Would you leave Earth to help colonize another planet? This might sound like an absurd question, but, according to many leaders of thought, its one we might have to confront sooner than later. Chris Campbell explores our journey from air to space, and ponders where we’re off to next. Read on…
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
Over a century ago, a hidden energy war began. The bad guys won. For 100 years, man has been a slave to the energy monopolies. But now, miraculously, the good guys are throwing a punch -- and they’re inviting you to fight the good fight. Even promising riches if you do. Chris Campbell fills you in on the full story. Read on…
An ancient guide has been in hiding… until now. As it dusts itself off, some early adopters are calling it “the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.” And, according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in our day-to-day life of modern chaos. Embrace it, and become the hero of your own story. Ignore it, and risk living a whimper of a life on someone else’s terms. Read on…
“What… is… that?!”That’s what one colleague asked when she saw this on my desk…My face, according to 3-D printing“My face,” I said. “What does it look like?”“Uh…”OK, sure. It’s a rough depiction. Eh. It’s pretty choppy…And, as you can see, the glasses didn’t really take well… making for an eerie sunken eye look.Didn’t really turn […]
Where do great investors come from?I’m not sure what the hurdle rate for greatness is, but Guy Spier has put up impressive results. His Aquamarine Fund has returned 463% since inception in 1997, versus just 167% for the S&P 500 (a broad proxy for the market). Put another way, $1 million invested at inception is […]
Bitcoin has been pretty quiet lately. But that doesn’t mean big things aren’t taking place behind-the-scenes for the digital currency. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell pulls back the curtain and shows you how Bitcoin is quietly slipping into the mainstream. He also shows you why now could be the time to buy now, or forever hold your peace. Read on…
In an odd mix of fate, protesters and corporations are holding hands. They both have one common goal: save the Internet from the evil cable companies. We all have a common hate for them. But what if the cable companies aren’t as evil as once thought? What if there’s an even bigger evil lurking behind them? There is. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
Next year is the 65th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. And Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of the gang will appear in their first full-length feature film in 35 years.One small company has the license to the Peanuts brand. The cash flow due to this company could be enormous. In late October, […]
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
Hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities were leaked onto the Internet last week. The mainstream is blaming twenty-something hackers, but according to Chris Campbell, everyone must’ve already forgotten what we learned about the NSA only a year ago. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? That map, marked with an “x,” is the stuff of high adventure.There is a modern-day equivalent of a treasure map, and it is just as coveted by those who seek reservoirs of oil and gas. It’s called seismic data.What are seismic data? In essence, they’re collected from […]
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
When the government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, they’re not actually printing the money. It enters as digital entries in banks across the country. It’s made the system fast, responsive, and, unfortunately, vulnerable. Now our money is no longer something we hold in our hands, but something that exists on a very susceptible network.
When’s the best time to invest in something? When everyone else is trying to get their money out of it. It might go against conventional thinking, but following the crowd usually makes you miss the real opportunities. At one monetary metal conference recently, the smartest guys in the industry sat down to discuss where these real hidden gems lay.
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
I bet you use different kinds of money all the time, sometimes without even realizing it.In various online accounts, I currently have: some dollars, some pounds, and some euros. I have some air miles from two different credit card companies. I have some supermarket rewards points from three different companies. And I also have some […]
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
Remember that correction we’ve been quietly talking about over the past couple of months?Well, it might be right around the corner. Stocks waited until the last day of the month to nose-dive. The S&P 500 posted its first 2% down day since April — and the Dow wasn’t far behind. Early this morning, futures continue […]
I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
I’m sure you’ve seen the news. As if recent, past U.S. policy fiascos in Libya, Egypt and Syria were not enough, the wheels are now coming off the proverbial bus in Iraq, site of so much blood and treasure spent in the last decade.Radical Islamist armies are marching toward Baghdad, slicing through Iraqi government troops […]
Health care costs in the U.S. have been rising so steadily for so long that containment barely seems possible. Even optimists don’t dream of cutting the price tag. As its official name — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — suggests, Obamacare aims for affordability, not radical reduction.But at a time when we’re all […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
In 1995, American agriculture underwent a profound, dangerous change.In that year, Monsanto and other companies pushed through approval for a handful of genetically modified (GM) organisms. These included canola oil tweaked to improve its flavor, potatoes modified to resist pesticide dousing, and tomatoes gene-spliced to delay ripening.“About half of all the crops planted on American […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
The market has selected different things as money throughout history. Some of these items have served as money in isolated places for specific periods of time — for instance, cigarettes in prisoner-of-war camps. Cigarettes continue to be a currency in prisons if allowed, but if not, according to Wikipedia, “postage stamps have become a more common currency item, along with any inexpensive, popular item that has a round number price, such as 25 or 50 cents. Mylar foil packets of mackerel fish, or ‘macks,’ are one such item.”
Cigs, stamps, macks? Doesn’t seem very cool, like, say, a gold doubloon, but the market decides what’s cool, despite what Matthew O’Brien at The Atlantic thinks. Apparently, he’s not a big fan of the cybercurrency Bitcoin.
He writes that only techno-libertarians will transact business in Bitcoin, and compares the cybercoin of the virtual realm to Segways. O’Brien reminds us these stand-up motorized vehicles were at one time thought to become a big deal. I only see cops whiz by on them at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta.
O’Brien describes Bitcoin as “inherently ridiculous.” The price swings alone make the cybercurrency look more like a dot-com stock than money. What The Atlantic senior associate editor can’t explain is why the price of Bitcoin has exploded recently. He writes something about demand from China and the Fed’s seizure of Silk Road’s considerable Bitcoin stash.
But he’s not paying attention. “Senior U.S. law enforcement and regulatory officials said they see benefits in digital forms of money and are making progress in tackling its risks,” Ryan Tracy reports for The Wall Street Journal. “The price of Bitcoin, the most common virtual currency, soared to a record following the comments.”
That won’t sway The Atlantic writer’s mind. O’Brien believes “Bitcoin… has deeper problems. Its product doesn’t work.” However, Washington has had a dog in the Bitcoin fight ,since it seized 26,000 of them from Silk Road. At around $18 million, it’s enough to keep the Department of Justice interested. So count DOJ attorneys along with the libertarian nerds rooting for the cybercurrency.
In a testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Mythili Raman stated, “The Department of Justice recognizes that many virtual currency systems offer legitimate financial services and have the potential to promote more efficient global commerce.” Raman is the current acting assistant attorney general for the department’s criminal division.
Bitcoin and virtual currencies are a direct attack on central bank monetary management. Yet even Ben Bernanke, in a letter to senators, said virtual currencies “may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure, and more efficient payment system.”
Senators, being senators, worry about things like whether the cybercurrency is financing terrorism or whether Bitcoins can be used to evade taxes. Neither is likely.
What Bitcoin can do is be moved instantaneously around the world. With something as simple as cellphones thousands of miles and many time zones apart, the cybercurrency can be transported via Skype.
Try moving dollars through your bank. You have to fill out forms, show ID, and have a human being input data. Then more of the same happens on the other end — when the bank opens, that is. Bitcoin has shown the Federal Reserve how it’s done. In a report called Payment System Improvement — Public Consultation Paper, the Fed calls for banks to speed up payment systems. The central bank wants to see “a ubiquitous system for near-real-time payments.”
End-users, the Fed points out, want real-time validation of payment and posting, assurance the payment will not be returned, timely notification, and “masked account details, eliminating the need for end-users to disclose bank account information to each other.”
This sounds familiar to anyone who uses Bitcoin. Validation of transactions is nearly instantaneous in the blockchain. Bitcoin transfer is not a credit transaction, but a transfer of assets. There is no third party in the middle to return a payment. And of course, payments are done anonymously. No financial disclosures are required.
So while end-users tell the Fed they want assurances against returned payments, O’Brien writes that a weakness of Bitcoin is there is no third party making sure everyone is satisfied. Financial intermediaries “make sure buyers and sellers are both trustworthy, and handle any disputes,” writes O’Brien, who wants to make sure people can get their money back if things go awry.
He actually doesn’t believe people will use the cybercurrency to pay for things at all. Thus his quip, “Bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme libertarians use to make money off each other — because gold wasn’t enough of one for them.”
Maybe he doesn’t realize more and more merchants are accepting the alternative currency. O’Brien doesn’t know that two Bitcoin advocates, Austin and Beccy Craig, lived and traveled for several months paying for everything with Bitcoin. He hasn’t heard the highly connected Winklevoss twins are seeking approval for a Bitcoin fund. O’Brien doesn’t read The Wall Street Journal, which recently listed six Bitcoin-related venture capital deals funded just between mid-August and mid-November of this year.
The deflationary bias, O’Brien says, means the price will be volatile. The limited supply of Bitcoin will mean it will rise in value against the dollar, but early speculators will then sell, driving the price down “quite violently.” From there, he voices his incorrect analogy to Mr. Ponzi.
Because of Satoshi Nakamoto, we have the rare opportunity in history to watch the birth of a currency. It’s not always a smooth process. In his book, Principles of Economics, Carl Menger, the father of Austrian economics, wrote about how any commodity can be traded as money because of its greater marketability:
“This knowledge will never be attained by all members of a people at the same time. On the contrary, only a small number of economizing individuals will at first recognize the advantage accruing to them from the acceptance of other, more saleable, commodities in exchange for their own whenever a direct exchange of their commodities for the goods they wish to consume is impossible or highly uncertain.”
As people become successful trading any good or commodity as money, more people will in turn trade fewer marketable goods for that more marketable one. “Since there is no better way in which men can become enlightened about their economic interests than by observation of the economic success of those who employ the correct means of achieving their ends,” writes Menger.
The Bitcoin market is tiny compared with government currencies, especially the dollar. As the new cybercurrency gains acceptance, its price in dollars can reasonably be expected to be volatile. But as futures markets develop and ways to sell Bitcoin short are created, the price action for the cybercurrency will smooth out.
The question isn’t whether Bitcoin is a Segway, but whether it’s a prison cigarette or a gold doubloon. Either way, Bitcoin is money.