The ink was still wet on U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law in July 2010 when the wrangling began over how and how much to clamp down on trading by federally insured banks. Even though the financial reform act was passed, the devil is in the details of how regulators will actually implement it.
Nov 22 2013
Nov 16 2013
Janet Yellen, soon to be the head of the privately-owned Federal Reserve Bank (Fed), isn't revealing much on the truth about interest rates. But there was a thread to pull on.
This piece unravels multiple deceptions.
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From Janet Yellen’s April 4 speech, 2013:
Mesh Internet Allows Everybody Access To Free Peer-to-Peer Local Wireless Networks, Democratizing Free Speech and Free Information
Aug 20 2013
Open Technology Institute [OTI] recently held its first international training of Commotion Wireless technology in Dharamshala, India. Community from across India and Nepal gathered to learn about the free "mesh" wireless toolkit: software, documentation, and training materials.
Anyone can build their own local communications infrastructure. The training in India coincided with OTI’s May release of the latest developer’s version of Commotion, a major milestone in the project.
On May 1 WealthCycles summed up innovations such as these, born in the trough of a Kondratiev winter, as often what we would call revolutionary tech—the game-changing technological advances that permanently alter the course of humanity.
Aug 09 2013
A federal judge ruled this week that Bitcoins, a “digital crypto currency” that has been touted as a potential free market alternative to traditional, government-controlled currencies, is legally money.
The ruling came up in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against Texan Trendan Shavers, who is charged with committing fraud in a Bitcoin Ponzi scheme worth millions of dollars, according to an NBC News report. Shavers attempted to counter the SEC charges by claiming that Bitcoins are not money, therefore shares of his company, Bitcoin Savings & Trust (BTCST), are not securities, and therefore the SEC has no jurisdiction. The U.S. District judge put the kibosh on Shavers’ argument, stating:
Jul 19 2013
While mobile carriers and application developers like Google wrangle over virtual wallets and payment systems, carriers in parts of the developing world have long since implemented near-seamless mobile payments. “Mobile money,” or electronic payments via mobile phones, has displaced cash in parts of Africa. The remarkably easy and efficient system evolved as a market-based solution to real economic needs, but is now threatened by the heavy hand of corrupt governments.
The Globe and Mail describes how the system operates in Somalia. Telesom is the mobile telecommunications company offering the service named “Zaad”:
Jul 12 2013
India’s economy, one full of such potential, remained just on the edge of takeoff during the boom years of the 2000s. However, with high debt to GDP ratios and current accounts deficits, the Indian economy shows signs of real strain.
India’s bureaucracy, once the crown jewel of imperial administration, now serves to cripple the nation’s economic prosperity. Perennially named worst in Asia, the Indian bureaucracy stifles innovation in reams of paperwork and spools of red tape. It even has its own magazine, whose marketing message claims that the bureaucracy controls some 70% of India’s GDP.
Jun 07 2013
In the movie Superman III, Richard Pryor’s character launches a get-rich quick scheme by stealing the fractions of a cent left over in electronic transactions. Characters in the movie Office Space picked up the theme and made thousands. This financial chicanery, however, is no longer fictional. A trading practice known as High Frequency Trading (HFT) exploits minute changes in stock prices—most less than a penny—to garner huge profits from unfair advantages.
May 17 2013
On March 20, 2013, the Swiss People’s Party, considered a right-wing populist and nationalist party, collected enough signatures to force a referendum on Switzerland’s gold reserve. If passed the initiative would require the Swiss National Bank (SNB—the country’s central bank) to maintain at least 20% of its assets in gold, and mandates that the gold be kept entirely in Switzerland. The Swiss National Bank, not surprisingly, does not consider this a great idea.
Switzerland, the last issuer of paper currency backed by gold reserves, began reducing its reserves after the country’s new constitution took Switzerland off the gold standard in 2000. Previously, the SNB was mandated to keep at least 40% of the Swiss Franc in gold reserves. In the intervening 13 years, gold reserves have declined to 1040 metric tons, or approximately 10% of the SNB’s assets. Bringing the reserve up to the 20% threshold required by the referendum would cost approximately $50 billion, if they could find the volume for offer, that is.
Apr 27 2013
For every technological advance that man makes, there occurs a concurrent, or sometimes subsequent, shift in how humans interact with their world. This was true when fire was discovered, when the automobile was invented and, most recently, when the Internet became ubiquitous in most households.
For some, the Internet is the path to freedom, understanding and knowledge. For others it is feared, suspected and requires intense scrutiny and control.
Of all the issues raised by the advent of the Internet, security and privacy are two of the most divisive. For technology companies like Google and Yahoo, the need to increase and mine ever increasing amounts of personal data on individual users is preeminent. For governments, the fear of subversive activities motivates a desire for increased regulation and oversight. For users the fear of loss of privacy is a constant worry.
The current battle between Google and the European Union (EU) illustrates the tug-of-war between these three parties.
Mar 08 2013
After decades of political upheaval the country of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is now being hailed as a potentially lucrative market for serious investors. For a country that was, as recently as 2010, governed by a military junta, this is no small accomplishment. Like all emerging markets, however, investing in Myanmar is not without risks. To analyze the potential Myanmar offers, it is important to understand a bit of the country’s history.
Burma’s Turbulent History
Located on the Bay of Bengal and bordered by India, China, Thailand and Laos, Myanmar is a small country that was first established in 1057. The history of Myanmar has been one of turmoil and hardship, from invasion by the Mongols to years of being a province of British India.