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BlackWallet Hacked: Warns Stellar Community Not to Log In to Site

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

Stellar Wallet “BlackWallet” Hacked

On January 13, an unknown hacker(s) hijacked the DNS server for BlackWallet.co, a web-based wallet for the Stellar Lumens cryptocurrency, and redirected it to their own server.

Security researcher Kevin Beaumont, who analyzed the code, said, “The DNS hijack of Blackwallet injected code, if you had over 20 Lumens it pushes them to a different wallet.” It is estimated that nearly 700,000 Lumens (XLM) were stolen, with a current value of over $400,000.

Warnings and alerts not to log into the BlackWallet site have been sent out by the BlackWallet team and other XLM users via Stellar Community, Galactic Talk, Reddit, Twitter and GitHub. Unfortunately, users continued to log in for some time, and thus, saw their funds vanish from their wallets.

Following the address of the attacker, it is possible to track the movement of funds from BlackWallet to the Bittrex exchange, where they are likely to convert the funds and cover their tracks. BlackWallet has since messaged Bittrex in an effort to coordinate with the exchange to block the hacker’s account.

In a statement on Reddit, the BlackWallet admin is suggesting that people move their funds to a new wallet using the Stellar account viewer. At the time of this writing, the BlackWallet website is returning a 404 error. Bitcoin Magazine will update this story as it evolves.

The post BlackWallet Hacked: Warns Stellar Community Not to Log In to Site appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

US Treasury Secretary Munchin Likens Bitcoin to Offshore Swiss Bank Account

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

The post US Treasury Secretary Munchin Likens Bitcoin to Offshore Swiss Bank Account appeared first on CCN

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is making headlines again, but not for him and his wife Louise Linton’s James Bond-like lifestyle. This time, Mnuchin has issued a warning that bitcoin has all the makings of the next ‘Swiss Bank Account,’ expressing concerns that are twofold — bitcoin could be treated as an offshore account for

The post US Treasury Secretary Munchin Likens Bitcoin to Offshore Swiss Bank Account appeared first on CCN

Telegram is looking to raise more than $1.2 billion in a blockbuster ICO

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

Telegram CEO Pavel Durov

  • Telegram, the messaging app, is developing a blockchain platform to rival bitcoin and ethereum.
  • It is looking to raise at least $1.2 billion to develop its so-called TON platform and cryptocurrency called Grams.
  • It would be the largest token sale ever.

 

Private messaging app Telegram is planning to gatecrash the cryptocurrency world with a blockbuster ten-figure initial coin offering.

The company, which reaches more than 170 million monthly users, is looking to raise at least $1.2 billion from a token sale which would include a private sale set for February 2018 and public sale in March, according to documents seen by Business Insider.

Telegram expects to raise $600 million in both sales. At $1.2 billion it would be the largest token sale ever, beating the $257 million raised by Filecoin, a network of decentralised cloud storage providers, in September last year.

The fundraising method, which is best thought of as a cryptocurrency twist on the initial public offering process in which companies issue their own token to investors in exchange for bitcoin of ether, took off in 2017 with seven companies raising more than $100 million last year. Analytics provider Autonomous NEXT estimates more than $4 billion have been raised via ICOs.

As for Telegram's ICO, the money raised will support the company's so-called TON (Telegram Open Network) blockchain platform, which will "host a new generation of cryptocurrencies and decentralized applications," according to a white paper reviewed by Business Insider. Investors will receive TON tokens, or so-called Grams, for participating in the ICO by December 2018 at the earliest.

The company doesn't expect tokens to be listed on major exchanges until 2019.

TON seeks to solve a problem that neither bitcoin or ethereum address, the company said.

"Bitcoin has established itself as the «digital gold», and Ethereum has proved to be an efficient platform for token crowd sales," the white paper said. "However, there is no current standard cryptocurrency used for the regular exchange of value in the daily lives of ordinary people."

While bitcoin and ether have reached incredible heights over the past year, critics point out they have not been able to scale to the point at which they can truly rival cash or credit cards. The common tag-line evoked by skeptics is "you can't buy a cup of coffee with a bitcoin."

Telegram is designing its token to be "a decentralized counterpart to everyday money" that'll target the mass-market. Here's the company (emphasis is our own):

"Telegram will use its expertise in encrypted distributed data storage to create TON, a fast and inherently scalable multi-blockchain architecture. TON can be regarded as a decentralized supercomputer and value transfer system.By combining minimum transaction time with maximum security, TON can become a VISA/Mastercard alternative for the new decentralized economy."

The company is set to start accepting letters of intent for the pre-sale from qualified investors at the end of the month. Such investors will get a 68% discount to the public sale price, according to the white paper.

Telegram will use 80% of the funds to develop the TON ecosystem.

"More than 80 percent of collected funds will be spent on equipment, bandwidth, colocation, and user verification costs," the white paper said. "The rest will be allocated for wages, offices, and legal and consulting services."

SEE ALSO: The 11 biggest ICO fundraises of 2017

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A crypto expert explains the difference between the two largest cryptocurrencies in the world: bitcoin and Ethereum

Incompatible Gesture Language Disaster: Guest Accidentally Buys $25M In Bitcoin, Bankrupting Host

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

gestures, HCI, human-computer communication, bitcoin, future, futurism, futurist

St. Louis Fed: In Some Ways, Bitcoin Is More Robust Than Many Fiat Currencies

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

StLouisCrypto.jpg

In a recent article on the basics of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (PDF), Aleksander Berentsen and Fabian Schär of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis cover the usefulness of bitcoin and other alternative cryptoassets.

Throughout the article, Berentsen and Schär make the case that cryptoassets are well suited to become a new, important asset class. The duo goes as far to say that bitcoin is, in some ways, more robust than many fiat currencies.

Cryptocurrencies Are a Welcome Addition to the Current Currency System

Surprisingly, Berentsen and Schär are of the belief that cryptocurrencies are a welcome addition to the current currency ecosystem. While some critics claim bitcoin’s price should drop to zero because there is no intrinsic value found in the cryptoasset, the co-authors of the article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis point out that this argument also applies to the various government-issued currencies around the world.

“Bitcoin is not the only currency that has no intrinsic value,” states the article. “State monopoly currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the Swiss franc, have no intrinsic value either. They are fiat currencies created by government decree. The history of state monopoly currencies is a history of wild price swings and failures. This is why decentralized cryptocurrencies are a welcome addition to the existing currency system.”

Berentsen and Schär also cover the possibility of Bitcoin’s consensus rules eventually being changed to allow for an increase in the supply of bitcoin tokens. They take the view that this scenario is very unlikely to unfold.

Even though in theory it is possible to increase the Bitcoin supply, in practice, such a change is very unlikely because a large part of the Bitcoin community would strongly oppose such an attempt.

The authors go on to point out that this sort of change in monetary policy may be more likely in a fiat currency protocol.

“Undesirable changes in fiat currency protocols are very common and many times have led to the complete destruction of the value of the fiat currency at hand,” says the article. “It could be argued that, in some ways, the Bitcoin protocol is more robust than many of the existing fiat currency protocols. Only time will tell.”

Bitcoin Is the Most Apparent Application of Blockchain Technology

In addition to offering some basic information on the topic of cryptoassets, the article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis also provides a general outlook on the future of blockchain technology.

According to Berentsen and Schär, the most apparent application of this technology right now is the use of bitcoin as a new type of asset. The duo see cryptoassets, such as bitcoin, emerging as their own asset class and having the potential to develop into an interesting instrument for investment and diversification.

“Bitcoin itself could over time assume a similar role as gold,” says the article.

The paper also covers applications of blockchain technology in the areas of colored coins, smart contracts and data integrity. The Ethereum network is specifically pointed out as a leader in the area of smart contracts.

Risks of Blockchain Technology

The article from Berentsen and Schär also covers some of the risks associated with cryptoassets.

Minority splits from major cryptoasset networks, such as Bitcoin Cash (Bcash) and Ethereum Classic, are the first risk pointed out in the article, but the downsides of these sorts of spin-off assets are not discussed.

One could argue that these sorts of minority forks create uncertainty around the value of a particular cryptoasset, although this is also the case with the creation of new altcoins more generally.

The paper mentions excessive power consumption as another potential risk of blockchain technology, but Berentsen and Schär do not necessarily agree that proof-of-work mining is wasteful.

“There are those that criticize Bitcoin and assert that a centralized accounting system is more efficient because consensus can be attained without the allocation of massive amounts of computational power,” says the article. “From our perspective, however, the situation is not so clear-cut. Centralized payment systems are also expensive. Besides infrastructure and operating costs, one would have to calculate the explicit and implicit costs of a central bank. Salary costs should be counted among the explicit costs and the possibility of fraud in the currency monopoly among the implicit costs.”

In the past, “Mastering Bitcoin” author Andreas Antonopoulos has argued that the power consumed by Bitcoin miners is “used” rather than “wasted.”

The last risk associated with blockchain technology found in the article is bitcoin’s price volatility. Berentsen and Schär claim that a rigid, predetermined supply of bitcoin is not a desirable monetary policy in the sense that it will not lead to a stable currency.

“If a constant supply of money meets a fluctuating aggregate demand, the result is fluctuating prices,” explains the article. “In government-run fiat currency systems, the central bank aims to adjust the money supply in response to changes in aggregate demand for money in order to stabilize the price level. In particular, the Federal Reserve System has been explicitly founded ‘to provide an elastic currency’ to mitigate the price fluctuations that arise from changes in the aggregate demand for the U.S. dollar. Since such a mechanism is absent in the current Bitcoin protocol, it is very likely that the Bitcoin unit will display much higher short-term price fluctuations than many government-run fiat currency units.”

The post St. Louis Fed: In Some Ways, Bitcoin Is More Robust Than Many Fiat Currencies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

St. Louis Fed: In Some Ways, Bitcoin Is More Robust Than Many Fiat Currencies

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

StLouisCrypto.jpg

In a recent article on the basics of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (PDF), Aleksander Berentsen and Fabian Schär of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis cover the usefulness of bitcoin and other alternative cryptoassets.

Throughout the article, Berentsen and Schär make the case that cryptoassets are well suited to become a new, important asset class. The duo goes as far to say that bitcoin is, in some ways, more robust than many fiat currencies.

Cryptocurrencies Are a Welcome Addition to the Current Currency System

Surprisingly, Berentsen and Schär are of the belief that cryptocurrencies are a welcome addition to the current currency ecosystem. While some critics claim bitcoin’s price should drop to zero because there is no intrinsic value found in the cryptoasset, the co-authors of the article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis point out that this argument also applies to the various government-issued currencies around the world.

“Bitcoin is not the only currency that has no intrinsic value,” states the article. “State monopoly currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the Swiss franc, have no intrinsic value either. They are fiat currencies created by government decree. The history of state monopoly currencies is a history of wild price swings and failures. This is why decentralized cryptocurrencies are a welcome addition to the existing currency system.”

Berentsen and Schär also cover the possibility of Bitcoin’s consensus rules eventually being changed to allow for an increase in the supply of bitcoin tokens. They take the view that this scenario is very unlikely to unfold.

Even though in theory it is possible to increase the Bitcoin supply, in practice, such a change is very unlikely because a large part of the Bitcoin community would strongly oppose such an attempt.

The authors go on to point out that this sort of change in monetary policy may be more likely in a fiat currency protocol.

“Undesirable changes in fiat currency protocols are very common and many times have led to the complete destruction of the value of the fiat currency at hand,” says the article. “It could be argued that, in some ways, the Bitcoin protocol is more robust than many of the existing fiat currency protocols. Only time will tell.”

Bitcoin Is the Most Apparent Application of Blockchain Technology

In addition to offering some basic information on the topic of cryptoassets, the article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis also provides a general outlook on the future of blockchain technology.

According to Berentsen and Schär, the most apparent application of this technology right now is the use of bitcoin as a new type of asset. The duo see cryptoassets, such as bitcoin, emerging as their own asset class and having the potential to develop into an interesting instrument for investment and diversification.

“Bitcoin itself could over time assume a similar role as gold,” says the article.

The paper also covers applications of blockchain technology in the areas of colored coins, smart contracts and data integrity. The Ethereum network is specifically pointed out as a leader in the area of smart contracts.

Risks of Blockchain Technology

The article from Berentsen and Schär also covers some of the risks associated with cryptoassets.

Minority splits from major cryptoasset networks, such as Bitcoin Cash (Bcash) and Ethereum Classic, are the first risk pointed out in the article, but the downsides of these sorts of spin-off assets are not discussed.

One could argue that these sorts of minority forks create uncertainty around the value of a particular cryptoasset, although this is also the case with the creation of new altcoins more generally.

The paper mentions excessive power consumption as another potential risk of blockchain technology, but Berentsen and Schär do not necessarily agree that proof-of-work mining is wasteful.

“There are those that criticize Bitcoin and assert that a centralized accounting system is more efficient because consensus can be attained without the allocation of massive amounts of computational power,” says the article. “From our perspective, however, the situation is not so clear-cut. Centralized payment systems are also expensive. Besides infrastructure and operating costs, one would have to calculate the explicit and implicit costs of a central bank. Salary costs should be counted among the explicit costs and the possibility of fraud in the currency monopoly among the implicit costs.”

In the past, “Mastering Bitcoin” author Andreas Antonopoulos has argued that the power consumed by Bitcoin miners is “used” rather than “wasted.”

The last risk associated with blockchain technology found in the article is bitcoin’s price volatility. Berentsen and Schär claim that a rigid, predetermined supply of bitcoin is not a desirable monetary policy in the sense that it will not lead to a stable currency.

“If a constant supply of money meets a fluctuating aggregate demand, the result is fluctuating prices,” explains the article. “In government-run fiat currency systems, the central bank aims to adjust the money supply in response to changes in aggregate demand for money in order to stabilize the price level. In particular, the Federal Reserve System has been explicitly founded ‘to provide an elastic currency’ to mitigate the price fluctuations that arise from changes in the aggregate demand for the U.S. dollar. Since such a mechanism is absent in the current Bitcoin protocol, it is very likely that the Bitcoin unit will display much higher short-term price fluctuations than many government-run fiat currency units.”

The post St. Louis Fed: In Some Ways, Bitcoin Is More Robust Than Many Fiat Currencies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Credit Suisse Argues Irrational Exuberance Around ICOs Indicates Bitcoin Bubble

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

creditsuisse.jpg

In a paper written in the fall of 2017 and published on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) on Friday, January 12, 2018, Credit Suisse’s Dietmar Peetz and Gregory Mall argue that the boom in the initial coin offering (ICO) market is the clearest indicator of a bubble in bitcoin.

Zurich-based Credit Suisse is one of the 40 largest banks in the world with more than $800 billion in total assets, according to Standard & Poor.

According to Peetz and Mall, bitcoin should not be seen as a currency. Instead, the Credit Suisse duo places bitcoin into a new, distinct asset class.

The paper notes that bitcoin’s epic price run, which started in September 2015 and accelerated further in July 2017, is obviously not sustainable over the long term. However, it also adds, “There are arguments for a continuation of this trend for some time.”

The ICO Boom

ICOs were all the rage in 2017, and these new mixtures of seed investing and crowdfunding raised more than $5 billion throughout the year (according to Token Data).

The basic idea with an ICO is that a company or project will create a new token (usually via the ERC-20 standard on Ethereum), which will have some sort of utility on a platform that is either in development or already available.

Whether it makes sense to hold these sorts of digital tokens as investments or speculations is still up for debate.

“These [ICO tokens] often trade at penny-stock prices, experiencing dramatic price increases within hours and are often trading at very low liquidity,” says the paper from Peetz and Mall. “Most of these companies merely offer a so-called ‘white paper,’ basically a business plan that explains which product a company wants to develop in the future and how it wants to market it. Most of these promised projects are praised as having huge potential but are extremely uncertain to be actually developed.”

Having said this, the paper adds that “ICO companies” may continue to raise large sums of money over the short-to-medium term. As supporting evidence for this claim, Peetz and Mall point to the fact that the amounts raised from ICOs increased after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began to caution investors over the summer.

The paper also compares the irrational exuberance around ICOs to the dotcom bubble; however, Peetz and Mall note a key difference in that the dotcom boom at least had companies selling real goods and recording cash flows.

Questions remain as to whether there is any direct correlation between a token’s price and the level of success achieved by a platform connected to the token.

“Most investors acknowledge the bubble situation,” the paper continues. “However, they argue that central bank’s easy money will help the bubble mania to grow bigger and bigger, thus attracting even more investors (speculators) looking for easy profits. They remain bullish because of the Greater Fool Theory.”

Authorities May Prevent Bitcoin from Becoming a Currency

While some people use bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies simply because they have no other option available to them for a particular type of transaction, Peetz and Mall argue that bitcoin is not a transactional currency — mainly due to its inability to act as a reliable unit of account.

Although the paper indicates bitcoin volatility has declined from its peak from 2014 and could fall further through the financialization of the asset, Peetz and Mall also argue a currency cannot work as a clearing mechanism for payments if it cannot be accurately valued.

“The enormously high bitcoin price volatility makes it unsuitable for a reliable day-to-day exchange medium,” says the paper.

In addition to the lack of price stability and time-tested store of value properties in bitcoin, Peetz and Mall also point out a multitude of reasons as to why, in their view, widespread use of the intrinsically-deflationary asset would be detrimental to the overall economy. For this reason, the paper argues authorities may be emboldened to prevent bitcoin from becoming a currency.

“Based on historical precedents, it is not unthinkable that in times of economic or financial crisis, political and regulatory pressure on an unwanted currency would increase, possibly in a similar manner as in the U.S. in 1934, when the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 was ratified, nationalizing all gold and subsequently revaluing it by 69% in U.S. dollar terms,” says the paper.

Of course, Bitcoin was designed to be resistant to government coercion — a sort of BitTorrent for digital, free-market money.

The Bitcoin Bubble Could Continue

So what happens next? According to Peetz and Mall, the bitcoin bubble could continue for some time.

“We believe the most realistic scenario for bitcoin, based on the premise of the currency not being banned by major regulatory agencies, is that it will continue to rise in price in the short to medium term with increased institutional demand prior to the initial hype fading,” says the paper. “At that juncture, bitcoin’s monetization or return prospect realities will begin to set in and, if history is any guide, eventually dominate valuation.”

From Peetz and Mall’s perspectives, the financialization of bitcoin is a symptom of a bubble in money available for investment and the unavailability of productive, real-economy investments.

“Borrowing money for free and having easy access to capital and leverage (for big entities) is the fuel asset bubbles crave,” says the paper. “By aggressively mitigating the effects of the 2008 financial crisis via unparalleled global monetary debasement extending for nearly a decade, central banks have brought us today’s ‘bubbles everywhere’ investment landscape.”

In terms of specific events that could trigger an end to the bitcoin bubble, the paper mentions a crash in the equities market or a potential ban on the possession of bitcoin as two possible scenarios.


Further Reading: Op Ed: Bitcoin is not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started

The post Credit Suisse Argues Irrational Exuberance Around ICOs Indicates Bitcoin Bubble appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Researchers finds that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to $1,000

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

 Researchers Neil Gandal, JT Hamrick, Tyler Moore, and Tali Oberman have written a fascinating paper on Bitcoin price manipulation. Entitled “Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem” and appearing in the recent issue of the Journal of Monetary Economics the paper describes to what degree the Bitcoin ecosystem is controlled by bad actors. To many it’s been obvious that… Read More

80% of Bitcoin Mined and Multi-Billion Dollar Firms are Now Joining the Party

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

The post 80% of Bitcoin Mined and Multi-Billion Dollar Firms are Now Joining the Party appeared first on CCN

80 percent of bitcoin has officially been mined and more than 16.8 million bitcoins are in circulation. While the majority of bitcoin mined in the early days were produced by individual miners, multi-billion dollar firms are starting to enter the global mining sector. Evolution: From Individual Miners to Multi-Billion Dollar Facilities Traditional assets and currencies

The post 80% of Bitcoin Mined and Multi-Billion Dollar Firms are Now Joining the Party appeared first on CCN

Cryptocurrency Market Rebounds After Major Correction as Bitcoin and Cardano Record Gains

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

The post Cryptocurrency Market Rebounds After Major Correction as Bitcoin and Cardano Record Gains appeared first on CCN

Yesterday, on January 15, the entire cryptocurrency market recorded a massive decline in value, as bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and other major cryptocurrencies fell amidst a major correction. The cryptocurrency market lost $60 billion in market valuation, mostly due to the massive decline in the price of smaller cryptocurrencies in the market.’ Bitcoin, Cardano, Qtum, and

The post Cryptocurrency Market Rebounds After Major Correction as Bitcoin and Cardano Record Gains appeared first on CCN

Cryptocurrency Market Rebounds After Major Correction as Bitcoin and Cardano Record Gains

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

The post Cryptocurrency Market Rebounds After Major Correction as Bitcoin and Cardano Record Gains appeared first on CCN

Yesterday, on January 15, the entire cryptocurrency market recorded a massive decline in value, as bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and other major cryptocurrencies fell amidst a major correction. The cryptocurrency market lost $60 billion in market valuation, mostly due to the massive decline in the price of smaller cryptocurrencies in the market.’ Bitcoin, Cardano, Qtum, and

The post Cryptocurrency Market Rebounds After Major Correction as Bitcoin and Cardano Record Gains appeared first on CCN

Basic income experts predict an important milestone for free money in 2018

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

poverty son mother

  • Advocates for universal basic income expect the idea to become politically mainstream in 2018.
  • Politicians have already started proposing trials for their cities and states.
  • Existing welfare programs could offer a foundation for bringing basic income to the masses, experts agree.


The world is still a long ways off from universal basic income, a system of social welfare in which every person on the planet receives a standard salary just for being alive.

But advocates claim the US is on course to pass an important milestone this year: 2018 is shaping up to be the year basic income reaches mainstream politics.

"We're going to see concrete basic income proposals introduced in 2018, with a focus on the state and city level," Jim Pugh, a San Francisco-based basic income expert, told Business Insider.

Basic income is becoming mainstream

About a dozen experiments are running or in the planning phases in cities and countries around the world. Versions of basic income are playing out in Kenya, Finland, Canada, and California, and others could soon come to Scotland, India, and the Netherlands.

tesla factory robotsThe theory is that by giving everyone an income "floor," governments can help people live healthy, prosperous lives.

Economists and tech experts who foresee a robot-run future where unemployment is high also like the idea for its potential to offset lost wages. They believe that even if a machine takes your job, basic income could save you from falling into poverty while you look for new work.

In July 2017, Hawaii State Rep. Chris Lee published a bill to investigate basic income for his state. Three months later, Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California announced his plans to launch a basic income study in his city, which became the first in the US to file bankruptcy back in 2012. The two men joined Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as political figures intrigued by the idea.

"When I talk to people now about basic income, nearly everyone is familiar with the concept, including elected officials," Pugh, the cofounder of the Universal Income Project, an advocacy group, told Business Insider.

Basic income goes political

Pugh and a handful of other experts Business Insider spoke with expect basic income to become more of a mainstream political idea in 2018. 

Sam Altman

"Remember, basic income is not one idea. It's a direction of thought," Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian and basic income advocate, told Business Insider. "We can make our current welfare state more basic income-ish in many ways," such as removing certain barriers to qualify, he said. "And there are a lot of politicians — mainly on the left — who are in favor of that direction."

Sam Altman, president of the startup accelerator Y Combinator, said despite the second phase of his company's Oakland experiment rolling out later this year, UBI is still slow-moving.

"I think interest will continue to grow. I don't think we'll see meaningful policy progress this year," he said. "But I think it's getting into people's minds in a way that is good and different than communism, and gradually people are getting more open to the idea."

Writer and basic income advocate Scott Santens was more optimistic, pointing to a handful of trials as reasons for being excited in 2018, including Stockton's, Scotland, and India. Santens also said to expect discussion in Poland, Mexico, and Japan.

"It's impossible to say for certain who the next three countries to announce UBI trials will be," Santens said, "but I do expect at least that many more countries to step up this year."

The way into basic income could be through a side door

Many of the experts pointed to the earned-income tax credit (EITC) as the best candidate for major welfare reform, particularly in California and Colorado.

"A discussion on welfare reform if it ever begins is an opportunity to promote cash transfers," Andy Stern, author and former president of the Service Employees International Union, told Business Insider.

The EITC works like a large tax refund, paid out to low-income workers during tax season. The specific amount decreases or increases based on the person's income level: The less you make, the more you receive, up to around $2,500 a year.

A number of basic income enthusiasts expect EITC to be the on-ramp for full-fledged UBI.

Joe Sanberg, head of the nonprofit CalEITC4Me, is on a mission to help millions of Californians receive their EITC funds if they qualify. A possible candidate to run for US Senator in 2018, Sanberg pushed through a measure to expand the EITC in California from 600,000 people to 1.7 million.

Pugh and other experts believe states will only continue to ramp up these kinds of efforts.

"I'm confident there will be campaigns launched to implement these policies at some point this year," Pugh said.

SEE ALSO: A village in Kenya is quietly disproving the biggest myth about basic income

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A crypto expert explains the difference between the two largest cryptocurrencies in the world: bitcoin and Ethereum

Nationwide Insurance Rolls Out Proof of Insurance on the RiskBlock Blockchain

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

Insurance Block.jpg

The Institutes has announced a new blockchain framework called RiskBlock to provide more streamlined and secure proof of insurance. Nationwide Insurance is the first company to begin rolling out product on the platform.

RiskBlock is the first blockchain framework delivered from the newly formed RiskBlock Alliance and the first of its kind that is designed specifically for the risk management and insurance industry. The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance is an industry-led, insurance-focused consortium that developed the RiskBlock framework.

RiskBlock will provide insurers with real-time verification of insurance coverage; allow law enforcement to verify proof of insurance efficiently without relying on paper forms; provide insurers with a streamlined and cost-effective way to offer proof of insurance; and, in the near future, will allow insured clients to share trusted, third-party verified proof of insurance with a click on their mobile devices.

“The current way that drivers provide proof of insurance is cumbersome and uncertain,” said Christopher G. McDaniel, executive director of The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance in a statement. “Sharing proof of insurance through blockchain is key to streamlining the process of providing proof and marks the start of our efforts to revolutionize many other aspects of the insurance industry. Our collaboration with Nationwide is the first step toward a better overall system.”

The membership of the Alliance includes over 30 companies as members, ranging from the top 10 carriers to brokers and reinsurers. Nationwide Insurance is the first to use the platform in a pilot program to simplify real-time insurance coverage verification, eliminating paper insurance cards and providing a mobile app for real-time verification. ac

The coverage verification is an initial use case and the Alliance anticipates its members will be able to better serve policyholders and reduce costs by streamlining claim payments and premiums, reducing fraud through centralized recording of claims and improving acquisition of new policyholders by validating accuracy of customer data.

The post Nationwide Insurance Rolls Out Proof of Insurance on the RiskBlock Blockchain appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

The pound climbed above $1.38 to hit another post-Brexit vote high

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

  • Pound briefly climbs above $1.38 to hit a fresh post-Brexit vote high.
  • Low trading volumes due to a US holiday have helped boost the currency.
  • On Friday, sterling gained as much as 1% on the dollar.



LONDON — The pound advanced to a fresh post-referendum high on Monday afternoon as sterling continued its start of year fight back from the last 18 months of weakness against the US dollar.

Sterling climbed to a high of $1.382 against the greenback during early afternoon trade, with no obvious catalyst for the upwards move, which was one of roughly 0.6%. By 3.25 p.m. GMT (10.25 a.m. ET) it has retraced some of that move, and is up around 0.35%, just below $1.38, as the chart below illustrates:

pound jan 15

"Sterling stealthily rose to a fresh post-referendum high on Monday as the dollar rout continued unabated after last week’s drop," Neil Wilson of ETX Capital said in an emailed message.

"With markets a touch quiet due to the Martin Luther King holiday in the US, thin volumes left traders going merrily with the trend, which has turned decidedly bearish on USD."

The pound has quietly advanced in recent days, gaining almost 1% on Friday after reports that two eurozone finance ministers are lobbying for a soft Brexit deal that allows the UK to keep close ties to the EU once Britain leaves the bloc.

Bloomberg reported on Friday afternoon that "Spanish and Dutch finance ministers have agreed to work together to push for a Brexit deal that keeps Britain as close to the European Union as possible."

In 2018, for the first time since the referendum, analysts are starting to turn bullish on the currency, thanks in part to continuing progress in Brexit, but also because of a continually weakening dollar. Earlier in the month, Viraj Patel, an FX strategist at Dutch lender ING said that sterling could climb as high as $1.53 against the dollar by the end of year, higher than its pre-referendum levels.

Patel believes that if the UK and EU are able to strike a transition deal for Brexit early in the year, and UK economic data holds up, then 2018 will be a good year for the currency, especially when it is likely that the dollar will struggle during 2018, exacerbating the pound's gains.

"We look for GBP to be one of the primary beneficiaries of reduced policy uncertainty – at least in the early part of 2018. Approval to proceed to Phase II of Brexit should prompt a brief re-rating of the UK economic cycle," according to an overview of ING's currency forecasts for 2018 by Chris Turner, ING's head of currency.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A crypto expert explains the difference between the two largest cryptocurrencies in the world: bitcoin and Ethereum

Bitcoin miners have extracted 80 percent of all the bitcoins there will ever be

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

With 21 million being the maximum potential number of the cryptocurrency that will ever exist, we're edging ever closer toward that number. The latest milestone reached was the 80 percent mark, with 16.8 million coins mined.

Mississippi Doctors Sued Mt. Gox for Bitcoin Loss Now Worth $133 Million

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

Two former users of the defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox have brought a lawsuit against the company over the loss of 9,500 bitcoins.

Listen Up. Bitcoin is Money(!)

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

The post Listen Up. Bitcoin is Money(!) appeared first on CCN

Now, pretend you are in Davos sitting among the world’s financial elite. You face a panel made of renowned central bankers. You slowly raise your hand and ask the million dollar question: “Can anyone tell me what Bitcoin is?”. After a moment of stunned silence, the whole audience roars with laughter. As the laughter subsides,

The post Listen Up. Bitcoin is Money(!) appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Cash Looking Heavy After Bull Move Fails

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

Bitcoin cash prices are looking heavy today, courtesy of repeated failures to pass the $2,800 mark in recent days.

China’s Bitcoin Miners Head West…to Canada

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

The post China’s Bitcoin Miners Head West…to Canada appeared first on CCN

China is losing its grip on bitcoin mining, while Canada, home of vast energy resources, is lifting its cryptocurrency profile. While China has evolved into a leading domicile for bitcoin mining, the country’s central bankers have been pushing back, triggering a wave of defections among mining operations to head for more cryptocurrency-friendly waters in the Western

The post China’s Bitcoin Miners Head West…to Canada appeared first on CCN

JPMorgan: Likelihood of cliff-edge Brexit drops from 25% to 15%

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

theresa may brexit deal claude juncker

  • The likelihood of a no deal Brexit has dropped from 25% to 15%, a note by J. P. Morgan said on Monday.
  • This is due to reduced challenges to the Prime Minister's leadership and attitude changes from Eurosceptic MPs, the note said.
  • But the UK is likely to have to make four key concessions in the course of negotiations, it said.


LONDON — The likelihood of a no-deal Brexit has fallen from 25% to 15%, driven by attitude changes among Eurosceptic MPs and reduced challenges to the Prime Minister's leadership, according to JPMorgan.

The probability of the UK crashing out of the EU in 2019 with no deal has reduced in recent weeks, thanks to a "stabilisation in support" for Prime Minister Theresa May's leadership among Conservative party members and the "relatively muted response" among Eurosceptic MPs to the likely terms of a transition period, a research note said on Monday.

Despite last week's chaotic cabinet reshuffle, JPMorgan said May appeared to have "consolidated near-term support for her leadership," as MPs recognise that a leadership change would be "unpredictable and time consuming" while Brexit talks are at a critical stage, and a challenge could "jeopardize the Brexit process as a whole."

Eurosceptic MPs have encouraged each other to keep "their eyes on the prize" of leaving the EU, the note said, even if the initial exit terms are unfavourable.

Since the European Council agreed in December that "sufficient progress" had been made on withdrawal related issues, the timeline for negotiations has solidified, the note said. Current hopes are for a transition period to be secured by the end of March 2019, and for the withdrawal agreement completed as a legal document by autumn this year.

Screen Shot 2018 01 15 at 10.38.09

But JPMorgan highlighted four concessions the UK is likely to have to make as part of negotiations. 

Firstly, the EU-proposed "standstill" transition period, where the UK would still be bound by its EU obligations but lose its ability to influence EU decision making, is likely to occur, against the UK's wishes.

Next, although the UK is seeking to replicate trade relations access as closely as possible, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has highlighted the limitations on future trading agreements if the UK insists on leaving the single market and customs union.

The UK also wants future trading relationships to be defined in detail alongside the withdrawal agreement, but the EU has argued it cannot legally instruct trade negotiators to begin this detailed work until the UK has formally left.

"The UK's hope for early, legally-binding specificity around the future trading relationship is likely to be frustrated," the note said, and has "never looked achievable."

Lastly, "moving towards a resolution of the Irish issues likely will be problematic," the note said, since the UK is "attempting to reconcile mutually incompatible objectives."

The UK wants to avoid a hard border and leave the single market and customs union, while keeping arrangements for Northern Ireland aligned with those for the UK as a whole (ruling out a specific solution for the region), the note said. A solution would likely require a complex sector-by-sector approach, it said.

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'Taxpayers can't bail out private companies': Government defends handling of Carillion collapse as Labour calls for 'serious investigation'

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

Britain's Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling leaves 10 Downing Street, London, November 22, 2017.

  • The government's handling of the collapse of construction firm Carillion has been criticised.
  • Carillion has around 450 public contracts but the government wouldn't step in to back the company's £1.5 billion debt pile.
  • Transport Secretary Chris Grayling handed Carillion part of a £1.4 billion HS2 contract last summer in the same week as its debt crisis began. This has led to criticism of his judgement. 
  • "Normal tendering processes were followed," PM's spokesman said. "Taxpayers cannot be expected to bail out a private company."


LONDON — The government has defended its handling of the collapse of UK construction giant Carillion, insisting that "taxpayers cannot be expected to bail out a private company."

Carillion began liquidation proceedings on Monday after battling a £1.5 billion debt pile for around six months. Once worth over £2 billion, the company's demise is one of the largest corporate failures in Britain for decades.

The government's handling of the crisis has been criticised. Carillion is one of the UK government's biggest contractors — working on everything from HS2 to school meals — and the government continued to give the company contracts worth around £2 billion even after its debt crisis was first revealed in July last year.

Fiona Cincotta, a senior market analyst at City Index, said on Monday: "It has been more than surprising, possibly even negligent, that the UK government continued to dish out contracts to Carillion even though their future has looked uncertain for some time.

"Over £2 billion worth of government contracts were handed to Carillion during the time that the firm gave three profit warnings. This screams negligence on the behalf of the government and is a costly mistake that the UK government can ill afford."

Ministers were involved in crisis talks between Carillion and its creditors over the weekend but the government wouldn't step in to support Carillion, hastening its demise.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said in an email: "The group’s fate was sealed when it became clear that no money would be forthcoming from taxpayers to help keep the beleaguered group afloat."

The government defended its position on Monday, with the Prime Minister's spokesman telling journalists: "It's regrettable that Carillion has not been able to find suitable financing options with its lenders ... but taxpayers cannot be expected to bail out a private company."

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, on Monday called for a "serious investigation" into the government's awarding of contracts to the troubled company.

'Big questions about due diligence and judgment'

Questions have been asked about Transport Minister Chris Grayling's decision to award HS2 contracts to Carillion despite its financial difficulties. The company was part of a consortium of three companies that won a £1.4 billion HS2 joint venture just a week after the debt troubles emerged.

Andrew Adonis, the former chair of the government’s national infrastructure committee, told the Guardian on Friday: "It looks as if Chris Grayling may have been bailing out Carillion as well as Virgin.

"They got HS2 contracts from him after their troubles emerged in the summer, raising big questions about his due diligence and judgment."

Labour's Trickett said in a statement: "Given £2 billion worth of Government contracts were awarded in the time three profit warnings were given by Carillion, a serious investigation needs to be launched into the Government’s handling of this matter."

Theresa May's spokesman denied Grayling fed contracts to Carillion in an effort to keep it afloat, saying "normal tendering processes were followed."

"HS2 is not at risk as a result of this," the PM's spokesman said. "It will be carried out."

The Prime Minister's spokesman said the government would provide money to Carillion's liquidators to ensure essential public services contracted to Carillion continue to run as normal. Carillion is understood to have around 450 public contracts.

"Initially it is the case that via the liquidator the government will be paying the receiver to ensure services continue to run as normal," the spokesman said. "There is a longer-term issue whether services will come in house.... Either way it will be done in an orderly fashion."

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$15K in Sight? Bitcoin Prices Gather Upside Traction

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

Having defended $13,000, bitcoin looks set to explore a move towards $15,000 levels in the next 24 hours.

An investing platform founded by a 25-year-old went free — and now it's facing a backlash from its rivals

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

Robots

  • Chicago-based M1 Finance made its investing platform free in December.  
  • Now its larger rivals are attacking the move as "desperate" and bad for wealth creation.


Chicago-based investing startup M1 Finance made a bet that it could become a financial services juggernaut by charging its users nothing to use its platform.

Now, some larger players in the automated investing space are criticizing the move.

M1, which was founded by CEO Brian Barnes when he was 25, originally charged users 25 to 40 basis points to use its platform, which allows users to buy fractional stocks and invest in pre-built portfolios. In December, it decided to go free, and make money strictly on the backend, by selling flow to trading firms and lending out non-invested funds sitting in users' accounts to banks. The company also plans to offer margin trading to its users.

Making the core-business free will draw people to the platform, according to Barnes. It's a strategy that worked for Robinhood, another investing startup that has lured millions of users to its free stock trading platform since launching in 2012. Since going free in December, M1 has seen daily inflows hit as high as $1 million, and a 10-fold increase in the number of new accounts each day. 

Still, M1's robo rivals aren't convinced the strategy will work for the small company.

"It is a desperate move from a late entrant," Andy Rachleff, the chief executive of Wealthfront, a California-based roboadviser, told Business Insider through a spokesperson. 

"Andy is not wrong," Dan Egan of Betterment, a New York-based roboadviser with more than $11 billion in assets, told Business Insider. Egan expressed his concern about M1's strategic shift in a tweet.

"If you aren't paying, you aren't the customer, you're the product," he wrote."And the priority/design will reflect that."

The criticisms are striking. For one, Betterment isn't charging customers who roll over $500,000 or more into a retirement account with the firm for a year.

And it wasn't so long ago that Betterment and Wealthfront were facing a backlash from larger financial services firms when they launched shortly after the financial crisis. Then, it wasn't clear roboadvisors would be able to scale by only charging 25 basis points for financial advice, according to Grant Easterbook, a financial technology expert and chief executive at DreamForward, a fintech company.

"People made the same argument about low-cost 'robo' advisers," Easterbrook said. "That they were making so little money subsidized by venture capital dollars that they would never succeed, that they would go bust during the first downturn they faced."

A different story

Charging customers nothing is a different story, according to Egan. 

"If you're a broker you don't care if the client's money is growing," he said. "You are just connecting buyers and sellers."

In a broker model, a company typically makes more money when users make more trades. Egan said if M1 is making money on peripheral businesses, then those businesses will become the firm's focus.

"If you're a broker, then your incentive is to trade as much as possible, and to hold as much cash as possible," Egan said. "This isn't evil, but generally this hurts people's ability to grow their wealth."

lksjdfBarnes told Business Insider M1 isn't a platform for people who want to make trades all day and never will be. 

"We do all the trading in one window," Barnes said. "M1 is very limiting from a trading perspective but it is a phenomenal tool for building a portfolio for the investments you want."

"We do make money when more people trade, but it's 99th on our list," Barnes added.

Barnes said if customers aren't growing wealth on the platform then they'll leave. As such, ensuring clients grow wealth will always be the top priority. 

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China is heading toward a debt crisis that will throw into question everything we think we know about it's economy

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

Xi Jinping

  • China's economic stability is founded on a mountain of debt that Council on Foreign Relations experts warn will end in a crisis. 
  • The country's total non-financial sector debt, which includes household, corporate and government debt, will surge to nearly 300% of GDP by 2022, up from 242% in 2016.
  • By some estimates, China’s true growth rate after taking the bad debt into account could be just half the official 6.9%.


China’s worrisome build-up of corporate and household debt is well-documented, but fears of a financial crisis have receded sharply from the turbulent days of 2015 and 2016, when the country’s stock market crashed on fears that an epic two-decade growth streak might come to an abrupt halt.

Since then, a proactive Chinese government and stronger-than-expected global economic growth have supported China’s economy and eased fears about a sharp imminent slowdown. Still, concerns about the country’s debt levels have only deepened

"In the short-run, growth, as defined by changes in gross domestic product (GDP), can be increased by more lending and investing," write Benn Steil and Benjamin Della Rocca of the Council of Foreign Relations in a new blogpost

"In the longer-term, however, lending and investing can’t boost GDP if it results in bad debt that is properly written down. The big question is how much bad debt China currently has, and how much more it will be producing in the years ahead."

By some estimates, they add, China’s true growth rate, after taking the bad debt into account, is barely half the reported 6.9% clip. The country's total non-financial sector debt, which includes household, corporate and government debt, will surge to nearly 300% of GDP by 2022, up from 242% in 2016.

Steil and Della Rocca examine recipients of the recent wave of lending to "gauge whether China has been creating good debt—debt that will produce positive returns—or bad."

They find that profits at private-sector firms rose 18% between 2011 and 2016, while profits at state-owned enterprises that are far less efficient plunged 33%. At the same time, the share of corporate liability growth accounted for by the state sector soared from 59% in 2010 to 80% by 2016, as the chart below shows, a terrible omen for productivity.

"Given the evidence that President Xi Jinping has abandoned any pretense of concern with NPLs, and our evidence that China is shoveling new loans to companies with the least ability to pay them back, we think China is heading towards a debt crisis," Steil and Della Rocca warn.

China

SEE ALSO: A report coauthored by a People's Bank of China researcher says China's economy is about to hit a wall

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The euro is at its highest level in more than 3 years

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

  • Euro climbs above 1.22 against the dollar on Monday morning.
  • This marks its highest level since late 2014.
  • The single currency is benefitting from positive talks in Germany about the formation of a new coalition government.



LONDON — The euro has climbed to its highest level in more than three years on Monday as investors continue to take heart in the eurozone's growing economic recovery and buy heavily into the single currency.

By just before 10.00 a.m. GMT (5.00 a.m. ET) the currency is higher by around 0.5% against the dollar to trade at $1.2258, a level not seen since later 2014, as the chart below illustrates:

euro

The single currency has rallied strongly in the last week, especially after it was announced that Germany has moved closer to forming a new coalition to govern the country, several months after a general election failed to produce a clear winner. 

Greater clarity and stability over the politics of the eurozone's biggest economy will be almost universally welcomed by investors in the bloc, as it allows them to continue to focus on the economic story, which has seen growth accelerate rapidly over the last year or so.

The euro is also gaining some support from reports last week that Spanish and Dutch finance ministers have agreed to work together to push for a Brexit deal that keeps Britain as close to the European Union as possible. Having initially boosted the pound significantly, the report from Bloomberg has also helped the euro, which will benefit from further Brexit clarity.

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So you're thinking about investing in bitcoin? Don't

The Guardian, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A collective insanity has sprouted around the new field of ‘cryptocurrencies’, causing an irrational gold rush. I know you’re tempted, but don’t be a fool

I’ve been watching this bitcoin situation for a few years, assuming it would just blow over.

But a collective insanity has sprouted around the new field of “cryptocurrencies”, causing an irrational gold rush worldwide. It has gotten to the point where a large number of financial stories – and questions in my inbox – ask whether or not to “invest” in BitCoin.

Continue reading...

SOROS: 'The dominant ideology in the world now is nationalism'

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

FILE PHOTO: Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London, Britain June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

  • Billionaire George Soros hit back against nationalist critics in an interview with the Financial Times. 
  • Soros said criticism and smear campaigns would not stop his organisation the Open Society Foundation's work promoting a liberal agenda.
  • He said he believed Putin was behind many of the attacks against him.

LONDON – Billionaire investor George Soros said he would continue to fight the spread of nationalism, which has become the world's "dominant ideology," in an interview with the Financial Times.

Soros spoke about the recent attacks made against himself and his organisation the Open Society Foundation (OSF) by those he considers enemies to his liberal agenda, but said he has no plans to relax his efforts.

“It’s déjà vu all over again with one big change — the dominant ideology in the world now is nationalism,” said Soros. “It’s the EU that’s the institution that’s on the verge of a breakdown. And Russia is now the resurgent power, based on nationalism.”

The OSF controls billions of dollars, much from Soros' personal fortune, and works in 140 countries worldwide making grants across various developmental projects. The Society works to "build vibrant and tolerant democracies," its website says, and has given away nearly $14 billion since it was founded in 1979. Nearly 20 semi-autonomous boards decide how the money is spent.

Soros, a Jewish survivor of World War II worth about $25 billion, is best known in the UK as "The Man who broke the Bank of England" after he bet big against the pound in 1992 and made more than $1 billion.

But Soros has been the growing focus of attacks in recent months by populists and nationalists who denounce his support for liberal causes. 

Soros said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind many of the attacks against him. Putin "doesn't like me," he said, largely because Soros is critical of the Russian regime. In 2015, the OSF was expelled from Russia on grounds of security risks.

In October 2017, the Hungarian government launched a "national consultation" about Soros, accusing him of wanting to dismantle border fences and open borders to refugees.

Speaking to the FT, spokesman for the Hungarian government Zoltan Kovács said Soros had, “never been elected by anyone, the organisations — NGOs, human rights groups and so on — have never been elected by anyone.”

“[They are] clearly engaging in determining how political decisions should be made. And this is wrong," he said.

Hungary-born Soros has been an advocate of allowing the resettlement of refugees in Europe since the beginning of the European migrant crisis in 2015, and said the attack was a "conspiracy" against him.

Tensions also flared up in Macedonia last year, where the recipients of OSF grants had their windows smashed in May, in retaliation against the collapse of the rightwing government.

Meanwhile, in February, the leader of the ruling party in Romania said Soros had "financed evil," referring to his role in anti-corruption demonstrations. On the Israeli front, Eli Hazan, foreign relations director for the ruling Israeli Likud party, told the FT fighting Soros was a "pleasure."

“If I can help other organisations or governments to work against Soros, I will do it with pleasure because it is a struggle of ideas that may shape the future in the world,” said Hazan.

Soros admitted he has not always made the right choices. He previously championed the former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now under criminal investigation for allegedly taking money from a Russia-based oligarch to destabilise Ukraine. This taught Soros a "painful less," he said, to "keep a greater distance from the internal politics of the countries where I have foundations."

Despite the attacks against him, Soros said he intends to work harder to help foster liberal democracies and fight corruption worldwide. He said he plans to remain chair of the global board for another five years, or as long as his health allows.

"I think you can say I’m quite lucky with my enemies. It makes me feel more than ready to fight back and stand up for what is right," he said.

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So many people are climbing the iconic Lloyd's of London building that the firm is seeking an injunction to ban them

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

Lloyds Building

  • Lloyd's of London is reportedly seeking an injunction to prevent people climbing its City of London headquarters.
  • The Financial Times reports that court papers filed by the world's oldest insurance market claim climbers are putting themselves, others, and the building "at risk of significant harm and damage."
  • The Lloyd's building has become a hotspot for urban climbers in recent years thanks to its design, which makes it relatively easy to scale.
  • Many climbers post videos and images on social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram.


LONDON — Lloyd's of London, the world's oldest insurance market, has a problem with people climbing its iconic City of London headquarters.

The 330-year old business is seeking an injunction to ban people from climbing the building, according to a report from the Financial Times, which cites court documents published online but since removed.

"Trespassers necessarily put themselves and others, and the Lloyd’s building itself, at risk of significant harm and damage," the papers reportedly said.

"The increase in frequency of trespassers not only increases the risk of injury, but also poses a threat to the security of Lloyd’s inasmuch as the global broadcasting of these incidents openly provides information about access points to future trespassers as well as future trespassers with malicious intent," they reportedly continued.

So-called urban climbing, which includes scaling major landmarks and skyscrapers — often while recording the climb on a GoPro camera — has increased in popularity rapidly in recent years. 

Lloyd's is favoured by climbers thanks to its design, which places all of its internal infrastructure — water pipes, lift shafts, staircases etc — on the exterior of the building. The building's architect, Richard Rogers, favoured such a style to try and maximise interior space.

Rogers, however, has inadvertently made the Lloyd's building much easier to scale than your average landmark.

YouTube and Instagram are filled with videos of urban daredevils climbing everything from the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, all the way to the Great Pyramid of Giza.

A quick search on Monday morning revealed numerous videos on YouTube of climbers ascending the Lloyd's building, with the most recent published around five months ago.

The most viewed publicly available video has 33,000 views and can be seen below:

Another video shows a man climbing the building under the cover of darkness, before descending early in the morning. The screenshots below show the man sitting on the building's roof, as well as climbing down one of its exterior staircases, revealing how easy scaling it is compared to most landmarks.

Lloyds Climbers

Lloyds climbers

The FT said that Lloyds has already taken action against some urban climbers it has caught scaling its HQ, gaining "signed assurances from eight of them that they will not climb the building or encourage others to do so."

Business Insider has reached out to Lloyd's of London for comment, and will update this story when we hear back.

You can see the Financial Times' full story on Lloyd's anti-climber injunction here.

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It now takes 78 days to sell a London property – a week longer than in 2017

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

A house decorated with flags in Chelsea, London

  • Rightmove said the average number of days required to sell a house in London had increased in January to 78 from 71 days the previous month.
  • That is a worrying trend for sellers.
  • Rightmove also said asking prices dipped in January to their lowest since August 2015.


LONDON — London's once-hot property market shows further signs of cooling at the start of 2018, according to a report from Rightmove.

The report said the average number of days required to sell a house in London had increased in January to 78 from 71 days the previous month. That is a worrying trend for sellers because falling transaction volumes — the overall number of which homes are being bought and sold — often predict price dips.

Rightmove also said asking prices dipped in January to their lowest since August 2015, with new sellers cutting prices 1.4% in the month to an average of £600,926 ($825,762).

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said the data offered a "bout of realism rather than the usual New Year optimism."

The London slowdown — which is already starting to bite, with negative price growth measured in the fourth quarter — is being driven by bloated prices in the capital, slow progress in Brexit negotiations, and worries about further interest rate hikes from the Bank of England, which drive up mortgage costs.

Forecasts across the industry are largely pretty pessimistic about the state of the market this year. Nationwide said prices would be "broadly flat in 2018, with perhaps a marginal gain of around 1%." Halifax said growth would be somewhere between 0% and 3%.

Savills forecast a drop of 2% in 2018 despite prices rising nationally. The estate agent predicts that prices in Greater London will fall 1.5% over 2017 then fall by a further 2% in 2018, before stabilising in 2019 and returning to growth the year after.

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Do Not ‘Buy, Sell, Trade’: Indonesia Central Bank Issues Cryptocurrency Warning

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

The post Do Not ‘Buy, Sell, Trade’: Indonesia Central Bank Issues Cryptocurrency Warning appeared first on CCN

Indonesia’s central bank has issued a new statement warning its citizens and ‘all parties’ in the country against selling, buying or trading cryptocurrencies like bitcoin in the country. In a public release over the weekend, Bank Indonesia (BI) reaffirmed its longstanding stance of refusing to recognize ‘virtual currency including bitcoin’ as a valid payment instrument

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Crisis-hit construction firm Carillion goes into liquidation after government talks fail, putting thousands of jobs at risk

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

Cranes stand on a Carillion construction site in central London, Britain January 14, 2018.

  • Carillion placed into liquidation after six-month battle to get on top of its £1.5 billion debt pile.
  • Construction giant employs 19,500 people and is a major government contractor.
  • The government is stepping in to pay Carillion staff working on government contracts.


LONDON — Crisis-hit construction firm Carillion on Monday announced it is going into liquidation after last-minute talks to save the business over the weekend failed.

Carillion said in a statement on Monday that it "continued to engage with its key financial and other stakeholders, including Her Majesty's Government ('HMG'), over the course of the weekend regarding options to reduce debt and strengthen the group's balance sheet."

Carillion has a debt pile of around £1.5 billion. RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander UK are owed a combined £900 million. Carillion's pension scheme also has a £590 million deficit. 

Carillion is one of the main contractors for HS2, the government's flagship infrastructure project, and provides services for schools, the armed forces, and road projects for the Highways Agency.

The company asked for "limited short term financial support, to enable it to continue to trade whilst longer term engagement continued."

But the talks were unsuccessful and the company has been forced to put itself into liquidation. PwC is expected to be appointed to manage the process.

The collapse puts the future of Carillion's 19,500 employees at risk and also heaps pressure on the government.

Carillion said on Monday that the government will provide funds to ensure essential government services carried out by Carillion staff will continue. But the government will likely have to negotiate new contracts for all those services in the longer term.

Carillion was once valued above £2 billion but the revelations about its rising debt sparked a crisis in July last year when it issued a profit warning, suspended its dividend, and said key contracts were losing money as debt rose. Shares collapsed over 60%.carillionIt is also under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority over the content of financial statements it issued before July's profit warning.

Chairman Philip Green said in a statement on Monday:

"This is a very sad day for Carillion, for our colleagues, suppliers and customers that we have been proud to serve over many years.

"Over recent months huge efforts have been made to restructure Carillion to deliver its sustainable future and the Board is very grateful for the huge efforts made by Keith Cochrane, our executive team and many others who have worked tirelessly over this period.

"In recent days however we have been unable to secure the funding to support our business plan and it is therefore with the deepest regret that we have arrived at this decision. We understand that HM Government will be providing the necessary funding required by the Official Receiver to maintain the public services carried on by Carillion staff, subcontractors and suppliers."

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Bitmain Reportedly Eyeing Canada for Bitcoin Mining Expansion

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

After announcing a Swiss branch, Chinese bitcoin mining giant Bitmain is reportedly looking at a second expansion into Quebec.

(+) India Sees Big Opportunity as China Clamps Down on Bitcoin Mining

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

The post (+) India Sees Big Opportunity as China Clamps Down on Bitcoin Mining appeared first on CCN

The post (+) India Sees Big Opportunity as China Clamps Down on Bitcoin Mining appeared first on CCN

No, You Don't Have to Buy a Whole Bitcoin

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

As new enthusiasts enter the cryptocurrency markets, one developer wants to make bitcoin's divisibility really stand out by coining the term "bits."

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