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Billionaire Investor Peter Thiel Is Doubling Down On Bitcoin – Here’s Why

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency investors have been struggling this year to both justify past crypto investments and make new ones.

The bitcoin price, under pressure from the likes of Facebook’s libra project and the ever-present threat of a regulatory crackdown, soared in the first six months of the year only to fall back again.

Some investors have not been put off by bitcoin’s roller-coaster year, however, with billionaire PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel among new backers of Layer1, a renewable energy-focused bitcoin mining operation based in San Francisco.

This week, Layer1 revealed it has raised $50 million at a $200 million valuation from Thiel, Shasta Ventures and other undisclosed bitcoin and cryptocurrency investors, adding to a previous $2.1 million seed round that included Thiel, as well as venture capital company Digital Currency Group.

Layer1 is aiming to challenge the perceived wisdom that bitcoin mining the in the U.S. will not be able to compete with regions such as China, where some 60% of bitcoin mining operations are currently located, with some research suggesting that number could be even higher.

Layer1, which has pivoted to renewable energy bitcoin mining from a previous focus on the development of programmable money and store-of-value applications, wants to bring wind-powered bitcoin mining rigs to West Texas by early next year.

“According to industry research, over 60% of bitcoin’s hash rate and 100% of bitcoin hardware production are located in China,” Layer1’s cofounder and chief executive Alexander Liegl wrote in a blog post announcing the fresh funding.

“Less than 5% of bitcoin’s hashrate and 0% of hardware production are located in the United States.”

China dominates not only bitcoin mining but also the manufacture of computer chips and other equipment needed for the process.

Bitcoin mining uses huge amounts of electricity to both fuel the powerful computers required and keep them cool, making hotter climates in developed nations less appealing.

“The future of bitcoin mining lies in the heart of the United States: Texas,” Liegl wrote.

“This is where world-class electricity prices, friendly regulation, and an abundance of renewable energy sources meet. It is here that we are rapidly scaling our mining operations to bring as much hash rate as possible back to the United States.”

Layer1 has been buying up land in Texas to build its own electricity substations and is creating its own processing chips with a Beijing-based semiconductor company as it puts together its mining machine infrastructure.

Renewable energy bitcoin mining is being used by others around the world, with Germany-listed Northern Bitcoin mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies deep within a Norwegian former metal mine using hydroelectric power and natural cooling.

However, there have been previous failed attempts to bring large-scale bitcoin mining to North America.

Earlier this month, Virginia-based bitcoin mining firm BCause Mining filed for bankruptcy after pledging to invest $65 million in to its U.S. business in 2018.

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I am a journalist with significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business around the world. As the founding editor of Verdict.co.uk I reported on how technology is changing business, political trends, and the latest culture and lifestyle. I have covered the rise of bitcoin and cryptocurrency since 2012 and have charted its emergence as a niche technology into the greatest threat to the established financial system the world has ever seen and the most important new technology since the internet itself. I have worked and written for CityAM, the Financial Times, and the New Statesman, amongst others. Follow me on Twitter @billybambrough or email me on billyATbillybambrough.com. Disclosure: I occasionally hold some small amount of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

 

Source: Billionaire Investor Peter Thiel Is Doubling Down On Bitcoin—Here’s Why

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Recorded on September 5, 2019. Peter Robinson opens the show by asking Thiel’s views on his own essay “The Straussian Moment.” (Essay link: https://www.evernote.com/shard/s542/c… responds by saying that people today believe in the power of the will but no longer trust the power of the intellect, the mind, and rationality. The question of human nature has been abandoned. We no longer trust people’s ability to think through issues. Thiel notes that this shift began to take place in 1969, when the United States put a man on the moon; three weeks later Woodstock took place, moving the culture in the direction of yoga and psychological retreat. Thiel further adds that there was still hope that things would open up for the world in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, but that the leaders of China and other East Asian countries did not accept that openness would solve their problems. Instead they learned the opposite lessons from those events: that if you open things up too much, then things fall apart. Thiel ends the interview by noting that there is nothing automatic or deterministic about how history happens, and he expresses his views that economic growth plays a vital role in a country’s future. For further information: https://www.hoover.org/publications/u… Interested in exclusive Uncommon Knowledge content? Check out Uncommon Knowledge on social media! Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UncKnowledge/ Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/UncKnowledge/ Instagram: https://instagram.com/uncommon_knowle…

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3 Funds To Buy On This Pullback (7.7% Dividends, 200% Payout Growth)

Forget the trade war noise. Here’s the only thing you need to know: if you’d bulked up your stock holdings on any of the dips we’ve seen in the last four years, you’d be a lot richer today.

The reason for the market’s “one step back, two steps ahead” pattern is simple: despite the interest rate- and trade-driven terror, corporate profits and sales are rising (as are workers’ wages), and unemployment is low.

In other words, the US economy is solid—and it’s stayed solid through every short-term crisis of the last few years. So now we have another pullback that’s given us another chance to amplify our upside.

But what to buy?

You can easily get into the market with an index fund like the S&P 500 ETF , but there’s a problem: we want to have a nice stash of dividend cash to drop into stocks on the next pullback, and with SPY, your payouts are tiny, with just a 1.9% dividend yield.

Today In: Money

This is where closed-end funds (CEFs) come in.

With an average yield of 7.4%, CEFs are much bigger income producers than the index, and three CEFs are particularly appealing right now, with overhyped fears making them unusually cheap.

Let me explain.

Because CEFs’ market prices can deviate from the value of the holdings in their portfolios (called the portfolio’s net asset value, or NAV), CEFs can trade at wide discounts to their NAV—even if the funds have a long history of strong performance.

That’s exactly what we’re seeing in the three funds I’m going to show you now.

Bargain CEF Pick No. 1: Buy Like Buffett (But With 209% Payout Growth)

Let’s start with the Boulder Growth & Income Fund (BIF), whose 3.9% yield is more than double that of the average S&P 500 stock, even though it’s actually on the small side for a CEF. Plus, BIF pays out special dividends every once in a while and has been aggressively increasing its regular quarterly payout, too!

A 200% dividend-growth rate isn’t something you see every day, but BIF can do it because it focuses on stocks whose bargain valuations set them up to outperform over the long haul. It then returns those gains to you in cash.

To get that type of performance, it follows the teachings of the master—Warren Buffett.

In fact, a third of the fund is in Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B), so owning BIF is like getting Buffett’s portfolio at a big discount, as BIF trades 16.8% below its NAV. That makes it the third-most discounted CEF I track through our CEF Insider service.

Beyond Berkshire, BIF holds companies with strong cash flows that Buffett has also bought: names like JPMorgan (JPM), Cisco (CSCO) and Wells Fargo (WFC). These firms can withstand an economic slowdown because of their strong balance sheets.

Bargain CEF No. 2: A 9% Dividend Disguised as 1%

General American Investors (GAM) also goes after bargain stocks, plus the fund is a bargain itself at a 14.5% discount to NAV. GAM is what I call a “stealth yielder”: while its normal dividend (paid annually) yields about 1%, the fund gives you the bulk of your cash through a big special dividend in December.

These special payouts are a big deal: they gave GAM an annualized yield of more than 9% last year, and a similar yield is likely in November, when the fund will announce its end-of-year payout.

What about the portfolio?

GAM, like BIF, is a value-focused fund, zeroing in on firms with strong cash flows, like Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Republic Services (RSG). That gives it a mix of high-performing tech stocks and stable cash generators from other sectors. This balanced approach is how GAM has been returned so much cash to shareholders over the years.

Bargain CEF No. 3: A Huge 7.7% Dividend Paid Upfront

The Nuveen Tax-Advantaged Dividend Growth Fund (JTD) takes a similar approach as BIF and GAM, but its “regular” dividend yields an outsized 7.7%, so you don’t have to wait for dividend hikes or special payouts to get your big yield here.

Plus, JTD trades at a 2.3% discount that, while smaller than those of GAM and BIF, is still far too big, given what the fund does.

JTD’s diverse portfolio ranges from Honeywell International (HON) to SAP (SAP), UnitedHealth Group (UNH) and AT&T (T). It also includes some tech, such as Microsoft (MSFT). The fund’s global approach helps it find bargain-priced companies with entrenched client bases and stable revenues.

That’s why JTD has been crushing the market for a decade. And here’s the best part: only a few people know. If you look at the market-price movement for JTD, it seems pretty ho-hum.

However, add in JTD’s big payouts and the chart looks much better!

Not only has JTD soared over the last decade, it has also beaten the index, with a huge chunk of its return in cash, to boot. That means this fund shouldn’t trade at a discount at all—but the fact that it does means it’s certainly worth your attention now.

Michael Foster is the Lead Research Analyst for Contrarian Outlook. For more great income ideas, click here for our latest report “Indestructible Income: 5 Bargain Funds with Safe 8.5% Dividends.”

Disclosure: none

I have worked as an equity analyst for a decade, focusing on fundamental analysis of businesses and portfolio allocation strategies. My reports are widely read by analysts and portfolio managers at some of the largest hedge funds and investment banks in the world, with trillions of dollars in assets under management. Michael has been traveling the world since 1999 and has no plans to stop. So far, he’s lived in NYC, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bangkok, Tokyo, and Kuala Lumpur. He received his Ph.D. in 2008 and continues to offer consulting services to institutional investors and ultra high net worth individuals.

Source: 3 Funds To Buy On This Pullback (7.7% Dividends, 200% Payout Growth)

I’ve found three of the highest dividend paying stocks that will not only protect your money but also grow it if the stock market falls. I’m also updating our 2019 stock market challenge portfolio of dividend stocks that is beating the market two-times over. Stocks are falling again and investors are scrambling trying to find safety and growth at the same time. It may seem like an impossible task but I’ve found two sectors and three dividend paying stocks that will do just that. After more than a decade as an investment analyst, I’ve put together a screen to find the best stocks no matter what the market does. I’ll reveal those three stocks I’ve found plus update you on our 2019 dividend stock portfolio, the 11 best dividend stocks I’m investing in this year. These top dividend stocks are not only producing a return twice that of the stock market but they haven’t fallen as much as the S&P 500 on the recent weakness. Not only are these stock picks producing dividend income but also protection from a stock market crash. If you haven’t seen the other videos in our 2019 challenge, I put them all in a playlist linked here. Make sure you check those out because I show you how to invest in dividend stocks and reveal how I picked the best dividend stocks of 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfw_Q… If you want to create your own portfolio of dividend stocks, I recommend M1 Finance. It’s the no-cost investing platform I’m using and some solid features over other investing apps like Robinhood. https://mystockmarketbasics.com/joinm… Being able to reinvest dividends without paying trading fees is important because you want to get that money working for you as fast as possible. Another feature of M1 Finance is that you can set up retirement accounts, not available on Robinhood, which is very important to avoid paying taxes every year on the dividend payouts. I start the video off with an update to the Stock Market Challenge portfolio and those 11 dividend stocks beating the market. I then tell you why the stock market is down lately and those three stock picks that could save your portfolio. 1:09 2019 Dividend Stock Market Challenge Update 2:20 11 Stocks that Pay Dividends AND Beat the Market 2:44 Why is the Stock Market Down 4:01 Best Dividend Stocks for 2019 7:52 How I Pick High-Yield Dividend Stocks 8:23 Highest Dividend Paying Stocks for Safety and Growth SUBSCRIBE to create the financial future you deserve with videos on beating debt, making more money and making your money work for you. https://peerfinance101.com/FreeMoneyV… Free Webinar – Discover how to create a personal investing plan and beat your goals in less than an hour! I’m revealing the Goals-Based Investing Strategy I developed working private wealth management in this free webinar. Step-by-step to everything you need for this simple, stress-free strategy. Reserve your spot now! https://mystockmarketbasics.com/free-… Joseph Hogue, CFA spent nearly a decade as an investment analyst for institutional firms and banks. He now helps people understand their financial lives through debt payoff strategies, investing and ways to save more money. He has appeared on Bloomberg and on sites like CNBC and Morningstar. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a veteran of the Marine Corps. #growyourdough

In A World Of Bubbles, Tokyo’s ‘Skyscraper Curse’ May Be Scariest

It’s been a medal-caliber few years for Japan’s property developers. Not Olympic gold of the kind Tokyo will award athletes 12 months from now. But construction ahead of the 2020 Games, building that’s been a godsend for Japan’s property developers. That will happen when the cost of staging a few weeks of sporting events explode to $25 billion from the $7 billion Tokyo originally estimated.

What if, though, the 2020 construction boom spells trouble for the century ahead? The reference here is to the “Skyscraper Curse” that may be rearing its head in the third-biggest economy.

Building related to Tokyo 2020 turned the Japanese capital into a giant construction site. Even developers unattached to the August 2020 Olympics have used the excitement to build new office towers throughout the city. Office space that, frankly, might have a hard time renting out floors two years from now.

Multinational companies, after all, continue to favor Singapore and Hong Kong (for now, at least) for Asian headquarters. And it’s not Shinzo Abe’s seven-year reflation scheme is catalyzing a startup boom to fill all that office space once the five-ring Olympic circus leaves town.

Today In: Asia

Mori Building recently unveiled ambitious plans to construct Japan’s tallest skyscraper, a title suddenly held by Osaka. This epic redevelopment project that will include offices, residences, shops, restaurants, a hotel, and an international school will come at a cost of 580 billion yen ($5.45 billion), which surely has contractors and rivals salivating at the possibilities. But there’s reason for broader caution.

One can quibble with the wisdom of putting a 64-story, 330-meter edifice in the center of one of the world’s most seismically active metropolises. It’s economic risks, though, that Prime Minister Abe’s office should be considering.

History betrays an uncanny correlation between world’s-tallest-building projects and financial crises. Roll your eyes if you want, but I’ve been covering the phenomenon for two decades. Here’s a quick recap of the last 112 years.

The Panic of 1907, when the New York Stock Exchange lost 50%, occurred just as Manhattan celebrated the opening of the 47-story Singer Building and 50-story Metropolitan Life North Building. The Great Depression that began in 1929 coincided with the New York christenings of 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building. Despair and homelessness spoiled the party over the 1931 opening the Empire State Building.

Fast forward four decades to New York and Chicago, the hosts to the world-topping World Trade Center and Sears Tower projects. Both opened as the Bretton Woods monetary system was breaking down and stagflation was fueling fiscal crises.

In 1997, Kuala Lumpur was quaking amid regional market turbulence just as Malaysia’s Petronas Towers came online. In the early 2000s, Taipei opened the world’s biggest architectural marvel in time for political turmoil at home and growing tensions with China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province. The 2008 completion of Dubai’s 828-metre Burj Khalifa Tower dovetailed with the city’s bust, cascading oil prices and the “Lehman shock” a world away.

This is just the last 100 or so years of the Skyscraper Curse. Spiritualists may track the phenomenon back to the biblical Tower of Babel. But coincidence or not, it’s hard to miss the overlap between history-making economic disruptions and new architectural Guinness World Records entries.

The common, and indisputable, thread is ultra-low interest rates fueling over-investment and froth. Developers are always looking to harness the newest engineering and technological advances. That impulse gets supercharged by excess monetary expansion. It’s not surprising, then, that tallest-building projects often get green-lighted near the top-ticks of speculative manias.

Again, not the most solidly scientific of arguments. Yet Asian developers still engage in serious real-estate one-upmanship. South Korea’s tallest building, the Lotte World Tower, opened in 2017 just in time for President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and imprisonment on bribery charges. Also in 2017, Shenzhen toasted the opening of the Ping An Finance Center, the No. 4 tallest building globally, as U.S. President Donald Trump was telegraphing his China trade war.

In Melbourne, the ongoing Australia 108 project aims to become the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest residential tower. A coincidence, maybe, but many economists worry Australia is veering toward its first recession in more than 25 years.

What about Tokyo? Abe’s seven-year revival project has been 90% monetary easing and perhaps 10% structural reform (and that’s being generous). All that liquidity, coupled with the construction boondoggle that is Tokyo 2020, has revived land prices in an otherwise deflation-traumatized economy.

As of February, the Nikkei Financial Review reported, Tokyo property prices, as measured by new condos, approached late 1980s bubble-period levels. Yet inflation is advancing just 0.6% year-on-year, less than halfway to the 2% target. And ominously, real wages are down six straight months now as Trump’s China trade war slams Japan’s export engine.

All this means the Bank of Japan’s historic easing has Tokyo construction sites buzzing with activity. The rest of the nation’s slowing economic regions, not so much. All that building is stellar news for property developers, but it’s also creating a bull market in concerns that Japan’s latest building boom could be, well, cursed.

I am a Tokyo-based journalist, former columnist for Barron’s and Bloomberg and author of “Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan’s Lost Decades.” My journalism awards include the 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers prize for commentary.

Source: In A World Of Bubbles, Tokyo’s ‘Skyscraper Curse’ May Be Scariest

The one-year countdown to the 2020 Summer Olympics begins! As Tokyo gears up to host the games, NBC’s Keir Simmons takes us around the amazing venues in Japan’s capital city. » Subscribe to TODAY: http://on.today.com/SubscribeToTODAY » Watch the latest from TODAY: http://bit.ly/LatestTODAY About: TODAY brings you the latest headlines and expert tips on money, health and parenting. We wake up every morning to give you and your family all you need to start your day. If it matters to you, it matters to us. We are in the people business. Subscribe to our channel for exclusive TODAY archival footage & our original web series. Connect with TODAY Online! Visit TODAY’s Website: http://on.today.com/ReadTODAY Find TODAY on Facebook: http://on.today.com/LikeTODAY Follow TODAY on Twitter: http://on.today.com/FollowTODAY Follow TODAY on Instagram: http://on.today.com/InstaTODAY Follow TODAY on Pinterest: http://on.today.com/PinTODAY #SummerGames #TokyoOlympics #TodayShow 2020 Olympics 1 Year Out: How Tokyo Is Prepping For Summer Games | TODAY

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