets around the world are higherJapan's Nikkei (+1.39%) led the advance in Asia and Germany's DAX (+1.44%) paces the gains in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open up 0.31% near 2,645.

Earnings reports trickle outJohnson Outdoors reports ahead of the opening bell.

US economic aside from the jobs report is lightWholesale inventories and University of Michigan consumer confidence will both be released at 10 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 2 basis points at 2.39%. 

Join the conversation about this story »

10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, GS, CBO, FB, GOOG, AMZN)

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

Honduras protests

Here is what you need to know.

It's jobs day in America. The US economy is expected to have added 195,000 nonfarm jobs with the unemployment rate holding at 4.1%, according to Wall Street economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The UK agrees to a Brexit divorce deal with the European Union. "I believe we have now made the breakthrough we needed," the European Commission's president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said in a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Japan's economy grew way faster than first thought in the third quarter. The Japanese economy grew at a 0.3% quarter-over-quarter clip, double the pace initially reported, data from Japan's Cabinet Office showed.

China's trade surplus swells. Imports surged by 17.7% in US dollar terms while exports grew by 12.3%, causing China's trade surplus to swell to $40.21 billion from October's print of $38.17 billion, according to China's General Administration of Customs.

Bitcoin tumbles off its highs. The cryptocurrency trades down 16.79% at $14,012 a coin after hitting a high of $17,252 on Thursday evening, Markets Insider data shows.

Goldman Sachs will clear bitcoin futures for some of its clients. Bitcoin futures are set to go live at the Cboe Futures Exchange on Sunday, and Goldman Sachs will clear trading for some clients on a case-by-case basis, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The GOP tax plan could add billions to Amazon, Facebook, and Google's bottom lines. Cowen estimates the tech giants will save a combined $4.5 billion on taxes in 2018 thanks to the GOP tax bill.

Stock markets around the world are higher. Japan's Nikkei (+1.39%) led the advance in Asia, and Germany's DAX (+1.44%) paces the gains in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open up 0.31% near 2,645.

Earnings reports trickle out. Johnson Outdoors reports ahead of the opening bell.

US economic data aside from the jobs report is light. Wholesale inventories and University of Michigan consumer confidence will be released at 10 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 2 basis points at 2.39%.

Join the conversation about this story »

BlackRock's $1.7 trillion bond chief reveals the most important force driving markets

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

rick rieder blackrock cio

  • Rick Rieder, who oversees $1.7 trillion as the global chief investment officer of fixed income at BlackRock, says the growth of technology is the most important dynamic in markets.
  • In a wide-ranging discussion, Rieder also discussed the Federal Reserve's next steps, the GOP tax plan, the equity and bond markets, and the rise of exchange-traded funds.


With even the most cursory look at the business landscape, it's clear that technology is pervading everything around us — the places we shop, the products and services we pay for, even the way we think about the world.

Just look at Amazon's using its foundation as an e-commerce juggernaut to disrupt industries far and wide. Tesla, with its $52 billion market cap, is more valuable than Ford in the eyes of investors. And Apple's iPhone has for years been the primary mode of communication for many of us.

Rick Rieder, the global chief investment officer of fixed income at BlackRock, is closely watching technology's effects on the economy and global marketplace. Responsible for overseeing $1.7 trillion, he's a keen observer of how trends like this are developing. To him, it's all part of the grand puzzle of how markets and the economy fit together — and understanding the big picture is crucial to his success as an investor.

In an interview with Business Insider, Rieder broke down how technology is transforming the economy and explained how the market is underestimating its impact. He also shared his thoughts on the Federal Reserve's next steps, the GOP tax plan, the equity and bond markets, and the rise of exchange-traded funds.

It was part of a wide-ranging discussion that also included a deep dive into Rieder's hectic daily schedule, which you can read about here.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Joe Ciolli: You've written in the past about the adoption of technology and how it's affecting the market. What's your view on the role of technology?

Rick Rieder: By far the most important dynamic today across all markets is how quickly technology is changing the world we live in and invest in. I think people are underestimating how quickly technology is changing commerce in particular, and you're seeing extraordinary dispersion happening in credit as a result.

Having said that, I'm convinced the economy is going to keep growing. But if you look at the components of inflation, services versus goods, there are tremendous differences. When the price of goods drops, consumption of those goods grows, particularly since lower- and middle-income consumers tend to consume more goods than services. So when prices come down, quantities grow as a result.

When people say the system is stagnating because inflation isn't growing at 2%, that's not true. Prices are dropping so far and so fast for so many consumption items — like apparel, audio and video equipment, transportation services, and more — that the quantity of goods is actually growing precipitously, just at a lower price point than anyone's ever seen before.

Ciolli: Are there any specific industries you'd like to highlight?

Rieder: Look at motor vehicle sales, which have generally been pretty stable and pretty good. But then you get new ride-sharing technologies that come in which bring down the cost of transportation. Just look at rental-car companies' stock prices — they then sell their fleet, so CPI trends for new and used cars are affected. People don't consider the secondary or tertiary effects of technology. Or take Tesla, for example; they announce a car that's $27,500 after the tax subsidy and all of a sudden you have to deflate the whole automobile industry.

And what's happened now with regard to food and restaurants, the whole dynamic is being changed. It used to be that you had a brand that sold through an outlet. If you walked into your local retailer, you knew they'd carry a well-known national brand. Now word of mouth is shifting the way commerce works, in that you don't need to have the brand anymore because it's evaluated online. The whole world of commerce is changing.

Ciolli: You're a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's investment advisory committee for financial markets. What's your outlook for what's next for the Fed?

Rieder: We've been pretty adamant about the Fed raising rates in December and then three times next year. But the industry now thinks that the Fed is going to go four or five times next year, which is interesting because not too much happened in the past month, since the tax bill was already moving in a positive direction.

This is the first time in three years where I'm more dovish than the market on how much the Fed will move in the next year, but I do think the markets, the economy, and inflation will all give them the avenue to move.

Inflation is accelerating, and I think people are underestimating the nominal growth potential for 2018. It's possible that we could get 5% nominal GDP next year, allowing the Fed to move but not requiring a dramatic need to brake the economy or inflation.

Ciolli: Many people have identified uncertainty around the Fed's balance-sheet unwind as a major source of risk. Do you agree with that?

Rieder: The one thing a central bank is not supposed to be is the instigator of volatility, and they won't be. Central banks are maniacally focused on not being an instigant to disrupt markets.

As for the changing leadership at the Fed, the Federal Reserve chair tends to act differently than an elected official. They tend to continue the path laid out by the predecessor, while an elected official oftentimes tries to shift gears.

Also, when the Fed tightens it's different than easing, in the sense that it can be behind the curve. You want to make sure growth is still durable when you're tightening, which is very different than the easing process, where you want to be fast and ahead of the economy. I think they'll be deliberate in what they do from here.

Ciolli: What are your thoughts on tax reform?

Rieder: Before, it made a lot of sense for companies to just use excess cash flow to buy back stock. You weren't getting any benefit from capital expenditure, and your cost of debt was extremely low. But now you have a direct expense benefit in the tax bill potentially, and global growth is going to continue to be good, so it makes more sense to invest in capex. That's huge, and it's just not factored in today in terms of the potential impact.

When you take your corporate tax rate to 20%, it will create a 20-25% EPS benefit for some companies or industries permanently. That has such huge ramifications for how companies look at their businesses going forward, and how they look at risk.

I'm a big believer that when you create this velocity in the system, where companies are able to spend on capex and hiring, it will pull forward growth — meaning we potentially could be in a recession by late 2019 into 2020, but it's not a 2018 story. I wouldn't argue with that, particularly since some growth will get pulled forward.

With all of these potential tail risks for doing capex today, I don't see how you can go to your board of directors and say you're just going to buy back your stock in 2018.

Ciolli: There are bull markets currently raging for both stocks and bonds. As someone with a fixed-income focus, what do you think could derail the bond bull market?

Rieder: I think both the equity and bond markets are right in what they are telling us about important fundamental and technical drivers.

There's a demographic that we've never seen before: an aging population that's created this dynamic of needing more income, particularly for insurance companies and pension funds that are growing as a derivative of an aging population. There aren't enough assets or cash flow in the world relative to that demand. The long end of the bond market can stay very low for a very long time because of this extraordinary demand.

I think rates are going to move higher, but it'll be a deliberate process. If you asked me where we'd be six months from now, I think the 10-year will be 2.75%, which is still pretty low in a historical context. Because there's not enough income in the bond market, money is going to keep flowing into the equity market, pushing it higher, because that is where you can access decent cash flows today.

There just aren't enough assets relative to income requirements in the world today. By any measure we use, the 10-year Treasury yield is between 50 to 75 basis points too low, but it's because there's a shortage of assets. That demand is also much of why volatility is so low.

Ciolli: We saw the high-yield-bond market hit a rough patch recently. What's your view on that?

Rieder: This recent high-yield skirmish was a result of valuations being high, as with some other parts of the fixed-income market. I think the high-yield market got to a very aggressive valuation point in the US and Europe, and then you got some adverse news around some specific sectors. That was a pretty good wake-up call, and it showed that the markets still hold a good amount of risk.

With all of that said, I'm not worried about a dangerous credit-cycle unwind at all.

Yet we're going to have more volatility in 2018 no matter what. When central banks pull back on the "put" they've implicitly had in the market, markets will consequently move more on organic economic conditions, which is almost by definition more volatile.

Ciolli: Do you think that these sorts of setbacks are ultimately positive for the market?

Rieder: Artificially distorted markets are super dangerous. There's a real rhythm to markets, where historically every four years you'd get a market disruption — like in 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002. And that creates a dynamic where markets reprice and then assets can do well for the next three years.

We should've theoretically recalibrated in '06. The fact that we didn't meant that '08 was a bigger problem. Now we're in '17, and assets are being distorted longer. It's really dangerous. Markets have to recalibrate and reprice.

A VIX at 9 is wrong. A VIX at 30 is wrong too. But we should really be operating between 13 and 22. And the longer you operate outside of that, the worse it ends up being. It's like going to the dentist — you've just got to do it, and the longer you don't, the worse it ends up being.

I don't think equities are mispriced. As a matter of fact, I think they're going to keep going higher, but parts of the debt market are too high, which can be a leading indicator or ultimately the cause in a cause-and-effect world.

Ciolli: Active managers often blame ETFs for sapping the market of volatility. What do you make of the role ETFs play?

Rieder: Passive investing has definitely made some contribution to low volatility, full stop. I wouldn't argue with that at all.

But quantitative easing has also reduced volatility in financial systems — that's the No. 1 influence that QE has on the economy and financial markets, I would argue. That's because of the assumption that central banks will keep going until they solve the problem. And when you come off of that persistent monetary stimulus, volatility grows.

But I think there's something even more important than that, and it's the volatility of inflation.

In the '70s and '80s, you had a baby boom and housing inflation, and you had some energy inflation. Then in the last 20 years, particularly in the last decade, you've had the price of oil bouncing around due to supply and demand shocks.

Now oil doesn't move much at all, and, consequently, there's very little volatility in inflation. If the volatility of inflation stays low, then the volatility of markets must stay low. When you drop the risk premium on the inflation component down, then all of a sudden every financial asset can stay higher for a longer period of time.

Ciolli: What's your biggest market fear?

Rieder: Complacency.

Some areas of the financing market are too high. Central banks flooded the system with liquidity, and now they should pull back. If you don't have that normal give and take that markets generally calibrate to, prices end up being too high for too long, or yields too low, and you get a complacency that's not good.

That's my biggest fear going forward. The longer you don't recalibrate — and build up volatility in the markets — that can create a bad outcome with real reverberations. It could adversely affect the lending dynamics in the country and shut down companies from investing.

I think what the Fed is doing now is the exact right thing, but I think the ECB and BOJ should start moving as well. Central banks need to pull back and reach some equilibrium.

Geopolitical risk also keeps me up at night, but I don't sleep much anyway, and that will always be there.

SEE ALSO: Why BlackRock's $1.7 trillion bond chief gets up at 3:30 a.m.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How to buy and sell bitcoin using one of the most popular cryptocurrency apps on the iPhone

Primark and Sports Direct failed to pay more than 10,000 workers minimum wage

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

mike ashley sports direct

  • High street retailers Primark and Sports Direct have been named and shamed by the government for failing to pay over 10,000 workers the national minimum wage.
  • 260 employers were found to have underpaid 16,000 workers, and fined a total of £1.3 million.
  • Rates are set to rise again in April 2018, from £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over to £7.83 per hour.


LONDON — Primark and Sports Direct are among the 260 employers named and shamed by the UK government for failing to pay workers the minimum wage.

The government has identified £1.7 million in back pay for 16,000 workers, the highest number identified since the scheme began in 2013, and fined 260 employers a total of £1.3 million for underpaying the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates (£7.50 per hour for workers aged 25 and over).

Among those named were high street retailers Primark, which failed to pay £231,973.12 to 9,735 workers, and Sports Direct, which failed to pay £167,036.12 to 383 workers.

"This matter relates to the historical situation in our warehouse that was widely publicised in 2016, for which we apologised at the time," said a spokesperson for Sports Direct. "We cooperated fully with HMRC to make back payments to Sports Direct staff who were affected. We are committed to treating all our people with dignity and respect, and we pay above the National Minimum Wage."

Primark did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

"There is no excuse for not paying staff the wages they're entitled to and the government will come down hard on businesses that break the rules," said Business Minister Margot James.

Retail, hairdressing and hospitality businesses were among the most prolific offenders in this round. Common reasons for errors included failing to pay workers travelling between jobs, deducting money from pay for uniforms and not paying for overtime.

"It is good to see that HMRC continues to target large employers who have underpaid a large number of workers, as well as cases involving only a few workers, where workers are at risk of the most serious exploitation," said Bryan Sanderson, chairman of the Low Pay Commission.

Workers who are concerned they are not being paid the correct rates can seek advice from workplace experts Acas. In July, fees for employment tribunals — which came under strong criticism for making it more difficult for employees with legitimate grievances to seek redress — were abolished.

Since 2013, the government's scheme has identified £8 million in back pay for 58,000 workers, with 1,500 employers fined a total of £5 million. This year, the government said, it will spend a record £25.3 million on minimum wage enforcement.

Rates are set to rise again in April 2018, to £7.83 for workers aged 25 and over.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This is one of the best responses to Jamie Dimon calling bitcoin a fraud that we have heard so far

After a wild week, bitcoin is finally falling

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

  • Bitcoin drops sharply after four days of massive gains.
  • Price falls by around 8% by mid-morning trade in Europe.
  • Bitcoin had risen as high as $19,000 on some exchanges, but most saw highs of around $16,000.


LONDON — The price of bitcoin has dived below $16,000 overnight and remains lower during morning European trade on Friday.

Following a week of wild gains, in which the cryptocurrency rose in value by more than $5000, it seems as though investors may be taking stock, with some cashing out.

According to data from Markets Insider, bitcoin's value has fallen 8.2% during the current trading period to trade at $15,463 per coin as of around 10.10 a.m. GMT (5.10 a.m. ET), as the chart below shows:

Screen Shot 2017 12 08 at 10.10.43

Bitcoin had passed above $16,000 on Thursday, with some exchanges quoting prices as high as $19,000.

The latest bull run began in earnest at the end of October when CME Group, the world's biggest exchange operator, announced plans to launch bitcoin futures contracts that would give institutional investors exposure to the new asset class. The rival Cboe is beating CME Group to the punch, launching its future contracts on Monday.

"Bitcoin has proven to all that it’s able to overcome gravity. Its exponential rise in value, however, isn’t simply due to the impending arrival of institutional investors. Cryptocurrencies, and Bitcoin, in particular, have become extremely popular with the general public, and as prices move ever higher, the desire to invest continues to grow," analysts from FxPro said in an email on Friday morning.

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London housing transactions plummet 18% as Brexit, stamp duty, and mortgage rules bite

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

London

  • Transaction volumes in London — the number of houses being bought and sold — have dropped 18% since last year, according to housebuilder Berkeley,
  • The group posted strong profits but warned of a tough outlook next year, as Brexit and inflation bites.



LONDON —
Transaction volumes in London, the number of houses being bought and sold, have dropped 18% since last year, according to housebuilder Berkeley.

The group, which mostly develops sites in London, said in an interim results statement that pre-tax profits rose 36% to £533.3 million in the six months to October 31, selling 2117 homes for an average of £719,000, much higher than last year's average of £655,000.

The strong results meant the company revised its pre-tax profit guidance to £3.3 billion from £3 billion, but it said 2017/18's results would be a "peak" before returning to normal returns in 2018/19.

Berkeley's caution reflects wider concerns about the capital's housing market, where decades of runaway price growth is seeing affordability stretched to breaking point. Estate agents Savills predicts London house prices will dip 2% next year despite rising nationally.

READ MORE: London house prices forecast to drop 2% next year despite rising nationally

The firm said factors driving the slowdown in transactions included stamp duty hikes, uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and a tax change which means landlords from 2020 will no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest costs when they calculate taxable profits.

Chief executive Rob Perrins said: "There remains good underlying demand for property in London and the South East, but the combination of uncertain UK economic and political outlook and high property taxation continues to mean customers are more circumspect and inevitably purchasing later in the development cycle.

"Brexit uncertainty and concerns over growth and inflation, coupled with the changes to SDLT (stamp duty land tax) and mortgage interest deductibility, continue to impact the market."

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Hedge fund manager pays himself £270 million — £70 million more than his fund's profits

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

Chris Hohn

  • Hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn paid himself £270 million in dividends last year, despite his Children's Investment Fund making only £200 million in profit.
  • The news comes amid concerns about high levels of executive pay and bonuses.
  • However, it is understood Hohn reinvested most of the money back into the fund.


LONDON — Hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn paid himself £270 million last year, despite his Children's Investment Fund making only £200 million in profit.

According to accounts filed with Companies House and reported by The Guardian, Hohn, the sole shareholder, collected $364 million (£269.6 million) in dividend payments in the financial year to February 2017, up from $0 the year before.

But the fund's profits before tax only totalled $273 million (£202 million), up from $179 million (£133 million) the previous year. Hohn and Angus Milne, the fund's other director, also received a combined salary for the year of $361,246 (£268,000).

Hohn reinvested most of his payment back into the fund, which manages more than £8 billion of investments. During the financial year to February, he made a contribution to the fund of $40 million in capital reserves.

Speaking to The Guardian, the Director of the High Pay Centre thinktank Stefan Stern said Hohn's pay was "extraordinary."

"These numbers are setting a very worrying benchmark," he said. "It gives the sense that the only way is up."

Hohn has donated more than £1 billion to the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, the charity he founded with his ex-wife Jamie Cooper to combat childhood mortality and promote education and development. In 2014, Hohn was knighted for services to philanthropy.

The fund declined to comment.

"The original mission in setting up CIFF was to improve the lives of children in developing countries who live in poverty. This hasn't changed. I want to solve problems, not make grants," said Hohn in a statement on the Foundation's website.

The Children's Investment fund is currently feuding with the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The fund, which holds a 5% stake in the LSE, has accused the LSE board of forcing out CEO Xavier Rolet. It has called for Rolet to remain in the role and Chairman Donald Brydon to leave instead.

According to the Sunday Times rich list, Hohn is the 157th richest person in the UK, with a fortune of £820 million. In 2014, he paid Cooper £337 million in the largest ever British divorce settlement.

The news follows last month's revelation that Denise Coates, founder of Bet365, paid herself £217 million.

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The UK's 'alternative finance' industry is now worth £4.6 billion

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

Funding Circle

  • 'Alternative finance' sector, made up of peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding, has grown by 43% over the last year.
  • Business lending is the biggest segment, with 72% of funds going to startups or SMEs.
  • 35 platforms have disappeared over the last year as big players increasingly dominate.


LONDON — The UK's "alternative finance" industry has grown by 43% over the last year to £4.6 billion, according to a new report from the University of Cambridge.

Alternative finance has grown hugely in the UK over the last decade, spurred by a range of new online platforms such as peer-to-peer lenders Funding Circle and Zopa, and crowdfunding services like Crowdcube and Seedrs. These startups form part of Britain's booming fintech industry.

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, which is part of the university's Judge Business School, released the fourth UK Alternative Finance Industry Report on Friday. It was based on conversations with peer-to-peer lending platforms, crowdfunding platforms, and the investors that use both.

Here's how the £4.6 billion "altfi" sector breaks down, according to the report:

  • Peer-to-peer business lending: £1.23 billion
  • Peer-to-peer consumer lending: £1.17 billion
  • Peer-to-peer property lending: £1.15 billion
  • Invoice trading: £452 million
  • Equity crowdfunding: £272 million
  • Property crowdfunding: £71 million
  • Reward-based crowdfunding: £48 million.

Almost three quarters of the volume of "alternative finance" raised — £3.3 billion — went to startups and small businesses. The report said that this was a 50% increase on 2015, while 33,000 firms used alternative finance in 2016, compared with 20,000 in 2015.

Bryan Zhang, Executive Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, said in the report: "Online alternative finance has become an ever more established component of the UK financial landscape.

"With equity-based crowdfunding now accounting for 17% of all seed and venture stage equity investment in the UK, and peer-to-peer business lending providing an equivalent of 15% of all new loans lent to small businesses by UK banks, alternative finance has entered the mainstream and is likely here to stay."

However, despite the growth in volumes, the report found that 35 UK online alternative finance platforms became inactive in 2016 through mergers or closure. The five largest alternative finance platforms accounted for 64% of total market volume.

Chirag Shah, founder and CEO of Nucleus Commercial Finance, told BI a year ago:  "there is no room" for the number of platforms in the market. Theresa Burton, the CEO of now-defunct Trillion Fund, said in March: "There are a lot of small peer-to-peer platforms out there like ourselves who I think are going to struggle to get the deal flow needed."

Zhang said: "As market consolidation accelerates there is greater pressure on alternative finance platforms to distinguish themselves through better services and more innovative products, whilst simultaneously responding to emerging regulatory and supervisory demands."

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Meet the crypto trader who says he bought a Tesla with 'pump and dump' profits but claims the scams aren't bad: 'It's a game'

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

Black Hat USA 2013 attendees pass under a projected Black Hat logo during the hacker convention at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada July 31, 2013.

  • BI has reported on the prevalence of "pump and dump" scams in cryptocurrency markets.
  • A person claiming to organise these scams got in touch with BI after our first report.
  • He argues that manipulation is "everywhere" and say it's "a game."
  • He claims to have made "hundreds of thousands" trading and claims groups on the deep web organise even more sophisticated market manipulations.


LONDON — Meet Nico, a techie from Belgium who spends his days trading.

Nico — the name he gave Business Insider — used to plays the stock market but has increasingly favoured cryptocurrency markets in recent years.

Why? Opportunities to make easy money.

"Market manipulation, it's everywhere," Nico told Business Insider. "That's why this pump-is-the-devil thing is funny."

Nico contacted Business Insider through an intermediary after we published our recent investigation into pump and dump scams on cryptocurrency exchanges such as Bittrex and Yobit. Nico claims to run one of the groups on messaging app Telegram that are used to coordinate the buying activity.

"We all use Bittrex for market manipulation," Nico told BI. "Because it's faster and easier and if we are all on the same platform, the price will reflect faster."

Nico's personal bankroll — the amount that he keeps in his account to trade and never withdraws — is $150,000, he said. He has been trading in cryptocurrency markets for two and a half years and estimates he's made "hundreds and thousands" in profit.

What has he spent the money on? A Tesla and a deposit down on a small house, he said. Tesla cars cost between £66,000 and £108,000 in the UK, according to prices listed on the company's website.

A spokesperson for Bittrex told BI that "any kind of market manipulation is strictly prohibited by our terms of service" and said that it "conducts periodic compliance reviews" to "protect our service and users from harm."

BI spoke to Nico for over an hour over Skype text chat, explaining why he and others engage in pump and dump scams, why he doesn't think they are a bad thing, and talking about plans to build a mega-group of pump and dumpers.

Nico was keen to protect his identity (the Skype chat was conducted through a friends account) but did provide links to Telegram groups and a forum on the deep web to support his claims.

Here's what he told BI:

'They know the rules'

The first thing Nico wanted to make clear is he doesn't think the pump and dump scams he helps to organise are bad.

Pump and dump schemes are where people collude to buy a small cryptocurrency at the same time and thus push up the price by inflating demand. Those involved then book a quick profit, often in a matter of minutes, by selling to new investors who are attracted by the rising price.pump walkthrough"Why would it be [bad]?" Nico said. "It's not like in stock trading where it causes victims in real life."

He argues that because the "pump" is so quick — prices can leap higher and then crash in just a matter of minutes — there is no time to mislead other investors as to the nature of the investment. If they lose money that's their own fault for not doing proper research before buying — caveat emptor.

"With Pumps [sic] during one minute, they cannot be thinking that. You would assume that newbies get misinformed but how? There are hundreds of currencies, there is no way they have the time to react to this," he said.

"The ones that lose money are the ones [sic] from our own groups that enter [the pump] too late. And they know the rule[s]."

What are the rules?

"Everyone that doesn't find a price to sell with profit stays in the currency," Nico says. "They always end up winning — because we will pump it again eventually, or another group, and it never takes more than a few days. It's a never-ending cycle."

He adds: "It's like a game — The faster wins. But no innocent victim."

'What is public?'

Nico argues that the "signals" to buy that traders send on Telegram groups are not unlike stock recommendations from analysts.

"Imagine the boss from JP Morgan says 'You should buy that stock it's awesome.' People buy, the price goes up, and six months later he says: 'Now you should take profit, it's risky to hold.'"

But the boss of JP Morgan would make such comments publicly, leaving investors to judge for themselves. If he privately told people to buy a certain stock, based on knowledge of a future disclosure or market move, there could be a case to answer for insider trading.

"What is public? Telegram group are public," Nico said. "Signals are not on deep web but on Telegram groups. Groups form o the deep web, then create Telegram groups, and everyone is free to join these."

Others would disagree. When presented with the evidence BI collected from "pump and dump" groups and their activities, Ben Kingsley, a partner at the law firm Slaughter and May who specialises in financial regulation, said it looked like "market manipulation 101."

'It looks much more 'natural' when it isn't at all'

Nico estimates that are around 20 serious pump and dump groups out there but only five "with real power."

"The most powerful have 15,000 to 25,000 [members]," he said.

Nico claims to be in contact with many of the organisers of the other Telegram groups that coordinate pumps and said he first made contact with them in forums on the dark web.

"We don't communicate on personal information," he said. "We don't even ask. It's like that. We are all in hacking and stuff for years and in these communities, we don't share personal info. To be honest, there is a group on the deep web where we share real illegal info (insider trading) on big companies. That is where I met some of them.

There is a group on the deep web where we share real illegal info (insider trading) on big companies. That is where I met some of them.

"People work for a big company, they have info but they cannot take advantage of it, so they go to that community and give the info. Other people that don't work there will benefit. If the person didn't lie, then he is accepted into the community and can benefit from other people's info."

During the fact-checking of this piece, Nico provided BI with a dark web link to a private forum called "The Stock Insider" that appeared to be genuine. He did not provide a link to crypto trading forums. BI agreed not to publish the address or images of the forum in return for being given the address.

The existence of this group and similar ones have been documented in the past by security firm Red Owl.

On the dark web, Nico claims groups organise cryptocurrency market manipulation in a way that would almost certainly be illegal in most markets.

"There are groups on the deep web where they would say 'Buy that thing and hold until that date, and dump everything on that date and buy again 2 days later when price dropped,'" he said. "It looks much more 'natural' when it isn't at all."

'Our biggest power ever has been around $5 million'

If market manipulation is as rife as Nico claims, have bitcoin or ethereum ever been subject to it?

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla Model X is photographed alongside a Model S at a Tesla electric car dealership in Sydney, Australia, May 31, 2017.  REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo"We did manipulate these but now it's too hard with big market capitalization," Nico claimed. "Our biggest power ever has been around $5 million... [for] one of the groups."

Bitcoin's market capitalisation stands at over $250 billion as of Friday, meaning a $5 million trade would do little to move the dial.

'We are at war with Bittrex'

The good times could be coming to an end, however.

Bittrex recently emailed customers warning against market manipulation and "pump" groups specifically, shortly after BI published its investigation.

"They clearly are tracking us now, we knew it was going to happen," Nico said. "There has [sic] been many strange things lately on our accounts and many other pump users, and even not pump users, where they locked funds when people asked to withdraw, or things like that, with no apparent reason."

BI has reported on users complaining of difficulties withdrawing money and communicating with Bittrex in recent weeks as the company beefs up its compliance procedures.

"We think they [Bittrex] can't prove you're part of pump community if you trade many cryptos, so now basically we are at war with Bittrex," he adds. "The next few weeks will tell us who has the advantage."

A spokesperson for Bittrex told Business Insider: "To ensure an optimal trading experience and protect our service and users from harm, Bittrex regularly reviews and updates its policies for placing orders on our exchange, as well as conducts periodic compliance reviews.

"As part of that process, we recently alerted Bittrex customers of several policy initiatives, including the removal of orders that are more than 28 days old; an increase in the minimum trade size; the creation of a minimum tick size; and a reminder to our customers that any kind of market manipulation is strictly prohibited by our terms of service."

'WhalePump'

Nico said he is now working on a "mega-group" that will bring all the members of the Telegram pump groups under one roof.

"We are creating a new [Telegram] group called WhalePump where we aim to have at least $10 million power but we will launch our first operation on December 10th," he said.

The status of the project is unclear. The original ban group has accrued just over 3,000 members as of Thursday. But that channel is now redirecting people to a channel called "WhalePump Reborn," which has only 941 members as of Thursday afternoon.

Nico argues that the new group will be within Bittrex's rules. Rather than a quick "pump and dump", he will send longer-term recommendations for coins he thinks people should buy — a little like a stock analyst.

"The main info you have to retain is that we are going to be stronger now with WhalePump incoming. We are going to join our forces and make bigger moves on the markets."

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10 things you need to know in markets today

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

lloyd blankfein goldman sachs chairman and ceo

Good morning! Here's what you need to know in markets on Friday.

1.Theresa May has agreed the text of a Brexit divorce deal after all night talks with European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker, the DUP and the Irish government. The prime minister made a series of calls on Thursday to the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the leader of the DUP Arlene Foster late on Thursday before finally agreeing a compromise position on the Northern Ireland border.

2. Bitcoin tumbled more than 12% in volatile Asian trading on Friday, dropping below the $15,000 level after touching a record high above $16,000 earlier in the session. Bitcoin was down 12.6% on the Bitstamp exchange at $14,500.76 as of 0530 GMT, after rising to a record $16,666.66.

3. Goldman Sachs will clear bitcoin futures trading for some of its clients, according to a person familiar with the plans. The derivatives, which allow traders to bet on the cryptocurrency's price without buying the underlying asset, will be offered by the Cboe Futures Exchange from Sunday. Goldman is still exploring whether to play a role in other aspects of cryptocurrencies such as market making, the person said.

4. House crowdfunding platform Property Partner has grown the value of properties it manages by 74% to £100.7 million this year after changing its business strategy to target high-value investors and buying big-ticket student accommodation blocks.  CEO Dan Gandesha said this year's rapid growth was driven by a decision to target high-value investors for stakes above £25,000 and by purchasing purpose-built student accommodation, an asset class which is creating a buzz because of the high returns it offers.

5. Chinese trade data continues to impress with annual import and export growth, along with the nation’s trade surplus, beating expectations in November. According to China’s General Administration of Customs, imports grew by 17.7% in US dollar terms, above the 17.2% increase of October and forecasts for a smaller gain of 11.3%.

6. Japan’s economy grew faster than first thought in the three months to September.  According to Japan’s Cabinet Office, real GDP grew by 0.6% in the third quarter, higher the preliminary estimate of 0.3% and above the 0.4% increase expected. Underlining just how large the quarterly beat was, it was above any individual economist forecast offered to Thomson Reuters.

7. Japanese stocks rose on Friday on gains for most sectors after Wall Street climbed overnight, while Japan Display jumped on hopes that Apple may use liquid crystal technology on one of its new smartphones. The Nikkei 225 share average ended 1.4% higher at 22,811.08, staying comfortably above the settlement price of December Nikkei futures and options contracts at 22,590.66.

8. HSBC said on Friday that it had expanded its Asian research team by hiring 15 analysts following the launch of HSBC Qianhai Securities, the first Chinese securities joint venture to be majority-owned by a foreign bank. A new team of equity research analysts based in Shenzhen will work with Asian and global colleagues to deliver a research view across sectors, including IT hardware, software, healthcare, internet, media, consumer staples and autos, the bank said.

9. The GOP tax bill has long been expected to boost corporate profits. Now we know just how much the biggest tech companies in the US stand to save — and what that could mean for their bottom lines. Google will save $2.28 billion in 2018, while Facebook will see $1.56 billion in savings and Amazon will enjoy a $723 million break, according to estimates from Cowen senior research analyst John Blackledge.

10. General Electric's (GE) power arm said it is cutting 1,100 jobs at two sites in the UK as part of a global restructure under which it will save $1 billion (£750 million). GE Power said today the job cuts will largely be focused at its sites in Stafford and Rugby, although the cuts will affect all parts of its UK business, including power digital and global operations.

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House crowdfunding platform Property Partner grew 74% this year after changing its strategy to target high-value investors

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

Dan Gandesha Property Partner

  • Proptech start-up Property Partner grew the value of properties it manages by 74% to £100.7 million this year.
  • The platform allows investors to buy a small chunk of a rental property for as little as £250.
  • Ganesha said growth had been driven by its decision to target high-value investors and buying big-ticket student accommodation blocks.


LONDON — House crowdfunding platform Property Partner has grown the value of properties it manages by 74% to £100.7 million this year after changing its business strategy to target high-value investors and buying big-ticket student accommodation blocks.

The platform, which launched in early 2015, allows investors to buy a small chunk of a rental property for as little as £250. It differs from the mortgage-backed securities that drove the global financial crash in 2008 because investors choose a specific property to invest in from a selection listed on its website, rather than purchasing an obscure financial product.

CEO Dan Gandesha said this year's rapid growth was driven by a decision to target high-value investors for stakes above £25,000 and by purchasing purpose-built student accommodation, an asset class which is creating a buzz because of the high returns it offers.

"It's now not uncommon for an investor to invest a six or seven-figure sum on the platform, whereas we very much focused our marketing efforts on the smaller check size in the early days," Gandesha told Business Insider.

"It's a fairly common evolution within the fintech sector where a platform will start focusing on relatively small ticket sizes and then scale to the point where institutions are using the platform.

"On day one, when you have no platform and no customers, it's really difficult for a large customer to come along and deploy capital on your platform, because they would be too exposed."

The average investment on the site is now £6,000, but Gandesha said that "misleading" figure obscured the clusters of investments at two ends of the spectrum.

"We've got a lot of smaller customers investing relatively low sums of around £250, and and we've got customers in the seven figures. Our marketing efforts these days are targeted at customers that are likely to invest upwards of £25,000 with us, and quite often significantly more," he said.

The firm has also tapped high-value investors to purchase several purpose-built student accommodation blocks (PBSA), which are creating a buzz within the property investment sector because they currently offer the highest returns of any UK property class — around 6% after fees on Property Partner's platform, compared to returns of around 3.5% for residential investments.

Gandesha said PBSA was also attractive to investors because it is counter-cyclical, meaning it would be well-positioned to weather the storm of a downturn in the UK property market.

"In a recession, it's quite common that because there are fewer jobs available in the market, people will be more likely to go to university or extend their existing studies at university. So you tend to see admissions demand go up, which then gives the asset class a different profile compared to residential property," he said. 

Gandesha did not disclose growth targets for next year but said it was aiming for "strong" growth, although he does not expect to maintain this year's rapid expansion.

"In the last four months we're been growing at 36% month-on-month," he said. "We don't expect that to carry on over the long run but we are aiming for a strong growth rate."

Business Insider reported in July last year that the firm laid off 13 of its 44 staff, citing "a growing theme of caution"  across the global start-up community and concerns about profitability and high valuations among tech startups.

Gandesha said the decision was "with hindsight the right thing to do, even though it wasn't an easy thing to do," adding the firm has now added 15 staff to bring its total headcount to 46.

Property Partner's business represents a bet on property values and rents remaining robust in the wake of the UK's vote to leave the EU, despite a slowdown in price growth this year.

Gandesha said he didn't expect an imminent downturn outside of London's prime central zone — where prices dipped furthest this year — citing the fact that UK house prices are expected to keep growing in the near-term, albeit at a slower rate.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Bitcoin crosses through $17,000 as concerns mount

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

The value of the digital currency has broken through $17,000, raising fresh concerns about its exuberant rise.

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Coinbase hits top spot on Apple’s US App Store despite struggling to handle bitcoin demand

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

 Ignoring recent price rises for a second, if you can — there’s no greater sign of bitcoin fever than an app that lets you buy the cryptocurrency becoming the most downloaded app in the App Store. That’s exactly what happened on Thursday when Coinbase, the $1.6-billion-valued company behind what is arguably the world’s best-known exchange for converting fiat into… Read More

Report: Bitcoin Derivatives Banned By South Korean Government

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

Regulators in South Korea have reportedly banned the trade of futures contracts and other derivatives tied to bitcoin.

India warns on Bitcoin as investors rush in

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

The Bitcoin bull run has been welcomed by many but regulators are still trying to understand it.

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