December 13, 2017

It's Official: Bitcoin Surpasses "Tulip Mania", Is Now The Biggest Bubble In World History

One month ago, a chart from Convoy Investments went viral for showing that among all of the world's most famous asset bubbles, bitcoin was only lagging the infamous 17th century "Tulip Mania."

One month later, the price of bitcoin has exploded even higher, and so it is time to refresh where in the global bubble race bitcoin now stands, and also whether it has finally surpassed "Tulips."

Conveniently, overnight the former Bridgewater analysts Howard Wang and Robert Wu who make up Convoy, released the answer in the form of an updated version of their asset bubble chart. In the new commentary, Wang writes that the Bitcoin prices have again more than doubled since the last update, and "its price has now gone up over 17 times this year, 64 times over the last three years and superseded that of the Dutch Tulip’s climb over the same time frame."

That's right: as of this moment it is official that bitcoin is now the biggest bubble in history, having surpassed the Tulip Mania of 1634-1637.

And with that we can say that crypto pioneer Mike Novogratz was right once again when he said that "This is going to be the biggest bubble of our lifetimes." Which, of course, does not stop him from investing hundreds of millions in the space: when conceding that cryptos are the biggest bubble ever, "Novo" also said he expects bitcoin to hit $40,000 and ethereum to triple to $1,500.

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December 12, 2017

Oil Producers Turning To Crypto To Solve Sanctions Problems

Last week, Venezuela announced it would develop a national cryptocurrency backed by its oil reserves, the Petro.  Now there is a report that Russia is considering the same thing.  Iran will likely follow suit.

As of right now this is just a rumor, but it makes some sense.  So, let’s treat this rumor as fact for the sake of argument and see where it leads us.

The U.S. continues to sanction and threaten all of these countries for daring to challenge the global status quo.  There is no denying this.  And so much of what we see in the geopolitical headlines are knock-on effects of this challenge.

The Geopolitical “Why”

From the Middle East to North Korea, the Dutch changing their laws to block Nordstream 2 to the Saudis breaking off relations with Qatar, everything you read about in the news is a move on the geopolitical “Go” board.

Because at the heart of this is the petrodollar. Contrary to what many believe, the petrodollar is not the source of the U.S. dollar’s power around the world, but rather the U.S.’s main fulcrum by which to keep competition out of the markets.

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December 11, 2017

Bitcoin Futures Begin Trading – Let The Madness Commence!

One of the things that I love about Bitcoin is that the fun never seems to end.  On Sunday, Bitcoin futures began trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange for the first time ever, and within minutes the CBOE’s website crashed.  What a perfect metaphor.  Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are completely and utterly disrupting the global financial system, and the financial establishment is still groping for a cohesive response to this growing phenomenon.

For a long time the financial establishment seemed to think that if they just kept publicly trashing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that they would eventually just go away.  In fact, earlier today I came across a story that talked about how Deutsche Bank is warning of a “Bitcoin crash” in 2018.  But what they don’t realize is that we have reached a tipping point, and the world will never go back to the way it was before.

And even though other global financial institutions are dragging their feet, an enormous threshold was crossed when Bitcoin futures were launched on the Chicago Board Options Exchange just a few hours ago

On Sunday, the Cboe will finally launch its long-awaited bitcoin futures contract; the CME Group will launch its futures contract later this month.

This will surely add a new element to bitcoin, shifting it from a buy-side-only trade to introducing the ability to go long — or short. This should bring new, larger and institutional participants into the market.

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December 8, 2017

Bitcoin Bubble: Is Bitcoin Going To $1 Million Or Is it Going To Zero?

The price of Bitcoin continues to rise at an exponential rate, and the financial world is in a complete state of shock.  Just yesterday, I marveled that the price of Bitcoin had surged past the $13,000 mark for the first time ever, but then on Thursday it actually was selling for more than $19,000 at one point.  As I write this, Bitcoin is sitting at $16,877.42, but a few hours from now it could be a couple of thousand dollars higher or lower than that.  Those that got in early on “the Bitcoin revolution” have made extraordinary amounts of money, and many believe that this is just the beginning.

Of course many of the most respected names in the financial world were convinced that this would never happen.  For example, back in 2014 Warren Buffett encouraged investors to “stay away” because he believed that Bitcoin was a “mirage”.  And not too long ago JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said that “if you’re stupid enough to buy it, you’ll pay the price for it one day”.

But for now, it is Bitcoin investors that are having the last laugh.  If you would have gotten into Bitcoin back at the beginning of this year, your investment would be worth 16 times as much today.  The following comes from CNN

Bitcoin cracked $1,000 on the first day of 2017. By this week, it was up to $12,000, and then it really took off: The price topped $16,000 on some exchanges Thursday, and $18,000 on at least one. Other cryptocurrencies have seen similar spikes, though they trade for much less than bitcoin.

There’s a long list of factors people may point to in an attempt to explain this. Regulators have taken a hands-off approach to bitcoin in certain markets. Dozens of new hedge funds have launched this year to trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The Nasdaq and Chicago Mercantile Exchange plan to let investors trade bitcoin futures, which may attract more professional investors.

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December 7, 2017

Largest Crypto-Mining Exchange Confirms It Was Hacked, $62 Million In Bitcoin Stolen

Unfortunately, there has been a security breach involving NiceHash website. We are currently investigating the nature of the incident and, as a result, we are stopping all operations for the next 24 hours.

Importantly, our payment system was compromised and the contents of the NiceHash Bitcoin wallet have been stolen. We are working to verify the precise number of BTC taken.

Clearly, this is a matter of deep concern and we are working hard to rectify the matter in the coming days. In addition to undertaking our own investigation, the incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are co-operating with them as a matter of urgency.

We are fully committed to restoring the NiceHash service with the highest security measures at the earliest opportunity.

We would not exist without our devoted buyers and miners all around the globe. We understand that you will have a lot of questions, and we ask for patience and understanding while we investigate the causes and find the appropriate solutions for the future of the service. We will endeavour to update you at regular intervals.

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December 6, 2017

How "Ghost Collateral" And "Yin-Yang" Property Deals Will Collapse China's Credit Bubble

One lesson from the 2007-08 crisis was that the vast majority of financial market participants, never mind the general public, were unfamiliar with subprime mortgages until the crisis was underway. Even now, we doubt many have much understanding of repo, the divergence between LIBOR and Fed Funds from 9 August 2007 and Eurodollar liquidity. In a similar way, when China’s bubble bursts, we doubt the majority will be that familiar with “ghost collateral” and “yin-yang” property contracts either.

A second lesson from the 2007-08 crisis was that as the value of the collateral underpinning the vast amount of leverage declined, the surge in margin calls led to cascading waves of selling in a downward spiral.

A third lesson was that the practice of re-hypothecating the same subprime mortgage bonds more than once, meant collateral supporting the most vulnerable part of the credit bubble was non-existent. It only became apparent with the falling prices and margin calls. Few people realised the bull market was built on such flimsy foundations, as long as prices kept rising.

A fourth lesson was that in order for the bubble to reach truly epic proportions, key financial institutions, especially banks, needed to conduct themselves in a negligent fashion and totally ignore increasing risks.

Each of these warning signs from the 2007-08 crisis exists in China’s property market now – and other parts of its financial system - bar one…falling prices leading to cascading waves of selling. However, as we’ll explain, we think it’s only a matter of months away now.

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December 5, 2017

China's Central Bank Warns "Bitcoin Will Die" - Here's How

On the heels of a weekend full of threats and promises from governments, bankers, and the mainstream media, Bitcoin was lambasted once again overnight, this time by The People's Bank of China.

For a brief 6 months or so, China was the dominant region for Bitcoin in the world, but then  - as capital flows accelerated - the government and central bank began to 'crackdown' on crypto, first by banning ICOs and then shutting down local exchanges. Volume disappeared...

Looking back at the crackdowns, QZ reports that Pan Gongsheng, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, believes Beijing made the right decisions.

"If we had not shut down bitcoin exchanges and cracked down on ICOs several months ago, if China still accounted for more than 80% of the world’s bitcoin trading and ICO fundraising, everyone, what would happen today? Thinking of this question makes me scared."

QZ further notes that Pan went on to share a recent column by economist Éric Pichet in the French newspaper La Tribune (link in French). In it, Pichet, a professor at the Kedge Business School in France, makes a familiar argument that bitcoin is a bubble waiting to burst, just like the tulip mania in the 1600s and the Internet bubble of 2000.

He predicts that bitcoin will die of a grand theft, a hack into the blockchain technology behind the cryptocurrency (which actually is unlikely), or a collective ban by global governments.

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December 4, 2017

Crypto Surge Sparks Establishment Panic: Bans, Crackdowns, & Fatwas As Bitcoin "Undermines Governments, Destabilizes Economies"

Then - as the price soared and the market cap of Bitcoin topped that of General Electric and Goldman sachs - the world's central bankers began to take notice... but in their standard manner, played down any risks, explaining that any systemic fragility "was contained" since cryptocurrencies were not big enough (this group included various Fed presidents, Bank of Canada, Bank of France, Bank of Japan, Bank of Korea, and so on all echoing similar phrases)... even though Bitcoin is now the 6th largest currency in circulation...

But this week has seen a new group of establishmentarians jump on to the offensive against anti-decentralization, de-control, pro-freedom cryptocurrencies - urging bans, crackdowns, fatwas, taxation, creating their own cryptocurrencies, demanding citizens sell, and outright confiscation (this group includes governments world wide and their mainstream media mouthpieces)...

India
India's finance minister, Arun Jaitley, has clarified that the government does not recognize bitcoin as legal tender. According to the Economic Times, when asked about the government's plans to regulate the cryptocurrency, Jaitley told reporters, "recommendations are being worked at." He continued:

"The government's position is clear, we don't recognize this as legal currency as of now."

Concerned over bitcoin's anonymity and its potential illicit uses, justices issued a notice to the central bank and other agencies asking them to answer a petition on the matter, reports indicated.

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December 1, 2017

Bitcoin Soars After CFTC Approves Futures Trading: First Trade To Take Place Dec.18

Bitcoin is back over $10,000 after the the CFTC confirmed what had been previously reported, namely that it would allow bitcoin futures to trade on two exchanges, the CME and CBOE Futures Exchange, also granting the Cantor Exchange permission to trade a contract for bitcoin binary options.

The CFTC announced that through a process known as "self-certification," CME and Cboe stated that their contracts comply with U.S. law and CFTC regulations. The US commodity regulator also said that the it held “rigorous discussions” with the exchanges that resulted in improvements to the contracts’ designs and settlement.

As to when the first bitcoin futures will cross the tape, the CME said it has self-certified the initial listing of its bitcoin futures to launch Monday, December 18, 2017.

“Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is a commodity unlike any the Commission has dealt with in the past,” said CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo. “As a result, we have had extensive discussions with the exchanges regarding the proposed contracts, and CME, CFE and Cantor have agreed to significant enhancements to protect customers and maintain orderly markets. In working with the Commission, CME, CFE and Cantor have set an appropriate standard for oversight over these bitcoin contracts given the CFTC’s limited statutory ability to oversee the cash market for bitcoin.”

In response to the news, Bitcoin has surged back over $10,000...

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November 30, 2017

The Dow Peaked At 14,000 Before The Last Stock Market Crash, And Now Dow 24,000 Is Here

The absurdity that we are witnessing in the financial markets is absolutely breathtaking.  Just recently, a good friend reminded me that the Dow peaked at just above 14,000 before the last stock market crash, and stock prices were definitely over-inflated at that time.  Subsequently, the Dow crashed below 7,000 before rebounding, and now thanks to this week’s rally we on the threshold of Dow 24,000.  When you look at a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, you would be tempted to think that we must be in the greatest economic boom in American history, but the truth is that our economy has only grown by an average of just 1.33 percent over the last 10 years.  Every crazy stock market bubble throughout our history has always ended badly, and this one will be no exception.

And even though the Dow showed a nice gain on Wednesday, the Nasdaq got absolutely hammered.  In fact, almost every major tech stock was down big.  The following comes from CNN

Meanwhile, big tech stocks — which have propelled the market higher all year — were tanking. The Nasdaq fell more than 1%, led by big drops in Google (GOOGL, Tech30) owner Alphabet, Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Netflix (NFLX, Tech30).

Momentum darlings Nvidia (NVDA, Tech30) and PayPal (PYPL, Tech30) and red hot gaming stocks Electronic Arts (EA, Tech30) and Activision Blizzard (ATVI, Tech30) plunged too. They have been some of the market’s top stocks throughout most of 2017.

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November 29, 2017

China Hits A Brick Wall: For First Time Ever, Record Chinese Credit Creation Fails To Stimulate Economy

We believe that exhibit 1 says a lot: it shows that despite a record level of new credit issued by China’s PBoC YTD through Oct. 2017 (which stands in stark contrast to government authorities continued statements that China is de-levering), China’s economic backdrop is currently experiencing:

(a) monthly construction new start (commercial + residential + office) growth slowing Y/Y (Ex. 2),
(b) monthly fixed asset investment growth slowing Y/Y (Ex. 9),
(c) monthly cement output slowing Y/Y (Ex. 5),
(d) monthly electricity production slowing Y/Y (Ex. 6),
(e) monthly M2 money supply growth slowing Y/Y (Ex. 7),
(f) monthly household loan growth slowing Y/Y (Ex. 8),
(g) monthly private fixed asset investment growth slowing Y/Y (Ex. 10), and
(h) monthly home price growth slowing Y/Y (Ex. 12) – in fact, select data points have turned negative Y/Y.

Stated differently, while the lion’s share of our client base continues to tell us, with respect to our bearish views on China… “President Xi Jinping will simply stimulate more if/when things get bad”, we would highlight, again as detailed in Ex. 1 below, China stimulated at a record pace in 2017, yet it did not resonate in improved economic activity (in fact, the exact opposite appears to be unfolding – i.e., economic growth is slowing across a number of data points).

Furthermore, underpinning our view that China’s debt stimulus was targeted specifically at the months preceding the 19th Party Congress in Oct. 2017 (i.e., when President Xi Jinping consolidated power to become the strongest Chinese leader since Mao Zedong), implying we may see a phase of debt fatigue, we note that in the first 10 months of 2016, incremental credit issued in China on a month-over-month (“M/M”) basis was negative three times (i.e., May, July, and Oct.), and averaged $189 billion on a monthly basis; yet, in the first 10 months of 2017, incremental credit issued on a M/M basis was positive in each month outside of Oct., and averaged $429 billion on a monthly basis (in Oct. 2017, the month the 19th Party Congress concluded, new credit issued fell by $11.9 billion M/M).

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November 28, 2017

We Have Tripled The Number Of Store Closings From Last Year, And 20 Major Retailers Have Closed At Least 50 Stores In 2017

Did you know that the number of retail store closings in 2017 has already tripled the number from all of 2016?  Last year, a total of 2,056 store locations were closed down, but this year more than 6,700 stores have been shut down so far.  That absolutely shatters the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and yet nobody seems that concerned about it.  In 2008, an all-time record 6,163 retail stores were shuttered, and we have already surpassed that mark by a very wide margin.  We are facing an unprecedented retail apocalypse, and as you will see below, the number of retail store closings is actually supposed to be much higher next year.

Whenever the mainstream media reports on the retail apocalypse, they always try to put a positive spin on the story by blaming the growth of Amazon and other online retailers.  And without a doubt that has had an impact, but at this point, online shopping still accounts for less than 10 percent of total U.S. retail sales.

Look, Amazon didn’t just show up to the party.  They have been around for many, many years and while it is true that they are growing, they still only account for a very small sliver of the overall retail pie.

So those that would like to explain away this retail apocalypse need to come up with a better explanation.

As I noted in the headline, there are 20 different major retail chains that have closed at least 50 stores so far this year.  The following numbers originally come from Fox Business

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November 27, 2017

Satoshi Secrets & Why Nearly 4 Million Bitcoins Are "Lost" Forever

According to new research from Chainalysis, a digital forensics firm that studies the bitcoin blockchain, 3.79 million bitcoins are already gone for good based on a high estimate - and 2.78 million based on a low one. Those numbers imply 17% to 23% of existing bitcoins, which are today worth around $9,000 each, are lost.

While others have speculated about the number of lost bitcoins, the Chainalysis findings are significant because they rely on a detailed empirical analysis of the blockchain, where all bitcoin transactions are recorded.

As the graphic above shows, Chainalysis’s conclusions rely on segmenting the existing bitcoin supply based on age and transaction activity. For some segments, the company used statistical sampling to determine the amount lost.

The segment “Mined Coins” reflects bitcoins mined in 2017 (which are presumed not to be lost), while “transactional” refers to those that have moved or spent in the last year—very few of which are lost. Likewise, the category of “Strategic Investors,” who have held their bitcoins for 1-2 years represent a very small share of the losses.

Here’s the data in another format, which shows how “Out of circulation” bitcoins - those mined 2-7 years ago and belonging to long-time investors known as “hodlers” - and those from the early days of bitcoin in 2009 and 2010 account for the vast majority of the lost coins:

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November 24, 2017

Gold Fund: Bitcoin Will Make Gold "Global Money" Again

The manager of Old Mutual Gold & Silver Fund, a precious metals fund with over $220 mln under control has said Bitcoin is “paving the way” for a global gold comeback.

Speaking to Bloomberg in an interview published today, Ned Naylor-Leyland said that the marriage of Bitcoin and gold was essentially a logical one given the characteristics and remit of both.

“Bitcoin was explicitly designed to be digital gold,” he said.

“So if you’re going to have a small proportion of a fund in Bitcoin, it should be in a gold fund because that’s exactly the point.”

As CoinTelegraph's William Suberg notes, the fund, which began in April this year, is aiming to allocate up to five percent to cryptocurrency, creaming off profits from price upticks to reinvest back into gold and silver.

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November 23, 2017

Chinese Stocks Plummet: Shanghai Tumbles Most In 17 Months As Bond Rout Spreads

The euphoria from the year-end melt up in Europe and the US failed to inspire Chinese traders, and overnight China markets suffered sharp losses, with the Shanghai Composite plunging 2.3%, its biggest one day drop since June 2016, over growing fears that the local bond rout is getting out of control. Both the tech-heavy Chinext and the blue chip CSI 300 Index dropped over 3%, as the sharp selloff accelerated in the last hour, as Beijing's "national team" plunge protection buyers failing to make an appearance. There were sixteen decliners for every one advancing share.

In addition to tech, consumer non-cyclical and health-care sectors, the hardest hit names were banks such as ICBC, Ping An Insurance and Kweichow Moutai. Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index slid 1 percent from a decade-high, one day after closing above 30,000.

Confirming our report from last week, that traders were stunned by an official warning from Beijing that some stocks - in this case Kweichow Moutai, one of the most popular stocks among investors  - had risen "too far, too fast", Ken Peng, strategist at Citi private bank, told CNBC Thursday that over the weekend he had heard views about particular Chinese stocks having moved too fast. He also said that Thursday's downward move was impacted by "relative tight liquidity conditions in financial markets overall, because of a more stringent liquidity policy by the central bank."

"The decline in Moutai has triggered selloffs in some of this year’s best performing stocks," said Zhengyang Shen, Shanghai-based analyst at Northeast Securities. "When those giant stocks fall, retail investors will follow to sell their holdings. The ChiNext stocks do not have much support from the national team, so they fell even more," he said, referring to state-backed funds.

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