Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Asymmetry of Bubbles: the Status Quo and Bitcoin

by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds:

Shall we compare the damage that will be done when all these bubbles pop?

Regardless of one’s own views about bitcoin/cryptocurrency, what is truly remarkable is the asymmetry that is applied to questioning the status quo and bitcoin. As I noted yesterday, everyone seems just fine with throwing away $20 billion in electricity annually in the U.S. alone to keep hundreds of millions of gadgets in stand-by mode, but the electrical consumption of bitcoin is “shocking,” “ridiculous,” etc.

Since the U.S. consumes about 20% of the world’s energy, we can guesstimate the total amount of electricity wasted on stand-by and similar sources of waste is more on the order of $100 billion annually.

What’s shocking and ridiculous is that upwards of $100 billion in electricity is squandered globally annually on stand-by devices and other painfully obvious sources of waste. But this attracts essentially zero concern or commentary. Do you notice any asymmetry in the scrutiny being applied to the status quo and to bitcoin et al.? The status quo– wasteful beyond measure–is just fine: nobody questions the staggering waste built into the status quo, from hundreds of millions of devices consuming electricity but doing no work to hundreds of millions of vehicles idling in traffic for hours each and every day across the globe–nope, the really big issue is bitcoin / blockchain consumption.

Does anyone question how much electricity the vast server farms of Google and Facebook consume in order to serve up adverts and store photos of puppies and kittens? And how about the energy consumed by the NSA and the dozens of National Security agencies that have proliferated over the past 16 years? How much coal gets burned to serve adverts, archive photos of puppies and kittens, and store billions of emails, phone calls to Aunt Sadie, etc. for future analysis? (Dear old Sadie could be a jihadist–ya never know…)

There’s also an interesting asymmetry in pronouncements of bubbles. Almost every pundit / commentator agrees that the cryptocurrencies are in crazy bubbles akin to the tulip bulb mania, but how many of these folks publicly ask if fiat currencies might be the greatest bubbles in human history, pyramids of illusion that are supposedly worth tens of trillions of dollars?

Do the bubbles in bonds, stocks and real estate get the same scrutiny as the bubble in cryptos? Do any of the conventional critics deriding the bubble in bitcoin bother comparing the scale of all these bubbles? So bitcoin is in a bubble at a market cap of $170 billion, but the unprecedented $500 trillion bubble in stocks, bonds, debt instruments and real estate is perfectly fine and no risk at all? (Approximately $300 trillion in global financial assets and $200 trillion in real estate.)

Shall we compare the damage that will be done when all these bubbles pop?owners of bitcoin would suffer a collective loss of $85 billion should bitcoin fall in half from $10,000 to $5,000, while the owners of stocks, bonds, debt instruments and real estate will suffer a collective loss of $250 trillion when these bubbles pop–an event that history tells us is inevitable.

The status quo does an excellent job assuring us that these $500 trillion bubbles will never pop– never, ever, ever; they will continue expanding until the end of time because central banks are the greatest power in the Universe and they will never ever let these markets decline.

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China Tries to Muscle in on US Dollar as Payments Currency, But It’s a Tough Thankless Slog

by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street:

Dollar hegemony is a tough nut to crack.

China is taking another baby step in promoting the internationalization of the renminbi and nibble on the hegemony of the US dollar: It’s pushing a proposal to add a pile of yuan to the $240 billion currency swap agreement between ASEAN plus China, Japan, and South Korea, in order reduce the system’s reliance on the US dollar and to enhance its own economic clout in the region, according to the Nikkei.

Chicago’s Top Cop Tells the Truth, Admits Officers ‘Look the Other Way’ When Fellow Cops Break Laws

by Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project:

Chicago’s police superintendent recently admitted that his officers often look the other way when they see bad cops breaking the law.

Chicago, IL — Recently, Chicago’s top cop, Police Supt. Eddie Johnson—whose base salary is over a quarter of a million annually—told the Chicago Sun Times in an interview that cops “look the other way” all the time when it comes to witnessing misconduct within their ranks. While readers of the Free Thought Project likely know about this blue code of silence within departments, for the superintendent of one of the nation’s largest police forces to come out and admit this is noteworthy and utterly astonishing.

London Begins Testing Facial Recognition In Public Despite Being “Staggeringly Inaccurate”

by Nicholas West, Activist Post:

It appears that London is ready to roll out the gift of surveillance to its citizens this holiday season.  The Met has announced that several areas around central London will be part of a field trial to be conducted today and tomorrow, despite previous reports that the tech is “staggeringly inaccurate.”

In September 2017 I reported about results from a previous test of public facial recognition that was conducted in Britain’s Notting Hill area.  The results were horrendous. My emphasis added:

The controversial trial of facial recognition equipment at Notting Hill Carnival resulted in roughly 35 false matches and an ‘erroneous arrest’ …

Former Miramax Employee Alleges Harvey Weinstein Raped Her In Company’s Basement


by Jerome Hudson, Breitbart:

A former Miramax employee alleged in an interview published by the Daily Mail Saturday that disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein raped her in the basement of the company’s office in London in the 1990s.

The women, who was identified as Ms. Smith and chose not to reveal her true identity, told the outlet that she had been a Miramax employee for three years when the alleged rape took place and that she was in her 20s at the time.

More from the Daily Mail.

Recalling the day of the alleged rape, Ms Smith, now in her 50s, said: ‘I was there on my own when he came to the office. He went down to the basement [containing a bedroom for visiting employees from the US] and he called my name. I went down – he was standing there with nothing on. I started to back away.

He grabbed me and he was so big and powerful. He just ripped my clothes away and pushed me, threw me down. Then… I kept shouting, “No! Stop!” and tried to push him off. But he forced himself on me.

Smith said the alleged rape left her “mortified and ashamed,” which is one reason why she waited 25 years to reveal the details of her story.

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Pelosi, Schumer Post Slew of Identical Anti-Trump Tweets

by Dan Lyman, NewsWars:

Orange man bad, say Dem NPCs.

A slew of nearly-identical tweets posted by top Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi has many comparing their behavior to that of ‘NPCs.’

On Christmas Eve, the incoming Speaker of the House and Senate minority leader mimicked each other’s language to attack President Trump amid a partial government shutdown that began nearly a week ago.

As Governments Adopt Artificial Intelligence, There’s Little Oversight and Lots of Danger

by James Hendler, Activist Post:

Artificial intelligence systems can – if properly used – help make government more effective and responsive, improving the lives of citizens. Improperly used, however, the dystopian visions of George Orwell’s 1984 become more realistic.

On their own and urged by a new presidential executive order, governments across the U.S., including state and federal agencies, are exploring ways to use AI technologies.

As an AI researcher for more than 40 years, who has been a consultant or participant in many government projects, I believe it’s worth noting that sometimes they’ve done it well – and other times not quite so well. The potential harms and benefits are significant.

NBC: Senate bill to penalize doctors who refuse patients who aren’t vaccinated

by Erin Elizabeth, Health Nut News:

There is a bill being discussed in Texas that would penalize doctors who refuse to treat non-vaccinated patients.

A bill is being discussed in Texas that would penalize doctors who refuse to treat non-vaccinated patients.

“If passed, Senate Bill 2351 would make doctors who refuse service based on vaccination status not eligible for state funding for services provided to patients.’Some medical professionals refuse to treat patients in their practice based on a patient’s personal decision to refuse a vaccine,’ said Senator Bob Hall, who authored the bill.”

Bokhari: 2018 Is the Year Big Tech Censors Revealed Their True Colors

by Allum Bokhari, Breitbart:

In virtually any given week in 2018, you could expect at least one of the following: the media would run a negative story about the president, a Democrat would complain about Russia, and a tech platform would censor a prominent conservative.

All three are connected. The alternative media, which the public now relies on to debunk the hysteria of the establishment press, has faced a sustained attack by the masters of the universe in Silicon Valley, who have either banned them from their platforms or undercut their traffic with algorithm changes. Meanwhile, the tech titans pour money into the corporate press, propping up the old media elites even as they crush their competition.

Catalonia Independence Parties in Lead for December 21 Election

by Mish Shedlock, Mish Talk:

Spain dissolved the Catalan Parliament following its declaration of independence. Separatists have lead latest polls.

The Spanish government dissolved the Catalan parliament and arrested many of its leaders following its declaration of independence. Ousted Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont is in exile in Belgium.

Puigdemont faces trumped up charges of rebellion and sedition. It is impossible for Puigdemont to get a fair trial in Spain, and everyone with any bit of honesty or common sense knows just that.

Meanwhile, Catalans head to the polls in regional snap election on December 21. Will the result be any different this time?

Puigdemont Doubles Down

Bloomberg reports Catalan Leader Doubles Down on Independence Pledge.

Puigdemont, who maintains he’s the legitimate regional president after being sacked by the central government, will lead a new platform under the banner of Together for Catalonia. He said on Saturday a victory at the polls on Dec. 21 would serve to ratify his mandate and send a signal to the European Union, which has repeatedly sided with the government of Mariano Rajoy against unilateral attempts for independence.

“The people of Catalonia have shown the world we have the capacity and the will to become an independent state,” Puigdemont told an audience in Bruges, Belgium, where he’s been staying since declaring independence last month. “On Dec. 21, we must ratify that.”

Polls so far show a split Catalan parliament with no obvious majorities. Pro-independence ERC party is predicted to win, replacing Puigdemont’s PDeCAT as the leading separatist force, while pro-union Ciutadans and the Catalan Socialists also would add seats.

Catalan election polls 2017

The above poll from the Financial Times.

Wikipedia sees things slightly differently

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