(3.51%) Bitcoin Volatility Index - Charts vs Dollar & More
What is Volatility? Defenition, Сalculation and Risks ...
Where is Bitcoin Going and When?
﷽ The Federal Reserve and the United States government are pumping extreme amounts of money into the economy, already totaling over $484 billion. They are doing so because it already had a goal to inflate the United States Dollar (USD) so that the market can continue to all-time highs. It has always had this goal. They do not care how much inflation goes up by now as we are going into a depression with the potential to totally crash the US economy forever. They believe the only way to save the market from going to zero or negative values is to inflate it so much that it cannot possibly crash that low. Even if the market does not dip that low, inflation serves the interest of powerful people. The impending crash of the stock market has ramifications for Bitcoin, as, though there is no direct ongoing-correlation between the two, major movements in traditional markets will necessarily affect Bitcoin. According to the Blockchain Center’s Cryptocurrency Correlation Tool, Bitcoin is not correlated with the stock market. However, when major market movements occur, they send ripples throughout the financial ecosystem which necessary affect even ordinarily uncorrelated assets. Therefore, Bitcoin will reach X price on X date after crashing to a price of X by X date.
Stock Market Crash
The Federal Reserve has caused some serious consternation with their release of ridiculous amounts of money in an attempt to buoy the economy. At face value, it does not seem to have any rationale or logic behind it other than keeping the economy afloat long enough for individuals to profit financially and politically. However, there is an underlying basis to what is going on which is important to understand in order to profit financially. All markets are functionally price probing systems. They constantly undergo a price-discovery process. In a fiat system, money is an illusory and a fundamentally synthetic instrument with no intrinsic value – similar to Bitcoin. The primary difference between Bitcoin is the underlying technology which provides a slew of benefits that fiat does not. Fiat, however, has an advantage in being able to have the support of powerful nation-states which can use their might to insure the currency’s prosperity. Traditional stock markets are composed of indices (pl. of index). Indices are non-trading market instruments which are essentially summaries of business values which comprise them. They are continuously recalculated throughout a trading day, and sometimes reflected through tradable instruments such as Exchange Traded Funds or Futures. Indices are weighted by market capitalizations of various businesses. Price theory essentially states that when a market fails to take out a new low in a given range, it will have an objective to take out the high. When a market fails to take out a new high, it has an objective to make a new low. This is why price-time charts go up and down, as it does this on a second-by-second, minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and even century-by-century basis. Therefore, market indices will always return to some type of bull market as, once a true low is formed, the market will have a price objective to take out a new high outside of its’ given range – which is an all-time high. Instruments can only functionally fall to zero, whereas they can grow infinitely. So, why inflate the economy so much? Deflation is disastrous for central banks and markets as it raises the possibility of producing an overall price objective of zero or negative values. Therefore, under a fractional reserve system with a fiat currency managed by a central bank – the goal of the central bank is to depreciate the currency. The dollar is manipulated constantly with the intention of depreciating its’ value. Central banks have a goal of continued inflated fiat values. They tend to ordinarily contain it at less than ten percent (10%) per annum in order for the psyche of the general populace to slowly adjust price increases. As such, the markets are divorced from any other logic. Economic policy is the maintenance of human egos, not catering to fundamental analysis. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is well-known not to be a measure of actual growth or output. It is a measure of increase in dollars processed. Banks seek to produce raising numbers which make society feel like it is growing economically, making people optimistic. To do so, the currency is inflated, though inflation itself does not actually increase growth. When society is optimistic, it spends and engages in business – resulting in actual growth. It also encourages people to take on credit and debts, creating more fictional fiat. Inflation is necessary for markets to continue to reach new heights, generating positive emotional responses from the populace, encouraging spending, encouraging debt intake, further inflating the currency, and increasing the sale of government bonds. The fiat system only survives by generating more imaginary money on a regular basis. Bitcoin investors may profit from this by realizing that stock investors as a whole always stand to profit from the market so long as it is managed by a central bank and does not collapse entirely. If those elements are filled, it has an unending price objective to raise to new heights. It also allows us to realize that this response indicates that the higher-ups believe that the economy could crash in entirety, and it may be wise for investors to have multiple well-thought-out exit strategies.
Economic Analysis of Bitcoin
The reason why the Fed is so aggressively inflating the economy is due to fears that it will collapse forever or never rebound. As such, coupled with a global depression, a huge demand will appear for a reserve currency which is fundamentally different than the previous system. Bitcoin, though a currency or asset, is also a market. It also undergoes a constant price-probing process. Unlike traditional markets, Bitcoin has the exact opposite goal. Bitcoin seeks to appreciate in value and not depreciate. This has a quite different affect in that Bitcoin could potentially become worthless and have a price objective of zero. Bitcoin was created in 2008 by a now famous mysterious figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto and its’ open source code was released in 2009. It was the first decentralized cryptocurrency to utilize a novel protocol known as the blockchain. Up to one megabyte of data may be sent with each transaction. It is decentralized, anonymous, transparent, easy to set-up, and provides myriad other benefits. Bitcoin is not backed up by anything other than its’ own technology. Bitcoin is can never be expected to collapse as a framework, even were it to become worthless. The stock market has the potential to collapse in entirety, whereas, as long as the internet exists, Bitcoin will be a functional system with a self-authenticating framework. That capacity to persist regardless of the actual price of Bitcoin and the deflationary nature of Bitcoin means that it has something which fiat does not – inherent value. Bitcoin is based on a distributed database known as the “blockchain.” Blockchains are essentially decentralized virtual ledger books, replete with pages known as “blocks.” Each page in a ledger is composed of paragraph entries, which are the actual transactions in the block. Blockchains store information in the form of numerical transactions, which are just numbers. We can consider these numbers digital assets, such as Bitcoin. The data in a blockchain is immutable and recorded only by consensus-based algorithms. Bitcoin is cryptographic and all transactions are direct, without intermediary, peer-to-peer. Bitcoin does not require trust in a central bank. It requires trust on the technology behind it, which is open-source and may be evaluated by anyone at any time. Furthermore, it is impossible to manipulate as doing so would require all of the nodes in the network to be hacked at once – unlike the stock market which is manipulated by the government and “Market Makers”. Bitcoin is also private in that, though the ledge is openly distributed, it is encrypted. Bitcoin’s blockchain has one of the greatest redundancy and information disaster recovery systems ever developed. Bitcoin has a distributed governance model in that it is controlled by its’ users. There is no need to trust a payment processor or bank, or even to pay fees to such entities. There are also no third-party fees for transaction processing. As the ledge is immutable and transparent it is never possible to change it – the data on the blockchain is permanent. The system is not easily susceptible to attacks as it is widely distributed. Furthermore, as users of Bitcoin have their private keys assigned to their transactions, they are virtually impossible to fake. No lengthy verification, reconciliation, nor clearing process exists with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is based on a proof-of-work algorithm. Every transaction on the network has an associated mathetical “puzzle”. Computers known as miners compete to solve the complex cryptographic hash algorithm that comprises that puzzle. The solution is proof that the miner engaged in sufficient work. The puzzle is known as a nonce, a number used only once. There is only one major nonce at a time and it issues 12.5 Bitcoin. Once it is solved, the fact that the nonce has been solved is made public. A block is mined on average of once every ten minutes. However, the blockchain checks every 2,016,000 minutes (approximately four years) if 201,600 blocks were mined. If it was faster, it increases difficulty by half, thereby deflating Bitcoin. If it was slower, it decreases, thereby inflating Bitcoin. It will continue to do this until zero Bitcoin are issued, projected at the year 2140. On the twelfth of May, 2020, the blockchain will halve the amount of Bitcoin issued when each nonce is guessed. When Bitcoin was first created, fifty were issued per block as a reward to miners. 6.25 BTC will be issued from that point on once each nonce is solved. Unlike fiat, Bitcoin is a deflationary currency. As BTC becomes scarcer, demand for it will increase, also raising the price. In this, BTC is similar to gold. It is predictable in its’ output, unlike the USD, as it is based on a programmed supply. We can predict BTC’s deflation and inflation almost exactly, if not exactly. Only 21 million BTC will ever be produced, unless the entire network concedes to change the protocol – which is highly unlikely. Some of the drawbacks to BTC include congestion. At peak congestion, it may take an entire day to process a Bitcoin transaction as only three to five transactions may be processed per second. Receiving priority on a payment may cost up to the equivalent of twenty dollars ($20). Bitcoin mining consumes enough energy in one day to power a single-family home for an entire week.
Trading or Investing?
The fundamental divide in trading revolves around the question of market structure. Many feel that the market operates totally randomly and its’ behavior cannot be predicted. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that the market has a structure, but that that structure is not perfect. That market structure naturally generates chart patterns as the market records prices in time. In order to determine when the stock market will crash, causing a major decline in BTC price, we will analyze an instrument, an exchange traded fund, which represents an index, as opposed to a particular stock. The price patterns of the various stocks in an index are effectively smoothed out. In doing so, a more technical picture arises. Perhaps the most popular of these is the SPDR S&P Standard and Poor 500 Exchange Traded Fund ($SPY). In trading, little to no concern is given about value of underlying asset. We are concerned primarily about liquidity and trading ranges, which are the amount of value fluctuating on a short-term basis, as measured by volatility-implied trading ranges. Fundamental analysis plays a role, however markets often do not react to real-world factors in a logical fashion. Therefore, fundamental analysis is more appropriate for long-term investing. The fundamental derivatives of a chart are time (x-axis) and price (y-axis). The primary technical indicator is price, as everything else is lagging in the past. Price represents current asking price and incorrectly implementing positions based on price is one of the biggest trading errors. Markets and currencies ordinarily have noise, their tendency to back-and-fill, which must be filtered out for true pattern recognition. That noise does have a utility, however, in allowing traders second chances to enter favorable positions at slightly less favorable entry points. When you have any market with enough liquidity for historical data to record a pattern, then a structure can be divined. The market probes prices as part of an ongoing price-discovery process. Market technicians must sometimes look outside of the technical realm and use visual inspection to ascertain the relevance of certain patterns, using a qualitative eye that recognizes the underlying quantitative nature Markets and instruments rise slower than they correct, however they rise much more than they fall. In the same vein, instruments can only fall to having no worth, whereas they could theoretically grow infinitely and have continued to grow over time. Money in a fiat system is illusory. It is a fundamentally synthetic instrument which has no intrinsic value. Hence, the recent seemingly illogical fluctuations in the market. According to trade theory, the unending purpose of a market or instrument is to create and break price ranges according to the laws of supply and demand. We must determine when to trade based on each market inflection point as defined in price and in time as opposed to abandoning the trend (as the contrarian trading in this sub often does). Time and Price symmetry must be used to be in accordance with the trend. When coupled with a favorable risk to reward ratio, the ability to stay in the market for most of the defined time period, and adherence to risk management rules; the trader has a solid methodology for achieving considerable gains. We will engage in a longer term market-oriented analysis to avoid any time-focused pressure. The Bitcoin market is open twenty-four-hours a day, so trading may be done when the individual is ready, without any pressing need to be constantly alert. Let alone, we can safely project months in advance with relatively high accuracy. Bitcoin is an asset which an individual can both trade and invest, however this article will be focused on trading due to the wide volatility in BTC prices over the short-term.
Technical Indicator Analysis of Bitcoin
Technical indicators are often considered self-fulfilling prophecies due to mass-market psychology gravitating towards certain common numbers yielded from them. They are also often discounted when it comes to BTC. That means a trader must be especially aware of these numbers as they can prognosticate market movements. Often, they are meaningless in the larger picture of things.
Volume – derived from the market itself, it is mostly irrelevant. The major problem with volume for stocks is that the US market open causes tremendous volume surges eradicating any intrinsic volume analysis. This does not occur with BTC, as it is open twenty-four-seven. At major highs and lows, the market is typically anemic. Most traders are not active at terminal discretes (peaks and troughs) because of levels of fear. Volume allows us confidence in time and price symmetry market inflection points, if we observe low volume at a foretold range of values. We can rationalize that an absolute discrete is usually only discovered and anticipated by very few traders. As the general market realizes it, a herd mentality will push the market in the direction favorable to defending it. Volume is also useful for swing trading, as chances for swing’s validity increases if an increase in volume is seen on and after the swing’s activation. Volume is steadily decreasing. Lows and highs are reached when volume is lower.
Therefore, due to the relatively high volume on the 12th of March, we can safely determine that a low for BTC was not reached.
VIX – Volatility Index, this technical indicator indicates level of fear by the amount of options-based “insurance” in portfolios. A low VIX environment, less than 20 for the S&P index, indicates a stable market with a possible uptrend. A high VIX, over 20, indicates a possible downtrend. VIX is essentially useless for BTC as BTC-based options do not exist. It allows us to predict the market low for $SPY, which will have an indirect impact on BTC in the short term, likely leading to the yearly low. However, it is equally important to see how VIX is changing over time, if it is decreasing or increasing, as that indicates increasing or decreasing fear. Low volatility allows high leverage without risk or rest. Occasionally, markets do rise with high VIX.
As VIX is unusually high, in the forties, we can be confident that a downtrend for the S&P 500 is imminent.
RSI (Relative Strength Index): The most important technical indicator, useful for determining highs and lows when time symmetry is not availing itself. Sometimes analysis of RSI can conflict in different time frames, easiest way to use it is when it is at extremes – either under 30 or over 70. Extremes can be used for filtering highs or lows based on time-and-price window calculations. Highly instructive as to major corrective clues and indicative of continued directional movement. Must determine if longer-term RSI values find support at same values as before. It is currently at 73.56.
Secondly, RSI may be used as a high or low filter, to observe the level that short-term RSI reaches in counter-trend corrections. Repetitions based on market movements based on RSI determine how long a trade should be held onto. Once a short term RSI reaches an extreme and stay there, the other RSI’s should gradually reach the same extremes. Once all RSI’s are at extreme highs, a trend confirmation should occur and RSI’s should drop to their midpoint.
Trend Definition Analysis of Bitcoin
Trend definition is highly powerful, cannot be understated. Knowledge of trend logic is enough to be a profitable trader, yet defining a trend is an arduous process. Multiple trends coexist across multiple time frames and across multiple market sectors. Like time structure, it makes the underlying price of the instrument irrelevant. Trend definitions cannot determine the validity of newly formed discretes. Trend becomes apparent when trades based in counter-trend inflection points continue to fail. Downtrends are defined as an instrument making lower lows and lower highs that are recurrent, additive, qualified swing setups. Downtrends for all instruments are similar, except forex. They are fast and complete much quicker than uptrends. An average downtrend is 18 months, something which we will return to. An uptrend inception occurs when an instrument reaches a point where it fails to make a new low, then that low will be tested. After that, the instrument will either have a deep range retracement or it may take out the low slightly, resulting in a double-bottom. A swing must eventually form. A simple way to roughly determine trend is to attempt to draw a line from three tops going upwards (uptrend) or a line from three bottoms going downwards (downtrend). It is not possible to correctly draw a downtrend line on the BTC chart, but it is possible to correctly draw an uptrend – indicating that the overall trend is downwards. The only mitigating factor is the impending stock market crash.
Time Symmetry Analysis of Bitcoin
Time is the movement from the past through the present into the future. It is a measurement in quantified intervals. In many ways, our perception of it is a human construct. It is more powerful than price as time may be utilized for a trade regardless of the market inflection point’s price. Were it possible to perfectly understand time, price would be totally irrelevant due to the predictive certainty time affords. Time structure is easier to learn than price, but much more difficult to apply with any accuracy. It is the hardest aspect of trading to learn, but also the most rewarding. Humans do not have the ability to recognize every time window, however the ability to define market inflection points in terms of time is the single most powerful trading edge. Regardless, price should not be abandoned for time alone. Time structure analysis It is inherently flawed, as such the markets have a fail-safe, which is Price Structure. Even though Time is much more powerful, Price Structure should never be completely ignored. Time is the qualifier for Price and vice versa. Time can fail by tricking traders into counter-trend trading. Time is a predestined trade quantifier, a filter to slow trades down, as it allows a trader to specifically focus on specific time windows and rest at others. It allows for quantitative measurements to reach deterministic values and is the primary qualifier for trends. Time structure should be utilized before price structure, and it is the primary trade criterion which requires support from price. We can see price structure on a chart, as areas of mathematical support or resistance, but we cannot see time structure. Time may be used to tell us an exact point in the future where the market will inflect, after Price Theory has been fulfilled. In the present, price objectives based on price theory added to possible future times for market inflection points give us the exact time of market inflection points and price. Time Structure is repetitions of time or inherent cycles of time, occurring in a methodical way to provide time windows which may be utilized for inflection points. They are not easily recognized and not easily defined by a price chart as measuring and observing time is very exact. Time structure is not a science, yet it does require precise measurements. Nothing is certain or definite. The critical question must be if a particular approach to time structure is currently lucrative or not. We will measure it in intervals of 180 bars. Our goal is to determine time windows, when the market will react and when we should pay the most attention. By using time repetitions, the fact that market inflection points occurred at some point in the past and should, therefore, reoccur at some point in the future, we should obtain confidence as to when SPY will reach a market inflection point. Time repetitions are essentially the market’s memory. However, simply measuring the time between two points then trying to extrapolate into the future does not work. Measuring time is not the same as defining time repetitions. We will evaluate past sessions for market inflection points, whether discretes, qualified swings, or intra-range. Then records the times that the market has made highs or lows in a comparable time period to the future one seeks to trade in. What follows is a time Histogram – A grouping of times which appear close together, then segregated based on that closeness. Time is aligned into combined histogram of repetitions and cycles, however cycles are irrelevant on a daily basis. If trading on an hourly basis, do not use hours.
Daily Lows Mode for those Months: 1, 1, 2, 4, 12, 17, 18, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30
Hourly Lows Mode for those Months (Military time): 0100, 0200, 0200, 0400, 0700, 0700, 0800, 1200, 1200, 1700, 2000, 2200
Minute Lows Mode for those Months: 00, 00, 00, 00, 00, 00, 09, 09, 59, 59, 59, 59
Day of the Week Lows (last twenty-six weeks):
Weighted Times are repetitions which appears multiple times within the same list, observed and accentuated once divided into relevant sections of the histogram. They are important in the presently defined trading time period and are similar to a mathematical mode with respect to a series. Phased times are essentially periodical patterns in histograms, though they do not guarantee inflection points Evaluating the yearly lows, we see that BTC tends to have its lows primarily at the beginning of every year, with a possibility of it being at the end of the year. Following the same methodology, we get the middle of the month as the likeliest day. However, evaluating the monthly lows for the past year, the beginning and end of the month are more likely for lows. Therefore, we have two primary dates from our histogram. 1/1/21, 1/15/21, and 1/29/21 2:00am, 8:00am, 12:00pm, or 10:00pm In fact, the high for this year was February the 14th, only thirty days off from our histogram calculations. The 8.6-Year Armstrong-Princeton Global Economic Confidence model states that 2.15 year intervals occur between corrections, relevant highs and lows. 2.15 years from the all-time peak discrete is February 9, 2020 – a reasonably accurate depiction of the low for this year (which was on 3/12/20). (Taking only the Armstrong model into account, the next high should be Saturday, April 23, 2022). Therefore, the Armstrong model indicates that we have actually bottomed out for the year! Bear markets cannot exist in perpetuity whereas bull markets can. Bear markets will eventually have price objectives of zero, whereas bull markets can increase to infinity. It can occur for individual market instruments, but not markets as a whole. Since bull markets are defined by low volatility, they also last longer. Once a bull market is indicated, the trader can remain in a long position until a new high is reached, then switch to shorts. The average bear market is eighteen months long, giving us a date of August 19th, 2021 for the end of this bear market – roughly speaking. They cannot be shorter than fifteen months for a central-bank controlled market, which does not apply to Bitcoin. (Otherwise, it would continue until Sunday, September 12, 2021.) However, we should expect Bitcoin to experience its’ exponential growth after the stock market re-enters a bull market. Terry Laundy’s T-Theory implemented by measuring the time of an indicator from peak to trough, then using that to define a future time window. It is similar to an head-and-shoulders pattern in that it is the process of forming the right side from a synthetic technical indicator. If the indicator is making continued lows, then time is recalculated for defining the right side of the T. The date of the market inflection point may be a price or indicator inflection date, so it is not always exactly useful. It is better to make us aware of possible market inflection points, clustered with other data. It gives us an RSI low of May, 9th 2020. The Bradley Cycle is coupled with volatility allows start dates for campaigns or put options as insurance in portfolios for stocks. However, it is also useful for predicting market moves instead of terminal dates for discretes. Using dates which correspond to discretes, we can see how those dates correspond with changes in VIX. Therefore, our timeline looks like:
2/14/20 – yearly high ($10372 USD)
3/12/20 – yearly low thus far ($3858 USD)
5/9/20 – T-Theory true yearly low (BTC between 4863 and 3569)
Testing the Tide | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - June 2020
We would rather be ruined than changed. -W H Auden, The Age of Anxiety This is my forty-third portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $726 306 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $42 118 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $78 730 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $111 691 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $201 745 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $39 357 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $231 269 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 668 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 310 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $5 532 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $117 757 Secured physical gold – $18 913 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $10 479 Bitcoin – $148 990 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 841 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 553 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 484 Total portfolio value: $1 765 743 (+$8 485 or 0.5%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 42.2% (2.8% under) Global shares – 22.0% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 27.3% (2.7% under) Total shares – 69.5% (5.5% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 4.7% International bonds – 9.4% Total bonds – 14.0% (1.0% under) Gold – 7.7% Bitcoin – 8.4% Gold and alternatives – 16.2% (6.2% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The overall portfolio increased slightly over the month. This has continued to move the portfolio beyond the lows seen in late March. The modest portfolio growth of $8 000, or 0.5 per cent, maintains its value at around that achieved at the beginning of the year. [Chart] The limited growth this month largely reflects an increase in the value of my current equity holdings, in VAS and A200 and the Vanguard retail funds. This has outweighed a small decline in the value of Bitcoin and global shares. The value of the bond holdings also increased modestly, pushing them to their highest value since around early 2017. [Chart] There still appears to be an air of unreality around recent asset price increases and the broader economic context. Britain's Bank of England has on some indicators shown that the aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown represent the most challenging financial crisis in around 300 years. What is clear is that investor perceptions and fear around the coronavirus pandemic are a substantial ongoing force driving volatility in equity markets (pdf). A somewhat optimistic view is provided here that the recovery could look more like the recovery from a natural disaster, rather than a traditional recession. Yet there are few certainties on offer. Negative oil prices, and effective offers by US equity investors to bail out Hertz creditors at no cost appear to be signs of a financial system under significant strains. As this Reserve Bank article highlights, while some Australian households are well-placed to weather the storm ahead, the timing and severity of what lays ahead is an important unknown that will itself feed into changes in household wealth from here. Investments this month have been exclusively in the Australian shares exchange-traded fund (VAS) using Selfwealth.* This has been to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares. A moving azimuth: falling spending continues Monthly expenses on the credit card have continued their downward trajectory across the past month. [Chart] The rolling average of monthly credit card spending is now at its lowest point over the period of the journey. This is despite the end of lockdown, and a slow resumption of some more normal aspects of spending. This has continued the brief period since April of the achievement of a notional and contingent kind of financial independence. The below chart illustrates this temporary state, setting out the degree to which portfolio distributions cover estimated total expenses, measured month to month. [Chart] There are two sources of volatility underlying its movement. The first is the level of expenses, which can vary, and the second is the fact that it is based on financial year distributions, which are themselves volatile. Importantly, the distributions over the last twelve months of this chart is only an estimate - and hence the next few weeks will affect the precision of this analysis across its last 12 observations. Estimating 2019-20 financial year portfolio distributions Since the beginning of the journey, this time of year usually has sense of waiting for events to unfold - in particular, finding out the level of half-year distributions to June. These represent the bulk of distributions, usually averaging 60-65 per cent of total distributions received. They are an important and tangible signpost of progress on the financial independence journey. This is no simple task, as distributions have varied in size considerably. A part of this variation has been the important role of sometimes large and lumpy capital distributions - which have made up between 30 to 48 per cent of total distributions in recent years, and an average of around 15 per cent across the last two decades. I have experimented with many different approaches, most of which have relied on averaging over multi-year periods to even out the 'peaks and troughs' of how market movements may have affected distributions. The main approaches have been:
An 'adjusted income' approach - stripping out the capital gains components of Vanguard funds to reach an estimate of underlying income generation, both across the entire investment period, and during the sharpest low of the Global Financial Crisis
A long-term asset class approach - relying on long-term historical data on averages of the income produced by various asset classes
A 'tax method' approach - this derives an income estimate as a percentage of the portfolio by drawing on taxable investment income totals from tax return records
Simple historical rolling average - this is a rolling three-year measure, based on the actual distributions record of the portfolio
Average distribution rate approach - this method uses a long-term average of annual distributions received as a percentage of the total portfolio since 1999
Each of these have their particular simplifications, advantages and drawbacks. Developing new navigation tools Over the past month I have also developed more fully an alternate 'model' for estimating returns. This simply derives a median value across a set of historical 'cents per unit' distribution data for June and December payouts for the Vanguard funds and exchange traded funds. These make up over 96 per cent of income producing portfolio assets. In other words, this model essentially assumes that each Vanguard fund and ETF owned pays out the 'average' level of distributions this half-year, with the average being based on distribution records that typically go back between 5 to 10 years. Mapping the distribution estimates The chart below sets out the estimate produced by each approach for the June distributions that are to come. [Chart] Some observations on these findings can be made. The lowest estimate is the 'adjusted GFC income' observation, which essentially assumes that the income for this period is as low as experienced by the equity and bond portfolio during the Global Financial Crisis. Just due to timing differences of the period observed, this seems to be a 'worst case' lower bound estimate, which I do not currently place significant weight on. Similarly, at the highest end, the 'average distribution rate' approach simply assumes June distributions deliver a distribution equal to the median that the entire portfolio has delivered since 1999. With higher interest rates, and larger fixed income holdings across much of that time, this seems an objectively unlikely outcome. Similarly, the delivery of exactly the income suggested by long-term averages measured across decades and even centuries would be a matter of chance, rather than the basis for rational expectations. Central estimates of the line of position This leaves the estimates towards the centre of the chart - estimates of between around $28 000 to $43 000 as representing the more likely range. I attach less weight to the historical three-year average due to the high contribution of distributed capital gains over that period of growth, where at least across equities some capital losses are likely to be in greater presence. My preferred central estimate is the model estimate (green) , as it is based in historical data directly from the investment vehicles rather than my own evolving portfolio. The data it is based on in some cases goes back to the Global Financial Crisis. This estimate is also quite close to the raw average of all the alternative approaches (red). It sits a little above the 'adjusted income' measure. None of these estimates, it should be noted, contain any explicit adjustment for the earnings and dividend reductions or delays arising from COVID-19. They may, therefore represent a modest over-estimate for likely June distributions, to the extent that these effects are more negative than those experienced on average across the period of the underlying data. These are difficult to estimate, but dividend reductions could easily be in the order of 20-30 per cent, plausibly lowering distributions to the $23 000 to $27 000 range. The recently announced forecast dividend for the Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) is, for example, the lowest in four years. As seen from chart above, there is a wide band of estimates, which grow wider still should capital gains be unexpectedly distributed from the Vanguard retail funds. These have represented a source of considerable volatility. Given this, it may seem fruitless to seek to estimate these forthcoming distributions, compared to just waiting for them to arrive. Yet this exercise helps by setting out reasoning and positions, before hindsight bias urgently arrives to inform me that I knew the right answer all along. It also potentially helps clearly 'reject' some models over time, if the predictions they make prove to be systematically incorrect. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 81.0% 109.4% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 98.8% 133.5% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 79.2% 106.9% Summary The current coronavirus conditions are affecting all aspects of the journey to financial independence - changing spending habits, leading to volatility in equity markets and sequencing risks, and perhaps dramatically altering the expected pattern of portfolio distributions. Although history can provide some guidance, there is simply no definitive way to know whether any or all of these changes will be fundamental and permanent alterations, or simply data points on a post-natural disaster path to a different post-pandemic set of conditions. There is the temptation to fit past crises imperfectly into the modern picture, as this Of Dollars and Data post illustrates well. Taking a longer 100 year view, this piece 'The Allegory of the Hawk and Serpent' is a reminder that our entire set of received truths about constructing a portfolio to survive for the long-term can be a product of a sample size of one - actual past history - and subject to recency bias. This month has felt like one of quiet routines, muted events compared to the past few months, and waiting to understand more fully the shape of the new. Nonetheless, with each new investment, or week of lower expenditure than implied in my FI target, the nature of the journey is incrementally changing - beneath the surface. Small milestones are being passed - such as over 40 per cent of my equity holdings being outside of the the Vanguard retail funds. Or these these retail funds - which once formed over 95 per cent of the portfolio - now making up less than half. With a significant part of the financial independence journey being about repeated small actions producing outsized results with time, the issue of maintaining good routines while exploring beneficial changes is real. Adding to the complexity is that embarking on the financial journey itself is likely to change who one is. This idea, of the difficulty or impossibility of knowing the preferences of a future self, is explored in a fascinating way in this Econtalk podcast episode with a philosophical thought experiment about vampires. It poses the question: perhaps we can never know ourselves at the destination? And yet, who would rationally choose ruin over any change? The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
WSB101 - THE BOOK OF YOLO: BEGINNERS GUIDE TO TRADING LIKE A DEGENERATE AND EVERYTHING WSB
The Book of Yolo: COMPLETE GUIDE TO WSB The goal of this is to actually create something that all of you WSB newbies can read - because we’re all tired of seeing the endless wave of uninformed and unavoidable stupidity from those who have never touched the stock market. CALLING ALL NEWFAGS AND NORMIES. If you can’t read, GFY now. Now that we will be on the popular section of reddit, this has become pertinent. WSB can't avoid newcomers, so we might as well explain how the clock ticks here. This one is for you all. This is to serve as a reference what values we hold, what instruments we use, and as a general place to educated the uneducated. First off, this is the LEAST helpful stock market-based community for newcomers. Sarcastic answers are the only thing of true value here. It isn't a place to learn, but a place to plan out where you will dock your yacht. Newcomers are usually berated upon asking the inevitable stupid questions that they could learn slowly from reading here, or just using a damn search engine. Instead of embarrassing yourself here, you now have the opportunity to read this and get what we’re all rambling about. This will help you understand what to expect if you make the decision to undertake a WSB style trading career, so you can stay here and contribute to the yolo lifestyle or otherwise GFY. I will edit in any suggestions that our frequenting users or mods want to add to this as well. To begin: Here are our topics for WSB101 -Basics (Equities/Stocks) ; -ETF's ; -Options ; -Futures Trading ; -SubCulture ; BASICS/EQUTIES Skip if you understand basic stock stuff Okay, so what is an equity/stock? An equity is essentially what you’d think of as your “vanilla” trading tool. They move up or down depending on market forces, and can range from pennies to thousands of dollars per share. To explain how stocks work, let's define a few terms. Volume: The number of shares of stock traded during a particular time period, normally measured in average daily trading volume. Spread: The difference between the bid and the ask price Bid Price: The current price in which someone wants to buy at Ask Price:The current price in which someone wants to sell at Volatility: The WSB favorite. Volatility is referring to the price movements of a stock as a whole. The higher the volatility, the more the stock is moving up or down. Highly volatile stocks are ones with extreme daily up and down movements and wide intraday trading ranges. Margin: A margin account lets a person borrow money (take out a loan essentially) from a broker to purchase an investment. The difference between the amount of the loan, and the price of the securities, is called the margin. Margin is one of WSB’s popular instruments of wealth and destruction. Dividend: This is a portion of a company’s earnings that is paid to shareholders, or people that own hat company’s stock, on a quarterly or annual basis. Not all companies do this. PPS: Acronym for “Price per Share” Moving Average: A stock’s average price-per-share during a specific period of time. Bullish: Expecting the stock to go up Bearish: Expecting the stock to go down Any raised hands can redirect themselves to here: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/082614/how-stock-market-works.asp?ad=dirN&qo=investopediaSiteSearch&qsrc=0&o=40186 Now that these terms are defined, let's move into the details of why this is even useful. Most people know what a stock is, but how and why stocks move is a different story. The stock market is essentially a big virtualization of supply and demand - meaning that usually high positive volume creates upwards movement in the PPS, where high negative volume does the opposite. This creates a trader’s opportunity; Generally, the most effective time to buy or sell is where the candlesticks (volume data) are thinning out. When you are ready to take an entry point or execute an exit point, waiting till the volatility (candlesticks) thin out is one method to give you best trade possible. WSB FAVORITE EQUITIES: Of many equities, WSB favors the riskier ones - but avoiding penny stocks is a policy. AMD - CEO Lisa Su, Next Gen Processors, chips, graphics. It’s the gamers gambit. Up roughly 1400% as of 2/7/2017 since WSB first mentioned it NVDA - AMD’s sister? Mother? Daddy? Who knows. NVDA has been a sexy semiconductor leader. Is up 400% since gaining traction on WSB. FNMA / pfds - Mnunchin, Trump, Big fat fannies. Get your self deep in the fannie. We all want it. WSB 10 bagger candidate for reforming the housing market. WSB holds a large cumulative position that can be seen below. Also a good read is the beginners guide to FNMA. Any post by u/NOVACPA is very often VERY informative on FMNA/pfds. https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/5oissp/results_wsb_fnmafmcc_holdings https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/5t7gba/beginngers_guide_to_fnma_fmcc_read_this_before/ ARRY - A biotech champion that prevailed after a lot of failures and huge losses in the biotech sector. Dark times for WSB. Up ~300% since getting traction on the subreddit. TWTR - WSB likes to buy put option contracts on her. Exemplary of a social media platform that is unable to monetize itself. TSLA - Maybe not unanimously a favorite, but loved for it’s sexy volatility, Elon Musk, and ridiculously expensive options. GILD - A Shkreli pump and dump? The greatest large cap pharma recovery of all time? Who knows. Martin took the time to make a post on this reddit and it is up $5 dollars since. ETF'S Welcome to the world of investing made easy. Exchange traded funds (etfs) are devices that can be traded like stocks, but often track the value of many companies by investing in their listed assets accordingly. Specifically, An ETF, or exchange traded fund, is a marketable security that tracks an index, a commodity, bonds, or a basket of assets like an index fund. Unlike mutual funds, an ETF trades like a common stock on a stock exchange. ETFs experience price changes throughout the day as they are bought and sold. ETFs typically have higher daily liquidity and lower fees than mutual fund shares, making them an attractive alternative for individual investors. ETF’s come in beautiful and delicious varieties, often with a BEAR form and a BULL form of each; but the most delicious to WSB are the 3x etf’s. A 3x ETF is one in which the underlying movement of the ETF is leveraged 3:1. Meaning for every movement within the underlying index or stocks, the 3x ETF moves well.... 3x as much.. WSB FAVORITE AND USEFUL ETF’S: JNUG - 3x Gold Miner Bull - A hit or miss, has extreme intraday movements and essentially tracks GDX (gold miner’s index). Jnug will usually move with a pretty strong correlation to gold, which is affected by the mentioning of rate hikes (negatively), movement of the US dollar (inversely), uncertainty (positively), and supply and demand. NUGT - Jnug with a different price tag JDST - The inverse 3x etf of JNUG - or the bear etf. It does almost exactly the opposite movements of JNUG by the tick. Moves for the same reasons, but obviously opposite directions. DUST - Jdst with a different price tag. UGAZ - Natural Gas 3x Bull ETF - essentially tracks the price value of the commodity Natural Gas, but more specifically the S&P GSCI Natural Gas Index ER. The index comprises futures contracts on a single commodity and is calculated according to the methodology of the S&P GSCI Index. Natural gas is most affected by Weather temperature conditions (use your brain), petroleum prices, and broader economic conditions. DGAZ - Inverse of UGAZ UWT - Crude Oil Bull 3x ETF - extreme intraday movements, closely follows the price of oil. More specifically, it tracks futures. UWT seeks to replicate, net of expenses, three times of the S&P GSCI® Crude Oil Index ER. The index tracks a hypothetical position in the nearest-to-expiration NYMEX light sweet crude oil futures contract, which is rolled each month into the futures contract expiring in the next month. The value of the index fluctuates with changes in the price of the relevant NYMEX light sweet crude oil futures contracts. DWT - Inverse of UWT FAS - Financial Bull, specifically FAS seeks daily investment results, before fees and expenses, of 300% of the performance of the Russell 1000 ® Financial Services Index. The fund creates long positions by investing at least 80% of its assets in the securities that comprise the Russell 1000 ® Financial Services Index and/or financial instruments that provide leveraged and unleveraged exposure to the index. Can be used when bullish on US financial services - so banks, lenders, etc. FAZ - Inverse of FAS UPRO - S&P500 Bull 3x ETF, essentially tracks the S&P500 and multiplies it’s returns by 3x. BRZU - Tracks Brazil (in its most basic form). It creates long positions in the MSCI Brazil 25/50 Index. LABU - Tracks the Biotech sector, or specifically 300% of the performance of the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index ("index"). It should be noted that LABU has doubled since just before the election of Donald Trump. LABD - Inverse of LABU RUSL - roughly creates 300% of the performance of the MVIS Russia Index. RUSS - Inverse of RUSL SPY - Tracks the S&P500, but is not 3x. OPTIONS: Alright, so half you are going to understand this, and half of you are not. Pull up an options chain now on any stock (penny stocks and specific stocks do not have chains because of their market cap). Options are truly the ultimate way to achieve maximum risk/reward. An option is a contract that gives the buyer the right to buy or sell 100 shares of a stock at a certain price, on a certain date. This concept makes options a commodity themselves. KEY TERMS: A CALL - is the right to buy. Buying calls is taking a bullish position in its most extreme form. A PUT - is the right to sell. The underlying - is the stock that the option is covering i.e. AAPL, GOOG, AMZN Strike Price - the price at which a put or call option can be exercised. ITM, In the money - In the money means that a call option's strike price is below the market price of the underlying asset or that the strike price of a put option is above the market price of the underlying asset. Being in the money does not mean you will profit, it just means the option is worth exercising. OTM, Out of the money - a call option with a strike price that is higher than the market price of the underlying asset, or a put option with a strike price that is lower than the market price of the underlying asset. ATM - At the money - Strike price at the same price as the underlying Expiration - Expiries for options are every friday of every week usually, with exceptions such as every month, or every other day - depending on the underlying. SPY and SPX are great examples of very active option chains with expiries every other day. On the expiry date or any time before (with american options), an option can be, but doesn’t have to be exercised, meaning the holder of the option can use it to buy or sell shares of the underlying stock at the strike price. Most people on WSB do not exercise the contracts, but merely flip them for increases in value as the underlying moves. For example, when AAPL was at 120 before its earnings report, Joe Shmoe Yolo buys 10 FEB 17th CALLS at strike 127 for .60 , each. Now .60 cents is really 60 dollars each, because the contract is multiplied by 100 (the right to 100 shares). In total, Joe Shmoe Yolo spends $600 dollars + commision on this trade. The next day, AAPL leaps to 130 upon great news. These same option contracts are now worth 3.50 each. $350 dollars per contract, times ten contracts is $3500 dollars. Joe Shmoe Yolo just turned $600 into $3500 dollars. MAGIC. Spoiler alert: Joe Shmoe Yolo was me. That same Joe Shmoe later buys FEB 17th XOM calls at 90, hoping for similar results. However, XOM ends up never reaching anywhere close to the strike price, and the options expire worthless. Get it? Now what determines the pricing of options? OPTION PRICING: Below is sourced from investopedia Intrinsic Value: The intrinsic value is the actual value of a company or an asset based on an underlying perception of its true value including all aspects of the business, in terms of both tangible and intangible factors. This value may or may not be the same as the current market value. Additionally, intrinsic value is primarily used in options pricing to indicate the amount an option is in the money. Time Value: Time Value = Option Price - Intrinsic Value. The more time an option has until it expires, the greater the chance it will end up in the money. The time component of an option decays exponentially. The actual derivation of the time value of an option is a fairly complex equation. As a general rule, an option will lose one-third of its value during the first half of its life and two-thirds during the second half of its life. This is an important concept for securities investors because the closer you get to expiration, the more of a move in the underlying security is needed to impact the price of the option. Time value is basically the risk premium that the option seller requires to provide the option buyer the right to buy/sell the stock up to the date the option expires. It is like an insurance premium of the option; the higher the risk, the higher the cost to buy the option. Makes sense, right? Time value is determined by the expiration date. An expiration date in derivatives is the last day that an options contract is valid. When investors buy options, the contracts gives them the right but not the obligation, to buy or sell the assets at a predetermined price, called a strike price, within a given time period, which is on or before the expiration date. If an investor chooses not to exercise that right, the option expires and becomes worthless, and the investor loses the money paid to buy it. Volatility: In an options pricing, you see IV. This stands for implied volatility. The higher that is, the higher the options will be priced Volatility is the extent to which the return of the underlying asset will fluctuate between now and the option's expiration. Volatility, as expressed as a percentage coefficient within option-pricing formulas, arises from daily trading activities. How volatility is measured will affect the value of the coefficient used. Decaying Nature of Options: Decay refers to derivative trading (i.e. options). When you sell or buy a call/put (using those two for simplicity purposes) you don't get an infinite time frame to make your dreams come true. Time is your enemy; the further out the expiration date, the less time decay there is. Time decay really hits the worst the week of expiration. Sound confusing? Say you're buying options of the stock WSB (I hope you're seeing what I did there) - and the option costs $1, the expiration is this Friday. Say today is Monday. You buy a call expecting WSB to take you to the moon and beyond. Each day the stock doesn't move closer to your strike price or remains stagnant/drops, you lose value on your option + the time decay. Meaning if it finishes closer to your strike price, your option could be worthless because of that time decay. Questions? Ask away. A great example of these factors in action is TSLA. TSLA’s options are among the most expensive for companies in its price range, why? An in the money TSLA call expiring this week is worth around $1100 per contract. Insanely expensive. But for a reason. TSLA has extreme intraday movements and calls have an implied volatility of 40.92%. Which is fairly high. In addition to that, it holds high intrinsic value / price per share, and a week of time value. -Futures 101 - The Ultimate YOLO Guide (thanks to u/IncendiaryGames) Okay, a lot of you have been YOLOing on faggot delights on SPY options. How would you like to trade something with the same or more leverage, 1.0 delta, and no time premium costs? Have you considered futures? What are futures? Unlike options, futures is a contract where both the buyer and seller is obligated to perform the transaction by the expiration. Conversely, in options, only the seller is obligated to perform. That means you can lose more than your investment. Originally they were used by farmers to sell future crops early and guarantee some amount of sales. Since then futures have expanded not just to commodities but currency and equity indices like the S&P 500. Why the heck would I want to trade futures? Here are the advantages: Leverage $5k is the margin requirement for most contracts. For example with the E-mini S&P 500 with 5k you're trading $120k worth of stuff. 1 contract = 500 spy shares. Some brokers offer intraday daytrading margin rates too - TD Ameritrade is 25% of the overnight margin rate($1,250.) Some brokers go as low as $500 an /ES future. SPAN Margin If 24x overnight leverage and 240x day trade leverage didn't give you a hard on there is also SPAN margin, which is like portfolio margin on steroids. The beauty of SPAN margin is you don't need a $125k+ account to be eligible. SPAN will greatly reduce your margin requirements if you hold uncorrelated or inversely correlated positions (up to an 80% discount, here is a list of groups that give discounts) and if you hedge with options. Hedge with the right option or asset and now you have up to 500x day trading margin. 23/7 and day trading Ever get in and out of an equity only to have your broker yell at you to stop doing that or deposit $25k? There is no pattern day trading restrictions on futures. Feel free to day trade and blow up your account as often as you want! You can also trade 23 hours a day. Get trading on how the S&P 500 index will react to news from China right away. Taxes No matter how long or how short you hold you always get taxed under the 60/40 rule. 60% of your profit from futures will be taxed as a long term gain and 40% will be taxed as short term gain. No wash sales. Trade your hearts out. Just remember holding past Dec 31st will treat you as if you closed all your positions that day and you'll be taxed on unrealized gains. Long/Short No need to pay interest or borrow shares as being short a future contract is being a writer, just like an options writer. Options Of course there are options. What fun would it be without options? Unlike stock options each contract gives different number of future contracts. Research what you're trading. Ok. I'm convinced. I want to strat trading futures! What are some good strategies? YOLO Strategies Swing trading Trying to guess/predict/ride sudden market momentum. A low volume average day in the S&P 500 (/ES) for one contract can swing +- $500. Get it right and you can see a huge appreciation of value. /ES is usually highly liquid during regular hours with average volume of 1 million trades and usually bid-ask spreads of one tick. One approach is to buy or short in your direction and put in a stop loss to an amount you're comfortable to lose (say $200.) Since it's so liquid you'll likely be filled at or near your stop loss during the day if your trade goes against you. If you can guess the direction 50% of the time and have trades like this: trade 1 - gain $800 trade 2 - lose $200 Then you may profit over the time period. If you have a 50% chance of being wrong and losing $200 or 50% chance of being right and gaining $800 then over time you'll gain more than you lose. Also, since the present value of your futures contract is included in your margin calculation then if it goes strongly in your favor your position can quickly grow to cover its own margin and you can let it ride for a while. You'll want to be sure you enter a combo buy/short order along with a stop loss order simultaneously, like this for Thinkorswim. Futures can move suddenly and a sudden movement can make you lose a ton of money. Exploiting outdated SPAN margin guidelines There are several out of date correlations between popular futures like oil and say things like wheat that SPAN gives you margin credits on. Take whatever position you want in oil (/cl) then take the opposite in something that doesn't move much day to day with less volatility such as /w (wheat)) and your /cl and /w positions will get a 75% credit, giving you 50% more buying power on crude oil. (2 positions * .25 = 0.5). Trade your heart out on the more volatile future then when you're done close your safer future pair. SPAN is constantly changing but such a complex system definitely has its exploits. Automated/algorithmic trading For you programmer geeks out there it's really hard to algorithmic trade on small accounts due to pattern day trading rules and economies of scale with broker fees. Futures is probably the best way to get your feet wet. Join us on /algotrading if you want to explore more! Boring safer strategies I'm including these for completeness but these belong on /investing. Scalping With high frequency trading scalping is less guaranteed. Basically scalping is using tiny momentum as usually there are small micro patterns in futures buying and selling activity where it will rise or fall a couple of ticks. Since the notional value of each tick is $12.5 it's profitable for retail investors and small accounts to act as a market maker after fees at the smallest bid-ask spread possible. Spreads Just like you can trade spreads in options, you can trade calendar spreads in futures. Futures have contracts with different expiration dates and the prices are different for each month of expiration based on the market's expectations. You can go long or short the near month expiration and the opposite for the far month. This will hedge out any sudden market moves as that would likely affect both months. Bull markets in general tend to increase the price of the near month faster than the far month. Basically with a spread trade you're making a long term bet on bull or bear for the underlying future. Pairs trading You can go long in one future say the dow jones (/ym) and short the S&P 500 index and profit off the relative growth. This is a hedged trade as any market ups or downs will likely affect both positions with the same % value. For the past 180 days /ym - /es has been really profitable. Even if you don't do a full perfect pairs trade it is still a great option to reduce the leverage too on whatever index future you're trading so you can stay in longer or overnight. Interest rate and optimal leverage plays Since the $5k investment is equal to $120k of the S&P 500 index currently then you'll likely beat out the market by buying one future contract and putting $115k in safe treasuries or bonds or uncorrelated assets. Some people choose to leverage their stock portfolio and you can get the exact leverage ratio of liquid investments to future ratios. In probability theory the max leverage you can gain is determined by the Kelly Criterion which modeling shows indicates the S&P 500 index to be leveraged to 1.40x. Yes, you could do the same with options but even on SPY deep in the money call leaps are illiquid and have a time premium. Even today they are so deep ITM that the options you would need to use have 0 open interest and a bid-ask spread of $5 per share (so $500 per contract.) You'd need ~5 contracts per 120k so you're already eating $2.5k/$120k - 2% interest rate a year for that leverage. SPX isn't better, it's bid ask is 22 so you'd be eating $2.2k/$120k - 1.83% interest rate. It's doubtful you won't get much past the ask as its only market makers providing liquidity and guess what the market maker will do if you buy/sell the option? They will hedge with the underlying futures until their minimum profit is the risk free interest rate. Hedging Going long and short in various non correlated or negatively correlated assets to seek out a high sharpe ratio and have a higher risk free return that is market neutral. Basic hedge fund stuff. The variety and price efficiency of futures makes things pretty attractive in this area. SUBCULTURE Wallstreetbets is a community that has become infamous for the most wild west, moon or cardboard box trades on the planet earth. WSB is a place where you can take out thousand dollar loans, refinance your homes, cash advance all of your credit cards only to put it all on JNUG, and we will still love you. Your mother won't. Your father will never understand your spectrum of autism, but we will always love you. It is a uniquely beautiful community focused on praising its biggest losers as much as its biggest winners. To begin on the subculture, we should define some key moments in the sub's history. HISTORY: (As made by u/digadiga) + my additions 2012: Jartek [+1] creates /wallstreetbets, and word slowly starts to ooze out. 2013: americanpegasus discovers pennies. AP has seen the light, and is a penny stock evangelist. Jartek & AP have an epic options vs pennies battle - they both lose a couple of hundred bucks, but we are entertained, and WSB is officially born. AP blows up his retirement, swears off pennies and moves onto bitcoins. 2014: fscomeau [+3] discovers options. He repeatedly bets five figures on AAPL calls before earnings. FS claims a supernatural clairvoyance of AAPL. FS then posts about his chest pains and ER visits. He finally suffers an epic loss. Is he dead? Is he alive? Is he is mother? Is he banned? Who cares? 2015: Photos from the 3rd annual meetup are posted. Where a bunch of dudes hang out on the romantic beaches of Guerrero Mexico. In a completely unrelated event, the wsb banner is changed to thousands of ejaculating dicks. Modpocalypse occurs. Hundreds of random users are added as moderators for a few months. None of the new mods can change the CSS. The constant whining about how "wsb isn't what it used to be" continues. Someone attempts to show how selling covered calls is idiot proof, but gets lazy, bets all six figures on Apple, and suffers significant losses. Robinhood gets popular. Should you buy one share of AMZN or one share of GOOGL? Who gives a fuck. 2016: Everyone starts saying "go fuck yourself." Except me. Because I am what I am. And if you don't like it, you can all go fuck yourselves. u/World_Chaos performs one of the more impressive yolo's of the sub, starting with 900 dollars, and turning it into 55k. https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/414blh/yofuckinglo_900_to_55k_in_12_days/?ref=share&ref_source=link 2017: u/fscomeau preforms what he calls "The Final Yolo", a 300k trade against AAPL before earnings (that I, u/thor303456 inversed), supposedly supposed to net fscomeau 2.5 million or so, in which he will finally stop trading. FSC is featured on several market related articles and newspapers, showing up on yahoo, etc. Later we find proof during his livestream of AAPL earnings that he was paper trading. Even later, FSC writes a near 200 page book called "Wolfie Has Fallen" describing how he trolled the entire internet, some following him into that AAPL trade. Martin Shkreli visits the sub and proclaims that GILD pharma is worth over $100 a share and is deeply undervalued. KEY FIGURES: Donald J Trump - He is the Marmalade Manchurian, the Tangerine Tycoon, and our spray tan Stalin. Unbelievable night of election. WSB demographics show a primarily capitalist and right wing (or at least joking to be so) point of view, and thus we are generally pro trump. In actuality though, WSB is focused on pro-market, which Trump happens to be. u/Jartek - Founder of the sub, original yoloer. Believe he has retired from reddit for the most part. Mostly inactive. u/Fscomeau - The Canadian as some call him, and perhaps one of the most profound internet trolls of 2016-2017. A French-Canadian trader who deals with mostly options. The man has been called "The Great Inverse", and for a good reason. Nearly all of the trades or statements he made on WSB were completely wrong or mostly wrong. Truly the strongest technical indicator. Martin Shkreli - An idol to many WSBers, Martin stands as the master of the biotech sector. A very debated character for very stupid reasons. Martin regularly tweets about the stock market, occasionally does a youtube channel, and livestreams fairly regularly. u/theycallme1 - Educated trader, and mod of WSB. Roasts people often and roasts them good. Ask him the questions that aren't stupid. One of the most active mods. u/world_chaos - some fucking college student with some real net worth. Sits on 100k or so (needs verification), and was an inspiring yoloer to all, with his 900 to 55k yolo with options. Lingo, Terminology, and Nomenclature: The Faggots Delights - Truly the most suicidal, yet clearest shot to the moon. This term is usually used to define either weekly, or daily option plays on the SPY/SPX. Some users trade them very profitably, such as u/MRPguy and many in the past. Cuck - Truly the worst thing you could be. A cuck is a man who likes watching his wife/girlfriend fuck other guys. Weak, spineless, and a term often throw around here. The YOLO - You only live once. This is something that is, and should be realized as undeniably true. Why are you sitting on a 5k emergency fund that is making you less interest in a year than what I just made in 10 minutes? Why haven't you used all of the credit on your 5 credit cards or used your testicles as collateral for a loan yet? YOLO or YOLOING is as much a psychological decision to embrace absurdism, and win with everything you have while risking it all. Yolo is what it means to be a WSB trader. Bagholding or a Bagholder - When you're stuck with the most ass trade of your life, because you know it'll go back up. A bagholder is the 59 year old guy at the grocery store who won't quit his Job because he knows he only has to wait another year until he gets a return on his investment (of his life). Anyone holding SUNEQ is the definition of a bagholder. Autists - Something we embrace, something we call each other, something we all are. Autism isn't used in an offensive way as much as it is a generally accepted term that defines us. The best traders have autism because of their distance from emotion. I bet you never made it to this part of the reading because you're such a damn autist. Tendies - Tendies are what you get after you make a small amount of money. "I SOLD AMD TODAY FOR A $13 DOLLAR PROFIT, GOING TO MCD's TO GET MY TENDIES". Tendie money is usually shameful and insignificant, but at least it got you tendies. Chicken tenders at McDonalds are the least expensive for the most cholesterol. I know some of the writing was half ass, full of errors, or otherwise not the best explanation. But I believe this will serve its purpose, and maybe help to promote new ideas from moderately educated traders. WSB has very strong traders, and the most uniquely risky trading styles on the planet. Hopefully this can serve to better the overall community. You guys are all faggots, upvote this so we can get the noobs to stop trying to bite on our cocks. Also I'd really appreciate input on anything to add to this overall. It took my over 3 hours to write up, so I eventually grew tired and probably have missing spots. Enjoy your time here at WSB. EDIT: Added a shit ton of stuff, fixed errors. THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR INPUT, ACTUALLY MAKING WSB GREAT AGAIN MODS: Can we make this editable by others mods or something? My fingers aren't enough. Seems like this could serve as a good "official" thing. Paging u/theycallme1u/CHAINSAW_VASECTOMY etc
Facebook issued a whitepaper on the new cryptocurrency that they’re issuing, the Libra. Now, the whitepaper lacks any technical details about their plans (composition of currency basket, the exchange rate, etc.) The sources that they use are bad. But I’ll try to focus on why the Libra is a bad idea, at least at addressing the unbanked who Facebook claims to support. So how will it work? Facebook takes your money, puts some of it in a bank and uses the rest to buy securities from various countries. They then “mint” a new coin and give it to the user. When people want their money back, Facebook just “burns” the Libra and sells securities. This means the Libra is based on a basket of securities and bank deposits (see: Money Market Funds and Currency ETF). What’s Facebook’s plan? Facebook plans on tackling two problems with the Libra. The first and most important is to “bank the unbanked”, aka providing people with access to financial services. The second is to help reduce remittance fees and make it easier to transfer money. The second point will probably be how most people use the Libra. Some issues with the Libra: It won’t help the unbanked Facebook’s main plan is to help the “unbanked”. In the problem statement, they acknowledge that;
“those who remain “unbanked” point to not having sufficient funds, high and unpredictable fees, banks being too far away, and lacking the necessary documentation”.
It seems that they forgot about two other reasons that were given in the World Bank paper that they cited: some people don’t need a bank account (30% of people) and some rely on family members with bank accounts (26% of people). Even so Facebook’s system will only solve two of these problems (high fees and distance) and will do nothing about the biggest reason people don’t have a bank account, not having enough money (66% of people).* David Marcus, the current head of Calibra, said this in an update;
“The very people who say they lack the money to open a bank account are actually not saying that they have no use for modern financial services. They’re just saying they can’t afford to access the system, so they remain on the fringes and are forced to use services that charge exorbitant fees and rates.”
I guess he never read the report used by Facebook, where excessive fees was a separate reason cited by 26% of respondents. I also want to clarify the documentation issue. This usually refers to Know-Your-Customer and anti-money laundering laws, which vary in each country. Facebook will have to adhere to these same laws when setting up Libra unless they want to get tackled by every financial regulatory agency in the world. These laws typically require identity proof and address proof, things that many poor people are unable to provide. And that means they can’t help the unbanked. *Note that people were allowed to choose multiple reasons, so the total adds up to more than 100% How are people going to get their Libra? If you look at the list of corporations and organizations partnering with Facebook, it’s not very hard to notice that some pretty important firms are missing; Banks. Which begs the question, how are people going to convert their hard-earned money into Libra? In the video that they showed, it looks like people can use credit and debit cards, but that doesn’t help the unbanked. You can hand someone cash in exchange for them sending you Libra, but that’s always risky. The World Bank report gives us some potential answers;
“People using digital payments need to be able to deposit and withdraw cash safely, reliably, and conveniently at cash-in and cash-out points”.
One example is a post office. However, post offices are probably not going to accept anything other than legal tender, which means no Libra. Physical infrastructure is important, especially to serve developing countries. Facebook seems to have forgotten about that. They don’t have phones Facebook refers to a statistic from the World Bank that 1.7 billion adults are unbanked, of which 1 billion own mobile phones and half a billion have internet access. Let’s just ignore that last number, as I have no clue where they got it from. The 1 billion strikes me as being quite high, and there’s a reason for that. The study that they used looked at mobile phones, not just smartphones. The rhetoric that they use in their whitepaper and in official responses from the company seems to imply that Libra can only be used through apps and web browsers. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to use mobile payments on non-smartphone devices; there is a very popular mobile payment system in Kenya called M-Pesa that transfers money through texts. But it will be a while before an independent developer gets that working, if it ever happens. And until then, the 50% of people in developing countries without access to smartphones will not be able to use Libra. It’s unstable It’s true that the Libra won’t be very volatile. But as the exchange rates of the currencies backing the Libra fluctuate, the value of the Libra is going to change as well. Facebook mentioned it in their whitepaper, so it’s not like they don’t know about it. If exchange rates swing the wrong way, users could find themselves losing a significant portion of their initial purchase. And while it’s possible that banks and retailers might start to accept Libra in transactions or to pay off mortgages, until the government starts accepting taxes in Libra (aka never), people will always have to convert Libra into something else. As long as the need for conversion exists, there will be risk. And while we’re on this topic, lets talk about those countries with unstable currencies. Many people from those countries will invest their money into Libra. But that just causes the local currency to depreciate in value, making the poor people without access to the Libra worse off. Additional ranting They use the price of a phone from Best Buy to show that people across the world can buy smartphones for $40 (it’s on sale for $28 right now if you were curious). They seem to have forgotten that the US is not the only country in the world (don’t worry, it’s a pretty easy mistake for us Americans to make). Now, admittedly it’s quite hard for me to find data for minimum phone prices for all countries in the world. But then again, I’m not Facebook. I would assume that households in developing countries would have to spend a larger portion of their monthly income to buy a mobile phone than households in America. Honestly, looking at the sources that they cited, it seems more and more like some intern just used the first search result from Google instead of doing any actual research. It’s not cryptocurrency Yes, it is blockchain (it actually might not be, I just don’t understand crypto very well and it doesn't really matter for this sub). It’s considered to be a stablecoin, a cryptocurrency that is tied to other assets. But that’s about the only thing that makes it a cryptocurrency. Unlike bitcoin, it should be a decent store of value and has the potential to be a medium of exchange and a unit of account if retailers start adopting it. Which means it can actually be used as money. There’s a central reserve that fully controls the Libra. And unlike other stablecoins, the Libra is also backed by securities. As far as I’m aware, assets backed by securities are securities (at least that’s my definition). If you really think about it, transacting in Libra is like paying for your groceries or the movies using shares from a money market fund. This should be considered capital gains (or losses), and would be taxed as such. Financial regulators are really going to love that. No interest Facebook’s plan is that “Users of Libra do not receive a return from the reserve.” Facebook will put a portion of the user’s money into a bank account. However, any interest earned will be kept as profits. This means that people who use the Libra can’t do anything about inflation without converting it to their local currency. This seems like a big oversight for company that seems to be betting on users holding on to their Libra and not exchanging it for their local currency. Now, for people in countries that experience hyperinflation, this is not an issue. Libra would probably be less risky than the local currency and would protect their earnings. However, for the rest of the world bank deposits just seem like a better choice. Conclusion Now, this doesn’t mean that Facebook doesn’t have any valid concerns. Remittance fees are extremely high for people trying to transfer money anywhere. Having greater financial inclusivity would help reduce inequality and poverty. Digital technology is likely the best way for that to happen. But the idea that Facebook will help to “bank the unbanked” is a lie.
In the Shade of Afternoon | Monthly FI Portfolio Update – August 2019
It is idle, having planted an acorn in the morning, to expect that afternoon to sit in the shade of the oak. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars This is my thirty-third portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a passive income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19%, or a nominal return of 7.19%, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $750 246 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $43 194 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $79 500 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $110 418 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $102 977 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $20 184 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $258 984 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 982 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $14 056 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $8 868 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $104 149 Secured physical gold – $16 759 Ratesetter* (P2P lending) – $19 968 Bitcoin – $158 330 Raiz* app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 223 Spaceship Voyager* app (Index portfolio) – $2 104 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 395 Total value: $1 712 337 (-$2 653) Asset allocation Australian shares – 40.5% (4.5% under) Global shares – 22.2% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.1% Total international shares – 27.7% (2.3% under) Total shares – 68.3% (6.7% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 5.1% International bonds – 10.1% Total bonds – 15.1% (0.1% over) Gold – 7.1% Bitcoin – 9.2% Gold and alternatives – 16.3% (6.3% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The portfolio experienced a small decline this month, with an overall decrease of $2 600. This movement comes after a strong period of expansion through the first half of the year in the value of the portfolio. [Chart] As with last month, the fall occurs despite some significant new investments being made, meaning the absolute size of the decline is somewhat obscured. Renewed concerns about global trade and a relative weakening in the outlook for future earnings played a significant role in the overall movement of the portfolio. [Chart] Once again movements this month within the portfolio have been relatively limited in terms of the size of the portfolio. Equity holdings have declined by around $28 000 when contributions are accounted for, whilst appreciation in the price of gold has offset just over a third of that loss. In fact, despite no recent purchases, the gold component of the portfolio is currently at the highest nominal value it has ever held. On the topic of gold, this 2013 paper (pdf) provides a comprehensive and skeptical empirical analysis of the range of claims made to support holding gold, including tracing the real gold value of average soldiers pay across 2000 years. This month has seen a continuing 'averaging in' of the capital from July distributions. These have been directed to purchases of Vanguard's Australian shares ETF (VAS). This is to bring the allocation closer to my original targets - with my Australian shares allocation currently further underweight than the international shares allocation. Psychologically, a weakening Australian dollar has also made purchasing unhedged international shares more problematic. Risk, volatility, markets and economies There has been significant market volatility this month, and discussion around the future of Australian and global growth in the midst of trade tensions between US and China. In such times, something to remember as this St Louis Federal Reserve piece points out, is that the economy and sharemarket are not the same thing. This means that bad (or good) news for one, does not necessarily imply anything about the other. Missing this has the potential to lead to overconfident investment actions predicated on assumptions of future national economic trends (which will themselves most likely be priced into equity markets well before any retail investor reading the news arrives). The volatility in equity markets has brought out many well-intentioned injunctions to remain calm and fixed on the objective of contributing capital with a long-term view in mind. At times, however, this wise advice can shade into a form of near complacency - for example, for people to invest confident in the knowledge that long-term returns are (almost) guaranteed. No doubt this is generally good advice, directed at easing particularly new investors' concerns about investing at the "wrong" time, and reducing the potential damage from selling into falling markets due to panic. Even as I continue to invest amidst volatility, it is important to reflect on Elroy Dimson's definition that 'risk means more things can happen than will happen', and to consider that the history of equity markets available to us provides only a basis for sound conclusions around what has happened, not what could happen. This is the definition of the risk assumed in markets by investors. None of this is to suggest that starting, saving and regular investing with a view to one's individual risk tolerances are not the most important steps in the path to FI. There is a need to pause, however, and acknowledge that at times common financial independence investment precepts bear a disconcerting passing resemblance to the declaration and mathematical proof offered by famous stock promoter Jacob J Raskob in the well-known Ladies Home Journal (pdf) article exactly 90 years ago. This declaration was that with a steady investment in equities, based on the past patterns of returns, 'everybody ought to be rich'. Nearly 90 years happened to be just before the Great Depression devastated equity markets and employment prospects alike, and US equity investors were behind in nominal terms for around 25 years. Interestingly, however, this New York Times article argues that deflation, higher dividend yields and impacts from changes in the Dow index composition could theoretically have shortened the real losses of any investor to just 4.5 years, provided they possessed the resources and fortitude to hold on to average stocks. Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 107.1% 145.4% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 86.5% 117.4% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 98.3% 133.4% Total expenses - $89 000 pa 80.7% 109.4% Summary Progress against my goals and benchmarks has been static this month, with the exception of the 'total expenditure' benchmark. My detailed review of expenditure last month identified that I could lower this to recognise some double-counting of fixed expenses, and this has meant a leap forward in progress in that aim of 5.8 per cent. This moves the clock forward appreciably for achieving that benchmark. As a general rule, it is always later than we think. For example, on a recent lunch time walk it occurred to me that if my progress to my current FI target of $1.98 million is considered in terms of the length of an ordinary working day, it is currently approximately 3.50pm in the afternoon. Quite late, and just over an hour until heading home. This perspective, of being further towards the tail end than expected, is explored fully and powerfully in the blog Wait but Why here. It helps frame the remaining journey. Viewed in this way, wishing time away seems less useful and fitting than seeking to fill the remaining time with as much meaning, learning, knowledge transmission and patience as feasible. Yet it also explains why in a FI context at this stage sharp changes in investing approach, or commencing new 'side hustles' have limited appeal. Despite it being late afternoon from this one perspective, there are a couple of other considerations or viewpoints. One is the potentially deceptive role of compounding later in the journey, which means that - at least in a stylised world of 'smooth returns' - the end goal is actually likely closer than any purely linear measure would suggest. The other counterpoint to this is that while in my case the absolute journey to FI has involved serious investments over around 18 years, this is not the whole story. Viewed in terms of the average 'age' of dollars actually contributed or invested, the journey of the average dollar in the portfolio has been shorter. In fact, in terms of dollars contributed, around 50 per cent have been contributed since January 2016. So, in some ways, it is more akin to mid-morning for the portfolio as a whole, meaning perhaps that I should not reasonably expect to shade myself under the oak tree just yet. Finally, this month also saw Pat the Shuffler emerge from a short hiatus and provide a honest and well-argued insight into his rethink on investment options between LICs and ETFs. I also enjoyed reading the start of another Australian FI voice at Fire for One. The past few months has also had many interesting podcasts related to FI - from The Escape Artists' Chris Reining on Equity Mates, to a really fascinating practical ChooseFI episode on David Sawyer's on the UK Path to FI. On the slightly more technical and future focused side of finance, the outgoing address of the Bank of England's Governor to the Jackson Hole central bankers gathering provides much food for thought on current and longer term monetary and currency issues, particularly as global bond rates continue to cross the 'zero-bound' into uncharted territory. The post and full charts can be seen here.
...as an investor who began my career right before the dot-com bubble burst and invested through the Great Recession, take some comfort in the fact that this experience is providing you younger investors with the perspective necessary to be successful over the long term. If you observe early in life that that there are relatively equal forces at all times trying to make money both on the long and the short side of any asset class, it will give you more opportunity to find long-term success. It's my opinion that without losing your ass once or twice, you can't possibly become a great long-term investor. Take heart in the potential that is being created in you. If you keep the memory of this and use it to grow, you'll have an advantage going forward, be better attuned to risk and speculative market behavior, and you'll give yourself more opportunity to generate higher long-term returns. I wanted to give it all up in late 2000...but for whatever reason I stuck with it, and it was worth it. If investing has called to you as a career or hobby, that is a great thing. Just my 2c. Good luck out there. P.s. I apologize if this sounds pretentious or anything like that. Definitely not my intention. Edit: I really hope the following is helpful, and sorry for the crap formatting. TL;DR - You all know FOMO/FUD really well, and that can be used in more established markets to make solid returns. Measuring risk is as important as measuring your potential returns, always compare. People with no investment experience jumping into an asset class/tons of top-down analysis on an asset class usually means its close to a top. Your experience has value, so don't look at your bank account as the only asset you have...you've all gained experience and that has tons of value, sometimes more than you've lost in money. More investor activity doesn't always equate to more buying, but more balance/rationality, which for an overheated/risky asset can lead to more selling. I was asked by u/Cryptomoolah about examples of investment learnings I have gathered over the years, so here goes…
You guys have experienced some crazy FOMO/FUD levels, so watch for that in more established industries. People still sometimes work themselves into a frenzy over really big markets…oil/gas, financials, pharma, retail…guess what? These are gigantic markets with insanely huge infrastructure underneath them, and they end up weathering BS market sentiment over time much better than people realize, but when FUD hits these guys, look the opposite way. This worked for me well during the recession…NFW all those giant companies were going out of business, and I got some great basis in some very established names. Works same for FOMO …people think we are going to run out of oil, and price of oil goes to $150 and oil stocks skyrocket? We aren’t running out of oil anytime soon, so good idea to reduce your position. Watch for frenzied thinking…you’ve all just graduated with a college degree in FOMO/FUD.
Every investment comes with an implied risk measure associated with it. I think about this absolutely every day, every time I choose to deploy capital. You think something can go up 10x? Well, if there is an equal chance it can be down 90%, then (simplistically) you are looking at a 0% risk-adjusted return…and I’d look at other opportunities. There is no such thing as a financial return that didn’t have risk associated. Being a good investor means accurately assessing the risk associated with an investment, and measuring your potential return relative to that. There are complicated formulas around risk measures, but I personally like to think about it simply relative to volatility. It’s just a proxy, but it works…i.e. what is the maximum this asset could fluctuate in price before I’d really be surprised? That gives you a sense of the underlying risk, and therefore how much you need it to “return” to you for it to be worth it. It’s not perfect, but it can keep you out of trouble. For example, some people would say that venture investments usually have a 30-50% risk premium associated, so funds typically need to see a path to returns above that measure to have a positive risk-adjusted return
One of my go-to’s (which again, isn’t perfect but something I’ve seen happen) is when retail investors start pouring into an asset class, especially with margin, you are closer to a top than you realize.
Top-down analysis is a killer. Hearing how big the market could be and what percentage market share the product will take? That is empty analysis and it absolutely ravaged investors during the dot-com bubble. I mean annihilated. SO many investments based on that flawed thinking.
Business model sustainability can get lost during euphoria. Can the businesses being invested in ever really turn a profit, and sustain themselves? What happens when things get more competitive, outside capital dries up, etc?
To my earlier point about symmetric pressures on asset classes, one of my good friends asked for my opinion prior to the CBOE opening options trading for bitcoin. At the time, I advised him against investing, simply because options entering a “long-only” situation will pretty much 100% going to focus on shorting. I didn’t do a particularly good job of convincing him though, since he went in anyway. At the end of the day, more exchanges, more funds, more volume, more investors doesn’t just equate to more buying. It equates to more balance, which as the size of the asset class grows, the pressure for balance increases. Keep that in mind too with all this ETF stuff…
One very successful, smart PM I knew a long time ago said that if an investment you bought is down 20%, sell it regardless of how much you believe in it. What he meant was you aren’t as intelligent as you think you are, and therefore sometimes mistakes you make are not visible to you right away. An investment you went into that is down 20%, in his mind, is more likely a mistake than a temporary market glitch. He’s basically saying you got the risk-adjusted return wrong, so bail. I admit I have ignored this concept throughout my career, and I have usually been killed for doing so.
As far as making you feel better or dealing with being down big, look at it this way: Everything you have is an asset. Your money, your relationships, your reputation, your mind, your experience, your word. So you used to have $60k and now have $20k? You gained $40k of market experience. I could see betting long-term on an investor who has $10k after losing 90% of his/her original principal before I would bet on that same investor with $100k without that experience. Fact is, over the long term having a healthy respect for financial loss/down markets is absolutely necessary for long term success. Don’t throw that away, but cherish it, nurture it, and weave the experience into your evolving investment philosophy.
Couple other things to watch out for (not necessarily avoid, just increase the risk measure):
Investments where you are only investing in the quality of the “team” (happens in every market, not just crypto) but without a viable business model,
Investments where the business is providing a solution where there isn’t a problem,
Investments with fundamental structural problems (no leverage over the supplier or customer, investments where revenue growth is driven dis-economically with no path to sustainability)
Again, just my 2c. My mentor would say you never take 100% of what anyone is saying based on their own experiences, but usually in any person's experience there is always something in there that you can take that is valuable. I hope I have provided something of value to someone. Edit 2: Thanks to everyone for the kind responses! This is far and away the most engagement I've ever had with a post, and I so appreciate everyone taking the time. As a few of you pointed out, I was incorrect with my risk-adjusted return example. I used an incomplete example that I will often use in venture investing, but stated it incorrectly and I apologize. The base concept is still valid, I.e. think about downside and incorporate that into your thinking about upside. But the corrected version would be if your investment has a 10% chance of a 10x and a 90% chance of a zero (a stereotypical VC investment scenario) then it's basically a 0% risk adjusted return. In reality, and I touched on this in my response to u/Astrocat15 who pointed out the error, the average investor would also have to come to terms with the possibility of being wiped out and whether that was an outcome that could be accepted, which for most people is not... Personally, if something seems to have a ton of upside, a ton of downside and I can't get my arms around how to value the thing or weigh the scenarios, I lean towards overweighting the downside and will probably look elsewhere . I might still gamble for fun though... Thanks everyone, good luck!
Can Any Current Crypto Commodity Ever Be Used As A General Currency?
“In the long run, we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean will be flat again.”- John Maynard Keynes
Cryptocurrency Supply Algorithms And The Equation Of Exchange
Although I am a proponent for Bitcoin and view it as a good store-of-value, my belief is that all of the algorithms for cryptocurrency supply models that I have seen to date are not amenable to creating a cryptocurrency useful as a general currency. That is as a means for exchange-of-value as opposed to store-of-value. The following is my brief description of the models that I am aware of, followed by an explanation of why I believe they are not useful for as general currencies. At the bottom, I make a concluding remark on what I believe is a missing feature needed to realize a general currency.
Coin Supply Algorithms
Marked To External Asset
There is the fourth model for coin supply which is intended to mark the value of the coin to an external index of some kind. This may be a physical asset like an ounce of gold, or another commodity. In this model, the coin can explicitly represent a unit of the external asset such as an ounce of gold. Regardless of whether the coin can be exchanged for the underlying asset or not, given that supply of commodities such as gold are constantly following the same mining algorithms as above, the marked to asset model is a constant coin supply model. If the distribution model used is an incentive reward model, then it is similar to the third model.
Marked To Value Of External Asset
There is a fifth model for coin supply where the value of the coin is marked to the value of an external asset like the USD, instead of the supply of the external asset, as was the case for marking to a commodity. In this model, the coin supply is changed to reflect the exchange rate of the coin against the value of the external asset. The objective is to keep the exchange rate constant on average over time. For example: assuming the objective is a 1-to-1 exchange between the coin and the USD, then if the coin’s value increases above the objective, more coins are printed, and vice-versa. That is, if the value of the coin decreases, given some means (i.e. burning), the coin supply is decreased to bring the exchange rate towards the objective. In this model, the coin supply is not fixed but varies with the exchange rate. To the extent that the value of the external asset is relatively constant, and the value of the coin is relatively constant the coin supply will be relatively constant. Although marking to the USD would seem to be a good idea, given that it is called a “reserve currency”, the USD is intentionally subject to inflation, theoretically, the coin to USD exchange will continue to decrease, requiring the coin supply to be decreased to maintain the objective of a constant exchange rate. Over time, this model can be viewed as decreasing the coin supply if marked to the inflationary external asset value.
Comparing Coin Supply Models
In summary, of the five models described above, four of them are essentially variations on a constant coin supply using various means to distribute the coin, while the fifth tries to keep the value of the coin constant against an external asset value, by managing the supply of the coin. The equation of exchange: M * V = P * Y tells us that if the amount of money supply, M, (i.e. the coin supply) is constant, and the velocity of money is relatively constant, then an increase in demands for goods (Y), will cause a decrease in the price (P), price deflation. That is, with a fixed coin supply the price of goods is expected to drop, thus increasing the value of the coin. Bitcoin’s increase in value is an example of this. (The Bitcoin ledger does not have the means to determine either prices (P) or goods (Y). Instead, I am inferring from the increase in the value of bitcoins that an increase in demand for Y is occurring. There are possible other explanations.) However, it should be noted that in order for the equation of exchange to be valid, the assumption of the velocity of money is relatively constant must hold. If holders of the coin stop using it as a currency for the exchange of value, then the M * V = M * 0 = 0. There is no price in that coin for any goods or services. That is, the value of the coin collapses. Conversely, if the velocity of the coin were to increase significantly, then this creates effectively more available coin, resulting in the price (P) of the goods and services (Y) to increase. This causes price inflation, which encourages coin holders to spend their coin as fast as possible to avoid losing value in the coin. As the price of goods becomes excessive, people shift from the coin to other forms of currency. As this happens, once more a collapse happens. At an equilibrium point, the coin supply is constant, the velocity is constant, the demand for goods and services is constant, and therefore the price would be constant. At such an equilibrium point, a constant coin supply would be ideal. However, we can observe throughout history that such an equilibrium point is never reached. Given any sort of constant coin supply, the value of the coin is expected to vary unpredictably and often wildly. Of the 5 models, the first 4 will always be subject to this. Although this may be interesting for speculators, usefulness for general currency is questionable. The fifth model is to manage the coin supply against an external asset value. In essence, this is a substitution of the coin for the asset. Provided that the coin supply can be managed to reflect the objective exchange rate, the value of the coin should be stable relative to the stability of the external asset value. However, in my opinion, this marking of value does not take into account exchanges that are wholly internal to the coin and its blockchain. The transfer of a coin balance from one account to another implies an exchange of value, thus the equation of exchange applies internally to the blockchain. This exchange of value is independent of the exchange rate of the coin value versus the external asset value. Thus, the coin supply can be seen as independent of the exchange of value on the blockchain. Given this assumption, we can make the simplifying assumption that the coin supply is relatively constant with respect to the exchange of value on the blockchain. As a result, one would expect that even though the coin supply is managed against the exchange rate with an external asset, its value can still fluctuate wildly, beyond the ability of coin supply management to compensate. This, in turn, will impact the exchange rate, destroying the intended objective. As a natural consequence, even with the approach of marking the value of the coin to external asset value, such as the USD, the expected volatility limits the usefulness of the coin as a currency.
Towards A General Currency
As stated in the introduction, I believe that none of the cryptocurrency models described are viable for use as general currencies. In my opinion, my brief non-rigorous analysis above demonstrates this likely to be true. The question remains, what else is needed to create a cryptocurrency that is viable as a general currency. The equation of exchange shows us what is missing directly: In the equation M * V = P * Y, we can say that on every blockchain we can know the values of M and V directly. The account ledger explicitly shows us this, (ignoring encrypted exchanges). What we do not know is the other side of the equation. We do not know either price (P) or goods and services (Y) for any exchanges that are internal to the blockchain, that is between accounts on the blockchain. If we compare cryptocurrencies with national fiat currencies, and cryptocurrency exchanges with foreign exchanges, we can see that the foreign exchanges relate the difference in prices in related economies. In comparison, the cryptocurrency exchanges appear to only relate the difference in demand for the cryptocurrencies themselves. This demand only manifests itself during the exchange of cryptocurrencies for each other and between fiat and cryptocurrencies and vice-versa. It is my position that because the internal use of cryptocurrencies on their own blockchains is currently hidden, none of the above coin supply models will create a currency stable enough to be useful as a general currency. If/when a cryptocurrency model is created that takes into account the currently hidden internal exchange of value, then we will have realized a general currency. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equation_of_exchange
The features of the system that make Bitcoin possible
Why is bitcoin innovative
A overview of challenges of the Bitcoin
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1 Introduction to the Bitcoin System
1.1 Introduction and General Description
There are many definitions and descriptions of Bitcoin. Some describe it as an innovative virtual or crypto currency, some as the system for peer-to–peer electronic cash payment transactions, and some others as decentralized platform and infrastructure for anonymous payment transactions using any type of crypto currency. In this Report we will adopt the concept that the Bitcoin system is a payment system. It has its own features, its own currency, its own protocols and components, and with all that Bitcoin supports payment transactions. In other words, the core function of the Bitcoin system is to support payments between two parties – the party that makes a payment and the party that receives the payment. Based on the original concept and the description of the Bitcoin [Bitcoin, 2016], “it is a decentralized digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority: transaction management and money issuance are carried out collectively by the network”. The system is decentralized since its supporting platform blockchain, comprises an infrastructure of multiple distributed servers, mutually linked by an instantaneous broadcasting protocol. Users perform transactions within the open and distributed community of registered users. Digital currency used in the system is not electronic form of fiat currency, but a special form of the currency generated and used only within the Bitcoin system. This concept is based on the notion that money can be interpreted as any object, or any sort of record, that is accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context. Bitcoin system is designed around the idea of using cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money, rather than relying on central authorities. There are several important requirements when making any type of payment and with any currency. The best example of a “perfect” payment transaction that meets all these requirements is payment using cash over-the-counter. When a consumer pays to a merchant using cash over-the-counter, such transaction satisfies all requirements and expectations of both parties. First, the transaction is instantaneous, as the paper bill is transferred hand-to-hand, from the consumer to the merchant. The transaction is cheap, in fact there is no overhead charge to perform transaction, so the merchant receives the full amount. The transaction is irreversible, what is the property beneficial to merchants. The transaction is legal, as the merchant can verify the legality of the paper bill. And, finally, the transaction is anonymous for the consumer as he/she does not need to reveal his/her identity. The only “problem” with cash over-the-counter is the cash itself, as using and handling cash has many disadvantages. Bitcoin concept and system solves all issues and problems with the use of cash, but at the same time provides all advantages when performing transactions using digital and communication technologies. So, paying with Bitcoins is effectively payment transaction that uses “digital cash over-the-counter”. The concept of the Bitcoin system provides all advantages and benefits mentioned above with payments using cash over-the-counter, but eliminates the problems of using cash. That is the reason why Bitcoins are often referred to as “digital cash”. One of significant features of payments using cash over-the-counter is that there are no thirdparties to participate or assist in the execution and validation of a transaction. This feature makes Bitcoin transactions very efficient and also very cheap to perform. Other types of todays payment systems, for instance using bank-to-bank account transfers or using bankcards, use many additional intermediate parties and use very complicated background infrastructure to validate and clear payment transactions. These infrastructures are complex to establish and operate, they are expensive, and they are vulnerable to attacks and penetrations by hackers. Bitcoin does not use such complex infrastructures, what is the reason that its transactions are efficient and cheap. An additional problem with third-party transaction players is that transaction parties must put the complete trust in all these parties without any means to verify their functionality, correctness, or security. Bitcoin system uses public-key cryptography to protect the currency and transactions. Logical relationships between transaction parties is direct, peer-to-peer, and the process of validating transactions is based on cryptographic proof-of-work. When performing a transaction, the net effect is that certain amount of Bitcoins is transferred from one cryptographic address to another. Each user may have and use several addresses simultaneously. Each payment transaction is broadcast to the network of distributed transaction processing servers. These servers collect individual transactions, package them into blocks, and send them for validation. Each block is cryptographically processed by the large number of so called “miners”. They each attempt to create cryptographic hash value that has special form. This is computationally very difficult and time-consuming task, therefore, it is very difficult to perform and repeat. Individual blocks are validated using cryptographic processing procedures that require substantial amount of work and computing power. Approximately an hour or two after submitting the transaction for validation, each transaction is locked in time and by cryptographic processing by the massive amount of computing power that was used to complete the block. When the block is validated, it is added to the chain of all previous blocks, thus forming a public archive of all blocks and transactions in the system. One of the most important problems with uncontrolled digital currency, where there are no third parties to validate and approve transactions, is so called doublespending. Since the currency is digital, stored at user’s local workstations, in mobile phones, or on network servers, it can be easily copied and sent to multiple recipients multiple times. Bitcoin system solves this problem with a very interesting approach. It is the first effective example of the solution for the double-spending problem without the need for assistance of any third party. Bitcoin solves this problem by keeping and distributing an archive of all transactions among all the users of the system via a peer-to-peer distribution network. Every transaction that occurs in the Bitcoin system is recorded in that public and distributed transactions ledger. Since the components in that ledger are blocks with transactions and the blocks are “chained” in time and in a cryptographic sequence, the ledger in the Bitcoin system is called blockchain. That full blockchain of all transactions that were performed in the Bitcoin system before the specific transaction can be used to verify new transactions. The transactions are verified against the blockchain to ensure that the same Bitcoins have not been previously spent. This approach eliminates the double-spending problem. The essence of the verification procedure for a single transaction in fact is the test of the balance of the sending account. The test is very normal and natural: payment of a certain amount of the currency can be made only of the balance of the outgoing account is equal or larger than the payment amount. Current balance of an account is established by tracing all incoming and outgoing transactions for that account. The procedure to verify the validity of individual transactions and to prevent double-spending is based on the use of special type of cryptographic protocol called public-key cryptography. With this type of cryptographic systems each user has two cryptographic keys. They are mutually related in the sense that, what ever the one key encrypts, the other key can decrypt. One of the two keys is a private key that is kept secret, and the other key is public key that can be shared with all other users in the system. When a user wants to make a payment to another user, the sender transfers certain amount of Bitcoins from his/her account to the account of the receiver. This action is performed by the sender by creating a payment message, called a “transaction,” which contains recipient’s public key – receiving address and payment amount. The transaction is cryptographically processed by the sender’s private key, the operation called digital signing, and as the result digital signature is created and appended to the transaction. By using sender’s private key every user in the system can verify that the transaction was indeed created by the indicated sender, as his/her private key can successfully decrypt the content of the digital signature. The exchange is authentic, since the transaction was also cryptographically processed with the recipient’s public key, the operation which is called digital enveloping. This transformation guarantees that the transaction can be accepted and processed only by the holder of the corresponding private key, which is the intended recipient. Every transaction, and thus the transfer of ownership of the specified amount of Bitcoins, is inserted, then time-stamped, and finally displayed in one “block” of the blockchain. Public-key cryptography ensures that all computers in the network have a constantly updated and verified record of all transactions within the Bitcoin network, which prevents double-spending and fraud.
1.2 The Concept and Features of the Bitcoin System
There are many concepts and even more operational payment systems today in the world. Some are standard paper–based, some are digital and network based. What makes Bitcoin unique and distinctive, compared with all other payment systems that are in use today, are several of its core features. The first of them is that the system uses its own currency. The reason for using its own currency is to make the system independent of financial institutions as trusted third parties. The unit of the currency is called Bitcoin. The currency is so called cryptocurrency, because it is generated and used based on execution of certain cryptographic algorithms and protocols. Performing specific cryptographic protocols is in the heart of operations to create new Bitcoins, to transfer them between transaction parties, and to validate the correctness of transactions. Since appearance of Bitcoins, several new systems were introduced that use cryptography to manage its own currency, so all such currencies represent the category of crypto currencies. Later in this Report, some other digital / virtual currencies will be described that are created and managed using some other principles, so they are not called crypto currency. At the time of writing this Report, all such digital virtual currencies were called with general term tokens, sometimes also digital assets tokens. The reason is that they were created by the process called collateralization and therefore they are related to the value of some categories of real world assets which is expressed in digital tokens units. The second interesting and important feature of the Bitcoin system is that the logical relationship between the two transaction parties is direct, peer-to–peer, i.e. there are no other parties that participate in the transaction. This is an important feature and benefit / advantage of the system that contributes to its efficiency when compared with the todays complex and expensive financial payment infrastructures and protocols. However, for distribution of transactions to their validators and later to all other members in the Bitcoin system the physical flow of each transaction is very complex and includes many parties. It should be emphasized that performing transactions as direct, peer-to–peer transfers is one of the key features and the most significant reason for many benefits and advantages of the Bitcoin system. This approach is the key feature of the Bitcoin system as it enables security and anonymity of parties, efficiency in performing transactions, scaling of the system, and instantaneous settlement of payments. Therefore, supporting execution and validation of serious business peer–to–peer transactions is one of the core benefits of the blockchain concept, as it changes the current paradigm of Internet applications and transactions. Currently all Internet applications are organized and performed as client–server transactions. Such transactions are not efficient, do not provide sufficient privacy of participants, have dependencies on third parties and usually are vulnerable due to attacks of functional problems with large centralized application servers. The next very important characteristic of the Bitcoin system is anonymity of users, their accounts, and transactions. This property means that the identities of the participants in the system are not known even to the partners performing a payment transaction. All other system operations – receiving payments, making payments, validating transactions, etc. are also performed anonymously. Interpreting this property correctly, the anonymity of transaction participants is so called pseudo-anonymity. Namely, in the process of validating transactions, all previous transactions of the sender are traced back to the original initial transaction. If that initial transaction was the purchase of Bitcoins at some Bitcoin Exchange, then the identity of the original owner of Bitcoins is known. Most if not all service providers in the Bitcoin system today require very strict identification of participants for the purpose of enforcing legal and regulated transactions and include certain restrictions of transaction frequency and amounts. This procedure, although understandable from the legal and regulatory point of view, has in fact in essence changed one of the core principles of the original concept of the Bitcoin system – full anonymity of users. Better solution for fully anonymous payment transactions is so called zero–knowledge protocol, where the identity and authorization to perform Bitcoin transactions, is validated by anyone without revealing any identity information of the parties. The only problem with this approach is revealing the identity of transaction participants to law enforcement authorities in case of illegal transactions. But, such authorities have special authorization under the law and they should be enabled to get identifying information about transaction participants in the process of legal law enforcement procedures. But, all other service providers do not have such status, so if Bitcoin principles are strictly followed, they should not be able to have identifying information about system participants. This approach and potential improvement of the Bitcoin system implies that the system needs one of the classical security services: role–based authorization. In such arrangement, there would be at least two categories of system participants: those that are authorized to maintain and access identifying information about the participants and those that are only authorized to perform transactions. In the first category are legal authorities, like police, driving license authorities, tax authorities, etc. In the context of the standard Identities Management Systems, such participants are called Identity Providers. All others are Identity Verifiers. Therefore, one of the main conclusions about true anonymity in the Bitcoin system is establishment of a sophisticated and multi-role Identities Management System, where some parties will be authorized Identity Providers and all others will be Identity Validators. Finally, referring back to the infrastructure of the Bitcoin system to perform and validate transactions – blockchain, the conclusion is that what is needed, as one of the most important extensions of the current concept of anonymity of Bitcoins participants, is an Identity Management System based itself on the use of blockchain and without Identity Providers as trusted third parties. Creation, distribution, use and validation of identities are transactions in the system, equivalent to payment transactions, so they should also be performed using blockchain protocol. Such system, that can provide reliable identities of all participants may be called Blockchain Identity Management System. Another very important feature of the original concept of the Bitcoin system is that it is not controlled by any financial institution, by any regulatory body or by any legal financial authority when it comes to issuing Bitcoins and determining their value. This means that the currency used in the system and all transactions are exempted from any legal and financial rules and regulations. The rules controlling Bitcoin system are built in its code. This property is usually called “rule by the technical code”, as the rules of system operations, built in the code of its operational components, control and rule the operations of the system [UK, 2016], Chapter 3. This property is sometimes described as “control by the community”, i.e. the participating users. This property implies that the value of Bitcoins is determined solely on the market – based on its supply and demand. This is quite natural approach, as the value of shares of companies are also determined on an open trading market. However, such approach implies that the value of Bitcoin, as crypto currency, is volatile related to fiat currencies. This property represent serious problem to perform payments using Bitcoin. It is well-known that volatile currencies are not suitable for payments. The practice of all the years while Bitcoins are in use has shown that its volatility represents one of the major obstacles for its main purpose – to be used as the payment system. In fact, it was announced that in 2019 the total value of Bitcoin transactions performed was about $ 11 T. However, unfortunately, only about 1.3% of those transactions were payments, all others were trading manipulations on exchanges. Based on that, it may be clearly stated that Bitcoin today is not used as the payment system, but as currency manipulation system. This is one of the main problems with the concept and current implementation and deployment of Bitcoin system and in near future may represent the main reason for its decline in popularity.
1.3 Innovative Contributions of the Bitcoin System
Besides an effective procedure to transfer an amount of crypto currency from one user (account) to another user (account), the major and indeed an essential contribution of the concept of the Bitcoin is the solution to the general problem how to establish trust between two mutually unknown and otherwise unrelated parties to such an extent and certainty that sensitive and secure transactions can be performed with full confidence over an open environment, such as Internet. In all current large scale and not only financial systems that problem is solved by using the assistance of thirdparties. For many (may be even all) current Internet applications and transactions those third parties are integrated and linked into a large, complex, expensive and vulnerable operational infrastructures. Examples of such infrastructures today are bankcard networks supporting global international payments, global international banking networks supporting international financial transfers, Public–Key Infrastructures (PKI), Identity Management Systems, and many others. It is a general consent that such infrastructures are expensive and, more important, vulnerable to external and internal attacks. In addition to the complexity and vulnerabilities of such current operational supporting infrastructures, another requirement and prerequisite to use their services is that users must put the complete trust in these third parties. Accepting to trust those third–party service providers is the necessary and mandatory prerequisite to use their services. Therefore, one of the most important contributions of the concept of Bitcoin is that it solves the issue how two parties, mutually unknown to each other in advance and otherwise completely unrelated, can perform sensitive and secure transactions, such as transfer of money – payments, but without assistance of any third party and without the need to place trust in any component of the system. The practical benefits of solving this problem and the most important consequence of the solution for this problem – Bitcoin system, is that it provides the possibility for one Internet user to transfer not only Bitcoins, but also any other form of digital asset to or shared with another Internet user, such that the transfer is guaranteed to be safe and secure, that everyone knows that the transfer has been performed, and nobody can challenge the legitimacy of the transfer. This feature of the Bitcoin system generated many very new, creative and innovative ideas where the concept equivalent to the Bitcoin can be used to perform secure and reliable transactions between users in an open community handling any type of digital asset ([Andreesen, 2014], [Sparkes, 2014], [UniCredit, 2016], [BitID, 2015], [PoE, 2015]). The examples of such applications and transactions range from commercial transitions, real estate transactions, energy trading, electronic voting, medical applications, and many others ([Kounelis, 2015], [Muftic, 2016]). The concept of blockchain as technology supporting validation of all such transactions is therefore called disruptive technology. As the conclusion in this section, we may give a definition of blockchain: Blockchain is an innovative concept, implemented as an infrastructure comprising multiple and distributed servers, mutually linked by special broadcasting and synchronization protocols, managing immutable objects with the purpose to enable and protect secure peer–to–peer transactions in a global and open environment.
1.4 Summary of Problems and Potential Solutions
In section 1.2 several problems of the Bitcoin system were mentioned and potential solutions for these problems were outlined. Recently, at the time of writing this Technical Report, several sources, mainly personal blogs and articles, appeared with very interesting opinions and statements regarding some other serious Bitcoin problems. Some of them are problems with the concept of the system, some problems of its design, and some problems of operations. In this section some of these problems are briefly summarized including suggestions for their potential solutions. The source of some problems was the article [Ein, 2018]. Problem 1: Complex Crypto Algorithms Problem: Bitcoins is crypto currency and cryptographic algorithms used in the current version are very complex, based on the concept of proof–of–work, and require long time, special hardware and a lots of energy to perform Potential Solution: Potential solution fro this problem is to use cryptographic algorithms that are simpler and therefore more efficient to execute and need less energy Problems with Potential Solution: Lowering the complexity of crypto algorithms introduces vulnerability to hackers. Therefore, what is needed are strong algorithms and simple to perform for regular users and complex to break by hackers Problem 2: Indirect Transactions, not Peer–to–Peer Problem: Contrary to the concept claimed, in todays implementation Bitcoin payment transactions are not performed as direct, peer–to–peer transactions. They are performed indirectly, submitted to the Bitcoin network, and recipients receive them indirectly, by downloading validated transactions from the ledger Potential Solution: Transactions should be performed directly, by transferring them directly between two users Problems with Potential Solution: The problem with the potential solution is validation of transaction for proof of possession of Bitcoins by the sender and for prevention of double-spending. Therefore, what is needed is the protocol to validate peer–to–peer transactions. Problem 3: Anonymity of Users not provided Problem: Contrary to the concept claimed, in todays deployments of additional system components, mainly exchanges, users are not anonymous Potential Solution: Blockchain–based Distributed Identity Management System with Role-based Authorizations Problems with Potential Solution: The problem with potential solution is that it depends on trusted third parties with authorized roles. Therefore, what is needed is blockchain-based Identity Management System using hybrid (permissioned and unpermissioned) blockchain Problem 4: Volatile Value, not suitable for Payments Problem: Contrary to the concept claimed that Bitcoin is payment system, volatile value of the currency makes it inconvenient for payments Potential Solution: Crypto currency with stable value Problems with Potential Solution: The problem with the potential solution is that the value of Bitcoins is determined on the secondary market, during its trading (cash-in / cash-out). Therefore, what is needed is crypto currency that does not have volatile value The remaining problems in this section are quoted from [Ein, 2018]: Problem 5: Negative Environmental Impact Problem: Mining algorithms and operational facilities (“mining farms”) consume too much electrical energy, based on the “proof-of-work” protocol Potential Solution: Using mining algorithms that consume less energy, either as simpler / lighter crypto algorithms or using alternative crypto protocols to protect transactions integrity (“proof-of-stake”) Problems with Potential Solution: The problem with the potential solution is that simpler / lighter algorithms open vulnerabilities to hackers while alternative crypto protocols are not backward compatible with the current system Problem 6: Slow Performance (Delays) / Low Throughput Problem: Due to blocking and the designed time for protection of transactions (10 minutes) Bitcoin system has very slow performance – transactions are validated in about an hour and transaction processing throughput is about 7 transactions per second Potential Solution: Using transaction validation algorithms and protocols that do not need blocking of transactions, but transactions should be validated individually Problems with Potential Solution: There are no serious problems with the proposed potential solution Problem 7: Limited Number of Bitcoins Problem: Due hardware and other types of failures, the number of available Bitcoins in the system is constantly reducing Potential Solution: Potential solution could be to use smaller portions of Bitcoin (“Satoshi”) or introduce hard-fork by splitting the amount of available Bitcoins Problems with Potential Solution: The problems with the first solution that it is not user-friendly and the problem with the second solution is backwards compatibility. Problem 8: Real Value of Bitcoins Problem: The value of Bitcoins is purely psychological and reflects only pure market speculations Potential Solution: Potential solution could be to peg the value of Bitcoin to local fiat currencies in countries of deployments Problems with Potential Solution: The problems with the potential solution is that such Bitcoins would be a new class of Bitcoins, not traded on exchanges and not volatile At the end of this section, it is very interesting to quote two opinions about the future of Bitcoin and blockchain: [Ein, 2018]: “It seems that Bitcoin will likelycease to have meaningful value*, defeating the whole point and philosophy imagined by Satoshi Nakamoto, the alleged inventor of Bitcoin. Its current value appears to be purely psychological, and the hype seems to be driven by irrational exuberance, greed and speculation. Modern human history has seen many* bubbles*, including the dot-com bubble, the housing bubble and even the tulip bubble. However, when these bubbles exploded, many excellent dot-com companies survived, most houses regained their value and tulips still have meaning and carry value in our lives today. But what will happen when the Bitcoin bubble bursts? What* utility or residual valuewill Bitcoin have to consumers and businesses? Most likelynone*. And this is the real problem with Bitcoin and crypto currencies.* Bitcoin will likelygo down in historyas a great technological invention that popularized blockchain yetfaileddue to itsdesign limitations*. Just like the industrial revolution was fueled by the combustion engine, Nakamoto’s most valuable contribution is the* blockchain polymorphic enginethat will further accelerate innovation in the post-information age and immensely affect our lives”. This quote makes two very important and far–reaching predictions: (1) Bitcoin, as the payment system will disappear (“. . .will go down in history”), and (2) The most valuable contribution of the Bitcoin system is blockchain This article was written in 2018. It is very interesting to notice that at the time of writing this Technical Report, (1) Bitcoin was still “alive” and (2) the concept and deployments of blockchain were in serious trouble. Based on the principle of positive and creative approach, in the rest of this Technical Report, besides description of all technical details of the Bitcoin system, some potential solutions for its improvement will also be discussed. However, contrary to the predicted status of Bitcoin, it seems that the predicted status of blockchain, in 2020 was still facing serious problems. [Barber, 2019]: What's Blockchain Actually Good for, Anyway? For Now, Not Much “Not long ago, blockchain technology was touted as a way to track tuna, bypass banks, and preserve property records. Reality has proved a much tougher challenge”.
[Lucanus, 2020]: Has Blockchain Failed Before It Even Really Began?
“Just as everyone was getting really excited about its potential, it appears blockchain is dead. For a technology that was supposed to transform and solve seemingly every problem in the world, the enthusiasm is fading pretty quickly”. At the time of writing this Technical Report, there were many new blockchain – concepts, design and even several deployed and operational instances. Some of them are even very popular, but only among enthusiastic developers. The overall trends with real life deployments, and more and more comments about the capabilities and features of blockchains are appearing with negative connotation. Therefore, seems that even for blockchain some innovative concepts and approaches are needed. They are beyond the scope of this Technical Report and will be addressed in some of our follow-up reports.
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