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

 

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!

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.

 

IMF Wants To Regulate Bitcoin with Blockchain!

Christine Lagarde of the IMF has suggested “fighting fire with fire” by regulating Bitcoin with the IMF’s own blockchain technology.  I am not sure what they are proposing on a technical level or what this common is really based on, but let’s read between the lines of the intention.

This is very exciting news as it signals the IMF is acknowledging that cryptocurrency and Bitcoin especially are here to stay.  They wouldn’t regulate something that they don’t expect to survive.

Now the bad news is that the IMF may have something up their sleeves that slows or impedes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from functioning as they should.  After all the IMF has also played roles that many of us do not think is constructive or fair to the countries that have used it.  If we apply the same scenario to Bitcoin it is time to get excited and scared at once.  It also seems disingenuous to imply cryptocurrency has a darkside while implying fiat doesn’t.  I get it and agree, fiat is better controlled so they like it but fiat is still used for crimes all the time.  If fiat wasn’t regulated under their control they would probably make similar statements about fiat instead of cryptocurrency.

The real question is what is the real intention?  Obviously as they’ve stated it is regulation but will the regulation make it so only the elite can trade Bitcoin or do they simply just want their own cut and control of cryptocurrency?  I think if we look at the history of their role and fiat, the truth will lay right in the middle but only as far as what they’ve decided should be the fate and role of fiat.  Both can coexist but do they intend for them to coexist or for one to roll over the other?

Either way announcements like this show us that cryptocurrency is certainly here to stay and it has caught the attention of the entire finance world.

NCIX Declares Bankruptcy – My 15 Year Story of a 20 Year Journey For Netlink Computer

NCIX began as a typical player in the booming 1997 computer hardware era and quickly grew to rival and arguably best all competition in Canada as one of the largest computer hardware companies while other competitors went out of business in a segment many felt was unsustainable.

For me the story started around 2002 when I was still in post secondary at BCIT but as I began writing this I couldn’t help by deviate from back in 1997 when I was 13 and was excited to get my first computed which would be the one that would set me on the path to the IT industry from a very young age.

Going Off Track – My Computer History

I used to go to the famous area of Richmond on Bridgeport Road where all the computer stores were, of course there were areas in Broadway in Vancouver too.   My first computer that I remember proudly as a Pentium 75Mhz with 8MB of RAM and a large 1GB HDD made by IPC (a local Vancouver manufacturer) ironically from a place in Whiterock (they had the best deal I knew of at the time).  The second computer I owned came from this area of Richmond (the name of the retailer eludes me but I believe there is now a textile or paint supplier in the same building!).  In Richmond I remember Cici from Canada Computer aka cancomputer.com who went out of business around 2004-2005 (a different company than today’s Canada Computer which is ironically taking over most of the old leases from NCIX).  Canada Computer was always good to me so I shopped quite a bit there.

Back On Track

Getting back on track to 2002, I bought a few parts in Vancouver from a place called ATIC but then heard about NCIX, their price matching and friendly service.  I actually still have one of the first items an old 80GB IDE Hard Drive with an NCIX label from back then.

So essentially since 2002 I’ve been a customer of NCIX that has purchased a LOT of equipment from them and have probably built dozens of computers from them.  Their prices and service were great, albeit I knew they had the typical restocking fees that the oldschool retailers did (an accepted part of business since I’ve never needed to return anything because I always knew what I was buying and what I wanted).  My experiences were generally very good but I will comment on the few issues I had, around 2006 during boxing day I had to keep following up on some Optical Discs I had bought that weren’t delivered to me.  A few times I bought SATA cables from them and was shocked to find broken connectors in them, the staff at the Langley store was somewhat unpleasant at these exchanges insisting “these are all brand new”.   Now that I think about it, it could have just been left over molding from production especially since looking back at the cables they don’t seem to be of the highest quality for sure.  Fast forward to the last few years I noticed their prices have increased, they had less stock, things took longer to get, longer to ship and once I ordered an item online by mistake and told them right away (but they still shipped it and replied after I got the product and made no offer to resolve the issue).  Still, these weren’t deal breakers but I did notice as they expanded their retail front that the prices and service were slightly decreasing especially on my favorite site directcanada.com and two other similar sites they ran.

The sign of the end

One of their flagship stores in Aberdeen Center (Richmond BC) closed down and at that point I didn’t suspect much (a lot of stores close down there because the rent is super high).  But over the last 2 years or so I saw the decline of the Langley and Surrey store, the shelves were in disarray, there were few staff members and almost no stock on the floor (not an issue for me still) but I couldn’t help but say each time “are you guys closing?”.  I’ve never paid attention to the NCIX forums but happened to browse it when I placed my last order the other month (an order still not fulfilled and one I don’t believe will be with the amount of customers saying they’ve waited weeks or months for refunds for non-delivered products).  The Surrey store closed around Nov 18th suddenly just a few days after I picked up a few power supplies (at that point when I was in the store and was told they turned their phones off and that’s why no one answered my calls I was suspicious). I  saw a list of closures on the NCIX forums, saw a deleted thread on Redflagdeals about them going bankrupt (presumably and upsettingly because NCIX was a Sponsor of RFD).  However a more thorough search showed their other locations were up for lease and were being taken over by competitors such as Canada Computers.

Why Did They Go Under?

From what I’ve read and suspected initially is that the expansion with so many extra stores did it and I read further that management believed more in retail than online ultimately killed them, on top of internal and customer service issues, things compounded fast and it’s all spilling out on social media with disgruntled customers and ex-employees.  I’ve personally known a number of NCIX employees and they all had good things to say about their experience but this was in the pre-2012 days.

It appears cash flow issues related to the retail expansion and apparently a completely unsuccessful expansion into the US (full of complaints) is what brought it down.  The price and stock issues I believe were just a symptom of the larger issue of cash flow and losses due to unprofitable brick and mortar stores.

NCIX-Closing-Down-Bankrupt

NCIX-ComplaintsNCIX-Complaints1

Why Am I Upset?

I’ve been a loyal customer for over 15-years and right until the end the ownership of NCIX never made any announcement whatsoever, and to this day they are still taking orders and collecting money.

NCIX-Areeb-Yasir1

This is where I get upset and would say that I would never do business with any new company under that same ownership/management in the future.  It also seems this was completely avoidable if the management had heeded internal and external suggestions about improving and increasing the online shopping experience. My only complaint is that you couldn’t search by price or sort items by price.  Even with the bankruptcy I believe they could have continued to succeed and restructure by being online only or just a handful of very small stores for sales and online order pickups but at this stage with the amount of negative attention generated and my own situation I don’t think it could be successful.

The other part that is disappointing is that while I do suspect many complaints about the ownership to be true, there are also racial undertones to it which seem to stem from a time long before the complaints started.  And for that reason I do believe some claims may need to be taken with a grain of salt aside from the facts of the customer experience going horribly wrong in recent months and years.

Bitcoin – I Don’t “Get It”

This may sound strange coming from a CEO who owns and uses Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency through multiple businesses that accept Bitcoin each day.   But I still really don’t understand Bitcoin on a practical level, the technical part is understandable but for how long will the current model of currencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin work?  Do not get me wrong, I am long on crypto still but what that means in the coming years and decades is probably going to be vastly different than the current model of today.

What Is A Confirmation And Why Does It Take So Long?

What I’m referring to is when you send or receive currency there are varying opinions of what it means to actually “confirm” you have it.  But even before that people who have sent and received cryptocurrency know it is actually quite slow.  It can easily take a number of minutes and even after that point it is recommended you wait for a certain amount of confirmations.

It’s quite simple, these crypto networks with multiple nodes have to talk to each other, this takes time for them to all be in sync or agreeance with the blockchain.  Once that happens you get your first confirmation, however this can be a number of minutes and still doesn’t absolutely guarantee you have the money in your wallet.

The current system is nearly impossible to use as a daily transaction/banking experience.

I’m used to using cash, debit, credit or even services like PayPal.  It is all fairly instant (although sometimes it can take several seconds for debit or credit) but once the payment is approved and the merchant is notified instantly, they knew they have their money.  Imagine waiting for even a single confirmation for cryptocurrency while in line at a supermarket?

Why does the problem exist?

It’s quite simple, ironically it’s the one huge negative side effect of distributed, decentralized cryptocurrencies.   There are other drawbacks too such as what happens to banks if they are DOS’d but this hasn’t been a huge factor so far in crypto’s history.

What other risks exist?

My biggest fear is that in the future a powerful organization or entity may eventually be able to reverse engineer or find another way to attack the blockchain and algorithm of some cryptocurrencies.  This would essentially spell disaster, chaos and the end of that currency.  It would be the equivalent of the destruction or infiltration of a fiat currency’s central banking and distribution system.

One other issue with the blockchain

Everyone knows the safest way to hold crypto is with your own wallet because exchanges are routinely hacked and coins are stolen, it is more risky to keep your coins with a third party wallet (essentially the equivalent of an online crypto bank).  The problem lays with the issue at this moment that those deposits are not insured (although I believe Coinbase and a few others may have some insurance).  This may change in the future and exchanges and currencies that are insured will definitely rise above the rest.

What is the solution?

This may draw the ire of a lot of hardcore crypto users but there has got to be some sort of central authority, body or “top-tier” network similar to root DNS servers on the internet that can serve and validate transactions on the blockchain.  There must be some sort of physical organization between the nodes on the blockchain.

Is there a current solution to this problem?

Ripple/XRP solves this problem by essentially verifying transactions instantly and keeping all the currency in essentially an online global wallet (there is no such thing as paper wallet or traditional on your computer/device wallet).  The advantage is that you don’t have to store hundreds of gigabytes of blockchain data (and growing) like Bitcoin and other currencies.  Ripple has the benefit of also being endorsed by major financial institutions which is a first for digital crypto that I’m aware of.

I haven’t done further research but currencies like XRP I believe are the future, things can be done anyway technically and Bitcoin, Litecoin and similar blockchained coins can do this if they change some of their decentralized model.  I expect there will be more infighting and similar splits as the Bitcoin Cash that emerged from the Segwit update as the industry matures and expands.

Disclaimer

I hold positions in multiple cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Ripple and have given my true opinion of both in this article.