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Crypto countries: Nigeria and El Salvador’s opposing journeys into digital currencies – podcast

Plus, a philosopher explains the history of the idea that we might all be living in a simulation. Listen to The Conversation Weekly podcast.

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Banking on bitcoin: El Salvador announced plans to build a Bitcoin City in November 2021. Rodrigo Sura/EPA

We dive into the world of crypto and digital currencies and take a close look at two countries approaching them in very different ways in this episode of The Conversation Weekly. And if the latest Matrix film has left you wondering whether we are really living in a simulation, we talk to a philosopher on the long history of that idea.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and its most populous country. El Salvador is a small republic in central America. But despite their many differences, they have two economic problems in common. First, a large proportion of their populations don’t have access to bank accounts. Second, their economies rely heavily on remittances, money sent back by people living abroad. But the money transfer companies that facilitate these cash flows can be slow and costly.

In 2021, both countries turned to the fast-moving world of digital currencies in an effort to tackle these, and other problems. But they’ve taken very different routes.

Nigeria banned bank trading of cryptocurrencies in February and then launched its own central bank digital currency, the eNaira, in October. Nigeria was only the second country in the world to launch a central bank digital currency, after The Bahamas. More may soon follow suit, including China, which in January expanded the pilot of its digital yuan to more areas, including the major cities Shanghai and Beijing.

Nigeria’s decision to launch its own digital currency came as a surprise to many, says Iwa Salami, reader and associate professor in law at the University of East London in the UK and an expert on digital currencies. Initially, eNaira wallets are only available for people with bank accounts, but the plan is to extend access to anyone with a phone number in the future.

One of the questions, Salami says, is whether Nigeria will be able to “fully achieve financial inclusion in the way that it’s been promoted.” There are a number of risks involved, she says, including to financial stability if those with eNaira wallets start using them as a deposit account. “Therefore, rather than using commercial banks, people actually use eNaira wallets to store their savings, which then means that the relevance of banks becomes redundant,” she says.


Read more: Nigeria's digital currency: what the eNaira is for and why it's not perfect


While Nigeria opted to create its own central bank digital currency, El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt a cryptocurrency as legal tender. The US dollar has been El Salvador’s currency since 2001, when it abandoned its currency, the colón. But in September 2021, El Salvador added bitcoin to its list of official currencies.

Erica Pimentel, an assistant professor at the Smith school of business at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, says there were geopolitical reasons for the decision, as well as an aim to increase financial inclusion and speed up remittances. “We see El Salvador standing up and saying we don’t want the dollar anymore, we want to be masters of our own domain,” she says.

In November, the government of El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele announced plans for a Bitcoin City. Pimentel says it’s “a city built from scratch, whose economy is centred on bitcoin mining and is powered by a volcano.” She talks us through the risks involved with El Salvador’s embrace of bitcoin, and says other countries will be closely watching what happens.

From virtual currency, we turn to virtual brains, and the question of whether or not we’re living in a simulation, a little like that in The Matrix. Benjamin Curtis, senior lecturer in philosophy and ethics at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, explains the long history of this idea. He tracks versions of this question posed by ancient Greek philosophers, to René Descartes in the 17th century and how it evolved with the modern computing era. Curtis says when The Matrix film first came out in 1999 it “certainly introduced these ideas to a much wider audience”. (At 30m20)

And finally, Rob Reddick, COVID-19 editor at The Conversation in the UK, picks out some recent coverage of the wave of omicron cases sweeping the world. (At 42m10)

This episode of The Conversation Weekly was produced by Mend Mariwany and Gemma Ware, with sound design by Eloise Stevens. Our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. You can find us on Twitter @TC_Audio, on Instagram at theconversationdotcom or via email. You can also sign up to The Conversation’s free daily email here.

Newsclips in this episode are from Channels Television, TVC News Nigeria, CBS News, DW News, CNBC Television, WION, CNA and France24 English.

You can listen to The Conversation Weekly via any of the apps listed above, download it directly via our RSS feed, or find out how else to listen here.

Iwa Salami and Erica Pimentel do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointments.

Benjamin Curtis does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Who’s Afraid Of Jerome Powell?

Who’s Afraid Of Jerome Powell?

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, ‘n Guns blog,

baller (ˈbɔːlə)
n
slang someone, usually a man, who lives in an extravagant and materialistic manner, tending to be something of a socialite

My wife…

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Who's Afraid Of Jerome Powell?

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

baller (ˈbɔːlə)
n
slang someone, usually a man, who lives in an extravagant and materialistic manner, tending to be something of a socialite

My wife and I got sucked into watching the Dwayne Johnson series Ballers on HBOMax over the weekend. Aside from being hilarious, it struck me how much of a microcosm of our world this seemingly alien world of twentysomething millionaires and rapacious billionaires really is.

When you drill into the details, the world of Ballers really isn’t that far from ours.

For those that don’t know the setup, broke former NFL bad boy Johnson is trying to turn a new leaf “monetizing his friendships” to help NFL players hold onto all that money they are making at an age when they have zero ability to contemplate their own mortality.

One storyline from the first season is especially relevant. A kid with a good heart, Vernon, banking on his next big contract, is out of money having spent it all on being ‘loyal’ to his friends and family, throwing parties, inviting 40 people to a business lunch, etc.

His loyalty is so out of control he has to borrow money from Johnson (who’s broke mind you) to bridge him until the contract comes through. Of course there are complications and hilarity ensues. The typical Hollywood fantasy fare. Nothing groundbreaking, eventually things work out (mostly).

Johnson has to endure a lot to get Vernon to see the truth, put limits on the situation and get Vernon to properly save his money. The pitch is the right one: put it to work and pay everyone for the long term, not just for tomorrow.

Sound familiar?

No, because that’s exactly what we don’t preach in this world of central bank issued easy money. This shouldn’t be a central conflict, it should be a given.

Because this background for this story is playing out at every level of our society, all a consequence of too much money flowing around finding ways to corrupt everything it touches.

Ballers is all about the corruption money brings to those few thousand people in the NFL and their organizations because of the millions of people who spend too much money on a passing fancy, entertainment.

The NFL, like all pro sports, is nothing but a money funnel with a Federal Reserve sized Hoover attached to it. It’s the ultimate corruption of e pluribus unum. From many to one.

Take a little bit from all of us, time and again to help us relieve the stress of the shitty world they’ve built. Give some of it to the rubes who play the game, who blow it on hookers, high end cars, and drugs, while the lion’s share gets sucked right back up into the same oligarch class that created it in the first place.

But it’s no different than you or me, buying shit we don’t need on credit, self-medicating with pro sports, alcohol, video games, day-trading cryptos on Robinhood, yelling at racists on Twitter or my personal favorite, a ridiculous board game collection.

We’re all ballers to one degree or another, spending easy money on distractions rather than facing the reality that the most unsustainable thing about our society is the money which makes it all happen.

And before anyone revokes my libertarian creds, I pass no judgment on this. It’s all voluntary exchange, mostly. At the very least it has the appearance of being voluntary.

That said, here we are waiting to hear from the philosopher kings at the FOMC and the markets are melting down around our ears.

The tantrums that have begun are no different than those pitched by Vernon’s friends over having the barest amount of fiscal discipline imposed on them.

Everywhere I look everyone is saying some version of the same thing, “Hey man, Don’t take the punch bowl away.” They’d say it a lot more colorfully on Ballers, but being white I’m not allowed to use that language.

From Chairman Xi leading off this year’s virtual Davos with a plea not to hike rates to the howls from the Financial press including some Austrians, pleading that he can’t possibly raise rates because it would cause a market meltdown and blow out the Federal budget, Powell is now off everyone’s invite list to party on the yacht.

I get the feeling that some folks would rather be right about their hyperinflation theories rather than actually figuring out what’s really going on.

But the reality is that something has changed and the markets are finally coming to that conclusion.

For months I’ve been arguing that Jerome Powell ignited a firestorm when he raised the Reverse Repo Rate by 0.05%, pulling trillions in base liquidity from overseas markets while handing U.S. banks all the collateral they needed.

It’s created a political firestorm on Capitol Hill who tried to oust him from the Chair and failed. They got three of his fellow hawks, but not the king. He was able to run out the political clock on both Build Back Better and opposition to his reappointment.

But it doesn’t happen if Powell doesn’t have the backing of the people behind him.

And who backs Powell? The New York Fed, that’s who.

That leads you to the conclusion that all is not hunky dory in Oligarchville. That, shock of shocks, narcissists only like each other when they are sucking our lives and souls away. But when they start taking from each other, that’s when the knives come out.

It seems incredible to me that many people won’t consider this idea, that these people don’t like each other, and aren’t willing to hand over their business and their wealth without a fight?

Because that’s what’s implied when everyone jumps up and down and screams at Powell to “Save them!” from deflationary forces.

And he looks down from the Marriner-Eccles building and says, “No.”

It’s time to put it all in order. With ‘Build Back Better’ dead there is no more insane new spending to monetize. There is no reason for the Fed to keep up QE or rates at the zero-bound. Savings is down, money is circulating again. Inflation isn’t transitory.

People want to work. COVID-9/11 is behind us. The anger over losing two years is just getting started but that’s a different wrinkle to this story for another day.

If the Fed isn’t intimidated by the recent weakness in stocks, in truth a healthy correction after a massive run, and raises rates on Wednesday we have our answer as to what Powell and friends are willing to do. Whatever your opinion of it is, it will not be a ‘policy error’ but a clear-eyed understanding that it’s time to rein it in, change the direction of the big boat, and begin living within our means.

If he doesn’t it won’t be the opposite signal. It will simply mean that they’ll take another couple of months to nail down the particulars, namely getting proper control over the O’Biden administration, and begin hiking on schedule per the current expectations in the Eurodollar futures market.

Has anyone looked at the ratings for pro sports? Old media? Hollywood box office receipts? All down. Netflix is getting killed because it’s growth cannot sustain its valuation, much like a lot of the NASDAQ. This is something that should have happened two or three years ago, just like Tesla.

But didn’t because of COVID-19 and the massive wealth transfer the stimulus provided to them during the absence of sanity oceans of money always produces.

That said, these are all unsustainable Ponzi scheme masquerading as viable industries based on cheap money and malinvestment in politically-motivated production.

Now I’m not suggesting for a second that Powell is some kind of saint or anything. He’s no savior sent down to redeem us sinful ballers from our excesses. No sir. He represents the very people that helped create this mess.

But at the same time, they want to remain where they are. They are not willing to hand their power and their money over to another group within the cartel.

They didn’t get where they were putting their money on the table to bail out anyone else.

And they won’t this time.

All I’m doing here is assessing what everyone’s real motivations are and who they answer to. To quote another, far more classic television show“The universe is run by the interweaving of three elements: Energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest.”

And, to me, where’s the enlightened self-interest angle for the NY Boys, represented by Powell, for turning over their business to a bunch of European and Chinese commies?

When you step back and really look at what’s happening, they have already told Europe, China and all those emerging markets currently whining, the post-COVID world you created is your mess now.

This is why I’m convinced the Fed will hike and hike aggressively this year, maybe starting on Wednesday.

There is no deal possible between Wall St., City of London and Europe. In that game, Europe loses. If China wants to play hardball and default on foreign-held property debt, fine. Have fun attracting any capital in the future.

All the fiscal projections of the U.S.’s insolvency are great (and accurate) but I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, literally, but you CAN taper a Ponzi scheme if you’re 1) the biggest Ponzi and 2) control the flow of funds into them.

And if you don’t think Powell and his backers at the NY Fed aren’t willing to sacrifice a few thousand points on the Dow or even a few points of GDP, to restructure the US’s finances for the long term while the Fed hands them all the collateral and liquidity they need to keep playing while everyone else craps out, I do believe you are terminally naïve.

It’s what they call playing hard ball.

There are two ways to reset the monetary system. The first option is printer go brrr and default by switching out the old currency for a new one. The other is collapse the old system by returning risk and rebuilding it after the malinvestment is gone.

Paul Volcker chose the latter to finally establish the Dollar Reserve Standard as the only game in town. Nixon set the process in motion, Volcker closed the deal. It’s what established today’s game.

We are at an inflection point in history, both monetary and geopolitical.

I discussed this in my latest podcast with Alex Krainer and believe the rules of the game have fundamentally changed. The next game will look a lot different than the baller one we’ve been playing.

Those who won’t adjust to that or admit it should be very afraid of what Jerome Powell does next.

*  *  *

Join my Patreon if you hate the game, not the playa.

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Tyler Durden Wed, 01/26/2022 - 12:25

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Economics

Boeing Jumps On First Positive Cash Flow Since 2019 Despite Another Huge 787 Charge

Boeing Jumps On First Positive Cash Flow Since 2019 Despite Another Huge 787 Charge

It was another painful quarter for Boeing, which reported revenue and earnings both of which missed expectation amid mounting 787 Dreamliner losses which…

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Boeing Jumps On First Positive Cash Flow Since 2019 Despite Another Huge 787 Charge

It was another painful quarter for Boeing, which reported revenue and earnings both of which missed expectation amid mounting 787 Dreamliner losses which amounted to another $3.5 billion in pre-tax non-cash charge s (focused on actions required to resume deliveries) however a surprise boost in 737 Max output from 19 to 26 per month was welcome news as was the unexpected end of the company's chronic cash burn as Boeing reported its first positive free cash flow since early 2019.

First, this is what Boeing reported for Q4:

  • Revenue $14.79 billion, -3.2% q/q, -3.3% y/y, missing estimates $16.67 billion (Bloomberg Consensus)
  • Core loss per share of ($7.69), on the continued Dreamliner charges, which was an "improvement" from the whopping ($15.25) reported but clearly missed estimates of (0.42).

If the massive Q4 charge was not enough, Boeing now sees 787-Related abnormal costs about $2B, above from the $1BN it had seen previously. The company said that it continues to perform rework on 787 in inventory and is focused on actions required to resume 787 deliveries.

Remarkably, as the following table from Boeing's earnings release shows, pretty much every Y/Y comparison is NM, which should tell you all you need to know about the company's headline financials.

And a prettier rendering:

Looking at revenue we get the following disappointing picture:

  • Commercial Airplanes revenue $4.75 billion, +0.5% y/y, missing estimates $5.50 billion
  • Defense, Space & Security revenue $5.86 billion, -14% y/y, missing estimate $6.85 billion
  • Global Services revenue $4.29 billion, +15% y/y, beating estimate $4.18 billion
  • Boeing Capital operating earnings $7 million, missing the estimate $24.4 million
  • Total commercial planes deliveries 99, +68% y/y, missing the estimate 102.36
  • Backlog $377 billion, +3.9% y/y

Adding insult to injury, the planemaker reported $5.5 billion in total costs to cover rising factory and customer expenses for the Dreamliner. Boeing took write-offs on the KC-46 aerial tanker and the global services division as well. As Bloomberg notes,
the 787 program’s profits have been wiped out as Boeing pays airlines for service they’ve lost because of delivery disruptions. The company hasn’t handed over any Dreamliners since June as it addresses structural imperfections on the roughly 100 aircraft in its system.

“This effort continues to impact our deliveries and our financial results -- but we are fully confident it is the right thing to do,” Calhoun’s memo said. “I view the financial impacts of this work as a long-term investment in a program that has significant runway ahead.”

It wasn't all bad news, however, as Boeing announced it is hiking the output of the 737 to 26 jets a month, up from 19 in October, Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun said in a note to employees. That was taken by the market as a sign the planemaker may be turning around its operations after burning through more than $31 billion during a nearly three-year-long slump marked by the Max’s grounding, the Covid-19 pandemic and a spate of quality lapses.

Looking ahead, Boeing said it still expects passenger traffic to return to 2019 levels in 2023 to 2024, and said that commercial recovery is broadening as regional dynamics continue to evolve driven by COVID-19. It also said says increasing 777/777X production rate to 3 per month in 2022.

But the biggest positive surprise was the company's announcement that in Q4, it generated $494 million in fourth-quarter free cash flow, up from a cash burn of over $4.2 billion a year ago; analysts had expected an outflow of about $1 billion.

This was the first positive FCF from Boeing since Q1 2019. It also meant that operating cash flow of $716 million as beat estimates of negative $429.0 million and was far above the negative $4.01 billion reported a year ago.

"2021 was a rebuilding year for us as we overcame hurdles and reached key milestones across our commercial, defense and services portfolios. We increased 737 MAX production and deliveries, and safely returned the 737 MAX to service in nearly all global markets. As the commercial market recovery gained traction, we also generated robust commercial orders, including record freighter sales. Demonstrating progress in our overall recovery, we also returned to generating positive cash flow in the fourth quarter," said David Calhoun, Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer.

"On the 787 program, we're progressing through a comprehensive effort to ensure every airplane in our production system conforms to our exacting specifications. While this continues to impact our near-term results, it is the right approach to building stability and predictability as demand returns for the long term. Across the enterprise, we remain focused on safety and quality as we deliver for our customers and invest in our people and in our sustainable future."

Also notably, the company which has been flirting with junk status for the past two years, managed to reduce its gross debt load again, even if its net debt remained unchanged as the entire reduction came at the expense of cash on hand.

Boeing shares ignored the latest huge 787 charge and operating loss and instead focused on the positive free cash flow and improvement in 737 MAX output, and rose 2% premarket. The shares gained 1.4% this year through Tuesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 5.6%.

Benchmark called Q4 a “kitchen sink” quarter, and noted that the Max production schedule was progressing, which is the main focus for analysts and investors. 

The company's Q4 investor presentation is below (pdf link)

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/26/2022 - 09:05

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Trading Penny Stocks? Top Stock Market News for January 26th, 2022

Check these penny stocks out for your list on January 26th
The post Trading Penny Stocks? Top Stock Market News for January 26th, 2022 appeared first on Penny Stocks to Buy, Picks, News and Information | PennyStocks.com.

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Buying Penny Stocks Today? Here’s What You Need to Know 

Right now, we’re witnessing a potential renewed bullish sentiment for penny stocks and blue chips. While it may be too soon to say, stock futures are rebounding slightly as the market works to recoup its recent losses. And to understand why this is occurring, we have to take a closer look at what is going on in the stock market right now. 

What to Know About Trading Penny Stocks Today 

During morning trading, contracts on the S&P 500 managed to gain around 1%while contracts on the NASDAQ pushed up by around 2%. Additionally, shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) managed to reverse its previous day’s losses with better than expected Q2 revenue. 

[Read More] 4 Hot Penny Stocks To Buy Under $5 Right Now

One of the largest concerns in the stock market right now is the Federal Reserve monetary policy. With Fed Chair Jerome Powell speaking later today on this, many are gearing up for the Fed to work on lowering inflation. Currently, inflation is at a four-decade high, which makes sense given the massive amount of stimulus given out during the pandemic. However, it is still concerning for the stock market and investors alike. 

So, investors should continue to expect high volatility as we navigate these uncertain waters. In regard to this, David Bailin, the Chief Investment Officer at Citi, stated “If you think about what’s happened in the markets, it indicates the degree of sensitivity market participants have to what is going to be the new rate environment and the new liquidity environment.”

With the market moving the way it is right now, investors need to be certain about their strategies moving forward. Considering that, let’s take a look at three penny stocks that are climbing in premarket trading right now. 

3 Penny Stocks Climbing During Premarket Right Now 

  1. Vinco Ventures Inc. (NASDAQ: BBIG
  2. Dare Bioscience Inc. (NASDAQ: DARE
  3. Maverix Metals Inc. (NYSE: MMX

Vinco Ventures Inc. (NASDAQ: BBIG) 

One of the biggest gainers during premarket trading today is BBIG stock. By 9:30 AM EST, shares of BBIG had climbed by over 16% to $3.51 per share. This is a staggering gain, and brings Vinco Ventures up substantially considering its one-month gain of over 13%. Now, there is no company-specific news that is causing this rise, however, the company has several interesting moves in the works right now. 

[Read More] Trending Penny Stocks to Watch in February 2022

On one hand, the company has been working on its NFT marketplace for months now, following the purchase of a majority stake in Lomotif. Lomotif is a video-sharing app that the company states could rival TikTok. And now, the company plans to release its Cryptyde spinoff, which will invest in disruptive blockchain tech. Considering all of this, will BBIG be on your penny stocks watchlist?

Dare Bioscience Inc. (NASDAQ: DARE) 

Another sizable premarket mover is DARE stock. With higher than average volume right now, DARE stock remains up by around 6.7% in the past six months. While it has fallen significantly in the last month or so, we have begun to see a recent bullish turnaround. 

The most recent news from the company came a few weeks ago when it announced its participation in the H.C. Wainwright BIOCONNECT 2022 Conference. Since then however, the company has been relatively quiet. Despite this, Dare’s focus on advancing innovative products for the women’s health market, has helped to make it more popular in the past few months. Whether this makes it worth adding to your list of penny stocks to watch is up to you. 

Penny_Stocks_to_Watch_Dare

Maverix Metals Inc. (NYSE: MMX) 

MMX stock is another popular penny stock to watch during premarket trading right now. Today, shares of MMX stock managed to push up by a modest 1.1% or so during early morning trading. It’s hard to say why MMX stock’s volume is up right now however, we have seen a sizable amount of momentum in the mining industry recently. 

While Maverix is not a mining stock in the traditional sense, it is a gold-focused royalty and streaming company. Maverix also holds a portfolio of more than 100 assets, which offers investors a broad opportunity to capitalize on the gold market. In the past few days, we’ve seen the price of gold and subsequent interest in gold stocks push up substantially. So, does this make MMX stock a worthwhile addition to your watchlist or not?

Penny_Stocks_to_Watch_Maverix

Are Penny Stocks Worth Buying Right Now?

If you’re looking for the best penny stocks to buy, there are hundreds of options to choose from. And while it can be difficult to land on ones that will consistently make you money, there are ways to increase your chances.

[Read More] These Hot Penny Stocks Are Climbing While the Stock Market is Down

The best method is to have a thorough understanding of what is going on in the market and how to take advantage. Considering all of this, do you think that penny stocks are worth buying right now or not?


If you enjoyed this article and you’re interested in learning how to trade so you can have the best chance to profit consistently then you need to checkout this YouTube channel. CLICK HERE RIGHT NOW!


The post Trading Penny Stocks? Top Stock Market News for January 26th, 2022 appeared first on Penny Stocks to Buy, Picks, News and Information | PennyStocks.com.

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