The world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange confirmed that assets were stolen from the Binance Smart Chain network, the latest in a series. Many fans think it will. But it might end up creating some new problems. Credit Sarah Pabst for The New York Times. Crypto companies are laying off staff, freezing withdrawals and trying to stem losses, raising questions about the health of the ecosystem. DECIMAL POINT BETTING CALCULATOR
And the volatility means you get people converting it to real money. And so what is it good for? The big ones are drug dealing, child sexual abuse material, and ransoms. And it only exists because people can pay in Bitcoin. Because the alternatives are cash or bank transfers.
The banks will not allow payments of 5 million bucks to known criminals in Russia. Gee, I wonder why. And so Bitcoin is the only game in town for them. You hear about people making money in Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. They only make money because some other sucker lost more. This is very different from the stock market. During that time, there are dividends and share buybacks where the companies put their profits into me. I then eventually sell it to somebody else. And my gain is not just the difference between what I bought it for and what somebody else bought it for, but that plus the benefit of all the dividends and interest.
So the stock market and the bond market are a positive-sum game. There are more winners than losers. Cryptocurrency starts with zero-sum. So it starts with a world where there can be no more winning than losing.
We have systems like this. Cryptocurrency investing is really provably gambling in an economic sense. So instead of zero-sum, it becomes deeply negative-sum. Effectively, then, the economic analogies are gambling and a Ponzi scheme. Because the profits that are given to the early investors are literally taken from the later investors.
But due to its nature, that is the only thing it can be. Because the people who are the early investors need to keep finding new suckers and trying to convince people that putting their retirement savings into cryptocurrency is a sound idea? As soon as the number of suckers dries up, it collapses. We saw this just the other day with the Terra stablecoin and the Luna side token. This was basically another Ponzi scheme implemented in the larger space of Ponzi schemes.
Luna can float around. But this only works as long as the value of Luna is greater than the value of Terra. Now, why would you use Terra at all? Well, one, this is a stablecoin and these are necessary for the gambling aspects of cryptocurrency.
They act basically as casino chips, because almost all of the cryptocurrency exchanges are really cut off from the banking system. And so billions of dollars of notional value went into this Ponzi scheme. And the backing of Luna just slowly crept down, down, down. And then all of a sudden, there was a crisis of faith. It pegged to 95 cents. Nothing to see here. Is that subject to the same kinds of risks?
The government only issued coins. But heavy or bulky coins are hard to deal with. What they would do is take deposits and issue pieces of paper, completely unbacked. And when state bank regulators would come along, the wildcat banks would have barrels of coins that were fake. All but the top layer was just junk, with a top layer of gold coins. And Tether is clearly doing the same thing. So they had to go to this third party that has been caught lying about its reserves , run by who-knows-who—the CEO is basically MIA.
Why would you invest that way? Then Alameda goes out and buys Bitcoin, driving up the price. And now the Tether is backed by Bitcoin. And so Tether in the end is backed by underlying cryptocurrency. They refuse to get audited. Is it accurate to summarize what you were saying before as, essentially: There is no problem that cryptocurrency solves, and to the extent that it is functional, it does things worse than we can already do them with existing electronic payment systems.
To the extent it has advantages, the advantage is doing crimes. And every other claim made for the superiority of cryptocurrency as currency falls apart if you scrutinize it. The cost of a transaction in cryptocurrency systemically is the amount being used to protect it. I could build a system that would have the same throughput as Bitcoin, three to seven transactions per second, but with a centralized trusted entity.
In fact, not even a centralized trusted entity. Ten trusted entities, only six of which need to be honest, because I use a majority vote system. I could do it on ten computers that look like this, that would burn as much power as a light bulb. This entire computer is like 50 bucks. So for bucks worth of [computing power], I could do the same functionality as Bitcoin, with just 10 named entities.
Because those 10 named entities would have to follow money laundering laws. ROBINSON: One of the kind of jaw-dropping moments in your YouTube lecture is when you show just how wasteful this is, how easily you could do the exact same thing, and not have this pathetic three to seven transfers per second all around the world.
The cryptocurrency that he often highlights is Dogecoin. You cited the example of someone who touted how blockchain could help with vaccines in India. So, this was an example given by a purported expert in a blockchain class at Berkeley: Okay, we have the cold chain problem. Vaccines, you need to ship cold, and if they ever get out of temperature spec, you have a ruined batch.
And we can solve this with blockchain. And my reaction is: No. The problem is you need to know when it got out of spec, and know that the receiver can know that it had gotten out of spec. So the ShockWatch group makes these temperature labels. You stick them on the package. And if it ever gets too warm, the color changes. No blockchain necessary.
The fact that somebody was purporting this to be a real-world application meant they had not even thought about the problem for five seconds. They had no familiarity with how cold chain works. They had no familiarity with how the sensing process works. This is going to be very useful in the developing world. Because, well, you are. Because it just basically attaches a balance to your phone account.
And you can text to somebody else to transfer money that way. And so even with the most basic dumb phone you have easy-to-use electronic money. And this has taken over multiple countries and become a huge primary payment system. So, El Salvador. The president of El Salvador is a totalitarian nutcase.
And one of the things he did as a totalitarian nutcase is pass a law saying Bitcoin is legal tender. And because the value of the numbers in the centralized database bounces around, nobody actually uses it. People just signed up for the free money, then transferred it, and have since stopped using it. Cryptocurrency: teaching libertarians about market failure since The thing is, though, the cryptocurrency space itself has the object permanence of a horny mayfly.
So Ponzi schemes in the cryptocurrency space have existed since , And so the investors in the Ponzi scheme were then taking the other side of that bet in order to protect themselves. But it gets better. Guess what the name of the guy running the Ponzi scheme was? So like Celsius as a system is clearly Ponzi economics. The only way they can be providing that is by providing either money from venture capital or money from previous investors.
The smart contracts really are computer programs that operate on money. And any random person in the world can interact with them. But catastrophic theft and catastrophic bugs occur all the time. Ten percent of all Ethereum got invested in the DAO. And it was basically a self-assembling Ponzi scheme. What happened is: somebody realized there was a bug in it, where what they could do is do a deposit, then a withdrawal, then that withdrawal they could withdraw again and again and again recursively.
Because what would happen is it would transfer the money, then decrement the balance, but in transferring the money you could trigger another withdrawal. So you would basically be able to withdraw a gazillion times, then the balance gets decremented. And so somebody did this. So the first smart contract of note failed catastrophically due to a bug. Yet they keep doing this over and over and over again. No central authorities [the code determines the outcome].
So they updated the code to steal all the money back. And so they just keep making them over and over again. While the value of stablecoins is linked to government currencies, most commonly the U. Because stablecoins serve as a bridge from the traditional financial world to cryptocurrencies, the amount of regulation could either add to investor comfort to using crypto or act to curtail the still-emerging industry.
That regulators are grappling with how to handle stablecoins has been well-documented by this media outlet and others. However, that the mainstream Times with its paper-of-record reputation and deep D. The only remaining questions would seem to be how much regulation is coming, of what form it will take and which part of government will do the regulating According to the Times, here are the most likely options that regulators could use to corral stablecoins: Designate them as a risk to the system.
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