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A World Where Solar Land is More Valued than Farm Land

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As fossil fuels lose their attractiveness the industrialized world has a fairly big problem. The problem might actually be big enough to threaten various stages of collapse in various region around the world – in other words, the world being forced to transition from fossil fuels could get ugly, and might threaten the investments of a lot of very rich people. The ensuing decrease in services could have a decidedly Dystopian quality. A lot of people could get hurt.

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So now I have affirmed that the transition from a Carbon to a post-Carbon would could get viciously ugly, what would happen if it doesn’t get ugly?

There are a limited number of solutions available if we are to keep society more or less recognizable from 20th century developed nation consumerism, pluriform democracies and freedom. All three – consumerism, freedom and multicultural democracies are a recent phenomenon. Their long term succession is by no means guaranteed, even if most people in modern societies prefer all over their alternatives – autocracy, planned economies and nationalist states.  We have tried feudalism and all of its variants for a few thousand years and my guess is most people would not opt for repressive societies. Repressive societies, no matter how well-intentioned and Utopian in ideology always end up favoring ruling elites.

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The Problem

energyThe problem is that all trappings of a comfortable civilization cost money. As we have come to understand, money doesn’t really exist and is a fiction cooked up by politicians, ideologues and bankers. The substrate that underlies money is actually energy. Having a society that generates (or somehow succeeds in harvesting) an energy surplus can grow. If there’s no energy surplus, no amount of printing “money” can generate long term economic prosperity. We might have pretended for a while this is the case, but we are now running in to irresolvable limits to growth, and most these limits could be overcome if only we had access to sufficient energy.

The American standard of living by some is regarded as the highest form of life on the planet. A reason for the relative prosperity of typical Americans is the rate at which their directly or indirectly consume energy. Most of this energy is petrochemical. America consumes as a society about one fifth all energy of the world, and the world consumes about 20 terawatt per year in energy, again, most of which is non-renewable and carbon based. Apparently a lot of people world wide still consume energy in the form of burning wood. Or it’s less palatable cousin, cow dung.

Let’s for now assume, despite objections to the contrary, that carbon based fuels are either irreversibly depleting, or are becoming otherwise undesirable to consume at anything approximating current rates. I can think of a few reasons, such as mass extinctions and climate change but opinions tends to vary on these topics.

There is no existing alternative source of energy that can in 2015 replace “burning stuff”. We can’t scale up existing nuclear plants – Uranium nuclear has been operating at a nett loss (taking all costs in to account) for decades. Wind energy is too intermittent, Geothermal and Water turbines too regional, Thorium has not been proven, and most other alternatives too small scale. There is only one source of energy that scales up indefinitely and becomes cheaper as we invest in it, and that is Space Based Solar, but we won’t have launch capability to construct that for the better part of a century. That leaves us with planetary solar.

There are several competing formats  for turning sun in to electricity, and it is pretty certain that in coming years we’ll unearth new ways to do so, with less stuff and with higher outputs.

And there’s a problem there. We’d want to produce solar electricity pretty close to where we’d like consuming it. Transporting electricity over vast distances is costly, subject to sabotage, extortion and vandalism, and it is inefficient. But no matter how much solar electricity we’d eventually come to produce,  our society will always demand more to sustain our ever expanding hunger for consumer goods, cheap food, transportation, computation and whatnot. There is absolutely no cap on how much affordable energy eventually would want to consume on the planet (short of cooking away the oceans in doing so) and that means that as soon as means ti transmute sunlight in to marketable kilowatt-hours, there will be markets demanding more.

Right now our planet is covered with large stretches of forests, desert and agricultural land. Solar electricity would be consumed where most paying consumers would be, and consequently where stable states would exist to allow for permanent solar harvesting farms to operate undisturbed. A solar economy therefore might easily be argued to be more likely to be decentralized (no big monopolies), quite averse to violence (wars break all the solar) and democratic (easily taxable). I might break a lance to argue how more favorable a persistent and robust solar economy might be over a hydrocarbon based one, but I am sure a cavalcade of SUV aficionado’s might vehemently disagree with me.

solar plant

Whatever the outcome – if solar does in fact take off in terms of output, safety, sustainability, return-on-investment, marketability (etc.) then we might see ever more sophisticated types of solar dotting the landscape, especially in place where people live.

The scariest and at the same time most fascinating scenario is a world, maybe half a century from now, where solar forests compete with agricultural or natural land. It might come to a point where we become so efficient capturing sunlight and turning it in to prosperity that demand for solar electricity outstrips other demands.

A century ago most currently developed countries had a lot more horses. There are less horses around now. Likewise in 2015 we have a lot of agricultural land and forests. Along the same lines, assuming we as a society get very lucky with Solar, might see large parts of the world covered with some form of structures that turn sunlight in to prosperity. As indicated, I’d rather see that happen in a near planetary orbit with Space Based Solar, but anything that sustains my (soon to be considerably life-extended) standards of living is welcome, and I am not asking for the sky just yet.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Khannea Suntzu describes herself as cosmist, cosmicist, upwinger, socialist-libertarian, hedonist and abolitionist. Khannea is transgendered, and currently lives in the Netherlands.




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  1. DigitalGalaxy

    September 30, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    One source of power you missed is offshore wind, which is consistent because the wind is almost always blowing out over the ocean. In contrast to onshore wind which is intermittent. That is convenient because most people live near the coast. Also, Japan is developing floating solar panels that can take up ocean space instead of land. So there is hope for clean, non carbon based energy today, here and now, that does not take up all our land.

    (Also we don’t need farmland, we could do vertical farming with hydroponics and do that in skyscrapers, no farm land required, but that is another topic.)

    Thanks for a great post!

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Blockchain Talent Demand Surpasses Supply

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If there’s any group in the global workforce that is sitting pretty it’s blockchain developers. Their success has unparalleled with anything in the stratosphere, yet they’re still receiving offers with compensation packages rivaling that of CEO pay packages. And many of them have already become millionaires from investing in the coins of the market leaders they helped to build, including bitcoin and Ethereum, which means they’re less incentivized to join other projects for the size of the offer alone.

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Decentralized World

The thing to remember about blockchain pioneers is that they set out on the mission of a decentralized world not so that they could be subject to the whims of cryptocurrency prices. They are just as focused on the social impact of the blockchain as they are the success of their respective projects. Consider Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin, who during the peak of the cryptocurrency market rally at year-end 2017 tweeted the following reminder to his followers –

Buterin went on to use Venezuela as an example, whose economy is in tatters. He was dismayed that bitcoin’s price posts were getting more traction than “how Venezuelans were being rescued by crypto.”

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If the corporate culture reflected Buterin’s mission rather than dangling a six- or seven-digit compensation package in front of recruits, they might have more success attracting top blockchain talent.

Talent Battle

Meanwhile, blockchain startups are creating roadmaps with product release dates obligating them to have top development talent in-house, all of which is leading to projects getting stuck and helping to fuel the hiring frenzy. It’s not solely blockchain startups, however.

Global corporations including certain FANG stocks are no longer waiting on the sidelines as ICOs raise billions of dollars and the cryptocurrency market cap has balloons to nearly $400 billion, all of which has placed a high bounty on the pool for blockchain talent. If you have any doubts, consider again Ethereum co-founder Buterin. As Hacked.com previously reported, Buterin tweeted about having received a job offer from Google.

David Schwartz, whose Twitter profile describes him as “one of the original architects of the XRP network,” told The Wall Street Journal how both a startup and a big tech play attempted to poach one of his team members, each of them offering the Ripple developer a million dollar signing bonus.

Meanwhile, the blockchain, a public immutable ledger where transactions are recorded and joined together in individual blocks, has become a catchphrase, one that can mean the difference between hits on a LinkedIn profile or not. According to the Journal story, there are thousands of available jobs posted on the social platform hunting blockchain talent through the early part of May, reflecting more than a 150% jump versus all of last year.

But just as regulators have said they don’t want to rush into crafting any policy in response to market performance, employers should similarly take a step back before throwing everything but kitchen sinks out to software developers. Some companies are developing talent in-house, which is another route to consider. But overall, hiring companies could be much more effective at recruiting blockchain talent if they understood the mission behind decentralization.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 7 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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Crypto Hedge Funds Grow 64% Over the Past Year as Institutions Embrace Digital Currency

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After spending much of the last eight years bashing cryptocurrency, Wall Street is beginning to embrace the digital asset class more intently than ever before. Case in point: the number of cryptocurrency hedge funds has increased 64% over the past year. As it turns out, Goldman Sachs isn’t the only institutional player pivoting toward cryptocurrency.

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The Rise of the Crypto Hedge Fund

There are now 287 hedge funds devoted to cryptocurrency trading, compared with 175 a year ago, according to data from Autonomous Next. Astonishingly, there were only 20 crypto hedge funds in existence in 2016.

Over the past year, at least 100 hedge funds have been launched for the sole purpose of trading cryptocurrency. At this rate, institutions will play an increasingly pivotal role in the digital currency market in the very near future.

Digital currency exchanges are betting big on institutional money. San Francisco-based Coinbase recently unveiled four new products designed to unlock up to $10 billion in institutional capital currently sitting on the sidelines. This includes a new custodial service that will provide institutions with a trusted steward to safeguard their digital assets.

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As for hedge funds themselves, April saw a huge turnaround in terms of profitability, as firms played the crypto-market rebound to great success. In the process, they gained more than 80% compared with March.

The Next Bull Market

Coinbase has put forward the position that institutional capital will be responsible for the next great bull market in cryptocurrency. If 2017 was the year of the retail investor, 2018 and beyond will largely be driven by institutions. A close examination of Google search trends seems to support this view.

The 2017 bull market was accompanied by a wave of new entrants into the cryptocurrency market, as evidenced by the surge in Google search results for terms like “bitcoin” and “cryptocurrency.” If we use the same metrics, we can conclude that cryptocurrency has lost its buzz among new traders. For example, a term like “cryptocurrency” achieved a Google Trends score of 12 in the most recent week, down from a perfect 100 at the start of 2018.

That said, hedge funds are still a long ways away from dominating the crypto market.  In fact, institutional adoption remains weak overall in spite of the recent growth. This was recently pointed out by Tom Lee, the Wall Street crypto analyst leading research at Fundstrat Global Advisors.

In Lee’s view, cryptocurrencies failed to rally during blockchain week because of adoption hurdles at bank as well as a lack of custodial tools among major institutions. Using the same logic, Lee concludes that institutional demand is one of the missing ingredients for a large rally in prices.

However, Lee has maintained a strongly bullish outlook on crypto assets, including a price forecast for bitcoin of $25,000 by the end of the year.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Walmart’s Flipkart Deal: The Dawn of a New Day in India

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It’s the dawn of a new day in India, particularly cross-border investment, thanks to Walmart’s groundbreaking controlling stake in Bengaluru-based e-commerce darling Flipkart. Walmart has tried for years to no avail to enter the South Asian country, until now.

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As a result of the deal, Walmart now has five seats on the online retailer’s board and is poised to play an influential role on the direction of the company — including a possible Flipkart IPO — setting the tone for further investments into the region in the interim.

It’s $16 billion deal values Flipkart at a whopping $21 billion and helps the Arkansas-based big-box retailer to compete more fiercely with Amazon, considering that the integration goes smoothly. Walmart has chosen a controversial target company to kick things off. Flipkart has been at the center of a saga ironically surrounding a previous cross-border investment.

Amazon is fighting back, however, as evidenced by it reaching into the belly of western India including Gujarat’s Bhuj, where some residents don’t even have online access. Amazon is taking an Etsy-like approach there with a focus on handmake craft items that are unique to this corner of the world.

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No doubt corporations around the world have it on their radar as a possible harbinger of more cross-border investment activity to unfold in the region.

Gopal Jain of Mumbai-based private equity firm Gaja Capital told The Financial Times: “India continues to be perceived in global boardrooms as a tough place to do business in.” But he also said that as a result of this deal, global executives have gone from “being on the heels to being on the toes.”

India’s Cross-Border Investment

The overhaul of India’s international investment has been two decades in the making. And while India Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his administration has opened the doors to foreign investment, there still hasn’t been much evidence of that. For instance, cross-border M&A into India totaled $14.5 billion last year, lagging the performance of other developing countries including Brazil and China by as much as 50%, as per Dealogic data cited in the FT.

Indeed, the last time that a deal of anything close to the size of Walmart’s Flipkart acquisition was more than a decade ago in the telecom space when Vodafone took a majority position in Hutchison Essar. That deal left a sour taste in the mouths of would-be pursuers given hostile tax environment in which Vodafone was forced to operate.

Prime Minister Modi has the opportunity to prove to the rest of the world that India indeed is open for investment. If the Walmart deal can somehow help to shake the stigma that is attached to foreign investment into India, as evidenced by the “tax terrorism” that’s been attached with the region, it, in fact, could reflect the dawn of a new day for cross-border M&A in India.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 7 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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