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Bitcoin Mining Isn’t an ‘Environmental Armageddon’ : Credit Suisse Report

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

The post Bitcoin Mining Isn’t an ‘Environmental Armageddon’ : Credit Suisse Report appeared first on CCN

A Credit Suisse report downplayed fears that the growth of the bitcoin mining industry would initiate an “environmental armageddon.” Bitcoin Mining Not an ‘Environmental Armageddon’ The emergence of bitcoin as an economic force has had a correlative effect on the bitcoin mining industry, as increased profitability has attracted more miners to the ecosystem. This increased

The post Bitcoin Mining Isn’t an ‘Environmental Armageddon’ : Credit Suisse Report appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Potential Bearish Continuation Sets Up Lower Lows

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

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Shortly after a sharp drop from the mid $14,000 to the lower $9,000s, bitcoin saw a strong bounce to the upper $11,000s. At the time of this article, bitcoin appears to be consolidating and is ready to make its next move:

fig1

Figure 1: BTC-USD, 1 Day Candles, Macro View

In the previous BTC market analysis, we discussed the distribution trading range the market fell out of as it reached for lower support boundaries. Ultimately, it found support on the macro 50% retracement values near $10,000. Once it broke south of the trading range, the price fell sharply and with high volume:
fig2

Figure 2: BTC-USD, 15 Minute Candles, Current Support and Resistance Levels

After bouncing off the macro 50% values, the market rallied and ultimately tested the linear trendline shown in Figure 1. Now, after several failed attempts to break the linear trendline’s resistance, the market finds itself in a consolidation pattern where it decides where it will move next.

fig3

Figure 3: BTC-USD, 60 Minute Candles, Potential Bear Flag

One possibility to keep a close eye on is this potential, strong bear flag. After finding support on the macro 50%, the subsequent rally saw decreasing volume throughout the length of the movement. This sort of price action could potentially lead to a bearish continuation with a measure move between $4000 and $5000 — a price target of approximately $6,000 – $7,000. If a drop of this magnitude continues the downtrend, we can expect to find support on the 61% macro Fibonacci retracement values shown in Figure 1.

It’s important to note that bitcoin has a penchant for breaking upwards when all signs say “down,” so tread lightly and wait for confirmation of the move. Confirmation of the bear flag breakout would show a pretty obvious outlier in volume, combined with wide price spread.

Summary:

  1. Bitcoin recently saw a steep drop in price where it ultimately found a local bottom in the low $9,000s.
  2. Since it bottomed out, it has seen a rally on decreasing volume which leaves the door open for a bearish continuation.
  3. If the bearish continuation continues, expect support on the 61% macro retracement values.

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


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Regulators are going through cryptocurrency projects with a 'fine tooth comb'

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

jay clayton

  • The SEC and CFTC released a joint statement about the cryptocurrency market Friday.
  • The statement said the two agencies would crackdown on any entity in the digital coin space that isn't compliant.  
  • Michael Arrington, an adviser to blockchain startup aelf, told Business Insider the SEC is going through projects in the space with "a fine tooth comb."


The SEC and CFTC are paying closer attention to the digital coin market. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Futures Trading Commission released a joint statement Friday emphasizing their commitment to take action against fraud in both cryptocurrencies and the initial coin offering market. 

Here's the full statement (emphasis ours):

"When market participants engage in fraud under the guise of offering digital instruments – whether characterized as virtual currencies, coins, tokens, or the like – the SEC and the CFTC will look beyond form, examine the substance of the activity and prosecute violations of the federal securities and commodities laws. The Divisions of Enforcement for the SEC and CFTC will continue to address violations and bring actions to stop and prevent fraud in the offer and sale of digital instruments."

The price of bitcoin fell close to $11,000 at 1:40 p.m. ET from nearly $11,750 when the statement was posted online

Michael Arrington, the head of Arrington XRP Capital, an investor in projects in the digital coin space, told Business Insider that the SEC recently reached out about one initial coin offering his firm was investing in. He said the financial watchdog is really starting to go through companies in the space with a "fine tooth comb."

"I'm telling companies to be prepared," he said in a phone interview. 

Fears of a regulatory crackdown on the cryptocurrency market in South Korea and China sent markets into a tailspin earlier this week.

Recently, Arrington was named an adviser to aelf, a Singapore-based blockchain company with operations in China. He said that governments in Asia are concerned about loses in the crypto space disrupting other areas of the markets, but there is a massive amount of focus on advancing blockchain tech on the continent. 

"I always focused a bit on China, where we've seen the market mature so fast," Arrington said. "There is a huge amount of enthusiasm and focus on these technologies."

Bitcoin recouped some of the losses just before 4:00 p.m. ET and was trading up 1.9% at $11,456 a coin. 

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

Regulators are going through cryptocurrency projects with a 'fine tooth comb'

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

jay clayton

  • The SEC and CFTC released a joint statement about the cryptocurrency market Friday.
  • The statement said the two agencies would crackdown on any entity in the digital coin space that isn't compliant.  
  • Michael Arrington, an adviser to blockchain startup aelf, told Business Insider the SEC is going through projects in the space with "a fine tooth comb."


The SEC and CFTC are paying closer attention to the digital coin market. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Futures Trading Commission released a joint statement Friday emphasizing their commitment to take action against fraud in both cryptocurrencies and the initial coin offering market. 

Here's the full statement (emphasis ours):

"When market participants engage in fraud under the guise of offering digital instruments – whether characterized as virtual currencies, coins, tokens, or the like – the SEC and the CFTC will look beyond form, examine the substance of the activity and prosecute violations of the federal securities and commodities laws. The Divisions of Enforcement for the SEC and CFTC will continue to address violations and bring actions to stop and prevent fraud in the offer and sale of digital instruments."

The price of bitcoin fell close to $11,000 at 1:40 p.m. ET from nearly $11,750 when the statement was posted online

Michael Arrington, the head of Arrington XRP Capital, an investor in projects in the digital coin space, told Business Insider that the SEC recently reached out about one initial coin offering his firm was investing in. He said the financial watchdog is really starting to go through companies in the space with a "fine tooth comb."

"I'm telling companies to be prepared," he said in a phone interview. 

Fears of a regulatory crackdown on the cryptocurrency market in South Korea and China sent markets into a tailspin earlier this week.

Recently, Arrington was named an adviser to aelf, a Singapore-based blockchain company with operations in China. He said that governments in Asia are concerned about loses in the crypto space disrupting other areas of the markets, but there is a massive amount of focus on advancing blockchain tech on the continent. 

"I always focused a bit on China, where we've seen the market mature so fast," Arrington said. "There is a huge amount of enthusiasm and focus on these technologies."

Bitcoin recouped some of the losses just before 4:00 p.m. ET and was trading up 1.9% at $11,456 a coin. 

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

Cryptocurrencies were unable to pull out of the red after this week's bloodbath

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

Bitcoin price

Bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies had a rough week.

The week began with a massive selloff — dubbed a bloodbath — which was fueled by rumors out of Russia, South Korea, and China that their governments may further crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges and mining.

Bitcoin was able to maintain its spot as the world’s largest cryptocurrency. The flagship coin bottomed out below $10,000 — a milestone it crossed in November — before climbing back above $11,000. It’s set to remain roughly 14% down Friday evening.

Here’s how the other large cryptocurrencies have fared this week:

When all was said and done, global cryptocurrency market cap was down 21% Friday afternoon from Monday's highs, sitting at roughly $561.19 billion

"These governments in Asia are concerned about losses in crypto disrupting other areas of the market," Michael Arrington, who recently joined blockchain tech company Aelf as an advisor, told Business Insider.

He also said that countries on the continent see a huge opportunity in blockchain, and noted huge exuberance around the tech. "There's a rising level of enthusiasm and focus on the tech," he said.

Here are all the theories explaining this week's crypto market crash>>

SEE ALSO: Sign up to get the most important updates on all things crypto delivered straight to your inbox.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Bitcoin can be a bubble and still change the world

Cryptocurrencies were unable to pull out of the red after this week's bloodbath

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

Bitcoin price

Bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies had a rough week.

The week began with a massive selloff — dubbed a bloodbath — which was fueled by rumors out of Russia, South Korea, and China that their governments may further crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges and mining.

Bitcoin was able to maintain its spot as the world’s largest cryptocurrency. The flagship coin bottomed out below $10,000 — a milestone it crossed in November — before climbing back above $11,000. It’s set to remain roughly 14% down Friday evening.

Here’s how the other large cryptocurrencies have fared this week:

When all was said and done, global cryptocurrency market cap was down 21% Friday afternoon from Monday's highs, sitting at roughly $561.19 billion

"These governments in Asia are concerned about losses in crypto disrupting other areas of the market," Michael Arrington, who recently joined blockchain tech company Aelf as an advisor, told Business Insider.

He also said that countries on the continent see a huge opportunity in blockchain, and noted huge exuberance around the tech. "There's a rising level of enthusiasm and focus on the tech," he said.

Here are all the theories explaining this week's crypto market crash>>

SEE ALSO: Sign up to get the most important updates on all things crypto delivered straight to your inbox.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Bitcoin can be a bubble and still change the world

Cryptocurrencies were unable to pull out of the red after this week's bloodbath

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

Bitcoin price

Bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies had a rough week.

The week began with a massive selloff — dubbed a bloodbath — which was fueled by rumors out of Russia, South Korea, and China that their governments may further crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges and mining.

Bitcoin was able to maintain its spot as the world’s largest cryptocurrency. The flagship coin bottomed out below $10,000 — a milestone it crossed in November — before climbing back above $11,000. It’s set to remain roughly 14% down Friday evening.

Here’s how the other large cryptocurrencies have fared this week:

When all was said and done, global cryptocurrency market cap was down 21% Friday afternoon from Monday's highs, sitting at roughly $561.19 billion

"These governments in Asia are concerned about losses in crypto disrupting other areas of the market," Michael Arrington, who recently joined blockchain tech company Aelf as an advisor, told Business Insider.

He also said that countries on the continent see a huge opportunity in blockchain, and noted huge exuberance around the tech. "There's a rising level of enthusiasm and focus on the tech," he said.

Here are all the theories explaining this week's crypto market crash>>

SEE ALSO: Sign up to get the most important updates on all things crypto delivered straight to your inbox.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Bitcoin can be a bubble and still change the world

Cryptocurrencies were unable to pull out of the red after this week's bloodbath

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

Bitcoin price

Bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies had a rough week.

The week began with a massive selloff — dubbed a bloodbath — which was fueled by rumors out of Russia, South Korea, and China that their governments may further crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges and mining.

Bitcoin was able to maintain its spot as the world’s largest cryptocurrency. The flagship coin bottomed out below $10,000 — a milestone it crossed in November — before climbing back above $11,000. It’s set to remain roughly 14% down Friday evening.

Here’s how the other large cryptocurrencies have fared this week:

When all was said and done, global cryptocurrency market cap was down 21% Friday afternoon from Monday's highs, sitting at roughly $561.19 billion

"These governments in Asia are concerned about losses in crypto disrupting other areas of the market," Michael Arrington, who recently joined blockchain tech company Aelf as an advisor, told Business Insider.

He also said that countries on the continent see a huge opportunity in blockchain, and noted huge exuberance around the tech. "There's a rising level of enthusiasm and focus on the tech," he said.

Here are all the theories explaining this week's crypto market crash>>

SEE ALSO: Sign up to get the most important updates on all things crypto delivered straight to your inbox.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: Chipotle vs. Qdoba, the bear case on Apple, and diagnosing a bitcoin bubble

Cryptocurrencies were unable to pull out of the red after this week's bloodbath

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

Bitcoin price

Bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies had a rough week.

The week began with a massive selloff — dubbed a bloodbath — which was fueled by rumors out of Russia, South Korea, and China that their governments may further crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges and mining.

Bitcoin was able to maintain its spot as the world’s largest cryptocurrency. The flagship coin bottomed out below $10,000 — a milestone it crossed in November — before climbing back above $11,000. It’s set to remain roughly 14% down Friday evening.

Here’s how the other large cryptocurrencies have fared this week:

When all was said and done, global cryptocurrency market cap was down 21% Friday afternoon from Monday's highs, sitting at roughly $561.19 billion

"These governments in Asia are concerned about losses in crypto disrupting other areas of the market," Michael Arrington, who recently joined blockchain tech company Aelf as an advisor, told Business Insider.

He also said that countries on the continent see a huge opportunity in blockchain, and noted huge exuberance around the tech. "There's a rising level of enthusiasm and focus on the tech," he said.

Here are all the theories explaining this week's crypto market crash>>

SEE ALSO: Sign up to get the most important updates on all things crypto delivered straight to your inbox.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: Chipotle vs. Qdoba, the bear case on Apple, and diagnosing a bitcoin bubble

Cryptocurrencies were unable to pull out of the red after this week's bloodbath

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

Bitcoin price

Bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies had a rough week.

The week began with a massive selloff — dubbed a bloodbath — which was fueled by rumors out of Russia, South Korea, and China that their governments may further crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges and mining.

Bitcoin was able to maintain its spot as the world’s largest cryptocurrency. The flagship coin bottomed out below $10,000 — a milestone it crossed in November — before climbing back above $11,000. It’s set to remain roughly 14% down Friday evening.

Here’s how the other large cryptocurrencies have fared this week:

When all was said and done, global cryptocurrency market cap was down 21% Friday afternoon from Monday's highs, sitting at roughly $561.19 billion

"These governments in Asia are concerned about losses in crypto disrupting other areas of the market," Michael Arrington, who recently joined blockchain tech company Aelf as an advisor, told Business Insider.

He also said that countries on the continent see a huge opportunity in blockchain, and noted huge exuberance around the tech. "There's a rising level of enthusiasm and focus on the tech," he said.

Here are all the theories explaining this week's crypto market crash>>

SEE ALSO: Sign up to get the most important updates on all things crypto delivered straight to your inbox.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: Chipotle vs. Qdoba, the bear case on Apple, and diagnosing a bitcoin bubble

Two New Services Could Help Investors Rate Cryptocurrencies

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

Cryptocurrency Rating Services Launched

Increasing interest in cryptocurrencies has led to an influx of new investors. Unlike traditional markets, there are few tools that can help people make informed decisions, a situation that has already begun to claim victims in a particularly volatile environment.

In separate announcements, Weiss Ratings and Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE) have announced the introduction of new financial tools to help investors navigate the cryptocurrency market and make smarter investments.

Weiss Ratings, an established independent rating agency of financial institutions, says they will begin issuing ratings for cryptocurrencies on January 24, 2018, to help investors make informed decisions.

ICE, an operator of a network of global futures, equity and equity options exchanges, is partnering with blockchain technology provider Blockstream to launch the Cryptocurrency Data Feed (CDF).

Weiss Ratings Takes On Cryptocurrencies

Founded in 1971, Weiss is an independent rating agency of financial institutions. They will begin issuing letter grades for cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, NEM, Litecoin, Stellar, EOS, IOTA, Dash, NEO, TRON, Monero, Bitcoin Gold and many others.

According to Weiss Ratings founder Martin Weiss, the data they are using is a combination of purchased data and data collected through other sources. It is updated on a daily basis, covering a sliding 12-month window.

Regressive testing to verify past data that the company uses to confirm predictions is still ongoing, but results have been accurate thus far, Weiss told Bitcoin Magazine.

“We have built an analytical technology over the years using intelligent models to replicate the real world and we are applying [these] to cryptocurrenc[ies]. These have been very accurate for many years.”

Ratings are built up across multiple indexes. The company built new models to reflect cryptocurrency data and developed an overall grading system that is broken down into four separate sub-models:

  1. Risk Index — The level of risk involved in the investment, based on factors like price activity and volatility.
  2. Reward Index — The potential reward outcome, based on historical patterns of buying and selling.
  3. Technology Index — A primarily manual process, where company analysts review the source code and white papers, analyze price movement and make ratings in a Query Tree (their internal software) to generate a quantitative result.
  4. Adoption Index — A measurement of adoption along two dimensions: how broadly it is adopted, transaction speed, settlement times, etc.

“A weighted average of those 4 indices is used to get the final grade,” said Weiss. “The goal at Weiss is to empower the investor to make prudent decisions.”

ICE Data Services: Real-Time Trading Data

The Cryptocurrency Data Feed (CDF) is a multi-asset and multi-venue data feed, capturing nearly 80 percent of cryptocurrency exchange trading volume over more than 15 exchanges around the world. It measures leading cryptocurrencies against the U.S. dollar and other major currency pairs.

The captured data is normalized to create a unique number sequence to identify the transaction, details of where the trade took place, quantity, price, currency, timestamp and other relevant order book data. This is designed to enable ICE Data Services’ customers to receive global market–representative trading data in a real-time feed with high-quality information.

“With the broad array of cryptocurrencies and exchanges, and given the price variances between exchanges, it’s critical that investors have a comprehensive source of pricing information,” said ICE Data Services President and COO Lynn Martin in a statement.

According to Blockstream SVP of Business Affairs Alex Fowler, the initial exchange partners set up through cooperative agreements include Bitbank, Bitfinex, BitMEX, Bitso, Bitstamp, BtcBox, BTCC, CEX, Coinfloor, Coincheck, itBit, GOPAX, OKEx, SurBTC, The Rock Trading, Unocoin, Vaultoro and Zaif, with more coming soon.

The data is collected using the exchanges’ APIs and, in some cases, by setting up dedicated connections with them. The current feeds lack standardized formatting and information: part of what ICE is providing is a single source that consolidates and standardizes the data, which will average out the information from the multiple sources into a more accurate overall view.

Historically, the data currently only goes back to the initial integration; however, Blockstream is working with the exchanges to try and incorporate older data as well.

Fowler told Bitcoin Magazine, “We believe that a consolidated data source, resulting from the combined participation of a strong and growing list of exchange partners globally, will enable us to address these gaps and thereby promote better liquidity, price stability, and public confidence in cryptocurrency as asset class.”

CDF will include bitcoin and a wide range of cryptocurrencies and currency pairings on launch; the final list will be on their website. ICE will develop and publish a selection of criteria for decisions on the addition and/or removal of assets in the feed. This will be an ongoing process as the market evolves. Access to the real-time CDF will be available to subscribers of ICE Data Services’ Consolidated Feed in March 2018.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Two New Services Could Help Investors Rate Cryptocurrencies

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

Cryptocurrency Rating Services Launched

Increasing interest in cryptocurrencies has led to an influx of new investors. Unlike traditional markets, there are few tools that can help people make informed decisions, a situation that has already begun to claim victims in a particularly volatile environment.

In separate announcements, Weiss Ratings and Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE) have announced the introduction of new financial tools to help investors navigate the cryptocurrency market and make smarter investments.

Weiss Ratings, an established independent rating agency of financial institutions, says they will begin issuing ratings for cryptocurrencies on January 24, 2018, to help investors make informed decisions.

ICE, an operator of a network of global futures, equity and equity options exchanges, is partnering with blockchain technology provider Blockstream to launch the Cryptocurrency Data Feed (CDF).

Weiss Ratings Takes On Cryptocurrencies

Founded in 1971, Weiss is an independent rating agency of financial institutions. They will begin issuing letter grades for cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, NEM, Litecoin, Stellar, EOS, IOTA, Dash, NEO, TRON, Monero, Bitcoin Gold and many others.

According to Weiss Ratings founder Martin Weiss, the data they are using is a combination of purchased data and data collected through other sources. It is updated on a daily basis, covering a sliding 12-month window.

Regressive testing to verify past data that the company uses to confirm predictions is still ongoing, but results have been accurate thus far, Weiss told Bitcoin Magazine.

“We have built an analytical technology over the years using intelligent models to replicate the real world and we are applying [these] to cryptocurrenc[ies]. These have been very accurate for many years.”

Ratings are built up across multiple indexes. The company built new models to reflect cryptocurrency data and developed an overall grading system that is broken down into four separate sub-models:

  1. Risk Index — The level of risk involved in the investment, based on factors like price activity and volatility.
  2. Reward Index — The potential reward outcome, based on historical patterns of buying and selling.
  3. Technology Index — A primarily manual process, where company analysts review the source code and white papers, analyze price movement and make ratings in a Query Tree (their internal software) to generate a quantitative result.
  4. Adoption Index — A measurement of adoption along two dimensions: how broadly it is adopted, transaction speed, settlement times, etc.

“A weighted average of those 4 indices is used to get the final grade,” said Weiss. “The goal at Weiss is to empower the investor to make prudent decisions.”

ICE Data Services: Real-Time Trading Data

The Cryptocurrency Data Feed (CDF) is a multi-asset and multi-venue data feed, capturing nearly 80 percent of cryptocurrency exchange trading volume over more than 15 exchanges around the world. It measures leading cryptocurrencies against the U.S. dollar and other major currency pairs.

The captured data is normalized to create a unique number sequence to identify the transaction, details of where the trade took place, quantity, price, currency, timestamp and other relevant order book data. This is designed to enable ICE Data Services’ customers to receive global market–representative trading data in a real-time feed with high-quality information.

“With the broad array of cryptocurrencies and exchanges, and given the price variances between exchanges, it’s critical that investors have a comprehensive source of pricing information,” said ICE Data Services President and COO Lynn Martin in a statement.

According to Blockstream SVP of Business Affairs Alex Fowler, the initial exchange partners set up through cooperative agreements include Bitbank, Bitfinex, BitMEX, Bitso, Bitstamp, BtcBox, BTCC, CEX, Coinfloor, Coincheck, itBit, GOPAX, OKEx, SurBTC, The Rock Trading, Unocoin, Vaultoro and Zaif, with more coming soon.

The data is collected using the exchanges’ APIs and, in some cases, by setting up dedicated connections with them. The current feeds lack standardized formatting and information: part of what ICE is providing is a single source that consolidates and standardizes the data, which will average out the information from the multiple sources into a more accurate overall view.

Historically, the data currently only goes back to the initial integration; however, Blockstream is working with the exchanges to try and incorporate older data as well.

Fowler told Bitcoin Magazine, “We believe that a consolidated data source, resulting from the combined participation of a strong and growing list of exchange partners globally, will enable us to address these gaps and thereby promote better liquidity, price stability, and public confidence in cryptocurrency as asset class.”

CDF will include bitcoin and a wide range of cryptocurrencies and currency pairings on launch; the final list will be on their website. ICE will develop and publish a selection of criteria for decisions on the addition and/or removal of assets in the feed. This will be an ongoing process as the market evolves. Access to the real-time CDF will be available to subscribers of ICE Data Services’ Consolidated Feed in March 2018.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Two New Services Could Help Investors Rate Cryptocurrencies

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

Cryptocurrency Rating Services Launched

Increasing interest in cryptocurrencies has led to an influx of new investors. Unlike traditional markets, there are few tools that can help people make informed decisions, a situation that has already begun to claim victims in a particularly volatile environment.

In separate announcements, Weiss Ratings and Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE) have announced the introduction of new financial tools to help investors navigate the cryptocurrency market and make smarter investments.

Weiss Ratings, an established independent rating agency of financial institutions, says they will begin issuing ratings for cryptocurrencies on January 24, 2018, to help investors make informed decisions.

ICE, an operator of a network of global futures, equity and equity options exchanges, is partnering with blockchain technology provider Blockstream to launch the Cryptocurrency Data Feed (CDF).

Weiss Ratings Takes On Cryptocurrencies

Founded in 1971, Weiss is an independent rating agency of financial institutions. They will begin issuing letter grades for cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, NEM, Litecoin, Stellar, EOS, IOTA, Dash, NEO, TRON, Monero, Bitcoin Gold and many others.

According to Weiss Ratings founder Martin Weiss, the data they are using is a combination of purchased data and data collected through other sources. It is updated on a daily basis, covering a sliding 12-month window.

Regressive testing to verify past data that the company uses to confirm predictions is still ongoing, but results have been accurate thus far, Weiss told Bitcoin Magazine.

“We have built an analytical technology over the years using intelligent models to replicate the real world and we are applying [these] to cryptocurrenc[ies]. These have been very accurate for many years.”

Ratings are built up across multiple indexes. The company built new models to reflect cryptocurrency data and developed an overall grading system that is broken down into four separate sub-models:

  1. Risk Index — The level of risk involved in the investment, based on factors like price activity and volatility.
  2. Reward Index — The potential reward outcome, based on historical patterns of buying and selling.
  3. Technology Index — A primarily manual process, where company analysts review the source code and white papers, analyze price movement and make ratings in a Query Tree (their internal software) to generate a quantitative result.
  4. Adoption Index — A measurement of adoption along two dimensions: how broadly it is adopted, transaction speed, settlement times, etc.

“A weighted average of those 4 indices is used to get the final grade,” said Weiss. “The goal at Weiss is to empower the investor to make prudent decisions.”

ICE Data Services: Real-Time Trading Data

The Cryptocurrency Data Feed (CDF) is a multi-asset and multi-venue data feed, capturing nearly 80 percent of cryptocurrency exchange trading volume over more than 15 exchanges around the world. It measures leading cryptocurrencies against the U.S. dollar and other major currency pairs.

The captured data is normalized to create a unique number sequence to identify the transaction, details of where the trade took place, quantity, price, currency, timestamp and other relevant order book data. This is designed to enable ICE Data Services’ customers to receive global market–representative trading data in a real-time feed with high-quality information.

“With the broad array of cryptocurrencies and exchanges, and given the price variances between exchanges, it’s critical that investors have a comprehensive source of pricing information,” said ICE Data Services President and COO Lynn Martin in a statement.

According to Blockstream SVP of Business Affairs Alex Fowler, the initial exchange partners set up through cooperative agreements include Bitbank, Bitfinex, BitMEX, Bitso, Bitstamp, BtcBox, BTCC, CEX, Coinfloor, Coincheck, itBit, GOPAX, OKEx, SurBTC, The Rock Trading, Unocoin, Vaultoro and Zaif, with more coming soon.

The data is collected using the exchanges’ APIs and, in some cases, by setting up dedicated connections with them. The current feeds lack standardized formatting and information: part of what ICE is providing is a single source that consolidates and standardizes the data, which will average out the information from the multiple sources into a more accurate overall view.

Historically, the data currently only goes back to the initial integration; however, Blockstream is working with the exchanges to try and incorporate older data as well.

Fowler told Bitcoin Magazine, “We believe that a consolidated data source, resulting from the combined participation of a strong and growing list of exchange partners globally, will enable us to address these gaps and thereby promote better liquidity, price stability, and public confidence in cryptocurrency as asset class.”

CDF will include bitcoin and a wide range of cryptocurrencies and currency pairings on launch; the final list will be on their website. ICE will develop and publish a selection of criteria for decisions on the addition and/or removal of assets in the feed. This will be an ongoing process as the market evolves. Access to the real-time CDF will be available to subscribers of ICE Data Services’ Consolidated Feed in March 2018.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Lowe's moves higher after reports that it could triple in value (LOW)

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

Lowes

  • Shares of Lowe's jumped after news that an activist investor that recently bought a stake in the company sees the company as worth triple its value.
  • Activist investor D.E. Shaw believes the home retailer can measure up to its rival Home Depot if it makes the right changes, anonymous sources told Bloomberg.
  • The company has paled in comparison to Home Depot in terms of revenue, earnings, and costs despite close similarities between the two companies, according to reports. D.E. Shaw maintains the company's focus should be on improving sales, especially its online offerings and marketing.
  • Lowe's announced on Friday that it will add three new directors to its board.
  • Though it was not previously disclosed, D.E. Shaw's stake in the company was worth around $1 billion, Bloomberg reported.
  • Lowe's stock was up 3.26% at $104.65 per share. It was up 14.24% for the year.
  • Watch Lowe's stock price move in real-time here.

Read more about why Lowe's could have so much potential here.

Lowe's stock price

SEE ALSO: CREDIT SUISSE: There are 3 reasons why an activist investor could be interested in Lowe's

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

Here’s what could happen to the stock market if the government shuts down

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

Stock market NYSE floor sweep

  • If the federal government shuts down Friday night, financial regulatory agencies will be working with a skeleton crew in the middle of a busy earnings season
  • Despite this, stocks have fared well in recent government shutdowns, data show. 


Unless Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, are able to pass a spending bill by midnight Friday, the US government will enter a partial shutdown, with all nonessential services going into a freeze.

Historical data suggests that a big market move shaking stocks is unlikely, but a shutdown would still be concerning to investors.

"Although a government shutdown sounds scary, the reality is it has been a non-event historically for equities,” Ryan Derrick, a senior market strategist at LPL Financial, said in an email. “Going back nearly 40 years, the median return during shutdowns has been exactly flat. Not to mention the last shutdown in 2013 saw an impressive 3.1% gain in the S&P 500."

According to the firm’s analysis of S&P 500 performance during government shutdowns dating all the way back to President Gerald Ford in 1976, stocks have seen an average decline of just 0.6% during federal freezes, with 44% of them resulting in gains.

The S&P 500 gained 3.1% during the most recent government shutdown in 2013 under President Obama, and was also positive during the two that happened during the Clinton administration.

historical government shutdowns table

Still, the stock market depends on several federal agencies, most importantly the Securities and Exchange Commission, to function healthily.

"In the event that the federal government shuts down, the Commission will have only an extremely limited number of staff members available to respond to emergency situations involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, including law enforcement,” the agency’s shutdown operations plan says. Only about 300 of the agency’s 4,588 employees will be retained during a shutdown.

The Commodities Futures Trading Commission has similar contingency plans in place, furloughing all employees responsible for monitoring financial markets and only retaining law enforcement or protection personnel.

It’s not clear if the lack of staff for anything but security or law enforcement will have any effect on the deluge of corporate earnings scheduled for next week, as the possible shutdown comes right in the middle of earnings season.

The Departments of Labor and Commerce would also shut down. Investors depend on their economic data releases for important insights about how the US economy is functioning.

There is a glimmer of hope for bond traders, however. The Federal Reserve system is funded mainly from interest on US government securities traded on the open market, according to its website. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Credit Union Administration are also independently funded and will remain functioning.

Despite anxiety around a possible government shutdown, the Cboe Volatility Index, a common ‘fear-gauge’ of investor sentiment, was down 6% on Friday, but still above the record lows hit last year.

SEE ALSO: EDGE OF THE CLIFF: Congress appears to be at an impasse with a government shutdown looming

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: Chipotle vs. Qdoba, the bear case on Apple, and diagnosing a bitcoin bubble

Bitcoin Will ‘Totally Collapse,” Even if it Takes 100 Years: Nobel Prize Winner

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

The post Bitcoin Will ‘Totally Collapse,” Even if it Takes 100 Years: Nobel Prize Winner appeared first on CCN

Nobel laureate Robert Shiller is fairly confident bitcoin will collapse, but he’s not quite sure when that collapse will occur. Shiller, a Yale University professor who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2013, told CNBC that bitcoin will likely “totally collapse and be forgotten,” although it could linger for as long as 100 years.

The post Bitcoin Will ‘Totally Collapse,” Even if it Takes 100 Years: Nobel Prize Winner appeared first on CCN

Here’s what could happen to the stock market if the government shuts down

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

Stock market NYSE floor sweep

  • If the federal government shuts down Friday night, financial regulatory agencies will be working with a skeleton crew in the middle of a busy earnings season. 
  • Despite this, stocks have fared well in recent government shutdowns, data show. 


Unless Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, are able to pass a spending bill by midnight Friday, the US government will enter a partial shutdown, with all nonessential services going into a freeze.

Historical data suggests that a big market move shaking stocks is unlikely, but a shutdown would still be concerning to investors.

"Although a government shutdown sounds scary, the reality is it has been a non-event historically for equities,” Ryan Derrick, a senior market strategist at LPL Financial, said in an email. “Going back nearly 40 years, the median return during shutdowns has been exactly flat. Not to mention the last shutdown in 2013 saw an impressive 3.1% gain in the S&P 500."

According to the firm’s analysis of S&P 500 performance during government shutdowns dating all the way back to President Gerald Ford in 1976, stocks have seen an average decline of just 0.6% during federal freezes, with 44% of them resulting in gains.

The S&P 500 gained 3.1% during the most recent government shutdown in 2013 under President Obama, and was also positive during the two that happened during the Clinton administration.

Still, the stock market depends on several federal agencies, most importantly the Securities and Exchange Commission, to function healthily.

"In the event that the federal government shuts down, the Commission will have only an extremely limited number of staff members available to respond to emergency situations involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, including law enforcement,” the agency’s shutdown operations plan says. Only about 300 of the agency’s 4,588 employees will be retained during a shutdown.

It’s not clear if the lack of staff for anything but security or law enforcement will have any effect on the deluge of corporate earnings scheduled for next week, as the possible shutdown comes right in the middle of earnings season.

SEE ALSO: EDGE OF THE CLIFF: Congress appears to be at an impasse with a government shutdown looming

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

A Goldman Sachs trader just named CEO of a crypto firm's Japanese outpost explains why he's not scared of regulators

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

japan

  • Market maker B2C2 announced its new CEO for a Japanese outpost. 
  • Phillip Gillespie, formerly of Goldman Sachs, will start at the end of the month. 
  • He told Business Insider he sees a big opportunity in the market and isn't too concerned about regulators. 


B2C2, a top crypto trading firm, is leaning into the Asian cryptocurrency market with a new outpost in Japan.

Leading up efforts to expand the firm's reach on the continent as B2c2's Japan CEO is Phillip Gillespie, formerly of Goldman Sachs. B2C2, an over-the-counter crypto trader based in the UK, is among the most notable market-making firms in the nascent market for digital coins. Gillespie will start at the end of the month and will be based in Tokyo. 

“I am very pleased to welcome Phillip as CEO of B2C2 Japan," said Max Boonen, founder of B2C2, said. "His expertise in the FX market will be a great asset as we ramp up our business in Japan and the Asia Pacific region more broadly."

Gillespie told Business Insider he is looking to expand his team to five people later this year

"The goal is to help provide liquidity to our clients and grow our OTC business, which we hope will exceed our volumes on exchanges by year-end," he told Business Insider. 

Japan has become a big market for cryptocurrency trading, according to Deutsche Bank. 

40% of bitcoin trading between October and November was conducted in yen, according to a Nikkei report cited in a note by Masao Muraki, a global financial strategist at Deutsche Bank. 

Following is lightly edited Q&A with Gillespie about the opportunity he sees in the market and his new role.

Chaparro: You join B2C2 from Goldman Sachs. How does your experience there translate into this role?

Gillespie: My role at Goldman Sachs (and JPMorgan and Barclays before) has always been to oversee the electronic and systematic trading of FX at banks. Although cryptocurrencies belong to its own asset class, there are many similarities between cryptos and electronic trading in FX.  The client bases are the same and the core market making functions share several similarities. One way to describe crypto trading is it's similar to electronic trading of FX in its infancy. In that sense, I have been through the evolution in FX and hope to be part of a team that works to replicate the success in FX to crypto trading.

Chaparro: Do you expect they'll follow through on the reported crypto trading desk they're set to launch this summer?

Gillespie: The chances are high and the endeavor is led by exceptional leadership.

Chaparro: Japanese trading makes up more than 40% of all bitcoin trading. Has the market reached a top in Japan? What opportunities are there for B2C2?

Gillespie: I think there is a lot more potential for growth as Japanese retail brokers become involved in the market and products like CFDs expand within the retail community. Japanese brokers want liquidity from a credible market maker, and I believe B2C2 will be able to provide the service necessary to further expand the crypto market in Japan. 

Chaparro: How is B2C2 positioning itself to capitalize/adjust to potential regulatory clampdowns in Asia? Does this even impact operations?

Gillespie: We are actively engaging with the regulators and want to make sure our operations are fully understood by regulators and counterparties.  In Japan, for example, we plan to be members of both JBA (Japan Blockchain Association) as well as JCBA (Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association).

japan traders malaysia 
Chaparro: Speaking of regulations, what is your impression of the "bloodbath" market crash this week? How much is it connected to regulatory clampdowns? Is this a concern for you?

Gillespie: The 'bloodbath' may have occurred in part due to the market's concern on a regulatory crackdown, as headlines from South Korea initially led the downfall.  However, I think it's too simplistic to say that regulatory concern was the only driver.  There are stretched positions and other factors leading to a sharp correction. And these moves are expected.  The sharp moves are the norms in my mind as crypto are still in its infancy, and our risk management and pricing principles are built to withstand these sharp moves in the market.

Chaparro: Do you see a futures market coming to fruition in Japan? When do expect big institutional money to enter the fold?

Gillespie: Japan has been looking to invest in financial technology for years, and I believe that Japan is fully committed to the growth in cryptocurrencies.  In this sense, I think we will continue to see the evolution of crypto products and usage being led from countries like Japan. 2017 was a big year for cryptocurrencies and its caught the attention of very large institutional players.  The more people understand what cryptocurrencies are the more legitimate money will flow into the market.  

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Expect Amazon to make a surprising acquisition in 2018, says CFRA

Bitcoin 101: Your essential guide to cryptocurrency

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

A collection of Bitcoin (virtual currency) tokens are displayed in this picture illustration taken December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Illustration

Bitcoin is everywhere.

The cryptocurrency is seemingly in the news every day as investors and businesses try to understand the future of this digital finance.

But what is Bitcoin all about?

Why is it suddenly on every financial news program?

And what does it mean to you?

Find out the answers to these questions and more in Bitcoin 101, a brand new FREE report from BI Intelligence.

To get your copy of the FREE slide deck, simply click here.

Join the conversation about this story »

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.

Congress on Friday began careening toward a partial shutdown of the federal government, as a funding bill appears stalled in the Senate with the two parties divided on key issues.

If no bill passes by midnight, the federal government will enter a partial shutdown affecting nonessential services, which would close national parks and cause services like the issuance of replacement Social Security cards to be halted. The White House says chances of a shutdown have 'ratcheted up' and is telling government agencies to get ready

Here's a primer on what will happen if the government does shut down tonight.   

In finance, meet the unconventional portfolio manager who crushed Wall Street last year while barely watching the market. A top recruiter tells Business Insider what it takes to get a senior-level private equity job these days.

Subway is on the ropes. Battles at HQ are killing the world's largest fast-food chain — and many franchisees are turning against the CEO.

Tax-avoidance schemes are being offered up to the wealthy like vacation packages.

Here's what else is going on in the world of finance:

In crypto news, the SEC has finally outlined the reasons for its reluctance to list cryptocurrency ETFs. A US cybersecurity firm has accused North Korea of hacking South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. And traders in South Korea took the bitcoin 'bloodbath' to a whole new level by shattering monitors, throwing laptops, and more.

And lastly, take an inside look at a day in the life of an equity sales leader at UBS in Sydney.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Netflix is headed for a huge profit milestone in 2018

Adidas has found a way to 'fully exploit' its online opportunity — and it could make a killing

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

Adidas

  • Adidas' focus on quality growth and margins will help drive up its stock, Macquarie analyst Lauren Jefferys wrote.
  • Jefferys raised her price target to €223 ($272).
  • The sneaker company has had strong share performance since 2015.
  • It has found a way to take advantage of differentiated products, quick market turnaround, and online sales, which should drive further upside, she said.
  • Adidas is a European company traded on the Frankfurt stock exchange.


As retailers are struggling to compete online, Adidas is "fully exploiting the digital opportunity."

That is likely to sustain its double-digit earnings growth, according to Lauren Jefferys, a Macquarie analyst. But that is just one thing the German sneaker company is doing right, she said.

The company's emphasis on quality growth and margins will boost its stock performance, she said. The weak US dollar, a potential share buyback on its strong cash position, and its encouraging 2018 outlook should also prop up its stock.

Additionally, Adidas offers a new and differentiated product portfolio, reacts quickly to market demand, and its clear strategy under CEO Kasper Rorsted will keep it at its highs, she said. The company has also gained in popularity in China and the US, edging out competitor Nike's dominance, which has been criticized for its slow production and failed attempts to get consumers to bite at its trendy offerings.

Adidas' surging growth in the US, which has gone up 6% to 11% in sales, has spooked competitors. The brand's focus on scale and its ability to recognize trends before they happen has driven profits, according to Mark King, Adidas' head of North America.

There's a lot of potential in the sportswear industry because it grows 4% to 6% a year, Jefferys said. However, other brands such as Nike and Under Armour have had their share of ups and downs.

"Our analysis suggests that the key determinants of success are: the ability to innovate, the speed of reaction to changing trends, distribution discipline (or lack of) and the degree of diversification by product, category and region," Jefferys said.

Jefferys raised her price target on Adidas to €223 ($272) per share, about 22% higher than the company's current price of €182.

Read more about how Nike plans to reclaim its edge in the US market.

Adidas stock price

SEE ALSO: Nike is gearing up for a comeback in the US

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

BANK OF AMERICA: Tax cuts could lead to record mega-mergers

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

trader surprised shocked

  • Bank of America breaks down what could be the most effective use of the additional capital that corporations get from the GOP tax plan.
  • The firm says that mergers and acquisitions is an ideal use, and could hit a record in 2018, while downplaying the positive effect of share buybacks and capital expenditures.


At this point, everyone knows that the GOP tax plan is going to give corporations a huge windfall of cash to use. The real question now is how they'll use that money.

The equity strategy team at Bank of America Merrill Lynch boosted its 2018 profit growth forecast by 10% in anticipation of this influx of capital, and it has a few ideas about what might be the best use for it. And interestingly enough, BAML's recommendation doesn't match up with what many amateur observers expect.

One of the most popular — and controversial — expected uses of tax proceeds is the practice of companies buying back their own shares. It's a method that can spur stock price appreciation by simply reducing the number of shares outstanding, but it's also something many skeptics have criticized for failing to boost the economy.

In BAML's mind, that debate is beside the point. They note in the chart below that buybacks haven't been helping shares to the degree they once did. In fact, the cumulative relative performance of the companies that repurchase the most stock has declined since November 2013.

Screen Shot 2018 01 19 at 11.39.42 AM

OK, but what if those companies reinvested that money into their core businesses? It's another option being bandied about by speculators, but BAML warns that it too could underwhelm in the end.

Also known as capital expenditures (capex), this practice of reinvestment is one favored by investors. BAML conducted a survey asking fund managers what they'd most like to see, and found capex spending to be the resounding winner.

Screen Shot 2018 01 19 at 11.49.11 AM

But BAML is quick to point out that this sentiment may be misguided. The firm finds that, since 1986, the companies with the highest ratio of capex to sales have underperformed the market by 2.2 percentage points per year.

"Investors have been clamoring for capex for the past five years, but companies tend to build when accelerating demand butts up against capacity constraints," Savita Subramanian, BAML's head of US equity and derivatives strategy, wrote in a client note. "Capex has more to do with growth, capacity and credit than it does tax policy."

That all leads BAML to identify what it thinks will be the best use of tax reform proceeds: M&A. Its stance stems from what they describe as "disruptive forces" that will force large companies to consolidate. That consolidation will also be driven by an ongoing cyclical recovery that isn't anywhere near finished, at least from a sales concentration standpoint, the firm says.

So how strong will M&A be in 2018? BAML says it could reach record-breaking levels.

"A strong bull market, accelerating GDP growth and rising confidence have historically suggested strong and improving M&A trends," said Subramanian. "This may be especially true with the spread between return on capital and the cost of capital at a record high for the S&P 500."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

What is Ripple?

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

ripple101.jpg

By Shawn Gordon

What is Ripple? Technically speaking, is Ripple a cryptocurrency in the mold of Bitcoin? The short answer is probably “no,” but that doesn’t stop it from often being lumped into that same category.

What is Ripple?

Originally released in 2012 as a subsequent iteration of Ripplepay, Ripple is a real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), currency exchange and remittance network. Using a common ledger that is managed by a network of independently validating servers that constantly compare transaction records, Ripple doesn't rely on the energy and computing intensive proof-of-work used by Bitcoin. Ripple is based on a shared public database that makes use of a consensus process between those validating servers to ensure integrity. Those validating servers can belong to anyone, from individuals to banks.

The Ripple protocol (token represented as XRP) is meant to enable the near instant and direct transfer of money between two parties. Any type of currency can be exchanged, from fiat currency to gold to even airline miles. They claim to avoid the fees and wait times of traditional banking and even cryptocurrency transactions through exchanges.

How Is It Fundamentally Different From Bitcoin?

It is the validating servers and consensus mechanism that tends to lead people to just assume that Ripple is a blockchain-based technology. While it is consensus oriented, Ripple is not a blockchain. Ripple uses a HashTree to summarize the data into a single value that is compared across its validating servers to provide consensus.

Banks seem to like Ripple, and payment providers are coming on board more and more. It is built for enterprise and, while it can be used person to person, that really isn't its primary focus. The main purpose of the Ripple platform is to move lots of money around the world as rapidly as possible.

Thus far, Ripple has been stable since its release with over 35 million transactions processed without issue. It is able to handle 1,500 transactions per second (tps) and has been updated to be able to scale to Visa levels of 50,000 transactions per second. By comparison, Bitcoin can handle 3-6 tps (not including scaling layers) and Ethereum 15 tps.

Ripple’s token, XRP, isn't mined like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and many other cryptocurrencies. Instead, it was issued at its inception, similar in fashion to the way a company issues stocks when it incorporates: It essentially just picked a number (100 billion) and issued that many XRP coins.

What is XRP and What’s It Used For?

As a technology, the Ripple platform may have real value and real history that validate the claims they make for its efficacy. The XRP token itself, however, seems to have negligible use cases. In fact, Ripple had planned to phase it out — at least, until fevered interest in cryptocurrencies began to take off in 2016. Nevertheless, as CNBC noted today, if Ripple hits $6.57, its market capitalization will be bigger than Bitcoin’s.

There are 100 billion XRP tokens that were issued by the Ripple company. At the moment, the company promises that this is the total number of XRP that there will ever be (though, technically, there is nothing to stop them from issuing more tokens in the future). Ripple’s hub-and-spoke design positions XRP in the middle as a tool that is fungible with any currency or digital asset, such as frequent flyer miles. Ripple can settle a payment in 3.5 seconds through XRP and have it available and spendable. The use of XRP is totally independent of the Ripple network in general; that is, banks don't actually need XRP to transfer dollars, euros, etcetera which is what many small investors might be missing when they are buying the token.

What Is Ripple’s Value Proposition?

The value here is the Ripple network itself and its ability to move assets around the world quickly, rather than in the XRP token.

Banks are able to use the Ripple software to shift money between different foreign currencies. Currently, this is typically accomplished using SWIFT, a system that is cumbersome and relies on the banks having separate accounts in every country they work in. Ripple says it has signed up more than 100 banks (compared to SWIFTs 11,000 financial institutions) including American Express.

So Why All the Hype?

While Bitcoin has seen a dramatic rise in price over the course of 2017, the end of the year saw the cryptocurrency almost breaking $20,000. As the price drove higher, we saw a massive increase in price for a large number of altcoins, with Litecoin jumping from $50 to nearly $400, Ethereum doubling, NEM and EOS going up by a factor of five, and the list goes on and on. The fear of missing out has driven many investors wild and “lower-priced” currencies are attractive to new investors who mistakenly think that the high price of an entire BTC puts the currency out of their reach.

Add to all the hype the rumors that had been swirling on social media through December 2017, that Coinbase was going to list Ripple, which caused the price to surge, which in turn prompted Coinbase to address the rumors in a more generic fashion in this blog post on January 4, 2018:

“As of the date of this statement, we have made no decision to add additional assets to either GDAX or Coinbase. Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.”

ripple chart jan19

The Coinbase announcement caused a big drop in Ripple, back to around the same levels as before the rumors began. SInce then, Ripple has both dipped dramatically and recovered, as have many other volatile cryptocurrencies. While Coinbase doesn’t support Ripple, there are a number of ways for people to acquire Ripple, should they still want to.

Words of Caution

There has been a lot of ink used on criticizing Ripple as well. The complaint from Bitcoin and other blockchain enthusiasts is that Ripple’s centralized control is in direct contrast to the ideals and advantages of decentralized blockchains like Bitcoin.

Ripple also maintains a trusted Unique Node List (UNL) that is meant to protect against potentially malicious or insecure validating servers. It is the UNL that controls the network rules, presenting a conundrum: On the one hand, it protects against problematic validators, but, in theory, a regulating body or government could come in and force a change that isn't necessarily desirable or is downright invasive. Furthermore, because of a FinCEN violation and fine in 2013, Ripple has updated its policies and will only recognize and recommend gateways that are in compliance with financial regulations.

New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper commented on Twitter that he has yet to find a bank that anticipates using the XRP token in any meaningful way. Ripple’s CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, has denied Popper’s claims stating, “Over the last few months I’ve spoken with ACTUAL banks and payment providers. They are indeed planning to use xRapid (our XRP liquidity product) in a serious way.” However, as Popper points out, even the banks that he contacted at Ripple’s suggestion were non-committal in their plans to implement Ripple anytime soon.

According to the Financial Times, of the 18 banks and financial services companies publicly linked to Ripple, most of them stated that they “had not yet gone beyond testing” while a few had moved on to using Ripple’s systems “for moving real money.” However,  not one of the 16 companies that responded had used the XRP token.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

What is Ripple?

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

ripple101.jpg

By Shawn Gordon

What is Ripple? Technically speaking, is Ripple a cryptocurrency in the mold of Bitcoin? The short answer is probably “no,” but that doesn’t stop it from often being lumped into that same category.

What is Ripple?

Originally released in 2012 as a subsequent iteration of Ripplepay, Ripple is a real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), currency exchange and remittance network. Using a common ledger that is managed by a network of independently validating servers that constantly compare transaction records, Ripple doesn't rely on the energy and computing intensive proof-of-work used by Bitcoin. Ripple is based on a shared public database that makes use of a consensus process between those validating servers to ensure integrity. Those validating servers can belong to anyone, from individuals to banks.

The Ripple protocol (token represented as XRP) is meant to enable the near instant and direct transfer of money between two parties. Any type of currency can be exchanged, from fiat currency to gold to even airline miles. They claim to avoid the fees and wait times of traditional banking and even cryptocurrency transactions through exchanges.

How Is It Fundamentally Different From Bitcoin?

It is the validating servers and consensus mechanism that tends to lead people to just assume that Ripple is a blockchain-based technology. While it is consensus oriented, Ripple is not a blockchain. Ripple uses a HashTree to summarize the data into a single value that is compared across its validating servers to provide consensus.

Banks seem to like Ripple, and payment providers are coming on board more and more. It is built for enterprise and, while it can be used person to person, that really isn't its primary focus. The main purpose of the Ripple platform is to move lots of money around the world as rapidly as possible.

Thus far, Ripple has been stable since its release with over 35 million transactions processed without issue. It is able to handle 1,500 transactions per second (tps) and has been updated to be able to scale to Visa levels of 50,000 transactions per second. By comparison, Bitcoin can handle 3-6 tps (not including scaling layers) and Ethereum 15 tps.

Ripple’s token, XRP, isn't mined like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and many other cryptocurrencies. Instead, it was issued at its inception, similar in fashion to the way a company issues stocks when it incorporates: It essentially just picked a number (100 billion) and issued that many XRP coins.

What is XRP and What’s It Used For?

As a technology, the Ripple platform may have real value and real history that validate the claims they make for its efficacy. The XRP token itself, however, seems to have negligible use cases. In fact, Ripple had planned to phase it out — at least, until fevered interest in cryptocurrencies began to take off in 2016. Nevertheless, as CNBC noted today, if Ripple hits $6.57, its market capitalization will be bigger than Bitcoin’s.

There are 100 billion XRP tokens that were issued by the Ripple company. At the moment, the company promises that this is the total number of XRP that there will ever be (though, technically, there is nothing to stop them from issuing more tokens in the future). Ripple’s hub-and-spoke design positions XRP in the middle as a tool that is fungible with any currency or digital asset, such as frequent flyer miles. Ripple can settle a payment in 3.5 seconds through XRP and have it available and spendable. The use of XRP is totally independent of the Ripple network in general; that is, banks don't actually need XRP to transfer dollars, euros, etcetera which is what many small investors might be missing when they are buying the token.

What Is Ripple’s Value Proposition?

The value here is the Ripple network itself and its ability to move assets around the world quickly, rather than in the XRP token.

Banks are able to use the Ripple software to shift money between different foreign currencies. Currently, this is typically accomplished using SWIFT, a system that is cumbersome and relies on the banks having separate accounts in every country they work in. Ripple says it has signed up more than 100 banks (compared to SWIFTs 11,000 financial institutions) including American Express.

So Why All the Hype?

While Bitcoin has seen a dramatic rise in price over the course of 2017, the end of the year saw the cryptocurrency almost breaking $20,000. As the price drove higher, we saw a massive increase in price for a large number of altcoins, with Litecoin jumping from $50 to nearly $400, Ethereum doubling, NEM and EOS going up by a factor of five, and the list goes on and on. The fear of missing out has driven many investors wild and “lower-priced” currencies are attractive to new investors who mistakenly think that the high price of an entire BTC puts the currency out of their reach.

Add to all the hype the rumors that had been swirling on social media through December 2017, that Coinbase was going to list Ripple, which caused the price to surge, which in turn prompted Coinbase to address the rumors in a more generic fashion in this blog post on January 4, 2018:

“As of the date of this statement, we have made no decision to add additional assets to either GDAX or Coinbase. Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.”

ripple chart jan19

The Coinbase announcement caused a big drop in Ripple, back to around the same levels as before the rumors began. SInce then, Ripple has both dipped dramatically and recovered, as have many other volatile cryptocurrencies. While Coinbase doesn’t support Ripple, there are a number of ways for people to acquire Ripple, should they still want to.

Words of Caution

There has been a lot of ink used on criticizing Ripple as well. The complaint from Bitcoin and other blockchain enthusiasts is that Ripple’s centralized control is in direct contrast to the ideals and advantages of decentralized blockchains like Bitcoin.

Ripple also maintains a trusted Unique Node List (UNL) that is meant to protect against potentially malicious or insecure validating servers. It is the UNL that controls the network rules, presenting a conundrum: On the one hand, it protects against problematic validators, but, in theory, a regulating body or government could come in and force a change that isn't necessarily desirable or is downright invasive. Furthermore, because of a FinCEN violation and fine in 2013, Ripple has updated its policies and will only recognize and recommend gateways that are in compliance with financial regulations.

New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper commented on Twitter that he has yet to find a bank that anticipates using the XRP token in any meaningful way. Ripple’s CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, has denied Popper’s claims stating, “Over the last few months I’ve spoken with ACTUAL banks and payment providers. They are indeed planning to use xRapid (our XRP liquidity product) in a serious way.” However, as Popper points out, even the banks that he contacted at Ripple’s suggestion were non-committal in their plans to implement Ripple anytime soon.

According to the Financial Times, of the 18 banks and financial services companies publicly linked to Ripple, most of them stated that they “had not yet gone beyond testing” while a few had moved on to using Ripple’s systems “for moving real money.” However,  not one of the 16 companies that responded had used the XRP token.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

What is Ripple?

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

ripple101.jpg

By Shawn Gordon

What is Ripple? Technically speaking, is Ripple a cryptocurrency in the mold of Bitcoin? The short answer is probably “no,” but that doesn’t stop it from often being lumped into that same category.

What is Ripple?

Originally released in 2012 as a subsequent iteration of Ripplepay, Ripple is a real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), currency exchange and remittance network. Using a common ledger that is managed by a network of independently validating servers that constantly compare transaction records, Ripple doesn't rely on the energy and computing intensive proof-of-work used by Bitcoin. Ripple is based on a shared public database that makes use of a consensus process between those validating servers to ensure integrity. Those validating servers can belong to anyone, from individuals to banks.

The Ripple protocol (token represented as XRP) is meant to enable the near instant and direct transfer of money between two parties. Any type of currency can be exchanged, from fiat currency to gold to even airline miles. They claim to avoid the fees and wait times of traditional banking and even cryptocurrency transactions through exchanges.

How Is It Fundamentally Different From Bitcoin?

It is the validating servers and consensus mechanism that tends to lead people to just assume that Ripple is a blockchain-based technology. While it is consensus oriented, Ripple is not a blockchain. Ripple uses a HashTree to summarize the data into a single value that is compared across its validating servers to provide consensus.

Banks seem to like Ripple, and payment providers are coming on board more and more. It is built for enterprise and, while it can be used person to person, that really isn't its primary focus. The main purpose of the Ripple platform is to move lots of money around the world as rapidly as possible.

Thus far, Ripple has been stable since its release with over 35 million transactions processed without issue. It is able to handle 1,500 transactions per second (tps) and has been updated to be able to scale to Visa levels of 50,000 transactions per second. By comparison, Bitcoin can handle 3-6 tps (not including scaling layers) and Ethereum 15 tps.

Ripple’s token, XRP, isn't mined like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and many other cryptocurrencies. Instead, it was issued at its inception, similar in fashion to the way a company issues stocks when it incorporates: It essentially just picked a number (100 billion) and issued that many XRP coins.

What is XRP and What’s It Used For?

As a technology, the Ripple platform may have real value and real history that validate the claims they make for its efficacy. The XRP token itself, however, seems to have negligible use cases. In fact, Ripple had planned to phase it out — at least, until fevered interest in cryptocurrencies began to take off in 2016. Nevertheless, as CNBC noted today, if Ripple hits $6.57, its market capitalization will be bigger than Bitcoin’s.

There are 100 billion XRP tokens that were issued by the Ripple company. At the moment, the company promises that this is the total number of XRP that there will ever be (though, technically, there is nothing to stop them from issuing more tokens in the future). Ripple’s hub-and-spoke design positions XRP in the middle as a tool that is fungible with any currency or digital asset, such as frequent flyer miles. Ripple can settle a payment in 3.5 seconds through XRP and have it available and spendable. The use of XRP is totally independent of the Ripple network in general; that is, banks don't actually need XRP to transfer dollars, euros, etcetera which is what many small investors might be missing when they are buying the token.

What Is Ripple’s Value Proposition?

The value here is the Ripple network itself and its ability to move assets around the world quickly, rather than in the XRP token.

Banks are able to use the Ripple software to shift money between different foreign currencies. Currently, this is typically accomplished using SWIFT, a system that is cumbersome and relies on the banks having separate accounts in every country they work in. Ripple says it has signed up more than 100 banks (compared to SWIFTs 11,000 financial institutions) including American Express.

So Why All the Hype?

While Bitcoin has seen a dramatic rise in price over the course of 2017, the end of the year saw the cryptocurrency almost breaking $20,000. As the price drove higher, we saw a massive increase in price for a large number of altcoins, with Litecoin jumping from $50 to nearly $400, Ethereum doubling, NEM and EOS going up by a factor of five, and the list goes on and on. The fear of missing out has driven many investors wild and “lower-priced” currencies are attractive to new investors who mistakenly think that the high price of an entire BTC puts the currency out of their reach.

Add to all the hype the rumors that had been swirling on social media through December 2017, that Coinbase was going to list Ripple, which caused the price to surge, which in turn prompted Coinbase to address the rumors in a more generic fashion in this blog post on January 4, 2018:

“As of the date of this statement, we have made no decision to add additional assets to either GDAX or Coinbase. Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.”

ripple chart jan19

The Coinbase announcement caused a big drop in Ripple, back to around the same levels as before the rumors began. SInce then, Ripple has both dipped dramatically and recovered, as have many other volatile cryptocurrencies. While Coinbase doesn’t support Ripple, there are a number of ways for people to acquire Ripple, should they still want to.

Words of Caution

There has been a lot of ink used on criticizing Ripple as well. The complaint from Bitcoin and other blockchain enthusiasts is that Ripple’s centralized control is in direct contrast to the ideals and advantages of decentralized blockchains like Bitcoin.

Ripple also maintains a trusted Unique Node List (UNL) that is meant to protect against potentially malicious or insecure validating servers. It is the UNL that controls the network rules, presenting a conundrum: On the one hand, it protects against problematic validators, but, in theory, a regulating body or government could come in and force a change that isn't necessarily desirable or is downright invasive. Furthermore, because of a FinCEN violation and fine in 2013, Ripple has updated its policies and will only recognize and recommend gateways that are in compliance with financial regulations.

New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper commented on Twitter that he has yet to find a bank that anticipates using the XRP token in any meaningful way. Ripple’s CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, has denied Popper’s claims stating, “Over the last few months I’ve spoken with ACTUAL banks and payment providers. They are indeed planning to use xRapid (our XRP liquidity product) in a serious way.” However, as Popper points out, even the banks that he contacted at Ripple’s suggestion were non-committal in their plans to implement Ripple anytime soon.

According to the Financial Times, of the 18 banks and financial services companies publicly linked to Ripple, most of them stated that they “had not yet gone beyond testing” while a few had moved on to using Ripple’s systems “for moving real money.” However,  not one of the 16 companies that responded had used the XRP token.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Square is like 'Amazon or Google in their early days' (SQ)

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

Square IPO Jack Dorsey

  • Square is set to take off, according to Nomura analyst Dan Dolev.
  • The company is rapidly expanding into new businesses and is growing its payments volume.
  • Watch the price move in real time here.


When Wall Street compares one of Jack Dorsey's two public companies to Amazon and Google, you'd expect them to be talking about the one in the tech sector — Twitter. But on Friday, Nomura analyst Dan Dolev said that Square, Dorsey's payments company, is the one that resembles today's tech giants in their early days.

"In 10 years, Square is likely to be a very different company helped by accelerating share gains from payment peers and relentless disruption of services like payroll and HR," Dolev said in a note to clients.

Dolev said that Square's growth is hard to see now because of the method many Wall Street firms are using to evaluate the stock, similar to overlooked growth potential "analogous to Amazon or Google in their early days." Instead, Dolev performed his own discounted cash flow analysis, which he claims more clearly lays out the ability of Square to grow rapidly.

Square's business involves maximizing the number of payments it processes, and the company is rapidly expanding into new areas in order to grow its payments volume. Square is starting to grow the number of high-volume large sellers it partners with and is also moving into high-margin services like payroll and small-business loans.

Dolev thinks that these new initiatives will massively increase the number of payments Square processes by a long-term compound annual growth rate of 20%. Dolev also says that this growth will provide a 40% to 45% boost to earnings margins.

Square was trading about 4.84% higher on Friday after Dolev's note. Dolev rates the company a buy, with a price target of $64, a 42.8% increase over the company's current price.

Read more about how Nike is set for a major comeback in the US.

square stock price

SEE ALSO: Nike is gearing up for a comeback in the US (NKE)

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: Chipotle vs. Qdoba, the bear case on Apple, and diagnosing a bitcoin bubble

5 Times Pop Culture Has Celebrated Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies

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

From a movie, a TV show to a Japanese girl group, check out these homages

CRYPTO INSIDER: North Korea accused of hacks

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

North Korea

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.

A US cybersecurity firm has accused North Korea of hacking South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. The report comes amid recent allegations that North Korea is mining and hacking cryptocurrencies as a way to deal with crippling economic sanctions.

Here's how the largest cryptocurrencies stand currently: 

What's happening:

SEE ALSO: A popular bitcoin stock announced a 91-for-1 split that could make it more accessible to the masses

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NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

CRYPTO INSIDER: North Korea accused of hacks

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

North Korea

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.

A US cybersecurity firm has accused North Korea of hacking South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. The report comes amid recent allegations that North Korea is mining and hacking cryptocurrencies as a way to deal with crippling economic sanctions.

Here's how the largest cryptocurrencies stand currently: 

What's happening:

SEE ALSO: A popular bitcoin stock announced a 91-for-1 split that could make it more accessible to the masses

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

CRYPTO INSIDER: North Korea accused of hacks

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

North Korea

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.

A US cybersecurity firm has accused North Korea of hacking South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. The report comes amid recent allegations that North Korea is mining and hacking cryptocurrencies as a way to deal with crippling economic sanctions.

Here's how the largest cryptocurrencies stand currently: 

What's happening:

SEE ALSO: A popular bitcoin stock announced a 91-for-1 split that could make it more accessible to the masses

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

Trump spent his first year in office bashing the 'failing New York Times' — here's how its shares have done since his inauguration

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

Trump stock market

  • The S&P 500 index, a common Wall Street benchmark, has gained 23% during President Trump's first year in office. 
  • The New York Times Company, which Trump often bashes as "failing" has risen even more than the index. 


Donald Trump loves to bash "the failing New York Times."

He has tweeted disparaging comments about the paper at least 140 times — with 38 of those coming during his time as President, according to the Trump Twitter Archive.

But in the year since he was inaugurated, shares of the New York Times Company have gained more than 51%. Subscriptions have soared, the newspaper said in November, with total revenue increasing by 6% quarter-over-quarter.

Screen Shot 2018 01 19 at 10.41.44 AM

In comparison, the S&P 500, a standard stock investment benchmark, has gained 23% during the Trump administration’s first year.

President Trump has also publicly shamed the “AmazonWashingtonPost” dozens of times since taking office. It’s important to note that Amazon does not directly own the Washington Post — rather, the tech giant's founder Jeff Bezos owns the paper through Nash Holdings LLC. Nevertheless, shares of Amazon have gained more than 60% in the past year.

The S&P 500 has gained more during Trump’s first year than many other presidents, including Ronald Reagan. Analysis by the Wall Street Journal puts the index’s gains under his administration as the highest under any Republican president but behind both of Obama's first years, as well as those of Bill Clinton and Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Another hallmark of the administration's economic plan was enticing Chinese manufacturer Foxconn to set up shop in Wisconsin. The move was touted as creating up to 13,000 jobs over a decade, but a non-partisan legislative group estimates the cost to taxpayers could be over $4 billion — well above the cost initially cited by Republican leaders.

The Apple supplier, which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, is down 6.85% in the first year of Trump’s presidency.

You can track how stocks and indexes have fared under President Trump with Market's Insider's Trump Tracker here>>

SEE ALSO: EDGE OF THE CLIFF: Congress appears to be at an impasse with a government shutdown looming

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Bitcoin can be a bubble and still change the world

CRYPTO INSIDER: North Korea accused of hacks

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

North Korea

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.

A US cybersecurity firm has accused North Korea of hacking South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. The report comes amid recent allegations that North Korea is mining and hacking cryptocurrencies as a way to deal with crippling economic sanctions.

Here's how the largest cryptocurrencies stand currently: 

What's happening:

SEE ALSO: A popular bitcoin stock announced a 91-for-1 split that could make it more accessible to the masses

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The CIO of a crypto hedge fund shares the 3 biggest risks of investing in cryptocurrencies

CRYPTO INSIDER: North Korea accused of hacks

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

North Korea

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.

A US cybersecurity firm has accused North Korea of hacking South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. The report comes amid recent allegations that North Korea is mining and hacking cryptocurrencies as a way to deal with crippling economic sanctions.

Here's how the largest cryptocurrencies stand currently: 

What's happening:

SEE ALSO: A popular bitcoin stock announced a 91-for-1 split that could make it more accessible to the masses

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The CIO of a crypto hedge fund shares the 3 biggest risks of investing in cryptocurrencies

CRYPTO INSIDER: North Korea accused of hacks

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

North Korea

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.

A US cybersecurity firm has accused North Korea of hacking South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. The report comes amid recent allegations that North Korea is mining and hacking cryptocurrencies as a way to deal with crippling economic sanctions.

Here's how the largest cryptocurrencies stand currently: 

What's happening:

SEE ALSO: A popular bitcoin stock announced a 91-for-1 split that could make it more accessible to the masses

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The CIO of a crypto hedge fund shares the 3 biggest risks of investing in cryptocurrencies

Trump spent his first year in office bashing the 'failing New York Times' — here's how its shares have done since his inauguration

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

Trump stock market

  • The S&P 500 index, a common Wall Street benchmark, has gained 23% during President Trump's first year in office. 
  • The New York Times Company, which Trump often bashes as "failing" has risen even more than the index. 


Donald Trump loves to bash "the failing New York Times."

He has tweeted disparaging comments about the paper at least 140 times — with 38 of those coming during his time as President, according to the Trump Twitter Archive.

But in the year since he was inaugurated, shares of the New York Times Company have gained more than 51%. Subscriptions have soared, the newspaper said in November, with total revenue increasing by 6% quarter-over-quarter.

Screen Shot 2018 01 19 at 10.41.44 AM

In comparison, the S&P 500, a standard stock investment benchmark, has gained 23% during the Trump administration’s first year.

President Trump has also publicly shamed the “AmazonWashingtonPost” dozens of times since taking office. It’s important to note that Amazon does not directly own the Washington Post — rather, the tech giant's founder Jeff Bezos owns the paper through Nash Holdings LLC. Nevertheless, shares of Amazon have gained more than 60% in the past year.

The S&P 500 has gained more during Trump’s first year than many other presidents, including Ronald Reagan. Analysis by the Wall Street Journal puts the index’s gains under his administration as the highest under any Republican president but behind both of Obama's first years, as well as those of Bill Clinton and Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Another hallmark of the administration's economic plan was enticing Chinese manufacturer Foxconn to set up shop in Wisconsin. The move was touted as creating up to 13,000 jobs over a decade, but a non-partisan legislative group estimates the cost to taxpayers could be over $4 billion — well above the cost initially cited by Republican leaders.

The Apple supplier, which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, is down 6.85% in the first year of Trump’s presidency.

You can track how stocks and indexes have fared under President Trump with Market's Insider's Trump Tracker here>>

SEE ALSO: EDGE OF THE CLIFF: Congress appears to be at an impasse with a government shutdown looming

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

Delta is cracking down on people who use fake emotional support animals to let their pets fly for free (DAL)

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

delta

  • Delta Air Lines is enacting stricter regulations on those who travel with service and emotional support animals.
  • The new rules are in response to a rise in safety incidents involving untrained or improperly trained animals.
  • Stricter standards will cut down on those who use the allowance of emotional support animals as a means to allow their pets to fly for free.


Delta Air Lines is enacting tighter regulations for passengers who travel with service and emotional support animals.

The move is in response to an 84% increase in incidents involving untrained or poorly trained animals since 2016. This includes issues involving animals urinating, defecating, and biting passengers or crew. There was even one case in which a passenger was mauled by an emotional support dog.

"The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel," Delta’s senior vice president for corporate safety, security, and compliance, John Laughter said in a statement. 

So Delta enacted its own regulations.

Beginning March 1, Delta will require all customers traveling with service animals to show proof of health or vaccinations for the animal 48 hours before flying.

Passengers traveling with emotional or psychological support animals must adhere to even stricter standards. In addition to health or vaccination records, Delta will require a signed letter from a doctor or mental health professional along with a signed document confirming an animal can behave during a flight. This is to prevent untrained animals from becoming a danger to passengers, crew, and properly trained service animals in the cabin.

Unlike service animals which are trained to perform specific tasks in support of those with disabilities, emotional support animals work by simply being a companion.

But, federal regulations governing their presence on board commercial flights are virtually non-existent. This has allowed many to abuse this privilege by using it as a means to allow their untrained pets to fly free of charge.

The stricter guidelines set forth by Delta is expected to help close that loophole and allow the airline to concentrate on the customers with a legitimate need for these animals.

According to Delta, passengers have attempted to claim turkeys, gliding possums, snakes, and even spiders as comfort animals.

Animals not permitted to serve in a service or emotional support role by the airline includes hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, gliding possums, reptiles, amphibians, goats, non-household fowl (farm poultry, game birds, birds of prey, waterfowls), animals with horns, tusks, or hooves, and animals that are improperly cleaned or emit an odor.

SEE ALSO: Delta's CEO says the nastiest rivalry in the airline industry is more complex than people think

FOLLOW US: on Facebook for more car and transportation content!

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

US regulators charge three bitcoin operators with fraud

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

Today the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced that it has filed a federal civil enforcement action against three virtual currency operators. The details of one case remain sealed, but the other two companies facing charges are CabbageTe...

Cornell IC3 Researchers Propose Solution to Bitcoin’s Multisig “Paralysis” Problem

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

Cornell IC3 Researchers Propose Solution to Bitcoin’s Multisig “Paralysis” Problem

Owning cryptocurrency comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest of those challenges is managing the private keys that enable you to spend funds. Lose your private keys, and your money is gone.

In a business environment, a common way to manage funds owned by multiple people is via what’s called a multisignature (multisig) address, a type of smart contract requiring two or more parties to sign off on a transaction to move the funds.  

This can be problematic, however. Let’s say you have a three-of-three multisig that requires you and two business partners to sign off on a transaction. If one person dies, disappears or becomes incapacitated, those assets become frozen — a risk some might feel uncomfortable with when dealing with tens of thousands of dollars or more.   

One way to ameliorate that risk might be to opt for a two-of-three multisig, where only two instead of all three individuals need to sign off on a transaction. But that’s not a complete solution either. Two players could conspire against the other one and run off with the money.

What now? If your funds are on the Ethereum blockchain, you could write a smart contract that would allow you to free the funds if one person in your trio disappeared.

However, Bitcoin with its limited scripting language makes things more difficult. “This seems like an unsolvable problem if you think about the traditional tools,” said Ari Juels, a professor at Cornell Tech and co-director of the Cornell Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3).

Paralysis Proofs

In a paper titled “Paralysis Proofs: How to Prevent Your Bitcoin from Vanishing,” researchers Fan Zhang, Phil Daian, Iddo Bentov and Ari Juels from the IC3 outline how to deal with what happens when a party is unable, or unwilling, to sign off on a multisig transaction in Bitcoin. The solution involves a combination of blockchain technology and trusted hardware — Intel SGX, in this case.   

Trusted hardware allows you to run code inside a protected enclave. Even a computer’s own operating system is unable to access data inside an enclave, so if your computer were to be hacked, the code in the enclave would remain secure.

IC3’s solution proposes replacing a trusted third party, such as a lawyer or a bank, who would put money in an escrow, with a trusted hardware solution that retains control of a master key to the funds.  

If one of the three people in the contract dies, the other two initiate a “paralysis proof.” That proof is based on a challenge sent to the missing third person. If the missing person responds to the challenge, the money stays put. If the missing person does not respond, the trusted hardware releases the funds to the remaining two players.  

Trusted hardware is only part of the solution, however. If the third person were to try and respond to the challenge request with an indication she is still alive, conceivably, the other players could intercept that message. To ensure that does not happen, the second half of IC3’s solution involves sending the message via the blockchain, which provides a tamper-proof and censorship-resistant medium.    

“By combining these two [methods], we can achieve the exact properties we’re after,” Juels explained to Bitcoin Magazine. “We can enable trusted hardware to determine whether or not somebody is alive, and there is no way to prevent a relevant message from getting transmitted if it is coming through the blockchain.”   

How It Works

Put simply, this is how to achieve a paralysis proof as outlined by the IC3 researchers:

  • Two players suspect a third is dead, so they post a challenge on the blockchain. The challenge consists of a tiny “dust” UTXO that the third person must spend within a certain period of time, say 24 hours, to prove she is alive.

  • The two players also get a “seize” transaction they may post to the blockchain later to collect the funds, if the third person does not respond to the challenge.

  • If the third person sends back a response by spending the UTXO, the game is over; the two others are not able to take control of the funds.  

  • Alternatively, if the third person does not return an “alive” signal by spending the UTXO before the time-out, then the two others can use the “seize” transaction to take control of the funds.  

This not the only use case for a paralysis-proof system. Juels thinks the solution would work well in any situation that called for a controlled access to private keys that could not otherwise be maintained on a blockchain. “It is actually a very general scheme you could use for lots of other purposes,” he said.   

For instance, a paralysis-proof system could be used as a dead man’s switch for control over the release (or decryption) of leaked information or a journalist’s raw materials. It could also be used in numerous ways to control daily spending limits from a common pool of money or as a conditioned expenditure based on an outside event (as reported by an oracle), like a student getting good grades or a salesperson meeting a sales quota.   

“Basically, you can a rich set of conditions around the expenditure of money using the fact that a trusted hardware kind of acts like a trusted third party,” said Juels.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Portuguese Bank Santander Totta Backs Down, Allows Bitcoin-Related Transactions

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

The post Portuguese Bank Santander Totta Backs Down, Allows Bitcoin-Related Transactions appeared first on CCN

Earlier this week, CCN reported that Portuguese branch of Spanish bank Santander, Banco Santander Totta, was blocking bitcoin-related transactions. The financial institution was blocking the transactions while claiming cryptocurrency exchanges were transacting in non-regulated financial products. Following a backlash, the bank has seemingly backed down, and is now processing these transactions. Santander Totta was blocking

The post Portuguese Bank Santander Totta Backs Down, Allows Bitcoin-Related Transactions appeared first on CCN

Thinking About Investing in Bitcoin? Read This First.

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

Here are some ideas on what the future of Bitcoin holds

Should You Invest in Bitcoin (or Any Other Cryptocurrency)?

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

Bitcoin is all the rage right now, but is it a good investment for you

Amazon is rising after hiking the price of a monthly Prime membership (AMZN)

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

jeff bezos

  • Amazon's stock price rose on Friday after it announced it was increasing its monthly subscription fees.
  • Amazon Prime memberships are a crucial part of the company's ecommerce empire because they represent loyal customers who spend the most on its platforms.
  • You can view Amazon's real-time stock price here.


Shares of Amazon rose on Friday after the company announced it was increasing the prices on its monthly subscriptions.

The company said it will raise the fees on its monthly Amazon Prime membership in the US to $12.99, an 18% increase from $10.99, according to Recode. Under the new pricing plan, customers will pay roughly $156 a year.

Amazon Prime's annual membership fee of $99 will not change.

The company initially launched the monthly plan less than two years ago to attract lower-income customers who could not afford the annual membership fee or who did not want to use it continuously.

Subspcriptions are a big part of Amazon's business, representing the company's most loyal customers — who are often the most frequent spenders — and roughly $2.5 billion in revenue, according to its third-quarter financial statements. Though Prime represents the bulk of its subscription profits, the number also includes its audiobook, e-book, digital video, digital music, and non-Amazon Web Service subscription services.

Amazon's stock is trading up 0.85% at $1,304.34 a share. It is up 10.25% for the year.

Amazon is expected to report earnings on Feb. 1.

Read more about how how the tech giant could surprise investors in 2018.

Amazon stock price

SEE ALSO: BERNSTEIN: Amazon could disappoint in 2018

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Bitcoin can be a bubble and still change the world

Amazon is rising after hiking the price of a monthly Prime membership (AMZN)

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

jeff bezos

  • Amazon's stock price rose on Friday after it announced it was increasing its monthly subscription fees.
  • Amazon Prime memberships are a crucial part of the company's ecommerce empire because they represent loyal customers who spend the most on its platforms.
  • You can view Amazon's real-time stock price here.


Shares of Amazon rose on Friday after the company announced it was increasing the prices on its monthly subscriptions.

The company said it will raise the fees on its monthly Amazon Prime membership in the US to $12.99, an 18% increase from $10.99, according to Recode. Under the new pricing plan, customers will pay roughly $156 a year.

Amazon Prime's annual membership fee of $99 will not change.

The company initially launched the monthly plan less than two years ago to attract lower-income customers who could not afford the annual membership fee or who did not want to use it continuously.

Subscriptions are a big part of Amazon's business, representing the company's most loyal customers — who are often the most frequent spenders — and roughly $2.5 billion in revenue, according to its third-quarter financial statements. Though Prime represents the bulk of its subscription profits, the number also includes its audiobook, e-book, digital video, digital music, and non-Amazon Web Service subscription services.

Amazon's stock is trading up 0.85% at $1,304.34 a share. It is up 10.25% for the year.

Amazon is expected to report earnings on Feb. 1.

Read more about how how the tech giant could surprise investors in 2018.

Amazon stock price

SEE ALSO: BERNSTEIN: Amazon could disappoint in 2018

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Bitcoin can be a bubble and still change the world

FCC Backpedals, Won’t Cripple US Broadband Standard

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

Mobile wireless cell tower

Ajit Pai has released an updated draft report ahead of the FCC's February meeting, indicating the government body won't try to redefine mobile and fixed broadband as essentially equivalent.

The post FCC Backpedals, Won’t Cripple US Broadband Standard appeared first on ExtremeTech.

Nike is gearing up for a comeback in the US (NKE)

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

obama nike

  • Nike is working to speed up its manufacturing and lower costs, which has put it in a good place in the tough athletic apparel market.
  • The company has turned around sales in the US and could see faster growth because of its direct-to-consumer focus.
  • Watch shares of Nike trade in real time here.


Nike is trying to jump start its own renaissance.

The company has been undergoing a massive update of its manufacturing pipeline in order to be more nimble and keep costs down, and the effort has seemed to pay off. In a note to clients on Friday, Christopher Svezia, an analyst at investment services firm Wedbush, upgraded Nike to an "outperform."

"We are bullish on Nike given our increased confidence in an inflection in margin and a return to growth in North America in FY19," Svezia said. "The cadence of new footwear styles are notably higher vs a year ago and the pipeline embraces more retro and casual silhouettes."

In an effort to outpace its rivals, Nike has been focusing on increasing the speed and lowering the cost of its manufacturing process. The company currently employs 1 million workers across the globe in its supply chain, and it's working to automate some of those jobs.

Doing so will lower the delay between finishing a flashy new shoe design to being able to release the product to consumers, which will allow the company to better react to trends in the fashion industry. Increased automation will also allow Nike to increase margins, which Svezia said is key to its growth in the US.

The athletic apparel industry is a tough one to be in right now. Under Armour recently saw a big drop in its stock price after Macquarie suggested the company might have to raise capital to stay afloat this year, as its sales growth has trended negatively in recent quarters.

Nike, on the other hand, is starting to show it can react to new customer demands and is slowly gaining ground against rivals like Adidas and Under Armour. In addition to its faster manufacturing, Nike has been focusing on selling its products directly to the consumer, which has become one of its fastest-growing businesses, according to Svezia.

Svezia raised Wedbush's price target from $57 to $74, an increase of nearly 30%. Nike is currently trading at $65.39, and has gained about 1% this year.

Read about how Nike is going into "Battleship" mode to fight the competition.

Nike stock price

SEE ALSO: Nike is going into 'battleship' mode to launch itself to the top of the hot athletic apparel market

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NOW WATCH: Bitcoin can be a bubble and still change the world

Ripple Price Continues to Outperform Index as Market Recovers

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

The post Ripple Price Continues to Outperform Index as Market Recovers appeared first on CCN

The ripple price continued to outperform other top-tier coins as the cryptocurrency markets made slight gains against their previous-day levels. Cryptocurrency Market Cap Nears $600 Billion Friday’s contribution to the recovery was not as pronounced as the one fate dealt the markets on Thursday, but the cryptocurrency market cap nevertheless climbed to $592 billion, a … Continued

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Why Warren Buffett Is Right About Bitcoin (Investors, Take Note)

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

Warren Buffett is right about Bitcoin: It'll end badly and could take down the economy. Investors should take note on cryptocurrency and blockchain.

This cryptocurrency storage startup has raised $75 million in funding

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

price of bitcoin

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Ledger, a French startup that makes hardware devices that allow individuals to store their cryptocurrency holdings offline to insure against cybertheft, has raised a $75 million Series B round led by Draper Esprit.

Big names including FirstMark Capital, Digital Currency Group, and Cathay Innovation also participated. The money will be used on R&D, building new products, and global expansion.

Ledger's raise is said to be the largest non-initial coin offering (ICO) round to go to a cryptocurrency startup, and follows a $7 million Series A for the company in 2017.

Ledger seems to have tapped into a valuable niche in the cryptocurrency space.Besides the company's latest raise, there are other metrics that show its success: Ledger sold a whopping 1 million hardware wallets across 165 countries in 2017, a 33x increase on 2016.

Moreover, it's getting orders faster than it can produce products, and anyone ordering a wallet now has to wait until March 2018 for delivery. Ledger's ability to attract funding and business is likely because, while cryptocurrencies have become incredibly popular with investors, basic elements like secure storage are still largely missing, meaning Ledger is providing a crucial piece of infrastructure.

Given conditions in the broader cryptocurrency space, the startup's success looks set to continue. As ever-more investors pour funds into cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether, the asset class and exchanges that give people access to it are becoming valuable targets for cybercriminals.

In the past few months alone, US-based Tether suffered a $31 million hack, while South Korean exchange Youbit had so many client funds stolen during two hacks that it filed for bankruptcy, illustrating that securing cryptocurrency investors' funds online is proving exceedingly difficult. As such, an offline storage solution like Ledger's is going to see demand continue to boom going forward.

Sarah Kocianski, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on blockchain in banking that:

  • Outlines banks' experiments with blockchain technology. 
  • Details blockchain projects at three major banks — UBS, Credit Suisse, and Banco Santander — based on in-depth interviews. 
  • Discusses the likely trends that will emerge in the technology over the next several years.
  • Highlights the factors that will be critical to the success of banks implementing blockchain-based solutions.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
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IBM slides despite reporting its first profit growth in almost 6 years (IBM)

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

FILE PHOTO: Traders gather at the post that trades IBM on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange October 20, 2014.   REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • Shares of IBM fell in pre-market trading despite an earnings beat.
  • IBM reported fourth-quarter earnings after Thursday's closing bell that beat analysts' expectations. 
  • The company reported growing its revenues from the year before for the first time in 23 quarters.
  • View IBM's stock price here.


Shares of IBM slid in pre-market trading on Friday despite reporting profits that beat analysts' expectations.

The tech giant reported a monumental quarter, breaking a 22-quarter streak of declining revenue. It reported $22.54 billion in revenue, up 4% from the same time last year. This was ahead of analysts' expectations of $22.05 billion.

Yet enthusiasm on Wall Street was muted after it reported a loss of $1.14 per share versus $4.73 earnings per share in same period a year ago. This was likely on account of a one-time tax charge of $5.5 billion related to the GOP's tax reform law.  

IBM is seen as one of the companies that will benefit from tax reform because of a one-time tax holiday, designed to incentivize companies that garner much of their profits overseas to bring cash back to the US at a lower tax rate.

IBM's stock was down 3% at $163.99. It was up 5.96% for the year.

Read more about how IBM is jumping on the blockchain bandwagon.

IBM stock price

 

 

SEE ALSO: IBM is teaming up on blockchain with the world’s largest shipping company

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NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: Chipotle vs. Qdoba, the bear case on Apple, and diagnosing a bitcoin bubble

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon got a 5% raise in 2017 — here's how much he made

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

Jamie Dimon

  • JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon took home $29.5 million in 2017, a 5.4% boost compared to the previous year. 
  • He helms the US' largest bank, whose stock beat the S&P 500 index by 4 percentage points.


Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, got a raise of 5.4% in 2017, putting his total compensation at $29.5 million, Bloomberg News reports.

Much of Dimon’s pay is pegged to the stock price of the bank he has spent 14 years with. In 2017, shares of JPMorgan gained 22.60% compared to the S&P 500 benchmark’s 18.42%.

The 61-year-old’s net worth is currently hovering near $1.7 billion, according to Bloomberg’s billionaire index. Dimon currently owns 7,427,941 shares of the bank, regulatory filings show.

JPMorgan this week reported earnings that beat Wall Street expectations, bringing in $1.76 per share compared to analysts’ expected $1.69, despite a $2.4 billion hit from the new tax law that was also higher than analysts expected. 

Surprisingly, it’s not his highest pay year. In 2007, just before the financial crisis, Dimon took home $49.9 million.

You can track JPMorgan’s stock price in real-time on Markets Insider here>>

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NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

A key recession indicator is flashing yellow while the stock market rips higher — but both can be right

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

traders cboe options

  • The gap between short- and long-term bond yields, known as a yield curve, has remained narrow, a sign of weak economic prospects. 
  • Such bearish signals conflict with a rallying stock market that continues to set records. 
  • "It is possible that both signals are right," argues Lena Komileva of (g+) economics. 


There’s a new battle line in financial markets that’s dividing economic bulls from bears: the Treasury yield curve.

In particular, the gap between short- and long-term bond yields, which tends get wider as economic prospects improve and investors expect stronger returns in the future, has remained stuck around just half a percentage point.

That matters because a yield curve inversion, when long-term rates actually dip below their short-run counterparts, has in the past been a precursor of recessions

The Treasury market trend has been especially hard to reconcile given an ever-rallying stock market that continues to set new record highs, and thus appears to be sending bullish signs about future growth. So what gives? Which market is right?

Lena Komileva of (g+) economics, a macro consulting firm, may have found a satisfactory answer. 

"It is possible that both signals are right," she writes in a Bloomberg View column. “A narrowing yield curve normally indicates investors are less confident about the economy’s future pace of growth, and that real gross domestic product and inflation won't be much stronger.

"Although the economy is not about to fall into recession, it is close to the peak for this growth cycle.”

Put another way, a frothy stock market is perfectly consistent with slowing economic momentum late in the business cycle, even if this does not translate into an imminent slowdown. The most closely watched yield curve gauge, the spread between two- and ten-year Treasury notes, currently stands at 0.58 percentage point (2.63% vs. 2.05%).

Screen Shot 2018 01 19 at 7.13.16 AM

Fed officials have said they are watching movements in the yield curve closely and would like to avoid an inversion.

Patrick Harker, president of the Philadelphia Fed, told Business Insider in a recent interview a flat yield curve is one reason, in addition to chronically low inflation, for the Fed to take it slowly as it continues to raise interest rates.

"We should just [maintain] a slow removal of accommodation to minimize the risk that that would happen," Harker said. "I want to make sure we don’t exacerbate that problem."

Minutes from the Fed's December meeting showed some officials are worried "a possible future inversion of the yield curve ... could portend an economic slowdown ... or that a protracted yield curve inversion could adversely affect the financial condition of banks and other financial institutions and pose risks to financial stability."

The Fed has raised borrowing costs five times since December 2015 to a 1.25%-1.50% range. Fed officials are forecasting another three rate increases this year, but financial markets are only pricing in two, fearing that low inflation and stagnant wage growth, which point to a still sub-par economic backdrop, will remain in effect.

"It would be worrying if the curve had flattened because 10-year yields were falling on concerns that Fed policy tightening might crunch growth and inflation," wrote Richard Turnill, BlackRock’s global chief investment strategist, in a recent blog

"Instead, low inflation expectations have kept rises in 10-year yields in check, while declines in yields on even longer maturities largely reflect strong foreign buying and demand from institutions seeking to hedge risk," he said.

Maybe this time really is different. But even so, the flat curve is hardly a ringing endorsement of the prospect for any short- or even medium-term boost to US economic growth.

SEE ALSO: Fed officials are scrambling to figure out how to fight the next recession

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NOW WATCH: Bitcoin can be a bubble and still change the world

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

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

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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

Here's Lutz:

Good morning, and Happy Friday!!  All the talking heads focused on a potential US government shutdown, but spoos don’t care, with futures marked up 30bp - Tech acting well in pre-market.   Gains in AMD, INTC, NVDA, AAPL and NFLX offsetting a 3% hit to Big Blue as the QQQs climb 50bp.   Strong session in Germany, where the DAX is up 1% - Autos ripping again, up 10% in 2018 on average – Tech climbing 1%, and those Banks are staging a rally.   FTSE move more muted, climbing 25bp - Oil Majors offsetting a pop in Miners, while Consumer names shrugging off weaker Christmas sales - Sea of Green in Asia - TOPIX up 70bp as Industrials and Real Estate rallied - Hang Seng up 40bp as gains in IT offset drops in the fins - Shanghai up 40bp to 2Y highs - KOSPI added small, while Aussie off 15bp as miners dropped

All eyes on that Treasury market, where the 10YY kissed 2.64% overnight before retreating, threatening Gundlach’s “Red Line” and causing angst across that crowded Bond trade.  10Y breaks are off small, but those TIPs remain in heavy demand - “Dollar near 3-year lows on government shutdown fears” - Euro testing Dec’14 highs as German PPI comes in better - A$ thru 80c – Sterling is shrugging off Weaker UK Retail Sales.  The Weaker Dollar helping that Yellow Metal, with Gold adding 50bp early, and it was a green overnight for metals, with Ore up 1.2%, while Rebar added 1.7% in China.   Industrial metals Stateside are following suit, with Zinc up 1.8%, Platinum 1.2% and Copper 90bp.  Only weakness to be found is in Energy, where WTI and Brent are retreating from 3Y highs

Here are the 10 things you need to know today.

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

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NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

10 things you need to know before the opening bell

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

RTX4EAPM

Here is what you need to know.

The House voted to avoid a government shutdown. The bill passed on a 230-to-197 vote, with 11 Republicans voting against the bill put forth by their own party's leadership. The plan, however, could still crash and burn in the Senate before the Friday-night deadline.

An Italian antitrust agency opened an investigation into allegations that Apple and Samsung used software updates to slow phones. The watchdog said in a statement that the two companies had not told clients that the updates may have a negative impact on the performance of their phones, Reuters reports.

Snap reportedly laid off about 24 people across 8 teams, mostly in the unit that curates users' videos. Some staff members have reportedly asked to be relocated to Los Angeles too.

Business Insider spoke with one of Wall Street's best-performing portfolio managers last year, who revealed his investing secrets. His $199 million Fifth Avenue Growth Fund smashed benchmarks in 2017 with a 40.6% return.

The dollar dips near 3-year lows amid fears of a US government shutdown. The greenback has already lost 2% in the early days of 2018, reflecting investor nervousness, Reuters reports.

Britain's retail sector got crushed in December — and Black Friday is to blame. UK retail sales dropped 1.5% in the month compared with November, falling even more than the 1% drop forecast prior to the release.

Some cryptocurrency traders in South Korea took the bitcoin 'bloodbath' to a whole new level. Users on the country's online community DC Inside displayed their frustrations by posting profanity-laced stories and uploading images of broken items that they said resulted from their anger over the valuations.

Stock markets around the world are stronger. China's Shanghai Composite (+0.38%) climbed, while Germany's DAX (+1.07%) surged. The S&P 500 is set to open up 0.3% near 2,804.

Earnings reports continue to be released. Citizens Financial Group, SunTrust, and Kansas City Southern are set to report before the market open.

US economic data reports are due. The University of Michigan sentiment survey will be released at 10 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 3 basis points at 2.61%.

SEE ALSO: Meet the unconventional portfolio manager who crushed Wall Street last year while barely watching the market

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NOW WATCH: How the sale of Qdoba will impact Chipotle's future

10 things you need to know before the opening bell

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

RTX4EAPM

Here is what you need to know.

The House voted to avoid a government shutdown. The bill passed on a 230 to 197 vote, with 11 Republicans voting against the bill put forth by their own party's leadership. However, the plan could still crash and burn in the Senate.

An Italian antitrust agency opened an investigation into allegations that Apple and Samsung used software updates to slow phones. The watchdog said in a statement that the two companies had not told clients that the updates might have a negative impact on the performance of their phones, Reuters reports.

Snap reportedly laid off about 24 people across eight different teams, mostly in the unit that curates users' videos. Some staff have reportedly asked to be relocated to Los Angeles too.

Business Insider spoke to one of Wall Street's best-performing portfolio managers last year, who revealed his investing secrets. His $199 million Fifth Avenue Growth Fund smash benchmarks in 2017 with a 40.6% return.

The dollar dips near 3 year lows amid fears of a US government shutdown. The greenback has already lost 2% in the early days of 2018, reflecting investor nervousness, Reuters reports.

Britain's retail sector got crushed in December — and Black Friday is to blame. UK retail sales dropped 1.5% in the month compared to November, falling even more than the 1% drop forecast prior to the release.

Some cryptocurrency traders in South Korea took the bitcoin 'bloodbath' to a whole new level. Users on the country's online community DC Inside displayed their frustrations by posting profanity-laced stories and uploading images of broken items that they said resulted from their anger over the valuations.

Stock markets around the world are stronger. China's Shanghai Composite (+0.38%) climbed, while Germany's DAX (+1.07%) surged. The S&P 500 is set to open up 0.3% near 2,804.

Earnings reports continue to be released. Citizens Financial Group, Suntrust and Kansas City Southern are set to report before the market open.

US economic data reports are due. The University of Michigan sentiment survey will be released at 10 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 3 basis points at 2.61%.

SEE ALSO: Meet the unconventional portfolio manager who crushed Wall Street last year while barely watching the market

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

Visa CEO: We Won’t Accept Bitcoin Directly

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

The post Visa CEO: We Won’t Accept Bitcoin Directly appeared first on CCN

Visa will not directly accept bitcoin, according to company CEO Alfred Kelly in a recent CNBC interview during the National Retail Federation trade show in New York City. “We at Visa won’t process transactions that are cryptocurrency-based,” he said. “We will only process fiat currency-based transactions.” Kelly pointed to the problem posed by a currency like … Continued

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We talked to a strategist at one of the world's largest asset managers about cryptocurrencies, stocks, and the rise of passive investing

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

John Veils State Street Headshot

  • John Velis is a senior multi-asset strategist at State Street Global Markets, the brokerage arm of the asset management firm with $2.56 trillion in assets under management. 
  • He says this bull market could continue to rise for much longer, provided the Federal Reserve doesn't spook investors and inflation stays low.
  • Passive investing, which grew tremendously in 2017, could likely be one of the first areas to be hit in the event of a market correction. 
  • Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, are likely unsustainable at the current rate and have yet to find their perfect niche, Velis said in an interview with Markets Insider. 


State Street, one of the largest Wall Street financial firms, was doing big data before big data was a thing.

As the exclusive provider of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's PriceStats data, the brokerage and investment research firm sees daily inflation data for dozens of countries on a multitude of products and industries. 

The firm puts this data to work for clients every day, alongside its traditional sell-side equity research, to find profit in today's very expensive stock market. 

Markets Insider recently sat down with John Velis, a senior multi-asset strategist at State Street's Global Markets unit to discuss the current bull market, where investors could still find a place to profit, and cryptocurrencies.

Here's what he had to say:

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Graham Rapier: What's your biggest worry in markets right now? What keeps you up at night?

John Velis: It's not very original, but it is a worry even though it doesn't really keep me up at night because I don't think there is likely risk in the short term, and it's inflation. 

We've got daily inflation data for like 20 countries, and what we've seen, not just in the US but also in other developed markets, is that inflation is back to healthy levels, but not excessively high levels. I've done more higher-end work, looking at different ways to extract inflation data from the main statistics that PriceStats produces, and I just can't find a lot of worryingly high inflation anywhere in the world.

The good news is that the Fed's equilibrium target for inflation is 2% and we're hovering around it in the high 1's right now with US growth at two, maybe 2.5%. For the moment, the US is growing at its trend equilibrium growth rate, which I would peg between two and 2.5%. You've got trend inflation and trend GDP, which means the Fed can raise rates in this gradual, as-promised, and so far demonstrated, manner. Three or four rate hikes, and I won't argue on which of those it should be, is a gradual, well-telegraphed, and well-priced into the market at this point.

If inflation spikes above 2%, and again that's not my main scenario, but if inflation does go higher, we've got to start to think the Fed might have to get more aggressive. In that case, the expected path for hikes would get much steeper. That could bring things to an ugly conclusion. 

We're clearly in the late stages of a bull market and not just in equities, in all risk assets. History shows that these bull markets end when the Fed has done enough or maybe even a bit more than necessary tightening.

History shows that these bull markets end when the Fed has done enough or maybe even a bit more than necessary tightening

If inflation looks like it's going to get out of control and the Fed really has to step on the brakes quickly and everyone starts to worry about that, that could be the biggest risk in my opinion. 

Rapier: So the Fed has done everything correctly so far?

Velis: That's why this rally has really persisted despite everything that you could throw against it and argue that it shouldn't be: Political risk, North Korea, Robert Mueller, Congress, the White House, all of that stuff seems to be shaking off because when you look at the main two macro-fundamentals and what they imply for policy — steady growth and steady inflation — that's the most positive cocktail you can have for a sustained risk rally. 

Rapier: What's an inflation level that might start to worry you?

Velis: It's less the inflation level and more the pre-cursors to inflation, like wage growth. You want to see some wage growth because you want to keep demand buoyant. If people don't have fat paychecks they're going to be reluctant to spend. But if you start seeing [inflation] in wages, or in some of these statistical precursors we look for — like prices that have been very sticky over the last year — if they start to pop out of their sticky range, that could mean there's an underlying growth in inflation. This would be medicines and things like that. 

People say "well if producer prices are falling, then consumer inflation is going to be contained," but the data over a long time show that producer prices are lousy predictors of consumer prices.

The data over a long time show that producer prices are lousy predictors of consumer prices

They're affected by supply things like oil and commodity prices, or factory backups, so they don't translate directly into higher prices. A low inflation rate would make my worry even more remote, and that's good. 

Rapier: You said we're in the late stages of a bull market currently. How much longer can it continue? 

Velis: These things can go on for a long time. I'm dating myself, but Alan Greenspan made his comment about irrational exuberance in the equity market in 1996, and the thing kept going until mid-2000. If we're at this equilibrium, this can go on for a long time as long as nothing happens to upset the apple cart. One of those things could be inflation, or a political development, or perhaps Chinese growth slowing down. Again, there aren't a lot of signs of those things so this could go on for a long time. 

From the custody data, we can see how institutional investors are positioned. They've been loading up on risky assets: equities, high-yield bonds, high beta currencies with high volatility, all those sorts of things. Now they're very very full, and full positions can also endure for a long time, until they don't. When they don't, all of these full positions have to get closed quick, and that's how you get the rush for the exits and the bottom drops out. Luckily, trying to predict that without a catalyst is difficult. 

Rapier: Can volatility come back without a slump in markets?

Velis: There are plenty of theories to explain how volatility is so persistently low. It's not just in equities, but for currencies or bonds too. They're all super low. A lot of hedge-funds and sophisticated investors made a lot of money from shorting volatility, and that trade has built its own momentum. It will keep making vol go lower because people are going to keep selling it. The same momentum trades that happen for equities happen with vol's. You have this momentum that's keeping things compressed, but at some point you would expect a turnaround. When this unidentified catalyst ever occurs, things will get ugly and they never end well. The trick is, and it's difficult to pull off, is figuring out when and why that's going to be. 

Rapier: Speaking of volatility, what do you make of this huge explosion in cryptocurrencies? 

Velis: I've got four talking points, and I'm not sure what the conclusion to extract from them is, but the first is that they look highly speculative. When your friend who's not a financial insider starts talking about whether they should buy a bitcoin ETF you kind of know it's the equivalent of my early days of buying something with a dot com at the end of it. That's clearly what's been driving it. 

They're also very narrowly held. A lot of them are Asian investors, particularly Japanese. It's very analogous to the mid 90s to early 2000s, when this mythical Mrs. Watanabe, who's sort of the cliché Japanese housewife that would manage the family's finances, would buy Australian currency because those interest rates were higher. Now, it seems like the 21st century Mrs. Watanabe is buying cryptocurrencies. Because a large percentage of cryptocurrency holders — particularly bitcoin — are Japanese, Chinese, or Korean, it means the rest of us are kind of playing on the margins and are beholden to what the Mrs. Watanabe's of the world want to do. 

Three: what's their purpose? If they're a speculative vehicle, I don't really like that. If they're a store of value, an alternative to these debased fiat currencies in the developed world that central banks have manipulated through quantitative easing and so-forth... A store of value that has the kind of volatility that these things have day-to-day is not a good store of value because you want to be able to account for what your holdings are going to be worth one day after another. That doesn't seem to be the case in cryptocurrencies. 

The fourth is they may be the 21st century version of gold and precious metals in that they're sort of hedges against central bank policy errors.

Cryptocurrencies may be the 21st century version of gold and precious metals in that they're sort of hedges against central bank policy errors.

It seems that when interest rates go up, cryptocurrencies see sell-offs, and that's very similar to gold. You don't offer a rate of return, so when a competitive rate of return is higher, you might prefer to hold those. Short term cash is going to yield more than a cryptocurrency or gold, and as that short-term cash rate goes up, you're going to get more out of a low-risk asset than this poorly understood, speculative, high-volatility asset. 

My last point is that they're incredibly energy intensive. Central banks are doing research into cryptocurrencies, they want to understand it and think that in the future they may have to have a cryptocurrency and it might make monetary policy easier to do. Bitcoin has geothermal power plants in Iceland, and they consume as much energy in a short period of time as the nation of Ireland consumes in a much longer period of time. To run these blockchains is very intensive, so there will be physical constraints even on a virtual currency. 

You'll probably see cryptocurrencies continue to be an attractive play for investors with high risk appetite. 

Rapier: Are there areas of the equities market where there's ample room for outperformance? 

Velis: If the yield curve continues to steepen — as long as 10-year yields don't spike insanely high — you'll see banks continue to do quite well. They kind of map almost one-for-one to the slope of the yield curve. Energy, of course, is bolted to the oil price, but oil prices are going up. As long as those look sustainably high then that's a place for outperformance. What you really want to look for is value. Late cycle, when stuff has already been bought like crazy, you're looking for stuff that's on the discount rack, sort of the cheap, end of season stuff. That would be things like healthcare, which had a rough year with Obamacare sort of always in question.

Politically, it looks like for the time being, most of the congressional-White House interaction is going to be around infrastructure and immigration, so maybe Obamacare doesn't get the focus any longer, and that allows some of these attractively valued healthcare stocks to start to outperform because they're a place to park money. 

There's not a lot of cheap equities in the US, so the valuation trade is actually better served by going abroad. Emerging markets were of great value on a comparative basis in the last year or so, and their performance has reflected that value seeking bias of the last year. 

Japan is another place to exploit value. The Japanese economy is also looking attractive relative to its own history. Europe was quite attractive for the first months of last year, but it got priced in very very quickly. Europe doesn't offer a lot value any more, so you're really looking at regional places, some of these neglected emerging markets that didn't partake in the rally because of idiosyncratic risks like Turkey and South Africa. They might be places that begin to look attractive, but that's when you're really buying undervalued stuff, and things are undervalued for a reason. Whenever the correction comes, those are the ones that will get hammered first and hardest. 

Rapier: State Street was one of the first ETF providers. Will passive investing continue to see these massive inflows? Can active managers once again beat the market?

Velis: You can get corrections. 1987, for example, was a correction. That was in October, but by the end of the year and in January, we were back to healthy places. Then you have 2000 and 2008, those were corrections and then bear markets, and people lost a lot of value. Bear markets require some big misalignment in some asset price or balance sheet item. In 2008, it was housing and credit derivatives; in 1999, it was corporate debt and internet technology. You look around for what could be the big mismatch or excess that will need to be quickly liquidated, and there aren't many candidates, but passive could be one. Passive product providers have seen huge inflows. And since they're benchmarked to the market, if you have to sell to keep on the benchmark, then you create this downward momentum. Retail investors are ultimately the owners of these passive assets, and you could see them getting spooked and cashing out, and the selloff could be large. 

On the other hand, what it has done is it has been indiscriminate with how it values asset prices, and that probably has created some sort of stable equilibrium. There has been talk, since most of these passive instruments focus on large cap stocks, that small caps have been neglected. Alpha seekers, active managers who are looking for unexploited, idiosyncratic places to bet on, may be rewarded by looking at some of these other assets that aren't included in the big passive envelope.

It's a hypothesis that hasn't yet been born out by the data, but it's worth considering. Small cap performance has not been great, so it kind of flies in the face of that. 

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

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NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says stocks will keep soaring in 2018

Retail Conglomerate Launches Online Mall Accepting Only Megax and Bitcoin Cash

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

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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 … Continued

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Stuck at $12K: Bitcoin Price Needs Quick Progress to Avert Further Losses

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

With its recovery stalled, bitcoin needs a quick break above $12,500 or the tide may turn in favor of the bears.

Meet the unconventional portfolio manager who crushed Wall Street last year while barely watching the market

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

Alex Umansky Baron Funds

  • Alex Umansky, who manages five mutual-fund portfolios for Baron Funds, saw his $199 million Fifth Avenue Growth Fund smash benchmarks in 2017 with a 40.6% return.
  • The outperformance was largely due to the fund's heavy exposure to Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, and Alphabet, which make up more than one-third of the portfolio.
  • The selection of those stocks, and their outsize contribution to the fund, speak to Umansky's long-term investment strategy, which seeks so-called platform businesses.
  • Because of his long-term focus, Umansky spends his time researching companies and taking meetings, rather than intently watching markets or the newswire.
  • Umansky says he's not necessarily scared of a stock market correction, because he has such high conviction in his holdings and invests based on an indefinite time horizon.


Alex Umansky may be one of the hottest portfolio managers on Wall Street right now, but you won't catch him scanning news headlines or closely monitoring the market.

He's probably deep in the weeds, researching new ideas and combing through financial statements, annual reports, and corporate presentations. Or maybe he's traveling to meet with companies, seeking fresh ideas for the portfolios he oversees.

It's not that the daily minutiae don't interest Umansky, who manages five stock portfolios for Baron Funds. It simply isn't relevant to his investment technique, which is heavily predicated on finding what he calls "platform businesses" — companies that have built successful brands and developed ecosystems around the products and services they provide.

This approach, by its nature, deals with vastly longer time horizons than those of your average stock picker. In the end, Umansky is trying to select stocks he can hold indefinitely and with extreme confidence, a practice that doesn't normally involve watching developments in real time.

The strategy certainly worked in 2017, which saw Umansky's $199 million Fifth Avenue Growth Fund return a whopping 40.6%, smashing even the red-hot Russell 1000 Growth index and ranking it in the top five of all large-cap mutual funds tracked by Kiplinger.

But that short-term success isn't what truly matters to Umansky. He wants to win the marathon, not just the sprint. And he's so convinced that his portfolio is a long-term winner that he doesn't care whether he takes a temporary beating.

Our time horizon is really forever.

"Our time horizon is really forever," he told Business Insider in a recent interview. "As long as fundamentals remain intact, and we believe the company still has the opportunity to reinvest excess capital at higher rates of return, we'll stay the course and continue to invest. Do they get ahead of themselves sometimes? Sure. But it's not something we normally worry about."

A top-heavy portfolio

Don't let Umansky's willingness to absorb rough patches fool you. While he has certainly endured difficult periods since joining Baron, he has still handily beaten benchmarks. The Fifth Avenue Growth Fund is up 163% since Umansky joined in 2011, compared with 156% for the Russell 1000 Growth index and 141% for the S&P 500.

page bezos zuckerberg

A big part of that outperformance can be attributed to four well-known stocks, which he has owned since he first started at Baron: Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, and Alphabet.

But simply holding these stocks isn't particularly novel — it's Umansky's heavy concentration in them that makes it unique. As of December 31, those four companies made up more than one-third of the Fifth Avenue Growth Fund.

It's an all-in approach of sorts, and one that shows the degree to which Umansky flouts traditional notions of diversification. In his mind, his portfolio can contain a smaller-than-average number of stocks and still represent an adequately wide collection of investment ideas.

Diversification is one of the archenemies of active management.

"Diversification is one of the archenemies of active management," he said. "It's been massively value-dilutive over the last decade or so. Company-specific risk is really managed by understanding fundamentals, the business model, and valuation. We believe that our ability to collect unique businesses that sell into different geographies and industries is really what gives us the necessary diversification."

Digitization as a driving force

When speaking with Umansky about his investment approach, one word continually pops up: digitization.

It's what he uses to rationalize his heavy weighting toward the four mega-cap juggernauts mentioned above, while also informing his forays into all sorts of industries. To that end, the Fifth Avenue Growth Fund also counts Mastercard, Visa, Illumina, and Intuitive Surgical among its biggest holdings.

The digital footprint of everything is increasing very rapidly.

"We realized probably 10 years ago that the world is transforming itself," Umansky said. "We see it everywhere. It was very obvious with e-commerce, and you can easily see it in advertising. We also see the digitization of banking and finance, and it's happening in healthcare. The digital footprint of everything is increasing very rapidly."

Umansky specifically mentions Google/Alphabet and Facebook as the biggest beneficiaries of the shift toward digital advertising. He also likes the massive network of third-party suppliers that Amazon has assembled, which perfectly meets his criteria of buying stock in companies that operate as the focal point of a broader ecosystem.

credit cards visa

"These are all platform businesses," he said. "And look at Visa and Mastercard — they're de facto digital railroads."

When asked whether the rise of digitization was the core tenet of his investment strategy, Umansky went silent for several moments, as if deep in thought.

"I certainly can't say no," he finally replied. "Our process is looking for big ideas, many of which are plays on that."

Dealing with downturns

With Umansky's strategy laid out, one question remains: How does he keep his investor clients happy during times of turbulence?

After all, while he has trained himself to stay the course and remove emotion from the equation, his clients might not be similarly disciplined. Absorbing short-term losses can be a tough pill to swallow for many.

Umansky acknowledges that while 2017 was a blockbuster year, it hasn't always been smooth sailing on the client front. He mentions 2014, when Amazon became the largest position in the fund, only to lose 22% for the year as the S&P 500 climbed 11%. It was then, Umansky says, that client questions started pouring in.

We would actually like to see a correction somewhere.

A quick glance at Amazon's price chart since then should be evidence enough that everything turned out OK. But for a time, Umansky was feeling the heat. What's perhaps most telling, ultimately, is that he says he would make that Amazon investment again in a heartbeat.

"Since then, the stock is up roughly 100%, so we're certainly not anticipating a return anywhere near that for the next three years," Umansky said. "But our conviction is significantly higher today than it was at significantly lower prices."

Umansky is so sure of his methods that he's not even afraid of a stock market correction — or any sort of rotation that may cause his top holdings to take a temporary hit. In fact, he says he'd welcome such a market event, because it would give him the opportunity to buy more exposure at discounted prices.

"We would actually like to see a correction somewhere, to see how we hold up and how we can take advantage," Umansky said. "Our process works, and we think it's much more consistent than trying to predict what interest rates are going to do, or whether the US dollar is going to be weak or strong. It's a far more difficult task to get right."

SEE ALSO: One chart explains what's driving the stock market's record-breaking explosion

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NOW WATCH: The chief global strategist at Charles Schwab says a bitcoin crash won't infect the rest of the market

We asked a top private-equity recruiter what it takes to get a senior-level job these days

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

wall street skyline

  • Jonathan Goldstein is a partner at the recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles, where he leads the US private-equity practice.
  • We asked Goldstein a variety of questions about the hiring climate in private equity, including what it takes to land a senior position.
  • "In this competitive environment, at a senior level, most PE firms are looking for investment professionals with the proven ability to identify and convert investment opportunities," Goldstein said.


The private-equity industry is experiencing a swell unlike anything in its history.

Capital is pouring in at record levels, and demand for talent to manage and deploy that capital is at an all-time high.

From 2015 to 2017, the industry raised $648.4 billion, according to a new report from Pitchbook, the highest mark over any three-year period it has seen.

In 2017, PE dealmakers deployed $538.2 billion across 4,053 deals, according to Pitchbook.

The industry boom has created a perfect storm for candidate hiring, according to Jonathan Goldstein, a partner at the recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles, where he leads the firm's private-equity practice in the Americas.

Business Insider recently caught up with Goldstein to learn more about what firms are looking for when hiring senior talent, common mistakes he sees candidates make, and the best advice he'd give up-and-coming dealmakers.

Here's what Goldstein had to say:

How has the private-equity industry changed in the past decade?

Goldstein: The past 10 years has seen a lot of change in the PE industry. Aside from the obvious growth, we have seen the introduction of new types of firms investing in this space as well as new strategies and structures. On the one hand, the increased professionalization is a good thing for any industry, but for private equity, growth will probably be accompanied with a gradual lowering of returns. Some of the trends that we have seen are the following: LPs migrating their business into the GP world; an increase in non-US-based firms looking to grow in the US, and finally, a dramatic increase in spin-out groups. In terms of hiring, we have seen many firms add three positions which historically were either nonexistent or rarely seen: head of human capital, head of business development, and operating partner.

How would you describe the hiring environment?

Goldstein: Hiring into PE firms is as robust as we have seen in the past 10 years. All of this hiring is a result of the strong fundraising environment.

jonathan goldstein heidrick & struggles

What is the most coveted skill firms are looking for right now?

Goldstein: Firms look for a lot of skills: investment judgment, track record, unimpeachable ethics, and cultural fit, among others. All of these are table stakes. In this competitive environment, at a senior level, most PE firms are looking for investment professionals with the proven ability to identify and convert investment opportunities.

What are some recent trends you have seen with regard to talent?

Goldstein: More than anything else, private-equity professionals are looking to find themselves at a firm where they have the opportunity for personal and professional growth. If a firm has a strong track record, a niche in the market and a great culture, and offers the opportunity for advancement, we have seen candidates willing to take a step back in both title and compensation. After all, PE investment professionals are wired to be long-term investors, and the most important investment they make is in themselves.

What advice would you give young Wall Streeters who aspire to senior private-equity roles?

Goldstein: The PE business is very much a mentorship business. Look for a firm that invests in its people and is committed to helping them succeed.

What's the most common mistake you see candidates make when searching for new roles?

Goldstein: Candidates that are too focused on short-term issues such as starting compensation or title can, at times, fail to see the bigger opportunity and miss out on an incredible opportunity.

What's the most common mistake you see firms make when trying to land a strong candidate?

Goldstein: I find that firms will stumble with candidates when they do not provide a unified message. Most of these firms are partnerships, some small, some large. If it appears that there is too much discord in the vision or strategy, candidates will hesitate to jump on board.

SEE ALSO: A top private-equity recruiter explains why there's a 'perfect storm' for hiring right now

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Britain's retail sector got crushed in December — and Black Friday is to blame

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

Black Friday in London

  • UK retail sales dive 1.5% in December as consumers slow spending following Black Friday bonanza.
  • "Consumers continue to move Christmas purchases earlier with higher spending in November and lower spending in December than seen in previous years," Rhian Murphy, a senior ONS statistician said.
  • The longer term trend in the retail sector is also worrying, with annual growth of 1.9%, the lowest seen since 2013.


LONDON — UK retail sales plunged in December, as shoppers pulled back from spending after the excesses of Black Friday, data from the Office for National Statistics released on Friday showed.

Overall retail sales fell by 1.5% in the month compared to November, falling even more than the 1% drop forecast prior to the release.

The data may look pretty awful on the surface, it is negatively impacted by the fact that November was an unusually strong month, thanks to the growth of the previously USA-only shopping day known as Black Friday.

Black Friday, celebrated the day after Thanksgiving, sees retailers slash prices on high ticket items like televisions, computers and other tech equipment. 

It has grown substantially in popularity in the UK in recent years, with almost all retailers now running some sort of Black Friday sale.

"Consumers continue to move Christmas purchases earlier with higher spending in November and lower spending in December than seen in previous years," Rhian Murphy, a senior ONS statistician said in a statement.

Monthly figures show a reasonably good picture of the UK retail sector is in a given moment, but longer term figures are needed to analyse industry trends. Unfortunately for British retail, the long term trend isn't great either.

"Retail sales continued to grow in the last three months of the year partly due to Black Friday deals boosting spending. Consumers continue to move Christmas purchases earlier with higher spending in November and lower spending in December than seen in previous years," Murphy said.

"However, the longer-term picture is one of slowing growth, with increased prices squeezing people’s spending." 

Murphy's statement is backed up by the ONS' data, which shows annual retail sales growth of just 1.9% over the course of 2017, the slowest rate of increase since 2013.

The ONS' data follows a series of troubling Christmas business updates from major high street retailers, all of which suggest a certain degree of peril for the sector.

Major players Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser both last week reported horrible Christmas periods, while Debenhams' share price collapsed 20% last week after reporting a Christmas sales slump; Mothercare sales dropped 25% after a 7% drop in Christmas sales; and suit maker Moss Bros cut its profit forecast after "lower footfall than anticipated during December".

Slowing high street retail sales may be partially down to changes in the way Brits shop, but it is also emblematic of the economic hardships faced by regular citizens in the aftermath of the vote to leave the EU.

Consumers simply have less money to spend as a cocktail of high inflation and sclerotic wage growth puts the pinch on British pockets.

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Forget about a pay rise: The 3 charts that define the struggles of the British consumer in 2018

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

woman shopping all saints oxford street

  • Dutch bank ING doesn't see things getting much better for the squeezed British consumer in 2018.
  • Consumers — often described as the powerhouse of the British economy — are struggling in the post-Brexit landscape thanks to high inflation and stagnant wage growth.
  • ING economist James Smith compiles three charts that will define the story of British consumers in 2018.


LONDON — British consumers are going to feel a continuing squeeze on their finances, according to analysis from Dutch lender ING.

James Smith, an economist with the bank, compiled three charts that he sees as defining the story of the British consumer in 2018.

First, real wages are not going to rise as fast as many forecasters believe. Smith said ING's position is "a little more cautious than the Bank of England on wage growth."

"Policymakers are looking for a sharp pick-up given the ultra-low unemployment rate, which is creating some skill shortages and thus higher pay packets in certain sectors," he said.

"But with the economy still struggling and other input costs continuing to rise, some firms are likely to take a more cautious approach to pay rises."

Here's the chart from Smith and his colleagues:

real wages in the uk ING

While the broader economic picture may be stunting wage growth, there is also another factor in play, namely a shift in the way the British labour market is structured.

For example, those on so-called zero-hours contracts may find it tough to get a pay rise when their boss is not even obliged to even give them any hours of work.

This is exacerbated by the fact that workers in the 21st century are far less likely to be part of a union than in, and as a result do not have the same power to force employers hands as they had during the later half of the 20th century.

There has also been another big, more recent shift, a shift towards the so-called "gig economy," a class of workers who are technically self-employed and paid per "gig," typically working in service-style roles like deliveries and taxi-driving, often without set hours and with work assigned via a smartphone app.

Gig economy workers tend to have a much greater deal of flexibility in the way they work, but in turn, sacrifice many of the protections they would receive if they were to have formal employee status.

Next, Smith points to a chart focusing on rising consumer debt in the UK. One of the arguments from the Bank of England around consumer borrowing is that a recent increase "in car loans, and indeed 0% credit card financing, has been led by borrowers with the highest credit scores," Smith says.

That however, doesn't tell the whole story, he believes, with Smith say that he suspects "at least some of the rise in unsecured consumer credit has been down to households having to finance some day-to-day spending."

"If this was the case, we're likely to see this pattern continue over the next few months given the ongoing income squeeze."

Here's the chart:

Screen Shot 2018 01 19 at 08.43.43

Finally, Smith wonders how the British consumer will react to the Bank of England's rate hike back in November, which saw interest rates increase for the first time in more than a decade — albeit only to 0.5%, a rate seen for almost seven consecutive years between 2009 and 2016.

His conclusion is that the Bank of England's movements are unlikely "to put a major dent in consumer spending, but could see households become a little more cautious in their financial planning."

Screen Shot 2018 01 19 at 08.48.51

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

This Bitcoin 'Expert' Is Mining the Crypto Craze for Every Last Penny

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

His ads are everywhere. His face is inescapable. His credentials as the ultimate cryptocurrency expert are...interesting.

Report says North Korean hackers have been targeting South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges

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

North Korea

  • North Korean hackers have been linked to recent attacks on a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange. 
  • US cyber-security firm Recorded Future analyzed methods used in recent cryptocurrency attacks and noticed a trend. 
  • The malware is linked to a North Korea-tied hacking unit called Lazarus.
  • The report comes amid recent allegations that North Korea is mining and hacking cryptocurrencies as a way to deal with crippling economic sanctions.


North Korea's involvement in major hacking offensives appears to be growing.

The country has been linked to a recent attack on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, according to cybersecurity experts. 

Researchers from the US cybersecurity firm Recorded Future say a new hacking campaign targeting South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinlink employed the same malware code used in the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures and last year's global WannaCry attack.

Beginning in late 2017, hackers attempted to collect the passwords and emails of employees at Coinlink, but were unsuccessful.

Recorded Future released a full report on Tuesday analyzing the methods used in the recent Coinlink attack, versus methods used in previous cyberattacks. The firm found what it called strong evidence that a cybercrime unit called the Lazarus group was behind the Coinlink attack, as well as several previous large-scale campaigns, based on the type of code they have used in previous attacks.

According to the report, the Lazarus group operates under a North Korean state-sponsored cyber unit.

The group has been conducting operations since at least 2009, when they launched an attack on US and South Korean websites by infecting them with a virus known as MyDoom, the report said. The group has mainly targeted South Korean, US government, and financial entities, but has also been linked to the major attack on Sony Pictures in 2014.

In recent years, researchers noticed a change in North Korean cyber operations as they began to shift their focus to attacking financial institutions in order to steal money to fund Kim Jong Un's regime, the report said.

In 2017, the group began targeting cryptocurrencies, and their first offensive was aimed at Bithumb, one of the world's largest bitcoin exchanges. Lazarus hackers stole $7 million in the Bithumb heist at the time, according to the report.

The WannaCry attack in 2017, which affected computer systems at schools, hospitals, and businesses across 150 countries, also used malware code that was linked to Lazarus.

Additionally, a December attack on the South Korean bitcoin exchange YouBit reportedly mirrored previous North Korean offensives, leading experts to suggest that groups associated with the North were behind that attack as well.

Recorded Future's report comes amid recent allegations that North Korea has begun mining and hacking cryptocurrencies in order to sidestep crippling economic sanctions.

“This is a continuation of their broader interest in cryptocurrency as a funding stream,” Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic-threat development at Recorded Future, told the Wall Street Journal this week.

The US has released statements blaming North Korea for several recent attacks. But North Korea still denies any involvement, despite mounting evidence.

SEE ALSO: North Korea may be behind a massive cyber attack on a South Korean bitcoin exchange that caused it to collapse

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NOW WATCH: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un is 34 —here's how he became one of the world’s scariest dictators

South Korean Officials Initiated Insider Trading, Bought Bitcoin Before Trading Ban Fiasco

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

The post South Korean Officials Initiated Insider Trading, Bought Bitcoin Before Trading Ban Fiasco appeared first on CCN

According to Choi Heung Sik, the director of South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSC), the country’s integrated financial regulator that examines and supervises financial institutions, several officials and employees of the FSC sold bitcoin immediately before the premature statement on a possible cryptocurrency trading ban was released by Justice Minister Park Sang-ki. Insider Trading Probe

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Tax-avoidance schemes are being offered up to the wealthy like vacation packages

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

offshore resize

  • Tax avoidance schemes are being offered up to the wealthy like holiday packages.
  • The number of companies offering these packages appears to have risen, and the trend was noticed within last year's Paradise Papers.
  • These packages allow third-party companies to profit off tax havens while operating in a legal grey area.  


Tax-avoidance schemes, that include creating offshore accounts in tax-free countries, are being offered to the wealthy like vacation packages. 

A screenshot of the TMS Group's "International Business Company Packages" page shows several plans — called "The Indian Ocean," "The Caribbean," and "The Oasis" — being offered to businesses or individuals shopping around for the best place to open up an offshore account. 

Two of the packages promote setting up a company in one country, then creating a business address and offshore bank account in two more countries. Seychelles and Belize are offered as possible locations for the company set-up, while Malaysia is the chosen country for business addresses.

Another site, Offshore Desk, offers an €1890 ($2,300 USD) "Seychelles Package," allowing taxpayers of any country to incorporate a business in Seychelles and a bank account in Cyprus. 

offshore desk screen grab

Like TMS, the package ad features a photo of a tropical island, and promises "zero taxation...alongside a quick, inexpensive and hassle-free formation process."

Similar packages for offshore accounts in Vanuatu and Delaware, are shown on the site accompanied by flashy photos and low-cost promises. 

offshore simple resize

Another intermediary site offers enticing Gold, Silver and Bronze packages to businesses looking to minimize taxes. 

The company, aptly titled Offshore Simple, assures buyers it has many solutions for setting up an offshore bank account. The Bronze package, which includes a company and bank account in Seychelles, Belize and Panama, is currently selling at a discounted price of €999 ($1223). The Silver package, which costs €1299 ($1590) gives customers the Bronze package plus a UK address and a "New York Manhattan prestigious address" for mail forwarding.

Tax-avoidance packages are on the rise

The goal of these proposals is to allow third-party companies to profit off tax havens while staying in a legal grey area. 

When The Paradise Papers leaked in November, more than 13 million documents provided evidence of billionaires, world leaders, celebrities, and drug traffickers, using offshore tax havens. Looking at the papers, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) noticed the number of companies offering tax evasion packages has grown.

"We have become increasingly aware of the commoditization of tax evasion," Mark Konza, the ATO deputy commissioner, confirmed to Business Insider. "As part of our investigations we are looking very closely at the role intermediaries and promoters play in marketing various arrangements."

Konza said that tax authorities are well aware that there are a "large number of companies" offering to play the middle-man in a range of tax avoidance services, and the internet has allowed for a proliferation of these companies globally. 

"The sites themselves are not illegal; they simply offer the service of setting up the companies in secrecy countries," Konza said. However, Konza added that these so-called intermediary companies are sometimes used to "hide taxable income," and facilitate illegal activity.

The Paradise Papers were a follow up to the massive Panama Papers which shed light on global companies using countries with low tax rates to avoid paying taxes to their home country.

Placing finances into an offshore account is legal, however critics of the system, like the Tax Justice Network, say it facilitates illegal activity by providing an extra layer of secrecy to financial transactions.

Information obtained from the leaked Panama Papers showed offshore accounts were, in some cases, used to avoid taxes, conceal transactions, and launder money.

SEE ALSO: The massive 'Paradise Papers' leak reveals how the world's wealthiest individuals and companies move their money

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A Deloitte consultant wrote a cringeworthy pop song and sent it to his bosses — now it's being shared round the world

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

school of rock

  • A new hire at the global consultancy firm Deloitte recorded a bizarre song to celebrate getting the job.
  • He sent it to all his superiors, and now it's being shared (and mocked) by the company's nearly 300,000 employees round the world.
  • Deloitte workers have a bizarre history of recording songs celebrating their employer.


When most people land their dream job their immediate reaction is to celebrate, and maybe write a note to their employer thanking them for the opportunity.

But one new analyst at the Dusseldorf, Germany, office of global consultancy firm Deloitte decided to go one step further — by writing and recording an extraordinary song to "express my joy" and sending it to colleagues at the company.

Stefan Hansen urged his superiors and colleagues to forward his message on to others, and it is now being shared — and mocked — by Deloitte's 263,000 employees around the world, from Dublin to Toronto.

It really has to be heard to be believed.

"We're searching, for a voice of our own, to make an impact that matters," Hansen, a business analyst with a focus on supply chain management, sings joyfully.

And then, as the maracas and keyboard hit the crescendo: "Deloitte is calling, is calling, is calling out your name!"

You can listen to the song in all its glory below:

Here are the lyrics if you want to sing along for yourself:

deloitte song

And here's the full email he sent to colleagues, which was shared on Reddit earlier on Thursday:

"Dear Colleagues,

Dear Superiors,

my name is Stefan (Hansen) und I joined Deloitte Consulting in January 2018 as a Business Analyst in the Service Line Enterprise Applications / SAP with the focus on Supply Chain Management.

I studied in M.Sc. Industrial Engineering and Management with specialization in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at the Technical University of Darmstadt. During my master studies, I specialized in Logistics and Power Engineering. Prior to this, I gained working experiences through employments at renowned companies of the Automotive Industry (e.g. BMW AG, Audi AG, GKN Driveline).

I'm really happy to be part of Deloitte now. To express my joy, I wrote a song for you.

I hope you like it. If you like the song, share it with other colleagues and put me on CC to connect with as many colleagues as possible at the beginning.

Thank you and best regards,

Your Stefan"

Colleagues have reacted to Hansen's song with a mixture of horror and admiration.

"Made it to the Dublin office today, we were all embarrassed for him," one wrote on Reddit.

"I got this email yesterday. I love how it made it all the way across the world in like 2 days. It makes me so proud of our global network!" another said — before adding that they were being sarcastic.

Some people are being more positive about Hansen's musical talents. "As far as songs go made by an accountant it's not terrible. It's even somewhat hitting the right notes without auto-tune by the sounds of it," another Reddit user wrote. "But a seemingly serious big 4 song - my god the cringe overpowering."

This is not the first time Deloitte employees have been overcome with an urge to express their company loyalty through song.

In 2011, someone made a questionable Notorious B.I.G. song about the "Big Four" accounting firm, which included such choice lyrics as "

I made the change to a Deloitte guy / Packed up my bags and started to fly / And its so much fun building slides with my peeps all day 
/ Too much text: it's the Deloitte way."

The Beatles's legendary song "Let It Be" has also been covered by Deloitte enthusiasts who wanted to get musical about their admiration for the company.

Deloitte did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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5 Bitcoin Alternatives You Need To Watch

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

With over 1400 cryptocurrencies now available, here are some with great potential.

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