Month: May 2019

What Bitcoin’s USD Exchange Trading Volume Tells Us About the Market

In spite of bitcoin’s recent gains, the digital currency’s exchange volume still remains well below historic highs. The peak for Bitcoin exchange volume was December 2017, just before the entire crypto index collapsed after the 2017-2018 ICO craze.

US exchange volume fell precipitously after a November high. On May 28, the available stat, US trade volume for bitcoin sat at 150,000,000. When it peaked in December 2017, exchange volume shy of 4,000,000.

In bitcoin’s history, USD trading volume has increased exponentially. In April 2013 amid bitcoin’s first bullish run to $1,000, USD bitcoin exchange trading volume touched $55,000,000. Later that year, in November 2013, bitcoin USD exchange trading volume peaked at shy of $175,000,000.

More recently, in November 2018, amid what many termed a crypto bear market, bitcoin’s exchange trading volume surpassed half a billion. The current 150,000,000 is comparatively small for USD exchange trading volume compared to bitcoin’s recent bull runs.



What this means is ambiguous. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have long claimed major crypto exchanges falsify trade data. Furthermore, the cryptocurrency market in late 2017 was much different than it is today, for 2017 was the Age of the ICO, when projects were spinning up tokens, launching crowdsales, and paying money to be listed on exchanges.

Now that the ICO craze has calmed down, and the market has returned to earth, increased scrutiny on the token space has forced exchanges perhaps to implement further reaching AML and KYC.

When we zoom into the 30-day timescale for Bitcoin trading volume on US based exchanges, trading peaked on May 13, 2019 at just over $7,000.

Coinbase, perhaps the leading bitcoin exchange, has been busy adding tokens in recent months in order to establish itself in a market where Binance came out of nowhere.

The San Francisco-based exchange hinted this week that it could introduce bitcoin margin trading, bringing ever more sophistication to what’s still, admittedly, a nascent industry. Bitcoin margin trading has been BitMEx’s territory until now, but that could be changing.

With the halvening one year away, and bitcoin USD exchange trading volumes nowhere near all time highs, its easy to imagine increased trading volume and price in the mid-t0-long term. In the short term, with $9,000 showing formidable resistance, there’s no telling where bitcoin could go.

Pot Stocks Face Profit-Taking If Stocks Erase Gains

(GSB) – Alongside stock market losses, cannabis stocks were mixed Thursday ahead of the first public hearing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration aimed at providing information on the substance and its ingredients. The goal of the hearing is a regulatory framework for CBD. The hearing comes after Congress legalized CBD, which is derived from the hemp plant.

The FDA will listen to testimony from proponents and opponents to CBD, which the FDA has yet to fully research. The watchdog views CBD as a drug. The FDA has only approved one drug with CBD: GW Pharmaceuticals PLC’s Epidiolex, which treats childhood epilepsy.

Companies hoping to launch edibles and beverages with CBD are expected to present evidence for the benefits of the substance.

The FDA has cracked down on companies claiming that CBD treats illnesses, which the Administration argues is not back by scientific evidence.



If the FDA doesn’t act swiftly, Congress would then be tasked with creating a CBD regulation framework. Friday’s hearing, which includes cannabis industry pioneers, entrepreneurs, politicians, scientists, and doctors, won’t lead to immediate regulations.

Marijuana Business Daily reports that U.S. retail cannabis sales should rise 35% in 2019, approaching the $30 billion mark by 2023.

“Interest continues to skyrocket,” said D.C. attorney Miriam Guggenheim, co-chair of the food, drug and device practice group at Covington & Burling. “It is mainstream, interest is mainstream. It is not fringe anymore, which doesn’t mean mainstream companies are ready to jump in. But they want to be prepared to do so once the legal landscape is clarified.”

Stocks

Cresco Labs Inc. shares were up 4.7% early Thursday. The company reported positive first-quarter earnings. The operator, which is based in Chicago and serves multiple states, claimed a net loss of $7.6 million. Revenue rose 300% to 21.1 million and was up 24% from the quarter prior.

MedMen Enterprises Inc. shares fell 3.5% after the company said it would cut executive salaries due to growing losses, which in the fiscal third-quarter comprehensive net losses of $63.1 million, approximating 20 cents per share.

Trade Via Trend sees cannabis, and other markets as sitting on a support level, with a possible change of trend on the horizon. Pot stocks could be due for profit-taking.

Across the board, the stock market is facing resistance. Since the last stock market correction, pot stocks have traded more in line with the broader market, so expect them to pull back if the S&P does, as well.

Bitcoin Price is Having its Best Month in Years

In 2020, the next Bitcoin halving will take place. Increasingly over the coming months, this will become discussed on internet forums, social media, and at conferences. The current bullish cycle we see, even if shortlived, is most likely a sign of what’s to come throughout the rest of 2019 and 2020 due to the halving event.

There are currently 17,700,000 bitcoins in circulation. That means just shy of 85% of the bitcoins to ever be produced have already been mined. There are just over 3 million bitcoins left to mine. There are at present 1,800 bitcoins minted per day.

The next Bitcoin halving takes place on May 24, 2020. The block reward for miners on the network will decrease from 12.5 to 6.25 bitcoins. This represents the third “halving” event ever in the history of bitcoin. Due to Bitcoin’s overall controlled supply of just 21 million, that the supply halves every four years ensures scarcity for bitcoin.



“Large drawdowns are not unique to digital assets and occur across all asset classes and markets, typically following periods of excessive risk-taking,” wrote Grayscale about halving. “These ‘re-pricings’ can create compelling investment opportunities and in many cases offer above-average risk-adjusted returns in the years that follow. For investors with a multi-year investment horizon and a high-risk tolerance, the confluence of discounted prices, improving network fundamentals, strong relative investment activity and the upcoming halving may offer an attractive entry point into Bitcoin. This is especially relevant for investors building core strategic positions in Bitcoin over time.”

The daily price change in May has averaged 4.7%, compared with 3.5% in April and 1.1% in March, reports Bloomberg. December, the last time prices had swung so much, averaged 4.2%.

While bitcoin fell on Tuesday 2.4%, it had not fallen in the four days prior. Bitcoin is currently at $8,860. The last time the price of bitcoin reached $9,000 was a year ago.

“The recent surges in Bitcoin are mainly based on the supply side,” wrote eToro’s Mati Greenspan in a note this week. “There’s already a shortage of Bitcoin in the world and with the halving event coming up next May, the countdown to even less supply has already begun.”

The Crypto Index pushed its upper band during Tuesday’s trading sessions and then fell. Bitcoin makes up 30% of that index.

China Threatens to Cut U.S. Off From Rare Earth Minerals

Beijing is threatening to cut Washington off from rare earth minerals, according to media reports in China’s papers that included quotes from the state planning agency. The stocks of rare earth producers were up following the news.

One newspaper included the Chinese phrase “don’t say I didn’t warn you”, which the country used before it went to war with India. The paper wrote “those familiar with Chinese diplomatic language know the weight of this phrase.” The language, which appeared in the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party, was also employed ahead of conflict between China and Vietnam in 1979.

The People’s Daily made it clear China would use the elements as retaliation in its trade war. 80% of U.S. rare earth supplies come from China.

The editor-in-chief of the Global Times tweeted that China is “seriously” weighing the restriction of rare earth exports to the U.S. and could also implement countermeasures.




A National Development & Reform Commission official told CCTV that people in the country won’t be happy to see products made as exported rare earths are being used to suppress China’s development. Editorials in the Global Times and Shanghai Securities News took similar stances in their Wednesday editions.

The U.S. is dependent on importing rare earth minerals from China, which are used in electronics, hybrid vehicles, and energy storage systems. The U.S. imports the rare earth materials because it’s cheaper than producing them domestically.

This is driving rare earth stocks up with the help of President Xi Jinping, who visited a plant earlier this month along with his chief trade negotiator with the U.S.

China already raised tariffs on America’s sole producer of rare earths from 10% to 25%. The U.S., however, excluded rare earths from its list of prospective tariffs on roughly $300 billion in Chinese goods.

In December 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to reduce the country’s dependence on external sources of critical minerals, including rare earths, which was aimed at reducing U.S. vulnerability to supply disruptions.

China’s rare earth market:

  • China Northern Rare Earth Group
  • Minmetals Rare Earth Co.
  • Xiamen Tungsten Co.
  • Chinalco Rare Earth & Metals Co.

Shares of JL Mag Rare-Earth increased by 10% while Innuovo Technology increased by 9.95%. The shares of Australia rare earth miner Lynas also increased by more than 10%.

Lynas Stock May 29

“We’ve been here before,” Fraser Howie, an independent analyst, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Wednesday. China banned the export of rare earth minerals to Japan after Tokyo detained a Chinese fishing trawler captain.

Norway’s exports of salmon plummeted after Beijing curbed them. That move was seen as retaliation to a Norwegian committee’s decision in 2010 to award a Chinese dissident the Nobel Prize.

Brexit Leads to Record Losses For Pound Sterling

With Brexit still looming over the UK, and the end of Theresa May’s leadership putting the country in yet another stage of transition, the pound has endured its longest losing streak against the euro since the creation of the latter currency 20 years ago. In recent weeks, the sterling has recorded its steepest losses ever when compared to major world currencies.

The pound dropped from just over  €1.17 to under €1.14. It fell from over  $1.32 to less than $1.27 versus the dollar – its lowest level since February.

Financial markets have declined over the past month over US and China trade war fears. Donald Trump’s administration raised the stakes by ramping up US tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. Tensions raised as the US blacklisted the Chinese telecoms company Huawei. The FTSE 100 has fallen by more than 2% to trade at about 7,270.

UK inflation increased to above the government’s 2% target in April. Last week, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May resigned as the leader of Britain’s Conservative Party.

“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” said May outside No. 10 Downing St. in London during a speech at the end of which she shed a tear. May spent nearly three years trying to deliver the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum.



The Bitcoin Brexit Boon

According to one expert, increasing numbers of millionaires in the UK are moving their cash into cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, due to fear over the possibility of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.

With Conservative Party support waning thanks to Brexit chaos, a Corbyn-led Labour Party could take power. Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group (which has more than $12 billion under its advisement), believes the nation’s rich, fearing such a result, are turning to Bitcoin and Ethereum.

“High-net-worth individuals in Britain and wealthy international investors with UK assets and business know that they will be hit by Mr. Corbyn’s tax hikes on wealth, income and inheritance,” Green said.  “As such, many of them aren’t waiting to find out how his anti-wealth rhetoric would play out, and more and more of them are seeking advice on established, legitimate overseas opportunities to create, build, and importantly, protect their wealth.”

He adds: “An increasing conversation we’re having with clients in this regard involves investing in cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP, in lower tax, crypto-friendly jurisdictions. In a broader sense, high-net-worth individuals are increasingly seeking exposure to the associated benefits of these digital assets as our recent global survey highlights. It can be expected that a Corbyn-led government will help fuel this trend.”

This Bitcoin Transactions Stat Could Be A Good Price Indicator for the Cryptocurrency

In analyzing the state of the Bitcoin network as a payment system, people often point to transactions per day. Yet, since Bitcoin is a one-to-many payments solution, meaning one transaction can have multiple recipients, to truly know the state of the payment network, one must dig a bit deeper.

Increasingly, people are catching onto the fact that outputs per day, as illustrated at Outputs.Today, which is a feature used by exchanges and senders of considerable bitcoin transactions to minimize the fees they must pay to miners.

Critics of Bitcoin as a payment network point towards high transaction fees, which have at various points through the lifecycle of bitcoin, such as in mid-2017, been a main critique of the network.

Exchanges have faced pressure to batch transactions, and thereby make better use of this scarce block space. Bitcoin’s scaling issues during periods of increased transactions meant that transactions took longer and cost more.

Exchanges, mixers, payment processors, and mining pools employ ‘batching’. A sender can do this by combining transactions into one input. This means the transaction input has multiple outputs (addresses to send bitcoin or recipient).

The Bitcoin mempool is a pool of bitcoin transactions that have as yet been confirmed. Sometimes this becomes congested and transactions slowed. By combining, say, 10 payments into one transaction, block space might be freed up. Transactions can have unlimited outputs. Batched transactions might have three or more outputs.

Outputs Per Day

Outputs.Today tracks ‘outputs per day’. The top of the website reads, “better indicator of overall economic activity on the bitcoin blockchain than transactions per day.”

The website claims the number of total outputs is a more accurate indicator than the number of transactions. “Large players in the Bitcoin space use batching – the process of including multiple outputs in a given transaction – to reduce their overall transaction fees,” the site says. “Therefore, looking at only transactions misses an important part of the picture.”

As seen in the chart above, the Average Outputs to Transaction Ratio declined throughout 2018. The ‘Average Outputs Per Block’ in 2018 approximately mirrored ‘Average Transactions Per Block’.

On January 4, 2018 we saw the average output per block reach a high of 7,420. The peak for Transactions Per Block came much earlier when there were 2,532 transactions per block on January 4.

Throughout 2018, the Average Outputs to Transaction Ratio has declined. So far in 2019, the use of transaction batching has been on a steady rise, and just recently, accompanying the price rise, it spiked.

 

This could be indicative of one particular important price indicator: buying demand.

 

Facebook Plans Cryptocurrency Amid CrossFit, Fake Accounts, and Pelosi Controversies




While social media giant Facebook is reportedly moving forward with its own cryptocurrency, controversy surrounds the social networking platform this weekend.

CrossFit, which refers to itself as a lifestyle characterized by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition, has removed its accounts from Facebook and Instagram, calling Facebook “utopian socialists”.

Meanwhile, a video manipulated to make Nancy Pelosi drunk and sluggish has made its rounds on the social media platform. Facebook says the video will remain online.

Facebook has been researching cryptocurrency as part of its entrance into the payments space.
While speaking at F8 last month, Zuckerberg said that sending money should be “as easy as sending a photo.”

The currency, reportedly to be called “GlobalCoin”, has been much discussed, especially as the social media giant brought on blockchain experts from San Francisco-based Coinbase, Mikheil Moucharrafie and Jeff Cartwright to work on compliance.



According to the Financial Times, Facebook met with the Winklevoss twins, who founded crypto exchange Gemini. The Winklevoss twins sued Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea for Facebook.

Facebook, which has invested in at least one blockchain company, has hired payment experts to develop a payment method for its WhatsApp messaging platform.

Plus, when Libra Networks registered its company in Switzerland, it became public that Facebook Global Holdings is a stakeholder therein. The fintech company is set to work on payments, data analytics, and investment activities, as well as house a software lab.

The Silicon Valley-based giant plans on increasing its employees in the European financial centers of London and Dublin.

Its Instagram shopping feature makes purchasing products and managing orders on the photo-sharing app possile, and it makes sense that a native payment solution is in the works.

The US Senate banking committee showed interested. In a letter to Zuckerberg in early May, the banking committee asked for details about the cryptocurrency and how Facebook would protect user data.

CrossFit

Last week, CrossFit accused Facebook of being “utopian socialists” upon leaving Facebook and Instagram. The social network had deleted a group dedicated to a particular type of diet, prompting CrossFit to leave the platforms, claiming Facebook deleted “without warning or explanation the Banting7DayMealPlan”, which advocated a diet aimed at eating “food that is as close to its natural state as possible – free of processing, additives, preservatives, and sugar.”

Facebook ultimately re-instated the group, but in the CrossFit statement, it outlines the reason it will remain off the platforms.

“All activity on CrossFit, Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram accounts was suspended as of May 22, 2019, as CrossFit investigates the circumstances pertaining to Facebook’s deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan and other well-known public complaints about the social-media company that may adversely impact the security and privacy of our global CrossFit community,” the statement read.

Reason 1: “Facebook collects and aggregates user information and shares it with state and federal authorities, as well as security organizations from other countries.”

Reason 2: “Facebook collaborates with government security agencies on massive citizen surveillance programs such as PRISM,.”

Reason 3: “Facebook censors and removes user accounts based on unknown criteria and at the request of third parties including government and foreign government agencies.”

Reason 4: “Facebook collects, aggregates, and sells user information as a matter of business. Its business model allows governments and businesses alike to use its algorithmically conjured advertising categories as sophisticated data-mining and surveillance tools.”

CrossFit even accused Facebook of censorship.

“Facebook’s news feeds are censored and crafted to reflect the political leanings of Facebook’s utopian socialists while remaining vulnerable to misinformation campaigns designed to stir up violence and prejudice,” it wrote.

The workout regimen added that CrossFit is a “voluntary user of and contributor to this marketplace, can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community.”

It added: “Common decency demands that we do so, as do our convictions regarding fitness, health, and nutrition, which sit at the heart of CrossFit’s identity and prescription.”

Fake Nancy Pelosi Video

Beyond cryptocurreny and CrossFit, Facebook is also facing criticism over a fake video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). The video, which has been viewed millions of times, was apparently altered to make her appear drunk and sluggish. While YouTube removed duplicates, Facebook has said the video will remain on its platform.

Facebook agrees the video is “false”, and Monika Bickert, a company vice president for product policy and counterterrorism told CNN the video was reviewed by fact-checking organizations and the social networking platform than reduced its distribution, but did not remove it.

“We think it’s important for people to make their own informed choice for what to believe,” she said. “Our job is to make sure we are getting them accurate information.”

CNN host Anderson Cooper believes the answer is yes and pressed Bickert on her company’s responsibilities.

“You’re making money by being in the news business,” he said. “If you can’t do it well, shouldn’t you just get out of the news business?”

Bickert replied: “We aren’t in the news business. We’re in the social media business.”

But Cooper did not buy into that.

“The reason you’re sharing news is because you make money from it. . . . But if you’re in the news business, which you are, then you have to do it right. And this is false information you are spreading.”

Lawmakers are not happy.

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) told Facebook to “fix this now!”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted: “Facebook is very responsive to my office when I want to talk about federal legislation and suddenly get marbles in their mouths when we ask them about dealing with a fake video. It’s not that they cannot solve this; it’s that they refuse to do what is necessary.”

As well, the company is facing headlines regarding its having deleted 2.2 billion fake accounts from the platform from January to March, which surpasses a record high for the company.

“The health of the discourse is just as important as any financial reporting we do, so we should do it just as frequently,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters on Thursday about the report. “Understanding the prevalence of harmful content will help companies and governments design better systems for dealing with it. I believe every major internet service should do this.”