Quotable (#217)

Mighty WeChat:

WeChat’s ability to create a bustling payments economy echoes the general success of its parent company. In September, Tencent became China’s largest company by value, surpassing state-owned China Mobile, when it reported its third-quarter revenue: $6 billion, up 52% year over year. How much of that can be attributed to Wallet and WePay was not specified: WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app, makes money largely from online gaming, advertising, and selling sticker packs. But Tencent — which began with the instant messaging app QQ and is now pursuing artificial intelligence and electric cars alongside investments in a range of companies, including China’s dominant ride-sharing operation, Didi Chuxing — did cite WePay as a major reason for its “other” businesses’ growth, which increased $726 million in the third quarter, or 348% over the same period last year. According to estimates by HSBC, based on current tech company valuations, WeChat could already be worth more than $80 billion, about half of Tencent’s market capitalization.


Further down, there’s an excellent quote from Connie Chan (of Andreessen Horowitz) on WeChat’s electronic red envelopes: “This was money as a message.”

Quotable (#184)

Brandon Smith (who can get a bit excitable, in the right direction):

So, let’s make this crystal clear — the long game is the total and OPEN centralization of economic and geopolitical power into the hands of a select few financial elites. Not the pulling of strings behind the curtain. Not shadow governance. OPEN governance of the world by the elites, accepted or even demanded by the people.

(Close enough for government work.)

Any concerted movement to consolidate global economic governance around “the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket currency mechanism” will support Smith’s analysis. (The UF prediction: It won’t work.)

Also crucial (the heated partisan language can be moderated without loss of signal):

If Hillary Clinton, a well known globalist puppet deep in the bedrock of the establishment, wins the election only to have the economy tank, then the globalists will get the blame. […] If Trump is either allowed in office, or is placed in office, and the economy tanks, CONSERVATIVES, the primary enemy of the globalists, will get the blame for the resulting crisis.

The Accelerationist candidate is in either case the other team’s guy.

Quotable (#169)

The hardscrabble frontier:

… it’s no surprise that writers have been pouring over the new Author Earnings report released this week. […] … Are the numbers in the report encouraging or depressing? Well, that depends on your point of view. The Author Earnings authors are very enthusiastic: “We live in exciting times. Today it’s possible to be a full-time professional author, quietly earning $50,000+ a year — even six figures a year — without ever sending a query letter to anyone.” […] Others will likely find it pretty depressing that in the entire industry of book publishing, where over a million books are published a year, a mere 2,500 authors can be found making median US wage.

Quotable (#143)

William Faulkner quits his post office job:

As long as I live under the capitalistic system, I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.

This, sir, is my resignation.



Bitcoin had a good 2015, at least according to investor estimations. Already, half-way through January, the all-consuming chaos of 2016 has rolled over it.

The Bitcoin block-size spat that rumbled inconclusively throughout the previous year has escalated into a dramatic public row, with core developer Mike Hearn’s noisy exit. His text is an instant classic for the historical record, regardless of how persuasive its argument is found. The discussion at Reddit provides some sense of the controversy.

Hearn is writing Bitcoin off as a “failed experiment” — which seems histrionic, despite the many points of interest he raises. The deep tension between its security principles and its (near-term) growth prospects is a matter of evident seriousness. Taking the monkey business out of money innovation won’t be as easy as some of the crypto-currency’s more optimistic proponents had anticipated. Something of extreme historical radicality is occurring, and it’s going to be messy.

With much of the world going under in 2016, there’s likely to be a scramble for the escape capsule — and that seems to be on fire.

ADDED: Bitcoin obituaries through the ages.

Event Horizon

If this isn’t the greatest short article on financial economics that you’ve ever read, you can get a full refund from me. (UF is probably going to have it tattooed on its abdomen.)

A sample, just to suck you in:

I always knew that ZIRP was bad, but I just thought it would be normal, run-of-the-mill bad. You know, where most normal people get screwed for a long time, and then “suddenly” everything comes unglued and the financial system implodes, followed by a government intervention while the usual suspects (free markets and capitalism) get hung from telephone poles. […] …and then everything would mean revert and overshoot. In this case, interest rates north of 15% (a la 1980), massive debt default, another economic depression, followed by a grand new government intervention, and the blame would be placed squarely at the feet of runaway free markets and capitalism. […] In other words, I have long thought we have been existing at a cyclical extreme on the spectrum of financial repression, which would eventually become untenable and then we’d swing up to the other extreme (of financial repression). […] However lately I have been hearing and reading things that put this scenario, this comfortable (in it’s familiarity) expectation of central bankster boots stomping on my face forever, into doubt. It might end up being a lot worse than that. …

(Plot spoiler — division by zero plays a central role.)