However three years on, crypto still does not have a "killer app" and is 99.99% used for speculation. Bitcoin's narrative has had to morph from "digital currency" to "digital gold".
But in the depths of the March panic, Tether jumped the shark in order to backstop the entire crypto ecosystem, and they can never put that genie back in the bottle. Much like the Fed who cannot stop monetizing US deficits for fear of letting yields explode, the Tetheral Reserve must continue to print USDT in order to support prices. Exchanges cannot let this fail since the vast majority do not have access to the bonafide banking system and thus scrappy users must devise "fiat onramps".
There are many theories about why, the predominant one being that iFinex know they are screwed, and are making one last cash grab before presumably disappearing. This sounds fairly reasonable if the entire operation is indeed a sham, but it means there is effectively no upper bound to BTC prices because the denominator in 90% of the market (USDT) is effectively zero.
Tether has become too big to fail. Bitcoin now finds itself a high tech manifestation of the very thing that Satoshi sought to address.
The narrative around bitcoin has always been "It is digital currency. It works like gold". Hence the notion of "mining".
EDIT: downvote me if you want but you are flat wrong
Section 6 in the bitcoin whitepaper explicitly likens bitcoin to gold 
>The steady addition of a constant of amount of new coins is analogous to gold miners expending
resources to add gold to circulation
I wholeheartedly agree with this. Let's look at some Reddit /r/bitcoin posts in January 2014:
People were discussing bitcoin being used as a digital currency. There was talk of bitcoin being accepted on Overstock.com, TigerDirect, and using bitcoin apps on phones as a digital wallet. I would argue the majority of people in the bitcoin community at the time were genuinely interested in the technology and its use as an everyday currency.
Now let's look at some Reddit /r/bitcoin posts in January 2020. I picked this date because there weren't any recent significant price fluctuations.
There was practically zero discussion on using bitcoin as a currency. People were only interested in the price and treated it as a commodity, just like a digital gold.
> EDIT: downvote me if you want but you are flat wrong
Do people treat bitcoin as a currency or a commodity today?
I don't think we need to get into whether or not gold is a currency or a commodity but you are fooling yourself if you think that the price of gold is driven by jewelers and PCB fabs.
Long term the price is driven by the mining cost.
Bitcoin lightning could change this, instant transactions with almost no fees, but it's still in early days.
Reading about the Lightning Network gives me a headache in general, but Phoenix manages to hide all the tech stuff. I think my old parents would be able to use it.
And it solves one LN problem of having to have bitcoin for opening a payment channel, you can simply install the wallet and start receiving bitcoin.
This is a very amateurish attempt at analyzing what "Bitcoin community" (which you haven't even really defined properly either) are thinking or are interested in. Bitcoin reddit is a bunch of kids who like memes and hating on the FED. I know a lot of serious investors who would never be seen posting or commenting there. It is just not a place for a lot of people.
All the original Bitcoin adopters from the beginning moved discussion there.
It was expected (again, as stated in the whitepaper) that truncating transactions (in order to shrink blocks that are "old enough") would be able to manage block size well enough to stay reasonable.
In my experience (circa ~2011,) this expectation seemed to be generally accepted without much question by anyone talking about bitcoin. If it was acknowledged as a flaw it was usually hand-waved as only likely to be a problem 10+ in the the future.
edit: Or that a new network would learn from the bitcoin experiment and implement a protocol that works better at large scale.
It's also more secure than Bitcoin due to a higher decentralization coefficient.
In the original bitcoin software a node would receive every transaction made while it was online twice: once when the transaction was first relayed, once when it was placed into blocks. This was obviously wasteful, so we created and deployed a reconciliation scheme that exploits the fact that normally all, or almost all the included transactions are already known. https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0152.mediawi...
But because Bitcoin developers are not dishonest scammers they didn't run around putting out (no kidding) press releases claiming "98.6% compression"-- though that's what you get if you compare the size of the BIP152 message to the size of the block. In reality, since it depends on the transaction being known in advance the unachievable limit for this class of approaches is a 50% bandwidth reduction for a node compared to the original behaviour. BIP152 achieves 49.3% out of that 50%, as measured on the latest block.
Even before compact blocks was created back in December 2015, we knew even smaller could be achieved. E.g. we published a scheme that requires asymptotically 0 bytes per transaction, only requiring data proportional to size of the difference between the block and the recipients guess at the next block. But what we found is that the simpler scheme actually propagated blocks much faster because once the block is down to just a few thousand bytes other factors (like CPU time) dominate. Expending a lot of additional code and cpu time to take 49.3% closer to 50% isn't a win in actual usage.
[And for considerations other than block propagation, saving a few extra bytes per block is extremely irrelevant.]
It's also the case that some of these dishonestly hyped supposed improvements beyond what Bitcoin has done for years are actually totally brain-damaged and wouldn't work in practice because they're not robust against attack-- but there isn't much reason to dive into technical minutia because what they _claim to achieve_, once you strip off the dishonest marketing, isn't all that interesting.
Thanks for this.
The only explanation I can think of is that they are relying on a sidechannel to communicate the actual transactions, which makes sense in the miner case (the utxo pool) but not in the general node case.
Beyond that, I run a BTC node occasionally and the bottleneck is validating blocks, not downloading them. Transactions are complicated enough right now that I'm only able to catch up at about 350x real-time (that is, it takes around a full cpu-day to validate a year of blocks/transactions).
Can you provide links to these discussions? I searched around on google and all the results are relating to bitcoin cash. I also searched the usual places that bitcoin (non cash) people congregate and turned up nothing.
Stop with the storage space nonsense. The only people even storing the entire chain are enthusiasts, servers and miners. Saying "what if it gets a thousand times as many transactions" is ridiculous, but it still wouldn't be a problem. A few gigabytes a day? A $300 dollar hard drive would still take a decade to fill up. I think the few that sync the entire chain handle that.
Aside from that, people figured Moore's Law would continue at its historical pace, and Bitcoin could grow indefinitely at the same pace.
In fact the whitepaper even opens with describing Bitcoin's usage for commerce. The very first paragraph in the introduction!
The narrative has indeed changed to "digital gold" after it's made abundantly clear that Bitcoin is no longer suitable for commerce.
The emission of new bit coins following the "mining" of new blocks is like the minting of new gold coins following the mining of raw gold.
Because bitcoins are like gold coins.
I agree that neither gold nor bitcoin are suitable for commerce. But the narrative around and apparent intent behind bitcoin from in the beginning was "It is digital currency. It works like gold".
In the olden days, gold was actually a currency. The supply of coins you could produce was limited by the precious metals you had. The amount of paper money you could issue was limited by the amount of gold bars you had. In this system, gold is still acting like a currency; but a currency with very real limitations on the ability of any institution to manage it. . This was the original meaning of digital gold.
In contrast, modern gold is not used as a currency. It is used as a commodity and store of value; and a hedge against inflation.
 Unlike gold though; bitcoin actually has a predictable issuance schedule. There is no sudden spike in Bitcoin supplies because prospective suddenly discovered a rich vein.
The same issue would arise if the USA started printing dollars and buying physical gold with it. Is that right?
It has not been that for years. It failed miserably as a currency, and the current narrative is that it is a "store of value".
It would seem to me that if transparent stablecoins with utility are going up, the simplest explanation for tether going up is that it serves the same role for people who have either become accustomed to it from its earlier availability, or have it as their only option due to jurisdiction. Not anything nefarious.
There seems to be little actual evidence to support conspiracy theories that Bitcoin's price movements are due to mismanagement of tether.
I personally dislike Tether and avoid it, but strong claims require strong evidence.
FWIW, I don't have a strong opinion on the evidence presented in the paper -- the analyses seem sensible, but this isn't my field of expertise, so I'd be hard pressed to point out, for example, what alternative analyses they could / should have done.
Also, it's not even obvious to me that unbacked Tether causing the BTC price rallies is necessarily a reason to pull out; markets are weird.
The killer app is decentralized, permissionless, open source, and censorship resistant network.
Bitcoin's narrative has had to morph from "digital currency" to "digital gold".
Gold morphed from worthless rocks in the the ground, to coins traded by traveling merchants, to stores of value that were eventually centralized and monopolized by governments.
I don't trust them either, but we need more evidence of this alleged printing. We saw that they did remove the 1:1 peg briefly when Crypto Capital in Panama (?) froze a few hundred million of their USD.
Bitcoin now finds itself a high tech manifestation of the very thing that Satoshi sought to address.
Bitcoin is sound. The centralized exchange layer built on top of it is dirty.
That’s like saying the killer app of the internet is the internet.
The web gives me access to information quicker and easier than going to a library or bookshop. Email and IM means I can communicate with people in other countries quicker and easier than I could by post. Crypto doesn’t change anything.
A few drug dealers and some people living in countries with hyperinflation may care about “permissionlessness” and “censorship* resistance”, but for most people, actual money is far, far more convenient.
* That’s some Orwellian newspeak, btw. If someone defrauds me and a court of law ensures that I am restituted, the reversal of that fraudulent transaction isn’t “censorship” because stealing money isn’t “speech” or “expression”.
For example, Chinese can use bit coin to exchange large amount of funds to other currency, although this can only be done in private because the official ban.
Maybe I should be more clear in the OP.
That's the "how" part, not the "what". What's the killer app implemented using that network? What do we do with it?
A replacement for gold is one.
Gold is relatively stable and has physical backing. BTC does not.
Up to 4% of China's gold reserves could be fake. Gold fraud article: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/worl...
Bitcoin is open source and completely auditable in an instant.
As the price of gold goes up, the quantity supplied goes up. Bitcoin's issuance protocol is fixed and unchangeable unless the network agrees.
The cost of securing or transporting $1b of gold bars is magnitudes higher than the cost of securing $1b of Bitcoin.
In all seriousness, securing the value of Bitcoin is the problem that is not easily solved.
Securing external value to people is not a goal or responsibility of Bitcoin. That's simply a consequence to how we as humans choose to use scarce assets.
Fair enough, but then your comparison to physical gold is meaningless. Physical gold is generally used to store value, not to transfer it.
For that purpose, you have paper money (or paper gold such as futures) which is cheap to transfer.
Bitcoin is about 12 years old.
Tell someone from the past to imagine having godlike computing power in your pocket, and they'd say "why would anyone want that?"
Computers that are decades old, which were "disruptive technology" at the time, are scrapped today - for their gold.
I can make a $12,000,000 transaction for $.35 but if I actually want to get the money, I have to pay 2.5% to a legit exchange or take my chances on some janky ass exchange. Why not just transfer the money via ACH and pay the small fee and save myself the headache?
I pay 0.15% and the exchange has been around for a decade without ever losing funds. It's even now licensed as a bank in the U.S.
Mentioned in another thread, the Phoenix wallet more or less solves this on the Lightning Network.
Yes, but what can I do with that other than toot/tweet/twit at other people and buy LSD tabs?
Whatever Wikileaks originally was, it is now a Russian propaganda tool. Go ahead and try to post leaks critical of Russia on Wikileaks, or for that matter, of Donald Trump. Why would I want to donate to a website that is openly seeking the destruction of my country?
With IPFS you can host and access files that can't be censored. (same level of censorship resistance as torrents)
With Monero you can transact free from surveillance.
The biggest applications on Ethereum right now is decentralized finance, with billions of dollars locked in.
> The biggest applications on Ethereum right now is decentralized finance, with billions of dollars locked in.
Interesting use of "dollars." How much is actually Tether? How much is manipulated market cap (through wash trading or more convoluted defi mechanisms)? How much is actually liquid USD?
Your exactly correct that nobody can help you recover your money if you lose your keys.
Can the government seize Bitcoin directly? No.
Can the government seize your bank account directly? Yes.
Can they threaten you with jail if you don't hand over your Bitcoin? Yes
Yes, it can. The U.S. government has in fact seized Bitcoin directly and sold it at auction several times. It is arguably the single largest non-exchange seller of Bitcoin in Bitcoin's history.
1) Seed phrases are discovered (ie. plaintext document or physical artifact).
2) Seed phrases are handed over by willing party.
If #1 doesn't exist, then #2 is the only option.
Money can only be seized if the safe is found. And the combination is handed over by a willing party.
The difference is that money is actually more secure because you don't have a public ledger telling you that it exists and who owns it and how much of it they own as you do with the public cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Crypto is magnitudes more accessible. I can travel to any country in the world with an encrypted usb drive of my seed words, and no one is wiser. OR even upload a file to the internet and forego carrying anything at all. A government can try to censor transactions belonging to an address, but we don't have good precedent to see how the network will behave. Miners in other jurisdictions have no reason to follow someone else's censorship.
A government could seize miners, and given that ~50% of the world's Bitcoin mining capacity appears to be located in one country, that might give them considerable leeway to rewrite the blockchain to their liking.
Forks can and have been used to deal with isolated malicious incidents, but do you think they can be successful against an actor in extended control of a substantial part of the hash rate?
So the killer app for bitcoin is owning bitcoin?
Tether's page (https://wallet.tether.to/transparency) claims $23.6 billion in total assets. Despite their claims to transparency, I see no report of what those assets are, how risky those assets are, or any audit that assets they even own those assets. Their front page has a big link saying "Proof of funds", which leads to an audit published 2½ years ago, claiming only $2.5 billion in cash in two bank accounts with unnamed banks.
For a company that claims to be "always fully transparent," that is shockingly opaque.
I stopped following the money side of it (atm and sites accepting btc) but a vast majority of btc and cryptos attention right now.. is simply better yearly returns than other kinds of possessions.
That's not an app. That's meaningless advertising lingo.
Ironically (or not) Bitcoin was created in 2009 right when that graph gets really crazy.
It is the only thing the government accepts for tax payments. Given that you can be arrested for not paying your taxes it is "backed" by the barrel of a gun, a threat to your very being. In one sense this is the only real thing there is.
Put another way, if people lost faith in gold as an investment tomorrow, and the value fell to the economic value of the industrial use cases, investors in gold would be ruined.
My belief that it would go to zero. I’m curious whether “fiat is backed by nothing” proponents would disagree.
Now you might say "actually its authority rests on people with guns", but that's only to the extent that the people with the guns believe in the governments's authority to tell them who to point them at.
Underneath all is belief and sentiment.
That's more than enough reason why we should try something else. It doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. By that reasoning, the USD has the same sort of backing as the Venezuelan Bolivar. So what's to stop the prior from becoming like the latter?
Bitcoin has no floor. You can only exchange bitcoin for taxes if someone wants the bitcoin.
People who repeat this don't understand that fiat money is based on trust...and that is not a bad thing.
This is why blockchain is fundamentally stunted: the global society is based on trust and cooperation. Trustless systems will never be able to compete in these arenas.
speaking of jumping the shark, have you seen what governments have been up to lately ?
interest rates at a 5,000 year low, moral hazard abound & global fiat collapse imminent in the best case and in the worst case we have banks/elites/governments who are going to be looking to further enslave those in debt and forced out of business/work with some dystopian debt forgiveness scheme involving a 'vaccine' schedule and travel restrictions or whatever else (use your imagination).
the truth is that everything mentioned in these comments was an argument that had already been had years ago - the markets reflect that - but i did enjoy reading the last sentence of your original comment and thinking to myself "am I reading Time Magazine ?"
2) you talk about fiat collapse being imminent...USDT is worth far less than any fiat (see: nothing) I don't get how these ardent fiat haters don't see their entire ecosystem has been coopted by something that has infinitely less value than the thing they so despise
"Escaping" that for something which literally is backed by nothing at all is a strange move.
Until that time, expansion of the USD (or other Fiat) supply impacts the "value" that BTC has.
I don't think so...
They used paper that symbolized "withdrawal rights to gold". USD (or any other piece of paper that people agree has a value) is a perfect currency for exchange, it's just not a great store of value.
USD is a fantastic store of value. Since 1982 (arguably the beginning of the modern inflation-targeting era), the USD has lost no more than 6.3% of its value year-over-year, nor gained more than 2% (CPI measured, source https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CPIAUCSL#0).
In contrast since 2016, Bitcoin has 60% of its value year-over-year (2018) and gained 1700% (also 2018).
A store of value is not a story of appreciation and hoping for a gain, it's a story about holding a stable and most importantly predictable value into the future. The USD more than satisfies this condition. Bitcoin does not, no matter its speculative merits.
Most importantly, society does not owe people a fictional store of value guaranteed to never lose purchasing power. People don't eat quarters, nor do they live under dollar bills. It strains credulity that a nominal token (however minted) should hold a guaranteed value, without taking capital-like risks required of any productive investment.
My point is that you can't "get away" from USD, while the BTC market is effectively tied to USD.
so if the USD supply is massively inflated, and people can use those USD to buy BTC, the tie is still there.
If and when people denominate their goods and services in BTC without any reference to a fiat amount, then they are decoupled and BTC loses the tie to USD.
No, but prices were denominated in gold, effectively, as the price of gold was fixed. That was the whole point.
Preventing debasement of currency via inflation via printing money, which a lot of people use as their go to argument against fiat money, is simply adding economy wide debt to the ledger. This is necessary from time to time especially during crises and especially in a services/financial services/ intellectual property heavy economy.
If no money existed, at all, how would you receive compensation for providing work of an IP nature to your neighbor. You would need either a perfect trade (you really want their chicken it’s just the right amount of chicken for you) or you take an iou. Which is a debt. Now have them write that iou down on a piece of paper and hand it to you. Your neighbor just printed money. Not so crazy.
It seems to me that either you the amount of currency in circulation needs to increase or the value of the existing currency needs to increase.
Taking into account the gold standard was used for possibly centuries (not sure) was this problem encountered before and how was it solved?
Both under- and over-supply had negative effects on the economies of Europe.
The gold standard really was a primitive fiat currency anyway, governments would debase coins so they contained less gold in order to expand the money supply for instance. And only a small fraction of coins would be gold anyway, silver was far more common - the Pound Sterling takes it's name from a pound of silver from the easterlings (Germans). Paper money just made it obvious that physical currency was only a representation of wealth and not a fixed unit of wealth itself.
The gold standard is basically a political myth about a system that never really existed. Money is a very abstract concept, and reducing it to physical tokens and easily intuitive rules is appealing to many.
This was posted to HN and it was quite eye-opening. For those that don’t know, 1971 was when the gold standard was abandoned by Nixon. I don’t know if the graphs are cherry-picked and I hope they were honestly since the US is never going back to the gold standard and it seems to have far-reaching negative effects in every aspect of human life.
To answer your .25 cent milk question it seems to have not been a problem in history and health of the country before 1971. The profits and benefits of the rapidly growing economy have pretty much all gone to the ultra wealthy that are nearest to and in control of the money printer.
1. A lot of these graphs start at 1940 or 1950, showing a change in the trend in the early 1970s. But that was the end of WW2, where Europe was in ruins and rebuilding and America saw a massive increase in prosperity and economic output. That was a pretty unique period, it's only natural for that trend to diminish or change over time.
2. A hell of a lot happened in the late 60s and early 70s, not just abandoning the gold standard. One of these graphs is of the incarceration rate. Do you think we started seeing mass incarceration at that time because we abandoned the gold standard, or do you think it was because of the war on drugs?
3. Some of these graphs are deliberately misleading. One is of the cumulative inflation rate, and seems to show the inflation accelerate in the early 1970s. Except a healthy economy should have a steady inflation rate each year (of around 2% I believe), so this graph is supposed to be exponential! They just picked the right window so that 1971 is the inflection point.
A much more relevant development in the 70s was the switch in economic policy priorities from demand-side to supply-side. Nixon was the first president who prioritized tax cuts, union busting, subsidies, and legalizing outsourcing to cheaper labor markets in China and SEA. Every government since has given corporations a blank check to cut labor costs by any means necessary to prioritize profit.
Nixon ended gold convertability, but the USD was not on a true gold standard and was in danger of not being able to fulfill this obligation. The standard was Bretton Woods, it was an international framework for finance, and it was the failure of the framework together with the OPEC oil crisis that caused the mess documented in those graphs.
adjustable, with a benign regulator > fixed > adjustable, with a corrupt regulator
So, the aim shouldn't be a return to the gold standard or a switch to BTC, but to make sure that central banks can do their job without interference from politicians.
Hayek argued that a system of competitive privately-issued currencies would achieve that. I'm not qualified to say whether he was correct, but an economy built on cryptocurrencies would be exactly that.
Good at mining would have meant spending good part of our economic output to mine gold and then just storing it somewhere or moving it around...
Backed by $750B in annual military spending
It would be really nice for people to spend even a few minutes thinking about how money works, or open a textbook even just to learn what you disagree with.
It's tiresome to explain over and over and over again to people how the "full faith and credit of the United States" is not "nothing at all" but in fact a guarantee of great value, at least as good as any on any other security, and one that is quite measurable (by for example comparing the prices of full faith and credit securities with other almost identical securities without this guarantee).
On the contrary, I'd say that it's the cryptocurrencies that _by design_ are based on nothing at all.
In all these analyses, one key point is missing: arbitrage traders have to make up for the sell pressure on USDT when Tethers are being printed and sold for BTC. Can anyone show me how there is a plausible mechanism/scheme/conspiracy that keeps the USD/USDT exchange rate stable while a crazy amount of illegitimate Tethers are being printed?
Edit: typo and removed link.
Most people writing about USDT don't understand how arbitrage markets work, and don't understand that liquid markets are quick to resolve themselves (unlike ponzi schemes where you can hide the missing assets for a long time). Liquid markets will put quick pressure which is why these structures collapse faster (see MtGox)
Technically it is possible. You don't need an equal or larger market cap to inflate something else 90%. You just need enough to dominate the trading volume.
As an extreme example, if bid/ask volume is exactly 1 (ie the ONLY trade volume consists of you and 1 other person trading a quantity of 1), then at the minimum, all you need is a bank roll of 1.9x the current unit price, with both you agreeing to the trade it for 1.9x, for the going price per unit to inflate 90%. And since market cap = price per unit × units outstanding, then the market cap also inflated 90%. If the units outstanding was 5000, and the unit price was $1, then the market cap increased $4,500 using only $1.90.
Look at trade volumes. Tether is massively bigger than bitcoin and ethereum combined.
99% of the USD/USDT trading is fake/wash trading to give the illusion of volume.
It's speculation, but then without audits and accounts of the exchanges that use Tether, and Tether itself, speculation seems to be about as good an option as there is.
1. buy X for USD
2. buy BTC for X
Shouldn't the price for X then stay the same? (Bought X once, sold X once)
Assuming X drops to 0, wouldn't people that have BTC just use another coin X' to get back to USD?
Assuming company Y creates X out of thin air and buys BTC with it, why doesn't X drop in value? Because arbitrageurs buy it? So arbitrageurs have lots of X? Should I care if they go broke in the process?
The peg would break down if there was any real convergence mechanism. But there isn't. This isn't a problem until people actually try to exchange these supposedly fungible assets.
Does that matter when you can withdraw from a USDT exchange and get USD in a bank account, or trade USDT for USD at kraken?
I'll give you a more sensible counter-argument: If you held USDT in the last 4 years (only) and actively generated yield (requires 1 hours work max per week), and periodically withdrew it (1-3 months) my reports show a 120% gain. This means if you bought $100k of USDT 4 years ago, you'd have withdrawn $120k into real dollars and still have $100k of USDT. In this situation, it's impossible to lose even if Tether is worth 0 tomorrow.
Yield have gone considerably down. This means traders now trust USDT more than they did a few years ago. This would also mean that traders who are into risk would not hold USDT, they would rather hold something else to get better yield. If USDT was risky, its total market cap will decrease, as it doesn't make sense to hold into it with low yield. That or the market will quickly collapse.
This can give you an idea (better than a stamped report from any AAA auditing firm) about how strong the USDT position in the market is.
It just proves that someone else believes they do...which we already know.
 wikipedia: "On 30 April 2019 Tether Limited's lawyer claimed that each tether was backed by only $0.74 in cash and cash equivalents"
In any case, if indeed (still) true, having their lawyer say that USDTs are backed 74% by cash, makes it arguably safer and more liquid than any US bank, where cash backing your account balance represents a single digit percentage (I would estimate, happy to learn the factual number). Not saying that it shouldn't strive for 100% cash backeding (I think it should be), but noting that if you're concerned about Tether's cash liquidity, you probably should be even more concerned about your bank's chequing account.
Everybody realizes that for the individual turning tether into fiat both of these amount to the same thing, but they are not the same thing for the system as a whole at all. Ultimately the only way that tether as a company can maintain the peg is by buying their own token with the reserve funds if market won't (there are obviously different mechanisms they could use to do this, either via the exchanges or with the seller directly trading with them). If they don't have access to enough reserve funds then the peg will eventually fail.
... and many many crypto-fans naysaying anyone who didn't believe them.
You say that a peg breaks if the Central Bank doesn't have the exchange reserves anymore to uphold a peg.
Where does Bitfinex take the money from to buy tether to prevent it from devaluing? Alternatively, who else buys tether, arbitrageurs?
Unlike your example where this an existing market that a peg has to be supported, there simply isn't a fungible USDT/USD market.
You could argue speculation is the killer app. I'm not a fan but it's hard to deny it's a huge business and some people seem to like it. Kind of like Las Vegas in a way.
As Stripe, PayPal, Visa, Gofundme, Patreon, et. al. shut down avenues of payments for legal, but unpopular purchases, BTC is the obvious workaround.
Vendors of firearms, pornography, legal funds for unpopular causes, dissident content creators, etc have become increasingly estranged from the "normal" payments market in the last few years. BTC is the killer app for this.
Neither pornography, nor legal funds for unpopular cause (think WikiLeaks), or dissident creators are criminal. At least not in the US or Europe. But they are still blocked by the main payment processing companies.
Drugs are likely the number one things bought using crypto as currency.
Firearms and pornography can be bought with dollars if you’re using crypto to buy them or other unpopular goods or services, you are veering dangerously close to black markets, which invite regulation.
A parent gives his child 5 USD to buy some sweets in the local shop.
A couple gives another couple 150 USD as a wedding gift.
A painter gets 200 USD for painting a house.
Some people make lots of money of it, no doubt.
I'd say to qualify something as a business, there should be value creation somewhere along the line. With BTC, I see mainly redistribution of value, along with destruction of resources.
The only peg that exists is the one whereby you should be able to go to Tether Inc and redeem USDT for USD 1:1. That peg has never ever been demonstrated (publicly).
All the other "pegs" are just cash trading. If I trade USDT/USD on Binance...I don't actually have USD. Even on that pair, my USD profit/loss are denominated in USDT.
For anyone who disagrees with the above - please show me market where I can go sell my USDT directly for USD.
Genuinely curious, as someone who has never used Binance nor USDT:
Why is the "directly" part here significant? If I can USDT (Binance) -> USD (Binance) -> BTC (Binance) -> BTC (Coinbase) -> USD (Coinbase) -> USD (My Bank), then whats the difference other than a few extra steps?
USDT -> kraken -> USD -> your bank
USDT -> bitfinex -> your bank
 yes they do allow fiat withdraws https://support.bitfinex.com/hc/en-us/articles/213919309-Fia...
Well, arbitrage! But suppose BTC it is much higher on Binance. You'd then take USD and transfer them to Coinbase:
USD (Coinbase) -> BTC (Coinbase) -> BTC (Binance) -> USDT (Binance) -> ??
Now you need to take these USDT and turn them into USD, to keep the arb running. But that is precisely what doesn't work.
So: the chain you outline is NOT a way to "directly sell USDT for USD", as links can break down.
For example, something vaguely analogous would be:
[Setting: The Olden Days]
GP: "I'm concerned because nobody has ever tried to take USD to the government and directly get silver/gold for it."
You: "Why is the "directly" part here significant? If I can USD (My Pocket) -> USD (My Brokerage) -> Gold (My Brokerage) -> Gold (My Pocket), then whats the difference other than a few extra steps?"
The difference is that we never tested to see if the USD is actually backed by real gold.
Kraken, Bitstamp, did so for 3 years+
With all due respect, this is completely wrong - crypto has the same killer app it has for years, and that app is _crime_.
Whether you're buying drugs, paying anonymous extortioners, accepting bribes, money laundering, or tax evasion, cryptocurrency is the go-to choice for electronic funds transfer for your modern criminal.
And there is no obvious place for further money to come from once they want to cash back out.
This narrative was an intentional morphing by various actors within the space (Blockstream) who believed raising the blocksize to allow higher throughput would cause 'centralisation'. Instead they want people to use layer 2 solutions such as blockstreams own federated product Liquid.
this line of reasoning is silly. To match the current block subsidy with the current block size limit when miner subsidy runs out the average transaction fee will need to be >$127.
$45mil daily revenue / 350,000 txs per day
OR, you could increase the block size limit to 10mb, allowing 3.5mil txs per day, or 100mb allowing 35mil txs per day. Then the average fee paid per tx is significant lower.
The reason this was argued against by blockstream was because a bigger blocksize means more storage is needed by the miner and more txs means better hardware and bandwidth to process them, effectively pricing out normal people from running full nodes.
Essentially, the ability for normal people to send a transaction cheaply is being sacrificed so that normal people can setup a full node. Counter intuitive imo.
This argument was really silly too because people can afford higher capacity drives, and better internet connection according to Moore's Law
"If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."
There are clear deadlines that may change everything (apparently Jan 15th might be one of them, from the twitter thread). Justice takes time, but trials do eventually come to a conclusion. If that conclusion is to kill the mechanism that pumps BTC, then all bets are off.
That's too high for just a simple thing as receiving money from different country.
Really looking forward for that Strike Global.
Moving money between currencies has never been easier, or cheaper. I would humbly suggest you're doing it wrong.
And then you realize that this is pure speculation and the most ardent supporters are just praying for the greater fool theory to rain good fortune on them.
You need look no further than Coinbase, supposed beacon of our crypto future, IPO'ing and raising money in...that worthless green piece of paper known as the US Dollar.
Some general cryptocurrency technical discussion can be found on r/CryptoTechnology 
is it possible to do an ipo in crypto?
An ICO is just an IPO by a different name. There are also crypto stock exchanges.
But more importantly, even if it weren't possible, why would they ever sell their shares for worthless legacy money? Unless...
Crypto is not a currency but an investment product; can we please just accept that and talk about it for what it is?
Is what they enable worth $40.000 to the enthusiasts?
I won't make the case for cryptocurrencies here, have a look at ethereum.org for instance.
> Is what they enable worth $40.000 to the enthusiasts?
I'm not denying that the current price hike and media attention has little to do with any other aspect than "decentralized ponzi"/dollar escape. Was just correcting a false statement.
It's called hyperdeflation.
If anything it'll get worse as it goes from 1 million to 10 million to 100 million. Back when 1 bitcoin = 1 pizza there were perhaps 1000 people into it?
"Gold's narrative has had to morph from currency to store of wealth" Circa 1971
M. Saylor is preaching this it seems. It's just a better asset (less supply, no mass~)
"The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent"
Tether has no such limitation. All the exchanges are complicit in this, wash trading is rampant, and there's an de facto central bank run by actual criminals. There is absolutely zero reason why iFinex can't take bitcoin to $100k or $1m or whatever they like. They only have opportunity costs.
The only thing keeping them in check right now is the appearance of legitimacy. If they were to overdo it, people might actually sell, which is not what they want. So until their legitimacy is tested (Jan 15) they will probably responsibly grind this higher. But on the last day, I expect billions and billions of USDT issuance so that they can run stops on every short in the market, collecting their last few shekels before the music stops and they vanish to an island somewhere.
If the NYAG doesn't like what's in there I guess it may go badly.
The courts document list is https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/DocumentList?docketI...
If you look at the latest one, it mentions the 15th.
> But Tether is printing so much money.
So is USDC, and the price of Bitcoin is going higher. This means Bitcoiners have lots of value in Bitcoin and some of them are going to convert that value to USD. They are mainly using USDT for that, for whatever reason.
> Tether printing press is driving Bitcoin price.
Wrong. My proof for that is "where is the premium to buy Bitcoin". In a very liquid market (which for the most part, crypto is), prices should be the same up to the costs (transaction and banking fees). Prices have been higher in Coinbase during this run. As I am typing right now, Coinbase prices are 50-80 dollars higher for Bitcoin. GBTC is even more ridiculous with 10-15% premium on price (but also GBTC is less liquid/arb-able). This signifies that demand is coming from US retail and institutional investors.
> Tether is holding USD as securities/derivatives/whatever.
All of them are. See: https://omarabid.com/usd-stable-coins
USDT is only liquid BECAUSE there is no redemption mechanism (or at least not one that has ever been demonstrated). If Tether came and said "sure we'll redeem these fully backed Tethers for USD 24/7/365" you would quickly find yourself with a liquidity crisis.
For the bystanders here, I've made a reply to a comment similar to this in sibling thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25686965
The argument here isn't that Tether has no cash on hand, it's that if enough people pull out, they hit the the bottom of the non 1:1 reserve and everyone else left holding will zero out. If you have 1 kg of gold and start selling papers giving people claim to that 1kg of gold, nothing will prevent you from seeling 1000 claims, making it seem like you're holding a ton of gold for people when looking at the market cap, but if 2 people come and ask you for their 1kg of gold and you don't have enough of the cash you got seeling claims on hand and an oppotunity to buy gold quickly, then from one day to the next 999 claims are worthless.
This is of cause not a big risk in the industry normally because markets are regulated and those who hold gold or other assets backing claims go through audits.
Naturally Tether can't go through an honest audit because even though they might be holding enough cash to cover a decent amount of the market, it would expose them for lying over time, which would still hurt their business tremendously.
Of course it's relevant. If there are no actual reserves, the whole thing is a scam and certain to collapse sooner or later.
This isn't necessarily true, as in that event, although possible, wouldn't necessarily have happened. Much like banks with limited liquidity can survive for a long time. To your point, it's confusing how they managed to thrive after admitting that they were lying about being backed 1:1.
Edit: I haven't been paying too much attention to tether in ages. It looks like they're now offering redemption of $100k+ at a minimum of $1000 a pop?
Tether's reserves only matter when people try to redeem Tethers. This is currently not possible.
So it is purely a trust game right now, and everyone has an incentive to trust (or turn a blind eye) that Tether is playing by the rules.
This is why being liquid and freely trade-able matters. Tether is fully redeemable if you can trade it against other crypto/stable coins. Want to redeem USDT? exchange it to USDC and then withdraw to your bank account.
So again I ask - how do we have any proof that Tether has the reserves they claim they do?
USDT are redeemable to your bank account if you have a good sizable balance (talking 7-8 figures). You'll get it deposited from some of their offshore shell companies. But you didn't hear it from me :)
But the degree that this is happening pales massively in comparison to the billions that are sat on exchanges and recycled.
Tether would be the first legitimate billion dollar operation where people have to say things like "but you didn't hear it from me".
I'm not an expert, so I might be wrong (seriously, not sarcastically). I _think_ this is technically arbitrage even though you never complete the loop.
They did redeem from 2.8bn to 1.7bn. Which is like 40% of their total value at the time. Is that significant enough?
And since Bitfinex is the owner of Tether Ltd., there is unfortunately no outsider that could credibly confirm to have actually received any USD in exchange for those burned Tethers. Bitfinex might just as well have sold Bitcoins from its own stash (or from customer wallets) to others for USDT and then burned those USDT in order to stabilize the USDT/USD price which wasn’t exactly holding up well at that time. If they had actually printed more USDT than they have USD in the past, this would be a smart move in order to distribute the "missing" funds more evenly across multiple crypto coins in their custody, which makes it less likely for them to run out of one of them and thus makes it less likely for the alleged scam to come to light.
> There is, however, a good proof that they do: Tether has held the 1:1 beg pretty well recently.
All this proves is that they have something in reserve, not that it is 1:1 backed. Most modern banking operates on a fractional reserve system, but when I take cash out of my bank account I get a cash dollar 1:1 with what they debit my account; they don’t prorate it for the amount of reserve they have.
Now try taking out 50 million or more, you'll face same difficulties.
This tether nonsense comes up every few months, still adamantly holding the 1:1.
Not mentioning that it's not the single dollar peg option in crypto space anymore, plenty of other options USDC, Dai.
Sure but that’s my point. The fact that my small volume transactions go through without friction is not proof that the system is not fractional reserve. In the case of a (properly run) bank the value still exists but isn’t liquid; in the case of USDT we don’t know without an audit.
As long as they have a blindly trusted money money printing machine, they can use it to defend the illusion that it's printing real money. This is thes standard playbook for a pyramid scheme. You use new money to keep the illusion of a big holding and you can keep that going as long as the illusion holds.
Other than, you know, they themselves admitting under oath that they did not.
I'm fairly certain that _Tether's_ lawyer said, in court, that their reserves were closer to 0.74.