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I have ADHD. I was diagnosed at age 12. What happened is I got to middle school, and my life fell apart. It came on like a typhoon. Things seemed alright as I started, but I still remember that October when my family went to sixth-grade check-in. My twin sister went first. The meeting lasted about four minutes. She and my parents left with smiles all around and talk of getting In N Out on the way home. Then it was my turn. Every teacher I had stood in a circle. They seemed...different. One by one, they went around and told me that I was shit. Some were nicer than others, but everyone had the same message to convey: Doesn't complete his homework all the way Distracts others trying to learn Unable to follow along in class Not sure if he can keep up I then heard my grades: C-, D+, C+, A in PE, C, and an F in Social Studies. I don't remember being ashamed or embarrassed or anything. I remember being confused. I had gone to school every day and tried hard and thought I was doing what the teacher asked. Nope. Guess I wasn't. Nobody had much advice for me. They just wanted me to know that I sucked. And that my parents should understand so. I don't know if my parents freaked out or punished me or what. But they weren't happy. The last to go was my social studies teacher, Sven. He asked me if I knew how to read. I politely nodded my head. But he wasn't sure. He talked about all the symptoms he had seen from me. To counter, I pulled a grad-level book on the Cold War off a shelf and read a page aloud while trying not to cry. People were even more confused. Some estimate that a child with ADHD will receive 20,000 more negative comments before the age of 12 than a non-ADHD child will. I can't speak to that exactly, but I can say that this was not the only time I've had a room full of people upset with me for reasons I never saw coming. It doesn't get much easier. Sven caught up to us as we walked to the car. He was cagey with his reasoning, but he told us that there might be something up with my brain. He recommended I get tested by a psychiatrist and see what she had to say. I've since come to my conclusions where he got such an idea. The testing was fun. I've always liked tests. Didn't mention it, but they also thought I couldn't read in 2nd grade. Lol. That one went away after I took a standardized exam and scored in the 99th percentile of the nation in reading. I thought standardized tests were fun, you see. I moved a bunch of colored balls into colored holes and tried to remember what color things were after 10 minutes and everything else you might expect. I didn't know what I was even doing, but I felt I could hang. Three weeks later, I got my results. The only part I remember is that my psychiatrist noted that in her entire career, she had never met someone who scored higher on specific tasks and yet lower on others. My chart looked like OJ Simpson’s polygraph. I could keep going, and in another article, I will. But this is how I got diagnosed. And the key to all of it was Sven. Everything makes perfect sense after the fact, but only when you realize that a single teacher served as the link that completes the narrative. I do not know where I am today without him. I got lucky that this story takes place in 2003, and at a private school with teachers who genuinely cared about me. For reasons a lawyer in the comments needs to help me understand better, public school teachers seem loath to alert students of disabilities of any kind. This includes ADHD but also things like autism, dyslexia, and mood disorders. Things that seem apparent to me in a way that makes it seem impossible that no other teacher in the past 13 years hasn’t also picked up on them. That means many students go through primary schooling while having no idea they have a problem at all. When I mention to a student they might have ADHD, they are first confused, but then some memories come back. The first is that someone, usually a sports or music coach, had once told them the same thing. The other is that they remember a lot of teachers saying weird stuff they didn't understand at the time. Stuff like, "You’re so talented. I just wish you could be better focused. Have you talked to anyone about why you could be having trouble?" To me, those sound like hints from a teacher who has been told by her bosses not to put the school at risk. I am not a teacher. I'm a private consultant and can pretty much say whatever I want. I am also not a doctor - people would die - but I am a concerned adult who has taken courses in spotting learning disabilities. I'm also someone who will do absolutely anything to make sure his students have the best chance for success now and in the future. I'm also someone who asked both my ADHD-psychiatrist (hi!) and ADHD-therapist (hi!!!!!) if I had the right to tell students if I suspected something; they both went, Ya, dude. Totally. So I try to be Sven. I try to pay attention to what my students do and say and provide feedback that can help them. I'd like to note what that feedback is here to make sure people don't miss it because my pieces go on for way too long. If you are a high school student who suspects he or she has ADHD, your best course of action is to talk with your parents and look into being tested by a professional psychiatrist who specializes in the topic. These tests are expensive, and mental health insurance in America sucks balls. But this is the fastest, most straightforward route to getting the help you need. Option two is to try and work with/through your public high school to get them to pay for it.This site has some good info. My guess is that this method will suck. Public schools don't have a lot of funding and will not want to spend it on you. That's not your problem. You will almost certainly need your parents to back you up on this one and sit through a lot of boring meetings. I assume a lot of people will tell you a lot of reasons why they can't help you. Your response every time should be some version of, "Sure. But I need help with this. And I'm not going to stop until I get the support I need. So what do I do from here?" Then you blankly stare at them and refuse to leave until they get you at least to the next step. I'm not sure how well this will work. If you do attempt or have attempted this method, please DM me or contact my Email with your experience. I want to know if this is even worth my student's time. If you can not afford traditional testing or do not feel your parents would support such testing, your best option is to wait until the day you turn 18 and then register for a telehealth company specializing in ADHD. The one I use and recommend isHelloAhead.com. They're neat. They do not take traditional insurance, but their rates are much lower than most doctors. They are cheap enough that I feel an average 18-year old who wants help could find a way to afford it on his or her own. The downside with these sites is the waiting times can be long. Took me like five months. Other such sites are popping up, and while I can't vouch for them, they all seem to offer a similar service. Those paragraphs are what I want every student here to know. I'm much more comfortable having a trained doctor tell you what the deal is than I am trying to do it myself. But I have to see something if I want to be Sven. The question then is, how do I see it? For spotting ADHD, it's shockingly simple. And I'll get to the real reason at the end. But for now, here is what I see when I see a student with ADHD. The best way I can describe their lives is "endless chaos" The chaos isn't always bad! Rarely it's fun chaos, but often it's just chaos chaos. This chaos exists in both physical and mental forms. Physical: Their shit is such a mess. Everything. Most of the work we do is digital, so I see the Google Doc version of their mind. Folders make no sense. Things are labeled inaccurately or not at all. Schools get combined, or separated, or forgotten altogether. It is not a single type of error, but instead a collection of small mistakes and poor decisions that make the work impossible to corral. I have some kids that are messy or lazy, but this is different. It's like if the original folder system I built for them was an amoeba in a petri dish. Leave that dish out for a weekend and come back. The patterns will be remarkably similar to the organizational gore that they then try to utilize. Mental: There's always a story. "I was late because my car has a flat tire, and the guy was late, so I had to take an Uber." "I didn't know my music essays were due a month early because the form only mentioned there being a recital." "My friend is mad at me, but it's only because she didn't tell me we were the first group presenting, so I spent more time preparing our project". These stories make sense at first. But after a few weeks, they start to pile up. Then I become the one hearing a story about why they didn't do what I wanted, and I stop being so forgiving. ADHD is a neurological disorder. Not a mental illness. It's closer to diabetes than it is bi-polar. "ADHD" is a fairly garbage name for the condition because A) it has a stigma, and B) it isn't even accurate. Both attention deficit and hyperactivity are symptoms of ADHD, but they are not the problem itself. It would be like calling clinical depression "low energy and excessive guilt disorder". ADHD is actually an issue involving improper dopamine regulation in the brain combined with under-activity of the brain's executive function component. The executive function center is the part of your brain that is in charge of making sure all the other parts of your brain play nice and communicate. When the executive function center breaks down...those other parts don't. The result is a failure to plan or coordinate + a need for impulsive stimulation, thus resulting in endless chaos. This is what I’ll ask you if you DM me, btw. Is your life endless chaos? Sometimes do you like the chaos? Sometimes do you get bored and create the chaos yourself just to see what might happen? But when that chaos stops being so fun, can you make it stop? They're very, very intelligent You've probably heard about the "gifted ADHD genius" thing before. I don't think it exists. My theory has always been that the "gifted ADHD child" is a victim of survivorship bias. The research states that ADHD has either no or a negative correlation with intelligence. There is also a startling overlap with ADHD and incarceration. This means that students who still manage to succeed despite their disorder tend to have advantages that keep them in the game. Namely that they're smart as hell. The other saving grace is that they come from secure support networks that prevent them from unraveling completely. I've heard from such students that their mom or dad works tirelessly to keep their life in order and to make sure they're getting things done. I do not think it is a coincidence that when ADHD students leave for college, things often fall apart. The fact that there are ADHD kids that others know and still like makes some think ADHD isn't so bad or comes with natural cognitive advantages. Those same people do not become friends with the ADHD dumb kids who would disprove those perceptions. Do you remember that kid in elementary school who was his own worst enemy? He never had friends, and everyone was kind of afraid to even talk with him? He was kind of a bully but mostly just awful? He invited you to his house one time, but your mom wouldn’t let you go? That is my best guess of what a dumb kid with ADHD is like. It sounds cold writing it, but you know which kid I'm talking about right now. Where do you think that kid is today? I end up with the smart ones—the ones with parents who care. And God damn are these kids smart. They're brilliant, and funny, and likable, and charming. They have something different about them that makes them undeniable. And it's not just me. I worry I play them up too much in my mind, but then I chat with a teacher or coach of theirs. It's always the same thing: Oh, she's brilliant. She can be so frustrating sometimes, tho. They can be so frustrating sometimes, tho The word is frustrating. Now bad. Not nasty. Not unlikeable. Frustrating. I have some students I just don't like that much (no, not you). What tends to be the common theme with them is that they don't have much interest in my help and display a work ethic to match. On the other spectrum are the world beaters (totally you). These kids kick ass and not only follow my advice but often take that advice to the next level in ways that awe and inspire me. And then there are the kids I think have ADHD. They don't do stuff all the time. They don't finish an essay, or they forget to spell check like I asked, or they write about something that has nothing to do with the outline we built the week before. That's not necessarily the frustrating part. You kids are 17; you make mistakes. Early on, I try to spot these mistakes and point them out. Even the students who don't like me seem to get my point after enough prodding and the problem goes away. With these kids, the problem does not go away. Or if it does, another problem pops right back up to replace it. It makes me feel like there's nothing I can do. It would be easier if the student was just a brat. Then I could either become a brat myself or mentally check out because "hey man, your future”. I need a name for kids I suspect have ADHD…"MaybeHD"? Ya. That’s super funny. Say it out loud and try not to laugh. But these MaybeHD kids do like me. And they do want to get into school. And they do feel bad when I get upset with them. I end up in long, drawn-out conversations with them about why this is important and why they need to make specific work a priority to get into the schools they want to go to. Then they nod meekly and head home. Then they come back next week, and it's the same story. Frustrating. They are randomly awesome at the weirdest things I love weird talents. Things that no one offers up immediately, but then you're chatting, and it comes up naturally. "Oh ya, I love animals! I raise baby pigs in my backyard!" "You do?" "Ya!" At some point, the MaybeHD kid read something or watched a Youtube video that he or she liked. Then they wanted to try it. Six months later, they're making 4k a month selling custom bathrobes on Etsy. There's rarely any logic. "Do you like baths? Or making clothing? "Not really. I just thought it looked fun, so I bought a sewing kit and started making things." There is a noted link between ADHD and entrepreneurship. I see it with my MaybeHD students. They have an insatiable drive and passion for following up on curiosities that other students don't possess. Passion is the wrong word. They have obsessions with mastering concepts in a way that feels beyond their control. The obsession itself drives them to be great. The literature on the subject is cloudy. But there exists a term in ADHD circles called "Hyperfocus". If you know what "flow" is, it's kind of like that. Only more intense and less controllable. I often see the remnants of past hyperfocuses in their stories. They used to run that pig farm. They used to sell bathrobes. They used to be really into getting good grades at school. But then one day, just as quickly as they picked the skill up, they dropped it. They can seldom tell me why. Their priorities are completely out of whack The downside of hyperfocus is that it can be so all-encompassing that other priorities fall by the wayside. One of my favorite students ever is named Elleway. We chatted in our first meeting, and I was instantly intrigued by her background. She said she had designed and prototyped a unit that would automatically roll under parked electric cars for hands-free charging. I hear a lot of impressive stuff in my job, and a lot of it ends up being not that impressive. But then Elleway showed me the prototype video she made back when she was a high school freshman and it blew my mind. https://youtu.be/Y5Ap2uMbWL4 Can you do that? I sure as hell can't. She wasn't even an engineer. She calmly explained that she had partnered with several older male engineers who had helped turn her idea into reality. Then she had done all the promotional and marketing work herself. Then she got second out of 300 students at a young entrepreneur contest held at Columbia University. Shortly after, a tech CEO came up to her and asked if she would like to work with him to file a patent for the invention. She agreed and is now a trademark holder. That was all in our first 10 minutes. She then went on to share the half dozen corporations she had worked for. And the three businesses she started. And the graphic design work she made for her website. She told me how she was a Nationally ranked fencer until she lost interest. She was now merely a Nationally ranked golfer. Then I saw she had a 2.9 GPA and thus zero shot at getting into NYU like she hoped. I did not initially think Elleway had ADHD. I thought she was a pathological liar. It seemed impossible to me that this same girl who had already taken a grip on the world was then unable to keep up her grades in math. That just isn’t how any -any- of my other ultra high-achieving students behave. Then Elleway showed me pictures of her casually hanging out with Andrew Yang. And then her LinkedIn With a lot of people who do not accept your request unless they want to. I had to figure out what the hell led to all this. Elleway’s patent and ambition to work on it had taken up all her time. She was so singularly focused on doing what she cared about that the world behind her didn't seem to exist. She was hyperfocused on a goal, but once she reached it, she woke up to a reality that punished her for ignoring everything else. That's the longing writer's version of the story. The more popular one is that she didn't give a shit about school, was warned repeatedly about the consequences, and ignored them. She got what she deserved. That’s the version the rest of the world had for her. It goes back to frustrating. I've gotten kids into NYU that don't show a fifth the potential that Elleway did. Those kids went to all the camps their parents paid for and entered competitions with a tech doorbell or something lame, and they're just fine. But MaybeHD students are often world-beaters in ways that make them seem so special. They talk endlessly not just about what they're into but how they figured it all out and why it is all so important to them. I believe them, and I want to fight for them. So I give them as much assistance as I possibly can. But then they don't do the increasingly easy tasks I ask for them to complete. Then they suffer the consequences. Elleway didn't get into NYU. She didn't get in much of anywhere. It eats me up inside, and I feel like I failed her. I don't know how many other people in my position would feel the same way. That's why I have to be Sven. This is getting long, and I'm getting depressed. Here's the TL: DR of what I see when I see a student with ADHD ... Me. I see me. And it can hurt really bad knowing what a condition like ADHD does to a young person's life. My life is endless chaos. I've been out of food for nine days. My house looks like Badger from Breaking Bad bought a loft in Palo Alto. I am still writing this at 3:25 AM when I have to be up for work at nine. My cat has started doing this thing where she sleeps in her food bowl when it gets empty. It's equal parts adorable and humiliating. I'm smart as shit. I know it. I made up half-ideas. That article is absolute fire. I got published on Cracked.com five times in 2011 when that meant something. I went to Tulane on a half-ride merit scholarship, used to win creative writing contests, and have done a bunch of other writery stuff that made people stand up and go, "Woah". But I only made it to college because my mom carried me there, kicking and screaming. She packaged my life together, and I held on for the ride. Then I got to school and made it two months before she got an Email alerting her that Tulane was planning to revoke the remaining $70,000 of my $80,000 scholarship due to my grades. I barely scraped by and survived. But the shame and frustration in her voice when she read me that letter over the phone haunts me to this day. I analyze handwriting. And I turned a Reddit account into a successful business in four months. And I collect college T-shirts from schools my students go to. And I own Bitcoin I bought in 2011 for $4.50 each. And I'm teaching myself piano with a video game. And I'm exercising with a video game. And I'm ranked 42nd in Northern California at Super Smash Bros Ultimate. And I’ve tried the nachos at over 100 Taquerias in the Bay Area. And I own a really cute cat. But I've spent 15* hours this week writing this instead of a sequel to that Costco piece. I have one coming where I edit my Common App essay from 2009. It's a great idea and a great article. One that will drive significantly more business to my site than this piece will. Hell, I predict this piece is likely to lose me business because I come off like a mess in it. But it's what I want to write, so I feel like I have no choice. *The 15 hours is a guess. I have no idea how long it takes me to write and edit these things. I start typing and X hours later look up and realize how hungry I am and how much I need to pee. The writing controls me. I see myself in my MaybeHD students. I see their unfettered curiosity and flair for taking as much good from the world as possible. I see their infectious enthusiasm and ability to quickly forgive others because they know too well how it feels to want forgiveness themselves. Yet I also see their inattention to detail, their weak excuses, and their general confusion that makes me realize they couldn't fix some problems if their lives depended on it. I see their sadness and shame when those mistakes pile up. I see when the chaos stops being fun, and they want out, but they don't know how. I don't know what I, as their consultant, can do. But as Sven, I can recommend they go talk to someone else... Hey, so, I was considering hiring you and all...but you seem kind of bad. Why should I trust you? Because a couple of years ago, I got back on my medication and turned my life around. You aren't reading this if I don't reach out for help and trust a trained psychiatrist to guide me. There are no groups of friends in Delaware or Connecticut comparing their half-ideas lists. There sure as shit isn't a CollegeWithMattie.com. I still have ADHD. But one of the greatest things about ADHD is that it is -without rival- the most treatable form of mental illness or dysfunction known to man. It is not curable, but there are endless medical and non-medical options available for those willing to reach out and get the help they need. My story is that it was only by getting re-medicated that I then could learn and use coping mechanisms that allow me to achieve the type of life I've always wanted. Christ, 4,400 words. You know, I'm also submitting this for a class I'm in. That's why all the backlinks are to actual sources instead of links herding you into my website. Hi Amy! That's one more thing. ADHD people are hyper-efficient...Kind of. Alright. If you're still here reading this, you might be suspecting some things about yourself. My DMs are open if you want to chat, but again, I am not a doctor. I will say that right now, as you prepare to head to college, is a really good time to get this all figured out. College is a giant reset button on your life. Figure these problems out now so that by the time you head off for your next chapter, you will have given yourself the best possible chance to succeed. Endless chaos. Here is the bold part again: If you are a student in high school who suspects he or she has ADHD, your best course of action is to talk with your parents and look into being tested by a professional psychiatrist who specializes in the topic. These tests are expensive, and mental health insurance in America (still) sucks balls. But this is the fastest, most straightforward route to getting the help you need. Option two is to try and work with/through your public high school to get them to pay for it.This site has some good info. My guess is that this method will kind of suck. Public schools don't have a lot of funding and will not want to spend it on you. That's not your problem. You will almost certainly need your parents to back you up on this one and sit through a lot of boring meetings. I assume a lot of people will tell you a lot of reasons why they can't help you. Your response every time should be some version of, "Sure. But I need help with this. And I'm not going to stop until I get the support I need. So what do I do from here?" Then you blankly stare at them and refuse to leave until they get you at least to the next step. This will suck and I'm not sure how well it will work. If you do attempt or have attempted this method, please DM me or contact my Email with your experience. I want to know if this is even worth my student's time. If you can not afford traditional testing, or if you do not feel your parents would support such testing, your best option is to wait until the day you turn 18 and then register for a telehealth company that specializes in ADHD. The one I use and recommend isHelloAhead.com. They're neat. They do not take traditional insurance, but their rates are much lower than most doctors. They are cheap enough that I feel an average 18-year old who wants help could find a way to afford it on his or her own. The downside with these sites is the waiting times can be really long. Took me like five months. Other such sites are popping up, and while I can't vouch for them, they all seem to offer a similar service. Update: The lines aren't that long anymore! Monday was Elleway's 18th birthday. She sent me a screengrab of her upcoming Ahead appointment in early September. She told me she spent the entire day crying because all her friends were going off to great schools and that she was stuck at home. I've told Elleway that I plan to help her reapply to NYU this year. I doubt I will ever want to see another student succeed as much as I will with her.
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Lines of Navigation | Monthly Portfolio Update - July 202
Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be - Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H. This is my forty-fourth 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 - $716 680
Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund - $41 103
Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund - $77 788
Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund - $111 667
Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) - $202 336
Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) - $54 872
Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) - $230 058
Telstra shares (TLS) -$1 785
Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) - $6 449
NIB Holdings shares (NHF) - $5 316
Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) - $124 756
Secured physical gold - $20 070
Ratesetter (P2P lending) - $9 881
Bitcoin - $173 010
Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) - $17 258
Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) -$2 619
BrickX (P2P rental real estate) - $4 471
Total portfolio value: $1 800 119 (+$34 376 or 1.9%) Asset allocation
Australian shares - 41.1%
Global shares- 22.2%
Emerging market shares - 2.2%
International small companies - 2.9%
Total international shares - 27.3%
Total shares - 68.4% (6.6% under)
Total property securities - 0.2% (0.2% over)
Australian bonds - 4.5%
International bonds - 9.1%
Total bonds - 13.6% (1.4% under)
Gold - 8.0%
Bitcoin - 9.6%
Gold and alternatives - 17.7% (7.7% over)
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The portfolio has substantially increased this month, continuing the recovery in portfolio value since March. The strong portfolio growth of over $34 000, or 1.9 per cent, returns the value of the portfolio close to that achieved at the end of February this year. [Chart] This month there was minimal movement in the value of Australian and global equity holdings, There was, however, a significant lift of around 6 per cent in the value of gold exchange traded fund units, as well as a rise in the value of Bitcoin holdings. These movements have pushed the value of gold holdings to their highest level so far on the entire journey. Their total value has approximately doubled since the original major purchases across 2009 to 2015. For most of the past year gold has functioned as a portfolio stabiliser, having a negative correlation to movements in Australian equities (of around -0.3 to -0.4). As low and negative bond rates spread across the world, however, the opportunity cost of holding gold is reduced, and its potential diversification benefits loom larger. The fixed income holdings of the portfolio also continued to fall beneath the target allocation, making this question of what represents a defensive (or negatively correlated to equity) asset far from academic. This steady fall is a function of the slow maturing of Ratesetter loans, which were largely made between 2015 and 2017. Ratesetter has recently advised of important changes to its market operation, and placed a fixed maximum cap on new loan rates. By replacing market set rates with maximum rates, the peer-to-peer lending platform appears to be shifting to more of a 'intermediated' role in which higher past returns (of around 8 to 9 per cent) will now no longer be possible. [Chart] The expanding value of gold and Bitcoin holdings since January last year have actually had the practical effect of driving new investments into equities, since effectively for each dollar of appreciation, for example, my target allocation to equities rises by seven dollars. Consistent with this, investments this month have been in the Vanguard international shares exchange-traded fund (VGS) using Selfwealth. This has been directed to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares. Fathoming out: franking credits and portfolio distributions Earlier last month I released a summary of portfolio income over the past half year. This, like all before it, noted that the summary was prepared on a purely 'cash' basis, reflecting dividends actually paid into a bank account, and excluding consideration of franking credits. Franking credits are credits for company tax paid at the company level, which can be passed to individual shareholders, reducing their personal tax liability. They are not cash, but for a personal investor with tax liabilities they can have equivalent value. This means that comparing equity returns to other investments without factoring these credits can produce a distorted picture of an investor's final after-tax return. In past portfolio summaries I have noted an estimate for franking credits in footnotes, but updating the value for this recently resulted in a curiosity about the overall significance of this neglected element of my equity returns. This neglect resulted from my perception earlier in the journey that they represented a marginal and abstract factor, which could effectively be assumed away for the sake of simplicity in reporting. This is not a wholly unfair view, in the sense that income physically received and able to be spent is something definably different in kind than a notional 'pre-payment' credit for future tax costs. Yet, as the saying goes, because the prospect of personal tax is as certain as extinction from this world, in some senses a credit of this kind can be as valuable as a cash distribution. Restoring the record: trends and drivers of franking credits To collect a more accurate picture of the trends and drivers of franking credits I relied on a few sources - tax statements, records and the automatic franking credit estimates that the portfolio tracking site Sharesight generates. The chart below sets out both the level and major different sources of franking credits received over the past eleven years. [Chart] From this chart some observations can be made.
The level of franking credits has grown substantially over the past ten years - from a total of under $1 000 per year to around $8 000 annually.
Recent years have seen a particularly high accrual of franking credits - such that by value, over half of the total value of franking credits has been received over the past three financial years.
These credits now constitute a significant element in total realised returns - in the last financial year the value of franking credits represented a 12 per cent boost to the total level of cash distributions, and over the past two years they have contributed around $8 000 each year to the total level of after-tax returns. This is the equivalent of the portfolio paying nearly $700 per month in tax liabilities.
The key reason for the rapid growth over the recent decade has been the increased investment holdings in Australian equities. As part of the deliberate rebalancing towards Australian shares across the past two years, these holdings have expanded. The chart below sets out the total value of Australian shares held over the comparable period. [Chart] As an example, at the beginning of this record Australian equities valued at around $276 000 were held. Three years later, the holding were nearly three times larger. The phase of consistently increasing the Australian equities holding to meet its allocated weighting is largely complete. This means that the period of rapid growth seen in the past few years is unlikely to repeat. Rather, growth will revert to be in proportion to total portfolio growth. Close to cross-over: the credit card records One of the most powerful initial motivators to reach financial independence was the concept of the 'cross over' point in Vicki Robins and Joe Dominguez's Your Money or Your Life. This was the point at which monthly expenses are exceeded by investment income. One of the metrics I have traced is this 'cross-over' point in relation to recorded credit card expenses. And this point is now close indeed. Expenditures on the credit card have continued their downward trajectory across the past month. The three year rolling average of monthly credit card spending remains at its lowest point over the period of the journey. Distributions on the same basis now meet over 99 per cent of card expenses - with the gap now the equivalent of less than $50 per month. [Chart] The period since April of the achievement of a notional and contingent form of financial independence has continued. The below chart illustrates this temporary state, setting out the the extent to which to which portfolio distributions (red) cover estimated total expenses (green), measured month to month. [Chart] An alternative way to view the same data is to examine the degree to which total expenses (i.e. fixed payments not made on credit card added to monthly credit card expenses) are met by distributions received. An updated version of this is seen in the chart below. [Chart] Interestingly, on a trend basis, this currently identifies a 'crossing over' point of trend distributions fully meeting total expenditure from around November 2019. This is not conclusive, however, as the trend curve is sensitive to the unusual COVID-19 related observations of the first half of this year, and could easily shift further downward if normal expense patterns resume. One issue this analysis raises is what to do with the 'credit card purchases' measure reported below. This measure is designed to provide a stylised benchmark of how close the current portfolio is to a target of generating the income required to meet an annual average credit card expenditure of $71 000. The problem with this is that continued falling credit card spending means that average credit card spending is lower than that benchmark for all time horizons - measured as three and four year averages, or in fact taken as a whole since 2013. So the set benchmark may, if anything, be understating actual progress compared the graphs and data above by not reflecting changing spending levels. In the past I have addressed this trend by reducing the benchmark. Over coming months, or perhaps at the end of the year, I will need to revisit both the meaning, and method, of setting this measure. 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) 82.6% 111.5% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 100.7% 136.0% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 80.7% 109.0% Summary One of the most challenging aspects of closing in on a fixed numerical target for financial independence with risk assets still in place is that the updrafts and downdrafts of market movements can push the goal further away, or surprisingly close. There have been long period of the journey where the total value of portfolio has barely grown, despite regular investments being made. As an example, the portfolio ended 2018 lower than it started the year. The past six months have been another such period. This can create a sense of treading water. Yet amidst the economic devastation affecting real lives and businesses, this is an extremely fortunate position to be in. Australia and the globe are set to experience an economic contraction far more severe than the Global Financial Crisis, with a lesser capacity than previously for interest rates to cushion the impact. Despite similar measures being adopted by governments to address the downturn, it is not clear whether these are fit for purpose. Asset allocation in this environment - of being almost suspended between two realities - is a difficult problem. The history of markets can tell us that just when assets seem most 'broken', they can produce outsized returns. Yet the problem remains that far from being surrounded by broken markets, the proliferation appears to be in bubble-like conditions. This recent podcast discussion with the founder of Grant's Interest Rate Observer provided a useful historical context to current financial conditions this month. One of the themes of the conversation was 'thinking the unthinkable', such as a return of inflation. Similar, this Hoover Institute video discussion, with a 'Back from the future' premise, provides some entertaining, informed and insightful views on the surprising and contingent nature of what we know to be true. Some of our little systems may well have had their day, but what could replace them remains obscured to any observer. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
For Trading October 1st Welcome to Q3 Rally Continues PLTR Prices @ $7.25 ASAN $21.00 Today’s market was looking pretty ugly on the overnight futures reaction to the debate, but we had a deluge of positive data coming from ADP, Case Schiller, Chicago PMI, another look at Q2 GDP and mortgage applications. We moved from -200 DJIA to +100 in the last 20 minutes leading up to the open and it only got better from there. We had the Treasury Secretary from the Seeking Alpha virtual meeting talking about his conversations with Speaker Pelosi and gave some hopeful words, which added gas to the fire, and we were headed to +550 on the DJIA with the rest of the market following. When the dust settled we finished with the DJIA +329.04 (1.2%), NASDAQ +82.26 (.74%), S&P 500 +27.53 (.83%), the Russell +2.97 (.20%) and the DJ Transports the only one lower at -71.79 (.63%). Market internals were unimpressive although volume was about 30% higher but that was likely the effect of the end of the quarter. There were only 2 DJIA lower (DIS & NKE) while the biggest gainers were AXP, UNH, AMGN, GS, & HD. Our “open forum” on Discord, which allows you to interact with subscribers and others to allow direct questions and chart opinions on just about any stock, continues to grow with more participants every day. It is informative and allows me to share insights as the market is open and moving. The link is: https://discord.gg/ATvC7YZ and I will be there and active from before the open and all day. It’s a great place to share ideas and gain some insights, and we’ve grown to almost 3000 members. I also returned to my radio show today with a great live interview with the Chief Medical Officer of JANONE (JAN) and it was a great show. This is the link to the audio recording including my discussion of the market and the very exciting story of JAN’s phenomenal NON-OPIOID Pain Med! This is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCFCxnijFO4 Enjoy!! TUESDAY’S RADIO SHOW: https://youtu.be/dJGunoIqLZU v With my guest: David Weinstein on Bio-Hacking !! Tonight’s closing comment video: https://youtu.be/e9UkY-d19rw SECTORS: There wasn’t a lot of sector news, but we did have some news from DIS after the close laying off 28,000 employees at the “parks” division with full time, part time, as well as executives. The stock finished today $124.00, better than last night’s reaction but still lower by $1.40 (1.12%). Micron (MU) was sold off even though they beat top and bottom lines but sellers took control and after it traded up to $52.67 on the headline, it spent the day today selling off and closed on the lows at $46.90 -3.81 (7.51%). This is why I always try to NOT trade earnings reports. This is a prime example of being right on the numbers and having it cost you money. Becton Dickenson reported positive results on their “antigen-based test’ and was higher, closing $233.71 +8.28 (3.67%). Moderna (MRNA) was also higher during the day with a high of $75.39 but finished $70.75 +.23 (.33%). PLL who signed a 5-year agreement with TESLA for an element used in batteries that had traded $54.50 and since closing $37 +26 has had a couple of weaker days finishing the day today $23.69 -1.69 (6.66%) but still well up from $11.00. New Group: AIR & CRUISE LINES were HIGHER with CCL +.27, RCL +.50, NCLH +.80, AAL +.16, DAL +.12, UAL +.59, HA +.15, ALK -.04 and XTN $58.15 -.18 (.32%). FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN was HIGHER with TSN +.51, BGS -.04, FLO +.23, CPB +.35, CAG +.17, MDLZ +.96, KHC +.34, CALM -.22, JJSF +1.04, SAFM -.03, HRL +.38, SJM +2.51, PPC +.17, KR +.19, and PBJ $32.72 +.22 (.68%). BIOPHARMA was HIGHER with BIIB +1.33, ABBV +1.28, REGN -12.51, ISRG +19.45, GILD +1.45, MYL +.26, TEVA +.16, VRTX +1.81, BHC +.77, INCY +2.31, ICPT +.01, LABU -.23, and IBB $135.41 +.80 (.59%). CANNABIS: was MIXED with TLRY +.11, CGC -.15, CRON -.01, GWPH -.47, NBEV +.01, CURLF +.16, KERN -.04, and MJ $10.36 -.07 (.67%). DEFENSE was LOWER with LMT -4.98, GD -.12, TXT -.68, NOC -7.90, BWXT -.96, TDY -1.73, RTX +.16, and ITA $159.79 -.07. RETAIL: was HIGHER with M +.07, JWN +.29, KSS +.15, DDS +3.01, WMT WMT +3.13, TGT +1.05, TJX +1.49, RL +.63, UAA +.15, LULU +7.71, TPR -.07, CPRI +.33 and XRT $49.66 +.35 (.71%). MEGA-CAPS & FAANG were HIGHER with GOOGL -.07, AMZN +17.12, AAPL +2.08, FB +1.01, NFLX +7.31, NVDA +14.12, TSLA +12.03, BABA +18.07, BIDU +5.39, CMG -11.28, CRM +4.35, BA +5.70, CAT +2.09, DIS -.91, and XLK $117.07 +1.34 (1.16%). PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THESE PRICES ARE LATE MARKET QUOTES AND DO NOT REPRESENT THE 4:00 CLOSES. FINANCIALS were HIGHER with interest rates with GS +4.18, JPM +.87, BAC +.36, MS +1.18, C +.72, PNC +3.88, AIG +.29, TRV +.56, V +.96, and XLF $24.09 +.34 (1.42%). OIL, $40.22 +.93, Oil was in a fairly tight range all day. After the oil sold off yesterday it had an “inside day” today, so no real hint to which way it is going out of this consolidation. The stocks were MIXED with XLE $30.03 -.01 (.03%). GOLD $1,895.50 – 7.70, opened HIGHER and made a slightly higher high and a higher low, closing mid-range but down on the day. There were several “unusual options action” looking for another 10-12% on the upside before year end. We sold the balance of the 3X silver ETF calls at $2.10. BITCOIN: closed $10,770 -45. After breaking out over $10,000 we have had a “running correction” pushing prices toward $12,000, reaching a recovery high of $12220 Thursday, and after a day of rest in between, we resumed the rally touching $12,635, but have sold off back to support. We had 750 shares of GBTC and sold off 250 last week at $13.93 and still have 500 with a cost of $8.45. GBTC closed $11.01 -.02 today. Tomorrow is another day. CAM
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Launched our first Tribe Competition for National Pet Photo Data where the member with the pet voted the cutest will win $100! The first day was so successful, our servers crashed! Take part in the first UBDI competition before it ends
Increased the size of photos in the feed, so your pets are always in the limelight
Created new charts for our investor group which will compare data from actual member crypto holdings with market expectations that can be filtered by data attributes.
Added new App Store screens to show our new style and path
Released our new App Demo video to preview the future of UBDI
Public traits are now live! Settings → Tribes Management to pick the traits you’d like to show off in each tribe, change the color of your avatar to make your avatar feel more unique, or leave a tribe all together
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I consider myself to be an informed member of the XRP community. I have a Twitter feed of all the prominent personalities/researchers to keep tabs on the news. I watch the metrics on utility-scan.com daily and even wrote a calculator to help understand what ODL is doing over time. I regularly check in on global metrics like volume, wallet openings, and the distribution of XRP within wallets. Up until recently, if you asked me to explain how XRP is distributed out to the public, I would point you to two resources. The first is an article on XRPArcade explaining how Jed McCaleb's XRP sales are structured (not the topic of this post). The other place would be the XRP Markets Reports provided quarterly by Ripple. There you would understand that for the past year Ripple has increasingly slowed the sales of XRP and only is selling in small amounts to facilitate liquidity in markets. Based on this data, I've seen discussions on /cryptocurrency and elsewhere claiming that XRP's inflation rate is lower than Bitcoins and is near 0. Based on publicly provided data I've realized that this is not the case. XRP's distribution rate is very different than the impression painted by the XRP Markets Reports. TLDR; Ripple is trying to paint a narrative that very little XRP is entering the market. In reality sales of XRP are very low, but XRP entering circulation remains much higher from an inflationary perspective and that rate has remained relatively unchanged from 2016 onward. Before I dive into the data, I'd like to take a brief pause and state that in no way am I writing this to be FUD. Clear and accurate data is extremely important to me. Much of the recent community conversation has revolved around hopium and dot connecting that is unverified. It's a public ledger, but most people don't take the time to track the numbers. I'm hoping to shed more light on these important factors since there is no doubt that XRP's rate of distribution can effect the price. Ok, soapbox over. I first was clued in that something was off while listening to a SamIAm video here. Basically Sam is calling out Ripple over their Q1 Markets Report because they didn't mention around $18 million of XRP paid to MoneyGram. Now technically this isn't a sale of XRP, but it's convenient to leave out and we would only know that this was happening because the SEC forced MoneyGram to report it on their Quarterly Investor Report. Next I was scratching my head over a data discrepancy. Tether flipped XRP on LiveCoinWatch weeks before the other tracking sites like CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap. Upon closer inspection I realized that all these sites retrieve the XRP circulating supply from a single API call and LiveCoinWatch had coded their site incorrectly. They were pulling the XRP numbers from last year. The API is here and anyone can checkout the data: https://data.ripple.com/v2/network/xrp_distribution. I believe that there is a companion private API Ripple uses to power their pie chart here: https://ripple.com/xrp/market-performance. Notice that the market performance (at the time of this posting) is for May 17th while the public API only goes to April. I don't know why Ripple hasn't updated the public API in a month. Since the public API has a history of postings you can go back and track the "distributed" tag all the way back to the middle of 2016. Here's what I found.
XRP Released into Circulation
Yearly Inflationary Rate
2016 (starts mid year)
2020 (May 1st)
2020 End (at current rate)
The 2016 data starts halfway through the year, so you can make an educated backfill guess for that year's number as well. Ripple has been distributing between 2 and 2.6 billion XRP a year with 2017 being a the high watermark. Interestingly the number distributed in 2019 is not that much different in spite of Ripple touting significantly reduced sales for almost the whole year. So lets talk about the term "XRP Distributed" versus "XRP Sales" obviously Ripple is providing the data for both stats, but they only talk about sales in the markets reports. Distribution is a much wider term. It can include things like "Business Development" like MoneyGram discussed above. It could be compensation incentives given to Ripple employees. Xpring is known to fund investments using XRP. All of these items aren't reported because they are not sales. Even with some generous guesses to the above categories, I have no idea what Ripple is really doing with the XRP in 2020 if they're not selling it. Even factoring in about 90 million XRP given to MoneyGram, there's still a significant amount distributed and I would love some opinions on what they think Ripple is doing with this XRP. Some takeaways for me:
While Ripple supplies both sets of data, they obviously want us to believe that XRP is entering the broader market at a much slower rate than reality.
Low sales numbers reinforce that notion, however an inflationary average of 5% isn't as sexy.
Ripple is doing lots with XRP that it doesn't consider a 'sale.' This gap will probably only widen with Ripple provided loans on the horizon.
At the current rate of distribution, Ripple doesn't need to dip into its escrow for another 2-3 years.
Somebody (or somebodies) is receiving large amounts of XRP that they aren't paying for. Ripple, if you're reading this, sign me up for that program please!
￼ ￼ Dogecoin surges to dizzying heights amid TikTok hype Oliver Knight July 9, 2020, 6:27 am Dogecoin, a longstanding staple of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, has been struck by a remarkably unexpected rally over the past 48-hours, with it now trading 82% higher against Bitcoin than it was two days ago. The meme-friendly digital asset, which was created as a joke in 2013, has emerged as a target for millions of TikTok users that claim it will rally all the way to $1. The #DOGE hashtag now has millions of posts on both TikTok and Twitter, with cryptocurrency exchanges responding by listing both futures and perpetual swap contracts of the cryptocurrency. This morning Binance revealed that as of tomorrow customers can trade Doge/USDT with up to 50x leverage. Bitfinex, meanwhile, announced that it will list MDOGE with a conversion rate of one million as it attempts to capitalise on the recent wave of hype. ￼ While a coin like Doge pumping unsustainably may seem like fun, investors should be wary about using leveraged products as it massively increases the risk of liquidation. To be clear, this is not financial advice but retail investors should be cautious about buying into an asset that has already made substantial gains on the back of a viral social media post, especially when Doge has been the recipient of a number of pump and dumps over the past two years. Looking at Dogecoin’s chart, the current level of 50 sats has been a historical point of support and resistance dating all the way back to 2015, which means price may be halted here unless another wave of volume comes in. For more news, guides and cryptocurrency analysis, click here. Update privacy choices
Your heresy shall stay your feet – why you shouldn’t just invest in equities
The most popular approach to reaching FIRE here in Australia seems to be investing solely in equities, either Australian only or with some international shares as well. It’s a strategy expounded by some of the more prominent bloggers and any questions on Reddit or the like about how to invest to reach FIRE usually get a bunch of responses talking about various equities only portfolios. Given the great returns that shares have had historically and especially over the last 10 years or so, it’s easy to see why this is a popular strategy. Which is why I wanted to write about how it’s probably not actually going to be the best idea for most people. Quick disclaimer: As is always the case you should not plan your finances around what some random person on the internet says. Everything which is written here is of a general nature at most and is certainly not specific professional advice for you and you should not be relying on it when making decisions. Whilst every endeavour is made to provide accurate information at the time of writing you should be talking to a licensed professional about any specific areas of your finances, taxes etc. Also, it’s going to be really embarrassing if it all goes pear shaped and you have to explain that it did so because you read about something from a random blogger. Moving on! I live in Australia, why do I need to invest in equities in other countries? There are certainly some very good reasons to invest in Australian shares. You don’t have to worry about currency movements as much, there aren’t any annoying forms to have to fill out so that other countries don’t tax you more than they should, you’re supporting Australian companies and workers etc. There are also a lot of problems with this though. One of the problems that is frequently brought up is that in Australia the 10 biggest companies make up about 40% of the index. The below is from Vanguard’s factsheet for VAS and it shows that the top ten companies make up 42.0% of the ASX 300 as of 31st August. Which is obviously a pretty big percentage, but isn’t actually that unusual globally as per the below chart. Australia is really around the middle of the pack, although a lot of the countries where the top 10 make up smaller percentages of the index have much bigger markets. What is more of a problem to my mind at least is that so much of the Australian market is focussed on just two sectors, Financials and Materials. The Financials sector makes up 31% of the index, and in fact the big 4 banks are about 21% of the entire index. Given that they’re almost entirely domestically focussed with few growth opportunities here and with a very large amount of their earnings coming from residential mortgages in what seems to me to be a very highly valued property market, I’m not super keen on having my money invested only in Australia. Similarly with Materials making up about 17.5% and most of this being companies that dig stuff out of the ground and export it and are largely reliant on continued good relations with China, it doesn’t strike me as being a great growth sector either. I could be wrong on all of this of course (and have been wrong about all sorts of investment ideas in the past) but personally I would prefer a bit more in the way of diversification and growth prospects because otherwise you’re essentially taking a bet on housing staying strong and China continuing to buy our resources. If I look at MSCI World ex-Australia (VGS), Financials and Materials are a much smaller part of the index so by buying international equities I have a lot more diversification and I get exposure to industries which have lower representations in Australia like IT, Health Care and the like and which are probably likely to see more growth in my opinion. Again, I could be wrong about all of this but that’s part of my thinking here. There is also some diversification benefit from investing in global equities, in that although the Australian sharemarket is likely to closely follow what global markets are doing ie if they go up or down so will the Australian market but the reverse doesn’t necessarily hold true. So if the Australian share market has a fall due to overinflated property prices for example, stockmarkets areoudn the globe are unlikely to get hit on the back of this. So to me it makes a lot of sense to invest not just in Australian equities but International ones as well. Why should people invest in anything other than equities? I mentioned in my post explaining bonds that I actually have about 21% in investments other than equities. That’s a mix of cash, fixed income, REITs, and infrastructure investments. I also talked about one of my favourite FIRE bloggers the FI Explorer having about 30% of his investments in assets like bonds, gold, and bitcoin as of his last update. The idea of investing in those other asset classes is that hopefully when equities fall or aren’t doing much, these other assets will go up in value. Historically speaking bonds tend to go up in value when equities are falling significantly. Likewise gold tends to rise when stocks go down. I’m less convinced about Bitcoin as an investment but it’s worked as a hedge so far is my understanding, and it’s not as though it’s me who is invested in it. As someone who has spent a lot of time studying finance for both formal qualifications and my own enjoyment (yes really) I’m very aware of the fact that equities are a pretty volatile asset class. I’m not talking about the stupid stuff on the news about billions being wiped off or added on to the value of the sharemarket that the media loves to talk about, that’s irrelevant because what it actually means is the Australian share market went down or up 0.1% or something similar that I don’t care about. What I do care about are the big falls in the value of the market, and thus my investments. It doesn’t actually make much of a difference to me mathematically at this point in time because I’m still a long way from hitting my FIRE number, in fact it’s actually a net benefit because I can invest at a lower price. Psychologically though it can make a difference. I talk a lot about the math behind FIRE, but in a lot of ways the behavioural aspects are more important. I can tell you from experience that it’s not a lot of fun seeing your net worth drop by $100k or more when the market decides to go down by double digit percentages as it did for the last quarter of 2018. As much as you might assume it’s only temporary it doesn’t feel like that at the time and you start wondering if this time is going to be different. I would say that I’m actually far more relaxed about this stuff than most people because after 20 plus years in finance (mostly in equities/equity linked products) which includes the dot com crash, the GFC, the Greek debt crisis, the taper tantrum and all the other moves up and down over that time period I’ve got a fair idea what it feels like to see my net worth drop and be nervous about the state of the markets and my investments. Certainly from the number of conversations I’ve had with people who freak out about a 2% drop it seems like I’m a lot calmer about the volatility of shares. Despite that I still want to reduce the chance of big falls in the overall value of my portfolio as much as possible, to have some investments which zig when equities zag so to speak. Investments like treasury bonds are great for this, because they tend to appreciate in value when the market falls as shown in the graph below taken from this excellent post showing what bonds have done when stocks crashed over the last 30 years or so. The numbers are for the US but would likely be very similar for Oz. The chart below from this post by one of my favourite finance bloggers (Ben Carlson at a Wealth of Common Sense) shows the performance of stocks and bonds during bear markets over the last 70 years or so, again this is for the US rather than Australia. The same author wrote this amusing post after Bank of America declared the 60/40 (stocks/bonds) portfolio dead. 60/40 is the rule of thumb asset allocation for US investors, here in Australia your super fund will tell you they’re more like 70/30 even though they’re probably more like 90/10. Again, that’s a post for another time. In any case, as he says in the post a 60/40 portfolio gave you an 8.1% return vs 9.5% for stocks, but had 40% less volatility. I’m happy to trade some return for a lot less volatility. My point is that although having some money in bonds is not going to be enough to stop the value of my portfolio falling a bit especially given that most of my portfolio is still made up of equities, it will hopefully be enough to stop it from being cut in half as would have been the case for equity only portfolios in the GFC. So bonds to me are a safety net, both emotionally and financially. Having that safety net in place means that I’m more likely to be able to stay the course. However depending on the timing of any stock (or bond) market crashes they may actually help me reach my goal faster. If there is a big stock market crash right before I would have hit FIRE and bonds haven’t been too much of a drag in performance along the way, then bonds will reduce my losses and help me get to my FIRE number faster than an equity only portfolio will. What else can you invest in to diversify? As I mentioned above another asset which can serve well as a diversifier is gold, although personally I don’t like it because even though it has worked historically there is no real reason why it should do so. Warren Buffett has this great quote about gold. “[Gold] gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.” So I don’t invest in gold personally, but if others want to I can see how it makes sense based off what has happened historically. Similary with Bitcoin which I think of as being even sillier, yes it has worked as a diversifier in the short time it has been around but it has even less utility than gold and basically is worth something only because there are a bunch of people who are willing to keep believing it is worth something. Maybe it’ll keep on working, maybe it won’t, I’m not planning on buying any either way. As I said above I do have some other investments like property (REITs) and infrastructure as well, I don’t think these are necessarily great for helping me out if the stock market crashes but they may help a little, and in the meantime in years when the stock market goes up but not by much these may well do better for me. In fact over the last 20 years for the US, both bonds and REITs have outperformed stocks. So maybe I should actually have more money in bonds and REITs than what I currently do! Does diversification help when you retire? Dan at Ordinary Dollar has done some great work on optimal asset allocation and longer retirement lengths looking at a mix of Australian and US stocks and bonds. Combining the findings of the two posts, if you have an 80/20 portfolio you get pretty close to the same probability of a succesful retirement as 100% equities but with a lot less volatility. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me! It also shows that a 100% allocation to Australian equities (or to US equities for that matter) is not as effective as a more diversfied portfolio, particularly over longer time frames. The benefits of diversification What I’m aiming for in my portfolio is a mix of assets that will go well in most circumstances without too much volatilty, and when stock markets crash won’t fall by as much. This will help me out psychologically by having smaller falls in net worth along the way so I don’t panic when markets are falling, and as I’ve said above might well get me to FIRE faster than an all equities portfolio anyway. It will also help me when I have retired because as it turns out having some diversification actually gives me a higher likelihood of a successful retirement! Are you all in on equities, or do you have other assets to diversify your portfolio? Has this post changed your mind? Original post with pretty pictures and graphs here.
The pandemic period played into the hands of the entire team and we managed to build beauty in our services. In anticipation of the exchange, the team tidied up the sites and services and connected new tools. First of all, we paid attention to the preparation of all services for a foreign audience, taking into account its mentality. New sections, localizations, nice things, and much more to ensure the most efficient use of the TKEY resource. In addition to the new tabs, the services that we will talk about in this material, there is a special page for representatives of the exchange with the necessary documentation for listing — https://tkeycoin.com/en/documentation/. https://preview.redd.it/63a1cmdwve151.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=0a064bff4acd1c1e3171f2c72ff79533b87aa3e1
Buying cryptocurrency for pound, dollars, euros, and other currencies
At the end of February, we told you that we are working on building a payment service that will include the provision of services: buy cryptocurrencies, sell a cryptocurrency, withdraw cryptocurrency to Bank cards, etc. This day has come, now you can buy Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Tether USDT, Basic Attention Token (BAT), Algorand (ALGO), Tron (TRX), OKB (Token Okex.com). https://preview.redd.it/1pm2cnv8we151.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=69473d2e5ed1b8dc75189362b46906752be29895 The purchase is available in any currency: Russian ruble, US Dollar, Euro, British pound, Ukrainian hryvnia, Indonesian rupiah, South Korean won, Japanese yen, Turkish Lira, Argentine peso. As you can see, the currency corridors are quite extensive, which allows you to make exchanges fast and at a favorable rate. Just choose the right pair to exchange or buy, available fiat currencies: RUB, USD, EUR, GBP, UAH, IDR, KRW, JPY, TRY, ARS, available cryptocurrencies: BTC, ETH, BAT, USDT, ALGO, TRX, OKB. Even if this wide list does not include the currency you want to buy, such as Bitcoin or USDT, it’s okay — the service will automatically convert your currency into the payment currency and the Bank will make the exchange. Exchanges take place within 1–3 minutes, it is enough to pass quick verification once, which allows you to work with a volume of > 15,000 euros per month. https://preview.redd.it/0ln5uttawe151.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=35de9e413db35bb53f39332aa4197cd54a3e211c
Exchange of cryptocurrencies for pound, dollars, euros, and withdrawal of Bankcard
In addition to the fact that you can now easily buy a cryptocurrency for fiat currencies, pound, dollars or any other, during this week we will finish work on the withdrawal to a Bank card and you can easily withdraw your profit to the card, the most important thing is that this is a completely legal method, and all operations pass through banks and jurisdictions where work with digital assets is legalized.
This means that when you buy or make a withdrawal to the card, you get legal funds that are credited to you by the Bank or payment system.
If you are used to working with effective tools that work in a new way, or rather correctly and legally, then this service is for you. Fast crediting, easy exchange, a large selection of currency pairs, that’s what the company is betting on. We work with the most reliable third-party partners to make your cryptocurrency process easy and convenient, and most importantly safe for You. The service supports plastic and virtual Bank cards VISA, MasterCard, MIR, and other payment systems for fast payment processing. https://preview.redd.it/x1jnm1ccwe151.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=f86fc353ad5f207db8d233821204b521ba0b3d0e On the exchange page, you can choose any currency pair to exchange in the opposite direction, for example, GBP to BTC or USD to BTC. Choose a suitable pair for exchange, available fiat currencies: RUB, USD, EUR, GBP, UAH, IDR, KRW, JPY, TRY, ARS, available cryptocurrencies for exchange: BTC, ETH, BAT, USDT, ALGO, TRX, OKB. How it works When buying cryptocurrency for the first time, your Bank reserves (holds) the requested amount, then this amount is transferred to the authorization waiting state. As soon as the Bank freezes the fiat funds, the service fixes the exchange rate at the time of creating the application, reserves the cryptocurrency, and provides you with 30–40 minutes to complete verification. After successful verification, the service charges cryptocurrency to the wallet.
Support for other currencies, including TKEY, will be added gradually and highlighted through service updates. As for the TKEY exchange, it will become available in exchange services after listing on the exchange. Listing on an exchange allows you to automate the exchange process, link the necessary services, and most importantly, the exchange provides liquidity, which is key when we talk about exchanging for a particular currency. We will tell you more about the operation of the service and its advantages, chips, in a separate material dedicated to the withdrawal and purchase of cryptocurrencies for fiat currencies, as well as touch on various banking issues and tell you how you can combine the SWAP service for more efficient exchange and withdrawal to the card.
By making an exchange or purchase of cryptocurrency, you help children and people who need our help. We deduct 0.1% of the profit from each transaction to charity funds. This is the fastest and most comfortable way of charity, which allows you to bring together people who are not indifferent to other people’s problems. TKEY enables people to do good deeds, and the resulting turnover profit of 0.1% is sent to charity funds every month. Together with You, we create new opportunities for people in need who need help — “Big things have small beginnings”. How does it work? You have made an exchange or purchase operation, the company has accumulated the volume of these operations for a month->the company has chosen a charity Fund->sent funds to the charity Fund’s account. Priority charity funds are children’s aid funds. You can always suggest a candidate for a particular Fund by sending a message to [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). Why do we write Funds and not a Fund? This is the first launch of the service, so depending on the monthly volume, we will focus on distributing funds to one charity or several. For example, if we have accumulated $ 10,000, we can distribute $ 5,000 to 2 funds. if we have accumulated $ 100, it is logical that we will only send this amount to 1 Fund. With the development of the service, we will be able to focus on several funds, which we will actively help due to the received volume.
New blocks were added, the entire page was fully localized and is available in Chinese, Korean, English and Russian, and QR codes were added for easy navigation for the Asian audience.
Documentation for the exchange
We have already mentioned that there is a section for exchanges with the necessary documentation for listing, now it is available in English. In the next updates, it will be translated into Russian, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), and Korean.
Added answers to frequently asked questions in various sections of the site, You can find the information directly on the section page, for example, TKEY-QT, SWAP or Core. Right on the page there is a FAQ section, in which we disclose answers to questions, for example: How are You going to solve the scalability problem, or why did you choose Phoenix as the logo and symbol of the project, or how do you exchange cryptocurrency for pound or dollars? As you can see, you can get answers to different questions, depending on the topic of the site section. https://preview.redd.it/8utkvv6iwe151.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=d493ec784d74c5982486e36fe3b4bcbcb6d57335
In addition to various improvements, connecting services, our team has been working every day on other main areas of the Tkeycoin project, which are already being prepared for the next release and we will tell you what updates, what plans, events, and what else will be interesting this year.
Online conference with management
An online conference in question-answer format will be organized. The main task of the conference, in addition to questions and answers, is to discuss plans, talk about new directions, touch on issues of legislation, and analyze current issues of users. The online meeting format will allow you to get feedback and discuss a large number of issues in a short time. Questions related to technical support and other questions that can be answered through the administration will not be discussed. The meeting involves the development, constructive, and suggestions from users for further development of the Tkeycoin project. If you are interested in participating in the conference, you can also make business proposals during it, please use the time to your advantage. We work for you.
New content: reports, new categories, useful information
Based on user feedback, we introduce new categories to our content plan: Reports This section will be accompanied by information about the work done by the team for the month, the format of submission — abstracts, highlights. This format will help establish feedback between users and developers. Question-answer In addition to the content that we produce ourselves, users have questions that arise during the process of working with the project’s services, as well as during interaction with the project itself. To avoid making guesses and making up stories, we have introduced the question-answer category. Users ask questions in comments, and the company prepares answers based on the questions and they are published in the post. Depending on the number of questions, the post generates all the answers, or the post is divided into parts if the number of questions for the past period was the largest. In addition to asking questions, you can make suggestions to the project, for example, about new features or directions. This format also builds feedback and helps to improve all services. the most important thing is that it can not only help us but also you, as the offer and questions will help you focus on the tasks that the end-user wants to see.
TKEY-POOL (Tkeycoin pool)
We are completing the work and debugging of the official pool for Tkeycoin, this is a completely new approach for mining Tkeycoin. The pool will feature higher performance and stable architecture, a light interface, and objective commissions. A pool is a highly loaded system that works 24/7/365, it turns out that such a product hides a sufficient number of lines of code and, most importantly, is built on a reliable architecture that can withstand +50000–100000 miners, not to mention the number of connected devices for this number of miners. A cryptocurrency pool is a combination of the hardware power of many miners at once to increase the probability of finding a block. The reward for a block obtained by the pool is distributed among all participants. The TKEY pool is developed taking into account the features of the Tkeycoin blockchain, including multi-blockchain, transaction model, hashing, blocks, and other nuances that are an upgrade of the blockchain among others. Together with the pool, the TKEY network is being tested: high loads, attacks, and other tests that show positive results, proving that the TKEY blockchain can work under any loads and is protected from attacks. Our task was to: 1. Stable system for handling high loads; 2. Adaptation pool for any software; 3. Connecting any hardware for mining cryptocurrency Tkeycoin; 4. Fair remuneration calculation; 5. Security. The main goal is for any user, regardless of the software and hardware used, to be able to connect to Tkeycoin mining via a pool. The first releases will be accompanied by a simple user-friendly interface, easy connection, instructions for various mining programs that can be connected. In future releases, we will optimize the operation of the pool, add new features, as well as tracking functions and other nice things. any suggestions from miners and the community are interesting to us and will be implemented, so do not hesitate to send your suggestions after the launch.
https://preview.redd.it/fjy2dkanwe151.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=99dedd6aa59ae7eb4d585d2ef1ddae4cc6dd50f9 Work on the TkeySpace mobile app is also not standing still. We will soon release updates for TkeySpace on Android and iOS. This release is a complete transition to the most stable version of the mobile wallet. This means that after the update, even with the largest changes, the user will not need to completely reinstall or restore to use the new features, as before, just update the app via the AppStore or GooglePlay. Between the previous update has been a sufficient amount of time, on average, updates are released once a month. This update will be one of the major ones. We are finishing work on the code to prepare the app for the new features that will be available this year. Besides, we are improving the app’s logic, data processing speed, optimizing the code, restoring order, and preparing for the global market.
Exchange, purchase of cryptocurrency and withdrawal to the Debit/Credit Card
The development team is finishing work on optimizing the SWAP service. Regardless of updates, it is available in working mode 24/7/365. The team is working on improving the operation, optimizing the page, changing the interfaces, improving navigation, and speeding up query processing. This update is also among the upcoming ones, along with the pool, mobile wallets, and other news that will excite.
In the network statistics section, there are several sections that will be fixed — this is the hash rate of the network and the volume of Tkeycoin. Now the volume of Tkeycoin is displayed by mTKEY, and the graph itself indicates M TKEY, the user may incorrectly understand the volume of transactions in the network, so, given the current volume, it is advisable to switch the display to TKEY, and in the future switch to mTKEY for large volumes.
This issue has become the cause of mass discussions, disputes, investigations, the subject of memes, kitchen, and online conversations, that just did not happen, that TKEY is not taken anywhere, someone made guesses that we are waiting for everyone to run away, or TKEY is a world conspiracy and around some actors, you can write a book or shoot a great series, not worse than Breaking Bad. Jokes, jokes, but the question is serious. Since the 4th quarter of last year, the company has been actively working on the issue of listing, prepared the necessary platform for this, held several meetings, negotiations, released the necessary products, figured out various transfers of funds to the blockchain, worked out many small things, many major issues that were behind the scenes. Everything is ready, and it’s time to start soon. This will be a surprise, believe it or not, and we will meet you on the stock exchanges :)
What other plans does the company have?
Enabling payment at retail outlets
After entering the exchange, we will actively engage in connecting payments to implement them and link them to TKEY. The plan, strategy, and legal component are ready.
This implies the development of payments and services that will expand the use of digital currencies in the commercial sphere. Application on the territory of Russia will depend on the Federal law on the CFA, in any case, we plan to analyze the law, after its release, to find a legal way to implement payments based on blockchain and digital assets. Therefore, until the law is released, we are keeping this initiative in the future, and we will work on other jurisdictions that will support it. We left some plans behind the scenes, because they will make the greatest impact on the market and the value of our asset, and this — likes silence.
What useful materials will be released soon?
How to effectively use the SWAP service together with the exchange and purchase of cryptocurrency from a Bank card?
We will tell you in detail how to use these 2 services, how to save on payments and purchases, how to exchange tokens that are very difficult to exchange, how to quickly get money for them to the card, and much more.
The law CFA
Our opinion about the law of cryptocurrencies in Russia, what to pay attention to, what to prepare for, how to act if there is a complete ban. Let’s talk about legal nuances and banking practices.
In this material, we will talk about the blockchain, analyze the issues of the system, expand the questions on attacks, payment processing, and touch on the system of multiple chains. The article suggests your suggestions, perhaps someone will have ideas that we will implement in the chain. At the end, Don’t forget to ask questions in the comments or send suggestions to [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) we will be happy to respond and consider your requests for any of our services. Collaboration, feedback, help us make the whole platform better. Thank you for being with us! Until new meetings, stay tuned for news, updates, because the most unexpected news comes spontaneously.
COVID>(hyper)inflation>cryptos>42-coin 1% of the world’s population is 75 Millions. And suppose we assume that only 1% of folks ultimately contract the virus. That’s an extremely low estimate. Indeed, crazy low. So, we’re now almost six months into the pandemic, and only 5M of that theoretical 75M have been infected. We are looking at ‘slow burn’ for nothing less than months and months and months. That’s a lot of stimulus! ‘The economic hit has been stark. About 122 million Indians were forced out of their jobs last month, according to estimates from a leading private sector think tank, pushing up the jobless rate to 27.1% compared with 22% implied for the U.S. In recent days, Modi has pledged a $265 billion stimulus package to shore up the economy.’ https://theprint.in/india/indias-50-day-lockdown-has-brought-economic-misery-even-as-covid-cases-surge/422012/ ‘For bitcoiners, the pessimism on the economy was just another reason to be bullish, since it means the Federal Reserve is likely to inject more money into the markets, strengthening the case for buying the cryptocurrency as an inflation hedge. The Fed's total assets, which stood at $4.2 trillion at the start of the year, have now surged to almost $7 trillion.’ https://www.coindesk.com/first-mover-bitcoin-price-rally-message-capitalists-despair-wall-street Now look here, at the ‘5Y’: https://www.bullionvault.com/gold-price-chart.do In conversation with a friend today, I was discussing The Unexpected Noo Normal. Remember when cryptos were crazy stuff? Just a rubbish passing fad? So, there are three elements: gold/silver, stocks, cryptos. And over the past ten years, each day patiently studying the GFC, I’ve seen people come to accept the 2010-tin-foil-hat prediction: Stock prices are/will be out of their minds. They represent nothing substantial anymore. They are a balloon pumped full of Gubmint Phunnneeee Munneee. And now gold/silver is creeping up. And here’s the punch line: cryptos – hard-capped instruments like 42-coin – are being seen in a whole noo light: can’t be Phunnneeee-Munneeed-ed!! Best this week: https://theconversation.com/megacity-slums-are-incubators-of-disease-but-coronavirus-response-isnt-helping-the-billion-people-who-live-in-them-138092
The below is the text from my latest blog post about bonds, if you want to see the original with pretty pictures, charts, graphs etc then click on this link. Ok, the title is an obvious dad joke, but as it happens it still fits in with my naming convention for posts so happy days! On to more serious stuff. The most common proposed asset allocation for people pursuing FIRE seems to involve having absolutely as much invested in equities (or to a lesser extent property) as possible, and reducing every other asset class to as little as possible. Which is certainly one way of doing things, and given the great performance of shares and property over the last 20 years or more there is an argument to be made for doing things this way. It’s certainly not the only way of doing things though, and I will be trying to show why there is a case to be made for investing some money in other asset classes, in particular Fixed Income aka Bonds. So what are bonds? Bonds are a type of debt that is issued by governments, semi-government organisations, and corporations, so basically you’re lending them money. In Australia we also have what are called hybrid securities, but they’ve got some big enough differences that I’ll talk about them in a future post (probably). Bonds are also one of those fun areas where there is an exception to every rule, so although what I’ve written below is broadly accurate there is always going to be some type of bond or a specific issue that breaks one of the rules. So please don’t be an internet hero and “well ackshually” me about premium redemption/issue bonds, soft calls, hard calls, investor puts, floaters, PIK notes and all the rest of it because broadly speaking it isn’t going to make much difference for the purposes of explaining bonds. Basically play nice readers! Talk numbers to me… Bonds are all about math. As I’m sure regular readers of this blog can imagine this makes me very happy, and probably explains in part why I spent a large part of my career working in an area where understanding bonds was crucial, although to make things more interesting we added on a bunch of other stuff like equity options, credit derivatives, FX etc. The main numbers to think about are the price you paid for the bond, the coupon on the bond, the yield on the bond, the time to maturity, and the maturity value of the bond. From those main numbers we also derive a bunch of other numbers I’ll talk about later. Bonds are normally issued at a price of 100, with a fixed coupon (interest payment based on the maturity value of the bond) and a fixed maturity value at a known maturity date. So that’s 4 of the numbers covered already, happy days! A lot of the time though you’re not going to be buying that bond when it is issued, you’ve buying it when it’s already trading in which case chances are pretty good you didn’t pay 100 for the bond. Buying it along the way doesn’t affect the coupon or the redemption amount at maturity or when it matures. What it does affect though is the yield. There are a bunch of different yield measures but I’m going to go with yield to maturity, ie what yield (return) will you get if you hold the bond to maturity. It’s not a perfect analogy, but one way to think about bonds is that they’re like a term deposit where the amount that you can buy it for moves around. If you buy a bond for $10,000 that is going to mature in a year and it has a 2% coupon and redeems for $10,200 (redemption price plus coupon payment), then your yield (2%) is the same as your coupon (2%). But if interest rates have changed and so the price of the bond has changed and you buy that bond for $9,900 or $10,100, then your yield will be different from your coupon, either 3% or 1% respectively. Hopefully that makes sense? BTW I’ve rounded the numbers here to try and keep it nice and simple. Most bonds pay interest on a semi annual basis (I used an annual payment in the example above to make things easier) so to figure out how much interest you get when it gets paid it’ll be the coupon divided by two. Hopefully all of that makes sense, if not let me know in the comments. Issuers of Bonds As I said above the main issuers of bonds are governments, semi government organisations, and corporations. Debt issued by governments is generally the safest type, because so long as they control the printing press then they can always print more money to pay you back. The Eurozone is a bit of an exception to this (understatement of the year) but in most of the other major sovereign bond markets like the US, Australian, the UK etc it’s true. Emerging markets are a bit different because they often issue debt in USD, which means that if things go pear shaped then they can’t just print more money to pay off bondholders. There can also be issues with getting your money back from sovereigns if they have too much debt, such as when they either don’t control the printing press (Greece) or the bond is issued in a different currency (Argentina) but for the most part if you lend money to a developed country in their own currency then you can pretty reliably count on getting your money back. There are also bonds issued by semi government organisations like the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development etc, these are slightly less safe for the most part but you’re still not taking on much risk of not getting your money back. Debt issued by corporations is riskier, partly because businesses obviously can’t just print more money to pay you back, and because corporations can and do go bust. Sure it doesn’t seem likely that Telstra or Woolworths or the big banks are going to blow up any time soon, but there are plenty of other bond issuers out there with much more fragile finances. As you would expect the more risk you are taking on the more return you want in order to be compensation for doing so. This is because unlike a term deposit the value of your capital isn’t protected. If you put $10,000 into a term deposit for a year with an interest rate of 2%, then you know that in a year’s time you will get back that $10,000 plus $200 in interest. If for some reason the bank you invested that money through goes bust, the government will make you whole (up to the value of $250,000 per entity per approved deposit institution. If you invest in a corporate bond and the company goes bust, well you’re probably not going to get all or maybe any of your money back. The good news is that you’re more likely to get money back than equity holders, but if the debts of the company are a lot more than the assets then you’re going to be in trouble. There’s a clear framework for what happens if a company goes bust and who gets paid first and in how much etc, the short version of this is that equity holders are absolutely last in line but depending on what type of bonds you own you may not be a meaningful better position either. And unlike a stock, when you own a bond you don’t own a piece of the issuer of the bond, you just own part of their devt. So if the company does great and starts making a fortune, you as a bondholder don’t get paid any more than what the terms of the bond state. Basically you can get a fair chunk of the downside and none of the upside beyond the terms of the bond. On the plus side this doesn’t happen particularly often, most of the time you’ll get what you were promised Bond ratings Now obviously some companies are more secure and stable than others. If you take a bond from the biggest company in the ASX200 which is CBA, then it’s more likely to fulfil the terms of the bond than whatever the 200th company is. That’s not to say the 200th company won’t, just that there is more risk. The actual degree of this risk is quantified in a couple of different ways. First of all there are ratings agencies out there who will assign a rating from anywhere to super safe (AAA) to D (in default) with a bunch of graduations in between. Anything rated from AAA to BBB- is what is called Investment Grade (IG), everything below that is called High Yield (HY) or less politely Junk. Just because a bond is IG doesn’t guarantee it will pay off, likewise something which is HY isn’t guaranteed or even likely to fail. For the most part though the different ratings given tend to play out that way in the real world, with far less defaults for bonds rated AAA vs bonds rated BB for example. The big three ratings agencies are Standard & Poors (S&P), Moodys, and Fitch, and between them they’ll rate most of the bonds and/or issuers. They tend to be fairly backward looking in my opinion, and they were hugely and obviously wrong on rating mortgage backed securities back in the GFC. Still, they will generally give you a reasonable idea of the creditworthiness of the bond issuer. Because bonds are also traded in the marketplace you can take the yield offered on a bond with a particular maturity, compare it to an equivalent government bond, and using some fun math (yeah baby!) back out a credit spread which that bond trades over treasuries (or swaps but I’m not going to get into that). The higher the spread, the higher the perceived risk of the bond, and vice versa of course. Are bonds safe? Well it kinda depends on what you mean by safe. If you mean are the bonds likely to deliver what the issuer of the bonds promised, then generally yes. As I said with government and semi government bonds you will almost certainly get all your coupons and the maturity value of the bonds delivered on time. Yeah, there are some exceptions to this but you’re unlikely to run into trouble with Australia, the US, the UK, the more economically sensible members of the Eurozone etc. Similarly with corporates the vaast majority of the time you will get your money back on investment grade bonds, and it’s pretty rare to not get your money back on high yield bonds as well. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t happen much. If you mean am I going to get back what I put into the bond, well no they’re not necessarily safe, particularly if you sell before maturity. Remember when I said bonds are kinda like term deposits that can trade? Well when they trade those prices move around, and they can move around a lot! Why do bond prices move? There are a bunch of reasons why bond prices move around, the main ones are changes in the interest rate environment, changes in economic conditions, and changes specific to the issuer of the bond. We’ll talk about interest rates first. Bond prices have an inverse relationship with bond yields, which is a fancy way of saying if interest rates (yields) go down then bond prices go up. How much do they go up? Well that depends on the magnitude of the change in rates, and a bunch of factors involving the bond. Basically the longer till maturity on the bond, and the lower the coupon on the bond, the more sensitive it will be to changes in interest rates. This is measured using modified duration and convexity. Modified duration takes into account the timing of the cashflows of the bond (so coupons and maturity) and gives you a number which is typically a little less than that number of years to maturity, the higher the coupon the more it decreases the modified duration. If you multiply that modified duration by the change in interest rates in percentage terms, it will tell you how much the bond price will move by (in theory at least). So if you have a modified duration of say 7.117, then for every 1 percent move in interest rates the bond price will change by 7.117 points. So if your bond price was previously 100 and rates moved down by 1%, then your bond should now be worth 107.117. Happy days! Conversely if rates moved up, well your bond is now worth 92.883. Not so happy days. I’ve used the [ASX bond calculator](http://%20https//www.asx.com.au/asx/research/bondCalculator.do) to give a couple of examples using the current Aussie 10 year bond. You can hopefully see below that by changing the yield on the bond from 1.5% to 1% the market price has gone from 116.87 to 121.83, roughly a 4.25% change in price for a 0.5% change in rates, so presumably the modified duration on the bond is about 8.5. To make things slightly more complex, that relationship isn’t fixed due to something called convexity. Instead of being a linear relationship, it’s actually a changing one (a curve rather than a line). Basically the more bonds prices move away from where they were issued the more that relationship will change. Then there are things like GDP numbers, employment numbers, consumer sentiment surveys, PMI surverys, and all sorts of other economic news which will potentially move bond yields around, generally pretty slightly but it really depends on how important that economic number is and how much of a change from expectations it is. On top of that for corporations changes in their own situations will have an effect on what their credit rating/spread is which will affect prices as well. If a company goes from being loss making to suddenly making a profit, then that’s going to be good for their credit and the bond price is likely to go up. Bad news like a profit warning will potentially mean a higher credit spread and lower price for the bond. There is also general investor appetite for risk, so if investors are happy to take on more risk in their asset allocation (risk on) then they will likely sell off lower risk assets like bonds and buy higher risk assets like equities and to a lesser extent property. If things change and they want to go risk off, then the reverse happens and money tends to come out of equities and into bonds. What happens to bonds if the stock market crashes or we have another GFC? A stock market crash is actually one of the more compelling reasons to invest in bonds. This is because when stock markets crash investors tend to put their money into asset classes where they feel a lot safer ie, bonds. The rationale is that getting your money back is now hugely important, and even more important is not losing all your money as you will in those horrible equities which you knew you should never have invested in but that horrible financial adviser talked you into. People. Are. Not. Rational. People panic. People sell assets which are going down in value even though they know they should be holding on for the long term. This applies not just to retail investors, but also to professionals who should know better. In the GFC I spent plenty of time talking to institutional investors with a long term time horizon (ie 5 or 10 years etc) who suddenly decided they had to get out because of bad one month performance. People will bail out if the proverbial is hitting the fan. I wrote a bit about my experiences with the GFC here, and believe me there are a lot of people who are not going to be as cool calm and collected as they think they will be. It’s very very very very (extra very for emphasis) important to note here that at this point in time investors will not be thinking that all bonds are much the same. When they are looking for somewhere to put their money that they now have after panic selling out of equities, they will park it in the safest place they can find, ie government bonds (aka treasuries). This will cause the price of those bonds to rise because of supply and demand. If they still want to take on some amount of risk then they might put some into investment grade bonds, again this will push the price up a bit. They will almost certainly not put money into high yield bonds, because those are risky and in a crisis will behave pretty similarly to equities, ie they will fall in value. If anything they will more than likely try to pull money out of HY bonds, pushing the price down. This excellent post really shows this in the below graph which shows the average performance of different types of bonds for a 10% or greater fall in the stock market (all of this is for the US but the same principle applies to Australia). It doesn’t work in every case, as shown below (same source), but in almost all cases of a big crash in equities, treasury and to a lesser extent IG bonds gave you a big positive return to help out. HY, not so much and in some cases actually gave you a worse performance than equities themselves. Please believe me when I say it is a huge help psychologically to have some of your investments going up when the others are going down, which to me at least is a great reason to have some money invested in bonds. You’ve convinced me, how much should I have in bonds? Ok so I’m probably being slightly optimistic here given the number of posts I see on reddit about how VDHG would be so much better if Vanguard got rid of that terrible 10% that’s invested in bonds and put it all in equities instead. It would be nice to think though that some people are now realising that come the next crash they too might not behave entirely rationally, and it sure would be nice to own some assets that are going to zig when the stock market zags, so to speak. On the off chance that I have actually convinced people, well it really comes down to your particular risk profile. This is going to be hard to believe for some people, but in the US the default portfolio for most investors is 60% stocks and 40% bonds. Looking at Oz , the default balanced investment option for most super funds over here are supposed to have something like a 70:30 split between growth assets (shares and property) and defensive assets (bonds and cash) although the reality is a long long way from that if you actually look into how they invest (that’s a discussion for another time though). So that maybe provides a useful starting point. I know that the average FIRE portfolio that gets talked about particularly from younger bloggers (who have likely never experienced a sustained down market) is pretty much 100% equities and property, maybe even leveraged up. Which is fine if you can hold on through the downturns, but not everyone can do this because it is extremely difficult to do psychologically. I wish them all the best of luck, but I am pretty sure that at least some of them will decide that it’s all too much and sell whenever we have the next crash. There are exceptions to the rule though. One of my favourite bloggers, and someone who I know thinks deeply about this sort of stuff, is the FI Explorer who has about 15% in bonds and 15% in defensive alternatives (gold and bitcoin) as per his latest portfolio update. Whilst I don’t like Bitcoin myself, or gold for that matter, he writes a good explanation about why he holds both here. I still don’t like either asset myself, but I recognise that I am not infallible, I could well be wrong about this, and certainly historically they have worked well as hedges. In any case the more important point here is that there is basically a 30% allocation to what would be regarded as defensive type assets. This is actually a bit over his actual target of 25% in defensive assets, but he probably sleeps just fine at night. I’m a little more aggressive in only having about 21% of my assets (excluding PPoR) in cash and bonds, but it’s not a huge difference. Both of us have been invested through stock market crashes and hopefully have come to realise that we are not the hyper rational investors that economists believe we are, and therefore it’s best to have a bit invested in stuff that will go up or at least hold it’s value when everything else is crashing. How do I buy bonds? You can buy bonds individually, but you tend to need to have a fair amount of money to do so and you can run into a lot of problems with liquidity, big bid/ask spreads etc, it’s hard to build up a diversified portfolio etc. I buy bonds the same way I buy stocks, ie via an ETF. Most of the major ETF providers have some variety of index ETFs tracking Treasury only or Treasury plus Investment Grade bonds, or you can buy HY stuff if you want. Personally I just use one ETF which has about 75% in treasuries and the rest in IG. There are also some actively managed bond funds out there, either as ETFs or managed funds. For the reasons I outlined above about bonds being a psychological safe harbour I personally would (and do) only invest in bonds which are likely to up in a crisis, but different strokes for different folks applies as always. Any more questions? I’ve only really scratched the surface here of talking about bonds, but at the same time I feel like it’s an overwhelming amount of information. If you have more questions then as always I’m happy to answer them in the comments! Do you invest in bonds? If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more like it then please subscribe!
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