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Crypto Banking Wars: Can BlockFi & Celsius Disrupt Banking?

Crypto Banking Wars: Can BlockFi & Celsius Disrupt Banking?
These crypto lending & borrowing services found early traction. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market?
https://reddit.com/link/icps9l/video/98kl1y596zh51/player
This is the third part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe a crypto-native company will ultimately become the bank of the future. We’re confident Genesis Block will have a seat at that table, but we aren’t the only game in town.
In the first post of this series, we did an analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. In our second episode, we looked at the world of non-custodial wallets.
Today we’re analyzing crypto lending & borrowing services. The Earn and Borrow use-case covers a lot of what traditional banks deliver today. This category of companies is a threat worth analyzing. As we look at this market, we’ll mostly be focused on custodial, centralized products like BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.
Many of these companies found early traction among crypto users. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market? Let’s find out.

Institutional Borrowers

Because speculation and trading remains one of the most popular use-cases of crypto, a new crypto sub-industry around credit has emerged. Much of the borrowing demand has been driven by institutional needs.
For example, a Bitcoin mining company might need to borrow fiat to pay for operational costs (salaries, electricity). Or a crypto company might need to borrow USD to pay for engineering salaries. Or a crypto hedge fund needs to borrow for leverage or to take a specific market position. While all of these companies have sufficient crypto to cover the costs, they might not want to sell it — either for tax or speculative reasons (they may believe these crypto assets will appreciate, as with most in the industry).
Instead of selling their crypto, these companies can use their crypto as collateral for loans. For example, they can provide $1.5M in Bitcoin as collateral, and borrow $1M. Given the collateralization happening, the underwriting process becomes straightforward. Companies all around the world can participate — language and cultural barriers are removed.

https://preview.redd.it/z9pby83d6zh51.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=54bf425215c3ed6d5ff0ca7dbe571e735b994613
The leader (and one of our partners) in this space is Genesis Capital. While they are always the counterparty for both lenders and borrowers, they are effectively a broker. They are at the center of the institutional crypto lending & borrowing markets. Their total active loans as of March 2020 was $649M. That number shot up to $1.42B in active loans as of June 2020. The growth of this entire market segment is impressive and it’s what is driving this opportunity for consumers downstream.

Consumer Products

While most of the borrowing demand comes from institutional players, there is a growing desire from consumers to participate on the lend/supply side of the market. Crypto consumers would love to be able to deposit their assets with a service and watch it grow. Why let crypto assets sit on an exchange or in cold storage when it can be earning interest?
A number of consumer-facing products have emerged in the last few years to make this happen. While they also allow users to borrow (always with collateral), most of the consumer attraction is around growing their crypto, even while they sleep. Earning interest. These products usually partner with institutional players like Genesis Capital to match the deposits with borrowing demand. And it’s exactly part of our strategy as well, beyond leveraging DeFi (decentralized finance protocols).
A few of the most popular consumer services in this category include BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.

https://preview.redd.it/vptig5mg6zh51.png?width=1051&format=png&auto=webp&s=b5fdc241cb9b6f5b495173667619f8d2c93371ca

BlockFi

BlockFi (Crunchbase) is the leader in this category (at least in the West). They are well-capitalized. In August 2019, they raised $18.3M in their Series A. In Feb 2020, they raised $30M in their Series B. In that same time period, they went from $250M in assets under management to $650M. In a recent blog post, they announced that they saw a 100% revenue increase in Q2 and that they were on track to do $50M in revenue this year. Their growth is impressive.
BlockFi did not do an ICO, unlike Celsius, Nexo, Salt, and Cred. BlockFi has a lot of institutional backing so it is perceived as the most reputable in the space. BlockFi started with borrowing — allowing users to leverage their crypto as collateral and taking out a loan against it. They later got into Earning — allowing users to deposit assets and earn interest on it. They recently expanded their service to “exchange” functionality and say they are coming out with a credit card later this year.

https://preview.redd.it/byv2tbui6zh51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=bac080dcfc85e89574c30dfb396db0b537d46706
Security Woes
It’s incredible that BlockFi has been able to see such strong growth despite their numerous product and security woes. A few months ago, their systems were compromised. A hacker was able to access confidential data, such as names, dates of birth, postal addresses, and activity histories. While no funds were lost, this was a massive embarrassment and caused reputational damage.

https://preview.redd.it/lwmxbz5l6zh51.png?width=606&format=png&auto=webp&s=ebd8e6e5c31c56da055824254b35b218b49f80e0
Unrelated to that massive security breach and earlier in the year, a user discovered a major bug that allowed him to send the same funds to himself over and over again, ultimately accumulating more than a million dollars in his BlockFi account. BlockFi fortunately caught him just before withdrawal.
Poor Product Execution
Beyond their poor security — which they are now trying to get serious about — their products are notoriously buggy and hard-to-use. I borrowed from them a year ago and used their interest account product until very recently. I have first-hand experience of how painful it is. But don’t take my word for it… here are just a few tweets from customers just recently.

https://preview.redd.it/wcqu3icn6zh51.png?width=1055&format=png&auto=webp&s=870e2f06a6ec377a87e5d6d1f24579a901de66b5
For a while, their interest-earning product had a completely different authentication system than their loan product (users had two sets of usernames/passwords). Many people have had issues with withdrawals. The app is constantly logging people out, blank screens, ugly error messages. Emails with verification codes are sometimes delayed by hours (or days). I do wonder if their entire app has been outsourced. The sloppiness shines through.
Not only is their product buggy and UX confusing, but their branding & design is quite weak. To the left is a t-shirt they once sent me. It looks like they just found a bunch of quirky fonts, added their name, and slapped it on a t-shirt.

https://preview.redd.it/mi6yeppp6zh51.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=fd4cd8201ad0d5bc667498096388377895b72953
Culture
To the innocent bystander, many of these issues seem totally fixable. They could hire an amazing design agency to completely revamp their product or brand. They could hire a mercenary group of engineers to fix their bugs, etc. While it could stop the bleeding for a time, it may not solve the underlying issues. Years of sloppy product execution represents something much more destructive. It represents a top-down mentality that shipping anything other than excellence is okay: product experience doesn’t matter; design doesn’t matter; craftsmanship doesn’t matter; strong execution doesn’t matter; precision doesn’t matter. That’s very different from our culture at Genesis Block.
This cancerous mentality rarely stays contained within product & engineering — this leaks to all parts of the organization. No design agency or consulting firm will fix some of the pernicious values of a company’s soul. These are deeper issues that only leadership can course-correct.
If BlockFi’s sloppiness were due to constant experimentation, iteration, shipping, or some “move fast and break things” hacker culture… like Binance… I would probably cut them more slack. But there is zero evidence of that. “Move fast and break things” is always scary when dealing with financial products. But in BlockFi’s case, when it’s more like “move slow and break things,” they are really playing with fire. Next time a massive security breach occurs, like what happened earlier this year, they may not be so lucky.
Institutional Focus
Based on who is on their team, their poor product execution shouldn’t be a surprise. Their team comes mostly from Wall Street, not the blockchain community (where our roots are). Most of BlockFi’s blockchain/crypto integration is very superficial. They take crypto assets as deposits, but they aren’t leveraging any of the exciting, low-level DeFi protocols like we are.
While their Wall Street heritage isn’t doing them any favors on the product/tech side, it’s served them very well on winning institutional clients. This is perhaps their greatest strength. BlockFi has a strong institutional business. They recently brought on Three Arrows Capital as a strategic investor — a crypto hedge fund who does a lot of borrowing. In that announcement, BlockFi’s founder said that bringing them on “aligns well with our focus on international expansion of our institutional services offering.” They also recently brought someone on who will lead business development in Asia among institutional clients.
BlockFi Wrap Up
There are certainly BlockFi features that overlap with Genesis Block’s offering. It’s possible that they are angling to become the bank of the future. However, they simply have not proven they are capable of designing, building, and launching world-class consumer products. They’ve constantly had issues around security and poor product execution. Their company account and their founder’s account seem to only tweet about Bitcoin. I don’t think they understand, appreciate, or value the power of DeFi. It’s unlikely they’ll be leveraging it any time soon. All of these reasons are why I don’t see them as a serious threat to Genesis Block.
However, because of their strong institutional offering, I hope that Genesis Block will ultimately have a very collaborative and productive partnership with them. Assuming they figure out their security woes, we could park some of our funds with BlockFi (just as we will with Genesis Capital and others). I think what’s likely to happen is that we’ll corner the consumer market and we’ll work closely with BlockFi on the institutional side.
I’ve been hard on BlockFi because I care. I think they have a great opportunity at helping elevate the entire industry in a positive way. But they have a lot of issues they need to work through. I really don’t want to see users lose millions of dollars in a security breach. It could set back the entire industry. But if they do things well… a rising tide lifts all boats.

Honorable Mentions

Celsius (ICO Drops) raised $50M in an ICO, and is led by serial entrepreneur Alex Mashinsky. I’ve met him, he’s a nice guy. Similar to Binance, their biggest Achilles heel could be their own token. There are also a lot of unanswered questions about where their deposits go. They don’t have a record of great transparency. They recently did a public crowdraise which is a little odd given their large ICO as well as their supposed $1B in deposits. Are they running out of money, as some suggest? Unclear. One of their biggest blindspots right now is that Mashinsky does not understand the power of DeFi. He is frequently openly criticizing it.
Nexo (ICO Drops) is another similar service. They are European-based, trying to launch their own card (though they’ve been saying this forever and they still haven’t shipped it), and have a history in the payments/fintech space. Because they haven’t penetrated the US — which is a much harder regulatory nut to crack — they are unlikely to be as competitive as BlockFi. There were also allegations that Nexo was spreading FUD about Chainlink while simultaneously partnering with them. Did Nexo take out a short position and start spreading rumors? Never a dull moment in crypto.
Other players in the lending & borrowing space include Unchained Capital, Cred (ICO Drops), and Salt (ICO Drops).

https://preview.redd.it/9ts6m0qw6zh51.png?width=1056&format=png&auto=webp&s=dd8d368c1aa39994c6bc5e4baec10678d3bbba2d

Wrap Up

While many companies in this category seem to be slowly adding more financial services, I don’t believe any of them are focused on the broader consumer market like we are. To use services like BlockFi, Nexo, or Celsius, users need to be onboarded and educated on how crypto works. At Genesis Block, we don’t believe that’s the winning approach. We think blockchain complexity should be abstracted away from the end-user. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto.
For many of these services, there is additional friction due to ICO tokens that are forcefully integrated into the product (see NEXO token or CEL Token). None of these services have true banking functionality or integration with traditional finance —for example, easy offramp or spending methods like debit cards. None of them are taking DeFi seriously — they are leveraging crypto for only the asset class, not the underlying technology around financial protocols.
So are these companies potential competitors to Genesis Block? For the crypto crowd, yes. For the mass market, no. None of these companies are capable of reaching the billions of people around the world that we hope to reach at Genesis Block.
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How to dive deep into political theory and philosophy: The Bread List

This is a curated collection of (largely) contemporary thinkers, books and video content aimed as a reference for questions like -
"What should I read next?", "Who should I follow?" or "What are the best resources for [certain political topic]?"
The core list comes from Noam Chomsky, and the books and people he's cited or praised. But the list has significantly expanded since then. Feel free to comment about any good books or channels you think should be on this list.
BreadTube discord here: https://discord.gg/ynn9rHE
Journalists
Start off with:
Adam H Johnson - Propaganda Model, Media Critique at FAIR
Nathan J Robinson - Journalist, Current Affairs
Glenn Greenwald- Journalist, Privacy, US imperialism. The Intercept
Also Great
Owen Jones- UK Journalist
Naomi Klein- Journalist, neoliberalism, globalization.
George Monbiot- Journalist, environmentalist.
Amy Goodman- Journalist Democracy Now
Alex Press - Journalist and Founder, Jacobin
Alexander Cockburn - Journalist
Chris Hedges- Journalist.
P Sainath- Journalist, India specialist
Whistleblowing:
Daniel Ellsberg- Vietnam, Released Pentagon Papers.
Edward Snowden
Chelsea Manning
Julian Assange
US History and Foreign Policy
Start off with:
Noam Chomsky - Everything
Howard Zinn- Historian
Laura Poitras - Documentary maker
Also Great
Eqbal Ahmad, - US imperialism
Michelle Alexander, US prison system
William Blum- Former State Dept. Agent, Historian, US imperialism
Jean Bricmont- “The Belgian Chomsky” – US imperialism, geopolitics,
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - US History
Thomas Ferguson- US elections specialist.
Ian Haney Lopez- Racism, US politics.
Deepa Kumar- US imperialism, Islamophobia.
Andrew Bacevich - U.S. foreign policy, historian
Economics
Start off with:
Thomas Piketty - inequality
Ha-Joon Chang - institutional economist, specialising in development economics:
Joseph Stiglitz - Former World Bank Chief Economist
Amartya Sen- Third world development and Inequality, Nobel Prize Winner
Yanis Varoufakis
Richard Wolff- Marxism
Dean Baker
Also Great
Michael Albert
John Bellamy Foster
Richard Wilkinson- inequality
William Krehm - Labour
Stephanie Kelton - Modern Monetary Theory
Historians
Start off with:
Thomas Frank - historian, American politics
Howard Zinn- "People's" Historian
Raul Hilberg - The Leading Authority on the Holocaust
Phillip Mirowski - History of economics
Eric Hobsbawm - historian, Marxist
Also Great
Gar Aleprovitz, - world war 2, co-operatives.
Alex Carey - Laid the foundation for Manufacturing Consent
Nancy Maclean - US South, Labor, Race
Mark Curtis
Mike Davis- Globalization, Historian.
Gerald Horne- Historian, black liberation.
Gabriel Kolko- Historian. World War 2.
Morris Berman - historian, American social critic
Israel/Palestine
Start off with:
Norman Finkelstein- Israel specialist.
Avi Shlaim - Israel
Also Great
Amira Hass- Journalist, Israel specialist.
Illan Pappe- Israel specialist
James Petras- Israel and Latin America specialist.
Greg Philo- Media criticism, Israel.
Media Criticism
Start off with:
Edward Herman- Media criticism.
Robert McChesney- media criticism.
Edward Said- sociology, Islamophobia, Israel, media criticism
Also Great
Ben Bagdikian, - media criticism.
Keane Bhatt- Media Criticism, Latin America.
Oliver Boyd-Barrett- Media Criticism
Sut Jhally- sociology, film-maker
James Curran- Media Criticism
Alan MacLeod - Media Criticism, Venezuela
Anarchism/Socialism/Political Theory
Start off with:
David Graeber- historian, anarchism, Occupy Wall Street, anthropology.
Joel Bakan, - writer of “The Corporation”, seminal book on corporations.
Cornel West- sociology
Tariq Ali, “The British Chomsky”- everything from globalization to history to politics.
Murray Bookchin - Anarchism
Also Great
Angela Davis- Feminism, Marxism, black liberation.
Peter Gelderloos - anarchism
Uri Gordon - anarchism, Israel/Palestine
Harry Cleaver - Marxism, economics
Michel Bauwens - P2P, political economy
James C. Scott - anarchism, anthropology
Michael Heinrich - Marxism, political science
Specialists
Stephen Cohen- Russia specialist.
Bruce Cummings- Korea Specialist.
Aviva Chomsky – Immigration, Latin America.
Eduardo Galeano- Poet, Author, Latin American specialist.
Fawaz Gerges - Middle East specialist.
Andrej Grubacic- Yugoslavia specialist.
Flynt and Hillary Leverett- Iran specialists.
William I. Robinson- globalization, neoliberalism, Latin America specialist
Lars Schoultz- Latin America specialist
Sanho Tree- drugs, Colombia specialist
Nick Turse - Africa
Mark Weisbrot- economics, Latin America
Kevin Young- media criticism, Latin America
Raj Patel- Food
Vijay Prashad- globalization, third world development
Thomas Szasz- Criticism of psychiatry
Alfie Kohn- Education.
Daniel Kovalik - Human rights
Paulo Freire- Education.
Henry Giroux- Education
Greg Grandin - Historian, Latin America
Dave Zirin- sports
Gabor Maté- Education, drugs, psychiatry.
Kate Bronfenbrenner - Labour and Unions
Loic Wacquant - sociology, neoliberalism
Bernard Harcourt - surveillance, penal law
Eric Toussaint - political science, debt
The best arguments for major mainstream political positions:
Fascism and Neo-Conservatism
On Dictatorship and The Concept of The Political Carl Schmitt
Note:
Some have argued that neoconservativism has been influenced by Schmitt Most notably the legal opinions offered by Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo et al. by invoking the unitary executive theory to justify highly controversial policies in the war on terror—such as introducing unlawful combatant status which purportedly would eliminate protection by the Geneva Conventions torture, NSA electronic surveillance program—mimic his writings.Professor David Luban said in 2011 that "[a] Lexis search reveals five law review references to Schmitt between 1980 and 1990; 114 between 1990 and 2000; and 420 since 2000, with almost twice as many in the last five years as the previous five"
Realpolitik
World Order, by Henry Kissinger
Liberalism/Social Democracy
A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls
Right-Wing Libertarianism
Anarchy, State, Utopia by Robert Nozick
Technocracy
Zero to One, by Peter Thiel
Marxism-Leninism
Left-Wing Communism, and Infantile Disorder by Vladimir Lenin
Recommended books:
Israel/Palestine and the Middle East:
Start off with:
The Iron Wall by Avi Shlaim
★ Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom by Norman Finkelstein
Also Great
★ Fateful Triangle by Noam Chomsky
Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 by Tanya Reinhart
The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities by Simha Flapan
Between the Lines: Israel, the Palestinians, and the U.S. War on Terror by Tikva Honig-Parnass
The Holocaust Industry: Norman Finkelstein
Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy by Zeev Maoz
Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom by Norman Finkelstein
The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid by Roane Carey, Alison Weir, and others
The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah
American Foreign Policy:
Start off with:
★ ★ ★ Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky
Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II by William Blum
Also Great:
Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq by Jonathon Steele
A Different Kind of War: The Un Sanctions Regime in Iraq by Hans. C. Von Sponeck
Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror by Jason Burke
How America Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity by Michael Mandel
The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars by John Turnam
Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists by Scott Atran
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade by Alfred W. McCoy
Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights by James Peck
War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination by Howard Bruce Franklin
Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan by Nick Turse
Tomorrow's Battlefield : U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa by Nick Turse
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II by John Dower
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser
The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia by Nick Cullather
Voices From the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba by Keith Bolender
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg
Tinderbox: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Roots of Terrorism by Stephen Zunes
One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War by Michael Dobbs
Kill Chain: Drones and The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins by Andrew Cockburn
First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia by David Gibbs
The Management of Savagery by Max Blumenthal
Media and Propaganda:
Start off with:
Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky
Propaganda by Edward Bernays
The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy by Richard A. Falk
Also Great:
The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda by Edward Herman
The Politics of Genocide by Edward Herman
Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty by Alex Carey
American History and Culture:
Start off with:
★ A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Also Great:
Political Repression in Modern America: FROM 1870 TO 1976 by Robert Justin Goldstein
No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein
The Industrial Worker, 1840-1860: The Reaction of American Industrial Society to the Advance of the Industrial Revolution by Norman Ware
Voices of a People's History of the United States by Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn
Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Guerrilla War, from the American Revolution to Iraq by William R. Polk
★ With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful by Glenn Greenwald
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild
The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward Baptist
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 by Max Hastings
The Politics of War: Allied Diplomacy and the World Crisis of 1943-1945 by Gabriel Kolko Labor History:
The Fall of the House of Labor by David Montgomery
Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945-60 by Elizabeth A. Fones-Wolf
The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 by Charles Grier Sellers
Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States by Charles Derber
On the Rojava Experiment:
Revolution in Rojava
Struggles for Autonomy in Kurdistan
A Small Key Can Open a Large Door
Rojava: An Alternative to Imperialism, Nationalism, and Islamism in the Middle East
Coming Down the Mountains
To Dare Imagining: Rojava Revolution
★ Ocalan’s Prison Writings
Anarchism, Socialism, Philosophy, and Science:
Start off with:
Government In The Future(Talk) by Noam Chomsky
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
On Anarchism by Mikhail Bakunin
The Limits of State Action by Wilhelm von Humboldt
Also Great
Progress Without People: In Defense of Luddism by David F. Noble
Granny Made Me an Anarchist: General Franco, The Angry Brigade and Me by Stuart Christie
Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science by Alan Sokal
Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture by Alan Sokal
A Theory of Power by Jeff Vail
Workers' Councils by Anton Pannekoek
The State: Its Origin and Function by William Paul
On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky
The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution 1936-39 by Sam Dolgoff
Anarchism by Daniel Guerin
The Ancestors Tale by Richard Dawkins
Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan
Memory and the Computational Brain: Why Cognitive Science WIll Transform Neuroscience by Randy Gallistel and Adam Philip King
Vision: A Computational Investigation Into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information by David Marr
Economics:
Start off with:
★ ★ Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang
★ Making Globalization Work by Joseph Stiglitz
Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty
Adam Smith and His Legacy for Modern Capitalism by Patricia H. Werhane
Also Great:
Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism by Richard Wolff
Das Kapital by Karl Marx
Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America by Martin Gilens
America Beyond Capitalism by Gar Alperovitz
The ABCs of Political Economy: A Modern Approach by Robert Hahnel
★ ★ Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems by Thomas Ferguson
The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer by Dean Baker
Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer by Dean Baker
Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry M. Bartels
Understanding Capitalism: Critical Analysis From Karl Marx to Amartya Sen by Douglas Down
Whose Crisis, Whose Future?: Towards a Greener, Fairer, Richer World by Susan George
Business as Usual: The Economic Crisis and the Failure of Capitalism by Paul Mattock Jr.
Greening the Global Economy by Robert Pollin
Capitalism: A Ghost Story by Arundhati Roy
Political Economy and Laissez Faire by Rajani Kannepalli Kanth
The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time by Karl Polanyi
Miscellaneous:
★ Discipline and Punish, by Michel Foucault
Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari
Controlling the Dangerous Classes by Randall G. Shelden
Pedagogy of the Opressed by Paulo Freire
The Verso Book of Dissent: From Spartacus to the Shoe-Thrower of Baghdad by Andrew Hsiao
Don't Mourn, Balkanize!: Essays After Yugoslavia by Andrej Grubačić
★ Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers by Arundhati Roy
Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War by Fred Branfman
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
In Praise of Barbarians by Mike Davis
Damming the Flood by Peter Hallward
Hope and Folly: The United States and UNESCO, 1945-1985 by Edward Herman and Herbert Schiller
Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village by William Hinton
The Egyptians: A Radical Story by Jack Shenker
Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times by Charles Derber
Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States by Charles Derber
The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James
Dark Money by Jane Meyers
King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild
Recommended YouTubers/Creators/Channels(with a linked video to get you started):
Political
Contrapoints | America: Still Racist
★ Philosophy Tube | The Philosophy of Antifa
Existential Comics
★ ★ Chomsky’s Philosophy | Bakunin's Predictions
HBomber Guy | Soy Boys: A Measured Response
Shaun | How Privatisation Fails: Railways
Badmouse Productions | Argument ad Venezuelum
Three Arrows | Who is actually at fault for the refugee crisis?
Gravesend Films (with Norman Finkelstein) | The Idea Of Utopia
The Intercept | Greenwald and Risen debate Russiagate
Non Political
Lindsay Ellis - Film Criticism | The Ideology of the First Order
The Great War - History | The Run For The Baku Oil Fields
History Civilis - History | The Constitution Of The Spartans
Numberphile - Mathematics | Perplexing Paperclips
Computerphile - Technology | The Bitcoin Power Problem
Vihart - Mathematics | Hexaflexagons
3Blue1Brown - Mathematics | How Cryptocurrencies Work
PBS SpaceTime - Astronomy, Physics | The Blackhole Information Paradox
Will Schoder - Video Essays | The Problem with Irony and Postmodernism
Assorted Documentaries to get you started:
Manufacturing Consent - The seminal work on how the population is controlled in democratic societies
★ ★ Citizenfour - Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in a Hong Kong Room.
★ ★ Risk - A deep look at Wikileaks - from the inside the embassy.
The Murder of Fred Hampton - How the FBI brazenly assassinated an American citizen without any warrant or due process
Weiner - An incredible look at how political campaigns function from the inside.
The Corporation - What are corporations?
The Shock Doctrine - Lectures by Naomi Klein, news-reel footage and analysis to explain the connection between politics and economics.
Hypernormalization - Explains not only why chaotic events happen - but also why we, and politicians, cannot understand them.
Inside Job - A look at the cause for the financial crisis
Podcasts
Start off with:
★ ★ ★ Citations Needed
Also Great:
Intercepted
Current Affairs Podcast
Chapo Trap House
Moderate Rebels
Economic Update
Protect Yourself:
PrivacyToolsIO,
Electronic Frontier Foundation
submitted by -_-_-_-otalp-_-_-_- to BreadTube [link] [comments]

How to dive deep into political theory and philosophy: The Big List

This is a list of (largely) contemporary thinkers, books and video content aimed as a reference for questions like -
"What should I read next?", "Who should I follow?" or "What are the best resources for [certain political topic]?"
The core list comes from Chomsky, and the books and people he's cited or praised. But the list has significantly expanded since then. Feel free to comment about any good books or channels you think should be on this list.
Chomsky discord server:
https://discord.gg/ynn9rHE
Journalists
Start off with:
Adam H Johnson - Propaganda Model, Media Critique at FAIR
Nathan J Robinson - Journalist, Current Affairs
Glenn Greenwald- Journalist, Privacy, US imperialism. The Intercept
Also Great
Owen Jones- UK Journalist
Naomi Klein- Journalist, neoliberalism, globalization.
George Monbiot- Journalist, environmentalist.
Amy Goodman- Journalist Democracy Now
Alex Press - Journalist and Founder, Jacobin
Alexander Cockburn - Journalist
Chris Hedges- Journalist.
P Sainath- Journalist, India specialist
Whistleblowing:
Daniel Ellsberg- Vietnam, Released Pentagon Papers.
Edward Snowden
Chelsea Manning
Julian Assange
US History and Foreign Policy
Start off with:
Noam Chomsky - Everything
Howard Zinn- Historian
Laura Poitras - Documentary maker
Also Great
Eqbal Ahmad, - US imperialism
Michelle Alexander, US prison system
William Blum- Former State Dept. Agent, Historian, US imperialism
Jean Bricmont- “The Belgian Chomsky” – US imperialism, geopolitics,
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - US History
Thomas Ferguson- US elections specialist.
Ian Haney Lopez- Racism, US politics.
Deepa Kumar- US imperialism, Islamophobia.
Andrew Bacevich - U.S. foreign policy, historian
Economics
Start off with:
Thomas Piketty - inequality
Ha-Joon Chang - institutional economist, specialising in development economics:
Joseph Stiglitz - Former World Bank Chief Economist
Amartya Sen- Third world development and Inequality, Nobel Prize Winner
Yanis Varoufakis
Richard Wolff- Marxism
Dean Baker
Also Great
Michael Albert
John Bellamy Foster
Richard Wilkinson- inequality
William Krehm - Labour
Stephanie Kelton - Modern Monetary Theory
Historians
Start off with:
Thomas Frank - historian, American politics
Howard Zinn- "People's" Historian
Raul Hilberg - The Leading Authority on the Holocaust
Phillip Mirowski - History of economics
Eric Hobsbawm - historian, Marxist
Also Great
Gar Aleprovitz, - world war 2, co-operatives.
Alex Carey - Laid the foundation for Manufacturing Consent
Nancy Maclean - US South, Labor, Race
Mark Curtis
Mike Davis- Globalization, Historian.
Gerald Horne- Historian, black liberation.
Gabriel Kolko- Historian. World War 2.
Morris Berman - historian, American social critic
Israel/Palestine
Start off with:
Norman Finkelstein- Israel specialist.
Avi Shlaim - Israel
Also Great
Amira Hass- Journalist, Israel specialist.
Illan Pappe- Israel specialist
James Petras- Israel and Latin America specialist.
Greg Philo- Media criticism, Israel.
Media Criticism
Start off with:
Edward Herman- Media criticism.
Robert McChesney- media criticism.
Edward Said- sociology, Islamophobia, Israel, media criticism
Also Great
Ben Bagdikian, - media criticism.
Keane Bhatt- Media Criticism, Latin America.
Oliver Boyd-Barrett- Media Criticism
Sut Jhally- sociology, film-maker
James Curran- Media Criticism
Alan MacLeod - Media Criticism, Venezuela
Anarchism/Socialism/Political Theory
Start off with:
David Graeber- historian, anarchism, Occupy Wall Street, anthropology.
Joel Bakan, - writer of “The Corporation”, seminal book on corporations.
Cornel West- sociology
Tariq Ali, “The British Chomsky”- everything from globalization to history to politics.
Murray Bookchin - Anarchism
Also Great
Angela Davis- Feminism, Marxism, black liberation.
Peter Gelderloos - anarchism
Uri Gordon - anarchism, Israel/Palestine
Harry Cleaver - Marxism, economics
Michel Bauwens - P2P, political economy
James C. Scott - anarchism, anthropology
Michael Heinrich - Marxism, political science
Specialists
Stephen Cohen- Russia specialist.
Bruce Cummings- Korea Specialist.
Aviva Chomsky – Immigration, Latin America.
Eduardo Galeano- Poet, Author, Latin American specialist.
Fawaz Gerges - Middle East specialist.
Andrej Grubacic- Yugoslavia specialist.
Flynt and Hillary Leverett- Iran specialists.
William I. Robinson- globalization, neoliberalism, Latin America specialist
Lars Schoultz- Latin America specialist
Sanho Tree- drugs, Colombia specialist
Nick Turse - Africa
Mark Weisbrot- economics, Latin America
Kevin Young- media criticism, Latin America
Raj Patel- Food
Vijay Prashad- globalization, third world development
Thomas Szasz- Criticism of psychiatry
Alfie Kohn- Education.
Daniel Kovalik - Human rights
Paulo Freire- Education.
Henry Giroux- Education
Greg Grandin - Historian, Latin America
Dave Zirin- sports
Gabor Maté- Education, drugs, psychiatry.
Kate Bronfenbrenner - Labour and Unions
Loic Wacquant - sociology, neoliberalism
Bernard Harcourt - surveillance, penal law
Eric Toussaint - political science, debt
The best arguments for major mainstream political positions:
Fascism and Neo-Conservatism
On Dictatorship and The Concept of The Political Carl Schmitt
Note:
Some have argued that neoconservativism has been influenced by Schmitt Most notably the legal opinions offered by Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo et al. by invoking the unitary executive theory to justify highly controversial policies in the war on terror—such as introducing unlawful combatant status which purportedly would eliminate protection by the Geneva Conventions torture, NSA electronic surveillance program—mimic his writings.Professor David Luban said in 2011 that "[a] Lexis search reveals five law review references to Schmitt between 1980 and 1990; 114 between 1990 and 2000; and 420 since 2000, with almost twice as many in the last five years as the previous five"
Realpolitik
World Order, by Henry Kissinger
Liberalism/Social Democracy
A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls
Right-Wing Libertarianism
Anarchy, State, Utopia by Robert Nozick
Technocracy
Zero to One, by Peter Thiel
Marxism-Leninism
Left-Wing Communism, and Infantile Disorder by Vladimir Lenin
Recommended books:
Israel/Palestine and the Middle East:
Start off with:
The Iron Wall by Avi Shlaim
★ Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom by Norman Finkelstein
Also Great
★ Fateful Triangle by Noam Chomsky
Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 by Tanya Reinhart
The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities by Simha Flapan
Between the Lines: Israel, the Palestinians, and the U.S. War on Terror by Tikva Honig-Parnass
The Holocaust Industry: Norman Finkelstein
Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy by Zeev Maoz
Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom by Norman Finkelstein
The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid by Roane Carey, Alison Weir, and others
The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah
American Foreign Policy:
Start off with:
★ ★ ★ Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky
Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II by William Blum
Also Great:
Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq by Jonathon Steele
A Different Kind of War: The Un Sanctions Regime in Iraq by Hans. C. Von Sponeck
Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror by Jason Burke
How America Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity by Michael Mandel
The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars by John Turnam
Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists by Scott Atran
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade by Alfred W. McCoy
Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights by James Peck
War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination by Howard Bruce Franklin
Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan by Nick Turse
Tomorrow's Battlefield : U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa by Nick Turse
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II by John Dower
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser
The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia by Nick Cullather
Voices From the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba by Keith Bolender
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg
Tinderbox: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Roots of Terrorism by Stephen Zunes
One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War by Michael Dobbs
Kill Chain: Drones and The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins by Andrew Cockburn
First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia by David Gibbs
The Management of Savagery by Max Blumenthal
Media and Propaganda:
Start off with:
Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky
Propaganda by Edward Bernays
The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy by Richard A. Falk
Also Great:
The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda by Edward Herman
The Politics of Genocide by Edward Herman
Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty by Alex Carey
American History and Culture:
Start off with:
★ A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Also Great:
Political Repression in Modern America: FROM 1870 TO 1976 by Robert Justin Goldstein
No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein
The Industrial Worker, 1840-1860: The Reaction of American Industrial Society to the Advance of the Industrial Revolution by Norman Ware
Voices of a People's History of the United States by Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn
Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Guerrilla War, from the American Revolution to Iraq by William R. Polk
★ With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful by Glenn Greenwald
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild
The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward Baptist
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 by Max Hastings
The Politics of War: Allied Diplomacy and the World Crisis of 1943-1945 by Gabriel Kolko Labor History:
The Fall of the House of Labor by David Montgomery
Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945-60 by Elizabeth A. Fones-Wolf
The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 by Charles Grier Sellers
Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States by Charles Derber
On the Rojava Experiment:
Revolution in Rojava
Struggles for Autonomy in Kurdistan
A Small Key Can Open a Large Door
Rojava: An Alternative to Imperialism, Nationalism, and Islamism in the Middle East
Coming Down the Mountains
To Dare Imagining: Rojava Revolution
★ Ocalan’s Prison Writings
Anarchism, Socialism, Philosophy, and Science:
Start off with:
Government In The Future(Talk) by Noam Chomsky
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
On Anarchism by Mikhail Bakunin
The Limits of State Action by Wilhelm von Humboldt
Also Great
Progress Without People: In Defense of Luddism by David F. Noble
Granny Made Me an Anarchist: General Franco, The Angry Brigade and Me by Stuart Christie
Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science by Alan Sokal
Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture by Alan Sokal
A Theory of Power by Jeff Vail
Workers' Councils by Anton Pannekoek
The State: Its Origin and Function by William Paul
On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky
The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution 1936-39 by Sam Dolgoff
Anarchism by Daniel Guerin
The Ancestors Tale by Richard Dawkins
Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan
Memory and the Computational Brain: Why Cognitive Science WIll Transform Neuroscience by Randy Gallistel and Adam Philip King
Vision: A Computational Investigation Into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information by David Marr
Economics:
Start off with:
★ ★ Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang
★ Making Globalization Work by Joseph Stiglitz
Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty
Adam Smith and His Legacy for Modern Capitalism by Patricia H. Werhane
Also Great:
Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism by Richard Wolff
Das Kapital by Karl Marx
Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America by Martin Gilens
America Beyond Capitalism by Gar Alperovitz
The ABCs of Political Economy: A Modern Approach by Robert Hahnel
★ ★ Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems by Thomas Ferguson
The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer by Dean Baker
Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer by Dean Baker
Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry M. Bartels
Understanding Capitalism: Critical Analysis From Karl Marx to Amartya Sen by Douglas Down
Whose Crisis, Whose Future?: Towards a Greener, Fairer, Richer World by Susan George
Business as Usual: The Economic Crisis and the Failure of Capitalism by Paul Mattock Jr.
Greening the Global Economy by Robert Pollin
Capitalism: A Ghost Story by Arundhati Roy
Political Economy and Laissez Faire by Rajani Kannepalli Kanth
The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time by Karl Polanyi
Miscellaneous:
★ Discipline and Punish, by Michel Foucault
Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari
Controlling the Dangerous Classes by Randall G. Shelden
Pedagogy of the Opressed by Paulo Freire
The Verso Book of Dissent: From Spartacus to the Shoe-Thrower of Baghdad by Andrew Hsiao
Don't Mourn, Balkanize!: Essays After Yugoslavia by Andrej Grubačić
★ Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers by Arundhati Roy
Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War by Fred Branfman
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
In Praise of Barbarians by Mike Davis
Damming the Flood by Peter Hallward
Hope and Folly: The United States and UNESCO, 1945-1985 by Edward Herman and Herbert Schiller
Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village by William Hinton
The Egyptians: A Radical Story by Jack Shenker
Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times by Charles Derber
Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States by Charles Derber
The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James
Dark Money by Jane Meyers
King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild
Recommended YouTubers/Creators/Channels(with a linked video to get you started):
Political
Contrapoints | America: Still Racist
★ Philosophy Tube | The Philosophy of Antifa
Existential Comics
★ ★ Chomsky’s Philosophy | Bakunin's Predictions
HBomber Guy | Soy Boys: A Measured Response
Shaun | How Privatisation Fails: Railways
Badmouse Productions | Argument ad Venezuelum
Three Arrows | Who is actually at fault for the refugee crisis?
Gravesend Films (with Norman Finkelstein) | The Idea Of Utopia
The Intercept | Greenwald and Risen debate Russiagate
Non Political
Lindsay Ellis - Film Criticism | The Ideology of the First Order
The Great War - History | The Run For The Baku Oil Fields
History Civilis - History | The Constitution Of The Spartans
Numberphile - Mathematics | Perplexing Paperclips
Computerphile - Technology | The Bitcoin Power Problem
Vihart - Mathematics | Hexaflexagons
3Blue1Brown - Mathematics | How Cryptocurrencies Work
PBS SpaceTime - Astronomy, Physics | The Blackhole Information Paradox
Will Schoder - Video Essays | The Problem with Irony and Postmodernism
Assorted Documentaries to get you started:
Manufacturing Consent - The seminal work on how the population is controlled in democratic societies
★ ★ Citizenfour - Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in a Hong Kong Room.
★ ★ Risk - A deep look at Wikileaks - from the inside the embassy.
The Murder of Fred Hampton - How the FBI brazenly assassinated an American citizen without any warrant or due process
Weiner - An incredible look at how political campaigns function from the inside.
The Corporation - What are corporations?
The Shock Doctrine - Lectures by Naomi Klein, news-reel footage and analysis to explain the connection between politics and economics.
Hypernormalization - Explains not only why chaotic events happen - but also why we, and politicians, cannot understand them.
Inside Job - A look at the cause for the financial crisis
Podcasts
Start off with:
★ ★ ★ Citations Needed
Also Great:
Intercepted
Current Affairs Podcast
Chapo Trap House
Moderate Rebels
Economic Update
Protect Yourself:
PrivacyToolsIO,
Electronic Frontier Foundation
submitted by -_-_-_-otalp-_-_-_- to chomsky [link] [comments]

A guide to index funds

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about some things it took me a while to figure out when I started investing. This was well received, and there were some interesting follow up questions, especially around what to invest in. A commonly recommended strategy on this sub-reddit is to invest in index funds, but that was another thing that it took me a while to figure out, and my first post didn't really get that far, so I present the spiritual successor: Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier About Index Funds
This write-up is intended to broadly answer the question:
How do I invest in a way that my returns will track the overall UK, US, or global stock market?
N.B. I've also cross-posted this to a https://reboapp.co.uk/content/index-funds/, which is a knowledge base I'm building for UK investors. Let me know if there are any particular topics you'd like me to write about in future.

What is an index?

An index is a calculated value that summarises the performance of some category of assets into a single number which can be tracked over time. For indexes which track stock markets, this is typically the total valuation of the companies in some section of the stock market. For example, the FTSE 100 is an index which tracks the value of the largest 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Market indexes are normally calculated using capitalisation weighting, where the companies included in the index are selected based on their market valuation, and the larger the market valuation of a company, the more weight it is given in the index.

What is a capitalisation-weighted index?

In a capitalisation-weighted index, the index is calculated by summing the total market value of all of the companies. This means that if one company is worth £20 billion, and another is worth £10 billion, the former company will contribute twice as much to the index. A 10% increase in the price of the former company would increase the index by twice as much as a 10% rise in the latter company.
An index is also usually normalised, so that it starts at a nice value like 1,000 on the first day it is measured. This normalisation happens by recording the sum of the market values of the companies on the first day, and then dividing later measures by this amount.

What is an index fund?

An index fund (also commonly referred to as a 'tracker') is a wrapper which will hold shares in the various assets in an index, weighted by the same weighting as in the index, so that the value of the index fund should track the underlying index closely over time. If the index goes up by 3%, then so should the index fund.
For example, an index fund which tracks the FTSE 100 has £1 billion invested in it in total, then that £1 billion will be used by the fund manager to buy £1 billion worth of shares in the FTSE 100 companies, weighted by their market value, so that the fund would hold twice as much of a £20 billion company than a £10 billion company. As the valuations rise and fall, and as companies come in and out of the FTSE 100, the index fund will buy and sell shares to keep their allocation as close to the FTSE 100 weighting as possible.

Why use capitalisation weighting for an index?

By using a capitalisation-weighted index, the index is measuring how the market is choosing to allocate capital. If the market value of one company in the index is £20 billion (the total value of all of the company's shares adds up to £20 billion), and another company has a market value of £10 billion, then the shareholders are valuing the first company at twice as much as the second. If they weren't, then some people would sell shares in the company that they thought was overvalued, and buy shares in the other company that they thought was undervalued, until the prices shifted to match what people think. Of course some people might think this, while others think the opposite, so the market value only represents the average sentiment of the shareholders. There is no correct objective valuation, only the valuation that comes from the average of all the shareholder decisions. This is why we talk about market value rather than just value. By using a capitalisation-weighted index, the index tracks this market valuation.
Now we could define loads of different indexes based on completely different criteria. For example, rather than worrying about market capitalisation, we could form an index based upon the value of all companies whose names begin with an 'L'. It's unlikely that this would tell us anything particularly interesting about the market though!

Why the market average is the best you can do

When you invest in an index fund tracking a capitalisation-weighted index, you are delegating your investment decisions to the market. You will be investing in companies in the index in proportion to how much capital everyone else has invested in these companies. This may seem like blindly following the herd, and you might think that you can do better than this, but you almost certainly can't.
The reason you can't beat the market is that it's a zero-sum game - if you're going to do better than the average, someone else has to do worse than the average. So if you are going to do better than the market average over the long term, you need to make better decisions than at least 50% of the other people making active investment decisions. When the market contains institutional investors, hedge funds, people with PhDs, very fast computers, and significant amounts of money, it's unlikely that you're going to be in the upper half.
Instead of trying to beat the market average yourself, you might be tempted to invest in an actively managed fund, where the investors try to make strategic picks to beat the market. The managers of such funds certainly have more resources available to them than you, and some even have excellent histories of market beating returns. However, there's no way for you to tell if an actively managed fund is actually better than the market average, or if they've just been lucky in the past.
To illustrate this, consider the following thought experiment: If I pick 500 people and ask them to flip a coin 10 times in a row, I'd expect one or two of them to get 10 heads in row. If we pick one of those people, and look at their coin flipping record, then this person appears to be very talented at flipping a coin and getting heads. However, if I asked them to flip the coin again, they would have a 50/50 chance, just like everyone else. So in a world where there are many actively managed funds, some will have done better than the market average in the past. But how can we tell whether they were just lucky, or, on the contrary, if they will continue to beat the market? The unfortunate answer is you likely can't.

Structure of Index Funds

So far, we've covered the basics of the index fund concept, but in order to actually get your money invested, you'll need to know a little bit about what real index funds look like in practice. If you haven't already, this might be a good time to review my original post on getting started with investing.
In the UK there are two common types index funds:
The legal structure of these funds doesn't matter too much to you as a personal investor, but there are some differences between OEICs and ETFs that you should be familiar with:
For more information on the differences between OEICs and ETFs, check out this write up from Monevator, as well as the wiki here in /ukpersonalfinance:

Company size, geography and other factors

Hopefully the previous sections have demystified the workings of indexes and index funds to some degree. However, you may still have questions about which index funds to invest in. That's worth a whole separate write up, but here is a brief overview of the landscape of some of the different types of index funds that are available:

Large cap, mid cap and small cap

Large cap companies are those with the largest capitalisations, and in the UK typically refers to the FTSE 100 companies. That is, the largest 100 companies in the UK. The smallest company in the FTSE 100 has a market capitalisation of around £4 billion. Some example index funds tracking large cap companies are:
Mid cap companies are those with smaller capitalisations, typically referring to the FTSE 250 companies, which are the 101st-350th companies in the UK by market capitalisation. The market capitalisation of these ranges between around £4 billion to £500 million. Some example index funds:
Small cap companies are those with smaller market capitalisations still, but it's a less well defined list than large or mid cap companies. An example index fund:

Geography

Index funds also provide a convenient way to invest in foreign markets, outside the UK. The funds are located in the UK, and priced in GBP, so they are very accessible to a UK investor, but can hold investments in European, US, or global markets.
The S&P 500 index is similar to the FTSE 100 index in the UK, but tracking the top 500 companies in the US. The Vanguard S&P 500 ETF is an index fund tracking the S&P 500.
Likewise, the EURO STOXX 50 index tracks the largest 50 companies in Europe, and can be invested in through index funds such as the iShares EURO STOXX 50 UCITS ETF.
There also exist indexes which aim to track the global market, such as the MSCI World index.

Other assets

As well as indexes which track company valuations, there are indexes which track bond valuations. For example the Vanguard UK Government Bond Index Fund aims to track the Bloomberg Barclays U.K. Government Float Adjusted Bond Index.
Index funds can also track other asset classes, like gold, property, and even alternative assets like Bitcoin.

Funds of funds

A single index typically represents a narrow cross section of the world, likely tracking only companies of a certain size, in a certain region, or a certain asset class. You may need to hold investments tracking multiple indexes in order to have a diversified portfolio across different assets types, company sizes and geographies. Rather than doing this manually, it is also possible to invest directly in a fund of funds. In this case, the fund holds a number of different underlying funds, tracking different indexes. This allows a single fund to have appropriate diversification.
Some examples of these funds of funds, particularly those aimed at passive investors are:
Hopefully this article has helped to explain what an index fund is, and why you might be interested in investing in index funds. The above examples are certainly not a full list of the available indexes and index funds, and you should definitely do further research into which funds are most appropriate for your investment goals.
Good luck with your investment journey!
submitted by jpallen to UKPersonalFinance [link] [comments]

The Big List

This is a list of (largely) contemporary thinkers, books and video content aimed as a reference for questions like -
"What should I read next?", "Who should I follow?" or "What are the best resources for [certain political topic]?"
The core list comes from Chomsky, and the books and people he's cited or praised. But the list has significantly expanded since then. Feel free to comment about any good books or channels you think should be on this list.
Chomsky discord server: https://discord.gg/2kse6pQ (for resource sharing and discussion)
BreadTube(for video focussed content) discord here: https://discord.gg/bbbJnXg
Journalists
Start off with:
Adam H Johnson - Propaganda Model, Media Critique at FAIR
Nathan J Robinson - Journalist, Current Affairs
Glenn Greenwald- Journalist, Privacy, US imperialism. The Intercept
Also Great
Owen Jones- UK Journalist
Naomi Klein- Journalist, neoliberalism, globalization.
George Monbiot- Journalist, environmentalist.
Amy Goodman- Journalist Democracy Now
Alex Press - Journalist and Founder, Jacobin
Alexander Cockburn - Journalist
Chris Hedges- Journalist.
P Sainath- Journalist, India specialist
Whistleblowing:
Daniel Ellsberg- Vietnam, Released Pentagon Papers.
Edward Snowden
Chelsea Manning
Julian Assange
US History and Foreign Policy
Start off with:
Noam Chomsky - Everything
Howard Zinn- Historian
Laura Poitras - Documentary maker
Also Great
Eqbal Ahmad, - US imperialism
Michelle Alexander, US prison system
William Blum- Former State Dept. Agent, Historian, US imperialism
Jean Bricmont- “The Belgian Chomsky” – US imperialism, geopolitics,
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - US History
Thomas Ferguson- US elections specialist.
Ian Haney Lopez- Racism, US politics.
Deepa Kumar- US imperialism, Islamophobia.
Andrew Bacevich - U.S. foreign policy, historian
Economics
Start off with:
Thomas Piketty - inequality
Ha-Joon Chang - institutional economist, specialising in development economics:
Joseph Stiglitz - Former World Bank Chief Economist
Amartya Sen- Third world development and Inequality, Nobel Prize Winner
Yanis Varoufakis
Richard Wolff- Marxism
Dean Baker
Also Great
Michael Albert
John Bellamy Foster
Richard Wilkinson- inequality
William Krehm - Labour
Stephanie Kelton - Modern Monetary Theory
Historians
Start off with:
Thomas Frank - historian, American politics
Howard Zinn- "People's" Historian
Raul Hilberg - The Leading Authority on the Holocaust
Phillip Mirowski - History of economics
Eric Hobsbawm - historian, Marxist
Also Great
Gar Aleprovitz, - world war 2, co-operatives.
Alex Carey - Laid the foundation for Manufacturing Consent
Nancy Maclean - US South, Labor, Race
Mark Curtis
Mike Davis- Globalization, Historian.
Gerald Horne- Historian, black liberation.
Gabriel Kolko- Historian. World War 2.
Morris Berman - historian, American social critic
Israel/Palestine
Start off with:
Norman Finkelstein- Israel specialist.
Avi Shlaim - Israel
Also Great
Amira Hass- Journalist, Israel specialist.
Illan Pappe- Israel specialist
James Petras- Israel and Latin America specialist.
Greg Philo- Media criticism, Israel.
Media Criticism
Start off with:
Edward Herman- Media criticism.
Robert McChesney- media criticism.
Edward Said- sociology, Islamophobia, Israel, media criticism
Also Great
Ben Bagdikian, - media criticism.
Keane Bhatt- Media Criticism, Latin America.
Oliver Boyd-Barrett- Media Criticism
Sut Jhally- sociology, film-maker
James Curran- Media Criticism
Alan MacLeod - Media Criticism, Venezuela
Anarchism/Socialism/Political Theory
Start off with:
David Graeber- historian, anarchism, Occupy Wall Street, anthropology.
Joel Bakan, - writer of “The Corporation”, seminal book on corporations.
Cornel West- sociology
Tariq Ali, “The British Chomsky”- everything from globalization to history to politics.
Murray Bookchin - Anarchism
Also Great
Angela Davis- Feminism, Marxism, black liberation.
Peter Gelderloos - anarchism
Uri Gordon - anarchism, Israel/Palestine
Harry Cleaver - Marxism, economics
Michel Bauwens - P2P, political economy
James C. Scott - anarchism, anthropology
Michael Heinrich - Marxism, political science
Specialists
Stephen Cohen- Russia specialist.
Bruce Cummings- Korea Specialist.
Aviva Chomsky – Immigration, Latin America.
Eduardo Galeano- Poet, Author, Latin American specialist.
Fawaz Gerges - Middle East specialist.
Andrej Grubacic- Yugoslavia specialist.
Flynt and Hillary Leverett- Iran specialists.
William I. Robinson- globalization, neoliberalism, Latin America specialist
Lars Schoultz- Latin America specialist
Sanho Tree- drugs, Colombia specialist
Nick Turse - Africa
Mark Weisbrot- economics, Latin America
Kevin Young- media criticism, Latin America
Raj Patel- Food
Vijay Prashad- globalization, third world development
Thomas Szasz- Criticism of psychiatry
Alfie Kohn- Education.
Daniel Kovalik - Human rights
Paulo Freire- Education.
Henry Giroux- Education
Greg Grandin - Historian, Latin America
Dave Zirin- sports
Gabor Maté- Education, drugs, psychiatry.
Kate Bronfenbrenner - Labour and Unions
Loic Wacquant - sociology, neoliberalism
Bernard Harcourt - surveillance, penal law
Eric Toussaint - political science, debt
The best arguments for major mainstream political positions:
Fascism and Neo-Conservatism
On Dictatorship and The Concept of The Political Carl Schmitt
Note:
Some have argued that neoconservativism has been influenced by Schmitt Most notably the legal opinions offered by Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo et al. by invoking the unitary executive theory to justify highly controversial policies in the war on terror—such as introducing unlawful combatant status which purportedly would eliminate protection by the Geneva Conventions torture, NSA electronic surveillance program—mimic his writings.Professor David Luban said in 2011 that "[a] Lexis search reveals five law review references to Schmitt between 1980 and 1990; 114 between 1990 and 2000; and 420 since 2000, with almost twice as many in the last five years as the previous five"
Realpolitik
World Order, by Henry Kissinger
Liberalism/Social Democracy
A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls
Right-Wing Libertarianism
Anarchy, State, Utopia by Robert Nozick
Technocracy
Zero to One, by Peter Thiel
Marxism-Leninism
Left-Wing Communism, and Infantile Disorder by Vladimir Lenin
Recommended books:
Israel/Palestine and the Middle East:
Start off with:
The Iron Wall by Avi Shlaim
★ Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom by Norman Finkelstein
Also Great
★ Fateful Triangle by Noam Chomsky
Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 by Tanya Reinhart
The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities by Simha Flapan
Between the Lines: Israel, the Palestinians, and the U.S. War on Terror by Tikva Honig-Parnass
The Holocaust Industry: Norman Finkelstein
Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy by Zeev Maoz
Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom by Norman Finkelstein
The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid by Roane Carey, Alison Weir, and others
The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah
American Foreign Policy:
Start off with:
★ ★ ★ Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky
Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II by William Blum
Also Great:
Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq by Jonathon Steele
A Different Kind of War: The Un Sanctions Regime in Iraq by Hans. C. Von Sponeck
Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror by Jason Burke
How America Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity by Michael Mandel
The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America's Wars by John Turnam
Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists by Scott Atran
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade by Alfred W. McCoy
Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights by James Peck
War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination by Howard Bruce Franklin
Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan by Nick Turse
Tomorrow's Battlefield : U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa by Nick Turse
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II by John Dower
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser
The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia by Nick Cullather
Voices From the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba by Keith Bolender
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg
Tinderbox: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Roots of Terrorism by Stephen Zunes
One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War by Michael Dobbs
Kill Chain: Drones and The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins by Andrew Cockburn
First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia by David Gibbs
The Management of Savagery by Max Blumenthal
Media and Propaganda:
Start off with:
Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky
Propaganda by Edward Bernays
The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy by Richard A. Falk
Also Great:
The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda by Edward Herman
The Politics of Genocide by Edward Herman
Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty by Alex Carey
American History and Culture:
Start off with:
★ A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Also Great:
Political Repression in Modern America: FROM 1870 TO 1976 by Robert Justin Goldstein
No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein
The Industrial Worker, 1840-1860: The Reaction of American Industrial Society to the Advance of the Industrial Revolution by Norman Ware
Voices of a People's History of the United States by Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn
Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Guerrilla War, from the American Revolution to Iraq by William R. Polk
★ With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful by Glenn Greenwald
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild
The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward Baptist
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 by Max Hastings
The Politics of War: Allied Diplomacy and the World Crisis of 1943-1945 by Gabriel Kolko Labor History:
The Fall of the House of Labor by David Montgomery
Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945-60 by Elizabeth A. Fones-Wolf
The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 by Charles Grier Sellers
Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States by Charles Derber
On the Rojava Experiment:
Revolution in Rojava
Struggles for Autonomy in Kurdistan
A Small Key Can Open a Large Door
Rojava: An Alternative to Imperialism, Nationalism, and Islamism in the Middle East
Coming Down the Mountains
To Dare Imagining: Rojava Revolution
★ Ocalan’s Prison Writings
Anarchism, Socialism, Philosophy, and Science:
Start off with:
Government In The Future(Talk) by Noam Chomsky
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
On Anarchism by Mikhail Bakunin
The Limits of State Action by Wilhelm von Humboldt
Also Great
Progress Without People: In Defense of Luddism by David F. Noble
Granny Made Me an Anarchist: General Franco, The Angry Brigade and Me by Stuart Christie
Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science by Alan Sokal
Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture by Alan Sokal
A Theory of Power by Jeff Vail
Workers' Councils by Anton Pannekoek
The State: Its Origin and Function by William Paul
On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky
The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution 1936-39 by Sam Dolgoff
Anarchism by Daniel Guerin
The Ancestors Tale by Richard Dawkins
Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan
Memory and the Computational Brain: Why Cognitive Science WIll Transform Neuroscience by Randy Gallistel and Adam Philip King
Vision: A Computational Investigation Into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information by David Marr
Economics:
Start off with:
★ ★ Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang
★ Making Globalization Work by Joseph Stiglitz
Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty
Adam Smith and His Legacy for Modern Capitalism by Patricia H. Werhane
Also Great:
Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism by Richard Wolff
Das Kapital by Karl Marx
Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America by Martin Gilens
America Beyond Capitalism by Gar Alperovitz
The ABCs of Political Economy: A Modern Approach by Robert Hahnel
★ ★ Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems by Thomas Ferguson
The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer by Dean Baker
Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer by Dean Baker
Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry M. Bartels
Understanding Capitalism: Critical Analysis From Karl Marx to Amartya Sen by Douglas Down
Whose Crisis, Whose Future?: Towards a Greener, Fairer, Richer World by Susan George
Business as Usual: The Economic Crisis and the Failure of Capitalism by Paul Mattock Jr.
Greening the Global Economy by Robert Pollin
Capitalism: A Ghost Story by Arundhati Roy
Political Economy and Laissez Faire by Rajani Kannepalli Kanth
The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time by Karl Polanyi
Miscellaneous:
★ Discipline and Punish, by Michel Foucault
Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari
Controlling the Dangerous Classes by Randall G. Shelden
Pedagogy of the Opressed by Paulo Freire
The Verso Book of Dissent: From Spartacus to the Shoe-Thrower of Baghdad by Andrew Hsiao
Don't Mourn, Balkanize!: Essays After Yugoslavia by Andrej Grubačić
★ Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers by Arundhati Roy
Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War by Fred Branfman
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
In Praise of Barbarians by Mike Davis
Damming the Flood by Peter Hallward
Hope and Folly: The United States and UNESCO, 1945-1985 by Edward Herman and Herbert Schiller
Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village by William Hinton
The Egyptians: A Radical Story by Jack Shenker
Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times by Charles Derber
Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States by Charles Derber
The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James
Dark Money by Jane Meyers
King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild
Recommended YouTubers/Creators/Channels(with a linked video to get you started):
Political
Contrapoints | America: Still Racist
★ Philosophy Tube | The Philosophy of Antifa
Existential Comics
★ ★ Chomsky’s Philosophy | Bakunin's Predictions
HBomber Guy | Soy Boys: A Measured Response
Shaun | How Privatisation Fails: Railways
Badmouse Productions | Argument ad Venezuelum
Three Arrows | Who is actually at fault for the refugee crisis?
Gravesend Films (with Norman Finkelstein) | The Idea Of Utopia
The Intercept | Greenwald and Risen debate Russiagate
Non Political
Lindsay Ellis - Film Criticism | The Ideology of the First Order
The Great War - History | The Run For The Baku Oil Fields
History Civilis - History | The Constitution Of The Spartans
Numberphile - Mathematics | Perplexing Paperclips
Computerphile - Technology | The Bitcoin Power Problem
Vihart - Mathematics | Hexaflexagons
3Blue1Brown - Mathematics | How Cryptocurrencies Work
PBS SpaceTime - Astronomy, Physics | The Blackhole Information Paradox
Will Schoder - Video Essays | The Problem with Irony and Postmodernism
Assorted Documentaries to get you started:
Manufacturing Consent - The seminal work on how the population is controlled in democratic societies
★ ★ Citizenfour - Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in a Hong Kong Room.
★ ★ Risk - A deep look at Wikileaks - from the inside the embassy.
The Murder of Fred Hampton - How the FBI brazenly assassinated an American citizen without any warrant or due process
Weiner - An incredible look at how political campaigns function from the inside.
The Corporation - What are corporations?
The Shock Doctrine - Lectures by Naomi Klein, news-reel footage and analysis to explain the connection between politics and economics.
Hypernormalization - Explains not only why chaotic events happen - but also why we, and politicians, cannot understand them.
Inside Job - A look at the cause for the financial crisis
Podcasts
Start off with:
★ ★ ★ Citations Needed
Also Great:
Intercepted
Current Affairs Podcast
Chapo Trap House
Moderate Rebels
Economic Update
Protect Yourself:
PrivacyToolsIO,
Electronic Frontier Foundation
submitted by -_-_-_-otalp-_-_-_- to minimalotalp [link] [comments]

SegWit would make it HARDER FOR YOU TO PROVE YOU OWN YOUR BITCOINS. SegWit deletes the "chain of (cryptographic) signatures" - like MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) deleted the "chain of (legal) title" for Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) in the foreclosure fraud / robo-signing fiasco

Summary (TL;DR)

Many people who study the financial crisis which started in 2008 know about "MERS", or "Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems" - a company / database containing over 62 million mortgages.
(The word "mortgages" may be unfamiliar to some non-English speakers - since it is not a cognate with most other languages. In French, they say "hypothèques", or "hipotecas" in Spanish, "Hypotheken" in German, etc).
The goal of MERS was to "optimize" the process of transferring "title" (legal ownership) of real-estate mortgages, from one owner to another.
But instead, in the 2010 "foreclosure crisis", MERS caused tens of billions of dollars in losses and damages - due to the "ususual" way it handled the crucial "ownership data" for real-estate mortgages - the data at the very heart of the database.
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22foreclosure+fraud%22+%22robo+signing%22+MERS&t=h_&ia=web
How did MERS handle this crucial "ownership data" for real-estate mortgages?
The "brilliant" idea behind MERS to "optimize" the process of conveying (transferring) mortgages was to separate - and eventually delete - all the data proving who transferred what to whom!
Hmm... that sounds vaguely familiar. What does that remind me of?
SegWit separating and then deleting the "chain of (cryptographic) signatures" for bitcoins sounds a lot like MERS separating and then deleting the "chain of (legal) title" for mortgages.
So, SegWit and MERS have a lot in common:
Of course, the "experts" (on Wall Street, and at AXA-owned Blockstream) present MERS and SegWit as "innovations" - as a way to "optimize" and "streamline" vast chains of transactions reflecting ownership and transfer of valuable items (ie, real-estate mortgages, and bitcoins).
But, unfortunately, the "brilliant bat-shit insane approach" devised by the "geniuses" behind MERS and SegWit to do this is to simply delete the data which proved ownership and transfer of these items - information which is essential for legal purposes (in the case of mortgages), or security purposes (in the case of bitcoins).
So, the most pernicious aspect of SegWit may be that it encourages deleting all of Bitcoin's cryptographic security data - destroying the "chain of signatures" which (according to the white paper) are what define what a "bitcoin" actually is.
Wow, deleting signatures with SegWit sounds bad. Can I avoid SegWit?
Yes you can.
To guarantee the long-term cryptographic, legal and financial security of your bitcoins:

Details

MERS = "The dog ate your mortgage's chain of title".
SegWit = "The dog ate your bitcoin's chain of signatures."
Wall Street-backed MERS = AXA-backed SegWit
It is probably no coincidence that:
How is AXA related to Blockstream?
Insurance multinational AXA, while not a household name, is actually the second-most-connected "fiat finance" firm in the world.
AXA's former CEO Pierre Castries was head of the secretive Bilderberg Group of the world's ultra-rich. (Recently, he moved on to HSBC.)
Due to AXA's massive exposure to derivatives (bigger than any other insurance company), it is reasonable to assume that AXA would be destroyed if Bitcoin reaches trillions of dollars in market cap as a major "counterparty-free" asset class - which would actually be quite easy using simple & safe on-chain scaling - ie, just using bigger blocks, and no SegWit.
So, the above facts provide one plausible explanation of why AXA-owned Blockstream seems to be quietly trying to undermine Bitcoin...
Do any Core / Blockstream devs and supporters know about MERS - and recognize its dangerous parallels with SegWit?
It would be interesting to hear from some of the "prominent" Core / Blockstream devs and supporters listed below to find out if they are aware of the dangerous similarities between SegWit and MERS:
Finally, it could also be interesting to hear from:
Core / Blockstream devs might not know about MERS - but AXA definitely does
While it is likely that most or all Core / Blockstream devs do not know about the MERS fiasco...
...it is 100% certain that people at AXA (the main owners of Blockstream) do know about MERS.
This is because the global financial crisis which started in 2008 was caused by:
The major financial media and blogs (Naked Capitalism, Zero Hedge, Credit Slips, Washington's Blog, etc.) covered MERS extensively:
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Anakedcapitalism.com+mers&t=h_&ia=web
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Azerohedge.com+mers&t=h_&ia=web
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Acreditslips.org+mers&t=h_&ia=web
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Awashingtonsblog.com+mers&t=h_&ia=web
So people at all the major "fiat finance firms" such as AXA would of course be aware of CDOs, MBSs and MERS - since these have been "hot topics" in their industry since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008.
Eerie parallels between MERS and SegWit
Read the analysis below of MERS by legal scholar Christopher Peterson - and see if you notice the eerie parallels with SegWit (with added emphasis in bold, and commentary in square brackets):
http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3399&context=wmlr
Loans originated with MERS as the original mortgagee purport to separate the borrower’s promissory note, which is made payable to the originating lender, from the borrower’s conveyance of a mortgage, which purportedly is granted to MERS. If this separation is legally incorrect - as every state supreme court looking at the issue has agreed - then the security agreements do not name an actual mortgagee or beneficiary.
The mortgage industry, however, has premised its proxy recording strategy on this separation, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding that “the note and mortgage are inseparable.” [Compare with the language from Satoshi's whitepaper: "We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures."]
If today’s courts take the Carpenter decision at its word, then what do we make of a document purporting to create a mortgage entirely independent of an obligation to pay? If the Supreme Court is right that a “mortgage can have no separate existence” from a promissory note, then a security agreement that purports to grant a mortgage independent of the promissory note attempts to convey something that cannot exist.
[...]
Many courts have held that a document attempting to convey an interest in realty fails to convey that interest if the document does not name an eligible grantee. Courts around the country have long held that “there must be, in every grant, a grantor, a grantee and a thing granted, and a deed wanting in either essential is absolutely void.”
The parallels between MERS and SegWit are obvious and inescapable.
Note that I am not arguing here that SegWit could be vulnerable to attacks from a strictly legal perspective. (Although that may be possible to.)
I am simply arguing that SegWit, because it encourages deleting the (cryptographic) signature data which defines "bitcoins", could eventually be vulnerable to attacks from a cryptographic perspective.
But I heard that SegWit is safe and tested!
Yeah, we've heard a lot of lies from Blockstream, for years - and meanwhile, they've only succeeded in destroying Bitcoin's market cap, due to unnecessarily high fees and unnecessarily slow transactions.
Now, in response to those legal-based criticisms of SegWit in the article from nChain, several so-called "Bitcoin legal experts" have tried to rebut that those arguments from nChain were somehow "flawed".
But if you read the rebuttals of these "Bitcoin legal experts", they sound a lot like the clueless "experts" who were cheerleading MERS for its "efficiency" - and who ended up costing tens billions of dollars in losses when the "chain of title" for mortgages held in the MERS database became "clouded" after all the crucial "ownership data" got deleted in the name of "efficiency" and "optimization".
In their attempt to rebut the article by nChain, these so-called "Bitcoin legal experts" use soothing language like "optimization" and "pragmatic" to try to lull you into believing that deleting the "chain of (cryptographic) signatures" for your bitcoins will be just as safe as deleting the "chain of (legal) notes" for mortgages:
http://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-legal-experts-nchain-segwit-criticisms-flawed/
The (unsigned!) article on CoinDesk attempting to rebut Nguyen's article on nChain starts by stating:
Nguyen's criticisms fly in the face of what has emerged as broad support for the network optimization, which has been largely embraced by the network's developers, miners and startups as a pragmatic step forward.
Then it goes on to quote "Bitcoin legal experts" who claim that using SegWit to delete Bitcoin's cryptographic signatures will be just fine:
Marco Santori, a fintech lawyer who leads the blockchain tech team at Cooley LLP, for example, took issue with what he argued was the confused framing of the allegation.
Santori told CoinDesk:
"It took the concept of what is a legal contract, and took the position that if you have a blockchain signature it has something to do with a legal contract."
And:
Stephen Palley, counsel at Washington, DC, law firm Anderson Kill, remarked similarly that the argument perhaps put too much weight on the idea that the "signatures" involved in executing transactions on the bitcoin blockchain were or should be equivalent to signatures used in digital documents.
"It elides the distinction between signature and witness data and a digital signature, and they're two different things," Palley said.
And:
"There are other ways to cryptographically prove a transaction is correctly signed other than having a full node," said BitGo engineer Jameson Lopp. "The assumption that if a transaction is in the blockchain, it's probably valid, is a fairly good guarantee."
Legal experts asserted that, because of this design, it's possible to prove that the transaction occurred between parties, even if those involved did not store signatures.
For this reason, Coin Center director Jerry Brito argued that nChain is overstating the issues that would arise from the absence of this data.
"If you have one-time proof that you have the bitcoin, if you don't have it and I have it, logically it was signed over to me. As long as somebody in the world keeps the signature data and it's accessible, it's fine," he said.
There are several things you can notice here:
  • These so-called "Bitcoin legal experts" are downplaying the importance of signatures in Bitcoin - just like the "experts" behind MERS downplayed the importance of "notes" for mortgages.
  • Satoshi said that a bitcoin is a "chain of digital signatures" - but these "Bitcoin legal experts" are now blithely asserting that we can simply throw the "chain of digital signatures" in the trash - and we can be "fairly" certain that everything will "probably" be ok.
  • The "MERS = SegWit" argument which I'm making is not based on interpreting Bitcoin signatures in any legal sense (although some arguments could be made along those lines).
  • Instead, I'm just arguing that any "ownership database" which deletes its "ownership data" (whether it's MERS or SegWit) is doomed to end in disaster - whether that segregated-and-eventually-deleted "ownership data" is based on law (with MERS), or cryptography (with SegWit).
Who's right - Satoshi or the new "Bitcoin experts"?
You can make up your own mind.
Personally, I will never send / receive / store large sums of money using any "SegWit" bitcoin addresses.
This, is not because of any legal considerations - but simply because I want the full security of "the chain of (cryptographic) signatures" - which, according to the whitepaper, is the very definition of what a bitcoin "is".
Here are the words of Satoshi, from the whitepaper, regarding the "chain of digital signatures":
https://www.bitcoin.com/bitcoin.pdf
We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures. Each owner transfers the coin to the next by digitally signing a hash of the previous transaction and the public key of the next owner and adding these to the end of the coin. A payee can verify the signatures to verify the chain of ownership.
Does that "chain of digital signatures" sound like something you'd want to throw in the trash??
  • The "clever devs" from AXA-owned Blockstream (and a handful of so-called "Bitcoin legal experts) say "Trust us, it is safe to delete the chain of signatures proving ownership and transfer of bitcoins". They're pushing "SegWit" - the most radical change in the history of Bitcoin. As I have repeatedly discussed, SegWit weakens Bitcoin's security model.
  • The people who support Satoshi's original Bitcoin (and clients which continue to implement it: Bitcoin ABC, Bitcoin Unlimited, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Classic - all supporting "Bitcoin Cash" - ie "Bitcoin" without SegWit) say "Trust no one. You should never delete the chain of signatures proving ownership and transfer of your bitcoins."
  • Satoshi said:

We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures.

  • So, according to Satoshi, a "chain of digital signatures" is the very definition of what a bitcoin is.
  • Meanwhile according to some ignorant / corrupt devs from AXA-owned Blockstream (and a handful of "Bitcoin legal experts") now suddenly it's "probably" "fairly" safe to just throw Satoshi's "chain of digital signatures" in the trash - all in the name of "innovation" and "efficiency" and "optimization" - because they're so very clever.
Who do you think is right?
Finally, here's another blatant lie from SegWit supporters (and small-block supporters)
Let's consider this other important quote from Satoshi's whitepaper above:
A payee can verify the signatures to verify the chain of ownership.
Remember, this is what "small blockers" have always been insisting for years.
They've constantly been saying that "blocks need to be 1 MB!!1 Waah!1!" - even though several years ago the Cornell study showed that blocks could already be 4 MB, with existing hardware and bandwidth.
But small-blockers have always insisted that everyone should store the entire blockchain - so they can verify their own transactions.
But hey, wait a minute!
Now they turn around and try to get you to use SegWit - which allows deleting the very data which insisted that you should download and save locally to verify your own transactions!
So, once again, this exposes the so-called "arguments" of small-blocks supporters as being fake arguments and lies:
  • On the one hand, they (falsely) claim that small blocks are necessary in order for everyone to be run "full nodes" because (they claim) that's the only way people can personally verify all their own transactions. By the way, there are already several errors here with what they're saying:
    • Actually "full nodes" is a misnomer (Blockstream propaganda). The correct terminology is "full wallets", because only miners are actually "nodes".
    • Actually 1 MB "max blocksize" is not necessary for this. The Cornell study showed that we could easily be using 4 MB or 8 MB blocks by now - since, as everyone knows, the average size of most web pages is already over 2 MB, and everyone routinely downloads 2 MB web pages in a matter of seconds, so in 10 minutes you could download - and upload - a lot more than just 2 MB. But whatever.
  • On the other hand, they support SegWit - and the purpose of SegWit is to allow people to delete the "signature data".
    • This conflicts with their argument the everyone should personally verify all their own transactions. For example, above, Coin Center director Jerry Brito was saying: "As long as somebody in the world keeps the signature data and it's accessible, it's fine."
    • So which is it? For years, the "small blockers" told us we needed to all be able to personally verify everything on our own node. And now SegWit supporters are telling us: "Naah - you can just rely on someone else's node."
    • Plus, while the transactions are still being sent around on the wire, the "signature data" is still there - it's just "segregated" - so you're not getting any savings on bandwidth anyways - you'd only get the savings if you delete the "signature data" from storage.
    • Storage is cheap and plentiful, it's never been the "bottleneck" in the system. Bandwidth is the main bottleneck - and SegWit doesn't help that at all, because it still transmits all the data.
Conclusion
So if you're confused by all the arguments from small-blockers and SegWitters, there's a good reason: their "arguments" are total bullshit and lies. They're attempting to contradict and destroy:
  • Satoshi's original design of Bitcoin as a "chain of digital signatures":
"We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures. Each owner transfers the coin to the next by digitally signing a hash of the previous transaction and the public key of the next owner and adding these to the end of the coin. A payee can verify the signatures to verify the chain of ownership."
  • Satoshi's plan for scaling Bitcoin by simply increasing the goddamn blocksize:
Satoshi Nakamoto, October 04, 2010, 07:48:40 PM "It can be phased in, like: if (blocknumber > 115000) maxblocksize = largerlimit / It can start being in versions way ahead, so by the time it reaches that block number and goes into effect, the older versions that don't have it are already obsolete."
https://np.reddit.com/btc/comments/3wo9pb/satoshi_nakamoto_october_04_2010_074840_pm_it_can/
  • The the notorious mortgage database MERS, pushed by clueless and corrupt Wall Street bankers, deleted the "chain of (legal) title" which had been essential to show who conveyed what mortgages to whom - leading to "clouded titles", foreclosure fraud, and robo-signing.
  • The notorious SegWit soft fork / kludge, pushed by clueless and corrupt AXA-owned Blockstream devs, allows deleting the "chain of (cryptographic) signatures" which is essential to show who sent how many bitcoins to whom - which could lead to a catastrophe for people who foolishly use SegWit addresses (which can be avoided: unsafe "SegWit" bitcoin addresses start with a "3" - while safe, "normal" Bitcoin addresses start with a "1").
  • Stay safe and protect your bitcoin investment: Avoid SegWit transactions.
[See the comments from me directly below for links to several articles on MERS, foreclosure fraud, robo-signing, "clouded title", etc.]
submitted by ydtm to btc [link] [comments]

Biased Sunday Preaching: Why I believe in Bitcoin

Biased Sunday Preaching: Bitcoin

If you pay attention to the Noel Prize winner in Economy Paul Krugman, you will have been warned about bitcoin.
There is a bubble that we should talk about -- a Ponzi scheme where people are rewarded.
The US ended up being the world's reserve currency for reasons highly related to politics and economy. It benefitted the most from post-WWII industrialization, maintained power over oil resources (though in other countries), and initially had its dollar tied to gold. The 1944 Bretton Woods Accord was signed by 44 countries, and gave $35 for an ounce of gold. Thirty years later and Nixon unlinked gold and the dollar.
The late 20th century saw a massive movement of manufacturing from the US to China, to exploit cheap labor. Our standard of living changes are very tied to that. The hourly wage of Americans is high compared to most of the world.
But things don't always last. There's this theory called the Strauss-Howe generational theory, which outlines an archetype of generations, described by four cycles: High, Awakening, Unraveling, Crisis. The idea is basically this: when things are bad, people work to improve them, so things get better; when things are good, people ignore them, so things get worse. I've seen the thing over and over in social groups: small groups are tight-knit and personal, so they grow; large groups become faceless and restrictive, so they shrink if they can't figure out how to create the small group dynamics. I digress.
Yes, this relates to economics, as it is about philosophical principles that drive economies, and how people work on improving value or ignoring that.

Tulip Mania

The question is, what creates monetary value?
The answer is, trust. Sometimes the complete lack of trust in each other.
There's an apocryphal story about how tulip bulbs were were sold for ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsmen, in the the Dutch commerce. The point of the story is that people became crazed about something that has low value. And that at some point people stopped buying tulips, thereby collapsing its price. Obviously a ridiculous story on its face, because tulips don't last and aren't a currency, and the value created was because people wanted the tulips for social reasons.
What's backing the US dollar? If hyperinflation were to happen due to a new war or major economic collapse, your dollars would be worthless. Even putting those dollars into a banking account today, depending on your banking account, it's hard to say whether you would have equivalent buying power in a few decades. Those dollars would have lost value due to inflation. Some argue that inflatable currencies are a Ponzi scheme, with the hidden tax of inflation behind them.

What are you talking about?

Cryptocurrency.
I'm leading into talking about cryptocurrency. Bitcoin. Ethereum. And plenty others.
I'm a firm believer that Bitcoin will retain -- and increase -- in value over the next several decades. There will be other competitors that may gain in more value, but they will be service specific.
I have several reasons for this.
1) All governments will inflate their currency, thereby losing value to those who are invested in them. Inflation is the hidden tax on us all. There is not only a nothing tangible thing behind that piece of paper or zeros and ones on a computer, but there isn't even a limited supply. Dollars come out of thin air, at a whim. The world has limited resources, but unlimited possible dollars.
2) Bitcoin is limited, therefore rare. Whether it is under or overvalued currently, I think it is a long term solution. It still allows for growth, as those computer bytes are nearly infinitely divisible. And other cryptos can allow for secondary currencies.
3) The younger generations will increasingly invest in crypto, and out of classical investment models. We will continue to see less money going from stocks to new crypto businesses that incorporate these as their models.
4) Crypto is global. It is not tied to a specific country, therefore, for many of the large cryptocurrencies, we are all in this together. If a country has problems with its currency, it will affect crypto value. But I would rather a a global hedge over a local, volatile hedge.
5) New models will result from this. Business. Political. Sociel. Technological. Distributed, decentralized models will be very robust long term.

What now?

Don't go and spend your entire bank account on crypto. Just. Don't. It's volatile, and you will get emotional, leading to stupid decisions. But do spend a small portion of it to get into this space. This is a long investment, unless you are using it to buy something tangible, such as from your local tech shop.
But watch the space. There are models here that will become increasingly important.
If you do hanker for buying bitcoin, I recommend coinbase or bitstamp.
They say that a bubble exists only when people don't recognize that something is a bubble.
The question that we have to answer is this: will the US retain global dominance, and how do we react to that answer?
submitted by TheMysteriousFizzyJ to WayOfTheBern [link] [comments]

Doug Kass' 15 Surprises For 2019

Authored by Dog Kass via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,
White House Politics:
(When asked what he wanted to give thanks for during a press gaggle Thanksgiving Thursday, Trump responded), “_for having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country. I’ve made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it… And I mean, you see, but so much stronger people can’t even believe it. When I see foreign leaders they say we cannot believe the difference in strength between the United States now and the United States two years ago.” _– President Trump (Comments on Thanksgiving)
Policy:
_“You only think I guessed wrong! … You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – the most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!” _– Vizzini,The Princess Bride
The Economy:
“The missing step in the standard Keynesian theory (is) the explicit consideration of capitalist finance within a cyclical and speculative context… finance sets the pace for the economy. As recovery approaches full employment… soothsayers will proclaim that the business cycle has been banished (and) debts can be taken on. But in truth neither the boom nor the debt deflation… and certainly not a recovery can go on forever. Each state nurtures forces that lead to its own destruction.” _–_ Hyman Minsky
The Markets:
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” __Seneca the Elder
Contrary to the expectations of many (including myself), the uncertainties following the surprising Trump presidential election victory, which produced a number of possible outcomes (some of them adverse), was enthusiastically embraced by investors in 2017 and in the first month of this year. A market on steroids was not a conclusion or forecast by any mainstream Wall Street forecaster that year. There was no sell side strategist who expected equities would rise anywhere near the 20%+ gains in the major indices recorded in 2017, nor do I know any who predicted that the S&P Index would make more than 70 individual highs a year ago.
As I expected, that enthusiasm continued in and through most of the month of January, 2018. But, after a year of historically low volatility and ever-rising stock prices, the bullish consensus became troubled as the complexion of the market changed throughout most of 2018 .
As I noted in last year’s commentary, I thought that the biggest surprise in 2018 would be that extrapolation of the market uptrend didn’t work after many years of working, and that we will witness the emergence of multiple non-consensus developments, including:
Warren Buffett once observed that a bull market_ “is like sex. It feels best just before it ends.'” _While some of us in the ursine crowd debate whether the investment orgasm has already passed, in the extreme it finally may be Minsky’s Moment and year after nine years of recovery and prosperity following _The Great Recession._This year I have decided to publish my _“Surprise List”_ a bit earlier than usual.
As you all know, my Surprises are what I term to be _Probable Improbables_ – events that have a greater possibility of occurring than are seen by the consensus. I try to make you think apart from that diabolically dangerous_ “Group Stink”_ and, particularly as it relates to politics (but with other subjects as well), I feel that I should offend you at least once, or I am not doing my job. But, any offense is meant in the spirit of the great Romantic poet William Blake who taught us that “_Opposition is true friendship._”
My Surprises are shorter in length than in previous years. _(I want to quickly get to the important points of the Surprise List – available on one or two pages – rather than deliver a more flowery prose and bunch of stories that I have commonly done in the past)._We will start the new investment year about one month from now with a completely different _“feeling”_ of previous years – as I mentioned previously, the complexion of Mr. Market seems to have changed:
The core themes and roadmap for 2019 is that a standard run-of-the-mill Bear Market may run into something bigger in a year enveloped in unprecedented political turmoil (and electorate disgust and anger), an escalating trade (and cold) war with China and continuing global economic disappointments — dragging down a mature, an extended and fully exploited economic growth and market cycle.
Not surprisingly, my Surprise is that a slightly down year of performance for the S&P Index in 2018 may turn out to be something worse in 2019.
But the biggest and most provocative surprise is the decline and fall of President Trump in 2019 – in which an anti-imperial rebalancing is successfully mounted by a more assertive Congress, bringing the country back into constitutional equilibrium.
Without further fuss, here are my outside of consensus 15 Surprises for 2019:
1) A U.S. Recession in 2019 Followed by Stagflation:
We learn, in 2019, the extent to which economic activity was pulled forward by the protracted period of historically low interest rates – as capital spending, retail sales, housing and autos founder further.
With U.S. Real GDP growth dropping to +1% to +2% in the first half of 2019, inflation remaining stubbornly high (especially of a wage-kind as the labor market remains tight) and with cost pressures unable to be passed on, the threat of recession intensifies.
By the third quarter of 2019 U.S. Real GDP turns negative. Tax collections collapse as government spending continues to rise. The budget deficit forecasts are lifted to over $2 trillion.
The U.S. falls into a recession in the last half of 2019 – followed by a lengthy period of stagnating economic growth and higher inflation (stagflation).
A dysfunctional, non-unified and discombobulated Europe also falls into a recession in 2019 – with significant ramifications for U.S. multinationals that populate the S&P Index.
U.S./Chinese trade tensions push the global economy down the hill as the year progresses and GDP growth in China comes in below +5.0%. The IMF reduces it’s global economic growth forecast three times next year.
S&P per share earnings fall by over -10% in 2019.
2) The Federal Reserve Pauses and Then Cuts as Currencies and Interest Rates Swing Wildly:
It’s a wild year for fixed income and currency volatility.
The Fed cuts rates in 3Q2019 and by year-end announces that QE4 will commence in January, 2020.
The 2018 tantrum in Italian bonds is just a precursor for hissy fits throughout the European bond market as the ECB is no longer expanding its balance sheet and tries to get out of NIRP.
The BoJ throws in the towel on their drive for higher inflation. The Japanese bond market sees sharp selloff.
During 2019 the yield on the ten year U.S. note falls to 2.25% before ending the year at over 3.50% as the selloff in European and Japanese bonds and the announcement of QE4 drive our yields higher. Gold falls to $1050 before ending the year at over $1700.
3) Stocks Sink:
Though the third year of a Presidential cycle is usually bullish – _it’s different this time._Trump confusing _brains with a bull market_ can’t fathom the emerging Bear Market. At first he blames it on Steve Mnuchin, his Secretary of Treasury (who leaves the Administration in the middle of the year). Then he blames a lower stock market on the mid-term election which turned the House. Then he blames the market correction on the Chinese.
The S&P Index hits a yearly low of 2200 in the first half of the year as the market worries about slowing economic and profit growth and a burgeoning deficit/monetization. The announcement of QE4 results in a year end rally in December, 2019. In a continued regime of volatility (and in a market dominated by ETFs and machines/algos), daily swings of 1%-3% become more commonplace. Investor sentiment slumps as redemptions from exchange traded funds grow to record levels. The absence of correlation between ETFs and the underlying component investments causes regulatory concerns throughout the year.
Congress holds hearings on the changing market structure and the weak foundation those changes delivered during the year.
Short sellers provide the best returns in the hedge fund space as the S&P Index records a second consecutive yearly loss (which is much deeper than in 2018).
As the Fed cuts interest rates the US dollar falls and emerging markets outperform the US in 2019.
I, like many, are concerned about corporate credit (See Surprise #8) and though credit is not unscathed, it is equities that bear the brunt of the Bear since they are below credit in the company capitalization structure.
Bottom line, after a steep drop in the first six months of the year, the markets rise off of the lows late in the year in response to this shifting political scene (the decline of Trump) and a reversal to a more expansive Fed policy – ending the year with a -10% loss.
4) Despite the Appearance of the Bear, FANG Stocks Surprisingly Prosper (Both Absolutely and Relatively) as Investors Seek Growth (at any cost) In a Slowing Economy – Facebook’s Shares Rebound Dramatically:
While there is a growing consensus that FANG will lead a Bear Market lower – that is not the case as growth, in a general sense, is dear and cherished by market participants next year. Among FANG, Facebook‘s shares have a reversal of fortune (and is the best performing FANG stock) as the company announces aggressive management changes and moves to remedy the misinformation trap.
As more previously unrevealed information reduces her valuation, Sheryl Sandburg’s special status as a female leader (in a seascape of men at Facebook and in industry) is questioned. In the first half of 2019, Sandberg becomes a sacrificial lamb and is sacked – and is forced to lean out after leaning in.
At the suggestion of Warren Buffett (who has accumulated a sizable stake in the company), former Board Member Donald Graham is named as the new, independent and Non-Executive Board Chairman of Facebook.
This unexpected move encourages FB investors to believe that the company is quickly moving to fix its multiple data and privacy issues.
Fewer (than feared) Facebook members opt out and growth in usage resumes in the back half of 2019.
FB’s stock popularity (and market capitalization) increases as it becomes a more dominant holding in “value investors” portfolios – the shares trade above $200/share late in the year.
5) “Peak Trump” – the President Bows Out in His Pursuit of a Second Term:
The President’s dismissal of the murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi is seen as delivering tacit support to Saudi Arabia’s MBS – it is a pivotal turning point in Trump’s popularity and ultimate reputational decline in 2019. _“Pay enough and you can get away with murder”_ becomes the mantra of the Progressive Left. Trump acceptance by his Republican party peers quickly diminishes as they are further worried about his motivation to side against the findings of his own intelligence department. After Trump’s personal dealings with authoritarian and autocratic countries are revealed in the Mueller probe (along with possible emoluments violations), Trump’s popularity fades further as Lindsay Graham and other prominent Republicans repeal their support and denounce the President.
An anti-imperial rebalancing is mounted, in which a more assertive Congress brings the country back into constitutional equilibrium.
Though the public and political leaders (even on the right)_ increasingly reject the President, there are no impeachment efforts by the Democrats. Instead (and surprisingly), House Speaker Pelosi (recognizing that constructive steps are the recipe for a Democratic 2020 Presidential win) exacts discretion and stops the Democrats from moving on an impeachment in the House. Democratic leadership turns to reforms and a torrent of new legislation in the areas of improving the environment and climate control (and the halt of growth in fossil fuel by the development of alternative energy programs), the opioid crisis, education, crime, voting rights, healthcare and prescription drug prices, immigration, etc.- showing the electorate that their Party can demonstrate the framework for a positive agenda, a vision and a social contract (and can rule instead of obstruct).But, most importantly… With real GDP turning negative in 2019’s second half, Democrats attempt to replace Republicans’ supply-side economics with a smarter theory of growth. Recognizing just as inflation and other ills opened the door for criticism of Keynesian economics in the 1970s, so have inequality and disinvestment done the same for critiques of supply side today. In 2019, the Democrats turn the table on the supply-siders and give a voice through thoughtful proposed legislation (making the affirmative case for the Democratic theory of growth geared to raising wages and putting more money in the hands in working- and middle-class people’s pocket and investing in their needs). Americans enthusiastically embrace this alternative (of how the economy works and grows and spreads prosperity) and reject and defeat the long standing Republican economic narrative – seeing it as a better way to spur on the economy_ (than giving rich people more tax cuts)._ Asking the question _“has it worked for you?_” and given the fairy tale of added revenue from growth (and the widening hole in the deficit),_ rampant inequality, the fear of being bankrupted by medical catastrophe and massive student debt obligations Democrats provide a practical alternative to cutting taxes for the rich and decreasing regulation which has failed to unleash as much innovation and economic activity that was promised by the Administration. The legislation, which puts more money in middle class pockets, defends and supports the notion that the public sector can make better decisions than the private sector. Referred to as the _“middle – in economic bill,”_ is cosponsored by a leading, conservative and respected Republican member of Congress and begins to gain bipartisan support in Congress, driving a stake through the supply-side’s heart.
Despite his loss of popularity (which plummets to 25%)_ and the push back from the Republican establishment, Trump declares he is still planning to run for President. Nevertheless, a challenge from Senator Mitt Romney (who’s motto is “Make Republicans Great Again”_) gains steam as McConnell, Graham, Kennedy Et al. throw their support for the Senator.
As Trump’s problems multiply, Romney becomes the heavy favorite to defeat Trump in the Republican primary.
Recognizing a sure election defeat, by year-end the President announces that his medical team has disclosed a health issue and he is advised not to run for office. _Reluctantly, _Trump agrees and bows out of the 2020 Presidential race late in the year.
The Trump mantra of “Make America Great Again” i_s replaced by _“Make Economic Uncertainty and Market Volatility Great Again.”#MAGA/#MUVGA
6) The Year of the Woman:
With a Trump withdrawal from 2020 the election is wide open.
The arc of history influences the Democratic Presidential nomination march and the leading candidates that emerge for 2020 are mostly women. The potential contenders include progressive firebrands like Elizabeth Warren, Stacey Abrams, Kristen Gillibrand and Kamala Harris, and moderates like Senator Amy Klobuchar and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.
Michael Bloomberg, Howard Schultz and Joe Biden bowout from the race by year end 2019 By year-end, Klobucher, Harris and Warren surface as the three leading Democratic Presidential candidates.
It appears that an all women Democratic ticket (President/Vice President) is increasingly likely.
Nationally, several high profile sexual harassment suits are disclosed. Allegations against a number of well known television, other entertainment and political icons/leaders serve to reinforce the candidacy of the above women who aspire to gain the Democratic Presidential nomination. After Congressional hearings, non partisan and strict harassment legislation are introduced forcing several well known male politicians to resign from office.
7) A New (But Old) Shiny Object Appears As A Stock Market Winner in 2019:
Bitcoin trades close to $3,000 in December, 2018 and spends most of 2019 under $5,000 (as numerous trading irregularities, thefts and more frauds are exposed).
England’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) takes the lead, in instituting a comprehensive regulatory response to regulating the crypto currency markets. The U.S. follows by imposing broad-based crypto currency regulation in 2019.
A leading business network (who’s bitcoin “bug” has become the new cover of magazine contrary indicator!) faces a class action suit for their seeming encouragement in buying into the asset class in their too frequent broadcasts during 2018. Several crypto currency guests who were prominent on the network’s coverage are indicted for fraud. In an agreement with regulatory authorities, the biz network’s programming is reconstituted.
Marijuana stocks, after a weak final few months in 2018 (are down by over 50% from their highs), explode back to the upside reflecting a quickened pace of alternative health applications. (MJ) is the single best performing exchange traded fund and (TLRY) makes another move to $300/share.
8) Private Equity, High Yield Debt and Leveraged Loan Problems (Which Have Doubled in Size Over the Last Ten Years) Emerge as the Resurgence of Leveraged Finance Comes to An End:
Private equity, in particular, the biggest winner in the decade long cycle since _The Great Decession of 2007-09,_ suffers – and so do the endowments at several prestigious universities. Covenant- lite financings in junk and leveraged loans – often in opaque and complex structures – topple under the weight of loan defaults. (HYG) (last sale: $83.17) trades $75-$80 as redemptions spike.
Publicly-held private equity shops (KKR) and Blackstone (BX) are among the largest percentages losers in 2019, High yield bonds fulfill their characterization as “junk,” and are among the worst performing asset classes. The spread between junk bonds and Treasuries more than doubles – widening dramatically during the summer months.
9) The China/U.S.Rift Intensifies as Trump’s Anger Shifts Towards That Region:
The trade war with China goes into full effect with 25% tariffs. Walmart (WMT) is adversely impacted and its shares fall by -20% from the recent highs. The Chinese retaliate against major American brands like Apple (AAPL) . _(“Peak Apple” actually happens and its shares fall below $125/share)._Peter Navarro resigns.
A major cyber-attack against the U.S. financial system, who’s source is initially not diagnosed, is ultimately reportedly to have been delivered by China. The U.S. enters a cold war with China that resembles the emergence of the cold war with Russia in 1948 – it becomes clear it will be lengthy, nasty and unfriendly to the trajectory of worldwide economic growth.
10) Bank Stocks Are Surprising Winners in 2019:
Despite some pressure in net interest margins (and income), sluggish loan demand and a pickup in loan losses – bank stocks (and EPS) are surprisingly resilient and manage to have a positive return next year as better relative EPS growth is supported by aggressive buybacks and (starting) low valuations. Investors look forward to a recovery in economic growth in 2020-21 and bank stocks (flat for most of the year) have a vigorous move in the last few months of the year and are one of the few sectors to advance in 2019.
Oil stocks, depressed from the late 2018 crude oil price fall also recovery mightily in the later months of 2019 as the price of oil advances coincident with dovish turn in monetary policy.
11) Tesla’s Problems Shift From Production to Demand to Financial:
Tesla (TSLA) loses its tax subsidy in the U.S. and in the Netherlands (a large market for them).
European competition grows.
Europe doesn’t allow the Tesla Model 3 due to safety reasons. The Chinese won’t let an American company have video data over millions of miles of roads and bans Tesla. Lenders balk and access to the public debt market evaporates. The company’s financial position deteriorates and its credit default swaps widen dramatically.
An accounting “issue” surfaces – and it morphs into an accounting fraud. Elon Musk, who has leveraged his TSLA equity holdings, faces margin calls and is forced to sell Tesla shares.
After being rushed to the hospital after an overdose, Musk leaves his CEO post to enter drug rehab.
12) Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) (BRK.B) Announces the Largest Takeover in History – The Transformational Acquisition of 3M for $150 billion.
13) Amazon (AMZN) Makes a Bid for Square (SQ) but Alphabet/Google (GOOGL) Eventually Acquires Both Square SQ and Twitter (TWTR)
14) With its Share Price Consistently Trading Under Its Book Value During the First Few Months of 2019, Goldman Sachs’ (GS) Partners Take the Brokerage Private in a Leveraged Buyout at $238/share.
15) Brexit Happens: The world continues and the pound is the best global currency.

Here Are 5-“Also Eligible” Surprises:

submitted by rotoreuters to zerohedge [link] [comments]

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