Chasing ICOs (away?)

Recent events seem to suggest the cryptocurrency bubble is finally starting to deflate. Bitcoin, Ethereum and most of their crypto cousins are significantly down while regulators in several countries are finally beginning to take action on the ground. Nobel laureate economists are also speaking up against the digital currency, arguing that the new currency is not capable of fulfilling the three core functions that define money.

Does this mean that ICOs are on the way out?

If we look at the latest ICO data,((Data was obtained from tokendata.io. Sample size includes 1032 ICOs completed by the end of 31 January 2018. 485 or 47% percent did not report any funding. The total number of successful ICOs is thus 547. The DAO ICO is not included as it is considered a failure. Hdac, quoted by some

Read More

Cryptocurrencies and Development

While not the only cryptocurrency around, Bitcoin was the first to solve the well-known double-spending problem that characterizes digital currencies. Tackling the issue demanded the creation of blockchain technology (BCT) combined with the use of a brute force algorithm known as proof of work.

Created in 2009, Bitcoin is now one of the largest (and most unstable) currency in the world (Says & Says, 2017). Launched in the fringes of the Internet and initially used only by computer geeks, the cryptocurrency has now become a hot financial asset attracting both traditional and new investors. Word out there is that Bitcoin billionaires do not spend because they fear losing money as Bitcoin rapidly appreciates over time and ad infinitum (Tucker, 2017).

Bitcoin and its crypto-cousins have

Read More

The Butterfly Effect

The weather forecast indicated that heavy rain will commence overnight, lasting close to 36 hours and, in the process, dumping from 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 centimeters) on the ground. Yes, a lot of rain was expected. But I had to find a break in the rain to be able to go out and complete my planned running session.

The night before the local weather person told the audience a two-hour rain break in the early morning was in the works. With this in mind, the first thing I did when I woke up the next morning was to check the cool radar option on the mobile app that shows the future path of the incoming rain. Indeed, the radar showed that between 7:45am and 9:15, more or less, the storm will be missing in action in my location.

I started my session at around 7:55am. It was drizzling. Fifteen

Read More

Blockchain ICOs Revisited

A couple of weeks ago, Coindesk launched an ICO tracker which seems quite comprehensive and includes data starting in 2014. It has information on 164 ICOs1 I downloaded the data on 18 August but was unable to replicate some of the charts Coindesk has on its web site. The data I downloaded ends on 27 July of this year whereas the  Coindesk site includes data until 31 July. and the data is expected to be updated every week or so.

In a recent post,  I shared some insights on the nature of ICOs. In a nutshell, ICOs should not be equated with crowdfunding nor are they comparable to the more traditional IPOs. What has really changed since my initial posting is the fact that SEC is now planning to get involved in the process and will soon start to regulate how ICOs are run and managed. In the

Read More

Endnotes   [ + ]

1. I downloaded the data on 18 August but was unable to replicate some of the charts Coindesk has on its web site. The data I downloaded ends on 27 July of this year whereas the  Coindesk site includes data until 31 July.

Tax Season 2017

Spring finally arrived but today feels more like summer. Not sure it will last but in I know New York Springs usually tend to be relatively short. Summer seems to always be extremely eager to enter the scene.

In any event, the arrival of Spring is always associated with the US deadlines for submitting taxes, the so-called Tax Day. The usual date is 15 April which works as long as it does not fall on a Friday or over the weekend. This time around it falls on a Saturday so the official deadline for filing 2016 income is Tuesday 18 April.

Filing taxes have also benefited from the rapid development of new technologies, the Internet included. Now it is possible to use one of the many online tax platforms to file one’s taxes. Some of them are free but most will charge between 30 and 50 USD

Read More

Towards a Philosophy of Technology

Written back in 1984, the content of Albert Borgmann’s book loudly resonates today.

Borgmann argues that contemporary life is shaped by technology that stamps its imprint all over the place, and can even define its whole character. However, such pattern is not usually evident nor always utterly dominant as technology has to compete with other factors while simultaneously threatening to obliterate some aspects of our lives.

The book is an attempt to study these phenomena which demand a robust analytical framework. The first and shorter part of the books attempts to develop this. Part 2 considers the character of technology or what the author calls the pattern of technology and its central traits in modern society. And section 3 of the book deals with the issue of reforming technology to

Read More

More on Measuring Human Development

In a previous blog we examined the relation between GDP and the Human Development Index (HDI) which has been published annually for the last 25 years by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). In this post, I want to dive a bit deeper into the latter and explore some of its potential policy implications.

HDI components and calculation

The HDI has three main components or subindexes: Income, health and education (or knowledge). Statistical indicators used to estimate the first two components are: Gross national Income per capita (GNI) and life expectancy. The education subindex comprises two indicators: literacy and quality of education. One can thus think of the HDI as a 3D index where each of the subindexes constitutes one of its three orthogonal axis. And the HDI is the point in that 3D space

Read More

Is Postcapitalism on its way?

For most people, including many well-known economists, the 2007 global economic crisis was a rude awakening: It seemed to have come out of nowhere, but it certainly managed to capitalism-crashbring deep pain to billions of people – and pockets. Soon thereafter, calls to revisit Marx’s theory of capitalism became frequent from both left and right. After all, it seemed he had a plausible explanation for what had just happened.

Nine years later we all can easily agree that capitalism has not collapsed – at least not yet. But has it reach its limits?  The latest book by Paul Mason tries to answer this question. And in simple terms his answer is yes. Indeed, he argues that capitalism unique adaptation skills to almost any situation have now stalled. And the rapid development of new technologies have opened the

Read More

Saving Capitalism – or Democracy?

Few will doubt both globalization and technology are putting many people under economic stress. Symptoms of this in the US and other industrialized countries include raising inequality, stagnant wages, less opportunities and decreased social mobility, and little to no improvement in living standards for most.  Together, they have created an environment characterized by widespread distrust of the current economic system and its regular functioning. Nowadays, such distrust – not communism or fascism – is the main threat to modern capitalism. This is the starting point of Robert Reich’s latest book on how to save capitalism – and democracy too!

But how did we get to this point?

Reich first pinpoints that the ongoing and now repetitive debate on the “free market” vs. government alleged rivalry

Read More

Measuring Well-Being and Human Development

GDP: Thanks, but no thanks

A recent issue of The Economist had a couple of articles (plus the issue’s cover) on measuring prosperity, defined as the advance in living standards overtime. Nowadays, gross domestic product, GDP,1 We can also include here GDP’s sibling, Gross National Income or GNI. is king for measuring such progress.  However, The Economist argues, GDP is not the best indicator to accomplish this. Unlike the 20th century, the issue today is that while GDP is still growing at a regular pace, albeit not as fast as in the past, living standards seem to be stagnant, thanks in part to rising global inequality.

This unintended divorce between GDP and living standards highlights the quality  of goods and services that people consume and use over time. GDP assumes their quality

Read More

Endnotes   [ + ]

1. We can also include here GDP’s sibling, Gross National Income or GNI.