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What’s Driving Social Discord: Russian Social Media Meddling or Soaring Wealth/Power Inequality?



There are two competing explanatory narratives battling for mind-share in the U.S.:

1. The nation’s social discord is the direct result of Russian social media meddling– what I call the Boris and Natasha Narrative of evil Russian masterminds controlling a vast conspiracy of social media advertising, fake-news outlets and trolls that have created artificial divides in the body politic, or exacerbated minor cracks into chasms.

2. The nation’s social discord is the direct result of soaring wealth/power inequality– the vast expansion of the wealth and power of the nation’s financial elites and their protected class of technocrat enablers and enforcers (the few) at the expense of the unprotected many.

Core to this narrative is the view that the elites and technocrats have engaged in a massive, coordinated official/media propaganda campaign of fake news aimed at persuading the bottom 95% that their prosperity and financial security are expanding when the reality is they have lost ground they will never be able to recover.

This propaganda campaign includes official (i.e. gamed/distorted) statistics such as unemployment and inflation, a reliance on the manipulated stock market to “signal widespread prosperity” and a steady drumbeat of corporate media coverage promoting the Boris and Natasha Narrative as the primary source of all our troubles.

The reality the elites must mask is that the few (the elites) have benefited at the expense of the many. The rising tide of financialization, globalization and neofeudal-neocolonial neoliberalism has not raised all boats; the yachts have floated higher while the rowboats have either sunk or are leaking badly.

The Boris and Natasha Narrative is the primary propaganda tool of the ruling elites and their technocrat/ corporate media enablers. This is of course classic propaganda: misdirect/distract the public from the reality of explosive wealth/power inequality; blame the other i.e. the enemy for the nation’s self-generated woes, and claim to be helpless victims rather than oppressors: garsh, we’d all be just fine and dandy if the evil Russkies hadn’t meddled in our election. Poor us, we’re victims!

Look again at the chart of soaring inequality above and tell me the Power Elites of the nation are helpless victims of Russian meddling. Isn’t it painfully obvious that the Boris and Natasha Narrative is just a tad too convenient and a bit too well-oiled not be a carefully planned and executed propaganda campaign to distract the public from the greatest divide in the nation’s history between the elites and those they exploit/rule?

Orwell would approve of the Elites’ Boris and Natasha Narrative, as it reverses the polarity of fake news: the elite campaign labels Russian-generated fake news as the problem to mask its own reliance on fake officially sanctioned news: everything’s going splendidly because assets owned by the wealthy keep rising.

If you turned off the corporate media and social media for a week and asked yourself to identify the core causes of rising social discord, would you really think the Boris and Natasha Narrative was the dominant cause, or would you look at the greatest wealth/power inequality in the nation’s history as having some causal connection to the rise of populism, social discord and a sense that we’re less secure, less prosperous, less free and increasingly powerless in a nation dominated by elites slavishly served by a well-paid class of technocrat/ media enablers and enforcers?

Believe what you want, but history is clear: declining social mobility, declining access to political power, declining financial security and the rising concentration of wealth and power in elites are what drives social discord and instability, not the meddling of “outside agitators.”

The elite tried the same strategy in the era of social discord created by the wealth-power extremes of The Gilded Age: to distract the nation from the obvious source of instability– unprecedented concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of the few–the media was filled with stories blaming “outside agitators.”

Don’t fall for it. The nation’s elites are desperate to misdirect us from the financial and power divide that has enriched and empowered them at the expense of the unprotected many. Every story and every broadcast about Russian influence is another brick in a Great Media Wall designed to block our view of the grim reality of American life in a society defined by vast inequality.

Always start an inquiry with this question: cui bono, to whose benefit? Who benefits from us buying the Boris and Natasha Narrative

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Why Switzerland Could Save the World and Protect Your Gold


– Precious metals advisor Claudio Grass believes Switzerland can serve as an example to rest of world
– Switzerland popular for gold storage due to understanding of the risks inherent in fiat money and gold’s value as a store of wealth.
– International investors opt to store gold in Swiss allocated accounts due to tradition of respecting private property.
– Country respects the importance of gold ownerships and 70% of world’s gold is refined there

Across Europe many voters and politicians are expressing their dislike at the bureaucratic and overarching approach of the European Union. There are also regions and countries pushing to break ties with others that they have long been associated with. Catalonia is just the most recent example, many in Scotland are also calling for independence.

It is not an understatement to say that the role and influence of government is currently at the forefront of many citizens’ minds. This is understandable given political upheaval but also thanks to decisions by authorities that are arguably not in the best interests of the electorate. Bail-ins are just one very important example.

This is a situation investors must consider when deciding where they would like to store their gold bullion. It is because of concerns regarding political stability, motive and financial decisions that there is a belief amongst many bullion owners that owning bullion in Switzerland is safer than owning it in many EU countries, the UK and the U.S.

Claudio Grass, an Swiss independent precious metals advisor, recently spoke to the Mises Institute about Switzerland. In the interview he explains why the country is so attractive for investors.

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Important Guides

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Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Switzerland

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Singapore

Essential Guide to Tax Free Gold Sovereigns (UK)

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A UC San Diego-Based Tech Startup (and Professor) Is Testing the Limits of Blockchain, VR


Amid eucalyptus trees and native shrubs, a biotechnology-focused virtual reality and blockchain company found a home on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus in La Jolla.

Founded in 2015 by Chief Executive Officer Steve McCloskey, who graduated from the world’s first nanoengineering department at UCSD, Nanome Inc. is headquartered at a central hub of science and technology. With support from the UCSD campus, the company is developing ways in which virtual reality can help researchers in academia. They want to use blockchain to open their technology up to the crowd. 

Apace with creating VR interfaces for the ‘STEM’ fields (science, technology, environment, mathematics) and a portfolio of corporate biotechnology clients, Nanome is building the Matryx blockchain platform.

The idea is to bridge all of the Nanome products together with blockchain. Researchers will be incentivized to experiment with and analyze 3D data in a collaborative environment; in particular, the Matryx native digital token, ‘MTX’, for which there is presently an ongoing token sale. Matryx has partnered with San Diego-based Edge (formerly Airbitz) to incorporate crypto-tokens.

On Matryx, ‘the crowd’ would be able to collaborate abreast corporations and universities on profound research questions. While a pharmaceutical company might create a bounty on the platform for which it maintains a record of intellectual property rights, an online creation community might prefer to keep the IP in the public domain. The blockchain will also be used as an addressing layer to track identity for accurate attribution, something which many believe modern academia lacks. Because it is indexable, the blockchain allows people to find items they and others are working on in the platform easily.

Nanome spun out of UCSD Professor of Visual Arts Benjamin Bratton’s Design and Geopolitics lab. Bratton is an advisor and co-founder of Nanome and author of “The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty”. In this tome, he posits a future world in which “planetary scale computing” (think: Ethereum’s Virtual Machine) underpins human society.

“To me what’s exciting about blockchain-based systems is the way in which they would potentially open up and make [the world] a much more equitable and efficient [place],” said Bratton in a YouTube video.

He calls the way in which mankind “senses value” today a “low res” way of doing things. In a future tech stack, with blockchain keeping track, value might be perceived differently.

“You know, when a rain forest absorbs CO2, we might say there’s value there and then carbon markets there is some sort of value there, but again these are very kind of with the mechanisms we have to sense these things,” philosophizes Bratton. “When a nurse knows just how to care for a patient and her expertise in knowing how to care for this patient, we don’t know how to sense, and essentially as a society, how to pay for that expertise that she has.” Bratton thinks, in principle only, blockchains could allow “higher resolution” ways of keeping track of what is important.

“[Y]ou’re beginning to see blockchains being used as an underlying layer, a protocol layer, that allows you to keep track of a lot of the things and events in processes that are happening in a sort of a complex swarm,” says Bratton. “And you need to know is where they are and when they are and how they relate to one another in a way that is open, essential, transparent, and all those kinds of things.”

Nanome intends for Matryx to sense, index, store and calculate value (like tokens and IP) created in a collective and collaborative environment.

“I think what we will see with Matryx is players who already have a significant intellectual property portfolio, but are looking to activate that portfolio and realize the latent value in that portfolio in ways that would be beneficial publicly,” says Bratton. “I think the ways in which you have put this IP out there, and allow it to be used, and let it be part of projects in a way in which you can disintermediate that licensing process a little bit will be one that will have a potentially important accelerating effect on innovation in collaboration.”

Images: Justin O’Connell

Justin O’Connell is founder of He has covered blockchain topics since 2012. His work has appeared in VICE, Bitcoin Magazine and more. 

Gold & Silver Looking Strong Going Into FOMC Day Despite That Pesky Problem


On the fundamental side, today could be a very big day. Is the house going to release their tax plan today? What is the Fed going to put in its FOMC statement due to hit the tape at 2:00 p.m. EST? Are we going to get another terrorist attack?

With all the uncertainty, the “fear” barometer doesn’t even care:

Unbelievable that the VIX has gaped down. Of course, the Fed wouldn’t want any eyebrows raised going into the finishing day of the two-day meeting.

There is no press conference this month, and as a reminder, nearly everybody is certain the Fed will hold and absolutely nobody believes the Fed will cut:

The dollar is starting to look more like a bear rally than a head-n-shoulders pattern:

The dollar needs to get to 96 in a hurry or it risks fizzling out on the charts. We were skeptical when we called out the forming pattern a few weeks back, because the left-side shoulder was not pronounced, but a gradually sloping descent.

Sure, we could get a gradually sloping ascent up to 96, but it would be unwise to call it a bottom in the dollar. The dollar now has over three full years of strength, and our President openly wants a weaker dollar.

And as such, the yield on the 10-year is back under 2.4%:

After spending the last several days in wait-and-see, it seems the yield on the 10-year is running out of patience. Though things could definitely get going today, especially if the tone of the FOMC statement is overtly and overly “dovish” or “hawkish”.

If the tone of the statement is “dovish”, that means the Fed is looking for easy monetary policy. It means they are happy to keep printing to pump up the stock market. A dovish Fed means interest rates are going lower, and to use the time-tested metaphor – There is more liquor and fruit punch at the ready to refill the punch-bowl.

If the tone of the FOMC statement is “hawkish”, that means the Fed is looking to “tighten” monetary policy. This means the Fed is ready to take the punch bowl away and end the party. As such, interest rates would be going up, and the money printing would theoretically subside.

No matter the tone, look for the MSM to cheer-lead the Fed every sentence of the way. That’s part of the game. Everybody loves’ the Fed on Wall Street and in the Mainstream, even if it is their publicly stated objective to devalue the US dollar by 2% per year so that we all pay more for the things we need every single day.

When the Fed statement “hit’s the tape”, that is to say, at 2:00 p.m. exactly, because Bloomberg terminal is expensive and nano-seconds are fiat, everything in the markets will get to moving.

Don’t be surprised to see the knee-jerk reaction in gold & silver. Typically, there could be a spike up in the price, followed by a slow digestion over a minute or two of the bids and asks, followed by fingers at the ready in an attempt to dial back down the price.

However, the Fed and the ESF are stuck, because open interest is still very high. Open interest has to come down, but are they really just going to keep issuing paper to get back to substantially surpass all-time record high levels of open interest?

Sure, a belt-fed machine gun can fire thousands of rounds a minute (open interest), but after just several minutes of non-stop firing (naked shorting the markets with paper gold and paper silver), the barrel will melt and warp (physical supply will dry up).

We’ll see what happens, but silver has managed to hang in there over the last couple of days:

At the bottom of the chart, we can see that open interest hasn’t budged yet, but other key technicals such as the RSI and MACD are healthy. Two things immediately jump out on the silver chart.

First, the 50-day moving average has fought back to stay above the 200-day. The silver price really needs to turn that blue line up in a hurry.

Secondly, check out that big, bullish candle that formed overnight. It appears to have saved silver from the dreaded lower-low. That would have killed sentiment.

If it holds, that would be a higher-low on the chart and would be a bullish signal. All said, silver is looking good right now in spite of the cartel’s desire to smash price.

In fact, the gold-to-silver ratio is affording the gift of silver right now:

That’s like free ounces in your pocket. Gold holding the 200-day moving average right now:

Notice how the volume over the last two days was particularly weak. Overnight, gold has put in nearly half of the volume over Monday and Tuesday. Very bullish, especially since we know the metals will move today off of the data releases and Fed statement.

Platinum is looking like it can come off of life support and move from critical to stable status:

There is not the problem of being overbought. In fact, if was nearly severely oversold just a few days ago on the middle Relative Strength Index indicator in the middle of the lower-bound studies.

All things considered, platinum looks poised with the rest of the metals, and the precious metal is in much better shape than at the start of the week.

Palladium even looks that it could put in a new high:

As of now, palladium didn’t even come down to test the 50-day. On Monday the mood could be described as cautiously bullish but preparing for the worse. Today, on Wednesday, it should be noted that the charts have set up even more bullish than just two days ago.

We know the metals are set to make a big move here, we just don’t know the direction. Sure, we could be in a bullish fake-out right now, but for the cartel to achieve that, they’re going to need a bunch of paper on top of the huge mountain of trash they have already piled sky high.

Get ready to pay more at the pump:


Crude oil is looking overbought here, but it takes time for the price of crude to turn into the price at the pump, and there is no denying that since April, the price trend has been higher. Well, get ready for the prices over everything, taking their inputs from the price of energy, to climb even higher yet.

For all those quick to call out the rampant Chinese speculation on copper:

The base metal has yet to test the 50-day simple moving average, and other key indicators are turning up again.

Today’s stock market bubble is brought to you by the Nasdaq 100:

However, in an alarming development, President Trump is not confined to just pumping the stock market. Our President must now pump the consumer “confidence”:

“Consumer Confidence Hits Highest Level Since December 2000” Read more:

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017


And even the housing market:

“Home Prices Reach New All-Time Highs in August” Read more:

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017

Of course, since he’s a real estate guy, seems reasonable he’s glad that anybody interested in buying a house must now pay more than ever before.


Although, we are far from in the clear. ADP payrolls, the President’s Fed Chair nomination, and Friday’s BLS Jobs Report have the potential to turn things on a dime.

– Half Dollar has been on the leading edge of Gold News and Silver News Since 2011. Each month, more than 250,000 investors visit to gain insights on Precious Metals News as well as to stay up-to-date on World News impacting the metals markets.

Regulation Is Killing Community Banks – Public Banks Can Save Them


Crushing regulations are driving small banks to sell out to the megabanks, a consolidation process that appears to be intentional. Publicly-owned banks can help avoid that trend and keep credit flowing in local economies.

At his confirmation hearing in January 2017, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said, “regulation is killing community banks.” If the process is not reversed, he warned, we could “end up in a world where we have four big banks in this country.” That would be bad for both jobs and the economy. “I think that we all appreciate the engine of growth is with small and medium-sized businesses,” said Mnuchin. “We’re losing the ability for small and medium-sized banks to make good loans to small and medium-sized businesses in the community, where they understand those credit risks better than anybody else.”

The number of US banks with assets under $100 million dropped from 13,000 in 1995 to under 1,900 in 2014. The regulatory burden imposed by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act exacerbated this trend, with community banks losing market share at double the rate during the four years after 2010 as in the four years before. But the number had already dropped to only 2,625 in 2010.  What happened between 1995 and 2010?

Six weeks after September 11, 2001, the 1,100 page Patriot Act was dropped on congressional legislators, who were required to vote on it the next day. The Patriot Act added provisions to the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act that not only expanded the federal government’s wiretapping and surveillance powers but outlawed the funding of terrorism, imposing greater scrutiny on banks and stiff criminal penalties for non-compliance. Banks must now collect and verify customer-provided information, check names of customers against lists of known or suspected terrorists, determine risk levels posed by customers, and report suspicious persons, organizations and transactions. One small banker complained that banks have been turned into spies secretly reporting to the federal government. If they fail to comply, they can face stiff enforcement actions, whether or not actual money-laundering crimes are alleged.

In 2010, one small New Jersey bank pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act and was fined $5 million for failure to file suspicious-activity and cash-transaction reports. The bank was acquired a few months later by another bank. Another small New Jersey bank was ordered to shut down a large international wire transfer business because of deficiencies in monitoring for suspicious transactions. It closed its doors after it was hit with $8 million in fines over its inadequate monitoring policies.

Complying with the new rules demands a level of technical expertise not available to ordinary mortals, requiring the hiring of yet more specialized staff and buying more anti-laundering software. Small banks cannot afford the risk of massive fines or the added staff needed to avoid them, and that burden is getting worse. In February 2017, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network proposed a new rule that would add a new category requiring the flagging of suspicious “cyberevents.” According to an April 2017 article in American Banker:

[T]he “cyberevent” category requires institutions to detect and report all varieties of digital mischief, whether directed at a customer’s account or at the bank itself. . . .

Under a worst-case scenario, a bank’s failure to detect a suspicious [email] attachment or a phishing attack could theoretically result in criminal prosecution, massive fines and additional oversight.

One large bank estimated that the proposed change with the new cyberevent reporting requirement would cost it an additional $9.6 million every year.

Besides the cost of hiring an army of compliance officers to deal with a thousand pages of regulations, banks have been hit with increased capital requirements imposed by the Financial Stability Board under Basel III, eliminating the smaller banks’ profit margins. They have little recourse but to sell to the larger banks, which have large compliance departments and can skirt the capital requirements by parking assets in off-balance-sheet vehicles.

In a September 2014 article titled “The FDIC’s New Capital Rules and Their Expected Impact on Community Banks,” Richard Morris and Monica Reyes Grajales noted that “a full discussion of the rules would resemble an advanced course in calculus,” and that the regulators have ignored protests that the rules would have a devastating impact on community banks. Why? The authors suggested that the rules reflect “the new vision of bank regulation – that there should be bigger and fewer banks in the industry.” That means bank consolidation is an intended result of the punishing rules.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, sponsor of the Financial CHOICE Act downsizing Dodd-Frank, concurs. In a speech in July 2015, he said:

Since the passage of Dodd-Frank, the big banks are bigger and the small banks are fewer. But because Washington can control a handful of big established firms much easier than many small and zealous competitors, this is likely an intended consequence of the Act. Dodd-Frank concentrates greater assets in fewer institutions. It codifies into law ‘Too Big to Fail’ . . . . [Emphasis added.]

Dodd-Frank institutionalizes “too big to fail” by authorizing the biggest banks to “bail in” or confiscate their creditors’ money in the event of insolvency. The legislation ostensibly reining in the too-big-to-fail banks has just made them bigger. Wall Street lobbyists were well known to have their fingerprints all over Dodd-Frank.

                      Restoring Community Banking: The Model of North Dakota  

Killing off the community banks with regulation means killing off the small and medium-size businesses that rely on them for funding, along with the local economies that rely on those businesses. Community banks service local markets in a way that the megabanks with their standardized lending models are not interested in or capable of.

How can the community banks be preserved and nurtured? For some ideas, we can look to a state where they are still thriving – North Dakota. In an article titled “How One State Escaped Wall Street’s Rule and Created a Banking System That’s 83% Locally Owned,” Stacy Mitchell writes that North Dakota’s banking sector bears little resemblance to that of the rest of the country:

With 89 small and mid-sized community banks and 38 credit unions, North Dakota has six times as many locally owned financial institutions per person as the rest of the nation. And these local banks and credit unions control a resounding 83 percent of deposits in the state — more than twice the 30 percent market share that small and mid-sized financial institutions have nationally.

Their secret is the century-old Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned depository bank, which partners with and supports the state’s local banks. In an April 2015 article titled “Is Dodd-Frank Killing Community Banks? The More Important Question is How to Save Them”, Matt Stannard writes:

Public banks offer unique benefits to community banks, including collateralization of deposits, protection from poaching of customers by big banks, the creation of more successful deals, and . . . regulatory compliance. The Bank of North Dakota, the nation’s only public bank, directly supports community banks and enables them to meet regulatory requirements such as asset to loan ratios and deposit to loan ratios. . . . [I]t keeps community banks solvent in other ways, lessening the impact of regulatory compliance on banks’ bottom lines.

We know from FDIC data in 2009 that North Dakota had almost 16 banks per 100,000 people, the most in the country. A more important figure, however, is community banks’ loan averages per capita, which was $12,000 in North Dakota, compared to only $3,000 nationally. . . . During the last decade, banks in North Dakota with less than $1 billion in assets have averaged a stunning 434 percent more small business lending than the national average.

The BND has been very profitable for the state and its citizens – more profitable, according to the Wall Street Journal, than JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The BND does not compete with local banks but partners with them, helping with capitalization and liquidity and allowing them to take on larger loans that would otherwise go to larger out-of-state banks.

In order to help rural lenders with regulatory compliance, in 2011 the BND was directed by the state legislature to get into the rural home mortgage origination business. Rural banks that saw only three to five mortgages a year could not shoulder the regulatory burden, leading to business lost to out-of-state banks. After a successful pilot program, SB 2064, establishing the Mortgage Origination Program, was signed by North Dakota’s governor on April 3, 2013. It states that the BND may establish a residential mortgage loan program under which the Bank may originate residential mortgages if private sector mortgage loan services are not reasonably available. Under this program a local financial institution or credit union may assist the Bank in taking a loan application, gathering required documents, ordering required legal documents, and maintaining contact with the borrower. At a hearing on the bill, Rick Clayburgh, President of the North Dakota Bankers Association, testified in its support:

Over the past years because of the regulatory burdens our banks face by the passage of Dodd Frank, and now the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it has become very prohibitive for a number of our banks to provide residential mortgage services anymore. We two years ago worked both with the Independent Community Bankers Association, and our Association and the Bank of North Dakota to come up with the idea in this program to help the bank provide services into the parts of the state that really residential mortgaging has seized up. We have a number of our banks that have terminated doing mortgage loans in their communities. They have stopped the process because they cannot afford to be written up by their regulator.

Under the Mortgage Origination Program, local banks get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee for sending rural mortgage loans to the BND. If the BND touches the money first, the onus is on it to deal with the regulators, something it can afford to do by capitalizing on economies of scale. The local bank thus avoids having to deal with regulatory compliance while keeping its customer.

The BND is the only model of a publicly-owned depository bank in the US; but in Germany, the publicly-owned Sparkassen banks operate a network of over 15,600 branches and are the financial backbone supporting Germany’s strong local business sector. In the matter of regulatory compliance, they too capitalize on economies of scale, by providing a compliance department that pools resources to deal with the onerous regulations imposed on banks by the EU.

The BND and the Sparkassen are proven models for maintaining the viability of local credit and banking services. It is time other states followed North Dakota’s lead, not only to protect their local communities and local banks, but to bolster their revenues, escape the noose of Washington and Wall Street, and provide a bail-in-proof depository for their public funds.


Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, a Senior Fellow of the Democracy Collaborative, and author of twelve books including Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution. A thirteenth book titled The Coming Revolution in Banking is due out this winter. She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at




Invest In Gold To Defend Against Bail-ins


– Italy’s Veneto banking meltdown destroyed 200,000 savers and 40,000 businesses
– EU bail-in rules have wiped out billions for savers and and businesses, with more at risk 
– Bail-ins are not unique to Italy, all Western savers are at risk of seeing savings disappear
–  Counterparty-free, physical gold bullion is best defence against bail-ins

One of Italy’s twenty regions is calling for more autonomy from the state following a nonbonding referendum. Why? Because a government supported ‘rescue package’ caused the lifesavings of 200,000 savers to be wiped out during the  implosions of Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca.

Since then the banks have been rescued in one way or another yet the impact of the collapse on individuals and small businesses is only just becoming clear.

As in Spain’s Catalonia the region of Veneto is wealthier than the average Italian region, with its own industries and language yet it has been left with a pile of ash when it comes to its banking sector.

The region is proud to be the home of successful brands such as Benetton, De’Longhi, Geox and Luxottica. But it is the 40,000 small businesses that are in a state of limbo unable to pay workers, find credit or operate on a day-to-day basis.

Sadly the case of Veneto is one of a growing list of regions of banking customers that have been destroyed due to the incompetence of national authorities and the overbearing powers of the EU.

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Important Guides

For your perusal, below are our most popular guides in 2017:

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Switzerland

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Singapore

Essential Guide to Tax Free Gold Sovereigns (UK)

Please share our research with family, friends and colleagues who you think would benefit from being informed by it.

Why Is Bitcoin a Big Deal?


Why is bitcoin considered such a big deal? Why has it grabbed so much mind-share, and why is it skyrocketing? And why is the cryptocurrency sector going bonkers?

The short answer is that cryptocurrency is the first major innovation in money in 300+ years, back when central banks first emerged in the late 1600s as centralized clearing houses for international payments and sole issuers of national bank notes/currency.

(Those who trace central banking to the Bank of Amsterdam’s founding in 1609 might say it’s the first major innovation in 400 years.)

Why is it an innovation? There are four basic reasons:

1. It’s a form of private-sector issued money. It is not issued or controlled by any government or central bank.

2. It is structured in a completely different manner than conventional central-bank issued currency: it is a digital form of money that is issued as payment for those who maintain the database (the blockchain) on their privately owned computers. Since the blockchain is distributed over numerous computers, it is decentralized and distributed rather than centralized.

3. It enables trusted transactions between parties without requiring the services of an intermediary, i.e.a bank which acts as a trusted clearing house for transactions.

4. In the case of the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, its issuance of tokens (coins) is limited by its design to 21 million coins. No central authority can issue more bitcoins, nor does the structure of the bitcoin blockchain allow for further issuance.

To grasp the significance of these four characteristics, we have to go back to the early history of modern capitalism. My longstanding recommendation is to start with Fernand Braudel’s 3-volume history, Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century:

The Structures of Everyday Life (Volume 1)

The Wheels of Commerce (Volume 2)

The Perspective of the World (Volume 3)

Many of the functional pieces of modern capitalism were private-sector innovations, starting with banking and credit (some of which was borrowed from Arab traders). In the good old days of the 1500s, if the King of Spain wanted to finance a costly voyage around the world (Magellan’s circumnavigation in 1519-1522), he turned to private-sector lenders.

Insurance, stock markets, futures markets and options were all private-sector innovations designed spread the risk and reward of ventures such as trading voyages to the Spice Islands.

Since so many ships were lost at sea, backers sought insurance for the losses, and the trade in shares of the ship’s cargo and the insurance against its loss enabled a lively trade in these financial instruments that were the rough equivalent of modern-day options.

When a merchant vessel was seriously overdue, the value of the shares of its cargo plummeted as investors gave up hope of earning their hoped-for return. So some enterprising traders paid watchers to scan the shoreline for incoming ships matching the description of the overdue ships.

Should the overdue ship appear off the coast of France, runners would hurry to Amsterdam to inform the trader who would then promptly scoop up cheap shares of the cargo, scoring huge profits when the ship docked a few days later, cargo intact.

The rate of expansion of private-sector innovations is much higher than those of centralized authority. Centralized authority must act deliberately, and in consultation with all the various power centers of the society and economy. Disagreements can incapacitate the system for years or even decades.

The private sector, in contrast, is a free-for-all of a multitude of players with an enormous range of ideas, schemes, scams, risk appetites, insider knowledge (i.e. asymmetric knowledge), capital, expertise and so on, all networked through a fast-expanding spectrum of media and exchanges.

This private-sector ferment is on display in the cryptocurrency space. Scams and brilliant innovations are shoulder to shoulder in a fast-moving mob. No wonder so many players and traders want to join the mob and figure out some competitive advantage or gain some asymmetric knowledge, knowledge which can be as simple as the understanding that hard forks aren’t bad for bitcoin, as so many feared, as each new iteration claims to improve some aspect of bitcoin’s functionality.

Over 100 hedge funds and other institutional players are muscling into the market, anxious to scale in and scale up before competitors grab market share.

If we compare the market cap of all cryptocurrencies, currently $178 billion, with the total financial assets of the global economy ($300+ trillion) and real estate ($200+ trillion), we get a sense of “early days.” Bitcoin’s market cap of $100 billion wouldn’t even show up as a thin line on this chart of global financial assets:

Here is a one-year chart of bitcoin:

As Marx presciently noted, capitalism melts all that is solid into air. (All that is solid melts into air.) Centralized banking and all other forms of intermediary rentier skims are presented as solid. If history is any guide, these supposedly solid entities may well melt into air.

Of related interest:

My labor-backed cryptocurrency community economy: A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology & Creating Jobs for All 

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Stumbling UK Economy Shows Importance of Gold


– UK economy outlook bleak amid Brexit, debt woes and rising inflation
– Confidence in UK housing market at five-year low
– UK high street sales crash at fastest rate since 2009
– Number registering as insolvent in England and Wales hit a five-year high in Q3
– UK public finance hole of almost £20bn in the public finances set to grow to £36bn by 2021-22
– Protect your savings with gold in the face of increased financial woes in UK

This week markets will be watching the UK with baited breath as the Monetary Policy Committee meets this Thursday to discuss a potential rate rise.

Expectations of a rise have increased to 80% in the last week. If the Bank of England does raise rates it will be for the first time in a decade. It is unlikely to be a dramatic increase though, probably a rise of 25 basis points to reverse the emergency rate cut which followed the Brexit vote.

Should the UK decide to raise rates this will likely boost confidence somewhat in the economy. However any increase in positivity regarding the UK will be short lived once markets realise it will take more than a small rate rise to get the country out of the huge red hole it is currently digging its way into.

Brexit is being blamed for the majority of the UK’s woes at present, however this is merely a politician’s scapegoat. Confidence in the UK housing market has slipped to its lowest level in five years, family spending power has declined in five out of the last six months, the hole in public finances is likely to increase over 100% from the initial forecast by 2020, personal insolvencies are at a five year high and inflation has hit 3%.

These plus many more financial and economic problems have long been brewing. Problems with money naturally lead to social problems which end up exacerbating themselves further as individuals find continue to struggle on a daily basis.

Sadly the UK is in a real state of limbo thanks to Brexit, how the government will manage to solve the other significant issues such as rising debt levels (public and private), inflation and a slowing economy whilst managing EU negotiations is a feat yet to be witnessed.

We have been approaching a juncture for some time where we must decide as individual savers, investors, pensioners and future pensioners what the best way to prepare for the future is. Do we stand back and believe that the government has our best interests at heart or do we prepare for their failure? Their inability to support the value of the pound, protect interest rates, avoid bank bail-ins and solve the debt crisis are all situations that could see our own savings put at real risk.

Click here to read full story on


Important Guides

For your perusal, below are our most popular guides in 2017:

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Switzerland

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Singapore

Essential Guide to Tax Free Gold Sovereigns (UK)

Please share our research with family, friends and colleagues who you think would benefit from being informed by it.

THE BEST Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas – Goldbug & Silverbug Edition


For that last minute gold idea, we can start out with the unisex options:

You can never go wrong as a kilobar:


Or the gold ingot bucket sponsored by the cleanest bank in town:

For the Goldfellas out there:

Gold Elvis is always In Fashion:

Unless, of course, you’re actually Elvis. Then maybe just a gold belt or some accessories:


Hard to compete with the simple elegance of a gold chain and gold mustache:

And then there’s the low-budget DIY C3PO:

For the lady stackers, you can never go wrong as a goldfish:

Perhaps if accompanying The King, Gold Marilyn would be a better choice :

Or Gold Cleopatra:

For those who prefer the group theme, gold trophies always win first place:

And for the father/child combo, it’s hard to beat the Leprechaun with pot of gold:

Moving on to silver:

For this year’s unisex option, we highly recommend the always in style silver robot:

For the guys out there:

Since it is so much cheaper to DIY with silver than with gold, the Silver Surfer is always a good choice:

Nobody will even notice you’re carrying around an ironing board.

While not exactly silver, it is hard to beat the simple elegance of a tin foil hat:

It is, after all, the one day when people won’t think it’s out of place.

The Duct-Tape Knight is making a comeback in 2017:


For the lady stackers out there, hard to beat the majestic gray wolf with winter coat:

Of course, silver mixed with gypsy belly-dancers always shines:


For those looking for a vintage look, it’s hard to go wrong with retro-space cadet:

For the couples out there who are into the theme, hard to go wrong with some good old-fashioned silverware:

And for the stacker family, here’s an idea that’s out of this universe:


So there you have it.

Plenty of options for even the pickiest of stackers.

Just watch out for this guy. Word is he’s been stealing everybody’s candy: has been on the leading edge of Gold News and Silver News Since 2011. Each month, more than 250,000 investors visit to gain insights on Precious Metals News as well as to stay up-to-date on World News impacting the metals markets.

Japan Just Killed the “Bitcoin Will Be Banned” Meme


One of the most durable claims of cryptocurrency skeptics is that “governments will ban bitcoin once it threatens their fiat currency or their control.” Ben Bernanke recently gave voice to this claim as if it was received wisdom.

Sorry, crypto-skeptics: Japan just killed the “bitcoin will be banned” meme.Japan has established itself as the safe haven of all legit cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency exchanges.

Japan is not just the world’s third largest economy; it is a keystone of the global economy in supply chains, ownership of overseas assets, capital flows and technology. Japan’s embrace of cryptocurrencies suggests the Japanese understand that adoption of crypto and blockchain technology offers whatever nation is firstest with the mostest in legal protection of these technologies will have a powerful competitive advantage.

Many crypto skeptics claim the U.S. can browbeat adopters of bitcoin into banning cryptos via various threats such as limiting access to U.S. banking. Memo to skeptics: Japan is too strategically important for the U.S. to browbeat over something as small in scale as cryptos. Furthermore, Japan is long past the point where it will automatically comply with every self-destructive demand of the American Imperial project.

As I have often noted here, the market cap of the entire crypto market–$170 billion– is mere signal noise in the $500+ trillion market of global assets. Even if the crypto market rose 10-fold to $1.7 trillion, it would still be nothing but a tiny blip in the global asset marketplace.

Japan has the regulatory legal and bureaucratic structure to monitor and police crypto exchanges and transactions. This complex structure can be deployed to bog down whatever Japan doesn’t favor in endless red tape, or it can accommodate whatever Japan favors. Clearly, Japan favors the adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies.

The legalization of cryptocurrencies is now a done deal. Any nation foolish and self-destructive enough to attempt to outlaw cryptos will simply hasten the flow of capital to Japan and other safe-haven early adopters.

Clearly, the Japanese recognize the adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies as a competitive advantage, and they’re right.

“We’re Back”- China’s Largest Crypto Traders Are Relocating

Sorry, Mr. Bernanke, you’re wrong yet again.

Of related interest: Why Governments Will Not Ban Bitcoin (October 23, 2017) 

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Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print, $5.95 audiobook) For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.



Fundamentally speaking, this is one week is perfect for anybody looking to smash the prices of gold & silver. By Wednesday, we will have the closed door FOMC with no press conference.

There will be a statement release at 2:00 p.m. EST:

Interestingly, the CME Group is only showing about a 1% chance of a rate hike:

And every MSM pundit is fully expecting the Fed to “hold” on 100-125 basis points.

But moving out to December is a whole different story:

Again, looking at CME Group’s probability, it seems there is 100% certainty of a rate “hike” in December. Not only that, but 4.3% even think we could be 50 basis points higher than where we are today on the Fed Funds Rate.

–> Click here to continue reading this story on Silver Doctors

Wozniak and Thiel Fuel Bitcoin-Gold Debate: Gold Comes Out On Top


– Gold versus bitcoin debate makes further headlines as tech experts weigh in
– Peter Thiel tells Saudi conference he believes bitcoin is underestimated and compares to gold
– Steve Wozniak tells Money 20/20 that bitcoin is a better standard of value than gold and U.S. dollar
-Both men recognise that the US dollar has little value and there are worthy competitors to its crown as reserve currency
– Gold continues to hold its value and has multiple uses, bitcoin remains volatile and difficult to use
– Experts are pushing an unnecessary debate as gold and bitcoin state more about fiat than each other

Lords of the tech world Peter Thiel and Steve Wozniak are the latest to add fuel to the bitcoin versus gold debate.

At separate conferences both told audiences that they had great hopes for bitcoin, comparing it to gold. The co-founder of Paypal and the Apple co-founder both expressed views that suggest they believe the world’s biggest cryptocurrency is superior to the world’s oldest form of money.

Each of their comments demonstrated some ignorance when it came to how gold operates and also in how they believe the two assets need to be considered competitors.

Their comments were really about the badly managed US dollar and how its time is limited. Yet as we have seen throughout the year, thoughts by experts return to bitcoin replacing gold rather than being a statement on the pushback against fiat money tyranny.

Click here to read full story on


Important Guides

For your perusal, below are our most popular guides in 2017:

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Switzerland

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Singapore

Essential Guide to Tax Free Gold Sovereigns (UK)

Please share our research with family, friends and colleagues who you think would benefit from being informed by it.

What Could Pop The Everything Bubble?


The policy of creating trillions in new currency and buying trillions in assets has inflated an ‘Everything’ Bubble — a bubble in all the asset classes being supported or purchased by central banks and their proxies.

Many observers wonder: What, if anything, can pop this?

Click here to read the full article

[KR1142] Keiser Report: ‘Help to Buy’ – Who did it really help?


In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss the Morgan Stanley report proving that the UK taxpayer-financed ‘help to buy’ program has merely benefited property developers to the same exact amount as was given by the taxpayer. In the second half, Max continues his interview with Michael Pento of about the latest in market euphoria. Will it crash? And, if so, when?

Observations on Wealth-Income Inequality (from Federal Reserve Reports)


To those of us nutty enough to pore over dozens of pages of data on wealth and income in the U.S., the Federal Reserve’s quarterly Z.1 reports and annual Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) are treasure troves, as are I.R.S. tax and income reports.

Allow me to share a few observations on family wealth and income drawn from my review of these documents:

Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2013 to 2016 (42 pages)

Financial Accounts of the United States (198 pages)

Corporate profits clock in at $2.135 trillion annually, around 11% of the nation’s GDP (gross domestic product). (Page 10 of Z.1) This has changed very little over the past few years; corporate profits totaled $2.140 trillion in 2014.

Most people who follow financial matters closely probably know corporate profits have been around $2 trillion annually for awhile.

But how many know that proprietors’ income from small businesses ($1.375 trillion) and rental income of persons–i.e. not corporations–($740 billion) together equal corporate profits? ($2.115 trillion for small biz/rentals, $2.135 trillion for corporate profits.

How many financially savvy people know that proprietors’ income and private rental income rose by $189 billion since 2014, while corporate profits flatlined?

Clearly, the families that own the proprietorships and rentals pulling down $2.1 trillion in annual profits are doing a bit better than OK.

As the charts below reveal, most of this profitable business equity is owned by the top 10% of families. There are a few clues that suggest that family-owned business equity is distributed along a power-law curve, i.e. a highly unequal distribution in which most of the wealth/income goes to the top few.

On Page 28 of the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), we find that the business equity owned by families in the bottom 50% of family incomes has a mean value of $208,000, up marginally from $204,000 in 2010, the business equity held by the top 10% of families rose from $2.265 million in 2010 to $3.3 million in 2016–a gain of over $1 million.

As always, I want to stress the profound difference between assets that produce no income and those that produce net income. This excludes hobby businesses that lose money or tax shelters that are intended to lose money. I’m talking about businesses that generate revenues in excess of all expenses: net profit that is taxable.

Owning a vacation home that is rented out a few weeks a year is one thing, owning a rental property that’s rented out 50 weeks a year is considerably different. The first is an expense, the second generates net income.

Somewhat to my surprise, almost 14% of households own some residential property equity other than their primary residence (page 18 of the SCF). Unfortunately, the Fed lumps second homes and vacation properties in with rental properties of up to 4 units, while rentals with 5 or more units are lumped in with farmland and commercial properties in equity in nonresidential property.

Only 6% of households own any equity in nonresidential property, a category of wealth that gained 72% from 2013 to 2016. Interestingly, the percentage of families owning this form of wealth actually declined from 7.2% in 2013 to 6.2% in 2016, suggesting to me that the corporations and hedge funds snapping up multi-unit residential properties are buying properties from families.

Based on my previous surveys of I.R.S. income tax data, much of this small-business equity and family owned-rental property is owned by the top 4% to 5% of families, with the majority owned by the top 10%, as shown in the chart below.

The number of families with business equity has been declining, eroded by recession and stagnation, despite the recent bounce higher.

Most of the biz-equity is owned by the top 10%:

While the financial media focuses on billionaires and hedge fund managers playing for billions, much of the wealth and income of the nation is firmly in the hands of families that own proprietorships and rental properties.

These assets have risen sharply in value, and they’ve also generated gains in income.

If you want to get rich, you can climb into a time machine, return to 2010 and buy a couple thousand bitcoin for $1 each. Alternatively, you can marry extremely well. If neither of these options is available, then starting a profitable proprietorship that enables the purchase of rental properties is another option. 

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Russia Buys 34 Tonnes Of Gold In September


– Russia adds 1.1 million ounces to reserves in ongoing diversification from USD
– 34 ton addition brings Russia’s Central Bank holdings to 1,779t; 6th highest
– Russia’s gold reserves are at highest point in Putin’s 17-year reign
– Russia’s central bank will buy gold for its reserves on the Moscow Exchange
– Russia recognises gold’s role as independent currency and safe haven

Prior to World War I Russia held the world’s third largest gold reserves, behind America and France. In the subsequent Russian Revolution, civil war and the rise of communism, they dropped down the table of nations with large gold reserves and the U.S. became the largest holder of national gold reserves.

In recent years, since 2007, an increasingly powerful and assertive Russia has worked hard to reprise its place in the world’s top gold reserve rankings, quadrupling its purchases in the period to June this year.

A 34 ton purchase of gold (1.1 million ounce) in September has put Russia firmly back in the golden spotlight. The country now holds 1,779 tons of gold, placing it sixth in the world and just behind China.

In the first two quarters of the year the CBR purchased 129 tons, making the late-summer purchase the best since October 2016. Taking into account the September purchase, Russia needs to buy just another 37t  in order to purchase 200t by the end of the year – the amount it has done each year, for the last two years running.

Click here to read full story on

Apptrade: The Stock Market of Apps


Just like stockmarket platforms, Apptrade provides a platform for investing in next-gen apps that could go viral like WhatsApp, Instagram or Snapchat. The platform provides a market where traders/investors can see potential applications and invest in the apps of their choices. This investment has been made accessible through the use of cryptocurrencies which enables investors from any part of the world to quickly and securely be able to transact with someone 5000 miles away. Apptrade will feature both mobile and computer applications on the Apptrade market platform.

What does ‘Apptrade’ do?

Apptrade is a platform designed to enable application developers trade apps from their portfolios simulating the modus operandi of stock markets. The value of an app in the apptrade market keeps on varying depending on factors like a total number of users, financing so far received for the app and the valuation of the app which shows the app potential if deployed on the mobile app stores. Portfolio of apps have the possibility of becoming a competitive asset on the platform apptrade and can be perceived as a very disruptive idea. Apptrade allows applications to have multiple sources of revenue – one being the ICO or venture funding and the other from investors on individual apps. Thus it forms an investment system for apps and linked portfolio of apps packaged to be traded over a decentralized exchange. Apptrade provides a platform more dynamic and interactive than the traditional app stores.

How Apptrade Operates

Powered by the OpenLedger Decentralized Exchange (DEX), Apptrade provides a system where apps grow and become famous, cultivating a revenue pipeline for the apps. It is unique and pioneering in the sense that App developers will be able to compete in a fair market with other apps with excellent exposure. Apptrade enables apps to get regular updates from its developers ensuring a very high level of quality across the platform. The platform provides apps are periodically tested against malfunctions and bugs which could affect the functionality of the apps. Through this move app, investors can be confident that the apps they would put their money on in the platform are free from the dangers of scammers. The platform offers ratings for the apps present, making the promotion within the ecosystem easy. This gives the apps a chance to be noticed by potential investors.

The platform allows investors to select and customize their own set of apps for their portfolio. The platform apptrade has its owned decentralized tokens referred to as APPX used for the transactions over the platform. The value of the tokens changes with increasing digital trust the token gains. APPX tokens can be traded or exchanged OpenLedger platform.

Getting Started With Apptrade

Apptrade ICO was launched with a goal to raise over $ 1 million in venture capital. The platform is being laid to become a comprehensive network that can turn out to be the future of app funding and investment. So far APPX has a market cap of $ 5 million with just about 8.25 million APPX on the market. When an investor puts money onto the apptrade platform, he is entitled to up to 20% of the net market value and revenue of the apptrade portfolio ecosystem. All apps are on an individual payment level. Each publisher will see their tiered payment rate decrease as the value of their app increases. 80% of an app portfolio’s earnings are distributed to token portfolio sponsors and 20% to holders of APPX.

The founders of the project and OpenLedger are confident that the project will be a huge success. The venture seeks to penetrate 1.4 % of the 30 billion dollar growing app market in 3 years. The project has high potentiality and is all set to revolutionize app funding in the years to come.

[KR1141] Keiser Report: Credit Market Crash?


Max and Stacy discuss what it looks like when credit markets go nuts as the ECB’s monster bond bubble drives euro junk bonds lower than US Treasurys. Max interviews Michael Pento of about the latest in market euphoria. Will it crash? And, if so, when?

Metaverse -The Blockchain Behind Entropy


The blockchain part of the crypto ecosystem has always been an avenue for innovation and growth since crypto’s inception. Many projects run on various blockchains enabling specific businesses to transact with each other in a certain manner, protocol of you will. Recently, we have begun to notice the Chinese hi-tech firm called ViewFin, which recently launched a Blockchain Platform referred to as Metaverse. Just as Bitcoin Blockchain powers Bitcoin, Metaverse powers Entropy.

What Exactly Is Metaverse?

Just like Bitcoin, Entropy is a decentralized currency running on a blockchain. Metaverse deals with digital identities and smart assets running on the blockchain. The blockchain network enables incorporation of a ledger filled with universally unique accounts. These accounts are used as identifiers of individual details and initials during the smart contracting processes which are always automated through decentralized applications. Metaverse is optimized to allow people, organizations, institutions, and businesses to transact easily with each other. Metaverse on their website states that a security protocol called Oracle will be introduced into the Metaverse blockchain system for authentication of the transactions on the platform. Metaverse will be the Chinese version of Ethereum and will be seen as China’s dive into smart contracting.

Metaverse will run Entropy as its token. Entropy will be adapted to pay for goods and services. Hence Metaverse will be a store of value of smart assets, able to register assets, and keeps a record of the assets on the blockchain.  

Reason To Use Metaverse

Major developments took place in smart contracting over the years. Metaverse introduced a unique system of solving problems in a better and easy way. Metaverse was designed to allow for future innovations that would be introduced to be easily added onto the platform. Metaverse introduced an authentication mechanism to help make the platform secure and trustworthy. On the Metaverse platform intermediaries such as Banks, Governments bodies, institution or an individual can register as an Oracle on the Blockchain. With a progressive trend, the Authority in China is supporting Chinese innovations both regarding resources and favorable policy formulations, which is proving out to be profitable for Metaverse.

How Entropy Tokens Operate And How To Obtain It

The crowdsourcing for Metaverse aka ICO started on September 6th, 2016. During the ICO Entropy tokens are distributed to investors in accordance to their investment. Metaverse was built to have a total of 100 million tokens in its system. Between 15and 30 million tokens were given out after the first ICO, and another 15 to 30 million tokens will be distributed in an ICO after the Metaverse wallet and blockchain are fully operational. The remaining Entropy will be earned in a proof of work mining process, and the system is designed to enter a micro inflation of between 1 to 4 % a year.

Danish Blockchain Company, OpenLedger ApS, signed a Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement with ViewFin, the market leader in Blockchain technology and the developer of Metaverse™, the first public Blockchain in China. This enabled the trading of entropy tokens on the OpenLedger decentralized exchange (DEX). Currently, each Entropy is being valued a little over $5.

With the dynamics of Blockchain technology development and forward bending Chinese government policies towards Chinese owned innovations, Metaverse will succeed as a widely used Blockchain platform.

Where To Invest When (Almost) Everything’s in a Bubble


Now that almost every asset class is in a bubble, the question of where to invest one’s capital has become particularly vexing. The ashes of wealth consumed by the 2008-09 Global Financial Meltdown are still warm, at least to those who never recovered, and so buying assets at nosebleed valuations in the hopes of earning another 5% aren’t very compelling to anyone pursuing common-sense risk management.

As it happens, I wrote a whole book on this vexing question, An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times.

I can’t summarize all the ideas presented in the book in one brief blog entry, but some basic principles will serve us well when bubbles abound.

1. Risk cannot be disappeared, it can only be masked or transferred to others.When anyone claims an investment is low-risk, they’re actually claiming either A) the risk has been obscured by fancy footwork or false claims, or B) the risk has been transferred to some mark, chump or bagholder–nowadays, that usually means the taxpayer, as profits are private and losses are socialized.

2. Value flows to what’s scarce. As economist Michael Spence and his colleagues have noted, conventional capital–the kind issued by central banks and private banks–is not scarce and therefore has little value. Ditto for conventional labor. This is why the returns on conventional capital and labor are so low.

Spence et al. suggest that what’s scarce in today’s global economy are ideas that create new business models, new productivity tools and new goods/services: Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy.

This suggests an investment strategy of identifying what’s scarce, or what will soon be scarce, before everyone else.

3. Many things that are scarce and thus valuable cannot be bought on the global marketplace. The number one example of this is of course health, which is priceless because even having millions won’t buy your health back when it’s been lost.

Yes, you can get patched up with stents or costly meds or maybe score a black-market organ harvested from some unfortunate prisoner somewhere, but all this sort of thing merely keeps you alive; it doesn’t actually restore health.

So any investment in health will pay extremely high dividends. It doesn’t take a ton of cash to invest in one’s health; most of the investment is behavioral.

Other examples of what can’t be bought in the same way stocks, bonds and housing can be purchased: meaningful work, communities with a collective memory of how to get things done in the real world, a functioning community economy, etc.

Investing in work you find fulfilling and meaningful pays dividends that can’t be bought on the marketplace. Once again, investing in one’s skills and social/intellectual capital doesn’t require much cash; thanks to YouTube University and many other free or low-cost sources, anyone can start acquiring the eight essential skills I lay out in my book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. The basic idea is to learn how to build your own career and job.

4. Comparing the relative value of various assets helps identify what’s relatively overvalued and undervalued. The key word here is relative: to say something is absolutely undervalued is trickier than concluding something is undervalued compared to other asset classes.

For example, compare housing in the U.S. and global commodities. Based on the national Case-Shiller Index, house prices have reached new bubblicious levels. Thanks, Federal Reserve!

It’s not much of a stretch to reckon that, hmm, valuations are looking a bit more likely to be overvalued here rather than undervalued.

Now ponder this chart of global commodity prices. It seems commodities are looking decidedly unbubblicious at these levels.

Many commentators have noted that commodities such as precious metals, agricultural products, fertilizers etc. are considerably lower than their recent peaks.

So one possible strategy here would be to sell that apartment complex you bought in Seattle that’s doubled in value over the past few years and use the proceeds to start nibbling on some commodities that look beaten up, ignored, scorned or simply low in their historic range.

This doesn’t mean commodities can’t or won’t go much lower, or the Seattle apartments can’t or won’t go much higher; remember, risk cannot be disappeared. It’s an exercise in risk management, and making an assessment of what’s more or less likely to happen over the next few years. It’s an exercise in hedging gains by seeking exposure in assets that may become scarce and thus more valuable in the near future.

(This is not a recommendation to pursue this strategy; I mention it only as an example of the principle of comparing relative value.)

There’s more in the book, have a look: here’s the Intro and Chapter One, and the Amazon page: An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times

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