Episode 171 – Steemit Skepticism, Federal Reserve Interest, and BlockStream Won…

Here are the TL;DR headlines from today’s show:

The Federal Reserve is playing with interest rates. Steemit introduces promoted content and we are looking for a wallet to HLOD Steem currencies off the platform… is Steemit decentralized? Civil asset forfeiture is too hard to give up for Police in New Mexico. Lots of Ethereum news, you should give a listen! Imagine if Ethereum and Steemit had a baby blockchain, you may end up with Synereo. One prominent Bitcoin Miner proclaims Blocksteam has won the Block-size debate and we lament the fall of Bitcoin. More details on Monero.

All this and more here on Neocash Radio episode 171! Recorded August 31st, 2016 in Manchester, NH!

We’ve written out short overviews of the topics discussed on today’s show below; be sure to listen in to the whole podcast to get more information, insights, and thoughts on each of them from JJ, Darren, and Randy!

Stream this episode of Neocash Radio here: 

Direct Download – Neocash Radio episode 171 (MP3)
Subscribe to the Neocash Radio podcast on iTunes!

Traditional Markets
Gold $1309
Silver $18.62
Oil $44.86
DOW Jones 18,400
30Y UST 2.231%

Crypto Markets
BTC $575
LTC $3.80
Dash  $11.72
Ether $11.45
Monero $8.47 (nearly double what we reported last week)
1 doge = 1 doge

Fed Vice Chairman Says Negative Interest Rates “Seem to Work” in Today’s World
Though Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen clearly avoided discussing negative interest rates after the recent annual posh Fed gathering in Jackson Hole, WY… Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer stated that negative interest rates “seem to work” in other countries, while repeating that they aren’t (yet) on the table in the U.S.

He claims the Fed isn’t “planning to do anything in that direction,” but says that the central banks using them “basically think they’re quite successful.” As much as those central bankers are lauding them, the MSCI World Banks Index reports that the world’s largest banks delivered a weak share price performance with a cumulative -6.19% in all of 2015, with even worse performance projected for 2016.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen wants to raise interest rates paid to banks
“In light of the continued solid performance of the labor market and our outlook for economic activity and inflation, I believe the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months,” Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said. These comments come amidst fervored debate surrounding the limits of monetary policy, with negative interest rates in developed economies like Japan and Switzerland.

Per Wikipedia: “In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions’ reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances.”

The federal funds rate is in a range of 0.25% to 0.50%, leaving little room for cuts in the event of another sudden economic downturn.

Steemit Introduces Promoted Content
A new “promoted content” feature has been announced on Steemit: if a Steemit user wants to promote their own post or another user’s post, they can transfer Steem Dollars to a new account—@null—and include the @author/permalink they would like to promote in the memo field, which adds those Steem Dollars to the total received by the post, increasing its ranking in the promoted content ordering. One statement in the blog post stuck out as odd to us, however:

“Steemit, Inc can and will change how it chooses to display, filter, and sort posts in the promoted section at its sole discretion.”

Steemit developers say the @null account is a special account, which no one has control over, and that a future hard fork will remove the Steem Dollars, Steem, and Steem Power held by this account from the supply, and redistribute it to all stakeholders.

Steem Dollars can be thought of as the debt of the Steem network, and by requiring all promotion payments to be made in Steem Dollars, developers claim that this will reduce the debt load on the network, which they say will increase the value of Steem and Steem Power.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Even Happens When It’s Against The Law
Under civil asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement can seize property without ever convicting, or even charging, the owner with a crime. And while New Mexico supposedly reformed their civil asset forfeiture practices, Albuquerque resident Arlene Harjo is still paying off a loan for a car she doesn’t have after the city seized it for a crime that police readily admit she didn’t commit.

This topic is of national interest, as civil asset forfeiture has grown to yield over $5 billion in cash and goods stolen by police annually, often without conviction or even any charges filed. To put this in perspective, the total of all private burglaries in the U.S. is around $3.5 billion annually. Said another way: cops steal more than robbers now.

Ethereum News Wrap-up:

Apple Tells Jaxx to Remove Dash Integration
On the heels of telling the public that Jaxx would support Ethereum Classic, the Toronto-based Decentral received a call from Apple asking them to remove their support for Dash. Apple only considers a few coins to be approved for iOS and the Apple Store, which are apparently: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, the DAO, Doge, and Ripple according to Decentral’s CEO Anthony Di Iorio.

Synereo Announces Alpha Release & Second Fundraising Campaign
After two years of development, the alpha version of Synereo’s decentralized, open-source social network will be demoed live for the first time in Vancouver on September 9th. Synereo’s blockchain-based platform, which aims to be a Turing-complete virtual machine (like Ethereum), but with an added decentralized social networking layer (like Steemit) that pays users for their attention—as well as for their storage, computation and bandwidth—in AMP coins.

Synereo had its ICO in March 2015, and announced that they would be holding two more fundraising rounds, each about 1-1.5 years apart to develop the next legs of the project. The second Synereo fundraising campaign will begin in September, around the release of the alpha, and users will be able to invest in equity of Synereo LTD or purchase AMP coins.

For equity, a minimum of $1,000 investment is required, and equity investors can also receive an AMP bonus relative to the size of their investment. All AMPs to be sold during this campaign were created in advance for this purpose; no new AMPs will be created for this sale. AMPs will be offered on BnkToTheFuture.com, synereo.com/sale and Chinese cryptocurrency exchange YUNBI at a fixed price, starting at 33000 satoshi per AMP. The price will progressively increase in three steps, and include a bonus phase of 24 hours.

“Why One-Third of all Bitcoin Exchanges Since 2009 Were Hacked”
This post magnifies why several major Bitcoin exchanges have left their users’ funds at serious risk: “For most of them, it ultimately comes down to two major issues in their systems: heavy reliance on hot wallets and poor integration of the multi-signature technology.” Regulators will point to why regulations are needed, but as we’ve discussed in the past on Neocash Radio, it was likely because of regulations that the recent Bitfinex hack was successful.

Blockstream Won, Says Bitcoin Miner in Blocksize Debate
Eric Mu of HaoBTC—one of the largest mining pools in the BTC blocksize debate—says that most Bitcoin miners “did not care about the blocksize question” and those who do can “easily collude/conspire, are easily alienated, cajoled or intimidated.” Detractors are pointing to threats and smear campaigns lobbied against those who supported Bitcoin Classic, with another miner stating: “Bitcoin is now to the point where I think it has been completely co-opted.”

“On Fungibility: Bitcoin, Monero and why ZCash is a bad idea”
Monero anonymizes cryptocurrency transactions by using a system of “ring signatures” and “passive mixing” to create transactions where observers can’t know who signed it, but has cryptographic proof that it’s a valid transaction, there’s no double spending, and that the Monero supply scheme has not been manipulated.

Zcash uses “active mixing” to anonymize transactions, but transparent transactions are currently the default, which leads to a problem: even if you try to anonymize your coins as much as possible, your details can still be revealed if the people on the other end of your transaction aren’t using the same privacy standards.

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