|Tuesday 23rd of February 2021
September 1, 1939 W. H. Auden
I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
And the international wrong.
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.
From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
Travel Industry Sees Glimmers of Recovery in Africa, Antarctica @luxury
Tourism, Travel & Transport
Early in the global pandemic, travel experts rushed to determine the shape of the recovery. Would it be L-shaped? More like a W?
A year later, despite brief upticks and plenty of pent-up demand, the travel rebound has yet to arrive.
Yet there are glimmers of optimism, both for the industry and for people itching to dust off their suitcases.
Travelers are starting to book now for trips they hope to take months or more down the line.
A smattering of markets, including Africa and Antarctica, are doing well, their highest-end inventory already selling out for stretches of their upcoming high seasons (in austral winter and summer, respectively). Some spots are even thriving right now.
Take Miami. Of roughly 15 five-star hotels bookable on Expedia for President’s day week, all but four fully sold out.
The ones with availability were limited to the priciest rooms only.
At the St. Regis Bal Harbour, just a handful of $3,500-per-night suites went unbooked; the remaining inventory at the 1 Hotel South Beach was mostly restricted to the 4,500-square-foot presidential suite, which, at $50,617 per night, would cost nearly half a million dollars to book out for the entire February break.
Magic City is in demand for numerous reasons. International border closures have left travelers seeking domestic alternatives to far-flung escapes, and Florida’s weather can’t be beat.
Mayor Francis Suarez has been luring tech executives to move their already-virtual operations to the tax-friendly state.
And Florida's Covid-19 rules are lax, allowing visitors to eat and party almost anywhere they want.
Airlines, in turn, have responded to that demand by increasing flights.
Even at the height of the second wave of infections, Miami was seeing up to 90,000 visitors arriving through its international airport on any given day—compared to the average of 105,000 to 115,000 in normal times.
For American travelers, Miami represents the leading edge of a cautious return to tourism, according to an informal survey of more than a dozen travel providers, online booking sites, industry groups, analysts, and consultants.
These people said that although sought-after destinations throughout Australia and much of Europe remain effectively locked down, eager travelers are identifying pockets of opportunity around the world.
Those are largely dictated by open borders or a perceived sense of safety. But others, eager to get back to their favorite spots, are simply placing early bets, hoping that when the time comes, their destination will be ready to welcome them.
Among the most popular picks are wide-open, remote places. There are also signs of emerging demand for destinations where vaccine uptake is high.
According to research published by the American Hotel and Lodging Association in January, nearly half of consumers see vaccine distribution as key to travel.
Of those, a majority say they would feel more at ease knowing that a large share of locals had been vaccinated than by simply having individual protection for themselves.
That explains why Abercrombie & Kent is anticipating a rush of bookings to Israel, where more than 40% of the population has already received at least one vaccine dose.
With rare exceptions, travelers can’t visit Israel yet; the country has yet to set a date for when its borders will reopen.
Whenever that time comes, its vaccine campaign will have effectively doubled as tourism marketing, intentionally or not.
The $1.7 trillion global travel industry continues to struggle overall, of course.
Hotel occupancies in the U.S. hovered around 40% of throughout January, according to data from industry analyst STR.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, both American Airlines and United recorded losses of roughly $2 billion each, contributing to an industry-wide hemorrhage of $118 billion over the course of the year.
As always, the forecast can change on a dime. But the following spots represent some light at the end of a long tunnel for the industry.
If American travelers were limited to domestic tourism in 2020, given the state of border closures, they now have their sights set further afield, on spots including the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
Whereas searches through April are still largely domestic in nature, data from TripAdvisor suggests that the majority of hotel searches on its platform taking place from May onwards are for international destinations.
Similarly, booking app Hopper says it has seen a significant uptick in international bookings, primarily to warm-weather vacation hot-spots close to the U.S.
According to a company spokesperson they include Cancun, Cabo, and Puerta Vallarta in Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Everyone wants sunshine. “Since first week of January, we’ve been booking a lot of summer trips,” says Jack Ezon, co-founder of luxury travel consultancy Embark Beyond.
“And I’m not talking small. People are making up for lost time—especially with trips to the Mediterranean, which they see as an annual rite that was taken away last year.”
Brooke Lavery, a partner at travel advisory firm Local Foreigner, has seen the same. “It’s amazing how many people don’t realize that Europe is still closed,” she says.
Whereas she previously estimated that her clients would be able to hit the Med by May, she’s now unsure those trips will happen before the end of the summer, with stricter lockdowns sweeping across Europe.
Ezon agrees. “I’m not counting my money before I get it in my pocket,” he says, pointing at the real possibility that these early booking may get cancelled or deferred.
The Caribbean is a safer bet, says Lavery. With local economies hard hit from years of extensive hurricane-related closures pre-Covid, the region has made a full-throated call to carefully reopen tourism.
Of the 27 island nations tracked by Travel Weekly, only five remain closed to U.S. travelers. (These are largely French islands, following European guidelines.)
Resorts across the region have been quick to roll out initiatives for on-site, highly-accurate PCR tests to help American travelers navigate entry and re-entry requirements.
Among the success stories so far is the Dominican Republic. Whereas international tourism there was down 90% at certain points last year, now it’s rebounded to just 36% down, year-over-year.
With Europe looking dicey for summer travel, Africa may be a bright spot.
Go2Africa, a leading provider for tailor-made travel to the continent, says searches on its site had declined by 90% at the height of the pandemic’s first wave. But by January, they were down just 20% year-over-year.
“The best lodges are all already full for the summer,” adds Ezon, who has seen similar upticks.
“This is Africa’s moment,” agrees Pamela Lassers, spokesperson for high-end operator Abercrombie & Kent.
“Going on safari offers wide open spaces and privacy at the small boutique camps we recommend.” She said that interest extends to Egypt—what she considers “the world’s largest open-air museum.”
Likewise Antarctica. Online travel aggregator TravelStride has seen a 25% increase in bookings to the southernmost continent compared to last year’s pre-pandemic numbers.
On Google, Antarctica has charted the most significant growth in interest from American travelers.
White Desert, the company best known for offering air-based trips (rather than cruises) to the continent, has already sold out two trips for late 2021, even with prices hovering around $100,000 per person.
The Maldives is trending upwards, too. The island nation registered more travel-related search queries on Google than any other country from November 2020 to January 2021, and some of its top resorts, like Soneva Fushi, saw revenues rise by as much as 50% in the last months of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.
Peter Bates, president and founder of travel industry consultancy Strategic Vision, holds a cautious outlook on travel’s recovery.
He says the latest research his company released was outdated upon its publication in January, having been based on a survey sent out in late November.
At that point, travel advisors said Italy, France, Greece and Japan were among their top planned destinations for 2021.
By the time their responses were printed, a new wave of lockdowns made those plans seem unlikely at best.
“Everything we looked at in the fourth quarter has changed again,” Bates says. And it’s possible that will repeat itself, imperiling the early success stories mentioned here.
“The new word is ‘stickiness,’” he says. “Is it going to stick? Or are we going to have to move this booking?”
An issue for Africa, he says, will be fending off the fears of the potent South Africa variant.
“People will take the idea that this is prevalent in South Africa, and expand that across the entire continent—they will generalize—and that has the potential to create problems there,” he says, adding:
“Going on safari is a once in a lifetime holiday for a lot of people, so if you’re not completely comfortable, it’s not a good idea.”
That narrative could unfold anywhere. Another uncertainty is the long-term efficacy of vaccines, and what new policies may be in store from health authorities around the world.
“It’s worrying that they’re thinking about even a booster shot, that everyone would have to go through a third injection,” says Bates.
Questions about how long protection might last may jeopardize the reliability of immunity passports, he adds.
“There are so many questions that any traveler has these days,” Bates says. But in a weird way, he says, that might not be bad for the travel providers that are among his clients.
“A travel advisor has to be a real advisor now—they will be more important than ever,” he says. “In fact they’re the ones who will do quite well as soon as people are actually able to travel again.”
Circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants escape neutralization by vaccine-induced humoral immunity
Vaccination elicits immune responses capable of potently neutralizing SARS-CoV-2. However, ongoing surveillance has revealed the emergence of variants harboring mutations in spike, the main target of neutralizing antibodies.
To understand the impact of globally circulating variants, we evaluated the neutralization potency of 48 sera from BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 vaccine recipients against pseudoviruses bearing spike proteins derived from 10 strains of SARS-CoV-2.
While multiple strains exhibited vaccine-induced cross-neutralization comparable to wild-type pseudovirus, 5 strains harboring receptor-binding domain mutations, including K417N/T, E484K, and N501Y, were highly resistant to neutralization.
Cross-neutralization of B.1.351 variants was weak and comparable to SARS-CoV and bat-derived WIV1-CoV, suggesting that a relatively small number of mutations can mediate potent escape from vaccine responses.
While the clinical impact of neutralization resistance remains uncertain, these results highlight the potential for variants to escape from neutralizing humoral immunity and emphasize the need to develop broadly protective interventions against the evolving pandemic.
Of particular concern is an E484K mutation in RBD, which was recently identified through deep mutational scanning as a variant with the potential to evade monoclonal and serum antibody responses (Greaney et al. 2020, 2021).
Novel variants arising from the B.1.1.28 lineage first described in Brazil and Japan, termed P.2 (with 3 spike missense mutations) and P.1 (with 12 spike missense mutations), contain this E484K mutation, and P.1 in particular also contains K417T and N501Y mutations in RBD.
These strains have been spreading rapidly, and both P.2 and P.1 were recently found in documented cases of SARS-CoV-2 re-infection
Taken together, our results highlight that BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 vaccines achieve only partial cross-neutralization of novel variants and support the reformulation of existing vaccines to include diverse spike sequences.
Ultimately, development of new vaccines capable of eliciting broadly neutralizing antibodies may be necessary to resolve the ongoing pandemic.
We focused on variants of concern first described in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), Denmark (B.1.1.298), United States (B.1.429), Brazil and Japan (P.2 and P.1), and South Africa (B.1.351), most of which arose in late 2020 (Figure 1A-B).
Although the naturally arising mutations in these variants span the entire spike protein, they mainly occur in S1 and RBD, the main target of neutralizing antibodies (Figure 1C and S1).
08-FEB-2021 :: We are at peak vaccine euphoria
We are at peak vaccine euphoria
Global covid19 cases [are] falling at just under 2%/day @video4me
No one wants to think that
If you have a "normal" pandemic that is fading, but a "British variant" that is surging, the combined total can look like a flat, manageable situation. @spignal
They fancied themselves free, wrote Camus, ―and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.
We've updated our preprint on the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01, aka B.1.1.7, with new statistical and modelling methods.
Headline: we estimate VOC is 43–82% more transmissible than preexisting variants.
Superspreading events have distinguished the COVID-19 pandemic from the early outbreak of the disease @PNASNews
Our studies of exhaled aerosol suggest that a critical factor in these and other transmission events is the propensity of certain individuals to exhale large numbers of small respiratory droplets.
Our findings indicate that the capacity of airway lining mucus to resist breakup on breathing varies significantly between individuals, with a trend to increasing with the advance of COVID-19 infection and body mass index multiplied by age (i.e., BMI-years).
we found that exhaled aerosol particles vary between subjects by three orders of magnitude, with exhaled respiratory droplet number increasing with degree of COVID-19 infection and elevated BMI-years.
We observed that 18% of human subjects (35) accounted for 80% of the exhaled bioaerosol of the group (194), reflecting a superspreader distribution of bioaerosol analogous to a classical 20:80 superspreader of infection distribution.
Aerosol emission and superemission during human speech increase with voice loudness @nature
Here we show that the rate of particle emission during normal human speech is positively correlated with the loudness (amplitude) of vocalization, ranging from approximately 1 to 50 particles per second (0.06 to 3 particles per cm3) for low to high amplitudes, regardless of the language spoken (English, Spanish, Mandarin, or Arabic).
Furthermore, a small fraction of individuals behaves as “speech superemitters,” consistently releasing an order of magnitude more particles than their peers.
Since its creation more than 12 years ago, Bitcoin is undefeated. Its price has leaped from $5 to $50 to $500 to $5,000 to now past $50,000. The number of global users has eclipsed 100 million. @Quillette @gladstein
The system’s network security, number of developers, and new applications are at all-time highs. Dozens of companies including Tesla and Square have started to add Bitcoin to their corporate treasuries.
This worldwide success doesn’t mean that people haven’t tried to stop Bitcoin. The digital money project has in fact survived a variety of attacks which in some cases threatened its existence.
There are two main vectors: network attacks on the software and hardware infrastructure, and legal attacks on Bitcoin users. Before we explore them and consider why they failed, let’s start at the beginning.
In January 2009, a mysterious coder going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto launched Bitcoin, an open-source financial network with big ambitions: to replace central banking with a decentralized, peer-to-peer system with no rulers.
It would use a programmable, highly-fungible token that could be spent like electronic cash or saved like digital gold.
It would be distributed around the world through a set-in-stone money printing schedule to a subset of users who would compete to secure the network with energy and in return, get freshly minted Bitcoin.
Initially, most were understandably skeptical, and very few paid attention. There had been attempts at creating “ecash” before, and all had failed.
No one had been able to figure out how to create a decentralized, incorruptible mint, or how to grow a system that couldn’t be stopped by governments.
But a small community grew around Bitcoin, which promised just that. Led by Satoshi and Hal Finney, this group of iconoclasts discussed, tinkered with, and improved the software in its first year, using their computers to mine1 50 worthless Bitcoin every 10 minutes.
Eventually, someone decided these virtual tokens were worth enough to accept in return for a real-world good.
On May 22nd, 2010, a developer named Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 Bitcoin for two Papa John’s pizzas, at an exchange rate of .1 cents per Bitcoin.
No one could have predicted that Laszlo’s pizza order would one day be so costly: today, this order is worth more than $500 million.
Since the early days of PC mining and the Silk Road, Bitcoin has become a global phenomenon.
No one knows who Satoshi is, but if their creation was a company, it would be one of the world’s top 10 most valuable.
Its fan base has grown from a few pseudonyms on Cypherpunk messageboards to including the likes of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, Fidelity CEO Abby Johnson, actress Lindsay Lohan, singer Soulja Boy, skateboarder Tony Hawk, and investor Paul Tudor Jones.
It has its own unicode character, the ₿.
Bitcoin markets have popped up in virtually every country and major urban area on Earth, with local traders eager to buy Bitcoin in exchange for local currency everywhere from Caracas to Manila to Moscow.
Millions of people in Nigeria, Argentina, Iran, Cuba, and beyond are now using Bitcoin to escape their local currency system, and opt into something with a better track record as a store of value than the naira, bolivar, rial, or peso.
They can control their Bitcoin with a private key (think: password) that they can store on a phone, USB stick, on paper, or even with memorized wordlists, and send the currency to family or friends anywhere on Earth in minutes, with no permission from any authority required.
The mainstream media typically portrays Bitcoin as a penny stock gone wild, or a new kind of digital tulip mania.
But the reality is Bitcoin is a political project that threatens to fundamentally disrupt the Davos-led economic system, with everyone from Janet Yellen to Christine Lagarde expressing fear about its rise and demanding it be regulated.
Governments retain their power in part by issuing and controlling money. Bitcoin is a new model that mints and secures money without governments.
So the big question is: Why haven’t governments or megacorps stopped it? And if they try to attack Bitcoin in the near future, what would that look like?
There is an enormous amount of speculation on the Internet about how Bitcoin might be attacked, but few stop to think about why it hasn’t already been destroyed.
The answer is that there are political and economic incentives for more and more people to push the system forward and strengthen its security, and strong political, economic, and technical disincentives that discourage attacks.
Certainly, Bitcoin isn’t too small to draw the attention of governments. Previous attempts at parallel online digital currencies, like e-Gold and Liberty Reserve, were shut down by the US government before even making it to $10 billion in market capitalization.
Bitcoin now has a market cap north of $1 trillion. Every day Bitcoin survives, it becomes stronger, and for many attack vectors, the windows are rapidly closing.
One reason that Bitcoin is so tenacious is that it is a globally-distributed phenomenon.
The vast majority of mining takes place outside of the US in China and central Asia.
But the vast majority of Bitcoin holders and buyers appear to be US and EU entities, and the software’s core developers and node-runners (who host Bitcoin’s servers) are scattered throughout the world.
The most important person in Bitcoin—its inventor—is no longer relevant, and could even be dead.
Unlike every other cryptocurrency, there is no central point of failure. Bitcoin has no Vitalik Buterin, no Ethereum Foundation, no Deltec bank like Tether, no fancy offices in San Francisco, no team of lawyers, no governance token, no VC-backing, no pre-mine, no small council, and no whales able to manipulate the system.
This decentralized architecture has already insulated Bitcoin from attacks at the highest levels.
No matter how much Bitcoin you own, you can’t change the rules, print more, censor, steal or prevent others from using the network.
The biggest attack in Bitcoin’s history came in 2017 at the software level. That spring a handful of the most important industry actors gathered and signed what is called the New York Agreement.
The authors boasted more than 83% of the global mining hashpower1, more than 50 total companies, more than 20 million wallets, and a huge share of the payment infrastructure.
It was an alliance between Chinese miners, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street, and their goal was to change Bitcoin to allow it to process more transactions per second, at the cost of sacrificing decentralization and the ability of users to audit the monetary supply from home.
By November 2017, the corporate “SegWit2X” plan was dead, and Bitcoin remained decentralized.
The lesson from these “scaling wars” is that neither miners nor corporations control Bitcoin.
Yes, miners process transactions, and developers propose upgrades to the software, but tens of thousands of users running nodes actually decide what transactions are valid and what software version is adopted.
Even if a government took control of a majority of the Bitcoin hashrate, this doesn’t enable them to change the Bitcoin consensus rules or print more Bitcoin or steal anyone’s holdings.
The worst they could do is use their power to mine new versions of Bitcoin (which, in the case of BCH or BSV, has failed spectacularly), or burn billions of dollars to temporarily damage the network in what’s called a “51% attack.”
In such an attack, a majority of miners could team up and use their superior hashrate to momentarily overwhelm the network. The price of the hardware required would exceed $5 billion.
There are several nightmare scenarios that Bitcoiners fear that don’t involve science fiction around governments teaming up in a Mission Impossible-style mission to seize billions of dollars of energy and mining equipment. One such fear is four numbers: 6102.
In 1933, the FDR administration passed Executive Order 6102, which banned citizens from holding gold and forced them to turn in any gold to the authorities.
The Bitcoin community is already preparing for such an attack. One reason 6102 was so successful is that the government could just go to banks who held gold on behalf of citizens, and seize at point of custody.
So every January 3rd, users celebrate “proof of keys” day, where it is customary to withdraw any Bitcoin they own on exchanges or in the custody of third parties to wallets that the end users control.
“Not your keys, not your coins,” first popularized by Bitcoin educator Andreas Antonopoulos, is a community mantra.
With more than 10 percent of the American population using Bitcoin, if enough people self-custody, then a 6102 attack would be of limited effect.
Given that the keys to your Bitcoin account are typically in the form of 24 seed words that can be written down, hidden, encoded, or memorized, a military home-by-home raid couldn’t work very well and would constitute a mass set of human rights violations.
Ultimately, however, CBDCs like China’s DCEP can’t compete because their floating global price will be tied to the existing fiat currency, which will inevitably fall in relative purchasing power.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin’s purchasing power continues to rise over time, and it offers a level of transactional freedom and privacy from the state that no CBDC could ever boast.
The “two-Bitcoin” problem is perhaps the biggest existing threat to Bitcoin users today. If the top 25 global exchanges in the US, EU, and East Asia agreed to end user withdrawals, then that would effectively bifurcate the system.
Bitcoin inside the bubble would be “whitelisted” and Bitcoin outside could be “blacklisted” — meaning, if a merchant accepts Bitcoin from you that is not on a certain list, they’d be running a risk.
No matter how private you are with your Bitcoin, it wouldn’t matter. You’d need to find people willing to accept your Bitcoin with no trail.
Such laws would force users into peer-to-peer markets, where buyers don’t care about coin history.
In Nigeria, the government is currently promising to freeze the bank accounts of any citizens who are identified as buying or selling Bitcoin.
This regime has tried similar tactics before, but all have failed. What these actions actually accomplish is to drive citizens into harder to control peer-to-peer markets, and into the arms of risk-tolerant entrepreneurs committed to helping their fellow citizens access a better financial system.
So far, it seems that when governments try to ban or restrict Bitcoin, it ends up merely accelerating the adoption of the currency inside their countries.
Governments that have failed miserably with their Wars on Drugs may find stopping people from holding something that’s invisible, borderless, and teleporting much more difficult.
In democracies, governments will face major obstacles from the tech and financial industries, but also from the fact that restrictions on Bitcoin ownership can clash with free speech, privacy, and private property protections.
Confiscation will require brutality, and it’s not clear that all governments have the stomach or ability.
In the end, the only way to kill Bitcoin may be to make it so that people don’t need it anymore.
If no one wants a devaluation-proof, censorship-resistant, permissionless, borderless, non-discriminatory, teleporting financial asset, then no one will feed it energy, and it will die.
Perhaps humanity can come up with another technology that addresses these needs.
08-JAN-2018 :: The Crypto Avocado Millenial Economy.
The ‘’Zeitgeist’’ of a time is its defining spirit or its mood. Capturing the ‘’zeitgeist’’ of the Now is not an easy thing because we are living in a dizzyingly fluid moment.
Gladwellian level move. “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire”- Malcolm Gladwell.
The new high tech, millenial, crypto, avocado economy exhibits viral, wildfire and exponential and even non-linear characteristics not unlike Ebola.
27 NOV 17 :: "Wow! What a Ride!"
World Of Finance
“But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably.It is the parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice -guessed and refused to believe- that everything, always, collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no surprise, no second chance, no return.’’
Or as T.S Eliot said in The Hollow Men
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom.
My investment thesis at the start of the year was that Bitcoin was going to get main-streamed in 2017. It has main-streamed beyond my wildest dreams, therefore, I am now sidelined.
Let me leave you with Hunter S. Thompson, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
$BTC Bitcoin Rally Faces Potential Test From Falling Market Liquidity @markets 50,500.00 Last
The rally in Bitcoin that took the digital token to a fresh peak over the weekend could face a test from declining liquidity in the market for the largest cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin rose as high as $58,350 on Sunday before retreating to about $56,200 as of 2:30 p.m. in Tokyo on Monday.
The token has roughly tripled in the past three months but its liquidity has deteriorated, according to Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, a strategist at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“Market liquidity is currently much lower for Bitcoin than in gold or the S&P 500, which implies that even small flows can have a large price impact,” he wrote in a note on Friday.
Such a backdrop opens up the possibility of sharp moves higher or lower in the cryptocurrency depending on the prevailing ardor for digital assets.
Of late, even some of the token’s biggest backers appear surprised by its ascent. In a recent tweet, Elon Musk said Bitcoin prices “seem high,” having earlier called it a “less dumb” version of cash.
Bitcoin trading volumes are around $10 billion daily for the spot and futures market combined, compared with an equivalent figure of $100 billion for gold, Panigirtzoglou wrote.
That’s consistent with “much lower liquidity in Bitcoin than in gold,” he said.
Cryptocurrencies have enjoyed a strong start to the year, leaving other assets in the dust.
The Bitcoin faithful argue corporate treasurers and institutional investors are new sources of demand and that the token can hedge risks such as faster inflation.
Others see a prime example of speculative froth stoked by hedge funds and day traders in markets awash with stimulus.
“Bitcoin seems impervious to the barrage of fear, uncertainty and doubt waged against the industry,” Paolo Ardoino, chief technology officer at cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, wrote in an email.
Shares of Asian cryptocurrency stocks advanced Monday in the wake of Bitcoin’s all-time high.
One of the biggest movers was Japan’s Monex Group Inc., which jumped as much as 16%.
Ether, the largest token after Bitcoin, also rallied over the weekend, topping $2,000 for the first time on Saturday. It’s up about 150% year-to-date.
Petrobras Craters, Real Falls in Brazil’s Worst Rout in Months @markets
The plunge in Brazilian markets Monday was unlike any the country has seen since the early days of the pandemic last year.
Investors unloaded everything from state-run companies to bonds and the currency after President Jair Bolsonaro ousted the head of oil giant Petrobras, sparking worries of government meddling and a break with his administration’s market-friendly pledges.
The real was among the worst performers in the world even after the central bank stepped in to prop it up.
Stocks also lagged major peers, falling 4.9%, the most since April, and sovereign dollar bonds led losses among emerging markets.
Petrobras shares tumbled 22%, the most in almost a year, leading state-controlled companies lower.
“These negative signals generate fear among investors, and logically disinvestment from the country eventually,” said Gregorio Velasco, head of institutional fixed income funds at Bci Asset Management in Santiago.
“We’re paying attention to this development because it can have broader, more relevant implications for the Brazilian market.”Brazilian real
The real breached the key 5.5 per dollar level that had been serving as support for the currency and extended losses to as much as 2.7% before the central bank stepped in offering dollars through foreign-exchange swaps.
The currency ended the day down 1.3% at 5.4591 per dollar, the second-worst performance among 31 major currencies tracked the Bloomberg.
The Ibovespa fell 4.9%, the most since April. Petrobras shares led losses, falling 22% on high trading volume as analysts from Credit Suisse Group AG to JPMorgan Chase & Co cut their recommendations.
Put options on the stock surged as much as 1,310%.
Banco do Brasil SA and Eletrobras, which are also controlled by the Brazilian government, also fell on Monday.
Earlier, O Globo columnist Lauro Jardim reported Bolsonaro was planning to replace the Banco do Brasil CEO -- who was already subject to political pressure
Swap rates jumped 11 to 22 basis points across the curve as the real plunged.
DI contracts are now pricing in 44.5 basis points in rate hikes at the next central bank meeting in March, from 38 on Friday, showing traders are increasing bets on a half-percentage point rate hike next month.
Brazil’s dollar-denominated sovereign bonds were among the worst in emerging markets, down around 3 cents on the dollar throughout the curve.
Notes due in 2050 had their worst day since June, down 3.1 cents on the dollar to 94.4 cents, the lowest since July.
Petrobras bonds were among the most actively traded in high-yield emerging-market debt, according to Trace data.
Notes due 2031, which are the one of the firm’s most liquid, fell as much as 4.7 cents on the dollar, the biggest slump since June.
The oil producer’s century bonds fell as much as 6.5 cents to 107 cents on the dollar.
Brazil’s risk premium as measured by the five-year credit default swaps widened 22 basis points to 187, the biggest jump since September, according to ICE Data Services.
The move contrasted with Markit’s CDX EM index, which was little changed.
Petrobras’s five-year CDS jumped 35 basis points to 229, the highest since November.
The market implied default probability over the next five years was at 13.9%.
@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.
Ethiopia which was once the Poster child of the African Renaissance now has a Nobel Prize Winner whom I am reliably informed
PM Abiy His inner war cabinet includes Evangelicals who are counseling him he is "doing Christ's work"; that his faith is being "tested". @RAbdiAnalyst
@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.
Nigeria’s Crypto Ban Fuels Mistrust in Government @YahooFinance
Restrictions on foreign spending have led some banks to limit monthly foreign transactions to as low as $100 a month.
Direct remittances to Nigeria also dropped over 97% between January to September 2020, increasing the squeeze on forex.
CBN devalued the Naira twice last year, and the high cost of moving money into Nigeria has led Nigerians to seek alternatives through cryptocurrency.
Nigeria is the world’s second-largest peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin market and the largest in Africa.
Crypto trading, which totaled $566 million from 2015-2020, has increased yearly since 2015, with a jump of 30% in 2020.
The crypto exchange platform, Yellow Card, reported growth of 1,840% in remittances processed on its platform in 2020, with Nigeria making up more than 50% of its users.
This increase in cryptocurrency usage tracks with the overall growth of Nigeria’s Fintech sector.
Instead, users may move to P2P trading platforms that facilitate trading without an intermediary and allow non-fiat payment methods.
Already, there has been an almost 16% jump in Bitcoin usage for P2P lending since the announcement, and Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange platform, recently introduced a new P2P option for Nigerians.
Many Nigerians have attributed the decision to the CBN’s urgent need to inject and retain forex in the economy by any means.
But if the goal was to increase forex or promote transparency, pushing users to P2P platforms undermines these aims.
Nigerians on Twitter launched a #WeWantOurCryptoBack campaign.