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Next Bitcoin bull run to be half story, half utility: Mike Novogratz at Token2049

The next Bitcoin rally will require fast and scalable systems, which the community is yet to build, Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz.



The next Bitcoin rally will require fast and scalable systems, which the community is yet to build, Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz.

The next Bitcoin (BTC) bull run will have to be much different from historical cryptocurrency rallies in terms of story and utility, Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz believes.

Compared to previous bull runs, the next Bitcoin rally will have to be more focused on utility and less on the story, Novogratz predicted at a panel at the Token2049 crypto event on Wednesday.

One of the biggest historical rallies, the Bitcoin bull run of 2017, was mostly about the story, the CEO said, referring to the cryptocurrency’s run from about $1,000 to $20,000 within one year.

According to Novogratz, the 2017 bull run was mostly about the story of people not trusting the government and wanting more privacy and decentralization. “It was a Gen Z millennial revolution. And it was global. That's a powerful story,” the CEO noted.

Another big rally, with Bitcoin hitting all-time highs above $69,000 in November 2021, was “really generated” by the COVID-19 pandemic, Novogratz said. He suggested that the price action in 2020 and 2021 was “probably 80% of the story and 20% of utility,” referring to the growing utility use case of digitalization amid the pandemic.

Mike Novogratz and Bloomberg's Haslinda Amin at Token2049. Source: Cointelegraph

“It's theory and all the other level ones started really accelerating the work to build a shared blockchain that we could build companies on top of,” Novogratz stated.

In contrast to the mentioned cryptocurrency bull runs, the next Bitcoin rally will have to be “50% story, 50% utility,” Novogratz predicted, stating:

“I see it's people building applications, people building systems that are fast and scalable and that are user friendly. We don't have them yet. That's why we're where we are. But in the next few years, they're coming.”

During the panel, Novogratz also revved up the audience with his bullish prediction of the “inevitability” that crypto will succeed.

“The word inevitable keeps coming up. There’s a sense of inevitability that we're in the right space, inevitable that Bitcoin will have its day,” Novogratz stated. He also expressed confidence that Web3 and nonfungible tokens will be a big part of the gaming space in the future.

Related: Bitcoin analyst who called 2018 bottom warns 'bad winter' may see $10K BTC

Additionally, the CEO noted that despite the ongoing cryptocurrency winter, Bitcoin has still performed better than a basket of various fiat currencies this year. “If you look at Bitcoin versus a basket of currencies, it's done about 20% better than versus the dollar,” Novogratz noted.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Novogratz has made some successful predictions about Bitcoin. Back in 2020, Novogratz predicted that Bitcoin would end the year above $20,000, which turned out to be an understatement, with Bitcoin nearing the $30,000 price mark by the end of 2020.

Additional reporting by Andrew Fenton.

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Chinese Data Dump Steamrolls Expectations, Setting Victorious Stage For Xi’s BRI Address

Chinese Data Dump Steamrolls Expectations, Setting Victorious Stage For Xi’s BRI Address

With Xi preparing to address delegates from 130 nations…



Chinese Data Dump Steamrolls Expectations, Setting Victorious Stage For Xi's BRI Address

With Xi preparing to address delegates from 130 nations around the world at the third Belt and Road Initiative Forum, we should not be too surprised if the deluge of Chinese macro data tonight - headlined by Q3 GDP - will beat expectations.

In fact, as Bloomberg's Chang Shu and David Qu noted, China’s recovery could be starting to get some traction, supported by stronger public investment and monetary easing, as weekly activity data rebounded in September...

...and overall China data has surprised more to the upside in recent months (admittedly against very weak expectations)...

However, bear in mind that base effects will dampen the year-on-year readings.

Growth in 2Q23 was flattered by a comparison with a depressed performance in 2Q22 caused by the Zero-COVID lockdowns. That boost will be gone in 3Q23, so most economists will be focused on the QoQ growth.

The Yuan has been relatively stable since the end of Q2, after plunging in Q1 and Q2...

And, despite all the pumping and support, China's Credit Impulse remains negative (for the 5th month in a row) as its real estate market continues to implode sucking up every yuan to fill the hole-filled bucket balance sheet of Chinese citizenry...

Oh and while we are discussing that, China Property Stock gauge plunged to its lowest since 2009...

So, eyes down for a fun night of 'adjustments' from Beijing.

China's GDP growth YoY in Q3 was expected to come in at +4.5% (down from +6.3% in Q2) but most eyes will be focused on the QoQ number (+0.9% exp) due to base effects from the COVID lockdowns.

The headline QoQ GDP printed +1.3% (better than expected).

Helped by a downward revision for Q2 from +0.8% to +0.5%. The headline YoY data beat expectations (+4.9% YoY vs +4.5% exp and +5.2% YTD YoY vs +5.0% YTD YoY exp)...

Industrial Production and Retail Sales beat expectations...



While the data show increasing consumer spending growth, the big downside is that China’s property slump is still deep and ongoing.



Worse still, the area of property sold fell 7.5% in September, lower than -7.1% seen the previous month.

Chinese unemployment miraculously tumbled to 5.0% - the lowest since Oct 2021.

Of course, China continues to hide its youth unemployment rate - after it reached record highs at 21.3% in June.

China's statistics bureau said in the release, overall, China’s economy continued to recover in the first three quarters, laying a “solid foundation” for achieving the full-year development goals. Although, China once again warned of the external environment, saying it is becoming more complex and severe.

Under the hood, the fastest growing retail sales categories relate to vice and virtue.

Tobacco and alcohol sales were up a massive 23.1% year-on-year, a remarkable number (the highest recorded since April 2021). Sports items sales surged 10.7%.

So to sum things up - while investment (especially property) continues to be ugly everything else beat (miraculously)

Michael Hirson of 22V Research says in a note he’s paying most attention to signs of any recovery in household and private sector demand.

Property sales and related indicators will provide a sense of whether recent easing measures are having an effect preliminary data suggest a pick-up in sales in the largest markets (tier 1 and some tier 2) but one that is thus far limited in its strength and breadth,” he wrote in a note.

On the consumption side, August showed some improvement in household spending on goods, rather than just services, and it will be important to see whether there are further signs of progress as reflected not only in monthly retail sales but also the quarterly survey of household income and spending.”

Given his thoughts, property sales and investments data were ugly - not a good sign... and on the consumption side, everyone was celebrating their non-job 'job'.

The bottom line from the data - China bottomed... a perfect narrative for Xi.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/17/2023 - 21:15

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They Bought A Ranch To Help Veterans, Then Came An Unexpected ‘Green Tax’ Bill

They Bought A Ranch To Help Veterans, Then Came An Unexpected ‘Green Tax’ Bill

Authored by Beth Brelje via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),




They Bought A Ranch To Help Veterans, Then Came An Unexpected 'Green Tax' Bill

Authored by Beth Brelje via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Dark thunderstorm clouds parted and a double rainbow appeared just as a family pulled up at Heroes Ridge at Raven Rock, home of Operation Second Chance, a nonprofit retreat that benefits wounded veterans and their families.

We thought we were entering heaven,” a family member said upon arrival, according to Cindy McGrew, the founder and CEO of Operation Second Chance.

Resident Cowboy Greg Maddox demonstrates the roping technique taught at Operation Second Chance in Sabillasville, Md., on Oct. 5, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

The picturesque mountaintop on the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania in the Blue Ridge Mountains really is a slice of heaven, Ms. McGrew told The Epoch Times; it's meant to help heal spirits broken by trauma experienced during military service.

Operation Second Chance hosts battle buddies, caregivers, families, groups, and individuals from around the United States in cabins accessible for amputees and wheelchair users.

The experience is free for guests, including travel expenses, activities, and food. The organization also provides grants to wounded veterans facing financial struggles, helping with house and car payments, medical supplies, and emergency assistance.

The Mason-Dixon line runs through the property, a former church camp, and nearby Camp David, the presidential retreat, can be seen in one direction. From a wooded peak in another direction, veterans can sit by a bonfire overlooking the iconic Gettysburg battlegrounds, watch the sun go down, and talk with others who understand what they have seen, what they face, and how they feel.

But, since Operation Second Chance bought the property in 2020, more dark clouds have loomed over Heroes Ridge. Two years after the organization bought the property, an unexpected tax bill arrived from Adams County, Pennsylvania.

The bill, for more than $92,000, is the sum of a seven-year claw-back of a property tax discount through Pennsylvania’s Clean and Green Environmental tax break program.

Operation Second Chance, a nonprofit retreat benefiting wounded veterans, is based at Heroes Ridge in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Clean and Green

Heroes Ridge is a 275-acre, mostly wooded property with 25 acres in Frederick County, Maryland and the rest in Adams County. The Frederick County portion is tax-exempt because Operation Second Chance is a nonprofit. But Adams County hasn't granted the same exemption.

We purchased this property in October of 2020, cleaned up the buildings that were already here, made them livable again and brought life back to them,” Ms. McGrew said. 

“Then last year, 2022, just a few days before Thanksgiving, I received a call saying it was a courtesy call because we were going to get a tax bill for just over $92,000. 

"I said 'well, that's impossible because we did a title search, and there was no money owed on the property, and we're paid up on our taxes.' And they said 'No, the property came out of Clean and Green when you purchased it.' And I had no idea what that meant.”

The Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act is a state law that allows qualifying land devoted to agricultural or forest use to be assessed at lower than fair market value through the Clean and Green land preservation program. It's intended to encourage property owners to keep most of their land in agricultural, open space, or forest, and not develop it. The program provides real estate tax relief and is favored by owners of large tracts of land.

The previous owner put the land in the Clean and Green program for forest preservation in 2011 and paid a lower tax rate, according to records from the Adams County Register and Recorder’s Office. Ms. McGrew continued to pay at that rate until she received that phone call.

The tax bill came with a fine for non-payment of $588 a day, Ms. McGrew said, which came to about $17,600 a month. Attorney Joseph Erb of Hanover, Pennsylvania, advised her to pay the bill to avoid racking up more fines and to then ask the county to return the money.

Cindy McGrew, founder and CEO of Operation Second Chance, was caught by surprise when she received the tax bill for over $92,000. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

By then, Operation Second Chance owed more than $93,000, so Ms. McGrew wrote a check to Adams County and paid the bill.

“I told them, you have just prevented me from providing emergency assistance to 50 to 70 families. Most donations are intended to go to the veterans, not to pay back taxes.”

Ms. McGrew is now asking for the money to be given back to the nonprofit. The Adams County Commissioners recently held a hearing on the matter and are expected to give their decision in mid-November.

We just feel like it's the right thing to do, to give the money back,” Ms. McGrew said. “I’m praying. I’ve lost so much sleep over this, and I’ve cried. I woke up in the night crying. And finally, one day, I looked at the tax bill, and I put it in my Bible, and I said Lord, I'm giving this to you because I can't worry about this anymore. I know things happen in his time. I'm praying that we get that tax money back so we can help other veterans.”

Operation Second Chance tightened its budget and cut some programs this year to account for the tax bill.

Normally, it gives $35,000 in scholarship money to high school seniors who have an injured family member, but this year it gave $10,000 in scholarship money. It also paid less in emergency financial assistance this year.

“It takes a lot to run this retreat center. We pay for everything for the veterans to come here. We pay for their flights—they're coming from all over the country. There's no cost to the veterans to come here. We want them to come here and be relaxed and just spend time bonding together, enjoying themselves.”

Tax Dispute

When a buyer purchases a property already enrolled in Clean and Green, they must update the program’s application with their information, which usually triggers an additional review of the status, Adams County Solicitor Sean Mott told The Epoch Times. The review determines if the property has had a change of use that could take the land out of the program and trigger a seven-year rollback of the amount of taxes that weren't paid due to the discount.

The memorial at the nonprofit, which provides grants to wounded veterans facing financial struggles. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

“In this case, it appears that the Tax Service Department sent a letter to Operation Second Chance on December 8th, 2020, indicating that they would need to file an amended application to determine whether the land continued to be used in accordance with Clean and Green,” Mr. Mott said. “That letter went unanswered, and so a second letter was sent on May 25, 2022, which also went unanswered.”

Ms. McGrew said she never received those letters, but in August of 2022, someone from the county tax office visited Operation Second Chance with a letter in hand regarding Clean and Green. That letter did not have the right address, she said, and was not addressed to the right person. She asked him to check his records, address them properly, and mail them to Operation Second Chance.

In Pennsylvania, exemption from taxation is allowed under two categories of landowners: religious organizations that use property for worship and “purely public charities,” so long as the land is actually used in furtherance of their charitable mission.

Operation Second Chance applied in 2022 for a tax exemption under the Institution of Purely Public Charity Act, Mr. Mott said, “Which was only granted in part, as they were only able to provide evidence of charitable use (i.e., the veterans retreat) for 26.95 acres of the roughly 250 acres (most of which is undeveloped). So, 26.95 acres of the total property are completely exempt from property taxes.”

Veterans can sit by a bonfire overlooking the iconic Gettysburg battlegrounds, and have conversations that create bonds between one another. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Now, Adams County considers the land on which the buildings are located as a nonprofit and exempt from taxes, but the undeveloped land—which Clean and Green seeks to preserve as forested land—is not being used enough by Operation Second Chance to qualify for the nonprofit tax exemption.

“Essentially, the activity that qualified Operation Second Chance for tax exemption under the Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act was an ineligible use under the Clean & Green Law,” Mr. Mott said. 

“However, even though a rollback was assessed for ineligible use under Clean and Green, Operation Second Chance was able to re-enroll that portion of the property that did not qualify for full exemption (about 220 acres), beginning in 2024. So, roughly 27 acres are fully exempt from taxation for charitable purposes, and 220 acres will receive preferential tax treatment under Clean and Green.”

The Veterans

In 2004, Ms. McGrew started visiting wounded veterans in Bethesda, Maryland, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Her brothers had served in Vietnam, and she vowed that she would always care for veterans.

At Walter Reed, she stood in for parents and spouses of the wounded when they could not be there, holding hands, listening to their concerns, and filling various needs that came up, such as purchasing a playpen for a visiting baby. Her coworkers handed her money and said, “Give this to your veterans.”

This morphed into Operation Second Chance, allowing Ms. McGrew to help more veterans. Since its start, Operation Second Chance has provided more than $9 million in assistance to veterans and their families through public donations.

We've got guys and gals that are surviving catastrophic injuries that they would not have survived in previous wars,” Ms. McGrew said. 

“Some are from rural America, they want to get out of a bad situation by joining the military, or they are very patriotic and wanted to take a stand and fight for our country. If they're wounded, they only get a percentage of that pay for life. If you saw their paycheck, for many of them, it's not enough to live on. If you're in Montgomery County, Maryland, for instance, you could not live on $1,700 a month, and that's what some will make. It depends on their rank. I don't have all the answers for that, but I know if [the nation] were doing our job, you wouldn’t need nonprofits.”

Many veterans wait until the last minute to ask for help, she said, hoping something in their circumstances will change.

Visitors to Heroes Ridge enter a gravel lane through an electronic security gate and drive about a mile uphill before cresting at the mountaintop where the main activities are located. There are several cabins for families, a recreation building, a chow hall, a main house and pool, and an outdoor arena for horses. An indoor horse-riding arena is planned where the outdoor arena is located so they can continue their horse program in all weather.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/17/2023 - 22:45

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It’s Time To Overhaul FOIA

It’s Time To Overhaul FOIA

Authored by  Curtis Schube & Gary Lawkowski via RealClear Wire,

When it comes to the federal government…



It’s Time To Overhaul FOIA

Authored by  Curtis Schube & Gary Lawkowski via RealClear Wire,

When it comes to the federal government and responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, it is so commonplace for federal agencies to drag their feet and not provide fully responsive documentation that it is not even newsworthy when those agencies do not comply with the law. Instead, they miss deadlines and redact perfectly responsive and unprivileged information. This runs contrary to the purpose of FOIA, which is to allow citizens access to the activities of their government.

Numerous examples abound, as evidenced by the fact that the number of FOIA cases being taken to court has ballooned over the past decade. Perhaps this is because, in this era of mistrust in our government, the number of requests has also increased dramatically. Agencies have responded in kind by demanding more from requesters. They are expected to know, and say, the correct combination of buzzwords (even officials’ email addresses at times!). This requires fluency with the agency’s inner workings, which all but the most sophisticated requesters do not have.

While FOIA has seen several reform efforts over the years, and several agencies have made small regulatory changes, few if any of these changes tend to make a dent. For instance, in 2016 Congress amended FOIA to establish an enhanced harm standard for agency redactions that was intended to limit abuse of the nine exemptions available to protect particularly sensitive, private, or deliberative information.

The amendment required agencies to conduct the harm analysis down to the sentence and even further. A few agencies took the reforms to heart, but for the stat, requesters still overwhelmingly receive large swaths of documents completely blacked out with conclusory statements citing one of the nine exemptions (i.e., virtually no attempt to segregate and produce all responsive parts of records).

From an agency’s perspective, the increased FOIA burden is often seen as a pointless distraction that devours scarce resources and whose noncompliance presents little to no consequences. The 2016 amendment – hailed as one of the most robust in the law’s history – bears this out. Reforms that don’t recognize and address agency incentives are doomed to fail. While requesters want greater transparency, federal bureaucrats typically just desire less work.

To this effect, we have identified a series of reforms that attempt to change agency incentives at the individual level, reduce backlogs for the most frequently requested records, and impose uniformity where there is arbitrary decision-making.       

One such mechanism is a dramatic expansion of proactive disclosure obligations to include the administrative record (which provides the rationale for government decisions), senior officials’ calendars and external communications (which shows outside influences on their actions), ethics records (which show potential conflicts of interest), and settlement agreements (which show the details of settlements between government and public interest groups). All of these records are vital to transparency and are a source of burden for the agencies (both in the search and production phases, as well as in the often unavoidable litigation phase). To be successful, agency compliance must be automatic and not subject to record custodians’ whims or bureaucrats’ prioritization with other incoming requests or duties.

Forcing agencies to take ownership over FOIA request backlogs, including consequences for noncompliance, would incentivize compliance. Reform could include limiting non-essential travel, such as conference attendance, unless FOIA request backlogs are caught up. Also, forcing the agencies to participate more actively in FOIA noncompliance litigation, rather than passing off the litigation to the Department of Justice, would force the agencies to take ownership of FOIA compliance.

Another problem is inconsistency among agencies, which lends credence to concerns of arbitrary hurdles being erected that reduce transparency. The same request can be sent to two different agencies. One response may be forthcoming, while the other restricts access to the same types of records. A simple solution could be an estoppel system whereby when one agency responds to a particular record, precedent is set for that type of record for all federal agencies. Finally, several categories of records unique to certain agencies, such as immigration or social security records, constitute a disproportionate amount of FOIA requests and could benefit from a separate process.

These changes are both significant and common sense. They would both reduce the workload of federal agencies and increase access to government records for the people. They are neither ideological nor controversial. Liberals and conservatives alike would benefit from these policies. In environment where the need for transparency is at an all-time high, now is the time to fundamentally reform FOIA and restore the law’s original intention: transparency.

Curtis Schube is the executive director for the Council to Modernize Governance, a think tank committed to making the administration of government more efficient, representative, and restrained. He is formerly a constitutional and administrative law attorney.

Gary Lawkowski is a lawyer with the Dhillon Law Group, where he advises and represents clients on legal issues including matters concerning the Freedom of Information Act. He previously served in government as counselor to the secretary of the interior, senior advisor to the Domestic Policy Council, and counsel to three commissioners on the Federal Election Commission.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/17/2023 - 22:05

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