In the middle of October of 1929 – the stock markets of the United States reached impressive new all time highs. Investors were giddy and one of the leading economists of the day, Irving Fisher, said that the new all time highs were going to be the base level from that time forward.
Last week, the U.S. stock markets reached new all time highs. The most corrupt and exploitive president in the history of the United States crowed about the record breaking highs. He’s not an economist, he’s a guy who got his start in business with millions of dollars of seed money from his dad. He’s a guy who has never turned away from the chance to take a deal that left someone else screwed. He’s a reality TV star and an annoying talker with tiny hands. But none of that is important. Like the economist in 1929 – he called the top but he doesn’t realize that.
At the end of October 1929, just a few weeks after the giddy highs – the market began to crash and it just kept crashing. October 29th was the tipping point. All told – the stock markets lost 40% of their value and didn’t recover for a decade. The period leading up to the crash was a period of unbridled excess and thoughtless borrowing. Kind of like now…but milder.
Make no mistake, friends. A big crash is coming. Markets are inflated. The dollar is overvalued. Inflation is being hidden. Credit is easy and out of control. Your money and your investments are worth half of what you think they are. And, a correction is coming.
This isn’t going to be a healthy, buy the dip correction. The shit is going to hit it. The yield curve has not only flattened – it has inverted some time ago but that is being hidden by market manipulation, cash infusion, and strategic use of policy that isn’t intended to fix the problems but only to hide them.
What can you do to protect yourself and your investments? Several things:
1) Get out of cash – keep enough to pay a few months of expenses but not more – hyper inflation is coming.
2) Buy Bitcoin – this is your hedge. Don’t let the volatility fool you – bitcoin is an actual store of value
3) Put your money in big companies that aren’t going to go away for the long term. – I’m not talking about Amazon here. I’m talking about IBM and Ford and GE. Despite fluctuations – these companies are not going away. They will recover from any market chaos. Will they lose share price? Of course, everything will.
4) The Bond markets are a recipe for disaster.
5) Real Estate is due for another large crash – sell while you can or hold for long term if you can do it and it makes sense.
6) Vote for sanity – things like universal healthcare and universal basic income aren’t just for poor people looking for handouts – they are well thought out economic strategies that actually end up costing less than allowing people to get sick, starve, or become homeless.
Did I mention that you should buy bitcoin and get out of cash? What do you think will happen when all the paper money becomes worth less than the paper it is printed on? Yes, people will turn to sound money. Gold, silver, bitcoin, and Swiss francs. Only bitcoin is a sure thing. Buy some.
First of all – let me make it clear – Bitcoin is good money. What I mean by that is that it can be used for purchases, it is a store of value that can’t be diluted by the creation of more bitcoin, and it can be used over both time and space- meaning that you can have it today and spend it tomorrow and you can send it across the world and in both cases it will still have value. What value? From what I can tell – the value of Bitcoin appears to be right around $6500 USD.
The chart above is looking at bitcoin over the past year. The range is normally about $5k-$7k but last November-December – suddenly things took off. There has been a lot of analysis, a lot of speculation as to why and how, and a lot of bullshit written about the bitcoin bubble of 2017. I’d like to clear that up. First, what is the definition of a bubble:
Speculative Bubble. A situation in which prices for securities, especially stocks, rise far above their actual value. This trend continues until investors realize just how far prices have risen, usually, but not always, resulting in a sharp decline. Speculative bubbles usually occur when investors, for any number of reasons, believe that demand for the stocks will continue to rise or that the stocks will become profitable in a short time. Both of these scenarios result in increased prices.
A famous example of a bubble is the dot-com bubble of the 1990s. Dot-com companies were hugely popular investments at the time, with IPOs of hundreds of dollars per share, even if a company had never produced a profit and in some cases, had never earned any revenue. This came from the theory that Internet companies needed to expand their customer bases as much as possible and thus corner the largest possible market share, even if this meant massive losses. NASDAQ, on which many dot-coms traded, rose to record highs. This continued until 2000, when the bubble burst and NASDAQ quickly lost more than half of its value. Other famous examples include the tulip mania of the 1630s and the housing bubble in the early 2000s.
Often, people misunderstand bubbles to mean that the underlying assetts do not have value. They do…but that value is inflated at a rapid pace which creates more demand which inflates the bubble further which creates an intense ‘fear of missing out’ aka FOMO which inflates the bubble even further – and then the bubble bursts and the value of the underlying assett plummetts, often going far below the actual value. It happened with housing, beanie babies, tulips, and bitcoin.
What usually destroys a bubble assett is that supply grows with the price until supply outsrips demand. Take beanie babies and tulips for example- eventually there were more of them than buyers and so the prices had to be reduced which led to panic selling and fortunes being wiped out (Dutch fortunes and Granny fortunes). This didn’t happen with Bitcoin. It actually couldn’t happen because the number of Bitcoin can never be increased – and yet, when you look at the chart above – there was an obvious inflation and crash – so what happened.
First the facts 1)There were a large number of bitcoin that were taken ‘off the market’ after the hacking of the Mt. Gox Exchange. Many were stolen and the rest were put on ice with the trustee, Kobayashi. 850,000 bitcoin were stolen with 200k bitcoin recovered and put in trust. 2) Bitcoin was making a steady rise through 2017 which started gathering media attention in October of 2017 3) Many bitcoin that had been ‘off the market’ whether through fraud or not paying attention suddenly were woke and brought back to the market.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. You can’t create more bitcoin – but you can create similar assetts which could be thrown into the same class with bitcoin and thus profit from the FOMO that was growing around bitcoin. There had already been quite a few invented – Ethereum, Litecoin, Digibyte, Skycoin, and even a ‘fork’ of bitcoin called ‘Bitcoin Cash’. Along with these older surviving projects were hundreds of failed projects and when the bitcoin mania started bleeding into the mainstream – thousands more were to come to the forefront. This is where the real scam is.
THe real function of an assett bubble is to take good money from investors and give them soon to be worthless junk in return. Every bubble has transferred real wealth from the fortune-dreaming rubes who arrived late to the party to the savvy hucksters who figured out how to trade gold for garbage. That’s exactly what happened with the bitcoin bubble.
All of the rubes (and I’m one of them) took real money (bitcoin) and turned it into fake money (ERC-20 tokens, ICOs without tokens, exit schemes, and ponzi schemes like BitConnect). Bitcoin was always in a class by itself – yes, there is value in Ethereum, Litecoin, Digibyte and other coins and tokens – but it doesn’t have the same intrinsic value or cachet of bitcoin.
Everyone wanted to get rich from Cryptokitties or from Tron or from EOS and IOTA – and here is where the bubble comes in – to buy those other cryptocurrencies, you needed to start with bitcoin. It was a scammers dream. Create money from thin air and require real money to buy your air money. In this case, the real money was fiat currency which was then converted to bitcoin (also real money) and then to trade bitcoin for air-money and finally turn the bitcoin back to fiat while it was inflated. I don’t know if the whole thing was planned and orchestrated or not – but if it was, it was brilliant. A sort of mastermind usage of the same principles which Oliver North used to trade money for cocaine and then get the money back selling surplus weapons to the cocaine dealers.
To summarize: 1) bitcoin was rising to it’s actual value and making bitcoin holders rich 2)There were not enough bitcoin to create a FOMO panic and so ‘new’ cryptocurrencies were created and absorbed the money pouring into the space 3)Bitcoin prices soared as a result of bitcoin being how to buy in 4)Early buyers of bitcoin and long time bitcoin holders like the trustee Kobayashi brought their bitcoin to the market and began to sell at the all time highs 4) bitcoin prices crashed as a result 5)investors began to use Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash to buy into new projects hoping to strike it rich 6)the cycle repeated with the ‘alternative cryptocurrencies’ aka ‘alts’7)Bitcoin gradually returned to stasis value 8)Ethereum returned to stasis value 9) Alts returned to stasis value 10)Latecomers to the party lost as much as 90% 11) Massive wealth was transferred from the FOMO party to the creators of the mostly worthless coins and tokens of 2017/2018.
Conclusions:Does this mean that Bitcoin will always be in the $6500 range? No. As more users begin to hold and use bitcoin the price will rise. Also, every four years the rewards for bitcoin mining are cut in half (aka ‘the halving’). This combination of increased usage and decreased new supply means that bitcoin will become more scarce and more valuable. It’s my opinion that $6500 is the range that bitcoin will remain in unless there are significant increases in desirability and usage until 2020 when the next halving occurs.
Are Ethereum and Litecoin worthless? I don’t think so. My estimate of stasis for each is quite a bit higher than they currently sell for. A good range right now for Ethereum is $600-$800 per token and for Litecoin $200-$250. There are valid use-cases for both which give them an inherent value. As for other tokens and coins – there are too many to go into but I will give my thoughts on a few. I don’t think Bitcoin Cash has a future. Tron and Neo could both take off if the Chinese government gives them approval and consent. Cardano, Stellar, and Ripple all offer intriguing opportunities for a change in the way that banking is done but probably won’t yield significant results for years. Monero and ZCash might get some traction in black market and money laundering but don’t offer a real value to ‘honest’ traders or investors. EOS has some potential as a replacement for Ethereum, but unless Ethereum is revealed to have huge flaws – won’t overcome the first to market advantage. Finally, Digibyte. Digibyte seems to be everything that Bitcoin wanted to be but without the bubble. I believe that Digibyte is a superior cryptocurrency, but it might be a Betamax to bitcoins VHS.
The bottom line is that bitcoin is the gold standard.
Is Donald Trump, President of the United States, good for the American Economy? I’ve asked myself this question quite a few times and it’s an incredibly difficult one for me to answer. Here’s why…first, I simply do not like the man as a human being. His actions and words have painted him as a racist, a mysogenist, and a liar. Second, I don’t like his political stance about social issues because I believe in open borders, body rights (such as right to abortion and right to assisted suicide), and common sense gun control. Third, I don’t like his economic policies because I believe in rational socialism, healthcare as a right, organized labor, and I am against crony capitalism in all of its forms. It’s hard for me to look at anything Trump does in a positive light. However, in regards to the American economy- I feel like it is important to look at the policies of his administration and the direct effect they have had on the American economy as a whole.
The Strength of the American Economy
After 2007-2008, the American economy was a mess. Over the next 8 years, Presidetn Obama and the Federal Reserve used a common sense strategy of limiting exposure and creating a healthy and low-risk borrowing environment. These policies slowly brought the economy back to a point of strength where jobs were slowly being added, consumer spending was increasing, and economic output measured by GDP (gross domestic product) was increasing. Increased regulation and oversight was making it more expensive to do business in the USA while at the same time forcing business to build in a rational but slow progression. There was also a focus on preserving nature, protecting the environment, and making sure that business did not discriminate against minorities or protected classes.
Enter Trump in 2017
The first (and only) major piece of legislation in the first year of his administration was a major tax break for business and the wealthy. The new tax plan also gave workers a tax break, but only for a limited amount of time as the tax breaks for individuals are set to expire in 2025 but for business they are permanent – note that most wealthy people have their wealth sheltered as a business but workers generally do not.
The effect of this tax plan was to light the economy on fire. Suddenly, business had a lot more money to spend, the wealthy had more money to invest, and workers had the illusion of extra money in their pockets which drove consumer spending higher. Bottom line, tax cuts work for the economy even if they work against the bottom line of the government.
In addition, enviromental regulations have been eased, labor and discrimination regulations have been eased, and the United States has left or renegotiated numerous trade deals that were biased against the United States for international economic stability reasons. All of these things have made doing business in the United States more profitable for purely financial reasons.
Trump’s tariffs and threats of tariffs have driven the price of foreign companies down and generally not had negative effect on domestic business. In many cases, his trade policies have driven domestic share prices higher. In general, Trump’s policies have lit a slow growth economy on fire. But there have been some mis-steps. Trump’s attacks against Amazon – arguably the most important American driver of economic growth turned the market negative in early 2018. This along with his politically ill-advised (and short lived) push for a weaker dollar started to show some of the weakness inherent in his current model – but being a brilliant political animal, Trump saw the decline in his polling numbers among his base and reversed course – and his numbers recovered along with the economy.
Trump’s administration has also been easing regulations around investment banking (Glass-Steagall) and easing credit restrictions. These two things have increased investment, borrowing, and spending. They have driven the economy to repeated new highs.
In summary – Trump’s policies thus far have lit the economy on fire. In his less than two years in office. US GDP has risen from $17.78 Trillion to $18.51 Trillion U.S. dollars – a rise of $365 billion per year on average. Compare this to Obama’s $15.33 Trillion to $17.78 Trillion in eight years which comes to $316 billion increase per year on average. Trump’s GDP growth also exceeds George W. Bush’s $260 billion annual growth and $205 billion from Bush, Sr and even exceeds Reagan’s $275 billion annual GDP growth, but doesn’t quite hit the mark of Bill Clinton’s $428 billion year by year GDP growth average. If the economy keeps growing at the same pace, Trump stands to have presided over the fastest growing American economy in modern times by the end of his second term in 2024.
There is no question that President Donald J. Trump has been good for the growth of the American economy so far…
Economic Sustainability and Volatility
Can he keep it up? This is the big question that no one knows the answer to. Trump’s adminstration is riddled with problems from the Mueller probe which questions the validity of his election and even whether or not he is a puppet of the Russian government to daily scandals ranging from affairs and hush money to insider trading and what can probably best be described as economic date-raping where Trump and his cronies are profiting from the use of the power of the presidency. So, there is the question of whether Trump himself will survive – but he is nothing if not a political mixed-martial-arts fighter – his short political history has shown that it never pays to count Donald Trump out – as much as many of us would have liked to.
Also, there is the question of economic sustainability. The stock markets continue scaling giddy heights and reaching new all time highs, the dollar’s strength has thus far worked to our economic advantage, and the fallout from tariffs and leaving trade deals has yet to hit our shores. The Federal deficit is spiking to new all time highs and the loosening of credit and environmental regulations create the dual dangers of inflating new bubbles only to pop them with defaults and of future environmental catstrophe. The student loan crisis is a real and as yet unexperienced pitfall which is coming at some point unless it is addressed – Trump’s administration seems to have no desire to do so. The consumer credit and auto credit bubbles are getting pumped daily. These are just a few of the dangers which sit on the horizon.
And then there is Trump himself – he is nothing if not volatile. One never knows what he will do from day to day whether it is attack a political enemy, negotiate with our enemies, tweet attacks against American companies, or as he once suggested he could do “walk out in the street and shoot someone” – while extremely unlikely, it’s not outside of the range of possibilities because with Trump, nothing is. He could start a war just because he is offended…
The truth is that none of these policies are long term sustainable. Trump is very good for the American economy RIGHT NOW but the big question is whether the economy will implode while he is in office or whether a successor will have to clean up the messes he is creating. Long term, nothing he is doing is sustainable – but most people don’t care about long term. He is actively creating an environment where American workers can compete with Chinese workers and that means lower wages, less bargaining power, longer hours, and less economic power for average working Americans. He is creating an anything goes as long as profits rise business environment. He is shifting the burden of carrying the expense of the United States government with taxes from the wealthy and big corporations to building a huge deficit for the future to deal with. He is actively decreasing the fringe benefits of being American by eliminating the Affordable Healthcare Act, reducing government programs, and taking away protected status from wildlands, forests, and monuments. His policies are contributing to the future degradation of the environment, the exploitation of labor, the continued rise in wealth disparity, and ultimately to the downfall and collapse of the United States as we know it.
Full disclosure here – I am making some money in the stock market from all of this. I trade volatility and I’m buying into companies that are benefitting from the Trump Administration policies. Personally, I generally choose not to invest in oil companies, big banks, or defense contractors for moral reasons – but aside from that, I’m making the most of the chaos and investing in the rising tide while keeping an eye out for the inevitable collapse.
Trump could potentially keep this boat rising for the next six years – but while he is doing that, he will be stripping away everything that makes this country great – very similarly to what President Erdogan of Turkey has done – and with a similar end result.
Trump is very good for growth of the American economy right now – but in the longer term – he is destroying it.
The Turkish Lira has been in trouble for a long time – but people chose to ignore it. I lived in Turkey and have many friends in Turkey. This crash affects them and their loved ones in terrible ways. Prior to today, the devastation wrought by ISIS, the Syrian refugee crisis, and war in neigboring Iraq had already destroyed many of my friend’s businesses. The foreigners (farangi) simply closed shop and moved back to their countries – as my wife and I did in 2010. For those who are not foreigners – the past eight years have been brutal. What they haven’t been is a surprise.
When I lived in Turkey in 2010, 2011, and in parts of 2012 – it was a paradise. I’m not exaggerating. The Turkish economic miracle was in full force. The hard work of Ataturk and those who followed him was paying off – Turkey was a secular country with a semi-socialized system of taking care of those unable to take care of themselves and state control of key industries. In 2011, then Prime Minister (now President) Erdogan was already in the process of privatizing all of the Turkish national industries and selling them to his friends who in turn sold them to the highest bidders. All of that money went to building his AKP party, buying elections, and further robbing the Turkish people of their government, thier history, and their legacy.
Turkey had already suffered a massive currency meltdown and strict controls were put in place to prevent another one from happening. Gradually, Erdogan eased those controls to allow for out of control government borrowing and spending. He used the people’s resources to build monuments to himself, reshape the governmental structure (like making the honorary and mostly powerless presidential position into the most powerful position in Turkey just when his maximum time as Prime Minister came). He began erasing the proud and important legacy of Kemal Ataturk – cutting down forests he had planted, removing his pictures from official buildings, and renaming parks and other Ataturk public spaces.
None of this was hidden. It was happening in plain site. The religious and uneducated both rallied around him. He clothed himself in Islam and pulled back Turkey’s secular shroud. The uneducated saw him as a rich man who could make them rich – and he played to their hatred by restarting the conflicts with the Kurdish minorities. The rich liked the relaxed taxes, the easing of regulations, and the anything goes capitalism that made them wealthier and wealthier. That was his base – the religious, the uneducated, the bigoted, and the wealthy.
He used the coup attempt a few years ago to shut down the majority of his opposition – college educated professionals, journalists, activists, and anyone else who oppossed him. Tens of thousands were fired, jailed, killed or blacklisted.
And the plundering continued. Until now, when the piper has come for payment. Now, today, he asked for all Turks to turn in gold, silver, Euros, dollars and other foreign currency for Turkish Lira – and I want to make this clear – those that do – are giving away their only hope of surviving. The Turkish Lira is totally destroyed and if it somehow survives, it will be a miracle. As for Erdogan, we can hope his days as President are also numbered.
Now, if you’re American and a lot of this sounds familar – I’m glad you were paying attention. I hope you were paying attention.
For the past year, I have wanted to buy a cryptocurrency hardware wallet . I haven’t bought a Ledger or a Tresor wallet yet because when I looked into buying one or either of them, I found a lot of stories about how they were arriving to purchasers already compromised. There was a lot of FUD going around about them and I opted to look for something better.
First, I ordered a HooFoo which has still not arrived or possibly even been produced yet. I bought it more than six months ago. The crowdfunding campaign wouldn’t give me a refund and HooFoo recently contacted me to say that it will be shipped…someday. When it does, I will review it. I hope that day comes.
In late June of 2018, I started seeing John McAfee shilling Bitfi an unhackable hardware wallet. “The most unhackable hardware wallet ever made”. For those who don’t know, John McAfee is the guy who invented McAfee software and who was accused of murdering his neighbor in central America and who ran for President as a Libertarian in 2016 and who has become a sort of unwanted step-child poster boy for cryptocurrency and is now a master shiller of all things related to cryptocurrency. McAfee is the William Shatner of crypto, he’ll sell his soul if the price is right – so it wasn’t that I trusted him, it was more that I figured it like this. McAfee is known for hacking. He’s known for crypto. He’s putting his name right on this. Chances were it was a good and possibly a great product. So I ordered one.
Now, just so you know, I did ask for a free one to review and McAfee told me there were none available.So, I had to pay full price for it. This is a legitimate review with nothing given to me to influence what I would write. Which is kind of too bad for Bitfi. I think it would have worked in their favor to have me obligated. Two days after I ordered it (and ten days before mine arrived in my mailbox), the Bitfi got destroyed by motivated hackers and deconstructed by engineers and then it got hacked..in several different ways.
Ryan Castellucci, a security researcher from WhiteOps, described it as “a cheap stripped down Android phone” and strongly advises against using it.
Another set of researchers pointed out that from a secure point of view, the use of Baidu as a search engine, and the inclusion of the Adups ‘spyware’ make for an even less wholesome environment.
Bitfi has gone a bit Trumpy in its response, denying all the accusations and accusing OverSoftNL of actively working for competitors.
By the time it got to Hawai’i, I had read so many scary reviews about this thing that there was no way I would ever use it to store anything larger than what I would carry in my wallet. I feel more comfortable leaving cryptocurrency on Coinbase and Binance – because Coinbase is insured and Binance has promised they will reimburse if they ever get hacked. This thing…well…
I like technology but I’m not a hard core coder or hacker. I’m an early adopter of platforms and new technology and an innovator in the uses of tech but I’m not a security expert or a hacker – so you can find other reviews that will go into that stuff.
I’m a user of technology and part of the reason I ordered Bitfi was so I could have fun using it. Even after all the bad things I had heard, I was ready to have fun. The box was fun. It had a quote from Satoshi Nakamoto on it. It even said there was a six-sided die inside. That sounded like fun too.
The problem is – it’s not fun. It’s not fun at all. There’s nothing fun about Bitfi.
I opened the box and found what looked like the same Samsung phone I bought in Morocco back in 2012 for $50. It was in a nice blue monogram wallet. The outer box was taped with clear strapping tape. The inner box had been taped with scotch tape. In the box were a charger cord, adapter, the six-sided die, and some instruction cards. And the wallet of course.
Seriously, this thing is almost identical to my old $50 Samsung but when I turned it on, I found the touch screen to not be as responsive. It felt like garage sale technology – the kind you find at G-sales on Saturday mornings. But, I didn’t want to judge, I dove into the instructions.
The first thing I had to do was connect to wifi and then to set up an account on their website using my iphone or a computer. Then I had to sync the old phone..I mean wallet…with the website. The numbers and letters were tiny – actually hard to see with my 46 year old eyes and my fingers must be getting fat because they kept hitting the keys next to the ones I was trying to hit. There were cute instructions about how to use the six-sided die to create an unhackable pass phrase using the cyper on their website. I followed all the instructions, I got it set up, and then I went to transfer a little cryptocurrency in.
It doesn’t do Stellar, Cardano, Tron, Ripple, Eos, Iota, Ethereum Classic, or Bitcoin Cash. It does do Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Monero, Neo and a bunch of other coins that McAfee has promoted in the past like Golem, Docademic,Bezop, etc.
So, honestly, I should have read all this before. Most of the currencies I wanted this for are safe because they aren’t supported by the Bitfi. My bad.
I was surprised at how little the wallet does. It’s basically a confirmation device for transactions which are all ran from the Bitfi website on a different device. I pretty much think that sucks. It might be great for security but my thought is this – how is this more secure than just using another website and enabling an authenticator app? Or even going further and getting a hardware authenticator like I used to use on my paypal account back a decade ago. The answer is, it’s not. I’m sure the website is all unhackable and secure, but I bought a hardware device to store my crypto on…not so I could store them on someone’s website. There’s no interface on the device so if the Bitfi site is gone, there is no way to get your funds. I know I’m a simple caveman but this seems like bullshit to me…
Look at that handsome wallet though! And, it’s got a great box. But, when it comes time to punch in your salt and your phrase, be prepared with your magnifier glasses and also make sure that you don’t pick any of the letters or numbers near the sides because this old phone doesn’t have a nimble modern keyboard that pops up – it’s like trying to use the first touch enabled devices in the late 1990s. Remember those video trivia games in all the beer joints back when people didn’t have phones to stare at? It’s like that. Expect to hit the same button a few times and make some mistakes.
On the positive side, it was only $120 including shipping and it arrived within two weeks. It has a great box, nice case, and ships with a die.
On the negative side – I pretty much hate this thing and never plan on using it for anything unless I have to. Maybe someday I can put it in the Cryptocurrency Museum if I keep it preserved good enough. I don’t like the website or interface. I don’t really want to carry this thing around with me or have it take up space in my safe deposit box. It’s already a relic.
Don’t buy the Bitfi. I’d tell you this even if they’d given it to me for free but maybe I would say it in a nicer way like “I see a really good future for the Bitfi when they solve a few early quirks that keep popping up” – and that’s true. I really like the idea of shipping an old phone with a die, but personally, I would have probably been more impressed with an eight-sided or a 12-sided die.