On the Nature of Cash, Bonds, Digital Cash, and the Derivative Market

People talk about derivative markets as dangerous places for the uninformed.

Educated investors have said that zero or near zero interest rates cause distortions in markets.

Bonds which bear very little interest become overvalued at those times.

And cash has the nature of a zero coupon (interest rate) bearer bond. So when interest rates paid on bonds are every low, cash becomes more attractive than at other times. Cash competes with bonds when bonds pay under the fair rate of return.

And for that and also for other control reasons that they call regulation but is nothing of the sort, the indebted nations' central bankers want to remove cash and replace it with something that is not a bearer instrument, that is, their digital currency would be a trackable negotiable instrument upon which fees and charges may be levied. Like a bond.

So given this logic about these features of bonds, cash, and zero interest rate regimes, here is a question ...

Is a crypto currency a derivative of a bond, or not?

Because the bond market has been in a 36 year bull trend. So when bonds make their new trend visible, what of crypto-FX? I acknowledge that different FX can rise and fall against each other. But the BIS central bankers' united team want every FX to trend downwards at the same time so that everybody else's flight to safety is prevented. That, by the way, is tacit admission that their particular cash is a bond derivative - if bonds are going down cash will too, broadly speaking. People flee to bonds and cash when the economic outlook looks bad.

At the period that cash competes with bonds, zero interest rates or zero real rates, bonds can "lose out market share" and begin to move opposite to cash or a cash substitute, and act as if it were the cash of a foreign sovereign. So the amount of cash is kept low, a small percentage of the total amount of bonds. And nowadays, in addition to cash, the new cash substitute is the crypto currency. It's relative attractions arise from dissatisfaction with the aforementioned instruments. Crypto currency therefore derives it's value from them to a certain degree. When people are unhappy with bonds, cash or digi-cash become more desired and rise in value. Like bonds in the bonds market,or stock IPOs during bull Markets, increasing amounts of fresh digi-FX issues will be made available while demand is high. So digi-cash proliferates across brand names if not in each individual crypto-FX brand.

In which case, if crypto-FX is actually a bond derivative, a variety of contra-bond, then real (inflation adjusted) interest rates matter to it. If it is a form of cash, then sovereign risk matters to it too. Bonds are about power to take resources, or earn them, and trust of remaining around long enough to repay the buyer of the bond.

For instance, if a country is invaded and taken over by the country next door, both it's cash and it's bonds become worthless.

External sovereigns attitude affects the value of cash, especially when they are willing to take executive action. A sovereign has historically been able, given enough commitment and resources deployed, to kill the currency of another. Are those days gone? Even if they all agree to act together?

Could it someday turn out that selling digital-FX and buying gold may eventually be looked back upon as the killer trade.

On the other hand: if we value cash via it's being a sovereign bond derivative, then we should logically extend this method of valuation process to all other obligations of that sovereign to us too. Health. Pension. Future tax rates.  Services. Energy supplied by the state or state regulated corporations. This can get as wide as you are willing to allow your thoughts to let it go.

But just for today. Seeing as Bitcoin,  Ethereum, Litecoin, and other well known brands, are so much in the news.

So to return to the prime questions:

What sovereign power to withstand external sovereign attack does crypto-FX really have?

This remains to be seen.

So is a crypto currency a bond derivative? I think it is

I am satisfied that it is a derivative of a sovereign bond, with added features. The need for digital money has been created out of market distortions during a massive global bond market topping process. The power of bond issuers to do what they want to their perceived enemies should be given great respect when making investment decisions.

I have not traded BTC, or any of the Alt-coins. I don't plan to. The reason I give myself is that the ability of sovereigns to break these independent cash alternative markets, or not,  is out of my control. The timing or price levels that trigger their action is also out of my control. This bypasses my trading risk evaluation process and elevates risk but I can not calculate how high the risk is.

I sense that creating and selling digi-FX is the great trade. And that is simply a seigniorage trade.

The owners of armies, police, assassins, intelligence services, and taxation agencies,  won't give up that trade lightly. You become the equivalent of a small country that is about to have war declared on it by a much bigger neighbour. That's if you are lucky enough to even receive a warning. Look at how they operate.

Swimming is fine. But observe the horizon carefully, and respect the great wave, for it may crush you. This sounds like some Japanese saying from  hundreds of years ago, about the tsunami, but it's not. I repeat that my first sentence in this text was: "People talk about derivative markets as dangerous places for the uninformed."

It's my thoughts on this subject today. 

Best regards,

Argentus Maximus

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The author posts daily commentary on the gold and silver markets in the TFMR forum: The Setup For The Big Trade. More information about the author & his work can be found here: RhythmAndPrice The author advises that he trades and holds market positions in accordance with his own opinions.

12 Comments

Turd Ferguson's picture

Very interesting thoughts

MODERATOR

Great and thought-proving post. Thanks, AM!!

Orange's picture

Excellent

Thanks Argentus

cashonly's picture

Perfect!

"I sense that creating and selling digi-FX is the great trade"

create nothing and sell it? the best trade ever! - it is right up there with L. Ron Hubbard creating Scientology

jackstar's picture

Crypto Currency

Very thought-provoking article, thanks Argentus.  Here's a question for Turdville and I apologize if it's already been posed at some point:  Are the crypto currencies acting the way gold and silver would act absent manipulation?

NUGTCALL's picture

So....

You are saying at some point sovereigns shut it all down? Well I think that is the point of all this, is to devise a system that operates outside of them. That is the battle. Can brains beat braun? That is the 64 quadrillion question. 

AIJ's picture

Why should you care? Because it's the 3rd Wave....

"This is going to start with a brief historical story to set the context as an entry-point, and then shall get into more of the nitty-gritty.

Without further ado...

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Once upon a time, there was a great wave. This wave was called the internet. And it changed everything.

All of a sudden, people could send each other messages across the world in seconds and share all kinds of information. The wave swept over the world, changing things for mankind, disrupting many industries. Things were never the same.

Soon later, another wave in the same set came. This wave was a combination of forces: social media, and mobile phones with internet access.

Now, the internet became more easily accessible to people all over the world. And people had a way to share ideas and content faster and easier than ever before. Again, the world was changed.

People rejoiced in their newfound capabilities to learn, share, and be entertained - surfing the ripples of these waves for fun and using this new cyberspace to market businesses and services, competing for the surfers' attention and money. Many benefits came to society. But, with all the new information becoming widely available, people began to learn of many faults in the global systems only few know or spoke of before...

As more people became aware of how the world worked, there was an awakening to many ways society's governments and institutions had been corrupted. They learned how inefficient the old systems were, and they learned of many injustices. They learnt how profit-driven economics and corporate-driven politics benefited a select few while disempowering and entrapping the majority in a financial game of manipulation and fraud. They learned of a military-industrial complex sustained by a banking system run by crooks, and how the governments failed to live up to their expectation of serving the people to create healthy, sustainable living conditions - instead being bought off by private interests who sought to exploit both people and nature for their own domination.

The first two waves of the internet opened many doors and allowed people worldwide to discuss how chaotic the world had become under the control of outdated systems of centralized "power." They also accelerated the spread of knowledge passed on by teachers like Buckminster Fuller, who proposed we possessed all the resources for all mankind to live healthily and harmoniously, if only we changed from a scarcity to abundance outlook and innovated our distribution systems.

People were engraged as they became aware of the tricks that had been played on them. But they still didn't really know what to do about it. The old infrastructural systems of society were so solidified and overwhelmingly large, they were impossible to bring down, and they didn't (yet) have the means to build the new systems that could make the old obsolete. They could exchange information and ideas over the internet, but they still had to play in the enemies' financial domains in order to pay bills and put food on the table.

Then, came the third wave...

It began when an anonymous computer programmer going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto dropped a huge - and I mean HUUUUUUUUGE - bomb deep into the ocean of the world wide web. This bomb was so big it would eventually become a tsunami completely overthrowing the old world. This bomb was Bitcoin.

The wave started slow. But people began to see what was coming.

They saw this was the alternative to the corrupted banking system that kept mankind enslaved. They saw the potential for this new digital money issued by no centralized authority.

They understood this new protocol for transfering currency transparently on a distributed, untamperable public ledger through a decentralized network could enable billions of people in developing nations to enter a global economy - without the interference of a middleman. They saw it as a store of value immune to collapse of national economic systems, such as happened in Greece and Venezuela. They knew it was the step to ending mankind's reliance upon a coercive system run corrupted crooks, as people were now able to quickly and easily exchange value directly with one another on their own terms.

But Bitcoin was only the tip of the iceberg.

They knew Bitcoin was only one application of the technology behind it: blockchain. This was the wave - of which we are still at the relative beginning of.

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When people started contemplating the implications of this technology, their eyes opened to a world of possibilities for how it could be used to host all kinds of different applications that could solve some of society's biggest problems.

They saw how registering land titles on a public blockchain could drastically reduce corruption in third world countries. They saw all kinds of ways it could improve efficiencies in supply chains, open-source scientific research, health care, insurance, prediction markets, how this technology could solve the biggest challenges in the music business & creative industries to ensure artists get fairly paid for their work, and upgrade entire protocols within international commerce and finance. There were so many, many ways it was foreseen a distributed computing network could be used to upgrade all kinds of things in society, it'd take a lengthy book to explain them all. (And that book is none other than "Blockchain Revolution by Don & Alex Tapscott" - GET YOURSELF A COPY AND READ IT!)

So, some of the most brilliant minds from the Bitcoin gathered for the purpose of actualizing a common vision and developed a new blockchain upon which all these different types of applications could be built. This was Ethereum.

Now, rather than trying to go into the details of re-explaining everything as someone has already done it better before, here are a few links to check out for a thorough overview, before carrying on to add some fresh perspectives to it:

Ethereum for Everyone

What does $100 Ether mean?

A Beginner's Guide To Ethereum

Synergy In Ethereum

The Uncanny Mind That Built Ethereum

Ethereum is the Forefront of Digital Currency

Programmable Blockchains In Context: Ethereum's Future

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Do come back to dive deeper into those later, as it WILL require an investment of time. Get through them, however, and you'll have a pretty good foundational insight.

The main premise of Ethereum - however, to keep it simple - was a world supercomputer upon which decentralized applications could be built utilizing "smart contracts."

In layman's terms, a smart contract is a self-executing contract written in computer code.

For an absolutely simplified example: x amount of funds is to be transfered from person A to B if conditions y & z are met.

The implications? The elimination of middlemen in many transactions. Timely & efficient payments. Automatability all kinds of agreements for value exchange based on verifiable results and outcomes. Kinda like AI that conducts your business how you program it to. No third-parties required.

Though even with that, we're not even getting into the meat of what is capable of being built on Ethereum. There are really so many aspects and components under development, you really need to reference the four links above to get the whole picture.

But what's in all this for you, you might be asking...?

Simply: entirely new ways of collaboratively creating, rewarding, and exchanging value. Capabilities for putting great ideas into action increasingly quicker and easier by leveraging systems to self-execute key business value transfers.

Or rather: new ways of automating and efficiently getting paid for your own value creation.

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You can essentially print your own money and grow your own ecosystems, quickly and easily crowdfunding through the issuance of tokens that can serve either as company shares, its own currency, or functional access tokens to the ecosystem's services and/or products.

You can use interoperable components to simplify the creation and management of businesses completely on the blockchain, leverage the supercomputing power of a distributed network and/or creative rights licensing mechanisms, participate in or integrate predictions markets in governance models, reputation & identity systems, upgrade humanitarian aid models, and the list goes on and on.

This might all sound intimidatingly technical for some, and fairly so.

However, just as there are hundreds of ways each of us has massively benefited from the multitude of applications built on the current internet protocols without understanding the technical details behind it, so this next generation of a blockchain-based internet shall bring many, many opportunities for all to play in a very exciting new arena. Unfortunately for the lazy, these possibilities are not all easily seen without a fundamental understanding of some of the key premises at core of these systems - thus broadening the scope of vision and opening access to significant opportunities for those who invest in the knowledge of what this is, how it works, and how it all might be applied.

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Now, Ethereum may started out as a great concept. However, since it's launched, it's picked up serious momentum, building a strong, quickly-growing global community of developers and users, evolving to upgrade its technical performance & security, and making serious headway into the professional enterprise institutional playground, while still staying true to its evolutionary roots and vision of positive global transformation through decentralization.

While we started with the story earlier about corruption in the banking system and government, which may have come across as though it were from a rather rebellious anti-establish standpoint - and there are several within the crypto world who have taken such a stance, for good reasons - there is an element of genius that has been expressed through Ethereum's strategy as a recognition that more good can possibly be done through a transformation of the systems from the inside rather than an outright war against them.

Of course, the global systems have their flaws - though, they are still run by people - many of whom genuinely are in service of upgrading the systems and of a new generation welcoming change. Brilliantly, Ethereum's leadership has sought to partner with world leaders in commerce, industry, and politics to forge the relationships required to introduce and integrate the emerging technologies developed on Ethereum into existing systems at the same time as supporting a parallel track of innovation in completely alternative systems - ensuring the infrastructure is put in place to serve as a solid bridge between the two worlds to bring the best of the old into the new as needed to actualize the vision.

Having launched less than three years, technical progress has been relatively slow but steady, with many of the public dApps (decentralized applications) in their early development stage. However, the core teams leading Ethereum have very successfully managed to form partnerships suggesting much more has been going on behind-the-scenes than some might guess based on press releases alone. These partnerships alone paint a strong picture of fundamentals validating the highest hopes of Ethereum stakeholders and evangelists...

For starters, Microsoft has partnered with the leadering Ethereum developers, Consensys, for their "Blockchain As A Service" platform, Azure.

My confidence in Ethereum was first truly inspired when meeting the Consensys team - the leading Ethereum dApp development studio led by Ethereum co-founder, Joe Lubin - in Bali last October. These guys aren't playing, and are quite an impressive collective of brilliant minds and talent who've supported a hefty number of major project launches on Ethereum. I would recommend signing up for their email list to opt-in to their regular updates, so you can see for yourself what I mean. In fact, the bulk of Ethereum's biggest successes might be able to be traced back to Consensys - notably:

Consensys becoming the official blockchain advisor to the city of Dubai, who want to become the first blockchain-powered city in the world by 2020.

And, the recent formation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance - a collective of organization dedicated to the advancement of the blockchain as an enterprise-grade platform, with a seriously impressive list of partners including Microsoft, Intel, Samsung SDS, Accenture, Toyota, J.P. Morgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, National Bank Of Canada, the San Fransisco Stock Exchange, and dozens more. For more info on this enterprise side of the blockchain, be sure to read "The Birth Of Enterprise Ethereum in 2017" by chief of staff at Consensys, Jeremy Millar.

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Of course, it's also worth mentioning that Ethereum is growing exponentially in China.

And, that the UN has begun using Ethereum for their projects.

Any way you look at, these all appear to be pretty strong fundamental tell-tale signs of something very significant happening with this blockchain.

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Of course, it must be stated: nothing in life is guaranteed.

Sure, Ethereum might be partnering with huge enterprises, smart cities, and institutions to collectively build a better tomorrow on the blockchain. Though, it is still all kind of in a relatively-experimental state, being so early on in the game.

A strong core team and open-source protocol with a committed global army of talented developers might help Ethereum break through whatever growing pains may arise along the way, however, it's still unknown as to what random unknowns might get thrown as a curveball in it all - or what potential competitors may enter the space with a superior technology of some sort or another.

Presently, there has been no other platform capable of what Ethereum is with its smart contract protocols. However, upcoming projects Tezos, Tauchain, and EOS have been predicted to be potential contenders upon their concepts being turned into effective working prototypes. Time shall tell whether each of those projects fulfill upon their hopes, and surely others will emerge that could give Ethereum a run for its money.

For now, though, Ethereum is a big deal.

It may be a bit complex to fully understand and grasp the scope of what may be coming as a result of its blossoming ecosystem of decentralized applications. Though the more time invested in knowledge of the platform and what's been in the works with it, the more likely one might be to solidify their confidence in the reasons for its increasing adoption rate (and corresponding token price - which has risen 70% to all-time highs over the last few days following the Consensys-sponsored Ethereal Summit and news of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance adding 86 new members.

Though even if Ethereum were to completely crash tomorrow, the foundations it has established with its concept, philosophy, vision, technological protocols, and influence in advancing the decentralization movement within this third wave of blockchain technology shall no doubt prove monumental advancements in the upgrading of our world's finance, economic, and governance systems.

Why should you care?

Perhaps the same reason you should have cared when the internet was just beginning. Maybe you "shouldn't" - though doing so could be of significant advantage.

This stuff is game-changing. And the early adopters who learn to navigate these new waters and learn to surf the wave will be those best-skilled to make the most of the abundant opportunities to be created in the space.

If you give a fuck about making a difference in the world, these are powerful tools and technologies that shall likely prove instrumental in the development of new economic models, businesses, global initiatives, and projects that may very well facilitate value flows enabling your most deeply-desired legacies to be actualized.

That may sound all rather grand and idealistic.

Though these major global shifts underway - and the technologies like Ethereum driving them - you might not want to ignore. Cuz it might just all go down even bigger and better than we could even imagine at this point.

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That about concludes this 'brief' introduction and curation of resources, from which I hope you'll have gained a clearer understanding about what Ethereum is and how this decentralized world supercomputing smart contract platform is a game-changer.

If you're interested in learning more, be sure to get through the linked references, provided again below.

Until next time, surf's up...

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Ethereum for Everyone

What does $100 Ether mean?

A Beginner's Guide To Ethereum

Synergy In Ethereum

The Uncanny Mind That Built Ethereum

Ethereum is the Forefront of Digital Currency

Programmable Blockchains In Context: Ethereum's Future

What Is a Decentralized Application?

What Are Smart Contracts?

https://steemit.com/blockchain/@rok-sivante/what-the-f-k-is-ethereum-a-new-era-of-world-supercomputing-and-why-this-is-a-big-deal

phan740's picture

I wish

surpriseI wish someone will create a gold trading platform on etherum and all the miners get together issue there ico so they can by pass the bank and all the games will stop. The technology is here!

AIJ's picture

phan740

Here you go...it's a start...

https://digix.io/

phan740's picture

Thanks Aij

Waves is another interesting platform

boomer sooner's picture

Aij

All of the above posted in your link is against the Deep State, government apparatus , funny money, good time rock and roll crowd.  It is what I find incredibly beautiful about the cryptos, but the reach of the aforementioned is what gives me pause.  Don't get me wrong, I would enjoy nothing more than the cryptos to hit it out of the park, but something down inside is saying shit's gonna happen when the major players of the world cannot control the situation.

Time and time again leaders who have expressed leaving "the system" have been eliminated and their countries torn apart.  What makes the cryptos wagon any different?  Not centralized?  Really?  Only a few places on earth are available to use to transfer the properties of one account to another.  These are the chute where the gate can be installed.  Peer to peer, sure, but until Walmart accepts cryptos, food becomes difficult to obtain.

I am grateful that a few have tread in the waters.  I am kicking myself for not spending a hundred on them back when I first discovered at $4 by Brother Johnf.  Play on I say and let's see where it goes.

Thanks AM for another thought raking article.

Pining 4 the Fjords's picture

Wonderful contribution Argentus

Thank you! Very thought provoking, and not just regarding the cryptos. We have been cursed to live in times where it's a mania phase for debt creation (public, private), bonds are the flip side of that and in an epic topping pattern, and timing is everything... while very powerful actors are fighting with powerful tools to keep their privilege at the top of that system. All in all, a highly unsettled situation, and it's not surprising that informed people who understand these things get touchy over how best to protect themselves in such an unstable environment.  Bubbles within bubbles. 

There are times, trying to wrap my head around all these cross-currents and competing forces, and attempting to take into account all the information blowing in the winds, that I feel like some half-assed novice alchemist: eye of newt, fibonacci ratio of stock market crash dates from 1929 onwards, rsi of wheat below 19 on the weekly corresponding to the number of gaps yet to be filled in the silver chart, but only if the yield curve inverts in Finland.  On a Thursday.  Then go long.  Copper. 

Sigh. 

argentus maximus's picture

Copy of a post on crypto digi-FX from Setup

argentus maximus wrote:

The view of Crypto-FX from a Central Bank's perspective

We constantly hear what bitcoin afficionados think. And I have made my position on this quite clear. I won't touch a private virtual currency using my hard earned money, not even to short term trade it. Past results for others won't persuade me on this due to the comparison with seigniorage and my sovereign opposition action expectations.

But external information may cast doubt upon the BTC fans, or upon myself. Information breadth is required.  Reduction of macro to micro, while remaining objective, is one of the things I try to be good at in "The Setup for The Big Trade" thread.

What does the establishment think?

Read this for a first insight into a central bank view:

Bank of England wrote:
... in its original implementation, and still at the time of writing, Bitcoin is limited to between 7 and 10 transactions per second, or roughly 3,500 transactions per hour, perhaps sufficient to provide electronic payment services to a medium-sized town.11 Despite this, the real resource cost of maintaining the Bitcoin network is on the scale of entire national economies. O’Dwyer and Malone (2014) estimate that the total electricity consumption of the Bitcoin network in early 2014 was comparable to that of Ireland (roughly 5GW). Deetman (2016) further estimates that, at current growth rates in computing efficiency and popular uptake, the Bitcoin network could potentially consume as much as 15GW by 2020, similar to the consumption rate of Denmark in 2014.

On this basis alone, we believe that in order for a digital currency system to be socially beneficial over the long run, an alternative method of addressing the cheap talk problem in transaction verifications needs to be developed and adopted.

...

... central banks have always had the ability to grant universal access to their balance sheets through the issuance of banknotes.14 However, banknotes require storage and physical exchange for payment, and pay an interest rate of zero. And the existence of an interest-free financial asset, after accounting for storage and transaction costs, represents the basis for a lower bound (ZLB) on central banks’ policy rates. Various proposals for materially circumventing the ZLB have been put forward, including, among others, a tax on banknotes (Gesell (1916)), a managed exchange rate between cash and electronic forms of money (Agarwal and Kimball (2015)) and the abolition of cash altogether (Rogoff (2015)). However, no central bank has attempted to implement one of these schemes to date.

... our simulations will show, there are reasons to believe that, when searching for expansionary monetary policy options at the ZLB, the injection of additional CBDC would represent a promising alternative to negative policy rates, thereby removing part of the rationale for the withdrawal of bank notes.

...

... So long as banks remain necessary gatekeepers to the payment system, they will have the capacity to achieve systemically-important status if they manage to obtain a sufficient market share. But if a universally accessible and sufficiently large CBDC payment system were to be established as an alternative alongside the existing bank-based payment system, the hypothetical failure of any individual bank, however large, need not necessarily cause an amplification through the economy by impairing payments.

In the event of an actual bank failure, CBDC could also help to ensure an orderly resolution.

...

... Both central banks and private financial institutions are paying increasing attention to the emergence of digital currencies and the distributed ledgers on which they are based, as this technology may present an opportunity to improve the efficiency, resiliency and accessibility of systems that facilitate monetary and financial transactions. There are, however, serious problems with existing private versions of such currencies. These problems are not associated with the viability of distributed ledgers in general, but rather with their prohibitively high costs of transaction verification. Alternative implementations, such as “permissioned” systems, may potentially avoid these costs by stepping away from purely decentralised designs while still retaining many of the benefits. One possible application of such a permissioned system would be the issuance of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) — universal, electronic, 24x7, national-currency-denominated and interest-bearing access to a central bank’s balance sheet ....

Full paper is here:

Bank of England Staff Working Paper No. 605 

The macroeconomics of central bank issued digital currencies

John Barrdear and Michael Kumhof  July 2016

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