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perfectcoin: the quest for the perfect cryptocurrency
Many cryptocurrencies exist now, with more being launched all the time. This subreddit is not about any one cryptocurrency, but instead a place to exchange links and ideas about what makes the best altcoin and how to improve on features of current altcoins.
Engineering, Technology and Other Talents (Homebrew)
Hello, everyone. I am sharing some homebrew adjustments to some Talents. If you have any suggestions or comments, please share them. Student Talent Additions (Research/Studying Karma Reward): If a PC possesses the Student Talent, he/she can earn +3 Karma for conducting academic research. The research time has to be at least 1 game-hour, and the reward is only given once per game-day. The maximum amount of game-time used per game-day for research is 8 hours, thus [8(3) = 24] 24 Karma is the daily maximum. The PC must declare what he/she is researching before any rewards are distributed. If a PC is studying a form of technology, for example an alien-made robot salvaged from a battle, the same rewards apply. This system could be used if a sorcerer is conducting magical exploration at a mystical library. If the PC holds the Student Talent, going to class could be another way to earn Karma. It could be a physical lab/classroom or going online. Doing so, a PC can earn +3 Karma per class attended. Performing homework assignments are also +3 worth of Karma. To make being a Student challenging, I would have the PC make Reason FEATs to pass tests, quizzes, exams and drafting essays/papers. Passing a science and/or a magical test would require a Yellow Reason FEAT. Passing a liberal studies or humanities test requires a Green Reason FEAT. A passed test would be a (+5) Karma reward, a failed exam would be (-5) Karma score. A PC with the Student Talent could earn 2(1d10) Karma by giving a college/university TEDx Talk. This reward is issued per lecture. In addition, a superhero can earn college credit performing one. *Astronautics: The science of the construction and design of vehicles for travel in space beyond a planet’s atmosphere. A PC with this Talent can study and/or conduct research on existing spacecraft, earning Karma like the Student Talent. In addition, he/she can attempt to build such vehicles, with a +1 CS Reason and -1CS Resource bonus and refer to Aliens & Space Travel spacecraft engineering charts (pp. 5-8). This skill takes up two (2) initial Talent slots. *Salvage: Talent allows an individual to enter any waste area (junkyard, alleyway dumpster, landfill, illegal dumping spot, hazard/trial zone, corporation-owned pocket dimension, etc.) and find components for inventions/modifications. Intuition or Reason, whichever is higher, is (+1CS) when searching. Finding anything takes time (1-10 hours, must be rolled with a 1d10). A successful FEAT determines the found item. This method reduces the cost of a device (-1CS). In addition, a PC with this skill gains a Waste-Facility/Recycling Business Contact. This skill takes up two (2) Talent slots. Cryptocurrency: This is a specialized form of Business/Finance. The PC is familiar with the world of cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, the history of Bitcoin, electronic-coin finance and how digital money can be mined. Initial Resources are a minimum of Good, and the PC gains a +1CS for FEAT rolls dealing with spending, investing and trading digital cash. A hero gains a Contact in the Professional category. A villain gains a Contact in the Criminal Business category and knows how the Black Market/Web works. *Quantum Physics Technology: Having a background in research and development on quantum physics, the hero with this talent can create, repair and tinker with devices that allow teleportation, wormhole travel and integrate warp capabilities and hyperdrive into spacecrafts. Also, this Talent allows the practitioner to create a phase armobattle-suit and/or “phase compatible” devices. The PC can make artificial versions of the following powers: Dimension Travel, Gateway, Teleport Self or Teleport Others (Ultimate Talents Book, p. 23-24). This skill takes up two (2) Talent slots. *Nanotechnology: This specialized skill focuses on modifying created inventions, by reducing their size. PCs with this Talent can ignore any modifiers relating to size reduction (ex. Portable, Cannot Normally Be Seen, Microscopic, Nano-level and/or Pocket-Sized). This skill takes up two (2) Talent slots. References Aliens & Space Travel.https://classicmarvelforever.com/cms/netbooks-and-enhancements.html Ultimate Talents Book. https://classicmarvelforever.com/cms/netbooks-and-enhancements.html
Syscoin Platform’s Great Reddit Scaling Bake-off Proposal
https://preview.redd.it/rqt2dldyg8e51.jpg?width=1044&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=777ae9d4fbbb54c3540682b72700fc4ba3de0a44 We are excited to participate and present Syscoin Platform's ideal characteristics and capabilities towards a well-rounded Reddit Community Points solution! Our scaling solution for Reddit Community Points involves 2-way peg interoperability with Ethereum. This will provide a scalable token layer built specifically for speed and high volumes of simple value transfers at a very low cost, while providing sovereign ownership and onchain finality. Token transfers scale by taking advantage of a globally sorting mempool that provides for probabilistically secure assumptions of “as good as settled”. The opportunity here for token receivers is to have an app-layer interactivity on the speed/security tradeoff (99.9999% assurance within 10 seconds). We call this Z-DAG, and it achieves high-throughput across a mesh network topology presently composed of about 2,000 geographically dispersed full-nodes. Similar to Bitcoin, however, these nodes are incentivized to run full-nodes for the benefit of network security, through a bonded validator scheme. These nodes do not participate in the consensus of transactions or block validation any differently than other nodes and therefore do not degrade the security model of Bitcoin’s validate first then trust, across every node. Each token transfer settles on-chain. The protocol follows Bitcoin core policies so it has adequate code coverage and protocol hardening to be qualified as production quality software. It shares a significant portion of Bitcoin’s own hashpower through merged-mining. This platform as a whole can serve token microtransactions, larger settlements, and store-of-value in an ideal fashion, providing probabilistic scalability whilst remaining decentralized according to Bitcoin design. It is accessible to ERC-20 via a permissionless and trust-minimized bridge that works in both directions. The bridge and token platform are currently available on the Syscoin mainnet. This has been gaining recent attention for use by loyalty point programs and stablecoins such as Binance USD.
Syscoin Foundation identified a few paths for Reddit to leverage this infrastructure, each with trade-offs. The first provides the most cost-savings and scaling benefits at some sacrifice of token autonomy. The second offers more preservation of autonomy with a more narrow scope of cost savings than the first option, but savings even so. The third introduces more complexity than the previous two yet provides the most overall benefits. We consider the third as most viable as it enables Reddit to benefit even while retaining existing smart contract functionality. We will focus on the third option, and include the first two for good measure.
Distribution, burns and user-to-user transfers of Reddit Points are entirely carried out on the Syscoin network. This full-on approach to utilizing the Syscoin network provides the most scalability and transaction cost benefits of these scenarios. The tradeoff here is distribution and subscription handling likely migrating away from smart contracts into the application layer.
The Reddit Community Points ecosystem can continue to use existing smart contracts as they are used today on the Ethereum mainchain. Users migrate a portion of their tokens to Syscoin, the scaling network, to gain much lower fees, scalability, and a proven base layer, without sacrificing sovereign ownership. They would use Syscoin for user-to-user transfers. Tips redeemable in ten seconds or less, a high-throughput relay network, and onchain settlement at a block target of 60 seconds.
Integration between Matic Network and Syscoin Platform - similar to Syscoin’s current integration with Ethereum - will provide Reddit Community Points with EVM scalability (including the Memberships ERC777 operator) on the Matic side, and performant simple value transfers, robust decentralized security, and sovereign store-of-value on the Syscoin side. It’s “the best of both worlds”. The trade-off is more complex interoperability.
Syscoin + Matic Integration
Matic and Blockchain Foundry Inc, the public company formed by the founders of Syscoin, recently entered a partnership for joint research and business development initiatives. This is ideal for all parties as Matic Network and Syscoin Platform provide complementary utility. Syscoin offers characteristics for sovereign ownership and security based on Bitcoin’s time-tested model, and shares a significant portion of Bitcoin’s own hashpower. Syscoin’s focus is on secure and scalable simple value transfers, trust-minimized interoperability, and opt-in regulatory compliance for tokenized assets rather than scalability for smart contract execution. On the other hand, Matic Network can provide scalable EVM for smart contract execution. Reddit Community Points can benefit from both. Syscoin + Matic integration is actively being explored by both teams, as it is helpful to Reddit, Ethereum, and the industry as a whole.
Total cost for these 100k transactions: $0.63 USD See the live fee comparison for savings estimation between transactions on Ethereum and Syscoin. Below is a snapshot at time of writing: ETH price: $318.55 ETH gas price: 55.00 Gwei ($0.37) Syscoin price: $0.11 Snapshot of live fee comparison chart Z-DAG provides a more efficient fee-market. A typical Z-DAG transaction costs 0.0000582 SYS. Tokens can be safely redeemed/re-spent within seconds or allowed to settle on-chain beforehand. The costs should remain about this low for microtransactions. Syscoin will achieve further reduction of fees and even greater scalability with offchain payment channels for assets, with Z-DAG as a resilience fallback. New payment channel technology is one of the topics under research by the Syscoin development team with our academic partners at TU Delft. In line with the calculation in the Lightning Networks white paper, payment channels using assets with Syscoin Core will bring theoretical capacity for each person on Earth (7.8 billion) to have five on-chain transactions per year, per person, without requiring anyone to enter a fee market (aka “wait for a block”). This exceeds the minimum LN expectation of two transactions per person, per year; one to exist on-chain and one to settle aggregated value.
Tools to simplify using Syscoin Bridge as a service with dapps and wallets will be released some time after implementation of Syscoin Core 4.2. These will be based upon the same processes which are automated in the current live Sysethereum Dapp that is functioning with the Syscoin mainnet.
The Syscoin Ethereum Bridge is secured by Agent nodes participating in a decentralized and incentivized model that involves roles of Superblock challengers and submitters. This model is open to participation. The benefits here are trust-minimization, permissionless-ness, and potentially less legal/regulatory red-tape than interop mechanisms that involve liquidity providers and/or trading mechanisms. The trade-off is that due to the decentralized nature there are cross-chain settlement times of one hour to cross from Ethereum to Syscoin, and three hours to cross from Syscoin to Ethereum. We are exploring ways to reduce this time while maintaining decentralization via zkp. Even so, an “instant bridge” experience could be provided by means of a third-party liquidity mechanism. That option exists but is not required for bridge functionality today. Typically bridges are used with batch value, not with high frequencies of smaller values, and generally it is advantageous to keep some value on both chains for maximum availability of utility. Even so, the cross-chain settlement time is good to mention here.
Ethereum -> Syscoin: Matic or Ethereum transaction fee for bridge contract interaction, negligible Syscoin transaction fee for minting tokens Syscoin -> Ethereum: Negligible Syscoin transaction fee for burning tokens, 0.01% transaction fee paid to Bridge Agent in the form of the ERC-20, Matic or Ethereum transaction fee for contract interaction.
Zero-Confirmation Directed Acyclic Graph is an instant settlement protocol that is used as a complementary system to proof-of-work (PoW) in the confirmation of Syscoin service transactions. In essence, a Z-DAG is simply a directed acyclic graph (DAG) where validating nodes verify the sequential ordering of transactions that are received in their memory pools. Z-DAG is used by the validating nodes across the network to ensure that there is absolute consensus on the ordering of transactions and no balances are overflowed (no double-spends).
Unique fee-market that is more efficient for microtransaction redemption and settlement
Uses decentralized means to enable tokens with value transfer scalability that is comparable or exceeds that of credit card networks
Provides high throughput and secure fulfillment even if blocks are full
Probabilistic and interactive
99.9999% security assurance within 10 seconds
Can serve payment channels as a resilience fallback that is faster and lower-cost than falling-back directly to a blockchain
Each Z-DAG transaction also settles onchain through Syscoin Core at 60-second block target using SHA-256 Proof of Work consensus
Z-DAG enables the ideal speed/security tradeoff to be determined per use-case in the application layer. It minimizes the sacrifice required to accept and redeem fast transfers/payments while providing more-than-ample security for microtransactions. This is supported on the premise that a Reddit user receiving points does need security yet generally doesn’t want nor need to wait for the same level of security as a nation-state settling an international trade debt. In any case, each Z-DAG transaction settles onchain at a block target of 60 seconds.
Syscoin 3.0 White Paper (4.0 white paper is pending. For improved scalability and less blockchain bloat, some features of v3 no longer exist in current v4: Specifically Marketplace Offers, Aliases, Escrow, Certificates, Pruning, Encrypted Messaging)
16MB block bandwidth per minute assuming segwit witness carrying transactions, and transactions ~200 bytes on average
SHA256 merge mined with Bitcoin
UTXO asset layer, with base Syscoin layer sharing identical security policies as Bitcoin Core
Z-DAG on asset layer, bridge to Ethereum on asset layer
On-chain scaling with prospect of enabling enterprise grade reliable trustless payment processing with on/offchain hybrid solution
Focus only on Simple Value Transfers. MVP of blockchain consensus footprint is balances and ownership of them. Everything else can reduce data availability in exchange for scale (Ethereum 2.0 model). We leave that to other designs, we focus on transfers.
Future integrations of MAST/Taproot to get more complex value transfers without trading off trustlessness or decentralization.
Zero-knowledge Proofs are a cryptographic new frontier. We are dabbling here to generalize the concept of bridging and also verify the state of a chain efficiently. We also apply it in our Digital Identity projects at Blockchain Foundry (a publicly traded company which develops Syscoin softwares for clients). We are also looking to integrate privacy preserving payment channels for off-chain payments through zkSNARK hub & spoke design which does not suffer from the HTLC attack vectors evident on LN. Much of the issues plaguing Lightning Network can be resolved using a zkSNARK design whilst also providing the ability to do a multi-asset payment channel system. Currently we found a showstopper attack (American Call Option) on LN if we were to use multiple-assets. This would not exist in a system such as this.
Web3 and mobile wallets are under active development by Blockchain Foundry Inc as WebAssembly applications and expected for release not long after mainnet deployment of Syscoin Core 4.2. Both of these will be multi-coin wallets that support Syscoin, SPTs, Ethereum, and ERC-20 tokens. The Web3 wallet will provide functionality similar to Metamask. Syscoin Platform and tokens are already integrated with Blockbook. Custom hardware wallet support currently exists via ElectrumSys. First-class HW wallet integration through apps such as Ledger Live will exist after 4.2. Current supported wallets Syscoin Spark Desktop Syscoin-Qt
What would happen if sovereign governments gave bitcoin a gold peg?
This is a totally theoretical post, but I believe it is a really interesting idea and would love to get the Internet's feedback on it, and what you think the ripple effects would be in the scenario described. Am very interested in writing this up and republishing it widely so it can be read by monetary policymakers in all major developed countries - if you know anyone like that, pass it on. In a move that would act like a bridge to a pre-Bretton Woods type of gold peg, (here is a great paper on a history of this in the US: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41887.pdf) sovereign governments with gold holdings could (again, it is a theoretical idea - I am saying they COULD do this NOT that anyone or any country is doing this that I know of) establish open market operations to purchase bitcoins (partly as a diversification strategy) using their physical gold holdings at a fixed peg rate of 5 ounces per bitcoin. The reason I say 5 is because the current chart here seems to suggest that somewhat of a convergence to 5 oz is already occurring: https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=XBT&to=XAU&view=10Y If any government did this and offered to buy physically delivered bitcoins from private holders of bitcoin (no other coins just BTC) in exchange for private delivery of physical gold, then the standard governmental unit of physical gold (held in places like Fort Knox) - known as the Good Delivery Bar which is 400oz of gold - could be procured by any holder of 80 or more coins in a secure and sanctioned exchange with the government in question - the most impactful of course would be if the US did this. My theory is that any time the exchange rate mechanisms in the forex or crypto markets violated the peg, there would be arbitrage opportunities that would bring the peg back in line. It would not only stabilize BTC, but the stabilization might spread via the 24/7 exchange rate mechanism in the crypto market to stabilize many cryptos that are still somewhat worthy experimental stores of value. Depending on the strength, credit, and depth of gold holdings of whatever governments engaged in this, it would seem that such a strategy could transform bitcoin into a new type of sound money, and also signal that owning bitcoin and gold is a priority of governments as well as their citizens. The gold standard was powerful both because it was tethered to something of limited quantity in the earth's crust with unique properties, but also because pre-Bretton Woods gold standards acted very much like a peg - and the government honored the peg no matter what. So in some sense it was still the "faith and credit of the government" that made that peg work so famously. I was partly inspired by this recent award-winning documentary www.inmoneywetrust.org in formulating this idea, and partly by my own academic interest in cryptocurrency. I believe bitcoin, above all others, because of its deflationary nature and algorithmically fixed quantity, is powerful all in itself - but with a peg from a real government to a real precious metal that many governments do in fact hoard (for whatever reason) - it could become both an international currency, and a form of truly sound money backed by governments' physical gold reserves and a legal or policy commitment to a peg of 5 ounces to 1 bitcoin. What do you all think would happen if a major government or many major governments did this? Remember the idea is to convince monetary policymakers in governments to willingly and openly bypass completely the fiat currencies of their governments and to make no informational commitment to those free-floating fiat markets for forex - so the bitcoins transacted for in the peg wouldn't be bought with dollars or yen or anything that could be printed by fiat. This would simply be a convertibility guarantee by major governments that 1 bitcoin, transferred to the Treasury by a private citizen or business (again so the Treasury could diversify holdings of sound money), would be convertible and be guaranteed to be convertible to 5 oz of physical, deliverable gold bullion (or 80 bitcoins per bar). Here is a list of the largest physical gold holders on earth who could theoretically engage in this type of operation: https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/040715/what-countries-have-largest-gold-reserves.asp Thanks Reddit! Looking forward to your thoughts! Alex Kaufman
Upon the Fortune of this Present Year | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - November 2019
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate Upon the fortune of this present year Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (1596) This is my thirty-sixth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a passive income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19 per cent, or a nominal return of 7.19 per cent, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $797 618 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $45 218 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $81 294 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $109 367 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $158 769 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $28 471 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $268 114 Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 057 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $9 996 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $8 100 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $98 376 Secured physical gold – $15 868 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $16 915 Bitcoin – $128 630 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $17 535 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 377 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 418 Total portfolio value: $1 793 753 (+$33 713) Asset allocation Australian shares – 43.2% (1.8% under) Global shares – 22.9% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.2% Total international shares – 28.4% (1.6% under) Total shares – 71.6% (3.4% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.8% International bonds – 9.8% Total bonds – 14.6% (0.4% under) Gold – 6.4% Bitcoin – 7.2% Gold and alternatives – 13.5% (3.5% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments This month the value of the portfolio increased again by around $33 000 in total, building on the previous two months of growth. [Chart] The equity part of the portfolio has grown by around $50 000 to now reach over $1.25 million for the first time. This increase includes new contributions and the last part of the previous June distributions being 'averaged into' equity markets. The equity component of the portfolio has increased by around 40 per cent this calendar year. The only other major movement in the monthly value of the portfolio has been a sharp downward movement in the price of Bitcoin, and a small increase in the value of bond holdings. [Chart] The contributions this month went entirely into the Vanguard Australian shares ETF (VAS.ASX), to reduce the gap to both the overall target equity allocation, and to achieve the target split between Australian and global shares. From this month onwards I expect more regular variations in whether new contributions go to either Australian or global shares, based on keeping this target allocation constant. Charting errors and wrong bearings - the nature of long-term returns Over the last month, as the end destination starts to appear a little clearer in the distance, the issue of the nature of long-term returns has been front of mind. There is a strong literature and body of academic work around long-term equity return expectations. Much of this has informed my thinking, and has over time found its way into the corners of financial independence movement through the avenues of the so-called Trinity and Bengen '4 per cent' studies (pdf), and a range of calculators that use historical data to help guide investors expectations around feasible future returns. Yet, as I have noted before, future states of the world are not drawn from the same distribution as the past - or as the British writer G K Chesterton evocatively put it - 'wildness lies in wait'. Most often this issue is glided over neatly (including by myself) with assured sounding phrases such as 'based on history'. The works of Nassim Taleb, most particularly Fooled by Randomness, and The Black Swan, provide a fuller perspective on these issues. Recently though, reading a 2017 paper Stock Market Charts You Never Saw provided a unique and arresting view of their application to long-term return projections. The paper is long and detailed, but makes some fundamental points for consideration. It provides a challenging perspective on investment returns that falls almost completely out of mainstream discussions of the topic in the financial independence arena. To summarise, the paper highlights that:
Long-term average equity returns are just mean averages - While they have a stable property over the long-term, this is an inherent statistical property of these values being long-term averages of diverse sets of returns. They are not a reliable forward-looking promise of likely returns. In the words of the paper: 'history documents, but does not constrain'.
Time (in the market) does not always heal all wounds - Investors who spend their dividends and avoid market timing - in other words an average FI investor - can reasonably expect to encounter 30 year periods of low real returns, with US investors facing three such periods in the twentieth century alone.
Typical charts of long-term equity returns can be misleading - Through behavioural finance findings it is clear that presented with a chart showing a seemingly inevitable rising line of equity returns over a long-time frame, an impression of safety and inevitability can be created. The paper highlights a range of ways in which standard charts on equity returns can obscure important facets of investors actual experiences.
No investor actually experiences the longest set of historical returns - While it is comforting to know that equity returns have averaged (for example) six per cent over a century, or two, this information is not as relevant for an investor who is more likely to be invested in a discrete 30-50 year period in which deviations from historical averages can be significant.
One-off events should not be dismissed - While the temptation is continuously present to believe that events like the Great Depression could never happen again, careful review of equity returns yields some distinctly similar periods of sustained low or negative real returns.
Comparisons of bond and equity returns are often oversimplified - It is not an immutable truth that equities outperform bonds, at least when the US historical record is considered. Rather, a more complicated picture emerges of returns over long periods. Sometimes, equities have outperformed bonds, but at other times, bonds have out-performed equites.
As the paper notes: "When investment advisors counsel that stocks are the best bet for a long investment horizon, they should append the acknowledgement: “if my market timing is good.” When advisors argue for stocks over bonds, they should append the caveat “as long as you are not French, or Italian, or Japanese, or Swiss, and provided that the 20th century is a better guide to the future than the 19th century.” For real investors with their limited time horizons, who may reside anywhere in the world, there have been times when both stock recommendations were bad." The issue of the primacy of total returns, compared to income returns is also bracingly challenged with reference to the drawdown phase: Once portfolio accumulation ceases with retirement, portfolio income must be spent to live. Under those circumstances real price return, over short periods lasting two or three decades, becomes an important metric. By that measure, an investment in stocks has been dicey indeed. Usefully, the paper sets out (at the end) both conventional charts, and alternative representations of the same returns data, aimed at illustrating the hidden biases and properties of standard charts of market returns. In short, the paper poses challenges to many conventional investment tenets assumed to be true and widely repeated within financial independence discussions. Often these tenets are promoted with the sound and well-meaning goal of reducing new or existing investors caution or level of worry around possible falls in equity markets. The question this work implicitly poses is, in the process, are distorted expectations unintentionally being promoted? Drawing out the lessons - understanding and responding to risks What are the practical implications of this? The most obvious is to look closely at how data is presented and to think carefully about how the assumptions implicit in that presentation line up against ones own situation. Some other implications include:
Projections based on earning stable and uniform returns should be undertaken with caution - Multi-decade periods of low returns can happen, and mathematical models of compounding smooth returns don't capture their impacts.
By taking an equity position an investor is simply undertaking a probabilistic bet, with no guarantees - That is, equity investment over the long-term usually pays offs, but some risk is inescapable.
Diversification across markets and time represents a workable response to risk - Investing regularly and across geographic markets can help current investors capture some of the positive 'survivorship' bias that was denied to individual investors in many countries across the twentieth century.
In other words - to paraphrase Shakespeare's Antonio - not trusting ones ventures to one ship, place, or a fortune upon the present year. Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 112.2% 153.0% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 90.6% 123.5% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 103.0% 140.4% Total expenses - $89 000 pa 84.5% 115.1% Summary As the year begins to draw to a close, a restlessness to see its final outcomes, in dividends and portfolio growth presses itself forward. It is in fact a small echo of one of the strong temptations of the middle of the FI journey - a desire to wish away time itself. Some potential upcoming changes and uncertainties in work situation have added force to this temptation, forcing some thoughts about different potential balances between work and other elements of daily life could be. By distance, the intended journey is around ninety per cent over. At times this introduces both an elegiac quality to, and a premature desire to mark, possible 'lasts' along the journey. Yet the extraordinary current state of financial markets gives pause. Policy makers and advisors casually discuss negative rates and their implications, even as Australian and US equity markets hit new highs. In a sense, it feels a more psychologically testing time to be closer to my higher target allocation for equities than any time before. The diversification in the portfolio can be thought of as a series of small hedges against different potential futures playing out. By far, the largest probability (or potential future) at 75 per cent, is that the historical dominance of equity as a generator of real returns continues to function. The remainder of the portfolio can be seen in some ways as a offsetting hedge against large equity market falls, or some other disturbance in financial markets with negative implications for equity. At base, however, I remain comfortable with the 'balance of probabilities' implied in the target asset allocation. This month saw a new (v)blogger Mx Lauren join the Australian FI scene, as well as the suggestion by Money Magazine of a new 'simplified' retirement rule of thumb to consider. A further piece of fascinating reading was this piece by Ben Carlson in Fortune Magazine, explaining the key role of earnings growth in recent US market return. It posits that the recent strong performance of US equities is attributable to fundamental earnings growth, rather than simply an unjustified expansion in the price investors are willing to pay for that growth. This - in addition to Shakespeare's pre-modern enjoinment to diversify - is potentially another reason to not confine considerations to one market, and one place, as December distributions slowly drift into sight. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
Keeping a Reckoning | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update – September 2019
We may by care and skill be able to trim our ship, to steer our course, or to keep our reckoning; but we cannot control the winds, or subdue deceitful currents, or prevent disasters. The Sailors’ Prayer Book: A Manual of Devotion for Sailors at Sea (1852)
This is my thirty-fourth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals.
My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a passive income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19 per cent, or a nominal return of 7.19 per cent, and are expressed in 2018 dollars.
Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $767 282
Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $43 936
Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $80 318
Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $109 802
Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $124 643
Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $24 276
Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $263 829
Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 870
Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $13 777
NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $8 760
Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $101 214
Secured physical gold – $16 292
Ratesetter* (P2P lending) – $19 140
Bitcoin – $131 280
Raiz* app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 657
Spaceship Voyager* app (Index portfolio) – $2 184
BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 402
Total value: $1 729 662 (+$17 325)
Australian shares – 42.0% (3.0% under)
Global shares – 22.6%
Emerging markets shares – 2.5%
International small companies – 3.2%
Total international shares – 28.3% (1.7% under)
Total shares – 70.3% (4.7% under)
Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over)
Australian bonds – 5.0%
International bonds – 10.1%
Total bonds – 15.0%
Gold – 6.8%
Bitcoin – 7.6%
Gold and alternatives – 14.4% (4.4% over)
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio.[Chart]
This month the portfolio grew by just over $17 000 in total, following two consecutive months of small declines.[Chart] The total equity component of the portfolio has grown, including through new contributions and another part of the June distributions being 'averaged into' equity markets. The only major reductions in the portfolio has been the result of a sharp downward movement in the price of Bitcoin. [Chart] Lower credit card expenditure and the gradual increase of the trailing three year average of distributions paid has helped sustain a sense of momentum this month. Together they have continued to narrow the gap between distributions paid and credit card spending to less than $500 per month. [Chart] The complete closure of the remaining gap is within sight. Assuming no sustained reversals in the absolute level of distributions through time, this could happen in the next 12 months. Some added progress towards this goal should come from pending quarterly distributions from the Betashares A200 ETF and Vanguard's Australian shares ETF (VAS). These are currently being finalised. The draft distributions guidance indicates that for A200 and VAS these quarterly distribution should total around $4 700, approximately double the absolute level of the same quarterly distributions a year ago. New investments this month have been higher than normal due to a work bonus and the staggered reinvestment of June distributions. They have been directed predominantly to Vanguard's Australian Shares ETF (VAS), with a small recent allocation to Vanguard's international shares ETF (VGS). Following the recent fee reduction in VAS, I have directed Australian purchases through to this ETF, preferring the (slightly) wider exposure it delivers through following the ASX300, compared to the Betashares A200's slightly narrower holdings. The end of 'the big rebalance' into Australian equities The reason for the split between Australian and international equity purchases is that this month has seen the effective end of 'the big rebalance' - that is, the gradual movement to a 60/40 split between Australian and international shares. This was first targeted in my January 2019 review of portfolio targets and allocations. Previously my Australian and international equity allocation was largely just an unconscious and purely mechanical outcome of the splits in various Vanguard retail funds, and a number of smaller side Australian shareholdings. The last nine months - by contrast - has seen a concentrated direction of new funds and distributions into Australian shares to achieve the targeted balance. The shift has been significant, with the value of Australian shares only overtaking international holdings in the second half of 2018. International shares have fallen from more than a third of total portfolio assets at this start of this record to closer to a quarter. [Chart] At the same time Australian equities now make up 42 per cent of total portfolio, and have just reached 60 per cent of the equity portfolio. All this has occurred as the total equity portfolio has grown from $630 000 at the start of this journey, to over $1.2 million this month. [Chart] The main vehicles for this expansion over the past two years has been Betashares A200 and Vanguard's VAS ETFs. More recently, as mentioned, I have added Vanguard's global share ETF (VGS) to allow an avenue to keep within the targeted split with future contributions. Measuring investment income from tax returns This month also saw completion of my tax return, including explaining my tax position to a brand new tax agent. The tax assessment from this past financial year provides an additional data point about the taxable investment income being generated by the portfolio. The graph set out below updates the series published last year on taxable investment income. It is taken from the return items for partnerships and trusts, foreign source income and franking credits (i.e. items 13, 20 and 24 on the return, and not including capital gains) over the past nine years. [Chart] This shows that taxable investment income has risen only around five per cent over the past financial year. This likely reflects the decline in higher interest payments from a slow rebalance away from Ratesetter towards equities. Taxable investment income is still well short of both the original objective, and even further short of Objective #2. [Chart] As previously outlined, there are a range of factors that likely account for the mismatch between tax return income and received distributions. These could include timing differences, capital gains realisations, and potentially even small errors in how I have added in individual return items in past years. I have also continued to seek to avoid double counting and so understatement is also a possibility, given the formats and labelling of tax returns are not always particularly clear.
Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. MeasurePortfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 108.2% 147.5% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 87.4% 119.1% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 99.3% 135.4%T otal expenses - $89 000 pa 81.5% 111.1%
Forward progress has resumed, with the growing warmth and life of spring. The last few months has been a continual reminder that the fickle direction of market winds may play a greater role than sheer saving and investing efforts at this point in the journey. Focusing on the process, rather than the short-term outcome is therefore almost forced upon one - which perhaps is no bad thing after all. Indeed, increasingly I have wondered whether these now ingrained habits and processes will themselves be difficult to break out of, even as I definitively pass some FI benchmarks in future months and years. The varying winds will also increasingly dictate where additional contributions are to be made. This is the automatic result of targeting an asset allocation with new contributions rather than active rebalancing through selling existing holdings. In fact, it probably constitutes one of the more difficult tests for a chosen risk allocation, as it will tend to result in buying unspectacular portfolio 'laggards', rather than assets that have recently moved up, without the consolation of taking these new funds from locked in profits elsewhere in the portfolio. This can lead to signals that are easier to follow in theory than in practice. As an example, currently Australian government bond yields are close to historical lows, and potentially heading lower. This is highly relevant to FI planning, as there is some academic evidence that the 'four percent rule' has a higher failure rate in low bond rate environments. There is also a strong possibility that bonds are close to the end of a forty year decline in yield - and have nowhere to go. The increasing spread of negative yielding government and corporate bonds around the world, however, also holds out equally plausible but very different possibilities, at least in the short term. This is more than a hypothetical issue and uncertainty. Through the next 12 months it is possible that my target asset allocation will start signalling a need to buy bonds. This would involve a need to find the right investment vehicle to access this asset at least cost. On the same topic, this month saw an excellent explainer piece from Aussie HiFIRE on bonds, and also a good discussion from Kurt at Pearler on how to put the modern portfolio theory to practical work in FI portfolio design. Youtube content on FI and portfolio issues seems to be improving all the time as well, including this short video on thinking about the role and value of dividends.All such guidance represents a way of keeping a reckoning on the unfolding horizon, its dangers and subtle deceits .The post and full charts can be seen here.
A Grey Dawn Breaking? | Monthly Portfolio Update - June 2019
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking. – John Masefield, Sea Fever This is my thirty-first portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a real income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19%, or a nominal return of 7.19%, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $772 490 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $44 487 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $80 006 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $107 352 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $88 322 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $260 499 Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 052 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $14 405 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $9 204 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $92 340 Secured physical gold – $14 807 Ratesetter* (P2P lending) – $22 011 Bitcoin – $186 350 Raiz* app (Aggressive portfolio) – $15 744 Spaceship Voyager* app (Index portfolio) – $1 991 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 643 Total value: $1 716 703 (+$118 079) Asset allocation Australian shares – 40.2% (4.8% under) Global shares – 21.5% Emerging markets shares – 2.5% International small companies – 3.2% Total international shares – 27.2% (2.8% under) Total shares – 67.4% (7.6% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 5.2% International bonds – 10.0% Total bonds – 15.2% (0.2% over) Gold – 6.2% Bitcoin – 10.9% Gold and alternatives – 17.1% (7.1% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The portfolio has experienced the strongest growth on record through this month, with a total increase of $118 000. This pushes the portfolio well beyond Objective #1 to over $1.7 million. [Chart] This has followed a period of unprecedented growth in the absolute value of the portfolio, with an increase of almost $400 000 since January. A remarkable consequence of this is that over 20 per cent of the entire value of the portfolio has come into existence in this short six month period. [Chart] This unbroken record instinctively invites expectations of a sharp - and possibly a quite sustained - reversal. I am determined, however, to act in accordance with my asset allocation decisions, not on the basis of overconfidence in my own capacity to predict or time markets. The key contributors to growth this month have been continued appreciation in the price of Bitcoin, and even more significantly, increases in the value of Australian equities and gold. Lower official cash rates have strongly supported equity value growth, and a sharp increase in the price of gold has occurred. Combined, the gains in equities and gold accounted for over half of the total monthly increase. New investments this month were focused on Australian equities. Following the lowering of the management fee of the Vanguard ETF VAS - tracking the ASX300 index - to 0.10 per cent from 1 July, I also made my first new investment in VAS for eighteen months. This lowering leads to the VAS ETF becoming significantly more competitive in fees with the Betashares A200 (which charges 0.07 per cent). It also offers some (small) additional diversification benefit through tracking an additional 100 smaller listed companies. Accounting for volatility and Bitcoin in asset allocation The sharp increase Bitcoin's value over the past month has brought the combination of alternatives (gold and Bitcoin) to just over 17 per cent of my portfolio, higher than sought. Bitcoin continues to serve a role providing portfolio diversification, but its recent increase has actually correlated with a rise in Australian equities. Recent price volatility leaves me conscious that the market value of these holdings could quite easily slip down to $50 000, its position a few short months ago. If there is a star to steer by in such times, it is provided by the target asset allocation. Tracking back towards that in a time of intense volatility is the task at hand. To ensure Bitcoin volatility is not unduly driving asset allocation decisions, however, I have started to test any new investment action I am considering taking on a 'with' and 'without' basis. This involves notionally backing Bitcoin completely out of the portfolio (or, more realistically, adopting a trailing average value) and assessing whether or not the asset allocation 'signal' for the direction of future investments changes. The reason for doing this is to check that I am not undertaking hard to undo portfolio actions monthly merely as a response to Bitcoin's unique price variations. At one extreme if I remove Bitcoin from allocation considerations (e.g. assume it has no value), I have actually already achieved my target equity allocation of 75 per cent. Taking a less extreme approach, however, of attributing just a lower trailing average value results in a continued signal to make new equity investments. Waiting for the next set of distributions This period prior to July distributions being finalised and paid always has a quality of uncertainty and contingency about it. Distributions have been quite volatile over time, principally due to different distribution levels from Vanguard retail funds. In turn, these are likely due to maintaining asset allocations, and irregular distributions of underlying capital gains. My current July distribution estimates are for around $2600 from the Betashares A200 ETF, $800 from Vanguard's VAS ETF, and around $16 000 to $23 000 from the Vanguard retail funds. These are based on median and average past distributions over the past 10 years for the funds and the already announced distributions in the case of the ETFs. This could to mean that in early July I may have around $20 000 of newly available capital to re-invest in the market, however, these estimates are just that. In the past, distributions have at times been both dramatically less and more than anticipated. For example, the Vanguard High Growth fund has twice recently produced July distributions at levels above $30 000. Following distributions being paid I will be looking to re-invest the capital in accordance with my target allocation. Two factors will likely drive these decisions. First, as discussed above the portfolio remains under its assigned equity allocation. Second, after a year of almost exclusive contributions to Australian equities, the target for that component is almost reached. This means that a proportion of future contributions will be directed to international equities, to target the 60/40 per cent split I have set based on academic research on the historical record of the optimum balance of reducing volatility while maximising risk adjusted returns. History of Australian equities research This month the Reserve Bank of Australia issued a new research paper (pdf) on the history of Australian equities. This draws on newly collected and analysed historical data on the past century of Australian share market returns, improving on previous incomplete or simplified data sets. Some of the key findings of this report have potential implications for my future portfolio planning. For example, the paper finds:
Dividend yields since the 1980s have averaged around 4.0 per cent, and prior to that have been 200 basis points lower than previously estimated
The historical geometrics and arithmetic average equity risk premium (the equity return in excess of the 10 year bond rate) is between 4.0 and 5.2 per cent, lower than previous estimates Australian and US equity returns are historically very similar
The overall composition of the Australian share market by sector is remarkably similar to a century ago
For several years leading up to 2018, the Australian equity market has tracked its historical valuation measures quite closely, with lower than historically average volatility
One implication of this is that in future investment policy reviews, I may need to lower my current estimate of long term real equity returns (currently 5.65 per cent). Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 107.4% 144.5% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 86.7% 116.7% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 98.6% 132.6% Total expenses - $96 000pa 75.0% 100.9% Summary The rapid growth in the portfolio has been somewhat disorientating. On an 'All Assets' basis, this has meant that all current expenses could theoretically be met from the portfolio and superannuation assets. Nonetheless, while this is pleasing, my focus remains on reaching my financial independence goals using just the portfolio assets. The higher markets reach, the more interested I become in learning what I can from other periods of volatility. This has led to absorbing the book Wealth, War and Wisdom, a fascinating study of financial markets and returns through the convulsions of the twentieth century's world wars and Cold War tensions. It examines the challenge of the protection of real wealth in extreme conditions, finding that a diversified portfolio of real and paper assets, including a large weighting to equities, generally performed well. The Australian FIRE community has also been sinking its teeth into launches of the 'Playing with FIRE' documentary. For those not able to make one of the premieres, AussieFireBug's most recent podcast provides a really enjoyable post-viewing conversation reflecting on its strengths and weaknesses. Also this month Big ERN has published an interesting guest post on safe withdrawal rates over 60 year periods. It makes the point that the 'rule' of 4 per cent can be risky and misleading over long time scales, with withdrawal rates of 3.5 per cent significantly decreasing the failure risk. The passing of the winter solstice a week ago brings with it the promise of longer and lighter days ahead. The distributions to come also evoke a sense of a possible grey dawn breaking. In just a few days, the mists should lift and navigation of the portfolio towards my financial independence goals should be significantly clearer. The post and full charts can be viewed here.
Setting of the Sails - Role of Gold and Bitcoin in the FIRE Portfolio
One ship drives east and another drives west With the self-same winds that blow. ‘Tis the set of the sails And not the gales Which tells us the way to go.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, The Winds of Fate
Future returns are unknowable with any degree of precision. A portfolio must contend with all that future market prices and developments put before it, whilst seeking to earn the best possible return for the level of risk assumed. This uncertainty is a core issue for portfolio design. Part of my approach to building my FIRE portfolio has been to target a small allocation to alternatives such as gold and Bitcoin to deliver reduced portfolio volatility, and improved returns. My current target allocation set earlier this year is 7.5 per cent gold and 2.5 per cent Bitcoin. This post explores the reasons for, and basis of, this approach. Portfolio design - one wind, different directions In designing the FIRE portfolio, the key guiding principle has been maximising the overall risk-adjusted return, whilst minimising unnecessary volatility. The important implication of this is that it is not the performance of the individual portfolio parts that I am trying to maximise. Rather, it is the performance of all of the component parts as they interact that is of prime concern. The objective is for the mix of all of these different holdings to play their part together to enhance portfolio returns or reduce volatility. Decisions on asset allocation - or the mix of assets held - has been repeatedly been shown in academic studies to explain around 90 per cent of the volatility of portfolio returns. This approach is consistent with the simple guidance to diversify. Underlying it, however, are some observations of modern portfolio theory and the Capital Asset Pricing Model, that can be summarised in the following insights:
the investor should seek to mix assets with non-correlated returns (i.e. returns that move in different directions) to achieve an optimum balance of likely returns and portfolio volatility
not all extra risk taken by an investor is automatically compensated by higher returns
the investor should consider each additional investment security or asset from the perspective of how it will contribute to overall portfolio risk and return
At any given time this can mean that one 'wind' will send the individual portfolio components in different directions. In short, the approach is not one that will deliver a portfolio without any losses or low returns in the set of assets held at any given time. Asset correlation - assessing the crosswinds The critical ingredients for the approach to be effective are assets that do not move together - that is, uncorrelated assets. A traditional example used in portfolio design are equities and bonds, which have over time often tended to move in opposite directions (e.g. be inversely correlated) in many markets. This is the basis for traditional investment guidance to include greater bond holdings to dampen the volatility of equities. Gold has tended to have a low correlation to other asset classes. An example of the effects of this on equity portfolios is described in this research paper (pdf) - from the World Gold Council - which found that adding gold holdings to an all equity portfolio both lowered the volatility of returns and increased total returns over the 1968-1996 period (see p.47 and Figure 4.6). The academic evidence for the low correlation of gold to equity returns is, in fact, strong over multiple periods. Moreover, this diversification benefit appears when most needed. As this recent paper in the International Review of Financial Analysis notes: …we think that a review of the results from earlier papers on this issue, coupled with our findings, points to the fact that gold is always a hedge or, at worst, always an excellent diversifier of portfolio risk. Gold’s usefulness in managing risk does not disappear in a crisis when the prices of the vast majority of assets tend to be perfectly correlated. (He, 2018) That is, gold seems to generally hold up as providing non-correlated returns, even when extreme market conditions prevail. Globally, central banks - including Australia's Reserve Bank - also seem to recognise this characteristic. It is in part why central banks collectively own around 17 per cent of gold currently above ground. Setting the level of gold exposure - competing evidence There is considerable discussion and debate on the right level of gold holdings to maximise the diversification benefit, and few definitive answers. The optimum level will vary under most estimation approaches, which inevitably are based on models that build on historical observed relationships and correlations. These correlations themselves vary over time and between markets and countries. An original study by Jaffe for institutional portfolio managers recommended a 10 per cent allocation against a basket of international equities. Additional studies (pdf) by other authors have recommended 9.5 per cent, and between 0.1 per cent to 12 per cent depending on which country the investor is in. As an example, the country-specific weights typically fell within 3 to 8 per cent for developed countries. More complex methods than classical mean variance analysis, which take into account the positive skew of gold returns, produce different results again. A 2006 study which examined 1988-2003 data recommended a holding of 4-6 per cent under classical portfolio optimisation approaches, but a lower figure of 2-4 per cent taking return 'skewness' into account. Diversification and Bitcoin - looking at the record My purchase of Bitcoin began as an exploration of a new financial technology driven by curiosity. The present question is, however, does it deliver any additional diversification benefits beyond gold holdings? Conceptually, Bitcoin can be said to share some characteristics with gold that might be expected to reduce any diversification benefit. They both represent highly liquid assets that when held personally are no other parties liability. They are not issued by central banks or other monetary authorities, and they can be transferred. So is there a case for holding just one or the other? The tentative answer is that despite some conceptual similarities, they do appear to behave differently. So far, in the decade between July 2009 and February 2019, Bitcoin has shown a low positive correlation to gold (see In Gold We Trust (pdf), p.245). This is consistent with my own observations in my portfolio in the last three and a half year period, with a low correlation of 0.1 over the entire period in the chart below. [Chart] On its face it appears Bitcoin may well be a useful complementary alternative holding, offering diversification benefits distinct from other combinations of holdings. Unlike gold, there is not a clear empirical or academic basis for setting a 'right' level of exposure to Bitcoin. The recent In Gold We Trust report (pdf) discusses and analyses one possible approach - a 70/30 split between gold and Bitcoin, indicating that this delivered similar maximum drawdowns to a gold only portfolio, but with higher returns. Yet this finding is only a function of the extraordinary positive returns from Bitcoin to date, and may not be repeated. Trade-offs, risks and limits of exposure to alternatives There are acknowledged trade-offs and risks to investing in alternatives such as gold and Bitcoin. First, they produce no income or cashflow. Their return is based entirely on capital gains. This is often cited as a definitive proof that they do not represent part of any proper investment portfolio. Yet, as a part of a portfolio, alternatives can reduce the absolute volatility of the capital value of the portfolio, and - historically in the case of gold, can also increase overall returns. Given final capital value and returns over time are critical inputs into FI, these characteristics are relevant and worth considering. A potentially stronger objection is that while alternatives may have been useful in the past, they cannot be guaranteed to be so in the future. That is, the correlations and diversification benefit that has been observed, may disappear. This is entirely possible, and ultimately unknowable. The diversification benefits of gold have a far longer history. Its roles in industry, manufacturing and jewellery would seem likely to continue to guarantee that at any given time there will be some minimum demand for gold, and a relationship between its price and other asset prices that is not perfectly correlated. For Bitcoin, the same cannot be said. There are many plausible scenarios in which Bitcoin's value declines, it falls in usage, and becomes the equivalent of niche digital collectible with little residual value. The disappearance or long-term reversal of 'known truths' in finance is not impossible. There are significant periods in capital markets in which bonds outperformed equities, negative yielding debt has moved from something previously unobserved, to a commonplace across many world bond markets. By some measures, global interest rates are at 5 000 year lows. Few developments should be dismissed as inconceivable looking forward. This suggests that any analysis based on historical trends should be relied on with modest expectations around its accuracy. Yet importantly, this applies not just to speculation around the role and benefits of alternatives. It also applies to traditional investment classes, such as equities or bonds. For example, the continuation of a positive equity premium for Australia, or any other nation, is not foreordained. Australia's comparatively high equity returns are in fact an anomaly looking across developed countries (see Table 2 and 3, here (pdf)). There are no particularly strong reasons to suggest this will necessarily continue. Set of the sails - applying the evidence to a FIRE portfolio The role of gold and Bitcoin are primarily as non-correlated financial instruments for diversification, and as an insurance against extreme capital market events. No actual positive return is assumed for either asset. The evidence discussed above leads me to the following conclusions, for my personal circumstances and risk tolerance.
Reliance on equities as the engine for portfolio growth. Long term equities continue to have a strong record of providing higher total returns, earning their place as the centrepiece of the portfolio.
Reliance on history of performance of gold to reduce volatility. Some exposure to gold appears to reduce volatility and potentially enhance returns historically, making it a potentially beneficial addition to my FIRE portfolio.
A small role for gold based on tested academic evidence. Past evidence suggests a gold allocation of between 5 to 10 per cent is sufficient to capture diversification benefits, without compromising long-term portfolio returns
With Bitcoin potentially adding further diversification. Bitcoin appears to be non-correlated to equities, bonds, and gold, meaning it potentially is a useful further additional source of diversification benefit.
But with modesty about what the future holds. Aside from Bitcoin being volatile, there is an inadequate history to know how it will perform compared to other assets through a full cycle, or whether it has a long-term future.
Recognising the limits of knowledge and history. Asset performance, diversification benefits, volatility and returns which are historically based can and do reverse at times, meaning the 'best' portfolio will only ever be known in retrospect.
The alternatives target allocation set earlier this year is 7.5 per cent gold and 2.5 per cent Bitcoin. As of July 2019, a strict reading of these targets suggests I need to moderately lift my exposure to gold, and sell approximately 75 per cent of my Bitcoin holding. I currently plan to do neither of these things. This is because:
The volatility of Bitcoin is such that 'chasing' a target allocation by buying and selling is likely to incur high transaction costs (including realising capital gain tax).
A plausible scenario is the apparent over-allocation to Bitcoin resolving itself through substantial price declines as previously experienced (at its previous low, the allocation was close to the 2.5 per cent target).
Similarly in the case of gold, both price volatility and the goal of minimising transaction costs suggest it is better to seek to adjust holdings only when they fall well outside the target allocation for a sustained period.
The overall size of the entire alternatives allocation (a 10 per cent target) is more significant than the individual sub-targets. Before making new investments to pursue my portfolio allocation I perform a 'with and without' test, notionally removing the Bitcoin holdings for a moment from the portfolio, to identify if recent fluctuations in the value of Bitcoin are driving a perverse allocation choice which would be entirely different were it not for Bitcoin. While not theoretically 'pure', this is a pragmatic adaptive approach that recognises the lack of clear history and knowledge about the portfolio behaviour and characteristics of Bitcoin.
So the sails are set, and the wind will come. These settings allow me to feel that whatever direction they happen to blow, there is the best chance possible based on evidence that they will help in the journey that remains. The post, source citations and full charts can be viewed here. Disclaimer: This article does not provide advice and is not a recommendations to invest in either gold, Bitcoin or any alternative assets. It's sole purpose is to provide an explanation of why - in my personal circumstances - I have chosen this exposure.
Your Guide to Monero, and Why It Has Great Potential
/////Your Guide to Monero, and Why It Has Great Potential/////
Marketing. It's a dirty word for most members of the Monero community. It is also one of the most divisive words in the Monero community. Yet, the lack of marketing is one of the most frustrating things for many newcomers. This is what makes this an unusual post from a member of the Monero community. This post is an unabashed and unsolicited analyzation of why I believe Monero to have great potential. Below I have attempted to outline different reasons why Monero has great potential, beginning with upcoming developments and use cases, to broader economic motives, speculation, and key issues for it to overcome. I encourage you to discuss and criticise my musings, commenting below if you feel necessary to do so.
Bulletproofs - A Reduction in Transaction Sizes and Fees Since the introduction of Ring Confidential Transactions (Ring CT), transaction amounts have been hidden in Monero, albeit at the cost of increased transaction fees and sizes. In order to mitigate this issue, Bulletproofs will soon be added to reduce both fees and transaction size by 80% to 90%. This is great news for those transacting smaller USD amounts as people commonly complained Monero's fees were too high! Not any longer though! More information can be found here. Bulletproofs are already working on the Monero testnet, and developers were aiming to introduce them in March 2018, however it could be delayed in order to ensure everything is tried and tested. Multisig Multisig has recently been merged! Mulitsig, also called multisignature, is the requirement for a transaction to have two or more signatures before it can be executed. Multisig transactions and addresses are indistinguishable from normal transactions and addresses in Monero, and provide more security than single-signature transactions. It is believed this will lead to additional marketplaces and exchanges to supporting Monero. Kovri Kovri is an implementation of the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) network. Kovri uses both garlic encryption and garlic routing to create a private, protected overlay-network across the internet. This overlay-network provides users with the ability to effectively hide their geographical location and internet IP address. The good news is Kovri is under heavy development and will be available soon. Unlike other coins' false privacy claims, Kovri is a game changer as it will further elevate Monero as the king of privacy. Mobile Wallets There is already a working Android Wallet called Monerujo available in the Google Play Store. X Wallet is an IOS mobile wallet. One of the X Wallet developers recently announced they are very, very close to being listed in the Apple App Store, however are having some issues with getting it approved. The official Monero IOS and Android wallets, along with the MyMonero IOS and Android wallets, are also almost ready to be released, and can be expected very soon. Hardware Wallets Hardware wallets are currently being developed and nearing completion. Because Monero is based on the CryptoNote protocol, it means it requires unique development in order to allow hardware wallet integration. The Ledger Nano S will be adding Monero support by the end of Q1 2018. There is a recent update here too. Even better, for the first time ever in cryptocurrency history, the Monero community banded together to fund the development of an exclusive Monero Hardware Wallet, and will be available in Q2 2018, costing only about $20! In addition, the CEO of Trezor has offered a 10BTC bounty to whoever can provide the software to allow Monero integration. Someone can be seen to already be working on that here. TAILS Operating System Integration Monero is in the progress of being packaged in order for it to be integrated into TAILS and ready to use upon install. TAILS is the operating system popularised by Edward Snowden and is commonly used by those requiring privacy such as journalists wanting to protect themselves and sources, human-right defenders organizing in repressive contexts, citizens facing national emergencies, domestic violence survivors escaping from their abusers, and consequently, darknet market users. In the meantime, for those users who wish to use TAILS with Monero, u/Electric_sheep01 has provided Sheep's Noob guide to Monero GUI in Tails 3.2, which is a step-by-step guide with screenshots explaining how to setup Monero in TAILS, and is very easy to follow. Mandatory Hardforks Unlike other coins, Monero receives a protocol upgrade every 6 months in March and September. Think of it as a Consensus Protocol Update. Monero's hard forks ensure quality development takes place, while preventing political or ideological issues from hindering progress. When a hardfork occurs, you simply download and use the new daemon version, and your existing wallet files and copy of the blockchain remain compatible. This reddit post provides more information. Dynamic fees Many cryptocurrencies have an arbitrary block size limit. Although Monero has a limit, it is adaptive based on the past 100 blocks. Similarly, fees change based on transaction volume. As more transactions are processed on the Monero network, the block size limit slowly increases and the fees slowly decrease. The opposite effect also holds true. This means that the more transactions that take place, the cheaper the fees! Tail Emission and Inflation There will be around 18.4 million Monero mined at the end of May 2022. However, tail emission will kick in after that which is 0.6 XMR, so it has no fixed limit. Gundamlancer explains that Monero's "main emission curve will issue about 18.4 million coins to be mined in approximately 8 years. (more precisely 18.132 Million coins by ca. end of May 2022) After that, a constant "tail emission" of 0.6 XMR per 2-minutes block (modified from initially equivalent 0.3 XMR per 1-minute block) will create a sub-1% perpetual inflatio starting with 0.87% yearly inflation around May 2022) to prevent the lack of incentives for miners once a currency is not mineable anymore. Monero Research Lab Monero has a group of anonymous/pseudo-anonymous university academics actively researching, developing, and publishing academic papers in order to improve Monero. See here and here. The Monero Research Lab are acquainted with other members of cryptocurrency academic community to ensure when new research or technology is uncovered, it can be reviewed and decided upon whether it would be beneficial to Monero. This ensures Monero will always remain a leading cryptocurrency. A recent end of 2017 update from a MRL researcher can be found here.
///Monero's Technology - Rising Above The Rest///
Monero Has Already Proven Itself To Be Private, Secure, Untraceable, and Trustless Monero is the only private, untraceable, trustless, secure and fungible cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are TRACEABLE through the use of blockchain analytics, and has lead to the prosecution of numerous individuals, such as the alleged Alphabay administrator Alexandre Cazes. In the Forfeiture Complaint which detailed the asset seizure of Alexandre Cazes, the anonymity capabilities of Monero were self-demonstrated by the following statement of the officials after the AlphaBay shutdown: "In total, from CAZES' wallets and computer agents took control of approximately $8,800,000 in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero and Zcash, broken down as follows: 1,605.0503851 Bitcoin, 8,309.271639 Ethereum, 3,691.98 Zcash, and an unknown amount of Monero". Privacy CANNOT BE OPTIONAL and must be at a PROTOCOL LEVEL. With Monero, privacy is mandatory, so that everyone gets the benefits of privacy without any transactions standing out as suspicious. This is the reason Darknet Market places are moving to Monero, and will never use Verge, Zcash, Dash, Pivx, Sumo, Spectre, Hush or any other coins that lack good privacy. Peter Todd (who was involved in the Zcash trusted setup ceremony) recently reiterated his concerns of optional privacy after Jeffrey Quesnelle published his recent paper stating 31.5% of Zcash transactions may be traceable, and that only ~1% of the transactions are pure privacy transactions (i.e., z -> z transactions). When the attempted private transactions stand out like a sore thumb there is no privacy, hence why privacy cannot be optional. In addition, in order for a cryptocurrency to truly be private, it must not be controlled by a centralised body, such as a company or organisation, because it opens it up to government control and restrictions. This is no joke, but Zcash is supported by DARPA and the Israeli government!. Monero provides a stark contrast compared to other supposed privacy coins, in that Monero does not have a rich list! With all other coins, you can view wallet balances on the blockexplorers. You can view Monero's non-existent rich list here to see for yourself. I will reiterate here that Monero is TRUSTLESS. You don't need to rely on anyone else to protect your privacy, or worry about others colluding to learn more about you. No one can censor your transaction or decide to intervene. Monero is immutable, unlike Zcash, in which the lead developer Zooko publicly tweeted the possibility of providing a backdoor for authorities to trace transactions. To Zcash's demise, Zooko famously tweeted:
" And by the way, I think we can successfully make Zcash too traceable for criminals like WannaCry, but still completely private & fungible. …"
Ethereum's track record of immutability is also poor. Ethereum was supposed to be an immutable blockchain ledger, however after the DAO hack this proved to not be the case. A 2016 article on Saintly Law summarised the problematic nature of Ethereum's leadership and blockchain intervention:
" Many ethereum and blockchain advocates believe that the intervention was the wrong move to make in this situation. Smart contracts are meant to be self-executing, immutable and free from disturbance by organisations and intermediaries. Yet the building block of all smart contracts, the code, is inherently imperfect. This means that the technology is vulnerable to the same malicious hackers that are targeting businesses and governments. It is also clear that the large scale intervention after the DAO hack could not and would not likely be taken in smaller transactions, as they greatly undermine the viability of the cryptocurrency and the technology."
Monero provides Fungibility and Privacy in a Cashless World As outlined on GetMonero.org, fungibility is the property of a currency whereby two units can be substituted in place of one another. Fungibility means that two units of a currency can be mutually substituted and the substituted currency is equal to another unit of the same size. For example, two $10 bills can be exchanged and they are functionally identical to any other $10 bill in circulation (although $10 bills have unique ID numbers and are therefore not completely fungible). Gold is probably a closer example of true fungibility, where any 1 oz. of gold of the same grade is worth the same as another 1 oz. of gold. Monero is fungible due to the nature of the currency which provides no way to link transactions together nor trace the history of any particular XMR. 1 XMR is functionally identical to any other 1 XMR. Fungibility is an advantage Monero has over Bitcoin and almost every other cryptocurrency, due to the privacy inherent in the Monero blockchain and the permanently traceable nature of the Bitcoin blockchain. With Bitcoin, any BTC can be tracked by anyone back to its creation coinbase transaction. Therefore, if a coin has been used for an illegal purpose in the past, this history will be contained in the blockchain in perpetuity. A great example of Bitcoin's lack of fungibility was reposted by u/ViolentlyPeaceful:
"Imagine you sell cupcakes and receive Bitcoin as payment. It turns out that someone who owned that Bitcoin before you was involved in criminal activity. Now you are worried that you have become a suspect in a criminal case, because the movement of funds to you is a matter of public record. You are also worried that certain Bitcoins that you thought you owned will be considered ‘tainted’ and that others will refuse to accept them as payment."
This lack of fungibility means that certain businesses will be obligated to avoid accepting BTC that have been previously used for purposes which are illegal, or simply run afoul of their Terms of Service. Currently some large Bitcoin companies are blocking, suspending, or closing accounts that have received Bitcoin used in online gambling or other purposes deemed unsavory by said companies. Monero has been built specifically to address the problem of traceability and non-fungibility inherent in other cryptocurrencies. By having completely private transactions Monero is truly fungible and there can be no blacklisting of certain XMR, while at the same time providing all the benefits of a secure, decentralized, permanent blockchain. The world is moving cashless. Fact. The ramifications of this are enormous as we move into a cashless world in which transactions will be tracked and there is a potential for data to be used by third parties for adverse purposes. While most new cryptocurrency investors speculate upon vaporware ICO tokens in the hope of generating wealth, Monero provides salvation for those in which financial privacy is paramount. Too often people equate Monero's features with criminal endeavors. Privacy is not a crime, and is necessary for good money. Transparency in Monero is possible OFF-CHAIN, which offers greater transparency and flexibility. For example, a Monero user may share their Private View Key with their accountant for tax purposes. Monero aims to be adopted by more than just those with nefarious use cases. For example, if you lived in an oppressive religious regime and wanted to buy a certain item, using Monero would allow you to exchange value privately and across borders if needed. Another example is that if everybody can see how much cryptocurrency you have in your wallet, then a certain service might decide to charge you more, and bad actors could even use knowledge of your wallet balance to target you for extortion purposes. For example, a Russian cryptocurrency blogger was recently beaten and robbed of $425k. This is why FUNGIBILITY IS ESSENTIAL. To summarise this in a nutshell:
"A lack of fungibility means that when sending or receiving funds, if the other person personally knows you during a transaction, or can get any sort of information on you, or if you provide a residential address for shipping etc. – you could quite potentially have them use this against you for personal gain"
Major Investors And Crypto Figureheads Are Interested Ari Paul is the co-founder and CIO of BlockTower Capital. He was previously a portfolio manager for the University of Chicago's $8 billion endowment, and a derivatives market maker and proprietary trader for Susquehanna International Group. Paul was interviewed on CNBC on the 26th of December and when asked what was his favourite coin was, he stated "One that has real fundamental value besides from Bitcoin is Monero" and said it has "very strong engineering". In addition, when he was asked if that was the one used by criminals, he replied "Everything is used by criminals including the US dollar and the Euro". Paul later supported these claims on Twitter, recommending only Bitcoin and Monero as long-term investments. There are reports that "Roger Ver, earlier known as 'Bitcoin Jesus' for his evangelical support of the Bitcoin during its early years, said his investment in Monero is 'substantial' and his biggest in any virtual currency since Bitcoin. Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, has publicly stated his appreciation of Monero. In a September 2017 tweet directed to Edward Snowden explaining why Monero is superior to Zcash, Charlie Lee tweeted:
All private transactions, More tested privacy tech, No tax on miners to pay investors, No high inflation... better investment.
John McAfee, arguably cryptocurrency's most controversial character at the moment, has publicly supported Monero numerous times over the last twelve months(before he started shilling ICOs), and has even claimed it will overtake Bitcoin. Playboy instagram celebrity Dan Bilzerian is a Monero investor, with 15% of his portfolio made up of Monero. Finally, while he may not be considered a major investor or figurehead, Erik Finman, a young early Bitcoin investor and multimillionaire, recently appeared in a CNBC Crypto video interview, explaining why he isn't entirely sold on Bitcoin anymore, and expresses his interest in Monero, stating:
"Monero is a really good one. Monero is an incredible currency, it's completely private."
There is a common belief that most of the money in cryptocurrency is still chasing the quick pump and dumps, however as the market matures, more money will flow into legitimate projects such as Monero. Monero's organic growth in price is evidence smart money is aware of Monero and gradually filtering in. The Bitcoin Flaw A relatively unknown blogger named CryptoIzzy posted three poignant pieces regarding Monero and its place in the world. The Bitcoin Flaw: Monero Rising provides an intellectual comparison of Monero to other cryptocurrencies, and Valuing Cryptocurrencies: An Approach outlines methods of valuing different coins. CryptoIzzy's most recent blog published only yesterday titled Monero Valuation - Update and Refocus is a highly recommended read. It touches on why Monero is much more than just a coin for the Darknet Markets, and provides a calculated future price of Monero. CryptoIzzy also published The Power of Money: A Case for Bitcoin, which is an exploration of our monetary system, and the impact decentralised cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero will have on the world. In the epilogue the author also provides a positive and detailed future valuation based on empirical evidence. CryptoIzzy predicts Monero to easily progress well into the four figure range. Monero Has a Relatively Small Marketcap Recently we have witnessed many newcomers to cryptocurrency neglecting to take into account coins' marketcap and circulating supply, blindly throwing money at coins under $5 with inflated marketcaps and large circulating supplies, and then believing it's possible for them to reach $100 because someone posted about it on Facebook or Reddit. Compared to other cryptocurrencies, Monero still has a low marketcap, which means there is great potential for the price to multiply. At the time of writing, according to CoinMarketCap, Monero's marketcap is only a little over $5 billion, with a circulating supply of 15.6 million Monero, at a price of $322 per coin. For this reason, I would argue that this is evidence Monero is grossly undervalued. Just a few billion dollars of new money invested in Monero can cause significant price increases. Monero's marketcap only needs to increase to ~$16 billion and the price will triple to over $1000. If Monero's marketcap simply reached ~$35 billion (just over half of Ripple's $55 billion marketcap), Monero's price will increase 600% to over $2000 per coin. Another way of looking at this is Monero's marketcap only requires ~$30 billion of new investor money to see the price per Monero reach $2000, while for Ethereum to reach $2000, Ethereum's marketcap requires a whopping ~$100 billion of new investor money. Technical Analysis There are numerous Monero technical analysts, however none more eerily on point than the crowd-pleasing Ero23. Ero23's charts and analysis can be found on Trading View. Ero23 gained notoriety for his long-term Bitcoin bull chart published in February, which is still in play today. Head over to his Trading View page to see his chart: Monero's dwindling supply. $10k in 2019 scenario, in which Ero23 predicts Monero to reach $10,000 in 2019. There is also this chart which appears to be freakishly accurate and is tracking along perfectly today. Coinbase Rumours Over the past 12 months there have been ongoing rumours that Monero will be one of the next cryptocurrencies to be added to Coinbase. In January 2017, Monero Core team member Riccardo 'Fluffypony' Spagni presented a talk at Coinbase HQ. In addition, in November 2017 GDAX announced the GDAX Digit Asset Framework outlining specific parameters cryptocurrencies must meet in order to be added to the exchange. There is speculation that when Monero has numerous mobile and hardware wallets available, and multisig is working, then it will be added. This would enable public accessibility to Monero to increase dramatically as Coinbase had in excess of 13 million users as of December, and is only going to grow as demand for cryptocurrencies increases. Many users argue that due to KYC/AML regulations, Coinbase will never be able to add Monero, however the Kraken exchange already operates in the US and has XMfiat pairs, so this is unlikely to be the reason Coinbase is yet to implement XMfiat trading. Monero Is Not an ICO Scam It is likely most of the ICOs which newcomers invest in, hoping to get rich quick, won't even be in the Top 100 cryptocurrencies next year. A large portion are most likely to be pumps and dumps, and we have already seen numerous instances of ICO exit scams. Once an ICO raises millions of dollars, the developers or CEO of the company have little incentive to bother rolling out their product or service when they can just cash out and leave. The majority of people who create a company to provide a service or product, do so in order to generate wealth. Unless these developers and CEOs are committed and believed in their product or service, it's likely that the funds raised during the ICO will far exceed any revenue generated from real world use cases. Monero is a Working Currency, Today Monero is a working currency, here today. The majority of so called cryptocurrencies that exist today are not true currencies, and do not aim to be. They are a token of exchange. They are like a share in a start-up company hoping to use blockchain technology to succeed in business. A crypto-assest is a more accurate name for coins such as Ethereum, Neo, Cardano, Vechain, etc. Monero isn't just a vaporware ICO token that promises to provide a blockchain service in the future. It is not a platform for apps. It is not a pump and dump coin. Monero is the only coin with all the necessary properties to be called true money. Monero is private internet money. Some even describe Monero as an online Swiss Bank Account or Bitcoin 2.0, and it is here to continue on from Bitcoin's legacy. Monero is alleviating the public from the grips of banks, and protests the monetary system forced upon us. Monero only achieved this because it is the heart and soul, and blood, sweat, and tears of the contributors to this project. Monero supporters are passionate, and Monero has gotten to where it is today thanks to its contributors and users.
///Key Issues for Monero to Overcome///
Scalability While Bulletproofs are soon to be implemented in order to improve Monero's transaction sizes and fees, scalability is an issue for Monero that is continuously being assessed by Monero's researchers and developers to find the most appropriate solution. Ricardo 'Fluffypony' Spagni recently appeared on CNBC's Crypto Trader, and when asked whether Monero is scalable as it stands today, Spagni stated that presently, Monero's on-chain scaling is horrible and transactions are larger than Bitcoin's (because of Monero's privacy features), so side-chain scaling may be more efficient. Spagni elaborated that the Monero team is, and will always be, looking for solutions to an array of different on-chain and off-chain scaling options, such as developing a Mimblewimble side-chain, exploring the possibility of Lightning Network so atomic swaps can be performed, and Tumblebit. In a post on the Monero subreddit from roughly a month ago, monero moderator u/dEBRUYNE_1 supports Spagni's statements. dEBRUYNE_1 clarifies the issue of scalability:
"In Bitcoin, the main chain is constrained and fees are ludicrous. This results in users being pushed to second layer stuff (e.g. sidechains, lightning network). Users do not have optionality in Bitcoin. In Monero, the goal is to make the main-chain accessible to everyone by keeping fees reasonable. We want users to have optionality, i.e., let them choose whether they'd like to use the main chain or second layer stuff. We don't want to take that optionality away from them."
"Monero has all the mechanisms it needs to find the balance between transaction load, and offsetting the costs of miner infrastructure/profits, while making sure the network is useful for users. But like the interviewer said, the question is directed at "right now", and Fluffys right to a certain extent, Monero's transactions are huge, and compromises in blockchain security will help facilitate less burdensome transactional activity in the future. But to compare Monero to Bitcoin's transaction sizes is somewhat silly as Bitcoin is nowhere near as useful as monero, and utility will facilitate infrastructure building that may eventually utterly dwarf Bitcoin. And to equate scaling based on a node being run on a desktop being the only option for what classifies as "scalable" is also an incredibly narrow interpretation of the network being able to scale, or not. Given the extremely narrow definition of scaling people love to (incorrectly) use, I consider that a pretty crap question to put to Fluffy in the first place, but... ¯_(ツ)_/¯"
u/xmrusher also contributed to the discussion, comparing Bitcoin to Monero using this analogous description:
"While John is much heavier than Henry, he's still able to run faster, because, unlike Henry, he didn't chop off his own legs just so the local wheelchair manufacturer can make money. While Morono has much larger transactions then Bitcoin, it still scales better, because, unlike Bitcoin, it hasn't limited itself to a cripplingly tiny blocksize just to allow Blockstream to make money."
Setting up a wallet can still be time consuming It's time consuming and can be somewhat difficult for new cryptocurrency users to set up their own wallet using the GUI wallet or the Command Line Wallet. In order to strengthen and further decentralize the Monero network, users are encouraged to run a full node for their wallet, however this can be an issue because it can take up to 24-48 hours for some users depending on their hard-drive and internet speeds. To mitigate this issue, users can run a remote node, meaning they can remotely connect their wallet to another node in order to perform transactions, and in the meantime continue to sync the daemon so in the future they can then use their own node. For users that do run into wallet setup issues, or any other problems for that matter, there is an extremely helpful troubleshooting thread on the Monero subreddit which can be found here. And not only that, unlike some other cryptocurrency subreddits, if you ask a question, there is always a friendly community member who will happily assist you. Monero.how is a fantastic resource too! Despite still being difficult to use, the user-base and price may increase dramatically once it is easier to use. In addition, others believe that when hardware wallets are available more users will shift to Monero.
I actually still feel a little shameful for promoting Monero here, but feel a sense of duty to do so. Monero is transitioning into an unstoppable altruistic beast. This year offers the implementation of many great developments, accompanied by the likelihood of a dramatic increase in price. I request you discuss this post, point out any errors I have made, or any information I may have neglected to include. Also, if you believe in the Monero project, I encourage you to join your local Facebook or Reddit cryptocurrency group and spread the word of Monero. You could even link this post there to bring awareness to new cryptocurrency users and investors. I will leave you with an old on-going joke within the Monero community - Don't buy Monero - unless you have a use case for it of course :-) Just think to yourself though - Do I have a use case for Monero in our unpredictable Huxleyan society? Hint: The answer is ? Edit: Added in the Tail Emission section, and noted Dan Bilzerian as a Monero investor. Also added information regarding the XMR.TO payment service. Added info about hardfork
George Cao :Let’s welcome lambda team . Xiaoyang and Lucy Lambda: Hello friends from BitMax ~~ I am Lucy Wang, Co-founder and CMO of Lambda. I am very happy to e-meet with you here and thx for George's invitation. I on behalf of Lambda wish all of you a merry Christmas and prosperous new year in 2019 George Cao: Great. I am a bit surprised to see a big volume day yesterday Christmas. Seems our users didn’t take a break even on holidays :) Lambda: I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself first, I have over 14 years of progressive career development with global leading enterprise software / service organizations as well as VC-backed start-up ventures, including HP, Oracle, and SAP. Before Lambda I was CMO/GM at two enterprise SaaS start ups in China backed by top VCs. And my partner Mr. He Xiaoyang, who is the founder of Lambda, he is a well-known expert in infrastructure and open source software in China. Prior to Lambda, he was the co-founder of OneAPM, a fast-growing infrastructure software focusing on ITOM (IT operation management) in China. OneAPM is known as the “New Relic or AppDynamics of China” and the company has received strong VC backing from Matrix Partners, Chengwei Capital, and Qiming Venture. Prior to his entrepreneur experiences, Mr. HE worked at BEA as a R&D software engineer. In addition, Mr. HE is also a blogger with strong following in China and some of his articles have been published by major media such as Forbes China, 36Kr, Sina, etc. Lambda idea was born at the end of year 2017 and the product development started from the beginning of 2018. Now let me talk about Lambda idea and what we do Lambda, is the leading decentralized infrastructure project providing secure, reliable, and infinitely scalable decentralized storage network that enables data storage, data integrity check, security verification, and marketplace for storage-related services on the Lambda Chain Consensus Network. In recent years, there have been frequent data leakage problems in major Internet platforms at home and abroad, and even business giants such as Facebook and Marriott have not been spared. Returning the value of data to data owners is an inevitable trend in line with human pursuit of freedom. The block-chain technology with P2P features provides an opportunity for this, and this area will be highly valued by the industry in the next few years. Lambda is the only provider of block-chain storage infrastructure projects in China. It is sometimes referred as “File-coin of China”or “File-coin 2.0”.our vision is to return the value of data to the data owner, with this vision in mind, our mission is to promote the decentralization of the Internet, with the goal of creating a storage infrastructure for the next generation of block-chain. After the Lambda project launch in early 2018, it has received strong support by well-known strategic and financial investors including Bitmain, Viking Capital, FBG Capital, Bluehills, Zhen Fund, FunCity Capital, Ceyuan Digital Fund, BlockVC, INBlockChain, DATA Foundation, Bitcoin World, Reflextion Capital, etc. To date, Lambda has received investment funding in excess of $10M. https://preview.redd.it/ynaos7rps2721.png?width=1267&format=png&auto=webp&s=77360b7cdf06c288e8c25675f94f5fb9d3d02137 n all the existing decentralized storage projects that are aiming to give a solution to this problem worldwide, Lambda is the first ever to announce its LPDP ( Lambda Provable Data Possession ) George Cao: I see we share several investors in common, So 2019 q1-q2 will be a big milestone for lambda Lambda: Provable Data Possession (PDP) and Proofs of Retrievability (POR) are critical to efficient decentralized data storage and its implementation, which is the essential difference between centralized network projects and real decentralized storage. Prior to Inter-planetary File System (IPFS), Lambda launched its minimum viable product (MVP) of core functions in the third quarter of 2018, and has been continuously upgrading and optimizing this in block-chains in a multi-role environment. File-coin is our main competitor, here is a chart shows the progress comparison FYI https://preview.redd.it/ewmyh9tqs2721.png?width=1267&format=png&auto=webp&s=cddc52a6d613196f6c0cbf870da42a5b82a8aaa6 For those who have interest to know more about Lambda's technical innovations, they can be find in our keep updating FAQ document posted on Medium, and I copied her FYI 1.Innovatively designed the Validator role which provides verification service for storage proof and the Validator replaces storage miner as the full-time storage proof result verifier, this greatly improves the performance of the storage and retrieval system. 2.In response to the limitations of the PDP algorithm, Lambda innovatively created a consensus network on the block-chain and used the validators role to replace the "TPA" in the PDP algorithm. 3.Innovatively modified the PDP algorithm from synchronous to asynchronous communication, which greatly reduces the communication traffic for Challenge in the system. Use of chain data as a random seed for storage miners to issue Challenge themselves addresses the randomness of TPA challenges. 4.Innovatively upgraded the PDP algorithm from periodic verification to a verification set generated by the miners to submit the verification result at one time, and fully realize the Proof-Of-Space-Time verification. on top of all the technical, Lambda creates a consensus network where data can be stored, storage space can be rented on the basis of a marketplace built on block-chain. In the Marketplace, the transaction process is: storage miners pledge hard disk sectors to the consensus network, and place orders and sell their own storage space in the Marketplace; storage users initiate purchase requests, complete the matching of storage requests through the Marketplace, and store data in the space of the storage miners. Different from other block-chain applications, Lambda is a storage mining project, we have miners mine on Lambda network. Earn LAMB tokens by contributing on the network, and users who have data storing requirements pay Lamb tokens to purchase services accordingly. The price of Lamb token not only rely on the exchanges but also supported by our miners who are doing works on the network. There are four roles in the Lambda mining network: storage miners (providers of storage space), verification miners (ensuring the integrity and security of data and packaging transactions), retrieval miners (providing download bandwidth), and users (storage buyers). 1024 verification miners promoted from storage miners constitute the Lambda-chain consensus network. So you will see three types of miners serve our users from all over the world. The key milestones we are looking at is the launch of test-net, where miners can start mining and earn testing Lamb tokens, the date will be around end of Jan. 2019 and main network will go live in Q2, 2019, most likely in Apr. Regarding our partnership, In the academic field, we have established a strategic partnership with Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT), which is well known in China for its engineering and computer science research programs, to conduct research into centralized storage. In the commercial field, Lambda has established a strategic collaboration with IOST, a well-known public blockchain project, and Perlin, a super computing platform, and started to conduct pilot projects for decentralized application (DAPP) companies such as DATA and BCV. Lambda also has close ties to many leading Internet data centers (IDCs) in China. They join the Lambda network as miners and take advantage of their surplus server capacity to engage in the Lambda network ecology. Q: Will the rest of the code be open sourced? If so when ? Lambda: we have released the codes of core function module, the test net codes will be released gradually in Jan. pls stay tuned with our official github Q: What can Lamb tokens be used for? Lambda: Lambs are tokens in the Lambda ecosystem, which are mainly used in the following scenarios: A. Users of services in the Lambda ecosystem have to pay with Lambda tokens. B. Providers of storage services in the system have to pledge a certain number of tokens. C. Verification nodes in the system have to pledge a certain number of tokens. D. Verification nodes can obtain a certain number of tokens as accounting rewards. E. Storage nodes get a certain number of tokens based on their storage capacity and their service level agreements (SLAs). F. Other roles in the Lambda ecosystem can also obtain a certain number of tokens based on their contributions. Q: What more incentives does miner gets to mine or rent storage on Lambda? Lambda: every miner stars from storage miner on Lambda network, they get paid by providing storage space, when their business getting bigger, system will select the top 1024 storage miners and promote them to validator, who will get block generation rewards from system. Q: how are the 1024 miners selected? Doesn't this become more centralised? Lambda: we did a survey to the Chinese miners, they mainly fall into two groups, either are waiting FileCoin to go live with purchased mining machine idle at home or they are doing hard drive or graphic cards mining, which has a high requirement to the hardware standard. To mine on Lambda, you need a mining machine ( computer ) that has big storage space ( because the bigger the higher probability you'll be promoted to be a validator ) and the connection to the internet Q: How much is initial supply? Lambda: Lambda did two rounds of fund raising, private investors have a lock up terms of 2+4+4 meaning the first 20% of tokens will only be released 2 months listing on exchange. so on the day one listing till 2 months there will be only around 0.5% initial circulation, and after 2 months, 5% in total. in addition to that, as we are recruiting miners to join our network, actually ppl have been in a situation where they can't wait to mine on our testnet. with the mining mechanism we have, miners need to buy Lamb token to get their mining work started, because a certain amount of pledge need to be made Q: What partnership will lambda and bitmax have in the future? Lambda: We value the way BitMax doing things and care about projects, we feel like we found the right exchange to be listed, in particular an initial listing. we will work with BitMax and do some joint campaigns to boost the community George: We have great chemistry with lambda team. Q: And are you still primary list in there, I heard the list was delay? Is it related to Huobi? Lambda: you are right, it is related to Huobi, but one thing you can be assured of is that our initial listing on BitMax wont change, but most likely a joint listing with Huobi. Q: what about the time of primary list? Lambda: we will primarily list very soon, we are targeting end of this week, now we are in the middle of some technical integration with Huobi George: We can assure everyone that our team will do our best to protect our investors and serve our listing projects. The promise does not change whether or not if we co-list with huobi. Q: We get reward to mine ? Any incentive? For testnet Lambda: Yes, you have two ways obtain Lamb tokens, buy from exchange and earn more from mining, but firstly you have to buy Lamb on BitMax haha. Are you asking the reward from testnet by mining on it? yes, you will get test Lamb token, and they can be redeemed to Lamb token with a ratio that will be specified shortly. on Lambda official website www.lambda.im, we have whitepaper, besides that we also have economic whitepaper to explain how the lambda economic system runs, on Dec. 28 we will launch our yellow paper where we will demonstrate the detailed technical realization and all the parameter setting for mining on Lambda Q: What are the implications if a miners rig goes offline or they decide to stop? Lambda: If miners rig goes off, they will not get the reward from the corresponding generated block, if they do cheating there will be punishment from the system, and if they decide to quit, the pledge will be returned Q: Lambda planning to have own FS? Lambda: Yes, FS and consensus network is separate. validators and marketplace are on the consensus network, while Files are in the File System. Q: Is Lambda GDPR friendly? Lambda: yes, we are Q: Hi can u explain what’s the requirements of decentralized data . Do You think big companies will like to use lambda services .... or it’s for medium level enterprises as big companies will go for their in house system with their reliable nodes ... Lambda: this is a good question, from I seeing it, ppl call out the protection of privacy, it is a trend and it takes steps. Lambda has two big groups of prospects users, one is DAPPs, another is the general industries such as big data, AI, IoT, Games, Financial, etc, as long as they need massive data storage demand, Lambda has the opportunity, data storage is expensive, especially when we are talking about big data, a lot of companies will value the cost in this area very much. currently we have lighthouse customer like DATA, BCV, VVshare, in the very near future, a game that is developed by Lambda team will also go live on Lambda network. from the BD perspective, Lambda will create a satellite network ( you can take it as channel network ) to bring us customers, we have a few reaching out to us already Q: Why suddenly launched on Huobi George Cao: I believe lambda team has its own consideration. Projects esp in bear market are facing pressures from different parties. Investors users exchanges. Not everything is under projects control. What we can do as an exchange is to stand by our partners and fully support them down the road Lambda: thx for the answer Q: I think you have made a great choice working with bitmax. Bitmax have really helped push new coins and their site in general with good PR, marketing and reward/airdrop promotions Lambda: strongly agree with you Q: GDPR has taken over the EU and the UK so that is very important Lambda: you are right, so we see to be GDPR friendly, which is one of our differentiator from FileCoin Q: Being GDPR friendly , European market is a go for lambda Lambda: I have this plan to develop European market by having a Raspberry program, it is still in planning. George Cao: Let’s take a last question and move to lambda community:) And as usual we will pick 3 best questions. We will send out 1000 800 and 500 btmx. @lambda do you want to pick 3 questions ? Q: Recent partnerships are interesting , can you tell us about coming q1 2019 both in terms of technical and marketing developments ? Lambda: from Marketing side, we are focusing on Chinese miners community and potential European market ( like I said still in construction ) Korean market is another, and US market to go along our compliance path, Lambda has been strictly abide by the regulations. from technical side, the most important task we are targeting is the main network launch as planned George Cao: Thanks everyone for your time. It’s a great ama as usual. We do have the best community. We will pick 3 winners and we will announce here after we finish ama in lambda community Lambda: thank you all for your time to participate the AMA, I had a great time with you, see you friends and have a nice day. George Cao: Hello everyone, Merry Christmas:) Lambda: Hello Lambdos. Today we have George, the founder of BitMax to join us for the AMA. Let's give him a warm welcome to do a introduction of BitMax George Cao: I am George Cao, founder of bitmax. I am happy to take the opportunity to talk to everyone here. Thanks to the lambda team. Let me start with a brief introduction about us. Bitmax.io (btmx.io) is an exchange founded by a group of Wall Street veterans. Unlike most projects, we are kinda of old :) core team are in their 30ish - 50ish. The 10 founding member have combined of 150 years of Wall st experience. I have 10+ yrs of high frequency trading experience therefore I know the trading system well. That’s why our match engine can handle 400k tps per second vs huobi 1000 tps. We want to build an exchange that is transparent, robust, and efficient. While our system is the best in class, we offer the lowest trading fees. We believe the current high commission will not sustain and we will see consolidating of the exchanges with better depth and liquidity and lower commission. We are happy to partner with lambda, one of the best projects in 2018. We are committed to serve the project and the community. Alright, I am ready to take questions. Anything you can ask, as tough as you want :) Q: Haha nice platform. George Cao: Thanks. We are young as a platform but we are working to deliver the best Q: I see reverse mining is new , I used many other mining exchange but all have normal mining . How does reverse mining works? George Cao: Reverse mining is an innovative approach that helps the exchange and the project in several ways. 1) the concept of reverse mining is by providing liquidity to the exchange, you get a rebate and deduct out tokens from your account of the same valued. You can think of a otc sell our. 2) the benefit is it removes lots of sell pressure from the secondary market. And provides a strong support for the token price. 3) it introduces lots of liquidity to the exchange and benefits all traders Q: The BTMX used in reverse mining are locked forever? George Cao: Yes so the total number of tokens are always reducing your Q: I've really been enjoying using the bitmax exchange so far especially with the low fees and data usage rewards. Does the exchange plan to bring in a shorting function in the near future? George Cao: Yes we will have margin and futures trading Q: It was supposed to December right ? George Cao: We postponed our margin to Jan. The reason is we want to be more careful on protecting margin call protections. Q: Margin trading and futures is important for BTMX price to drive up George Cao: Totally agree Q: Does BitMax have any activities on New Year's Day? George: We do have multiple promotional events. Including but not limited to airdrops. Please visit our website and stay tuned Q: I saw the whitepaper of bitmax, can you talk more about your dividends the formula is really hard for me ? George Cao: Sure 80% of our commission goes to our fee pool. 1/180 of the total pool will be distributed daily. As long as you are a token holder, the current rate we pay is over 100% annually Q: Oh I see, so the dividends will be smooth, great idea. George Cao: Yes unlike other mining exchanges have huge volatility on div we smooth our curve Q: I've also heard there is a mobile app in the works, is this likely to be released in the near future? George Cao: Almost done. Beta version is in testing Q: What about the north American, will it be available in the future? George Cao: We more cleared our legal path for fiat trading in us. Q1 2019 we will launch in the us Q: Great news I think this will bring a big volume. George Cao: Yes agree. Our team is excited as well Q: With promotional Airdrops that require a certain amount of the BTMX token to be held such as The lamb one that has taken place on the exchange this week. Are tokens that are locked for data usage or in cards taken into account when balance screenshots are taken? George Cao: Yes we will take that into account Q: When will be the private sale tokens be released ? George Cao: As soon as we mined 90m we will start to release Q: So let me get this right .. you give us FREE BTC and ltc and even Lambda EVERYDAY if we hold BTMX and agree to share our data George Cao: Free usdt btc eth Q: Wow. In a bear market, Free btc is the best thing ever George Cao: We share revenue with our users, 90% is usdt. Not sure if you like it:) Q: also consider adding coins like ADA and few from top 30. People need more coins George Cao: We are adding stellar and zcash soon Q: I heard they are insured Unless we give password to someone hehe George Cao: Yes we are using custodian service Q: George are our funds SAFU with you? Exchange insurance? I would say it is With the industry giants backing this exchange George Cao: Sequoia matrix bitmain fbg dhvc are our equity investors Q: What’s to stop People dumping BTMX token after free btc Or stop capital investor dumping on retailer George Cao: They get it every day. Why would they dump? All equity investors can not sell on secondary market. They can only to reverse mining Q: Will margin allow reverse mining instead of normal mining? George Cao: Not initially Q: People do irrational things when btc moves Or whales dumping, I heard there was a lock up token or something. To stop this George Cao: We required lock our tokens to get rewards. You can request to unlock at anytime but it takes 24 hours to process Q: Binance is developing DEX any plans for BitMax ? George Cao: Not anytime soon we have a looong to do:) Q: It's good you have dex in mind , with improved scalability in future maybe bitmax can build good dex George Cao: Agree Q: Retail investors are important , George knows it haha George Cao: We care most of retails Q: It would help if they also burned or locked tokens up George Cao: Yes we permanently locked Q: Seems you have everything thought of.. but how about moving to Malta? George Cao: We priority US. Once us is clear pretty much everywhere is clear Q: Doesn’t any exchange cover US right now? George Cao: Coinbase but they have 0 international coverage and 0 client service Q: What sort of systems are in place for abnormal/suspicious activity on the exchange? George Cao: We prohibit self trading. For unusual trading behavior we ban the account and as for explain in the first violation. For continued violations we permanently ban the account Q: can we get a glimpse of mobile application ? George Cao: There is a beta version you can use but we are keep improving Q: What are the precautions taken to prevent wash trading ? George Cao: We have pre trade and post trade checksums. E.g we don’t just scan one account. We check or related account Q: Will market orders and stop-loss orders be available in the future? George Cao: Yes we are working on it Q: what do you think of lambda project and community George Cao: Lambda is definitely one of the best projects this year. We have been working with lambda for months and have lots of respect ion for the team. Community is also great very well organized. I didn’t talk much but I joined lambda tele group for a while. Great interaction Q: So the trading starts at 8 pm ETC? George Cao: It’s postponed. Please stay tuned for announcements Lambda: We will make announcement giving out time and new date. Q: when please? It's also more professional to be able to give dates and respect them Lambda Cao: we are working hard and aiming the date of Dec. 29, pls stay tuned, thank you George: Unfortunately bitmax and lambda don’t have 100% control of the date and time. Huobi is holding the ball Lambda: The listing dates have been postponed and we don't want to give out a random date. I request you to have patience and wait for official announcement Lambda: we will try everything to protect retails interest Q: Can’t let houbi just arrive late to the party? Lambda: in the long run we may need Huobi to help us better protect us all George Cao: We trust lambda team can make the best decision for all investors Q: Have you been busy with listing recently? Anything else？ George Cao: We have been working 24 hours a day including Chris eve :) Listing and app and margin and lots of new improvements Q: Why would we need huobi with bitmax on our side. George Cao: Trust me we are as upset. However as an exchange our mission is to serve projects and investors. Please join us in fully supporting any decision lambda team made. We have 100% confidence in lambda Q: Are you familiar with the REKTbot and SYSTEM OVERLOAD problems at bitmex George Cao: Yes but still bitmex is the best place to trade future compare with okex Q: Slap that Hayes fool when bitmax start margin and futures.. George Cao: Haha i don’t want to declare war with them. Let’s be a bit patient :) Q: Could bitmax handle That volume and not system overload George Cao: We are 100% confident George Cao: Alright i have to run for another meeting. It’s been a great ama. Thanks everyone. For any trading related questions please contact our client support. We promise to get in touch in 5 mins 7/24. Thank you all! Lambda: thank you for participation, have a nice day!
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