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As Central Banks Sell off Record US Debt, Blockchain Offers Cost Cutting for Financial Industry

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Central banks are playing hot potato with America’s debt.

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Banking District

The first six months of this year saw foreign central banks sell a net $192 billion of U.S Treasury bonds – double that of last year.

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China, Japan, France, Brazil and Colombia have dumped the most in the largest selloff of US debt since 1978.

“Net selling of U.S. notes and bonds year to date thru June is historic,” says Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, an investing firm in Virginia.

U.S. Treasury’s were the safest asset in the world, as many countries hold their cash in U.S. Government Bonds due to post-World War II economic arrangement via Bretton-Woods world order. By selling their holdings of U.S. Treasuries, the nation’s benefit by putting downward pressure on the U.S. dollar relative to their currencies.  The lesson: the global economy is still weak.

Low oil prices, China’s economic slowdown and a so-called “race to the bottom” as global currencies lose value weigh on what the IMF terms a “fragile” economy in 2016.

Private demand for the bonds has skyrocketed as the US pays historically low-interest rates. The 10-year U.S. Treasury, at a record low of 1.34% earlier this year, bounced to about 1.58%.

Meanwhile, financial institutions celebrate blockchain technology as a potential boon to the global economy. Financial institutions want to streamline trade. Why? They see the above-mentioned problems as a reason to suspect the US Federal Reserve will increase interest rates, thereby increasing the cost of money.

HSBC, upon announcing a partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to experiment with bitcoin inspired technology, told CNBC that the blockchain could be “revolutionary” in international trade and commerce.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and HSBC published recently published proof of concept showing how blockchain could revolutionize trade.

Global nodes

“Over $2 trillion of trade today depends on the physical exchange of documents,” Vivek Ramachandran, the bank’s global head of product and propositions for global trade and receivables finance, told CNBC late last month.

“What we’ve shown is blockchain has the potential to take away paper, which could be completely revolutionary if commercialised.”

He adds: “(Blockchain) makes the system much more efficient. It’s expensive to adopt it, but the upside is huge.”

Juniper Research reported findings that $290 million of venture capital has been invested in blockchain tech in the first half of 2016 over 30 startups.

“While blockchain technology offers the potential for increased speed, transparency and security across an array of verticals, there has to be rigorous and robust roadtesting in each unique use case before any decision is taken,” research author Windsor Holden stated.

It appears global financial institutions, as Russia and China prove to less likely to bail out the global economy, are turning to the blockchain to streamline the way the world works on the financial level. As the World Economic Forum notes:

“Distributed ledger technology (blockchain) has the potential to drive simplicity and efficiency by establishing new financial services infrastructure and processes.”

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s Offensive Continues as Prices Breach $3,400

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Bitcoin’s value jumped to a new record on Tuesday, a clear indication that the bull market was back in vogue following a month of turmoil.

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$3,000 & Beyond

The virtual currency (BTC/USD) rose 2.4% to $3,468.00 in overnight trading, according to Bitstamp. Before the weekend, the BTC/USD had crossed the $3,000 mark only once.

At current prices, the market value for all bitcoins is more than $57 billion – the highest on record.

While post-fork exuberance shows no signs of fading, traders are reminded that bitcoin’s recent leg up has been accompanied by decreasing volume. In fact, a similar trend has been observed during every leg up from $1,800.

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Zooming out to the 1-day Bollinger Band, the market appears to be overbought. A historical analysis reveals that, more often than not, a puncturing of the Bollinger Band in either direction leads to a broad pullback in the market.

The daily RSI also adds credence to the view that the market is approaching overbought territory.

Bitcoin Cash Trading Well Below Its Peak

Bitcoin’s surge followed the creation of a spin-off digital currency – Bitcoin Cash (BCH) – last week. The newly minted coin spiked above $700.00 on Aug. 2 before a series of volatile moves dragged prices back toward $200.00.

BCH was back above $300 on Tuesday, having gained more than 27%. Its total market is valued at more than $5 billion.

Coinbase Caves to Investor Demand

U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has announced that it plans to support BCH as of January 2018. Initially, the exchange said it would not support the new coin, triggering outrage among users and a surge in withdrawals.

A contingency of Coinbase customers also threatened to sue the exchange for not supporting BCH, equating the decision to a brokerage withholding new shares from its investors.

“We are planning to have support for Bitcoin Cash by 1 January 2018, assuming no additional risks emerge during that time,” the leading exchange said on its blog.

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Blockchain

Bulletproof

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Hi Everyone,

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One of the things that’s been bugging me about blockchain technology is another technology that is on the rise just as fast and could possibly make it irrelevant.

Quantum computing is currently under development by some of the biggest tech players in the world. IBM, the NSA, and Google are all working hard to make everything that we know about computers irrelevant within the next decade.

The idea is quite simple, in the world of quantum physics anything is possible. For example, throwing a basketball through a brick wall is not a very probable thing to occur but the odds of it happening are greater than zero.

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In computers, it means rather than making one calculation at a time in a sequential order, a quantum computer could theoretically just calculate all the possibilities at once.

So things like passwords or private keys, for example, could theoretically be reproduced in a matter of moments. This of course, threatens not just Bitcoin but all digital payments, online banking, and virtually all areas of encryption and cyber-security.

Now, we’re still several years away from this becoming a real concern. So now is the right time to start building the infrastructure to protect ourselves against it.

A company called Droplex, who’s pre-ICO is just entering its final hour aims to build a bullet proof blockchain that will be impervious to future Q-hackers. Now, I haven’t personally looked too deep at this project as of yet but I am extremely comforted by the fact that somebody is building a fix for this already.

Perhaps in 5 years or so we can have another debate about the best way to upgrade Bitcoin for Q-safety.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

Today’s Highlights

Stocks are down

Bezos Briefly Best

August 1st BTC Deadline

Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of July 28th. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Market Overview

Problems pursue in Washington for the precarious President.

The newly appointed communications director Anthony Scaramucci is now taking swipes at the chief of staff and Trump himself has been lashing out at his own attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Some speculate that Trump is getting ready to fire Sessions in order to get the special prosecutor Robert Muller off his back.

Meanwhile, the bill to repeal Obamacare was just shot down in the Senate as the notable Republican and previous presidential candidate (2008) John Mccain voted no.

Stock markets have not been performing well so far in Asia and the European markets just opened with a notable gap down.

At least the USD seems to be getting some support.

This chart showing USDollar support was posted by @4exPirate Dawid Kowalski in Poland who is arguably one of the most consistent traders on the eToro network.

Congratulations to Jeff Bezos

…for briefly becoming the world’s richest person. Jeff managed to snag the top spot off Bill and kept it for almost 3.5 hours.

Most of Bezos’ fortune is in Amazon shares, so when the market opened with a significant gap up his net worth reached $90 Billion. However, a sour earnings report from Amazon sent the stock back down.

Turbulence in Crypto

If he times it right, Bezos may just be able to buy all of the cryptocurrencies currently in circulation, which is now holding steady at about $90 Billion.

Or not, the sale of 17% of all AMZN shares along with word that the founder is selling would probably push the price significantly down before he could offload most of them. Of course, that much buying pressure would also move the cryptos up.

In any case, if anybody were considering to buy that many digital assets they might want to wait until next week. Given that August 1st is coming up this Tuesday and still nobody really knows what’s about to happen to Bitcoin.

For those of you looking to trade this event, make sure to get your orders in as early as possible as there may be some downtime on BTC depending on the way it plays out.

Wishing you and yours a very pleasant weekend.

This content is provided for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be investment advice or recommendation.

The outlook presented is a personal opinion of the analyst and does not represent an official position of eToro.

Past performance is not an indication of future results. All trading involves risk; only risk capital you are prepared to lose.

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Bitcoin

Valuing Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Applications

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Arguably the most interesting financial trend of 2017 is the spreading of cryptocurrencies, especially in the Ethereum ecosystem. With the ICO boom of this year, a lot of different business models have been connected to tokens or blockchains of their own. This brings up several questions in the mind value-conscious investors, as given the special properties of these coins, and especially considering the various distribution and usage schemes of the tokens, valuing them is tricky, to say the least.

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Whether or not we are in a bubble currently is a layered question, as we are definitely in a huge speculative wave that will end badly for several coins, but the segment is in the early phase of adoption, and the market as a whole will likely multiply in the coming years.

As I concluded in my comparison with the Dot-Com bubble, selective investing in the ICO-boom is vital for long-term investors. To make things more complicated, traditional valuation models generally fail with cryptocurrencies, because of the hybrid stock-commodity properties of them and the novelty of the technology, coupled with the questions regarding the future usage patterns.

Is it possible to set up a framework to analyze all the different business models and value the connected coins? Or is it possible to, at least, determine hard guidelines to follow when selecting the coins to hold or forget? I will answer that question below and in the coming second part of the article.

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