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The Winklevoss twins are worth about $1.3 billion in Bitcoin alone

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

Entrepeneurs Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (Met Gala) to celebrate the opening of

  • The Winklevoss twins have amassed a Bitcoin fortune worth about $1.3 billion as of Tuesday.
  • Bitcoin's price has exploded over the last two years, leading some experts to call it a bubble.

 

The Winklevoss twins made a big bet on Bitcoin — and it looks like it's paid off.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have amassed a Bitcoin fortune worth about $1.3 billion as of Tuesday, according to estimates from the New York Times.

The twins bought about 120,000 Bitcoins back in when the price was less than $10 per bitcoin. They bought the cryptocurrency with the $65 million settlement they got in their lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg over claims that they came up with the idea for Facebook.

Fast-forward several years: the price of Bitcoin has skyrocketed, and so has the value of their investment. And they have also racked up "an additional $350 million or so" of other virtual currencies, most of it in Ethereum.

The twins said they might think about selling when the value of all Bitcoin in circulation is on par with all the gold in the world — about $7-8 trillion compared to the $310 billion value of all Bitcoin on Tuesday. But Tyler Winklevoss added that even that might not be the tipping point since "Bitcoin is more than gold."

Bitcoin's price has exploded over the last two years. Its rapid ascent, and the cottage industry that has started to grow around it, have both galvanized investors' interests and elicited their fair share of criticism.

Earlier this year, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon called it "a fraud" that is "worse than the tulip bulbs," referring to the 17th century Dutch tulip-mania bubble.

People outside the finance world have started to take notice as the price of Bitcoin keeps soaring higher. Some have even started to do creative things to get in on the action, like taking out mortgages to buy Bitcoin or purchasing the cryptocurrency with credit cards.

But, as the NYT put it, the Winklevoss' experience might be a good, cautionary reminder for regular investors that "the biggest winners have been a relatively small number of early holders who had plenty of money to start with and have been riding a price roller coaster for years."

Check out the full report at The New York Times »

SEE ALSO: People are putting their homes at risk to buy Bitcoin

SEE ALSO: KEN ROGOFF: Bitcoin will eventually collapse

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NOW WATCH: PAUL KRUGMAN: Bitcoin is a more obvious bubble than housing was

Bitcoin.com Co-Founder Switches To Bitcoin Cash, Says Transaction Issues Doom Bitcoin

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

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Emil Oldenburg, co-founder and chief technology officer at Bitcoin.com, has sold his bitcoin and switched to Bitcoin Cash because he is skeptical about its future, according to Breakit, a Swedish website. Oldenburg said bitcoin is now the riskiest investment a person can make. He said bitcoin’s transaction times, costs and lead times have undercut bitcoin’s

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Holiday Cryptomania? Try Again. Millennials Think This Gift Is Better Than 1,000 Bitcoins

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

A new survey shines light on where priorities lie for most 18-to-34 year-olds this holiday season.

(+) Technical Analysis: Bitcoin Slides as Litecoin and Ethereum Hit Highs Again

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

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It’s been a two-faced session in the cryptocurrency segment, as the most valuable coin drifted lower in a choppy fashion, while several major altcoins posted lofty gains amid the capital rotation before turning lower in late trading. The total value of the market is still above the $600 billion mark, and BTC us holding up right at

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(+) Technical Analysis: Bitcoin Slides as Litecoin and Ethereum Hit Highs Again

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

The post (+) Technical Analysis: Bitcoin Slides as Litecoin and Ethereum Hit Highs Again appeared first on CCN

It’s been a two-faced session in the cryptocurrency segment, as the most valuable coin drifted lower in a choppy fashion, while several major altcoins posted lofty gains amid the capital rotation before turning lower in late trading. The total value of the market is still above the $600 billion mark, and BTC us holding up right at

The post (+) Technical Analysis: Bitcoin Slides as Litecoin and Ethereum Hit Highs Again appeared first on CCN

After Second Hack This Year, South Korean Exchange Youbit Closes Down

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

After Second Hack This Year, South Korean Exchange Youbit Closes Down

South Korean exchange Youbit announced on its website today that it is closing down after a hack early Tuesday, December 19, 2017, that resulted in the loss of 17 percent of its assets.

The exchange, previously known as Yapizon, did not indicate how many bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies were stolen or what the total fiat value of the attack amounted to, but it was enough to lead to bankruptcy.

This was the second hack the exchange suffered this year. A prior attack in April 2017, resulted in the loss of 3,816 bitcoins, worth around $5 million at the time.

Youbit said hackers broke into its hot wallet, the online account used to pay out cryptocurrencies instantly. While hot wallets offer greater convenience, they also put funds at greater risk because they are connected to the internet.

The remaining coins were kept offline in a cold wallet, the exchange said, resulting in no additional losses. The exchange indicated that customers could withdraw up to 75 percent of their balances, and the rest would be tallied out after the final settlement.

Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA), the state agency that responds to cyberattacks, is investigating the incident, as reported in Reuters. KISA has maintained that North Korean hackers were behind the first hack.

Chris Doman, threat engineer at software security company AlienVault, told Bitcoin Magazine, he suspects BlueNoroff, a subgroup of North Korea’s cyber crime group Lazarus is responsible for the second Youbit attack. Lazarus is known for the November 2014 hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, one of the biggest corporate breaches in history.

While attacks by Lazarus have mainly been aimed at social disruption, recent reports indicate the group is increasingly going after money. With the value of bitcoin surging to all-time highs, exchanges are becoming a lucrative target.

“The first time I saw them target a Bitcoin company was in May this year — the same month they unleashed WannaCry,” Doman said in a statement shared with Bitcoin Magazine.

The exchange that Doman was refering to is South Korean Bitcoin exchange Bithumb. Around that same time, WannaCry ransomware attacks were encrypting user’s computers and offering to de-encrypt them in exchange for bitcoin. Analysis of the techniques used in the WannaCry attacks show strong links to Lazarus.  

Doman added, “They’ve also used related malware to opportunistically mine Monero coins on compromised servers. Clearly they have a large interest in cryptocurrencies as an easy method for economic gain, as well as an opportunity to economically weaken their enemies.”

Although Youbit is one of the smaller bitcoin exchanges, the hack underscores the risk involved in leaving funds on an exchange, where control of those funds is handed over to a third party and is only as safe as whatever security measures that exchange chooses to use.

Throughout the history of Bitcoin, hacks have amounted to painful losses. When bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox began liquidation proceedings in April 2014, the company announced that approximately 850,000 bitcoins were missing, an amount valued at more than $450 million at the time. In August 2016, the Bitcoin exchange Bitfinex announced hackers stole approximately 120,000 BTC, worth $72 million at the time.

The post After Second Hack This Year, South Korean Exchange Youbit Closes Down appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

$17k Breached: Bitcoin Price Now Down 15% from All-Time High

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

Bitcoin's price has dipped below $18,000, marking a decline of more than $1,300 since the start of the day's trading.

Famed Short Seller ‘Pounding the Table’ on Bitcoin Investment Trust

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

The post Famed Short Seller ‘Pounding the Table’ on Bitcoin Investment Trust appeared first on CCN

Famed short seller Andrew Left said that he believes the Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTC: GBTC) represents one of the easiest — and most profitable — short opportunities, regardless of what happens to the bitcoin price. Trader Says to Short Bitcoin Investment Trust Left, a trader at Citron Research, is “pounding the table” on the Bitcoin

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STOCKS SLIP: Here's what you need to know

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

fall slip san francisco

The GOP's plan to cut taxes got one step closer to becoming law on Tuesday. Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to pass the revised tax plan, meaning only the Senate and President stand in the way.

The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all slipped on Tuesday, despite the tax plan's progression, which many pundits have predicted will be good for stocks.

Here's the scoreboard:

  1. BANK OF AMERICA: Bitcoin is the 'most crowded' trade. Being long bitcoin is the most crowded trade in the world, according to a fund manager survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
  2. Traders are cranking up bets that the stock market will go crazy. Investors are increasingly wagering on stock market volatility, according to a measure of options trading.
  3. Investors pumped $2 billion into crypto funds this year — and 2018 will be bigger. A new index tracking cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds showed returns of 1,641% in the year through to November.
  4. Corporate borrowing drives global debt issuance to a record $6.8 trillion in 2017. Corporate borrowing made up 55% of global debt issuance in 2017.

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Paul Ryan yelled in delight and triumphantly slammed his gavel as he announced the GOP tax bill's passage

SEE ALSO: Ford responds to New York Times story about sexual and racial harassment at Chicago plants

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NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The iPhone X's biggest myth, investing overseas, and why you should buy gold

The Winklevoss twins cut up the key to their $1.3 billion bitcoin fortune and keep each piece in different bank vaults

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

Brothers Cameron (L) and Tyler Winklevoss talk to each other as they attend a New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) virtual currency hearing in the Manhattan borough of New York January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

  • The Winklevoss twins, known for suing Mark Zuckerberg, started buying bitcoin in 2012.
  • Their bitcoin holdings are now worth $1.3 billion.
  • The twins keep the private key for their bitcoin fortune in multiple pieces in bank vaults around the country. 


People laughed at the Winklevoss twins in 2012 when they started buying up bitcoin — lots of bitcoin.

The two Harvard-educated entrepreneurs ended up buying about 120,000 bitcoins back when the price was less than $12 per bitcoin. The siblings bought the cryptocurrency with funds they got from settling a lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg over claims that they came up with the idea for Facebook.

Nobody's laughing at Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss anymore. They confirmed in an interview with the New York Times that they have held on to their bitcoins as the price has skyrocketed. 

That means their bitcoin fortune is worth $1.3 billion, at Tuesday's price of $17,800 per token. “We’ve turned that laughter and ridicule into oxygen and wind at our back,” Tyler told the New York Times.  

A fortune that large needs to be protected. Because bitcoin is a digital currency, if you get hacked, your bitcoins can be stolen. Earlier this month, one cryptocurrency mining service said that it had $80 million in bitcoin stolen from it, for example. 

The Winklevoss twins use what's called a "cold wallet" system to store their bitcoin fortune. Bitcoin resides in electronic "wallets," and each wallet has a private key. If someone has your private key, they can take your bitcoin. Printing out your private key —which keeps it off the internet — helps protect it from people who are trying to steal it.

The Winklevoss twins take it one step further. They literally cut up the paper print out of their private key, then stored the various pieces in banks around the country. 

Here's how the New York Times explains it: 

"The Winklevosses came up with an elaborate system to store and secure their own private keys. They cut up printouts of their private keys into pieces and then distributed them in envelopes to safe deposit boxes around the country, so if one envelope were stolen the thief would not have the entire key." 

The Winklevosses say that they use a similar system for Gemini, the bitcoin exchange they created which is licensed in New York to hold bitcoins on behalf of banks and traders. Because if the Winklevosses were to lose their bitcoin billions, that would be a tragedy — but if their exchange were to be hacked, there would be a lot of angry financiers looking for answers. 

The entire story in the New York Times is worth reading.

SEE ALSO: Leaked Mashable documents show how bleak things were before Ziff Davis came to the rescue

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NOW WATCH: France's $21 billion nuclear fusion reactor is now halfway complete

Chinese company soars 150% after pivoting from juice to crypto

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

Screen Shot 2017 12 19 at 2.22.28 PM

  • Shares of a Chinese juice company exploded Tuesday after investors got wind of the company's pivot to fintech.
  • It's a growing trend among companies to announce a new focus on cryptocurrencies or blockchain and watch the stock rise in kind. 


Shares of China’s Future Fintech Group, an unprofitable firm formerly known as SkyPeople Fruit Juice, exploded as high as 221% Tuesday after the company announced it would pivot to financial technology, eventually settling up roughly 127%.

The pivot happened on May 26, 2017, according to public filings, but investors appear to have taken little notice before today. The stock steadily declined in price through the summer before Tuesday’s extreme rise. 

According to the company’s website, it "utilizes financial technology solutions to operate and grow its businesses. The Company is actively leveraging e-commerce and new technology platforms, and is building a regional agricultural products commodities market with the goal to become a leader in agricultural finance technology."

Future Fintech Group previously received a written warning from Nasdaq on December 1 for failing to maintain a market value above $5 million and risked being delisted if it did not pass the threshold by May 2018, according to public filings. Today’s jump brings the firm’s market cap to roughly $9.57 million.

FTFT is the most recent example in a long-running list of companies that have exploded in value after pivoting to cryptocurrencies or announcing a pivot to blockchain technology.

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NOW WATCH: Why bitcoin checks all the boxes of a bubble

Chinese company soars 150% after pivoting from juice to crypto

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

Screen Shot 2017 12 19 at 2.22.28 PM

  • Shares of a Chinese juice company exploded Tuesday after investors got wind of the company's pivot to fintech.
  • It's a growing trend among companies to announce a new focus on cryptocurrencies or blockchain and watch the stock rise in kind. 


Shares of China’s Future Fintech Group, an unprofitable firm formerly known as SkyPeople Fruit Juice, exploded as high as 221% Tuesday after the company announced it would pivot to financial technology, eventually settling up roughly 127%.

The pivot happened on May 26, 2017, according to public filings, but investors appear to have taken little notice before today. The stock steadily declined in price through the summer before Tuesday’s extreme rise. 

According to the company’s website, it "utilizes financial technology solutions to operate and grow its businesses. The Company is actively leveraging e-commerce and new technology platforms, and is building a regional agricultural products commodities market with the goal to become a leader in agricultural finance technology."

Future Fintech Group previously received a written warning from Nasdaq on December 1 for failing to maintain a market value above $5 million and risked being delisted if it did not pass the threshold by May 2018, according to public filings. Today’s jump brings the firm’s market cap to roughly $9.57 million.

FTFT is the most recent example in a long-running list of companies that have exploded in value after pivoting to cryptocurrencies or announcing a pivot to blockchain technology.

Subscribe to our Crypto Insider newsletter for the best of the blockchain every day.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why bitcoin checks all the boxes of a bubble

A cryptocurrency hedge fund has delivered a 24,000% return over the past 4 years

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

A general view of the Bitcoin booth at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees.

  •  Pantera Capital has delivered a 24,004% return for investors since its founding in 2013.
  •  The cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund was among the first to specialize in the nascent digital coin market.

 

Bitcoin's more than 13,000% return since its inception can't hold a candle to Pantera Capital.

The blockchain-focused California-based hedge fund has delivered a 24,004% return for investors since its founding in 2013, according to a report by Nathaniel Popper at The New York Times.

"A significant portion of the gains have come this year, thanks to the skyrocketing price of an individual bitcoin, which hit $19,000 on Monday," Popper reported Tuesday.

Hedge funds focused on cryptocurrencies have opened up at an eye-popping rate this year. Pantera Capital was among the first to dive into the nascent market for digital coins and the underpinning blockchain technology.

An estimated $2 billion has been invested with specialist hedge funds focusing on cryptocurrencies in 2017, according to estimates from Morgan Stanley. Over 100 such funds exist, according to the bank.

Even some traditional hedge funds are turning to the crypto-space to find outsized returns for clients.

Typhon Capital Management, a Florida hedge fund that specializes in commodities, is launching a cryptocurrency fund at the beginning of 2018 that will invest in digital currencies and initial coin offerings. 

Typhon's CEO, James Koutoulas, told Business Insider he expects to raise $5 million to $20 million for the new fund. 

"We now feel comfortable taking investors money and putting it into this space," Koutoulas said. 

The cryptocurrency market has soared to incredible heights in 2017, providing myriad opportunities for investment firms. Bitcoin, for instance, has soared 1,700% this year to more than $18,000 a coin, according to data from Markets Insider. The entire market for digital coins, of which there are now more than 1,300, now stands above $600 billion.

morgan stanley

Read the full report at The New York Times>>

SEE ALSO: Cyberattack brings a cryptocurrency exchange to its knees

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NOW WATCH: We talked to Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman about tax reform, Trump, and bitcoin

Bitcoin Dominance Drops Below 50%, Litecoin and Other Altcoins Surge Rapidly

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

The post Bitcoin Dominance Drops Below 50%, Litecoin and Other Altcoins Surge Rapidly appeared first on CCN

The bitcoin dominance index has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since October, as alternative cryptocurrencies in the market such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple demonstrated strong performance over the past week. After a week-long rally, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Cardano, IOTA, Dash, NEM, and EOS, all of the top 10 cryptocurrencies with the

The post Bitcoin Dominance Drops Below 50%, Litecoin and Other Altcoins Surge Rapidly appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Dominance Drops Below 50%, Litecoin and Other Altcoins Surge Rapidly

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

The post Bitcoin Dominance Drops Below 50%, Litecoin and Other Altcoins Surge Rapidly appeared first on CCN

The bitcoin dominance index has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since October, as alternative cryptocurrencies in the market such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple demonstrated strong performance over the past week. After a week-long rally, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Cardano, IOTA, Dash, NEM, and EOS, all of the top 10 cryptocurrencies with the

The post Bitcoin Dominance Drops Below 50%, Litecoin and Other Altcoins Surge Rapidly appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Dominance Drops Below 50%, Litecoin and Other Altcoins Surge Rapidly

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

The post Bitcoin Dominance Drops Below 50%, Litecoin and Other Altcoins Surge Rapidly appeared first on CCN

The bitcoin dominance index has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since October, as alternative cryptocurrencies in the market such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple demonstrated strong performance over the past week. After a week-long rally, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Cardano, IOTA, Dash, NEM, and EOS, all of the top 10 cryptocurrencies with the

The post Bitcoin Dominance Drops Below 50%, Litecoin and Other Altcoins Surge Rapidly appeared first on CCN

Here's what America's biggest companies plan to do with all that cash coming back to the US

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

wells fargo bank vault

  • The GOP tax plan, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is expected to be signed into law as early as Wednesday. 
  • The bill would cut the current federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, and allow a one-time repatriation of overseas cash.
  • 65% of companies responding to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey say they would use at least some of the repatriated cash to pay down debt. 


The GOP tax plan, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, could be signed into law as soon as Wednesday. And while the bill would lower taxes for the lion's share of Americans, it would also provide benefits to America's biggest companies. The measure would slash the current federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, and allow a one-time repatriation of overseas cash.

That's a big deal considering Goldman Sachs estimates S&P 500 companies hold $920 billion of untaxed cash overseas. Additionally, US companies as a whole have $2.5 trillion stashed overseas, according to Citigroup.  

So what will the biggest companies in America do with all that money they'll bring back to the US? 

In 2004, the last time a tax holiday occurred, roughly 80% of the cash brought back into the country went to fund stock buybacks. But this time around will likely be different, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey of 302 US companies.

When asked how they would use the proceeds of repatriated earnings, 65% percent of respondents said they would pay down debt. US corporate debt issuance has risen every year but one since the financial crisis, and is on pace for a record year in 2017. 

corporate debt

"The only reason why a lot of these companies issued so much debt was that they could not touch the overseas cash - when they now gain access to this cash, it makes sense to use some of it to take out the debt," Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote in a recent note. 

With the Federal Reserve expecting three more rate hikes in 2018, paying down debt could save companies exposed to floating interest rates billions of dollars in interest expenses over the next few years. 

But, corporate America still has plans to use the cash to buy back shares. Just less than half of the respondents, 46%, said at least a portion of the repatriated money would be spent on buybacks, which are a good way to achieve immediate share appreciation and signal to investors that a company views its stock as undervalued.

Even fewer responded saying they would spend the money on mergers and acquisitions (42%) and capital expenditures (35%).

Repatriated cash

SEE ALSO: Trump's tax plan could bring $250 billion into the US — here are the companies set to benefit most

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NOW WATCH: Why bitcoin checks all the boxes of a bubble

A 34-year-old activist who's fighting for his life traveled to Washington to oppose tax cuts – and he says 'Republicans are screwed'

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

Ady Barkan

  • Ady Barkan, a 34-year old activist used to fighting for others, is now in a fight for his own life as he battles a terminal diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. 
  • Despite his limited mobility, Barkan has traveled from California to Washington in a last-ditch effort to oppose a tax cut bill that also includes steep cuts to healthcare.
  • Cuts to Medicare triggered by the legislation could prevent Barkan from having enough money to fund a ventilator that could prolong his life.  
  • Barkan tells Business Insider why he's hopeful despite the likely passage of the legislation he so strongly opposes. 


WASHINGTON – Ady Barkan is putting his body where his mind is.

Struggling with mobility over a year after a Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) diagnosis, the community activist brought his wife and 1-1/2-year old son to Washington, DC for a last-ditch effort to stop the Republican tax bill. 

The prognosis of ALS is grim. Life expectancy is three to four years and physical degeneration is fairly rapid and eventually leads to complete paralysis, at which point he will have to be placed on a ventilator.

And while public dissatisfaction with the legislation has been focused on the notion that the Republican tax cuts are deeply skewed toward the wealthiest Americans and the corporations they run, Barkan, who has spent years galvanizing support for a more diverse and inclusive Federal Reserve, wants to remind Americans this legislation also includes cuts to their healthcare.

"We’re putting a call out to the whole country — this is a make or break moment, step up, raise your voices and give it a shot," Barkan told Business Insider, as his son Carl meandered through the room under the eye of Barkan’s wife, Rachel King.

From his hotel room in Washington, Barkan has galvanized a mini-command center with a few fellow activists clanking away on various laptop keyboards and phones — emails, lists, outreach, videos, the works. He knows it's an uphill battle: Republicans appear to have the votes to pass the legislation through the House and Senate, and are aiming to get the law on President Donald Trump's desk as early as Wednesday. 

"It’s more personal when you’ve got a 33-year old terminally ill father,” he said. "I’ll try to do good with it with whatever I got. It’s a s----- hand to draw but most people don’t spend their careers doing stuff that’s as fun as what I’ve gotten to do."

In his job as an activist at the Center for Popular Democracy, Barkan led a successful effort to get Fed officials thinking more about low-income Americans as they conduct monetary policy, often arguing against interest rate hikes in the face of high underemployment and weak wage growth.

Now it’s personal

Suddenly, Barkan is fighting not just for social justice but his own life prospects and ability to spend more time watching his young son grow.

The Republican tax-cut bill "could cut many people like me off from government services," Barkan said in a recent Washington Post op-ed, because "it automatically triggers $400 billion in cuts to Medicare, and Mick Mulvaney, the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, will have sole responsibility for deciding what programs to slash."

He adds: "Mulvaney opposes the Medicare disability program. If this tax bill passes, will I be able to get the ventilator I need to stay alive?"

Apart for the cuts Barkan outlines, the legislation also does away with the individual mandate that is part of  President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, a move that would leave millions without insurance again and could raise costs for consumers. At the same time, House Speaker Paul Ryan has also signaled the legislation may be a precursor to larger attempted cuts into America’s social safety net — including Medicare and Social Security

With life and family now the line, Barkan is applying the skills he learned while campaigning for the rights of workers and low-income families to the fight against what he describes as a ruthless piece of legislation.

What began as a one-time trip to the nation's capital from his home in Santa Barbara less than two weeks ago has mushroomed into a much bigger excursion, including a return trip to protest Tuesday's planned vote, and now, a national platform.

Barkan had his own viral moments, giving interviews on CNN and MSNBC and getting audiences with various senators, including Jeff Flake and Susan Collins.

Flake’s on a plane

Barkan’s opposition to the tax bill took on new momentum when he paired up with another activist whom he happened to meet on a flight on which Flake, the senator from Arizona who has been a critic of Trump, also happened to be boarding.

Barkan and his colleague filmed his conversation with Flake, and the video took off on social media

If anything has gotten easier for Barkan despite the physical and emotional challenges that comes with his illness, it's that the issues he is now advocating for are much simpler to explain to people than US interest rate policy, which has been his focus at the Center for Popular Democracy.

"It’s pretty hard to get passionate about an interest rate increase," Barkan joked, gazing out his hotel window.

"But with all the issues that are tied up here — taxes and the structure of our economy, healthcare, social services, our democracy, whether it’s transparent, whether it responds to people or just money — nobody needs convincing,” he said. "Maybe they need inspiration, maybe they need hope, maybe they need leadership, maybe they need direction — not convincing."

Polls suggest the tax cut legislation is deeply unpopular with voters. The popular opposition gives Barkan hope that the law's passage will be a galvanizing factor for voters in 2018. 

"Republicans are screwed," he said. "They have run on bad policies for years with no underlying justification. And now it's becoming all too clear." 

SEE ALSO: The Fed’s forecasts for the economy confirm what everyone already knows about the GOP tax cut plan

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NOW WATCH: PAUL KRUGMAN: Bitcoin is a more obvious bubble than housing was

This life-saving technology was not available on the derailed Amtrak train

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

FILE PHOTO: Rescue personnel and equipment are seen at the scene where an Amtrak passenger train derailed on a bridge over interstate highway I-5 in DuPont, Washington, U.S., December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola/File Photo

  • Amtrak Cascades train 501 derailed near DuPont, Washington on Monday.
  • The train was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.
  • The train was not equipped with positive train control.
  • PTC technology can automatically slow down trains traveling at too high a speed.

On Monday, Amtrak Cascades train 501 derailed near DuPont, Washington. The incident resulted in the deaths of three passengers and the shut down of the southbound lanes of Interstate 5.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, onboard data showed the train traveling at 80 mph at the time of the derailment; 50 mph above the 30 mph speed limit.

It's a tragic incident that could have possibly been prevented with the help of a safety system called positive train control (PTC).

The section of track where Monday's derailment occurred was equipped with PTC, a spokesman for the track's owner, Sound Transit told CNN. But, the system was not yet operational because it had not yet been installed on the trains, according to the report. In fact, PTC won't be fully operational on this segment of the track until the second quarter of 2018.

So what is positive train control?

PTC systems are made up of three elements: an onboard system that monitors the locomotive, a wayside system that monitors track conditions, and a ground station server.

Using satellites, PTC technology has the ability to send warnings to those in control of the train. If there's no response, the tech can automatically slow down or even stop trains that are moving too fast or approaching a dangerous area at too high a speed.

To function properly, PTC systems must gather and analyze data on the train's stopping distance (weight and length); track composition and geography; train speed; and authorizations, the Association of American Railroads explained on its website.

According to the Federal Rail Administration, the system is designed to "reliably and functionally" prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed, unauthorized incursions into areas of track where maintenance is taking place, and train movement through a mainline switch in the wrong position.

In 2008, Congress mandated that all Class 1 railroad mainlines in the US, such as those used for scheduled passenger service, be equipped with PTC by December 31, 2015. That deadline was later pushed back to the end of 2018 with the possibility of an additional two-year extension.

Incredibly, FRA data shows that through the second quarter of 2017 only 23% of passenger rails in the US had operational PTC and only 41% of passenger locomotives had functional PTC technology.

SEE ALSO: The derailed Amtrak train in Washington marks a tragic end to a $181 million project

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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

What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

Welcome 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.

Traders are betting more and more that the stock market will soon snap out of its prolonged slumber.

This can be seen through a measure called skew, which looks at bullish CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, options contracts compared with bearish ones. It's at its highest level in two years, having risen swiftly in recent weeks, indicating an expected volatility spike.

In deal news, leaked Mashable documents show how bleak things were before Ziff Davis came to the rescue. And Kinderd Healthcare is being bought by Humana and two private equity firms for $4.1 billion.

In related news, Jefferies had a record year in investment banking. And here's who's on pace to win Wall Street bragging rights for 2017.

In tax news:

And in crypto news: 

Lastly, a "prominent Upper East Side couple" in NYC is offering two people a $150,000 salary to cook, clean, and run errands for them.

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

Cyberattack brings a cryptocurrency exchange to its knees

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

bitcoin

  •  South Korea-based Youbit, a cryptocurrency exchange, was hacked on Tuesday.
  •  17% of its digital holdings were stolen, causing the exchange to file for bankruptcy.

 

A South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange was brought to its knees by a cybersecurity attack.

Yapian, the operator of crypto-exchange Youbit, halted trading of cryptocurrencies on its venue Tuesday and filed for bankruptcy after a hack, according to reporting by The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported the exchange had 17% of its digital currency holdings stolen. The company witnessed a similar attack in April.

The crypto world has seen its fair share of hacks and cyber issues. Most notably, Mt. Gox, a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2014 after a hacker moved hundreds of thousands of bitcoin from the exchange to his own account.

And earlier this year, an estimated $280 million worth of the cryptocurrency ether was locked up by crypto-wallet company Parity because of one person's mistake. An unidentified user accidentally deleted the code library required to use recently created digital wallets within Parity, according to a security alert posted on the company's blog in November.

Still, the cryptocurrency market has marched onwards to incredible heights. Bitcoin, for instance, has soared 1,700% this year to more than $18,000 a coin, according to data from Markets Insider. The entire market for digital coins now stands above $600 billion. At the same time, Wall Street is paying more attention to the nascent market.

An estimated $2 billion has been invested with specialist hedge funds focusing on cryptocurrencies in 2017, according to estimates from Morgan Stanley. And two established exchanges have launched bitcoin futures, which allow investors to bet on the future price of the digital currency.

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin just hit an all-time high — here's how you buy and sell it

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NOW WATCH: The 5 issues to consider before trading bitcoin futures

dYdX is a decentralized protocol for cryptocurrency derivatives

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

 While some financial derivatives like futures trading are slowly coming to Bitcoin, we’re still a long time away from these financial products being widely available for the entire cryptocurrency asset class. So dydX is building a decentralized protocol for derivatives, built on the Ethereum blockchain and the 0x protocol. The protocol lets you take out peer-to-peer short sells, long… Read More

This Lightning Network Designer Is Re-Inventing Bitcoin Smart Contracts

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

This Lightning Network Designer Is Re-Inventing Bitcoin Smart Contracts

Bitcoin is usually not considered the blockchain best suited for self-executing conditional payments, better known as smart contracts. While it does support basic programmability to enable features like time locks and multi-signature (multisig) schemes, competing projects like Ethereum, Ethereum Classic or Qtum are often expected to better support more advanced applications.

However, a new wave of research is increasingly questioning this assumption. For example, Scriptless Scripts, a project spearheaded by Blockstream mathematician Andrew Poelstra, cleverly utilizes the magic of cryptography to move smart contracts off-chain, while leveraging Bitcoin’s security, but without requiring extensive smart-contract support on the Bitcoin protocol itself.

Along similar conceptual lines, Discreet Log Contracts (DLCs) could deploy another class of smart contracts on top of Bitcoin. A project by one of the authors of the original Lightning Network white paper, Tadge Dryja, and recently presented at Scaling Bitcoin Stanford, DLCs could realize blockchain-enforced insurance companies, futures contracts, dollar-pegged coins and much more.

Here’s how that works.

Bets

Many types of smart contracts essentially boil down to “bets.”

Let’s say, for example, that someone wants to insure himself against being unable to travel due to a potential pilot strike. That person can then “bet” there will be a strike. If there is no strike, the “bet” is lost as if it were an insurance down payment. If there is a strike, on the other hand, the “bet” is won, like an insurance payout.

As a more interesting example perhaps, people can also bet on the price of BTC relative to the US dollar: a futures market. If someone bets that the BTC price will go down, and the BTC price does go down, he “wins” more BTC; if the BTC price goes up, he “loses” some BTC. Interestingly, this can be structured to ensure that the person entering into these “bets” is practically guaranteed to end up with the same USD value in BTC regardless of what happens. This can, in turn, be used to realize a “stablecoin” with fixed USD value on Bitcoin's blockchain. (It should be noted that there are extreme examples where this doesn’t hold up, like a scenario where Bitcoin fails completely and BTC drops to zero dollars — but, in most cases, it works.)

However, while these types of smart contracts are interesting, they cannot be executed based on blockchain-based data alone. A blockchain cannot tell whether pilots are striking, nor what the USD/BTC exchange rate is. This requires data input from outside of the blockchain, and this is where “oracles” come in.

Oracles

Oracles are essentially trusted sources of information; they provide data that cannot itself be “read” by a blockchain. This data can be inserted into a smart contract, which will then execute based on the oracle’s input.

Since the types of smart contracts described above need to rely on such external data sources anyway, it makes sense to leverage the trust in oracles in order to simplify a smart contract. Instead of more complex solutions, oracles can, for example, be “plugged into” a relatively basic multisig scheme.

As a simple example, let’s say that next summer Alice and Bob want to bet a bitcoin on the FIFA World Cup final between Argentina and Brazil. Alice thinks Argentina will win; Bob thinks Brazil will. To make this bet blockchain-enforceable, Alice and Bob both send one bitcoin to a multisig address that requires two of three signatures to spend the coins. One of these three keys is held by Alice, another key is held by Bob and the third key is held by the oracle.

If Argentina wins, Alice and Bob should both sign a transaction from this address that sends both bitcoins to Alice. Since this requires only two signatures, Alice and Bob’s signatures suffice, and the oracle never comes into play. (Needless to say, if Brazil wins it’s the other way around: Alice and Bob sign a transaction sending both coins to Bob.)

A problem arises only when the losing party — Bob — refuses to sign the transaction. It’s in this scenario that the oracle would use its third key to help Alice claim the two bitcoins. Importantly, exactly because this is an option, Bob really has no reason not to sign. (This is even more true if Alice and Bob put up some collateral so Bob gets refunded some of his BTC if he signs.)

Ideally, the oracle’s signature should hardly ever be needed at all; Alice and Bob can complete the bet on their own.

Still, the basic multisig and oracle solution has its weaknesses. For example, the oracle would probably have to be involved with setting up the bet; or at least it should be available to act as a sort of judge whenever needed. This means that the oracle could potentially be corrupted, for example, if Bob offers the oracle a share of the coins if they collude to steal both. And Alice and Bob also have no privacy from the oracle: the oracle will know exactly what they are betting on and how much they are betting. Meanwhile, the rest of the world can tell that Alice and Bob used an oracle for their bet (and, therefore, that it was a bet).

These are the problems that Discreet Log Contracts could solve. They maintain the benefits of the straightforward multisig and oracle solution — but eliminate most of its weaknesses.

Payment Channels

As mentioned, Dryja, who is currently working for MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative, is one of the authors of the lightning network white paper. His DLC project is based on a similar concept.

A key idea behind the lightning network is that two people can open a payment channel, allowing them to transact with each other. Such a payment channel utilizes Bitcoin’s basic programmability (like time locks and multisig addresses) and combines it with some clever tricks to commit transactions to other transactions, all without broadcasting them to the network unless needed.

Over time, as the people in the channel transact with each other, these payment channels are updated with new balances or “channel states.” Either party can then “drop” the latest channel state on the blockchain at any time and claim their balance whenever they want to. And importantly — this is where Bitcoin’s basic programmability is leveraged — both parties can only safely broadcast the latest channel state. If they try to cheat by broadcasting an earlier channel state, their counterparty can actually claim every single coin in the channel.

DLCs works similarly. But where a lightning network payment channel only lets the parties involved broadcast the most recent channel state, DLCs limit them to broadcasting only the channel state reflecting the correct outcome of a bet.

This is where the oracle comes in — but this time combined with some fancy math tricks.

The Oracle Signature

As opposed to 2-of-3 multisig schemes where oracles act a bit like judges, oracles in DLCs more closely resemble broadcasters. For our World Cup bet, it would make sense that the oracle is a sports-betting service, a football news website, perhaps the FIFA or another entity that broadcasts the winner anyway and that is reasonably trusted not to lie about it.

Let’s say the oracle in this case is a sports-betting service that regularly publishes the score and winner of the World Cup final on their website. To enable a DLC, the same sports-betting service only needs to add a minor additional step.

Basically, this “broadcast oracle” has a public key and a private key. (A private key is really just a randomly generated number, while the public key is a seemingly random number derived from that private key.) This public key is published somewhere, most likely on the betting service’s website for anyone to find. The private key is, of course, kept private: This can be used by the oracle to sign a message. (Such a signature, too, is a seemingly random number but is derived from the private key in combination with the message.)

The possible outcomes of the bet are known as well: either Argentina wins the World Cup final or Brazil wins. The sports-betting service, therefore, announces that it will broadcast one of two very specific messages: “Argentina won” or “Brazil won.”

Now, what’s interesting about public key cryptography is that the sports-betting service’s public key can be used to figure out what a signature of the message — “Argentina won” or “Brazil won” — will mathematically “look like.” (“Look like,” in this case, doesn’t mean that Alice and Bob can produce the signature themselves, but they can calculate certain mathematical properties that it will have.)

Because Alice and Bob can calculate what the potential oracle signatures will “look like,” they can use it in their DLC.

The Discreet Log Contract

First, before the World Cup final, Alice and Bob pay one bitcoin to a “funding transaction.” From this funding transaction, several potential transactions are constructed — but these are not yet broadcast over the network.

Here’s where the cryptography gets a bit complex.

What the sports-betting service signatures “look like” is cleverly embedded in these several potential transactions, where each potential signature enables a different transaction. (Specifically, and somewhat unconventionally, what the signatures “look like” is used as public keys in key-pairs for the different transactions.)

In other words, knowing what the oracle’s potential signatures will “look like,” Alice and Bob can construct their payment channels such that the two different potential signatures can be used to validate two different channel states: one where Alice gets two bitcoins and one where Bob gets them.

Then, the actual oracle signature, which is published after the World Cup final is played, is used as private key to validate the winning transaction — and only the winning transaction. If the sports-betting service broadcasts a signature for “Argentina won,” Alice can take this signature, use it as a private key (in combination with her own private key) and claim the two bitcoins from the channel. If the oracle signs a message for “Brazil won,” Bob can. Meanwhile, if either tries to claim the bitcoins without the oracle signature, they will fail, and their counterparty can instead claim both coins.

Further, like lightning network payment channels, the outcome of the bet — two bitcoins for Alice if Argentina wins — can now also be broadcast by Alice and Bob as a fairly regular multisig transaction from the funding transaction. And indeed, exactly because Alice can enforce the outcome with the oracle signature anyway, there is little reason for Bob not to cooperate.

As a result, the “bet” is fully blockchain-enforced through the sports-betting service’s signature, while this service doesn’t need to do anything for this specific bet; it doesn’t even need to know it ever took place.

And, notably, while this bet is relatively simple (either Argentina wins or Brazil wins), in reality DLCs could allow for far more complex scenarios. Exactly because only a fairly regular multisig transaction is broadcasted in the end, it doesn’t really matter if a “bet” has two, 200, or 200,000 potential outcomes.

For more details on DLCs, also see Dryja’s presentation at Scaling Bitcoin Stanford.


The post This Lightning Network Designer Is Re-Inventing Bitcoin Smart Contracts appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

The value menu war is on, and McDonalds is set to come out on top (MCD, YUM)

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

mcdonalds line

  • Fast-food chains are coming out with new iterations of their value menus in 2018.
  • McDonald's is spending more on advertising to keep its current sales trends alive, and Credit Suisse thinks the company will do well with their new menu.
  • Watch McDonald's trade in real time here.


The value menu has been a staple at many fast-food restaurants for years, and it's about to go through a renaissance.

McDonald's is set to revamp its dollar menu on January 4, with new offerings at the $1, $2, and $3 price levels. The new menu will face stiff competition when it launches, as Taco Bell is offering a new 20-item dollar menu and Jack in the Box is planning on spending more to make customers aware of its cheaper menu options.

"Fast food competitors are gearing up to combat this new value effort from MCD, setting up 2018 as a potential year for intensive discounting in the fast food space, particularly in the first part of the year," Jason West, an analyst at Credit Suisse said in a note to clients.

In the coming value menu battle, West thinks McDonald's has the upper hand.

McDonald's franchises have agreed to contribute more to the company's advertising budget in the coming year, resulting in an increase of about 20%. Some franchises are expecting an uptick in sales because of the new value menu offerings, and others say the sales impact will be minimal at first, but grow over time like the original dollar menu, according to West.

Sales in the fourth quarter are looking strong for McDonald's, and West says this might translate into continued success in the beginning of 2018. West rates the company an "outperform" relative to other fast-food restaurants, with a price target of $185.

McDonald's has risen 44% this year and was down 0.49% on Tuesday after West released his note.

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mcdonalds stock price

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NOW WATCH: PAUL KRUGMAN: Bitcoin is a more obvious bubble than housing was

Nobel Winner Robert Shiller: Bitcoin Is Too 'Ambiguous' to Value

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

Nobel prize winning economist Robert Shiller believes there's no clear way to put a price on bitcoin, according to recent statements.

The SEC just halted trading of The Crypto Company — whose shares have soared 17,000% in 3 months

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

FILE PHOTO: Jay Clayton takes his seat to testify at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on his nomination of to be chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S. on March 23, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

  • The top US securities regulator halted trading of The Crypto Company, it said late Monday.
  • The agency is concerned with the accuracy of statements produced by the company and has frozen shares until January 3.


The US Securities and Exchange Commission has temporarily suspended trading of securities of The Crypto Company, a California-based firm whose shares have skyrocketed more than 17,000% since it first began trading in September.

The suspension, which lasts until January 3, is due to "concerns regarding the accuracy and adequacy of information in the marketplace about, among other things, the compensation paid for promotion of the company, and statements in Commission filings about the plans of the company’s insiders to sell their shares of The Crypto Company’s common stock," the agency said in a press release.

“Questions have also arisen concerning potentially manipulative transactions in the company’s stock in November 2017.”

The company has pushed back against the SEC’s allegations.

“We are fully reporting and get halted,” CEO Mike Poutre told Business Insider Tuesday morning. "SEC is sending the wrong message. We are working with counsel and will handle things appropriately."

The Crypto Company brought in $487,692 of revenue in the third of quarter of 2017, it said in a November press release. Coupled with operating expenses of $1.68 million, the company reported a net loss of $1.51 million, or $0.08 per share.

Shares of the company — which trade on the over-the-counter market — began trading on September 27 at a price of $3.30 per share. By December 11, they had exploded to $642 per share, according to data from Bloomberg. The company announced a 10-for-1 stock split after the rise.

The Crypto Company touts itself as "one of the first publicly traded technology companies in the digital currencies and blockchain sector, offers a portfolio of digital assets, technologies, and consulting services to the blockchain and cryptocurrency markets."

Frank Chaparro assisted in reporting.

SEE ALSO: Subscribe to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today

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NOW WATCH: We talked to Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman about tax reform, Trump, and bitcoin

Overstock’s CEO launches new trading platform and token, tZero

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

 Few mainstream business leaders have taken to the blockchain quite like Patrick Byrne. The founder of Overstock.com has been accepting Bitcoin since 2014 and has been talking about disrupting the payments world with transparent, low-cost, and sane blockchain-based systems. With tZero, he just started his roll toward full blockchain adoption. TZero, at its core, is a SEC-regulated… Read More

Allianz invests $96.6 million in mobile insurance startup BIMA

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

BIMA Uganda agent registering customer

  • Allianz's digital investment unit invests $96.6 million into BIMA.
  • Seven-year-old business lets people in emerging markets buy insurance through their mobile phones.


LONDON — German insurance giant Allianz has invested close to $100 million (£74.7 million) in BIMA, a Swedish-British startup that helps people in developing economies buy affordable insurance through their mobile phones.

Allianz X, the digital investment unit of the Allianz Group, has invested $96.6 million (£72.2 million) into 7-year-old BIMA, which has head offices in both London and Stockholm.

BIMA offers what's called "microinsurance" — people can get accident or life insurance for as little as 60¢ a month on rolling monthly cover. The product offers people payouts of up to $1,000 for their family if they die, for example, and takes just three minutes to sign up for.

The company has over 3,500 salespeople across the developing world and BIMA has signed up 24 million customers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

BIMA collects payments through people's mobiles and does deals with mobile phone operators in each country it enters to make sure it can collect. (You can read BI's interview with BIMA's deputy CEO from October last year.)

Oliver Bäte, CEO of Allianz SE, said: "Our investment in BIMA underscores Allianz’s commitment to digitalization, supporting the growth strategy of the Group in emerging economies, as well as enabling us to serve the so-called 'next billion customers.'"

BIMA's founder and CEO Gustaf Agartson said in a statement: "Allianz is the perfect insurance partner and investor for BIMA because of their strong commitment to emerging markets and overlapping footprint.

"This investment will allow us to continue our journey to innovate, scale existing as well as new markets, and retain our place as the emerging market InsurTech leader."

LeapFrog, a venture capital fund that specialises in impact investing in emerging markets, is selling its stake in BIMA as part of the deal.

Dr. Andrew Kuper, Founder and CEO of LeapFrog Investments, said in an email: "We exist to back companies like BIMA, fueling an economic transformation in Africa, Asia and Latin America."

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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

Bitcoin Price Drops $1,100 in Less Than Two Hours

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

The post Bitcoin Price Drops $1,100 in Less Than Two Hours appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin price fell by more than $1,100 in less than two hours during intraday trading on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex. Bitcoin Price Sheds $1,100 in 80 Minutes The bitcoin price had already been in decline leading into Tuesday morning, causing it to dip below the $19,000 level shortly before midnight ET. The downward slide continued throughout

The post Bitcoin Price Drops $1,100 in Less Than Two Hours appeared first on CCN

Jack in the Box rallies after selling off struggling Qdoba brand (JACK)

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

Jack in the Box

  • Jack in the Box's stock jumped after news that it was selling its struggling Qdoba chain.
  • Qdoba has reported declining same-store sales in the past few quarters.
  • Click here to view Jack in the Box's real-time stock price.


Shares of fast-food chain Jack in the Box jumped on Wednesday by 2.1% to $102.45 per share after it announced the sale of Qdoba to Apollo Global Management for $350 million.

The fast-casual Mexican chain struggled against competition as higher food, packaging, and labor costs weighed on the restaurant. Though the Tex-Mex chain has fared better than its nearest competitor, Chipotle, Qdoba reported a decline in same-store sales of 3.1% in the third quarter and 2.7% year-over-year. Total earnings for Jack in the Box also fell. 

The company said in its third-quarter report that it was working with Morgan Stanley to evaluate "potential alternatives with respect to Qdoba."

Jack in the Box's stock is down 5.42% since the start of the year. 

To read why Qdoba's competitor, Chipotle, isn't doing so well, click here. 

Jack in the Box stock price

SEE ALSO: UBS: Chipotle’s queso infuriated some customers—and the company may not bounce back

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

17% of Bitcoin Reserves Stolen: Korean Exchange Youbit Declares Bankruptcy after Hack

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

The post 17% of Bitcoin Reserves Stolen: Korean Exchange Youbit Declares Bankruptcy after Hack appeared first on CCN

The company that operates South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Youbit filed for bankruptcy after the trading platform was breached for the second time this year. Youbit Files for Bankruptcy After Second Hack This Year Tuesday morning, the Seoul-based Youbit published an announcement informing users that a hacker had successfully breached the exchange’s hot wallet, absconding with

The post 17% of Bitcoin Reserves Stolen: Korean Exchange Youbit Declares Bankruptcy after Hack appeared first on CCN

Thinking About Buying Bitcoin? The Simple Reason Why the Billionaire Winklevoss Twins Won't Sell Theirs

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

Their viewpoint on bitcoin can apply to decisions you make about your career

Bitcoin Exchange Youbit to Declare Bankruptcy After Hack

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

A South Korean bitcoin exchange is moving to declare bankruptcy following what it said was a debilitating cyber attack.

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin is the 'most crowded' trade in the world

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

crowded subway train

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

Bitcoin is officially the most crowded trade in the world, according to a fund manager survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Close to a third of investors surveyed this month said they viewed being long bitcoin as the most crowded position, ahead of long FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix Google) and BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent).

Despite the popularity among traders, bitcoin is down close to 6% in the last 24 hours. Here’s the scoreboard as of Tuesday morning:

  1. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are now 28 other smaller cryptocurrencies with market capitalization's of $1 billion or more
  2. Investors have pumped $2 billion into crypto funds this year — and 2018 will be even bigger, Morgan Stanley says. A new index tracking the returns of cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds shows returns of 1,641% through November of this year.
  3. Despite its wild volatility, Bitcoin’ still isn’t viewed as a risk to the financial system, a Nomura strategist said Monday. The cryptocurrency’s crazy price moves could soon start influencing other markets, especially coal.
  4. Finally, the SEC announced a temporary suspension of trading of The Crypto Company stock from Tuesday’s opening bell until January 3, 2018 "because of concerns regarding the accuracy and adequacy of information in the marketplace about, among other things, the compensation paid for promotion of the company, and statements in Commission filings about the plans of the company’s insiders to sell their shares of The Crypto Company’s common stock."

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin's wild volatility could soon start shaping other markets

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NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The iPhone X's biggest myth, investing overseas, and why you should buy gold

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin is the 'most crowded' trade in the world

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

crowded subway train

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

Bitcoin is officially the most crowded trade in the world, according to a fund manager survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Close to a third of investors surveyed this month said they viewed being long bitcoin as the most crowded position, ahead of long FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix Google) and BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent).

Despite the popularity among traders, bitcoin is down close to 6% in the last 24 hours. Here’s the scoreboard as of Tuesday morning:

  1. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are now 28 other smaller cryptocurrencies with market capitalization's of $1 billion or more
  2. Investors have pumped $2 billion into crypto funds this year — and 2018 will be even bigger, Morgan Stanley says. A new index tracking the returns of cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds shows returns of 1,641% through November of this year.
  3. Despite its wild volatility, Bitcoin’ still isn’t viewed as a risk to the financial system, a Nomura strategist said Monday. The cryptocurrency’s crazy price moves could soon start influencing other markets, especially coal.
  4. Finally, the SEC announced a temporary suspension of trading of The Crypto Company stock from Tuesday’s opening bell until January 3, 2018 "because of concerns regarding the accuracy and adequacy of information in the marketplace about, among other things, the compensation paid for promotion of the company, and statements in Commission filings about the plans of the company’s insiders to sell their shares of The Crypto Company’s common stock."

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin's wild volatility could soon start shaping other markets

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The iPhone X's biggest myth, investing overseas, and why you should buy gold

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin is the 'most crowded' trade in the world

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

crowded subway train

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

Bitcoin is officially the most crowded trade in the world, according to a fund manager survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Close to a third of investors surveyed this month said they viewed being long bitcoin as the most crowded position, ahead of long FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix Google) and BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent).

Despite the popularity among traders, bitcoin is down close to 6% in the last 24 hours. Here’s the scoreboard as of Tuesday morning:

  1. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are now 28 other smaller cryptocurrencies with market capitalization's of $1 billion or more
  2. Investors have pumped $2 billion into crypto funds this year — and 2018 will be even bigger, Morgan Stanley says. A new index tracking the returns of cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds shows returns of 1,641% through November of this year.
  3. Despite its wild volatility, Bitcoin’ still isn’t viewed as a risk to the financial system, a Nomura strategist said Monday. The cryptocurrency’s crazy price moves could soon start influencing other markets, especially coal.
  4. Finally, the SEC announced a temporary suspension of trading of The Crypto Company stock from Tuesday’s opening bell until January 3, 2018 "because of concerns regarding the accuracy and adequacy of information in the marketplace about, among other things, the compensation paid for promotion of the company, and statements in Commission filings about the plans of the company’s insiders to sell their shares of The Crypto Company’s common stock."

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin's wild volatility could soon start shaping other markets

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The iPhone X's biggest myth, investing overseas, and why you should buy gold

Singapore’s Central Bank Cautions Against Cryptocurrency Investments

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

The post Singapore’s Central Bank Cautions Against Cryptocurrency Investments appeared first on CCN

The meteoric gains in value by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have “concerned” Singapore’s central bank into issuing a public caution against cryptocurrency investments. In a notice today, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) urged the general public to “act with extreme caution and understand the significant risks” involved in investing in cryptocurrencies. An excerpt from

The post Singapore’s Central Bank Cautions Against Cryptocurrency Investments appeared first on CCN

Tesla ticks higher after getting another big Semi preorder (TSLA, UPS)

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

Tesla Semi



Tesla just received what is the largest-known preorder of its new Semi truck from UPS. Shares of Tesla are up 0.51% on Tuesday at $340.60 following the news.

UPS, which operates one of the largest commercial trucking fleets in the world, has preordered 125 of Tesla's all-electric Semis. UPS said its attraction to the new vehicles stems from their low cost of operation, enhanced safety features and cleaner operation.

UPS did not disclose how much it paid to preorder the Semis, but Tesla is currently offering pre-orders for $20,000 on its website. At that price, UPS's preorder would cost about $2.5 million. The order surpasses Pepsi's 100 vehicle preorder and puts the running preorder count of Tesla Semis close to 400.

UPS said it has already provided Tesla with "trucking lane" information to help evaluate the Semi's potential performance in UPS's fleet. UPS hopes a quarter of new vehicles it purchases will use an alternative fuel by 2020.

Tesla's Semis aren't expected to go into production until 2019.

Read more about previous preorders for Tesla Semis here.

tesla stock price

SEE ALSO: Tesla is rallying after Pepsi places an order for 100 Semis

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NOW WATCH: Why bitcoin checks all the boxes of a bubble

Tesla ticks higher after getting another big Semi preorder (TSLA, UPS)

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

Tesla Semi



Tesla just received what is the largest-known preorder of its new Semi truck from UPS. Shares of Tesla are up 0.51% on Tuesday at $340.60 following the news.

UPS, which operates one of the largest commercial trucking fleets in the world, has preordered 125 of Tesla's all-electric Semis. UPS said its attraction to the new vehicles stems from their low cost of operation, enhanced safety features and cleaner operation.

UPS did not disclose how much it paid to preorder the Semis, but Tesla is currently offering pre-orders for $20,000 on its website. At that price, UPS's preorder would cost about $2.5 million. The order surpasses Pepsi's 100 vehicle preorder and puts the running preorder count of Tesla Semis close to 400.

UPS said it has already provided Tesla with "trucking lane" information to help evaluate the Semi's potential performance in UPS's fleet. UPS hopes a quarter of new vehicles it purchases will use an alternative fuel by 2020.

Tesla's Semis aren't expected to go into production until 2019.

Read more about previous preorders for Tesla Semis here.

tesla stock price

SEE ALSO: Tesla is rallying after Pepsi places an order for 100 Semis

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NOW WATCH: Why bitcoin checks all the boxes of a bubble

Vaultbank Forges New Path to Value Creation

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

Vaultbank Forges New Path to Value Creation


There was a time back in 2016 when the price of bitcoin was worth less than $1,000. During that year, a number of digital assets saw a significant rise in value.

Few really knew what Bitcoin was, let alone how to make a purchase. Those that did steered clear of cryptocurrencies fearing their volatile nature as well as the complexities of entering into the market. This scenario still prevails, serving as a major barrier in efforts to boost mainstream adoption.

Addressing this issue has been a perpetual challenge. One company that believes that they have a viable solution is Vaultbank.

With the goal of reducing these barriers while intending to offer a more stable investment, Vaultbank, a global investment firm committed to sound financial investment and technological advancement, is in development on a platform called Vaultbank Exchange. This revolutionary technology hopes to improve the world of cryptocurrency by making investments in security tokens and utility token trading easier, faster and more cost efficient with some of the lowest fees in the market.

Austin Trombley, Chief Technology Officer and company visionary, states, “We are excited about the prospect of reducing the fees on platforms like Coinbase by more than 50 percent all the while leveraging an extremely user-friendly interface and offering access to security token investments, which we believe will take up much more significant share of the cryptocurrency market with additional SEC regulations coming.”

Vaultbank’s aim is to deliver quarterly dividends through their tokens (VB). VB tokens are backed by secured credit assets overseen by an experienced investment and portfolio management team.

Addressing the Market Entry Conundrum

Purchasing cryptocurrencies can be a trying process filled with multiple steps, online navigation challenges and long deposit times. Myriad exchanges now fill the crypto space with hundreds of different coins, most of which are unfamiliar to the investor.

Through the use of distributed ledger technology, Vaultbank will provide a debit card that allows the investor immediate access to their invested funds. Here blockchain enhances the overall efficiency of portfolio management with the effect of lowering fees common in the investment world.

Vaultbank achieves this through a joint venture with U.K. debit card and FX Currency exchange platform Volopa. Volopa allows the end user to trade up to 17 FX Currencies at highly competitive exchange rates, while giving Vaultbank account holders the ability to pay with Ether, Bitcoin and VB tokens.

Augmented by artificial intelligence and machine learning from Random Forest Capital, Vaultbank’s team of experienced portfolio managers intends to create attractive yields for its users. The value creation comes from a quant approach to portfolio management, coupled by ensured security and solvency to rival traditional financial institutions.

Vaultbank and its token system stand to reduce the complexity in cryptocurrency banking by tackling these five obstacles in the securities distribution market:

  • Inability to use tokens as a fungible form of payment
  • Delayed liquidity in executing a token transaction
  • High transaction costs entry and execution costs (as high as 5 to 7 percent)
  • Volatility, various cryptocurrencies have exhibited 20 percent to 50 percent swings in valuation within days
  • Lack of transparency and integrity tied to­ most cryptocurrencies having no audit, compliance or oversight practice.

Vaultbank Token Sale

Vaultbank’s token sale, the presale of which is now live and the public on sale which will commence on January 18, 2018, will feature the new Vaultbank Token, which will act as an investment in their entire business and funds. 80 percent of the token sale funds raised will be invested in a secured loan portfolio, as the main fuel early on with quarterly dividends, making it the first asset-backed token to pay dividends in this manner. Vaultbank is clear to note that dividends cannot be guaranteed.  

Says Trombley: “Vaultbank is different from 99 percent of ICOs that have taken place thus far because we are filing as a Reg D 506c private security. Our tokens are a security because they actually represent equity, although non-voting, in Vaultbank.”

When asked about the long-term vision of Vaultbank and where he hopes the company will be in terms of its development in the next 1218 months, Trombley concludes:  

“Our goal is to be the leading firm for investment strategy and expected investment liquidity. We believe that value creation is achieved through a quant approach to portfolio management as well as our debit cards and Vaultbank Exchange platform. With an executive team and advisory board with decades of combined experience in managing trillions of dollars for the largest investment institutions around the world, we are confident in the roadmap we have in place to achieve these goals.”

Follow the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Telegram.

The post Vaultbank Forges New Path to Value Creation appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin falls below $18,000 milestone

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

Screen Shot 2017 12 19 at 9.27.30 AM

 

SEE ALSO: Sign up for Crypto Newsletter for all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know every day

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NOW WATCH: PAUL KRUGMAN: Bitcoin is a more obvious bubble than housing was

BANK OF AMERICA: Bitcoin is the 'most crowded' trade

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

crowded subway train

  • Being long bitcoin is the most crowded trade in the world, according to a fund manager survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
  • The cryptocurrency has exploded higher in recent weeks as a handful of exchanges have started transacting it, offering an increased level of legitimacy.


Large fund managers can't help themselves from chasing the explosive returns offered by bitcoin.

Their surging interest has made owning the scorching-hot cryptocurrency the market's most crowded trade, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey of 203 fund managers overseeing $558 billion.

That so many traders are rushing to get bitcoin exposure should come as little surprise, considering its astronomic rise in recent months. The cryptocurrency has increased roughly 1,800% versus the US dollar this year, growing its market cap to more than $300 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com.

To be specific, 32% of investors surveyed in December said they viewed being long bitcoin as the most crowded position. Coming in second place is the long FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix Google) + BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) trade, with 29% of responders mentioning it, BAML's data showed.

Screen Shot 2017 12 19 at 8.27.29 AM

Bitcoin's rise in recent weeks has been aided by measures that will allow its adoption to be more widespread, including the recent launch of futures trading by exchange group Cboe Global Markets. Just this past weekend, CME Group also commenced the trading of futures, while Nasdaq is preparing its own launch for the second half of 2018.

Still, there's a growing chorus of market experts who don't see bitcoin as a viable long-term investment option. Last week, Belinda Boa, BlackRock's head of active investments for Asia-Pacific, reportedly said the cryptocurrency is showing "bubble-like valuations." That echoed comments made by outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who called bitcoin a "highly speculative asset" at a recent press conference.

Further, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman told Business Insider in an interview last week that bitcoin is a more obvious bubble than the most recent housing crisis.

Rounding out the top three most crowded trades in BAML's study is the short volatility trade — one that's also been flagged by pundits as a potential weak spot for markets. While the trade itself is essentially a wager that the market will continue to sit still, many pundits have highlighted it as reflecting a potentially dangerous level of investor complacency.

The following chart shows the evolution of the BAML survey's most crowded investment, with bitcoin re-claiming the reins in December after two months of being overtaken by the long-Nasdaq trade:

Screen Shot 2017 12 19 at 8.26.12 AM

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SEE ALSO: GOLDMAN SACHS: Here's how to make a killing in a market that's barely moving

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

Ethereum Price Posts All-Time High Near $900 as Bitcoin Dominance Slips Below 50%

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

The post Ethereum Price Posts All-Time High Near $900 as Bitcoin Dominance Slips Below 50% appeared first on CCN

The ethereum price exploded to a new all-time high on Tuesday, headlining an altcoin rally that briefly forced bitcoin’s market share below 50 percent for the first time in more than a month. At the height of the rally, which was buttressed by a stagnant bitcoin price, the cryptocurrency market cap rose to a record

The post Ethereum Price Posts All-Time High Near $900 as Bitcoin Dominance Slips Below 50% appeared first on CCN

Ethereum Price Posts All-Time High Near $900 as Bitcoin Dominance Slips Below 50%

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

The post Ethereum Price Posts All-Time High Near $900 as Bitcoin Dominance Slips Below 50% appeared first on CCN

The ethereum price exploded to a new all-time high on Tuesday, headlining an altcoin rally that briefly forced bitcoin’s market share below 50 percent for the first time in more than a month. At the height of the rally, which was buttressed by a stagnant bitcoin price, the cryptocurrency market cap rose to a record

The post Ethereum Price Posts All-Time High Near $900 as Bitcoin Dominance Slips Below 50% appeared first on CCN

Trump loves his 'original supporters' — here's where the first 10 big-name backers to endorse him are now

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

trump during campaign

President Donald Trump values loyalty above most other qualities.

"Loyalty is extremely important to me," Trump wrote in his 2015 book, "Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America." "My family and close friends will say that I am loyal to a fault."

When Trump delivered a speech in Salt Lake City about shrinking national monuments on December 4, he called out Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and state Rep. Greg Hughes for their backing.

"An original supporter of mine. You know, you always remember those original supporters," Trump said of Reyes. "Greg, thank you. He was an original right at the beginning. Thank you, Greg. He had a feeling."

For the earliest big-name supporters, their loyalty often paid off in the form of job offers, media attention, and exposure in the national spotlight.

Here's where 10 of Trump's "original supporters" are now:

SEE ALSO: Omarosa Manigault in wild interview about White House exit: I saw 'a lot of things' that upset me in the Trump administration

DON'T MISS: Trump reportedly told aides to think of his presidency as a TV show where he 'vanquishes' rivals

Jeff Sessions

In February 2016, Sessions became first US senator to endorse Trump, who didn't clinch the Republican nomination until months later.

"This election is our last chance to save US sovereignty and to end the domination of the political establishment over the interests of working Americans," Sessions said at the time. "I am pleased to endorse Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States."

Sessions was awarded mightily for his early endorsement. Fewer than two weeks after defeating Hillary Clinton in the general election, Trump picked Sessions to be his attorney general.



Rep. Chris Collins of New York

Sessions was the first senator to officially back Trump, but the first House Republican to endorse him was Collins.

"Donald Trump has clearly demonstrated that he has both the guts and the fortitude to return our nation’s jobs stolen by China, take on our enemies like ISIS, Iran, North Korea and Russia, and most importantly, re-establish the opportunity for our children and grandchildren to attain the American Dream," Collins said in his endorsement in February 2016.

Collins is a two-term congressman representing the Buffalo area. He's running for reelection in 2018.



Rudy Giuliani

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been one of Trump's most ardent supporters.

In April 2016, he threw his support behind Trump, falling just short of an official endorsement because he didn't want to be perceived as an official member of the campaign.

"Donald's a very, very good friend. I believe he'd be the best candidate. I think he'd be the person I would like to see win," Giuliani said.

During the GOP Convention, he gave a fiery speech backing up many of Trump's most controversial campaign positions.

Today, Giuliani remains a fervent Trump supporter. Over the summer, he was even reportedly being considered to replace Sessions as attorney general.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

$2,300 and Rising: Bitcoin Cash Eyes Gains Against Bitcoin

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

Bitcoin cash is surging, setting new all-time highs at a time when bitcoin's growth is slowing amid competition for gains.

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 with a floor official (2nd L) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)  February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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

Here's Lutz:

Good Morning! US Futures adding to yesterday’s record closes ahead of the Tax Vote (1:30 in House, Later tonight or early tomorrow in Senate).  It’s pretty red overseas tho, but Euro Markets are holding the vast bulk of y’days gains.    The DAX is off 10bp, but Semis are acting great, led by a 6% pop in Dialog on headers.  Consumer doing a bit better as Steinhoff recovers, but the EU Fins are seeing profit-taking.  London is up 20bp as Sterling falls, with every sector rallying except for the Healthcare stocks.   Volumes seeping into Holiday mode, with most exchanges 20% below normal turnover.  In Asia, TOPIX off small as Sony and Nintendo weighed - Hang Seng added 70bp as Airlines loved the China Travel Data - Shanghai added 90bp - Taiwan and KOSPI lost ground as AAPL suppliers broke lower - Aussie up 50bp as Fins and Miners rallied in tandem 

The US 10YY was rejected from 2.4% overnight again, while the Dollar is still under pressure, but off y’days lows.   Euro holding upside $1.18 on a Stronger IFO from Germany, while Sterling can’t stay above 1.34 – Aussie Dollar is rallying on the RBA Minutes, while South Africa’s Rand continues to rally after ANC election.  Ore lost 1.4% in China as Everbright Futures warns on the rally, and we have Copper off 60bp this AM.   Gold is adding small, but that Bitcoin is off 2% as recent headlines become more laughable (See LFIN) - WTI seeing some upticks on headers about a explosion in Saudi as they intercept missiles from Yemen, while Natty is seeing small profit-taking after yesterday’s 5%+ surge.  

Here are the 10 things you need to know today.

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

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The Fed is trying to prepare for the next recession without causing it

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 with a floor official (2nd L) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)  February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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

Here's Lutz:

Good Morning! US Futures adding to yesterday’s record closes ahead of the Tax Vote (1:30 in House, Later tonight or early tomorrow in Senate).  It’s pretty red overseas tho, but Euro Markets are holding the vast bulk of y’days gains.    The DAX is off 10bp, but Semis are acting great, led by a 6% pop in Dialog on headers.  Consumer doing a bit better as Steinhoff recovers, but the EU Fins are seeing profit-taking.  London is up 20bp as Sterling falls, with every sector rallying except for the Healthcare stocks.   Volumes seeping into Holiday mode, with most exchanges 20% below normal turnover.  In Asia, TOPIX off small as Sony and Nintendo weighed - Hang Seng added 70bp as Airlines loved the China Travel Data - Shanghai added 90bp - Taiwan and KOSPI lost ground as AAPL suppliers broke lower - Aussie up 50bp as Fins and Miners rallied in tandem 

The US 10YY was rejected from 2.4% overnight again, while the Dollar is still under pressure, but off y’days lows.   Euro holding upside $1.18 on a Stronger IFO from Germany, while Sterling can’t stay above 1.34 – Aussie Dollar is rallying on the RBA Minutes, while South Africa’s Rand continues to rally after ANC election.  Ore lost 1.4% in China as Everbright Futures warns on the rally, and we have Copper off 60bp this AM.   Gold is adding small, but that Bitcoin is off 2% as recent headlines become more laughable (See LFIN) - WTI seeing some upticks on headers about a explosion in Saudi as they intercept missiles from Yemen, while Natty is seeing small profit-taking after yesterday’s 5%+ surge.  

Here are the 10 things you need to know today.

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

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why bitcoin checks all the boxes of a bubble

Bitcoin’s Economic Moat: The Network Effect

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

The post Bitcoin’s Economic Moat: The Network Effect appeared first on CCN

Recently, the Winklevoss twins stated that Bitcoin will ultimately become a trillion dollar asset. The twin’s primary argument is the network effect of bitcoin, ultimately, will create a moat protecting it from the onslaught of other cryptocurrencies. Cameron Winklevoss put it this way, “Social networks grow in value exponentially based on the number of users

The post Bitcoin’s Economic Moat: The Network Effect appeared first on CCN

Experty Partners with NewsBTC

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

The post Experty Partners with NewsBTC appeared first on CCN

This is a paid-for submitted press release. CCN does not endorse, nor is responsible for any material included below and isn’t responsible for any damages or losses connected with any products or services mentioned in the press release. CCN urges readers to conduct their own research with due diligence into the company, product or service mentioned

The post Experty Partners with NewsBTC appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Risks Bearish Price Reversal as Altcoins Surge

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

Bitcoin prices are feeling the pull of gravity today, amid solid gains across many alternative cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin Risks Bearish Price Reversal as Altcoins Surge

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

Bitcoin prices are feeling the pull of gravity today, amid solid gains across many alternative cryptocurrencies.

The 29 cryptocurrencies with market caps of more than $1 billion

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

Servers for data storage are seen at Advania's Thor Data Center in Hafnarfjordur, Iceland August 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Sigtryggur Ari

Cryptocurrencies have exploded in the wake of bitcoin’s surge in price and resulting boom in popularity.

There are now 29 cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, that have a market cap above $1 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Business Insider has rounded up all of those digital coins into a single, cohesive list. These rankings are likely to change rapidly, given the volatility of cryptocurrency markets. 

Last wee, the SEC warned that no digital tokens have been approved by government regulators to be sold as securities, and that investment "risks can be amplified" due to the nature of decentralized markets.

Here are all 29 cryptocurrencies with a market cap of at least $1 billion, as of December 18, 2017:

29. Nxt

Ticker: NXT

Market Cap: $1.028 billion

Current Price: $1.03

Source: CoinMarketCap.com

 

 



28. Ardor

Ticker: ARDR

Market Cap: $1.079 billion

Current price: $1.08

Source: CoinMarketCap.com

 



27. Tether

Ticker: USDT

Market Cap: $1.131 billion

Current Price: $1.01

Source: CoinMarketCap.com

 

 

 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The 29 cryptocurrencies with market caps of more than $1 billion

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

Servers for data storage are seen at Advania's Thor Data Center in Hafnarfjordur, Iceland August 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Sigtryggur Ari

Cryptocurrencies have exploded in the wake of bitcoin’s surge in price and resulting boom in popularity.

There are now 29 cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, that have a market cap above $1 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Business Insider has rounded up all of those digital coins into a single, cohesive list. These rankings are likely to change rapidly, given the volatility of cryptocurrency markets. 

Last wee, the SEC warned that no digital tokens have been approved by government regulators to be sold as securities, and that investment "risks can be amplified" due to the nature of decentralized markets.

Here are all 29 cryptocurrencies with a market cap of at least $1 billion, as of December 18, 2017:

29. Nxt

Ticker: NXT

Market Cap: $1.028 billion

Current Price: $1.03

Source: CoinMarketCap.com

 

 



28. Ardor

Ticker: ARDR

Market Cap: $1.079 billion

Current price: $1.08

Source: CoinMarketCap.com

 



27. Tether

Ticker: USDT

Market Cap: $1.131 billion

Current Price: $1.01

Source: CoinMarketCap.com

 

 

 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'Star Wars' delivers a great opening weekend for Disney, but it may not be enough to boost profits for other companies (DIS, MAT, HAS, JAKK)

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

star wars kids toys

  • Disney's stock was flat even after its latest "Star Wars" flick reported a great box office weekend.
  • Movie sales may not translate into consumer product sales, according to Jefferies Analyst Stephanie Wissink.
  • The frequency of "Star Wars" movie releases may challenge merchandise sales for each individual movie. 
  • To watch Disney's stock price move, click here.


Though "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" had a solid opening weekend box office, bringing in an estimated $220 million in ticket sales, parent-company Disney's challenge is milking every last bit of profit out of its franchises.

Though Disney has historically been an expert in converting movie watchers to consumers, the frequency with which new "Star Wars" films come out is "testing historic patterns," Stephanie Wissink, an equity analyst at Jefferies, said.

Hasbro, Mattel, and Jakks Pacific — makers of "Star Wars" toys and merchandise — may only get a minor boost from the latest movie because the frequency of movie releases has challenged merchandise sales for each of the individual films.

"Star Wars" sales-to-date were down more than 50% compared to 2015 sales, when "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" came out, according to Wissink, and it was also down from sales for its last interstitial film, "Rogue One." 

"Recognizing that the 'tail' on Jedi might be shorter, as Disney preps for another minor film in May 2018, the window for sales related to Ep 8 is closing quickly," Wissink wrote in a note.

Hasbro has the most to gain from Disney's "Star Wars" product sales. Wissink forecasts Hasbro could earn $450 million to $500 million in global sales, which includes China, in 2017, though Jefferies thinks some of that volume may be shifted into 2018.

Wissink cautioned that the 20% to 25% discounts that retailers were promoting on "Star Wars" merchandise could signify that there is "some risk of inventory carryover" for "Star Wars" products.

Disney's stock was flat on Wednesday at $111.05 per share though it was up 4.72% for the year. Shares of Hasbro, Mattel, and Jakks were down.

To read more about how Disney plans to beat streaming movie service competitors, click here.

Disney stock price

 

SEE ALSO: UBS: Disney has one big advantage that'll make its streaming movie service succeed

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why bitcoin checks all the boxes of a bubble

'Star Wars' delivers a great opening weekend for Disney, but it may not be enough to boost profits for other companies (DIS, MAT, HAS, JAKK)

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

star wars kids toys

  • Disney's stock was flat even after its latest "Star Wars" flick reported a great box office weekend.
  • Movie sales may not translate into consumer product sales, according to Jefferies Analyst Stephanie Wissink.
  • The frequency of "Star Wars" movie releases may challenge merchandise sales for each individual movie. 
  • To watch Disney's stock price move, click here.


Though "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" had a solid opening weekend box office, bringing in an estimated $220 million in ticket sales, parent-company Disney's challenge is milking every last bit of profit out of its franchises.

Though Disney has historically been an expert in converting movie watchers to consumers, the frequency with which new "Star Wars" films come out is "testing historic patterns," Stephanie Wissink, an equity analyst at Jefferies, said.

Hasbro, Mattel, and Jakks Pacific — makers of "Star Wars" toys and merchandise — may only get a minor boost from the latest movie because the frequency of movie releases has challenged merchandise sales for each of the individual films.

"Star Wars" sales-to-date were down more than 50% compared to 2015 sales, when "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" came out, according to Wissink, and it was also down from sales for its last interstitial film, "Rogue One." 

"Recognizing that the 'tail' on Jedi might be shorter, as Disney preps for another minor film in May 2018, the window for sales related to Ep 8 is closing quickly," Wissink wrote in a note.

Hasbro has the most to gain from Disney's "Star Wars" product sales. Wissink forecasts Hasbro could earn $450 million to $500 million in global sales, which includes China, in 2017, though Jefferies thinks some of that volume may be shifted into 2018.

Wissink cautioned that the 20% to 25% discounts that retailers were promoting on "Star Wars" merchandise could signify that there is "some risk of inventory carryover" for "Star Wars" products.

Disney's stock was flat on Wednesday at $111.05 per share though it was up 4.72% for the year. Shares of Hasbro, Mattel, and Jakks were down.

To read more about how Disney plans to beat streaming movie service competitors, click here.

Disney stock price

 

SEE ALSO: UBS: Disney has one big advantage that'll make its streaming movie service succeed

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: PAUL KRUGMAN: Bitcoin is a more obvious bubble than housing was

Traders are cranking up bets that the stock market will go crazy

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

trader animated

  • Investors are increasingly wagering on stock market volatility, according to a measure of options trading.
  • Price swings have been minimal for much of the year, and signs of unease appear to be sinking in as traders anticipate a rockier road ahead.


Traders are betting more and more that the stock market will soon snap out of its prolonged slumber.

This can be seen through a measure called skew, which looks at bullish CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) options contracts compared to bearish ones. It's currently at the highest level in two years, having risen swiftly in recent weeks, indicating an expected volatility spike.

The chart below shows the skew in action, calculated as the spread of wagers that the VIX will increase 10% from current levels over the next two months, relative to bets that the index will fall 10%.

VIX 2 month skew

The VIX increase that investors are wagering on would be an anomaly, at least compared to recent months. The so-called stock market fear gauge has sat close to the lowest level on record for much of 2017, reflecting both a lack of concern and overall investor apathy as equities have reached new all-time highs.

"The demand for VIX upside suggests continued skepticism that the current low volatility regime will persist," Credit Suisse equity derivatives strategist Mandy Xu wrote in a client note.

And since the VIX moves in the opposite direction of the S&P 500 roughly 80% of the time, any sort of major increase in the fear index would likely be accompanied by broad market weakness. Therefore, the wagers being made by traders suggest a growing uneasiness with stocks at current valuations.

While these bullish VIX trades are just now hitting a multi-year high, there have been a handful of volatility vigilantes betting on increased price swings for months.

Perhaps the most high-profile example has been 50 Cent — the formerly anonymous trader who has since been identified as someone from within British firm Ruffer LLP — who has consistently purchased bite-sized chunks of options contracts betting on a spike in volatility. And 50 Cent's exposure pales in comparison to a still-unidentified volatility bull who has repeatedly rolled over a $260 million wager that stocks will finally see big movements.

Yet while expectations of price swings are mounting, it's also important to note that all of this commotion might just be hedging activity. In other words, these traders might not be directionally bullish on the VIX, and thereby bearish on stocks — they might just be trying to protect themselves.

Regardless of the rationale, it's clear that traders are bracing for the inevitable return of volatility to the market, for better or for worst. Because at the end of the day, when price swings start getting whipped up left and right, there's nothing scarier than being unprepared.

Screen Shot 2017 12 18 at 4.14.56 PM

SEE ALSO: GOLDMAN SACHS: Here's how to make a killing in a market that's barely moving

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

Kuwait's Ministry of Finance Says It Does Not Recognize Bitcoin

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

Kuwait's Ministry of Finance has reportedly said it does not recognize bitcoin, and that financial institutions may not trade the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin Isn’t a Credible Currency Yet, Says Japan’s Finance Minister

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

The post Bitcoin Isn’t a Credible Currency Yet, Says Japan’s Finance Minister appeared first on CCN

Japan’s top financial official has offered his stance on bitcoin in a year where the cryptocurrency was ruled a legal method of payment in the country. In remarks today, Japanese finance minister Taro Aso claimed bitcoin is yet to be proven as a credible currency in society before admitting that he would watch its progress

The post Bitcoin Isn’t a Credible Currency Yet, Says Japan’s Finance Minister appeared first on CCN

'Get to the chopper!': Helicopter money could be the next step for central banks in 2018

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

California fire helicopter drop

  • 2018 could be the year that the global financial system sees the introduction of helicopter money.
  • Japanese bank Nomura identifies helicopter money as one of its "grey swans" for 2018.
  • Grey swans are "unlikely but impactful events" that "lie outside the usual base case and risk scenarios of the analyst community."
  • Helicopter money is the principle of central banks creating new cash and giving it directly to people to spend on whatever they want.


LONDON – The introduction of helicopter money into the global financial system could finally occur in 2018, according to research from analysts at Japanese lender Nomura.

Writing in its annual look at possible "grey swan" events that might happen in 2018, Nomura's team of analysts look at major political and economic developments that could happen, but are probably unlikely to.

As Nomura puts it, the grey swans are "unlikely but impactful events" that "lie outside the usual base case and risk scenarios of the analyst community."

One of those scenarios, Nomura argues, is the introduction of helicopter money.

The term, first coined by American economist Milton Friedman in the 1960s, describes the basic principle of central banks creating new cash and giving it directly to people to spend on whatever they want.

For decades, helicopter money remained as more of a thought experiment than a viable policy. But, with negative rates and chronic low growth confounding central banks, the idea started to pick up credibility in the middle part of 2016, especially after rumours that the Bank of Japan was considering some sort of experiment with helicopter money that summer. 

The idea retreated from mainstream discourse during 2017 as global growth rates picked up and central banks around the world, led by the Federal Reserve, started to begin the process of policy normalisation, as the chart below shows:

Screen Shot 2017 12 19 at 09.45.28

Nomura, however, thinks that "we may finally observe helicopters dropping money in 2018."

Japan remains the most likely candidate for the introduction of  helicopter money, Nomura's team argues, especially if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shocks the markets and appoints a new Bank of Japan governor, instead of reappointing the current incumbent, Haruhiko Kuroda.

"Investors may be surprised by how strongly a few central banks can adhere to their inflation mandate. The BOJ is one of the most likely candidates," Yujiro Goto writes.

"In the Abe cabinet, conditions for the BOJ have completely changed, and a further dovish shift cannot be ruled out in 2018, as Prime Minister Abe is now deciding on the next BOJ governor and two deputy governors."

A dovish shift could come in the form of the appointment of a former economic advisor to Abe and Japan's current ambassador to Switzerland, Etsuro Honda, which would likely cause a shift in "the direction of monetary and fiscal policies to the more accommodative side."

"If Mr. Honda is appointed, expectations for a much looser fiscal and monetary policy, i.e. helicopter money, may be ignited," the team argues.

It is not just Japan where helicopter money is a possibility in 2018, Goto says, pointing to the "limited" policy options that the European Central Bank currently has.

"For central banks facing policy limitations, helicopter money can be a natural step towards further easing. We should remember another major central bank, the ECB, also faces limited policy options for resolving negative shocks," Goto concludes.

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This Israeli designer was asked to sketch a wedding dress for Meghan Markle — here are the designs

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

meghan markle wedding dress sketches

  • Speculations over who will design Meghan Markle's wedding dress began soon after her engagement to Prince Harry was announced.
  • Israeli designer Inbal Dror has sketched three designs, which were leaked on Tuesday.
  • This isn't the first time Dror has designed couture for elite clients.
  • In 2016, Beyonce wore a bespoke dress designed by Dror to the Grammys.


The world has been hit with a serious case of Royal Wedding Fever since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement at the end of November.

First, there was the endless speculation over where the couple would marry — which was later announced to be St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. 

Then it was the date, which was confirmed on Friday to be Saturday May 19, 2018.

Now, the public has moved on to guessing which label Markle will choose to design her wedding dress.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli fashion designer Inbal Dror — whose dresses are shown in the Instagram post below — was asked by palace officials to provide some sketches of potential wedding dress designs for Markle last week.

A post shared by Inbal Dror (@inbaldrorofficial) on

When approched by Business Insider, a spokesperson for Inbal Dror declined to comment on whether Dror had been approached by the palace.

Nevertheless, the spokesperson did say: "We have been responding to an initiative of the Bridal Council to present the sketches [for Markle]."

As of this morning, the dress designs have been leaked via celebrity news site TMZ — and you can see them in the tweet below.

The three designs from Dror, whose website describes the designer as a "leading designer of Bridal Gowns and evening dresses in Israel," all feature tight bodices, high-neck collars, long sleeves, lace accents, and flowing skirts — which could be insights into the type of dress Markle is looking for.

British Fashion Council chairman Harold Tillman told the Daily Mail that he wouldn't be surprised if Markle and the royal family chose an international designer to craft the bride's gown — especially in light of the fact that Markle isn't British herself.

"We need to be embracing international business," said Tillman. "If we get ourselves into, 'She's marrying a British royal so she has to wear British' then we're isolating ourselves."

Dror's trademark styles tend to feature elegant fabrics, tight bodices, and plunging necklines. Her dresses typically tend to sell for between $8,000 and $10,000 (£6,000 and £7,500), although it's difficult to estimate how much a bespoke bridal gown for the royal wedding would cost.

beyonce in inbal dror at grammys ap matt sayles

This wouldn't be the first time that Dror has provided a bespoke dress for an A-Lister client. In 2016, Beyoncé wore a bespoke Inbal Dror gown — shown above — to the Grammy Awards.

The dress also featured long sleeves, white lace accents, a high collar, and flowing skirt — much like Dror's designs for Markle.

SEE ALSO: The most iconic image from 26 royal weddings throughout modern British history

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Shareholders revolt over executive pay: Sports Direct, Sky and Morrisons named in public register

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

Mike Ashley

  • A register of companies where more than 20% of shareholders rebelled against resolutions was published on Tuesday.
  • Most common concerns relate to executive pay, and some of the UK's best known firms feature.
  • The new public register was ordered by Prime Minister Theresa May as part of a crackdown on executive salaries and bonuses.


LONDON — Sports Direct, Sky and Morrisons are just some of the well known British companies named on a list of firms that have witnessed shareholder revolts over executive pay and represent the "unacceptable face of capitalism."

A newly published public register, ordered by Prime Minister Theresa May in August as part of a crackdown on executive pay, names those companies where at least one fifth of shareholders rebelled against pay packages. More than a fifth of Britain's FTSE 100 companies have so far been named.

"The data gathered for the public register reveals the true scale of investor concern and shows shareholders flexing their muscles by exercising their votes," said Chris Cummings, CEO of the Investment Association, which published the list.

"With over one fifth of the FTSE All-Share having faced large shareholder opposition in 2017, a significant number of companies need to seriously start listening to shareholder views and acting on them," he said.

Tackling high levels of executive pay was one of May's promises on becoming Prime Minister, in a move to create an economy "that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us." She said those who earned a "fortune" would be held to account by their workers.

The newly published register outlines the extent of shareholder rebellion in relation to a range of issues, including remuneration policy, director re-election and political donations. It aims to increase transparency, accountability and scrutiny of listed companies by shareholders, media and the wider public.

Pay-related issues topped the list of shareholder concerns, with 38% of resolutions listed on the register so far being due to high votes against big pay packages. The second most common concern, or 32% of those resolutions listed on the register, related to the re-election of company directors in 2017.

"Most companies are proactive and thoughtful in implementing responsible business practices but there are a minority of firms that threaten the world leading reputation of our business community," said Business Secretary Greg Clark.

The register, he said, would help by "shining a spotlight" on the way companies respond to shareholder concerns.

Companies named include:

  • Sports Direct, where 71% voted against a proposal to pay founder Mike Ashley's brother John Ashley an £11 million back payment
  • Thomas Cook, where 33% voted against plans to award CEO Peter Frankhauser a bonus of up to 225% of his basic salary, which rose to £703,800 in 2016. 
  • Sky, where 29% voted against a £16 million pay deal for CEO Jeremy Darroch, and 22% voted against reappointing James Murdoch as a director.
  • Fashion brand Burberry, where 32% voted against a payout to former CEO Christopher Bailey of £1.6 million in pay and £10.5 million in shares. 
  • Supermarket Morrisons, where 48% voted against plans to increase CEO David Potts' maximum long-term bonus from 240% to 300% of his basic salary — rising to 51% of shareholders including abstentions.
  • Pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca, where 39% voted against a £13 million pay package for CEO Pascal Soriot.
  • Fashion brand Ted Baker, where 22% voted against a resolution to re-elect David Bernstein as a director.

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'Stay Away' from Bitcoin, Warns Danish Central Bank Chief

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

The director of Denmark's central bank has given a warning on bitcoin, describing it as "dangerous" and unregulated.

MORGAN STANLEY: Investors pumped $2 billion into crypto funds this year — and 2018 will be bigger

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

An electric board showing exchange rate between South Korean Won and Bitcoin at a cryptocurrencies exchange in Seoul, South Korea December 13, 2017.

  • MS: Over 100 crypto funds with an estimated $2 billion in assets under management, 2018 "will likely be bigger."
  • New index tracking returns of cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds shows returns of 1,641% in the year through to November.

LONDON — An estimated $2 billion has been invested with specialist hedge funds focusing on cryptocurrencies in 2017, according to estimates from Morgan Stanley.

The investment bank made the estimate based on data from consultancy Autonomous NEXT and Morgan Stanley's own research. It came in a note titled "Bitcoin Decoded" sent to clients this week.morgan stanley

Bitcoin has rocketed over 1,500% against the dollar in 2017, spurring huge amounts of interest from both institutional and retail investors. A list sent by HedgeFundAlert.com in mid-November details over 120 cryptocurrency-specific hedge funds.

Hedge fund industry data provider HFR last week launched two new indices, the HFR Blockchain Composite Index and the HFR Cryptocurrency Index, meant to track investment in the space. The two indices track only around 20 products but have data stretching back to 2015. The Cryptocurrency Index has annualized performance of 292% since inception and has surged 1,641% in 2017 through to November.

Kenneth J. Heinz, President of HFR, said in a release announcing the new products: "Investor interest in funds offering exposure to Blockchain technologies and Cryptocurrencies has surged in recent months as these innovations continue to move towards the mainstream and generate compelling opportunities for investors, portfolio managers, traders and other market participants."

But he cautions that the area is "involves substantial volatility and risks, both real and structural."

Earlier this month, exchange operators Cboe and CME Group launched bitcoin futures contracts, which give more traditional institutional investors access to what JPMorgan has called an "emerging asset class." Trade on both exchanges has been relatively thin so far.

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'In leaving the single market, they lose the financial services passport': Michel Barnier rules out a Brexit trade deal for the City of London

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

Michel Barnier

  • The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier has ruled out the prospect of a trade deal which includes services unless Britain remains in the single market.
  • "In leaving the single market, they lose the financial services passport," said Barnier.

LONDON — The EU's chief Brexit negotiator ruled out a free trade deal with Britain which includes financial services unless Britain remains in the single market, dealing a significant blow to the government's aim of securing a bespoke Brexit trade deal.

Speaking to newspapers including the Guardian, Michel Barnier said: "There is no place [for financial services]. There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services. It doesn’t exist."

Barnier said the result would be a consequence of "the red lines that the British have chosen themselves. In leaving the single market, they lose the financial services passport."

A failure to organise a deal including services could be catastrophic for Britain's financial services sector, which depends on the European financial passport for much of its trade.

The passport is a set of rules and regulations which allow UK-based finance firms to trade with and sell their services into Europe.

Brexit secretary David Davis last week said the UK can have a "Canada plus plus plus" trade deal with the EU after Brexit. It would involve "Canada plus the best of Japan, the best of South Korea and that the bit that is missing, which is the services," Davis said.

Despite that, no non-EU member state has ever negotiated trade terms with the EU that extends to financial services.

Barnier also said that Britain must accept the EU's "complete architecture" — including all directives and rules introduced when Britain no longer has a say in the EU decision-making process — as part of any transition deal.

He said: "The same rules for everyone – this is the spirit of the transition."

That would mean the UK retains freedom of movement, the Common Fisheries Policy, and a role for the European Court of Justice for a two-year period.

The move is likely to infuriate pro-Brexit cabinet ministers, who reportedly baulked on Monday at Theresa May's calls in parliament for a "status quo" transition deal.

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The Bank of England's Christmas quiz is back — here are some of the questions

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

Christmas trader dressed as elf

  • The Bank of England's festive quiz returns for another year.
  • Compiled by staff writing on the bank's Bank Underground blog, it asks Christmas-themed questions about economics and monetary policy.
  • Test yourself on the 10 questions at the Bank Underground's website.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The time for mince pies, mulled wine, presents under the tree, and of course, the Bank of England’s unofficial Christmas quiz.

Billed as the only annual central-banking themed Christmas quiz on the planet, the BoE’s Bank Underground blog returns with another edition of its festive trivia game.

Ever entertaining, this year’s quiz includes questions on the EU’s largest producer of turkey meat, which country’s currency features a picture of the North Pole, and the most expensive item of those mentioned in the song "The 12 Days of Christmas."

If you fancy taking a stab at answering a couple of questions from the test, we’ve recreated two of them below, or you can head over to the Bank Underground blog to try the whole thing (BI got a respectable six out of ten).

Here are the questions:

1. Which Central Bank was founded a couple of days before Christmas 1913?
a) The Bank of Japan
b) The Fed
c) The Reserve Bank of Australia
d) The Swiss National Bank

2. Good King Wenceslas of Christmas Carol fame has also featured on the coinage of which country?
a) Poland
b) Austria
c) Czech Republic 
d) Hungary 

The answers, along with the rest of the questions can be found on the Bank Underground's blog.

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Corporate borrowing drives global debt issuance to a record $6.8 trillion in 2017

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

London, City, Canary Wharf

  • Corporate borrowing made up 55% of global debt issuance in 2017.
  • A decade of low interest rates caused investors to look to emerging markets and company bonds for returns.


LONDON — Corporate borrowing helped push global debt issuance to a record $6.8 trillion this year, according to data by Dealogic.

Borrowing by corporates — which accounted for more than 55% of the $6.8 trillion — and governments reached a new high in 2017 via syndicated bond sales, generating huge fees for the banks underwriting the sales. The figure relates to mortgage- and asset- backed securities, but does not cover sovereign debt sold at auction.

"The debt issuance is pretty much off the charts everywhere," AJ Murphey, head of capital markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch told the Financial Times. "Latin America had a good year. Asia had a great year. And yet we see money coming from other regions into the US and European markets," he said.

Persistently low interest rates in developed economies for almost a decade has driven investors to look to emerging market governments and company bonds for returns.

The new record for syndicated sales also meant investment banks generated fees of highs not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. Banks earned $30 billion in bond fees this year, the highest level since records began in 2000, according to Thomson Reuters data.

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Victoria Beckham's fashion brand lost £8.4 million last year

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

Designer Victoria Beckham arrives for the

  • Losses at Victoria Beckham's fashion company rose by 78% in 2016, revenue flat.
  • Director said deals with US retailer Target and Reebok should "enhance" profitability.


LONDON — Losses at Victoria Beckham's high-end fashion label jumped by 78% last year as it invested "heavily" in design, production, marketing, and sales.

Losses rose from £4.7 million in 2015 to £8.4 million in the year to December 2016. Revenue remained largely flat at £36.3 million, accounts filed with Companies House show.

Victoria Beckham Limited is a high-end fashion brand that makes clothing, shoes, and accessories. Founded in 2008 by the former Spice Girl, the London-based brand today employs 180 people. Victoria's former footballer husband David and her former manager Simon Fuller are both shareholders in the business.

The fashion company is a subsidiary of Beckham Brands Holdings, which also represents David's business interests, and Victoria Beckham Limited's accounts state that the parent company will continue to stand behind it despite losses. Notes to the accounts also show that Victoria Beckham Limited was restructured and refinanced in 2017.

Company director Robert Dodds writes in the accounts that a new partnership with US retailer Target and a licensing deal with Reebok "will further enhance the profitability of the business."

The accounts, signed off on December 14, highlight a £30 million investment from private equity group NEO Investment Partner in November 2017. That deal reportedly valued the company at £100 million.

Accounts show that the highest paid director, who is not named, made £700,000 in the year. Victoria Beckham Limited had £4.9 million worth of stock on its books at the end of 2016, up from £3.2 million at the end of 2015.

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Bitcoin Isn’t a Currency, Won’t Be Regulated: South Korean Financial Regulator

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

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South Korea’s primary financial regulator and watchdog has ruled out regulating bitcoin trading in the country. In a press conference today, the head of South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) revealed no intention to regulate trading of cryptocurrencies in the country, for now. The primary reason, according to authority’s governor, is the lack of recognition

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$22 Million: Bitcoin Price Gains Spike Fidelity Charity’s Donations in 2017

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

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The charity arm of mutual fund giant Fidelity has raised over $22 million in bitcoin this year. Fidelity Charitable, the donor-advised charitable trust fund run by financial giant Fidelity Investments, has seen donations in bitcoin swell to $22 million so far in 2017. While the fund raised $11 million up to November, a marked uptick

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Bitcoin Likely to Become 'Niche' Product, Says ING's Top Economist

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

The chief economist for Dutch banking giant ING believes bitcoin will likely wind up as a niche financial product, according to a new report.

10 things you need to know before European markets open

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

Boris go whistle

Good morning! Here's what you need to know.

1. Growth in the UK will lag behind the rest of the Eurozone in 2018, according to new forecasts that show output weighed down by Brexit uncertainty. A report from auditors PwC predicted Eurozone growth will be above 2% in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) next year, with the Netherlands leading the way with economic growth at 2.5%. PwC predicted UK growth will reach just 1.4%.

2. Italy's fourth-biggest bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, rescued from the brink of collapse by a state bailout, has named a new chairwoman and board to help steer a course to recovery. Shareholders on Monday appointed Stefania Bariatti as chairwoman to replace Alessandro Falciai, who decided to leave the bank citing personal reasons.

3. Austria's new chancellor travels to Brussels on Tuesday on his first foreign trip since being sworn in, determined to dispel concerns that his coalition with the far-right spells trouble for the European Union. Responding to a letter from European Council President Donald Tusk, 31-year-old conservative leader Sebastian Kurz tweeted back that his new government would be "clear pro-European and committed to making a positive contribution to the future development of the EU."

4. The Republican-controlled US Congress appeared all but certain to pass sweeping tax legislation this week. As the Republicans' self-imposed Friday voting deadline loomed, Senators Susan Collins and Mike Lee each said they had decided to back the legislation.

5. BMW said it had hit its target of selling 100,000 electric cars this year around the world. This is more than 60% up from the 62,255 electric cars BMW sold last year. 

6. Despite an increase in affluence, people in China seem to be less happy today than they were in 1990. Although poor, the Chinese labor market was described as an "iron rice bowl" — a mini welfare state where families felt safe. They didn't worry about their job security or the ability that they would have employment in the future.

7. Pfizer's board authorized a new $10 billion share repurchase program and raised its quarterly dividend. The share buyback is in addition to the $6.4 billion remaining under the company's current authorization, Pfizer said.

8. Berkshire Hathaway's stock price touched $300,000 for the first time on Monday, reflecting investors' confidence in Warren Buffett's conglomerate. Crossing the $300,000 threshold put Berkshire's Class A shares up 22.9% for the year, compared with a 20% gain in the Standard & Poor's 500.

9. The real-estate startup WeWork is readying a new startup incubator, called Area 51 Paradise Ranch, that it will test at its Tribeca office space, Wired reported on Monday. WeWork declined to comment on the new incubator, and the scope of the company's long-term ambitions for the venture is still unclear.

10. A debate in Europe over whether ride-hailing app Uber is merely a digital company or one providing transport services will be decided when the top European Union court hands down its verdict on Wednesday. While a ruling that Uber is a transport company is unlikely immediately to change the way it operates, it will give local authorities in the EU a green light to regulate the US start-up more like a traditional taxi company.

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(+) Asian Market Update – Tuesday: Ethereum on the Rise as Bitcoin Consolidates

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

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Falling instant-noodle sales points to the economic rise of rural China

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

Instant noodles

  • China is selling 8 billion fewer packets of instant noodles than it was in 2013.
  • Fewer local migrants from rural China are moving to cities, which is affecting sales.
  • Instead, workers are staying in rural areas of China where annual incomes are rising at a faster rate than in cities.


People in China are eating billions fewer packets of instant noodles every year, state-run Global Times reported Monday.

According to the World Instant Noodles Association, China and Hong Kong ate 46.2 billion packets in 2013. By 2016 that had dropped by 8 billion packets to 38.5 billion. And more than one major manufacturer has experienced a drop in profit over 25%.

While the popularity of on-demand food services, that provide cheap, quick food to China's growing middle class, are impacting instant noodle sales, another key contributor is the rise of rural China.

An economic professor at Tongji University, Zhang Xin, told the Global Times sales have plunged because far fewer low-paid local migrants from rural China are moving to or living in cities, where they are one of the biggest consumers of instant noodles.

Between 2010 to 2016, the growth in migrant workers looking for work away from home dropped off significantly from 5.2% to 0.5%. And in 2015, the migrant population decreased for the first time in 30 years.

Instead, more workers are returning to their hometowns after acquiring skills or money in the cities or choosing not to leave in the first place because of increased opportunities.

Over the last seven years, the annual net income in rural China has outpaced the growth of that in urban centers. And, by 2020, China is hoping to double all salaries from their 2010 levels.

Big tech in China is also playing their part. Both Alibaba and JD.com have begun implementing projects to connect rural sellers with buyers across the country, with the hope of raising local incomes.

High-speed trains are also killing the instant noodle

A railway employee stands next to a high speed train at Beijing south railway station on August 11, 2011.

Better infrastructure is also hurting the instant noodle market in China.

Long train journeys back to rural hometowns used to be standard in China, where there were no high-speed trains a decade ago. Now the country has the world's largest high-speed train network, running over 12,400 miles (20,000 kilometers).

While this has drastically cut journey times, it has also cut the number of meals that workers would have on board the trains. 

One traveller told Global Times his 20 hour trip, where he used to eat three meals, now only takes six hours so he no longer needs to eat instant noodles. Other travellers are using a pilot program at 27 stations to order food on-demand.

As a result, instant-noodle orders from trains have also dropped off.

SEE ALSO: You can customize your own instant noodles at this ramen museum in Japan

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A local Washington state reporter shot video from inside the Amtrak train before it derailed

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

Screen Shot 2017 12 18 at 5.25.21 PM

  • A local reporter in Washington state managed to capture video aboard the Amtrak 501 train, around 10 minutes before it derailed, killing at least six people Monday morning.
  • The cause of the crash is under investigation.


A local reporter for local NBC affiliate KING 5 News captured video footage aboard the Amtrak train that derailed in DuPont, Washington, on Monday.

"I shot this video on board the #Amtrak501 in the 6 o clock hour this morning," Alex Rozier said on Twitter. "We got off after shooting the video. This specific car on the train derailed minutes after we shot this video."

"In the 7 o clock hour that same train derailed, Rozier continued. "We got off 10 minutes before the crash."

In the video, Rozier is seen on the train that eventually derailed at around 7:40 a.m., killing at least three people and sending at least 100 people to the hospital, according to the Associated Press.

In another video, Rozier pans a camera to Jim, a photographer, and asks, "What do you think?"

Jim replies: "Smooth ride."

"TV news crews often get pulled from one story to go to the next breaker. This time it may have saved @AlexRozierK5 and @King5unit9's lives," tweeted KING 5 News reporter Elisa Hahn.

The train was making its first trip on a new route from Seattle in 6:00 a.m. to Portland about 3 1/2 hours later, the Associated Press said. It was the first time the public used a new bypass built on an existing rail line along the highway from Tacoma, Washington to DuPont, near where the train derailed.

Seventy-seven passengers and seven crew members were aboard when it derailed, pulling 13 cars from the tracks. National Transportation Safety Board investigators were looking at the scene to determine the cause.

Watch the videos:

SEE ALSO: Photos show the moment an Amtrak train in Washington derailed and fell onto a highway

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Bitcoin Billionaire Investor Invests Half of His MVP 1 Fund in Bitcoin

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

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Bill Miller’s MVP 1 fund is now half invested in bitcoin, his biggest single concentration of an asset in an investment fund, Miller told Consuelo Mack in a WealthTrack podcast (see podcast below). Miller launched Miller Value Partners in 2016 after working for 35 years at Legg Mason. He managed a fund there that surpassed the

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Britain's economic growth is set to lag behind an accelerating Eurozone in 2018

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

A worker shelters from the rain under a Union Flag umbrella as he passes the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain, October 1, 2008.

  • Growth in the UK will lag behind the rest of the Eurozone in 2018 as uncertainty around Brexit begins to bite, PwC forecasts.
  • High inflation and dampened business investment have slowed Britain's economic growth since the EU referendum.


LONDON — Growth in the UK will lag behind the rest of the Eurozone in 2018, according to new forecasts that show output weighed down by Brexit uncertainty.

A report from auditors PwC predicted Eurozone growth will be above 2% in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) next year, with the Netherlands leading the way with economic growth at 2.5%. PwC predicted UK growth will reach just 1.4%.

Barret Kupelian, a senior economist at PwC, said: "While the [global] growth outlook for 2018 is positive, there are some downside risks for business to bear in mind, including the progress of the Brexit negotiations and wider discussions about the future of the EU."

High inflation and dampened business investment have slowed Britain's economic growth since the EU referendum in June 2016. The Financial Times published a study on Monday estimating that Britain's output is now 0.9% than was possible if the country had voted Remain, equating to a loss of around £350 million a week.

PwC also predicted the global economy will grow almost 4%, adding an extra $5 trillion (£3.75 trillion) to global output at current values.

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Boeing CEO: Bombardier sold new planes at used plane prices

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

Kevin McAllister Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO

  • Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister testified in front of the International Trade Commission on Monday.
  • Boeing claims it was harmed when Bombardier used government subsidies to offer unnaturally low prices to Delta.
  • Delta and the Canadian government both refute this claim. 

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister testified before the International Trade Commission on Bombardier's sale of 75 C Series airliners to Delta Air Lines in 2016.

The ITC is gathering testimony ahead of its ruling on whether or not to make the Department of Commerce's proposed 299.45% tariff on Bombardier C Series jet bound for the US into effect.

The Seattle-based airplane maker has accused its Canadian rivals of using government subsidies to prop up unseasonably low prices. 

"Subsidized competitors don’t face the same market realities we do.  Our fortunes rise or fall based on the business decisions we make.  There’s no one there to bail us out if we misstep," McAllister said. "But because of its massive government subsidies, Bombardier doesn’t have to worry about these market realities.  It used those subsidies to create and sell airplanes for millions of dollars under cost in the United States. "

According to Boeing, the low prices Bombardier is offering is "destroying" the marking for its 737-700 and 737MAX 7 airliners.

In his testimony, McAllister said:

"As we explained in May, Bombardier’s unfair competition is destroying the market for the 700 and MAX 7 airplanes.  It started in 2015.  We competed our 700 head-to-head with the CS100 at United.  But Bombardier slashed its prices.  That pushed us to the wall.  The -700 ultimately won at United against the CS100, but only after we were forced to slash our prices to the lowest possible level.  And this lowered the pricing threshold for both the -700 and the MAX 7.  But this was only the first sign of how bad things would ultimately get.

"The United campaign proved that the -700 could compete and win against the CS100.  But, Bombardier was even more aggressive at Delta.  Delta was looking to buy used airplanes.  As we were pulling together a package to meet Delta’s requirements, Bombardier swooped in and offered to sell Delta brand new C Series airplanes for less than 20 million dollars each.  No new airplane, rationally priced—including the 700—could compete at that price point.  Essentially, Bombardier offered new airplanes at used airplane prices.  And it worked.  Delta bought 75 C Series airplanes with options for 50 more."

According to McAllister, Boeing's aggressive stance on the issues comes from its decade-long trade dispute with Airbus

"In some ways, this is déjà vu for Boeing," he said. "From Airbus’s very inception, we’ve lived the Airbus threat and suffered the Airbus injury.  We’ve seen Airbus use billions and billions in government subsidies to create its products and muscle its way into the market, putting American aerospace companies out of business."

In response, Canadian Ambassador to the US, David MacNaughton called the facts of the case "perplexing."

"Boeing did not compete against the plane that Bombardier sold to Delta because it does not have a plane in that size," Ambassador MacNaughton said in a statement to the ITC.  "Moreover, it is difficult to understand how a company with such an enviable commercial and financial position and an order book stretching nearly seven years into the future could file a case complaining of a threat of future injury by a new entrant to the market."

"Boeing has been quite candid that its target is not the plane that exists now, but the competitive threat that Bombardier may pose in the future," he added.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian is adamant that the price it received from Bombardier is completely above board and Boeing wasn't harmed as a result of the deal. 

"As a launch customer, we got launch customer pricing just like every single launch customer on every single aircraft product whether it's made by Boeing or Airbus or Embraer or Bombardier," Bastian told Business Insider in a recent interview. "I don't see how Boeing can justify harm when they don't have the product. That has mystified me all along."

According to Delta, the only proposal submitted by Boeing was for a block of 20 second-hand Brazilian Embraer regional jets. 

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