Multiple Moves Are Possible

>> April 29, 2020

>> Blog Post #67

Up or Down?

Follow the flow or lag behind?

Go against the grain?

Various countries seem to be actively preparing for the next phase, some sort of gradual de confining of their populations.

As I’ve said before, I try to follow the news as little as possible. It is hard to cut off totally though, as people tend to share what they have heard, are doing, or what they fear.

From where I stand, it feels like a lot of countries initially took the same type of measures when putting the confinement in place: close the borders, close the schools, ask companies to go remote, inject massive liquidity on the market, pass “temporary” laws usually only seen during wartimes, etc.

But this here looks different. It seems that the deconfinement strategies may look different from one country to another. The timing might change, the rules might change. Situations might be more country specific.

It probably has to do with two main factors. How bad local economies are hit and how the governments in each country is holding up to the test. Both are obviously linked closely. Strangely I do not believe it has much to do with sanitary reasons at this stage.

My guess is some countries might be willing to take more risks than others, without ever telling you so – of that be certain – because they might not be as well off as you might think. It might be smart to keep an eye out for these.

Where I live schools will be reopening within a couple of weeks. I do not know why as no explanation has really been provided as to why this was necessary, advisable, or just random. Main explanation is that the economies need people to be back at work. Keeping them at home to watch after the kids is probably seen as the biggest factor in preventing that. After all I only know of one person who stopped going to work before they even closed the schools over here, and the only reason he did it is because he really does not like going and would invent any possible story not to go. The story here was that he was hypochondriac, and the pandemic scare was driving him insane. Hilarious.

In any case, I find it really interesting that we need people AT work, not TO work. It seems to me that in this day and age a lot of tools exist to make working from a lot of places relatively easy. In a large number of cases where this is not possible, as a lot of jobs have to be on the job, I think these times offer us an unprecedented opportunity to review the insanely complex logistical chains we are subject to every day and go more local.

Local to me seems less risky, more resilient and more humane.

Here’s what I’ll do and my thought process with all of this. In case of extraordinary situations which are exponential in nature, it’s best to panic and run first. You don’t want to be the last one exiting the flaming cinema, selling your stock during a market crash or waiting in line in front of the bank during a bank run. However, when promises of a return start to be heard, I feel it’s safe to lag behind. To wait for confirmation that the trend is safe and that it won’t all go crashing down again.

Oops sorry everyone is sick again.

Oops sorry it’s mutating into something different now.

The upward trend is more like something you need to ride for a while, and you don’ have to worry about the timing as much.

But there is one final thought here though. All of this is made easier if you can afford it. As I am absolutely convinced that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed and will continue revealing to a log of people how bad inequalities are, even in the so-called rich countries. Lagging behind because you feel it is a better risk strategy is only possible if the deal is on the table. Being forced to follow the herd is a totally different predicament.

I Wonder What The World Will Be Like In 10 Years

>> April 20, 2020

>> Blog Post #61

I wonder what the world will be like in 10 years.

I was talking to someone I know today about potentially partnering as our two respective products would work well together from a user’s standpoint. It was fun to discuss a new partnership as the past few weeks we’ve been focusing on our main product and today’s conversation was a refreshing break from it.

I think I’ve mentioned it in this blog before, I run a bitcoin business, and therefore the use cases we discuss are always fringe to a certain degree as Bitcoin is certainly not a massively adopted product, at least yet. Maybe it will never be and quite honestly that doesn’t bother me at all as I am not necessarily routing for it to be. I am convinced Bitcoin can have a perfectly bright future without mass adoption.

One specific topic that I am very interested in is the frontier between bitcoin and FIAT currencies. I am of the opinion that any business sitting at that frontier is taking a lot of risks as governments can turn on them in a heartbeat and create nightmarish scenarios. I’ll define a nightmarish scenario one in which either all of your cash or all of your time are captured for a period longer than you can withstand as an entrepreneur. It doesn’t mean these businesses currently trying will not succeed, just that it’s not a risk I personally feel like taking. That’s why I do not want to sit at the Bitcoin to FIAT frontier.

For the same reason, as an individual, I think someone who would like to accumulate bitcoin has two good choices he can make. Either he earns bitcoin for his work or he buys them – for FIAT – from an individual, not a crypto exchange. What will that market look like in 10 years? I feel alternatives are starting to emerge that offer bitcoin on and off ramps, but they all seem too centralized yet. As people seem to be focusing on usability through UX and UI, I believe the core tenants of privacy and security first might be taking a backseat. I hope that is just an impression.

People are the layer that I believe will provide the next step of development for Bitcoin. People coming together and putting their separate pieces of code, products, networks together. Advancing Bitcoin together as a community that shares the same intentions and beliefs. I see signs of this happening. People rising up separately because they do not like the current situation and then look around at one another and join forces with people who they recognize themselves in. I guess only time will tell whether I was right or not.

Stack safely.

They Fucked Up The Corona

>> January 27, 2020

>> Blog Post #18

Joking about something serious is rarely a good idea. But I would like to keep things relatively light on the virus front as this is not the main element for me here.

You’ve probably heard about the outbreak of a new bout of something called a coronavirus in mainland china these past few weeks. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about it in the newspaper or the radio.

Coronavirus is a family of virus, the most well-known of which is the SARS, Severe acute respiratory syndrome, that broke out at the end of 2002 and caused a reported 774 deaths in 17 countries.

The particular outbreak we are talking about right now is noteworthy for a few reasons.

First, this is a new coronavirus, one that has never been encountered before. You can probably tell it’s new because no one has come out with a catchy name for it yet. It is just referred to as 2019-nCoV. I guess someone is going to have to come up with a better name if they want it to stick in the public’s opinion and make it newsworthy.

Another interesting aspect of this is how China will react to it. A few years ago, China was accused of having held information about the SARS outbreak from the world and from its own people for several weeks, aggravating the epidemic. This aspect to me is extremely interesting as I am particularly mistrustful of how governments tend to react to these types of news. I’m not talking specifically about China, but any government. It seems to be that they have a natural incentive to protect themselves first, which they translate into something like “if the people don’t know about it, they won’t be able to blame us”, rather than informing people of potential threats. In this particular case, various articles seem to indicate that the Chinese authorities have been prompt to react and collaborate with organizations such as the World Health Organization which is a good sign. Obviously doing it before the virus has been dubbed the caliente cerveza virus shows just how fast they’ve been and how much better the world’s odds of dealing with the virus are.

Which brings me to a third interesting point about fears of a terrible pandemic that could wipe out entire civilizations. We suck at properly understanding both their chances of occurring AND the amount of damage they can cause. If, one day, we are faced with a major pandemic I am willing to believe that the most alarming scenarios and estimations might pale in comparison with reality. We have a natural tendency to believe that only something that has happened once can happen again. This is a very dangerous underestimation that could be extremely harmful to so many people. However, I also believe that we grossly overestimate the chances of that happening at all. Something that is a hundred times worse than the total number of deaths from the flu over the past hundred years but that doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen. It’s that simple.

Anyways, I fell upon this article today that I thought was refreshing in its way of talking about el virus de la muerte. Ebola sure doesn’t get as much love on the radio waves with respect to the deaths it has already caused.

Now that you have read it and see that there isn’t much to worry about regarding this specific virus, maybe you should sit back, relax and enjoy a “cold” one.

Personal Risk Assessment

>> January 6, 2020

>> Blog Post #6

A couple of years ago I read an article that made quite an impression on me. Someone had posted a link to it on one of the bitcoin forums I read daily and the description he made of it triggered my interest.

I believe the link I had received was for the post on the ZeroHedge website, but after a little search I found the original article to be this one.

The reason why I’m posting it here is that one of the examples hit home for me. The main point in this article is that people don’t assess risk properly. I personally don’t believe the most interesting part is the financial implication of not getting rich as it is not one of the things that I give the most importance to in life. What I thought was really interesting was the downside risk and how my personal assessment of it was skewed.

A lot of people, at least where I come from, tell you that quitting or losing your job is terrible, especially when you have a house and a family because you might not be able to manage. I’m keeping the argument fairly generic, and it’s actually not very well worded, but the main point here is that the argument always feels very definitive and that it’s always fairly vague.

When I look about it today, I feel that the intuitive way that a lot of people receive that argument is “You should be fucking scared, cause you risk going from 100 to 0”. And no you don’t.

Once I saw that my biggest downside risk was to stay in the professional situation I had and not to either have to:

  • flip burgers for a few weeks / months – say a 20% chance and honestly, I think that would be unfortunate
  • work the same job elsewhere for a 30% salary cut for a year or so – say a 30% chance
  • work the same job elsewhere for the same salary – that leaves 50%

I saw things more clearly and almost immediately my mind started working for the benefit of one, and only one thing: me

I could have failed to try.

Now worse thing that could happen to me is fail while trying.

Let me know in the comments what you think of that article and if you too have fallen into that assessment trap. I’ll definitely come back to this as I am convinced that it has a lot to do with how we are educated and how society is actually happy when we are trapped in that situation as some people benefit from it. Just not you.