Dec

12

To what extent have the movements in bitcoin been predictive of gold the same day from the open of bitcoin and gold coterminously as well a bitcoin on gold over subsequent days. I've given up on using standard interrelations that I've taught half of the list to predict bitcoin because there is so much drift in bitcoin…everything is bullish. I feel like the jerks at Salomon who asied red dawn what the spread was in Russia when he showed them the assets were undervalued by a factor of 100. A blast from the past is that Viola the former head of the NY Merc has sold his apartment, the most expensive in NY for 100 mill.

Dec

12

Grant's reputation for "corruption" is based entirely on his committing two sins: (1) he insisted that the government actually keep accounts, and (2) he called the bluff of the St. Louis Germans who were furious at his being willing to allow the accounting to include a review of the excise tax accounts that had been their own private slush fund.

Trump seems to be going down that same path towards academic reputational hell. He is actually going to audit the DOD.

Vince Fulco writes: 

Reminds me of that sub-plot in the movie last emperor when Pu Yi asked for an audit of the family's warehouses since he didn't trust the eunuchs who had been administrators to the family for decades (centuries?) and suddenly a day later, everything went up in flames.

Jim Lackey writes: 

Mr. Stefan's point is this, Ralph. I was a rookie trading the Nazz. SOES, Daytek and my first backer now in heaven.

We had an amazing edge, in execution. There was five 25 year olds sayin, "this can't last! How do I pay the rent much less support my Austin, Lack?" Magic words… "The warehouses are full" Hugs tech bubble. Limit up every week. We make selling them only when we are certain. That was the point. You made the call. Plz. Never call the turn. We all know.

Dec

12

 Doug Irwin on US Trade Policy

Tyler Cowen thinks Douglas Irwin has just released the best history of American trade policy ever written. So for this conversation Tyler went easy on Doug, asking softball questions like: Have tariffs ever driven growth? What trade exceptions should there be for national security, or cultural reasons? In an era of low tariffs, what margins matter most for trade liberalization? Do investor arbitration panels override national sovereignty? And, what's the connection between free trade and world peace?

They also discuss the revolution as America's Brexit, why NAFTA is an 'effing great' trade agreement, Jagdish Bhagwati's key influence on Doug, the protectionist bent of the Boston Tea Party, the future of the WTO, Trump, China, the Chicago School, and what's rotten in the state of New Hampshire.

Dec

12

 Loving Vincent is a visually stunning movie and highly recommended. The production is a blending of animation and art as each frame has been hand-painted in the style of Van Gogh often using one of his actual works as a base. The film tells the story of the last years of his life introducing us to the characters of a small French town where he lived and painted; they include his friends, benefactors, doctors, contemporaries as well as the countryside which inspired his work. The story puzzles over the mystery surrounding his death as the narrator seeks to deliver a final letter from Vincent to his brother. It moves very slowly but this is welcome as the unfolding art is so enjoyable to watch. In his short 8 years as a painter Van Gogh produced 800 works. Though he sold but one, he never waivered from his singular devotion to his craft. This films reintroduces us to his work. It is like gazing at one of his painting for 90 minutes and really absorbing the impact. Would love to hear Marion's review.

Dec

12

To the extent that Bitcoin has any fundamental value other than speculation it is as an alternative private means of transaction payment. One of its main attraction is the limited amount of bitcoins that can be created. From what I have read the validation process relies on complex computer programs that become more expensive to run over time running up more costs for electricity, etc. for those maintaining the records. Eventually the finite limit is reached when no more coins are created.

What then will be the incentive for any players to continue to run the block verification system? And even before then, if the value of bitcoins does not increase sufficiently, will it still pay so many to try to mine bitcoins. If transaction fees become necessary and if the cost of validation is not linked to the value of the transaction, will it not become uneconomical to engage in modest sized transactions? And if that is the cast would not its real purpose of another means of paying for transactions be defeated?

While the amount of bitcoins may be limited, what is to stop other players from coming up with their own systems? While there is a limit to the amount of bitcoins and newly created coins, there would appear to be no limit to the number of cyber coins that can be created, in essence creating many competing currency. What then is to prevent cyber coin inflation that reduces the purchasing power of all such coins. And if cheaper verification methods are not created would not that increase the cost to sellers of goods and services of transacting in so many different currencies whose relative values might fluctuate violently?

Might not this wild speculation turn out to be the tulip bulb bubble of the 21st century eventually?

Andy Aiken writes: 

Rudy, yes, new cryptocurrencies and digital assets may be issued, but there is no reason to expect that this will weaken the value of bitcoin. Digital assets are unique and non-fungible. When the Venezuelan government hyper-inflates the bolivar, it doesn't affect the purchasing power of a dollar. In fact, it may even bolster the dollar's value, and we see a similar phenomenon in cryptocurrency. During times of relative risk aversion, the % of the total crypto market cap that bitcoin represents (referred to as bitcoin dominance %) increases.

There are different types of digital assets:

1. Platform coins

Ethereum is an example of a platform, but there are others. Companies can issue tokens on the platform easily and use them for governance or stakeholder management. Although the most visible type of token issuance is through ICOs, there are many companies that will use them internally/privately only. The growth of usage of the platform will necessitate the use of the "gas" that powers transactions, which in the case of Ethereum is ether. Demand for ether will rise as the network grows, but in my view upside from here may be limited until some of the companies/apps based on the platform start delivering on their promises. Ether isn't a strict cryptocurrency like bitcoin, although it may be used as a currency. It is the transaction token for the Ethereum platform. The rise of this platform has led to the emergence of prominent competitors, each with a similar transaction token. Some of these are EOS, NEO, Aeternity, and Lisk. In my view, purchasing a platform token is a way to benefit as an investor from the success/growth of the platform. But this is a messier/more volatile investment due to the inherent risks.

2. Tokens used within a specific blockchain-based application

There are specific tokens/coins that allow participation in a unique blockchain use case. For example, Augur is a decentralized prediction market launching next year. The tokens entitle the holder to a share of all transaction fees from the prediction markets, as well as voting rights to settle disputed prediction outcomes. Users of the platform can create markets at will, and operate as market maker. The blockchain basis ensures privacy/anonymity for participants while ensuring quick, accurate settlement. There are other interesting applications of the technology with an associated token, such as Golem (distributed computing), Air and Civic (identity verification), Storj and Sia (distributed storage).

Many of these business models will fail, and the associated tokens will decline to zero. Those that succeed could increase in value significantly, perhaps even surpassing the value of the associated platform token.

3. Currencies

Bitcoin itself is the reserve currency for cryptocurrency, and I believe it will continue to play this role indefinitely. There are others that intend to play the strict role of currency, such as a. Privacy coins (DASH, Monero, Zcash). The networks for these coins use strategies to obscure sender/receiver of transactions, or blind the transactions themselves. b. Credit system coins (Maker, X8currency (not yet released), Decred). These coins attempt to build a non-debt based credit system for cryptocurrency. The business model is of critical importance here, so much DD is necessary before investing here.

Dec

7

 I was just notified by a historical foundation that there are no longer any court clubs in San Diego.

They've all been leveled or converted to doughnut shops and Crossfits.

The IRA cannot hold any tournaments in San Diego, and for the first time no player in the top 50 hails from the mecca.

There are no courts to play on.

That's a feather in my cap.

Dec

7

 The handful of SpecListers who have had investments in crypto are well past 30 (no offense intended, you don't look it).

But yes, many of the enthusiasts are millennial. Having come of age in the depths of the financial crisis, they have a keen distrust of the banking system and the political establishment that reinforces its oligopoly power and socializes its risks.

I have cut and paste the answers I got from a very good friend who really can hack the math and the digital mysteries of cryptocurrencies. He is 30.

My contribution is the choice of a sound track.

Stefan Jovanovich writes:

"A Brief History of Bitcoin Hacks and Frauds"

Sum up the number of stolen bitcoins just from the 7 hacks mentioned by that article and multiply by current price. Adds up to greater than $13B.

Out of all the bitcoins ever mined, 6.6% of them were stolen from just those 7 hacks.

And that is with bitcoin basically only used by tech savvy people. Imagine how much worse it would be if bitcoin went mainstream?

This site offers a retrospective on 45 different hacks.

Dec

7

"Researchers find bacteria tied to esophageal cancer"

December 1, 2017

David Lillienfeld writes:

There was a Nobel award in the early part of last century for the discovery of the bacterial cause of cancer. The work was subsequently found to be deficient.

anonymous writes:

If they give Nobel Prizes for common sene then my Grandfather should receive one. As a nine year old boy I was heartbroken when my Granddad told me that our black Lab Duke was sick and not going to get better. I asked him what was wrong and he told me he had cancer, a sickness where the body turns against itself with healthy tissue being taken over by the disease. "Why? What causes this?" I asked. "Well it was probably from his food (diet) or on the instructions he got from his mom and dad since he was a puppy (ie. Genes)".

So why do humans get cancer? Same reason: our diet and our genes. Why do elephants not get cancer? Going out on a limb here… their diet and their genes.

The highest rates of cancer outside of humans in higher order species are the very ones in which we human control the diet: livestock and pets. Given that dog's frequently consume the scraps of their human family's meals one would EXPECT to see a significant correlation to diet induced disease. Veterinarians note that cancer has become much more prevalent in man's best friend in the last half century and again–Captain Obvious–it has also increased discernably in man.

Dec

5

Today, the fund that trades as GBTC is down over 25% on the day. Yet BTC itself is up 2%. I attribute the drop to the impending launch of BTC futures on the CBOE, CME, and Nasdaq. So Anatoly was right, in a way. The effect on BTC itself remains to be seen.

This fund, which is not an ETF, has traded at a premium as high as 100% over NAV, and was trading at an 80% premium yesterday. A more sophisticated investor could have invested directly in the Trust by buying shares at NAV. After a 1-year lockup, one could have a GBTC share cert issued, and sell the shares at the premium. But people were foolishly buying shares of this product, perhaps so they could have BTC exposure in a tax-advantaged account.

Dec

4

"The power of Groups is that they're where people go to have conversations about specific topics. So, in the context of conspiracist or highly partisan communities, they can become incredibly powerful echo chambers; few people join a group to start challenging the prevailing opinion, and those who do typically get kicked out."

-"Fake News and Rabbit Holes: Radicalization via the Recommendation Engine"

Dec

4

"The Secrets of the Wave Pilots":

What seems clear is that our ability to navigate is inextricably tied not just to our ability to remember the past but also to learning, decision-making, imagining and planning for the future. And though our sense of direction often feels innate, it may develop — and perhaps be modified — in a region of the brain called the retrosplenial cortex, next to the hippocampus, which becomes active when we investigate and judge the permanence of landmarks. In 2012, Maguire and co-authors published their finding that an accurate understanding of whether a landmark is likely to stay put separates good navigators from poor ones, who are as apt to take cues from an idling delivery truck as a church steeple. The retrosplenial cortex passes our decisions about the stability of objects to the hippocampus, where their influence on way-finding intersects with other basic cognitive skills that, like memory, are as crucial to identity as to survival.

Recently, Maguire and colleagues proposed a new unified theory of the hippocampus, imagining it not as a repository for disparate memories and directions but as a constructor of scenes that incorporate both. (Try to recall a moment from your past or picture a future one without visualizing yourself in the physical space where that moment happens.) Edvard and May-Britt Moser have similarly hypothesized that our ability to time-travel mentally evolved directly from our ability to travel in the physical world, and that the mental processes that make navigation possible are also the ones that allow us to tell a story. ''In the same way that an infinite number of paths can connect the origin and endpoint of a journey,'' Edvard Moser and another co-author wrote in a 2013 paper, ''a recalled story can be told in many ways, connecting the beginning and the end through innumerable variations.''

Dec

4

Bubbles Excluding Tulips

Andy Aiken writes:

Since bitcoin is one of these emotionally freighted subjects that permits otherwise serious investors to unironically post charts that juxtapose data from highly disparate eras, contexts, and time frames, I might as well contribute one too.

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

It is not emotional, Andy. If it were, I and others would not have complimented you, both on the List and privately, on a great call. What the professionals on this List have taught me is that price movements are themselves information, independent of the units they denominate. The difficulty with your chart is that it is not a display of prices over time. What I find paradoxical about cryptocurrencies is that their growth in popularity and transaction volumes has been accompanied by a rise in price that is independent of any increases in outputs or payouts. All other mines in history that have seen dramatic price rises in their asset values have seen even greater increases in outputs even as the output prices dropped–salt, silver, gold, coal and even diamonds all followed this pattern. The asset prices for the leaseholds for the essential commodity of the modern age–oil & gas energy–have confirmed this same pattern. Rockefeller became the wealthiest man in history by owning the distribution and production of a product whose price plummeted even as consumption soared.

Clearly, cryptocurrencies, like Tesla's newly imagined giant batteries, defy all the known rules. Congratulations on the unprecedented and profitable levitation. 

Andy Aiken replies:

I didn't mean to say that your points, or the discussion on the List, were emotional. It's been a rational discussion here, although I do think dismissing bitcoin as a bubble similar to the South Seas stock bubble shows an insufficient understanding of bitcoin as well as the South Seas affair.

My "emotionally freighted" reference had performances such as this recent Joseph Stiglitz interview in mind. "We ought to just go back to what we have always had" (i.e. the state prints money at will and deliberately impoverishes the middle class over multiple generations) One of the B'Berg commentators even chips in with his pathetic misunderstanding of Marx, as if to red-bait libertarian viewers who might consider buying a few satoshi.

I was thinking as well of this chestnut from Paul Krugman, another courtier to the flexions:

When I have been in doubt about how to live or invest, doing what Krugman and Stiglitz consider evil has always been a rewarding choice.

What is unique about bitcoin is that unlike diffusion of earlier technologies, in which investors participated by investing in representations of the technology (startup companies), in the case of bitcoin and a handful of other platform cryptos, the coin is definitionally equivalent to the technology.

The dynamics driving the price are aligned with Brexit and the "surprise" election of Trump. Bitcoin is a Cassandra for our age.

The price could of course drop by 50% or 90%. As Jayson points out, it has dropped by this magnitude several times previously. It's the nature of innovation that isn't "managed" by the state.

Dec

4

Articles from Goldman paint a bearish picture and they are so flawed in their analysis. This is what the CFA stuff has led to. Gresham's Law.

anonymous writes: 

Does "the CFA stuff" mean the attempt to certify critical thinking and standardise which facts are important?
 

Dec

4

One of the pleasures of a long lived affinity group like this are the little improvements to one's life that occur not planned but arising out of a little something of friendship. 15 years ago I met Vince Fulco on the list. He was a good man and had a wonderful wife who tragically succumbed. Vince was a can do guy who always could be counted on to do the little extra that goes beyond dollar or clock.

He taught me to roll the tennis courts with a circular path rather than perpendicular among countless other things. One thing he did was to set us up on the bloomberg so that we received spot prices free for the metals rather than the costly futures. For 10 years we saved money by using spot rather than the futures. Certain adjustments had to be made since there was a 3 and a half hour difference in their closing times… but now gold trades as much as bonds, 300,000 contracts a day. And it's become viable to trade in size as is bunds rather than bonds. So we bite the bullet after 12 years and get the future prices and recall all of Fulco's contributions to our life and are not surprised at all that he is doing so well in China. We thank him and wish him well in his pursuits. He's a good man. I could write a similar story about many on this list– but it's a little lugubrious after a stroke and it takes a meaningful % of my remaining life expectancy to type a long memo these days.

Dec

3

 Ever since the CFA exams I have noticed a tendency for Wall Street research to deteriorate. A Gresham's Law appears to be operating. The articles like the white shoe one I mentioned are chock full of seemingly sapient stuff that are scientifically flawed amid reference to Shiller p/e data with their 10 year averaging and data when no earnings were reported etc. They refuse to take account of interest rates and use technical analysis and charts for suggestive but random conclusions. It is sad to see this deterioration as literacy increases as predicted by Nock.

Alston Mabry writes: 

I find that if I'm really serious about an individual ticker, one of the few places where I can get at least trailheads to research is the earnings conference call, not for the company's answers but more for the analyst's questions, assuming there are analysts on the call who are at least somewhat skeptical. Not that I dig into individual tickers that much anymore.

anonymous writes: 

Vic's point of Gresham's Law happens everywhere, but especially in situations where there are credentials given that appear to have value. IMO the CFA society exists (as does the CMT) primarily to enhance the status of its anointed ones (for a price), and for the side benefit of providing income to the society heads.

Al is right: There is no original thinking and virtually no research. But there is a benefit to us thinking ones: If all of what passes for research is bot-written drivel, released over some time period, a case can be made for trends to exist based on the gradual release of the drivel. That would support the contention that what really drives certain markets is momentum and sentiment.

Never complain about the weaknesses of your opponents; exploit them.
 

Allen Gilespie adds:

In an effort to defend free thinking CFAs from the white shoe firms, I have attached and included a link to my most recent annual analysis on the Dow Jones Industrial Index built on Ben Graham's method's with an added modern twist and nod to Richard Russell in a world of QE. I have also include my white paper on Bitcoin, Banking, and Bernanke in a World of Monetary Chaos from 2013. Prior year reports available to those with a Bloomberg under DIA US equity. Given that the economy now includes industrial businesses and network/software type businesses like MSFT and V I think there is a delta between book value, average ratio and earnings methods due to network value theory and excessive monetary inflation. I am calling this new valuation framework my Gold, Bitcoin, Dow Theory whereby one bitcoin plus one gold coin = one Dow share. Obviously, figuring out the key ratios is key, but in short, the theory is that gold and tangible book on the Dow should trade on a ratio. There will then be the goodwill book value which gets measure by crytpo, so in combination they will equal the value of shares in fiat. In short, there is value but that value is dependent on the value of money, assets, earnings, and interest rates. We live in a world of fiat, hard, and crypto currencies. In short, I think QE is the same as John Law effort to demonitize gold but then cryptos broke out - you can inflate values but the market will find a way to make proper measurements. I have started making all price targets in dollars, gold and bitcoin equivalents - when money is mispriced it is hard to know the value of anything and all secular bear markets are the result of a breakdown in the monetary system (greenbacks - bi-metal system - gold standard - Bretton Woods - Quasi-Free float - Crypto) - bear just don't understand how they play (sometime values decline (deflation) (1929-1932), sometimes they inflate (1966-1982) so nominal prices hold but you loose purchasing power, and sometimes you hyperinflate your values go up but you gotta find a better currency (cyrpto).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average - Fintrust Investment Advisors

Bitcoin, Banking and Bernanke - Fintrust Investment Advisors

Rocky Humbert writes: 

Spurious correlation. The first CFA exam was administered on June 15, 1963 to 278 men and 6 women. In 2017, the pass rate for CFA-I was 43% out of 189,000 candidates. The average starting salary for most CFA's is under $100k.

See page 55 of From Practice to Profession: A History of The Financial Analysts Federation and the Investment Profession

"CFA Says Pass Rate for Level 2 Climbs to 47%, Highest Since 2006"

Russ Sears writes:

While I agree with much of what Rocky states, what appears to be missing from the thread is that the motive for much "rresearsh" is often CYB (cover. your. behind) Designatona helps but the real cause and effect of such proliferation is litigation and regulation.

Gordon Haave writes: 

I'm a CFA and I agree with Vic and Jeff. Almost anything written by a CFA is formulaic and uninteresting.

I get an email once a week from the CFA society linking to all the things on Seeking Alpha that were written by CFA's and they are almost universally worthless.

Rocky Humbert writes: 

Wait a second. The hypothesis proffered by Vic was that "ever since the CFA exams I have noticed a tendency for wall street research to deteriorate. A greshams law appears to be operating."

We are in agreement that virtually all of the research is unhelpful or rubbish. But it is incorrect to to attribute this to the CFA exam or to suggest that this is anew phenomenon. At the very least, it is due to the fact that customers of wall street firms do not pay for the "product." And the price of the product has finally converged to the value. Do you remember Henry Blodgett? Mary Meeker? That was 20 years ago. This isn't news.

Additionally, back in the early 1990's and long before the front-running scandals, David Silfen formed an internal prop group to invest based on GS analyst research. The results were abysmal and the group was disbanded. 

Russ Sears writes: 

While I agree with much of what Rocky states What appears to be missing from the thread is that the motive for much "rresearsh" is often CYB (cover. your. behind) Designatona help but the real cause and effect of such proliferation is litigation and regulation.

Paul Marino writes: 

I agree with you Russ, but in a world where you can pay to know if Fed Powell likes his morning egg hard boiled or over easy I'm a little over easy myself. Bernanke was an oatmeal man. This is Flexionic activity written by Gov's and the Operator's will take every advantage over the common man.

Allen Gillespie writes: 

In an effort to defend free thinking CFAs from the white shoe firms, I have attached and included a link to my most recent annual analysis on the Dow Jones Industrial Index built on Ben Graham's method's with an added modern twist and nod to Richard Russell in a world of QE. I have also include my white paper on Bitcoin, Banking, and Bernanke from 2013. Prior year reports available to those with a Bloomberg under DIA equity. Given that the economy now includes industrial businesses and network/software type businesses like MSFT and V I think there is a delta between book value, average ratio and earnings methods due to network value theory and excessive monetary inflation. I am calling this new valuation framework my Gold, Bitcoin, Dow Theory whereby one bitcoin plus one gold coin = one Dow share. Obviously, figuring out the key ratios is key, but in short, the theory is that gold and tangible book on the Dow will normalize and the delta goes to crytpo, so in combination they will equal the value of shares in fiat. In short, there is value but that value is dependent on the value of money, assets, earnings, and interest rates. We live in a world of fiat, hard, and crypto currencies. In short, I think QE is the same as John Law effort to demonitize gold but then cryptos broke out - you can inflate values but the market will find a way to make proper measurements. I have started making all price targets in dollars, gold and bitcoin equivalents - when money is mispriced it is hard to know the value of anything and all secular bear markets are the result of a breakdown in the monetary system (greenbacks - bi-metal system - gold standard - Bretton Woods - Quasi-Free float - Crypto) - bear just don't understand how they play (sometime values decline (deflation) (1929-1932), sometimes they inflate (1966-1982) so nominal prices hold but you loose purchasing power, and sometimes you hyperinflate your values go up but you gotta find a better currency (cyrpto).

anonymous writes: 

David Simon made a related point to all this with regard to journalism. (He worked for the Baltimore Sun before writing The Wire.) As seasoned journalists who knew their beat were replaced by cheaper fresh faces who can still write words, skepticism and quality deteriorated.

Dec

2

Infographic: Visualizing the Journey to $10,000 Bitcoin

How did Bitcoin jump 10X in value in the matter of just 11 months? This timeline visualizes the events in the journey to $10,000 Bitcoin. After dotcom popped, many companies lost 98% market cap - yet an operating concern remained (YHOO comes to mind). What's behind Bitcoin? I have removed 2000-3000 as an area of support following this weekend's madness. Clearly, she'll end below 1 Alas, as I always said, the hi print is likely prior to CME debut.

Andy Aiken writes: 

"Clearly" and yet Anatoly claims to have no position. Evidently his net worth is tied up in airline vouchers.

anonymous writes: 

Actually the "right" trade during the dotcom bubble was to be long and own low delta, far out of the money puts. The same was true during the silver bubble, the nat gas bubble and all exponential moves. What I find astounding is that some people never learn from their past mistakes. If you don't know who the sucker is at the poker table, look in the mirror…. Of more interest than calling the "top" or "bottom" in bitcoin (or anything else) for bragging rights and which are worthless, what do intelligent people expect the opening futures yield curve/implied interest rate for Bitcoin futures to look like? There is no real borrow market; so should futures be in backwardation? Or should it be upward sloping like a regular currency with a positive interest rate? My guess (based on learning from experience) is that speculative flows will swamp arbitrage flows and so it will be in backwardation so long at the market is rising strongly — and once the price has topped and it starts declining, the yield curve can/will go positive. My instinct is that the shape of the futures yield curve will provide a better clue about the status of the bear/bull debate than pulling numbers out of the air — and it's options on futures where the real fun will be had. Does anyone have a better perspective on this?

Andy Aiken writes: 

Finally an interesting question on this subject. There could be some good spread trade opportunities, since I expect the term structure to move wildly in the initial stage of market development.

I expect it to be mostly in contango at first, but move to a modest backwardation that reflects an implied yield.

Bill Rafter writes: 

From the cheap seats, bubbles tend to coexist with inversions (backwardation). Current uncertainty places a premium on the near month while the distant months play with the expectation of mean-reversion. Isn't that exactly what Bitcoin is all about? So you would expect Bitcoin futures to show backwardation. The only problem is that you cannot build an economically rational model for such a price structure. Thus it seems as though momentum and sentiment will rule the day. Appropriate quote from the Senator: "It is conjecture. When a researcher lacks hard evidence, conjecture is his greatest tool. Some conjecture better than others. Some conclusions are more conclusive than others."

Dec

1

I posted on a friend a while back that started out with 50 servers a year ago mining BTC. He recently found some investors and is scaling up to 2000 servers. Some metrics he follows; on his variable costs (electricity, rent, etc), he budgeted it would take 15 days of mining each month to cover, last month it took 5 days. Return of capital he budgeted 6 months, actually taking 3 months. Break even prices for BTC (marginal mining cost) is $1000 to $1200. Says scale is important, bigger processing capability of 2000 servers allows more profitable transactions. They will soon be #2 in their "pool". He has a good relationship with largest server producer in China and negotiated a power deal in the US with decreasing marginal cost based on usage. On ICO and cryptos in general he would not know a crypto-fork from a salad fork, but knows how to run a business and will ride this wave for as long as it goes, with a good cushion above BTC $1000.

Jim Lackey writes: 

Why isn't Google Amazon or the valley locking this biz? Good question or as usual I'm last to know.

Anatoly Veltman writes: 

I could never understand the ethics of crypto mining "biz". You certainly use up resources–to produce "what"??

J. Hales writes: 

Would your friends ROI be positive without the rally? Or more simply: would his investors have done better simply just buying Bitcoin outright?

Years ago when Bitcoin was trading around $50 I did a lot of research on mining operations almost every single one was essentially equivalent to: long bitcoin - expenses of maintaining servers and operations. None the less, they were extremely popular 'investments' as people liked the cachet of being a technologically sophisticated 'miner.' 

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