Paul Krugman | Crashing Crypto: Is This Time Different? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Last week TerraUSD, a stablecoin — a system that was supposed to perform a lot like a conventional bank account but was backed only by a cryptocurrency called Luna — collapsed. Luna lost 97 percent of its value over the course of just 24 hours, apparently destroying some investors’ life savings.

The event shook the crypto world in general, but the truth is that this world was looking pretty shaky even before the Terra disaster. Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, peaked last November and has since declined by more than 50 percent.

Here’s one way to think about that decline. Almost everyone is concerned about the rising cost of living; the Consumer Price Index — the cost of a representative basket of goods and services — has gone up about 4 percent over the past six months. But the cost of the same basket in Bitcoin has risen around 120 percent, which means inflation at an annualized rate of about 380 percent.

And other cryptocurrencies have performed far worse. Two cities — Miami and New York — have introduced their own cryptocurrencies, with enthusiastic support from their mayors. MiamiCoin is down more than 90 percent from its peak, and NewYorkCityCoin is down more than 80 percent.”

How a Trash-Talking Crypto Bro Caused a $40 Billion Crash – The New York Times

“Do Kwon, a trash-talking entrepreneur from South Korea, called the cryptocurrency he created in 2018 “my greatest invention.” In countless tweets and interviews, he trumpeted the world-changing potential of the currency, Luna, rallying a band of investors and supporters he proudly referred to as “Lunatics.”

Mr. Kwon’s company, Terraform Labs, raised more than $200 million from investment firms such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Galaxy Digital to fund crypto projects built with the currency, even as critics questioned its technological underpinnings. Luna’s total value ballooned to more than $40 billion, creating a frenzy of excitement that swept up day traders and start-up founders, as well as wealthy investors.

Mr. Kwon dismissed concerns with a taunt: “I don’t debate the poor.”

But last week, Luna and another currency that Mr. Kwon developed, TerraUSD, suffered a spectacular collapse. Their meltdowns had a domino effect on the rest of the cryptocurrency market, tanking the price of Bitcoin and accelerating the loss of $300 billion in value across the crypto economy. This week, the price of Luna remained close to zero, while TerraUSD continued to slide.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
It appears to be just a ponzi scheme, and like bitcoin, has a large carbon footprint. Therefore, all these products should probably be banned. I am a successful investor, and one important rule is, if you can’t understand it, don’t invest in it. I did try to understand bitcoin, and it apparently only has anonymous record keeping with an extraordinarily high carbon footprint. It is a haven for gangsters and corrupt officials. What could be worse than owning a share in a high carbon footprint virtual asset, that doesn’t have any oil or gas or coal to sell.
InconvenientNews.net

Farhad Manjoo | BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street Control a Piece of Nearly Everything – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“. . . .  But the goal of staying out of politics in 2022 is about as realistic as staying dry in a hurricane. Last year, for example, BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street supported a successful effort to shake up the board of Exxon Mobil by installing new members who promised to take climate change more seriously. Was that because of excessive wokeness, as Ramaswamy says, or because Exxon Mobil had been underperforming its peers for several years, and it was woefully ill prepared for the transition to renewable energy that has been transforming energy markets? The move seems well within what the investment firms say is their main goal, looking out for the long-term interest of shareholders. And what if the firms hadn’t backed the climate initiative — wouldn’t that have been construed as a political decision by the activists who have called on shareholders to push corporations to address the climate? (In any case, BlackRock announced this week that it would most likely vote for fewer climate-related shareholder proposals in 2022 than it did in 2021.)

In late 2018, a few months before his death, John C. Bogle, the visionary founder of Vanguard who developed the first index fund for individual investorspublished an extraordinary article in The Wall Street Journal assessing the impact of his life’s work. The index fund had revolutionized Wall Street — but what happens, he wondered, “if it becomes too successful for its own good?”

Bogle pointed out that asset management is a business of scale — the more money that BlackRock or Vanguard or State Street manages, the more it can lower its fees for investors. This makes it difficult for new companies to enter the business, meaning that the Big Three’s hold on the market seems likely to persist. “I do not believe that such concentration would serve the national interest,” Bogle wrote.

Bogle outlined several ideas for limiting their power, but he pointed out problems with a number of them. For example, regulators could prohibit index funds from holding large positions in more than one company in a given industry. But how then would they offer an index fund that invested in all companies in the S&P 500, one of the most popular kinds of funds?

Coates, of Harvard, argues that policymakers will have to move carefully to manage the dangers of concentration without limiting the benefits to investors of these firms’ low-cost funds. “No doubt getting the balance right will require judgment and experimentation,” he wrote.”

Short and Long Positions explained – Univ of Nebraska-Lincoln – business.unl.edu/

The Short Position – Sell High, Buy Low
The Short Position is a technique used when an investor anticipates that the value of a
stock will decrease in the short term, perhaps in the next few days or weeks. In a short
sell transaction the investor borrows the shares of stock from the investment firm to sell
to another investor. Investment firms normally have a large inventory of stocks on hand
or can borrow stock from another firm to loan to the investor. Of course, the investor
must eventually return the stock they borrow. The intent is to borrow the stock for sale
at a high price, then buy them back later at a lower price to and return them to the
stockbroker.

Click to access The%20Long%20or%20Short%20Position.pdf

Larry Fink’s Letter to CEOs Says Stakeholder Capitalism Is Not ‘Woke’ – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/17/business/dealbook/larry-fink-blackrock-letter.html

“Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of the investment giant BlackRock, has become one of the most influential voices in business over the past decade in pushing corporate leaders to think beyond profits, to their social purpose.

Mr. Fink has delivered his words in annual letters that have drawn remarkable attention, but also criticism from all corners: that he is beholden to politically correct antibusiness activists, or that he is co-opting these issues for marketing purposes.

On Monday night, he used his latest letter to corporate America to clarify — and defend — his approach.

“Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics,” Mr. Fink wrote to the chief executives of businesses that BlackRock has invested in. “It is not ‘woke.’ It is capitalism.” “

What (the F) is NFT? Non-fungible tokens explained – CNN

“New York (CNN Business)Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are the latest cryptocurrency phenomenon to go mainstream. And after Christie’s auction house sold the first-ever NFT artwork — a collage of images by digital artist Beeple for a whopping $69.3 million — NFTs have suddenly captured the world’s attention.

So what are NFTs?
In the simplest terms, NFTs transform digital works of art and other collectibles into one-of-a-kind, verifiable assets that are easy to trade on the blockchain.
Although that may be far from simple for the uninitiated to understand, the payoff has been huge for many artists, musicians, influencers and the like, with investors spending top dollar to own NFT versions of digital images. For example, Jack Dorsey’s first tweet sold for $2.9 million, a video clip of a LeBron James slam dunk sold for over $200,000 and a decade-old “Nyan Cat” GIF went for $600,000.”

Source: What is NFT? Non-fungible tokens explained – CNN

Opinion | The Way the Senate Melted Down Over Crypto Is Very Revealing – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“For months, there’s been a debate over what should count as infrastructure. Roads and bridges, sure. But what about preschool and health insurance and child care? Democrats say yes, Republicans say no. With the exception of broadband access, however, there’s been almost no discussion of the infrastructure underpinning the digital economy. But right at the end, that changed, when a meltdown over cryptocurrency regulation almost derailed the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s passage in the Senate.

I’m going to try to do a few things here. First, I want to explain why crypto matters, even if you think Bitcoin is just goldbuggery for nerds. The technology is evolving to be much more than a digital currency, and Silicon Valley sees it as the digital infrastructure atop which the next internet will be built. Then I want to trace the fight that consumed the final days of the bill, because this was just an early skirmish in what will be a much longer campaign.”

This piece by Klein is pathetically vague, but the comments are not.

Here are the top two comments I recommended:

dave
pennsylvania43m ago
Times Pick

I’m no closer to understanding crypto currencies, but this article made the associated problems wonderfully clear. What it did NOT do was point out that in our current environment, anything that burns as much electricity as Indonesia should either be shutdown or construct its own solar/wind power source. The notion that someone somewhere is burning coal so these “whiz kids” can avoid the banking system is unacceptable. Climate change is 1000 times more important than more “digital innovation”…

12 Replies696 Recommended

Michael
Toledo, Ohio, USA43m ago
Times Pick

As a retired computer engineer in his mid-seventies, I hope to die before I have to understand and deal with cryptocurrencies, blockchains, etc. Regrettably, my children (in their forties, more or less) won’t be so lucky. For what it may be worth, to me Bitcoin looks a lot like gold: it has to be “mined,” with substantial expense and environmental damage; it has no intrinsic value; and it is little more than a medium for speculation.

7 Replies487 Recommended
Ann
Upstate. y7h ago

I live in the Finger Lakes, an area full of farms, wineries, rolling hills and lakes. We are working hard to end out reliance on carbon. On Seneca lake, a crypto mining facility is spewing enormous amounts of carbon into the air to run the computers. Crypto now uses as much carbo energy as Argentina. This industry does not belong in a world where dealing with the carbo emergency is paramount. The neglect to mention this reality makes this piece worthless. Everything should be now be studies through the lens of the climate emergency.

6 Replies281 Recommended
 As I might sing in my concert on the environment, Noah’s New Ark,
This will change with a carbon tax.

Bayh–Dole Act – Wikipedia recommended by B. Migliorini

The Bayh–Dole Act or Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act (Pub. L. 96-517, December 12, 1980) is United States legislation dealing with inventions arising from federal government-funded research. Sponsored by two senatorsBirch Bayh of Indiana and Bob Dole of Kansas, the Act was adopted in 1980, is codified at 94 Stat. 3015, and in 35 U.S.C. § 200–212,[1] and is implemented by 37 C.F.R. 401 for federal funding agreements with contractors[2] and 37 C.F.R 404 for licensing of inventions owned by the federal government.[3]

A key change made by Bayh–Dole was in the procedures by which federal contractors that acquired ownership of inventions made with federal funding could retain that ownership. Before the Bayh–Dole Act, the Federal Procurement Regulation required the use of a patent rights clause that in some cases required federal contractors or their inventors to assign inventions made under contract to the federal government unless the funding agency determined that the public interest was better served by allowing the contractor or inventor to retain principal or exclusive rights.[4] The National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Commerce had implemented programs that permitted non-profit organizations to retain rights to inventions upon notice without requesting an agency determination.[5] By contrast, Bayh–Dole uniformly permits non-profit organizations and small business firm contractors to retain ownership of inventions made under contract and which they have acquired, provided that each invention is timely disclosed and the contractor elects to retain ownership in that invention. [6]

A second key change with Bayh-Dole was to authorize federal agencies to grant exclusive licenses to inventions owned by the federal government.[7]

Source: Bayh–Dole Act – Wikipedia

A Glimpse of a Future With True Shareholder Democracy – The New York Times

“. . .  Having to depend entirely on the judgment of fund managers in important proxy contests across the corporate landscape doesn’t strike me as ideal.

I have had a glimpse of an alternate future, however.

An independent S&P 500 index fund based in Honolulu, called INDEX, has taken a small step that could have revolutionary implications: This year, it has begun asking shareholders how they want to vote.

Credit…Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

The fund has introduced what it calls “Index Proxy Polling,” an easy way for shareholders to convey their preferences on proxy votes for S&P 500 companies. The aim is to demonstrate how shareholders in an index fund could express their opinions.

So far, only about 100 investors have participated, said Mike Willis, the fund manager, and current S.E.C. regulations require him to make the final voting decisions on behalf of the fund. But he said he hoped the S.E.C. would eventually allow him “to move to real shareholder democracy and go to pass-through voting, in which the shareholders say what they want and we just cast the vote for them.” . . .  “

How AT&T Got Here, and What’s Next. – The New York Times

“AT&T is painting a rosy picture for the future of its media business, which it will spin off and merge with Discovery. That new streaming giant is a formidable stand-alone competitor to Netflix and Disney. The move leaves AT&T to focus on its telecom business, which looks less bright after being overshadowed by its expensive — and ultimately futile — deal-making binge in media and entertainment under its previous chief, Randall Stephenson.

The DealBook newsletter explains how AT&T got here, in three key deals:  . . . . . “