David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    Stablecoin Tether Grows Into Crypto World's $69 Billion Mystery

    This article by Zeke Faux for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

    It was hard to believe that people had sent $69 billion in real U.S. dollars to a company that seemed to be practically quilted out of red flags. But every day, on cryptocurrency exchanges, traders buy and sell Tether coins as if they’re just as good as dollars. Some days, more than $100 billion in Tether changes hands. It seemed the people with the most at stake in the crypto markets trusted Tether, and I wanted to know why. Luckily, in June, 12,000 of them were gathering in Miami for what was billed as the biggest crypto conference ever.

    At the Mana Wynwood Convention Center, I found the usual cringey crypto signifiers. Models walked the floor body-painted with Bitcoin’s logo. A podcast host screamed, “F--- Elon.” A dumpster full of Venezuelan bolivars was labeled “cash is trash.” The place was full of people who held Tether. Sam Bankman-Fried, a 29-year-old billionaire who was in town to rename Miami’s basketball arena after his cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, told me he’d bought billions of Tethers, using them to facilitate trading other coins. “If you’re a crypto company, banks are nervous to work with you,” he said.

    His explanation doesn’t make much sense if you still think of Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer currency, an ingenious way to transfer value without an intermediary. But most people aren’t using cryptocurrencies to buy stuff. They’re trading them on exchanges and betting on their value, hoping to make a real money score by picking the next Dogecoin, which spiked 4,191% this year after Elon Musk started tweeting about it, or Solana, up 9,801% in 2021 for seemingly no reason at all.

    Think of crypto exchanges as giant casinos. Many of them, especially outside the U.S., can’t handle dollars because banks won’t open accounts for them, wary of inadvertently facilitating money laundering. So instead, when customers want to place a bet, they need to buy some Tethers first. It’s as if all the poker rooms in Monte Carlo and the mahjong parlors in Macau sent gamblers to one central cashier to buy chips.

    The biggest traders on these exchanges told me they routinely bought and sold hundreds of millions of Tethers and viewed it as an industry standard. Even so, many had their own conspiracy theories about the currency. It’s controlled by the Chinese mafia; the CIA uses it to move money; the government has allowed it to get huge so it can track the criminals who use it. It wasn’t that they trusted Tether, I realized. It was that they needed Tether to trade and were making too much money using it to dig too deeply. “It could be way shakier, and I wouldn’t care,” said Dan Matuszewski, co-founder of CMS Holdings LLC, a cryptocurrency investment firm.

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    Putin Offers to Stabilize Gas Markets "on an Absolutely Commercial Basis"

    This article from investing.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Russia is ready to supply more natural gas to head off a growing energy crisis, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday, on a day when U.K. and continental spot prices again hit all-time highs.

    "I would like to hear your suggestions as to what more we can do to stabilize global energy markets," Putin told ministers in a carefully stage-managed broadcast of his introductory statement at the start of a video conferenced cabinet meeting. "We are ready to work on this, and we would like such work to be based on an absolutely commercial basis."

    Russia is the one country capable of increasing gas flows substantially to European markets, where the shortage of gas is greatest, at short notice. However, the newly-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which gas monopoly Gazprom (MCX: GAZP) would use for such additional flows, is still awaiting certification from German regulators before it can ship gas. The pipeline project has also been beset by U.S. sanctions and by opposition within the European Union, where fear of Gazprom's dominance in the market is widespread - especially among countries in the former Soviet bloc.

    Elsewhere in his comments, Putin repeated previous criticisms of what he called "mistaken" European policy shifts that had left the EU and U.K. markets vulnerable to supply squeezes, notably its refusal to sign new long-term contracts with Gazprom and its desire to buy more at spot prices.

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    Tony the Tiger's road to appearing in a Kellogg's worker protest

    This article from Quartz may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    While Tony the Tiger thinks Frosted Flakes are “grrr-eat,” hundreds of Kellogg’s factory workers think the company is “grrr-eedy”—and they’re using Tony to drive their point home.

    On Oct. 5, when about 1,400 Kellogg’s workers across four US plants went on strike over payments and benefits, a poster featuring the iconic tiger appeared along the picket line in Battle Creek, Michigan. In front of Tony were the words “I’m greedy.” A digital poster by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union also features an angry Tony holding a”Kellogg’s on Strrr-ike” sign.

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    The Importance of Bitcoin Upgrades and Layer Two Applications

    This article from Coindesk may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    This November, Bitcoin will undergo the biggest upgrade to its code since SegWit. Taproot (discussed in BIP 340, 341 and 342) introduces what are called Schnorr signatures to Bitcoin. To avoid a very technical discussion, Taproot will improve privacy, scalability and finally implement smart contract functions on Bitcoin.

    One of the major benefits of Taproot activation is the fact that multi-signature transactions will become much less data heavy, which blazes a Bitcoin path for smart contract implementation. Many alt coins were designed from the ground up with these improvements in place and therefore drew attention and investment away from Bitcoin. The Bitcoin developers took plenty of time to ensure this upgrade was safe before implementation. Many, including myself, view this as a monumental move for Bitcoin, and it certainly levels the playing field in the smart-contract competition.

    And

    Along came the Bitcoin Lightning Network. The Lightning Network is a second layer protocol that operates on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. Lightning takes transactions “off-chain.” Basically, bitcoin is removed from the main network and placed into a two-party, multi-signature “channel.” This channel is created between two parties and allows each party to send nearly an unlimited amount of transactions at a very low cost. These transactions happen specifically on the Lightning Network and not on the Bitcoin blockchain. Because these transactions are not approved by Bitcoin nodes or miners, the Bitcoin network is not affected. Upon terminating or closing the Lightning channel, all of the information included in the history of the channel is consolidated and included in a transaction that is then sent to the main Bitcoin blockchain (mainnet) to be recorded.

    Twitter recently announced tipping for all iOS users. For this to be possible, Twitter will rely on third-party companies such as Strike that provide the ability to link a Twitter account to a Bitcoin address and a Lightning Network address. The Lightning Network allows tiny amounts of money to be sent instantly to anyone with an address. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. Many view this as an elegant solution to many problems faced in the global payment’s ecosystem. Many pro-Bitcoin investors are encouraged to see that such a large social media company is exclusively building on Bitcoin, and this adds to their Bitcoin-only conviction.

    What is clear is that Bitcoin Core developers are focused exclusively on improving Bitcoin. Through BIP implementations, layer 2 advancements, and the continued focus on Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency is constantly able to compete with newer projects and continues to demand the majority of market share in the cryptosphere. Taproot and Lightning Network will allow bitcoin to remain competitive with other alt coins in terms of functionality, speed and security. Not only is bitcoin the largest cryptocurrency based on market cap, but the upgrades and core developers are working to ensure that bitcoin remains preeminent.

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    Beijing Blinked First in China's Energy Crisis

    This article by David Fickling for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    It looks like the government has blinked first. Miners, after months of being ordered to stick closely to capacity limits, are now being ordered to produce as much as they can, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. That should help to take the wind out of surging thermal coal prices and prevent the current crisis from extending into the winter, when sufficient energy supply can be a life-or-death matter.

    There is, to be sure, an attempt to make this retreat look like a withdrawal. The latest advice from Beijing’s economic planners last week focuses on protecting individuals but continuing the crackdown on industry, especially when it’s most energy-intensive and polluting. Allowing generators to raise prices to end-users, as is happening in Guangdong province, will also help create a more commercial power market. Electricity consumption controls have even been loosened in a way that would permit potentially unlimited volumes of cheaper renewable power into the market.

    The risk, as with the rapidly fading fears over Evergrande, is that Beijing has simply deferred a pressing problem again. If China doesn’t reform a system that refuses to face up to its internal contradictions, the problems of an economy fed by credit and carbon will only fester and grow. 

     

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    Oil jumps 2%, hits 3-year high as OPEC+ sticks to output plan

    This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Despite the pressure to ramp up output, OPEC+ was concerned that a fourth global wave of COVID-19 infections could hit the demand recovery, a source told Reuters a little before the vote.

    "The (price) move looks a bit outsized given the ministers just reaffirmed the decision announced in July, but it shows how tight the market is, reinforcing our view of asymmetric price action with risks skewed to the upside at these inventory levels," Barclays said in a note. 

    Investors will closely watch Wednesday's crude inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration for further direction.

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    Lordstown to Sell Ohio Plant to Foxconn in $280 Million Deal

    This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Under terms of the transaction, Lordstown Motors will sell the Lordstown factory to Foxconn for about $230 million after buying it from GM for just $20 million two years ago. The maker of Apple Inc.’s iPhone will buy $50 million worth of common stock in its new partner and will assemble the Lordstown Endurance electric pickup truck. The deal is contingent on the two sides reaching an agreement on manufacturing the vehicle. Foxconn plans to start mass production in April, according to a person familiar with its schedule. 

    Lordstown shares jumped as much as 12% in late New York trading Thursday. During regular trading hours, the stock rose 8.4%, closing at $7.98 after Bloomberg had earlier reported a deal was in the works. It’s still down 60% for the year.

    The accord gives both companies something they badly need. Lordstown Motors gets a partner that will hasten the startup’s move into large-scale production, which will help lower the high costs required to make EVs. Foxconn gets a plant in North America where it can build its open-source electric vehicle platform and do contract manufacturing for partners like Fisker Inc.

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