Crypto Winter Watch: All The Big Layoffs, Record Withdrawals And Bankruptcies Sparked By The $2 Trillion Crash

Fears of global recession and the worst inflation in more than 40 years have wreaked havoc on the nascent cryptocurrency market this year—unleashing a fierce crypto winter that’s forced once high-flying firms into bankruptcy and pushed investors into panic-selling mode. The turmoil has already claimed trillions of dollars in market value, billions of dollars in frozen funds and thousands of jobs, but current casualties may only mark the beginning of the storm.

“There will be others that come forward with trouble—I don’t think it ends here,” Marcus Sotiriou, an analyst at London digital asset brokerage GlobalBlock, tells Forbes, noting that close to a dozen firms—including Peter Thiel-backed Vauld—face an uncertain fate after locking customers out of their funds or initiating restructuring proceedings over the past month. “It’s going to be a sustained period of pain,” he says.

It’s anyone’s guess whether the current crypto bear market will ultimately rival the years-long crypto winters of 2014 and 2018—the latter wiping 80% from bitcoin’s price while crushing hundreds of then buzzy new tokens. Sotiriou posits this downturn could last up to 12 months unless persistent inflation soon cools down, allowing the Federal Reserve to ease up on aggressive interest rate hikes that make risky assets less attractive to investors. Analysts aren’t so sure that will happen.

“This is necessary for any financial market to mature and evolve,” argues Matteo Dante Perruccio, a partner at crypto investment firm Wave Financial who envisions that cryptocurrency prices will take at least six months—and up to two years—before recovering, similar to cycles past. “But this time, there’s a difference,” he adds, pointing to a wave of institutional money—from the likes of Tesla, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and more—that fueled widespread adoption during the pandemic:

“When we inevitably come back into an appreciating market, it’s going to be more sustained and healthier, with less speculation and more tried and true investment philosophy.”As crypto investors wait for brighter days ahead, Forbes is tracking all the carnage from the latest crypto winter, including layoffs, price plunges and record selling—as well as the lifelines and acquisitions that may help cushion the blow. Here’s the damage, so far:

Trillions In Value Erased

Low interest rates and government stimulus measures fueled skyrocketing cryptocurrency prices during the pandemic, but the Federal Reserve’s decision to curb rising inflation by hiking interest rates has since battered investor sentiment—ushering in some of the crypto market’s biggest losses in history. After amassing a record value above $3 trillion in November 2021, the cryptocurrency market posted its worst first half ever and has plummeted to about $950 billion, a nearly 60% drop this year, according to CoinGecko.

Piling on to bearish sentiment, Terra’s luna token, a once top cryptocurrency worth more than $40 billion, lost virtually all its value within a week in May after sister token TerraUSD, a stablecoin meant to hold a price of $1, broke its dollar peg as markets collapsed. Meanwhile, top cryptocurrencies bitcoin, ether and BNB have plunged 70%, 75% and 65% from record highs, respectively. It’s taken the market years to recover from similar declines: When growing regulation sparked a fierce crypto winter beginning in 2017, it took more than 1,000 days for the world’s largest cryptocurrency to nab a new high.

Thousands Laid Off

Faced with steep market declines, cryptocurrency companies have laid off more than 2,000 workers in less than five weeks. By far the biggest blow, popular brokerage Coinbase laid off 1,180 employees, or about 18% of its workforce, on June 14—weeks after the firm’s billionaire CEO, Brian Armstrong, warned investors that a potential recession could lead to a prolonged bear market for cryptocurrencies. In a note announcing the layoffs, Armstrong said he was planning “for the worst” and acknowledged the firm “grew too quickly” during the pandemic bull market.

“It was surprising, and it was hard,” one former employee posted on LinkedIn. Others described the cuts as “abrupt” and “sudden.” Also in June, Gemini, the exchange founded by the billionaire Winklevii twins, said it would cut about 10% of its 1,000 employees, and exchanges Crypto.com and BlockFi said they would terminate 5% and 20% of their workforces, affecting some 260 and 170 employees, respectively. Since then, lending platform Celsius reportedly laid off 150 workers, and Austrian trading platform Bitpanda cut 270 jobs, calling the move “necessary . . . to navigate the storm and get out of it financially healthy.”

Record Selling

Investors piled out of cryptocurrency investment funds at a record pace as bitcoin plunged to an 18-month low last month. Outflows totaled $423 million in the week of June 17, virtually erasing all inflows this year and eclipsing the prior record of $198 million from January, according to crypto asset management firm CoinShares. The turbulence pushed the assets under management of crypto investment products to a record-low $21.6 billion last month, down 37% from May, as “looming liquidation threats” fueled “panic” among investors after Luna’s crash, CryptoCompare analysts wrote in a report.

Meanwhile, Bank of America reports the number of its customers using cryptocurrency tumbled more than 50% to fewer than 500,000 since the market’s highs in November. Even bullish crypto firms have had to reckon with the changing market. On Tuesday, top miner Core Scientific revealed it sold a majority of its bitcoin pile at an average cost of $23,000 last month, raising more than $167 million. In a statement, CEO Mike Levitt attributed the sales to “tremendous stress” driven by weak markets, higher interest rates and “historic inflation.”

Canada-based Bitfarms, which made headlines in January by joining Tesla and former billionaire Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy in buying bitcoin for its balance sheet, also offloaded a large sum, dumping 3,000 bitcoins, or nearly half its pile, for $62 milion late last month. “It’s typical behavior for bitcoin miners to sell during the final stages of a bear market,” explains Sotiriou, noting some firms may need to shore up funds to cover expenses or stay solvent as high inflation tacks on to operating costs.

Billions In Frozen Cash

Citing “extreme market conditions,” crypto lender Celsius became the first major platform to pause withdrawals and transfers between customer accounts on June 13. Within days, others followed suit: Babel Finance, CoinFLEX and Voyager all froze withdrawals. None have re-enabled access, thus making billions of dollars in funds inaccessible to their investors.

“They’re in a really sticky situation because they’ve been irresponsible with clients’ funds, somehow lost out and are now unable to pay back their clients—and there’s no guarantee they’ll pay the money back,” explains Sotiriou. In its most recent quarterly filing, publicly traded Coinbase warned of the risk, disclosing customers would be treated as “unsecured creditors,” or lenders without collateral to fall back on, in the event the company goes bankrupt.

Bankruptcies And Liquidations

A handful of crypto firms are simply collapsing. On June 27, Voyager issued a notice of default to beleaguered Singapore-based crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC) for failing to make payments on $675 million in bitcoin and stablecoin loans. 3AC at one point managed some $3 billion, but Singapore financial regulators condemned the firm late last month, saying it provided false information and only had the authority to manage up to $250 million.

On top of that, 3AC’s troubles were exacerbated by the sell-off’s impact on its risky investments, which reportedly included overleveraged bets on the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust and about $200 million in now-worthless Luna. On Friday, a British Virgin Islands court reportedly ordered 3AC to liquidate its assets, deeming the firm insolvent; it filed for bankruptcy the same day.

With 3AC’s fate sealed, Voyager itself filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday—a mere five days after it suspended trading. “While I strongly believe in this future, the prolonged volatility and contagion in the crypto markets require us to take deliberate and decisive action now,” Voyager CEO Stephen Ehrlich said in a statement. In a court filing, the firm disclosed that it had more than 100,000 creditors and up to $10 billion in assets. Vauld and Celsius have also announced they’re exploring restructuring options.

Lifelines And War Chests

Some crypto companies are hoping to be rescued before being forced to shut their doors by turning to more stable counterparts. On Friday, FTX, the exchange founded by billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, entered into an agreement to buy embattled BlockFi for as much as $240 million. “You know, we’re willing to do a somewhat bad deal here, if that’s what it takes to sort of stabilize things and protect customers,” he told Forbes last month after providing BlockFi and Voyager with $750 million in credit lines between FTX and his quantitative trading firm Alameda.

More recently, he has said FTX has a “few billion” more to help struggling companies. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is reportedly looking to raise $2 billion to help buy up distressed assets from Celsius, and other legacy institutions are also showing interest. “I have this knee-jerk reaction that if you believe that the fundamentals of a long-term case are really strong, when everybody else is dipping, that’s the time to double down,”

Fidelity CEO Abby Johnson, who this year shepherded the firm’s industry-first decision to allow bitcoin in 401(k) plans, said last month when asked about what could be her third crypto winter. “That’s usually the right move.” “It’s incredibly encouraging,” says Dante Perrucio. “Big institutions looking for distressed crypto assets means they believe that the industry is going to come back—and come back strong—despite this very complicated period we’re all in.”

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism …

Source: Crypto Winter Watch: All The Big Layoffs, Record Withdrawals And Bankruptcies Sparked By The $2 Trillion Crash

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18:44

To Speed Up Your Productivity, Slow Down

Imagine this: you step into the elevator and instinctively reach for your smart phone, only to discover that you’ve mistakenly left it at your desk. A sense of panic sets in as you wonder what to do. What will you think about when you can’t have your “thoughts” fed to you?

We live in an age of information, when there is always a new browser window to open, pop-up to click, post to like, and headline to react to. According to Pew Research, 31% of adults are online nearly constantly. This has led to as many as 75% of adults feeling better informed about national news and 65% perceiving themselves more knowledgeable about health and fitness.

More people being more informed sounds like a positive development. With the benefit of receiving more input than ever, we might expect our output to be greater, too. A higher volume of information readily at our disposal should better equip us to make decisions, connect the dots, and share knowledge with one another.

Yet, the power of information comes with an asterisk. We are facing a moment in time when people are feeling more disconnected than ever. Mental health problems are more pervasive among young people who frequently use social media. Not only are Americans generally feeling more isolated, anxious and depressed; they are also becoming less creative. Torrance creativity scores have been steadily declining since the ’90s (University of William and Mary), which many scientists attribute to the increased time we spend staring at our screens, presumably consuming information.

As someone who credits my track record of launching unlikely social ventures like KIND (at least in part) to my penchant for daydreaming and “talking to myself,” I suspect that the gap between information and creativity lies in our distracted movement away from self-reflection. I have no doubt that those moments I spent whistling and singing on the walk to school; the countless times boredom forced me to use my imagination; and the brainstorms I still conduct unofficially in the shower, have helped me uncover what gives me meaning, and have led to some my most creative ideas.  

Self-reflection is the transformative process of converting information into something far more valuable: ideas. It is an exercise through which we make sense of inputs, critically evaluate them, and consider what we might have done wrong so that we can do better next time. It can help us sort fact from fiction. It can help us relate information to our own life experiences to inform our own purpose. By combining information in unexpected ways, we practice creativity. If material simply goes in, but doesn’t get analyzed, it’s not only worthless; it’s an impediment to productive thought.

One of the reasons children are considered more creative than adults is that they know less. They have less information about how the world works, which leaves more space for them to imagine what it could be. This does not mean that we should all go ahead and succumb to ignorance, but it does mean that we should be wary of information overload drowning out self-reflection.

Digesting thoughts requires more energy than does simply consuming information. It follows that self-reflection requires commitment from our part. Especially in the age of information, we are fighting against addictive properties of dopamine-triggering constant reward-systems. It is easy to get distracted. It is easy to be entertained. It is easy, but also damaging, to slowly let our own creativity slip away.

Anyone who has decided to be an entrepreneur is not looking for easy. Entrepreneurs depend on their creativity, and that creativity relies on spending concerted time and space away from your devices to let your mind wander, think critically, and create. The next time you are stepping out of the office, consider leaving your phone behind and see what happens.

By : Daniel Lubetzky

Source: To Speed Up Your Productivity, Slow Down | Inc.com

How Distractions and Delays affect Speed and Productivity

What is the impact of these distractions? Of course, it makes employees lose focus on their work, and also slows down their work speed and productivity. The Udemy survey also revealed that once an employee is distracted, it takes 23 minutes to refocus on a task. So powerful are these distractions that they sometimes side-track the regular project work.

The reality about distractions caused by social media or surfing the Internet is that they become ongoing tasks, one news item prompts the employee to browse through other related articles. It is like a bottomless pit – the employee gets sucked into it and loses track of time. In the beginning, employees are able to snap away from these distractions and refocus on their work, but once they get addicted to these distractions, their work speed and productivity go for a toss.

In addition to distractions, delays in business processes also affect the speed and productivity at work. The most common delays are approval delays. Delay in the approval of invoices or requisitions causes bottlenecks in the business process.

Here are few tips to bring back the focus and speed up your work:

1. Sharpen your focus:

Narrowing down your focus on work-related stuff helps in increasing productivity. Steering clear from distractions and focusing on your work helps get work done faster. This doesn’t mean you cannot take breaks; all you need to do is the time your breaks so that you don’t lose focus from your work.

2. Set deadlines:

Self-imposed deadlines motivate employees to speed up their work. You can set everyday deadlines or weekly targets to complete your work. Still better, you can reward yourself once the targets are achieved. You can treat yourself to a movie or a meal at your favorite restaurant, or as simple as a candy bar when you achieve targets.

3. Set work schedules:

being organized in your work is a great way of increasing your productivity. Sketch a work schedule that times your work, breaks, and meetings. If you set a schedule for a week, then you can review and make changes whenever required.

4. Leverage technology:

Adopting the latest technology like automation can speed up business processes. Redundancies are eliminated and business processes are streamlined by automating the repetitive, mundane steps in a process. Approval delays can be avoided by automated approvals.

By: cflowapps

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18:26

 

This Is Your Child’s Brain on Video Games

The following is a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how gaming impacts a child’s nervous system.

On the eve of his big sister Liz’s high school graduation, nine-year-old Aiden sits with his parents and relatives at a celebration dinner, bored by their “adult” conversation and irritated at all the attention showered upon Liz. He can’t wait to get back to his video game!

Before dinner, Mom had (annoyingly) called him away to join the family, and then she got mad when he spent a few minutes getting to the next level and saving his game. So many people in the house make him restless; he squirms uncomfortably and drums his fingers on the table, waiting to be excused.

Finally, he is allowed to escape the dinner table, and he settles into a corner of the living room couch to play his Nintendo DS. For the next hour or so, he is completely oblivious to the company in the house. Although he’s already played much longer than his mother likes, she lets him continue, knowing these family situations are a little overwhelming for him. And besides, the game keeps him occupied. What’s the harm? she thinks. It’s just for today.

However, in the meantime, a perfect storm is brewing. As the play continues, Aiden’s brain and psyche become overstimulated and excited — on fire! His nervous system shifts into high gear and settles there while he attempts to master different situations, strategizing, surviving, accumulating weapons, and defending his turf. His heart rate increases from 80 to over 100 beats per minute, and his blood pressure rises from a normal 90/60 to 140/90 — he’s ready to do battle, except that he’s just sitting on the couch, not moving much more than his eyes and thumbs.

The DS screen virtually locks his eyes into position and sends signal after signal: “It’s bright daylight out, nowhere near time for bed!” Levels of the feel-good chemical dopamine rise in his brain, sustaining his interest, keeping him focused on the task at hand, and elevating his mood. The intense visual stimulation and activity flood his brain, which adapts to the heightened level of stimulation by shutting off other parts it considers nonessential.

The visual-motor areas of his brain light up. Blood flows away from his gut, kidneys, liver, and bladder and toward his limbs and heart — he’s ready to fight or escape! The reward pathways in his brain also light up and are reinforced by the flood of dopamine. He is so absorbed in the game, he doesn’t notice when his little sister, Arianna, comes over until she puts her chubby hand on the screen, trying to get his attention.

“DooOOON’T!!” he shouts and roughly shoves her out of the way. Arianna falls backward, bursts into tears, and runs to their mother, who silently curses herself for letting Aiden play this long.

“All right, that’s it. Time to start getting ready for bed. Get your pajamas on and you can have a snack before you go to bed,” she says, pulling the DS out of Aiden’s hands and turning it off in one fell swoop. Aiden looks at his mother with rage. How dare she ruin his game because of his stupid sister!

“Fine!” he shouts, runs up the stairs, and slams his bedroom door. His primitive brain is fully engaged now, turning him into an enraged animal ready to fight off all challengers. He rips all the sheets off his bed and then throws his lamp on the floor, providing a satisfactory crash and shatter. Thinking about how wronged he’s been and filled with visions of revenge, he kicks the wall a few times and then pounds on his bedroom door, putting a big hole in it.

Downstairs, his relatives sit in quiet shock and murmur to each other how they’ve never seen him act like this. Dad runs up the stairs to contain his son. Calmly, his dad holds him in a bear hug from behind, waiting for the rage to subside.

As the dopamine in his brain and the adrenaline in his body begin to ebb, his rage loses its focus. Now, the pent-up energy takes on a disorganized, amorphous form. Aiden feels like he can’t think straight or get himself together. While he spaces out, his dad helps him put his pajamas on and they go back downstairs.

Stress hormones remain high, however, making it difficult for him to relax or think clearly. He seems a little confused, actually. His relatives look at him with a mixture of concern and love, but they also wonder why his parents let him “get away with” this kind of behavior. His mother intuitively knows that direct eye contact will overstimulate him again, so she approaches him slowly from the side, and rubs his back gently.

When his favorite aunt looks him in the face sympathetically, he immediately distrusts her intentions. Eye-to-eye interaction is interpreted by his primitive-mode brain as a challenge, and he starts getting revved up again. His mother intervenes and takes him up to his room. She lowers the light, settles him into bed, and starts to read him a soothing story. His nervous system attempts to regulate itself back to normal, but it seems to still be held hostage by his hyped-up emotions.

That night, after he does finally fall to sleep, Aiden awakens repeatedly with panic attacks — his heart races and blood pounds in his ears. He’s scared of the dark and worried that his angry outburst has upset and alienated his parents. His mother, meanwhile, confiscates the DS and decides to take it with her to work on Monday. (She really wants to throw it in the trash, but it was expensive!)

The following morning, the fight in Aiden has subsided, but the aftermath leaves him in a fog, listless, weepy, and exhausted. He experiences an increased craving for sweets while cortisol, the stress hormone, drives his blood sugar up and down erratically. It will take weeks before his body, brain, and mind return to some sense of balance. Meanwhile, his mother reaffirms her commitment “to get rid of those damn video games.”

Perceived Threat and the Fight-or-Flight Response

Does Aiden’s story sound familiar? Why would a seemingly normal, loving child become so enraged and difficult after playing video games? Though his response may seem extreme, there’s actually a completely natural explanation for Aiden’s behavior.

Playing video games mimics the kinds of sensory assaults humans are programmed to associate with danger. When the brain senses danger, primitive survival mechanisms swiftly kick in to provide protection from harm. This response is instantaneous; it is hardwired in our genes and necessary for survival. Keep in mind that the threat does not have to be real — it only needs to be a perceived danger for the brain and body to react.

When this instinct gets triggered, our nervous system and hormones influence our state of arousal, jumping instantly to a state of hyperarousal — the fight-or-flight response. These feelings can be hard to shake off even after the provoking incident is over and the threat — real or perceived — is gone.

In medical school, our instructors referred to this state as “running from the tiger,” since during ancient times humans protected themselves from predators by literally fighting or fleeing. Today, we still need this rapid stress response for emergency situations, and on a day-to-day basis mild stress reactions help us get things done. But for the most part, repeatedly enduring fight-or-flight responses when survival is not an issue does more harm than good.

When the fight-or-flight state occurs too often, or too intensely, the brain and body have trouble regulating themselves back to a calm state, leading to a state of chronic stress. Chronic stress is also produced when there is a “mismatch” between fight-or-flight reactions and energy expenditure, as occurs with screen time. Indeed, the build-up of energy is meant to be physically discharged to allow the nervous system to re-regulate. However, research suggests screen time induces stress reactions even in children who exercise regularly.

Once chronic stress sets in, blood flow is directed away from the higher thinking part of the brain (the frontal lobe) and toward the more primitive, deeper areas necessary for survival, causing impairment in functioning. With children, whose nervous systems are still developing, this sequence of events occurs much faster than it does for adults, and the chronically stressed child soon starts to struggle.

It’s easy to imagine how an exciting video game can cause hyperarousal. But in fact, numerous mechanisms act synergistically to raise arousal levels with all types of interactive screen time. And contrary to popular belief, many of them occur irrespective of content.

Because chronic stress effectively “short circuits” the frontal lobe, a hyperaroused and mentally depleted child will have trouble paying attention, managing emotions, suppressing impulses, following directions, tolerating frustration, accessing creativity and compassion, and executing tasks.

All of these effects are compounded by screen time disrupting the body clock and hindering deep sleep. In fact, the effects on sleep alone can explain many of the mood, cognitive, and behavior issues associated with screens, and also explain how screen effects can build over time, making them easy to miss.

When people say my strict screen time recommendations—which are based not just on clinical experience and research but also on how the brain works—are “not realistic,” and that children “must learn to manage technology,” my response is this: It’s not realistic to expect the brain to adapt to intense and artificial stimulation it was never meant to handle.

It’s also not realistic to expect a child with a still-developing frontal lobe to control their screen time, whether that means managing how long they play a game, how they use or misuse social media, or how they behave afterward.

Parents need to learn the science behind how screen time overstimulates the nervous system, how this manifests as an array of symptoms and dysfunction, and what that looks like in their own child.

Learning this information can literally change the course of a child’s life; it helps parents to make informed and mindful screen management decisions and steadies them from being swayed by cultural trends and misleading headlines. It puts parents in the driver’s seat. While the world may have changed, how the brain responds to stress and what it needs to thrive has not.

By: Victoria L. Dunckley M.D.

Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. is an integrative child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist, the author of Reset Your Child’s Brain, and an expert on the effects of screen-time on the developing nervous system.  

Source: This Is Your Child’s Brain on Video Games | Psychology Today

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Don’t Panic, What Parents Really Need To Know About ‘Huggy Wuggy’

You may have seen the growing number of articles about the Huggy Wuggy character from horror survival game Poppy Playtime. Similar the Momo Challenge stories, this is usually accompanied with a scary blue character with red lips and sharp teeth and warnings about the upsetting or harmful impact on children.

However, no evidence has been reported that links back to the game itself. Rather, warnings from head teachers and Police have led to misinformation about the content of the game and potential impact on children.

Most of the panic surrounds related content created on TikTok and YouTube that features the game characters in unsettling scenarios. One of these video included a song, Free Hugs, with lyrics “Cause I could just hug you here. Forever, forever. Till you breathe your last breath.”

If you are a parent or guardian concerned about this, it’s important to understand the game before you delete it from children’s devices. Rather than a knee-jerk reaction, it’s a chance to talk to your child about the content and then make an informed decision about it with them.

Poppy Playtime Age Rating

The game itself is a scary experience designed to thrill and unsettle. It has been rated as suitable for 13 year-olds by ESRB and for 12 year-olds by PEGI. This includes descriptors for Violence, Blood from ESRB and Moderate Violence and Horror from PEGI.

The VSC Rating Board, extend the PEGI rating by stating “this game features a sense of threat and dread throughout as the player’s character explores an abandoned factory. In one intense sequence, the player’s character is pursued by a monster, including through a series of dark air vents. In another sequence, a heavy box is dropped onto a fantasy character, causing it to fall from a height. Blood appears on some pipes that the character strikes as it falls.”

This applies to the game itself rather than any fan created content. There are also unofficial fan made versions of the game on Roblox (Poppy Playtime Morphs) which do not fall under the remit of ESRB or PEGI as they are user generated content.

Taking care to understand the actual source of potentially upsetting content is important for parents. Not only so we can ensure that the settings on our children’s social media and video accounts are appropriately configured, but to ensure we don’t over react to what is a popular game.

The real danger is that stories about Poppy Playtime and the Huggy Wuggy character spiral out of control like the Momo Challenge. We’ve already seen reports eager to connect the scary Huggy Wuggy character to children jumping out of windows or breath holding playground games.

This leads to a muddled response to actual concerns children have. Banning a child from a game they are enjoying because of a related video makes it much less likely for them to talk to parents if something genuinely upsetting happens online.

The real danger with this panicked response is that it separates parents from the gaming world of their child. Much better, is to use rating advice and to play the game ourselves. We can then be present in the gaming world of our children and provide informed guidance.

Poppy Playtime Creator

I spoke to Zach Belanger, President and CEO of Enchanted Mob who made the Poppy Playtime game. I asked who the game was aimed at. “Poppy Playtime was not created with the intention to target any specific audience. Bear in mind that this was the first game our studio ever created, and our main priority was to create something that we would enjoy playing ourselves.

Beyond that, we have a passion for any content we create to be enjoyable by audiences of all ages. To us, it isn’t accurate to say that we created Poppy Playtime to be consumed by kids or adults, but rather our goal was simply to inspire and entertain anyone who decided to play the game.”

With this in mind, I wondered if the warnings from schools had come as a surprise? “The vast majority of the controversy we are seeing regarding warnings from schools about the Huggy Wuggy character are completely untrue and/or grossly exaggerated.

One of the things we’ve read online is that Huggy Wuggy whispers creepy things into one’s ear while playing, but anyone who has actually played Poppy Playtime would know that Huggy Wuggy does not even have a voice in Chapter 1, so it’s impossible for him to have whispered anything.”

“As far as we are aware, all of these warnings from schools are originating from fan made content based off of our game, but if you want my personal opinion, I do not think that any of these videos should be cause for concern, and we appreciate all the hard work and dedication our fans are put toward creating content inspired off of Poppy Playtime.”

Huggy Wuggy Song Creator

The creator of one of the more popular pieces of fan content was Igor Gordiyenko who is TryHardNinja on YouTube. He created the controversial Huggy Wuggy song that has around 5 million views.

I asked what the inspiration for the song and reason for the lyrics. “I wrote the song inspired by the story and lore of Huggy Wuggy from the game Poppy Playtime. In the game the player investigates a toy factory in which all the employees disappeared and some of the toys that used to be developed there have become sinister killer monsters. Huggy Wuggy is one of the antagonist monsters in the game.

The jingle in the game and game’s soundtrack has the lyrics, ‘He’ll squeeze you ‘til you pop’. I thought it would be creative to take the original jingle which mentions hugging forever and make it into a more obvious sinister version to be truer to his new sinister persona following the event the game.”

I asked what he made of the response to the song and the warnings that were appearing in headlines. “As a father, I completely understand the concern. I didn’t intentionally make the song to scare young kids. It’s a song based on a monster from the indie horror game Poppy Playtime rated for teens and up. My video is targeted to the same audience.”

“The themes and visuals of my song and video are true to the character’s lore, actions and depiction in the game. I am not trying to make an innocent character seem scarier than they are. Much like Chucky from Child’s Play, Huggy Wuggy is and always was a horror character. My song is for fans of the source material which is not for young kids.”

I asked him what he had done to ensure that younger children didn’t have access to the video. “As a YouTube creator I have done everything in my power to make sure the video is not served to kids younger than 13. Since the moment of upload the video has been marked “Not made for kids.”

Since reports of the song being served on YouTube Kids started about a month ago I have been doing my own periodical sweeps of that platform and I have never found that video or song. I understand how my video being recommended to young kids would be concerning and inappropriate, but all evidence points to the previous reports saying that it’s on YouTube Kids to being false.”

What advice would he have for parents if they were worried about children finding the song and being upset by it? “As a parent, if even after making sure I’ve done everything I could to filter out this content and it still gets through, I would sit with my child and talk to them about what they saw, their feelings and reassure them that Huggy Wuggy is a made up character that can’t hurt them.”

Keeping Children Safe

Rather than warning children about specific dangers such as Momo or Huggy Wuggy, parents and professionals can better help children by teaching them good practices online.

Fostering an atmosphere of openness and transparency about online activity ensures that children can thrive. If you do notice them switching screens on their devices when approached or new numbers or email addresses on their devices it’s worth checking in with them.

Keep video games and YouTube watching in shared family spaces. In video games, you can also set-up restrictions on friends and accessing user generate content that may include Poppy Playtime themed add ons. Also, ensure you have Restricted mode on for your child’s account this content is not available to them.

I am a technology critic specializing in families. I’ve recently written the Taming Gaming book for parents and related Family Video Game Database. I write for

Source: Don’t Panic, What Parents Really Need To Know About ‘Huggy Wuggy’

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The Inflation Suspense Goes On

Today’s consumer price report came as a huge surprise to almost everyone — because the numbers came in almost exactly in line with expectations, which basically never happens. Analysts whose job is to forecast what official numbers will say a few hours before they come out — a job of dubious usefulness, but whatever — expected the one-year rate of inflation to come in at 6.8 percent; it came in at … 6.8 percent. “Core” inflation that strips out volatile food and energy prices came in right on expectations too.

If there was any information content in today’s release, it was that extreme scenarios in both directions became a bit less likely. There wasn’t anything in the report suggesting that inflation is rapidly spiraling upward; nor was there anything lending comfort to those hoping to see inflation fade away in the next few months.

For what it’s worth, financial markets appear to have taken onboard the reduction in risks of really high inflation: “breakeven rates,” which measure market expectations of the inflation rate over the next few years, came down modestly. But nothing major happened.

That said, the headline number is highly likely to come down over the next few months, if only because the big run-up of oil prices from their pandemic lows seems to have gone into reverse:

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Oil wells that end well?
Credit…Bloomberg

Some other components may also be coming down — or will at least stop rising rapidly. Hyun Song Shin, head of research for the influential Bank for International Settlements, recently made the case that a lot of recent inflation reflects the “bullwhip effect”: panic or at least precautionary buying of goods that seem to be in short supply, which intensifies the shortage. Remember last year’s toilet paper shortage?

Shin points out, among other things, that shipping costs, while still very high, seem to have peaked:

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Containers contained?
Credit…Bank for International Settlements

But even if you try to adjust for special circumstances, underlying inflation appears to be running high by recent standards, maybe around 4 percent instead of the 2 percent that is the Fed’s target and has been the norm since the mid-1990s. This in turn reflects an economy in which spending is more or less back to the prepandemic trend but production is constrained both by bottlenecks and by the withdrawal of several million Americans from the labor force.

As an aside, 4 percent inflation isn’t hyperinflation; it isn’t even the double-digit inflation of the 1970s. In fact, whether they know it or not, Americans of a certain age can attest that it’s not so bad. It was, after all, the inflation rate that prevailed for much of the Reagan years — you know, after morning in America:

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Those horrible 1980s.Credit…FRED

I, at least, don’t remember the late 1980s as hellish.

Still, the Fed would consider a sustained doubling of the inflation rate a blow to its credibility. So how long will elevated inflation last?

The secret answer (don’t tell anyone) is that we don’t know.

I still think the most likely scenario is a minor-league version of the 1946-48 inflation spike, when pent-up demand after the end of wartime rationing caused an inflationary boom — inflation peaked at around 20 percent — but price stability quickly and more or less painlessly re-emerged once the spending surge was over.

I still don’t see any evidence that 1970s-type stagflation, in which everyone kept raising prices because they expected everyone else to keep raising prices, is emerging.

But today’s numbers neither reinforced nor challenged my beliefs. This report was shockingly unsurprising.

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By:

Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography. @PaulKrugman

Source: Opinion | The Inflation Suspense Goes On – The New York Times

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