This is what's happening in Lebanon right now.
With dollars running low in Lebanon, ATMs are spitting back bank cards, and locals are panicking
November 22, 2019 at 7:10 p.m. GMT+1
BEIRUT — Over recent weeks, ATMs in Lebanon have been spitting back bank cards, refusing to provide dollars to those who ask for them, though people here have long used the American currency alongside the Lebanese pound. Dollars have virtually disappeared.
Panicked tenants have begun asking to pay their rent in pounds, but landlords are refusing to accept them as the local currency hemorrhages value. Some restaurants and bars have stopped taking credit cards, instead requiring cash to pay vendors. Other eateries have limited their menus, unable to pay for imported goods in dollars.
Lebanon is facing not just political turmoil, with daily protests across the country, but a financial emergency as well.
Even as demonstrators rail against the political elites they blame for the economic troubles, this deeply indebted country is facing an escalating liquidity crisis. The black market exchange rate has now soared to 1,900 pounds to the dollar, 26 percent higher than the official rate.
The dollar shortage is reverberating across the economy, suppressing consumer demand and driving up costs for Lebanon’s all-important service sector, which must pay vendors in dollars. Service industry employees are being laid off or given only 50 percent of their wages.
Banks had been closed altogether during a week-long strike called by the union representing banks staff over security concerns for employees. Many banks reopened Tuesday but have little to offer the public. A week ago, the Association of Banks in Lebanon set a $1,000 ceiling for withdrawals from U.S. dollar bank accounts and limited transfers abroad — which had been previously been halted altogether — to allow only for “urgent personal expenses.”
Some banks are even refusing to give customers the $1,000 they are supposedly allowed to withdraw. At least one bank refused to give dollars to customers who had opened accounts in other branches.
In downtown Beirut, spider web cracks have spread across the glass storefront of the Blom Bank, its walls and windows splashed with colorful graffiti echoing the chants of the protesters who have crowded into Lebanon’s streets: “Down with capitalism” and “We are not afraid.”
Security forces began standing guard out front this week, as they’ve done outside many other banks across the country.
One man stood in line to withdraw the remaining $300. He said he had taken his allotted $1,000 from another bank and was leaving for Canada to join his wife. “There is no future here,” he said, declining to give his name before shuffling off.
'Margin of tolerance' diminished
Over the past month, about $3.8 billion has been withdrawn from Lebanon’s banks, according to Jad Chaaban, an economics professor at the American University of Beirut.
These sizable withdrawals reflect a lack of confidence in the banking system and the wider economy, which is being undermined by a similar lack of trust in the political system. Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned Oct. 29 from his position after two weeks of nonstop protests against the political elite, and a new government has yet to be formed.
To sustain the fixed dollar-to-pound rate, Lebanon’s central bank must maintain foreign currency reserves. The Central Bank governor, Riad Salameh, has repeated recently that there are sufficient reserves and no liquidity issue, but people do not trust the central bank, Chaaban said. He said Lebanon needs an independent authority to carry out an audit and restore confidence in the banks.
Lebanon is one of the most indebted countries in the world, as measured by a debt-to-GDP ratio projected at 155 percent. After a 15-year civil war ended in 1990, the country’s rulers lowered corporate and income taxes and borrowed internationally to help resurrect the war-ravaged country. Lebanon later attracted foreign currency deposits by offering high-interest rates to maintain its stock of dollars.
These practices, however, widened the gap between the rich and the poor and fueled a yawning government budget deficit.
Lebanon’s economy and financial system have long been heavily dependent on remittances from the Lebanese diaspora abroad, which is larger than Lebanon’s resident population. In recent years, the flow of money into Lebanon has tapered off partly because of regional instability, according to Sami Nader, the director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs. More dollars have been flowing out of the country than into it, leaving Lebanon without enough dollars to cover its import bill and service its debt.
Lebanon’s economy has suffered in part from the spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria. The tiny Mediterranean country has struggled to deal with an inflow of hundreds of thousands of refugees, clashes near and across the border and a shutdown of vital trade routes.
The role of the Iran-backed militia, Hezbollah, which has a significant presence in the Lebanese parliament, is also a complicating factor for the economy. Because Hezbollah supports the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are engaged in a war with a Saudi-led military coalition, the “margin of tolerance” toward Lebanon among Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries has diminished, Nader said.
“Gulf countries constitute our strategic economic depth,” he said. “Not because we love them, but because 55 percent of remittances, which are the linchpin of our economy, come from the diaspora who live there.
“The international community has no reason to inject cash in the Lebanese market as long as Hezbollah is conducting Lebanon’s policies,” Nader said. “Why would Saudi Arabia step in to rescue a Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon that supports insurgents in the region who target Saudi with missiles?”
'They have ruined people's lives'
The protests, which erupted in mid-October, have targeted public corruption, and the anger has been exacerbated by rumors that some influential, well-connected people have been able to withdraw more than the maximum $1,000 a week.
“Banks are the lungs of the society. They are not just a company that is supposed to make money, but have a certain responsibility toward society,” said a real estate developer, whose name is being withheld because he fears reprisals. His company, which employed around 220 workers in 2017, now has only 15.
“Banks have proven they are not worthy enough to be in such a position. They have ruined people’s lives,” he said.
On the day the banks finally reopened earlier this week, employees watched the protests from behind the large glass facade of a bank headquarters, staring down at the hundreds of demonstrators banging pots and pans, chanting, “This country is for the workers; down with the capital’s authority.”
Clad in expensive suits and shiny shoes, some bankers and other bank employees stood in front of the building, watching or taking pictures. One employee changed into casual clothes and joined the protesters.
“We, bank employees, are not all enemies of the revolution,” the bank employee said on the condition of anonymity in order not jeopardize his job. “I changed into these clothes because the suit that I have to wear for work does not represent me or the class that I belong to.”
The most advanced money ever.....
Banks can't print more of it....
They say that no press is bad press, but that may not be true for Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency has been getting a lot of negative publicity lately, with both the Wolf of Wall Street and the CEO of JPMorgan (ahem, they’re two different people) calling the digital dollars a “fraud.” The investors’ concerns stem from the fact that the increasingly popular monetary system currently has no government backing and is based on “artificial scarcity.” Despite this lack of government support, federal regulators are certainly taking notice of Bitcoin. Last month, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged a hedge fund company with fraud, misappropriation, and issuing false account statements in its operation of what they called a “Bitcoin Ponzi scheme” that bilked $60,000 out of investors. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently charged both a real estate and diamond sales company with defrauding investors after prompting them to sink money into an “initial coin offering” (ICO), the first of its kind. A New York Times columnist described ICOs: “Imagine that a friend is building a casino and asks you to invest. In exchange, you get chips that can be used at the casino’s tables once it’s finished. Now imagine that the value of the chips isn’t fixed, and will instead fluctuate depending on the popularity of the casino, the number of other gamblers and the regulatory environment for casinos. Oh, and instead of a friend, imagine it’s a stranger on the internet who might be using a fake name, who might not actually know how to build a casino, and whom you probably can’t sue for fraud if he steals your money and uses it to buy a Porsche instead.” Buyer beware!
After bitcoin becomes too expensive for the average person to deal with it in whole bitcoins (already the case for some people), we will begin dealing, speaking, and thinking in smaller units like millibitcoin and microbitcoin, but the most elemental bitcoin unit is the satoshi.
How many satoshis are there (or at maximum)? This many:
Which is found by multiplying the maximum 21 million bitcoin by the number of satoshis per bitcoin, which is 100 million.
How do you pronounce that huge number? Like this:
"Two quadrillion one hundred trillion."
How many satoshis are available to us now (have been mined)?
Well, we've mined about 15 million bitcoin out of the 21 million maximum. Times 100 million that comes out to:
or, "One quadrillion five hundred trillion."
How many satoshis is that for each human being alive today? Taking a 7-billion approximation, that comes out to:
214,285 satoshis per human being.
In a total bitcoin-takeover scenario, where bitcoin truly moons and comes out to a price of, say, $3 million per coin and goes into worldwide use, each satoshi would have to be worth about 3-cents.
Thus, even in a total-bitcoin-victory scenario, it seems that there are enough satoshis in the world to run commerce at even the smallest level.
First of all, the fundamentals of Bitcoin are excellent and the revolution it is leading continues to advance month after month, block after block. The number of Bitcoins that can be put into circulation is known to all. Thus, in 2030, the maximum supply for Bitcoin will always be 21 million.
The demand for Bitcoin will increase in the coming years and with 8.6 billion people on Earth, the scarcity of Bitcoin will cause a sharp increase in its price.
8,600,000,000 population on Earth
Since there are only 21,000,000 bitcoin in existence and a growing world population doesn’t that allow for some math simulations?
Just curious what you think if it were left “unchecked”.
Friday, Dec. 6 — crypto markets have continued to rebound after a sharp sell-off on Dec. 4, with Bitcoin (BTC) briefly reclaiming $7,500.
The bullish momentum is observed across all the top 20 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, with just Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC) and Unus Sed Leo (LEO) seeing some losses at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, Chainlink (LINK) and Cosmos (ATOM) are reporting the biggest gains among the top 20 over the past 24 hours, both up around 4%, according to Coin360.
Market visualization. Source: Coin360
After trading around $7,400 price point for the better part of the day, Bitcoin spiked to hit an intraday high of $7,576 in a matter of minutes. At the time of publication, the major cryptocurrency is up 1%, trading at $7,450.
Despite renewed upward movement, Bitcoin is still down over 3.5% on the past seven days as it failed to retest $7,800 on Nov. 30. Over the past 30 days, Bitcoin is still down around 20% from $9,286.
Major U.S. financial regulator approves a new BTC futures-focused fund
The new spike in Bitcoin’s price comes alongside news that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission approved another Bitcoin derivatives fund. As reported by Cointelegraph, BTC futures-focused NYDIG Bitcoin Strategy Fund is now allowed to offer its shares to institutional investors.
The upward movement on crypto markets may be caused by the approaching Christmas holidays, according to a new report from analysts at crypto exchange SFOX. According to the researchers, Bitcoin searches on Google usually peak before holidays, not after. As such, on Nov. 28 — Thanksgiving in the U.S. — Bitcoin saw three consecutive days of price growth, the firm stated.
Meanwhile, Twitter crypto personality Bitcoin Macro recently predicted that 2020 will be a “mind blowing year for crypto,” while “2019 was, and still is, the year to accumulate.”
The total market capitalization accounts for $202.5 billion at the time of publication.
Keep track of top crypto markets in real time here
Speaking at ELEV8CON in Las Vegas on Dec. 10, founder and CEO of Celsius Network Alex Mashinsky said that there is a war brewing between centralized and decentralized networks.
"The centralization of the Internet by companies such as Facebook and Google has created a distorted reality where fake news and blatant lies get the same treatment as documented truths,” said Mashinsky.
Mashinsky said that the rise of centralized social media networks has resulted in an increase in fake news, causing a great deal of confusion regarding the basic facts of issues and events.
Mashinsky also noted that fake news stories tend to increase reader engagement, which is then gets converted into huge profits for companies like Facebook and Google.
“If such lies bring engagement (which is immediately converted into huge profits) then they deserve to be pushed and promoted by the world’s best algorithms, which work tirelessly to extract every dollar out of them. No need to worry about our democracy or human rights, corporate mega-profits can cure all ills if we just issue PR that we donated 1% of what we made to a school or the disabled,” said Mashinsky.
A blockchain-based solution
Mashinsky told Cointelegraph that a blockchain-based data platform is the only solution capable of combating fake news. A system such as this can verify the identity of users and the authenticity of data, bringing a much-needed layer of transparency to the online world.
Mashinsky mentioned that a project like EOS Voice, which uses blockchain technology to record the inner operations of its network, will be one of the first decentralized applications to bring trust to the internet. EOS Voice is a social media platform that was unveiled by EOS creator Bock.One. The beta version is scheduled to launch on Feb.14, 2020.
Unlike centralized social media networks that extract personal user information without permission, all operations across EOS Voice are recorded on the blockchain. Moreover, while Mashinsky noted that social networks are vulnerable to fake news due to the fact that anyone can post whatever they please, EOS Voice users must verify their identities. This provides a way to decrease fake accounts and illegitimate content, as everything posted can be traced back to specific people.
Yet while platforms like EOS Voice are being brought to market, Mashinsky pointed out that gaining user traction remains a challenge.
“Platforms designed to protect us and act in our best interest already exist. We are just waiting for 7 billion people to discover them. When they do, the entire internet will become an application on the blockchain” said Mashinsky.
To his point, Mashinsky presented a slide during his keynote entitled, “Blockchain Economics.” Written on the slide was “E=MC2”. In this case, E stood for Ethereum, M stood for members, and C stood for Consensus.
“If you want the Ethereum blockchain to ever be valuable you need members and consensus,” explained Mashinsky.
Mashinsky ended his keynote by explaining that we already went through the blockchain hype curve, but that we still need to cross the chasm. He noted that stable coins are a great stepping stone to get people to understand the potential of cryptocurrency. He also recommended to stop using centralized networks entirely:
“The amazing thing is that if we stop this addiction, Facebook will lose their power and disappear just as fast as they got hold of it. How do I know that? I helped make the old phone companies that charged $700 a month to disappear. Now, it’s free because [Voice over IP] allows us to take the power back and leave these toll collectors behind. It is up to us to decide if the future will be more centralized or decentralized.”
“A lot of the dismissals, criticisms and attacks on Bitcoin come from people who have the luxury of having a stable financial system,“ says Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation. If we are not provided with options in terms of transactions, it can often be exploited by authoritarian regimes. At Slush, Alex takes the stage to explain how money has evolved and how cryptocurrencies matter for the future of freedom.
Marc Andreessen on Bitcoin: "Bitcoin is still working today, exactly the same as it worked last year and the year before that and the year before that. By all the noise and all of the stuff and all of the crashes and this and that and the other thing, it just continues to work."
Last fall—back when you were chomping on romaine lettuce without a care in the world—bitcoin was busy steamrolling any and all naysayers on its way to a peak near $20,000. But today? The biggest cryptocurrency is wallowing closer to $4,000. Prices have plummeted as even the most bullish crypto investors start to reconsider. So how'd we get here, you ask? Well...
By Guest Nicole
By The Librarian
Bitcoin was developed to replace the current banking system which has failed most of humankind.
Its growth is almost exponential and it will soon threaten the US dollar and gold as the International Reserve currency of choice.
How much longer until the prophecy at Ezekiel 7 is fulfilled where it says:
19 They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of theÂ Lord:Â they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity. Another version says:
Â“Â‘They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will become abhorrent to them...."
Some might ponder whether the rising growth of Bitcoin can be seen as a barometer for the proximity of Armageddon?
via TheWorldNewsOrgWorld News
via TheWorldNewsOrgWorld News
I thought from some previous readings that Craig Wright from Australia was the creator of bitcoin.
Others point toward people who used to be a part of bitgold.
Who do you think Satoshi Nakamoto really was/is?
Bitcoin's blockchain distributed ledger has a limit of 7 transactions being written to it per second.
This is obviously not enough to handle global commerce.
How do bitcoin fans defend this major flaw?
Has anyone made a decent workaround yet?
In the past I remember that certain RSA keys had 256k encryption and the higher the number the tighter the encryption. Later I would learn that RSA itself was cracked.
How strong is bitcoin encryption?
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