The best (and worst) stories from 3 years of Cointelegraph Magazine
On Oct. 1, 2019, Cointelegraph Magazines founding editor, Jon Rice, pressed publish on the first-ever feature story for the publication a story by Swedish…
On Oct. 1, 2019, Cointelegraph Magazines founding editor, Jon Rice, pressed publish on the first-ever feature story for the publication a story by Swedish fintech writer Jinia Shawdagor about the countrys embrace of a cashless economy.
The brainchild of former Cointelegraph CEO Jay Cassano who was managing editor at the time Magazine was designed to fill a major gap in crypto media with in-depth features exploring all angles of the issues in a thoughtful, considered way. While its easier to get traffic writing breathless stories about Bitcoin price predictions, Magazine is an attempt to give readers and the industry a more intelligent approach.
I came on board after meeting the team at Cointelegraphs conference in Singapore. Due to an amusing mix-up between Austria (where a story they wanted to cover was based) and Australia (where I actually live), I was commissioned to write Magazines seventh-ever published article, Blockchain startups think justice can be decentralized, but the jury is still out.
This stroke of good fortune led me to become a staff writer, and later to take over as editor after Rice moved on (hes now editor-in-chief of Blockworks). Three years on, Magazine has amassed a great team of regular contributors, including Blockland author Elias Ahonen who joined after being interviewed for a story on physical Bitcoin Andrew Singer, Max Parasol of the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, Christos Makridis of Stanford University, and freelance crypto writers Jillian Godsil and Julian Jackson. Magazine is always looking for more contributors, so if you would like to write for the publication, get in touch.
Without further ado, here are some of the highlights (and a couple of lowlights) of the first three years of Cointelegraph Magazine.
Andrew Fenton, Cointelegraph Magazine editor
The most popular stories
WTF happened in 1971 (and why the f**k it matters so much right now)
The most consistently popular story on the site explores whether former U.S. President Richard Nixons decision to get rid of the gold standard, which backed U.S. dollars with gold, caused a host of social and economic problems. Since 1971, productivity increased while wages flatlined; GDP surged, but the share going to workers plummeted; and house prices went through the roof. Is it causation or merely correlation?
How to prepare for the end of the bull run, Part 1 and Part 2
Essential reading before the next bull run, we spoke with some of the most respected pundits in crypto including Filbfilb, Mati Greenspan and Scott Melker about how to play the inevitable crash. TLDR: Always take profits on the way up.
Toss in your job and make $300K working for a DAO? Heres how
Nataliya Ilyushina and Trent MacDonald transformed their own academic research into a fascinating article about how some of the employees involved in the great resignation transformed their lives by working for DAOs. (Readers also flocked to our similar explainer on how to set up a DAO, How to bake your own DAO at home With just 5 ingredients!)
Childs play: Gajesh Naik, 13, manages a fortune in DeFi
The headline says it all: A 13-year-old kid from Goa in India is managing a million-dollar DeFi platform. Would you trust a seventh grader with your life savings?
5 big questions answered
Can Bitcoin survive a Carrington Event knocking out the grid?
Should crypto projects ever negotiate with hackers?
What really goes on at a crypto OTC desk?
10 great features
The FBIs takedown of Virgil Griffith for breaking sanctions, firsthand
Author Ethan Lou attended the infamous North Korean crypto conference alongside Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith, who is now serving five years in prison for helping the country evade sanctions using crypto. Lous article portrays Griffith as so dangerously naive that he volunteered much of the evidence the FBI used to convict him.
Ethereum is eating the world You only need one internet
Zero-knowledge proofs and recursive scaling mean the entire worlds financial system could theoretically run on Ethereum. Reader feedback was very positive, with many commenting this was one of the few things ever written about zk-Rollups that attempted to explain it in simple terms for ordinary people.
NFT art revolution: Beeple on his 5,040-day labor of love
Magazine profiled NFT artist Beeple shortly before he found global fame for auctioning his Everydays work for $69 million. He already knew it was going to be a big deal, telling Magazine it was Christies first totally digital auction and that it would accept Ether. There will be no physical piece; theyre literally just auctioning off a JPEG. And so, I think that will be a very big moment, and big validation for this space.
The lizard people invented Bitcoin: Crypto is a hotbed for conspiracy theories
With the pandemic getting into full swing in 2020 and paranoia running rampant on Crypto Twitter, Magazine decided to find out why crypto fans are drawn to conspiracy theories. It turns out there are some very good reasons, not least because there really are shadowy actors manipulating events behind the scenes in crypto.
How Silk Road made your mailman a dealer
One of Magazines earliest published stories explores how Bitcoin came to public attention after being adopted for use on the darknet marketplace Silk Road. Containing a detailed first-person narrative on how one actually bought drugs or other illegal stuff on the darknet, its perhaps not surprising that the author remained anonymous.
The crypto effect: Trading altcoins at the edge of addiction
Photojournalist Matt Danzico looked at how traders were spiraling into addiction and the emerging treatment options to wean them away from their next crypto rush.
Block by block: Blockchain technology is transforming the real estate market
Imagine owning a token representing a two-millionth share of the Empire State Building. Analysts say that tokenized real estate could be worth $1.4 trillion if it captures just half a percent of the global property market.
Is Ethereum left and Bitcoin right?
Does the battle between conservative Bitcoiners who want to preserve the best money in history and progressive Ethereans who want to push things forward mirror our divided political culture? Yes, it does.
Soulbound Tokens: Social credit system or spark for global adoption?
When Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin unveiled his Soulbound Tokens paper, there was a lot of heat but not much light shed on how theyd actually work in practice. Magazine spoke with Buterins co-author Glen Weyl to get the lowdown on this important new development.
Crypto kids fight Facebook for the soul of the Metaverse
Meta is throwing everything it has into dominating the Metaverse like Facebook dominated social for so long, but Web3 proponents are fighting to make it open source and decentralized.
Most fascinating people
Dmitry Buterin: Vitalik Buterins dad revealed his own fascinating life story as a computer scientist and entrepreneur who left Russia to make it in Toronto. He spoke about raising Vitalik, psychedelics, libertarianism and philosophy.
Damien Hirst: Magazine spoke with the legendary British artist in his West London studio ahead of the launch of his innovative The Currency NFT project.
Roger Ver: Bitcoin Jesus dropped a bombshell that rather than go to prison in 2002 for selling firecrackers, hed considered killing himself to be cryogenically revived at a later date.
Peter McCormack: The podcaster told a story about how his flirtation with using Bitcoin to buy cocaine on Silk Road left him hospitalized and how he made and lost a fortune twice.
David Chaum: The crypto pioneer whose work inspired the cypherpunks told Magazine about how he risked a lifetime in jail laying the foundation for Bitcoin.
Carl The Moon Runefelt: The social media influencer genuinely believes that he manifested his crypto wealth simply by believing he would get wealthy, recalling the premise of the pseudoscientific bestseller The Secret.
Tim Draper: The former Bitcoin billionaire (down to half a billion now) shared his tips for investing success and his glass-half-full philosophy. Instead of looking for what could go wrong, he thinks: What if it works and something really extraordinary happens?
Lushsux: The controversial Melbourne street artist has been engaged in strategic trolling for a decade now and more recently began to make a name for himself and a small fortune with NFTs.
Chris Blec: DeFis loudmouth troublemaker is a decentralization maxi. Is he good or bad for decentralized finance?
Griff Green: The DOGE-loving hippy white hat hacker who quickly replicated The DAO hackers exploit to steal as much of its Ether before the hacker could get away with the lot.
The worst: Rogues gallery
January and February 2021 were something of a low point for Magazine, as three profiles of industry figures came out in quick succession who went on to become the biggest crypto villains of 2022: Celsius founder Alex Mashinsky, FTX and Alameda founder Sam Bankman-Fried and Member of the European Parliament Eva Kaili who was recently charged after investigators allegedly found bags of cash from bribes in her apartment.
Reading them back, the Mashinsky profile from January 2021 stands up okay and included criticism of the firms abrupt $20 million raise, the absurd cult around him, rumors Celsius was taking risks, and a choice quote from podcaster Peter McCormack, who said the blokes a weirdo and he needs to get his act together.
A month later, the SBF profile was far too willing to take his effective-altruism spin at face value and likened it to robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Maybe without the robbing part, Bankman-Fried said, without a trace of irony. In reality, prosecutors say he was robbing from the poor FTX users so Alameda could make risky bets.
That same month, the biggest crypto proponent in the European Parliament, Kaili, possibly shed light on why she might prefer (alleged) cash bribes to crypto ones, telling Magazine that between me and you, I think the best way to get the ones that want to tax-evade is to put them on blockchain, because nothing is ever gone forever.
Best of the global coverage
While much of crypto media is focused on the U.S., Magazine has made a conscious effort to report on the best stories from around the world.
In Georgia, crypto is a crucial tool for refugees escaping the war
Cointelegraphs European editor Aaron Wood relocated from Saint Petersburg in Russia to Tbilisi, Georgia at the start of the Ukrainian invasion. He shared the story of how Russian refugees used crypto to move assets across borders and stayed afloat by trading crypto for cash at Tbilisis physical exchanges.
Crypto in the Philippines (Part 1) and The ethics of hiring cheap Filipino staff (Part 2).
The first part of our series looked at crypto adoption in the Philippines, while the second looked at the ethics of crypto projects hiring cheap Filipino labor. The latter story was named one of the best articles of the month in February 2021 by the Association of Cryptocurrency Journalists and Researchers.
Inside the Iranian Bitcoin mining industry
Tehran-based journalist Saeed Jalili went deep inside the Iranian Bitcoin mining industry, which is dominated by illegal, underground mines.
Thailands Crypto Utopia 90% of a cult, without all the weird stuff
Magazine visited Thailand to cover the crypto digital nomad scene and stumbled across this insane story about how Bitcoin OG Kyle Chasse set up a libertarian Bitcoin commune. The tale involved unchecked merrymaking, crypto influencers, police grillings, seasteading, a reported $20,000-a-month burn rate and a major collision between idealism and reality.
What its actually like to use Bitcoin in El Salvador
Joe Hall spent two weeks in the Central American country trying to pay for everything with Bitcoin. It didnt work out so well, even at Bitcoin Beach.
Our popular China-based crypto news round-up from Our Man in Shanghai ran throughout 2021 but was put on ice following the great China crypto crackdown. Its returning soon with a wider focus on Asia and a new writer who isnt physically based in China and, as such, doesnt need to fear repercussions for speaking their mind.
Magazines guides to the crypto history, businesses, meetups, services and education in cities around the world kicked off with Melbourne (Australia) in August 2021. It has since visited Vancouver (Canada), San Francisco (U.S.), Prague (Czech Republic), Miami (U.S.), Dubai (UAE), Austin (U.S.), New York (U.S.) and Tokyo (Japan).
Lower mortgage rates fueling existing home sales
To understand why we had such a beat in sales, you only need to go back to Nov. 9, when mortgage rates started to fall from 7.37% to 5.99%.
Existing home sales had a huge beat of estimates on Tuesday. This wasn’t shocking for people who follow how I track housing data. To understand why we had such a beat in sales, you only need to go back to Nov. 9, when mortgage rates started to fall from 7.37% to 5.99%.
During November, December and January, purchase application data trended positive, meaning we had many weeks of better-looking data. The weekly growth in purchase application data during those months stabilized housing sales to a historically low level.
For many years I have talked about how rare it is that existing home sales trend below 4 million. That is why the historic collapse in demand in 2022 was one for the record books. We understood why sales collapsed during COVID-19. However, that was primarily due to behavior changes, which meant sales were poised to return higher once behavior returned to normal.
In 2022, it was all about affordability as mortgage rates had a historical rise. Many people just didn’t want to sell their homes and move with a much higher total cost for housing, while first-time homebuyers had to deal with affordability issues.
Even though mortgage rates were falling in November and December, positive purchase application data takes 30-90 days to hit the sales data. So, as sales collapsed from 6.5 million to 4 million in the monthly sales data, it set a low bar for sales to grow. This is something I talked about yesterday on CNBC, to take this home sale in context to what happened before it.
Because housing data and all economics are so violent lately, we created the weekly Housing Market Tracker, which is designed to look forward, not backward.
From NAR: Total existing-home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – vaulted 14.5% from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.58 million in February. Year-over-year, sales fell 22.6% (down from 5.92 million in February 2022).
As we can see in the chart above, the bounce is very noticeable, but this is different than the COVID-19 lows and massive rebound in sales. Mortgage rates spiked from 5.99% to 7.10% this year, and that produced one month of negative forward-looking purchase application data, which takes about 30-90 days to hit the sales data.
So this report is too old and slow, but if you follow the tracker, you’re not slow. This is the wild housing action I have talked about for some time and why the Housing Market Tracker becomes helpful in understanding this data.
The last two weeks have had positive purchase application data as mortgage rates fell from 7.10% down to 6.55%; tomorrow, we will see if we can make a third positive week. One thing to remember about purchase application data since Nov. 9, 2022 is that it’s had a lot more positive data than harmful data.
However, the one-month decline in purchase application data did bring us back to levels last seen in 1995 recently. So, the bar is so low we can trip over.
One of the reasons I took off the savagely unhealthy housing market label was that the days on the market are now above 30 days. I am not endorsing, nor will I ever, a housing market that has days on the market at teenager levels. A teenager level means one of two bad things are happening:
1. We have a massive credit boom in housing which will blow up in time because demand is booming, similar to the run-up in the housing bubble years.
2. We simply don’t have enough products for homebuyers, creating forced bidding in a low-inventory environment.
Guess which one we had post 2020? Look at the purchase application data above — we never had a credit boom. Look at the Inventory data below. Even with the collapse in home sales and the first real rebound, total active listings are still below 1 million.
From NAR: Total housing inventory registered at the end of February was 980,000 units, identical to January & up 15.3% from one year ago (850,000). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down 10.3% from January but up from 1.7 months in February ’22. #NAREHS
However, with that said, the one data line that I love, love, love, the days on the market, is over 30 days again, and no longer a teenager like last year, when the housing market was savagely unhealthy.
From NAR: First-time buyers were responsible for 27% of sales in January; Individual investors purchased 18% of homes; All-cash sales accounted for 28% of transactions; Distressed sales represented 2% of sales; Properties typically remained on the market for 34 days.
Today’s existing home sales report was good: we saw a bounce in sales, as to be expected, and the days on the market are still over 30 days. When the Federal Reserve talks about a housing reset, they’re saying they did not like the bidding wars they saw last year, so the fact that price growth looks nothing like it was a year ago is a good thing.
Also, the days on market are on a level they might feel more comfortable in. And, in this report, we saw no signs of forced selling. I’ve always believed we would never see the forced selling we saw from 2005-2008, which was the worst part of the housing bubble crash years. The Federal Reserve also believes this to be the case because of the better credit standards we have in place since 2010.
Case in point, the MBA‘s recent forbearance data shows that instead of forbearance skyrocketing higher, it’s collapsed. Remember, if you see a forbearance crash bro, hug them, they need it.
Today’s existing home sales report is backward looking as purchase application data did take a hit this year when mortgage rates spiked up to 7.10%. We all can agree now that even with a massive collapse in sales, the inventory data didn’t explode higher like many have predicted for over a decade now.
I have stressed that to understand the housing market, you need to understand how credit channels work post-2010. The 2005 bankruptcy reform laws and 2010 QM laws changed the landscape for housing economics in a way that even today I don’t believe people understand.
However, the housing market took its biggest shot ever in terms of affordability in 2022 and so far in 2023, and the American homeowner didn’t panic once. Even though this data is old, it shows the solid footing homeowners in America have, and how badly wrong the extremely bearish people in this country were about the state of the financial condition of the American homeowner.bankruptcy covid-19 federal reserve home sales mortgage rates housing market
SVB contagion: Australia purportedly asks banks to report on crypto
Australia’s prudential regulator has purportedly told banks to improve reporting on crypto assets and provide daily updates.
Australia’s prudential regulator has purportedly told banks to improve reporting on crypto assets and provide daily updates.
Australia’s prudential regulator has purportedly asked local banks to report on cryptocurrency transactions amid the ongoing contagion of Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) collapse.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has started requesting banks to declare their exposures to startups and crypto-related companies, the Australian Financial Review reported on March 21.
The regulator has ordered banks to improve their reporting on crypto assets and provide daily updates to the APRA, the Financial Review notes, citing three people familiar with the matter. The agency is aiming to obtain more information and insight into banking exposures into crypto as well as associated risks, the sources said.
The new measures are apparently part of the APRA’s increased supervision of the banking sector in the aftermath of recent massive collapses in the global banking system. On March 19, UBS Group agreed to buy its ailing competitor Credit Suisse for $3.2 billion after the latter collapsed over the weekend. The takeover became one of the latest failures in the banking industry following the collapses of SVB and Silvergate.
Barrenjoey analyst Jonathan Mott reportedly told clients in a note that the situation “remains stable” for Australian banks but warned confidence could be quickly disrupted, putting pressure on bank margins.
Related: Silvergate, SBV collapse ‘definitely good’ for Bitcoin, Trezor exec says
“Our channel checks indicate deposits are not being withdrawn from smaller institutions in any size, and capital and liquidity buffers are strong,” Mott said, adding:
“But this is a crisis of confidence and credit spreads and cost of capital will continue to rise. At a minimum, this will add to the margin pressure the banks are facing, while credit quality will continue to deteriorate.”
The news comes soon after the Australian Banking Association launched a cost of living inquiry to study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions on Australians. The inquiry followed an analysis of the rising inflation suggesting that more than 186 banks in the United States are at risk of a similar shutdown if depositors decide to withdraw all funds.cryptocurrency bitcoin crypto pandemic covid-19 crypto
Delta Move Is Bad News For Southwest, United Airlines Passengers
Passengers won’t be happy about this, but there’s nothing they can do about it.
Passengers won't be happy about this, but there's nothing they can do about it.
Airfare prices move up and down based on two major things -- passenger demand and the cost of actually flying the plane. In recent months, with covid rules and mask mandates a thing of the past, demand has been very heavy.
Domestic air travel traffic for 2022 rose 10.9% compared to the prior year. The nation's air traffic in 2022 was at 79.6% of the full-year 2019 level. December 2022 domestic traffic was up 2.6% over the year-earlier period and was at 79.9% of December 2019 traffic, according to The International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“The industry left 2022 in far stronger shape than it entered, as most governments lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions during the year and people took advantage of the restoration of their freedom to travel. This momentum is expected to continue in the New Year,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.
And, while that's not a full recovery to 2019 levels, overall capacity has also not recovered. Total airline seats available actually sits "around 18% below the 2019 level," according to a report from industry analyst OAG.
So, basically, the drop in passengers equals the drop in capacity meaning that planes are flying full. That's one half of the equation that keeps airfare prices high and the second one looks bad for anyone planning to fly in the coming years.
Airlines Face One Key Rising Cost
While airlines face some variable costs like fuel, they also must account for fixed costs when setting airfares. Personnel are a major piece of that and the pandemic has accelerated a pilot shortage. That has given the unions that represent pilots the upper hand when it comes to making deals with the airlines.
The first domino in that process fell when Delta Airlines (DAL) - Get Free Report pilots agreed to a contract in early March that gave them an immediate 18% increase with a total of a 34% raise over the four-year term of the deal.
"The Delta contract is now the industry standard, and we expect United to also offer their pilots a similar contract," investment analyst Helane Becker of Cowen wrote in a March 10 commentary, Travel Weekly reported.
US airfare prices have been climbing. They were 8.3% above pre-pandemic levels in February, according to Consumer Price Index, but they're actually below historical highs.
Southwest and United Airlines Pilots Are Next
Airlines have very little negotiating power when it comes to pilots. You can't fly a plane without pilots and the overall shortage of qualified people to fill those roles means that, within reason, United (UAL) - Get Free Report and Southwest Airlines (LUV) - Get Free Report, both of which are negotiating new deals with their pilot unions, more or less have to equal (or improve on) the Delta deal.
The actual specifics don't matter much to consumers, but the takeaway is that the cost of hiring pilots is about to go up in a very meaningful way at both United and Southwest. That will create a situation where all major U.S. airlines have a higher cost basis going forward.
Lower fuel prices could offset that somewhat, but raises are not going to be unique to pilots. Southwest also has to make a deal with its flight attendants and, although they don't have the same leverage as the pilots, they have taken a hard line.
The union, which represents Southwest’s 18,000 flight attendants, has been working without a contract for four years. It shared a statement on its Facebook page detailing its position Feb. 20.
"TWU Local 556 believes strongly in making this airline successful and is working to ensure this company we love isn’t run into the ground by leadership more concerned about shareholders than about workers and customers. Management’s methodology of choosing profits at the expense of the operation and its workforce has to change, because the flying public is also tired of the empty apologies that flight attendants have endured for years."
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