BITCOIN’S VALUE WAS FRAUD?

 The Coordinated Manipulation
According to research done by Professor John Griffin of Texas Finance, last years epic rise for Bitcoin was actually done by coordinated market manipulation.

Professor Griffin goes on to explain that he examined millions of transactions on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, and says that “the US dollar pegged cryptocurrency Tether was used to buy Bitcoin at the times that the latter was falling- which helped ‘stabilize and manipulate’ the price”

First I’ll explain what Griffin’s said, and then I’ll explain why he’s wrong about Bitcoin but right about Tether. And it boils down to his understanding of how Exchanges work and how Bitcoin works.

Griffin said “Fraud and manipulation often leave footprints in the data and it’s nice to have the blockchain to track things,” Griffin told CNBC. Whenever bitcoin fell, Tether was used to buy it to prop up the price again.

“It was creating price support for bitcoin and, over the period that we examined, had huge price effects. Our research would indicate that there are sophisticated people harnessing investor interest for their benefit.”

Bitcoin started 2017 at below $1,000 and by Dec 2017 hit 20,000. But as if February to June 2018 it’s been jumping back and fourth from it’s lowest at $6k to the highest $10k (which didn’t even last)  Tether is the 11th largest cryptocurrency and is pegged to the US dollar. Some critics say Tether owners don’t have enough fiat currency to back its $2.5 billion market capitalization.

Bitfinex CEO J.L. van der Velde told CNBC that neither the exchange nor tether helped to boost bitcoin prices. “Bitfinex nor tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation. Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the price of bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex,”

Now here’s what I think:

I’ve personally used Tether but I do worry about it. A lot of people have accused Tether of fraud, and Tether certainly hasn’t proven the naysayers.  Do they have the 2.5 billion USD and how are they raising funds?  Essentially as far as I can see, Tether is a non-backed, way of essentially printing virtual USD.  I think Griffin is way off on this one.  USDT (Tether) is a convenient trading pair that can be used with some of the top cryptocurrencies to trade and exchange directly for other coins.

The issue is that a lot of people don’t realize most tokens and currencies are not directly convertible or tradeable for others on exchanges.  Generally you’ll have to sell your ABC alt-coin or tokens for Bitcoin, or USDT and then use the major currency you sold or exchanged to buy say another coin such as Ripple, Litecoin, Lisk etc..  So this is where USDT comes in, if Griffin thinks it propped up Bitcoin I think he is misunderstanding how the exchanges work.  Yes a lot of people are using USDT to buy other currencies but is USDT a market factor?  No, I don’t think so, it’s just simply convenient and I agree with Bitfinex that it doesn’t appear they are using it to prop up Bitcoin.

However, USDT could not be used in such a way if it wasn’t given prominence and primary trading pairs like Bitfinex and other major exchanges have used.  Could some of the exchanges be in cahoots with currencies like USDT and others?  Absolutely, and this is the more likely scenario of market manipulation in the sense that they essentially largely control which currencies fail and flourish.

Any coin that is used as a primary trading pair or in other words directly convertible has more value and will intrinsically be used more as a vehicle to buy coins like Bitcoin.

I think Griffin just raises the simple question about USDT being a fraud and this is the biggest concern but I highly doubt USDT’s existence or trading patterns are responsible for Bitcoin fluctuations directly.  He may derive this from trading patterns but I really just think USDT is a convenient and easy to understand intermediary trading pair vs how you wrap your mind around how many BTC another coin like Ripple, Ethereum or Litcoin is worth etc…

What do you think?

Cheers!
-A. Yasir

Psychopath CEO’s

The Jobs Psychopaths Are In the Most

A person with a Psychopathic personality is defined as having an inflated, narcissistic sense of themselves and are very good at manipulating people. And with the world naturally turning more and more narcissistic with social media and the images of ‘your best self’ (or rather your fake self), it’s getting to be a pretty psychopathic world.

We once considered Ted Bundy and psychopath murderers and honestly world leaders as general well known psychopathy. But as it turns out, the world is filled with psychopaths, and you might just be working next to one. And most surprisingly, is that CEO was ranked #1 for the most psychopaths…I’m a CEO and I’m both worried and fascinated…

So why are there so many psychopathic CEO’s? Well psychopaths tend to go for jobs or careers that put them in leadership positions because they have charisma, are good at making on the spot decisions and are fearless.  They have a goal and they can make it happen and will stop at nothing (including stomping out others) to get what they want.

Kevin Dutton, a British psychologist and writer, specialises in the study of psychopathy, made a list of the types of jobs that attract the MOST PSYCHOPATHS.  In his book “The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success.”

“Functional psychopaths,” as Dutton calls them, “use their detached, unflinching, and charismatic personalities to succeed in mainstream society.”  Basically, psychopaths are normal people but have a few traits that make them ‘different’.

10. Civil Servant:
Fun fact, in 2014, UK Government officials considered recruiting psychopaths specifically “to keep order,” because they are “very good in crises” and have “no feelings for others, nor moral code, and tend to be very intelligent and logical.”  Ouch.

9. Chef:
Should they really be in charge of our food and knives? But apparently the 9th most popular job for psychopaths is being a chef. According to Dutton, they thrive in chaos. And the chaos of the kitchen is right up their alley.

8. Clergy Person:
This may come as a surprise because we don’t normally associate such a personality type with this job. But according to FBI veteran Joe Navarro, ‘religious organisations may provide a means for people to exploit others, while also giving legitimacy to their actions.’ It’s also very easy to make alliances.

7. Police Officer:
If you thought clergy person was insane, police officer isn’t too far off.  Keeping calm during a stressful situation comes with the job as police offer. And in this dangerous and high intensity job, being able to control your emotions and think before you act comes as a huge benefit.

6. Journalist – it all makes sense now.
If you thought Elon Musk was right to call out mainstream media who then got a lashing out from media personalities, and thought to yourself, wow these media people aren’t professional at all- then you were right. They’re not professional because they are literal psychopaths. Journalism is yet another popular job for a psychopath.

5. Surgeon:
If you’re in need of a surgery, well don’t worry you’re in good hands.  It’s not what you think, again psychopaths are people who do well in keeping calm during stressful situations and can make quick difficult situations, which they have to make everyday. In this respect, be glad you’re in the caring hands of a psychopath. :)

4. Salesperson
Are you a shameless self promoter, who has no qualms of stealing other peoples work or contracts, have a intense desire to earn the most money and can’t be over shot by anyone? Are you in sales? You should be.

3. Media Person in TV or Audio
Narcissism can be a trait of a psychopath, which you can say is an important part of being a public figure. Being a TV anchor or a radio personality is the 5th job with the most psychopaths.

2. Lawyer
Somehow this doesn’t come as a surprise. You’re going to have to be a very motivated person who can manipulate the ‘truth’ and ‘facts’ to fit the narrative you need. Self confidence and deceitful charm can help create a good lawyer.

And lastly,

1. CEO
Yes, that’s right, CEO’s are the #1 job for psychopaths. I never really viewed myself as a psychopath but here’s some of the traits:
Cool headed during stressful situations.
Able to make decisions quickly during intense situations.
Being able to overcome emotions.
Able to remove emotions during situations and focus on the issue at hand.
Able to maneuver using charm and manipulation.
You get gist. But on top of this, is resilience to chaos.
Resilience to chaos is something we CEO’s have.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re cool headed under stress, it can mean that you cause a lot of crazy for others too because it makes you feel good when everybody around you is struggling…OUCH that hurts my heart.
But some CEO’s use this method to climb that ladder all the way to the very top.  Now this isn’t indicative of all CEO’s, since self confidence, resilience and determined for a end goal is also high drivers of a CEO, but these are eye openers of how others might view their leader.

What do you think? Did your job make the cut? Did you find out a little about yourself? Or do you disagree with the findings?

Cheers!
– A. Yasir

 

Dubai Establishes Business Blockchain Registry

This is the first I’ve heard of it but Dubai has made a business registry out of blockchain and what’s more they want all government services to be blockchain powered by 2020.  It has been setup to help companies establish themselves in Dubai and also as a well of getting direct investment from overseas.

I am having trouble finding the technical details but it certainly sounds like a very interesting application of blockchain technology.

The only other thing mentioned is that it appears IBM is behind the blockchain being used or at least involved:

 

Amr Refaat, general manager, IBM Middle East said: “IBM is proud to collaborate with DED, Smart Dubai Office and Dubai Silicon Oasis on this journey to revolutionize the business ecosystem in the UAE. Dubai is a leader in innovation with many ambitious projects that have already become a reality. With the first phase of this project already in place to form the first active Blockchain commerce registry network, there is keen interest from other public and private entities to join the network.

Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash

This has been one of the most controversial issues in cryptocurrency.  The Bitcoin Cash Hardfork emanates from this issue of what amounts to basically a setting in a config file.

The issue was real back then with Bitcoin only having a 1MB (megabyte) blocksize.  You would think 1MB could store a lot of transactions and this was fine until Bitcoin exploded and began to be used by millions worldwide (something not exactly expected or planned for by the original devs).  Bitcoin can only do 7 transactions per second which is way too slow and what was happening is that the entire block was already fully utilized as soon as it was mined.  It would be like your banks ATM or POS machine crashing before you could do a transaction.  In other words Bitcoin was overloaded and couldn’t keep up with the transactions that were being demanded causing slow processing that could take days to send some Bitcoin!

Some of the devs felt that this wasn’t an issue and wanted to keep things the same as Satoshi created them (with the 1MB blocksize). They felt Bitcoin was never meant to be used for payments such as a cup of coffee and that very slow transactions weren’t an issue.  They also voiced concerns that a larger blocksize would stop people from running full nodes and increase centralization since a larger blocksize requires more computing power.

The Bitcoin Cash team disagreed and did a hardfork which is essentially a copy and counterfeit of the original Bitcoin.   The only real change they made was the blocksize to 8MB which means faster and cheaper transactions than the original Bitcoin.

There were problems initially with potential reply attacks since to get this Bitcoin Cash you have to use your real Bitcoin wallet/private keys to receive it.  This meant that nefarious wallet creators could steal your coins from the real Bitcoin network if you didn’t move your original coins to another wallet first.  There is also the threat of a replay attack.  Replay attacks work on the fact that both chains are identical.  If you send a transaction on one chain, an attacker could see it and then broadcast the transaction on the other chain to their own address.

This is one big reason I don’t like hardforks aside from the confusion, scams and devaluation, it’s one more huge problem to have a reply attack.

These issues are why I believe hardforks shouldn’t be possible.  If it means the blockchain is not 100% open source and permissionless then this is acceptable.  Open Source is currently what makes most currencies vulnerable.  Let’s take it back to the secure, traditional IT methods of a secure server vs client model (where the secure server should be Bitcoin or whatever currency we are talking about).

My money is on the real Bitcoin.  Bitcoin Cash could have been interesting if they did more than just increase the blocksize and didn’t copy the blockchain.  I pick the original Bitcoin for the long run.

Nasdaq Plans To Become Cryptocurrency Exchange

This is huge news with the CEO of Nasdaq saying they would consider becoming a cryptocurrency exchange.   One caveat is that Adena Friedman said she is waiting for the market to mature.   I anticipate she sees the threat to cryptocurrency as the fact that we don’t know for sure which currencies will be around in the coming years.  She is waiting for the dot-com like bubble to burst which is an excellent strategy for managing the risk.

The fact that Nasdaq would even contemplate this plus the big money from Wall Street going into cryptocurrency is a very positive sign of where the industry is heading.  The coins that survive the bust will become incredibly valuable and I think Bitcoin is one of them dispute its many issues and drawbacks.  It is a tricky call, with one risk of course being hardforks.  After more Bitcoin scams and hardforks will people possibly lose interest in Bitcoin or will it increase interest in the real Bitcoin?

Either way it may be a bumpy and turbulent ride, but cryptocurrency is looking like its about to create its own economy.  Trading cryptocurrency is not the issue though, as we still wait the “messiah coin” which will hopefully resolve the many issues that we have today.  I’d like to see a coin that does everything right or most things right rather than focusing on just a single aspect.

The time will come and the market will follow.  Everyone hold on things are about to keep getting interesting in 2018!

Edward Snowden Says Bitcoin’s Downfall Is Public Ledger

I couldn’t have said it better myself although I have said as much about all cryptocurrencies which have a public ledger.   Edward Snowden made the comment at the Blockstack event in Berlin, Germany.   They are completely insecure and unsuitable for personal or business use in the long-term due to a lack of privacy.   There are other issues that Edward touched on such as extremely slow transaction times and many more I’ve talked about in other posts.

Snowden also predicted that a coin which fixes these various issues could be the one to replace Bitcoin.  While I fully agree privacy and security in Bitcoin and most other coins are an issue, aside from that most currencies are slow, inefficient, difficult to use and simply don’t work properly to send or receive payments.  This will all eventually be fixed but so far what I find is that some currencies fix one problem while ignoring the rest.

Youtube’s Communist Censorship Plan

Youtube has announced it will be the new thought police.  They’ll be doing this by discouraging and contradicting any thoughts, beliefs or theories that are not within mainstream beliefs or teachings.  At this rate they’ll have met the gold standard for censorship and subversion and China will be viewed as an easier place to share your thoughts.  On its face it may not sound that bad to link to Wikipedia articles but in fact anyone can write and manipulate Wikipedia.  Google will be choosing what counterpoints to make by of course selecting which article(s) get linked to.  This is quite alarming and also frustrating since hate, racism and other harmful activity has been rampant on the web ever since it began but no company or government have made any concrete steps to counter it.  So why worry about people posting their alternative beliefs and thoughts online and exposing the lies of the news?  By the gauge of most the mainstream news is the fake news yet media giants like Facebook want to declare thoughts outside of that realm as “Fake News”.  By this method then the PRISM system of spying on and intercepting people’s private information is a “bad conspiracy theory” that people have to be warned away from (of course most now understand this was never a conspiracy since Edward Snowden revealed more details about what most already knew).  There are some valid reasons for this to be done (from the perspective of nice government men and corporate greed).  There is a lot of information being shared on Youtube about pharmaceutical companies and really whole swaths of very solid information about a lot of things going on in our world.  The majority of it is well sourced and quoted and most people won’t view that content as conspiracy.  Could it be that anything that doesn’t fit the viewpoint or ends of certain elite companies and people are what is really being targeted?  Until racism and hate has been cleaned up from these platforms I am just not buying there is any good or genuine reason for Google to do this.    I think we’re heading down a slippery slope to the point where freedom of thought and expression will be completely eliminated gradually through these policies.  Eventually Google will probably start deranking websites which fit into this category of “non-conformity” to the mainstream and elitists.

What do you guys think?  I think it’s time to support Tron (TRX) and any other decentralized social media platforms.  It’s time to take the internet back!

Washington Org Warns Of Petro Coin Threat

Based on an article from Brookings Institute they have a dire warning for all cryptocurrency users!  They first take a shot at the very idea of it helping Venezuela in the first paragraph “the idea that the petro can ameliorate an economic crisis rooted in the bolívar’s volatility seems unbelievable”.  It goes on to say it is a threat to all cryptocurrency “petro will not only fail to cure Venezuela’s economic woes but will also weaken the integrity of cryptocurrencies writ-large”.  And my last but most favorite quote is what I think it’s really about “As Turkey, Iran, Russia, and other sanctioned countries deal with their severe economic impacts, they might pursue the same fraudulent strategy as Venezuela: create a cryptocurrency tied to a government-controlled asset, raise money in violation of sanctions, and proceed to manipulate that cryptocurrency’s value to maximize profit.”

While they do make some valid points governments around the world create their own currency usually without any backing of gold or resources out of thin error and continue to manipulate their currencies all the time.   To call Petro Coin over any other coin or ICO doesn’t seem to be based on anything other than political views. I think the article is highly biased and that Brookings is essentially the mouth piece for Washington and cannot be taken seriously.

The fact that Petro raised over 700M USD is significant and is less likely to be a scam than the other 90% of ICOs out there.  If I want to offer criticism of Petro I am frustrated that they don’t have their own top level domain for it and that they didn’t allow individual investors to get in on the coin.  As an investor when things are difficult and information is not easy to find I get frustrated and lose interest.  I think that is really the biggest risk to the Petro Coin.  I also disagree with larger countries sanctioning smaller countries who do not do their bidding since it just ends up creating poverty and suffering for the average person.

I am long Petro Coin if they can get more organized and get out better information.  Petro Coin stands to succeed if not for the reason that there are powerful backers of it.  Historically this been enough for the weakest of states, currencies and assets to continue floating on.  It’s also the same principle of what makes Bitcoin work, people have invested into it in different ways and it continues to be used although I do agree all cryptocurrencies essentially need an overhaul and they are certainly lacking in ease, functionality and security but his will be resolved in time.

 

Net Neutrality – USA’s Version of the GFW – Death of Freedom and Information

If you can understand the title you can probably guess where this article is going.  This is both my personal and professional opinion on a blindingly, obvious and simple issue that only benefits extremely large and powerful organizations and individuals.

What is really happening in a one-liner is the US is implementing it’s own Great Firewall Policy to rival and surpass China’s by far in terms of surveillance and censorship.

This is really a no-argument, argument the latest move in the US to get rid of Net Neutrality legally gives the ISPs the right to block, filter, throttle and censor content for any reason.  Obviously the primary and initial reasons will be for business and competitive reasons, this means if your ISP has an issue with Google you could have issues reaching Google services.  It could be if your healthcare provider is suing your ISP or vice versa that you’ll have trouble accessing their website.  It could be that your less than mainstream news sources are competing or disliked by management at your local ISP and you won’t be able to visit anymore.

Some of the first to be impacted may be services like Netflix, Hulu etc which most local cable or telco companies have lost a lot of revenue to.

But it can become so much more than this, access to certain banking portals, including cryptocurrency could be restricted.  In fact another huge implication is that if a US government agency orders an ISP to block access to content, both the government and ISP would be legally absolved.

Since the majority of internet traffic still transits the US and a huge number of services are hosted there, the impact is really the whole internet.

However, we can already see legal challenges on the way.  If they are successful then things will continue as normal but if they are not successful, the internet could enter a dark age.

In fact this should be interpreted more as the USA’s version of the Great Firewall masked as a good thing with ill-intentions that will harm virtually all people and businesses.

I don’t believe we will see massive changes overnight, the system will be implemented gradually to reduce the blowback.

With this insecurity there is also the chance that this could backfire and could create an alternative internet or secondary network that operates independently out of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.  There is simply too much at stake to risk the USA Great Firewall from impacting business and freedom of access and information.  There is also the unintended risk that the USA could be isolating itself if other countries develop countermeasures.

Can VPN’s help get around this throttling?  Yes, and no as now the ISPs could legally block or throttle access to VPN providers’ websites, service or even the protocols themselves.  There is very little that can be done against these measures, it depends how the USA’s firewall is implemented though.  It may be possible to use a variety of protocols and proxy your traffic through hundreds of thousands of IPs collectively to try to avoid blockages and throttling, but it all depends on how aggressive their policies are.  Only the stakeholders who have unleashed this policy know what they really intend to achieve but it certainly isn’t of any benefit to us.

From my standpoint there is no benefit from me as an internet user or business person in having a censored, throttled and firewalled internet.

All speculation aside, it would be wise for both users and businesses to hedge and place their business IT assets overseas at least in backup or secondary mode.  this is the best way to insure against the risk that your business could be severely impacted or inaccessible due to the USA GFW 5.0 as I dub it.  Certainly Asia and Europe are locations that look attractive.  One of the top destinations in Asia to me would be Hong Kong’s internet, in fact I predict Hong Kong and other areas will see a surge in demand as a result of the current firewall policy in the US.

My New Phone – OnePlus 5 8GB RAM/128GB Storage

Around the time I posted my thoughts on the iPhone-X I finally decided on a Chinese phone like the post hinted after a few hiccups with sellers in China. I’ve searched for several weeks and almost bought a Xiaomi (there are so many to choose from) but I felt the OnePlus 5 even though it has increased in cost was the best value. One big issue with a lot of other Chinese phones is if you look at the bands or frequency of LTE, they often only support only 1 or 2 common bands in North America. This is a big problem of course and phones like the OnePlus tend to support the same or more bands than phones from our local market. However Xiaomi is making phones like the M1 which are not as high spec’d but with most of the same bands so things are changing, but still many other Chinese phones are lagging in terms of LTE bands and this should be a big factor if you check the bands supported do not match with your local carrier.

Why did I choose the OnePlus 5?
The specs are high and so is the value with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space even though some have complained that the value is not as great as previous models I still consider it a smart buy at $540 USD (I originally purchased it for $519.99 but it turned out to be a bait and switch scam-more on that later). The camera is also great on this phone and it is another alternative for capturing business and family moments on the go when I don’t have a dedicated camera with me.

In short it’s basically a quality, flagship, superphone at a reasonable price. There’s no need to pay more for less such as Google’s Pixel2 with only 4GB of RAM for $899 USD. Samsung S8 was on my list but not so much after a string of quality issues and my previous Note not working as well as I expected (I will say for its time the camera was fantastic though).

I think this is a fantastic business phone and nothing out there really beats it. I could spend more but why bother when the OnePlus offers top end specs and reliability?

What factors made me almost not-choose it?
Not having a SD card slot and removable battery are some things I really tend to stay away from. Either of those issues made it hard for me to Choose the OnePlus5 I do hope they will change this in future models.

Why haven’t I reviewed the phone more?
I’m still waiting for it, I wasted several days after buying it on sale at GeekBuying.com only to be told I had to pay $25 more (essentially they didn’t honor their own sale price) and it took time to get a refund from them. Apparently they do this a lot after searching about the same issue. I then purchased from another place called GearBest at a higher price $539.99.

The most difficult thing about this phone has been dealing with the companies in China. Some of the most recommended sellers based on internet forums/blogs which I suspect some of the praise is not authentic suggest “GeekBuying” and “GearBest”. Part of this motivation is of course because they have affiliate programs but there are slew of complaints similar or worse than mine. Customer service at these sorts of companies is usually not helpful when they’ve made a mistake or they’re asking you for more money.

I wanted to buy from OnePlus.net directly but they won’t allow Canadians to pay in USD (because this works out to be cheaper at the moment) and they didn’t seem to understand why someone would want to pay in a different currency. Their system forces you to pay by only the currency of the shipping destination.

Has anyone else bought a OnePlus or other Chinese phone and can you recommend more trustworthy, honest and reliable sellers in China? Please let me know in the comments section.

I’ll have the full review once I have the phone but shipping has been a bit slower than I expected from Singapore Post (normally it is much quicker).