Tags: Wal-Mart

Guest Post: Why is the Bitcoin Price So Weak?

It’s been a wild 2014 so far for Bitcoin. On the one hand, there has been some very bad news in the space. We’ve had the Mt. Gox disaster and the potential overhang those stolen coins have on the market, as well as rumors of an effective Chinese ban (we still don’t have confirmation of anything).

On the other hand, there has been a lot positive news as well. We have seen some of the most brilliant venture capitalists in the world continue to put a great deal of time and money into crypto-currency related enterprises, as well as continued merchant adoption, with the biggest news being Overstock.

One of the leaders in the Bitcoin space, helping people spend their BTC at a wide range of traditional stores ranging from Target and Whole Foods Market, to the recent addition of Wal Mart is Gyft, led by its CEO Vinny Lingham. I’ve known for some time now how intelligent and entrepreneurial Vinny is, but as of today I have also discovered he is a strong writer.

With his permission I am republishing his excellent piece, Finding Equilibrium: Searching for the true value of a Bitcoin, below.

I agree with pretty much all of Vinny’s main points. I have been on record saying the recent surge and plunge is eerily similar to the 2013 surge and plunge. If that pattern repeats, we should see the next big move this summer. Vinny thinks the price may flatline for longer than that before moving strongly again.

Enjoy.

Finding Equilibrium: Searching for the true value of a Bitcoin.
by Vinny Lingham

Bitcoin has a number of headwinds which is keeping the price in check. I’m expecting it to stabilize around the $400 mark for at least the next quarter (although predictions in the Bitcoin space are very hard to do past a couple of weeks).


As Bitcoin stabilizes below $500 for the first time since it’s eye-popping run to over $1,000 in November 2013, many crypto pundits are scratching their heads and trying to make sense of the current weakness — especially given the excitement & innovation that we are seeing within the global Bitcoin community. Venture capital has also been pouring into Bitcoin startups at a rabid pace (north of $100m so far this past year). However, over the past couple of days, I’ve had numerous friends contact me asking the same question : “What’s happening with Bitcoin?”.

Bitcoin is currently trying to finding an equilibrium point — at least at the current volume levels — given all the recent disruptions to the ecosystem (including the recent MtGox collapse). Equilibrium would be defined for me as the point of stability in price where there is symetric volume and consistent growth on a daily basis between buyers and sellers (utopian, but right now there is asymmetric growth which is not being quantified — so traders are having a problem predicting where it would go).

History shows that it needs to find a very stable price point for a few months before it can really retest any previous highs. External factors like Russia, Ukraine, China, etc will contribute to Bitcoin volatility and changes in the supply/demand curve globally.

I spent some time at the CoinSummit conference in San Francisco last week and my panel discussion, “Bitcoin transactions — what are the barriers for merchant and consumer adoption?” was well received by the community.

Its very clear that Bitcoin has amazing potential but the fact remains that we are still in the very early stages of it’s evolution — which many have likened to the Internet in 1993. Mainstream consumer adoption is just not there yet. We’re waiting for the “Netscape moment” for Bitcoin.

I also don’t believe Bitcoin is suitable as currency — I think it’s a commodity that can be traded for goods and services. It may become a currency in time, but it just isn’t one right now. It’s a scarce, digital commodity — and the trading that takes place on exchanges really reflects the market sentiment around the value of this digital commodity.

In the not too distant future, entrepreneurs & technologists will use the actual Bitcoins themselves in new and interesting ways (think smart contracts, etc.) —how many will be ultimately needed is unknown, and that’s what creates the imbalance in price. Right now it’s all speculation as to what that future value of a Bitcoin will equate to. This is what makes the Blockchain far more interesting than the actual Bitcoin — but I’ll leave that for a future post.

I have some alternative views (i.e. not stuff the mainstream press totally gets), as to why Bitcoin is trading below $500 right now, but I want to point out that I am a Bitcoin bull for the long term. I even predicted at the Silicon Valley Bitcoin Conference in May 2013, it would reach over $1,000 in 2013 when it was trading at $100 to audible sniggers and laughs from a very Bitcoin friendly audience.

That said, conversely, here are the key reasons why I think the Bitcoin price may not organically reach $1,000 again this year, without an external event shifting the supply/demand curve for Bitcoin. It is difficult to predict anything further out than a single quarter in the Bitcoin world, so instead of making bold predictions I would rather focus on highlighting some issues that are suppressing the Bitcoin right now.

TechCrunch published a story yesterday about the recent IRS rulings around Bitcoin — which classifies it as an asset, not a currency (which effectively makes transactions using it taxable). To be frank, anyone who thought that Bitcoin would not be subject to taxes in some form is living in a dream world.

Read the Full Article »

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American Dependency: A Food Stamp Micro-Doc

My friend Dan at Future Money Trends has just put together a fantastic micro-documentary on the rise of our food stamp nation and the far reaching consequences to society. From the art of selling excess food stamp dollars at the end of each month, to JP Morgan profiting from the program as a line of business, this video covers it all. I’ve written about food stamps on several occasions, and have highlighted how they are merely a way to boost corporate profits at the taxpayers expense. More corporate welfare and crony capitalism. My three most popular articles on food stamps are below:

McDonald’s Math: You Can’t Survive Working for Us

Where Food Stamps Go to Die

AMAZING. The USDA Has Partnered with the Mexican Government to Encourage Food Stamp Participation 

Now check out the video.

Some Shocking Facts About Wal-Mart

As many of you will recall, Wal-Mart was a central focus of my recent weekly piece titled Where Food Stamps Go to Die.  Well the article below looks at Wal-Mart from another angle, one that I am quite sympathetic towards.  Of the many negative things the dominance of Wal-Mart in American retail leads to, I think the most destructive is how it drives smaller mom and pop retail shops out of business.  We really need to ask ourselves as a society: What is preferable consumer goods prices 25% cheaper than they would otherwise be or healthy, dynamic, local, middle class communities?  Of course it is not a black and white issue, but I think we have allowed things to swing much too far in one direction.  The bottom line is that many small retailers mean many more independent and wealthy entrepreneurs with a bond to their local areas, as opposed to a behemoth like Wal-Mart, which enriches very, very few people and sucks the lifeblood out of community businesses.  I think that we need to adjust the entire tax code to penalize companies as they get beyond a certain size, while doing everything in our power to incentivize risk-takers and start-ups as they are the ones that create the new technologies that change the world rather than engaging in parasitic behavior to protect egregious markets shares.

See the list of Wal-Mart facts here.

Where Food Stamps Go to Die

Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

Common sense is not so common.

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another.

The sovereign is called a tyrant who knows no laws but his caprice.

All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

– All Quotes by Voltaire

Where Food Stamps Go to Die
We all know the economy sucks.  We all know we are headed in the wrong direction.  We all know our leaders are corrupt, immoral, greedy and violent.  You don’t need me to tell you that.  One thing that I have noticed recently while watching the financial markets is that despite the fact most stocks charts I pull up look awful, the major indices continue to hang in or grind higher.  While it is not new news that a few large cap stocks are holding the major averages up, I want to focus on one in particular.  Wal-Mart.  Yes we all know Wal-Mart.  Everyone has an opinion; whether you love it or hate it.  In this instance, I’m not so much interested in the company itself, the stores or disturbing images of some of the people seen shopping there.  No, in this case I want to take a look at the stock and ponder what it tells us about the state of affairs in both the U.S. and the global economy as a whole.

Wal-Mart’s stock is up 14% YTD, which is triple the return of the S&P 500.  The stock also packs a dividend yield of 2.3%, so the total return is even better.  In the last month or so the stock has become a real powerhouse as you can see in the chart below.  Crushing any and all shorts under the weight of its rapid appreciation.

Wal-Mart Three Year Chart

I think the above chart, in particular the move in the past month or so, speaks volumes to what is happening on a macro level.  First, from a purely flow of capital perspective, the U.S. economy was the last one to hit recession (most money managers still have no idea).  With Europe in a situation where monetary and political chaos appears likely here and now (and inevitable ultimately) and the BRICs in total free-fall, we have seen a rush into perceived safe havens.  We all know about treasuries and bunds, but at some point people don’t want to continue to funnel money to instruments yielding negative real returns.  So what has apparently happened is global money managers have been allocating more dollars to very large cap U.S. shares as an alternative to treasuries and bunds.

There’s more to it of course.  Nothing exemplifies the ghetto status of the U.S. economy more than the success of Wal-Mart in the face of the ongoing destruction of what was once a vibrant and strong middle class.  In case you missed it, Marion Nestle, Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at NYU, came out with some interesting tidbits regarding the food stamp program.  One of them is extraordinarily disturbing.  She shows that Wal-Mart’s gets as much as 25% to 40% of revenue at some stores from food stamp dollars.  This says it all folks.  Food stamps are or course the perfect business for Wal-Mart and JP Morgan, which as I pointed out previously makes a lot of money running the program and keeping the populace in perpetual serfdom.  Meanwhile, guess what another of the best performing stocks this year is?  Corrections Corp of America, ticker CXW, up 41% YTD!  Guess what they do?  Yep, you guess it.  They lock up the serfs that get out of line.  This is the Bloomberg description of CXW.

Corrections Corporation of America provides detention and corrections services to governmental agencies.  The Company owns correctional and detention facilities in the United States and the United Kingdom. Services include design, construction, ownership, renovation, and management of new or existing jails  and prisons, as well as long distance inmate transportation services.

There you have it folks.  What sectors are leading the American economy in the “recovery”: Food stamps and Prisons.  They are actually perfectly complimentary.  If the food stamps don’t work the prisons will.

Meanwhile, in the real economy we have the latest earnings blowup.  Ryder System, a company involved in the leasing, rental and logistical business of trucking lowered its forecast and the shares were smashed.  Too bad you can’t lease a truck with an EBT card, although who knows, that might be in the next stimulus package.

Ryder Three Year Chart.  Thanks for Playing!

The global economy is currently staring into a cyclical recession in the midst of the biggest structural debt and derivatives ponzi scheme that mankind has ever witnessed.  The desperation to keep things looking decent into the election continues at a frantic pace and now there are only four more months left.  As I have said before, if they do not allow pressure to be released until after the elections the comeuppance is going to be way more awful than I care to think about.  Prepare accordingly.

Peace and wisdom,

Mike