Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #760 Bit[coin]burg–The Rebels Without a Clue

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

Listen: MP3

Side 1  Side 2

Introduction: Ronald Reagan observed that; “Government isn’t the solution to your problems. Government is the problem.” In the decades since that utterance, many young, idealistic individuals have embraced libertarian political philosophy. Well intended, those adherents are ultimately embracing a philosophy that will lead to a form of fascism.

Taking a slight detour from our discussion of “The Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook,” we examine a clandestine, online currency called bitcoin. Bitcoin has been hatched from the same libertarian, Ludwig von Mises milieu to which Eddie “get rid of social security, bring back the gold standard” Snowden adheres.

Used by the Silk Road network for clandestine and largely illegal activities, Silk Road allegedly was masterminded by Ross Ulbricht, an admirer of Ron Paul and devotee of the Ludwig von Mises economic and social ideology.

Alone among sovereign nations, Germany recognizes bitcoin, in keeping with the monetary theories of Friedrich von Hayek, a disciple of Ludwig von Mises.

Although the currency has usually been attributed to one Satoshi Nakomoto. An article in Fastcompany.com hypothesizes that the actual developers of bitcoin were Charles Bry, Neal J. King (who officially denies any involvement) and Vladimir Oksman. All three work for a German firm called Lantiq.

Lantiq is derived from Siemens, A.G. (a company inextricably linked with the Bormann capital network and the BND). Bitcoin may well be an Underground Reich/BND project.

Bitcoin’s defenders tout it as an alternative to fiat currencies and something that will prove a vehicle for economic salvation for the world. That claim has proved utterly vain, as bitcoin has proved to be, if anything, even more subject to crooked manipulation as other currencies.

Program Highlights Include: The role of Golden Gate Capital in creating Lantiq; Golden Gate Capital personnel’s background in Bain Capital (Mitt Romney’s firm); the hope by some that bitcoin could help replace the dollar as the reserve currency of choice in the world; Peter Thiel’s embrace of bitcoin; Peter Thiel’s backing of Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz; review of Thiel’s capitalization of Ron Paul’s super PAC (located in Provo, Utah); the close political relationship between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.

1. Discussion begins with analysis of the Silk Road network’s alleged mastermind, Ross Ulbricht. Ulbricht is a fan of Ron Paul and an adherent to the economic and social theories of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Exemplifying the apparently well meaning but misinformed young citizens attracted to Paul and the von Mises school, Ulbricht appears to exemplify the adage that “The [Silk?] road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Ron Paul is a hardcore fascist, joined at the hip with Nazi and white-supremacist elements. The Ludwig von Mises institute is explicitly anti-democratic and is joined at the hip with the neo-Confederate movement, which justifies African-American slavery and rationalizes a future secession by the Southern states.

Indicative of Ulbricht’s superficiality is his statement that; “Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end. . . .” 

In addition to the von Mises Institute’s justification of African-American slavery prior to the Civil War, Walter Block (and aide to Ron Paul and a Ludwig von Mises Institute scholar) has crafted what he calls “voluntary slavery.”

We view “voluntary slavery” as the ultimate collateralized debt obligation.

“Who Is Ross Ulbricht? Piecing Together The Life Of The Alleged Libertarian Mastermind Behind Silk Road” by Ryan Mac; Forbes; 10/02/2013.

. . . While at Penn State, Ulbricht was also politically active. A member of the school’s College Libertarians group, he took part in on-campus debates that were documented by the school’s newspaper, The Daily Collegian. In one article from March 2008, Ulbricht is identified as a supporter of Ron Paul who had attempted to become a delegate for the then-presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention.

“There’s a lot to learn from him and his message of what it means to be a U.S. citizen and what it means to be a free individual,” he told the school paper. “He doesn’t compromise his integrity as a politician and he fights quite diligently to restore the principles that our country was founded on.”

In Silk Road’s community forums, the Dread Pirate Roberts always made the libertarian underpinnings of his organization clear. In Oct. 2012, he noted in a post: “Silk Road was founded on libertarian principles and continues to be operated on them … The same principles that have allowed Silk Road to flourish can and do work anywhere human beings come together. The only difference is that the State is unable to get its thieving murderous mitts on it.” He called Paul “a mighty hero in my book” in a note from Nov. 2012. . . .

 This Is The Physics Student And Used Book Seller Who Allegedly Ran The ‘Silk Road’ Market For Drugs And Assassins” by Jim Edwards; Business Insider; 10/02/2013.

. . . . But he lost his interest in physics and chemicals sometime after he graduated from Penn State in 2008, in favor of a new passion — libertarianism. He wrote on his LinkedIn profile:

Now, my goals have shifted. I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind. Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end. The most widespread and systemic use of force is amongst institutions and governments, so this is my current point of effort. The best way to change a government is to change the minds of the governed, however. To that end, I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.

He became a fan of the Austrian School of Economics, a conservative take on the free market. The indictment against him says he became a devotee of the Mises Institute, and that the writing of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard “provid[ed] the philosophical underpinnings for Silk Road.”

Silk Road was, in many ways, the apotheosis of free market economics. Because it was completely encrypted and completely anonymous, using Bitcoin — an uncrackable “cryptocurrency” — it stood outside any government regulation at all, including the criminal law.

Until today. . . .

2. Next, the program highlights a compelling working hypothesis that bitcoin was developed by individuals associated with the Lantiq company.

In 1985, Ronald Reagan incurred the wrath of many when he agreed to visit the Bitburg cemetery in Germany, where Waffen SS soldiers are interred.

In this post, we examine the origins of the bitcoin virtual currency, which evolved into the online currency of choice for the customers of the Silk Road network.

Alone among sovereign nations, Germany has recognized bitcoin as legal tender, following on the theory of Friedrich von Hayek of the Autrian school of economic theory, disseminated from (among other institutions) the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Credit for creating this virtual currency is generally given to one Satoshi Nakomoto. An article at Fastcompany hypothesizes that three individuals named Neal J. King, Charles Bry and Vladimir Oksman are the true originators of bitcoin. (Listeners are emphatically encouraged to read the entire linked article to flesh out their understanding of Adam Penenberg’s argument.)

Of more than passing interest under the circumstances is the fact that all three of the hypothetical creators of bitcoin work for a company called Lantiq.

Lantiq is a German-based firm that has evolved from Siemens. Siemens spun-off Infineon A.G. (a semiconductor firm). Then Infineon and Golden Gate Capital created Lantiq.

Golden Gate Capitol was formed by alumni of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s firm.

In addition to links to the death squad-manifesting El Salvadoran junta of the 1980’s, Bain has links to the milieu of the late billionaire, Howard Hughes, as well as the milieu of Bebe Rebozo’s banking operations. The latter appears to have had links to the Bormann capital network.

If we were going to express this in biblical phraseology, it would go something like this: “And so Siemens begat Infineon. And Bain Capital begat Golden Gate Capital. Infineon did lie with Golden Gate Capital. And thus did Infineon beget Lantiq.”

Among the points to be considered here are:

  • Siemens functions as something of a quartermaster for German intelligence-the BND, the successor to the Reinhard Gehlen spy outfit. It is inextricably linked with BND, as well as with the Bormann network.
  • With Lantiq having evolved directly from Siemens, Lantiq’s possible connections with BND should be carefully weighed.
  • Lantiq’s links with Golden Gate Capital, run by alumni from Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, warrants consideration that both Lantiq and GGC may be Underground Reich, Bormann entities.
  • We have noted that Infineon A.G. is a leading producer of TPM chips, which were cited by the German press as a backdoor source for NSA snooping. We wondered if that TPM backdoor might actually be a BND backdoor?
  • Neal J. King has denied Penenberg’s musings. He may, of course, be doing so honestly. IF, however, bitcoin’s development was in conjunction with BND, denial would be pro forma intelligence methodology.
  • We will explore the bitcoin landscape at greater length in a future post for greater perspective and understanding.

The Bitcoin Crypto-Currency Mystery Reopened” by Adam L. Penenberg; fastcompany.com; 10/11/2011.

. . . I looked at the date on the patent application filing: 08/15/2008.

Now take a look at the domain bitcoin.org. It was registered three days later.

Domain Name:BITCOIN.ORG

Created On:18-Aug-2008
Now that is one hell of a coincidence. What are the odds that a phrase in Nakamoto’s Bitcoin paper would be replicated in a patent application filed the same year? Further, what are the odds the domain name for Bitcoin would have been registered 72 hours after the patent application was filed?

Based on the timing, I wondered if one of the people on the patent application–or perhaps all three–had based the Bitcoin concept on research that led them to this patent application. The three inventors listed on patent #20100042841 are Neal King, Vladimir Oksman, Charles Bry, and all three have filed numerous patent applications over the years.

Neal King (he also goes by Neal J. King from Munich, Germany) is listed on a number of patent applications, notably “UPDATING AND DISTRIBUTING ENCRYPTION KEYS” (#20100042841) and “CONTENTION ACCESS TO A COMMUNICATION MEDIUM IN A COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK” (#20090196306), both of which seem Bitcoin-y to me.

Charles Bry, who also resides in Munich, has filed several applications, many dealing with nodes and networks.

Vladamir Oksman, who lives in the U.S., has several patent applications, too, and they too seem related to networks, nodes.

I found another patent application that lists the three of them as inventors, filed June 2008–two months before the Bitcoin.org domain was registered.

KEY MANAGEMENT FOR COMMUNICATION NETWORKS

“Abstract One embodiment of the present invention relates to a method for key management in a communications network. In this method, a public key authentication scheme is carried out between a security controller and a plurality of nodes to establish a plurality of node-to-security-controller (NSC) keys. The NSC keys are respectively associated with the plurality of nodes and are used for secure communication between the security controller and the respective nodes.”
Could that also be related to Bitcoin?

Now, another coincidence: The Bitcoin.org domain was registered by a Finnish provider, based in Helsinki.

Charles Bry traveled to Finland in late 2007, six months before the domain was registered. In addition, Bry, who is a senior system engineer, lists German, English, French, and Italian as languages he speaks, and went to college in Paris. He works for a company called Lantiq.

Then there’s Neal J. King, and there are more oddities. A Neal J. King has a Facebook page that is sketchy with personal information, yet if you search for “Neal J. King” in Facebook’s search box, his profile doesn’t pop up. His wall is filled with posts about the recent Wall Street protests, banking, and criticism of the Patriot Act. Keep scrolling down and he “likes” blau.de, a German mobile phone sim card site. He also claims highbrow taste in literature and books, and it seems he’s an avid reader, having reviewed 46 books on Amazon–many deal with astronomy, biology, cryptography, linguistics, literature, mathematics, philosophy and physics. I read through his reviews, and his writing is excellent. Very clean. No typos. His sentences are elegant yet there are no extra words. The writing style reminds me of Satoshi Nakamoto’s posts in the Bitcoin Forum minus British spellings, which, as I noted above, I believe is a canard.

Finally, I looked up Vladamir Oksman’s LinkedIn profile (there are a couple of guys with this name, but he was easy to find). . . .

. . . [Correction, May 22, 2013: The Vladamir Oksman described above is the wrong one. The right one is listed on LinkedIn as having worked as a technical marketing director for semiconductor company Lantiq. . . . .

3.  “Neal J. King”; LinkedIn.com.

. . . I represented Lantiq in Home Networking Standards. . . .

. . . .

Participant
IEEE P1901
2009 – 2011 (2 years)

I represented Infineon’s interests regarding the broadband Power Line Communication standards. I was active in clarifying the text.

Participant
IEEE P1901.2
2010 – 2010 (less than a year)

I represented Infineon’s interests in a technical standard for narrowband Power Line Communications.

Representative for Infineon
ITU-T
1997 – 2010 (13 years)

I represented the interests of Infineon in the creation and revision of technical standards on xDSL and PCM (V.92) modems. I was the editor of the V.44 standard on Data Compression.

Systems Engineer
Infineon Technologies
Public Company; 10,001+ employees; IFX; Halbleiter industry
March 1997 – December 2008 (11 years 10 months)

– Analysis and roadmap planning for security techniques & protocols for Wireless LAN systems; calculation of communications capacity gained by adding a low-frequency band; assessment of external technology proposals. One issued patent on emergency phone calls.

– Organized Infineon’s participation in technical standards for broadband modems (xDSL modems): threat assessment, resource assignments, coordination and editorial control. Committees: ITU-T Q.4/SG15, NIPP-NAI, DSL Forum; Secretary of NIPP-NAI for several years.

– Development of web-based information systems and tools to make technical-standards information available corporation-wide.
– Worked to achieve key agreements in the technical-standards process favorable to our position in the broadband modem market by either compromising with competitors and potential customers, or out-maneuvering them. . . .

4.  “Lantiq”; wikipedia.com.

Lantiq is an international fabless semiconductor business of approximately 1,000 people.

Lantiq’s central functions and the executive management team are located at Lilienthalstr. 15 in Neubiberg near Munich in Germany.

Lantiq makes semiconductor solutions for Next Generation Networks and the Digital Home and, via its Infineon heritage, has an over 20-year record of technology development. . . .

 5. “Infineon Completes the Sale of Wireline Business; Lantiq Becomes a Stand Alone Business”; lantiq.com.

. . . Neubiberg, Germany– November 6, 2009 – Infineon Technologies AG (FSE: IFX / OTCQX: IFNNY) and Lantiq today announced the closing of the sale of Infineon’s Wireline business to Lantiq, an affiliate of the U.S. based investor Golden Gate Capital. . . .

6.  “Golden Gate Capital”; wikipedia.com.

. . . Golden Gate Capital Partners is an American private equity firm based in San Francisco, California. The firm makes investments primarily in mature technology companies, as well as other select industries, through leveraged buyout transactions as well as significant minority purchases and growth capital investments.

The firm was founded in 2000, by former investment professionals from private equity firm Bain Capital, as well as business consultants from its affiliate Bain & Company. . . .

7.  “Infineon Technologies”; wikipedia.com.

Infineon Technologies AG is a German semiconductor manufacturer founded on 1 April 1999, when the semiconductor operations of the parent company Siemens AG were spun off to form a separate legal entity. As of 30 September 2010, Infineon has 25,149 employees worldwide. In fiscal year 2010, the company achieved sales of €3.295 billion. . . .

8.   “Bitcoin Recognized by Germany as ‘Private Money'” by Matt Clinch; CNBC.com; 8/19/2013.

Virtual currency bitcoin has been recognized by the German Finance Ministry as a “unit of account”, meaning it is can be used for tax and trading purposes in the country.

Bitcoin is not classified as e-money or a foreign currency, the Finance Ministry said in a statement, but is rather a financial instrument under German banking rules. It is more akin to “private money” that can be used in “multilateral clearing circles”, the Ministry said.

“We should have competition in the production of money. I have long been a proponent of Friedrich August von Hayek scheme to denationalize money. Bitcoins are a first step in this direction,”said Frank Schaeffler, a member of the German parliament’s Finance Committee, who has pushed for legal classification of bitcoins. . . .

9. Not surprisingly, bitcoin is showing all of the corrupt, highly speculative character of the very currencies that the very “techno-libertarians” who support the “alternative currency” criticize.

Following our posts on Silk Road and Bitcoin, we explore the phenomenon of bicoin against the “shutdown” milieu of the GOP, itself inextricably linkd with the elements surrounding and promoting Edward Snowden. Reviewing previous points of information:

Alleged mastermind of the Silk Road online clandestine funding/merchandising network, Ross Ulbricht is a devotee of Ron Paul and the Ludwig von Mises school of social and economic theory.

Exemplifying the apparently well meaning but misinformed young citizens attracted to Paul and the von Mises school, Ulbricht appears to exemplify the adage that “The [Silk?] road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Ron Paul is a hardcore fascist, joined at the hip with Nazi and white-supremacist elements. The Ludwig von Mises institute is explicitly anti-democratic and is joined at the hip with the neo-Confederate movement, which justifies African-American slavery and rationalizes a future secession by the Southern states.

Indicative of Ulbricht’s superficiality is his statement that; “Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end. . . .” 

In addition to the von Mises Institute’s justification of African-American slavery prior to the Civil War, Walter Block (and aide to Ron Paul and a Ludwig von Mises Institute scholar) has crafted what he calls “voluntary slavery.”

We view “voluntary slavery” as the ultimate collateralized debt obligation.

Alone among sovereign nations, Germany has recognized bitcoin as legal tender, following on the theory of Friedrich von Hayek of the Autrian school of economic theory, disseminated from (among other institutions) the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Credit for creating this virtual currency is generally given to one Satoshi Nakomoto. An article at Fastcompany hypothesizes that three individuals named Neal J. King, Charles Bry and Vladimir Oksman are the true originators of bitcoin. (Listeners are emphatically encouraged to read the entire linked article to flesh out their understanding of Adam Penenberg’s argument.)

Of more than passing interest under the circumstances is the fact that all three of the hypothetical creators of bitcoin work for a company called Lantiq.

Lantiq is a German-based firm that has evolved from Siemens. Siemens spun-off Infineon A.G. (a semiconductor firm). Then Infineon and Golden Gate Capital created Lantiq.

Golden Gate Capitol was formed by alumni of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s firm.

In addition to links to the death squad-manifesting El Salvadoran junta of the 1980’s, Bain has links to the milieu of the late billionaire, Howard Hughes, as well as the milieu of Bebe Rebozo’s banking operations. The latter appears to have had links to the Bormann capital network.

If we were going to express this in biblical phraseology, it would go something like this: “And so Siemens begat Infineon. And Bain Capital begat Golden Gate Capital. Infineon did lie with Golden Gate Capital. And thus did Infineon beget Lantiq.”

Among the points to be considered here are:

  • Siemens functions as something of a quartermaster for German intelligence-the BND, the successor to the Reinhard Gehlen spy outfit. It is inextricably linked with BND, as well as with the Bormann network.
  • With Lantiq having evolved directly from Siemens, Lantiq’s possible connections with BND should be carefully weighed.
  • Lantiq’s links with Golden Gate Capital, run by alumni from Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, warrants consideration that both Lantiq and GGC may be Underground Reich, Bormann entities.
  • We have noted that Infineon A.G. is a leading producer of TPM chips, which were cited by the German press as a backdoor source for NSA snooping. We wondered if that TPM backdoor might actually be a BND backdoor?
  • Neal J. King has denied Penenberg’s musings. He may, of course, be doing so honestly. IF, however, bitcoin’s development was in conjunction with BND, denial would be pro forma intelligence methodology.
  • “Techno-Libertarians” have suggested that bitcoin might be an alternative to the dollar as the reserve currency of choice. Their views echo Ronald Reagan’s statement that “Government isn’t the solution to your problems. Government is the problem.”
  • The dollar’s status as a reserve currency has been under critical review as a result of the “shutdown crisis,” provoked by the same political forces engenering Eddie the Friendly Spook’s “op.”
  • Bitcoin has been subject to some of the same wild swings in value as mainstream currencies.
  • Those swings in value appear to have been deliberately engineered by what one observer terms “the shark squad.” It is unclear who they might be. One wonders if the shark squad might be German, perhaps the BND. The manipulation of bitcoin is illegal in formal capital markets. Those machinatins are, to an extent, reminiscent of the maneuvering that occurred on 11/22/1963 and on 9/11/2001.
  • Peter Thiel is a big fan of bitcoin.

“World to Washington: ‘Really?'” by Serge Schmemann; The New York Times; 10/20/2013.

Some of the more alarmed and outraged voices rose from China, the country holding the largest share of American debt. One commentary from China that attracted attention in Europe was by Liu Chang of Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, who called not only for the diversification of Beijing’s huge dollar holdings, but for a “de-Americanized world.” That, he wrote, would include “new international reserve currency that is to be created to replace the dominant U.S. dollar, so that the international community could permanently stay away from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States.”

From Athens — where an American default could have turned an unending economic crisis into catastrophe — Nikos Konstandaras wrote in the daily Kathimerini that Aristophanes, the master of ancient Greek comedy, “would have loved the idea of a group of lawmakers exploiting their position to abolish the state they are sworn to serve. For Greece’s ancient tragedians, the vain indifference, the ignorance of dangers caused by our character and actions, was familiar material.” The question, he added, was whether America is “the scene of comedy or tragedy.”

When the deal was reached in Washington last Wednesday, the world exhaled. But nobody believed it was over. “There is nothing more temporary than the defeats and victories in Washington,” wrote Le Figaro, the Paris daily. Even if civil servants are back at work for now, “America’s financial credibility is damaged and its democratic system has revealed to the world its gaping blockages.”

The questions abroad will continue; answers, however, are hard to find.

10. “The Federal Government’s Reaction to Bitcoin Is an Acknowledgement of the Dollar’s Vulnerability” by Peter Ferrara; Forbes; 8/25/2013.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has private alternative currencies in its crosshairs.  The Chairman, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), sent a joint letter to seven federal agencies last week asking for feedback and policy proposals for regulation of virtual currencies, like Bitcoin.

Bitcoin has surged in value and popularity recently as it has come to be embraced by more users across the planet.  In a world of government fiat currencies, Bitcoin is an admirable innovation.  But in a sense it extends the current currency framework, as opposed to revolutionizing it.  It was created out of less than thin air when cybergeeks who saw it as a natural progression of the modern web specified the creation and distribution of the new cybercurrency in a paper posted on the Internet in 2008.  The virtual currency was then launched into operation in 2009. . . .

. . . . The economy is already barely growing, if inflation is currently measured correctly.  If the Fed further destabilizes the economy, the dollar will probably further decline, as who will want to buy dollars to invest in a declining economy only continuously threatened with even higher tax and regulatory burdens?  But if the Fed redoubles on its current policies, the dollar will probably decline further under the threat of eventual inflation.  Who will want to hold dollars under this increasingly narrowing conundrum?  That is when the world may turn to something different.

It is not Bitcoin that will arise as the alternative global reserve currency, because as discussed above, it has no inherent value either, so it is subject to wide swings in market value too.  The real threat to the dollar is a different, private, alternative currency that can arise, that is based in real commodities with inherent value. . . .

11.  “The Antisocial Network” by Paul Krugman; The New York Times; 4/14/2013.

Bitcoin’s wild ride may not have been the biggest business story of the past few weeks, but it was surely the most entertaining. Over the course of less than two weeks the price of the “digital currency” more than tripled. Then it fell more than 50 percent in a few hours. Suddenly, it felt as if we were back in the dot-com era.

The economic significance of this roller coaster was basically nil. But the furor over bitcoin was a useful lesson in the ways people misunderstand money — and in particular how they are misled by the desire to divorce the value of money from the society it serves.

What is bitcoin? It’s sometimes described as a way to make transactions online — but that in itself would be nothing new in a world of online credit-card and PayPal transactions. In fact, the Commerce Department estimates that by 2010 about 16 percent of total sales in America already took the form of e-commerce.

So how is bitcoin different? Unlike credit card transactions, which leave a digital trail, bitcoin transactions are designed to be anonymous and untraceable. When you transfer bitcoins to someone else, it’s as if you handed over a paper bag filled with $100 bills in a dark alley. And sure enough, as best as anyone can tell the main use of bitcoin so far, other than as a target for speculation, has been for online versions of those dark-alley exchanges, with bitcoins traded for narcotics and other illegal items.

But bitcoin evangelists insist that it’s about much more than greasing the path for illicit transactions. The biggest declared investors in bitcoins are the Winklevoss brothers, wealthy twins who successfully sued for a share of Facebook and were made famous by the movie “The Social Network” — and they make claims for the digital product similar to those made by goldbugs for their favorite metal. “We have elected,” declared Tyler Winklevoss recently, “to put our money and faith in a mathematical framework that is free of politics and human error.”

The similarity to goldbug rhetoric isn’t a coincidence, since goldbugs and bitcoin enthusiasts — bitbugs? — tend to share both libertarian politics and the belief that governments are vastly abusing their power to print money. At the same time, it’s very peculiar, since bitcoins are in a sense the ultimate fiat currency, with a value conjured out of thin air. Gold’s value comes in part because it has nonmonetary uses, such as filling teeth and making jewelry; paper currencies have value because they’re backed by the power of the state, which defines them as legal tender and accepts them as payment for taxes. Bitcoins, however, derive their value, if any, purely from self-fulfilling prophecy, the belief that other people will accept them as payment.

However, let’s leave that strangeness on one side, along with the peculiar “mining” process — actually a process of complex calculation — used to add to the bitcoin stock. Instead, let’s focus on the two huge misconceptions — one practical, one philosophical — that underlie both goldbugism and bitbugism.

The practical misconception here — and it’s a big one — is the notion that we live in an era of wildly irresponsible money printing, with runaway inflation just around the corner. It’s true that the Federal Reserve and other central banks have greatly expanded their balance sheets — but they’ve done that explicitly as a temporary measure in response to economic crisis. I know, government officials are not to be trusted and all that, but the truth is that Ben Bernanke’s promises that his actions wouldn’t be inflationary have been vindicated year after year, while goldbugs’ dire warnings of inflation keep not coming true.

The philosophical misconception, however, seems to me to be even bigger. Goldbugs and bitbugs alike seem to long for a pristine monetary standard, untouched by human frailty. But that’s an impossible dream. Money is, as Paul Samuelson once declared, a “social contrivance,” not something that stands outside society. Even when people relied on gold and silver coins, what made those coins useful wasn’t the precious metals they contained, it was the expectation that other people would accept them as payment.

Actually, you’d expect the Winklevosses, of all people, to get this, because in a way money is like a social network, which is useful only to the extent that other people use it. But I guess some people are just bothered by the notion that money is a human thing, and want the benefits of the monetary network without the social part. Sorry, it can’t be done.

So do we need a new form of money? I guess you could make that case if the money we actually have were misbehaving. But it isn’t. We have huge economic problems, but green pieces of paper are doing fine — and we should let them alone.

12. “Bitcoin’s Vast Overvaluation Appears Partially Caused by (Usually) Illegal Price-Fixing” by Rick Falkvinge; Falkvinge.net; 9/2013.

. . . . In securities trading, the expression painting the tape is used for any trading activity that is intended to manipulate the trading statistics (price, volume, other metrics) rather than to execute a trade. It is highly illegal, jail-time illegal, in all civilized parts of the world. The expression comes from the ancient price ticker tape, and how it could be “painted” with false data.

I’m going to illustrate how this Shark Squad has operated recently to fix the price in luring other traders of their money and hiking the price. (While luring other traders of their money is part of the game, there are legal and illegal ways to do so. Insider trading, for example, is one of the better-known illegal ones – our legal framework generally fights hard to create a level playing field for all traders.) The squad is a small team of collaborating traders.

In Step 1 of the cycle, the shark squad makes a large buyup, causing prices to skyrocket. Illustrated here, the buyup at 10:00 European time on Thursday September 12, 2013, from USD 135 to 145.9, an instant 8-percent increase. This causes a lot of downward-betting traders to flush out.

In step 2, the shark squad reverses this trend by causing a slow pullback, causing those who bought in greed to sell off in panic as the market has reversed and causing more stop losses to trigger and people to sell to the squad‘s bids. Note that I write causes a pullback – this is not a normal market pullback. Let’s look at the big picture first as displayed by the site bitcoinwisdom, which displays much more detail than most sites. You can see the pullback over Thursday lunch-to-afternoon (blue box, right half), and there is also a display of the current order book (yellow box) and the recent transactions (red box) which we will look at shortly. Note how the recent transactions in the indicated red box are all red, red, red, indicating a massive selloff – there’s nobody buying at all on cursory inspection, only selling, and a lot of selling.

However, let’s take a closer look at the minute details of the recent transactions in the bottom right corner, displaying time, price, and amount of the last bitcoin transactions:

Do you see a pattern here? All the transactions are for exactly one bitcoin, and the transactions are spaced exactly five seconds apart. This pattern can continue for hours, a claim verifiable by checking the MtGox transaction history. This is not market trading; this is one (1) automated process intended to give the illusion of many different players panic-selling. Furthermore, let’s take a closer look at the order book:

Do you see the numbers below and to the left of the current big red price? That’s the bid order book. That’s the current buy orders. Note how the currently executing buy orders are at 7-8 bitcoin each, placed just 0.0001 (!) bitcoin apart in price, evading detection on most sites. This is coordinated with the selling person. Those buy orders keep replenishing as the sales orders keep ticking one bitcoin per five seconds; they are coordinated. This is one person in the Shark Squad selling to another person in the Shark Squad, to give the illusion of market downward pressure and sell volume.

Both of these activities – splitting an order to give the illusion of many trades, and trading within a group to give the appearance of increased volume and a certain market direction – are considered painting the tape and highly illegal. (I’m going to stop writing “usually illegal” now, as it’s illegal in practically all countries where you can read this.)

So, how can I state with certainty that the seller and buyer are conspiring? Based on only this screenshot, the evidence could be improved, but having watched the market at this level for some two months and seen how these kind of buy and sell orders follow each other very closely, it’s obvious there is talking and coordinating within a team dedicated to fabricating a market impression. Normally, you would need to see how they moved in lockstep to identify this cooperation, but it’s particularly visible in this snapshot. (Besides, the visible order-splitting is enough to constitute tape-painting entirely on its own.)

Here’s the kicker, then: we have observed that the buy orders being executed – the ones with 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, etc. bitcoin at the moment at a price of 137.64xyz – belong to this shark squad. What happens when a trader sees the (false) image of a massive selloff going on, and sells in panic? Well, he’s selling his bitcoin into those buy orders to the shark squad, at the price they have set. Here, the price is 137.64. So the obvious question is, what happens next? Well, a fabricated price hike, of course, tricking other traders to buy those same bitcoin at higher prices from the coordinated shark squad. We’ll be returning to when and how that happens in step 4.

In Step 3, the shark squad puts up an enormous bidwall – so large it’s effectively a lid on the market – and lure other traders to sell into it, intending to sell the bought bitcoin at a higher price after the next fabricated hike. There is plenty of fake trading going on into these bidwalls as visible in step 2. We can also see that this lure is effective – look at the transaction history of bitcoin around these walls, and you can easily find trades of hundreds of coins amid the fake trading. Or perhaps it’s the shark squad selling to itself again with the transactions in the hundreds. Hard to know – most likely a mix of in-group trading and others being lured to sell. In any case, unsuspecting traders are selling into the shark squad‘s bidwalls. These lurewalls are easily identifiable in the close-up market history, as well as when they were removed:

In Step 4, finally, the price is hiked to new highs and the shark squad begins offloading its booty at higher prices, and the cycle repeats with them trading in-between themselves to give the appearance of market activity. That price hike happened at 15:25 Thursday, European time, up to 145 USD for this cycle, as also visible in the image above.

This cycle has repeated very visibly at least five times in the past weeks, and likely since much earlier in a variant version:

This – this illegal activity – is very troubling for the bitcoin ecosystem. . . .

13. “Dark Wallet: A Radical Way to Bitcoin” by Michael del Castillo; The New Yorker; 9/24/2013.

. . . . Wilson believes Bitcoin should remain the backbone of a separate economy that undermines the government’s ability to collect taxes and to control the value of currency—not be subsumed into the mainstream economy.

“The state is basically allowed because we have all chosen to use these certain institutions to channel our activity and commerce,” he told me. “But when we are enabled, through alternative means and technologies, to channel our commerce as we will, channel our production as we will, the state simply disappears.”

Not everyone agrees, of course, that society would benefit from the disappearance of governments. Wilson used the Liberator to make the point that the government shouldn’t regulate the flow of information; he wants to use Bitcoin to help build an economy outside of the government’s reach.

But his ideology, taken to its logical conclusion, would also leave services like roads, libraries, fire fighting, and policing in the hands of the private sector—whose interests may not be aligned, Wilson’s critics argue, with those of the public at large.

Wilson knows that he could see blowback for his stance against the foundation: as a self-described “crypto-anarchist,” perhaps he shouldn’t be so concerned with who is or isn’t determining the currency’s future. And if the U.S. government attempts to regulate the currency, which seems likely, Wilson will also find himself once again in direct opposition to the government. . . .

14. “Former PayPal CEO Signs Off on Bitcon” by Sam Biddle; ValleyWag; 5/16/2013.

Before he was one of the most powerful VCs in the world, Peter Thiel created PayPal, which deals in real dollars and boomed accordingly. If you think this might make him wary of unregulated internet funny money, you’re wrong: $2,000,000 wrong.
Thiel’s Founders Fund just wrapped a $2 million round for BitPay, which helps other companies accept Bitcoin payments—namely for things “like electronics, precious metals, and other low-margin products,” says TechCrunch.

The cash infusion comes only a week after Fred Wilson led a $5 million round in another company that does pretty much the exact same thing, and at a time when the most powerful Bitcoin exchange in the world is getting its ass kicked by the US government. [This is a reference to Silk Road–D.E..] . .

15. Despite press coverage representing Ron Paul and Mitt Romney as opponents, the two are close political allies.

“For Paul and Romney, a Strategic Alliance between Establishment and Outsider” by Amy Gardner; Washington Post; 2/1/2012.

. . . Despite deep differences on a range of issues, Romney and Paul became friends in 2008, the last time both ran for president. So did their wives, Ann Romney and Carol Paul. The former Massachusetts governor compliments the Texas congressman during debates, praising Paul’s religious faith during the last one, in Jacksonville, Fla. Immediately afterward, as is often the case, the Pauls and the Romneys gravitated toward one another to say hello.

The Romney-Paul alliance is more than a curious connection. It is a strategic partnership: for Paul, an opportunity to gain a seat at the table if his long-shot bid for the presidency fails; for Romney, a chance to gain support from one of the most vibrant subgroups within the Republican Party.

“It would be very foolish for anybody in the Republican Party to dismiss a very real constituency,” said one senior GOP aide in Washington who is familiar with both camps. “Ron Paul plays a very valuable part in the process and brings a lot of voters toward the Republican Party and ultimately into the voting booth, and that’s something that can’t be ignored.” . . .

16. The program concludes with more examination of Peter Thiel, the bankroller of Ron Paul’s Super PAC. Thiel is a big backer of bitcoin.

17. Thiel is also a financial angel for Senator Ted Cruz.

In FTR #’s 758759, we looked at the profound connections between the GOP fiscal terrorists of the “Paulistinian Libertarian Organization” and the milieu of Eddie Snowden. It should come as no surprise that Peter Thiel is a major backer of Ted Cruz.

Cruz, of course, is the GOP Senator from Texas who was at the forefront of the “shutdown milieu.”

Thiel is inextricably linked with PalantirRon Paul, the seasteading movement and Facebook.

In our discussions of Thiel, NEVER forget that he explicitly rejects democracy, in no small measure because he doesn’t think women should be allowed to vote.

“Reminder: Peter Thiel Is Ted Cruz’s Gay Billionaire Ally” by Sam Biddle; Valley Wag; 9/2/2013.

Where does a man like Ted Cruz get the confidence to IRL troll the United States Senate for 21 hours? Knowing that PayPal billionaire and Silicon Valley kingpin Peter Thiel has his back surely helps. . . .

Discussion

11 comments for “FTR #760 Bit[coin]burg–The Rebels Without a Clue”

  1. You sound better and better with each program and I am really glad about that. But trying to keep up with you is like trying to keep up with the road runner on speed. what I need is something like SPITFIRELIST FOR DUMMIES. because one reading does not do it for me to get all this information in my head. it is hard to believe that you are just one guy. but I am sure glad you are doing what you are doing, even if I have trouble keeping up with you.

    Posted by David | October 31, 2013, 3:26 pm
  2. One of the interesting aspects about the bitcoin phenomena is that the more people that start using bitcoin the greater the deflationary pressure on the value of the bitcoins. That’s because there’s a fixed maximum of 21 million bitcoins that can ever exist, so the greater the demand for bitcoins the more each bitcoin will cost in other currencies. With the Chinese market now warming up to bitcoin, and all those new potential users, we might see a fascinating example of a hyperdeflationary virtual gold bubble:

    Bloomberg
    Bitcoin Climbs to Record on Wider Acceptance, China Trade
    By Olga Kharif – Nov 6, 2013 5:38 PM CT

    Bitcoin’s price hit a record at $265 on the BitStamp online exchange, driven by wider acceptance of the virtual currency.

    The digital money, which can be used to pay for goods and services on the Internet, has risen 20-fold so far this year, as trading activity has increased. Bitcoins were trading at $251.36 apiece at 6:30 p.m. in New York on BitStamp, one of the more active Web-based exchanges where Bitcoins are traded for dollars, euros and other currencies.

    The rally comes a month after the closing of the “Silk Road Hidden Website,” where people could obtain drugs, guns and other illicit goods using Bitcoins. The virtual currency lost a third of its value in the days after the website was shut down. Bitcoins are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in China, said Ugo Egbunike, director of business development at IndexUniverse, an index-fund researcher.

    “I thought Silk Road is going to do some damage to the price,” Egbunike said. “But with BTC China buying this up — they seem to have picked up the slack.”

    BTC China is now the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, Nicholas Colas, a ConvergEx Group analyst, wrote in a Nov. 5 report.

    The virtual currency exists as software that’s designed to be untraceable, making it an attractive tender for those seeking to trade anonymously via the Web. There are about 30 transactions per minute, at an average amount of 16 Bitcoins, according to a report today by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

    Since anyone could conceivably create a competing version of bitcoin with different features, it’ll be interesting to see how long the bitcoin bubble will last. For instance, what happens if someone develops a digital currency where the transactions are much more anonymous than bitcoin’s. Or lower computation costs? The value of most money is backed by a government running an economy that the money can be spent in but bitcoins are supposed to be desirable for their utility (like anonymity) and the 21 million cap that prevents the hyperinflationary horrors of fiat currency. Will bitcoin have a point anymore if a better anonymous digital system comes? Can existing bitcoins be upgraded to a better system or will they be stuck as a low-tech pseudo-anonymous crap currency? That seems like a big question that needs to be answered by bitcoins long-term investors.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 7, 2013, 12:29 pm
  3. It would be pretty hilarious if Bitcoin, a currency cherished by haunted by hyperinflationary fears, because an object lesson in the dangers of deflation. But it’s hard to see how this lesson will be avoided if Bitcoin ever really caught on because one of the main features of the the currency is that it’s capped out at 21 million coins but you can divide each coin up into smaller and smaller pieces. Therefore, the reasoning goes, Bitcoin has defeated the inflation beast while still maintaining the scalability required to handle the volume of transactions in virtually any sized economy! Revolution awaits! And this is sort of true of Bitcoins but the victory over inflation also comes at the cost of built-in deflation correlated to the growth of the Bitcoin economy (imagine if dollars grew more expensive with the growth of the US economy). So the more Bitcoin grows in popularity the greater the deflation, the greater the payout to the earliest bitcoin investors, and the greater the temptation to keep holding onto those Bitcoins:

    Business Insider
    If You Believe In Bitcoin, You Should Never Buy Anything In Bitcoin
    Joe Weisenthal Nov. 10, 2013, 5:42 PM

    Many Bitcoin believers think that the digital currency will one day become the pre-eminent currency of the internet. They basically see it becoming the internet’s version of gold in that it’s naturally scarce, independent, virtually impossible to manipulate, and crucially suited for a digital world when money ought to be able to be moved seamlessly and at no cost.

    Well here’s a tip: If you think that this is true, then never use Bitcoin in a transaction.

    As more people have gotten into Bitcoin, the price has gone way up.

    Virtually everyone who has ever bought anything in Bitcoin has been a huge loser, who would have been better suited just holding onto the Bitcoins instead.

    Remember the pizza that was purchased for $25 in Bitcoins years back? Had the person not bought that pizza, it would be worth nearly $3 million. That purchase was a catastrophic decision, as that was probably the most expensive pizza of all time.

    Of course this presents a Catch-22. How can Bitcoin become a real currency if it’s not used in transactions? And why would anyone use it in transactions if becoming a real currency offers so much more price appreciation? This contradiction is a core problem, and it’s a reason why it’s probably doomed to fail (real currencies don’t have this issue, since central banks prevent rapid price appreciation, and they mandate that the currency be used).

    But really, if you’re thinking that Bitcoin is going to be huge, it’d be insane and irresponsible to buy anything with it.

    Part of what makes Bitcoin an extra fascinating pyramid scheme to watch unfold is that, unlike most pyramid schemes, Bitcoin could conceivably function as a viable currency but only if it’s not acting like a pyramid-scheme. It can’t do both at once. But it can potentially oscillate back and forth between the two…at least until a more anonymous competitor comes along and steals the entire market.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 11, 2013, 3:56 pm
  4. The Winklevoss twins, big Bitcoin investors, have a “bull case” scenario value for the entire 21 million Bitcoin economy: $400 billion, which is 100 times more than the current $4 billion capitalization. That’s ~$19,050/coin. At that point it’ll presumably be one big stable bubble:

    CNBC
    The Winklevosses: Bitcoin worth 100 times more
    Published: Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 | 9:19 AM ET
    By: Matthew J. Belvedere | Producer, CNBC’s “Squawk Box”

    The Winklevoss twins are screaming bulls on bitcoin.

    Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss—big investors in the digital currency—said Tuesday that bitcoin should be worth 100 times more than it’s valued today.

    “The bull case scenario is a $400 billion market cap. So the market cap is around $4 billion right now,” Tyler Winklevoss said in an interview at the Dealbook conference that aired on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

    The twins, who famously battled Mark Zuckerberg over the origins of Facebook, brought $11 million worth of bitcoin in April, when the virtual currency hit record highs of $266. It then plummeted.

    But bitcoin has surged into record territory again, hitting $385 in early Tuesday trading on Mt. Gox—one of the many exchanges for the digital currency.

    Cameron Winklevoss said he views their investment in bitcoin as a gold 2.0-play but also a bet on the technology: “The idea that payments are increasingly going to use a network like the bitcoin network to move money around the world.”

    The Winklevosses want to create a bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF), accessible to all investors. “We filed an amended S-1 in October. And we’re just still going through the process,” Cameron said.

    He explained how bitcoin works: “Miners mint bitcoins every 10 minutes. It’s basically a computer algorithm.” He said the computers built to mine are so specific “you couldn’t really do it as a hobbyist.”

    Last month, bitcoin plunged after U.S. authorities shut down the Silk Road site, an accused online purveyor of drugs and other illegal services. Bitcoin had been hit by the perception that it was used primarily for transactions on Silk Road, and many had expected demand to dry up after the website was closed.

    But Tyler Winklevoss said those concerns were never realized: “Prices are double what it was before Silk Road was shut down. So the demand to use bitcoin for illicit activity was clearly almost zero.”

    Mainstream merchants are slowly adopting bitcoin. Cameron pointed out that e-commerce platform Shopify announced it will accept bitcoin, and so has China portal Baidu.

    The digital currency has even made steps into the physical realm, with ATM manufacturer Robocoin launching the first bitcoin ATM in a Vancouver coffee shop.

    $19k Bitcoins, here we come!

    And there they go…

    ZDNet
    Hong Kong Bitcoin trading platform vanishes with millions

    Summary: As much as 30 million yuan (US$5 million) of investment could be lost in limbo as a Hong Kong-based Bitcoin trading platform vanishes.

    By Liu Jiayi for View from China | November 12, 2013 — 02:18 GMT (18:18 PST)

    When ardent Chinese Bitcoin investors found that they could no longer access the website of Global Bond Limited (GBL) in the early morning of October 26, it was already too late.

    One investor under the pseudonym of South American Vicuna organized an online group for the losing traders and told IT Times on Monday that more than 30 million yuan from 500 investors, many of whom sold homes to get in the virtual currency trade, could never be retrieved.

    According to the Vicuna, after the GBL’s website shutdown, it left only one message, saying that the site was compromised and investors who want to get back their investment data shall transfer money to a designated account. Now all contacts are not responding, and the company office in Hong Kong is as empty as the traders’ pockets.

    GBL self-proclaimed that the local government had approved virtual currency exchange back on June 8, and lured buyers in with high leverage rate and high yield. However, the too-obvious-to-ignore trading loophole in its trading system raised concerns, but the “always-winning” traders were too obsessed to get out, according to Vicuna.

    Vicuna, who is also the administrator of btcmini.net, another Bitcoin trading platform, is now helping victims scavenge evidence, if there was anything substantial.

    Many investors in Shanghai tried to ask the local police to investigate but failed. “When I told them GBL’s disappearance, the police asked me what is Bitcoin, and how many coin could people buy with one yuan,” said an investor to IT Times.

    Vicuna said that at the moment victims could only provide screen captures of transfers, account details, and IP addresses, none of which would be useful without police investigation.

    Yikes! Still, unscrupulous Bitcoin exchange operators are known danger to unregulated Bitcoin design. A new, greater danger for Bitopia might be emerging: Unscrupulous Bitcoin “miners” that become Bitcoin monopolists. Researchers have found that there is a mathematical advantage to “selfish mining” (Bitcoin mining cooperative) and it doesn’t require many miner working “selfishly” to undermine the system. Considering that Bitcoin is, in part, a celebration of Libertarian ideals it would be somewhat ironic if selfishness kills Bitcoin:

    MIT Technology Review
    Emerging Technology From the arXiv
    November 8, 2013

    Bitcoin Vulnerability Could Allow Malicious Miners to Seize Control

    One of Bitcoin’s big advantages is that it is decentralised with nobody in overall control. But now a simple strategy has emerged that could allow almost any group to take over, say computer security analysts.

    The digital currency Bitcoin is one of the zeitgeist phenomena of our time. Since 2009, it has grown from a digital curiosity to an online phenomenon. There are now some 11.5 million Bitcoins in circulation and each one is worth over $300.

    The Bitcoin system is specifically designed to overcome one of the serious flaws of previous digital currencies—the possibility of double spending; that two people could spend two copies of the same currency at the same time. It is also decentralised so that no single organisation or organised group of individuals can control the currency and prevent certain types of transactions.

    But Bitcoin may not be quite as secure as everybody thought. Today, Ittay Eyal and Emin Gun Sirer at Cornell University in Ithaca say they’ve discovered a flaw that allows any organised group of Bitcoin miners to take over the currency. And they say that some groups today are already big enough to do the job.

    First some background. Perhaps Bitcoin’s biggest advantage is its unique approach to preventing double spending. It does this by recording every transaction in a single log known as a blockchain. An individual account can only spend a Bitcoin if the blockchain records that it owns the Bitcoin in the first place.

    This log is protected by cryptopuzzles that can only be solved by large scale number crunching. When anybody solves such a puzzle, they can record new transactions and are rewarded with a fee in the form of new Bitcoins.

    Hence the emergence of Bitcoin miners. These are people who devote computing power to solve cryptopuzzles and are paid for their work in Bitcoins.

    If you’re thinking of a career as a Bitcoin miner, you’ll immediately run into a problem. The cryptopuzzles are so difficult that the chances of solving one by yourself is tiny. So Bitcoin miners work together in groups so that they can solve the problems more quickly. If any one of them solves a puzzle, they all share the proceeds.

    There are lots of groups to join and there’s no advantage in joining one over another. The received wisdom is that this keeps the mining decentralised.

    But now Eyal and Sirer say that’s not true and have worked out how a selfish group of miners could take over the currency. “We show that the conventional wisdom is wrong,” they say.

    The trick is to mine for Bitcoins but to keep the results secret. This creates a fork in the blockchain so that one half of the fork is public and the other half is secret.

    The Bitcoin system has a way of resolving these kinds of forks, which occur by accident from time to time. It requires miners to join the longest fork. The transactions in the other fork are then resubmitted for resolution.

    If the selfish miners make their fork longer than the public one, it becomes the chosen chain.

    The problem is that the number crunching done on the fork that is abandoned is wasted. So the selfish miners end up getting more than their fair share of Bitcoins. This “enables pools of colluding miners that adopt it to earn revenues in excess of their mining power,” say Eyal and Sirer.

    Having skewed the system in favour of selfish miners, other miners see that they can make more Bitcoins by joining this group. The result is a tipping point in which the Bitcoin mining system suddenly becomes dominated by a single group. And this group can exercise whatever control it likes over how transactions are recorded.

    Of course, selfish mining only reaches a tipping point if the selfish group consists of a certain fraction of Bitcoin miners. Groups that are smaller than this cannot force the system to tip.

    The key result that Eyal and Sirer have calculated is that the tipping threshold is close to zero zero. So almost any group could adopt the selfish mining strategy and end up controlling the system.

    Eyal and Sirer have a solution of sorts. This involves a changing the system so that it chooses one fork over another at random (rather than choosing the loner one). When this choice is random, then it is harder for the selfish miners to take control.

    But not that much harder. Eyal and Sirer calculate that this raises the tipping threshold to groups that control around 25 per cent of all Bitcoin mining. “Even with our proposed fix that raises the threshold to 25 per cent, the outlook is bleak: there already exist pools whose mining power exceeds the 25%,” they point out.

    Interestingly, if this is true, the investors trying to create Bitcoin’s competitors (like Peter Thiel who is betting both for and against Bitcoin) actually have an incentive to start their own Bitcoin Bankster cartel in order to undermine their existing Bitcoin competitor. But if you were able to create a Bitcoin Bankster cartel, would you even want to kill it? It’s kind of a Golden Goose at that point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 12, 2013, 10:18 am
  5. Finally, an economy worthy of Bitcoin’s awesomeness: Galt’s Gulch is for sale and they’re accepting Bitcoins:

    Galt’s Gulch Chile Becomes First Libertarian Community Accepting Bitcoin
    Galt’s Gulch Chile, a Libertarian real estate project in Chile, has become the first real estate project of its kind to accept bitcoin. Designed as a residential organic farming community with clean waters, organic foods, and renewable energy, the project raises the question: What can’t you buy with bitcoin now?

    Santiago, Chile (PRWEB) November 13, 2013

    As a philosopher and inventor, it is likely John Galt would have happily accepted bitcoin for the Galt’s Gulch depicted in Ayn Rand’s landmark novel “Atlas Shrugged”.

    Although Galt’s character did not know of bitcoin, his vision has become a reality with the Libertarian- fashioned community, Galt’s Gulch Chile. Today Galt’s Gulch Chile becomes the world’s first Libertarian real estate project to accept bitcoin.

    Galt’s Gulch Chile is a self-sustaining organic farming community located within the mild Mediterranean microclimate of central Chile. This realization of John Galt’s vision holds title to over 11,000 acres of pristine land with nearly 800 liters per second of registered underground and surface water rights. Galt’s Gulch Chile presents, for the first time, the opportunity to purchase real estate with the revolutionary new virtual currency bitcoin.

    Bitcoin has soared past all-time highs in recent weeks, reaching a price of nearly $400 in early November. Many analysts have repeated that one barrier to bitcoin’s mainstream acceptance is one’s inability to spend it on practical things.

    Alongside hundreds and thousands of other bitcoin businesses, Galt’s Gulch Chile has changed that.

    Galt’s Gulch Chile spokesperson Jeff Berwick, founder of StockHouse, TDV Media & BitcoinATM, has played a significant role in the early stages of bitcoin Berwick has been on Fox News, CNBC & Bloomberg to discuss the rise of bitcoin.

    “I can think of no better way to invest bitcoins than on real estate, especially legally protected land with clean water and organic farmland in quickly developing markets, like Chile” explained Berwick at a recent Spring Event at Galt’s Gulch Chile.

    “Just like bitcoins, I think land in emerging markets will only increase in value over the coming years. The US dollar and other fiat currencies will continue to collapse and we recommend those holding dollars to divest themselves of those dollars as soon as possible. We also want to show our commitment to bitcoin and accept it very happily as payment for land at Galt’s Gulch.”

    With architectural and ecological master plan design underway, Galt’s Gulch Chile has already invested many months of effort into making Galt’s Gulch a true non-fiction reality.

    Please refer to the GGC website for further details on the project and also register for on-going updates and opportunities for living in the community.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 13, 2013, 7:36 pm
  6. Sweet! There are about to be two more bubbles to invest your Bitcoins in: China’s housing bubble and DC’s morality bubble.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 15, 2013, 12:35 am
  7. Anonymous online marketplace that replaced Silk Road VANISHES… taking $100MILLION of users’ money with it

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2517244/Illegal-online-marketplace-replaced-Silk-Road-VANISHES–taking-100MILLION-users-money-it.html#ixzz2mUE3J7zp

    Posted by Vanfield | December 3, 2013, 10:52 pm
  8. On a side note, it looks like Golden Gate Capital did well for itself in the US fracking boom:

    December 8, 2013 5:21 pm
    Golden Gate Capital sells US Silica stake

    By Ed Hammond in New York

    Golden Gate Capital is selling its stake in US Silica in a deal that will make the San Francisco-based private equity group close to 10 times its initial investment.

    Golden Gate, which has been working with Jos A Bank on its bid to take over rival suit retailer Men’s Wearhouse, disposed of the remaining 8.5 per cent of US Silica’s shares that it had not already sold, according to a Friday filing.

    The private equity company bought US Silica, which provides sand and other chemicals needed for fracking, for $120m in 2008. The sale of its remaining stake takes its total proceeds to $1.15bn.

    Golden Gate has also teamed up with fellow private equity group Bain Capital to consider making a bid for Compuware, the business software maker, in a deal that could create a $9bn technology business

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 14, 2013, 6:51 pm
  9. It’s worth noting that the CEO of Butterfly Labs, one of the main bitcoin mining hardware companies, appears to back the theory that Satoshi Nakamoto is really the creation of a group of people affiliated with the financial sector and probably from Europe:

    International Business Times
    Bitcoin Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto is Anonymous-style Cell from Europe
    Expert says a group, with strong footing in financial sector, could be behind Bitcoin phenomenon

    By Vasudevan Sridharan | December 16, 2013 08:16 AM GMT

    As the mystery surrounding the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of the digital currency Bitcoin, continues to grow, it is believed that the ‘inventor’ could infact be the creation of a computer collective, IBTimes UK understands.

    Josh Zerlan, the Chief Operating Officer of Butterfly Labs and a person familiar with the Bitcoin network, has said it is highly likely that Nakamoto could be a group of people working the financial sector.

    Speaking to IBTimes UK on the sidelines of a Global Bitcoin Conference in Bangalore, India, Zerlan said: “One of the prevailing theories, I think has credibility, is that it was some group of people from financial sector that created this. They released it and stepped back and let it go. So, Satoshi Nakamoto is a group of people, I think, is a reasonable possibility.”

    When quizzed where the group of people might be based, Zerlan indicated they could probably be from the European continent.

    However, Zerlan from Butterfly Labs, which is involved in supplying hardware for mining Bitcoins, conceded: “Nobody knows who he really is. The name ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ is more like John Smith in English. So, it’s kind of a generic name.”

    He added that the recent speculation that Nakamoto could be the Japanese blogger and programmer Nick Szabo does not seem plausible, considering the style of writing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 17, 2013, 1:53 pm
  10. @Pterrafractyl–

    Don’t fail to note the latest FTR show, #764, following up on bitcoin.

    I’m producing shows on an almost weekly basis, so the “Update on For The Record Production” posts have been discontinued.

    Check the bottom of the front page of the website for the latest FTR programs.

    765 should be up soon.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | December 17, 2013, 6:11 pm
  11. @Dave: Yep, I didn’t see 764 all last week and just noticed it over the weekend. Excellent content in 764 ;).

    Another interesting fun-fact about Satoshi Nakamoto: whoever they are they have a lot of bitcoins. About 1 million of them:

    Wired
    Who Owns the World’s Biggest Bitcoin Wallet? The FBI

    By Robert McMillan
    12.18.13
    6:30 AM

    Who owns the single largest Bitcoin wallet on the internet? The U.S. government.

    In September, the FBI shut down the Silk Road online drug marketplace, and it started seizing bitcoins belonging to the Dread Pirate Roberts — the operator of the illicit online marketplace, who they say is an American man named Ross Ulbricht.

    The seizure sparked an ongoing public discussion about the future of Bitcoin, the world’s most popular digital currency, but it had an unforeseen side-effect: It made the FBI the holder of the world’s biggest Bitcoin wallet.

    The FBI now controls more than 144,000 bitcoins that reside at a bitcoin address that consolidates much of the seized Silk Road bitcoins. Those 144,000 bitcoins are worth close to $100 million at Tuesday’s exchange rates. Another address, containing Silk Road funds seized earlier by the FBI, contains nearly 30,000 bitcoins ($20 million).

    That doesn’t make the FBI the world’s largest bitcoin holder. This honor is thought to belong to bitcoin’s shadowy inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, who is estimated to have mined 1 million bitcoins in the currency’s early days. His stash is spread across many wallets. But it does put the federal agency ahead of the Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who in July said that they’d cornered about 1 percent of all bitcoins (there are 12 million bitcoins in circulation).

    In the fun house world of bitcoin tracking, it’s hard to say anything for certain. But it is safe to say that there are new players in the Bitcoin world — although not as many people are buying bitcoins as one might guess from all of the media attention.

    Satoshi stores his wealth in a large number of bitcoin addresses, most of them holding just 50 bitcoins. It’s a bit of a logistical nightmare, but most savvy Bitcoin investors spread out their bitcoins across multiple wallets. That way if they lose the key to one of them or get hacked, all is not lost.

    “It’s easier to keep track of one address, but it’s also most risky that way,” says Andrew Rennhack, the operator of the Bitcoin Rich List, a website that tracks the top addresses in the world of bitcoin.

    According to Rennhack, the size of the bitcoin universe has expanded over the past year, but the total number of people on the planet who hold at least one bitcoin is actually pretty small — less than a quarter-million people. Today, there are 246,377 bitcoin addresses with at least one bitcoin in them, he says. And many people keep their bitcoins in more than one address. A year ago, that number was 159,916, he says.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 18, 2013, 10:20 am

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