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Bitcoiners Shoot Down Roubini’s US Senate Testimony

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Noted Bitcoin critic Nouriel Roubini will deliver a speech on cryptocurrency and blockchain to the U.S. Senate today, and it is unlikely that the man known as “Dr. Doom” will mince his words. Nor will the economist concern himself too much with the truth, as his prepared testimony is filled with exaggerations and inaccuracies that the cryptocurrency community has already started to gleefully pull apart.

Also read: 30 People Who Were Really Wrong About Bitcoin

Dr. Doom Gets on His High Horse

Dr. Doom (Professor Nouriel Roubini) Calls Stablecoin Tether a ScamThe phrase “don’t feed the trolls” applies to individuals who’ve made a career out of critiquing cryptocurrency. Roubini was once a respected, Harvard-educated economist, but for some reason he has elected to devote his dotage to crypto-bashing. Most people in the cryptocurrency space simply ignore him, but given that he is scheduled to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Community Affairs today (Oct. 11), bitcoiners have felt compelled to speak up. What Roubini chooses to share with his Twitter followers is his prerogative, such critics reason, but the falsehoods he disseminates to lawmakers could have more serious repercussions.

“Crypto is the Mother of All Scams and (Now Busted) Bubbles While Blockchain Is The Most Over-Hyped Technology Ever, No Better than a Spreadsheet/Database” reads the excitable subheading of Roubini’s prepared Senate testimony ahead of his livestreamed appearance starting at 10 a.m. EST. The following 37 pages are riddled with hyperbole, strawman arguments, blatant fallacies and misunderstandings, interspersed with the occasional nugget of truth. While cryptocurrency enthusiasts should have no trouble distinguishing the facts from the FUD, lesser experts — such as the U.S. Senate Committee Roubini is addressing — may simply defer to the economist’s perceived wisdom.

“This Nouriel fella seems pretty pissed at crypto right now. Feel like it’s a good opportunity to live tweet my reading of his testimony to the senate,” wrote one commenter, before proceeding to debunk the bulk of Roubini’s claims.

A Litany of Errors and Half-Truths

Bitcoiners Shoot Down Nouriel Roubini’s Misinformed Senate TestimonyRoubini begins his testimony by shamelessly referencing his self-described “seminal treatise” on asset bubbles. He then proceeds, with no exaggeration whatsoever, to assert that “literally every human being I met between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2017 asked me first if they should buy [cryptocurrency].” By the third page of his testimony, Roubini has moved on to dismissing blockchain as overhyped. While he is on firmer ground here, he has already lost all credibility at this point by prefacing these comments with tired canards about tulip mania.

“Until now, Bitcoin’s only real use has been to facilitate illegal activities such as drug transactions, tax evasion, avoidance of capital controls, or money laundering,” continues Roubini, trotting out tropes that have been debunked on numerous occasions, including by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Other blatant falsehoods in Roubini’s testimony include the assertion that:

  • Bitcoin’s supply isn’t actually fixed at 21 million coins because of forked coins such as BCH and BTG (a page later, he contradicts himself by speaking of “Bitcoin, whose supply is truly constrained by an arbitrary mathematical rule”)
  • “Dozens” of successful 51% attacks have occurred recently (the true figure is a fraction of that)
  • “Mining is highly concentrated in oligopolies in shady and nontransparent
    and unsecure jurisdictions — China, Russia, Belarus, Georgia, etc.” (the location of cryptocurrency mining has no bearing on security)
  • “While Bitcoin has not been hacked yet …” (Roubini has been trotting out this line since 2014)
  • “Very few women or minorities are allowed in the blockchain space”
  • “There are hundreds of stories of greedy crypto-criminals raising billions
    of dollars with scammy white papers” (actually, there is one such story — EOS)
  • “The energy consumption of crypto is an environmental disaster”

Bitcoiners Shoot Down Nouriel Roubini’s Misinformed Senate Testimony

Roubini finishes his testimony by writing: “Bitcoin or any crypto-asset could go ‘To The Moon’ or crash to zero and I would not make a penny either way. The only thing that is at stake is my personal, intellectual and academic reputation.”

On that point, at least, bitcoiners are in agreement. In their eyes, Roubini lost his reputation years ago. As news.Bitcoin.com previously observed, Dr. Doom has been wrong about bitcoin for years. Whether it goes to the gutter or the moon, Roubini will continue to beat the same old drum, as his obsession with price and volatility seemingly blinds him to the power that bitcoin affords to those who have been disenfranchised by the current financial system.

While a good measure of skepticism and a willingness to point out blatant scams is healthy, Roubini’s frenzied hatred of cryptocurrency has evolved into a fixation that will come to define his declining years. Rather than go down in history as the person who predicted the 2008 financial crisis, he will be known as the man who refused to admit he was wrong about Bitcoin. As Friedrich Nietzsche famously put it, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

What are your thoughts on Roubini’s Senate testimony? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Islamic Countries Challenge USD ‘Sanctioning Tool’ With Planned Common Cryptocurrency

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Muslim countries around the world are planning to push back against the U.S. dollar’s long global dominance by creating a common digital currency for use in Islamic states. The dollar has evolved into a “sanctioning tool,” charged Erol Yarar, chairman of the Muslim-focused business lobby group International Business Forum (IBF). It has lost its purpose as an international trading currency, he said.

Also Read: Nvidia Misses Q3 Revenue Target as Cryptocurrency Slump Weighs on Business

 Breaking the Dollar’s Hegemony

Speaking to Turkish news agency Anadolu on Nov. 16, Yarar said a single cryptocurrency for Muslim nations will be designed primarily to undermine and challenge America’s established hegemony in the global financial system.

Islamic Countries Challenge USD 'Sanctioning Tool' With Planned Common Cryptocurrency

“The U.S. dollar is beyond a common currency, it has become a sanctioning tool,” Yarar stated. “In IBF this year we will discuss the term ‘monetary pluralism’ to create a fairer and healthier trade environment. We will make a cryptocurrency system, that will be used for international trade among Islamic countries, a current issue,” he added.

The strength of the dollar, in use as an international trading currency since the end of World War II, gives America immense financial and political leverage among perceived weaker states. It has often been used as part of an arsenal of economic tools deployed to punish nations that refuse to toe Uncle Sam’s line.

It is, perhaps, President Trump’s renewal of economic sanctions against Iran this month – even at the risk of alienating allies in the European Union – that Muslim business leaders under the IBF have been prompted to look for ways of neutralizing the dollar’s dominance in global trade.

A number of E.U. member countries are desperate to protect the Iran nuclear deal to help keep trade alive. They are currently in the process of creating a special purpose vehicle that would undermine the sanctions by redirecting payments away from the dollar and therefore away from the prying U.S. financial system. Again, America has reacted by issuing threats of dire repercussions.

But Iran is moving to protect itself against the crippling economic measures. It has announced the completion of the development of a state-backed digital currency, created specifically to circumvent the sanctions, which target the country’s oil, gas and shipping industries as well as the financial system. The system has already been hit after Swift, at the U.S.’s behest, cut off the Central Bank of Iran from the global banking ecosystem.

Islamic Countries Challenge USD 'Sanctioning Tool' With Planned Common Cryptocurrency

Following the Example of Iran

Yarar, the IBF chairman, told Anadolu Agency that it is prudent for Islamic nations to emulate Iran’s example by developing a common cryptocurrency system for use within like-minded religious countries. He detailed:

The U.S. keeps down money transfers, imposes sanctions on the international market, and causes crises in countries by using the dollar.

The planned Muslim-compliant digital currency will be used for pricing of goods by businesspeople, exchange markets and countries, he said, adding that Islamic nations should also consider setting up a fund emulating the International Monetary Fund business model.

“The fund, based on non-interest finance principles, will help countries facing an economic crisis. The fund’s name can be ‘International Islamic Cooperation Fund’,” Yara proposed.

His plans have triggered debate on whether countries currently under full, partial or covert U.S. sanctions such as Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe, Syria, Russia and Yemen could adopt virtual currency to bypass the stringent economic measures.

Venezuela recently launched its national cryptocurrency, the petro, while Russia and China are investing in blockchain technologies that will act as alternatives to the dollar in terms of global commerce.

Islamic Countries Challenge USD 'Sanctioning Tool' With Planned Common Cryptocurrency

U.S. sanctions work by placing bans on dealings and transactions with individuals, nations and companies. These restrictions are often enforced with the help of mainstream financial institutions. As such, the use of cryptocurrencies, which operate outside the established financial system, are regarded as key to helping economies under sanctions to continue transacting with other countries.

That means if a dependable cryptocurrency system to support financial transactions can be established, the power of sanctions will be diminished as the U.S. is incapable of blocking such transactions.

Binance Tells Iranians to Withdraw Their Money

In Iran, meanwhile, global cryptocurrency exchange Binance has reportedly told its remaining users in the Islamic Republic to pull out their funds from the platform in measures aimed at aligning with the American trade and economic embargo. “Iranians are not really able to trust cryptocurrency exchanges. That isn’t really something new,” Nima Dehqan, a researcher at the Tehran-based blockchain project Areatak, complained. Several exchanges, including Bittrex and Bitmex, have stopped providing services to Iranian investors on account of the sanctions.

Do you think the IBF will succeed in its plan for a common cryptocurrency for Muslim countries? Let us know in the comments section below.


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SEC Settles Charges With Two ICO Issuers

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has settled charges with two initial coin offering issuers. These cases are the commission’s first to impose civil penalties “solely for ICO securities offering registration violations.” Both companies have agreed to refund investors, pay penalties, and register their tokens as securities.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Charges Settled

On Friday, Nov. 16, the SEC announced “settled charges against two companies that sold digital tokens in initial coin offerings (ICOs).” The agency explained that Carriereq Inc. (aka Airfox) and Paragon Coin Inc. both “consented to the orders without admitting or denying the findings,” elaborating:

These are the commission’s first cases imposing civil penalties solely for ICO securities offering registration violations. Both companies have agreed to return funds to harmed investors, register the tokens as securities, file periodic reports with the commission, and pay penalties.

SEC Settles Charges With Two ICO IssuersThe two companies’ tokens are neither registered with the SEC nor qualified for an exemption to the registration requirements.

Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, emphasized that “companies that issue securities through ICOs are required to comply with existing statutes and rules governing the registration of securities.”

The SEC further detailed:

The orders impose $250,000 penalties against each company and include undertakings to compensate harmed investors who purchased tokens in the illegal offerings.

These two cases follow the agency’s first non-fraudulent ICO registration case of Munchee Inc. The SEC did not impose a penalty in that case because the company stopped its offerings before delivering any tokens and promptly refunded investors.

The Two Companies

Both Airfox and Paragon conducted token sales last year after the SEC warned that ICOs can be considered security offerings in its DAO report, a landmark paper that serves as the defining document for ICOs to avoid being categorized as securities in the U.S.

SEC Settles Charges With Two ICO IssuersBoston-based Airfox raised approximately $15 million by selling 1.06 billion of its tokens to more than 2,500 investors globally through various websites that it controls. The company claims that the funds would be used “to finance its development of a token-denominated ‘ecosystem’,” the SEC described.

Established in July last year, Paragon sold its tokens to approximately 8,323 investors, including those in the U.S. The company “raised approximately $12 million worth of digital assets to develop and implement its business plan to add blockchain technology to the cannabis industry and work toward legalization of cannabis,” the commission noted.

Paragon issued a statement on Friday confirming that it has reached a settlement agreement with the SEC after working on it with a team at the commission for over a year. CEO Jessica Versteeg calls it “a very positive agreement … that will effectively put an end to the uncertainties of the legal status ” of her company’s token.

What do you think of the SEC settling charges with the two ICO companies? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Hash Wars: Day Two and the Anticipation for BCH Trading Platforms to Reopen

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It has been close to 24 hours since the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain split on Nov. 15, and the community is assessing the first day of battle. At the time of writing, both chains are still operational and the ABC chain has a 32-block lead on the SV chain. Now many BCH supporters are patiently waiting to find out when infrastructure providers will resume deposits, withdrawals, and trading across the entire ecosystem.

Also read: Hash Wars: ABC Chain Leaps More Than 50 Blocks Ahead

Some Believe the Hash War Will Continue

The BCH hash war has continued into the second day of network warfare, protocol activity, and an abundance of discussions across social media. A clear victor has not yet been decided, according to SV supporters who believe the hash war is “not a sprint, but a marathon.” Currently, the ABC chain is 32 blocks ahead of SV and it has more hashrate and accumulated proof-of-work behind it, according to Coin Dance cash, and Forkmonitor.info data. Still, the SV chain has continued to chug along and has about 5,266 PH/s worth of hashrate compared to the ABC chain’s 7,237 PH/s. Moreover, SV supporters, specifically Nchain’s Craig Wright and Coingeek’s Calvin Ayre, have stated the next day, Nov. 16, that the hash war is not over.

“In our hash competition, we have seen the ABC team bring on their strongest sprinters,” explained Wright on Twitter on Nov. 16. “We are just at the trials and not yet on the finals to Marathon and they have made a remarkable burst to do a 9.9 second 100m (unfortunately in the wrong direction).” the Nchain executive adds.

Hash Wars: Day Two and the Anticipation for BCH Trading Platforms to Reopen
At the time of publication, the ABC chain has been roughly 30 or more blocks ahead of the SV chain.

Many SV supporters still believe Wright will continue to wage war and this can be seen across social media and cryptocurrency-centric forums. Coingeek’s Calvin Ayre agreed with Wright’s words and issued a similar statement during the early morning hours on Friday.

“The BCH hash war will not be decided in 1 or 2 days, but over many days and possibly weeks by on-going miner votes with sustained Proof of Work — Until a dominant chain emerges, cryptocurrency exchanges, wallet and service providers are advised to remain neutral, and to run a Bitcoin SV node to be prepared for the best interests of users,” Ayre detailed.

Hash Wars: Day Two and the Anticipation for BCH Trading Platforms to Reopen
The two networks’ hashrates as of 11:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 16, 2018. Orange (ABC) and Red (SV). 

The Wait for Service Providers to Assess the Situation

On the other hand, the further the ABC chain gets and the more proof-of-work is accumulated, ABC supporters seem confident that victory is very close. Many BCH proponents are now waiting for infrastructure providers to explain how they will list the newly forked chains. ABC backers believe that a large portion of wallet services, exchanges, and payment services will side with ABC. This belief is due to the overwhelming amount of company support garnered when infrastructure providers published contingency plans with most supporting the ABC roadmap. However, it seems BCH service providers are still assessing the situation and may not publicly announce plans until more time has passed.

Hash Wars: Day Two and the Anticipation for BCH Trading Platforms to Reopen
Many BCH proponents shared their views on Twitter on Nov. 16, 2018.

Further, the research team from Bitmex has been monitoring the situation with the organization’s recently published tool. Bitmex Research detailed to its Twitter followers on Nov. 16 that SV miners are losing a ton of money and estimated that they will lose $280,000 a day if they continue. Further, this estimate is calculated with the ability to sell SV coins at a spot price of $100, but the ability to sell these coins is pretty much non-existent.

Hash Wars: Day Two and the Anticipation for BCH Trading Platforms to Reopen
Cryptocurrency luminaries show they are curious to when the SV side of the chain releases a block explorer.

ABC proponents were quite pleased with the outcome so far and the forum r/btc is filled with supporters showing enthusiasm. The Bitcoin Cash developer Shammah Chancellor (Micropresident) was very thankful and expressed his gratitude on Twitter.

“Big thanks to Roger Ver, Bitcoin.com, all the p2pool miners, Btc.com, Antpool, and everyone else who is supporting the BCH chain with their hash — Continuing to work towards bringing peer-to-peer cash to the world,” the developer explained.

Hash Wars: Day Two and the Anticipation for BCH Trading Platforms to Reopen
Lots of BCH supporters have expressed that the war was not good for the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem in general.

However, even though many were celebrating yesterday’s battle, many BCH supporters had shown distaste for the entire situation. Bitcoin Cash and XT lead developer Tom Harding explained that the split has caused some damage. “Bitcoin Cash has splintered its network effect, pushed the overall price below $400, and wasted a lot of energy,” Harding stated. BCH developer Jonathan Toomin responded to Harding’s tweet and agreed with the XT developer.  “Unfortunately, you are totally right,” said Toomin.

What did you think about the first day of the hash war? Do you think it is over and there is a victor? Or do you think the hash war will continue? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images via Shutterstock, Pixabay, Coin Dance cash, Twitter, and Bitcoin.com.


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