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Putting $400M of Bitcoin on your company balance sheet

Also posted on my blog as usual. Read it there if you can, there are footnotes and inlined plots.
A couple of months ago, MicroStrategy (MSTR) had a spare $400M of cash which it decided to shift to Bitcoin (BTC).
Today we'll discuss in excrutiating detail why this is not a good idea.
When a company has a pile of spare money it doesn't know what to do with, it'll normally do buybacks or start paying dividends. That gives the money back to the shareholders, and from an economic perspective the money can get better invested in other more promising companies. If you have a huge pile of of cash, you probably should be doing other things than leave it in a bank account to gather dust.
However, this statement from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor exists to make it clear he's buying into BTC for all the wrong reasons:
“This is not a speculation, nor is it a hedge. This was a deliberate corporate strategy to adopt a bitcoin standard.”
Let's unpack it and jump into the economics Bitcoin:

Is Bitcoin money?

No.
Or rather BTC doesn't act as money and there's no serious future path for BTC to become a form of money. Let's go back to basics. There are 3 main economic problems money solves:
1. Medium of Exchange. Before money we had to barter, which led to the double coincidence of wants problem. When everyone accepts the same money you can buy something from someone even if they don't like the stuff you own.
As a medium of exchange, BTC is not good. There are significant transaction fees and transaction waiting times built-in to BTC and these worsen the more popular BTC get.
You can test BTC's usefulness as a medium of exchange for yourself right now: try to order a pizza or to buy a random item with BTC. How many additional hurdles do you have to go through? How many fewer options do you have than if you used a regular currency? How much overhead (time, fees) is there?
2. Unit of Account. A unit of account is what you compare the value of objects against. We denominate BTC in terms of how many USD they're worth, so BTC is a unit of account presently. We can say it's because of lack of adoption, but really it's also because the market value of BTC is so volatile.
If I buy a $1000 table today or in 2017, it's roughly a $1000 table. We can't say that a 0.4BTC table was a 0.4BTC table in 2017. We'll expand on this in the next point:
3. Store of Value. When you create economic value, you don't want to be forced to use up the value you created right away.
For instance, if I fix your washing machine and you pay me in avocados, I'd be annoyed. I'd have to consume my payment before it becomes brown, squishy and disgusting. Avocado fruit is not good money because avocadoes loses value very fast.
On the other hand, well-run currencies like the USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, etc. all lose their value at a low and most importantly fairly predictible rate. Let's look at the chart of the USD against BTC
While the dollar loses value at a predictible rate, BTC is all over the place, which is bad.
One important use money is to write loan contracts. Loans are great. They let people spend now against their future potential earnings, so they can buy houses or start businesses without first saving up for a decade. Loans are good for the economy.
If you want to sign something that says "I owe you this much for that much time" then you need to be able to roughly predict the value of the debt in at the point in time where it's due.
Otherwise you'll have a hard time pricing the risk of the loan effectively. This means that you need to charge higher interests. The risk of making a loan in BTC needs to be priced into the interest of a BTC-denominated loan, which means much higher interest rates. High interests on loans are bad, because buying houses and starting businesses are good things.

BTC has a fixed supply, so these problems are built in

Some people think that going back to a standard where our money was denominated by a stock of gold (the Gold Standard) would solve economic problems. This is nonsense.
Having control over supply of your currency is a good thing, as long as it's well run.
See here
Remember that what is desirable is low variance in the value, not the value itself. When there are wild fluctuations in value, it's hard for money to do its job well.
Since the 1970s, the USD has been a fiat money with no intrinsic value. This means we control the supply of money.
Let's look at a classic poorly drawn econ101 graph
The market price for USD is where supply meets demand. The problem with a currency based on an item whose supply is fixed is that the price will necessarily fluctuate in response to changes in demand.
Imagine, if you will, that a pandemic strikes and that the demand for currency takes a sharp drop. The US imports less, people don't buy anything anymore, etc. If you can't print money, you get deflation, which is worsens everything. On the other hand, if you can make the money printers go brrrr you can stabilize the price
Having your currency be based on a fixed supply isn't just bad because in/deflation is hard to control.
It's also a national security risk...
The story of the guy who crashed gold prices in North Africa
In the 1200s, Mansa Munsa, the emperor of the Mali, was rich and a devout Muslim and wanted everyone to know it. So he embarked on a pilgrimage to make it rain all the way to Mecca.
He in fact made it rain so hard he increased the overall supply of gold and unintentionally crashed gold prices in Cairo by 20%, wreaking an economic havoc in North Africa that lasted a decade.
This story is fun, the larger point that having your inflation be at the mercy of foreign nations is an undesirable attribute in any currency. The US likes to call some countries currency manipulators, but this problem would be serious under a gold standard.

Currencies are based on trust

Since the USD is based on nothing except the US government's word, how can we trust USD not to be mismanaged?
The answer is that you can probably trust the fed until political stooges get put in place. Currently, the US's central bank managing the USD, the Federal Reserve (the Fed for friends & family), has administrative authority. The fed can say "no" to dumb requests from the president.
People who have no idea what the fed does like to chant "audit the fed", but the fed is already one of the best audited US federal entities. The transcripts of all their meetings are out in the open. As is their balance sheet, what they plan to do and why. If the US should audit anything it's the Department of Defense which operates without any accounting at all.
It's easy to see when a central bank will go rogue: it's when political yes-men are elected to the board.
For example, before printing themselves into hyperinflation, the Venezuelan president appointed a sociologist who publicly stated “Inflation does not exist in real life” and instead is a made up capitalist lie. Note what happened mere months after his gaining control over the Venezuelan currency
This is a key policy. One paper I really like, Sargent (1984) "The end of 4 big inflations" states:
The essential measures that ended hyperinflation in each of Germany,Austria, Hungary, and Poland were, first, the creation of an independentcentral bank that was legally committed to refuse the government'sdemand or additional unsecured credit and, second, a simultaneousalteration in the fiscal policy regime.
In english: *hyperinflation stops when the central bank can say "no" to the government."
The US Fed, like other well good central banks, is run by a bunch of nerds. When it prints money, even as aggressively as it has it does so for good reasons. You can see why they started printing on March 15th as the COVID lockdowns started:
The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.
In english: We're going to keep printing and lowering rates until jobs are back and inflation is under control. If we print until the sun is blotted out, we'll print in the shade.

BTC is not gold

Gold is a good asset for doomsday-preppers. If society crashes, gold will still have value.
How do we know that?
Gold has held value throughout multiple historic catastrophes over thousands of years. It had value before and after the Bronze Age Collapse, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and Gengis Khan being Gengis Khan.
Even if you erased humanity and started over, the new humans would still find gold to be economically valuable. When Europeans d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ g̶e̶n̶o̶c̶i̶d̶e̶d̶ went to America, they found gold to be an important item over there too. This is about equivalent to finding humans on Alpha-Centauri and learning that they think gold is a good store of value as well.
Some people are puzzled at this: we don't even use gold for much! But it has great properties:
First, gold is hard to fake and impossible to manufacture. This makes it good to ascertain payment.
Second, gold doesnt react to oxygen, so it doesn't rust or tarnish. So it keeps value over time unlike most other materials.
Last, gold is pretty. This might sound frivolous, and you may not like it, but jewelry has actual value to humans.
It's no coincidence if you look at a list of the wealthiest families, a large number of them trade in luxury goods.
To paraphrase Veblen humans have a profound desire to signal social status, for the same reason peacocks have unwieldy tails. Gold is a great way to achieve that.
On the other hand, BTC lacks all these attributes. Its value is largely based on common perception of value. There are a few fundamental drivers of demand:
Apart from these, it's hard to argue that BTC will retain value throughout some sort of economic catastrophe.

BTC is really risky

One last statement from Michael Saylor I take offense to is this:
“We feel pretty confident that Bitcoin is less risky than holding cash, less risky than holding gold,” MicroStrategy CEO said in an interview
"BTC is less risky than holding cash or gold long term" is nonsense. We saw before that BTC is more volatile on face value, and that as long as the Fed isn't run by spider monkeys stacked in a trench coat, the inflation is likely to be within reasonable bounds.
But on top of this, BTC has Abrupt downside risks that normal currencies don't. Let's imagine a few:

Blockchain solutions are fundamentally inefficient

Blockchain was a genius idea. I still marvel at the initial white paper which is a great mix of economics and computer science.
That said, blockchain solutions make large tradeoffs in design because they assume almost no trust between parties. This leads to intentionally wasteful designs on a massive scale.
The main problem is that all transactions have to be validated by expensive computational operations and double checked by multiple parties. This means waste:
Many design problems can be mitigated by various improvements over BTC, but it remains that a simple database always works better than a blockchain if you can trust the parties to the transaction.
submitted by VodkaHaze to badeconomics [link] [comments]

DDDD - The Rise of “Buy the Dip” Retail Investors and Why Another Crash Is Imminent

DDDD - The Rise of “Buy the Dip” Retail Investors and Why Another Crash Is Imminent
In this week's edition of DDDD (Data-driven DD), I'll be going over the real reason why we have been seeing a rally for the past few weeks, defying all logic and fundamentals - retail investors. We'll look into several data sets to see how retail interest in stock markets have reached record levels in the past few weeks, how this affected stock prices, and why we've most likely seen the top at this point, unless we see one of the "positive catalysts" that I mentioned in my previous post, which is unlikely (except for more news about Remdesivir).
Disclaimer - This is not financial advice, and a lot of the content below is my personal opinion. In fact, the numbers, facts, or explanations presented below could be wrong and be made up. Don't buy random options because some person on the internet says so; look at what happened to all the SPY 220p 4/17 bag holders. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions on what you should do with your own money, and how levered you want to be based on your personal risk tolerance.
Inspiration
Most people who know me personally know that I spend an unhealthy amount of my free time in finance and trading as a hobby, even competing in paper options trading competitions when I was in high school. A few weeks ago, I had a friend ask if he could call me because he just installed Robinhood and wanted to buy SPY puts after seeing everyone on wallstreetbets post gains posts from all the tendies they’ve made from their SPY puts. The problem was, he actually didn’t understand how options worked at all, and needed a thorough explanation about how options are priced, what strike prices and expiration dates mean, and what the right strategy to buying options are. That’s how I knew we were at the euphoria stage of buying SPY puts - it’s when dumb money starts to pour in, and people start buying securities because they see everyone else making money and they want in, even if they have no idea what they’re buying, and price becomes dislocated from fundementals. Sure enough, less than a week later, we started the bull rally that we are currently in. Bubbles are formed when people buy something not because of logic or even gut feeling, but when people who previously weren’t involved see their dumb neighbors make tons of money from it, and they don’t want to miss out.
A few days ago, I started getting questions from other friends about what stocks they should buy and if I thought something was a good investment. That inspired me to dig a bit deeper to see how many other people are thinking the same thing.
Data
Ever since March, we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of money pour into the stock market from retail investors.
Google Search Trends
\"what stock should I buy\" Google Trends 2004 - 2020
\"what stock should I buy\" Google Trends 12 months
\"stocks\" Google Trends 2004 - 2020
\"stocks\" Google Trends 12 months
Brokerage data
Robinhood SPY holders
\"Robinhood\" Google Trends 12 months
wallstreetbets' favorite broker Google Trends 12 months
Excerpt from E*Trade earnings statement
Excerpt from Schwab earnings statement
TD Ameritrade Excerpt
Media
cnbc.com Alexa rank
CNBC viewership & rankings
wallstreetbets comments / day

investing comments / day
Analysis
What we can see from Reddit numbers, Google Trends, and CNBC stats is that in between the first week of March and first week of April, we see a massive inflow of retail interest in the stock market. Not only that, but this inflow of interest is coming from all age cohorts, from internet-using Zoomers to TV-watching Boomers. Robinhood SPY holdings and earnings reports from E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, and Schwab have also all confirmed record numbers of new clients, number of trades, and assets. There’s something interesting going on if you look closer at the numbers. The numbers growth in brokers for designed for “less sophisticated” investors (i.e. Robinhood and E*Trade) are much larger than for real brokers (i.e. Schwab and Ameritrade). This implies that the record number of new users and trade volume is coming from dumb money. The numbers shown here only really apply to the US and Canada, but there’s also data to suggest that there’s also record numbers of foreign investors pouring money into the US stock market as well.
However, after the third week of March, we see the interest start to slowly decline and plateau, indicating that we probably have seen most of those new investors who wanted to have a long position in the market do so.
SPX daily
Rationale
Pretty much everything past this point is purely speculation, and isn’t really backed up by any solid data so take whatever I say here with a cup of salt. We could see from the graph that new investor interest started with the first bull trap we saw in the initial decline from early March, and peaking right after the end of the crash in March. So it would be fair to guess that we’re seeing a record amount of interest in the stock market from a “buy the dip” mentality, especially from Robinhood-using Millennials. Here’s a few points on my rationalization of this behavior, based on very weak anecdotal evidence
  • They missed out of their chance of getting in the stock market at the start of the bull market that happened at the end of 2009
  • They’ve all seen the stock market make record gains throughout their adult lives, but believing that the market might be overheated, they were waiting for a crash
  • Most of them have gotten towards the stage of their lives where they actually have some savings and can finally put some money aside for investments
  • This stock market crash seems like their once-in-a-decade opportunity that they’ve been waiting for, so everyone jumped in
  • Everyone’s stuck at their homes with vast amounts of unexpected free time on their hands
Most of these new investors got their first taste in the market near the bottom, and probably made some nice returns. Of course, since they didn’t know what they were doing, they probably put a very small amount of money at first, but after seeing a 10% return over one week, validating that maybe they do know something, they decide to slowly pour in more and more of their life savings. That’s what’s been fueling this bull market.
Sentiment & Magic Crayons
As I mentioned previously, this bull rally will keep going until enough bears convert to bulls. Markets go up when the amount of new bullish positions outnumber the amount of new bearish positions, and vice versa. Record amounts of new investors, who previously never held a position in the market before, fueled the bullish side of this equation, despite all the negative data that has come out and dislocating the price from fundamentals. All the smart money that was shorting the markets saw this happening, and flipped to become bulls because you don’t fight the trend, even if the trend doesn’t reflect reality.
From the data shown above, we can see new investor interest growth has started declining since mid March and started stagnating in early April. The declining volume in SPY since mid-March confirms this. That means, once the sentiment of the new retail investors starts to turn bearish, and everyone figures out how much the stocks they’re holding are really worth, another sell-off will begin. I’ve seen something very similar to this a few years ago with Bitcoin. Near the end of 2017, Bitcoin started to become mainstream and saw a flood of retail investors suddenly signing up for Coinbase (i.e. Robinhood) accounts and buying Bitcoin without actually understanding what it is and how it works. Suddenly everyone, from co-workers to grandparents, starts talking about Bitcoin and might have thrown a few thousand dollars into it. This appears to be a very similar parallel to what’s going on right now. Of course there’s differences here in that equities have an intrinsic value, although many of them have gone way above what they should be intrinsically worth, and the vast majority of retail investors don’t understand how to value companies. Then, during December, when people started thinking that the market was getting a bit overheated, some started taking their profits, and that’s when the prices crashed violently. This flip in sentiment now look like it has started with equities.
SPY daily
Technical Analysis, or magic crayons, is a discipline in finance that uses statistical analysis to predict market trends based on market sentiment. Of course, a lot of this is hand-wavy and is very subjective; two people doing TA on the same price history can end up getting opposite results, so TA should always be taken with a grain of salt and ideally be backed with underlying justification and not be blindly followed. In fact, I’ve since corrected the ascending wedge I had on SPY since my last post since this new wedge is a better fit for the new trading data.
There’s a few things going on in this chart. The entire bull rally we’ve had since the lows can be modelled using a rising wedge. This is a pattern where there is a convergence of a rising support and resistance trendline, along with falling volume. This indicates a slow decline in net bullish sentiment with investors, with smaller and smaller upside after each bounce off the support until it hits a resistance. The smaller the bounces, the less bullish investors are. When the bearish sentiment takes over across investors, the price breaks below this wedge - a breakdown, and indicates a start of another downtrend.
This happened when the wedge hit resistance at around 293, which is around the same price as the 200 day moving average, the 62% retracement (considered to be the upper bound of a bull trap), and a price level that acted as a support and resistance throughout 2019. The fact that it gapped down to break this wedge is also a strong signal, indicating a sudden swing in investor sentiment overnight. The volume of the break down also broke the downwards trend of volume we’ve had since the beginning of the bull rally, indicating a sudden surge of people selling their shares. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will go straight from here, and I personally think that we will see the completion of a heads-and-shoulders pattern complete before SPY goes below 274, which in itself is a strong support level. In other words, SPY might go from 282 -> 274 -> 284 -> 274 before breaking the 274 support level.
VIX Daily
Doing TA is already sketchy, and doing TA on something like VIX is even more sketchy, but I found this interesting so I’ll mention it. Since the start of the bull rally, we’ve had VIX inside a descending channel. With the breakdown we had in SPY yesterday, VIX has also gapped up to have a breakout from this channel, indicating that we may see future volatility in the next week or so.
Putting Everything Together
Finally, we get to my thesis. This entire bull rally has been fueled by new retail investors buying the dip, bringing the stock price to euphoric levels. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been seeing the people waiting at the sidelines for years to get into the stock market slowly FOMO into the rally in smaller and smaller volumes, while the smart money have been locking in their profits at an even slower rate - hence an ascending wedge. As the amount of new retail interest in the stock market started slowed down, the amount of new bulls started to decline. It looks like Friday might have been the start of the bearish sentiment taking over, meaning it’s likely that 293 was the top, unless any significant bullish events happen in the next two weeks like a fourth round of stimulus, in which case we might see 300. This doesn’t mean we’ll instantly go back to circuit breakers on Monday, and we might see 282 -> 274 -> 284 -> 274 happen before panic, this time by the first-time investors, eventually bringing us down towards SPY 180.
tldr; we've reached the top
EDIT - I'll keep a my live thoughts here as we move throughout this week in case anyone's still reading this and interested.
5/4 8PM - /ES was red last night but steadily climbed, which was expected since 1h RSI was borderline oversold, leaving us to a slightly green day. /ES looks like it has momentum going up, but is approaching towards overbought territory now. Expecting it to go towards 284 (possibly where we'll open tomorrow) and bouncing back down from that price level
5/5 Market Open - Well there goes my price target. I guess at this point it might go up to 293 again, but will need a lot of momentum to push back there to 300. Seems like this is being driven by oil prices skyrocketing.
5/5 3:50PM - Volume for the upwards price action had very little volume behind it. Seeing a selloff EOD today, could go either way although I have a bearish bias. Going to hold cash until it goes towards one end of the 274-293 channel (see last week's thesis). Still believe that we will see it drop below 274 next week, but we might be moving sideways in the channel this week and a bit of next week before that happens. Plan for tomorrow is buy short dated puts if open < 285. Otherwise, wait till it goes to 293 before buying those puts
5/5 6PM - What we saw today could be a false breakout above 284. Need tomorrow to open below 285 for that to be confirmed. If so, my original thesis of it going back down to 274 before bouncing back up will still be in play.
5/6 EOD - Wasn't a false breakout. Looks like it's still forming the head-and-shoulders pattern mentioned before, but 288 instead of 284 as the level. Still not sure yet so I'm personally going to be holding cash and waiting this out for the next few days. Will enter into short positions if we either go near 293 again or drop below 270. Might look into VIX calls if VIX goes down near 30.
5/7 Market Open - Still waiting. If we break 289 we're probably heading to 293. I'll make my entry to short positions when we hit that a second time. There's very little bullish momentum left (see MACD 1D), so if we hit 293 and then drop back down, we'll have a MACD crossover event which many traders and algos use as a sell signal. Oil is doing some weird shit.
5/7 Noon - Looks like we're headed to 293. Picked up VIX 32.5c 5/27 since VIX is near 30.
5/7 11PM - /ES is hovering right above 2910, with 4h and 1h charts are bullish from MACD and 1h is almost overbought in RSI. Unless something dramatic happens we'll probably hit near 293 tomorrow, which is where I'll get some SPY puts. We might drop down before ever touching it, or go all the way to 295 (like last time) during the day, but expecting it to close at or below 293. After that I'm expecting a gap down Monday as we start the final leg down next week towards 274. Expecting 1D MACD to crossover in the final leg down, which will be a signal for bears to take over and institutions / day traders will start selling again
5/8 Market Open - Plan is to wait till a good entry today, either when technicals looks good or we hit 293, and then buy some SPY June 285p and July 275p
5/8 Noon - Everything still going according to plan. Most likely going to slowly inch towards 293 by EOD. Will probably pick up SPY puts and more VIX calls at power hour (3 - 4PM). Monday will probably gap down, although there's a small chance of one more green / sideways day before that happens if we have bullish catalysts on the weekend.
5/8 3:55PM - SPY at 292.60. This is probably going to be the closest we get to 293. Bought SPY 290-260 6/19 debit spreads and 292-272 5/15 debit spreads, as well as doubling down on VIX calls from yesterday, decreasing my cost basis. Still looks like there's room for one more green day on Monday, so I left some money on the side to double down if that's the case, although it's more likely than not we won't get there.
5/8 EOD - Looks like we barely touched 293 exactly AH before rebounding down. Too bad you can't buy options AH, but more convinced we'll see a gap down on Monday. Going to work on another post over the weekend and do my updates there. Have a great weekend everyone!
submitted by ASoftEngStudent to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

Lines of Navigation | Monthly Portfolio Update - July 202

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be
- Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H.
This is my forty-fourth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal.
Portfolio goal
My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars).
This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent.
Portfolio summary
Total portfolio value: $1 800 119 (+$34 376 or 1.9%)
Asset allocation
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio.
[Chart]
Comments
The portfolio has substantially increased this month, continuing the recovery in portfolio value since March.
The strong portfolio growth of over $34 000, or 1.9 per cent, returns the value of the portfolio close to that achieved at the end of February this year.
[Chart]
This month there was minimal movement in the value of Australian and global equity holdings, There was, however, a significant lift of around 6 per cent in the value of gold exchange traded fund units, as well as a rise in the value of Bitcoin holdings.
These movements have pushed the value of gold holdings to their highest level so far on the entire journey. Their total value has approximately doubled since the original major purchases across 2009 to 2015.
For most of the past year gold has functioned as a portfolio stabiliser, having a negative correlation to movements in Australian equities (of around -0.3 to -0.4). As low and negative bond rates spread across the world, however, the opportunity cost of holding gold is reduced, and its potential diversification benefits loom larger.
The fixed income holdings of the portfolio also continued to fall beneath the target allocation, making this question of what represents a defensive (or negatively correlated to equity) asset far from academic.
This steady fall is a function of the slow maturing of Ratesetter loans, which were largely made between 2015 and 2017. Ratesetter has recently advised of important changes to its market operation, and placed a fixed maximum cap on new loan rates. By replacing market set rates with maximum rates, the peer-to-peer lending platform appears to be shifting to more of a 'intermediated' role in which higher past returns (of around 8 to 9 per cent) will now no longer be possible.
[Chart]
The expanding value of gold and Bitcoin holdings since January last year have actually had the practical effect of driving new investments into equities, since effectively for each dollar of appreciation, for example, my target allocation to equities rises by seven dollars.
Consistent with this, investments this month have been in the Vanguard international shares exchange-traded fund (VGS) using Selfwealth. This has been directed to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares.
Fathoming out: franking credits and portfolio distributions
Earlier last month I released a summary of portfolio income over the past half year. This, like all before it, noted that the summary was prepared on a purely 'cash' basis, reflecting dividends actually paid into a bank account, and excluding consideration of franking credits.
Franking credits are credits for company tax paid at the company level, which can be passed to individual shareholders, reducing their personal tax liability. They are not cash, but for a personal investor with tax liabilities they can have equivalent value. This means that comparing equity returns to other investments without factoring these credits can produce a distorted picture of an investor's final after-tax return.
In past portfolio summaries I have noted an estimate for franking credits in footnotes, but updating the value for this recently resulted in a curiosity about the overall significance of this neglected element of my equity returns.
This neglect resulted from my perception earlier in the journey that they represented a marginal and abstract factor, which could effectively be assumed away for the sake of simplicity in reporting.
This is not a wholly unfair view, in the sense that income physically received and able to be spent is something definably different in kind than a notional 'pre-payment' credit for future tax costs. Yet, as the saying goes, because the prospect of personal tax is as certain as extinction from this world, in some senses a credit of this kind can be as valuable as a cash distribution.
Restoring the record: trends and drivers of franking credits
To collect a more accurate picture of the trends and drivers of franking credits I relied on a few sources - tax statements, records and the automatic franking credit estimates that the portfolio tracking site Sharesight generates.
The chart below sets out both the level and major different sources of franking credits received over the past eleven years.
[Chart]
From this chart some observations can be made.
The key reason for the rapid growth over the recent decade has been the increased investment holdings in Australian equities. As part of the deliberate rebalancing towards Australian shares across the past two years, these holdings have expanded.
The chart below sets out the total value of Australian shares held over the comparable period.
[Chart]
As an example, at the beginning of this record Australian equities valued at around $276 000 were held. Three years later, the holding were nearly three times larger.
The phase of consistently increasing the Australian equities holding to meet its allocated weighting is largely complete. This means that the period of rapid growth seen in the past few years is unlikely to repeat. Rather, growth will revert to be in proportion to total portfolio growth.
Close to cross-over: the credit card records
One of the most powerful initial motivators to reach financial independence was the concept of the 'cross over' point in Vicki Robins and Joe Dominguez's Your Money or Your Life. This was the point at which monthly expenses are exceeded by investment income.
One of the metrics I have traced is this 'cross-over' point in relation to recorded credit card expenses. And this point is now close indeed.
Expenditures on the credit card have continued their downward trajectory across the past month. The three year rolling average of monthly credit card spending remains at its lowest point over the period of the journey. Distributions on the same basis now meet over 99 per cent of card expenses - with the gap now the equivalent of less than $50 per month.
[Chart]
The period since April of the achievement of a notional and contingent form of financial independence has continued.
The below chart illustrates this temporary state, setting out the the extent to which to which portfolio distributions (red) cover estimated total expenses (green), measured month to month.
[Chart]
An alternative way to view the same data is to examine the degree to which total expenses (i.e. fixed payments not made on credit card added to monthly credit card expenses) are met by distributions received.
An updated version of this is seen in the chart below.
[Chart]
Interestingly, on a trend basis, this currently identifies a 'crossing over' point of trend distributions fully meeting total expenditure from around November 2019. This is not conclusive, however, as the trend curve is sensitive to the unusual COVID-19 related observations of the first half of this year, and could easily shift further downward if normal expense patterns resume.
One issue this analysis raises is what to do with the 'credit card purchases' measure reported below. This measure is designed to provide a stylised benchmark of how close the current portfolio is to a target of generating the income required to meet an annual average credit card expenditure of $71 000.
The problem with this is that continued falling credit card spending means that average credit card spending is lower than that benchmark for all time horizons - measured as three and four year averages, or in fact taken as a whole since 2013. So the set benchmark may, if anything, be understating actual progress compared the graphs and data above by not reflecting changing spending levels.
In the past I have addressed this trend by reducing the benchmark. Over coming months, or perhaps at the end of the year, I will need to revisit both the meaning, and method, of setting this measure.
Progress
Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below.
Measure Portfolio All Assets
Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 82.6% 111.5%
Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 100.7% 136.0%
Total expenses – $89 000 pa 80.7% 109.0%
Summary
One of the most challenging aspects of closing in on a fixed numerical target for financial independence with risk assets still in place is that the updrafts and downdrafts of market movements can push the goal further away, or surprisingly close.
There have been long period of the journey where the total value of portfolio has barely grown, despite regular investments being made. As an example, the portfolio ended 2018 lower than it started the year. The past six months have been another such period. This can create a sense of treading water.
Yet amidst the economic devastation affecting real lives and businesses, this is an extremely fortunate position to be in. Australia and the globe are set to experience an economic contraction far more severe than the Global Financial Crisis, with a lesser capacity than previously for interest rates to cushion the impact. Despite similar measures being adopted by governments to address the downturn, it is not clear whether these are fit for purpose.
Asset allocation in this environment - of being almost suspended between two realities - is a difficult problem. The history of markets can tell us that just when assets seem most 'broken', they can produce outsized returns. Yet the problem remains that far from being surrounded by broken markets, the proliferation appears to be in bubble-like conditions.
This recent podcast discussion with the founder of Grant's Interest Rate Observer provided a useful historical context to current financial conditions this month. One of the themes of the conversation was 'thinking the unthinkable', such as a return of inflation. Similar, this Hoover Institute video discussion, with a 'Back from the future' premise, provides some entertaining, informed and insightful views on the surprising and contingent nature of what we know to be true.
Some of our little systems may well have had their day, but what could replace them remains obscured to any observer.
The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
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Bittrex Review: One of the First Crypto Exchanges| Final Part

Bittrex Review: One of the First Crypto Exchanges| Final Part

4. Transaction Fees

Transferring funds across the blockchain and withdrawing them from Bittrex costs a fee for customers, with the rate unique for every coin.
Bittrex Global charges no commission for deposits. Please keep in mind that some tokens or cash may be required to perform a transaction by a crypto coin or token’s community. Bittrex crypto exchange can’t keep away from it.
Every token or coin has a blockchain transaction fee that is built in it, and the Bittrex fee is a small amount to cover this charge. You can view the fee percentage for every coin or token by clicking Withdrawal near to the coin. There you will see a transaction fee you will be charged for withdrawing a specific coin or token.
In the example below, the withdrawal fee amounts to 1 USDT
https://preview.redd.it/209uz2p64zh51.jpg?width=974&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=9ee9355c4d75d41931a3073b8a230bd1ffddaf08
The transaction fee for Bitcoin came to 0.00050000 BTC
https://preview.redd.it/vh7zbe884zh51.jpg?width=974&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e6293650b46a7e0ba661478bd2467471b8b213f9

5. Trading Fees

The fee schedule below provides the applicable rate based on the account's 30-Day Volume and if the order is a maker or taker.
Bittrex Global Fee30 Day Volume (USD)MakerTaker$0k - $50k0.2%0.2%$50k - $1M0.12%0.18%$1M - $10M0.05%0.15%$10M - $60M0.02%0.1%$60M+0%0.08%>$100MContact TAM representative
Trading expenses are incurred when an order is prepared by means of the Bittrex worldwide matching engine. While an order is being executed, the purchaser and the vendor are charged a rate primarily based on the order’s amount. The fee charged by Bittrex exchange is calculated by the formula amount * buy rate * fee. There aren't any charges for placing an order which is not being executed so far. Any portion of an unfinished order will be refunded completely upon order cancelation.
Prices vary depending on the currency pair, monthly trade volume, and whether the order is a maker or taker. Bittrex reserves the right to alternate fee quotes at any time, including offering various discounts and incentive packages.

Monthly Volume

Your buying and selling volume affects the fee you pay for every order. Our expenses are built to encourage customers who ensure liquidity in the Bittrex crypto exchange markets. Your buying and selling charges are reduced according to your trade volume for the last 30 years in dollars.
Bittrex calculates the 30-day value every day, updating every account's volume calculation and buying and selling charge between of 12:30 AM UTC and 01:30 AM UTC every day.
You can check your monthly trade volume by logging in and opening Account > My Activity.
https://preview.redd.it/n1djh2ob4zh51.jpg?width=974&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2eebb9c9ac63de207c4dd2e49bc45aeb53a8dec8

6. Withdrawing Funds

Withdrawing any type of funds is likewise simple. You can profit by buying and selling Bitcoin, Ether, or any other cryptocurrency.
You determine the crypto address—to which the amount will be credited—and the transaction amount. The withdrawal fee will be automatically calculated and shown right away.
After confirming the transaction, the finances will be sent to the specified addresses and all that you need to do is to wait for the community to confirm the transaction.
If the 2FA is enabled, then the user receives a special code (via SMS or application) to confirm the withdrawal.

7. How to Trade on Bittrex Global

Currency selling and buying transactions are performed using the Sell and Buy buttons, accordingly.
To begin with, the dealer selects a currency pair and sees a graph of the rate dynamics and different values for the pair.
Below the chart, there is a section with orders where the user can buy or sell a virtual asset.
To create an order, you just need to specify the order type, price, and quantity. And do not forget about the 0.25% trade fee whatever the quantity.
For optimum profit, stay with liquid assets as they can be quickly sold at a near-market rate effective at the time of the transaction. Bittrex offers no referral program; so buying and selling crypto is the easiest way to earn.
https://preview.redd.it/hopm6fih4zh51.jpg?width=1302&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=68c0aaae86f64c3e6b9d351c3df2a9c331f94038

Order Types

Bittrex helps you alternate Limit and Stop-Limit orders.
A limit order or a simple limit order is performed when the asset fee reaches—or even exceeds—the price the trader seeks. To execute such an order, it is required that there's a counter market order on the platform that has the identical fee as the limit order.

Differences between Limit Order and Stop Limit Order

A stop limit order is a mixture of a stop limit order and a limit order. In such an application, charges are indicated—a stop charge and the limit.

Stop Limit Order Purpose

https://preview.redd.it/hlxvy9ti4zh51.jpg?width=1141&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=064a77459a4dcb4555a885cbc56629aae10fc38b

Trade Terminal

Let’s discuss how you could trade conveniently with our service.
The key features include a user-friendly interface and precise currency pair statistics (timeframe graphs, network data, trade volumes, and so forth).
The platform’s top-notch advantage is handy, easy-to-analyze, customizable charts. There is also a column for quick switching between currency pairs and an order panel beneath the fee chart. Such an all-encompassing visual solution helps compare orders efficiently and in one place.
You can use the terminal in a day or night mode; when in the night mode, the icon in the upper-right corner changes and notice the Bittrex trading terminal in night mode is displayed. The main menu consists of 4 sections: Markets, Orders, Wallets, Settings.
Markets are the trade section. Bittrex allows handling over 270 currency pairs.
Orders. To see all open orders, go to OrdersOpen.
To see completed orders, go to OrdersCompleted.
Wallets. The Wallets tab displays many wallets for all cryptocurrencies supported by the exchange and the current balance of each of them.
After refilling the balance or creating a buy or sale order, you will see all actions in the section. Bittrex allows creating a separate wallet for every coin. Additionally, you can see how the coin price has changed, in terms of percentage, throughout the day.
Here’s what you can also do with your wallets:
  • Hide zero balances: hide currencies with zero balance
  • Green and red arrows: replenish balance/withdraw funds
  • Find: search for a cryptocurrency
The Settings section helps manage your account, verification, 2FA, password modification, API connection, and many more.

How to Sell

The process of selling crypto assets follows the same algorithm. The only difference is that after choosing the exchange direction, you need to initiate a Sell order. All the rest is similar: you select the order type, specify the quantity and price, and click Sell *Currency Name* (Sell Bitcoin in our case).
If you scroll the screen, the entire history of trades and orders will be displayed below.

LONG and SHORT

You can make a long deal or a short deal. Your choice depends on whether you expect an asset to fall or rise in price.
Long positions are a classic trading method. It concerns purchasing an asset to profit when its value increases. Long positions are carried out through any brokers and do not require a margin account. In this case, the trader’s account must have enough funds to cover the transaction.
Losses in a long position are considered to be limited; no matter when the trade starts, the price will not fall below zero with all possible errors. Short positions, in contrast, are used to profit from a falling market. A trader buys a financial instrument from a broker and sells it. After the price reaches the target level, the trader buys back the assets or buys them to pay off the initial debt to the broker.
A short position yields profit if the price falls, and it is considered unprofitable the price matches the asset value. Performing a short order requires a margin account as a trader borrows valuable assets from a broker to complete a transaction. Long transactions help gain from market growth; short from a market decline.

Trade via API

Bittrex also supports algorithmic trading through extensive APIs (application programming interface), which allows you to automate the trading process using third-party services.
To create an API key, the user must enable the two-factor authentication 2FA, verify their account, and log in to the site within 3 minutes.
If all the requirements of the system are fulfilled, you can proceed to generate the API key. Log in to your Bittrex account, click Settings. Find API Keys. Click Add new key (Create a new key).
Toggle on / off settings for READ INFO, TRADE, or WITHDRAW, depending on what functionality you want to use for our API key.
Click Save and enter the 2FA code from the authenticator → Confirm.
The secret key will be displayed only once and will disappear after the page is refreshed. Make sure you saved it!
To delete an API key, click X in the right corner for the key that you want to delete, then click Save, enter the 2FA code from the authenticator and click Confirm.

Bittrex Bot, a Trader’s Assistant

Robotized programs that appeared sometimes after the appearance of cryptocurrency exchanges save users from monotonous work and allow automating the trading process.
Bots for trading digital money work like all the other bots: they perform mechanical trading according to the preset parameters.
Currently, one of Bittrex’s most popular trading bots is Bittrex Flash Crash Buyer Bot that helps traders profit from altcoin volatility without missing the right moment.
The program monitors all the market changes in the market every second; also, it even can place an order in advance. The Bittrex bot can handle a stop loss—to sell a certain amount of currency when the rate changes in a favorable direction and reaches a certain level.

8. Secure Platform

Bittrex Global employs the most reliable and effective security technologies available. There are many cases of theft, fraud. It is no coincidence that the currency is compared to the Wild West, especially if we compare the 1800s when cowboys rushed to the West Coast of America to earn and start something new in a place that had no rules.
Cryptocurrency is still wild. One can earn and lose money fast. But Bittrex has a substantial security policy thanks to the team’s huge experience in security and development for companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Qualys, and Blackberry.
The system employs an elastic, multi-stage holding strategy to ensure that the majority of funds are kept in cold storage for extra safety.
Bittrex Global also enables the two-factor authentication for all users and provides a host of additional security features to provide multiple layers of protection.
Bittrex cold wallet: https://bitinfocharts.com/en/bitcoin/address/385cR5DM96n1HvBDMzLHPYcw89fZAXULJP

How to Pass IP Verification

To ensure higher security of your Bittrex Global account, the system requires all users to approve each new IP address through an email confirmation. This IP verification procedure is required every time you attempt to log in from a new IP Address.
Confirming your IP address.
https://preview.redd.it/rnl730z75zh51.jpg?width=971&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=bd13fba0a844ab01cadc40003f5ea5de7439cbf9
The new IP address must be confirmed from the device that you are using to access Bittrex Global. This means that you must follow the CLICK HERE TO LOGIN link in an email on the device that you want to use to access your account.
https://preview.redd.it/tq9eje795zh51.jpg?width=607&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=160b2ebfd1b9e0a287d4d2b99017dd45518ef2f7
To ensure even more security, Bittrex Global supports whitelisting of IP addresses and Crypto addresses. These two features can help protect the account in the event of credentials or API key loss.

How to Add IP Address to Whitelist

By setting one or more whitelisted addresses, you are telling Bittrex Global to only authorize trades or withdrawals from those IPs. This concerns both the global.bittrex.com web interface and API-based trades or withdrawals. To do this, click IP Whitelist in Site Settings.
https://preview.redd.it/m2klahja5zh51.jpg?width=971&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=7cfb941ecb5284973baed1a2b0301459e36a0ab6

How to Add Crypto Address to Whitelist

By setting a withdrawal address, you are telling Bittrex Global to authorize withdrawals only to that address.
This concerns both the global.bittrex.com web interface and API based withdrawals.
Note that when opting into this feature, you need to specify a withdrawal address would like to withdraw funds from for every currency. To do this, click Withdrawal Whitelist in the Site Settings section. The example below shows a BTC address.
https://preview.redd.it/yrror8zd5zh51.jpg?width=974&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=179dd7da9f6e59d3fca628cbfcd2c3962562f911

Afterword

Bittrex Global is a reliable and advanced platform for trading digital assets with a respected reputation, long history, and active market presence and development nowadays. The exchange is eligible to be used globally, including the US and its territories.
The legal component of Bittrex Global is one of the most legitimate among numerous crypto-asset exchanges.
The Bittrex team has had great ambitions and managed to deliver promises and more. The exchange staff comprises forward-thinking and exceptional individuals whose success is recognized in the traditional business and blockchain sector.
Bittrex's purpose is to be the driving force in the blockchain revolution, expanding the application, importance, and accessibility of this game-changing technology worldwide.
The exchange fosters new and innovative blockchain and related projects that could potentially change the way money and assets are managed globally.
Alongside innovation, safety will always be the main priority of the company. The platform utilizes the most reliable and effective practices and available technologies to protect user accounts. Bittrex customers have always primarily been those who appreciate the highest degree of security.
Because of the way the Bittrex trading platform is designed, it can easily scale to always provide instant order execution for any number of new customers.
Bittrex supports algorithmic trading and empowers its customers with extensive APIs for more automated and profitable trading.
One of the common features which is not available on the exchange is margin trading. No leverage used however adds up to the exchange's stability and prevents fast money seekers and risky traders from entering the exchange.
Bittrex is a force of the blockchain revolution and an important entity of the emerging sector.
The full version
First part
Second part
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Complete Guide to CoinBase

Coinbase - The reference platform for investing in cryptocurrencies: here is the complete guide.
Coinbase is currently the most famous website or web platform for trading cryptocurrencies. This is not a classic Exchange but a real Broker that allows you to buy, sell and convert many of the main cryptocurrencies - Bitcoin and Ethereum among others - using traditional currency such as the Euro. In this complete guide to Coinbase we will try to explain all its features in detail.

Founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, it was born as a simple online Bitcoin wallet. Over time it has transformed into a cryptocurrency trading site that now reaches over 33 countries.

Being a broker, registering on the site requires all the necessary steps (KYC) to verify the user who holds the account. By signing up via the following secure link you can immediately earn 10 Dollars which will be credited to you by Coinbase.

Complete Guide to CoinBase
Coinbase as well as an intermediary for the purchase and sale of over 15 cryptocurrencies directly in Euro, also provides a real exchange (crypto exchange site) called Coinbase Pro (ex-GDax): The exchange behaves as a normal stock trading site with purchases and sales in real time with obviously much lower commissions when compared with those of classic trading platforms.

What Coinbase Pro offers.
Coinbase can receive crypto from other exchanges and specifically generates more permanent online wallets that will always remain at your disposal. To all intents and purposes, Coinbase's main task is to act as an archive for its cryptocurrencies for all those who do not want to try their hand at decentralized wallets.

The transfer between Coinbase and Coinbase Pro, for example, will be quick and free (but this does not apply to other exchanges) thus allowing all those who wish to trade between the main cryptocurrencies to be able to avoid expensive passages on other exchanges. Coinbase Pro allows you to exchange a range of cryptocurrencies with each other higher than that of its brother site but at a much lower cost. While on Coinbase the exchange between cryptocurrencies involves the payment of a maximum commission of 2%, on Coinbase Pro the rates fluctuate between 0.15 and 0.25%. Values ​​that will tend to decrease as the volumes traded increase.

The Coinbase account will also allow you to operate on Coinbase Pro. However, an additional request for user verification via Webcam may occur. All these levels of security are obviously necessary to protect customers and comply with the stringent regulations of the various countries in which the company operates.

Thanks to the guide, let's see what the interface shows us.
In this complete guide to Coinbase we also want to clarify the visual aspect. Once inside the site you will find yourself in the Dashboard or Home Page which will show from top to bottom the value of your Portfolio with its historical graph, the list of cryptocurrencies that you decide to keep under observation, a box that shows the 5 heaviest cryptocurrencies in your Portfolio (a pie chart is also available) and a second box with the latest transactions.

In the center of the page there is also the link to register with Coinbase Earn. By subscribing to the waiting list, you will have the opportunity to receive an invitation that will make you earn additional cryptocurrencies simply by following some very short video courses lasting a few minutes.

In addition to the Home Page, there is the Prices page with the listing of all the cryptocurrencies available on Coinbase and a very long list of those not available. By selecting the star on the right you can decide which ones to always keep in the foreground on the home page. Clicking on one of them will open a new screen that will offer a large amount of technical and historical information on the crypto in question as well as a fair number of constantly updated news.
Your funds are well organized.

The Portfolio page will report the amount of the balance in Euro of all the cryptocurrencies deposited on Coinbase. Here you can send and receive crypto to external wallets.
By clicking on Overview you will be sent back to the Prices page just described.
The Safe item, on the other hand, allows you to set aside cryptocurrency at a higher level of security.

Finally, a brief description of the "Make Transactions" item visible at the top right and present in almost all Coinbase pages. By clicking on it in any position you find it on the site, a small screen will open with the items "Buy, Sell, Convert". To purchase, you will first need to associate a payment method to your account. The Credit Card would be the most immediate choice due to its rapidity in crediting if it were not for the high commissions required by Coinbase. We therefore recommend that you be patient and use a normal Sepa standard bank transfer to credit the funds.

Selling your cryptocurrencies on Coinbase, depositing them in your Euro account, is simple and immediate as well as foolproof thanks to the Preview that will always be shown before confirming the transaction. This will involve the payment of a commission between 0.99 and 2.99 Dollars.
Rather high fees due to its wallet nature. For those who love trading, we obviously recommend moving to the Pro version.

The site offers a complete and comprehensive technical support page: https://support.coinbase.com/

We conclude this complete guide to Coinbase with a note on the mobile versions. There are two versions of for smartphones: a standard one called Coinbase Bitcoin Wallet and a personal one called Coinbase Wallet.
This second app allows you to transfer your cryptocurrencies from Coinbase Standard to an encrypted wallet on your smartphone (Coinbase Wallet).
The substantial difference is the following: Coinbase Standard is an online wallet and therefore subject to the remote risk of an external cyber attack while Coinbase Wallet stores the encryption key locally on the phone.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.coinbase.android

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.toshi

We remind trading enthusiasts of the availability on our blog of the article dedicated to Exodus Wallet.


If you liked this article and would like to contribute with a donation:

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By: cryptoall.it Telegram Channel: t.me/giulo75 Netbox Browser: https://netbox.global/PZn5A

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Providing Some Clarity on Bitcoin Unlimited's Financial Decisions

Providing Some Clarity on Bitcoin Unlimited's Financial Decisions

https://preview.redd.it/zjps7jpg7rg41.jpg?width=1601&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=defb61fb45c1a2ad5c7e31fe9200541783ba6478

Introduction

As promised in our previous article, we wanted to provide some extra clarity on Bitcoin Unlimited financial choices. We wanted to do this as there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation within the community as to the reasons behind these choices.
It has been claimed by a small number of influential people in the ecosystem that Bitcoin Unlimited does not support BCH (see the previous article debunking this claim) and that BU’s holdings are supposedly evidence of this. Background Bitcoin Unlimited was founded in 2015, and was set up as a response to the Bitcoin block size debate. More specifically, it was created to provide software that allowed on-chain scaling as originally proposed by Satoshi Nakamoto. As we all know, on-chain scaling is a vital component required for peer-to-peer electronic cash to serve the world’s population. Without it Bitcoin would be limited to serving only a small number of people willing and able to pay exorbitantly high fees. Our organisation was created to make Bitcoin unlimited. This prediction of high fees and limited capacity was played out in the BTC we know today as we predicted.
Bitcoin Unlimited received a large anonymous donation in BTC in 2016 from supporters of the ‘on-chain scaling’ movement. This donation allowed our organisation to remain independent and focussed on building software that allows on-chain scaling.
As you all know, in August of 2017, Bitcoin Cash was created after an unsuccessful multi-year effort to allow Bitcoin (BTC) to scale on-chain. Bitcoin Cash was created with the goal of on-chain scaling to support the world’s population right at its heart and BU has been supporting it since the idea was originally formulated.
Once Bitcoin Cash was created it also meant that all funds Bitcoin Unlimited held (BTC) were forked into two equal sets of coins, BTC and BCH. This put BU into a position where we had to make an important decision on how to handle these funds in a way that was in the interest of both BCH and BU.

Financial Prudence

Any organisation that wants to be effective in its goals must aim to always be financially sustainable. Without money, achieving anything becomes significantly more difficult. Cryptocurrencies only magnify this issue even further. Highly volatile asset values, opaque and dynamic tax and regulatory environments, and the unique properties of cryptocurrencies all contribute towards making the financial operations of an organisation an extreme challenge to say the least. Navigating this challenging landscape is a necessary requirement for the success of any organisation within our industry though.
While Bitcoin Unlimited’s primary goal is to make sure peer-to-peer electronic cash (as set out in the Bitcoin white-paper) becomes a reality, a secondary goal must be to make sure that it has the resources required to make its primary goal achievable, and an important part of these resources are its funds.
After Bitcoin forked into BTC and BCH, Bitcoin Unlimited then held an equal number of both. Although a BUIP was passed to authorize some extra conversion, significant practical obstacles to doing so exist (although this is still being worked on). However, since the overarching reason to convert a significant number of BTC to BCH is to maintain financial prudence based on the reasons outlined below and the poor BCH price performance has heavily skewed our holdings, we do anticipate some rebalancing when these obstacles are resolved.
We will further expand on these reasons below. Historic Volatility It is a fact that BCH has historically been more volatile than BTC. An organisation that wishes to maintain a lower level of risk must aim to hold a majority of funds in assets which will maintain their value over time, i.e. be less volatile in their price. It is unfortunately true that BCH has been a more volatile asset than BCH since its creation. While there has been lots of progress and maturation of the BCH ecosystem, this price volatility is likely due to BCH still being a smaller and less developed ecosystem than BTC. The graphs below show levels of volatility in the two coins compared.

BTC
BCH
This higher volatility in BCH has meant that to significantly increase BU’s holdings of BCH would expose the organisation to a higher level of risk for ideological reasons. BTC is already a high-volatility asset and to expose the organisation funds to even higher volatility and further risk is a decision that should not be taken based on simplistic ideology, but rather with the strategy of maximising the ability for the organisation to achieve its primary goals. This meant making the decision to not take on a higher exposure to price volatility, and instead maintain a more conservative risk profile.

Lack Of Say In The Protocol

One argument that has been put forward to suggest that this decision does not make sense because it is analogous to a CEO of a company holding more shares in their competitor’s company. This analogy does not accurately reflect the current scenario for BU or BCH. In this analogy BU is the CEO and BCH is the company. Ignoring the shareholders, A CEO is able to have the largest impact on a company compared to any other stakeholder. Their actions have a direct impact on operations of the company and therefore its value and the value of the shares.
Unfortunately, Bitcoin Unlimited currently has little to no input on the BCH protocol. It has no way to directly influence the direction or success of BCH. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, BCH has a mining software homogeneity that is as centralised as BTC (i.e. essentially all miners and pools run a single client, BitcoinABC). This means that, all though BU has a slight majority in non-mining and in-consensus nodes, BU has no say in protocol decisions unless a collaborative and decentralised development model were to be used by BitcoinABC. This is an unfortunate situation considering the fact that the community split from BTC for this very reason and is strongly in support of decentralised development. Secondly, BitcoinABC does not take a collaborative approach to development. All decisions and features are dictated by BitcoinABC.
In fact the situation is unfortunately even worse than this. BitcoinABC has decided to take an actively hostile position against Bitcoin Unlimited (and many other valuable participants in the ecosystem) and would rather that it did not exist at all.
While a number of members of BitcoinABC were previously members of BU, they unfortunately used their privilege as members to try (but fortunately failed) to sabotage the organisation.
https://www.bitcoinunlimited.info/voting/rendeproposal_vote_result/7eb0ded0487a6593ac3976b63422294e1a84b209be1307c46f373489922212a0
https://www.bitcoinunlimited.info/voting/rendeproposal_vote_result/6285fcef8fa44416b8e83f25bfebe79aff502c1446a7b60bfab28ec58c35b609
https://www.bitcoinunlimited.info/voting/rendeproposal_vote_result/b10f54ece2ea3b9001086ebdde0001fbef9dc2fd83729a65ba207c0f1d9dfceb
These three voting records show members of BitcoinABC voting for the purchase of BSV coin, voting for an unfeasibly large block size increase (10TB), and voting for implementation of and miner-activation of BSV features into the BU client. None of these actions were implemented in the ABC client, and the inclusion of BSV features is likely the single biggest criticism certain ABC affiliated people have made against BU, yet members of BitcoinABC voted for it.
While it is important to assume good faith, under no interpretation can this be seen as anything other an act of bad will towards BU. Unfortunately this kind of behaviour is rather the rule than the exception and has likely been a major factor in BCH’s struggle to attract quality developers into the ecosystem.
Regardless of the hard work done by members of BU to create useful software for Bitcoin Cash, and its continued commitment towards peer-to-peer electronic cash for the past 5 years, ABC will unfortunately never allow any of BU’s work to go into the BCH protocol willingly.
If BU were to invest all its funds into BCH it would be making a highly risky bet on BitcoinABC’s leadership, a leadership that has not only been historically unsuccessful (when looking at the price of BCH since its creation, both in dollar terms and BTC/BCH ratio terms), but also actively hostile to our organisation. A more cautious approach that takes these factors into account is to keep the funds held where there has been less volatility.
Regardless of all of this, BU is still 100% committed to supporting Bitcoin Cash.

Game Theory: The Strategy of Betting Against Yourself

Counter intuitively, a strategy where you bet against yourself can provide a beneficial low-risk profile. When you bet against yourself, if you lose you win and if you win you win. With BU’s current asset holdings of BCH and BTC the organisation is financially hedged in a way that it wins if BCH wins, and if BTC wins then BU lives to fight another day for worldwide peer-to-peer electronic cash.
If BTC goes down and BCH goes up then it means BCH is succeeding, and our funds in BCH will sustain us for longer. Not only that, but there would likely be more funds available for BCH development in this scenario. If BTC goes up and BCH goes down then BU will be sustained for longer to continue the fight for BCH and peer-to-peer electronic cash.
This is very similar to the strategy of BCH-supporting miners mining on BTC and then converting the BTC block rewards into BCH in an effort to use BTC gains to support BCH price. BU is similarly using its gains in BTC and converting them to efforts and initiatives in support of BCH. In doing so Bitcoin Unlimited is able to turn any BTC win into a positive for BCH.

Incentives

It has been suggested that the situation created by holding a larger portion of funds in BTC than in BCH creates negative incentives that push BU towards supporting BTC. It is important to keep in mind that Bitcoin Unlimited is not a profit driven organisation. While an increase in value of its assets is of course beneficial to the organisation, our primary goal is to accelerate the global adoption of peer-to-peer electronic cash as described in the Bitcoin white-paper, and the officials, membership and founding articles of Bitcoin Unlimited are the driving force for this.
It is also important to point out that there is no evidence to support the claim that BU is in support of BTC (or BSV). In fact the voting record clearly shows the opposite of this. BU has continually worked in support of peer-to-peer electronic cash, and specifically in support of BCH since it was created. This is thanks to the strong commitment by the BU officials and members, all of whom are long time Bitcoiners and supporters of the ‘on-chain scaling’ movement. The only members who receive any payment from the organisation are those who provide significant value in the form of various skilled services, and all of these are voted on by the membership. The BUIP record also shows that compensated individuals are often compensated at far under market rates for developers of their caliber. Should the price of BTC increase, no member receives any direct benefit from this beyond any appreciation in value of any BTC they privately hold. Therefore there are no strong incentives for BU to drive the price of BTC up and push the price of BCH down as this would be counter to our primary goal.

Has This Strategy Been Successful?

Bitcoin Unlimited and its members, all being long-time Bitcoiners, are acutely aware of the need to play the long game to make sure a globally adopted peer-to-peer electronic cash becomes a reality. BU is the oldest entity within the BCH ecosystem and with good reason. The financial strategy of BU to date has been highly effective in sustaining the organisation over a long period of time, and allowing it to independently support BCH development initiatives. This is made clear by the fact that BU continues to have enough funding to provide value to the BCH ecosystem for the foreseeable future.
Had BU converted all funds to BCH at, or at almost any point after, the time of the BCH/BTC fork in August 2017, then for much of the time since it would have been forced to either scale back operations or shut down support for BCH developers completely. We now see development teams such as BitcoinABC facing the prospect of being unable to fund their development of BCH, and their financial strategy may have contributed to this reality. This is despite the fact that nearly all the funds donated in the recent community funding drive sponsored by bitcoin.com were directed towards BitcoinABC.
Lack of a sustainable funding model also seems to have been a major factor in pushing BitcoinABC to make the highly controversial decision to support a change to the BCH protocol that would divert 12.5% of the block reward to themselves. Being financially prudent and sticking to its principles (as defined in the founding Articles of Federation has allowed Bitcoin Unlimited to steer clear of any conflicts of interest such as this.

Summary

Through its financial strategy Bitcoin Unlimited has been able to maintain its independence and financial sustainability and has therefore remained in a strong position to support Bitcoin Cash. BU’s officials and membership have continually made good decisions that have allowed BU to provide long-term support for the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem.
submitted by BU-BCH to btc [link] [comments]

XRP Isn’t A Security, Declares Former CFTC Chairman

XRP Isn’t A Security, Declares Former CFTC Chairman
https://preview.redd.it/8yehv8lzsce51.jpg?width=960&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=69f0a6eb4973a5a9974e42d15709434719a26a81
When Chris Giancarlo was the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission he became a rock-star of sorts in certain corners of the cryptocurrency community, helping establish criteria that eventually led to bitcoin and ethereum being declared commodities, more like coffee or sugar than stock in a company. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission largely followed suit, eventually also declaring that bitcoin and ether, the cryptocurrency powering the ethereum blockchain weren’t securities.
Now chairman emeritus Giancarlo, who was deemed “Crypto Dad” following an impassioned speech he gave to Congress where he credited bitcoin for finally getting his kids interested in finance, is at it again, having co-written a detailed argument published this morning in the International Financial Law Review for why XRP, the cryptocurrency formally known as “ripples,” was also not a security. The only problem is he’s no longer a regulator. In fact, his employer is on the payroll of Ripple, the largest single owner of XRP, whose co-founders actually created the cryptocurrency.
The bombshell paper, titled, “Cryptocurrencies and U.S. Securities Laws: Beyond Bitcoin and Ether,” co-authored by commodities lawyer Conrad Bahlke of New York law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, methodically reviews the criteria of the Howey Test, established by the SEC in 1946 to determine whether something is a security, and point-by-point argues that XRP does not qualify. Rather, the paper argues, like its name would indicate, cryptocurrency is a currency of perhaps more interest to the Federal Reserve and central banks than securities regulators.
What’s at stake here to the cryptocurrency world cannot be overestimated. XRP is now the fourth largest cryptocurrency by market cap, with $5.9 billion worth of the asset in circulation according to cryptocurrency data site Messari. While Ripple was valued at $10 billion according to its most recent round of funding, the company continues to fund itself in part by selling its deep war chest of 55.6 billion XRP, coincidentally valued at the same amount as the company itself.
Not only could an eventual decision by the SEC to classify—or not classify—XRP as a security impact the untold individual owners of the cryptocurrency, but other clients using Ripple services that don’t rely on the cryptocurrency, including American Express, Santander, and SBI Holdings could stand to be impacted positively or negatively depending on the decision. After all if XRP were to be rescinded it would be a huge cost to their software provider. If Giancarlo is right though, Ripple could end up being one of the most valuable startups in fintech.
“Ultimately, under a fair application of the Howey test and the SEC’s presently expanding analysis, XRP should not be regulated as a security, but instead considered a currency or a medium of exchange,” Giancarlo and Bahlke argue in the paper. “The increased adoption of XRP as a medium of exchange and a form of payment in recent years, both by consumers and in the business-to-business setting, further underscores the utility of XRP as a bona fide fiat substitute.”
Giancarlo was nominated to be a commissioner of the CFTC by then-President Barack Obama in 2013. In 2015, he helped lead the thinking behind the CFTC’s decision that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were commodities, paving the way for the SEC’s related comments that neither bitcoin nor ethereum are securities. Then, at the height of the 2017 cryptocurrency bubble President Trump nominated him to be Chairman of the CFTC, where he oversaw the creation of a number of bitcoin futures projects, including at CME Group and the short-lived effort at Cboe.
While many blame the creation of bitcoin futures for popping the 2017 price bubble, which almost hit $20,000 before halving today, others have seen the works as a fundamental process of maturity, helping pave the way for more sophisticated crypto-enabled financial offerings. Giancarlo’s last day in office at the CFTC was in 2019, after which he promptly got involved helping envision the future of assets issued on a blockchain. In November he joined as an advisor to American Financial Exchange, using ethereum to create a Libor alternative. The following January he co-founded the Digital Dollar Project leading the push to use blockchain at the Federal Reserve and now it would seem he’s hoping to influence the classification of XRP as he did for bitcoin and ethereum, but from the other side of regulation.
Importantly however, a footnote in the report discloses that not only is Giancarlo and Bahlke’s firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP counsel to Ripple Labs, but they “relied on certain factual information provided by Ripple in the preparation of this article.” While it’s impossible to parse what information came from the co-authors and what came from Ripple, the resulting legal argument is fascinating, even if it does leave room for doubt.
The Howey test Giancarlo uses to bolster his arguments is a three-pronged definition used by the SEC, none of which he says apply to XRP. The first prong, is that an investment contract should be implied or explicitly stated between the issuer of the asset, in this case XRP and the owner, in which money exchanges hands. “The mere fact that an individual holds XRP does not create any relationship, rights or privileges with respect to Ripple any more than owning Ether would create a contract with the Ethereum Foundation, the organization that oversees the Ethereum architecture,” he writes.
This does however overlook the fact that OpenCoin, credited on Ripple’s own site in 2013 for creating XRP (then tellingly described as “ripples”), was run by many of the same people that founded Ripple. The original creators of XRP then donated the vast majority of the assets to Ripple, which they also ran, creating a sense of distance, tacit though it may be. The actual data around the creation of XRP was also muddled by a glitch in the code that means unlike bitcoin and ethereum the crucial genesis data is no longer attached to the rest of the ledger. The rebranding of “ripples” as XRP further extended the sense of distance between XRP and Ripple, followed by an aggressive campaign to get media to stop describing the cryptocurrency as “Ripple’s XRP.”
With so much distance between the company that actually created XRP and the company that now owns more than half of it, one would be forgiven for wondering, if there was an implied contract between OpenCoin and XRP owners, does the donation from one group of people at one company to a very similar group of people at another company sever that responsibility? In spite of the sense of distance created by Ripple between itself and the cryptocurrency its co-founders created, a number of active lawsuits alleging securities violations have been filed. In all fairness though, Giancarlo appears to recognize this prong may not be Ripple’s strongest defense and concludes the section, hedging: “Even if XRP were to satisfy one or two of the “prongs” of the Howey test, it does not satisfy all three factors such that XRP is an investment contract subject to regulation as a security.”
The second prong of the Howey test stipulates that there can be no “common enterprise” between shareholders or a shareholder and the company. While refuting both relationships, Giancarlo curiously goes onto to write that “given the juxtaposition between XRP’s intended use as a liquidity tool, its more general use to transfer value and its potential as a speculative asset, XRP holders who utilize the coins for different purposes have divergent interests with respect to XRP.”
Ironically, there has always been a widely held belief that owning a cryptocurrency would unify interests around a single goal: to co-create the infrastructure that lets the cryptocurrency exist and ensure it was vibrant and diverse. Meanwhile, XRP, in spite of its aggressive supporters on social media, is one of the least diverse ecosystems, with the vast majority of serious development being done within Ripple. If XRP owners aren’t expecting an increase in value from the work being done by Ripple, they certainly aren’t nearly as involved in helping build that future as are owners of bitcoin and ethereum.
In a related issue, the third prong of the Howey test stipulates that “no reasonable expectation of profit should be derived from the efforts of Ripple,” according to the paper. Supporting this position, Giancarlo writes: “Though Ripple maintains a sizable stake of the XRP supply and certainly has a pecuniary interest in the value of its holdings, it is not enough to suggest that a mutual interest in the value of an asset gives rise to an expectation of profits as contemplated by Howey.” Again, this strains credulity.
According to its own site, Ripple currently has access to 6.4% of all the XRP ever created. But that doesn’t count the 49.2% of the total XRP Ripple owns, but is locked in a series of escrow accounts that become periodically available to Ripple and Ripple alone. Adding those two percentages together leaves a float of only about 44% of XRP that has been distributed for public ownership. For some comparison, Facebook went public the same year XRP was created and has a 99% float, according to FactSet data, meaning almost all of its stock is in the hands of traders.While Ripple does also have more traditional stock, this distribution shows that Ripple might not be as distributed as it claims.
While it’s perhaps no surprise that Giancarlo would come out on the side of his own client, there’s also plenty of other reasons to believe his argument may in fact hold water. In February 2018, the notoriously compliant exchange Coinbase added support for XRP, something it would unlikely do if it were concerned it might accidentally be selling an unlicensed security. Perhaps most tellingly though, Ripple has also been granted a difficult-to-obtain BitLicense from the New York Department of Financial Services, giving it the blessing of a respected regulator. However, while the license was granted after then-superintendent Benjamin Lawsky stepped down from the regulator, it's perhaps no coincidence that a year later he joined Ripple on its board of directors and is now active in the cryptocurrency space. Perhaps a similar fate is in store for Giancarlo.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that Ripple Labs is a client of Giancarlo’s law firm.
submitted by wazzocklegless to u/wazzocklegless [link] [comments]

Dash competitive basket index for Monday, 22 June, 2020. No hopium for Dash today. Alt sector looks pretty happy.

Dash competitive basket index for Monday, 22 June, 2020. No hopium for Dash today. Alt sector looks pretty happy.
The 7 day CBI data got worse for Dash. The 24 hour data was also nothing special for Dash. The Alt sector as a whole looked pretty happy today. I am less grumpy when the CBI data is mediocre in a rising market. Dollar value still solid.

  1. Dash outperformed 5 of the 21 cryptos listed above us on CoinPaprika (24% win rate). The 30 day SMA* is 37%
  2. Dash outperformed 1 of the 10 cryptos ranked below us (10% win rate). The 30 day SMA* is 30%.
  3. In total, Dash outperformed 6 of the top 31 cryptos (19% win rate) on the 7 day time frame. The 30 day SMA* is 36%.
  4. Bitcoin dominance dropped 3/10’s to 64.1%.
  5. 14 of the top 31 cryptos beat Bitcoin (45%) on the 7 day data.
  6. On the 7 day time frame, 31 of the top 32 cryptos (97%) were in the green.
  7. On the 24 hour time frame, 29 of the top 32 (91%) cryptos were in the green.
  8. On the 24 hour time frame, Dash beat 11 of the top 31 cryptos (36%).
* The 30 day SMA is the Simple Moving Average for the last 30 days. It is represented with the red line. The blue line is the daily Dash performance based on the price change over a one week period compared to the price change of other coins. Don’t invest more in crypto than you can afford to lose.
^ Dash vs the top 31 cryptos in the world. If you look up \"enthusiasm\" in the dictionary, this graph is exactly what you don't find. Of course, Dash could come roaring back tomorrow and make me look silly. Go ahead.......make my day.

https://preview.redd.it/c2aohn9gtg651.png?width=943&format=png&auto=webp&s=da900c498c4ce6fd247b5bb75719f4b0f84fa177
The red line is the percentage of the top 32 Alt Coins that were in the green (price went up) on the 24 hour time frame.
The blue line is the percentage of the top 32 Alt Coins that were in the green (price went up) on the 7 day time frame.
Yesterday was up a lot. Today was up even more. Tomorrow should be down, but not too hard. Crazy crypto!
https://preview.redd.it/4u5kwm0dug651.png?width=947&format=png&auto=webp&s=1aa2f90d00857e112df9e69c55d2de0d9ac00940
Red line is the percentage of the top 31 cryptos that Dash beat on the 24 hour time frame.
Blue line is the percentage of the top 31 that Dash beat on the 7 day time frame.
The 7 day data (blue line) is poised to break our modest uptrend. Unless it goes up tomorrow……
Tune in tomorrow!
submitted by solarguy2003 to dashpay [link] [comments]

Dash Competitive basket index for Wednesday, 10 June, 2020. Continued improvement on the CBI (7 day data) and the 24 hour data is excellent.

Dash Competitive basket index for Wednesday, 10 June, 2020. Continued improvement on the CBI (7 day data) and the 24 hour data is excellent.
Dash had continued improvement in the Competitive Basket Data (7 day data). And the 24 hour data was very good. Dollar value steady.

  1. Dash outperformed 10 of the 20 cryptos listed above us on CoinPaprika (50% win rate). The 30 day SMA* is 39%
  2. Dash outperformed 3 of the 10 cryptos ranked below us (30% win rate). The 30 day SMA* is 28%.
  3. In total, Dash outperformed 13 of the top 30 cryptos (43% win rate) on the 7 day time frame. The 30 day SMA* is 35%.
  4. Bitcoin dominance dropped a 10th to 64.2%
  5. 12 of the top 30 cryptos beat Bitcoin (40%) on the 7 day data.
  6. On the 7 day time frame, 20 of the top 31 cryptos (65%) were in the green.
  7. On the 24 hour time frame, 18 of the top 31 (58%) cryptos were in the green.
  8. On the 24 hour time frame, Dash beat 21 of the top 30 cryptos (70%).
* The 30 day SMA is the Simple Moving Average for the last 30 days. It is represented with the red line. The blue line is the daily Dash performance based on the price change over a one week period. As always, this is not investment advise. Never trust some random dude on the internet. Do your own due diligence. All crypto is inherently and unavoidably risky. Don’t invest more in crypto than you can afford to lose.
^ Dash vs the top 30 cryptos in the world. Modest improvement, moving average still creeping up. I'll take it.

The red line is the percentage of the top 30 Alt Coins that were in the green (price went up) on the 24 hour time frame.
The blue line is the percentage of the top 30 Alt Coins that were in the green (price went up) on the 7 day time frame.
The most common behavior on this graph is the volatility on the 24 hour data. If it goes up on Tuesday, it is very likely to go down on Wednesday, and up again on Thursday. It is peculiar in its regularity. There are exceptions of course. According to that general guideline, it should have gone down today, and it did. But it didn’t go down very much and it more or less confirms yesterday’s breakout in the up direction.

Red line is the percentage of the top 30 cryptos that Dash beat on the 24 hour time frame.
Blue line is the percentage of the top 30 that Dash beat on the 7 day time frame.
No more sideways. Both the 24 hour data and the 7 day data went up. Up is good.
submitted by solarguy2003 to dashpay [link] [comments]

Your heresy shall stay your feet – why you shouldn’t just invest in equities

The most popular approach to reaching FIRE here in Australia seems to be investing solely in equities, either Australian only or with some international shares as well.
It’s a strategy expounded by some of the more prominent bloggers and any questions on Reddit or the like about how to invest to reach FIRE usually get a bunch of responses talking about various equities only portfolios.
Given the great returns that shares have had historically and especially over the last 10 years or so, it’s easy to see why this is a popular strategy. Which is why I wanted to write about how it’s probably not actually going to be the best idea for most people.
Quick disclaimer: As is always the case you should not plan your finances around what some random person on the internet says. Everything which is written here is of a general nature at most and is certainly not specific professional advice for you and you should not be relying on it when making decisions. Whilst every endeavour is made to provide accurate information at the time of writing you should be talking to a licensed professional about any specific areas of your finances, taxes etc. Also, it’s going to be really embarrassing if it all goes pear shaped and you have to explain that it did so because you read about something from a random blogger. Moving on!
I live in Australia, why do I need to invest in equities in other countries?
There are certainly some very good reasons to invest in Australian shares. You don’t have to worry about currency movements as much, there aren’t any annoying forms to have to fill out so that other countries don’t tax you more than they should, you’re supporting Australian companies and workers etc.
There are also a lot of problems with this though. One of the problems that is frequently brought up is that in Australia the 10 biggest companies make up about 40% of the index. The below is from Vanguard’s factsheet for VAS and it shows that the top ten companies make up 42.0% of the ASX 300 as of 31st August.
Which is obviously a pretty big percentage, but isn’t actually that unusual globally as per the below chart. Australia is really around the middle of the pack, although a lot of the countries where the top 10 make up smaller percentages of the index have much bigger markets.
What is more of a problem to my mind at least is that so much of the Australian market is focussed on just two sectors, Financials and Materials.
The Financials sector makes up 31% of the index, and in fact the big 4 banks are about 21% of the entire index. Given that they’re almost entirely domestically focussed with few growth opportunities here and with a very large amount of their earnings coming from residential mortgages in what seems to me to be a very highly valued property market, I’m not super keen on having my money invested only in Australia.
Similarly with Materials making up about 17.5% and most of this being companies that dig stuff out of the ground and export it and are largely reliant on continued good relations with China, it doesn’t strike me as being a great growth sector either.
I could be wrong on all of this of course (and have been wrong about all sorts of investment ideas in the past) but personally I would prefer a bit more in the way of diversification and growth prospects because otherwise you’re essentially taking a bet on housing staying strong and China continuing to buy our resources.
If I look at MSCI World ex-Australia (VGS), Financials and Materials are a much smaller part of the index so by buying international equities I have a lot more diversification and I get exposure to industries which have lower representations in Australia like IT, Health Care and the like and which are probably likely to see more growth in my opinion. Again, I could be wrong about all of this but that’s part of my thinking here.
There is also some diversification benefit from investing in global equities, in that although the Australian sharemarket is likely to closely follow what global markets are doing ie if they go up or down so will the Australian market but the reverse doesn’t necessarily hold true.
So if the Australian share market has a fall due to overinflated property prices for example, stockmarkets areoudn the globe are unlikely to get hit on the back of this. So to me it makes a lot of sense to invest not just in Australian equities but International ones as well.
Why should people invest in anything other than equities?
I mentioned in my post explaining bonds that I actually have about 21% in investments other than equities. That’s a mix of cash, fixed income, REITs, and infrastructure investments.
I also talked about one of my favourite FIRE bloggers the FI Explorer having about 30% of his investments in assets like bonds, gold, and bitcoin as of his last update.
The idea of investing in those other asset classes is that hopefully when equities fall or aren’t doing much, these other assets will go up in value. Historically speaking bonds tend to go up in value when equities are falling significantly. Likewise gold tends to rise when stocks go down. I’m less convinced about Bitcoin as an investment but it’s worked as a hedge so far is my understanding, and it’s not as though it’s me who is invested in it.
As someone who has spent a lot of time studying finance for both formal qualifications and my own enjoyment (yes really) I’m very aware of the fact that equities are a pretty volatile asset class.
I’m not talking about the stupid stuff on the news about billions being wiped off or added on to the value of the sharemarket that the media loves to talk about, that’s irrelevant because what it actually means is the Australian share market went down or up 0.1% or something similar that I don’t care about.
What I do care about are the big falls in the value of the market, and thus my investments. It doesn’t actually make much of a difference to me mathematically at this point in time because I’m still a long way from hitting my FIRE number, in fact it’s actually a net benefit because I can invest at a lower price.
Psychologically though it can make a difference. I talk a lot about the math behind FIRE, but in a lot of ways the behavioural aspects are more important.
I can tell you from experience that it’s not a lot of fun seeing your net worth drop by $100k or more when the market decides to go down by double digit percentages as it did for the last quarter of 2018. As much as you might assume it’s only temporary it doesn’t feel like that at the time and you start wondering if this time is going to be different.
I would say that I’m actually far more relaxed about this stuff than most people because after 20 plus years in finance (mostly in equities/equity linked products) which includes the dot com crash, the GFC, the Greek debt crisis, the taper tantrum and all the other moves up and down over that time period I’ve got a fair idea what it feels like to see my net worth drop and be nervous about the state of the markets and my investments.
Certainly from the number of conversations I’ve had with people who freak out about a 2% drop it seems like I’m a lot calmer about the volatility of shares. Despite that I still want to reduce the chance of big falls in the overall value of my portfolio as much as possible, to have some investments which zig when equities zag so to speak.
Investments like treasury bonds are great for this, because they tend to appreciate in value when the market falls as shown in the graph below taken from this excellent post showing what bonds have done when stocks crashed over the last 30 years or so. The numbers are for the US but would likely be very similar for Oz.
The chart below from this post by one of my favourite finance bloggers (Ben Carlson at a Wealth of Common Sense) shows the performance of stocks and bonds during bear markets over the last 70 years or so, again this is for the US rather than Australia.
The same author wrote this amusing post after Bank of America declared the 60/40 (stocks/bonds) portfolio dead. 60/40 is the rule of thumb asset allocation for US investors, here in Australia your super fund will tell you they’re more like 70/30 even though they’re probably more like 90/10. Again, that’s a post for another time. In any case, as he says in the post a 60/40 portfolio gave you an 8.1% return vs 9.5% for stocks, but had 40% less volatility. I’m happy to trade some return for a lot less volatility.
My point is that although having some money in bonds is not going to be enough to stop the value of my portfolio falling a bit especially given that most of my portfolio is still made up of equities, it will hopefully be enough to stop it from being cut in half as would have been the case for equity only portfolios in the GFC.
So bonds to me are a safety net, both emotionally and financially. Having that safety net in place means that I’m more likely to be able to stay the course. However depending on the timing of any stock (or bond) market crashes they may actually help me reach my goal faster. If there is a big stock market crash right before I would have hit FIRE and bonds haven’t been too much of a drag in performance along the way, then bonds will reduce my losses and help me get to my FIRE number faster than an equity only portfolio will.
What else can you invest in to diversify?
As I mentioned above another asset which can serve well as a diversifier is gold, although personally I don’t like it because even though it has worked historically there is no real reason why it should do so. Warren Buffett has this great quote about gold. “[Gold] gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.” So I don’t invest in gold personally, but if others want to I can see how it makes sense based off what has happened historically.
Similary with Bitcoin which I think of as being even sillier, yes it has worked as a diversifier in the short time it has been around but it has even less utility than gold and basically is worth something only because there are a bunch of people who are willing to keep believing it is worth something. Maybe it’ll keep on working, maybe it won’t, I’m not planning on buying any either way.
As I said above I do have some other investments like property (REITs) and infrastructure as well, I don’t think these are necessarily great for helping me out if the stock market crashes but they may help a little, and in the meantime in years when the stock market goes up but not by much these may well do better for me. In fact over the last 20 years for the US, both bonds and REITs have outperformed stocks.
So maybe I should actually have more money in bonds and REITs than what I currently do!
Does diversification help when you retire?
Dan at Ordinary Dollar has done some great work on optimal asset allocation and longer retirement lengths looking at a mix of Australian and US stocks and bonds.
Combining the findings of the two posts, if you have an 80/20 portfolio you get pretty close to the same probability of a succesful retirement as 100% equities but with a lot less volatility. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!
It also shows that a 100% allocation to Australian equities (or to US equities for that matter) is not as effective as a more diversfied portfolio, particularly over longer time frames.
The benefits of diversification
What I’m aiming for in my portfolio is a mix of assets that will go well in most circumstances without too much volatilty, and when stock markets crash won’t fall by as much. This will help me out psychologically by having smaller falls in net worth along the way so I don’t panic when markets are falling, and as I’ve said above might well get me to FIRE faster than an all equities portfolio anyway.
It will also help me when I have retired because as it turns out having some diversification actually gives me a higher likelihood of a successful retirement!
Are you all in on equities, or do you have other assets to diversify your portfolio? Has this post changed your mind?
Original post with pretty pictures and graphs here.
submitted by AussieHIFIRE to fiaustralia [link] [comments]

I've reached the extent that I think I can tell this story. This is my experience with the cult

Introduction
I am hesitant to begin writing about these memories, and for two reasons. The first is out of fear - fear of retaliation. You see, I was taken advantage of by a cult that I escaped a few years ago in the summer of 2018. I wasn’t involved for long - ten months - but that wasn’t the end of the cult’s influence on me, as they cleverly had a previously unaffiliated visitor contact me and try to bring me back during the period afterwards. I believe they are still keeping tabs on be covertly, but this may just be my paranoid nature.
For nearly the entire first year afterwards, I was always looking over my shoulder to see if I was being followed. They definitely have an interest in roping me back into the fold, as you will see how sociopathic these people are. I’m still traumatized, and although I have healed a great deal from these trials, there is still lingering conditioning that causes me panic attacks and anxiety, which exemplifies my schizoaffective disorder. I attribute much of the reason I’m houseless now to the combination of my mental health and trauma caused by this group.
The second reason I am hesitant to begin writing is also out of fear, but this is instead a fear of not being able to deliver on my promise to expose this cult. I know I have the ability to write about my account, but will it be good enough? Will I be throwing these words into the electronic ocean like so many others with little effect on the world? I feel that no matter how hard I try, I will be unable to capture the cult’s devious acts in such a way to convey what it was like for me, a vulnerable individual, to be slowly turned into an obedient slave.
Inadequacy. This is an important piece of my psychology. After watching my mother decay and die for the first nine years of my life, followed by being raised by an abusive, narcissistic father, I have a profound feeling of inadequacy ruling me. I never feel like I am good enough; that I have to self-sacrifice - to the point where I believed I had to be as good as Jesus Christ - in order to achieve a passable level of human adequacy. The cult took advantage of these feelings in spades and left me a shell of who I was previously.
Fortunately, the period of houselessness that has extended the last year or so of my life has been a radically transformative period where I feel able to step out from barriers that previously trapped me. I feel freer than I ever have been, and to be honest, I owe a lot to the cult for pushing me to my breaking point and learning where my boundaries are. In fact, I don’t believe I could have stepped away from the denial of having a feminine side if it weren’t for the ridiculousness of how far I was pushed.
Now, I stand strong, ready to accomplish this mission life has presented me. It is my basic civic duty to tell my story and warn the public about this group and others who prey on vulnerable individuals in an unstable socioeconomic period. They deliberately attract people who are vulnerable for personal or financial reasons. For instance, there was a flat-earther from Belgium who was here illegally that got roped into our group by being attracted to the messages of sovereignty and their abundance of kooky new age beliefs. They even tried to get me to recruit more members using the same strategies they hooked me with - which is standard cult behavior.
This leads right into how I got involved with the cult in the first place. Part of it is my fault, as I was young and naive. I still am, but now I have the wisdom to not throw myself out there for any group to start manipulating. There are many people who can be drawn into their preying behavior, and it is important that I elaborate on how easy it is to get duped, so others don’t follow in my footsteps.
As you will see, the group was bizarre in many ways. I want to start off by saying that I did not join an organization of pee-drinkers who practiced blood-magick on the side of Main Street. Instead, I started working for a nonprofit that promised to change the world, and appeared to have the ability to do that. The weirdness grew exponentially over time, gradually as they conditioned us to accept their way of life.
On my own end, I wanted to join an intentional community; one where everyone involved works towards a singular end as one unit. I longed for the camaraderie and an alternate way of life. I wanted something different than what - as the cult called the common culture - “The Matrix,” or “Babylon” offered. There are such communities, but because of devious groups like this, everyone needs to be cautious when attempting to find them. I still seek to find or create an alternative lifestyle for myself where I can live amongst my brothers and sisters away from the mass-produced consumer culture of the world.
It’s been a hell of a journey, but I am happy where I am now. If anything, the group taught me that self-love is our first love; if the gardener does not take care of themselves, then who takes care of the garden? With my efforts to find such a community as I wanted, it was inevitable that some group would have sunk their teeth into me. I am grateful that I was able to recognize the far-flung insanity that I was trapped in and escape. Now I just need to focus on recovering and helping others who may be searching for the same things I am.
Chapter 1
It all started early in 2017. I was working on reverse networking, like trying to place a letter on someone’s shoes to let them know I exist. I was hoping to find a project I could use my skills as a writer and juggler by broadcasting who I was on our small online community, The Shrug Life Syndicate, on Reddit. I was so desperate to find such a community that fit my ideals and goals that I didn’t even conceive that someone could be watching in order to learn about me.
They first posted a link to their site on our community’s board, when they were still going by the Awakening Sovereignty Collective. To best understand how I perceived them initially, you have to understand that I was lost in what we at the Shrug Life Syndicate call the synchronicity slip stream. An aspect of my schizoaffective disorder, I often get lost in various series of synchronicities that form a coherent narrative that compels me to behave differently than I otherwise would. It is an amazing feature of my mental health for creativity and finding alternative solutions to problems, but it can be debilitating when trying to fit in to the normal world. When the ASC posted, I believed applying on their website was the obvious thing I should do in order to accomplish my cosmic mission.
Well, nothing happened at first, and I forgot about them until several months later until I received an email stating I was hired. This came after a series of strange tasks from anonymous accounts that seemed to be tests to see if I was as capable of a writer as I portrayed myself as being. I remember one test was to see if I could write a sales pitch for “Unicorn Poop,” an edible snack with a humorous twist. I don’t have any proof that these two events are connected, but it definitely tripped my radar as odd that they happened one after another, and nothing ever came from the sales tasks.
Having passed their tests, I began working with them online. It was a slow process, as there wasn’t a lot of work right out the gate, but there was a lot to learn. Their websites were many in number and often confusing. I had difficulty navigating them and almost quit trying within days of getting started. I remember crumbling back into my addictive nature one night as the wailing cries of depression came roaring back with my initial perceived failure.
If I were not partially psychotic, believing the universe was guiding me to the salvation I sought, then that would have been the end of it. Many other people seemed to have given up while I was still new to working for them. If I were to guess, I would say that this was deliberate on their part in order to weed out only people like me, who were in some way desperate to be a part of the group. With only a small number of desperate people finding their way into the clutches of these people, it must be easier to control them as well.
The ASC promised a new way of life for anyone seeking it. They claimed to be a planetary alliance that was helping ecovillages, nonprofits, conscious businesses, and individual change agents. They were working on a cryptocurrency and software suite that would help communities better serve the world. This was at the peak of the bitcoin bubble, where many people unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies were trying to get in on the hype. They touted a number of figures and claims which ultimately turned out to be false or otherwise misrepresentative of the truth, but in the moment I believed everything they were shoveling.
It was easy for them to sell the idea and project as they were all natural sales personalities. I attended a lot of meetings, particularly with the writer’s team, and started to get to know the people behind the project. In the moment, they appeared to be down-to-Earth and relatable, but highly conscious individuals who really cared about the world and were motivated to do the work necessary to make the changes needed for the planet. In hindsight, they really only cared about money, and were playing a part to catch people like me.
The leader was named Dakota, if that was his real name (I believe most of the main group had adopted a second name to hide who they really were). He was a young man claiming to have graduated high school at ten, and he founded a company known as STADA which was facilitating much if not all of the software needs of the ASC. He was brilliant, but I believe most of his brilliance was self-generated through his ability to sell himself as more than he really was. He always acted like a millionaire who was going to change the world, which made it easy for him to sell the project to people like me.
The co-leader was named Lila. She was a cheerful person who always had something positive to add to the conversation. While working with her, I found this to be a powerful part of her personality. It was hard to say no to her, as she had a motherly vibe and she strategically would ask you to do things that left you feeling compelled to help her, for the good of the project. She first won me over by claiming to run a retreat center for circus skills. I only heard of this in the beginning of my journey with the group, so I believe it may have been a bogus means to shift my opinion of them.
The leader of the writer’s team was named Teahna, who was beautiful and knew how to use her womanly charm to influence others. She seemed to be new to the project as well, having recently written her first book, and my time working with her online seemed to be a learning experience for both of us. I believe this was also planned, so that I would have some support learning what I was supposed to be doing on the various websites that seemed to pile up more and more as time went on.
The work was easy at first. There were no assignments or anything like that. It was all pile work - as in, just grab a shovel and get paid for what you move. As a writer, I naturally gravitated to the writers team’s tasks, but I also helped with the education team and the core tasks of the group. Mostly I wrote articles and website content for them, but I also wrote fake twitter bios, social media posts, and began working on their constitution/manifesto before arriving at their headquarters.
I was making good money, both in real dollars and their own cryptocurrency, Equality Keys. They claimed we could trade their currency for real money at any time, which turned out to be a lie. They often only let us exchange it at certain times at a reduced value. But, I was naive enough to believe that the numbers on my screen were real and meant I was doing good. It wasn’t long before I earned upwards of thousands of dollars worth of their currency, which was promised to rise in value as the project continued to grow and evolve.
After a few weeks working with them, they began toying with a name change to Earth Nation. I believe this is a key part of their method of staying under the radar. By changing names and projects frequently, they never gather enough clout to be exposed as the charlatans that they are. They would later create a new project known as Earth Cycle, and there was a tentacle organization we got hooked into after our stay with the main group called Lovecycle. In regards to the latter, I will never forget the name Lovecycle, as that is when the bulk of bizarre and traumatic events occured.
This is around the same time that my girlfriend at the time began helping out as well. We worked together as a writer and artist combo, and they were initially excited to have another person joining to help. There was some friction though, such as bluntly being told they had no need for an artist at this time after they welcomed her onboard, and there were moments where it seemed like they did not want her to be a part of the project. As they turned her and I against each other much later in our odyssey with them, I think this must have been deliberate to sow the seeds of conflict between us. Again, this is classic cult behavior. I regret bringing her into the whole thing, as she is no doubt as traumatized as I am.
What really allowed me to lose myself in the hope of the project was the possibility to do exactly as I dreamed: travel with a caravan, juggle at festivals, help sell whatever my girlfriend and others made, and write gonzo journalism about what Earth Nation was doing. One of the main draws of the group was that they advertised in the meetings about how they had a proposal system, where anyone could come with their plan and it could be voted on to be given resources. They were interested in my idea (how much of that was just gaslighting me to believe I’ve found the perfect gig, I don’t know), and wanted me to do some journalism about my experiences moving to their headquarters just outside Eugene, Oregon - on the other side of the country.
My girlfriend and I were ecstatic at the idea of starting a new life on the west coast. It was the dream we both shared, to abandon the broken world we knew and join something better. We began preparing for the move, sold all of our stuff, and eventually took off from the airport with only three bags to our name. It was a leap of faith, and we were never happier to embrace our dreams and begin to live a much more interesting life.
Chapter 2
We left on October 25th, about a couple months after I first began working for the ASC. It was an amazing trip that we thought would represent our rebirth. I remember arriving at the airport feeling as though I was leaving a part of my past behind. I felt a wave of solemn emptiness and fear over this, but I have since learned such feelings are common with change of this magnitude. Mostly, I felt joy that a new chapter of my life was unfolding before my eyes.
It was a time where it seemed like we had infinite potential right at our fingertips. Who knew what would actually go down over the coming months? We were grateful for the opportunity and happy about the change. My girlfriend even changed her name to Awen to start over fresh as a new person. I still stuck with my birth name, Gregory, but eventually I would start going by the name Rory after having been pressured to by the group.
I remember looking out the window while Awen took pictures of everything we flew over. It was a trip in itself to see the world from such an angle. I was amazed at the number of wind farms in the middle of the country. Likewise, the closer we got to our destination, the more mountainous the ground beneath us became. The change in scenery would pale in comparison with the change in the culture of the west coast - one of the main reasons I now consider Portland my new home.
Landing in Eugene’s airport, we were regaled with Ducks memorabilia. This was a pleasant surprise, as I had forgotten that this was where an old hero from my track days, Steve Prefontaine, used to run. This made me feel hopeful while waiting for Teahna and Prism, the leader of the educational team. I remember pacing the entrance hall of the airport with a giddy smile stretching from ear to ear. This was it, I told myself: I had finally found my new home.
After a long day of airline travel, we were eventually picked up in Prism’s van. We were met with hugs and smiles, which rejuvenated us after the natural stress of the trip. We chatted the entire way back to Triangle Lake, where their headquarters supposedly was. Both Awen and I were antsy while being shaken back and forth while sitting on Prism’s bed for the duration of the drive. I distinctly remember the beautiful colors of the autumn trees as we drove past. This last little bit of our trip took roughly forty-five minutes, but it felt like we were pulling up to the headquarters in an instant.
I caught a glimpse of a sign as we pulled into the long driveway: Circle of Children. This would be where we stayed for the first two months. The area was gorgeous. Giant trees covered in green moss extended as far as the eye could see. With the abundance of fern-life, it reminded me of a Jurassic paradise. Out the cracked window of the van, I could hear tree frogs chirping in harmony. It was certainly something out of another world compared to the east coast.
We stopped in front of the main office - the only building with wifi. If I were to graph the amount of access to the internet we had across the ten months we were involved, it would have a steady, negative slope. Of course, while being conditioned by the group, it was barely noticed, as we grew less dependent on the internet as time went on. We were never barred from the outside world - in fact we interacted with it regularly - but the idea of leaving was made so impossibly far outside the bounds of possible choices through a long series of scripted events.
Which is why the entire beginning of our stay at the Triangle Lake Convention Center seemed like something out of a fantasy paradise. Everything, from the overarching narrative we were fed, to the day-to-day interactions, was designed to win us over, gaslight us, and manipulate us emotionally by using our traumas against us. In the aftermath of the whole escapade, I learned that this is the type of manipulation that cults use to prevent members from seeing reason while keeping them docile, obedient work horses for the greater project, whatever it may be.
It is clear to me now that Earth Nation and all tentacle organizations are a purely criminal enterprise - a money-making machine for those at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. Even though we were supposedly a DAO - a decentralized autonomous organization - there were clearly people who were centralized leaders profiting from everything the group did.
And everybody played their roles well upon our arrival. We were greeted with another barrage of hugs as we got out of the van. Everybody was excited to finally meet us in person, as were we to meet them. We chatted with Dakota and Lila for some time outside of the office. They were the exact same as their online personas. In the moment, this gave us a sense that these people were genuine, but in hindsight it serves as a reminder that anyone can create a convincing character and play them whenever they want - even if they choose to never take their deceptive masks off.
We were then shown where we would be staying. Up the hill and to the left we drove until we were in front of Carmen Hall. It was a quaint dorm-style lodging with a large common area and a small kitchenette. Many nights were spent in the common room with the others who were staying in the building. Because we were a couple, we were given the largest room with its own bathroom.
That’s another thing that changed in a downward slope: our living quarters. Over the course of the ten months we were with them, we were downgraded from having our own space, to sharing space, to living in a tent. And again, because of the conditioning, we were fine with the change.
Sometime during the early evening, we went back down to the dining hall and kitchen which was across the way from the main office. Here, we met a variety of characters, including Tuva, a humble appearing guy with a large social network he brought with him to the project, and Daniella, who would turn out to be mommy dearest as she was the sole woman controlling us for the majority of our adventure on the west coast. A Brazillian native, she was as good of a manipulator as she was a cook, and we all enjoyed a wonderful meal on our first night in Oregon.
Before the night was up, we went behind the kitchen to smoke with a man named Grizzly; a wild looking man who mostly kept quiet but had a mouth to use if he needed it. It was the first time we smoked in Oregon and it felt liberating to finally be in a legal state. But, as freeing and fun as being able to smoke whenever we wanted, I believe the abundance of weed we were constantly fed was a means to keep us docile. Daniella always made sure we had some weed, and would frequently smoke with us. I feel I would have been able to say something as things changed if I were not dependent on the constant stream of marijuana.
Afterwards, we went back to Carmen Hall with a couple of members who also stayed there, and Daniella performed a pendulum reading for me and my girlfriend. Holding a crystal on a chain, she “read” the direction it spun as she brought it up in alignment with our chakras. She was spot on and I wanted to say that she had excellent observation skills, but I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to offend anyone’s beliefs, especially my girlfriend who considered herself a mystic and bought into the act.
That night we cuddled in our room, smiling as wide as our mouths could. We had done it - we successfully started our new lives and were going to be a part of something we still had yet to fully comprehend. Everything was new and exciting, and while we were overjoyed, we were glad we had each other because things were still scary. If only we had known then how scary things would become.
Chapter 3
The next morning, we showered, dressed, and went down to the kitchen. There was a slight fog in the air, and we saw a family of deer in a clearing off the road. We would see this family of deer several times during out stay at Triangle Lake, which greatly enthused my girlfriend. She said they were a symbol of wisdom, and must be a good sign as we continued to be indoctrinated by the new age beliefs of the group.
We were early, as our daily meetings were at ten and that is when most people started to show up at the office. But Grizzly was there, as he stayed at the nurses station that sat next to the main office. He offered us some dabs, which just further enforced our belief that this was a great group to be a part of. He also offered me a metal six-shooter pipe, which proved to be the main piece I would smoke out of for the entirety of our adventure.
Breakfast consisted of whatever we could scrounge up. There was a huge walk-in freezer in the kitchen that hosted tons of food when we first got there. There were also a wide selection of dry foods such as figs and nuts. That whole selection would dwindle over time, as the group got everything as donations, usually by soliciting the local food pantries and the Eugene mission and much was close to their expiration dates. It was common to open the freezer and find something moldy.
This was the first time I really interacted with Doran. Doran looked a lot like me - complete with similar beard and glasses - but had shorter, curlier, and darker hair. It was joked that “I was another you.” He appeared to be a really kind-hearted person, and we frequently went to him with problems. This is likely planned as well, to have someone to vent the frustrations we were experiencing as the project transitioned to something different than what we signed up for. I opened up to him before I did with other members, even asking for relationship advice as they tried turning Awen and I against each other between, and received what I now consider a long-standing act of being a good ear with standard advice from the group. Still, he was funny and I enjoyed making strange mixtures of food with him.
As it neared ten, we shuffled to the office to have our meeting. The office had two rooms, and we were all huddled in a circle in one of them. This was nice during the coming months as it was also the only room with the heater. These meetings proved to be a main means to program us, as there were many exchanges that could have only been scripted. We would often talk about one thing, but there would be a subtopic that was teased that would change the meaning of the whole meeting in the context that I heard it. Often there would be some crosstalk in the kitchen beforehand, or something during the day that warped my understanding of what was said
We were required to work thirty hours a week in order to receive our basic income of two hundred dollars a month, as per our agreements before moving to the headquarters. However, it wasn’t long before they duped us by saying the basic income would be used to cover our time staying at Triangle Lake. We weren’t able to fight it, because our tongues were tied by the desire to fit in and be accepted by the group. The ways that they changed things were gradual and deliberate, so that you would never really feel like you were getting taken advantage of. It was just a change, which was alright, because there was a world to save and we were the group who was going to get it done.
That was one of the major ways they were able to get away with a lot of the back-pedaling of agreements - they would always have new, unexpected surprises waiting for us. It was gradual, but they introduced several new elements of communal living that required us to sacrifice more of our money and autonomy. They did this by having so-and-so nonchalantly bringing up these concerns in the meetings, then downplaying the resulting effects as something that should be expected, then agreeing with Dakota or Lila.
Keeping track of my hours was a joke. For everything I did, I was told I should have taken less time in order to do. The criticism I received came tongue-in-cheek and constructive at first, but steadily devolved into a series of harsh critiques that would leave me distraught and unable to think clearly. I was still unmedicated back then, and my emotional state was as turbulent as a hurricane. They did similar things to my girlfriend, as Lila took her under her wing, treating her as her child in order to take advantage of her own trauma she had with her mother.
If there was one thing these people really excelled at it is control. They figured us out quickly and efficiently and then used our traumas against us. Our second night there consisted of an informal group of the residents who stayed at Carmen Hall staring into each other’s eyes and then saying out loud what we felt at that moment. I remember staring at Daniella, who was a silhouette with the lamp directly behind her, and asking for healing. Something about the way she stared at me seemed to provoke a sense of trust and I felt that she would be able to help with a lot of the problems.
That’s one way they won over us and got us to do whatever they wanted. They are experts at gaining people’s trust and then they take advantage of that fact. Through these scripted and planned events they were able to warp our realities to the point where we were already robotic slaves right off the bat. We certainly were eager to earn their approval and work our way to a position where we were seen as valuable members of the project.
One of these planned events was Kukui’s birthday, which was just a few days after we got there. Kukui was a groundskeeper who had previously lived in Hawaii and was joked as being a ginger Jesus. He was an incredible person who really cared about the Earth. I have no idea if he was part of the manipulation or if he was there on similar beliefs that this was a group doing immense good in the world.
Early on during the night’s preparation, Dakota and Lila walked up to us and asked if we wanted to go out to eat with them. This struck us as odd that they would abandon Kukui on his birthday, but we didn’t see it as too weird at the time. We struck up a conversation, where it was revealed that Dakota had two EBT cards from different states.
One big hook they sunk into us was the idea that it was us versus the government. They managed to convince us that the institutions of the world were parasitic - which they usually are - but did it in such a way that made us feel like we were in a spiritual war against the bad boogie men of the world. And they managed this by gradually exposing us to more and more deliberate acts of defiance, in order to manifest our own sovereignty against the parasitic government.
It’s what led to us accepting some of their more diabolic schemes. For instance, there was talk about building a village in Ava, Missouri, moving all their people in, and then taking over the mayorship. They chose Missouri for this plan due to the different building codes of the state. In the moment, this seemed like a brilliant plan for expanding the influence of Earth Nation, but in hindsight appears to be a dystopian means to increase their power and continue taking advantage of people.
These were little seeds they planted that made us more comfortable with doing certain things that we otherwise wouldn’t. Awen was particularly uncomfortable with many of the things we did, but eventually they did get her to help out with their schemes. By keeping us under fear and gradually conditioning us, they were able to make us obedient as we were always looking out for our immediate survival.
Fear. That is an emotion I am now excessively familiar with as a result of this cult. While I have battled paranoia all my life, they took those primal emotions and twisted them to the point that I had no idea which way was up. Each day gradually became a battle while being on high alert, as I constantly scrambled to overcome whatever artificial set-backs were planted in my way and keep up with the workload that was presented to me.
My first exposure to this form of emotional manipulation came during Halloween. The night began jovially as Doran wore a plastic bag as a costume and invented a new dance that we all participated in. Daniella was preparing a large meal in the kitchen while we helped and played in rhythm to one another. The dinner we shared was only part of the night’s events that would change my life completely.
After dinner, Awen and I went back to our room and talked about what we wanted to do that night. The rest of the group was still down at the dining hall and preparing for a fun night of festivities. Awen was not opposed to me going, but she was and still is a pagan and wanted to celebrate her ancestors as per the tradition of Samhain. I debated spending the night with her, but the opportunity to spend time with these new people in our life made me curious as to what they would be doing. I will also admit that I was much more controlled by my addictive nature and was excited to drink with them.
So down I went. As I entered the dining hall, I saw that they were drinking tequila and generally having a great time. Naturally, I joined in and took a shot. Jovial times were had, and some time later I was offered another shot, but I did not see them pour this one. This turned out to be a crucial mistake on my part as I would find out that there was something else, something with psychedelic qualities, in the drink. It was not LSD, as I am familiar with the effects of that drug, so I am at a loss for what it could have been.
As the night went on I began to feel funny. It wasn’t until we were in a smoke circle that I began to notice something was wrong. I had trouble forming words and when Grizzly asked me a question all I could muster was a “hi!” This tripped me up and I went inside to go sit down.
This is where my memory starts to get fuzzy. I was mostly left alone as I sat cross-legged on a mat on the floor, but eventually there were three other people sitting around me, with a bottle placed in the center of us. I remember Prism and Josh, a carpenter who was doing some work on the buildings at Triangle Lake, were two of the people surrounding me, but I don’t remember any of the conversation they were having. I just remember getting really spooked at that time and tried to leave.
I don’t know how long it took me to get back to Awen, but I do remember the headlights of a vehicle coming down the hill as I was going up. It was late by the time I made it back in into Carmen Hall, which suggests that I have no memory of what happened after the apparent spin-the-bottle episode. My memory starts to get better as I remember lying there with Awen trying to articulate what was going on, but my words just spiraled into incomprehensible nonsense. She was worried for me, just as I was worried for myself.
The next morning continued on as if nothing ever happened, but I was emotionally jostled for the next few days. Nothing was ever said about what happened the night before, and a part of me was terrified that something happened Because my mother had AIDS, and that is a terror I still battle to this day, I obsessed over the idea that Prism, who was HIV positive, may have done something with me. I’ve since been tested and everything’s fine, but for a while I was terrified that I was raped.
Was that a rational or irrational fear? I’ll never know. What I do know is that they took advantage of my perturbed state by subtly twisting the knife in the following days with their synchronous set-ups, making me feel guilty that I did not choose to spend time with Awen that night, and thus making me work harder than ever before.
Chapter 4 in comments
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