XRP Crushed As Bitcoin Falls Off Cliff, Trades Near Two
Technical: The Path to Taproot Activation
Taproot! Everybody wants to have it, somebody wants to make it, nobody knows how to get it! (If you are asking why everybody wants it, see: Technical: Taproot: Why Activate?) (Pedants: I mostly elide over lockin times) Briefly, Taproot is that neat new thing that gets us:
Multisignatures (n-of-n, k-of-n) that are just 1 signature (1-of-1) in length!! (MuSig/Schnorr)
Better privacy!! If all contract participants can agree, just use a multisignature. If there is a dispute, show the contract publicly and have the Bitcoin network resolve it (Taproot/MAST).
Activation lets devs work get back to work on the even newer stuff like!!!
Cross-input signature aggregation!! (transaction with multiple inputs can have a single signature for all inputs) --- needs Schnorr, but some more work needed to ensure that the interactions with SCRIPT are okay.
Block validation - Schnorr signatures for all taproot spends in a block can be validated in a single operation instead of for each transaction!! Speed up validation and maybe we can actually afford to increase block sizes (maybe)!!
SIGHASH_ANYPREVOUT - you know, for Decker-Russell-Osuntokun ("eltoo") magic!!!
OP_CHECKTEMPLATEVERIFY - vaulty vaults without requiring storing signatures, just transaction details!!
So yes, let's activate taproot!
The SegWit Wars
The biggest problem with activating Taproot is PTSD from the previous softfork, SegWit. Pieter Wuille, one of the authors of the current Taproot proposal, has consistently held the position that he will not discuss activation, and will accept whatever activation process is imposed on Taproot. Other developers have expressed similar opinions. So what happened with SegWit activation that was so traumatic? SegWit used the BIP9 activation method. Let's dive into BIP9!
bit - A field in the block header, the nVersion, has a number of bits. By setting a particular bit, the miner making the block indicates that it has upgraded its software to support a particular soft fork. The bit parameter for a BIP9 activation is which bit in this nVersion is used to indicate that the miner has upgraded software for a particular soft fork.
timeout - a time limit, expressed as an end date. If this timeout is reached without sufficient number of miners signaling that they upgraded, then the activation fails and Bitcoin Core goes back to the drawing board.
Now there are other parameters (name, starttime) but they are not anywhere near as important as the above two. A number that is not a parameter, is 95%. Basically, activation of a BIP9 softfork is considered as actually succeeding if at least 95% of blocks in the last 2 weeks had the specified bit in the nVersion set. If less than 95% had this bit set before the timeout, then the upgrade fails and never goes into the network. This is not a parameter: it is a constant defined by BIP9, and developers using BIP9 activation cannot change this. So, first some simple questions and their answers:
Why not just set a day when everyone starts imposing the new rules of the softfork?
This was done classically (in the days when Satoshi was still among us). But this might argued to put too much power to developers, since there would be no way to reject an upgrade without possible bad consequences. For example, developers might package an upgrade that the users do not want, together with vital security bugfixes. Either you live without vital security bugfixes and hire some other developers to fix it for you (which can be difficult, presumably the best developers are already the ones working on the codebase) or you get the vital security bugfixes and implicitly support the upgrade you might not want.
Sure, you could fork the code yourself (the ultimate threat in the FOSS world) and hire another set of developers who aren't assholes to do the dreary maintenance work of fixing security bugs, but Bitcoin needs strong bug-for-bug compatibility so everyone should really congregate around a single codebase.
Basically: even the devs do not want this power, because they fear being coerced into putting "upgrades" that are detrimental to users. Satoshi got a pass because nobody knew who he was and how to coerce him.
Suppose the threshold were lower, like 51%. If so, after activation, somebody can disrupt the Bitcoin network by creating a transaction that is valid under the pre-softfork rules, but are invalid under the post-softfork rules. Upgraded nodes would reject it, but 49% of miners would accept it and include it in a block (which makes the block invalid) And then the same 49% would accept the invalid block and build on top of that, possibly creating a short chain of doomed invalid blocks that confirm an invalid spend. This can confuse SPV wallets, who might see multiple confirmations of a transaction and accept the funds, but later find that in fact it is invalid under the now-activated softfork rules.
Thus, a very high threshold was imposed. 95% is considered safe. 50% is definitely not safe. Due to variance in the mining process, 80% could also be potentially unsafe (i.e. 80% of blocks signaling might have a good chance of coming from only 60% of miners), so a threshold of 95% was considered "safe enough for Bitcoin work".
Why have a timeout that disables the upgrade?
Before BIP9, what was used was either flag day or BIP34. BIP34 had no flag day of activation or a bit, instead, it was just a 95% threshold to signal an nVersion value greater than a specific value. Actually, it was two thresholds: at 75%, blocks with the new nVersion would have the new softfork rules imposed, but at 95% blocks with the old nVersion would be rejected (and only the new blocks, with the new softfork rules, were accepted). For one, between 75% and 95%, there was a situation where the softfork was only "partially imposed", only blocks signaling the new rules would actually have those rules, but blocks with the old rules were still valid. This was fine for BIP34, which only added rules for miners with negligible use for non-miners.
The reasons miners signalled support was because they felt they were being pressured to signal support. So they signalled support, with plans to actually upgrade later, but because of the widespread signalling, the new BIP66 version locked in before upgrade plans were finished. Thus, the timeout that disables the upgrade was added in BIP9 to allow miners an escape hatch.
The Great Battles of the SegWit Wars
SegWit not only fixed transaction malleability, it also created a practical softforkable blocksize increase that also rebalanced weights so that the cost of spending a UTXO is about the same as the cost of creating UTXOs (and spending UTXOs is "better" since it limits the size of the UTXO set that every fullnode has to maintain). So SegWit was written, the activation was decided to be BIP9, and then.... miner signalling stalled at below 75%. Thus were the Great SegWit Wars started.
BIP9 Feature Hostage
If you are a miner with at least 5% global hashpower, you can hold a BIP9-activated softfork hostage. You might even secretly want the softfork to actually push through. But you might want to extract concession from the users and the developers. Like removing the halvening. Or raising or even removing the block size caps (which helps larger miners more than smaller miners, making it easier to become a bigger fish that eats all the smaller fishes). Or whatever. With BIP9, you can hold the softfork hostage. You just hold out and refuse to signal. You tell everyone you will signal, if and only if certain concessions are given to you. This ability by miners to hold a feature hostage was enabled because of the miner-exit allowed by the timeout on BIP9. Prior to that, miners were considered little more than expendable security guards, paid for the risk they take to secure the network, but not special in the grand scheme of Bitcoin.
ASICBoost was a novel way of optimizing SHA256 mining, by taking advantage of the structure of the 80-byte header that is hashed in order to perform proof-of-work. The details of ASICBoost are out-of-scope here but you can read about it elsewhere Here is a short summary of the two types of ASICBoost, relevant to the activation discussion.
Overt ASICBoost - Manipulates the unused bits in nVersion to reduce power consumption in mining.
Covert ASICBoost - Manipulates the order of transactions in the block to reduce power consumption in mining.
Now, "overt" means "obvious", while "covert" means hidden. Overt ASICBoost is obvious because nVersion bits that are not currently in use for BIP9 activations are usually 0 by default, so setting those bits to 1 makes it obvious that you are doing something weird (namely, Overt ASICBoost). Covert ASICBoost is non-obvious because the order of transactions in a block are up to the miner anyway, so the miner rearranging the transactions in order to get lower power consumption is not going to be detected. Unfortunately, while Overt ASICBoost was compatible with SegWit, Covert ASICBoost was not. This is because, pre-SegWit, only the block header Merkle tree committed to the transaction ordering. However, with SegWit, another Merkle tree exists, which commits to transaction ordering as well. Covert ASICBoost would require more computation to manipulate two Merkle trees, obviating the power benefits of Covert ASICBoost anyway. Now, miners want to use ASICBoost (indeed, about 60->70% of current miners probably use the Overt ASICBoost nowadays; if you have a Bitcoin fullnode running you will see the logs with lots of "60 of last 100 blocks had unexpected versions" which is exactly what you would see with the nVersion manipulation that Overt ASICBoost does). But remember: ASICBoost was, at around the time, a novel improvement. Not all miners had ASICBoost hardware. Those who did, did not want it known that they had ASICBoost hardware, and wanted to do Covert ASICBoost! But Covert ASICBoost is incompatible with SegWit, because SegWit actually has two Merkle trees of transaction data, and Covert ASICBoost works by fudging around with transaction ordering in a block, and recomputing two Merkle Trees is more expensive than recomputing just one (and loses the ASICBoost advantage). Of course, those miners that wanted Covert ASICBoost did not want to openly admit that they had ASICBoost hardware, they wanted to keep their advantage secret because miners are strongly competitive in a very tight market. And doing ASICBoost Covertly was just the ticket, but they could not work post-SegWit. Fortunately, due to the BIP9 activation process, they could hold SegWit hostage while covertly taking advantage of Covert ASICBoost!
UASF: BIP148 and BIP8
When the incompatibility between Covert ASICBoost and SegWit was realized, still, activation of SegWit stalled, and miners were still not openly claiming that ASICBoost was related to non-activation of SegWit. Eventually, a new proposal was created: BIP148. With this rule, 3 months before the end of the SegWit timeout, nodes would reject blocks that did not signal SegWit. Thus, 3 months before SegWit timeout, BIP148 would force activation of SegWit. This proposal was not accepted by Bitcoin Core, due to the shortening of the timeout (it effectively times out 3 months before the initial SegWit timeout). Instead, a fork of Bitcoin Core was created which added the patch to comply with BIP148. This was claimed as a User Activated Soft Fork, UASF, since users could freely download the alternate fork rather than sticking with the developers of Bitcoin Core. Now, BIP148 effectively is just a BIP9 activation, except at its (earlier) timeout, the new rules would be activated anyway (instead of the BIP9-mandated behavior that the upgrade is cancelled at the end of the timeout). BIP148 was actually inspired by the BIP8 proposal (the link here is a historical version; BIP8 has been updated recently, precisely in preparation for Taproot activation). BIP8 is basically BIP9, but at the end of timeout, the softfork is activated anyway rather than cancelled. This removed the ability of miners to hold the softfork hostage. At best, they can delay the activation, but not stop it entirely by holding out as in BIP9. Of course, this implies risk that not all miners have upgraded before activation, leading to possible losses for SPV users, as well as again re-pressuring miners to signal activation, possibly without the miners actually upgrading their software to properly impose the new softfork rules.
BIP91, SegWit2X, and The Aftermath
BIP148 inspired countermeasures, possibly from the Covert ASiCBoost miners, possibly from concerned users who wanted to offer concessions to miners. To this day, the common name for BIP148 - UASF - remains an emotionally-charged rallying cry for parts of the Bitcoin community. One of these was SegWit2X. This was brokered in a deal between some Bitcoin personalities at a conference in New York, and thus part of the so-called "New York Agreement" or NYA, another emotionally-charged acronym. The text of the NYA was basically:
Set up a new activation threshold at 80% signalled at bit 4 (vs bit 1 for SegWit).
When this 80% signalling was reached, miners would require that bit 1 for SegWit be signalled to achive the 95% activation needed for SegWit.
If the bit 4 signalling reached 80%, increase the block weight limit from the SegWit 4000000 to the SegWit2X 8000000, 6 months after bit 1 activation.
The first item above was coded in BIP91. Unfortunately, if you read the BIP91, independently of NYA, you might come to the conclusion that BIP91 was only about lowering the threshold to 80%. In particular, BIP91 never mentions anything about the second point above, it never mentions that bit 4 80% threshold would also signal for a later hardfork increase in weight limit. Because of this, even though there are claims that NYA (SegWit2X) reached 80% dominance, a close reading of BIP91 shows that the 80% dominance was only for SegWit activation, without necessarily a later 2x capacity hardfork (SegWit2X). This ambiguity of bit 4 (NYA says it includes a 2x capacity hardfork, BIP91 says it does not) has continued to be a thorn in blocksize debates later. Economically speaking, Bitcoin futures between SegWit and SegWit2X showed strong economic dominance in favor of SegWit (SegWit2X futures were traded at a fraction in value of SegWit futures: I personally made a tidy but small amount of money betting against SegWit2X in the futures market), so suggesting that NYA achieved 80% dominance even in mining is laughable, but the NYA text that ties bit 4 to SegWit2X still exists. Historically, BIP91 triggered which caused SegWit to activate before the BIP148 shorter timeout. BIP148 proponents continue to hold this day that it was the BIP148 shorter timeout and no-compromises-activate-on-August-1 that made miners flock to BIP91 as a face-saving tactic that actually removed the second clause of NYA. NYA supporters keep pointing to the bit 4 text in the NYA and the historical activation of BIP91 as a failed promise by Bitcoin developers.
We have discussed BIP8: roughly, it has bit and timeout, if 95% of miners signal bit it activates, at the end of timeout it activates. (EDIT: BIP8 has had recent updates: at the end of timeout it can now activate or fail. For the most part, in the below text "BIP8", means BIP8-and-activate-at-timeout, and "BIP9" means BIP8-and-fail-at-timeout) So let's take a look at Modern Softfork Activation!
Modern Softfork Activation
This is a more complex activation method, composed of BIP9 and BIP8 as supcomponents.
First have a 12-month BIP9 (fail at timeout).
If the above fails to activate, have a 6-month discussion period during which users and developers and miners discuss whether to continue to step 3.
Have a 24-month BIP8 (activate at timeout).
The total above is 42 months, if you are counting: 3.5 years worst-case activation. The logic here is that if there are no problems, BIP9 will work just fine anyway. And if there are problems, the 6-month period should weed it out. Finally, miners cannot hold the feature hostage since the 24-month BIP8 period will exist anyway.
PSA: Being Resilient to Upgrades
Software is very birttle. Anyone who has been using software for a long time has experienced something like this:
You hear a new version of your favorite software has a nice new feature.
Excited, you install the new version.
You find that the new version has subtle incompatibilities with your current workflow.
You are sad and downgrade to the older version.
You find out that the new version has changed your files in incompatible ways that the old version cannot work with anymore.
You tearfully reinstall the newer version and figure out how to get your lost productivity now that you have to adapt to a new workflow
If you are a technically-competent user, you might codify your workflow into a bunch of programs. And then you upgrade one of the external pieces of software you are using, and find that it has a subtle incompatibility with your current workflow which is based on a bunch of simple programs you wrote yourself. And if those simple programs are used as the basis of some important production system, you hve just screwed up because you upgraded software on an important production system. And well, one of the issues with new softfork activation is that if not enough people (users and miners) upgrade to the newest Bitcoin software, the security of the new softfork rules are at risk. Upgrading software of any kind is always a risk, and the more software you build on top of the software-being-upgraded, the greater you risk your tower of software collapsing while you change its foundations. So if you have some complex Bitcoin-manipulating system with Bitcoin somewhere at the foundations, consider running two Bitcoin nodes:
One is a "stable-version" Bitcoin node. Once it has synced, set it up to connect=x.x.x.x to the second node below (so that your ISP bandwidth is only spent on the second node). Use this node to run all your software: it's a stable version that you don't change for long periods of time. Enable txiindex, disable pruning, whatever your software needs.
The other is an "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin Node. Keep its stoarge down with pruning (initially sync it off the "stable-version" node). You can't use blocksonly if your "stable-version" node needs to send transactions, but otherwise this "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin node can be kept as a low-resource node, so you can run both nodes in the same machine.
When a new Bitcoin version comes up, you just upgrade the "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin node. This protects you if a future softfork activates, you will only receive valid Bitcoin blocks and transactions. Since this node has nothing running on top of it, it is just a special peer of the "stable-version" node, any software incompatibilities with your system software do not exist. Your "stable-version" Bitcoin node remains the same version until you are ready to actually upgrade this node and are prepared to rewrite most of the software you have running on top of it due to version compatibility problems. When upgrading the "always-up-to-date", you can bring it down safely and then start it later. Your "stable-version" wil keep running, disconnected from the network, but otherwise still available for whatever queries. You do need some system to stop the "always-up-to-date" node if for any reason the "stable-version" goes down (otherwisee if the "always-up-to-date" advances its pruning window past what your "stable-version" has, the "stable-version" cannot sync afterwards), but if you are technically competent enough that you need to do this, you are technically competent enough to write such a trivial monitor program (EDIT: gmax notes you can adjust the pruning window by RPC commands to help with this as well). This recommendation is from gmaxwell on IRC, by the way.
DDDD - The Rise of “Buy the Dip” Retail Investors and Why Another Crash Is Imminent
In this week's edition of DDDD (Data-driven DD), I'll be going over the real reason why we have been seeing a rally for the past few weeks, defying all logic and fundamentals - retail investors. We'll look into several data sets to see how retail interest in stock markets have reached record levels in the past few weeks, how this affected stock prices, and why we've most likely seen the top at this point, unless we see one of the "positive catalysts" that I mentioned in my previous post, which is unlikely (except for more news about Remdesivir). Disclaimer - This is not financial advice, and a lot of the content below is my personal opinion. In fact, the numbers, facts, or explanations presented below could be wrong and be made up. Don't buy random options because some person on the internet says so; look at what happened to all the SPY 220p 4/17 bag holders. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions on what you should do with your own money, and how levered you want to be based on your personal risk tolerance. Inspiration Most people who know me personally know that I spend an unhealthy amount of my free time in finance and trading as a hobby, even competing in paper options trading competitions when I was in high school. A few weeks ago, I had a friend ask if he could call me because he just installed Robinhood and wanted to buy SPY puts after seeing everyone on wallstreetbets post gains posts from all the tendies they’ve made from their SPY puts. The problem was, he actually didn’t understand how options worked at all, and needed a thorough explanation about how options are priced, what strike prices and expiration dates mean, and what the right strategy to buying options are. That’s how I knew we were at the euphoria stage of buying SPY puts - it’s when dumb money starts to pour in, and people start buying securities because they see everyone else making money and they want in, even if they have no idea what they’re buying, and price becomes dislocated from fundementals. Sure enough, less than a week later, we started the bull rally that we are currently in. Bubbles are formed when people buy something not because of logic or even gut feeling, but when people who previously weren’t involved see their dumb neighbors make tons of money from it, and they don’t want to miss out. A few days ago, I started getting questions from other friends about what stocks they should buy and if I thought something was a good investment. That inspired me to dig a bit deeper to see how many other people are thinking the same thing. Data Ever since March, we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of money pour into the stock market from retail investors. Google Search Trends \"what stock should I buy\" Google Trends 2004 - 2020 \"what stock should I buy\" Google Trends 12 months \"stocks\" Google Trends 2004 - 2020 \"stocks\" Google Trends 12 months Brokerage data Robinhood SPY holders \"Robinhood\" Google Trends 12 months wallstreetbets' favorite broker Google Trends 12 months Excerpt from E*Trade earnings statement Excerpt from Schwab earnings statement TD Ameritrade Excerpt Media cnbc.com Alexa rank CNBC viewership & rankings wallstreetbets comments / day investing comments / day Analysis What we can see from Reddit numbers, Google Trends, and CNBC stats is that in between the first week of March and first week of April, we see a massive inflow of retail interest in the stock market. Not only that, but this inflow of interest is coming from all age cohorts, from internet-using Zoomers to TV-watching Boomers. Robinhood SPY holdings and earnings reports from E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, and Schwab have also all confirmed record numbers of new clients, number of trades, and assets. There’s something interesting going on if you look closer at the numbers. The numbers growth in brokers for designed for “less sophisticated” investors (i.e. Robinhood and E*Trade) are much larger than for real brokers (i.e. Schwab and Ameritrade). This implies that the record number of new users and trade volume is coming from dumb money. The numbers shown here only really apply to the US and Canada, but there’s also data to suggest that there’s also record numbers of foreign investors pouring money into the US stock market as well. However, after the third week of March, we see the interest start to slowly decline and plateau, indicating that we probably have seen most of those new investors who wanted to have a long position in the market do so. SPX daily Rationale Pretty much everything past this point is purely speculation, and isn’t really backed up by any solid data so take whatever I say here with a cup of salt. We could see from the graph that new investor interest started with the first bull trap we saw in the initial decline from early March, and peaking right after the end of the crash in March. So it would be fair to guess that we’re seeing a record amount of interest in the stock market from a “buy the dip” mentality, especially from Robinhood-using Millennials. Here’s a few points on my rationalization of this behavior, based on very weak anecdotal evidence
They missed out of their chance of getting in the stock market at the start of the bull market that happened at the end of 2009
They’ve all seen the stock market make record gains throughout their adult lives, but believing that the market might be overheated, they were waiting for a crash
Most of them have gotten towards the stage of their lives where they actually have some savings and can finally put some money aside for investments
This stock market crash seems like their once-in-a-decade opportunity that they’ve been waiting for, so everyone jumped in
Everyone’s stuck at their homes with vast amounts of unexpected free time on their hands
Most of these new investors got their first taste in the market near the bottom, and probably made some nice returns. Of course, since they didn’t know what they were doing, they probably put a very small amount of money at first, but after seeing a 10% return over one week, validating that maybe they do know something, they decide to slowly pour in more and more of their life savings. That’s what’s been fueling this bull market. Sentiment & Magic Crayons As I mentioned previously, this bull rally will keep going until enough bears convert to bulls. Markets go up when the amount of new bullish positions outnumber the amount of new bearish positions, and vice versa. Record amounts of new investors, who previously never held a position in the market before, fueled the bullish side of this equation, despite all the negative data that has come out and dislocating the price from fundamentals. All the smart money that was shorting the markets saw this happening, and flipped to become bulls because you don’t fight the trend, even if the trend doesn’t reflect reality. From the data shown above, we can see new investor interest growth has started declining since mid March and started stagnating in early April. The declining volume in SPY since mid-March confirms this. That means, once the sentiment of the new retail investors starts to turn bearish, and everyone figures out how much the stocks they’re holding are really worth, another sell-off will begin. I’ve seen something very similar to this a few years ago with Bitcoin. Near the end of 2017, Bitcoin started to become mainstream and saw a flood of retail investors suddenly signing up for Coinbase (i.e. Robinhood) accounts and buying Bitcoin without actually understanding what it is and how it works. Suddenly everyone, from co-workers to grandparents, starts talking about Bitcoin and might have thrown a few thousand dollars into it. This appears to be a very similar parallel to what’s going on right now. Of course there’s differences here in that equities have an intrinsic value, although many of them have gone way above what they should be intrinsically worth, and the vast majority of retail investors don’t understand how to value companies. Then, during December, when people started thinking that the market was getting a bit overheated, some started taking their profits, and that’s when the prices crashed violently. This flip in sentiment now look like it has started with equities. SPY daily Technical Analysis, or magic crayons, is a discipline in finance that uses statistical analysis to predict market trends based on market sentiment. Of course, a lot of this is hand-wavy and is very subjective; two people doing TA on the same price history can end up getting opposite results, so TA should always be taken with a grain of salt and ideally be backed with underlying justification and not be blindly followed. In fact, I’ve since corrected the ascending wedge I had on SPY since my last post since this new wedge is a better fit for the new trading data. There’s a few things going on in this chart. The entire bull rally we’ve had since the lows can be modelled using a rising wedge. This is a pattern where there is a convergence of a rising support and resistance trendline, along with falling volume. This indicates a slow decline in net bullish sentiment with investors, with smaller and smaller upside after each bounce off the support until it hits a resistance. The smaller the bounces, the less bullish investors are. When the bearish sentiment takes over across investors, the price breaks below this wedge - a breakdown, and indicates a start of another downtrend. This happened when the wedge hit resistance at around 293, which is around the same price as the 200 day moving average, the 62% retracement (considered to be the upper bound of a bull trap), and a price level that acted as a support and resistance throughout 2019. The fact that it gapped down to break this wedge is also a strong signal, indicating a sudden swing in investor sentiment overnight. The volume of the break down also broke the downwards trend of volume we’ve had since the beginning of the bull rally, indicating a sudden surge of people selling their shares. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will go straight from here, and I personally think that we will see the completion of a heads-and-shoulders pattern complete before SPY goes below 274, which in itself is a strong support level. In other words, SPY might go from 282 -> 274 -> 284 -> 274 before breaking the 274 support level. VIX Daily Doing TA is already sketchy, and doing TA on something like VIX is even more sketchy, but I found this interesting so I’ll mention it. Since the start of the bull rally, we’ve had VIX inside a descending channel. With the breakdown we had in SPY yesterday, VIX has also gapped up to have a breakout from this channel, indicating that we may see future volatility in the next week or so. Putting Everything Together Finally, we get to my thesis. This entire bull rally has been fueled by new retail investors buying the dip, bringing the stock price to euphoric levels. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been seeing the people waiting at the sidelines for years to get into the stock market slowly FOMO into the rally in smaller and smaller volumes, while the smart money have been locking in their profits at an even slower rate - hence an ascending wedge. As the amount of new retail interest in the stock market started slowed down, the amount of new bulls started to decline. It looks like Friday might have been the start of the bearish sentiment taking over, meaning it’s likely that 293 was the top, unless any significant bullish events happen in the next two weeks like a fourth round of stimulus, in which case we might see 300. This doesn’t mean we’ll instantly go back to circuit breakers on Monday, and we might see 282 -> 274 -> 284 -> 274 happen before panic, this time by the first-time investors, eventually bringing us down towards SPY 180. tldr; we've reached the top EDIT - I'll keep a my live thoughts here as we move throughout this week in case anyone's still reading this and interested. 5/4 8PM - /ES was red last night but steadily climbed, which was expected since 1h RSI was borderline oversold, leaving us to a slightly green day. /ES looks like it has momentum going up, but is approaching towards overbought territory now. Expecting it to go towards 284 (possibly where we'll open tomorrow) and bouncing back down from that price level 5/5 Market Open - Well there goes my price target. I guess at this point it might go up to 293 again, but will need a lot of momentum to push back there to 300. Seems like this is being driven by oil prices skyrocketing. 5/5 3:50PM - Volume for the upwards price action had very little volume behind it. Seeing a selloff EOD today, could go either way although I have a bearish bias. Going to hold cash until it goes towards one end of the 274-293 channel (see last week's thesis). Still believe that we will see it drop below 274 next week, but we might be moving sideways in the channel this week and a bit of next week before that happens. Plan for tomorrow is buy short dated puts if open < 285. Otherwise, wait till it goes to 293 before buying those puts 5/5 6PM - What we saw today could be a false breakout above 284. Need tomorrow to open below 285 for that to be confirmed. If so, my original thesis of it going back down to 274 before bouncing back up will still be in play. 5/6 EOD - Wasn't a false breakout. Looks like it's still forming the head-and-shoulders pattern mentioned before, but 288 instead of 284 as the level. Still not sure yet so I'm personally going to be holding cash and waiting this out for the next few days. Will enter into short positions if we either go near 293 again or drop below 270. Might look into VIX calls if VIX goes down near 30. 5/7 Market Open - Still waiting. If we break 289 we're probably heading to 293. I'll make my entry to short positions when we hit that a second time. There's very little bullish momentum left (see MACD 1D), so if we hit 293 and then drop back down, we'll have a MACD crossover event which many traders and algos use as a sell signal. Oil is doing some weird shit. 5/7 Noon - Looks like we're headed to 293. Picked up VIX 32.5c 5/27 since VIX is near 30. 5/7 11PM - /ES is hovering right above 2910, with 4h and 1h charts are bullish from MACD and 1h is almost overbought in RSI. Unless something dramatic happens we'll probably hit near 293 tomorrow, which is where I'll get some SPY puts. We might drop down before ever touching it, or go all the way to 295 (like last time) during the day, but expecting it to close at or below 293. After that I'm expecting a gap down Monday as we start the final leg down next week towards 274. Expecting 1D MACD to crossover in the final leg down, which will be a signal for bears to take over and institutions / day traders will start selling again 5/8 Market Open - Plan is to wait till a good entry today, either when technicals looks good or we hit 293, and then buy some SPY June 285p and July 275p 5/8 Noon - Everything still going according to plan. Most likely going to slowly inch towards 293 by EOD. Will probably pick up SPY puts and more VIX calls at power hour (3 - 4PM). Monday will probably gap down, although there's a small chance of one more green / sideways day before that happens if we have bullish catalysts on the weekend. 5/8 3:55PM - SPY at 292.60. This is probably going to be the closest we get to 293. Bought SPY 290-260 6/19 debit spreads and 292-272 5/15 debit spreads, as well as doubling down on VIX calls from yesterday, decreasing my cost basis. Still looks like there's room for one more green day on Monday, so I left some money on the side to double down if that's the case, although it's more likely than not we won't get there. 5/8 EOD - Looks like we barely touched 293 exactly AH before rebounding down. Too bad you can't buy options AH, but more convinced we'll see a gap down on Monday. Going to work on another post over the weekend and do my updates there. Have a great weekend everyone!
Testing the Tide | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - June 2020
We would rather be ruined than changed. -W H Auden, The Age of Anxiety This is my forty-third portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $726 306 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $42 118 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $78 730 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $111 691 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $201 745 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $39 357 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $231 269 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 668 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 310 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $5 532 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $117 757 Secured physical gold – $18 913 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $10 479 Bitcoin – $148 990 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 841 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 553 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 484 Total portfolio value: $1 765 743 (+$8 485 or 0.5%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 42.2% (2.8% under) Global shares – 22.0% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 27.3% (2.7% under) Total shares – 69.5% (5.5% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 4.7% International bonds – 9.4% Total bonds – 14.0% (1.0% under) Gold – 7.7% Bitcoin – 8.4% Gold and alternatives – 16.2% (6.2% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The overall portfolio increased slightly over the month. This has continued to move the portfolio beyond the lows seen in late March. The modest portfolio growth of $8 000, or 0.5 per cent, maintains its value at around that achieved at the beginning of the year. [Chart] The limited growth this month largely reflects an increase in the value of my current equity holdings, in VAS and A200 and the Vanguard retail funds. This has outweighed a small decline in the value of Bitcoin and global shares. The value of the bond holdings also increased modestly, pushing them to their highest value since around early 2017. [Chart] There still appears to be an air of unreality around recent asset price increases and the broader economic context. Britain's Bank of England has on some indicators shown that the aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown represent the most challenging financial crisis in around 300 years. What is clear is that investor perceptions and fear around the coronavirus pandemic are a substantial ongoing force driving volatility in equity markets (pdf). A somewhat optimistic view is provided here that the recovery could look more like the recovery from a natural disaster, rather than a traditional recession. Yet there are few certainties on offer. Negative oil prices, and effective offers by US equity investors to bail out Hertz creditors at no cost appear to be signs of a financial system under significant strains. As this Reserve Bank article highlights, while some Australian households are well-placed to weather the storm ahead, the timing and severity of what lays ahead is an important unknown that will itself feed into changes in household wealth from here. Investments this month have been exclusively in the Australian shares exchange-traded fund (VAS) using Selfwealth.* This has been to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares. A moving azimuth: falling spending continues Monthly expenses on the credit card have continued their downward trajectory across the past month. [Chart] The rolling average of monthly credit card spending is now at its lowest point over the period of the journey. This is despite the end of lockdown, and a slow resumption of some more normal aspects of spending. This has continued the brief period since April of the achievement of a notional and contingent kind of financial independence. The below chart illustrates this temporary state, setting out the degree to which portfolio distributions cover estimated total expenses, measured month to month. [Chart] There are two sources of volatility underlying its movement. The first is the level of expenses, which can vary, and the second is the fact that it is based on financial year distributions, which are themselves volatile. Importantly, the distributions over the last twelve months of this chart is only an estimate - and hence the next few weeks will affect the precision of this analysis across its last 12 observations. Estimating 2019-20 financial year portfolio distributions Since the beginning of the journey, this time of year usually has sense of waiting for events to unfold - in particular, finding out the level of half-year distributions to June. These represent the bulk of distributions, usually averaging 60-65 per cent of total distributions received. They are an important and tangible signpost of progress on the financial independence journey. This is no simple task, as distributions have varied in size considerably. A part of this variation has been the important role of sometimes large and lumpy capital distributions - which have made up between 30 to 48 per cent of total distributions in recent years, and an average of around 15 per cent across the last two decades. I have experimented with many different approaches, most of which have relied on averaging over multi-year periods to even out the 'peaks and troughs' of how market movements may have affected distributions. The main approaches have been:
An 'adjusted income' approach - stripping out the capital gains components of Vanguard funds to reach an estimate of underlying income generation, both across the entire investment period, and during the sharpest low of the Global Financial Crisis
A long-term asset class approach - relying on long-term historical data on averages of the income produced by various asset classes
A 'tax method' approach - this derives an income estimate as a percentage of the portfolio by drawing on taxable investment income totals from tax return records
Simple historical rolling average - this is a rolling three-year measure, based on the actual distributions record of the portfolio
Average distribution rate approach - this method uses a long-term average of annual distributions received as a percentage of the total portfolio since 1999
Each of these have their particular simplifications, advantages and drawbacks. Developing new navigation tools Over the past month I have also developed more fully an alternate 'model' for estimating returns. This simply derives a median value across a set of historical 'cents per unit' distribution data for June and December payouts for the Vanguard funds and exchange traded funds. These make up over 96 per cent of income producing portfolio assets. In other words, this model essentially assumes that each Vanguard fund and ETF owned pays out the 'average' level of distributions this half-year, with the average being based on distribution records that typically go back between 5 to 10 years. Mapping the distribution estimates The chart below sets out the estimate produced by each approach for the June distributions that are to come. [Chart] Some observations on these findings can be made. The lowest estimate is the 'adjusted GFC income' observation, which essentially assumes that the income for this period is as low as experienced by the equity and bond portfolio during the Global Financial Crisis. Just due to timing differences of the period observed, this seems to be a 'worst case' lower bound estimate, which I do not currently place significant weight on. Similarly, at the highest end, the 'average distribution rate' approach simply assumes June distributions deliver a distribution equal to the median that the entire portfolio has delivered since 1999. With higher interest rates, and larger fixed income holdings across much of that time, this seems an objectively unlikely outcome. Similarly, the delivery of exactly the income suggested by long-term averages measured across decades and even centuries would be a matter of chance, rather than the basis for rational expectations. Central estimates of the line of position This leaves the estimates towards the centre of the chart - estimates of between around $28 000 to $43 000 as representing the more likely range. I attach less weight to the historical three-year average due to the high contribution of distributed capital gains over that period of growth, where at least across equities some capital losses are likely to be in greater presence. My preferred central estimate is the model estimate (green) , as it is based in historical data directly from the investment vehicles rather than my own evolving portfolio. The data it is based on in some cases goes back to the Global Financial Crisis. This estimate is also quite close to the raw average of all the alternative approaches (red). It sits a little above the 'adjusted income' measure. None of these estimates, it should be noted, contain any explicit adjustment for the earnings and dividend reductions or delays arising from COVID-19. They may, therefore represent a modest over-estimate for likely June distributions, to the extent that these effects are more negative than those experienced on average across the period of the underlying data. These are difficult to estimate, but dividend reductions could easily be in the order of 20-30 per cent, plausibly lowering distributions to the $23 000 to $27 000 range. The recently announced forecast dividend for the Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) is, for example, the lowest in four years. As seen from chart above, there is a wide band of estimates, which grow wider still should capital gains be unexpectedly distributed from the Vanguard retail funds. These have represented a source of considerable volatility. Given this, it may seem fruitless to seek to estimate these forthcoming distributions, compared to just waiting for them to arrive. Yet this exercise helps by setting out reasoning and positions, before hindsight bias urgently arrives to inform me that I knew the right answer all along. It also potentially helps clearly 'reject' some models over time, if the predictions they make prove to be systematically incorrect. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 81.0% 109.4% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 98.8% 133.5% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 79.2% 106.9% Summary The current coronavirus conditions are affecting all aspects of the journey to financial independence - changing spending habits, leading to volatility in equity markets and sequencing risks, and perhaps dramatically altering the expected pattern of portfolio distributions. Although history can provide some guidance, there is simply no definitive way to know whether any or all of these changes will be fundamental and permanent alterations, or simply data points on a post-natural disaster path to a different post-pandemic set of conditions. There is the temptation to fit past crises imperfectly into the modern picture, as this Of Dollars and Data post illustrates well. Taking a longer 100 year view, this piece 'The Allegory of the Hawk and Serpent' is a reminder that our entire set of received truths about constructing a portfolio to survive for the long-term can be a product of a sample size of one - actual past history - and subject to recency bias. This month has felt like one of quiet routines, muted events compared to the past few months, and waiting to understand more fully the shape of the new. Nonetheless, with each new investment, or week of lower expenditure than implied in my FI target, the nature of the journey is incrementally changing - beneath the surface. Small milestones are being passed - such as over 40 per cent of my equity holdings being outside of the the Vanguard retail funds. Or these these retail funds - which once formed over 95 per cent of the portfolio - now making up less than half. With a significant part of the financial independence journey being about repeated small actions producing outsized results with time, the issue of maintaining good routines while exploring beneficial changes is real. Adding to the complexity is that embarking on the financial journey itself is likely to change who one is. This idea, of the difficulty or impossibility of knowing the preferences of a future self, is explored in a fascinating way in this Econtalk podcast episode with a philosophical thought experiment about vampires. It poses the question: perhaps we can never know ourselves at the destination? And yet, who would rationally choose ruin over any change? The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
[OC] If the regular season ended today, who would make your All-NBA 1st team? And 2nd team? And 3rd team? And 4th team? And 5th team? And 6th team? And 7th -- uh oh -- I think I lost my marbles... but let's keep going... 8th team? 9th team? 10th team?
Getting named as an NBA All-Star is a high honor, but being named to an All-NBA team is even rarer air. After all, only 15 players in the entire league earn that distinction. The fact that it's such an exclusive club makes it so important, so the idea of adding more players to the list would devalue it by nature. It'd be a silly, fruitless exercise, and a complete waste of time. That said... it sure beats "reality" right now. And in the interest of escapism, let's entertain that hypothetical. Who would make your 1st team All-NBA? Your 2nd? Your 3rd? Your 4th? The challenge is get all the way up to the 10th if you can handle that test of your sanity. For my own, I include a few caveats: --- The NBA breaks down All-NBA spots more traditionally with frontcourt and backcourt, but I find that outdated. For mine, I'm going to include 1 "lead guard," 2 "wings," 1 "big," and 1 "flex" that can be any position. To me, that's reflective of the modern game. Most teams play with 1 guard, 3 wings, and 1 big, but there are teams that use 2 lead guards, or 2 bigs, etc. --- The nature of basketball statistics tends to break down by game, or by minute, or even by play/possession. In the process, we tend to overlook players who are durable and add aggravate value over the course of a season. Personally, I'm going to factor in "games played" more than most would. --- The advanced stats I'm listing are true shooting percentage and ESPN's estimated "wins added" based on their real plus/minus metric. With all that said, let's get to the madness.
GUARD: James Harden (HOU). 34.4 points, 7.4 assists, 62 TS%, +10.4 wins added You can tell when a player has reached an historic level of greatness when no one seems to care when they're averaging over 34 points per game (on awesome efficiency.) Ho hum. WING: LeBron James (LAL). 25.7 points, 10.6 assists, 58 TS%, +11.0 wins added After last year's disappointment, LeBron James has come back leaner and meaner, with much better effort on D. He hasn't been attacking the paint and drawing fouls quite as well as he did in his youth, but he's adjusted his playing style and racked up a career high in assists. WING: Giannis Antetounkmpo (MIL). 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 61 TS%, +11.2 wins added The Greek Freak's struggles at the free throw line (down to 63%) have lowered his efficiency from last year, but he's still clearly in contention for another MVP season. His point total nearly matches his minutes (30.9). BIG: Nikola Jokic (DEN). 20.2 points, 6.9 assists, 60 TS%, +6.0 wins added The Joker LOOKS like he should be a complete liability on defense, but the stats haven't born that out (he's +1.8 on that end in RPM.) And given that, his transcendent passing ability assists (get it???) his 1st team candidacy. FLEX: Anthony Davis (LAL). 26.7 points, 2.4 blocks, 61 TS%, +5.2 wins added The Lakers have vaulted into the top 3 in defense, largely due to Anthony Davis' ability to wreak havoc on that end. And keep in mind, he's leading his team in PPG as well.
GUARD: Damian Lillard (POR). 28.9 points, 7.8 assists, 62 TS%, +4.9 wins added If it wasn't for Steph Curry and James Harden, Dame would be looking at a lot more first-team All-NBA seasons. This hasn't been Portland's best by any stretch, but it's hard to fault him for that. WING: Luka Doncic (DAL). 28.7 points, 8.7 assists, 58 TS%, +5.9 wins added No doubt, Luka Doncic is our toughest exclusion from the 1st team and the one I figure will be the most unpopular pick (so far.) The reason he slipped off the 1st team for me is the injury; he's played 10 less games than Nikola Jokic. WING: Kawhi Leonard (LAC). 26.9 points, 5.0 assists, 59 TS%, +5.7 wins added Similarly, it's always going to be tough for me to justify Kawhi on a 1st team as long as he takes off games (he's missed 13/64 so far.) Still, he should be rested and ready to go for another title campaign. BIG: Rudy Gobert (UTA). 15.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, 70 TS%, +4.5 wins added I wonder if Rudy Gobert's coronavirus issues will hurt him in media votes in the future. Personally, I'm just going to keep rewarding him and recognizing him as one of the most impactful players in the league. FLEX: Jimmy Butler (MIA). 20.2 points, 6.1 assists, 58 TS%, +4.1 wins added Jimmy Butler's struggled to score from the field this year, but his ability to draw contact and get to the line (9.1 FTA) keeps his efficiency above average. And therein, his passing and defense help boost him into this range.
GUARD: Chris Paul (OKC). 17.7 points, 6.8 assists, 61 TS%, +5.5 wins added An incredible year all around for CP3, who has turned 35 years old this month. WING: Jayson Tatum (BOS). 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 56 TS%, +4.6 wins added We all know him as a deadly scorer, but Jayson Tatum's added strength has helped him hang at the 4 spot on defense, which is a boon for the Celtics' small-ball/wing-ball approach. WING: Khris Middleton (MIL). 21.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 62 TS%, +3.7 wins added Giannis is the engine that drives the Bucks, but having shooters like Middleton around him is key. BIG: Pascal Siakam (TOR). 23.6 points, 3.6 assists, 56 TS%, +4.8 wins added Without Kawhi Leonard soaking up attention, Pascal Siakam's not getting as many easy baskets (his 2-point FG% has dropped from 60.2% to 50.6%.) Still, he's a hugely valuable player on both ends of the floor. Is he a true “big?” No. But I think that term is broad enough to extend past centers and can include PFs as well for our purposes. FLEX: Russell Westbrook (HOU). 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 54 TS%, +6.0 wins added I've never been a big Westbrook fan, but I give him credit for keeping his activity level and productivity up in a new role. He's gotten better and better as the season has gone on as well.
GUARD: Ben Simmons (PHI). 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, 61 TS%, +4.2 wins added Shooting? Still a problem. But fortunately, Ben Simmons does virtually everything else well. He can also step up his game when needed (like when Embiid is out.) WING: Donovan Mitchell (UTA). 24.2 points, 4.2 assists, 56 TS%, +2.1 wins added I don't know if Donovan Mitchell is truly any better than any high-scoring SGs like Devin Booker or Zach LaVine, but we have to reward him from being on a winner. WING: Brandon Ingram (NO). 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 59 TS%, +2.4 wins added A candidate for Most Improved, Brandon Ingram helped carry his team early in the season. He'll still have to figure out his chemistry with Zion Williamson, but it's safe to say he made himself a lot of money this year. BIG: Bam Adebayo (MIA). 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 61 TS%, +3.1 wins added Bam's ability to move the ball on offense (5+ assists) and move his feet on defense is key to the team. The scary part is: he may have another level to his game to reach. FLEX: Devin Booker (PHX). 26.1 points, 6.6 assists, 62 TS%, +3.5 wins added It's getting hard to blame Devin Booker for Phoenix's W-L record. He's just a flat-out stud scorer.
GUARD: Trae Young (ATL). 29.6 points, 9.3 assists, 60 TS%, +3.2 wins added Like Devin Booker, Trae Young is an offensive savant. Unfortunately, his defense is even more of an issue. He graded at -3.1 in RPM on that end, one of the worst in the entire NBA. WING: Bradley Beal (WAS). 30.5 points, 6.1 assists, 58 TS%, +1.8 wins added You expect Trae Young to be bad at defense, but Bradley Beal has graded surprisingly bad there as well (-2.8 RPM.) Of course, starting alongside Isaiah Thomas doesn't make that easy. Nevertheless, we had to downgrade him a few spots for the inconsistent effort there. WING: Jaylen Brown (BOS). 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 59 TS%, +3.3 wins added Coming out of Cal, some scouts questions Jaylen Brown's feel for the game. Right now, it's hard to find many things that he doesn't do well. BIG: Joel Embiid (PHI). 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 59 TS%, +2.8 wins added Embiid would rank higher at full strength, but he's missed about 1/3 of the season so far. FLEX: Kyle Lowry (TOR). 19.7 points, 7.7 assists, 59 TS%, +3.2 wins added Now age 34, Kyle Lowry continues to play very well on both ends. He's the little engine that could -- or perhaps more appropriately, the caboose.
GUARD: Eric Bledsoe (MIL). 15.4 points, 5.4 assists, 58 TS%, +2.9 wins added Eric Bledsoe gets more flak than credit, but he's still one of the best players on the best team in the league. WING: Zach LaVine (CHI). 25.5 points, 4.2 assists, 57 TS%, +4.3 wins added If the Bulls had a better record, Zach LaVine could have been a few spots higher. His defense isn't quite as bad as advertised either. WING: C.J. McCollum (POR). 22.5 points, 4.3 assists, 54 TS%, +3.7 wins added This must be the "all flak" team, because C.J. McCollum also gets blamed a lot for Portland's struggles to get over the hump. To me, Dame+CJ isn't the problem; the complete mess at the SF-PF position is to blame. BIG: Domatas Sabonis (IND). 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, 59 TS%, +1.5 wins added Arvydas' kid also has some baby Joker to his game, as his 5.0 assists are a huge part of Indiana's offense. FLEX: Paul George (LAC). 21.0 points, 3.9 assists, 58 TS%, +2.5 wins added Again, I'm factoring in games played more than most, and Paul George (42 GP) has missed quite a bit of time.
GUARD: Kemba Walker (BOS). 21.2 points, 4.9 assists, 57 TS%, +2.5 wins added Kemba Walker doesn't have the same workload in Boston as he did in Charlotte, and the stats reflect that. Still, he's safely one of the top 10 PGs in the league. WING: Bojan Bogdanovic (UTA). 20.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 60 TS%, +2.6 wins added Here we're talking BOJAN (from Utah) and not BOGDAN (from Sacramento), although they're both good. Bogey's delivered on the three-point shooting for Utah, hitting 41.4% on 7+ attempts a game. WING: Danilo Gallinari (OKC). 19.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 61 TS%, +2.8 wins added Perpetually underrated, it may be time we stop acting shocked when Gallo's teams (LAC last year, OKC this year) are better than people expect. BIG: Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN). 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 64 TS%, +2.7 wins added KAT was among the hardest to rank for me. Offensively, he's historically great -- arguably the best shooting center of all time. The defense is an issue, of course, and the workload is what doomed him on my list. His 35 games played is our lowest total so far. FLEX: Jrue Holiday (NO). 19.6 points, 6.9 assists, 54 TS%, +3.5 wins added It's fitting that Jrue Holiday is listed at "flex," because he's gone from a pure point guard to a jack of all trades.
GUARD: Ja Morant (MEM). 17.6 points, 6.9 assists, 57 TS%, +1.6 wins added As the lead guard of a team, you expect Ja Morant to put up good raw stats. However, his efficiency and steadiness is remarkable for a rookie making the leap from Murray State. He also gets a boost for leading Memphis into playoff position (for now, until the NBA decides to snatch that away.) WING: Evan Fournier (ORL). 18.8 points, 3.2 assists, 60 TS%, +2.1 wins added Quietly, Evan Fournier is having a good season for Orlando. If you don't believe me, google it. WING: Robert Covington (HOU). 12.8 points, 1.5 steals, 57 TS%, +2.8 wins added Every team would love to have a low-usage 3+D forward like RoCo. Except for Philly and Minnesota, I guess. BIG: Hassan Whiteside (POR). 16.3 points, 14.2 rebounds, 64 TS%, +2.1 wins added This may be a controversial pick because Whiteside has become a punching bag for fans, but he may have made the rare transition from underrated to overrated (and overpaid) and back to underrated again. FLEX: Tobias Harris (PHI). 19.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 56 TS%, +2.1 wins added Speaking of overpaid... Tobias Harris hasn't lived up to his giant contract yet, but he's undoubtedly a good starter to have on your team.
GUARD: Spencer Dinwiddie (TOR). 20.6 points, 6.8 assists, 54 TS%, +3.0 wins added Nothing raises your bitcoin valuation more than that sweet, sweet All-NBA 9th team trophy. WING: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC). 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 57 TS%, +2.1 wins added Like Jrue Holiday, SGA is a point who can play "up" a position. In fact, he’s been working effectively at both SG and SF this year, as illustrated by that nice rebounding rate. WING: Duncan Robinson (MIA). 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 68 TS%, +3.0 wins added This may be high for a one-trick pony, but that trick happens to be quite a valuable one. The unknown Robinson is hitting 44.8% of his threes (at 8.4 attempts per game.) He's a huge part of Miami's offensive gameplan. BIG: Kristaps Porzingis (DAL). 19.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 54 TS%, +3.9 wins added Too high? Too low? I can't figure out Porzingis' season in Dallas so far. Still, any big who can block shots and hit threes has an inherent value. FLEX: Dennis Schroder (OKC). 19.0 points, 4.1 assists, 57 TS%, +5.4 wins added Perhaps the biggest surprise to OKC's success this season has been a career year for Dennis Schroder off the bench. He's even played well when paired with CP3 and SGA in the same lineup. The stats suggest that Schroder should rank even higher than this, but I'm still trying to wrap my mind around him becoming such an efficient player all of a sudden.
GUARD: Lou Williams (LAC). 18.7 points, 5.7 assists, 55 TS%, +3.6 wins added Sweet Lou has a little less to do now that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are in town, but he's still one of the best scorers off the bench. WING: Buddy Hield (SAC). 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 57 TS%, +3.0 wins added A NEW addition to the "scorer off the bench club," Buddy Hield deserves kudos for accepting that role as the Kings try to find a spark. He hasn't been as red-hot as he had been last season, but he's still one of the best SGs in the league. WING: Gordon Hayward (BOS). 17.3 points, 4.1 assists, 59 TS%, +1.9 wins added Gordon Hayward has quietly been working his way back into top form, with his ball movement and BBIQ two real feathers in his cap. He's dinged a few spots here based on missed time (he's only played 45 games.) BIG: Montrezl Harrell (LAC). 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 61 TS%, +3.6 wins added Fittingly, Montrezl Harrell will join Lou Williams' team here. It'll be interesting to see whether Doc Rivers rolls with the two of them in crunch time during the playoffs. FLEX: Nikola Vucevic (ORL): 19.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 54 TS%, +2.0 wins added It's debatable how valuable Vucevic's 20-10 seasons are because he's not a good defender and he's not a terribly efficient scorer. That said, I'm giving him credit for a high degree of difficulty here as the go-to scorer on a team that doesn't have a lot of weapons offensively.
just missed the cut
If you'd like to sub in any other players, here are some notable names: PG FredVanVleet (TOR), PG Devonte' Graham (CHA), PG Malcolm Brogdon (IND), PG Jamal Murray, PG Lonzo Ball, PG De'Aaron Fox (SAC), PG/SG Marcus Smart (BOS), PG/SG Kendrick Nunn (MIA), SF Joe Ingles (UTA), SF Will Barton (DEN), SF DeMar DeRozan (SA), SF/PF Davis Bertans (WAS), SF/PF Aaron Gordon (ORL), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (SA), C Myles Turner (IND), C Steven Adams (OKC), C Andre Drummond (CLE), C Jarrett Allen (BKN), C Derrick Favors (NO), C Jonas Valanciunas (MEM), C Brook Lopez (MIL). And of course, we need an obligatory Zion Williamson (NO) mention, although his 19 games played is a tough hurdle to overcome.
I applied price discovery algorithms to 5 Min OHLCV data from Bitmex and CME contracts and Bitstamp, Coinbase, HitBTC, Kraken, Poloniex, Binance, and OkEx BTCUSD/BTCUSDT markets from March 2016 to May 2020. Some exciting results I got was:
Before the 2017/18 bull run, Bitfinex dominated the price discovery process. They started the run. But as the price increased, trades on other exchanges, Binance and Bitstamp played a more dominant role in leading the price up.
Since then, CME Contracts and Bitmex contracts have had an increasing role in price discovery. Today Bitmex and CME Contracts play the most substantial role in determining the direction of Bitcoin price.
In 2020, market dominance by Bitmex has been negatively correlated with price. Dominance by Bitfinex, Huobi and OkCoin has had high positive correlation with price.
Price discovery is the overall process of setting the price of an asset. Price discovery algorithms identify the leader exchanges whose traders define the price. Two approaches are most famous for use in Price Discovery. Gonzalo and Granger (1995) and Hasbrouck (1995). But they assume random walk, and a common efficient price. I do not feel comfortable assuming random walk and common efficient price in Bitcoin Markets. So I used this little know method by De Blasis (2019) for this analysis. This work assumes that "the fastest price to reflect new information releases a price signal to the other slower price series." I thought this was valid in our market. It uses Markov Chains to measure Price Discovery. Without going into the mathematical details the summary steps used was:
Data is first grouped into a daily interval. Then inside each daily interval's 5-minute candles, the change in prices between the current time t and previous time t-1 is calculated. The difference across the same time t across all exchanges in a given day is juxtaposed to create an initial matrix.
The initial matrix is used to create a Transition Matrix, which measures the probability of price changing to something else at time t+1 for its state at t.
Then other Markov Chain based algorithms are used to measure the influence an exchange at time t had over all other exchanges' price movement at time t+1 individually.
Reduction and normalization is done to this data. In the end, each exchange receives a single number that sums to 1 for a given day.
De Blasis (2019) names this number Price Leadership Share (PLS). High PLS indicates a large role in price discovery. As the sum of the numbers is 1, they can be looked at as a percentage contribution. I recommend reading the original paper if you are interested to know more about the mathematical detail.
Andersen (2000) argues that 5 Minute window provides the best trade-off between getting enough data and avoiding noise. In one of the first work on Bitcoin's Price Discovery, Brandvold et al. 2015 had used 5M window. So I obtained 5M OHLCV data using the following sources:
Poloniex, Bitfinex, Binance and HitBTC: Exchange's API through CCXT.
CME: Okay, this was was supposed to be tricky and expensive. I broke a TOS and scraped the data for free, removing the expensive part from the equation. I will not go into detail about where I scraped this data.
Futures data are different from other data because multiple futures contract trades at the same time. I formed a single data from the multiple time series by selecting the nearest contract until it was three days from expiration. I used the next contract when the contract was three days from expiration. This approach was advocated by Booth et al ( 1999 )
I can't embed the chart on reddit so open this https://warproxxx.github.io/static/price_discovery.html In the figure above, each colored line shows the total influence the exchange had towards the discovery of Bitcoin Price on that day. Its axis is on the left. The black line shows a moving average of the bitcoin price at the close in Bitfinex for comparison. The chart was created by plotting the EMA of price and dominance with a smoothing factor of 0.1. This was done to eliminate the noise. Let's start looking from the beginning. We start with a slight Bitfinex dominance at the start. When the price starts going up, Bitfinex's influence does too. This was the time large Tether printing was attributed to the rise of price by many individuals. But Bitfinex's influence wanes down as the price starts rising (remember that the chart is an exponential moving average. Its a lagging indicator). Afterward, exchanges like Binance and Bitstamp increase their role, and there isn't any single leader in the run. So although Bitfinex may have been responsible for the initial pump trades on other exchanges were responsible for the later rally. CME contracts were added to our analysis in February 2018. Initially, they don't have much influence. On a similar work Alexandar and Heck (2019) noted that initially CBOE contracts had more influence. CBOE later delisted Bitcoin futures so I couldn't get that data. Overall, Bitmex and CME contracts have been averaging around 50% of the role in price discovery. To make the dominance clear, look at this chart where I add Bitmex Futures and Perp contract's dominance figure to create a single dominance index. There bitmex leads 936 of the total 1334 days (Bitfinex leads 298 days and coinbase and binance get 64 and 6 days). That is a lot. One possible reason for this might be Bitmex's low trading fee. Bitmex has a very generous -0.025% maker fee and price discovery tend to occur primarily in the market with smaller trading costs (Booth et al, 1999). It may also be because our market is mature. In mature markets, futures lead the price discovery.
Table 1: Days Lead
Out of 1334 days in the analysis, Bitmex futures leads the discovery in 571 days or nearly 43% of the duration. Bitfinex leads for 501 days. Bitfinex's high number is due to its extreme dominance in the early days.
Table 2: Correlation between the close price and Exchange's dominance index
Binance, Huobi, CME, and OkCoin had the most significant correlation with the close price. Bitmex, Coinbase, Bitfinex, and Bitstamp's dominance were negatively correlated. This was very interesting. To know more, I captured a yearwise correlation.
Table 3: Yearwise Correlation between the close price and Exchange's dominance index Price movement is pretty complicated. If one factor, like a dominant exchange, could explain it, everyone would be making money trading. With this disclaimer out of the way, let us try to make some conclusions. This year Bitfinex, Huobi, and OkEx, Tether based exchanges, discovery power have shown a high correlation with the close price. This means that when the traders there become successful, price rises. When the traders there are failing, Bitmex traders dominate and then the price is falling. I found this interesting as I have been seeing the OkEx whale who has been preceding price rises in this sub. I leave the interpretation of other past years to the reader.
My analysis does not include market data for other derivative exchanges like Huobi, OkEx, Binance, and Deribit. So, all future market's influence may be going to Bitmex. I did not add their data because they started having an impact recently. A more fair assessment may be to conclude this as the new power of derivative markets instead of attributing it as the power of Bitmex. But Bitmex has dominated futures volume most of the time (until recently). And they brought the concept of perpetual swaps.
There is a lot in this data. If you are making a trading algo think there is some edge here. Someday I will backtest some trading logic based on this data. Then I will have more info and might write more. But, this analysis was enough for to shift my focus from a Bitfinex based trading algorithm to a Bitmex based one. It has been giving me good results. If you have any good ideas that you want me to write about or discuss further please comment. If there is enough interest in this measurement, I can setup a live interface that provides the live value.
Two Roads Diverge | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - May 2020
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken This is my forty-second portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $727 917 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $42 128 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $78 569 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $110 009 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $187 003 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $39 987 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $225 540 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 726 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 741 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $5 652 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $117 714 Secured physical gold – $18 982 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $11 395 Bitcoin – $159 470 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 357 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 492 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 477 Total portfolio value: $1 757 159 (+$62 325 or 3.7%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 41.4% (3.6% under) Global shares – 22.2% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 27.4% (2.6% under) Total shares – 68.8% (6.2% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 4.4% International bonds – 9.7% Total bonds – 14.1% (0.9% under) Gold – 7.8% Bitcoin – 9.1% Gold and alternatives – 16.9% (6.9% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments This month featured a further recovery in the overall portfolio, continuing to effectively reduce the size of the large losses across the first quarter. The portfolio has increased by around $62 000, leading to a portfolio growth of 3.7 per cent. This means that around half of the large recent falls have been made up, and the portfolio sits around levels last reached in October of last year. [Chart] Leading the portfolio growth has been increases in Australian shares - particularly those held through the Betashares A200 and Vanguard VAS exchange traded funds, with both gaining over four per cent. Most other holdings remained steady, or fell slightly. Markets appear to be almost entirely disconnected from the daily announcements of the sharp effects of the global coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions. Bond and equity markets seem to have different and competing expectations for the future, and equity markets - at best - are apparently intent on looking through the immediate recovery phase to a new period of strong expansion. [Chart] On some metrics, both major global and Australian equity markets can be viewed as quite expensive, especially as reduced dividends announced have largely yet to be delivered. Yet if historically low bond yields are considered, it can be argued that some heightening compared to historical equity market valuations may be sustainable. Reflecting this moment of markets holding their breath before one of two possible futures plays out, gold and Bitcoin remain elevated, and consequently above their target weightings. Perhaps the same contending forces are in evidence in a recent Australian Securities and Investment Commission study (pdf) which has found that average Australian retail investors have reacted to uncertainty by activating old brokerage accounts, trading more frequently, and holding securities for shorter periods. My own market activity has been limited to purchases of Vanguard Australian shares ETF (VAS) and the international share ETF (VGS), to bring the portfolio closer to its target allocations. Will Australia continue to be lucky through global slow downs? Despite this burst of market activity in the retail market, it is unclear how Australian markets and equities will perform against the background of a global economic slowdown. A frequently heard argument is that a small open trade exposed commodities provider such as Australia, with a more narrowly-based economy, may perform poorly in a phase of heightened risk. This recent Bank of England paper (pdf) makes the intriguing suggestion that this argument is not borne out by the historical record. In fact, the paper finds that industrial production in Australia, China and a mere handful of other economies has tended to increase following global risk shocks. A question remaining, however, is whether the recovery from this 'risk shock' may have different characteristics and impacts than similar past events. One key question may be the exact form of government fiscal and monetary responses adopted. Another is whether inflation or deflation is the likely pathway - an unknown which itself may rely on whether long-term trends in the velocity of money supply continue, or are broken. Facing all uncertainties, attention should be on tail risks - and minimising the odds of extreme negative scenarios. The case for this is laid out in this moving reflection by Morgan Housel. For this reason, I am satisfied that my Ratesetter Peer-to-Peer loans have been gradually maturing, reducing some 'tail risk' credit exposures in what could be a testing phase for borrowers through new non-bank lending channels in Australia. With accrued interest of over $13 000, at rates of around 9 per cent on average, over the five years of the investment, the loans have performed relatively well. A temporary sheltering port - spending continues to decline This month spending has continued to fall even as lockdown and other restrictions have slowly begun to ease. These extraordinary events have pushed even the smoothed average of three year expenditure down. [Chart] On a monthly basis credit card spending and total expenses have hit the lowest levels in more than six years. Apparently, average savings rates are up across many economies, though obviously individual experiences and starting points can differ dramatically. Total estimated monthly expenditure has also fallen below current estimates of distributions for the first time since a period of exceptionally high distributions across financial year 2017-18. The result of this is that I am briefly and surprisingly, for this month, notionally financially independent based on assumed distributions from the FIRE portfolio alone - at least until more normal patterns of expenditure are resumed. Following the lines of drift - a longer view on progress made Yet taking a longer view - and accounting for the final portfolio goal set - gives a different perspective. This is of a journey reaching toward, but not at, an end. The chart below traces in purely nominal dollar terms the progress of the total portfolio value as a percentage of the current portfolio goal of $2.18 million over the last 13 years. It also shows three labels, with the percentage progress at the inception of detailed portfolio data in 2007, at the start of this written record in January 2017, and as at January 1 of this year. [Chart] Two trend lines are shown - one a polynomial and the other exponential function - and they are extended to include a projection of future progress out to around 18 months. The line of fit is close for the early part of the journey, but larger divergences from both trend lines are evident in the past two years as the impact of variable investment returns on a larger portfolio takes hold. There are some modest inaccuracies introduced by the nominal methodology adopted - such as somewhat discounting early progress. A 2007 dollar had greater 'real' value and significance than is assigned to it by this representation. The chart does demonstrate, however, the approximate shape and length of the early journey - with it taking around 5 years to reach 20 per cent of the target, and 10 years to reach around half way. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 80.6% 108.4% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 98.3% 132.3% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 78.8% 106.0% Summary With aspects of daily life slowly and incrementally adjusting to a 'new normal', the longer-term question for the portfolio remains around how markets and government actions interact in a recovery phase. The progress of the portfolio over the past 13 years has seemed, when viewed from afar as in chart above, predictable, and almost inevitable. Through the years it has felt anything but so smoothly linear. Rather, tides and waves have pushed and pulled, in turn stalling progress, or pushing it further ahead than hopes have dared. It is possible that what lays ahead is a simple 'return leg', or more of the same. That through simple extrapolation around 80 per cent of the challenges already lay behind. Yet that is not the set of mind that I approach the remainder of the journey with. Rather, the shortness of the distance to travel has lent an extra focus on those larger, lower probability, events that could delay the journey or push it off-course. Those 'third' risks types of tail risks which Morgan Housel points out. In one sense the portfolio allocation aims to deal - in a probabilistic way - with the multiple futures that could occur. Viewed in this way, a gold allocation (and also Bitcoin) represents a long option on an extreme state of the economic world arising - as it did in the early 1980s. The 75 per cent target allocation to equities can be viewed as a high level of assurance around a 'base case' that human ingenuity and innovation will continue to create value over the long term. The bond portfolio, similarly, can be seen as assigning a 15 per cent probability that both of these hypotheses are incorrect, and that further market falls and possible deflation are ahead. That perhaps even an experience akin to the lengthy, socially dislocating, post-bubble phase in Japan presided over by its central bank lays in store. In other interesting media consumed this month, 'Fire and Chill', the brand new podcast collaboration between Pat the Shuffler and Strong Money Australia got off to an enjoyable start, tackling 'Why Bother with FIRE' and other topics. Additionally, investment company Incrementum has just published the latest In Gold We Trust report, which gives an arrestingly different perspective on potential market and policy directions from traditional financial sources. The detailed report questions the role and effectiveness of traditionally 'risk-free' assets like government bonds in the types of futures that could emerge. On first reading, the scenarios it contains appear atypical and beyond the reasonable contemplation of many investors - until it is recalled that up to a few years ago no mainstream economics textbook would have entertained the potential for persistent negative interest rates. As the paths to different futures diverge, drawing on the wisdom of others to help look as far as possible into the bends in the undergrowth ahead becomes the safest choice. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
AMA AT DETECTIVE ID (25/06/2020) Before welcoming any questions, I would like to briefly introduce STATERA PROJECT. Statera is a smart contract deflationary token pegged to a cryptocurrency index fund. By including STA in an index fund with Link, BTC, ETH, and SNX you can buy one token and access the price action of four of the leading cryptocurrencies. You can also invest directly in the index fund (balancer pool) and receive the benefits of fees and BAL tokens paid to you while also having an automatically balanced fund. Lastly the deflationary mechanics of STA increases the chance for positive price action while decreasing beta (volatility). This is all found in a smart contract that is fully decentralized, the founders can no longer augment the contract in any way and this has been confirmed by a third party code audit through Hacken. Q1 : please explain in more detail about Statera, what is the background of this project? and when was it established? The dev of this project had previously created another deflationary token BURN. When the Balancer Labs released the Balancer Protocol, he had an idea to combine the two, deflationary token and a pool of tokens, making the first deflationary index fund. It started in the end of May and on the 3rd iteration, May 29th - a trustless version was launched that we see today. As briefly explained earlier, STATERA or STA is an Index Deflationary Token built on Ethereum blockchain; Index: Contains a token suite of world class leading crypto assests BTC, ETH, LINK, SNX with STA. Deflationary: On every transaction of STA 1% of the transacted amount is sent to 0x address on ethereum, burned forever, thus reducing the circulating supply of STA Index+Deflationary: STA is mixed with BTC, ETH, LINK SNX in a portfolio, backed by liquidity on a protocol known as balancer (balancer.finance) This platform serves as a market maker for the token suit. The Index suite is of equal rate of 20%, that is 20% of BTC, ETH, SNX LINK and STA, Thus, anytime there is an increase in value of any of those coins or tokens, balancer automatically trade them for STA in order to keep the token suit ratio balanced. And anytime there is an increase in the value of STA, the same process applies. while doing this trade, it enables further burning on every transaction, thus facilitating more token scarcity. In addition to this, Statera was deployed with contract finalised, that is, the index suite can not be altered, It is completely out of Dev's control. Q2 : What are the achievements that have been obtained by Statera in 2020? And what goals do you want to achieve in 2020? By this we assume the questionnaire is asking for a roadmap! First, the project is barely a month old, and within just a month, our liquidity has grown from $50,000 to over $400,000 currently above $300,000. Among the things we have accomplished so far is the creation of market value for STA's Balancer liquidity pool token BPT, which is currently over $1000 per one BPT. Regarding what we set to achieve: The future is filled with many opportunities and potentials, currently, we are working on a massive campaign to introduce our product to the outside world. We have already made contact with different and reputable forums and channels regarding marketing and advertisement offers, some which we are currently negotiating, some which we are awaiting response. All we can say for now is that the Team is working hard to make this the Investment opportunity every crypto enthusiast has been waiting for. Statera has the goal of putting cryptocurrency into every portfolio. We believe we have a product that increases the returns of investing in cryptocurrencies and makes it easier to diversify in this space. We have done so much in June: articles, how to videos, completed the audit, tech upgrades like one token liquidity additions, and beginning our many social communities. We have been hard at work behind the scenes but things like sponsorships, features, and media take time, content makers need days if not weeks to develop content, especially the best of the best. We are working tirelessly, we will not disappoint. We have plans for 2020-2025 and will release those in the next month. They are big and bold, you’re going to be impressed by the scale of our vision, when we say “Cryptocurrency in every portfolio” we mean it. In 2020 more specifically we are focused on more media, videos, product offerings, and exchanges. Q3 : What is the purpose of STA token? How can we get STA? The purpose of STA is an investment in the first deflationary index fund. The whole index's value rises from these aspects: 1. The index funds (WBTC,WETH,SNX,LINK) appreciate in value 2. When the index tokens are traded, the pool receives transaction fees - 1% 3. STA burns on transactions, so it's deflationary nature increases its value as the total supply drops 4. Balancer rewards Index holders with BAL token airdrops every week You can invest via the 'Trade' links in stateraproject.com website. Easiest way is to do it using ETH. The monetary policy of our token is set in stone and constantly deflationary. This negative supply pressure is a powerful mechanism in economics and price discovery. Through the lowering of supply we can decrease your beta (volatility) and increase your alpha (gains). Our token is currently only top 40 in liquidity on Balancer, however our volume is top 10! You want to know why? Because Statera works. Statera increases arbitrage, volume, fees, BAL rewards, and liquidity. Our liquidity miners in our Balancer pool are already making some of the highest BAL rewards on the platform, one user we spoke with made 18% in June, that’s over 150% APY! Our product is working, 100% (or you could say 150%), and when people start to see that, and realize the value, the sky's the limit. Q4 : can we as a user do STA mining? The supply of STA doesn't increase anymore, it only decreases due to the burn feature. So there is no way to mine anymore STA. Only way to acquire the tokens is via an exchange. The monetary policy of our token is set in stone and constantly deflationary. This negative supply pressure is a powerful mechanism in economics and price discovery. Through the lowering of supply we can decrease your beta (volatility) and increase your alpha (gains). Our token is currently only top 40 in liquidity on Balancer, however our volume is top 10! You want to know why? Because Statera works. Statera increases arbitrage, volume, fees, BAL rewards, and liquidity. Our liquidity miners in our Balancer pool are already making some of the highest BAL rewards on the platform, one user we spoke with made 18% in June, that’s over 150% APY! Our product is working, 100% (or you could say 150%), and when people start to see that, and realize the value, the sky's the limit. Q5 : The ecosystem of a public chain has a lot to do with the level of engagement and participation of third-party developers. How does Statera support the developers? Not really. Our project is focusing on investment opportunities for the cryptocurrencies. The cryptocurrency tokens that are not used and are just sitting in a wallet can work for you by being added to an index fund and appreciate in value over time. First off, what we have created is a new asset class, I’ll repeat that, a new asset class. This asset has never existed: “Deflationary Index Fund,” what does that mean for finance? What will developers do with this? It’s hard to give a finite answer. We hope there are future economic papers on our token and what it means to be a deflationary index fund. With the addition of synthetic assets and oracles you can put any asset into the DeFi space: Gold, Nikkei 225, USD, etc. STA can be combined with any assets and bring the benefits of it’s ecosystem and deflationary mechanism to that asset. STA, the token itself, also gives you access to the price action of any asset it is paired with. Put simply STA’s balancer pool(s) give you a benefit in holding them, and STA’s price will reflect it’s inclusion in Balancer Pool(s) (and possibly future financial instruments), so STA is a bet on DeFi as a whole. When we say as whole, we mean as whole: what happens if you include STA in a crypto loan, or package it with a synthetic S&P 500 token, or use it as fee payment in a DeFi platform? Being fully decentralized it is up to our community to make this happen, social engagement and community are key. We are constantly bringing community members onto our team and rewarding those that benefit the ecosystem. in addition, Statera is a fully community project now. Paul who is the current team leader was an ordinary member of the community weeks ago, due to his interest and support for the project, he started dedicating his time to the project. Quite a number of community members are also in the same position, while Statera was developed by an individual, it is being built by the entire Statera community Community Questions (Twitter): Q1 From: @KazimKara35 The project tells us that the acquisition and sale of data between participants is protected by code of conduct and how safe is deployed on the blockchain, but how do you handle regulations while operating on a global scale? Statera is decentralized token, similar to other utility crypto tokens and same regulations apply to it as others. his is actually a benefit of our decentralized nature. This isn’t legal advice, however in the past regulating bodies have ruled that the more decentralized a project is, especially from launch, the less likely they are to be deemed a security (see: Ethereum). This means they can be traded more freely and be available on more platforms. We are as decentralized as you can be. The data itself is all secured through the blockchain which has been shown to be a highly secure medium. We do not store any of your data and as long as you follow best practices in blockchain security there are no added security risks of using Statera. We don’t, and literally can’t, hold anymore personal information than is made available in any blockchain transaction. and that "personal information" is more likely than not just your ethereum wallet address, no "real world" data is included in transactions Q2 from: @Michael_NGT353 What is Mechanism you use On your Project sir? Are you Use PoS,PoW or other Mechanism Can you explain why you use it and what is Make it Different? Our token is an ERC-20 token and it's running on the Ethereum blockchain. The Ethereum's POW mechanism is currently supporting the Statera token We run on Ethereum, so we are currently PoW. With ETH 2.0 we will hopefully be PoS this year (hopefully). We use it because ETH has over 100 million addresses and around a million daily transactions. We are currently at about 1,900 token holders, we are just touching the edge of what is possible in this market. We chose the biggest and the best network available right now to launch our product. We think the upside is huge because of this choice. Being the biggest network it is also one of the most secure, no high risk vulnerabilities have been found in Ethereum or in our code (we've had our code audited by a third party, Hacken, and you can read their audit on our Medium page), so we also have security on our side Q3 From : @Ryaaan_Nguyen Can you list some of Statera outstanding features for everyone here to know about? What are the products that Statera is focusing on developing? As mentioned earlier by GC, First off, what we have created is a new asset class, I’ll repeat that, a new asset class. This asset has never existed: “Deflationary Index Fund,” what does that mean for finance? What will developers do with this? It’s hard to give a finite answer. We hope there are future economic papers on our token and what it means to be a deflationary index fund. With the addition of synthetic assets and oracles you can put any asset into the DeFi space: Gold, Nikkei 225, USD, etc. STA can be combined with any assets and bring the benefits of it’s ecosystem and deflationary mechanism to that asset. STA, the token itself, also gives you access to the price action of any asset it is paired with. Put simply STA’s balancer pool(s) give you a benefit in holding them, and STA’s price will reflect it’s inclusion in Balancer Pool(s) (and possibly future financial instruments), so STA is a bet on DeFi as a whole. When we say as whole, we mean as whole: what happens if you include STA in a crypto loan, or package it with a synthetic S&P 500 token, or use it as fee payment in a DeFi platform? We touched on this a bit in the question on what makes us special compared to other exchanges. We have created a product that synergizes with Balancer Pools creating a symbiotic relationship that improves the outcomes for users (our product can also synergize with future DeFi products). By including STA in an index fund with Link, BTC, ETH, and SNX you can buy one token and access the price action of four of the leading cryptocurrencies. You can also invest directly in the index fund (balancer pool) and receive the benefits of fees and BAL tokens paid to you while also having an automatically balanced portfolio (like an index fund with dividends). Lastly, the deflationary mechanics of STA increases the chance for positive price action while decreasing beta. We want to package Statera with assets across the whole cryptocurrency space, with an emphasis on DeFi. We also want everyday people to be able to invest quickly in crypto while also feeling reassured their investment is set up to succeed. We are focused on developing a name brand that people go to first and foremost when investing in crypto: cryptocurrency in every portfolio. This is all found in a smart contract that is fully decentralized, the founders can no longer augment the contract in any way and this has been confirmed by the third party code audit. This is a feature in and of itself, some argue that Bitcoin’s true value is in it’s network effect, first mover advantage, and immutability. Statera is modeled on all three of those and has those features in spades. The community now owns our token, the power in that, giving finance and power to the people, is why we are here. Q4 From : @futcek What do you think about the possibility of creating new use cases in DeFi space for existing real world assets by using crypto technology? What role do you see in this creation for Statera? I think my answer above actually answers this perfectly, Statera in and of itself is a “new use case”, a “deflationary index fund” has never existed, I’ll copy and paste the other relevant part: “With the addition of synthetic assets and oracles you can put any asset into the DeFi space: Gold, Nikkei 225, USD, etc. STA can be combined with any assets and bring the benefits of it’s ecosystem and deflationary mechanism to that asset. STA, the token itself, also gives you access to the price action of any asset it is paired with. Put simply STA’s balancer pool(s) give you a benefit in holding them, and STA’s price will reflect it’s inclusion in Balancer Pool(s) (and possibly future financial instruments), so STA is a bet on DeFi as a whole. When we say as whole, we mean as whole: what happens if you include STA in a crypto loan, or package it with a synthetic S&P 500 token, or use it as fee payment in a DeFi platform? Being fully decentralized it is up to our community to make this happen, social engagement and community are key. We are constantly bringing community members onto our team and rewarding those that benefit the ecosystem.” Statera is a way to make your investment more successful, and owning Statera let's you benefit from other people using it to make their investments more successful (a self feeding cycle). Q5 From : @Carmenzamorag Statera's deflationary system is based in that with every transaction 1% of the amount is destroyed, would this lead to lack of supply and liquidity in the long term future? How would that be fixed? The curve of supply is asymptote, meaning that it will never reach zero. The idea is that the deflationary process will slowly decrease the supply of STA, which – combined with a fixed or increaseing demand – will result in STA appreciating in value. Evidently, as the STA token increases in value, the amounts of STA being traded will slowly decrease: The typical investor might buy 10.000 STA at the current rate, but in the future (proportional to an increase in the valueation of STA) this number will tend to decrease, hence the future investor might only buy 1000 STA. This of course results in less STA being burned. Additionally, STA is divisible to the 18th decimal, why – even if the supply was to reach 1 STA – there would be a sufficient supply. Well this would be a question for a Mathematician, and luckily we’re loaded with them (as seen above)! I’ll try to illustrate with an example. 1% of 100 million is 1 million, 1% of 10 million is 100,000. As we go down in supply the burn is less by volume. What also happens at lower supply is higher prices (supply and demand economics). So those 1 million tokens burned may be worth $20,000, but by the time overall supply is at 10 million those 100,000 tokens may also be worth $20,000 or even more. This means you transact “less”, if you want to buy 1 Ether now with Statera you need 8,900 STA which would burn 89 tokens. If Statera is worth $100 you only need 2.32 statera (.023 tokens burned). Along with this proportional and relative burn decrease, tokens are 18 decimals long, so even when we get to 1 token left (which mathematically would take decades if not centuries, but that is wholly dependent on usage), you are still left with 10 to the 18th power, or one quintillion “tokens”. So it’s going to take us a while to have supply issues :) Nuked Phase (3rd Part) Q) What is your VISION and Mission? Our working mission and vision: Mission: Provide every investor with simple and effective ways to invest in cryptocurrency. Decrease volatility and increase positive price pressure in cryptocurrency investments. Lower the barrier to entry for more advanced investment tools. Be a community focused and community driven cryptocurrency, fully decentralized by every meaning of the word. Vision: We aspire to put “cryptocurrency in every portfolio”. We envision a world where finance is given back to the people and wealth building strategies withheld only for affluent individuals are given to all. We also strive to create an investment environment based on sound monetary policy and all the power that comes with a sound asset. Q) What are the benefits of STA for its investors in long term? Does STA have Afrika as an important area for its expansion? We have ties to Africa and see Statera as a way for anyone and everyone to invest in cryptocurrency. The small marketcap of statera makes it's price low and it's upside massive. Right now if you wanted to be exposed to the price action of four cryptocurrencies (BTC, ETH, Link, SNX) Statera is a way to gain that exposure in a way that has a huge upside, compared to the other four assets, there are risks in investing in any small cap but with those risk come outsized rewards (not investment advice and all answers are solely my opinions 😊) Q) In the long run, why should we trust and follow STATERA? How do you raise awareness and elimination of the doubts of investors / partners / customers?. You're really asking "How do I trust myself and other crypto investors" The project is FULLY decentralized, it is now in the hands of the community. We would venture a guess that the community wants their investment to succeed and be worth more in the future, so you are betting on people. wanting to make themselves money on their own investment. This is a pretty sure bet. The community being active and engaged is key, and we have short term and long term plans to ensure this happens Q) No one can doubt the strength of #Statera. But can you tell us some of the challenges and difficulties you're presently facing? How can you possibly overcome them? We're swinging outside our weightclass, we don't see litecoin or SNX, or any other crypto product as our competition. Our competition is NASDAQ, Fidelity, etc. We want to provide world class financial instruments that only the wealthy have access to in the traditional world to everyone. Providing liquidity, risk parity, being paid to provide liquidity, unique value propositions, are all things we want to bring to everyone. However we are coming up in a hectic space, everyday their is fud and defamation on the web, but that is the sandbox we chose to play in and we aren't grabbing our ball and going home. We can tell you that we will not disappoint and fighting all the fud that comes along with being a small and upstart project only fuel our fire. Building legitimacy is our largest challenge and looking at our audit, financial report, and some things you will see in the coming weeks, we hope you see we are facing those challenges head on. Q) What is the actual uniqueness of #Statera.??? Can you guys please explain tha advantages of #Statera over other projects.?? When we launched there were no other products like ours. There are now copies, and we wish them the best, but we have the best product, hands down. Over the next couple weeks this will become apparent, if it hasn't already, also a lot of the AMA answers dug deeper into our unique value proposition, especially the benefits we provide to Balancer Pools which shows the benefits we would provide for any index fund. We are a tool to improve cryptocurrency investing Q) Fragmentation, layering and cross-chain are three future solutions for high-performance blockchains. Where is Statera currently? What are the main reasons for taking this direction? We operate on the Ethereum chain, as it upgrades our services and usability will upgrade. We are working on UI and more user friendly systems to onboard people into our ecosystem Q) How STATERA plan to make room and make this project known in the world of crypto, full of technology and full of new projects very good in today's market? We think we have a truly innovative product, which - when first understood - appeals to most investors. Whether you want a high-volatility/medium-risk token like STA or whether you are more conservative and simply just plan on adding to the Statera pool BPT (which is not nearly as volatile but still offers great returns). We plan on making Statera known to the crypto world through a marketing campaign which slowly will be unravelled in the comming days and weeks. If interested, you can check out an analysis of the different investment options in the Statera ecosystem in our first financial report: https://medium.com/@stateraproject/statera-financial-reports-b47defb58a18 Q) Hello, cryptocurrencies are very volatile and follow bitcoin ... and does this apply to Statera? or is there some other logic present in some way? is statera token different from a current token? Are you working on listings on other exchanges? Currently uniswap is somewhat uncomfortable for fees. We are also on bamboo relay, saturn network, and mesa. Statera will be volatile like all cryptocurrency, this is a small and nascent space. But with the deflationary mechanic and balancer pool, over time, as marketcap grows it will become less volatile and more positively reactive to price. Q) Security is one of the most essential characteristics for a project to get reputation. How can #Statera Team assure to their community that users assets and investments will stay safe from unwanted agents? We have been third party audited by the same company that worked with VeChain to audit their code. Our code has been shown to be bulletproof. Unless Ethereum comes up with a fatal security flaw there is nothing that can happen to our contract (there is no backdoor, no way for anyone to edit or adjust the smart contract). Q) Many investors see the project from the price of the coin. Can you give us advantages why Statera is so suitable for long-term investment? and what makes Statera different from other similar projects? Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. A question you can ask is “What if this fails”? But you can also ask, “What if this succeeds”? Cryptocurrency is filled with asymmetric risks, we think if you look into the value proposition you will find that there is a huge asymmetric risk/reward in Statera, and we will make that even clearer in our soon to be released litepaper. You are on the ground floor of a simple but highly effective solution to onboarding people into defi, cryptocurrencies, and investing. Our product reduces volatility and increases gains (decreases beta and increases alpha in investor terms), which is highly attractive in any investment. The down side is there but the upside outweighs it exponentially (asymmetric risk) Q) What your plans in place for global expansion, are Statera focusing on only market at this time? Or focus on building and developing or getting customers and users, or partnerships? Can you explain this? We have reached out to influencers in other countries and things are in the works. We have also translated documents and are working on having them in at least 4 languages by the end of July. We were founded globally, our team is global, and we are focused on reaching all 7 billion people. Q) Now in the cryptofield everyday there are new projects joining in the Blockchain space. They are upgraded, Well-established and coming up with innovative technology. How Statera going to compete with them? What do you think, one day Statera will become useless And will be lost into the abyss of time for not bringing any new technology? We are the first of our kind, no one had a deflationary index fund before us. Index funds will be the future of crypto (look at the popularity of etfs and indexes in the traditional markets). We are a tool to make your index function better and pay you more. As long as people care about crypto index funds they will care about the value STA brings to that. We have an involved and long term plan to reach dominance over a 5 year span, this is not a flash in the pan, big things coming Q1. You say that the weight and proportions of your tokens are constant. So how have you managed to prevent market price speculation from generating hypervolability in your token price? Do you consider yourselves a kind of stablecoin? Q2. How many jurisdictions allow the use of Stratera products and services? Are they available for Latin America? @joloroeowo The balancer ensures an equal ratio of 20% amongst the five tokens included in our fund. This, however, does not imply that the tokens are stable. Rather, the Balancer protocol helps mitigating price fluctuations. Q) How can I as a Statera participant participate in liquidity mining, and receive BAL as reward? What are the use cases of $STA token, and how are users motivated to buy and hold long term? The easiest way is to go to stateratoken.com and click trade then BPT. You can also buy all five tokens and click on portfolio then add liquidity. Balancer is working on a simpler interface to add liquidity with one token, we are waiting on them. I think we explained the use cases above Q) What do you plan have for global expansion, is Statera currently focused solely on the market? Or is it focused on building and developing or acquiring customer and user or partnership relationships? Can you explain it? We are currently working on promoting the project and further develope our product, making it lucrative for more new investors to join our pool and invest in the STA token. Q1) Statera have 2 types of tokens, so can you tell me the differences between STA and STAC ? What are their uses cases? Is possible Swap between them? Q2) Currently the only possible Swap or "exchange" possible is Uniswap, so you do have plans to list the STA token into a more Exchanges? STAC is obsolete, we only have STA and BPT (go to our website and click on trade) stateratoken.com BPT gives you more diversification and less risk, STA gives you more volatility and more chance for big gains. Q2 we are on multiple exchanges (4), bamboo relay, saturn, and mesa we do have plans for future exchanges but the big ones have processes and hoops to jump through that can't be done so quickly Q) What business scenarios can STATERA support now? In which industries can we see the mass adoption of STATERA technology in the near future? Statera increases the effectiveness of your cryptocurrency investments. Specifically it makes cryptocurrency index funds function better, netting you higher returns, which we have already seen in just one month of implementation. Right now, today, you can buy our BPT token and increase the functionality of holding a crypto index fund. In the future we want every single web user to see and use our product Q) Do you plan to migrate to other platforms like Tron, BinanceChain, EOS, etc. if it is feasible?? Migrating our current contract is not. Starting new offerings on those other chains could be possible, they aren't on our radar currently but if the community requests them we are driven by our community Q) ETH Blockchain is a Blockchain have many token based in it, i have used ETH blockchain long time and i see it have big fee and need much time to make a transcation so Why you choose to based STA in ETH blockchain not other like Bep2 or Trc20 ? Simply: 100 million addresses, 1 million transactions a day. The more users we have the more we will benefit our community. We hope ETH 2.0 scaling will fix the problems you mention. Q) No one achieve anything of value on its own, please can you share about Statera present and future partnerships that will drive you to success in this highly congested crypto space? We have a unique product that no one else has (there are people who have copied us). We can't announce our current and future partnerships yet, but they will be released soon. Our future hopes of partnerships are big and will be key to our future, know we are focused on making big partnerships, some you may not even be thinking about. Q) According to the fact that your algorithm causes 1% of each transaction to be destroyed, I would like to know, then, how you plan to finance yourself as a project in the long term? The project is now in the hands of the community and we are a team of passionate people volunteering to help promote and develope the Statera ecosystem. But then, how do we afford running a promo campaign? We have lots of great community members donating funds that goes to promoting the project. In other words, the community helps financing the project. And so far, we have created a fantastic community consisting of passionate and well-educated people! Q) There are many cryptocurrency startups were established by talent teams, but they got problem in raising capital via token sales due to many factors as bear market, bankrupt etc. This leaded their potential startups fail. So how will Statera break these barriers and attract more funds from outside crypto space? We are community focused and community ran. When you look at centralized cryptocurrencies you can see the negative of them (Tron, ADA, etc.) We believe being fully decentralized is the true power position. You the owner of statera can affect our future and must affect our future. This direct ownership means people need to mobilize and organize to push us forward, and it is in their best self interest to do so. It's a bet on our community, we're excited about that bet Q) What business scenarios can STATERA support now? In which industries can we see the mass adoption of STATERA technology in the near future? Statera increases the effectiveness of your cryptocurrency investments. Specifically it makes cryptocurrency index funds function better, netting you higher returns, which we have already seen in just one month of implementation. Right now, today, you can buy our BPT token and increase the functionality of holding a crypto index fund. In the future we want every single web user to see and use our product Q) Why being a hybrid of a liquidity pool and an index fund? What are the main benefits about this? By being a liquidity pool the exchange side of the pool (balancer also functions as an exchange) gives you added liquidity for more effortless, effective, and cheaper rebalancing. You also benefit from getting paid the fee when people use the exchange AND getting paid BAL tokens that are worth $15-20 USD. These are not benefits you get with an index fund, meanwhile the liquidity pool rebalances just like an index fund would Q) Which specific about technology and strategy of #STA that make you believe it will be successful and what does #STA plan do to attract more users in the upcoming time? I think the idea behind Statera is truly ingenious. We have made an index fund, which investors are highly(!) incentivised to invest in, namely because the ROI, so far, has been huge. An increase in the pool liquidity (index fund) indirectly translates into an increase in the price of STA, why we think the STA token - combined with its deflationary nature - will increase in the long run. The mechanism behind this is somewhat complex, but to better get an understanding of it, I suggest you visit our medium page and read more about the project: https://medium.com/@stateraproject
The stock market has traded sideways for past 2 weeks. That has market analysts suggesting the rally has run its course & looking for a reversal to the downside. Rather, I think it is the pause that refreshes. S&P likely headed for 3100 next and ultimately headed for 4000+ this summer. I'm calling for an 80% bear market to follow this final leg of a 38 year secular bull market. A lot of damage has been done but there is a historic amount of liquidity being pumped into the system with much more to come. The consensus has it 180 degrees wrong. They said the bear market rally had run its course and bad earnings season would send market sharply lower. Instead the S&P is heading for 3100 in short order. Semis, FAANG, Miners will continue to lead & laggards will see some catch-up. We are beginning to see some of the hardest hit areas of the market begin to outperform as they experience catch-up rallies. Some of those groups starting catch-up rallies include oil, industrials, housing & financials. I expect the dollar to fall to 85-86 but the move to S&P 4000+ does not depend on it at all. It's all about sentiment & liquidity right now. After the secular top, we're heading for a deep deflationary bust. We won't see sustainable inflation for at least a couple of years. But then we will see the first inflation-led recovery since the 1970's. After a short pullback, gold & silver & the miners are now poised for another nice run. Gold to $2000+, silver to $26, GDX to $45, GDXJ to $70 and SIL to $60. Bitcoin will ride along quite aggressively. I think you are going to be very surprised when the S&P is soaring past 4000 this summer. Pullbacks will occur on its way there but no retest of the lows. Why? Very simple. Trillions of dollars being pumped into the system. That plus high bearish sentiment provides the backdrop for a parabolic run to new highs. Buybacks are not necessary. Once the secular top is reached, we will enter an 80% bear market (bust) down to S&P 800. We won't see 4000 again for decades because interest rates will move up with inflation. P/E multiples will be compressed. TLDR: S&P 4000+ this summer. S&P 800 end of next year. Don't fight the Fed.
Hello visitors and subscribers of scams! Here you will find a master list of common (and uncommon) scams that you may encounter online or in real life. Thank you to the many contributors who helped create this thread!
If you know of a scam that is not covered here, write a comment and it will be added to the next edition.
Caller ID spoofing It is very easy for anyone to make a phone call while having any number show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the phone call. Receiving a phone call from a certain number does not mean that the person/company who owns that number has actually called you. Email spoofing The "from" field of an email can be set by the sender, meaning that you can receive scam emails that look like they are from legitimate addresses. It's important to never click links in emails unless absolutely necessary, for example a password reset link you requested or an account activation link for an account you created. SMS spoofing SMS messages can be spoofed, so be wary of messages that seem to be from your friends or other trusted people.
The most common scams
The fake check scam (Credit to nimble2 for this part) The fake check scam arises from many different situations (for instance, you applied for a job, or you are selling something on a place like Craigslist, or someone wants to purchase goods or services from your business, or you were offered a job as a mystery shopper, you were asked to wrap your car with an advertisement, or you received a check in the mail for no reason), but the bottom line is always something like this:
The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check. Sometimes they'll call it a "cashier's check", a "certified check", or a "verified check".
You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This makes you think that the check is real and the funds have cleared. However, the money appearing in your account is not the same as the check actually clearing. The bank must make the funds available to you before they have cleared the check because that is the law.
For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone some of the money, using services like MoneyGram, Western Union, and Walmart-2-Walmart. Sometimes the scammer will ask for you to purchase gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Steam, etc) and give them the codes to redeem the gift cards. Some scammers may also give you instructions on how to buy and send them bitcoins.
Within a couple of weeks, though it can take as long as a month, your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money from the fake check, that money will be gone and you will owe that money to the bank. Some posters have even had their bank accounts closed and have been blocked from having another account for 5 years using ChexSystems.
General fraudulent funds scams If somebody is asking you to accept and send out money as a favour or as part of a job, it is a fraudulent funds scam. It does not matter how they pay you, any payment on any service can be fraudulent and will be reversed when it is discovered to be fraudulent. Phone verification code scams Someone will ask you to receive a verification text and then tell you to give them the code. Usually the code will come from Google Voice, or from Craigslist. In the Google version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Google Voice account that the scammer will use to scam people with. In the Craigslist version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Craigslist posting that the scammer will use to scam people. There is also an account takeover version of this scam that will involve the scammer sending a password reset token to your phone number and asking you for it. Bitcoin job scams Bitcoin job scams involve some sort of fraudulent funds transfer, usually a fake check although a fraudulent bank transfer can be used as well. The scammer will send you the fraudulent money and ask you to purchase bitcoins. This is a scam, and you will have zero recourse after you send the scammer bitcoins. Email flooding If you suddenly receive hundreds or thousands of spam emails, usually subscription confirmations, it's very likely that one of your online accounts has been taken over and is being used fraudulently. You should check any of your accounts that has a credit card linked to it, preferably from a computer other than the one you normally use. You should change all of your passwords to unique passwords and you should start using two factor authentication everywhere. Boss/CEO scam A scammer will impersonate your boss or someone who works at your company and will ask you to run an errand for them, which will usually be purchasing gift cards and sending them the code. Once the scammer has the code, you have no recourse. Employment certification scams You will receive a job offer that is dependent on you completing a course or receiving a certification from a company the scammer tells you about. The scammer operates both websites and the job does not exist. Craigslist fake payment scams Scammers will ask you about your item that you have listed for sale on a site like Craigslist, and will ask to pay you via Paypal. They are scamming you, and the payment in most cases does not actually exist, the email you received was sent by the scammers. In cases where you have received a payment, the scammer can dispute the payment or the payment may be entirely fraudulent. The scammer will then either try to get you to send money to them using the fake funds that they did not send to you, or will ask you to ship the item, usually to a re-shipping facility or a parcel mule. General fraudulent funds scams The fake check scam is not the only scam that involves accepting fraudulent/fake funds and purchasing items for scammers. If your job or opportunity involves accepting money and then using that money, it is almost certainly a frauduent funds scam. Even if the payment is through a bank transfer, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Interac e-Transfer, etc, it does not matter. Credit card debt scam Fraudsters will offer to pay off your bills, and will do so with fraudulent funds. Sometimes it will be your credit card bill, but it can be any bill that can be paid online. Once they pay it off, they will ask you to send them money or purchase items for them. The fraudulent transaction will be reversed in the future and you will never be able to keep the money. This scam happens on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, Instagram, and also some dating sites, including SeekingArrangement. The parcel mule scam A scammer will contact you with a job opportunity that involves accepting and reshipping packages. The packages are either stolen or fraudulently obtained items, and you will not be paid by the scammer. Here is a news article about a scam victim who fell for this scam and reshipped over 20 packages containing fraudulently acquired goods. The Skype sex scam You're on Facebook and you get a friend request from a cute girl you've never met. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. She'll ask you to send pictures or videos or get on webcam where she can see you naked with your face in the picture. The scam: There's no girl. You've sent nudes to a guy pretending to be a girl. As soon as he has the pictures he'll demand money and threaten to send the pictures to your friends and family. Sometimes the scammer will upload the video to a porn site or Youtube to show that they are serious. What to do if you are a victim of this scam: You cannot buy silence, you can only rent it. Paying the blackmailer will show them that the information they have is valuable and they will come after you for more money. Let your friends and family know that you were scammed and tell them to ignore friend requests or messages from people they don't know. Also, make sure your privacy settings are locked down and consider deactivating your account. The underage girl scam You're on a dating site or app and you get contacted by a cute girl. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. Eventually she stops communicating and you get a call from a pissed off guy claiming to be the girl's father, or a police officer, or a private investigator, or something else along those lines. Turns out the girl you were sexting is underage, and her parents want some money for various reasons, such as to pay for a new phone, to pay for therapy, etc. There is, of course, no girl. You were communicating with a scammer. What to do if you are a victim of this scam: Stop picking up the phone when the scammers call. Do not pay them, or they will be after you for more money. Phishing Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving information to them, such as your password or private financial information. Phishing messages will usually look very similar to official messages, and sometimes they are identical. If you are ever required to login to a different account in order to use a service, you should be incredibly cautious. The blackmail email scam The exact wording of the emails varies, but there are generally four main parts. They claim to have placed software/malware on a porn/adult video site, they claim to have a video of you masturbating or watching porn, they threaten to release the video to your friends/family/loved ones/boss/dog, and they demand that you pay them in order for them to delete the video. Rest assured that this is a very common spam campaign and there is no truth behind the email or the threats. Here are some news articles about this scam. The blackmail mail scam This is very similar to the blackmail email scam, but you will receive a letter in the mail. Rental scams Usually on local sites like Craigslist, scammers will steal photos from legitimate real estate listings and will list them for rent at or below market rate. They will generally be hesitant to tell you the address of the property for "safety reasons" and you will not be able to see the unit. They will then ask you to pay them a deposit and they claim they will ship you the keys. In reality, your money is gone and you will have no recourse. Craigslist vehicle scams A scammer will list a vehicle on Craigslist and will offer to ship you the car. In many cases they will also falsely claim to sell you the car through eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for a car on Craigslist and the seller says anything about shipping the car, having an agent, gives you a long story about why they are selling the car, or the listing price is far too low, you are talking to a scammer and you should ignore and move on. Advance-fee scam, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian prince scam. You will receive a communication from someone who claims that you are entitled to a large sum of money, or you can help them obtain a large sum of money. However, they will need money from you before you receive the large sum. Man in the middle scams Man in the middle scams are very common and very hard to detect. The scammer will impersonate a company or person you are legitimately doing business with, and they will ask you to send the money to one of their own bank accounts or one controlled by a money mule. They have gained access to the legitimate persons email address, so there will be nothing suspicious about the email. To prevent this, make contact in a different way that lets you verify that the person you are talking to is the person you think you are talking to. Cam girl voting/viewer scam You will encounter a "cam girl" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to go to their site and sign up with your credit card. They may offer a free show, or ask you to vote for them, or any number of other fake stories. Amateur porn recruitment scam You will encounter a "pornstar" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to create an adult film with hehim, but first you need to do something. The story here is usually something to do with verifying your age, or you needing to take an STD test that involves sending money to a site operated by the scammer. Hot girl SMS spam You receive a text from a random number with a message along the lines of "Hey babe I'm here in town again if you wanted to meet up this time, are you around?" accompanied by a NSFW picture of a hot girl. It's spam, and they'll direct you to their scam website that requires a credit card. Identity verification scam You will encounter someone on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask that you verify your identity as they are worried about catfishing. The scammer operates the site, and you are not talking to whoever you think you are talking to. This type of scam teases you with something, then tries to make you sign up for something else that costs money. The company involved is often innocent, but they turn a blind eye to the practice as it helps their bottom line, even if they have to occasionally issue refunds. A common variation takes place on dating sites/dating apps, where you will match with someone who claims to be a camgirl who wants you to sign up for a site and vote for her. Another variation takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where the scammers setup fake rental scams and demand that you go through a specific service for a credit check. Once you go through with it, the scammer will stop talking to you. Another variation also takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where scammers will contact you while you are selling a car and will ask you to purchase a Carfax-like report from a specific website. Multi Level Marketing or Affiliate Marketing You apply for a vague job listing for 'sales' on craigslist. Or maybe an old friend from high school adds you on Facebook and says they have an amazing business opportunity for you. Or maybe the well dressed guy who's always interviewing people in the Starbucks that you work at asks if you really want to be slinging coffee the rest of your life. The scam: MLMs are little more than pyramid schemes. They involve buying some sort of product (usually snake oil health products like body wraps or supplements) and shilling them to your friends and family. They claim that the really money is recruiting people underneath you who give you a slice of whatever they sell. And if those people underneath you recruit more people, you get a piece of their sales. Ideally if you big enough pyramid underneath you the money will roll in without any work on your part. Failure to see any profit will be your fault for not "wanting it enough." The companies will claim that you need to buy their extra training modules or webinars to really start selling. But in reality, the vast majority of people who buy into a MLM won't see a cent. At the end of the day all you'll be doing is annoying your friends and family with your constant recruitment efforts. What to look out for: Recruiters love to be vague. They won't tell you the name of the company or what exactly the job will entail. They'll pump you up with promises of "self-generating income", "being your own boss", and "owning your own company." They might ask you to read books about success and entrepreneurs. They're hoping you buy into the dream first. If you get approached via social media, check their timelines. MLMs will often instruct their victims to pretend that they've already made it. They'll constantly post about how they're hustling and making the big bucks and linking to youtube videos about success. Again, all very vague about what their job actually entails. If you think you're being recruited: Ask them what exactly the job is. If they can't answer its probably a MLM. Just walk away.
You should generally avoid answering or engaging with random phone calls. Picking up and engaging with a scam call tells the scammers that your phone number is active, and will usually lead to more calls. Tax Call You get a call from somebody claiming to be from your countries tax agency. They say you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately, and you may be arrested or have other legal action taken against you if it is not paid. This scam has caused the American IRS, Canadian CRA, British HMRC, and Australian Tax Office to issue warnings. This scam happens in a wide variety of countries all over the world. Warrant Call Very similar to the tax call. You'll get a phone call from an "agent", "officer", "sheriff", or other law enforcement officer claiming that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested very soon. They will then offer to settle everything for a fee, usually paid in giftcards. [Legal Documents/Process Server Calls] Very similar to the warrant call. You'll get a phone call from a scammer claiming that they are going to serve you legal documents, and they will threaten you with legal consequences if you refuse to comply. They may call themselves "investigators", and will sometimes give you a fake case number. Student Loan Forgiveness Scam Scammers will call you and tell you about a student loan forgiveness program, but they are interested in obtaining private information about you or demanding money in order to join the fake program. Tech Support Call You receive a call from someone with a heavy accent claiming to be a technician Microsoft or your ISP. They inform you that your PC has a virus and your online banking and other accounts may be compromised if the virus is not removed. They'll have you type in commands and view diagnostics on your PC which shows proof of the virus. Then they'll have you install remote support software so the technician can work on your PC, remove the virus, and install security software. The cost of the labor and software can be hundreds of dollars. The scam: There's no virus. The technician isn't a technician and does not work for Microsoft or your ISP. Scammers (primarily out of India) use autodialers to cold-call everyone in the US. Any file they point out to you or command they have you run is completely benign. The software they sell you is either freeware or ineffective. What to do you if you're involved with this scam: If the scammers are remotely on your computer as you read this, turn off your PC or laptop via the power button immediately, and then if possible unplug your internet connection. Some of the more vindictive tech scammers have been known to create boot passwords on your computer if they think you've become wise to them and aren't going to pay up. Hang up on the scammers, block the number, and ignore any threats about payment. Performing a system restore on your PC is usually all that is required to remove the scammer's common remote access software. Reports of identity theft from fake tech calls are uncommon, but it would still be a good idea to change your passwords for online banking and monitor your accounts for any possible fraud. How to avoid: Ignore any calls claiming that your PC has a virus. Microsoft will never contact you. If you're unsure if a call claiming to be from your ISP is legit, hang up, and then dial the customer support number listed on a recent bill. If you have elderly relatives or family that isn't tech savvy, take the time to fill them in on this scam. Chinese government scam This scam is aimed at Chinese people living in Europe and North America, and involves a voicemail from someone claiming to be associated with the Chinese government, usually through the Chinese consulate/embassy, who is threatening legal action or making general threats. Chinese shipping scam This scam is similar to the Chinese government scam, but involves a seized/suspicious package, and the scammers will connect the victim to other scammers posing as Chinese government investigators. Social security suspension scam You will receive a call from someone claiming to work for the government regarding suspicious activity, fraud, or serious crimes connected to your social security number. You'll be asked to speak to an operator and the operator will explain the steps you need to follow in order to fix the problems. It's all a scam, and will lead to you losing money and could lead to identity theft if you give them private financial information. Utilities cutoff You get a call from someone who claims that they are from your utility company, and they claim that your utilities will be shut off unless you immediately pay. The scammer will usually ask for payment via gift cards, although they may ask for payment in other ways, such as Western Union or bitcoin. Relative in custody Scammer claims to be the police, and they have your son/daughtenephew/estranged twin in custody. You need to post bail (for some reason in iTunes gift cards or MoneyGram) immediately or the consequences will never be the same. Mexican family scam This scam comes in many different flavours, but always involves someone in your family and Mexico. Sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been detained, sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been kidnapped, and sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member is injured and needs help. General family scams Scammers will gather a large amount of information about you and target your family members using different stories with the goal of gettimg them to send money. One ring scam Scammers will call you from an international number with the goal of getting you to return their call, causing you to incur expensive calling fees.
Online shopping scams
THE GOLDEN RULE OF ONLINE SHOPPING: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Dropshipping An ad on reddit or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offers items at huge discounts or even free (sometimes requiring you to reblog or like their page). They just ask you to pay shipping. The scam: The item will turn out to be very low quality and will take weeks or even months to arrive. Sometimes the item never arrives, and the store disappears or stops responding. The seller drop-ships the item from China. The item may only cost a few dollars, and the Chinese government actually pays for the shipping. You end up paying $10-$15 dollars for a $4 item, with the scammer keeping the profit. If you find one of these scams but really have your heart set on the item, you can find it on AliExpress or another Chinese retailer. Influencer scams A user will reach out to you on a social media platform, usually Instagram, and offer you the chance to partner with them and receive a free/discounted product, as long as you pay shipping. This is a different version of the dropshipping scam, and is just a marketing technique to get you to buy their products. Triangulation fraud Triangulation fraud occurs when you make a purchase on a site like Amazon or eBay for an item at a lower than market price, and receive an item that was clearly purchased new at full price. The scammer uses a stolen credit card to order your item, while the money from the listing is almost all profit for the scammer. Instagram influencer scams Someone will message you on Instagram asking you to promote their products, and offering you a discount code. The items are Chinese junk, and the offer is made to many people at a time. Cheap Items Many websites pop up and offer expensive products, including electronics, clothes, watches, sunglasses, and shoes at very low prices. The scam: Some sites are selling cheap knock-offs. Some will just take your money and run. What to do if you think you're involved with this scam: Contact your bank or credit card and dispute the charge. How to avoid: The sites often have every brand-name shoe or fashion item (Air Jordan, Yeezy, Gucci, etc) in stock and often at a discounted price. The site will claim to be an outlet for a major brand or even a specific line or item. The site will have images at the bottom claiming to be Secured by Norton or various official payment processors but not actual links. The site will have poor grammar and a mish-mash of categories. Recently, established websites will get hacked or their domain name jacked and turned into scam stores, meaning the domain name of the store will be completely unrelated to the items they're selling. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nobody is offering brand new iPhones or Beats or Nintendo Switches for 75% off. Cheap Amazon 3rd Party Items You're on Amazon or maybe just Googling for an item and you see it for an unbelievable price from a third-party seller. You know Amazon has your back so you order it. The scam: One of three things usually happen: 1) The seller marks the items as shipped and sends a fake tracking number. Amazon releases the funds to the seller, and the seller disappears. Amazon ultimately refunds your money. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to re-order the item directly from their website, usually with the guarantee that the order is still protected by Amazon. The seller takes your money and runs. Amazon informs you that they do not offer protection on items sold outside of Amazon and cannot help you. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to instead send payment via an unused Amazon gift card by sending the code on the back via email. Once the seller uses the code, the money on the card is gone and cannot be refunded. How to avoid: These scammers can be identified by looking at their Amazon storefronts. They'll be brand new sellers offering a wide range of items at unbelievable prices. Usually their Amazon names will be gibberish, or a variation on FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME. Occasionally however, established storefronts will be hacked. If the deal is too good to be true its most likely a scam. Scams on eBay There are scams on eBay targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who privately message you regarding the order, especially if they ask you to ship to a different address or ask to negotiate via text/email/a messaging service. As a buyer you should look out for new accounts selling in-demand items, established accounts selling in-demand items that they have no previous connection to (you can check their feedback history for a general idea of what they bought/sold in the past), and lookout for people who ask you to go off eBay and use another service to complete the transaction. In many cases you will receive a fake tracking number and your money will be help up for up to a month. Scams on Amazon There are scams on Amazon targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who message you about a listing. As a buyer you should look out for listings that have an email address for you to contact the person to complete the transaction, and you should look out for cheap listings of in-demand items. Scams on Reddit Reddit accounts are frequently purchased and sold by fraudsters who wish to use the high karma count + the age of the account to scam people on buy/sell subreddits. You need to take precautions and be safe whenever you are making a transaction online. Computer scams Virus scam A popup or other ad will say that you have a virus and you need to follow their advice in order to remove it. They are lying, and either want you to install malware or pay for their software.
Chinese Brushing / direct shipping If you have ever received an unsolicited small package from China, your address was used to brush. Vendors place fake orders for their own products and send out the orders so that they can increase their ratings. Money flipping Scammer claims to be a banking insider who can double/triple/bazoople any amount of money you send them, with no consequences of any kind. Obviously, the money disappears into their wallet the moment you send it.
Door to door scams
As a general rule, you should not engage with door to door salesmen. If you are interested in the product they are selling, check online first. Selling Magazines Someone or a group will come to your door and offer to sell a magazine subscription. Often the subscriptions are not for the duration or price you were told, and the magazines will often have tough or impossible cancellation policies. Energy sales Somebody will come to your door claiming to be from an energy company. They will ask to see your current energy bill so that they can see how much you pay. They will then offer you a discount if you sign up with them, and promise to handle everything with your old provider. Some of these scammers will "slam" you, by using your account number that they saw on your bill to switch you to their service without authorization, and some will scam you by charging higher prices than the ones you agreed on. Security system scams Scammers will come to your door and ask about your security system, and offer to sell you a new one. These scammers are either selling you overpriced low quality products, or are casing your home for a future burglary. They ask to enter your home While trying to sell you whatever, they suddenly need to use your bathroom, or they've been writing against the wall and ask to use your table instead. Or maybe they just moved into the neighborhood and want to see how you decorate for ideas. They're scoping out you and your place. They want to see what valuables you have, how gullible you are, if you have a security system or dogs, etc.
Begging With a Purpose "I just need a few more dollars for the bus," at the bus station, or "I just need $5 to get some gas," at a gas station. There's also a variation where you will be presented with a reward: "I just need money for a cab to get uptown, but I'll give you sports tickets/money/a date/a priceless vase." Three Card Monte, Also Known As The Shell Game Unbeatable. The people you see winning are in on the scam. Drop and Break You bump into someone and they drop their phone/glasses/fancy bottle of wine/priceless vase and demand you pay them back. In reality, it's a $2 pair of reading glasses/bottle of three-buck-chuck/tasteful but affordable vase. CD Sales You're handed a free CD so you can check out the artist's music. They then ask for your name and immediately write it on the CD. Once they've signed your name, they ask you for money, saying they can't give it to someone else now. Often they use dry erase markers, or cheap CD sleeves. Never use any type of storage device given to you by a random person, as the device can contain malware. White Van Speaker Scam You're approached and offered speakers/leather jackets/other luxury goods at a discount. The scammer will have an excuse as to why the price is so low. After you buy them, you'll discover that they are worthless. iPhone Street Sale You're approached and shown an iPhone for sale, coming in the box, but it's open and you can see the phone. If you buy the phone, you'll get an iPhone box with no iPhone, just some stones or cheap metal in it to weigh it down. Buddhist Monk Pendant A monk in traditional garb approaches you, hands you a gold trinket, and asks for a donation. He holds either a notebook with names and amounts of donation (usually everyone else has donated $5+), or a leaflet with generic info. This is fairly common in NYC, and these guys get aggressive quickly. Friendship Bracelet Scam More common in western Europe, you're approached by someone selling bracelets. They quickly wrap a loop of fabric around your finger and pull it tight, starting to quickly weave a bracelet. The only way to (easily) get it off your hand is to pay. Leftover sales This scam involves many different items, but the idea is usually the same: you are approached by someone who claims to have a large amount of excess inventory and offers to sell it to you at a great price. The scammer actually has low quality items and will lie to you about the price/origin of the items. Dent repair scams Scammers will approach you in public about a dent in your car and offer to fix it for a low price. Often they will claim that they are mechanics. They will not fix the dent in your car, but they will apply large amounts of wax or other substances to hide the dent while they claim that the substance requires time to harden. Gold ring/jewelry/valuable item scam A scammer will "find" a gold ring or other valuable item and offers to sell it to you. The item is fake and you will never see the scammer again. Distraction theft One person will approach you and distract you, while their accomplice picks your pockets. The distraction can take many forms, but if you are a tourist and are approached in public, watch closely for people getting close to you.
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