Wage and Price Freeze

Remember “TARP,” “Too Big to Fail,” “Government Motors,” “pay czar,” the buzzwords of the Bush‐​Obama era? They reflected a disturbing trend toward presidential interference in economic life.

Forty years ago this week, President Richard Nixon showed us just how dangerous unchecked executive power can be to the free‐​enterprise system.

On Aug. 15, 1971, in a nationally televised address, Nixon announced, “I am today ordering a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States.”

After a 90‐​day freeze, increases would have to be approved by a “Pay Board” and a “Price Commission,” with an eye toward eventually lifting controls — conveniently, after the 1972 election.

Putting the U.S. economy “into a permanent straitjacket would … stifle the expansion of our free enterprise system,” Nixon said. As President George W. Bush put it in 2008, sometimes you have to “abandon free‐​market principles to save the free‐​market system.”

There was no national emergency in the summer of ’71: unemployment stood at 6 percent, inflation only a point higher than it is now. Yet, after Nixon’s announcement, the markets rallied, the press swooned, and, even though his speech pre‐​empted the popular Western Bonanza, the people loved it, too — 75 percent backed the plan in polls.

As Nobel Prize‐​winning economist Milton Friedman correctly predicted, however, Nixon’s gambit ended “in utter failure and the emergence into the open of the suppressed inflation.” The people would pay the price — but not until after he’d coasted to a landslide re‐​election in 1972 over Democratic Sen. George McGovern.

By the time Nixon reimposed a temporary freeze in June 1973, Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw explain in The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, it was obvious that price controls didn’t work: “Ranchers stopped shipping their cattle to the market, farmers drowned their chickens, and consumers emptied the shelves of supermarkets.”

Several lessons from Nixon’s folly remain highly relevant today.

First, it’s usually Congress that lays the foundation for an imperial presidency with unconstitutional delegations of authority to the executive branch. The Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 gave Nixon legislative cover for his actions.

The act was “a political dare,” according to top Nixon official George Shultz — the Democrats thought Nixon wouldn’t use the powers they’d granted him, but he called their bluff.

Second, the damage presidents do with economic powers they shouldn’t have can take years to repair. Price hikes from the 1973 Arab oil embargo made it politically difficult to unwind controls on gasoline, which led to the gas lines of the late 1970s.

Third, the episode shows the enduring relevance of cartoonist Walt Kelly’s Pogo Principle: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” As noted, the freeze was overwhelmingly popular. “Bold” presidential action on the economy often is, even when “just stand there — don’t do something!” would be wiser counsel.

In the recent de–––bt‐​limit fight, for example, liberal Democrats who’d spent eight years railing against Bush’s executive unilateralism begged Obama to break the law and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, using a fig leaf of a constitutional argument based on the 14th Amendment.

Occasionally, though, we learn something from our mistakes. As Shultz told Nixon in 1973, at least the debacle had convinced everyone “that wage‐​price controls are not the answer.”

Ironically, Nixon’s actions also helped galvanize an emerging libertarian movement opposed to the bipartisan welfare‐​warfare state. “I remember the day very clearly,” Rep. Ron Paul, R‑Texas, recalled in 2001, saying the events of Aug. 15, 1971, drove the reluctant young obstetrician into politics.

For years, Paul waged a one‐​man war against economic nostrums and presidential command and control. Lately, though — with the rise of the Tea Party and his strong showing in the Ames straw poll — he’s not looking so lonely anymore.

Source: https://www.cato.org/commentary/remembering-nixons-wage-price-controls#

The content delves into the topic of President Richard Nixon’s imposition of wage and price controls in the United States in 1971 and the consequences that followed. It highlights the dangers of unchecked executive power and draws lessons that remain relevant today. The post provides historical context and a concise analysis of the impact of Nixon’s actions.

Let me know your thoughts…

1. Clarify the connection between Nixon’s actions and the current political landscape to make the relevance more explicit.

2. Provide additional examples or evidence to support the claim that Congress often contributes to the problem of an imperial presidency.

3. Expand on the long-term effects of Nixon’s wage and price controls, including their impact on the public perception of government intervention in the economy.

4. Discuss the libertarian movement’s response to and influence on economic policy in more detail, emphasizing its relevance in today’s political climate.

5. Consider including alternative viewpoints or counterarguments to provide a more balanced analysis of the topic.

Unlawful Advertising

The federal government and states regulate advertising. On the federal side, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the main agency that enforces unlawful advertising laws passed by Congress (and signed by the President).

States also set rules and can take enforcement action, usually through their attorney general’s office, a consumer protection agency, and the local district (or prosecuting) attorney.

Companies that make false advertising claims can face lawsuits from more than just government watchdogs–competitors and consumers can also bring private lawsuits.

What Is False, Misleading, or Unfair Advertising?

The terms “false,” “misleading”, or “unfair advertising” distinguish different instances of unlawful advertising, but they each refer to advertising that is false in some way.

The law requires you to be truthful when you advertise a product or service. What you say in your ad shouldn’t deceive or mislead customers into thinking your product or service can do something it can’t.


I have a client who has some complex issues in the world of healthcare in this climate the sound of healthcare presents a plethora of restrictios. The amzing thing about being a consultant is when we get the opportunity to learn as we go. In my research I was directed to the Dun & Bradstreet Business Directory. Most of the information was locked. I though it would be a good time to familirize myself again with the information Hoovers provided. I filled out the form for the D & B Hoovers Free Trial. The form would not process, I reached out to an agent in the chat only to find out that it was not free, I would have to set up a meeting to be persuaded (I’m assuming} to purchase something. When I explained the need for the information in Hoovers, the representative sugested i have my client contact him!

In grad school Hoovers was accessible, perhaps after the $119 million dollar purchase by D&B the return on the purchase is not what they expected.

Avoid Dishonest Debt Collectors

Watch this video to see how Bryan, a U.S. Army veteran, was able to get debt collectors to stop contacting him about a debt he didn’t think he owed.

Bryan asked the collectors for proof of his debt, which they didn’t have. A collector has to give you “validation information” about the debt, either during their first phone call with you or in writing within five days after first contacting you. The collector must tell you four pieces of information:

  • how much money you owe
  • the name of the creditor you owe it to
  • how to get the name of the original creditor
  • what to do if you don’t think it’s your debt

If a debt collector won’t give you this information, report them to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. To learn more about your rights, visit consumer.gov/debt. Please share this video with friends and family so they’ll know what to do if they get a call about a debt they don’t think they owe.

Did You Know Amazon Owns Zappos

Did You Know Zappos is owned by Amazon!!

Zappos is the epitome of customer service and revolutionary corporate culture. It’s the main reason why Zappos is owned by Amazon. But much of it was due to one of its co-founders, Tony Hsieh, and his eccentric lifestyle.

But Hsieh was more than eccentric. His views on business made him a groundbreaking CEO, for better or for worse. After all, Zappos went from paltry sales to a giant of the e-commerce world.

We’ll tell you all about how Zappos got to the top and the unfortunate implications of its success in this episode of Forensics.

Zappos’ Origins

Back in 1999, the idea of selling shoes online seemed preposterous. How would anyone buy a pair of sneakers before trying them on first? So, investors weren’t convinced of Nick Swinmurn’s idea.

Swinmurn was frustrated with shoe stores. They either had the model he wanted but not the size or carry sizes he needed, but with limited models. So, he decided to sell them online.

And that’s why he contacted Tony Hsieh. But, back then, buying things online was more an experiment, an adventure. Add to this that buying shoes can be an art form, so Hsieh wasn’t convinced at first. In fact, he almost turned him down, but Swinmurn lured him a solid argument.

“Footwear is a $40 billion industry in the United States, of which catalog sales make up $2 billion. E-commerce will likely continue to grow. And people will likely continue to wear shoes in the foreseeable future.”

Swinmurn Had a Point

Hsieh was a visionary himself and was looking to invest. He had made his fortune when he created LinkExchange, an online advertising platform that he’d eventually sell to Microsoft for $265 million, in 1998.

He then formed VentureFrogs, an investment firm desperate for some action right around when Swinmurn contacted him. So, eventually, he agreed to invest in ShoeSite.com in 1999.

The name evidently wasn’t catchy, so it became Zappos, after the Spanish word for shoes, Zapatos. It was short and to the point.

Zappos’ initial months weren’t easy. But Hsieh was confident enough to become the company’s CEO in 2000. That same year, Zappos increased its gross sales to $1.6 million, and the following year, they grew to $8.6 million. So, what had fueled such growth?

Changes through culture, the main reason why Zappos is owned by Amazon

Zappos had a lot going for it. The company survived the dot-com crash, and sales were growing. With Hsieh at the helm, the company had $70 million in sales by 2003, but it was nowhere near making a profit.

Hsieh knew there were many areas to improve, one of which was customer service, something that would become his obsession. He once told Harvard Business Review that He had many options with which to fix this problem.

He could outsource the call center to a cheaper alternative and increase the operating efficiency, but there was a big hurdle. Zappos’ customers were mostly from the US. So, the company needed US customer service. Plus, a third-party company wouldn’t have Zappos’ core values and vision.

But finding accessible customer service representatives in San Francisco, where Zappos was based, was too expensive. Obsessed with a solution, Hsieh took the company to a cheaper state, not just the call center. He moved the entire company.

This would allow Zappos to have full control of inventory, customer relations, and company values. And that’s pretty smart.

In 2004, he also managed to secure funding for Zappos from Sequoia Capital. Then, the company opened its first outlet store in Kentucky and created its first culture book. But it wasn’t an ordinary company book; employees helped write it with personal essays.

These actions took full effect in no time, as Zappos closed that year with $184 million in gross sales. In 2005, Sequoia invested yet again, totaling $35 million, and Zappos saw $370 million in sales.

And this investment is vital. In fact, Nick Swinmurn says that, without Sequoia, there’d be no Zappos.

Now, his name doesn’t come up that much since the founder quietly left the company in 2006 because “you can only talk about shipping shoes for so long.”

But Hsieh thought the complete opposite, taking an almost obsessive view on company culture.

The Reputation Precedes

If you google Zappos and success, you’ll find boatloads of articles discussing how the company culture was a key to its success. But dig into the details, and you see some atypical methods.

Besides the company culture book we mentioned, employees had open communication through “Ask Anything” newsletters once a month. The facilities have on-site libraries to encourage reading, and Zappos has even hired sessions with life coaches.

Remember all the trouble Hsieh went to optimize the call center? Well, customer service was the stuff of legends. Though a phone call isn’t essential for a company these days, Hsieh felt it was critical for the customer at the other end.

Zappos insisted that representatives fulfill the customers’ demands. In fact, the number of calls they take in a day didn’t matter. Instead, Zappos used other standards to ensure top-level service.

There are urban legends about representatives being on the line for six hours before the customer decided on which products to buy. One even helped a customer find a pizza place.

It doesn’t end there; another example is shipping. Zappos doesn’t charge for shipping, even on returned shoes.

And that’s the key. Hsieh was obsessed with customer service. Many in the media even called him the “king of Customer Service.” Think about it: how many companies do this? Not many. But not everything was perfect.

“Atypical” Employment Techniques

On a scale from 1 to 10, how weird are you? Think about it. I’ll give you a second. That was a question Hsieh asked possible candidates. 

“If you’re a 1, you’re probably a little bit too straight-laced for us. If you’re a 10, you might be too psychotic for us. It’s not so much the number; it’s more seeing how candidates react to a question.” He once told Adam Grant.

It makes sense. Caught off guard, people reacted more naturally. Hsieh, however, took it one step further with The Offer. After a week or so of hiring someone, Hsieh would approach that person and make them an offer.

They could either keep working for Zappos or quit. The answer might seem obvious, but there was a twist. If you considered quitting, Zappos would pay you up to $2000 in some cases. Why?

“If you’re willing to take the company up on The Offer, you obviously don’t have the sense of commitment they are looking for,” Hsieh said in an interview.

Weird, extreme, but it worked. The Offer purged Zappos of those who didn’t believe in it, and the company kept growing. By 2008, Zappos neared $1 BN in sales, and some companies wanted in.

But not all his corporate culture experiments worked out. In 2013, he eliminated all company titles. Zappos would become a “holacracy,” a place without bosses. Sounds great, but when it happened, 14% of the workforce took up on that famous Offer.

Amazon Comes in: Zappos Acquisition

Is Zappos owned by Amazon?

The first time Jeff Bezos offered to buy Zappos was in 2005, but Hsieh had turned him down. But the 2008 crisis brought challenging times for the company, and the idea of selling the company wasn’t farfetched.

The challenges weren’t only financial. Some of it had to do with Hsieh’s views on culture. He told INC.com that the Board wanted me, or whoever was CEO, to spend less time worrying about employee happiness and more time selling shoes.

Also, cash was hard to come by, not a good sign in a company that relied heavily on credit lines. Initially, Hsieh and his CFO, and friend, Alfred Lin, decided to buyout the board, which would cost them $200 million.

It was then that Amazon reappeared. But no matter how good the offer was, Hsieh feared that his company culture, the one he had worked on for so long, would disappear.

The acquisition talks were tense, Hsieh recalled, especially with the Board. But, eventually, it came to fruition. For no less than $1.2 BN and, the cherry on top, the company’s culture survived. In fact, Amazon copies some of Zappos’ philosophies, including the Offer. Hsieh remained on the board and as CEO.

In fact, after the Amazon purchase, Zappos consistently ranked high in Fortune magazine’s 100 best companies to work for four years in a row. So, now, with Zappos owned by Amazon, Hsieh’s tenure as CEO was often viewed as successful and a great indicator of “how to do things right.” He hung around celebrities and was famous for his energy, quirkiness, and overall good vibe. But behind the scenes, things were very different.

Tony Hsieh, an Enigmatic Character

Hsieh was viewed as unique for his philosophies on success and his desire to make people around him happy. Philosophies that he captured in a book called Delivering Happiness: a summary of his views on marketing, finances, and life principles.

The book was an instant success. It debuted number one on several bestselling lists, received praise from the critics, and became a business reference for many.

But in his personal life, things weren’t as bright. Multiple acquaintances tell of his obsession with taking his body to the extreme. He’d fast just to see how long he could go without food, once weighing under 100 lb. and see how long he could go without urinating.

He would consume nitrous oxide to deprive his body of oxygen and partake in the alphabet diet in which, for 24-hour intervals, he only consumed food with A, then B, and so on.

Journalist Angel Au-Young summarized Tony Hsieh as a man who loved to create happiness and needed non-stop action. He needed people, whether that be through parties or drugs.

“He fostered so much human connection and happiness, yet there was this void. It was difficult for him to be alone,”writes Au-Young.

A difficulty that increased with the imposed isolation of 2020. As the world shut down, so did the energy that fueled Hsieh. Close friends say that Hsieh turned more to drugs, and his mental health suffered.

So much so that he had to step down as the CEO of Zappos. He purchased several houses in Utah with his fortune, where he planned to melt art, food, and culture, and once again be surrounded by people.

But the world remained isolated. Socializing was still tricky, and Hsieh struggled between his visions and his addictions. His close friend, singer Jewel, had even warned him that his path had only one exit.

On November 27, 2020, Tony Hsieh passed away from injuries suffered in a fire one week before. The circumstances of his passing aren’t precise, and speculation runs wild. But evidence indicates that he planned to enter rehab, signs that he wanted a change.

So, here’s to hoping that his untimely death isn’t in vain. His legacy is evident, both his lessons as an entrepreneur and the cautionary tale of the cost of success. As for his creation, even if Zappos is owned by Amazon, here’s to his relentless pursuit for perfection.

Source:  Sidebean

Gasoline Prices

Why is gas so expensive, good question I’m glad you asked.  Sanctions Joe Biden and the rest of Europe explicitly left out anything to do with oil purchasing so on paper we could be buying Russian oil all day if we wanted but the big oil companies decided to self-sanction they said that they are protesting what Russia is doing to Ukraine and thereby divested from Russian assets  BP divested $25 billion so as you can imagine the price of Russian oil tanks and some people did buy that cheap oil – China and India got some Shell bought some and then people bullied Shell saying they shouldn’t be buying Russian oil so they and the rest of the big oil companies did stop buying from Russia but I know you weren’t expecting big oil to be super virtuous so they passed the cost on to the consumer there is nothing that Joe Biden can do about that -understand Congress can pass a  gas tax holiday that would reduce the price of fuel by about $0.18 – they are actively working on releasing more oil from the reserves if we wanna hold anybody accountable for the price of gas it’s the oil companies themselves!  We need to find those papers that were destroyed the plans to make a car run on water.  That’s right – The water fuel cell is a technical design of a “perpetual motion machine” created by American Stanley Allen Meyer August 24, 1940. Meyer claimed that an automobile retrofitted with the device could use water as fuel instead of gasoline.

Are You Aware of NIRP

What Is a Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP)?

A negative interest rate policy (NIRP) is an unconventional monetary policy tool employed by a central bank whereby nominal target interest rates are set with a negative value, below the theoretical lower bound of zero percent. A NIRP is a relatively new development (since the 1990s) in monetary policy used to mitigate a financial crisis, and has only been officially enacted under extraordinary economic circumstances.

Key Takeaways

  • A negative interest rate policy (NIRP) occurs when a central bank sets its target nominal interest rate at less than zero percent.
  • This extraordinary monetary policy tool is used to strongly encourage borrowing, spending, and investment rather than hoarding cash, which will lose value to negative deposit rates.
  • Officially set negative rates have been seen in practice following the 2008 financial crisis in several jurisdictions such as in parts of Europe and in Japan.

Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP)

Explaining Negative Interest Rate Policies

A negative interest rate means that the central bank (and perhaps private banks) will charge negative interest. Instead of receiving money on deposits, depositors must pay regularly to keep their money with the bank. This is intended to incentivize banks to lend money more freely and businesses and individuals to invest, lend, and spend money rather than pay a fee to keep it safe. This happens during a negative interest rate environment.

During deflationary periods, people and businesses hoard money instead of spending and investing. The result is a collapse in aggregate demand, which leads to prices falling even further, a slowdown or halt in real production and output, and an increase in unemployment. A loose or expansionary monetary policy is usually employed to deal with such economic stagnation. However, if deflationary forces are strong enough, simply cutting the central bank’s interest rate to zero may not be sufficient to stimulate borrowing and lending.

The Theory Behind Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP)

Negative interest rates can be considered a last-ditch effort to boost economic growth. Basically, it’s put into place when all else (every other type of traditional policy) has proved ineffective and may have failed.

Theoretically, targeting interest rates below zero will reduce the costs to borrow for companies and households, driving demand for loans and incentivizing investment and consumer spending. Retail banks may choose to internalize the costs associated with negative interest rates by paying them, which will negatively impact profits, rather than passing the costs to small depositors for fear that, otherwise, they will have to move their deposits into cash.

Real World Examples of NIRP

An example of a negative interest rate policy would be to set the key rate at -0.2 percent, such that bank depositors would have to pay two-tenths of a percent on their deposits instead of receiving any sort of positive interest.

Though fears that bank customers and banks would move all their money holdings into cash (or M1) did not materialize, there is some evidence to suggest that negative interest rates in Europe did cut down interbank loans.

There are some risks and potential unintended consequences associated with a negative interest rate policy. If banks penalize households for saving, that might not necessarily encourage retail consumers to spend more cash. Instead, they may hoard cash at home. Instituting a negative interest rate environment can even inspire a cash run, triggering households to pull their cash out of the bank in order to avoid paying negative interest rates for saving.

Banks that wish to avoid cash runs can refrain from applying the negative interest rate to the comparatively small deposits of household savers. Instead, they apply negative interest rates to the large balances held by pension funds, investment firms and other corporate clients. This encourages corporate savers to invest in bonds and other vehicles that offer better returns while protecting the bank and the economy from the negative effects of a cash run.

What You May Need to Know About Cryptocurrency

Simply stated, a cryptocurrency is a new form of digital money. You can transfer your traditional, non-cryptocurrency money like the U.S. dollar digitally, but that’s not quite the same as how cryptocurrencies work. When cryptocurrencies become mainstream, you may be able to use them to pay for stuff electronically, just like you do with traditional currencies.

However, what sets cryptocurrencies apart is the technology behind them. You may say, “Who cares about the technology behind my money? I only care about how much of it there is in my wallet!” The issue is that the world’s current money systems have a bunch of problems. Here are some examples:

  • Payment systems such as credit cards and wire transfers are outdated.
  • In most cases, a bunch of middlemen like banks and brokers take a cut in the process, making transactions expensive and slow.
  • Financial inequality is growing around the globe.
  • Around 3 billion unbanked or underbanked people can’t access financial services. That’s approximately half the population on the planet!

Cryptocurrencies aim to solve some of these problems, if not more.

The basics of cryptocurrencies

You know how your everyday, government-based currency is reserved in banks? And that you need an ATM or a connection to a bank to get more of it or transfer it to other people? Well, with cryptocurrencies, you may be able to get rid of banks and other centralized middlemen altogether. That’s because cryptocurrencies rely on a technology called blockchain, which is decentralized (meaning no single entity is in charge of it). Instead, every computer in the network confirms the transactions.

The definition of money

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of cryptocurrencies, you need to understand the definition of money itself. The philosophy behind money is a bit like the whole “which came first: the chicken or the egg?” thing. In order for money to be valuable, it must have a number of characteristics, such as the following:

  • Enough people must have it.
  • Merchants must accept it as a form of payment.
  • Society must trust that it’s valuable and that it will remain valuable in the future.

Of course, in the old days, when you traded your chicken for shoes, the values of the exchanged materials were inherent to their nature. But when coins, cash, and credit cards came into play, the definition of money and, more importantly, the trust model of money changed.

Another key change in money has been its ease of transaction. The hassle of carrying a ton of gold bars from one country to another was one of the main reasons cash was invented. Then, when people got even lazier, credit cards were invented. But credit cards carry the money that your government controls. As the world becomes more interconnected and more concerned about authorities who may or may not have people’s best interests in mind, cryptocurrencies may offer a valuable alternative.

Here’s a fun fact: Your normal, government-backed currency, such as the U.S. dollar, must go by its fancy name, fiat currency, now that cryptocurrencies are around. Fiat is described as a legal tender like coins and banknotes that have value only because the government says so.

Some cryptocurrency history

The first ever cryptocurrency was (drumroll please) Bitcoin! You probably have heard of Bitcoin more than any other thing in the crypto industry. Bitcoin was the first product of the first blockchain developed by some anonymous entity who went by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi released the idea of Bitcoin in 2008 and described it as a “purely peer-to-peer version” of electronic money.

Bitcoin was the first established cryptocurrency, but many attempts at creating digital currencies occurred years before Bitcoin was formally introduced. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are created through a process called mining. Very different than mining ore, mining cryptocurrencies involves powerful computers solving complicated problems.

Bitcoin remained the only cryptocurrency until 2011. Then Bitcoin enthusiasts started noticing flaws in it, so they decided to create alternative coins, also known as altcoins, to improve Bitcoin’s design for things like speed, security, anonymity, and more. Among the first altcoins was Litecoin, which aimed to become the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. But as of the time of writing, more than 1,600 cryptocurrencies are available, and the number is expected to increase in the future.

Key cryptocurrency benefits

Still not convinced that cryptocurrencies (or any other sort of decentralized money) are a better solution than traditional government-based money? Here are a number of solutions that cryptocurrencies may be able to provide through their decentralized nature:

  • Reducing corruption: With great power comes great responsibility. But when you give a ton of power to only one person or entity, the chances of their abusing that power increase. The 19th-century British politician Lord Acton said it best: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Cryptocurrencies aim to resolve the issue of absolute power by distributing power among many people or, better yet, among all the members of the network. That’s the key idea behind blockchain technology anyway.
  • Eliminating extreme money printing: Governments have central banks, and central banks have the ability to simply print money when they’re faced with a serious economic problem. This process is also called quantitative easing. By printing more money, a government may be able to bail out debt or devalue its currency. However, this approach is like putting a bandage on a broken leg. Not only does it rarely solve the problem, but the negative side effects also can sometimes surpass the original issue.

For example, when a country like Iran or Venezuela prints too much money, the value of its currency drops so much that inflation skyrockets and people can’t even afford to buy everyday goods and services. Their cash becomes barely as valuable as rolls of toilet paper. Most cryptocurrencies have a limited, set amount of coins available. When all those coins are in circulation, a central entity or the company behind the blockchain has no easy way to simply create more coins or add on to its supply.

  • Giving people charge of their own money: With traditional cash, you’re basically giving away all your control to central banks and the government. If you trust your government, that’s great, but keep in mind that at any point, your government is able to simply freeze your bank account and deny your access to your funds. For example, in the United States, if you don’t have a legal will and own a business, the government has the right to all your assets if you pass away. Some governments can even simply abolish bank notes the way India did in 2016. With cryptocurrencies, you and only you can access your funds.
  • Cutting out the middleman: With traditional money, every time you make a transfer, a middleman like your bank or a digital payment service takes a cut. With cryptocurrencies, all the network members in the blockchain are that middleman; their compensation is formulated differently from that of fiat money middlemen’s and therefore is minimal in comparison.
  • Serving the unbanked: A vast portion of the world’s citizens has no access or limited access to payment systems like banks. Cryptocurrencies aim to resolve this issue by spreading digital commerce around the globe so that anyone with a mobile phone can start making payments. And yes, more people have access to mobile phones than to banks. In fact, more people have mobile phones than have toilets, but at this point the blockchain technology may not be able to resolve the latter issue.

Common crypto and blockchain myths

During the 2017 Bitcoin hype, a lot of misconceptions about the whole industry started to circulate. These myths may have played a role in the cryptocurrency crash that followed the surge. The important thing to remember is that both the blockchain technology and its byproduct, the cryptocurrency market, are still in their infancy, and things are rapidly changing.

How blockchain works Simplified version of how a blockchain works.

Let me get some of the most common misunderstandings out of the way:

  • Cryptocurrencies are good only for criminals. Some cryptocurrencies boast anonymity as one of their key features. That means your identity isn’t revealed when you’re making transactions. Other cryptocurrencies are based on a decentralized blockchain, meaning a central government isn’t the sole power behind them. These features do make such cryptocurrencies attractive for criminals; however, law-abiding citizens in corrupt countries can also benefit from them. For example, if you don’t trust your local bank or country because of corruption and political instability, the best way to store your money may be through the blockchain and cryptocurrency assets.
  • You can make anonymous transactions using all cryptocurrencies. For some reason, many people equate Bitcoin with anonymity. But Bitcoin, along with many other cryptocurrencies, doesn’t incorporate anonymity at all. All transactions made using such cryptocurrencies are made on public blockchain. Some cryptocurrencies, such as Monero, do prioritize privacy, meaning no outsider can find the source, amount, or destination of transactions. However, most other cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, don’t operate that way.
  • The only application of blockchain is Bitcoin. This idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a tiny byproduct of the blockchain revolution. Many believe Satoshi created Bitcoin simply to provide an example of how the blockchain technology can work.
  • All blockchain activity is private. Many people falsely believe that the blockchain technology isn’t open to the public and is accessible only to its network of common users. Although some companies create their own private blockchains to be used only among employees and business partners, the majority of the blockchains behind famous cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are accessible by the public. Literally anyone with a computer can access the transactions in real time. For example, you can view the real-time Bitcoin transactions.

Risks of cryptocurrency

Just like anything else in life, cryptocurrencies come with their own baggage of risk. Whether you trade cryptos, invest in them, or simply hold on to them for the future, you must assess and understand the risks beforehand. Some of the most talked-about cryptocurrency risks include their volatility and lack of regulation. Volatility got especially out of hand in 2017, when the price of most major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, skyrocketed above 1,000 percent and then came crashing down. However, as the cryptocurrency hype has calmed down, the price fluctuations have become more predictable and followed similar patterns of stocks and other financial assets.

Regulations are another major topic in the industry. The funny thing is that both lack of regulation and exposure to regulations can turn into risk events for cryptocurrency investors.

Gear up to make transactions

Cryptocurrencies are here to make transactions easier and faster. But before you take advantage of these benefits, you must gear up with crypto gadgets, discover where you can get your hands on different cryptocurrencies, and get to know the cryptocurrency community. Some of the essentials include cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges.

Cryptocurrency wallets

Some cryptocurrency wallets, which hold your purchased cryptos, are similar to digital payment services like Apple Pay and PayPal. But generally, they’re different from traditional wallets and come in different formats and levels of security.

You can’t get involved in the cryptocurrency market without a crypto wallet. Get the most secure type of wallet, such as hardware or paper wallets, instead of using the convenient online ones.

Cryptocurrency exchanges

After you get yourself a crypto wallet, you’re ready to go crypto shopping, and one of the best destinations is a cryptocurrency exchange. These online web services are where you can transfer your traditional money to buy cryptocurrencies, exchange different types of cryptocurrencies, or even store your cryptocurrencies.

Storing your cryptocurrencies on an exchange is considered high risk because many such exchanges have been exposed to hacking attacks and scams in the past. When you’re done with your transactions, your best bet is to move your new digital assets to your personal, secure wallet. Exchanges come in different shapes and forms. Some are like traditional stock exchanges and act as a middleman — something crypto enthusiasts believe is a slap in the face of the cryptocurrency market, which is trying to remove a centralized middleman. Others are decentralized and provide a service where buyers and sellers come together and transact in a peer-to-peer manner, but they come with their own sets of problems, like the risk of locking yourself out. A third type of crypto exchange is called hybrid, and it merges the benefits of the other two types to create a better, more secure experience for users.

Cryptocurrency communities

Getting to know the crypto community can be the next step as you’re finding your way in the market. The web has plenty of chat rooms and support groups to give you a sense of the market and what people are talking about. Here are some ways to get involved:

  • Crypto-specific Telegram groups. Many cryptocurrencies have their very own channels on the Telegram app. To join them, you first need to download the Telegram messenger app on your smartphone or computer; it’s available for iOS and Android.
  • Crypto chat rooms on Reddit or BitcoinTalk: BitcoinTalk and Reddit have some of the oldest crypto chat rooms around. You can view some topics without signing up, but if you want to get involved, you need to log in. (Of course, Reddit isn’t exclusive to cryptos, but you can search for a variety of cryptocurrency topics.)
  • TradingView chat room: One of the best trading platforms out there, TradingView also has a social service where traders and investors of all sorts come together and share their thoughts, questions, and ideas.
  • Invest Diva’s Premium Investing Group: If you’re looking for a less crowded and more investment/trading-focused place to get support, you can join our investment group (and chat directly with me as a perk too).

On the flip side, many scammers also target these kinds of platforms to advertise and lure members into trouble. Keep your wits about you.

Make a plan before you jump in

You may just want to buy some cryptocurrencies and save them for their potential growth in the future. Or you may want to become more of an active investor and buy or sell cryptocurrencies more regularly to maximize profit and revenue. Regardless, you must have a plan and a strategy. Even if your transaction is a one-time thing and you don’t want to hear anything about your crypto assets for the next ten years, you still must gain the knowledge necessary to determine things like the following:

  • What to buy
  • When to buy
  • How much to buy
  • When to sell

The following sections give you a quick overview of the steps you must take before buying your first cryptocurrency.

If you’re not fully ready to buy cryptocurrencies, no worries: You can try some of the alternatives to cryptos like initial coin offerings, mining, stocks, and more.

Select your cryptocurrencies

More than 1,600 cryptocurrencies are out there at the time of writing, and the number is growing. Some of these cryptos may vanish in five years. Others may explode over 1,000 percent and may even replace traditional cash. You can select cryptocurrencies based on things like category, popularity, ideology, the management behind the blockchain, and its economic model.

Because the crypto industry is pretty new, it’s still very hard to identify the best-performing cryptos for long-term investments. That’s why you may benefit from diversifying among various types and categories of cryptocurrencies in order to manage your risk. By diversifying across 15 or more cryptos, you can stack up the odds of having winners in your portfolio. On the flip side, overdiversification can become problematic as well, so you need to take calculated measures.

Analyze, invest, and profit

When you’ve narrowed down the cryptocurrencies you like, you must then identify the best time to buy them. For example, in 2017 many people started to believe in the idea of Bitcoin and wanted to get involved. Unfortunately, many of those people mismanaged the timing and bought when the price had peaked. Therefore, they not only were able to buy fewer bits of Bitcoin (pun intended), but they also had to sit on their losses and wait for the next price surge.

However, by analyzing the price action and conducting proper risk management, you may be able to stack the odds in your favor and make a ton of profit in the future.

NFTs Explained

A non-fungible (meaning unique, non-replaceable) token (NFT) is a unique digital code that represents some kind of digital item. It could be digital art or music, for example. An NFT is secured and stored on a public blockchain. One token is not interchangeable for another, and a token cannot be further divided.

There are many different types of non-fungible tokens, and they can be created on well-known blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

What you’ll need to get started with NFTs

Whether you simply want to dabble around NFT marketplaces or plan to code, compile, and deploy a customized NFT smart contract of your own, you’ll need two key items:

  • A MetaMask wallet, which you can download at https://metamask.io
  • Ether, the “currency” you’ll need to make transactions. You can obtain Ether from popular crypto-exchanges such as Coinbase, accessed at https://www.coinbase.com

10 NFT marketplaces

To get an idea of the NFT landscape, check out the following marketplaces:

Popular NFT use cases

Use cases for NFTs abound, and the creator economy has rapidly embraced this method of securing digital provenance. Here are some popular examples:

  • Digital art: This category has enjoyed some of the highest selling prices and also represents the first NFT use case, which can be traced back to Kevin McCoy’s “Quantum” (minted in 2014). Many platforms now exist to allow anyone to mint an NFT of their digital art.
  • Sports collectibles: Collectibles as NFTs represent the digital analogue of, say, traditional baseball cards and other sports memorabilia. NBA Top Shot, a platform for officially licensed and NFTized NBA collectibles, has enabled millions of dollars of sales and engendered a new generation of enthusiasts.
  • Game assets. In-game assets (such as digital land, skins, and characters) are a perfect match for NFTs, having the highest sales volume of any other segment under the umbrella of digital collectibles.
  • Music. Artists can now tokenize their music for direct distribution to fans. In many cases, fans can receive exclusive content and artwork that can’t be found anywhere else. In February of 2021, DJ and producer 3LAU famously sold $12 million of NFTs. The offerings included a custom song, access to never-before-heard music, custom artwork, and new versions of existing songs.
  • Memes. Old popular memes, such as Disaster Girl, Nylon Cat, and Overly Attached Girlfriend, have now been NFTized and sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Common NFT minting standards

Most NFTs are created on the Ethereum blockchain based on widely accepted token standards to enhance composability and interoperability.

  • The ERC-721 standard is the original and most commonly used non-fungible token standard. Each NFT created with this token standard can be priced independently.
  • ERC-998 tokens allow developers to specify complex positions and trade rules using a single transfer of ownership. They can bundle several NFTS and fungible tokens like the ERC-20 in a single contract. You might think of an ERC-998 token contract as a portfolio of assets or as a holding company for digital assets.
  • ERC-1155 tokens allow for users to register fungible (ERC-20) and non-fungible (ERC-721) tokens using the same address and smart contract. This token standard was developed with games in mind, where fungible tokens could represent a transactional currency in a game, and the non-fungible items could represent in-game collectibles and in-game exchangeable assets.

NFTs are also being minted on other popular blockchains, such as Solana and Flow. NFTs have even been created on the Bitcoin blockchain in the form of colored coins, which have been used for many interesting applications — such as transferring property and issuing shares, coupons, and digital collectibles.

Deploying an NFT smart contract, in a nutshell

Follow these steps to deploy your own ERC-721 token contract on Ethereum:

  • Log in to your MetaMask wallet by clicking on the Fox icon in your browser’s toolbar. Make sure you’ve selected the correct account and network (only use Ethereum Mainnet when you’re ready to spend actual ETH to deploy your contract).
  • Point your browser to: http://remix.ethereum.org. Be certain to type in “http” and not “https.”
  • Create and name a new file for your Solidity code.
  • Open this new file, and copy/paste the sample code provided at https://www.seoyoungkim.com/nftfdcode.html
  • Navigate to the Solidity Compiler browser pane and compile your code.
  • Navigate to the Deploy & Run Transactions browser pane and select Injected Web3 from the Environment dropdown menu.
  • Make sure you’re now connected to the appropriate network and account and deploy your compiled contract.

Bureau of Economic Analysis

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has issued the following news release today:

Personal income increased $90.4 billion, or 0.4 percent at a monthly rate, while consumer spending increased $104.7 billion, or 0.6 percent, in November. The increase in personal income primarily reflected increases in compensation of employees and government social benefits. The personal saving rate (that is, personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income) was 6.9 percent in November, compared with 7.1 percent in October.


Interest rates remain the same for the first quarter of 2022

WASHINGTON –The Internal Revenue Service today announced that interest rates will remain the same for the calendar quarter beginning Jan. 1, 2022. The rates will be: 

  • 3% for overpayments (two (2) percent in the case of a corporation),
  • 0.5% for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000,
  • 3% for underpayments, and
  • 5% for large corporate underpayments. 

Under the Internal Revenue Code, the rate of interest is determined on a quarterly basis.  For taxpayers other than corporations, the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points.

Generally, in the case of a corporation, the underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points and the overpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points.  The rate for large corporate underpayments is the federal short-term rate plus 5 percentage points.  The rate on the portion of a corporate overpayment of tax exceeding $10,000 for a taxable period is the federal short-term rate plus one-half (0.5) of a percentage point.

The interest rates announced today are computed from the federal short-term rate determined during October 2021 to take effect Nov. 1, 2021, based on daily compounding.

Revenue Ruling 2021-24, announcing the rates of interest, is attached and will appear in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2021-50, dated Dec. 13, 2021.

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