Monday, 17 May 2021

Elon Musk Dismantles Bitcoin Bit by Bit

FORBES: Like plucking the petals off a tulip, Elon Musk seems to be on a one-man mission to bring down Bitcoin. We’ll guess at why he’s doing it in a minute. Let’s first focus on what he’s doing and what it means for Bitcoin.

The current drama started on January 29, 2021. It was on that day that Elon Musk added the hashtag #Bitcoin to his Twitter bio. Bitcoin skyrocketed from $32,000 to $38,000 on the news. So much for fundamentals.

Two days later in a Clubhouse chat he described Bitcoin as a “good thing:” “I do at this point think bitcoin is a good thing, and I am a supporter of bitcoin.”

Then in February Tesla disclosed in an SEC filing that the electric carmaker had purchased $1.5 billion in Bitcoin. It also announced that it would begin accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment. » | Rob Berger | Monday, May 17, 2021

Lebanon in Free-fall: 'For Me, the Country Now Is a Large Jail'

Lebanon is undergoing financial and economic collapse.

The country's currency has lost around 85% of its value and the majority of the population could soon face acute poverty.

The BBC met one nurse who explains what the disintegration of the country means to him

The Fear That Haunts Markets – Is Inflation Coming Back?

THE OBSERVER: Economies are now so heavy with savings and state cash that rising prices cannot be ruled out. But will it happen?

The spectre of inflation had investors on the run last week. With no handbook to guide them on how economies behave in a pandemic, markets are struggling to predict whether a post-Covid recovery will be so strong as to bring with it a tidal wave of spending that sends prices spiralling.

Investors are spooked because rising inflation, which threatens investment and consumer spending, would need to be tamed by a rise in currently rock-bottom interest rates – and that would be anathema to markets and a corporate sector that have grown used to cheap money.

At the beginning of last week, stock markets panicked when figures suggested US inflation had already started to take off, adding to concerns that it could take hold in the UK. By the time markets closed on Friday, the panic seemed to have abated and stocks had risen. But the debate on whether inflation will take root around the world has begun. What is the likely way ahead? » | Phillip Inman | Saturday, May 15, 2021

Friday, 14 May 2021

Wales to Launch Pilot Universal Basic Income Scheme

THE GUARDIAN: Campaigners hail ‘huge moment’ as first minister commits to trials of payments to cover living costs

A pilot universal basic income (UBI) scheme is to be launched in Wales, the first minister, Mark Drakeford, has revealed.

The new minister for social justice, Jane Hutt, a close ally of Drakeford’s, will be asked to work on the pilot.

Under a UBI system, every citizen, regardless of their means, receives regular sums of money for life to cover the basic cost of living. Its proponents argue that it can alleviate poverty and give people time to retrain and adapt to changing workplaces, be more creative and become more active and engaged. » | Steven Morris | Friday, May 14, 2021

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Inflation Is Here. What Now?

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Prices are rising fast, in ways that seem temporary, yet this could change expectations in ways that are self-reinforcing.

The central fact of the American economy in mid-2021 is that demand for all sorts of goods and services has surged. But supplies are coming back slowly, with the economy acting like a creaky machine that was turned off for a year and has some rusty parts.

The result, as underlined in new government data this week, is shortages and price inflation across many parts of the economy. That is putting the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve in a jam that is only partly of their own making.

Higher prices and the other problems that result from an economy that reboots itself are frustrating, but should be temporary. Still, the longer that the surges in prices continue and the more parts of the economy that they encompass, the greater the chances that Americans’ psychology about prices and inflation could shift in ways that become self-sustaining. » | Neil Irwin | Thursday, May 13, 2021

Elon Musk Says Tesla Will No Longer Accept Bitcoin due to Fossil Fuel Use

THE GUARDIAN: Digital currency, which is made with an energy-intensive process, falls 17% after the tweet

Tesla has suspended customers’ use of bitcoin to purchase its vehicles, Elon Musk said on Wednesday, citing concerns about the use of fossil fuel for bitcoin mining.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest digital currency, fell almost 17% after the tweet to its lowest point since the beginning of March. It recovered slightly in Asian trading but was still off 12% at $50,933 early on Thursday morning.

Musk said Tesla would not sell any bitcoin, and intends to use bitcoin for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy.

“We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use <1% of bitcoin’s energy/transaction,” Musk said.

Musk said in March that Tesla customers can buy its electric vehicles with bitcoin. » | Reuters | Thursday, May 13, 2021

Dogecoin’s record-breaking rise shoots ‘joke’ cryptocurrency to wider attention »

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Electric Batteries, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel: Carmakers Look for Energy Solutions | DW News

No car manufacturer can avoid electromobility. After long start-up difficulties, everyone has made this a priority. In order to achieve the climate protection goals (see the occasion today) and not least because China, the important car sales market, is demanding more electrical outlets. Batteries are needed for e-cars. However, their production is currently still dominated by Asian companies that do not necessarily build cars. In view of the rapidly growing e-fleets, some car manufacturers want to take this into their own hands.

At the same time the demand for green hydrogen will skyrocket in the next few years. This requires a lot of green electricity, for example from wind turbines. But the expansion of onshore wind farms is only progressing slowly. And at the same time, functional wind turbines are even being demolished.

Where will the electricity come from to switch to green hydrogen?

Goldman Sachs Executive Quits after Making Millions from Dogecoin

THE GUARDIAN: The crypto asset is down more than 30% this week but is still up by more than 1,000% from the start of 2021

A senior manager at Goldman Sachs in London has quit the US investment bank after making millions from investing in Dogecoin, the joke crypto asset which has risen by more than 1,000% in value this year.

City sources said Aziz McMahon, a managing director and head of emerging market sales, had resigned from the bank after making money from investing in the digital currency based on the Doge internet meme.

Backed by famous supporters including the Tesla founder, Elon Musk, the rapper Snoop Dogg and the Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, the digital asset similar to bitcoin has soared in value over recent months.

Based on an internet meme – a humorous online phrase or photo, on this occasion a dog called Doge – the cryptocurrency rose above $0.72 (£0.51) against the dollar last week in anticipation of Musk’s appearance on the hit US TV show Saturday Night Live.

It has plunged by more than 30% this week since Musk’s appearance to about $0.50, according to Coindesk. However, it is still up by more than 1,000% from the start of 2021. » | Richard Partington | Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Democracy at Work: Curing Capitalism | Richard Wolff | Talks at Google (2017)

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York City. He wrote Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism and founded, a non-profit advocacy organization of the same name that promotes democratic workplaces as a key path to a stronger, democratic economic system.

Professor Wolff discusses the economic dimensions of our lives, our jobs, our incomes, our debts, those of our children, and those looming down the road in his unique mixture of deep insight and dry humor. He presents current events and draws connections to the past to highlight the machinations of our global economy. He helps us to understand political and corporate policy, organization of labor, the distribution of goods and services, and challenges us to question some of the deepest foundations of our society.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Nearly 40% of AstraZeneca Investors Reject Boss’s Bonus Rise

THE GUARDIAN: Covid vaccine maker passes its remuneration policy but suffers sizeable rebellion

AstraZeneca has suffered a substantial shareholder rebellion over proposals to hand its chief executive, Pascal Soriot, bigger bonus awards for the second consecutive year.

Nearly 40% voted against the policy, which could hand him pay and perks of nearly £18m for 2021.

At the company’s annual meeting in Cambridge, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker managed to win approval for its remuneration policy, which required support from shareholders holding more than 50% of the firm’s stock, but investors owning 39.8% of the shares opposed it. » | Julia Kolleweand Damien Gayle | Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Pascal Soriot »

China’s ‘Long-Term Time Bomb’: Falling Births Stunt Population Growth

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Only 12 million babies were born last year, the lowest number of births since 1961, providing fresh evidence of a looming demographic crisis that could complicate Beijing’s ambitions.

China’s population is growing at its slowest pace in decades, with a plunge in births and a graying work force presenting the Communist Party with one of its gravest social and economic challenges.

Figures for a census conducted last year and released on Tuesday showed the country’s population at 1.41 billion people, about 72 million more than those counted in 2010. This was the narrowest increase recorded since the Communist Party conducted its first census, in 1953.

Only 12 million babies were born in China last year, according to Ning Jizhe, the head of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the fourth year in a row that births have fallen in the country. That makes it the lowest official number of births since 1961, when a widespread famine caused by Communist Party policies killed millions of people, and only 11.8 million babies were born.

The figures show that China faces a demographic crisis that could stunt growth in the world’s second-largest economy. China faces aging-related challenges similar to that of developed countries, but its households live on much lower incomes on average than the United States and elsewhere. » | Sui-Lee Wee | Published” Monday, May 10, 2021; Updated: Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Saturday, 1 May 2021

More Than 3 Million Lebanese Face Poverty

More than three million Lebanese - almost half the population - are facing a tough Ramadan. The monthly cost of iftar, or the meal to break their fast, now costs 2.5 times the minimum wage. The World Bank says food prices there have become the highest in the region. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr has more from Beirut, Lebanon.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Biden Attempts to Consign Trickle-down Economics to the Dustbin of History

THE GUARDIAN: Analysis: why the president wants to build the US economy from the middle and bottom, not top down

Cut taxes on the rich. Unleash a wave of entrepreneurship. Growth will pick up and more jobs will be created. Everybody benefits. That, in essence, is trickle down – a theory of economics that Joe Biden wants to consign to the dustbin of history.

The US president was a young politician when the idea that cutting taxes on the well-off would be good for the poor first came into vogue in the 1970s. Now he has used his first address to a joint session of Congress to call on the US’s top 1% to pay for his $1.8tn (£1.3tn) American families plan – higher spending in areas such as education, childcare and infrastructure.

Anticipating pushback from Republicans on Capitol Hill, Biden had a simple message. It was time, he said, to build the country from the middle and the bottom outwards, not from the top down. Trickle down has never worked,” he said. » | Larry Elliott | Thursday, April 29, 2021

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Caspar Hirschi | Krisen über Krisen – das Ende der Welt, wie wir sie kennen?

Weltfinanz-, Euro- und Schuldenkrise, Corona-Pandemie, beschleunigter Klimawandel und Zerfall der liberalen Weltordnung: Die Krisen der Gegenwart scheinen sich zu häufen. Ist das tatsächlich so oder nur eine Frage erhöhter medialer Selbstwahrnehmung? Geschichte verlief immer schon krisenhaft, und oft waren es Krisen, die dem Fortschritt unter Schmerzen zum Durchbruch verhalfen. Wie krisenfest sind wir heute? Wer steht in der Verantwortung? Sind wir wirklich fähig, aus Krisen zu lernen?

Über die Turbulenzen unserer Epoche sowie die Möglichkeiten ihrer Bewältigung und Strategien dazu unterhält sich der NZZ-Chefredaktor Eric Gujer mit dem Historiker Caspar Hirschi.

Sendung vom 21.03.2021