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Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bearish Continuation Likely as BTC Tests Strong Support

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

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Lower highs and lower lows have been the story of bitcoin for the last few weeks — market behavior that has left even the most bullish investors scratching their heads. Since bitcoin’s dramatic rise to $20,000, there has been a series of harsh drops temporarily stifled by feeble rallies. At the time of this article, BTC-USD has managed to break through three major levels of support of both the upper and lower parabolic trends, and a long-term linear trend:

fig1Figure 1: BTC-USD, 1-Day Candles, Macro View

For the time being, BTC-USD has managed to find support on the macro 50% retracement values twice. The 50% retracement has proven to be a strong level of support, but if you take a closer look at the market, there isn’t a whole lot of support below those values all the way down to the $7,000 values.

fig2Figure 2: BTC-USD, 6-HR Candles, Next Levels of Support

Looking at the way the 50 and 200 EMA are acting on the 6-hour chart, we see that the overall macro trend is moving downward and is actually finding resistance on the 200 EMA — values that for a long period of time have shown to be firm levels of support. On the 6-hour candles, the 50 and the 200 EMAs have formed a pattern called a “death cross.” A death cross is when the 50 EMA crosses downward and begins trending below the 200 EMA. This is typically a sign of a more macro, bearish market outlook.

If the 50% values fail to provide support on the next test, a sharp drop could be in store — a sharp drop similar to the one from $14.5K to $9K. Looking at the image above, it becomes apparent that the parabolic rise to $20K was so sharp and aggressive, there was little time to establish firm levels of support on the way up.

Well, now that we are moving back down in price, the aggressive growth comes with aggressive consequences. In our case, the aggressive consequence is the lack of support between the $10,000 and $7,000 values. If we do see a drop below the 50% Fibonacci line, it is highly likely to find support along the 61% values where the blue bar is shown above.

Another level of support is likely to be found on the daily 200 EMA, just above the blue region:
fig3Figure 3: BTC-USD, 1-Day Candles, Daily 200 EMA

The 200 EMA on the daily chart has proven time and time again to be a firm level of support in previous corrective periods. It is highly unlikely that this level of support would break without several tests of the 200 EMA. In general, there is a strong confluence of support between the low $7,000s and high $8,000s. Given the current trend of lower highs and lower lows, I think it’s very likely we will see a test of these support levels.

Summary:

  1. Bitcoin has managed to establish a trend of three lower highs and four lower lows to really cement the current bearish trend.
  2. Bitcoin managed to find resistance on the parabolic curve and is now in the process of testing the support of the 50% Fibonacci retracement values.
  3. If the current levels of support do not hold, support will be found between the $8,000s and $7,000s as there is a strong confluence of support in those price 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.

This 19-year-old bitcoin millionaire is traveling the world recruiting an A-team to build an alternative to the 'corrupt' world of cryptocurrency

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

erik finman

  • 19-year-old Erik Finman became a bitcoin millionaire last year, and is now holds multiple millions worth of cryptocurrency.
  • He's grown disappointed with the current state of cryptocurrency, saying that there are too many scams and too much politics for bitcoin or other current currencies to replace traditional money.
  • That's why Finman has gathered a bunch of other bitcoin millionaires to kickstart a new cryptocurrency


19-year-old Erik Finman made headlines last year when the value of his bitcoin holdings hit the $1 million mark — meaning he won a bet with his parents and didn't have to go to college. 

Now, thanks to the recent surge in the cryptocurrency markets, Finman's personal bitcoin hoard is worth about $4 million, even after the slump of the last few weeks. And he's diversified into other cryptocurrencies, as well as more traditional investment vehicles — he's even started a 401(k) retirement account. 

And yet, Finman is disappointed with the state of cryptocurrency, he tells Business Insider. The cryptocurrency boom has brought with it an upswing in scams and dirty dealings. And the bitcoin community, in particular, is too caught up in its own self-interests to modernize the underlying technology so that it can deal with the increasing crush of users, he says.

He refers to the larger cryptocurrency market as "corrupt," and says that it's led to most cryptocurrencies serving more as an asset, like gold, rather than a politics-free replacement for money, which was the original idea. He suggests that the first wave of digital tokens might be about to buckle under its own weight — paving the way for something new.

"You're seeing the first generation [of cryptocurrency] live and probably die," says Finman.

Here come the 'crypto whales'

Finman's next project is bringing on that next generation. He tells us that he's been flying around the world, recruiting a "consortium" of  fellow bitcoin millionaires around the world (he says that they call themselves '"bitcoin whales"), from Dubai to San Francisco. And within the next few months, Finman says, they're going to debut their master plan for a new cryptocurrency. 

The technical details will be revealed down the line, says Finman. The big idea, though, is that Finman says this new cryptocurrency will be everything bitcoin currently is not:

  • Bitcoin's price volatility makes it too unpredictable to be a reasonable a way to pay for goods, so Finman says his project will be designed to increase in value on a gentler, kinder slope that makes it a more predictable store of value.
  • Bitcoin carries transaction fees of as high as $37 for sending or receiving bitcoin, caused by congestion on the network from the huge swell of interest in the currency. So the consortium has conceived a way to keep fees small, even as the currency (ideally) gathers users and gets bigger. Plus, Finman promises shorter turnaround times than the days it can currently take to close a bitcoin transaction.
  • It takes massive amounts of electricity to "mine," or generate, bitcoin, and more besides to send or receive it. By some estimations, it's enough to accelerate climate change. Finman says that his consortium has some promising ideas on cutting down the electricity usage of cryptocurrency.
  • Bitcoin is difficult to use, requiring users to download often-complicated wallet software just to make it possible to send currency to stores or other users. This new project will be more user-friendly from the get-go, Finman says. 

These solutions are easier said than done, according to cryptocurrency experts. These problems are well-recognized in the cryptocurrency world, but many view them as inherent limitations of blockchain, the technology underpinning bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The problems are solvable, but require middlemen like banks to centralize pieces of the underlying infrastructure, streamlining the process. That, in turn, undercuts what Finman sees as the "beauty of cryptocurrency": It's decentralized, not under the control of banks or governments, theoretically freeing it from political interference. 

There have been efforts to thread that needle. Notably, bitcoin cash, a cryptocurrency that split from the main bitcoin community late last year, has hyped itself as offering low-cost, high-speed transactions. But Finman is skeptical of their approach, fearing that the currency is too beholden to the past (and past grudges) to make a real difference.

"I just don't know they're the people to do it," says Finman. 

price of bitcoin

And yet, Finman says, "cryptocurrency is here to stay." Which is why Finman's consortium of whales wants to step back and rethink the whole thing. 

Don't sell those bitcoins yet

They were early adopters to bitcoin — Finman met many of them on message boards after buying his first bitcoin at age 13, when it was $12 a coin and they were very much alone in their faith in cryptocurrency. Finman says that those other investors prefer to maintain their privacy; his high profile in the press made him the natural face of the project, he says.

That long experience gives the consortium both an acute sense of the shortcomings of bitcoin, as well as lots of ideas for how it can improve, Finman says. Similarly, Finman says that he has a certain degree of credibility as an early believer in cryptocurrency. 

Finman is maintaining his considerable investments in existing cryptocurrency, out of his belief in the concept, if not the execution. But he predicts that amid all the drama, there will be a better cryptocurrency out there, built either by his consortium or someone else. And he says that the benefits of that new cryptocurrency will be so obvious, it won't even require consideration. 

"As soon as there's something better, I'll move over," says Finman.

SEE ALSO: $9 billion startup Stripe drops bitcoin support because it doesn't make sense as a means of payment

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NOW WATCH: A certified financial planner explains just how risky of an investment bitcoin is

A Wall Street behemoth is going after top tech talent with a world-wide competition

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

unnamed 6

  • Citadel and Citadel Securities are looking to attract top tech talent with a world-wide data competition. 
  • Such talent is in high demand as data revolutionizes Wall Street and other fields. 


Citadel, the Chicago-based hedge fund, and its spin-off trading firm Citadel Securities are gearing up for their second annual Data Open competition. 

Citadel will host dozens of one-day competitions throughout the year at top universities including Duke University, University of Texas at Austin, and UC Berkeley. Quants and mathematicians who win their local competition will then have a chance to compete for $100,000 at the final event at the end of the year. Those students will also get an interview with Citadel and Citadel Securities. 

The competition, a key part of Citadel's recruiting efforts, will expand into Europe and China this year and kicks off January 27 in Toronto. 

In the finale, participants are expected to use various real life data sets to come up with an answer to a proposed question. Last year's participants where tasked with figuring out where funding in the public education system would have the most impact. In the regional competitions, students can come up with their own research questions to address. 

As technology transforms Wall Street, financial services firms have a greater need for high caliber tech talent. LJ Brock, chief people officer at Citadel, told Business Insider the hunt for top talent has never been more competitive.

"The evolution of firms in other sectors is driving competition for talent," Brock said. "Retail, for instance, is evolving to compete with online platforms like Amazon. Whatever the case may be, businesses in all industries need to be able to access, process, and analyze data in order to succeed."

Brock's thesis appears to be backed by IBM research into the evolving demand for tech talent. The technology company found demand for data scientists, for instance, is set to increase 28% by 2020

"Annual demand for the fast-growing new roles of data scientist, data developers, and data engineers will reach nearly 700,000 openings by 2020," according to Forbes reporting

"We are all piling into this increasingly crowded space of employers looking for professionals with technology backgrounds, data science backgrounds, et cetera," Brock said. "Today, they have more options than ever."

Screen Shot 2018 01 24 at 12.56.39 PM

Who is Citadel targeting?

Developers. Quants. Fundamental Investors. 

"These are the three groups we are targeting in our recruitment efforts," Brock told Business Insider. 

Regardless of a candidate's technical background, the firm looks for a number of character traits in all candidates. 

"Before we think about your functional skills, I want to know if we have a learning, agile person, who is committed to continual education and development of their skill sets," he said. "If you have that we can build from there."

Currently, the company is advertising for two entry level quantitative researcher positions on its website. One full-time position requires someone who can "use unconventional data sources to drive innovation."

The Data Open competition, in a sense, provides a candidate an opportunity to audition for such a role. 

"You are actually a person who shows up and auditions for a role and we can see you perform the on the job tasks, we can see you in your craft, we can also watch you with your team," Justin Pinchback, head of talent strategy at Citadel, told Business Insider. 

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

Hedge fund billionaire Howard Marks is throwing cold water on the GOP tax law

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

Howard Marks

  • Many companies have welcomed the new tax law by announcing bonuses, wage hikes, and hiring.
  • Oaktree Capital founder Howard Marks threw cold water on the GOP tax reform in a new memo, questioning its long-term benefits and capacity to create new jobs. 
  • "So call it a gift to the corporate sector if you want, but I think it's unlikely to be much of a job-creator or long-term boon for the American middle class," Marks wrote. 


Many corporate execs are excited about the prospects of the recently passed GOP tax law, the highlight of which is a tax cut on businesses from 35% to 21%.

Numerous companies have announced employee bonuses, wage hikes, and new jobs in the wake of a forthcoming tax windfall.

But Howard Marks, the billionaire founder of hedge fund Oaktree Capital, isn't buying by the shiny new legislation.

In a new memo released this week, Marks threw cold water on the tax reform, questioning its long-term benefits, especially in light of how it was sold to the public.

While he isn't impressed with the changes at the individual tax level — saying "it's not much of a reform" — much of his critique is leveled at the corporate changes within the tax overhaul. 

"We've seen a number of companies give raises or bonuses following the enactment of the tax law, but I doubt it was done out of generosity," Marks wrote.

He says there's every reason to believe that most of the corporate tax benefit will be used to "enhance credit ratings, fatten dividend payments, and finance stock buybacks."

All of that is fine and well, but those weren't the rationales Republicans gave for passing the tax plan, according to Marks.

"Instead, it was billed as a job-creator," he wrote. "With unemployment already below average, many CEOs tell me they're hamstrung by a scarcity of qualified workers. So who will fill the new jobs if corporations expand in the US? And if workers aren't available, will new plants (and jobs) really be created?"

Marks agrees that there are short-term rewards to the plan, such as a boost to the economy and corporate profits, as well as larger paychecks for most Americans. But there are some likely consequences and "meaningful hidden risks" as well, including higher national debt, higher interest rates, and higher inflation.

"So call it a gift to the corporate sector if you want, but I think it's unlikely to be much of a job-creator or long-term boon for the American middle class," Marks wrote. 

SEE ALSO: JPMorgan Chase is raising wages to as much as $18 an hour as part of a $20 billion investment in its US business

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

‘Regulate it Out of Existence’: Nobel Economist Fails to Find a Purpose for Bitcoin [Again]

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

The post ‘Regulate it Out of Existence’: Nobel Economist Fails to Find a Purpose for Bitcoin [Again] appeared first on CCN

Economist Joseph Stiglitz won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 for analyzing markets with asymmetric information, but he can’t find a useful function for bitcoin. This according to a recent article in Business Insider, which cited the Nobel-winning economists from Davos, Switzerland at the 2018 World Ecomomic Forum in an interview with Bloomberg.

The post ‘Regulate it Out of Existence’: Nobel Economist Fails to Find a Purpose for Bitcoin [Again] appeared first on CCN

Cryptocurrency Market Cap Adds $50 Billion as Ripple, Stellar, and NEO Surge

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

The post Cryptocurrency Market Cap Adds $50 Billion as Ripple, Stellar, and NEO Surge appeared first on CCN

The cryptocurrency market cap added $50 billion on Wednesday, rebounding from a correction that caused it to dip as low as $415 billion last week. The rally lifted the bitcoin price above $11,000, while Ripple, Cardano, Stellar, and NEO all posted double-digit percentage advances. At present, the cryptocurrency market cap is valued at $551 billion,

The post Cryptocurrency Market Cap Adds $50 Billion as Ripple, Stellar, and NEO Surge appeared first on CCN

Cryptocurrency Market Cap Adds $50 Billion as Ripple, Stellar, and NEO Surge

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

The post Cryptocurrency Market Cap Adds $50 Billion as Ripple, Stellar, and NEO Surge appeared first on CCN

The cryptocurrency market cap added $50 billion on Wednesday, rebounding from a correction that caused it to dip as low as $415 billion last week. The rally lifted the bitcoin price above $11,000, while Ripple, Cardano, Stellar, and NEO all posted double-digit percentage advances. At present, the cryptocurrency market cap is valued at $551 billion,

The post Cryptocurrency Market Cap Adds $50 Billion as Ripple, Stellar, and NEO Surge appeared first on CCN

Rapper 50 Cent Is Now a Bitcoin Millionaire

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

Rapper 50 Cent's move to accept bitcoin for his 2014 "Animal Ambition" album has resulted in a multi-million dollar windfall.

BAUPOST'S KLARMAN: ‘We will have to work harder with less to show for it’

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

Seth Klarman

  • Value investor Seth Klarman, founder of $30 billion hedge fund The Baupost Group, says good investment ideas are harder to come by.
  • "Mispricings are less common and less stark, and expected returns are often at the low end of acceptability."
  • Baupost generated returns in the mid-single digits last year.


Seth Klarman, founder of $30 billion hedge fund The Baupost Group, says it's harder than ever to find good investment ideas.

"For each idea, it seems like we have to dig deeper to figure outs something others have not, and there is growing competition for those insights," Klarman wrote in his year-end letter to investors, a copy of which was reviewed by Business Insider. "In general, mispricings are less common and less stark, and expected returns are often at the low end of acceptability."

Baupost gained in the mid-single digits in 2017. By comparison, stock markets rallied last year, with the S&P 500 gaining about 21%. Baupost had about 36% of its portfolio in cash at year-end, according to the letter.

Klarman said illiquid and private transactions have been particularly tricky. "Sellers have the upper hand and they know it, so urgent selling is rare and buyers are at a disadvantage as negotiations advance." 

Still, Klarman remains hopeful (emphasis added):

"Although markets are increasingly expensive, diamonds in the rough are out there, and the only way to be successful in the markets when things get more interesresting is to relentlessly comb the markets and fill the idea pipeline. Years of increasing investor complacency inevitably sow the seeds of future dislocation and opportunity. But for now, we will have to work harder with less to show for it."

Baupost is staying away from bitcoin and the craze around other cryptocurrencies, meanwhile. "Cryptocurrencies seem more like tulip bulbs for the digital age," Klarman wrote.

The letter made no mention of the firm's Puerto Rico bond holdings, which have drawn controversy.

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

Deja Vu! JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Promises to Stop Talking about Bitcoin (Again)

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

The post Deja Vu! JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Promises to Stop Talking about Bitcoin (Again) appeared first on CCN

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is done talking about Bitcoin, or so he says. Jamie Dimon Promises to Stop Talking about Bitcoin (Again) The noted bitcoin critic made this resolution while in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. “I think you all have said enough, I’m not going to say anymore,” Dimon said of Bitcoin … Continued

The post Deja Vu! JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Promises to Stop Talking about Bitcoin (Again) appeared first on CCN

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.

Lots of news out of retail today, so let's jump right in.

As Chipotle searches for a CEO, one candidate that has emerged on almost every list of possible contenders is former Panera CEO and current chairman Ron Shaich. There's just one problem. Shaich doesn't want the job. "Why would I ever go to work for Bill Ackman?" he told Business Insider.

Toys R Us is planning to close up to 182 stores, which represents about 20% of its locations in the US. The toy chain will start going-out-of-business sales in February, and the stores will close in April. Here's the full list of store closures

Starbucks is spending $120 million to raise wages and benefits, a decision that follows numerous barista complaints of being underpaid. The move was "accelerated" by the new tax law, according to CEO Kevin Johnson.  

In finance news, Baupost Group's Seth Klarman dedicated two pages in his annual client letter to a scathing critique of Trump, global nationalism and concerns about the rise of Russia, China and North Korea, saying all could forebode market upheaval.

"Xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism are literally on the march," Klarman wrote in the year-end letter, a copy of which was reviewed by Business Insider.

The founder of controversial hedge fund Och-Ziff is reportedly at odds with the 34-year-old who had been set to succeed him.

Here's what's going on in the markets:

Rapper 50 Cent says he accepted bitcoin as payment for his 2014 album "Animal Ambition." The 700 bitcoin he reportedly raked in are now worth between $7 million and $8.5 million, and he hasn't offloaded his stake yet.

Elsewhere in crypto news: 

Lastly, take a look inside the largest Lamborghini dealership in the world.

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

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.

Lots of news out of retail today, so let's jump right in.

As Chipotle searches for a CEO, one candidate that has emerged on almost every list of possible contenders is former Panera CEO and current chairman Ron Shaich. There's just one problem. Shaich doesn't want the job. "Why would I ever go to work for Bill Ackman?" he told Business Insider.

Toys R Us is planning to close up to 182 stores, which represents about 20% of its locations in the US. The toy chain will start going-out-of-business sales in February, and the stores will close in April. Here's the full list of store closures

Starbucks is spending $120 million to raise wages and benefits, a decision that follows numerous barista complaints of being underpaid. The move was "accelerated" by the new tax law, according to CEO Kevin Johnson.  

In finance news, Baupost Group's Seth Klarman dedicated two pages in his annual client letter to a scathing critique of Trump, global nationalism and concerns about the rise of Russia, China and North Korea, saying all could forebode market upheaval.

"Xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism are literally on the march," Klarman wrote in the year-end letter, a copy of which was reviewed by Business Insider.

The founder of controversial hedge fund Och-Ziff is reportedly at odds with the 34-year-old who had been set to succeed him.

Here's what's going on in the markets:

Rapper 50 Cent says he accepted bitcoin as payment for his 2014 album "Animal Ambition." The 700 bitcoin he reportedly raked in are now worth between $7 million and $8.5 million, and he hasn't offloaded his stake yet.

Elsewhere in crypto news: 

Lastly, take a look inside the largest Lamborghini dealership in the world.

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 Should Not be Banned: CEO of Russia’s Largest Bank

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

The post Cryptocurrencies Should Not be Banned: CEO of Russia’s Largest Bank appeared first on CCN

Influential Russian banker and bitcoiner Herman Gref, head of Sberbank, has reaffirmed his position in opposing a ban of cryptocurrencies. While Russian authorities have considerably softened their previously-hostile stance on cryptocurrencies, the chief executive of Russia’s biggest bank has gone a step further in urging authorities to be patient with decentralized currencies – even with … Continued

The post Cryptocurrencies Should Not be Banned: CEO of Russia’s Largest Bank appeared first on CCN

The entire healthcare business is being redrawn — and it's anybody's guess what's going to happen next

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

doctor patient

  • Healthcare companies are striking deals that are changing the way they look. 
  • Pharmacies are becoming insurers, hospitals are becoming drugmakers, and insurers are starting to become healthcare providers.
  • The changes are part of an effort to lower healthcare costs by having companies assume more responsibility over patients. 
  • Two companies to watch in this space are Hospital Corp. of America, and UnitedHealth Group.

Pharmacies are acquiring insurers. Hospitals are getting into the drug business. And insurers are starting to own doctors offices.

The boundaries of the healthcare business are changing. Instead of growing by acquiring other companies in the same business, companies have started to move into new lines of business, with no two combinations looking exactly the same. 

It's part of a push on the part of healthcare companies to do two things: cut costs, and gain more control over the patients in need of healthcare. It's coming at the same time large tech companies are eyeing ways to disrupt the healthcare industry and the industry faces entirely new medications that challenge the existing way we pay for treatments.

Unexpected combinations

CVS's acquisition of Aetna, sent a big shockwave through the healthcare industry. The move combined the largest pharmacy in the US with the third-largest insurer in what was the biggest deal of 2017. 

Together, CVS and Aetna have a health insurance business, retail pharmacies, and a company that negotiates prescription drug prices with drugmakers called a pharmacy benefits manager. This gives CVS a lot more control over how people access and pay for healthcare, with the aim of making pharmacies the "new front doors of healthcare."

It doesn't mean we'll suddenly see a spate of pharmacy-insurer deals, UBS senior healthcare analyst Jerome Brimeyer told Business Insider.

Instead, the new combinations will be based around the patients a particular organization serves. Humana, for example, purchased home health care operator Kindred Health with the help of private-equity firms. The move helps provide Humana customers with home health options, which is a lower cost way to care for patients than staying in a hospital, something that's more relevant to Medicare populations. 

Similarly in a move in part to lower their costs, in January, a group of hospitals, including Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, Ascension, SSM Health, and Trinity Health, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs health administration (a group that in total represents 450 hospitals) announced their plans to create a nonprofit generic drug company

Their rationale? For years, health systems have been on the hook for skyrocketing drug prices for injections or drugs delivered through IV solutions, medications that have also been at the heart of drug shortages. The two challenges have made it harder to treat patients the way doctors want. 

Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain told Business Insider that the plan to form a generic drugmaker has been an idea for a couple of years, but hospitals were hopeful that the shortages and price increases would work themselves out. When they didn't, they took the next step to form a nonprofit company. 

Harrison said he hopes the generic drug company will be temporary but it remains to be seen. He emphasized that the point of the company was not because the health systems are against pharmaceutical companies or even generic drug companies, they're just interested in seeing some change. 

Where this is headed

As more companies look to cut costs and remove some of the pressure they're feeling from the current health system, we may start to see more surprising combinations that challenge our definitions of healthcare companies.

For one thing, tech companies like Apple or Amazon could change things in ways we don't yet expect. For example, Apple's going to start putting medical records onto iPhones, and there's been speculation about how Amazon could deliver prescriptions — a move that would impact retail pharmacies that might see less foot traffic — or potentially just help coordinate healthcare through its voice assistant Alexa. Should major tech companies start shaking up the way consumers interact with their healthcare, it could force existing healthcare companies to adapt in new ways. 

Brimeyer, the UBS analyst, said there are two companies to pay attention to as healthcare starts to get a lot more vertical: Hospital Corporation of America, the largest hospital operator in the US, and UnitedHealth Group the largest insurer in the US.

"Both have similar programs underway trying to do much more vertical integration along the continuum of care," Brimeyer said. 

UnitedHealth, in the past few years, has started amassing a group of businesses that go beyond insuring people. It owns surgery centers, urgent care centers, primary care practices, and a PBM to manage prescription benefits. The addition of a PBM to an insurer, in particular, has garnered a lot of attention, especially after the CVS-Aetna merger, which included two similar businesses. 

But the company's structure goes beyond trying to have more control over the way prescription drugs are paid for. It's about making sure that UnitedHealth's members have access to lower cost healthcare, which in turn saves UnitedHealth money on an unexpected, costly trip to the emergency room.

Similarly, HCA, which operates 177 hospitals and 119 surgery centers in the US and the UK and other facility-based companies might look to pick up more urgent care centers or behavioral health practices to find ways to treat patients that doesn't involve the hospital. 

"By covering more of the healthcare pie, it benefits them, because they can have more opportunities to treat these patients at lower cost centers," Brimeyer said. 

SEE ALSO: Hospital groups and the VA are trying to upend the generic drug business

DON'T MISS: 'We're not going to follow the hype': Biotech VCs are concerned by the staggering size of early-stage startup funding

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

CRYPTO INSIDER: 50 Cent is a bitcoin millionaire

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

50 cent

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.

Rapper 50 Cent says he accepted bitcoin as payment for his 2014 album "Animal Ambition." The 700 bitcoin he reportedly raked in are now worth between $7 million and $8.5 million, and he hasn't offloaded his stake yet.

Here's the full rundown of cryptocurrencies as of Wednesday morning: 

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: I tried the 7-minute workout for a month — here's what happened

CRYPTO INSIDER: 50 Cent is a bitcoin millionaire

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

50 cent

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.

Rapper 50 Cent says he accepted bitcoin as payment for his 2014 album "Animal Ambition." The 700 bitcoin he reportedly raked in are now worth between $7 million and $8.5 million, and he hasn't offloaded his stake yet.

Here's the full rundown of cryptocurrencies as of Wednesday morning: 

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: I tried the 7-minute workout for a month — here's what happened

CRYPTO INSIDER: 50 Cent is a bitcoin millionaire

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

50 cent

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Rapper 50 Cent says he accepted bitcoin as payment for his 2014 album "Animal Ambition." The 700 bitcoin he reportedly raked in are now worth between $7 million and $8.5 million, and he hasn't offloaded his stake yet.

Here's the full rundown of cryptocurrencies as of Wednesday morning: 

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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An Exchange Platform Built for Users: KuCoin Rewards Use of Its Platform, Now Offers Bitcoin Cash Pairs

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

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This is a submitted sponsored story. CCN urges readers to conduct their own research with due diligence into the company, product or service mentioned in the content below. On top of its novel profit sharing practices, the KuCoin exchange is now the first major exchange to offer comprehensive Bitcoin Cash trading pairs. KuCoin is proving itself

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Two More Companies Sign On to Test Ripple's XRP in xRapid Pilots

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

IDT Corporation and Mercury FX announced Wednesday that they would pilot Ripple's XRP token to facilitate real-time, low-cost international transfers.

Riot Blockchain Wins 500 BTC in Auction, CEO Predicts $50,000 Bitcoin Price in 2019

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

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Riot Blockchain has claimed 500 bitcoins from an auction held by the US Marshals Service, the latest move in its pivot to the nascent blockchain industry. Riot Blockchain Wins 500 Bitcoins in US Marshals’ Auction The former biotech firm had sought to purchase an even larger slice of the 3,813 bitcoins that the US Marshals

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'Not True': Goldman's Blankfein Denies Bitcoin Trading Desk Rumor

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

The CEO of Goldman Sachs has denied a report from last year which said that the investment bank was moving to launch its own bitcoin trading desk.

Stripe Will No Longer Accept Bitcoin as Payment Method

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

It will stop processing bitcoin payments entirely on April 23.

Will Digital Currency Bring this Legacy Brand Back from the Dead?

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

Digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are dominating headlines, but will a new digital currency offering be enough to save Kodak from obscurity?

BAUPOST'S KLARMAN WARNS: ‘The world has tilted off its axis, and we believe owners of capital should be increasingly worried’

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

Seth Klarman

  • Seth Klarman, founder of $30 billion hedge fund The Baupost Group, is concerned about growing nationalism in the US and abroad.
  • Klarman says investors should be worried.
  • President Donald Trump "puts the U.S. at risk of both grave strategic miscalculation and reduced global influence," he wrote, which could undermine markets.

 

The founder of one of the world's largest hedge funds says the global political climate poses a grave threat to democracy and international markets.

Baupost Group's Seth Klarman dedicated two pages in his annual client letter to a scathing critique of Trump, global nationalism and concerns about the rise of Russia, China and North Korea, saying all could forebode market upheaval.

"Xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism are literally on the march," Klarman wrote in the year-end letter, a copy of which was reviewed by Business Insider.

He cited Trump's election win, Brexit, the Scottish referendum for independence, Catalonia's crisis with Spain, and two Italian regions' vote for greater autonomy from Rome. He also cited concerns about a demise of American democracy, with polls showing "a disturbing number of young people with anti-democratic views." 

He added: "From Charlottesville to Poland, neo-Nazis, while still limited in number, are resurgent. Clearly the world has tilted off its axis, and we believe owners of capital should be increasingly worried. Amidst the tsunami of growing discontent and upheaval, soaring share prices and subdued volatility seem especially peculiar."

Bernie Sanders' rise in the 2016 U.S. election should also alarm investors, Klarman said, because it shows that a significant number of Americans have "moved away from the center, an ominous trend for an already divided and increasingly angry nation."

Klarman has long criticized Trump and he holds no punches back in his most recent letter: Trump "has displayed few of the character traits required in a US president and no aptitude for or interest in developing them," he wrote.

He added:

Trump "puts the U.S. at risk of both grave strategic miscalculation and reduced global influence. Indeed, the loss (or sever diminution) of what had been America's unquestioned position of leadership on the world stage impairs our ability to influence world events in a manner that promotes stability and democracy. This is bad for the U.S. and could also undermine markets in the long run."

Klarman is also worried about how other countries, which hold U.S. debt, will react should they become concerned about the future of US democracy or question the country's status as a safe haven, saying that "no one is obliged to buy our bonds."

Baupost, which manages about $30 billion, gained in the mid-single digits in 2017, and held 36% of its portfolio in cash as of year end, according to the letter.

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Bitcoin: Will It Become The Myspace Of Cryptocurrencies?

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

Bitcoin is clearly the number one cryptocurrency right now. But, do its shortcomings pose a long-term threat to its dominance?

Analyst: Now is the Best Time to Invest in Bitcoin, Even After Recent Correction

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

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Brian Kelly, cryptocurrency hedge fund BKCM manager and CNBC Fast Trader contributor, believes now is the best time to invest in bitcoin, even after the major correction that hit the global cryptocurrency market. Nearly 50% from All-Time High Since reaching an all-time high at around $19,000 in December 2017, the price of bitcoin has decreased

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Bitcoin Trader Made Millions Trading on Margin — And Then Lost It All

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

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A bitcoin trader allegedly lost nearly 200 bitcoins during the recent cryptocurrency market correction, which forced the bitcoin price as low as $9,231 after peaking at $19,891 last month. The tragic story, which was posted on the Bitcoin Markets subreddit, is a stark reminder of how fleeting crypto wealth can be — and how bitcoin

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This Famous Rapper Took Payment In Bitcoin, and Completely Forgot About It. Now They're Worth Millions

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

A single Instagram post, 11 short words, and a little bit of strategic forgetfulness.

Rapper 50 Cent says he made millions selling his album for bitcoin

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

50 cent cantor fitzgerald

  • Rapper 50 Cent says he accepted bitcoin as payment for his 2014 album "Animal Ambition."
  • The 700 bitcoin he raked in are now worth between $7 million and $8.5 million, and he reportedly hasn't offloaded his stake yet.


50 Cent has figured out a way to make a killing in the struggling music industry, and it involves everyone's favorite cryptocurrency.

The rapper, best known for his string of chart-topping hits in the early 2000s, says that he accepted bitcoin as payment for his 2014 album "Animal Ambition," according to a report from TMZ. It was worth roughly $662 a coin back then, and TMZ sources say 50 Cent was able to rake in a total of 700 bitcoin.

Now that the red-hot cryptocurrency has exploded higher, trading around $11,300, his 700-bitcoin stash is worth somewhere between $7 million and $8.5 million, TMZ calculates. 

This isn't the first time 50 Cent has found himself in a lucrative investment situation. About a decade ago, he became a minority shareholder and celebrity spokesperson for VitaminWater, only to make a whopping $100 million after taxes after its parent company was purchased for $4.1 billion, according to Forbes.

While 50 Cent was certainly ahead of the curve in terms of transacting bitcoin, he's not alone. In a recent op-ed for Business Insider, Seattle Seahawks superstar Richard Sherman said that his online store started accepting the cryptocurrency "long before people were campaigning for Amazon to allow virtual currencies as a payment method."

Screen Shot 2018 01 24 at 9.19.05 AM

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Ripple, the firm behind cryptocurrency XRP, just added 2 more financial services firms to its roster of clients

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

The logo of blockchain company Ripple is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

  • Ripple, the company behind cryptocurrency XRP, appears to be picking up steam among traditional financial players.
  • The company added two payments companies to its roster of clients, Ripple announced Wednesday.


One of Ripple's flagship products appears to be picking up some steam.

The financial technology company, best known for its digital currency XRP, announced Wednesday two payment companies - IDT Corporation and Mercury FX - would begin using its xRapid product to settle certain transactions.

Asheesh Birla, VP of product for Ripple, told Business Insider earlier this year that the firm was speeding up plans for xRapid, an XRP-powered product that seeks to enhance cross-border payments for emerging markets. The product caught the attention of the media earlier this month after it was announced that MoneyGram, one of the largest money transfer companies in the world, would begin testing it out.

New Jersey-based IDT Corporation, which already uses digital assets to facilitate some transactions, will use xRapid to enhance such operations, according to chief executive Alfredo O'Hagan.

"We’re excited to pilot Ripple’s xRapid solution for on-demand liquidity," O'Hagan said in a statement. "We expect that xRapid will enable us to settle more transactions in real-time and at a lower cost."

Alastair Constance, CEO and founder of Mercury FX, said in a statement that cutting settlement times could shave billion of dollars "in unnecessary intermediary fees."

A spokesperson for Ripple declined to say whether either IDT Corporation or Mercury FX would pay Ripple to use xRapid.

"We don't disclose terms of our deals with customers," the spokesperson told Business Insider via email.

Capture.PNGThe news suggests Ripple is making inroads among traditional financial services players. Ripple stands out in the cryptocurrency world as a company that seeks to partner with, rather than topple, the current financial system. Its approach has drawn investors to its digital currency XRP. It's up more than 500% over the last three months, according to Markets Insider data.

Still, some market watchers are skeptical of whether Ripple will be able to attract big bank clients. New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper said he was unable to verify many of the cooperating banks the company had previously announced.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse denied those claims. 

SEE ALSO: Here's what UBS' bosses are saying about a big shakeup at its $2.3 trillion money management unit

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'Mrs. Watanabe' is back: How the archetypal Japanese housewife is fueling the bitcoin craze

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

japan woman market

  • John Velis, a senior multi-asset strategist for State Street Global Markets, recently sat down for an interview with Business Insider to talk stocks, markets, and economic cycles.
  • He had one of the best analogies to understand the current bitcoin mania that we've heard yet: "Mrs. Watanabe."


Last week, we asked State Street multi-asset strategist John Velis about his views on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

Other than the usual warnings about how the market is not mature, and that the insane volatility could easily wipe out an uninformed investor's holdings, he had an interesting analogy: "Mrs. Watanabe."

Back in the Japan's "lost decade," when interest rates were painfully low, housewives — who have traditionally managed a family's finances — turned to trading international currencies in order to find some extra alpha in the tough times. 

"Now, it seems like the 21st century Mrs. Watanabe is buying cryptocurrencies," Velis told Business Insider as part of a larger interview about stocks, cryptocurrencies, and inflation.

He's not the first to draw the comparison. Deutsche Bank cited the archetypal housewife in a note last year. She's also been alluded to in plenty of media reports and Wall Street research. Still, Velis' is one of the best ways to explain the bitcoin craze that we've seen so far. 

Here's the full quote from Velis: 

"Cryptocurrencies are 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." 

Velis also compared the current bitcoin craze to the dot-com boom of the 1990's. 

"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," he said. "That's clearly what's been driving it."

You can read the full interview with John Velis here>>

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Indonesia Central Bank Goes ‘Undercover’ to Check on Bitcoin in Bali

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

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Indonesian authorities, including the central bank, are looking into the use of bitcoin as a currency in various retail establishments across the holiday island of Bali. It was October 2017 when Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank, issued a public notice outlawing bitcoin as a payment instrument. At the time, central bank governor Agus Martowardojo … Continued

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Payment Processor Stripe Walks Away from Bitcoin

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

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Irish online payment processor Stripe announced Tuesday it will discontinue accepting bitcoin payments as of April 23, 2018. The company cites block size capacity, slow transaction confirmation times and high fees as the reasons behind the change. Stripe became the first major processor to accept bitcoin back in 2014. Company product manager Tom Karlo goes

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Building a Base? Bitcoin Demand at $10K Hints at Move Higher

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

Persistent demand around the $10,000 mark hints that bitcoin could be building a base for an eventual move to over $13,000.

A hotel booking site has revealed the things you should always ask for at hotel check-in to get 5-star treatment without paying for it

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

hotel check in

  • Travel experts shared their tips and tricks for scoring lesser-known freebies, upgrades, and general special treatment while staying at a hotel.
  • Always check in late, let them know you'll be reviewing your stay, and look for the "secret pillow menu," they say. 


Staying in a nice hotel is a rare luxury for most of us, meaning that you'll want to make the most of it when you do.

With this in mind, travel experts at Hotels.com have shared some tips and tricks for scoring lesser-known freebies or upgrades that'll make your stay that little bit more luxurious.

1. Check in as late as possible.

"If you check in late, then there is a chance that the hotel might have run out of standard rooms, which is generally the room category the everyday traveler books, so an upgrade to a higher room category could be on the cards," according to the Hotels.com experts.

2. Let them know you'll be reviewing your stay.

woman review

"Guest reviews and social media exposure are so important to hotels these days," the site added. "At check-in tell them you’ll be writing a review and that you follow them on Instagram and will be tagging and snapping the hotel at every opportunity."

3. Ask about breakfast deals.

hotel room

"If your room package doesn’t include breakfast, always ask at check in if there are any special deals for the on-site restaurant, especially for breakfast. You could land yourself large discounts on food, an invite to guests-only happy hours, or special 2-for-1 deals."

4. Request fancy freebies.

face mask

"Hotel freebies have had a serious upgrade over the past few years. Forget soap in the shower; you can often enjoy designer toiletries, including body lotion, face masks, and beauty utensils.

"Other items to watch out for are exotic teas and snacks, slippers, high-end magazines, stationery, and some hotels even have items for day usage such as portable WiFi units, umbrellas, and bikes."

5. Find the "secret pillow menus."

pillow hotel

"A menu in your room might not just be for room service or laundry. Many hotels these days want to offer travelers the luxuries of home, so pillow menus are the new norm," Hotels.com said.

"If you are prone to neck and back pains, ask about pillow options. The front desk usually has a huge selection from super firm to melty marshmallow."

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A £34,500-a-year British boarding school threatened to expel students who have girlfriends or boyfriends — and they can forget about a good university reference

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

ruthin school main building wikicomm arwel parry

  • A prestigious British boarding school has threatened students with expulsion if they enter into relationships.
  • The headmaster has declared that students with boyfriends and girlfriends will also receive damning references in their university applications.
  • Two students have already been expelled for engaging in sexual activity.


One of the UK's leading boarding schools is threatening students with expulsion and bad university references if they engage in romantic relationships with one another, the Times reported.

The headmaster of Ruthin School, a £34,500 ($48,600)-a-year boarding school in north Wales, reportedly wrote in an email to staff that: "I strongly disapprove of any boyfriend/girlfriend relationships — and it will always affect any university reference I write."

The email continued: "I will put together a list of any student with a boyfriend or girlfriend. These students — if in lower sixth form or year 11 — can expect to find new schools in September."

The Times reported that headmaster Toby Belfield has already expelled two students for sexual contact on school grounds.

Ruthin School, which traces its origins as far back at 1284, has a prestigious reputation and is ranked twelfth in the Times' 2017 A-Level league tables.

Headmaster Belfield has previously been accused of actively seeking out pupils to expel because the school was oversubscribed, according to the Times' informant.

The headmaster has also reportedly banned pupils from ordering takeaways to their dorms and has criticised "pathetic" children for taking sick days.

In a statement issued to the Times, headmaster Toby Belfield said: "In my experience, students who are in a relationship, while at school are in danger of academically underachieving.

"If a student was achieving top grades, then I would not hamper their chances of a university place by writing a less favourable reference, due to them having a boyfriend/girlfriend. But, this is very rare."

Upon being quizzed over whether a romantic relationship is a big enough reason to be expelled, Belfield told the Times: "Pupils will not be summarily expelled... they will be given the opportunity to review their current romantic situation, and my belief is that they (and their parents) will put their education first."

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UK employment reaches a new record — as wages rise quicker than expected

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

Jobs

  • UK unemployment rate stays at joint record low of 4.3%, while employment hits a record high, with 32.21 million people in work.
  • That represents an employment rate of 75.3%.
  • Average earnings increase by 2.4% excluding bonuses — remaining below inflation, but beating forecasts.


LONDON – The number of people employed in the UK has hit a fresh record, while wage growth continues to pick up, albeit slowly, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics.

The ONS said on Wednesday that there were "32.21 million people in work in the three months to November 2017."

"Latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that there were 32.21 million people in work in the three months to November 2017, which is 415,000 more than for the same period a year earlier and 102,000 more than the previous quarter," an ONS release said.

Overall, the employment rate was 75.3%, a joint high since records began in 1971.

Here is the ONS' chart, showing the employment rate in its historical context:

Screen Shot 2018 01 24 at 09.41.15

Average earnings beat forecasts, the ONS said, with earnings excluding bonuses increasing by 2.4% over the data period, while including bonuses, that figure was 2.5%. Both numbers were better than expected.

The UK's Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate — the key measure of inflation — remains elevated since the referendum, hitting 3% in January.

That means that while earnings growth may be picking up, it is still lagging inflation and UK workers are seeing their real wages continuing to decline.

"With the employment rate returning to a joint record high and the number of vacancies setting a new record, demand for workers clearly remains strong.  Moreover, economic inactivity is at its lowest since the winter of 2000-01," David Freeman, a senior statistician for the ONS said in a statement.

"Nevertheless inflation remains higher than pay growth and so the real value of earnings continues to decline."

The unemployment rate was 4.3% in the three months to November, unchanged from the previous reading.

Earlier in the month, Michael Saunders, a key Bank of England policymaker said that the UK could see unemployment fall below 4% in 2018, as the country's job market continues to defy the uncertainty surrounding Britain's economic future outside the EU.

"The view of the external consensus is that this decline in unemployment is now probably over, and that unemployment is likely to stabilise or rise slightly this year," Saunders told a conference in London.

"But my hunch is that the labour market will probably tighten further this year, with the jobless rate dropping to -- and perhaps even below -- 4% during 2018, alongside further declines in under-employment."

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JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin cites Warren Buffett and attacks anti-Brexit organisations for 'trying to fool the public'

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

Tim Martin and Boris Johnson

  • Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin uses company trading update to criticise anti-Brexit institutions.
  • Martin attacked the "highly inaccurate" economic forecasts of international institutions like the OECD and IMF.
  • "Their erroneous views lend weight to Warren Buffett's aphorism that most forecasts tell you a lot about the forecaster, but nothing about the future," he said.
  • Wetherspoon saw like-for-like sales increase by 6% in the 12 weeks to January 21.


LONDON — Tim Martin, chairman of pub chain JD Wetherspoon has attacked the "highly inaccurate" economic forecasts of international institutions like the OECD and IMF, quoting investing legend Warren Buffett in the process.

Writing in the latest trading update for Wetherspoons, Martin took aim at these organisations, as well as the likes of the CBI and BRC, accusing them of  "trying to fool the public and MPs and bringing business into disrepute."

"Their erroneous views lend weight to Warren Buffett's aphorism that most forecasts tell you a lot about the forecaster, but nothing about the future," he said.

Organisational efforts against Brexit, Martin claims, are spearheaded by publishing inaccurate surveys designed to make it look like Brexit will be bad for UK businesses. One survey about the rising price of food after Brexit came in for particular ire from Martin.

"By refusing to acknowledge the fact that food prices will be reduced, post Brexit, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal and parliament votes to eliminate taxes which are currently imposed on non-EU food imports, the CBI and the BRC are trying to fool the public and MPs and bringing business into disrepute," he said in an astonishing letter to investors.

Martin provides no evidence that the organisations named have deliberately published inaccurate information.

Martin's statements come the day after Wetherspoons pulled beef and gammon steaks from its 900 pubs in the UK over a quality issue, according to The Sun newspaper.

His comments, however, are by no means his first attack on public figures and groups he sees as being anti-Brexit. Back in November, Martin used a shareholder letter to criticise media outlets and business groups for spreading "misinformation" about Brexit.

He added that business leaders are making "factually incorrect and highly misleading" statements about leaving the European Union.

Away from Martin's comments on Brexit, JD Wetherspoon reported on Wednesday that it saw like-for-like sales increase by 6% in the 12 weeks to January 21, and expects profits to come in ahead of forecasts when they are announced later in the year.

Investors appeared to be happy with Wetherspoon's results, with the company's share price rising by close to 5% around an hour into Wednesday morning trading, as the chart below shows:

Screen Shot 2018 01 24 at 08.51.03

"Investors are happy to ignore the small print, cheering a solid set of results in comparison to peers and seemingly confident that the chain can capitalise on consumer sentiment during the holy grail that is a World Cup year," Henry Croft, an analyst at Accendo Markets said in an email.

"Furthermore, the low cost, no frills pub chain continues to benefit from a perceived change in UK consumer spending, as drinkers move away from higher-cost, higher-end watering holes in order to enjoy creature comforts at much lower expense."

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The CEO of one of Russia's biggest banks said Europe is experiencing a 'new arms race' and that imposing further sanctions would be 'like declaring a war'

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

WL73yuOBQ2erxcAwA9NnnfZd0GyAxadG

  • The CEO of one of Russia's biggest banks said he was concerned about the build up of military equipment in Europe, which amounted to a "new arms race."
  • Andrei Kostin of VTB said the "dangerous" build up of weapons could cause an "accident" and was worsening tensions between Russia and the West.
  • He said if the US were to impose further economic sanctions on Russia, it would be "like declaring a war."


LONDON — The CEO of a Russian bank has warned of the growing threat of military conflict in Europe and said further sanctions imposed on Russia by the US would be like "declaring a war."

Andrei Kostin, head of VTB and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the Financial Times he was worried about the "dangerous" new "arms race" occurring in Europe, which he said could cause an "accident." 

"We are at the beginning of a new arms race," Kostin said, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"Nato is asking for more weapons and spreading more weapons in Europe and Russia will retaliate absolutely the same."

"So who will benefit from this? Only the generals and those who produce arms," he said. 

"America is saying Europe should pay more for this. Who needs it? It is very dangerous."

The US Treasury is due to present a report to Congress next week on oligarchs and "parastatal entities" close to Putin, potentially in advance of further sanctions against Russia.

New measures cut the duration of loans that can be offered to Russian financial firms that are subject to sanctions to 14 days from 30 days, and to 60 days from 90 days, for Russian energy companies on a US sanctions list.

VTB and Sberbank, Russia's two biggest banks, are both majority-owned by the Russian government, and are concerned the US may try to exclude them from the Swift international interbank payment system.

"Any economic sanctions against institutions, personally I would say it would be like declaring a war. I see no reason why the Russian ambassador should stay in Washington any longer after that or the American ambassador staying swimming in cold water in Moscow," said Kostin.

"I think that is a worse than cold war situation and that is very dangerous. And I think that America is playing with fire, because the relationship is going from bad to worse and we are not responsible for that," he said.

However, Kostin said he was "not concerned" about having personal sanctions imposed on him, which, under the Magnitsky Act, would prevent him travelling to the US or having a US bank account.

He warned a build-up of weapons was potentially very dangerous: "There is so much military equipment close together, anything can happen. Maybe it will not lead to a nuclear war, but it will further kill our [Russia and the West's] relationship.

"Who knows what is going to happen in Syria, or in the Baltics or in the Black Sea where you have now American military ships. The more arms you have, the more reason to believe there could be an explosion just by accident," he said.

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'The UK is famous for gold-plating EU regulations': Why Britain won't ditch Europe's financial rules after Brexit

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

Canary Wharf and the city are seen at sunset in London, December 14, 2016.

  • "There has been no appreciable stance within the vast majority of the industry ... for some sort of bonfire of the regulations," TheCityUK's chief executive Miles Celic told Business Insider.


LONDON — There is no appetite for a "bonfire" of EU regulations when Britain leaves the EU, according to the chief executive of a group which represents the UK's vast financial services sector.

Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, told Business Insider that the vast majority of industry and government opposed an approach in which Britain pitched itself as a low-regulation tax haven in a bid to attract banks and financial firms after Brexit, a model thought to be favoured by some Cabinet ministers.

"Whenever we go to Brussels or to member states on the delegations that we lead for the industry, this always comes up, and we are always very clear," Celic said. "There has been no appreciable stance within the vast majority of the industry, within government, or among British regulators, for some sort of bonfire of the regulations."

Celic said the UK is "more famous for gold-plating EU regulations than casting them aside," describing a process in which the UK has chosen to chosen to go further than the EU requires when adding a new European law to its own statute books, often in response to trade union pressure.

Britain has gold-plated a wide range of EU legislation during its membership of the bloc, including rules related to temporary workers, maternity and parental leave, and retirement ages.

The government's Great Repeal Bill means Britain will initially keep all EU law on its own statute books before it drops individual pieces of legislation as it sees fit, although some Cabinet ministers favour a different approach.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is reportedly leading demands that Britain instead pursues a "bottom-up" approach to regulatory divergence which starts with a blank sheet of paper and opts in to a limited amount of EU regulation.

TheCityUK favours an approach described as "mutual regulatory recognition," under which the EU and Britain would broadly accept firms in each other's markets because their regulatory systems were broadly similar. There would likely be a dispute resolution authority which arbitrated when one system moved to diverge from another.

Celic said the mutual recognition was "not a mechanism for divergence."

"It's a mechanism for managing alignment and where necessary, to manage any divergence that may happen," he said.

SEE ALSO: The City of London thinks Macron has it wrong on Brexit

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8 Major South Korean Cryptocurrency Exchanges Fined $130,000 For Poor Security Standards

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

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Eight major cryptocurrency exchanges in the South Korean market including Korbit, Coinone, Upbit, Coinplug, RippleForYou, and Coinpia have been fined in the range of $10,000 to $25,000 for having poor security measures. Fined For Poor Security With the exception of Bithumb, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, which is also the second biggest trading

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ADAIR TURNER: Tech companies like Facebook may be contributing to the next credit crisis

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

Lord Adair Turner copy

  • Lord Adair Turner talked to Business Insider about the effect of the tech sector on inequality, debt, and property.
  • Tech companies create fewer jobs and concentrate more wealth than non-tech companies, he said.
  • The prices of the products they create fall quickly, so they under-contribute to GDP growth.
  • Tech companies also buy a lot of expensive property, driving up prices.
  • Not-so-rich people need to take on debt to buy houses near that land — and banks are happy to extend that credit.
  • Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple thus drive credit booms due to land purchases, he argues.

Inequality in BritainDAVOS, Switzerland — People do not generally link Facebook, Google, and Apple to the 2008 credit crisis or the global collapse of the property market that followed.

But perhaps they should.

Or at least, perhaps they should ponder the role tech companies play in generating inequality, the demand for property, and the debt that may create the next credit crisis, according to Lord Adair Turner.

Turner is a regular at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where billionaires and political leaders meet annually to discuss "the global situation," as the conference portentously frames it. Turner was a consultant at McKinsey in the 80s and 90s, and has been a director of the Confederation of British Industry and a vice-chairman of Merrill Lynch Europe. In 2008, he took over as chairman of the Financial Services Authority, right as it was failing to prevent the collapse of several British banks. Currently, he is a senior research fellow at George Soros's Institute for New Economic Thinking.

In other words, Turner is just the sort of ruling-class technocrat that Davos is repeatedly criticised for hosting.

His greatest heresy is his theory that the tech sector creates wealth inequality

Adair turner Informal Panel

But he is also one of the more radical — and because of his background, more credible — thinkers on the mountainside. His 2015 book, "Between Debt and the Devil," asks an astonishing series of questions about the underlying structure of capitalism that most people at Davos dare not touch.

His greatest heresy is his theory that the tech sector creates wealth inequality (rather than alleviating it), contributes to property bubbles, and fuels the demand for debt that can hobble economies.

That's anathema to the narrative Silicon Valley would prefer. Facebook and Google give away their products for free. They grant people new tools to grow their own businesses. They make our working lives more productive. Apple rarely does anything for free, of course, but it gives billionaires and paupers identical computing power and access to information. To get rich in tech does not require you to be born into the right family, or go to private school, or attend Oxford or Cambridge. You need only a minimal level of technical ability and — more importantly — a superior idea to succeed.

Surely, tech companies are the great democratizers of economics?

Well, no, Turner told Business Insider in a conversation prior to Davos.

Tech companies are concentrating income and capital into fewer hands

Lord Adair Turner Baron of EcchinswellFor example, look at how Facebook creates capital and distributes employment income. In 2014, Facebook had just 5,000 employees and a market capitalization of $150 billion (£108 billion), Turner says in his book. In Q3 2017, it had 23,165 employees and $520 billion (£375 billion) in market cap, according to its most recent quarterly report.

That sounds like good news: Facebook has created jobs and created wealth.

But compare Facebook to Ford — a much larger company. Today, Ford has 201,000 employees and a market cap of $52.5 billion (£37.8 billion). In other words, it has nearly 10 times the number of paid staff but its investors hold only one-tenth of the capital that Facebook stockholders own.

You need a lot of people to make and sell cars. You need very few people to make and sell software. 

Thus Facebook creates fewer jobs but more capital inequality than Ford.

By definition, tech companies are concentrating income and capital into fewer hands, and making them richer compared to everyone else.

The problem with rich people...

The problem with rich people is that they reach "satiation" very fast, Turner says. There is only so much food they can eat, so many clothes they can buy, so many cars they can drive.

"As more people, as a result of this process [tech investment], get richer, there's a limit to how many mobile phones and bits of software and computer games they can buy, and those things keep on getting cheaper [anyway]. So they have more disposable money and they compete with one another for the thing which is in scarce supply," Turner says.

And that thing is ... land.

'One of the biggest things that all of the big tech companies — the Googles, the Facebooks — now spend investment dollars on is land'

Adair TurnerLand — real estate, property, buildings — is one of few economic sectors that is so massive its fortunes can make or derail entire economies. "Because it's in terms of trillions of dollars, this has a much more important effect" than other sectors, Turner says "It's many, many times bigger."

Immediately, success in the tech sector starts driving up the price of land.

"One of the observable and interesting features of our modern economy is 'clustering,'" Turner says. "When you have people who are good at making money out of all these technologies they tend to cluster in particular attractive cities to compete with one another, driving up the quality of that land. And again, the high-tech, high-touch paradox is, you think, 'why did they need to do that in a world where technology has dramatically reduced the cost of communications worldwide? ... Why don't they just go live in the Highlands of Scotland?"

"And observably, they don't," Turner says. "And it is a wonderful paradox. One of the biggest things that all of the big tech companies — the Googles, the Facebooks — now spend investment dollars on is land."

'You've got this extraordinary paradox that in this world where the technology which they're developing would enable people to work anywhere in the world, they spend enormous amounts of money on extremely expensive land'

"They buy up land in particular locations which has some of the most expensive land in the world, in the Valley, in Palo Alto etc., because they want all their tech guys, their developers, to be together. And they want them to be together in a state-of-the-art campus which looks rather gorgeous. So you've got this extraordinary paradox that in this world where the technology which they're developing would enable people to work anywhere in the world, they spend enormous amounts of money on extremely expensive land for them all to be in attractive locations."

Again, this would not be a problem if land and property improvement added meaningfully to GDP. But it doesn't, Turner believes. No more goods are produced, and no employment is created, by the buying and selling of property.

OK. But surely the new jobs tech companies create will add to GDP?

Tech has a self-limiting effect on GDP growth

Adair TurnerThat is also a problem, Turner says. The products that tech companies create are increasingly cheap, and they are often free, so they contribute little to GDP growth. The supply of tech is endless so its value falls. And this creates a self-limiting effect of tech on GDP growth.

"You might think, 'oh gosh, that means that more and more people will be employed as computer programmers, and more and more of the economy will be the amount that we spend on computers.' And that turns out to be completely wrong because the technology is so powerful and it produces computers so efficiently, that the cost of computers simply collapses. And so, however many mobile phones and computers we buy, it stays a very small proportion of what we sell, because each year, we buy twice as much computing power for the same amount of money. As a percentage of GDP, it's sort of self-defeating," Turner says.

"The power of software is amazing. If you have a small number of clever people who create some really, really clever software, you don't need any other clever people to produce a million copies of it, because every other copy other than the first is just produced out of thin air. That is software. It is infinitely replicable."

'I think we could see a decrease in the number of people operating in some aspects of software'

Adair TurnerThe next step is a proportional reduction in employment in the tech sector, he argues.

"I think we could see a decrease in the number of people operating in some aspects of software, because software is now getting so clever that software is writing software. I was briefly down in India to look into some of the big outsourcing firms, which do back-office processing IT development for companies, and their employment is beginning to shrink. It's because the capacities of the software are that the only thing you have to have. You have software check your software, and make sure it doesn't make mistakes," Turner says.

In this theory, you've got a situation where tech is creating fewer jobs, concentrating more wealth, and driving up the price of land.

With land prices rising, consumers need to take on more mortgage debt to buy property

Lord Adair TurnerThat sets off another part of the chain reaction. With land prices rising, consumers need to take on more mortgage debt to buy property. Banks are happy to lend, because they see rising property prices as an underlying asset that supports the credit market they are making.

Turner writes in his book, "Paradoxically, the rising importance of land is in part the direct consequence of the remarkable progress of information and communications technology (ICT). And the faster ICT progresses in the future, the more the value of real estate and land may increase."

"... If the supply of desirable locations is scarce, and the land on which desired real estate is irreproducible, the only thing that can adjust is the price. Thus the rising importance of real estate — and of the underlying land — in part reflects fundamental technological and consumer preference factors."

Turner isn't literally arguing that tech companies cause real estate credit bubbles, of course. He's merely pointing out that they don't help. They are a contributing factor. That's a problem because most people think they are the solution to the problem, not part of the cause.

We're living in a poker game in which the players who are losing can only stay in the game as long as players who are winning keep extending their credit.

Debt creation then becomes a real necessity. Now you have an economy where most people are not rich enough to buy the houses near the tech companies that are driving up property prices, and those tech companies are not creating enough jobs or contributing enough to GDP growth to make the poor richer through extra jobs. The problem is particularly extreme in Silicon Valley — where even a modest house costs more than $500,000 (£360,000) and one-third of all houses cost $2.5 million (£1.8 million) or more. New York and London are similarly plagued.

The non-rich now need more credit to get by. Consumer demand is only sustained because the rich are willing to extend credit — through banks — to those poorer than themselves.

The rich might be doing well, but everyone below them is not.

If this sounds like a doomsday scenario, that's because it is. But it's not fiction — it has already happened. As Turner describes in his book, it's what caused the Great Depression.

"We know that the level of inequality, which had existed in America in the 1920s, seemed to drive a level of debt creation, which then became unsustainable. One of the greats who looked at this ... was Marriner Eccles, who was chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1934-1951. He likened what was going on in the 1920s to a poker game in which the chaps who were losing could only stay in the game as long as chaps who were winning extended their credit."

So how does it end?

"When the chips run out, and the game collapses," Turner says.

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Japan's biggest bitcoin exchange saw $150 billion traded in less than 2 months: 'December was certainly an interesting month'

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

Andy Bryant, COO, bitFlyer Europe 1

  • BitFlyer has trading volumes of $150 billion in November and December of last year, European COO said.
  • Japanese exchange now averaging $50 billion in monthly trade.
  • Disclosures came as BitFlyer announced its European launch.


LONDON — Japan's largest bitcoin exchange saw trading volumes of $150 billion in the last two months last year, according to the company's European head, more than doubling the company's expected annual volume.

BitFlyer's European COO Andy Byrant told Business Insider: "When we launched in the US we were telling people our trading volume data. At that time, just between January and November, we were quoting year to date volumes of $100 billion. Full-year was $250 billion. December was certainly an interesting month."

The exchange charges fees between 0.01% and 0.15% per transaction in Japan, where it offers leverage of up to 15x, allowing traders to boost their profits or losses.

BitFlyer is launching in the UK and Europe, offering free trading until the end of February but no leverage. 

Bitcoin's price rocketed from around $5,000 to a peak of over $19,000 in December amid an explosion of interest in cryptocurrencies. It has since fallen back to around $10,000.

"Of course [volumes] are up and down, you have to even them out," Bryant said. "It seemed like December was a big month in terms of awareness. Now we're clocking $50 billion a month so it's certainly a higher pace than it was this time a year ago."

Recode reported on Monday that US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase had revenue of $1 billion last year as it rode a wave of interest in cryptocurrency.

Asked about BitFlyer's revenues, Bryant said: "I can't really comment on our financials because we're a private company. Suffice to say, on trading volume, $250 billion just last year is a huge number and we will continue to build on that strength."

Bryant was talking to Business Insider at London Blockchain Week on Tuesday, where BitFlyer was announcing the launch of its European operation. BitFlyer has obtained a license to operate a bitcoin-to-euro exchange in Luxembourg and is targeting institutional and high-volume clients looking to trade bitcoin.

"It could be funds, it could be day traders, anyone who's trading multiple times a day or multiple times an hour even," Bryant said.

BitFlyer was founded in Japan by former Goldman Sachs banker Yuzo Kano in 2014. The company claims to process around 25% of all global bitcoin trading volumes, according to Coinhills, thanks to strong interest in the cryptocurrency from Japanese investors. Coinhills ranks BitFlyer the biggest bitcoin exchange in the world by volume. Rival data provider CoinMarketCap.com ranks the exchange as the 6th biggest.

"It's always been our goal to be a global company and right now we're the world's biggest bitcoin exchange by volume," Bryant said. "Based on our strengths in Japan and our track record, it was an obvious next step to expand internationally."

BitFlyer now operates in Japan, the US, and Europe. It is licensed in all three markets.

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China's cryptocurrency crackdown cost bitcoin company BTCC tens of millions in revenue: 'It was in the realm of our worst possibility'

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

Bobby Lee BTCC

  • China banned bitcoin exchanges at the end of 2017.
  • BTCC was one of the largest operators in the country and CEO said it had "a huge effect on revenues."
  • BTCC has now pivoted to bitcoin mining and a mobile wallet product.


LONDON — The CEO of one of China's biggest bitcoin companies says Beijing's decision to crackdown on bitcoin trading in the country lost his businesses tens of millions in revenue.

Founded in 2011, BTCC was the world's oldest bitcoin exchange until it shuttered its exchange in September last year under pressure from Chinese authorities.

BTCC founder and CEO Bobby Lee told Business Insider: "We always knew it was a risk that the Chinese government would look unfavourably on bitcoin and put some strong rules around it.

"We were always running it with a sense of uncertainty, we were operating in a grey area. Finally last year, 2017, they made a final decision, which was to essentially shut down all exchanges. It was unfortunate but it was in the realm of our worst possibility."

Asked about the financial impact, Lee said it cut off revenues in the tens of millions more or less overnight. China was one of the world's most active bitcoin markets until the government crackdown. 

"It has a huge effect on revenues so as a company we have to pivot," Lee said. "We’re doing the mining pool and we’re also doing the Mobi wallet."

The Mobi wallet is a digital wallet that lets people send crypto and fiat currencies to each other worldwide. Lee said the app has had over 100,000 downloads across over 180 countries.

BTCC's headcount has declined since the government crackdown but Lee wouldn't be drawn on specific numbers. The company currently employs around 100 people in Shanghai.

Lee also hinted the company may move some operations out of China, saying "come back in a few months or a few weeks" when asked.

Lee said BTCC is interested in raising money, saying: "We’re constantly working with investors on how to upgrade our company to the next level."

Asked how much he was looking to raise, he said: "That’s not something I talk about in the press."

Lee, who is the brother of litecoin creator Charlie Lee, was talking to Business Insider at London Blockchain Week.

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

JPMorgan's Ward: Markets won't budge for Italy's much feared election

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

Paolo Gentiloni

  • Italy will hold a general election on March 4, an event that some have identified as one of the biggest political risks for markets in 2018.
  • Karen Ward, a strategist at JPMorgan's $1.7 trillion asset management arm disagrees, saying her and colleagues are not overly concerned by the election.
  • In recent history, Italy has been politically unstable, so further instability — so long as it does not threaten the country's membership of the eurozone — is not a huge issue, Ward argued.


LONDON — Italy's upcoming general election, which many have identified as being among the biggest political risks facing global markets in 2018, could end up being something of a damp squib, a top strategist at $1.7 trillion JPMorgan Asset Management told Business Insider.

Speaking in an interview earlier this month, Karen Ward, JPMAM's chief market strategist for the UK and Europe, said that while she is not "complacent" about possible risks in Italy, her and colleagues are not hugely concerned about the election ending in a market unfriendly outcome.

There is one reason for that, Ward says. The fact that in recent history, Italy has been politically unstable, so further instability — so long as it does not threaten the country's membership of the eurozone — is not a huge issue.

"We are not complacent, but we do believe that it is most likely that the outcome certainly isn't massively in favour of any of the populist parties, particularly Five Star [the populist movement headed by comedian Beppe Grillo]," she told BI.

"The most likely outcome still is one where it is hard to form a coalition which is strong and stable, but it is not so clear to us that that's going to particularly trouble the markets given that that kind of government is not really something you associate with Italy anyway."

Italy's governmental system is famously fragile, with the country seeing more than 60 different prime ministers in the years since World War Two.

For much of 2016, that fragile political situation as well as the country's weak economy was a major concern for the eurozone and therefore the global economy.

There were genuine fears that the world's oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, could collapse, bringing down the entire Italian banking system, and possibily forcing Italy out of the eurozone. That in turn could have led to the downfall of the whole single currency.

Some also feared that the failure of then Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to win a referendum on constitutional reforms — on which he staked his career — could bring political chaos to the country and lead to a eurosceptic government which held a referendum on Italy's membership of the euro, once again threatening the stability of the euro project.

Such concerns were ultimately overblown. A rescue package that protected Monte de Paschi was created, and Renzi's loss in the December 2016 referendum turned out to be much less of a big deal than expected, after a technocratic government under former foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni stepped in to fill the void left by Renzi's resignation.

Italy retreated from the spotlight, with attention turning to the rapidly accelerating economic recovery that saw the eurozone boom in 2017.

Now however, Italy is back as a major concern for both politics and market watchers alike, as the country heads to the polls for a general election, scheduled for March 4.

From a market standpoint, the main concern is that eurosceptic parties, particularly the Five Star Movement, could poll strongly, gaining enough seats in the Italian parliament to hold a crucial role in the country's next government, once again threatening eurozone stability. 

Five-Star Movement leader and comedian Beppe Grillo gestures during a rally in Turin, Italy February 16, 2013. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino/File Photo

Ward, however, doesn't buy this argument, saying that Italy's current economic performance — which is stronger than it has been in many years — suggests that parties like Five Star and the Lega Nord are unlikely to cause as big an upset as some expect.

"When people get to the ballot, if the economy has been strong in the last few months, they sort of decide in the end not to rock the boat, and simply stay with those that are seen to delivering this recovery," Ward said.

"If you look at the Italian data in the last six months, they've been spectacular. The PMIs are suggesting the Italian economy is really starting to catch up, and that the European recovery is picking them up along with it."

The best scenario would obviously be a strong, stable, reform minded government for investing in Italy, and Italy itself," Ward went on.

"But in terms of an outcome that seems to be particularly troubling for broader Europe, or broader markets, then we are less concerned."

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10 things you need to know before European markets open

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

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reacts during the session 'The BBC World Debate: A Richer World, but for Whom?' in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

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

1. President Donald Trump will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and other world leaders when he attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Trump will also host a small dinner for European business executives on Thursday night at the summit, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn told reporters at a briefing.

2. European Union finance ministers agreed to remove eight jurisdictions, including much-criticised Panama, from the bloc's blacklist of tax havens, one month after the list was set up. Barbados, Grenada, South Korea, Macao, Mongolia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates joined Panama as jurisdictions delisted "following commitments made at a high political level to remedy EU concerns," according to a statement from the ministers.

3. Venezuela's "petro" cryptocurrency will initially be offered in a pre-sale in hard currency and other cryptocurrencies, the government said, and not initially available in the country's collapsing bolivar currency. Leftist President Nicolas Maduro is hoping to capitalize on the success of cryptocurrencies by creating one for Venezuela as the bolivar plunges to all-time lows and the country struggles with hyperinflation.

4. RBS will leave its current London headquarters by the end of 2019 in a cost-cutting move. Many staff will transfer from the headquarters at 280 Bishopsgate in the City of London to another RBS building at 250 Bishopsgate.

5. The European Union is set to fine US chipmaker Qualcomm for taking advantage of its dominance when it paid Apple to use its chips exclusively in Apple mobile devices, The Financial Times reported. Europe's antitrust watchdog is expected to say on Wednesday that Qualcomm hurt competition and innovation.

6. The European parliament began divvying-up British seats that will be left empty post-Brexit from 2019 with Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands scooping up most. Of the 73 seats held by Britain, 27 will be allocated to existing EU states.

7. The New York Stock Exchange said it didn't need to "bend over backwards" to lure Saudi Aramco in what could be the world's biggest IPO. Britain's markets watchdog, hoping that hosting the huge float in London would boost the city's status as a global financial hub as it prepares for Brexit, came under fire last year for appearing to be ready to bend its rules for Aramco.

8. The German anti-euro party Alternative for Germany (AfD) is set to chair parliament's key budget committee if talks succeed to renew a "grand coalition" of conservatives and the Social Democrats. The AfD, which stormed into parliament for the first time in September, will become the largest opposition party in the lower house.

9. German carmakers Daimler and BMW are close to agreeing to combine their car-sharing services Car2Go and DriveNow. The merger talks are in the final stages and the combined company will be independently run, with BMW and Daimler as largest shareholders.

10. Bitflyer said it did not fear a regulatory clampdown would squeeze the market, and instead was targeting millions of new customers in Europe with a fresh expansion. The Japanese exchange, which matches buyers and sellers of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is launching a European exchange to seize on demand following a surge in activity last year.

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NOW WATCH: Don't let stretched valuations keep you from betting on high-profile tech and media stocks, says CFRA

Stripe to end Bitcoin payment support

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

Volatility, high fees and longer transactions mean the payments firm will dump the cryptocurrency.

South Korea will ban anonymous cryptocurrency trading to help boost transparency

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

mask protest

  • South Korea says it will ban anonymous cryptocurrency accounts used for financial transactions. 
  • New regulations set to take effect next week will introduce a system to verify a person's identity before they can make a crypto transaction.
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges will also be required to share user data with local banks.
  • South Korea houses some of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges and they have gone largely unregulated until now.


South Korea has made moves to ban anonymous cryptocurrency accounts from being used for financial transactions. 

Financial authorities have already banned banks from offering virtual accounts that are needed to buy or sell cryptocurrency. New regulations set for next week will further the ban already in place by introducing a system to verify a person's identity before they can make a transaction.

Planned regulation also prevents foreigners and underage investors from opening cryptocurrency accounts in South Korea, Yonhap reported, citing financial officials. 

South Korea's senior financial regulator Kim Yong-beom told reporters that six South Korean banks will begin issuing new trading accounts next week after the system is implemented. Those banks include Shinhan Bank, NH Bank and the Industrial Bank of Korea. 

Existing crypto bank accounts not linked to verified users will be banned on the same day, Kim said.

Officials also announced on Sunday that cryptocurrency traders would be required to share user data with the banks, according to Yonhap

Newly proposed regulations would require banks to check whether cryptocurrency exchanges comply with the new transparency measures.

The government will also be able to access users' transaction data through compliant banks, according to officials, which may point to the government looking to enforce taxes on cryptocurrency transactions. 

Stricter trading regulations are part of a government system to curb speculative investment into virtual money, as many fear that the cryptocurrency bubble may soon burst. The government also hopes to prevent the use of cryptocurrency in illegal activity.

"Nobody, including the government, guarantees the value of cryptocurrencies," Kim told reporters. "Given its highly volatile nature, please be cautious when making investment decisions." 

South Korea houses some of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, although exchanges have gone largely unregulated as they are not recognized as official financial institutions.

Last week, authorities raided the country's largest cryptocurrency exchanges on suspicion of tax-dodging. As news broke of the government's plans to propose a ban on virtual currency exchanges, the global cryptocurrency market took a nosedive.

Many South Korean users took to social media to express their anger, and posted photos of doors, laptops and showers that had been broken in a cryptocurrency-filled rage.

SEE ALSO: Some cryptocurrency traders in South Korea took the bitcoin 'bloodbath' to a whole new level

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

Stripe will stop accepting bitcoin in April

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

Stripe announced today that it will stop supporting bitcoin payments in April. The company started accepting bitcoin payments in 2014, but in a blog post, it said today that the cryptocurrency has become way less useful as a method of payment, and as...

South Korea Allows Cryptocurrency Trading for Real-Name Registered Accounts

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

South Korea Allows Cryptocurrency Trading for Real-Name Registered Accounts

Six Korean banks will begin allowing the simultaneous opening of accounts, deposits and withdrawals, as well as transfers of funds between these accounts and exchanges, beginning on January 30, 2018, but with some new restrictions.

South Korea’s government continues its efforts to rein in the trading of virtual currencies such as ether and bitcoin with a new announcement from South Korea’s Financial Services Commission. Investors will now be required to convert their virtual bank accounts to real-name bank accounts in order to continue trading. Deposits and withdrawals are allowed only between real-name bank accounts and matching crypto-exchange accounts within the same bank. The “real name” registration system for cryptocurrency trading will begin by January 30, 2018, with six banks, which include Nonghyup Bank and Shinhan Bank.

Koreans have found cryptocurrencies to be an attractive high-yield investment option; it is estimated that South Korea accounts for 20 percent of bitcoin trades worldwide. The Korean government has been trying to restrict crypto-trading recently, raiding major exchanges and floating ideas such as bans on domestic trading. A statement from the Office for Government Policy Coordination reflected an increased level of frustration with speculative investing in cryptocurrencies: “[We] can’t let this abnormal situation of speculation go on any longer.”

The South Korean government also said this week that it is planning to collect corporate and income taxes at a collective rate of 24.2 percent from local cryptocurrency exchanges this year.

Today’s announcement is also seen as a method to curb money laundering and fraud in addition to providing what should be a simpler and more acceptable (to the government) method of trading crypto in South Korea.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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