Bitcoin Price Prediction and Analysis in March 2020 - Coindoo

27 March 2017 seemed like a boring regular day. Just like today. Little did we know it would be the last day Bitcoin would be traded for 3-digits

27 March 2017 seemed like a boring regular day. Just like today. Little did we know it would be the last day Bitcoin would be traded for 3-digits submitted by MichaelEngstler to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Mentor Monday, March 27, 2017: Ask all your bitcoin questions!

Ask (and answer!) away! Here are the general rules:
And don't forget to check out /BitcoinBeginners
You can sort by new to see the latest questions that may not be answered yet.
Please check our Newcomer Sticky for unanswered questions.
submitted by BashCoBot to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Bitcoin Network Status Update Monday, March 27, 2017

Status of the Bitcoin network as of Monday, March 27, 2017 at 12:00:02 EST:

Total bitcoins: 16,239,939.795303
Height: 459,200
Difficulty: 475,705,205,061.629211
Statistics for the past 24 hours:
Number of blocks mined: 157
Total bitcoins output (amount sent): 2,268,106.365312
Total fees: 171.647767
Average time until block found: 9 minutes, 10 seconds
Estimated hashrate: 3,712,647,136.581087 gh/s
Current price: US$1,025.01
Data provided by Smartbit.com.au.
I am a bot. My commands | /crypto_bot | Message my creator | Source code
submitted by crypto_bot to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Bitcoin Network Status Update Monday, March 27, 2017 /r/Bitcoin

Bitcoin Network Status Update Monday, March 27, 2017 /Bitcoin submitted by BitcoinAllBot to BitcoinAll [link] [comments]

Mentor Monday, March 27, 2017: Ask all your bitcoin questions! /r/Bitcoin

Mentor Monday, March 27, 2017: Ask all your bitcoin questions! /Bitcoin submitted by BitcoinAllBot to BitcoinAll [link] [comments]

Putting $400M of Bitcoin on your company balance sheet

Also posted on my blog as usual. Read it there if you can, there are footnotes and inlined plots.
A couple of months ago, MicroStrategy (MSTR) had a spare $400M of cash which it decided to shift to Bitcoin (BTC).
Today we'll discuss in excrutiating detail why this is not a good idea.
When a company has a pile of spare money it doesn't know what to do with, it'll normally do buybacks or start paying dividends. That gives the money back to the shareholders, and from an economic perspective the money can get better invested in other more promising companies. If you have a huge pile of of cash, you probably should be doing other things than leave it in a bank account to gather dust.
However, this statement from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor exists to make it clear he's buying into BTC for all the wrong reasons:
“This is not a speculation, nor is it a hedge. This was a deliberate corporate strategy to adopt a bitcoin standard.”
Let's unpack it and jump into the economics Bitcoin:

Is Bitcoin money?

No.
Or rather BTC doesn't act as money and there's no serious future path for BTC to become a form of money. Let's go back to basics. There are 3 main economic problems money solves:
1. Medium of Exchange. Before money we had to barter, which led to the double coincidence of wants problem. When everyone accepts the same money you can buy something from someone even if they don't like the stuff you own.
As a medium of exchange, BTC is not good. There are significant transaction fees and transaction waiting times built-in to BTC and these worsen the more popular BTC get.
You can test BTC's usefulness as a medium of exchange for yourself right now: try to order a pizza or to buy a random item with BTC. How many additional hurdles do you have to go through? How many fewer options do you have than if you used a regular currency? How much overhead (time, fees) is there?
2. Unit of Account. A unit of account is what you compare the value of objects against. We denominate BTC in terms of how many USD they're worth, so BTC is a unit of account presently. We can say it's because of lack of adoption, but really it's also because the market value of BTC is so volatile.
If I buy a $1000 table today or in 2017, it's roughly a $1000 table. We can't say that a 0.4BTC table was a 0.4BTC table in 2017. We'll expand on this in the next point:
3. Store of Value. When you create economic value, you don't want to be forced to use up the value you created right away.
For instance, if I fix your washing machine and you pay me in avocados, I'd be annoyed. I'd have to consume my payment before it becomes brown, squishy and disgusting. Avocado fruit is not good money because avocadoes loses value very fast.
On the other hand, well-run currencies like the USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, etc. all lose their value at a low and most importantly fairly predictible rate. Let's look at the chart of the USD against BTC
While the dollar loses value at a predictible rate, BTC is all over the place, which is bad.
One important use money is to write loan contracts. Loans are great. They let people spend now against their future potential earnings, so they can buy houses or start businesses without first saving up for a decade. Loans are good for the economy.
If you want to sign something that says "I owe you this much for that much time" then you need to be able to roughly predict the value of the debt in at the point in time where it's due.
Otherwise you'll have a hard time pricing the risk of the loan effectively. This means that you need to charge higher interests. The risk of making a loan in BTC needs to be priced into the interest of a BTC-denominated loan, which means much higher interest rates. High interests on loans are bad, because buying houses and starting businesses are good things.

BTC has a fixed supply, so these problems are built in

Some people think that going back to a standard where our money was denominated by a stock of gold (the Gold Standard) would solve economic problems. This is nonsense.
Having control over supply of your currency is a good thing, as long as it's well run.
See here
Remember that what is desirable is low variance in the value, not the value itself. When there are wild fluctuations in value, it's hard for money to do its job well.
Since the 1970s, the USD has been a fiat money with no intrinsic value. This means we control the supply of money.
Let's look at a classic poorly drawn econ101 graph
The market price for USD is where supply meets demand. The problem with a currency based on an item whose supply is fixed is that the price will necessarily fluctuate in response to changes in demand.
Imagine, if you will, that a pandemic strikes and that the demand for currency takes a sharp drop. The US imports less, people don't buy anything anymore, etc. If you can't print money, you get deflation, which is worsens everything. On the other hand, if you can make the money printers go brrrr you can stabilize the price
Having your currency be based on a fixed supply isn't just bad because in/deflation is hard to control.
It's also a national security risk...
The story of the guy who crashed gold prices in North Africa
In the 1200s, Mansa Munsa, the emperor of the Mali, was rich and a devout Muslim and wanted everyone to know it. So he embarked on a pilgrimage to make it rain all the way to Mecca.
He in fact made it rain so hard he increased the overall supply of gold and unintentionally crashed gold prices in Cairo by 20%, wreaking an economic havoc in North Africa that lasted a decade.
This story is fun, the larger point that having your inflation be at the mercy of foreign nations is an undesirable attribute in any currency. The US likes to call some countries currency manipulators, but this problem would be serious under a gold standard.

Currencies are based on trust

Since the USD is based on nothing except the US government's word, how can we trust USD not to be mismanaged?
The answer is that you can probably trust the fed until political stooges get put in place. Currently, the US's central bank managing the USD, the Federal Reserve (the Fed for friends & family), has administrative authority. The fed can say "no" to dumb requests from the president.
People who have no idea what the fed does like to chant "audit the fed", but the fed is already one of the best audited US federal entities. The transcripts of all their meetings are out in the open. As is their balance sheet, what they plan to do and why. If the US should audit anything it's the Department of Defense which operates without any accounting at all.
It's easy to see when a central bank will go rogue: it's when political yes-men are elected to the board.
For example, before printing themselves into hyperinflation, the Venezuelan president appointed a sociologist who publicly stated “Inflation does not exist in real life” and instead is a made up capitalist lie. Note what happened mere months after his gaining control over the Venezuelan currency
This is a key policy. One paper I really like, Sargent (1984) "The end of 4 big inflations" states:
The essential measures that ended hyperinflation in each of Germany,Austria, Hungary, and Poland were, first, the creation of an independentcentral bank that was legally committed to refuse the government'sdemand or additional unsecured credit and, second, a simultaneousalteration in the fiscal policy regime.
In english: *hyperinflation stops when the central bank can say "no" to the government."
The US Fed, like other well good central banks, is run by a bunch of nerds. When it prints money, even as aggressively as it has it does so for good reasons. You can see why they started printing on March 15th as the COVID lockdowns started:
The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.
In english: We're going to keep printing and lowering rates until jobs are back and inflation is under control. If we print until the sun is blotted out, we'll print in the shade.

BTC is not gold

Gold is a good asset for doomsday-preppers. If society crashes, gold will still have value.
How do we know that?
Gold has held value throughout multiple historic catastrophes over thousands of years. It had value before and after the Bronze Age Collapse, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and Gengis Khan being Gengis Khan.
Even if you erased humanity and started over, the new humans would still find gold to be economically valuable. When Europeans d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ g̶e̶n̶o̶c̶i̶d̶e̶d̶ went to America, they found gold to be an important item over there too. This is about equivalent to finding humans on Alpha-Centauri and learning that they think gold is a good store of value as well.
Some people are puzzled at this: we don't even use gold for much! But it has great properties:
First, gold is hard to fake and impossible to manufacture. This makes it good to ascertain payment.
Second, gold doesnt react to oxygen, so it doesn't rust or tarnish. So it keeps value over time unlike most other materials.
Last, gold is pretty. This might sound frivolous, and you may not like it, but jewelry has actual value to humans.
It's no coincidence if you look at a list of the wealthiest families, a large number of them trade in luxury goods.
To paraphrase Veblen humans have a profound desire to signal social status, for the same reason peacocks have unwieldy tails. Gold is a great way to achieve that.
On the other hand, BTC lacks all these attributes. Its value is largely based on common perception of value. There are a few fundamental drivers of demand:
Apart from these, it's hard to argue that BTC will retain value throughout some sort of economic catastrophe.

BTC is really risky

One last statement from Michael Saylor I take offense to is this:
“We feel pretty confident that Bitcoin is less risky than holding cash, less risky than holding gold,” MicroStrategy CEO said in an interview
"BTC is less risky than holding cash or gold long term" is nonsense. We saw before that BTC is more volatile on face value, and that as long as the Fed isn't run by spider monkeys stacked in a trench coat, the inflation is likely to be within reasonable bounds.
But on top of this, BTC has Abrupt downside risks that normal currencies don't. Let's imagine a few:

Blockchain solutions are fundamentally inefficient

Blockchain was a genius idea. I still marvel at the initial white paper which is a great mix of economics and computer science.
That said, blockchain solutions make large tradeoffs in design because they assume almost no trust between parties. This leads to intentionally wasteful designs on a massive scale.
The main problem is that all transactions have to be validated by expensive computational operations and double checked by multiple parties. This means waste:
Many design problems can be mitigated by various improvements over BTC, but it remains that a simple database always works better than a blockchain if you can trust the parties to the transaction.
submitted by VodkaHaze to badeconomics [link] [comments]

Wandering From the Path? | Monthly Portfolio Update - August 2020

Midway along the journey of our life I woke to find myself in a dark wood, for I had wandered off from the straight path.
Dante, The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Canto I
This is my forty-fifth 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
Total portfolio value $1 848 896 (+$48 777 or 2.7%)
Asset allocation
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio.
[Chart]
Comments
The portfolio has increased in value for the fifth consecutive month, and is starting to approach the monthly value last reached in January.
The portfolio has grown over $48 000, or 2.7 per cent this month, reflecting the strong market recovery since late March
[Chart]
The growth in the portfolio was broadly-based across global and Australian equities, with an increase of around 3.8 per cent. Following strong previous rises, gold holdings decreased by around 2.2 per cent, while Bitcoin continued to increase in value (by 2.5 per cent).
Combined, the value of gold and Bitcoin holdings remain at a new peak, while total equity holdings are still below their late January peak to the tune of around $50 000. The fixed income holdings of the portfolio continue to fall below the target allocation.
[Chart]
The expanding value of gold and Bitcoin holdings since January last year have actually had the practical effect of driving new investments into equities, since effectively for each dollar of appreciation, for example, my target allocation to equities rises by seven dollars.
New investments this month have been in the Vanguard international shares exchange-traded fund (VGS) and the Australian shares equivalent (VAS). These have been directed to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares set out in the portfolio plan.
As the exchange traded funds such as VGS, VAS and Betashares A200 now make up nearly 30 per cent of the overall portfolio, the quarterly payments they provide have increased in magnitude and importance. Early in the journey, third quarter distributions were essentially immaterial events.
Using the same 'median per unit' forecast approach as recently used for half yearly forecasts would suggest a third quarter payout due at the end of September of around $6000. Due to significant announced dividend reductions across this year I am, however, currently assuming this is likely to be significantly lower, and perhaps in the vicinity of $4000 or less.
Finding true north: approach to achieving a set asset allocation
One of the choices facing all investors with a preferred asset allocation is how strictly the target is applied over time, and what variability is acceptable around that. There is a significant body of financial literature around that issue.
My own approach has been to seek to target the preferred asset allocation dynamically, through buying the asset class that is furthest from its target, with new portfolio contributions, and re-investment of paid out distributions.
As part of monitoring asset allocation, I also track a measure of 'absolute' variance, to understand at a whole of portfolio level how far it is from the desired allocation.
This is the sum of the absolute value of variances (e.g. so that being 3 per cent under target in shares, and 7 per cent over target in fixed interest will equal an absolute variance of 10 per cent under this measure).
This measure is currently sitting near its highest level in around 2 years, at 15.0 per cent, as can be seen in the chart below.
[Chart]
The dominant reason for this higher level of variance from target is significant appreciation in the price of gold and Bitcoin holdings.
Mapping the sources of portfolio variances
Changes in target allocations in the past makes direct comparisons problematic, but previous peaks of the variance measure matches almost perfectly past Bitcoin price movements.
For a brief period in January 2018, gold and Bitcoin combined constituted 20 per cent, or 1 in 5 dollars of the entire portfolio. Due to the growth in other equity components of the portfolio since this level has not been subsequently exceeded.
Nonetheless, it is instructive to understand that the dollar value of combined gold and Bitcoin holdings is actually up around $40 000 from that brief peak. With the larger portfolio, this now means they together make up 17.2 per cent of the total portfolio value.
Tacking into the wind of portfolio movements?
The logical question to fall out from this situation is: to what extent should this drive an active choice to sell down gold and Bitcoin until they resume their 10 per cent target allocation?
This would currently imply selling around $130 000 of gold or Bitcoin, and generating a capital gains tax liability of potentially up to $27 000. Needless to say this is not an attractive proposition. Several other considerations lead me to not make this choice:
This approach is a departure from a mechanistic implementation of an asset allocation rule. Rather, the approach I take is pragmatic.
Tracking course drift in the portfolio components
As an example, I regularly review whether a significant fall in Bitcoin prices to its recent lows would alter my monthly decision on where to direct new investments. So far it does not, and the 'signal' continues to be to buy new equities.
Another tool I use is a monthly measurement of the absolute dollar variance of Australian and global shares, as well as fixed interest, from their ideal target allocations.
The chart below sets this out for the period since January 2019. A positive value effectively represents an over-allocation to a sector, a negative value, an under-allocation compared to target.
[Chart]
This reinforces the overall story that, as gold and Bitcoin have grown in value, there emerges a larger 'deficit' to the target. Falls in equities markets across February and March also produce visibly larger 'dollar gaps' to the target allocation.
This graph enables a tracking of the impact of portfolio gains or losses, and volatility, and a better understanding of the practical task of returning to target allocations. Runaway lines in either direction would be evidence that current approaches for returning to targets were unworkable, but so far this does not appear to be the case.
A crossing over: a credit card FI milestone
This month has seen a long awaited milestone reached.
Calculated on a past three year average, portfolio distributions now entirely meet monthly credit card expenses. This means that every credit card purchase - each shopping trip or online purchase - is effectively paid for by average portfolio distributions.
At the start of this journey, distributions were only equivalent to around 40 per cent of credit card expenses. As time has progressed distributions have increased to cover a larger and larger proportion of card expenses.
[Chart]
Most recently, with COVID-19 related restrictions having pushed card expenditure down further, the remaining gap to this 'Credit Card FI' target has closed.
Looked at on an un-smoothed basis, expenditures on the credit card have continued to be slightly lower than average across the past month. The below chart details the extent to which portfolio distributions (red) cover estimated total expenses (green), measured month to month.
[Chart]
Credit card expenditure makes up around 80 per cent of total spending, so this is not a milestone that makes paid work irrelevant or optional. Similarly, if spending rises as various travel and other restrictions ease, it is possible that this position could be temporary.
Equally, should distributions fall dramatically below long term averages in the year ahead, this could result in average distributions falling faster than average monthly card expenditure. Even without this, on a three year average basis, monthly distributions will decline as high distributions received in the second half of 2017 slowly fall out of the estimation sample.
For the moment, however, a slim margin exists. Distributions are $13 per month above average monthly credit card bills. This feels like a substantial achievement to note, as one unlooked for at the outset of the journey.
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) 84.8% 114.6%
Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 103.5% 139.9%
Total expenses – $89 000 pa 82.9% 112.1%
Summary
What feels like a long winter is just passed. The cold days and weeks have felt repetitive and dominated by a pervasive sense of uncertainty. Yet through this time, this wandering off, the portfolio has moved quite steadily back towards it previous highs. That it is even approaching them in the course of just a few months is unexpected.
What this obscures is the different components of growth driving this outcome. The portfolio that is recovering, like the index it follows, is changing in its underlying composition. This can be seen most starkly in the high levels of variance from the target portfolio sought discussed above.
It is equally true, however, of individual components such as international equity holdings. In the case of the United States the overall index performance has been driven by share price growth in just a few information technology giants. Gold and Bitcoin have emerged from the shadows of the portfolio to an unintended leading role in portfolio growth since early 2019.
This month I have enjoyed reading the Chapter by Chapter release of the Aussie FIRE e-book coordinated by Pearler. I've also been reading posts from some newer Australian financial independence bloggers, Two to Fire, FIRE Down Under, and Chasing FIRE Down Under.
In podcasts, I have enjoyed the Mad Fientist's update on his fourth year of financial freedom, and Pat and Dave's FIRE and Chill episodes, including an excellent one on market timing fallacies.
The ASX Australian Investor Study 2020 has also been released - setting out some broader trends in recent Australian investment markets, and containing a snapshot of the holdings, approaches and views of everyday investors. This contained many intriguing findings, such as the median investment portfolio ($130 000), its most frequent components (direct Australian shares), and how frequently portfolios are usually checked - with 61 per cent of investors checking their portfolios at least once a month.
This is my own approach also. Monthly assessments allow me to gauge and reflect on how I or elements of the portfolio may have wandered off the straight way in the middle of the journey. Without this, the risk is that dark woods and bent pathways beckon.
The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
submitted by thefiexpl to fiaustralia [link] [comments]

DDDD - The Rise of “Buy the Dip” Retail Investors and Why Another Crash Is Imminent

DDDD - The Rise of “Buy the Dip” Retail Investors and Why Another Crash Is Imminent
In this week's edition of DDDD (Data-driven DD), I'll be going over the real reason why we have been seeing a rally for the past few weeks, defying all logic and fundamentals - retail investors. We'll look into several data sets to see how retail interest in stock markets have reached record levels in the past few weeks, how this affected stock prices, and why we've most likely seen the top at this point, unless we see one of the "positive catalysts" that I mentioned in my previous post, which is unlikely (except for more news about Remdesivir).
Disclaimer - This is not financial advice, and a lot of the content below is my personal opinion. In fact, the numbers, facts, or explanations presented below could be wrong and be made up. Don't buy random options because some person on the internet says so; look at what happened to all the SPY 220p 4/17 bag holders. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions on what you should do with your own money, and how levered you want to be based on your personal risk tolerance.
Inspiration
Most people who know me personally know that I spend an unhealthy amount of my free time in finance and trading as a hobby, even competing in paper options trading competitions when I was in high school. A few weeks ago, I had a friend ask if he could call me because he just installed Robinhood and wanted to buy SPY puts after seeing everyone on wallstreetbets post gains posts from all the tendies they’ve made from their SPY puts. The problem was, he actually didn’t understand how options worked at all, and needed a thorough explanation about how options are priced, what strike prices and expiration dates mean, and what the right strategy to buying options are. That’s how I knew we were at the euphoria stage of buying SPY puts - it’s when dumb money starts to pour in, and people start buying securities because they see everyone else making money and they want in, even if they have no idea what they’re buying, and price becomes dislocated from fundementals. Sure enough, less than a week later, we started the bull rally that we are currently in. Bubbles are formed when people buy something not because of logic or even gut feeling, but when people who previously weren’t involved see their dumb neighbors make tons of money from it, and they don’t want to miss out.
A few days ago, I started getting questions from other friends about what stocks they should buy and if I thought something was a good investment. That inspired me to dig a bit deeper to see how many other people are thinking the same thing.
Data
Ever since March, we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of money pour into the stock market from retail investors.
Google Search Trends
\"what stock should I buy\" Google Trends 2004 - 2020
\"what stock should I buy\" Google Trends 12 months
\"stocks\" Google Trends 2004 - 2020
\"stocks\" Google Trends 12 months
Brokerage data
Robinhood SPY holders
\"Robinhood\" Google Trends 12 months
wallstreetbets' favorite broker Google Trends 12 months
Excerpt from E*Trade earnings statement
Excerpt from Schwab earnings statement
TD Ameritrade Excerpt
Media
cnbc.com Alexa rank
CNBC viewership & rankings
wallstreetbets comments / day

investing comments / day
Analysis
What we can see from Reddit numbers, Google Trends, and CNBC stats is that in between the first week of March and first week of April, we see a massive inflow of retail interest in the stock market. Not only that, but this inflow of interest is coming from all age cohorts, from internet-using Zoomers to TV-watching Boomers. Robinhood SPY holdings and earnings reports from E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, and Schwab have also all confirmed record numbers of new clients, number of trades, and assets. There’s something interesting going on if you look closer at the numbers. The numbers growth in brokers for designed for “less sophisticated” investors (i.e. Robinhood and E*Trade) are much larger than for real brokers (i.e. Schwab and Ameritrade). This implies that the record number of new users and trade volume is coming from dumb money. The numbers shown here only really apply to the US and Canada, but there’s also data to suggest that there’s also record numbers of foreign investors pouring money into the US stock market as well.
However, after the third week of March, we see the interest start to slowly decline and plateau, indicating that we probably have seen most of those new investors who wanted to have a long position in the market do so.
SPX daily
Rationale
Pretty much everything past this point is purely speculation, and isn’t really backed up by any solid data so take whatever I say here with a cup of salt. We could see from the graph that new investor interest started with the first bull trap we saw in the initial decline from early March, and peaking right after the end of the crash in March. So it would be fair to guess that we’re seeing a record amount of interest in the stock market from a “buy the dip” mentality, especially from Robinhood-using Millennials. Here’s a few points on my rationalization of this behavior, based on very weak anecdotal evidence
  • They missed out of their chance of getting in the stock market at the start of the bull market that happened at the end of 2009
  • They’ve all seen the stock market make record gains throughout their adult lives, but believing that the market might be overheated, they were waiting for a crash
  • Most of them have gotten towards the stage of their lives where they actually have some savings and can finally put some money aside for investments
  • This stock market crash seems like their once-in-a-decade opportunity that they’ve been waiting for, so everyone jumped in
  • Everyone’s stuck at their homes with vast amounts of unexpected free time on their hands
Most of these new investors got their first taste in the market near the bottom, and probably made some nice returns. Of course, since they didn’t know what they were doing, they probably put a very small amount of money at first, but after seeing a 10% return over one week, validating that maybe they do know something, they decide to slowly pour in more and more of their life savings. That’s what’s been fueling this bull market.
Sentiment & Magic Crayons
As I mentioned previously, this bull rally will keep going until enough bears convert to bulls. Markets go up when the amount of new bullish positions outnumber the amount of new bearish positions, and vice versa. Record amounts of new investors, who previously never held a position in the market before, fueled the bullish side of this equation, despite all the negative data that has come out and dislocating the price from fundamentals. All the smart money that was shorting the markets saw this happening, and flipped to become bulls because you don’t fight the trend, even if the trend doesn’t reflect reality.
From the data shown above, we can see new investor interest growth has started declining since mid March and started stagnating in early April. The declining volume in SPY since mid-March confirms this. That means, once the sentiment of the new retail investors starts to turn bearish, and everyone figures out how much the stocks they’re holding are really worth, another sell-off will begin. I’ve seen something very similar to this a few years ago with Bitcoin. Near the end of 2017, Bitcoin started to become mainstream and saw a flood of retail investors suddenly signing up for Coinbase (i.e. Robinhood) accounts and buying Bitcoin without actually understanding what it is and how it works. Suddenly everyone, from co-workers to grandparents, starts talking about Bitcoin and might have thrown a few thousand dollars into it. This appears to be a very similar parallel to what’s going on right now. Of course there’s differences here in that equities have an intrinsic value, although many of them have gone way above what they should be intrinsically worth, and the vast majority of retail investors don’t understand how to value companies. Then, during December, when people started thinking that the market was getting a bit overheated, some started taking their profits, and that’s when the prices crashed violently. This flip in sentiment now look like it has started with equities.
SPY daily
Technical Analysis, or magic crayons, is a discipline in finance that uses statistical analysis to predict market trends based on market sentiment. Of course, a lot of this is hand-wavy and is very subjective; two people doing TA on the same price history can end up getting opposite results, so TA should always be taken with a grain of salt and ideally be backed with underlying justification and not be blindly followed. In fact, I’ve since corrected the ascending wedge I had on SPY since my last post since this new wedge is a better fit for the new trading data.
There’s a few things going on in this chart. The entire bull rally we’ve had since the lows can be modelled using a rising wedge. This is a pattern where there is a convergence of a rising support and resistance trendline, along with falling volume. This indicates a slow decline in net bullish sentiment with investors, with smaller and smaller upside after each bounce off the support until it hits a resistance. The smaller the bounces, the less bullish investors are. When the bearish sentiment takes over across investors, the price breaks below this wedge - a breakdown, and indicates a start of another downtrend.
This happened when the wedge hit resistance at around 293, which is around the same price as the 200 day moving average, the 62% retracement (considered to be the upper bound of a bull trap), and a price level that acted as a support and resistance throughout 2019. The fact that it gapped down to break this wedge is also a strong signal, indicating a sudden swing in investor sentiment overnight. The volume of the break down also broke the downwards trend of volume we’ve had since the beginning of the bull rally, indicating a sudden surge of people selling their shares. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will go straight from here, and I personally think that we will see the completion of a heads-and-shoulders pattern complete before SPY goes below 274, which in itself is a strong support level. In other words, SPY might go from 282 -> 274 -> 284 -> 274 before breaking the 274 support level.
VIX Daily
Doing TA is already sketchy, and doing TA on something like VIX is even more sketchy, but I found this interesting so I’ll mention it. Since the start of the bull rally, we’ve had VIX inside a descending channel. With the breakdown we had in SPY yesterday, VIX has also gapped up to have a breakout from this channel, indicating that we may see future volatility in the next week or so.
Putting Everything Together
Finally, we get to my thesis. This entire bull rally has been fueled by new retail investors buying the dip, bringing the stock price to euphoric levels. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been seeing the people waiting at the sidelines for years to get into the stock market slowly FOMO into the rally in smaller and smaller volumes, while the smart money have been locking in their profits at an even slower rate - hence an ascending wedge. As the amount of new retail interest in the stock market started slowed down, the amount of new bulls started to decline. It looks like Friday might have been the start of the bearish sentiment taking over, meaning it’s likely that 293 was the top, unless any significant bullish events happen in the next two weeks like a fourth round of stimulus, in which case we might see 300. This doesn’t mean we’ll instantly go back to circuit breakers on Monday, and we might see 282 -> 274 -> 284 -> 274 happen before panic, this time by the first-time investors, eventually bringing us down towards SPY 180.
tldr; we've reached the top
EDIT - I'll keep a my live thoughts here as we move throughout this week in case anyone's still reading this and interested.
5/4 8PM - /ES was red last night but steadily climbed, which was expected since 1h RSI was borderline oversold, leaving us to a slightly green day. /ES looks like it has momentum going up, but is approaching towards overbought territory now. Expecting it to go towards 284 (possibly where we'll open tomorrow) and bouncing back down from that price level
5/5 Market Open - Well there goes my price target. I guess at this point it might go up to 293 again, but will need a lot of momentum to push back there to 300. Seems like this is being driven by oil prices skyrocketing.
5/5 3:50PM - Volume for the upwards price action had very little volume behind it. Seeing a selloff EOD today, could go either way although I have a bearish bias. Going to hold cash until it goes towards one end of the 274-293 channel (see last week's thesis). Still believe that we will see it drop below 274 next week, but we might be moving sideways in the channel this week and a bit of next week before that happens. Plan for tomorrow is buy short dated puts if open < 285. Otherwise, wait till it goes to 293 before buying those puts
5/5 6PM - What we saw today could be a false breakout above 284. Need tomorrow to open below 285 for that to be confirmed. If so, my original thesis of it going back down to 274 before bouncing back up will still be in play.
5/6 EOD - Wasn't a false breakout. Looks like it's still forming the head-and-shoulders pattern mentioned before, but 288 instead of 284 as the level. Still not sure yet so I'm personally going to be holding cash and waiting this out for the next few days. Will enter into short positions if we either go near 293 again or drop below 270. Might look into VIX calls if VIX goes down near 30.
5/7 Market Open - Still waiting. If we break 289 we're probably heading to 293. I'll make my entry to short positions when we hit that a second time. There's very little bullish momentum left (see MACD 1D), so if we hit 293 and then drop back down, we'll have a MACD crossover event which many traders and algos use as a sell signal. Oil is doing some weird shit.
5/7 Noon - Looks like we're headed to 293. Picked up VIX 32.5c 5/27 since VIX is near 30.
5/7 11PM - /ES is hovering right above 2910, with 4h and 1h charts are bullish from MACD and 1h is almost overbought in RSI. Unless something dramatic happens we'll probably hit near 293 tomorrow, which is where I'll get some SPY puts. We might drop down before ever touching it, or go all the way to 295 (like last time) during the day, but expecting it to close at or below 293. After that I'm expecting a gap down Monday as we start the final leg down next week towards 274. Expecting 1D MACD to crossover in the final leg down, which will be a signal for bears to take over and institutions / day traders will start selling again
5/8 Market Open - Plan is to wait till a good entry today, either when technicals looks good or we hit 293, and then buy some SPY June 285p and July 275p
5/8 Noon - Everything still going according to plan. Most likely going to slowly inch towards 293 by EOD. Will probably pick up SPY puts and more VIX calls at power hour (3 - 4PM). Monday will probably gap down, although there's a small chance of one more green / sideways day before that happens if we have bullish catalysts on the weekend.
5/8 3:55PM - SPY at 292.60. This is probably going to be the closest we get to 293. Bought SPY 290-260 6/19 debit spreads and 292-272 5/15 debit spreads, as well as doubling down on VIX calls from yesterday, decreasing my cost basis. Still looks like there's room for one more green day on Monday, so I left some money on the side to double down if that's the case, although it's more likely than not we won't get there.
5/8 EOD - Looks like we barely touched 293 exactly AH before rebounding down. Too bad you can't buy options AH, but more convinced we'll see a gap down on Monday. Going to work on another post over the weekend and do my updates there. Have a great weekend everyone!
submitted by ASoftEngStudent to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

Flatten the Curve. #18. The current cold war between China and America explained. And how China was behind the 2008 Wall Street financial Crash. World War 3 is coming.

China, the USA, and the Afghanistan war are linked. And in order to get here, we will start there.
9-11 happened. Most of the planet mistakenly understood terrorists had struck a blow against Freedom and Capitalism and Democracy. It was time to invade Afghanistan. Yet all of the terrorists were linked to Saudi Arabia and not Afghanistan, that didn't make sense either. Yet they invaded to find Bin Laden, an ex CIA asset against the Soviet Union and it's subjugation of Afghanistan. The land in the middle of nowhere in relation to North America and the West. It was barren. A backwater without any strategic importance or natural resources.
Or was there?
The survey for rare earth elements was only made possible by the 2001 U.S. invasion, with work beginning in 2004. Mirzad says the Russians had already done significant surveying work during their military occupation of the country in the 1980s. Mirzad also toes the line for U.S. corporations, arguing, “The Afghan government should not touch the mining business. We have to give enough information to potential investors.”
Rare Earth Elements. The elements that make the information age possible. People could understand the First Gulf War and the Geopolitical importance of oil. That was easy, but it still didn't sound morally just to have a war for oil. It was too imperialist and so they fell in line and supported a war for Kuwaiti freedom instead, despite the obvious and public manipulation at the UN by Nayirah.
This is some of her testimony to the Human Rights Council.
While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the children to die on the cold floor. It was horrifying. I could not help but think of my nephew who was born premature and might have died that day as well. After I left the hospital, some of my friends and I distributed flyers condemning the Iraqi invasion until we were warned we might be killed if the Iraqis saw us.
The Iraqis have destroyed everything in Kuwait. They stripped the supermarkets of food, the pharmacies of medicine, the factories of medical supplies, ransacked their houses and tortured neighbors and friends.
There was only one problem. She was the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Furthermore, it was revealed that her testimony was organized as part of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign, which was run by the American public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaiti government (fun fact, Hill & Knowlton also have extensive ties with Bill Gates).
So the public was aghast at her testimony and supported the war against the mainly Soviet backed, but also American supported and Soviet backed Saddam Hussein, in his war against Iran, after the Iranians refused to Ally with American interests after the Islamic Revolution.
But that was oil, this was Rare Earth Elements. There was a reason the war was called, Operation Enduring Freedom. This natural resource was far more important in the long run. You couldn't have a security surveillance apparatus without it. And what was supposed to be a war on terror was in actuality a territorial occupation for resources.
Sleeping Dragon China is next, and where there's smoke, there's fire.
Let's go point form for clarity.
• China entered the rare earth market in the mid-1980s, at a time when the US was the major producer. But China soon caught up and became the production leader for rare earths. Its heavily state-supported strategy was aimed at dominating the global rare earth industry.
• 1989 Beijing’s Tiananmen Square spring. The U.S. government suspends military sales to Beijing and freezes relations.
• 1997. Clinton secures the release of Wei and Tiananmen Square protester Wang Dan. Beijing deports both dissidents to the United States. (If you don't understand these two were CIA assets working in China, you need to accept that not everything will be published. America wouldn't care about two political activists, but why would care about two intelligence operatives).
• March 1996. Taiwan’s First Free Presidential Vote.
• May 1999. America "accidently" bombs the Belgrade Chinese Embassy.
• 2002 Price competitiveness was hard for the USA to achieve due to low to non-existent Chinese environmental standards; as a result, the US finally stopped its rare earth production.
• October 2000. U.S. President Bill Clinton signs the U.S.-China Relations Act. China's take over of the market share in rare earth elements starts to increase.
• October 2001. Afghanistan war Enduring Freedom started to secure rare earth elements (Haven't you ever wondered how they could mobilize and invade so quickly? The military was already prepared).
• 2005. China establishes a monopoly on global production by keeping mineral prices low and then panics markets by introducing export quotas to raise prices by limiting supply.
• Rare Earth Elements. Prices go into the stratosphere (for example, dysprosium prices do a bitcoin, rocketing from $118/kg to $2,262/kg between 2008 and 2011).
• In a September 2005. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick initiates a strategic dialogue with China. This was presented as dialog to acknowledge China's emergence as a Superpower (which China probably insisted on), but it was about rare earth elements market price.
• October 2006. China allows North Korea to conduct its first nuclear test, China serves as a mediator to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table with the USA.
• September 2006. American housing prices start to fall.
(At some point after this, secret negotiations must have become increasingly hostile).
• March 2007. China Increases Military Spending. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney says China’s military buildup is “not consistent” with the country’s stated goal of a “peaceful rise.”
• Mid-2005 and mid-2006. China bought between $100b and $250 billion of US housing debt between mid-2005 and mid-2006. This debt was bought using the same financial instruments that caused the financial collapse.
• 2006. Housing prices started to fall for the first time in decades.
• Mid-2006 and mid-2007. China likely added another $390b to its reserves. "At the same time, if China stopped buying -- especially now, when the private market is clogged up -- US financial markets would really seize up." Council on Foreign Relations-2007 August
• February 27, 2007. Stock markets in China and the U.S. fell by the most since 2003. Investors leave the money market and flock to Government backed Treasury Bills.
I've never seen it like this before,'' said Jim Galluzzo, who began trading short-maturity Treasuries 20 years ago and now trades bills at RBS Greenwich Capital in Greenwich, Connecticut.Bills right now are trading like dot-coms.''
We had clients asking to be pulled out of money market funds and wanting to get into Treasuries,'' said Henley Smith, fixed-income manager in New York at Castleton Partners, which oversees about $150 million in bonds.People are buying T-bills because you know exactly what's in it.''
• February 13, 2008. The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 was enacted, which included a tax rebate. The total cost of this bill was projected at $152 billion for 2008. A December 2009 study found that only about one-third of the tax rebate was spent, providing only a modest amount of stimulus.
• September 2008. China Becomes Largest U.S. Foreign Creditor at 600 billion dollars.
• 2010. China’s market power peaked in when it reached a market share of around 97% of all rare earth mineral production. Outside of China, there were almost no other producers left.
Outside of China, the US is the second largest consumer of rare earths in the world behind Japan.
About 60% of US rare earth imports are used as catalysts for petroleum refining, making it the country’s major consumer of rare earths.
The US military also depends on rare earths. Many of the most advanced US weapon systems, including smart bombs, unmanned drones, cruise missiles, laser targeting, radar systems and the Joint Strike Fighter programme rely on rare earths. Against this background, the US Department of Defense (DoD) stated that “reliable access to the necessary material is a bedrock requirement for DOD”
• 2010. A trade dispute arose when the Chinese government reduced its export quotas by 40% in 2010, sending the rare earths prices in the markets outside China soaring. The government argued that the quotas were necessary to protect the environment.
• August 2010. China Becomes World’s Second-Largest Economy.
• November 2011. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlines a U.S. “pivot” to Asia. Clinton’s call for “increased investment—diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise—in the Asia-Pacific region” is seen as a move to counter China’s growing clout.
• December 2011. U.S. President Barack Obama announces the United States and eight other nations have reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership later announces plans to deploy 2,500 marines in Australia, prompting criticism from Beijing.
• November 2012. China’s New Leadership. Xi Jinping replaces Hu Jintao as president, Communist Party general secretary, and chairman of the Central Military Commission. Xi delivers a series of speeches on the “rejuvenation” of China.
• June 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping for a “shirt-sleeves summit”
• May 19, 2014. A U.S. court indicts five Chinese hackers, allegedly with ties to China’s People’s Liberation Army, on charges of stealing trade technology from U.S. companies.
• November 12, 2014. Joint Climate Announcement. Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping issue a joint statement on climate change, pledging to reduce carbon emissions. (which very conveniently allows the quotas to fall and save pride for Xi).
• 2015. China drops the export quotas because in 2014, the WTO ruled against China.
• May 30, 2015 U.S. Warns China Over South China Sea. (China is trying to expand it's buffer zone to build a defense for the coming war).
• January 2016. The government to abolish the one-child policy, now allowing all families to have two children.
• February 9, 2017. Trump Affirms One China Policy After Raising Doubts.
• April 6 – 7, 2017. Trump Hosts Xi at Mar-a-Lago. Beijing and Washington to expand trade of products and services like beef, poultry, and electronic payments, though the countries do not address more contentious trade issues including aluminum, car parts, and steel.
• November 2017. President Xi meets with President Trump in another high profile summit.
• March 22, 2018. Trump Tariffs Target China. The White House alleges Chinese theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property. Coming on the heels of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the measures target goods including clothing, shoes, and electronics and restrict some Chinese investment in the United States.
• July 6, 2018 U.S.-China Trade War Escalates.
• September 2018. Modifications led to the exclusion of rare earths from the final list of products and they consequently were not subject to import tariffs imposed by the US government in September 2018.
• October 4, 2018. Pence Speech Signals Hard-Line Approach. He condemns what he calls growing Chinese military aggression, especially in the South China Sea, criticizes increased censorship and religious persecution by the Chinese government, and accuses China of stealing American intellectual property and interfering in U.S. elections.
• December 1, 2018. Canada Arrests Huawei Executive.
• March 6, 2019. Huawei Sues the United States.
• March 27 2019. India and the US signed an agreement to "strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation" including the construction of six American nuclear reactors in India
• May 10, 2019. Trade War Intensifies.
• August 5, 2019. U.S. Labels China a Currency Manipulator.
• November 27, 2019. Trump Signs Bill Supporting Hong Kong Protesters. Chinese officials condemn the move, impose sanctions on several U.S.-based organizations, and suspend U.S. warship visits to Hong Kong.
• January 15, 2020. ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal Signed. But the agreement maintains most tariffs and does not mention the Chinese government’s extensive subsidies. Days before the signing, the United States dropped its designation of China as a currency manipulator.
• January 31, 2020. Tensions Soar Amid Coronavirus Pandemic.
• March 18, 2020. China Expels American Journalists. The Chinese government announces it will expel at least thirteen journalists from three U.S. newspapers—the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post—whose press credentials are set to expire in 2020. Beijing also demands that those outlets, as well as TIME and Voice of America, share information with the government about their operations in China. The Chinese Foreign Ministry says the moves are in response to the U.S. government’s decision earlier in the year to limit the number of Chinese journalists from five state-run media outlets in the United States to 100, down from 160, and designate those outlets as foreign missions.
And here we are. You may have noticed the Rare Earth Elements and the inclusion of Environmental Standards. Yes these are key to understanding the Geopolitical reality and importance of these events. There's a reason the one child policy stopped. Troop additions.
I believe our current political reality started at Tiananmen square. The protests were an American sponsored attempt at regime change after the failure to convince them to leave totalitarian communism and join a greater political framework.
Do I have proof? Yes.
China, as far as I'm concerned, was responsible for the 2008 economic crisis. The Rare Earth Elements were an attempt to weaken the States and strengthen themselves simultaneously. This stranglehold either forced America to trade with China, or the trade was an American Trojan horse to eventually collapse their economy and cause a revolution after Tiananmen Square failed. Does my second proposal sound far fetched? Didn't the economy just shut down in response to the epidemic? Aren't both sides blaming the other? At this POINT, the epidemic seems to be overstated doesn’t it? Don't the casualties tend to the elder demographic and those already weakened by a primary disease?
Exactly the kinds who wouldn't fight in a war.
Does this change some of my views on the possibility of upcoming catastrophes and reasons for certain events? No. This is Chess, and there are obvious moves in chess, hidden moves in chess, but the best moves involve peices which can be utilized in different ways if the board calls for it.
Is all what it seems? No.
I definitely changed a few previously held beliefs prior to today, and I would caution you in advance that you will find some previously held convictions challenged.
After uncovering what I did today, I would also strongly suggest reading information cautiously. This is all merely a culmination of ending the cold war, and once I have events laid out, you will see it as well.
At this moment, the end analysis is a war will start in the near future. This will be mainly for a few reasons, preemptive resource control for water and crops, population reduction can be achieved since we have too many people, not enough jobs, and upcoming resource scarcity.
Did you notice my omission of rare earth elements? This is because of Afghanistan. I would wager China or Russia is somehow supporting the continued resistance through Iran. But events are now accelerating with China because the western collation has already begun to build up their mines and start production.
Do you remember when Trump made a "joke" about buying Greenland? Yeah. It turns out that Greenland has one of the largest rare earth mineral deposits on the planet.
Take care. Be safe. Stay aware and be prepared.
This message not brought to you by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Elon Musk, Blackrock, Vangaurd, the Rockefeller Foundation, Rand Corporation, DARPA, Rothschilds, Agenda 21, Agenda 30, and ID 2020.
submitted by biggreekgeek to conspiracy [link] [comments]

Lines of Navigation | Monthly Portfolio Update - July 202

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be
- Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H.
This is my forty-fourth 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
Total portfolio value: $1 800 119 (+$34 376 or 1.9%)
Asset allocation
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio.
[Chart]
Comments
The portfolio has substantially increased this month, continuing the recovery in portfolio value since March.
The strong portfolio growth of over $34 000, or 1.9 per cent, returns the value of the portfolio close to that achieved at the end of February this year.
[Chart]
This month there was minimal movement in the value of Australian and global equity holdings, There was, however, a significant lift of around 6 per cent in the value of gold exchange traded fund units, as well as a rise in the value of Bitcoin holdings.
These movements have pushed the value of gold holdings to their highest level so far on the entire journey. Their total value has approximately doubled since the original major purchases across 2009 to 2015.
For most of the past year gold has functioned as a portfolio stabiliser, having a negative correlation to movements in Australian equities (of around -0.3 to -0.4). As low and negative bond rates spread across the world, however, the opportunity cost of holding gold is reduced, and its potential diversification benefits loom larger.
The fixed income holdings of the portfolio also continued to fall beneath the target allocation, making this question of what represents a defensive (or negatively correlated to equity) asset far from academic.
This steady fall is a function of the slow maturing of Ratesetter loans, which were largely made between 2015 and 2017. Ratesetter has recently advised of important changes to its market operation, and placed a fixed maximum cap on new loan rates. By replacing market set rates with maximum rates, the peer-to-peer lending platform appears to be shifting to more of a 'intermediated' role in which higher past returns (of around 8 to 9 per cent) will now no longer be possible.
[Chart]
The expanding value of gold and Bitcoin holdings since January last year have actually had the practical effect of driving new investments into equities, since effectively for each dollar of appreciation, for example, my target allocation to equities rises by seven dollars.
Consistent with this, investments this month have been in the Vanguard international shares exchange-traded fund (VGS) using Selfwealth. This has been directed to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares.
Fathoming out: franking credits and portfolio distributions
Earlier last month I released a summary of portfolio income over the past half year. This, like all before it, noted that the summary was prepared on a purely 'cash' basis, reflecting dividends actually paid into a bank account, and excluding consideration of franking credits.
Franking credits are credits for company tax paid at the company level, which can be passed to individual shareholders, reducing their personal tax liability. They are not cash, but for a personal investor with tax liabilities they can have equivalent value. This means that comparing equity returns to other investments without factoring these credits can produce a distorted picture of an investor's final after-tax return.
In past portfolio summaries I have noted an estimate for franking credits in footnotes, but updating the value for this recently resulted in a curiosity about the overall significance of this neglected element of my equity returns.
This neglect resulted from my perception earlier in the journey that they represented a marginal and abstract factor, which could effectively be assumed away for the sake of simplicity in reporting.
This is not a wholly unfair view, in the sense that income physically received and able to be spent is something definably different in kind than a notional 'pre-payment' credit for future tax costs. Yet, as the saying goes, because the prospect of personal tax is as certain as extinction from this world, in some senses a credit of this kind can be as valuable as a cash distribution.
Restoring the record: trends and drivers of franking credits
To collect a more accurate picture of the trends and drivers of franking credits I relied on a few sources - tax statements, records and the automatic franking credit estimates that the portfolio tracking site Sharesight generates.
The chart below sets out both the level and major different sources of franking credits received over the past eleven years.
[Chart]
From this chart some observations can be made.
The key reason for the rapid growth over the recent decade has been the increased investment holdings in Australian equities. As part of the deliberate rebalancing towards Australian shares across the past two years, these holdings have expanded.
The chart below sets out the total value of Australian shares held over the comparable period.
[Chart]
As an example, at the beginning of this record Australian equities valued at around $276 000 were held. Three years later, the holding were nearly three times larger.
The phase of consistently increasing the Australian equities holding to meet its allocated weighting is largely complete. This means that the period of rapid growth seen in the past few years is unlikely to repeat. Rather, growth will revert to be in proportion to total portfolio growth.
Close to cross-over: the credit card records
One of the most powerful initial motivators to reach financial independence was the concept of the 'cross over' point in Vicki Robins and Joe Dominguez's Your Money or Your Life. This was the point at which monthly expenses are exceeded by investment income.
One of the metrics I have traced is this 'cross-over' point in relation to recorded credit card expenses. And this point is now close indeed.
Expenditures on the credit card have continued their downward trajectory across the past month. The three year rolling average of monthly credit card spending remains at its lowest point over the period of the journey. Distributions on the same basis now meet over 99 per cent of card expenses - with the gap now the equivalent of less than $50 per month.
[Chart]
The period since April of the achievement of a notional and contingent form of financial independence has continued.
The below chart illustrates this temporary state, setting out the the extent to which to which portfolio distributions (red) cover estimated total expenses (green), measured month to month.
[Chart]
An alternative way to view the same data is to examine the degree to which total expenses (i.e. fixed payments not made on credit card added to monthly credit card expenses) are met by distributions received.
An updated version of this is seen in the chart below.
[Chart]
Interestingly, on a trend basis, this currently identifies a 'crossing over' point of trend distributions fully meeting total expenditure from around November 2019. This is not conclusive, however, as the trend curve is sensitive to the unusual COVID-19 related observations of the first half of this year, and could easily shift further downward if normal expense patterns resume.
One issue this analysis raises is what to do with the 'credit card purchases' measure reported below. This measure is designed to provide a stylised benchmark of how close the current portfolio is to a target of generating the income required to meet an annual average credit card expenditure of $71 000.
The problem with this is that continued falling credit card spending means that average credit card spending is lower than that benchmark for all time horizons - measured as three and four year averages, or in fact taken as a whole since 2013. So the set benchmark may, if anything, be understating actual progress compared the graphs and data above by not reflecting changing spending levels.
In the past I have addressed this trend by reducing the benchmark. Over coming months, or perhaps at the end of the year, I will need to revisit both the meaning, and method, of setting this measure.
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) 82.6% 111.5%
Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 100.7% 136.0%
Total expenses – $89 000 pa 80.7% 109.0%
Summary
One of the most challenging aspects of closing in on a fixed numerical target for financial independence with risk assets still in place is that the updrafts and downdrafts of market movements can push the goal further away, or surprisingly close.
There have been long period of the journey where the total value of portfolio has barely grown, despite regular investments being made. As an example, the portfolio ended 2018 lower than it started the year. The past six months have been another such period. This can create a sense of treading water.
Yet amidst the economic devastation affecting real lives and businesses, this is an extremely fortunate position to be in. Australia and the globe are set to experience an economic contraction far more severe than the Global Financial Crisis, with a lesser capacity than previously for interest rates to cushion the impact. Despite similar measures being adopted by governments to address the downturn, it is not clear whether these are fit for purpose.
Asset allocation in this environment - of being almost suspended between two realities - is a difficult problem. The history of markets can tell us that just when assets seem most 'broken', they can produce outsized returns. Yet the problem remains that far from being surrounded by broken markets, the proliferation appears to be in bubble-like conditions.
This recent podcast discussion with the founder of Grant's Interest Rate Observer provided a useful historical context to current financial conditions this month. One of the themes of the conversation was 'thinking the unthinkable', such as a return of inflation. Similar, this Hoover Institute video discussion, with a 'Back from the future' premise, provides some entertaining, informed and insightful views on the surprising and contingent nature of what we know to be true.
Some of our little systems may well have had their day, but what could replace them remains obscured to any observer.
The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
submitted by thefiexpl to fiaustralia [link] [comments]

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:
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.
submitted by thefiexpl to fiaustralia [link] [comments]

The Privacy Coin Guide Part 1

As interest picks up in crypto again, I want to share this post I made on privacy coins again to just give the basics of their evolution. This is only part 1, and parts 2 and 3 are not available in this format, but this part is informative and basic.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to assess what the best privacy coin in the current space is, which has the best features, or which is most likely to give high returns, then this is not that guide. My goal is to give you the power to make your own decisions, to clearly state my biases, and educate. I really wanted to understand this niche of the crypto-space due to my background and current loyalties[1], and grasp the nuances of the features, origins and timelines of technologies used in privacy coins, while not being anything close to a developer myself. This is going to be a 3-part series, starting with an overview and basic review of the technology, then looking at its implications, and ending with why I like a specific project. It might be mildly interesting or delightfully educational. Cryptocurrencies are young and existing privacy coins are deploying technology that is a work in progress. This series assumes a basic understanding of how blockchains work, specifically as used in cryptocurrencies. If you don’t have that understanding, might I suggest that you get it? [2],[3],[4] Because cryptocurrencies have a long way to go before reaching their end-game: when the world relies on the technology without understanding it. So, shall we do a deep dive into the privacy coin space?

FIRST THERE WAS BITCOIN

Cryptocurrencies allow you to tokenize value and track its exchange between hands over time, with transaction information verified by a distributed network of users. The most famous version of a cryptocurrency in use is Bitcoin, defined as peer-to-peer electronic cash. [5] Posted anonymously in 2008, the whitepaper seemed to be in direct response to the global financial meltdown and public distrust of the conventional banking and financing systems. Although cryptographic techniques are used in Bitcoin to ensure that (i) only the owner of a specific wallet has the authority to spend funds from that wallet, (ii) the public address is linked but cannot be traced by a third party to the private address (iii) the information is stored via cryptographic hashing in a merkle tree structure to ensure data integrity, the actual transaction information is publicly visible on the blockchain and can be traced back to the individual through chain analysis.[6] This has raised fears of possible financial censorship or the metaphorical tainting of money due to its origination point, as demonstrated in the Silk Road marketplace disaster.[7] This can happen because fiat money is usually exchanged for cryptocurrency at some point, as crypto-enthusiasts are born in the real world and inevitably cash out. There are already chain analysis firms and software that are increasingly efficient at tracking transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.[8] This lack of privacy is one of the limitations of Bitcoin that has resulted in the creation of altcoins that experiment with the different features a cryptocurrency can have. Privacy coins are figuring out how to introduce privacy in addition to the payment network. The goal is to make the cryptocurrency fungible, each unit able to be exchanged for equal value without knowledge of its transaction history – like cash, while being publicly verifiable on a decentralized network. In other words, anyone can add the math up without being able to see the full details. Some privacy solutions and protocols have popped up as a result:

CRYPTONOTE – RING SIGNATURES AND STEALTH ADDRESSES

Used in: Monero and Particl as its successor RING-CT, Bytecoin
In December 2012, CryptoNote introduced the use of ring signatures and stealth addresses (along with other notable features such as its own codebase) to improve cryptocurrency privacy.[9] An updated CryptoNote version 2 came in October 2013 [10](though there is some dispute over this timeline [11]), also authored under the name Nicolas van Saberhagen. Ring signatures hide sender information by having the sender sign a transaction using a signature that could belong to multiple users. This makes a transaction untraceable. Stealth addresses allow a receiver to give a single address which generates a different public address for funds to be received at each time funds are sent to it. That makes a transaction unlinkable. In terms of privacy, CryptoNote gave us a protocol for untraceable and unlinkable transactions. The first implementation of CryptoNote technology was Bytecoin in March 2014 (timeline disputed [12]), which spawned many children (forks) in subsequent years, a notable example being Monero, based on CryptoNote v2 in April 2014.
RING SIGNATURES and STEALTH ADDRESSES

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
-Does not hide transaction information if not combined with another protocol.

COINJOIN

Used in: Dash
Bitcoin developer Gregory Maxwell proposed a set of solutions to bring privacy to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, the first being CoinJoin (January 28 – Aug 22, 2013).[13],[14] CoinJoin (sometimes called CoinSwap) allows multiple users to combine their transactions into a single transaction, by receiving inputs from multiple users, and then sending their outputs to the multiple users, irrespective of who in the group the inputs came from. So, the receiver will get whatever output amount they were supposed to, but it cannot be directly traced to its origination input. Similar proposals include Coinshuffle in 2014 and Tumblebit in 2016, building on CoinJoin but not terribly popular [15],[16]. They fixed the need for a trusted third party to ‘mix’ the transactions. There are CoinJoin implementations that are being actively worked on but are not the most popular privacy solutions of today. A notable coin that uses CoinJoin technology is Dash, launched in January 2014, with masternodes in place of a trusted party.
COINJOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Easy to implement on any cryptocurrency
– Lightweight
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Mature technology

CONS

– Least anonymous privacy solution. Transaction amounts can be calculated
– Even without third-party mixer, depends on wealth centralization of masternodes

ZEROCOIN

Used in: Zcoin, PIVX
In May 2013, the Zerocoin protocol was introduced by John Hopkins University professor Matthew D. Green and his graduate students Ian Miers and Christina Garman.[17] In response to the need for use of a third party to do CoinJoin, the Zerocoin proposal allowed for a coin to be destroyed and remade in order to erase its history whenever it is spent. Zero-knowledge cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs are used to prove that the new coins for spending are being appropriately made. A zero-knowledge proof allows one party to prove to another that they know specific information, without revealing any information about it, other than the fact that they know it. Zerocoin was not accepted by the Bitcoin community as an implementation to be added to Bitcoin, so a new cryptocurrency had to be formed. Zcoin was the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocoin protocol in 2016. [18]
ZEROCOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Supply can be audited
– Relatively mature technology
– Does not require a third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup (May not be required with Sigma protocol)
– Large proof sizes (not lightweight)
– Does not provide full privacy for transaction amounts

ZEROCASH

Used in: Zcash, Horizen, Komodo, Zclassic, Bitcoin Private
In May 2014, the current successor to the Zerocoin protocol, Zerocash, was created, also by Matthew Green and others (Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Eran Tromer, Madars Virza).[19] It improved upon the Zerocoin concept by taking advantage of zero-knowledge proofs called zk-snarks (zero knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge). Unlike Zerocoin, which hid coin origins and payment history, Zerocash was faster, with smaller transaction sizes, and hides transaction information on the sender, receiver and amount. Zcash is the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocash protocol in 2016. [20]
ZEROCASH

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Sender, receiver and amount hidden.
– Privacy can be default?
– Fast due to small proof sizes.
– Payment amount can be optionally disclosed for auditing
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup. (May be improved with zt-starks technology)
– Supply cannot be audited. And coins can potentially be forged without proper implementation.
– Private transactions computationally intensive (improved with Sapling upgrade)

CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

Used in: Monero and Particl with Ring Signatures as RING-CT
The next proposal from Maxwell was that of confidential transactions, proposed in June 2015 as part of the Sidechain Elements project from Blockstream, where Maxwell was Chief Technical Officer.[21],[22] It proposed to hide the transaction amount and asset type (e.g. deposits, currencies, shares), so that only the sender and receiver are aware of the amount, unless they choose to make the amount public. It uses homomorphic encryption[23] to encrypt the inputs and outputs by using blinding factors and a kind of ring signature in a commitment scheme, so the amount can be ‘committed’ to, without the amount actually being known. I’m terribly sorry if you now have the urge to go and research exactly what that means. The takeaway is that the transaction amount can be hidden from outsiders while being verifiable.
CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Only provides transaction amount privacy when used alone

RING-CT

Used in: Monero, Particl
Then came Ring Confidential transactions, proposed by Shen-Noether of Monero Research Labs in October 2015.[24] RingCT combines the use of ring signatures for hiding sender information, with the use of confidential transactions (which also uses ring signatures) for hiding amounts. The proposal described a new type of ring signature, A Multi-layered Linkable Spontaneous Anonymous Group signature which “allows for hidden amounts, origins and destinations of transactions with reasonable efficiency and verifiable, trustless coin generation”.[25] RingCT was implemented in Monero in January 2017 and made mandatory after September 2017.
RING -CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume

MIMBLEWIMBLE

Used in: Grin
Mimblewimble was proposed in July 2016 by pseudonymous contributor Tom Elvis Jedusorand further developed in October 2016 by Andrew Poelstra.[26],[27] Mimblewimble is a “privacy and fungibility focused cryptocoin transaction structure proposal”.[28] The key words are transaction structure proposal, so the way the blockchain is built is different, in order to accommodate privacy and fungibility features. Mimblewimble uses the concept of Confidential transactions to keep amounts hidden, looks at private keys and transaction information to prove ownership of funds rather than using addresses, and bundles transactions together instead of listing them separately on the blockchain. It also introduces a novel method of pruning the blockchain. Grin is a cryptocurrency in development that is applying Mimblewimble. Mimblewimble is early in development and you can understand it more here [29].
MIMBLEWIMBLE

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy is on by default
– Lightweight
– No public addresses?

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
– Sender and receiver must both be online
– Relatively new technology

ZEXE

Fresh off the minds of brilliant cryptographers (Sean Bowe, Alessandro Chiesa, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Pratyush Mishra, Howard Wu), in October 2018 Zexe proposed a new cryptographic primitive called ‘decentralized private computation.[30] It allows users of a decentralized ledger to “execute offline computations that result in transactions”[31], but also keeps transaction amounts hidden and allows transaction validation to happen at any time regardless of computations being done online. This can have far reaching implications for privacy coins in the future. Consider cases where transactions need to be automatic and private, without both parties being present.

NETWORK PRIVACY

Privacy technologies that look at network privacy as nodes communicate with each other on the network are important considerations, rather than just looking at privacy on the blockchain itself. Anonymous layers encrypt and/or reroute data as it moves among peers, so it is not obvious who they originate from on the network. They are used to protect against surveillance or censorship from ISPs and governments. The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) is an anonymous network layer that uses end to end encryption for peers on a network to communicate with each other.[32] Its history dates back to 2003. Kovri is a Monero created implementation of I2P.[33] The Onion Router (Tor) is another anonymity layer [34]) that Verge is a privacy cryptocurrency that uses. But its historical link to the US government may be is concerning to some[35]. Dandelion transaction relay is also an upcoming Bitcoin improvement proposal (BIP) that scrambles IP data that will provide network privacy for Bitcoin as transaction and other information is transmitted.[36],[37],[38]

UPCOMING

Monero completed bulletproofs protocol updates that reduce RINGCT transaction sizes and thus transaction fee costs. (Bulletproofs are a replacement for range proofs used in confidential transactions that aid in encrypting inputs and outputs by making sure they add to zero).
Sigma Protocol – being actively researched by Zcoin team as of 2018 to replace Zerocoin protocol so that a trusted setup is not required.[39] There is a possible replacement for zk-snarks, called zk-starks, another form of zero-knowledge proof technology, that may make a trusted set-up unnecessary for zero-knowledege proof coins.[40]

PART 1 CONCLUSION OF THE PRIVACY COIN GUIDE ON THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND PRIVACY COINS

Although Bitcoin is still a groundbreaking technology that gives us a trust-less transaction system, it has failed to live up to its expectations of privacy. Over time, new privacy technologies have arrived and are arriving with innovative and exciting solutions for Bitcoin’s lack of fungibility. It is important to note that these technologies are built on prior research and application, but we are considering their use in cryptocurrencies. Protocols are proposed based on cryptographic concepts that show how they would work, and then developers actually implement them. Please note that I did not include the possibility of improper implementation as a disadvantage, and the advantages assume that the technical development is well done. A very important point is that coins can also adapt new privacy technologies as their merits become obvious, even as they start with a specific privacy protocol. Furthermore, I am, unfortunately, positive that this is not an exhaustive overview and I am only covering publicized solutions. Next, we’ll talk more about the pros and cons and give an idea of how the coins can be compared.

There's a video version that can be watched, and you can find out how to get the second two parts if you want on my website (video link on the page): https://cryptoramble.com/guide-on-privacy-coins/
submitted by CryptoRamble to ethereum [link] [comments]

Industry of accusation: how do websites publishing compromising material work? Yuri Mosha Experience.

Industry of accusation: how do websites publishing compromising material work? Yuri Mosha Experience.
By Ignat Shestakov
Photo: Global Look Press/Monika Skolimowska
Fake news technologies are becoming more sophisticated, partly owing to the support of Hollywood. Furthermore, the simplest methods of disinformation are getting more and more efficient. Izvestia has figured out why the oldest heads of this monster can never be chopped off.
“The oldest heads” are the websites containing compromising material, which make money from customers wishing to ruin lives of their competitors, and from these competitors willing to pay to remove from the Internet publications about themselves having different degrees of reliability.
And we are not even talking about such veterans of information warfare like the site compromat.ru, that was created in 1999, blocked in 2017 although still perfectly working, but rather short-living web pages that get created as quickly as then become deleted. Their editorial staff sometimes publishes damaging information not even at the request, but simply to keep up with other teams.
Kompromat as a business
Entrepreneur Yuri Mosha had to deal with compromising materials published on the Internet several times. According to him, back in the early 2010s, such things were done by single websites, unrelated to one another. Some of them positioned themselves as official mass media having editorial staff and real legal addresses. “At that time, we could fight it. We contacted that sites and threatened them with filing court claims. In most cases, it helped, because they were afraid of responsibility”, Mosha told Izvestia.
A new wave of compromising material against the entrepreneur who makes money by helping those wishing to move to the United States from the former Soviet Union countries, emerged two years ago. He tried to make a deal with the sites or to make pressure on them through lawyers. But this time it was all pointless: “Now this is big business, and there are groups that have hundreds of websites with dummy registrations”.
Photo: Screenshot
Mosha contacted several owners of websites containing compromising materials by mail. Some of them were ready to delete publications for $ 7,000, others — for $ 20,000. Ordering publication of material damaging a competitor is cheaper — from $ 50,000 to $ 5,000. “You send an e-mail. They answer: “No problem, here’s a bitcoin wallet, transfer the money and I’ll delete the post.” At the same time each group attaches a list of their sites to an email,” the entrepreneur said. He did not pay anything.
Photo: Screenshot
I found a dark PR man, whom I paid at the end, however, not for removing materials, but for his advice. First advise was: you should not pay anyone. As soon as you pay, they will understand that you are ready to do it, and you will keep paying for the rest of your life. And even if they play fair and delete you from one site, they will post you on 50 others. He told me: “You see, we all know each other, and we are retyping all publications. As soon as information appears on one resource, the robot transfers it to others. And if a person pays [an owner of one website containing compromising material], he will start to pay everyone”.
His second hint was that suing them is useless. Because when there is a court decision, if Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) blocks it (only) on the territory of the Russian Federation, they will see that you are fighting with them, and will publish even more information about you.
Third, he said that the target must be not the sites, but Google and Yandex. As he said, they exist due to the support from Google and Yandex. Those two are just like salesmen in a gun shop who sell rifles to buyers who say they will shoot people in the street. They [search engines] do not fight against this [compromising material] at all. Before the lawsuit [with the search engines] I myself sent them information [about compromising material]. I attached a police clearance certificate, a residence permit, confirmation of citizenship. After that I had to go to court.
Now Yuri Mosha is negotiating a settlement with Yandex and is suing Google. Read about the difficulties faced by the entrepreneur and other people trying to remove information about themselves from the Internet (especially not from the Internet segment of one country) through court action here.
Making business on a kompromat business
In recent years, several companies have emerged in the Russian Internet segment that earn money by helping people remove information about themselves from search engines, social networks and mass media. They would not be able to make money if the laws on the right to be forgotten worked well.
Here it should be mentioned, that these laws in different forms exist in many countries. And Russia stays behind its neighbors, as there the law only entered into force in 2016. In 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union adopted the decision according to which the users, in some cases, have the right to request the search engine to remove their personal data from the search results. And the preconditions for this right were already established in the Convention on Human Rights, which entered into force in 1953. In the United States, such cases typically cite Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
So, it is difficult and time-consuming to seek a decision to get the data removed from search engines through courts. According to Yandex statistics, the company satisfied 27% of processed requests within three months from the date when the law on the right to be forgotten entered into force (that is, from January to March 2016). Google has more representative statistics, which, moreover, has been collected since 2014.
Photo: Depositphotos
That is why there are companies that resolve such issues avoiding judicial proceedings. They do not remove links to negative publications from search engines, but instead ensure that first pages of the search contain links to positive publications. They negotiate with social networks, contact websites and sometimes pay them.
The founder of one of such companies, Maxim Zlobin, told VC.RU that he first worked with company leaders, government officials and parliamentarians. But over time, he also started to work with individuals.
Maxim Zlobin, the ISN founder:
Once, a woman from Makhachkala contacted us. Hardly speaking Russian, she asked us to delete information about her sole proprietorship. At first, we could not understand why she needed this because search engines only showed records about the liquidation of the sole proprietorship. But then it appeared that her sole proprietorship had a code of the Russian National Classifier of Economic Activities (OKVED) referring to “Activities of massage parlors”. And although the woman did not provide any massage services to men (for religious reasons), if it became known to her relatives, she would be “forever covered with shame.” To remove this information, we partially used passages of the law on insulting the feelings of believers on the verge of the right to be forgotten.
Now half of Zlobin’s clients are businessmen, 30% are politicians, and 20% are public figures or individuals.
If you can’t delete it, take the lead
There are three methods the businessman uses in his work. The first one is negotiations, including offering money to web-platforms for removing negative publications. But, as noted by Yuri Mosha, this method is associated with high risks, including, first of all, the risk of the Streisand effect when the fact of an appeal may become a reason for new material. Second, there is a risk of getting into bondage when the payments to the web platform would become regular.
Prices for publication of the compromising material with which the founder of ISN works are lower than for those Mosha faced. Publishing information with a link to a foreign (containing the compromising information) site, costs €600–800. This allows the Russian kompromat-trash hole to avoid any responsibility for the publication. At the same time, deleting one publication costs from 5,000 to 600,000 rubles. That is, from $100 to about $ 10,000.
Photo: ТАСС/Ведомости/Максим Стулов
Therefore, the businessman considers the second method — work with search results — to be the most effective. Whitewashing articles about the client get posted and promoted in search engines. Thanks to this, the tarnishing publications move down to other pages of search results.
And the third way is a legal battle. When it comes to search engines, the right to be forgotten is used for this, but the common idea is that even if “there is some success in the court, in order to remove the information, you will have to go straight to the Constitutional Court”. Zlobin’s experts also use the law on personal data, which, in particular, states that no information about citizens of the Russian Federation can be stored and processed on the servers of foreign companies without the consent of these people. With social networks, according to Zlobin’s experience, it is often possible to reach an agreement provided that there is a reasonable proof that the compromising material is fabricated.
Kompromat on a business on a kompromat business
However, all this is useless, as Yuri Mosha noted with regret. Faced with the problem of kompromat, he contacted several companies of this kind. He did not mention ISN among those in his interview with Izvestia’s correspondent, however. And those he had contacted left him disappointed.
Yuri Mosha, an entrepreneur:
They cannot do anything. Some of them need a court decision. Others say, “We’re going to overlay [the negative content] with a positive one.” But I create such content myself, I have 5 thousand videos uploaded on YouTube, and it still doesn’t work.
All these companies are just scammers. They can’t do anything. I contacted one site [containing compromising material]. They said: half bitcoin [for deleting publications]. Then I contacted a company. They told me they would call back. They did call back and promised to solve the problem for one bitcoin.
Short-living website publishing compromising material of a different degree of truthfulness represent an ultimate expression of the fake news industry. Unlike the Hollywood-sponsored fake video technology, which (so far) takes resources and time, a site with catchy headlines can be created in several hours. And just as easily it can be removed from the Internet, as, for example, it happened with ostorozhno.ru.
The Site on Dangerous Connections, as was introduced by its authors, appeared in 2008. It published a standard set of material compromising politicians, including those of the Ural region, wrote URA.RU. Now the website link leads to a Riga travel guide with text stolen from a real travel site and ridiculous low-resolution photographs. It is quite obvious that when the money for the removal of the compromising material arrived, the creators simply covered it with a previously prepared dummy. And when a new order arrives, they will again remove it and continue to earn on lies.
Because it is so easy to create, remove, and reproduce such sites, they cannot be defeated. The University of Oxford recently published a report on the fight against fake news in various, primarily European, countries.
The term \"fake news\" addressed during the talk \"Between facts, fakes and manipulations - how do we defend democracy on the Internet?\" at the Ministry of Justice in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Global Look Press/dpa/Jörg Carstensen
The governments of all these countries do not make any attempts to counteract the sites posting compromising material. Because they just cannot. Most are trying to shift the responsibility onto social media. For example, in Germany, Facebook is threatened with a fine of up to €50 million if "obviously illegal" content is not removed within 24 hours. In some other countries, like Turkey or Bulgaria, according to the authors, the fight against fake news simply justifies the pressure on the opposition. And only two European countries, Sweden and Holland, came to an idea of teaching people to distinguish between rumors and the truth. Other countries, in contrast, just keep prohibiting things without obtaining any reasonable effect of this.
submitted by YuriMosha to u/YuriMosha [link] [comments]

The Privacy Coin Guide Part 1

As interest picks up in crypto again, I want to share this post I made on privacy coins again to just give the basics of their evolution. This is only part 1, and parts 2 and 3 are not available in this format, but this part is informative and basic.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to assess what the best privacy coin in the current space is, which has the best features, or which is most likely to give high returns, then this is not that guide. My goal is to give you the power to make your own decisions, to clearly state my biases, and educate. I really wanted to understand this niche of the crypto-space due to my background and current loyalties[1], and grasp the nuances of the features, origins and timelines of technologies used in privacy coins, while not being anything close to a developer myself. This is going to be a 3-part series, starting with an overview and basic review of the technology, then looking at its implications, and ending with why I like a specific project. It might be mildly interesting or delightfully educational. Cryptocurrencies are young and existing privacy coins are deploying technology that is a work in progress. This series assumes a basic understanding of how blockchains work, specifically as used in cryptocurrencies. If you don’t have that understanding, might I suggest that you get it? [2],[3],[4] Because cryptocurrencies have a long way to go before reaching their end-game: when the world relies on the technology without understanding it. So, shall we do a deep dive into the privacy coin space?

FIRST THERE WAS BITCOIN

Cryptocurrencies allow you to tokenize value and track its exchange between hands over time, with transaction information verified by a distributed network of users. The most famous version of a cryptocurrency in use is Bitcoin, defined as peer-to-peer electronic cash. [5] Posted anonymously in 2008, the whitepaper seemed to be in direct response to the global financial meltdown and public distrust of the conventional banking and financing systems. Although cryptographic techniques are used in Bitcoin to ensure that (i) only the owner of a specific wallet has the authority to spend funds from that wallet, (ii) the public address is linked but cannot be traced by a third party to the private address (iii) the information is stored via cryptographic hashing in a merkle tree structure to ensure data integrity, the actual transaction information is publicly visible on the blockchain and can be traced back to the individual through chain analysis.[6] This has raised fears of possible financial censorship or the metaphorical tainting of money due to its origination point, as demonstrated in the Silk Road marketplace disaster.[7] This can happen because fiat money is usually exchanged for cryptocurrency at some point, as crypto-enthusiasts are born in the real world and inevitably cash out. There are already chain analysis firms and software that are increasingly efficient at tracking transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.[8] This lack of privacy is one of the limitations of Bitcoin that has resulted in the creation of altcoins that experiment with the different features a cryptocurrency can have. Privacy coins are figuring out how to introduce privacy in addition to the payment network. The goal is to make the cryptocurrency fungible, each unit able to be exchanged for equal value without knowledge of its transaction history – like cash, while being publicly verifiable on a decentralized network. In other words, anyone can add the math up without being able to see the full details. Some privacy solutions and protocols have popped up as a result:

CRYPTONOTE – RING SIGNATURES AND STEALTH ADDRESSES

Used in: Monero and Particl as its successor RING-CT, Bytecoin
In December 2012, CryptoNote introduced the use of ring signatures and stealth addresses (along with other notable features such as its own codebase) to improve cryptocurrency privacy.[9] An updated CryptoNote version 2 came in October 2013 [10](though there is some dispute over this timeline [11]), also authored under the name Nicolas van Saberhagen. Ring signatures hide sender information by having the sender sign a transaction using a signature that could belong to multiple users. This makes a transaction untraceable. Stealth addresses allow a receiver to give a single address which generates a different public address for funds to be received at each time funds are sent to it. That makes a transaction unlinkable. In terms of privacy, CryptoNote gave us a protocol for untraceable and unlinkable transactions. The first implementation of CryptoNote technology was Bytecoin in March 2014 (timeline disputed [12]), which spawned many children (forks) in subsequent years, a notable example being Monero, based on CryptoNote v2 in April 2014.
RING SIGNATURES and STEALTH ADDRESSES

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
-Does not hide transaction information if not combined with another protocol.

COINJOIN

Used in: Dash
Bitcoin developer Gregory Maxwell proposed a set of solutions to bring privacy to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, the first being CoinJoin (January 28 – Aug 22, 2013).[13],[14] CoinJoin (sometimes called CoinSwap) allows multiple users to combine their transactions into a single transaction, by receiving inputs from multiple users, and then sending their outputs to the multiple users, irrespective of who in the group the inputs came from. So, the receiver will get whatever output amount they were supposed to, but it cannot be directly traced to its origination input. Similar proposals include Coinshuffle in 2014 and Tumblebit in 2016, building on CoinJoin but not terribly popular [15],[16]. They fixed the need for a trusted third party to ‘mix’ the transactions. There are CoinJoin implementations that are being actively worked on but are not the most popular privacy solutions of today. A notable coin that uses CoinJoin technology is Dash, launched in January 2014, with masternodes in place of a trusted party.
COINJOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Easy to implement on any cryptocurrency
– Lightweight
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Mature technology

CONS

– Least anonymous privacy solution. Transaction amounts can be calculated
– Even without third-party mixer, depends on wealth centralization of masternodes

ZEROCOIN

Used in: Zcoin, PIVX
In May 2013, the Zerocoin protocol was introduced by John Hopkins University professor Matthew D. Green and his graduate students Ian Miers and Christina Garman.[17] In response to the need for use of a third party to do CoinJoin, the Zerocoin proposal allowed for a coin to be destroyed and remade in order to erase its history whenever it is spent. Zero-knowledge cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs are used to prove that the new coins for spending are being appropriately made. A zero-knowledge proof allows one party to prove to another that they know specific information, without revealing any information about it, other than the fact that they know it. Zerocoin was not accepted by the Bitcoin community as an implementation to be added to Bitcoin, so a new cryptocurrency had to be formed. Zcoin was the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocoin protocol in 2016. [18]
ZEROCOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Supply can be audited
– Relatively mature technology
– Does not require a third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup (May not be required with Sigma protocol)
– Large proof sizes (not lightweight)
– Does not provide full privacy for transaction amounts

ZEROCASH

Used in: Zcash, Horizen, Komodo, Zclassic, Bitcoin Private
In May 2014, the current successor to the Zerocoin protocol, Zerocash, was created, also by Matthew Green and others (Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Eran Tromer, Madars Virza).[19] It improved upon the Zerocoin concept by taking advantage of zero-knowledge proofs called zk-snarks (zero knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge). Unlike Zerocoin, which hid coin origins and payment history, Zerocash was faster, with smaller transaction sizes, and hides transaction information on the sender, receiver and amount. Zcash is the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocash protocol in 2016. [20]
ZEROCASH

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Sender, receiver and amount hidden.
– Privacy can be default?
– Fast due to small proof sizes.
– Payment amount can be optionally disclosed for auditing
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup. (May be improved with zt-starks technology)
– Supply cannot be audited. And coins can potentially be forged without proper implementation.
– Private transactions computationally intensive (improved with Sapling upgrade)

CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

Used in: Monero and Particl with Ring Signatures as RING-CT
The next proposal from Maxwell was that of confidential transactions, proposed in June 2015 as part of the Sidechain Elements project from Blockstream, where Maxwell was Chief Technical Officer.[21],[22] It proposed to hide the transaction amount and asset type (e.g. deposits, currencies, shares), so that only the sender and receiver are aware of the amount, unless they choose to make the amount public. It uses homomorphic encryption[23] to encrypt the inputs and outputs by using blinding factors and a kind of ring signature in a commitment scheme, so the amount can be ‘committed’ to, without the amount actually being known. I’m terribly sorry if you now have the urge to go and research exactly what that means. The takeaway is that the transaction amount can be hidden from outsiders while being verifiable.
CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Only provides transaction amount privacy when used alone

RING-CT

Used in: Monero, Particl
Then came Ring Confidential transactions, proposed by Shen-Noether of Monero Research Labs in October 2015.[24] RingCT combines the use of ring signatures for hiding sender information, with the use of confidential transactions (which also uses ring signatures) for hiding amounts. The proposal described a new type of ring signature, A Multi-layered Linkable Spontaneous Anonymous Group signature which “allows for hidden amounts, origins and destinations of transactions with reasonable efficiency and verifiable, trustless coin generation”.[25] RingCT was implemented in Monero in January 2017 and made mandatory after September 2017.
RING -CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume

MIMBLEWIMBLE

Used in: Grin
Mimblewimble was proposed in July 2016 by pseudonymous contributor Tom Elvis Jedusorand further developed in October 2016 by Andrew Poelstra.[26],[27] Mimblewimble is a “privacy and fungibility focused cryptocoin transaction structure proposal”.[28] The key words are transaction structure proposal, so the way the blockchain is built is different, in order to accommodate privacy and fungibility features. Mimblewimble uses the concept of Confidential transactions to keep amounts hidden, looks at private keys and transaction information to prove ownership of funds rather than using addresses, and bundles transactions together instead of listing them separately on the blockchain. It also introduces a novel method of pruning the blockchain. Grin is a cryptocurrency in development that is applying Mimblewimble. Mimblewimble is early in development and you can understand it more here [29].
MIMBLEWIMBLE

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy is on by default
– Lightweight
– No public addresses?

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
– Sender and receiver must both be online
– Relatively new technology

ZEXE

Fresh off the minds of brilliant cryptographers (Sean Bowe, Alessandro Chiesa, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Pratyush Mishra, Howard Wu), in October 2018 Zexe proposed a new cryptographic primitive called ‘decentralized private computation.[30] It allows users of a decentralized ledger to “execute offline computations that result in transactions”[31], but also keeps transaction amounts hidden and allows transaction validation to happen at any time regardless of computations being done online. This can have far reaching implications for privacy coins in the future. Consider cases where transactions need to be automatic and private, without both parties being present.

NETWORK PRIVACY

Privacy technologies that look at network privacy as nodes communicate with each other on the network are important considerations, rather than just looking at privacy on the blockchain itself. Anonymous layers encrypt and/or reroute data as it moves among peers, so it is not obvious who they originate from on the network. They are used to protect against surveillance or censorship from ISPs and governments. The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) is an anonymous network layer that uses end to end encryption for peers on a network to communicate with each other.[32] Its history dates back to 2003. Kovri is a Monero created implementation of I2P.[33] The Onion Router (Tor) is another anonymity layer [34]) that Verge is a privacy cryptocurrency that uses. But its historical link to the US government may be is concerning to some[35]. Dandelion transaction relay is also an upcoming Bitcoin improvement proposal (BIP) that scrambles IP data that will provide network privacy for Bitcoin as transaction and other information is transmitted.[36],[37],[38]

UPCOMING

Monero completed bulletproofs protocol updates that reduce RINGCT transaction sizes and thus transaction fee costs. (Bulletproofs are a replacement for range proofs used in confidential transactions that aid in encrypting inputs and outputs by making sure they add to zero).
Sigma Protocol – being actively researched by Zcoin team as of 2018 to replace Zerocoin protocol so that a trusted setup is not required.[39] There is a possible replacement for zk-snarks, called zk-starks, another form of zero-knowledge proof technology, that may make a trusted set-up unnecessary for zero-knowledege proof coins.[40]

PART 1 CONCLUSION OF THE PRIVACY COIN GUIDE ON THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND PRIVACY COINS

Although Bitcoin is still a groundbreaking technology that gives us a trust-less transaction system, it has failed to live up to its expectations of privacy. Over time, new privacy technologies have arrived and are arriving with innovative and exciting solutions for Bitcoin’s lack of fungibility. It is important to note that these technologies are built on prior research and application, but we are considering their use in cryptocurrencies. Protocols are proposed based on cryptographic concepts that show how they would work, and then developers actually implement them. Please note that I did not include the possibility of improper implementation as a disadvantage, and the advantages assume that the technical development is well done. A very important point is that coins can also adapt new privacy technologies as their merits become obvious, even as they start with a specific privacy protocol. Furthermore, I am, unfortunately, positive that this is not an exhaustive overview and I am only covering publicized solutions. Next, we’ll talk more about the pros and cons and give an idea of how the coins can be compared.

There's a video version that can be watched, and you can find out how to get the second two parts if you want on my website (video link on the page): https://cryptoramble.com/guide-on-privacy-coins/
submitted by CryptoRamble to privacycoins [link] [comments]

The Privacy Coin Guide Part 1

As interest picks up in crypto again, I want to share this post I made on privacy coins again to just give the basics of their evolution. This is only part 1, and parts 2 and 3 are not available in this format, but this part is informative and basic.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to assess what the best privacy coin in the current space is, which has the best features, or which is most likely to give high returns, then this is not that guide. My goal is to give you the power to make your own decisions, to clearly state my biases, and educate. I really wanted to understand this niche of the crypto-space due to my background and current loyalties[1], and grasp the nuances of the features, origins and timelines of technologies used in privacy coins, while not being anything close to a developer myself. This is going to be a 3-part series, starting with an overview and basic review of the technology, then looking at its implications, and ending with why I like a specific project. It might be mildly interesting or delightfully educational. Cryptocurrencies are young and existing privacy coins are deploying technology that is a work in progress. This series assumes a basic understanding of how blockchains work, specifically as used in cryptocurrencies. If you don’t have that understanding, might I suggest that you get it? [2],[3],[4] Because cryptocurrencies have a long way to go before reaching their end-game: when the world relies on the technology without understanding it. So, shall we do a deep dive into the privacy coin space?

FIRST THERE WAS BITCOIN

Cryptocurrencies allow you to tokenize value and track its exchange between hands over time, with transaction information verified by a distributed network of users. The most famous version of a cryptocurrency in use is Bitcoin, defined as peer-to-peer electronic cash. [5] Posted anonymously in 2008, the whitepaper seemed to be in direct response to the global financial meltdown and public distrust of the conventional banking and financing systems. Although cryptographic techniques are used in Bitcoin to ensure that (i) only the owner of a specific wallet has the authority to spend funds from that wallet, (ii) the public address is linked but cannot be traced by a third party to the private address (iii) the information is stored via cryptographic hashing in a merkle tree structure to ensure data integrity, the actual transaction information is publicly visible on the blockchain and can be traced back to the individual through chain analysis.[6] This has raised fears of possible financial censorship or the metaphorical tainting of money due to its origination point, as demonstrated in the Silk Road marketplace disaster.[7] This can happen because fiat money is usually exchanged for cryptocurrency at some point, as crypto-enthusiasts are born in the real world and inevitably cash out. There are already chain analysis firms and software that are increasingly efficient at tracking transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.[8] This lack of privacy is one of the limitations of Bitcoin that has resulted in the creation of altcoins that experiment with the different features a cryptocurrency can have. Privacy coins are figuring out how to introduce privacy in addition to the payment network. The goal is to make the cryptocurrency fungible, each unit able to be exchanged for equal value without knowledge of its transaction history – like cash, while being publicly verifiable on a decentralized network. In other words, anyone can add the math up without being able to see the full details. Some privacy solutions and protocols have popped up as a result:

CRYPTONOTE – RING SIGNATURES AND STEALTH ADDRESSES

Used in: Monero and Particl as its successor RING-CT, Bytecoin
In December 2012, CryptoNote introduced the use of ring signatures and stealth addresses (along with other notable features such as its own codebase) to improve cryptocurrency privacy.[9] An updated CryptoNote version 2 came in October 2013 [10](though there is some dispute over this timeline [11]), also authored under the name Nicolas van Saberhagen. Ring signatures hide sender information by having the sender sign a transaction using a signature that could belong to multiple users. This makes a transaction untraceable. Stealth addresses allow a receiver to give a single address which generates a different public address for funds to be received at each time funds are sent to it. That makes a transaction unlinkable. In terms of privacy, CryptoNote gave us a protocol for untraceable and unlinkable transactions. The first implementation of CryptoNote technology was Bytecoin in March 2014 (timeline disputed [12]), which spawned many children (forks) in subsequent years, a notable example being Monero, based on CryptoNote v2 in April 2014.
RING SIGNATURES and STEALTH ADDRESSES

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
-Does not hide transaction information if not combined with another protocol.

COINJOIN

Used in: Dash
Bitcoin developer Gregory Maxwell proposed a set of solutions to bring privacy to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, the first being CoinJoin (January 28 – Aug 22, 2013).[13],[14] CoinJoin (sometimes called CoinSwap) allows multiple users to combine their transactions into a single transaction, by receiving inputs from multiple users, and then sending their outputs to the multiple users, irrespective of who in the group the inputs came from. So, the receiver will get whatever output amount they were supposed to, but it cannot be directly traced to its origination input. Similar proposals include Coinshuffle in 2014 and Tumblebit in 2016, building on CoinJoin but not terribly popular [15],[16]. They fixed the need for a trusted third party to ‘mix’ the transactions. There are CoinJoin implementations that are being actively worked on but are not the most popular privacy solutions of today. A notable coin that uses CoinJoin technology is Dash, launched in January 2014, with masternodes in place of a trusted party.
COINJOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Easy to implement on any cryptocurrency
– Lightweight
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Mature technology

CONS

– Least anonymous privacy solution. Transaction amounts can be calculated
– Even without third-party mixer, depends on wealth centralization of masternodes

ZEROCOIN

Used in: Zcoin, PIVX
In May 2013, the Zerocoin protocol was introduced by John Hopkins University professor Matthew D. Green and his graduate students Ian Miers and Christina Garman.[17] In response to the need for use of a third party to do CoinJoin, the Zerocoin proposal allowed for a coin to be destroyed and remade in order to erase its history whenever it is spent. Zero-knowledge cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs are used to prove that the new coins for spending are being appropriately made. A zero-knowledge proof allows one party to prove to another that they know specific information, without revealing any information about it, other than the fact that they know it. Zerocoin was not accepted by the Bitcoin community as an implementation to be added to Bitcoin, so a new cryptocurrency had to be formed. Zcoin was the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocoin protocol in 2016. [18]
ZEROCOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Supply can be audited
– Relatively mature technology
– Does not require a third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup (May not be required with Sigma protocol)
– Large proof sizes (not lightweight)
– Does not provide full privacy for transaction amounts

ZEROCASH

Used in: Zcash, Horizen, Komodo, Zclassic, Bitcoin Private
In May 2014, the current successor to the Zerocoin protocol, Zerocash, was created, also by Matthew Green and others (Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Eran Tromer, Madars Virza).[19] It improved upon the Zerocoin concept by taking advantage of zero-knowledge proofs called zk-snarks (zero knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge). Unlike Zerocoin, which hid coin origins and payment history, Zerocash was faster, with smaller transaction sizes, and hides transaction information on the sender, receiver and amount. Zcash is the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocash protocol in 2016. [20]
ZEROCASH

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Sender, receiver and amount hidden.
– Privacy can be default?
– Fast due to small proof sizes.
– Payment amount can be optionally disclosed for auditing
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup. (May be improved with zt-starks technology)
– Supply cannot be audited. And coins can potentially be forged without proper implementation.
– Private transactions computationally intensive (improved with Sapling upgrade)

CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

Used in: Monero and Particl with Ring Signatures as RING-CT
The next proposal from Maxwell was that of confidential transactions, proposed in June 2015 as part of the Sidechain Elements project from Blockstream, where Maxwell was Chief Technical Officer.[21],[22] It proposed to hide the transaction amount and asset type (e.g. deposits, currencies, shares), so that only the sender and receiver are aware of the amount, unless they choose to make the amount public. It uses homomorphic encryption[23] to encrypt the inputs and outputs by using blinding factors and a kind of ring signature in a commitment scheme, so the amount can be ‘committed’ to, without the amount actually being known. I’m terribly sorry if you now have the urge to go and research exactly what that means. The takeaway is that the transaction amount can be hidden from outsiders while being verifiable.
CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Only provides transaction amount privacy when used alone

RING-CT

Used in: Monero, Particl
Then came Ring Confidential transactions, proposed by Shen-Noether of Monero Research Labs in October 2015.[24] RingCT combines the use of ring signatures for hiding sender information, with the use of confidential transactions (which also uses ring signatures) for hiding amounts. The proposal described a new type of ring signature, A Multi-layered Linkable Spontaneous Anonymous Group signature which “allows for hidden amounts, origins and destinations of transactions with reasonable efficiency and verifiable, trustless coin generation”.[25] RingCT was implemented in Monero in January 2017 and made mandatory after September 2017.
RING -CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume

MIMBLEWIMBLE

Used in: Grin
Mimblewimble was proposed in July 2016 by pseudonymous contributor Tom Elvis Jedusorand further developed in October 2016 by Andrew Poelstra.[26],[27] Mimblewimble is a “privacy and fungibility focused cryptocoin transaction structure proposal”.[28] The key words are transaction structure proposal, so the way the blockchain is built is different, in order to accommodate privacy and fungibility features. Mimblewimble uses the concept of Confidential transactions to keep amounts hidden, looks at private keys and transaction information to prove ownership of funds rather than using addresses, and bundles transactions together instead of listing them separately on the blockchain. It also introduces a novel method of pruning the blockchain. Grin is a cryptocurrency in development that is applying Mimblewimble. Mimblewimble is early in development and you can understand it more here [29].
MIMBLEWIMBLE

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy is on by default
– Lightweight
– No public addresses?

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
– Sender and receiver must both be online
– Relatively new technology

ZEXE

Fresh off the minds of brilliant cryptographers (Sean Bowe, Alessandro Chiesa, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Pratyush Mishra, Howard Wu), in October 2018 Zexe proposed a new cryptographic primitive called ‘decentralized private computation.[30] It allows users of a decentralized ledger to “execute offline computations that result in transactions”[31], but also keeps transaction amounts hidden and allows transaction validation to happen at any time regardless of computations being done online. This can have far reaching implications for privacy coins in the future. Consider cases where transactions need to be automatic and private, without both parties being present.

NETWORK PRIVACY

Privacy technologies that look at network privacy as nodes communicate with each other on the network are important considerations, rather than just looking at privacy on the blockchain itself. Anonymous layers encrypt and/or reroute data as it moves among peers, so it is not obvious who they originate from on the network. They are used to protect against surveillance or censorship from ISPs and governments. The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) is an anonymous network layer that uses end to end encryption for peers on a network to communicate with each other.[32] Its history dates back to 2003. Kovri is a Monero created implementation of I2P.[33] The Onion Router (Tor) is another anonymity layer [34]) that Verge is a privacy cryptocurrency that uses. But its historical link to the US government may be is concerning to some[35]. Dandelion transaction relay is also an upcoming Bitcoin improvement proposal (BIP) that scrambles IP data that will provide network privacy for Bitcoin as transaction and other information is transmitted.[36],[37],[38]

UPCOMING

Monero completed bulletproofs protocol updates that reduce RINGCT transaction sizes and thus transaction fee costs. (Bulletproofs are a replacement for range proofs used in confidential transactions that aid in encrypting inputs and outputs by making sure they add to zero).
Sigma Protocol – being actively researched by Zcoin team as of 2018 to replace Zerocoin protocol so that a trusted setup is not required.[39] There is a possible replacement for zk-snarks, called zk-starks, another form of zero-knowledge proof technology, that may make a trusted set-up unnecessary for zero-knowledege proof coins.[40]

PART 1 CONCLUSION OF THE PRIVACY COIN GUIDE ON THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND PRIVACY COINS

Although Bitcoin is still a groundbreaking technology that gives us a trust-less transaction system, it has failed to live up to its expectations of privacy. Over time, new privacy technologies have arrived and are arriving with innovative and exciting solutions for Bitcoin’s lack of fungibility. It is important to note that these technologies are built on prior research and application, but we are considering their use in cryptocurrencies. Protocols are proposed based on cryptographic concepts that show how they would work, and then developers actually implement them. Please note that I did not include the possibility of improper implementation as a disadvantage, and the advantages assume that the technical development is well done. A very important point is that coins can also adapt new privacy technologies as their merits become obvious, even as they start with a specific privacy protocol. Furthermore, I am, unfortunately, positive that this is not an exhaustive overview and I am only covering publicized solutions. Next, we’ll talk more about the pros and cons and give an idea of how the coins can be compared.

There's a video version that can be watched, and you can find out how to get the second two parts if you want on my website (video link on the page): https://cryptoramble.com/guide-on-privacy-coins/
submitted by CryptoRamble to ethtrader [link] [comments]

Litecoin Bitcoin Ethereum ARK Technical Analysis Chart 8/27/2017 by ChartGuys.com Evolution of Bitcoin - Full Documentary 2017 [HD] #Advexon ... Bitcoin Edge Dev++ 2017 - YouTube Bitcoin Much Better Now Than In 2017? Bitcoin(BTC) Cryptocurrency Huge News! Bitcoin Ethereum Litecoin Technical Analysis Chart 5/27/2017 by ChartGuys.com

Reading Time: 3 minutes by Jamie Holmes on March 27, 2017 News, News Digest. The Bitcoin Dominance Index touched fresh lows during the week beginning March 20, with most altcoins surging and BTC-USD bears tried to subdue the cryptocurrency below the $1000 level. Since March 10, the Bitcoin Dominance Index has been in freefall, recovering slightly to 68 percent on March 27, shown below ... Bitcoin. comments; other discussions (1) Want to join? Log in or sign up in seconds. English; limit my search to r/Bitcoin. use the following search parameters to narrow your results: subreddit:subreddit find submissions in "subreddit" author:username find submissions by "username" site:example.com find submissions from "example.com" url:text search for "text" in url selftext:text search for ... We will be looking at the price history and market opinions for BTC in order to formulate a Bitcoin price prediction for March 2020.. Bitcoin Overview. Bitcoin is the number one coin with a market capitalization of $167,752,357,498 and a trading price of $9,193.28, with a decrease of -3,85%. There are currently 18,238,012 BTC in circulation out of a total of 21.000.000 BTC. $43,121,942,046 ... 1 post published by Webocoin during March 2017. During the 8th Mt Gox creditors’ meeting, the Tokyo District Courts’ bankruptcy trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi has given the public an update concerning the proceedings. There have been a few changes since the 7th creditors’ meeting in regards to the “List of Assets and Balance Sheet,” as well as the holdings held by the bankrupt entity. Posted in Bitcoin Tagged Bitcoin, Dollar Exchange Rates Leave a reply As of March 27, 2017 at 10:00AM, 1 GBP equals 1.251 USD. Posted on March 27, 2017 by jessdemetriadis

[index] [47759] [44264] [41271] [27273] [11863] [24034] [44231] [3943] [7563] [31908]

Litecoin Bitcoin Ethereum ARK Technical Analysis Chart 8/27/2017 by ChartGuys.com

Bitcoin Edge Dev++ tutorial track is designed for developers aiming to help them get close and personal with Bitcoin and Blockchain related technologies. In this (nearly 2-day long course) you ... Close. This video is unavailable. Published on Nov 27, 2017 Quick tutorial on download a bitcoin phone wallet and buying some bitcoin to get you started. Get Free Bitcoin When You Use My Coinbase Link: https://www.coinbase.com ... Published on Mar 24, 2017 Discussion on the bitcoin scaling issue, and a 3rd alternative to muddy the thinking....not all is binary. seg wit, bitcoin unlimited, and R-blocks. Litecoin Bitcoin Ethereum ARK Technical Analysis Chart for 8/27/2017 NEW Course: https://chartguys.com/courses/entries-exits/ Please Signup for a FREE trial ...

#