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Stablecoin Adoption Skyrockets in Rural South Korean Province

Stablecoin Adoption Skyrockets in Rural South Korean Province

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A South Korean county with a population of mostly elderly residents has seen a strong rise in stablecoin adoption.

South Korea’s Buyeo County, located in the rural province of South Chungcheong, has been witnessing strong interest in a local blockchain-powered stablecoin since its creation in early 2019.

According to a report published by Donga, most of the county’s population is made up of elderly residents. Census data indicates that around 75,000 people live there in total. In 2019, the county created a local token named “Goodtrae Pay” at a cost of over $267,000.

Launched to increase contactless payments

As of press time, around $48.5 million in tokens have been used in an effort to strengthen the adoption of contactless payments. The system also uses a Near-Field-Communication, or NFC, based smart card that aims to provide residents with a payment method even if they don’t own a smartphone.

Figures published by Buyeo County showed that 54% of its residents have downloaded the app or used a smart card to pay with Goodtrae Pay. At least 8% of the tokens received by local businesses have not yet been cashed out into fiat.

Goodtrae Pay project was supported by a tech company named InJoyWorks Inc., who also cheered up for making the smart cards a zero-fee payment method for users.

Usage strengthened even before COVID-19

The county clarified that adoption was not boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They said that the asset’s bullish trend has been skyrocketing since the smart card was launched in late 2019.

Recently, the South Korean government announced its plans to invest over $48.2 billion in Blockchain and other Industry 4.0 technologies by 2025. The nation’s goal is to promote the digitization of all industries in the coming post-pandemic era.

Andong, a city in the Gyeongbuk province of South Korea, also announced on July 7 that they’ve been granted a permit to operate a free trade zone for industrial hemp.

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Commodities

The Case For Bitcoin To Separate Money From The State

By separating money from the government, Bitcoin takes the control of money out of the hands of politicians and gives it back to the citizens.

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By separating money from the government, Bitcoin takes the control of money out of the hands of politicians and gives it back to the citizens.

This is an opinion editorial by Ryan Bansal, a professional software engineer and author of a Bitcoin newsletter.

“The computer can be used as a tool to liberate and protect people, rather than to control them.” — Hal Finney

Technologies are just amplifiers, not arbiters of morality. By extrapolating from the above quote, it is within reason to claim that any technology can be both a tool for either tyranny or for freedom depending on whose hands are on the power lever.

The principle of checks and balances shows that in any kind of system that relies on concentrated power, that central institution becomes the honeypot for malicious actors. Also, keep in mind the democratic principle that more distributed decision-making is more robust and fair for any society. So it sounds like a no-brainer that the best way moving forward is to develop and adopt technologies with no single ultimate power lever?

Having said that, let’s now talk about one of the most important technologies of all: money. In the evolution of monetary technology from barter systems to seashells to metal coins to gold-backed banknotes and now a central-bank-controlled fiat digital currency, the power distribution has gone from being more decentralized to being more centralized to the point where governments have managed to establish a coercive monopoly on money.

Now, I think it is a fairly non-controversial statement to say: Government corrupts anything it touches. Sure, the convenience of digital money is unmatched, but it is also important to understand the other side of it, i.e., the counterparty risk, which means needing to trust a custody provider to secure your assets — along with the fact that the historical track record of keeping this trust is not great.

However fortunately or unfortunately, recently this breach in the contract has started to happen more widely and openly. Take for example a developed democratic country like Canada, freezing the bank accounts of its citizens for protesting against COVID-19 restrictions or a country like Russia putting restrictions on its people trying to withdraw their funds after the country invaded its neighbor. In a world run purely on physical cash, this kind of power to unconstitutionally violate private property rights would be impossible to execute.

(Source)

Apart from the worsening financial censorship and geopolitical sanctions — which are a relatively recent phenomenon now that money has become almost fully digital — the corruption arising from the advent of fiat money and its problems goes further back to 1971. What do I mean? The plethora of metrics one can use to measure the health of an economy like index funds price-earnings ratios, Gini index for wealth inequality, consumer price index for inflation and cost of living, the ratio of income growth versus productivity growth, individual homeownership rates and many others have all gone haywire since the then President Richard Nixon decided to move away from the gold standard.

If you haven’t guessed the next move of governments by now, allow me to introduce you to central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Think today’s digital money is bad enough as is? Now imagine what if it was also programmable?

You can say goodbye to any last sliver of financial autonomy. Before we know it, we’ll be living in a surveillance state with social credit scores, just like the Chinese citizens. If you’ve seen politicians trying to put a positive spin on them by randomly throwing around buzzwords, like “blockchain,” go back to the top of this article and read the first line again.

The problems that the government creates can be spoken of at great lengths, but let us move on to the solution: How to take the control of money out of the hands of politicians and give it back to the citizens?

“I don’t believe we shall ever have good money again before we take it out of the hands of governments.” — Friedrich Hayek

Imagine if our monetary system had the privacy and autonomy of cash; the convenience of being instantly and digitally transferrable all over the globe; all the while also retaining the properties of gold, i.e., nobody can steal your purchasing power over time by arbitrarily manipulating its supply only to serve their perverse political incentives?

Moreover, what if it was also running on an open-source codebase and used a public database making it globally accessible, completely transparent and fully auditable by anyone? Plus, what if it also allowed anyone with an internet connection and a computer the ability to weigh in on its monetary policy?

Finally, what if the proposed system was also decentralized in a way that it becomes impossible to stop, controlled or corrupted by anyone due to the lack of a single point of failure or by any central authority?

Sounds like a monetary technology on steroids, doesn’t it? Well, in 2008, a solution to these problems was proposed by someone using the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. I’d also like to highlight that it didn’t just come out of the blue, it has been in the making ever since the central bankers established control over the money. More precisely, it took almost 40 years of research and multiple failed attempts to engineer this masterpiece. The following visual is more tangible:

(Source)

I’d like to close by reiterating that the notion of separation of the money from the State may seem radical to you at first, but it is actually not. As I mentioned before, the monetary technologies we’ve used throughout most of our history were way more outside of the state control than current fiat money. In one way or another, the State managed to capture them. Gold is the best example of such a non-sovereign asset that people used as money for the longest time, but it had obvious attack vectors in the form of various physical limitations, i.e., hard to store, hard to secure and hard to move.

Historically speaking, there has been a tug-of-war between fiat and non-government monies. Therefore, the real issue at hand is not one of “if” money will separate from government control, but of “when.” With Bitcoin, I think the moment is finally here.

Now obviously if this article has not managed to fully convince you how Bitcoin was designed to be a truly democratic and inclusive monetary system and if you still insist on calling it a scam, I hope you’ll at least consider it is something worth taking a harder look at.

This is a guest post by Ryan Bansal. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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Government

CDC Admits It Gave False Information About COVID-19 Vaccine Surveillance

CDC Admits It Gave False Information About COVID-19 Vaccine Surveillance

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The…

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CDC Admits It Gave False Information About COVID-19 Vaccine Surveillance

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is admitting it gave false information about COVID-19 vaccine surveillance, including inaccurately saying it conducted a certain type of analysis over one year before it actually did.

A general view of the Centers for Disease Control headquarters in Atlanta on April 23, 2020. (Tami Chappell/AFP via Getty Images)

The false information was conveyed in responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the results of surveillance, and after the CDC claimed COVID-19 vaccines are being monitored “by the most intense safety monitoring efforts in U.S. history.”

“CDC has revisited several FOIA requests and as a result of its review CDC is issuing corrections for the following information,” a CDC spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an email.

No CDC employees intentionally provided false information and none of the false responses were given to avoid FOIA reporting requirements, the spokeswoman said.

Heart Inflammation

The Epoch Times in July submitted a FOIA, or a request for non-public information, to the CDC for all reports from a team that was formed to study post-vaccination heart inflammation by analyzing reports submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a system run by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The CDC not only said that the team did not conduct any abstractions or reports through October 2021, but that “an association between myocarditis and mRNA COVID-19 vaccination was not known at that time.”

That statement was false.

Clinical trials of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines detected neither myocarditis nor pericarditis, two types of heart inflammation. But by April 2021, the U.S. military was raising the alarm about post-vaccination heart inflammation, and by June 2021, the CDC was publicly acknowledging a link.

The CDC previously corrected the false statement but did not say whether its teams had ever analyzed VAERS reports.

In reference to myocarditis abstraction from VAERS reports—this process began in May 2021 and continues to this date,” the CDC spokeswoman said in an email.

The CDC has still not released the results of analyses.

Data Mining

The CDC promised in January 2021 that it would perform a specific type of data mining analysis on VAERS reports called Proportional Reporting Ratio (PRR). But when Children’s Health Defense, a nonprofit, asked for the results, the CDC said that “no PRRs were conducted by the CDC” and that data mining “is outside of th[e] agency’s purview.”

Asked for clarification, Dr. John Su, who heads the CDC’s VAERS team, told The Epoch Times in an email that the CDC started performing PRRs in February 2021, “and continues to do so to date.”

The CDC is now saying that both the original response and Su’s statement were false.

The agency didn’t start performing PRRs until March 25, 2022, the CDC spokeswoman said. The agency stopped performing them on July 31, 2022.

The spokeswoman said it “misinterpreted” both Children’s Health Defense and The Epoch Times.

Children’s Health Defense had asked for the PRRs the CDC had performed from Feb. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2021. The Epoch Times asked if the response to the request was correct.

The spokeswoman said the CDC thought “data mining” referred only to Empirical Bayesian (EB) data mining, a different type of analysis that the Food and Drug Administration has promised to perform on VAERS data.

“The notion that the CDC did not realize we were asking about PRRs but only data mining in general is simply not credible, since our FOIA request specifically mentioned PRRs and their response also mentioned that they did not do PRRs. They did not say ‘data mining in general,'” Josh Guetzkow, a senior lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem who has been working with Children’s Health Defense, told The Epoch Times via email.

There is also no credible reason why they waited until March 31, 2022, to calculate PRRs, unless it was in response to our initial FOIA filed in December 2021, which was rejected on March 31, 2022—the same day they say they began their calculations. It means the CDC was not analyzing VAERS for early warning safety signals for well over a year after the vaccination campaign began—which still counts as a significant failure,” he added.

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Tyler Durden Fri, 08/12/2022 - 15:40

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Economics

How to fix the pensions triple lock but still protect pensioners from high inflation

The reintroduction of the pensions triple lock means the increase in weekly payments could vastly outpace earnings growth

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The triple lock increases some benefits payments by inflation, earnings or 2.5%, whichever is highest. Max_Z / Shutterstock

Plans to increase state pension payments in line with inflation have been reinstated by the UK government and are supported by both of the contenders for the Conservative party leadership. But even if inflation was not always at the 40-year high we are currently seeing, a more sustainable way of calculating pensioners’ state income is needed.

The pensions triple lock was first introduced in the June 2010 budget. It means annual increases in payments are made in line with the highest out of earnings growth (6.2% as of May 2022), price inflation (currently 9.4%) or 2.5%.

The triple lock was suspended for one year in April 2022 as the end of the COVID-19 furlough scheme inflated average earnings growth. The government is now bringing it back in time for the annual update in pension and other state payments, which will come into effect in April 2023. The annual increase will be set by the government in the autumn. With inflation high and rising (the Bank of England expects it to reach 13% by October), it will be the measure used for the increase.

Inflation of more than 10% will see the value of a full basic state pension climb past £155 a week, while that of the new state pension – available to those reaching the state pension age since April 2016 – will increase to more than £200 a week. Since earnings are currently growing less quickly than inflation, a rise in pension income will be greater than any increase in average earnings. In other words, people receiving state pension payments will typically see stronger income growth than those relying on earned income.

As a result, the current period of higher growth in prices than in earnings has brought the triple lock into question. This is because it protects the value of state pensions when earnings growth is weak (as it is now) but will also continue to increase with any subsequent recovery in earnings.

A recent report from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) shows why this approach is unsustainable. While inflation is spiking at the moment, the OBR believes it will average 2% over the long term and that average earnings growth will be around 3.8%. But it also thinks the triple lock will imply an average annual increase of 4.3% for pensions. This is because of volatility in the two sets of figures: while often earnings will grow faster than prices, on occasion that is not the case.

Unexpected expense

As such, maintaining the triple lock would see the value of the basic state pension and new state pension continue to grow faster than average earnings, pushing up government spending on state pensions. Overall, the OBR report projects that state pension spending will increase from 4.8% of national income in 2021–2022 to 8.1% in 50 years time, an increase of 3.2% of national income, which is equivalent to more than £80 billion a year in today’s terms. This is despite further rises in the state pension age. And the use of the triple lock will be a key driver of this increase, not average earnings growth.

When the triple lock was first introduced in the June 2010 Budget it was not expected to be this expensive. If the triple lock had been used over the 19 years prior to its launch, from 1991 to 2009, it would only have been more generous than increases in line with average earnings growth on three occasions. And so, overall, it would have caused state pension increases averaging just 0.1% a year more than if it was calculated using average earnings indexation.

In contrast, over the 12 years from 2010 to 2021, since the policy was first implemented, triple lock indexation would have been more generous than average earnings indexation on eight occasions, according to my calculations based on ONS figures. This would have caused state pension increases averaging 1% a year faster than average earnings indexation.

As such, the triple lock has already been significantly more expensive than expected. It was initially estimated to have cost £450 million in 2014–15, but subsequent OBR analysis suggests that it actually cost six times more – or £2.9 billion. This is clearly not sustainable, particularly amid the current economic downturn.

Older man at laptop with phone
There are more sustainable ways to calculate state pension payments in the current economic environment. astarot / Shutterstock

Finding more sustainable solutions

One solution put forward in the Conservatives’ 2017 general election manifesto was to move to a double lock, where the pension would increase by the greater of growth in prices or earnings. So the 2.5% underpin would no longer exist. In recent years inflation has been greater than earnings or 2.5%, and sometimes both earnings and inflation have been below 2.5%. So the triple lock has been more generous than earnings indexation, and a double lock would also have been more generous than earnings indexation (but not as generous as a triple lock).

But over the period from 2010 to 2021, a double lock still would still have seen the state pension increase by an average of 0.7% a year more than average earnings growth, according to my calculations. So while it would not be as expensive as the triple lock, it’s still not fiscally sustainable over the longer term.

Another option is to move to directly link pensions to average earnings. This was legislated by the Labour government in 2007 following the recommendations of the Pensions Commission. Such a policy could be fiscally sustainable over the long term, if implemented alongside state pension age increases due to rising longevity. But it would mean that in periods where earnings growth was running below inflation (such as now) there would be a real squeeze on pensioners’ incomes.

There is an alternative that would both be as generous as (but not more generous than) earnings indexation over the long term, but that would also preserve the real (inflation-adjusted) value of state pensions in years in which earnings were not keeping pace with prices. Instead of a triple lock, the government could set a target level for the state pension relative to average earnings – let’s say that pensions should be worth 25% of average earnings every year. If this target was 10% more than current pension payments, for example, the government could set a longer-term strategy for meeting that target by increasing payments in smaller annual increments. If prices grow faster than earnings one year, the government could make pension payments price-indexed and then adjust in subsequent years to remain on track for the target, if needed.

This would preserve the real value of state pensions without locking in unsustainable increases at times when earnings are growing faster than prices (as happens under a triple or double lock). It would protect pensioners from inflation while following a target. For whoever ends up being chancellor in the autumn, this could be a way to help improve long-term public finances.

The support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is gratefully acknowledged (grant reference ES/W001594/1), as co-funding from the Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy (ES/T014334/1) at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Over the last three years, I have also received research grants from the following parties, who may be interested in the topic and findings but who have had no material interest in this work nor any engagement with it: • Centre for Ageing Better • Department for Work and Pensions • Social Security Administration • Nuffield Foundation • As part of a consortium of funders of research into retirement and savings: Age UK, Aviva UK, Association of British Insurers, Association of Consulting Actuaries, Canada Life, Chartered Insurance Institute, Department for Work and Pensions, Interactive Investor, Investment Association, Legal and General Investment Management, Money and Pensions Service, and Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association. I am Deputy Director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In addition I am a member of the Social Security Advisory Committee and of the advisory panel of the Office for Budget Responsibility.

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