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How Money Turns Us Against Our Own Nature
I feel like sharing these thoughts because I’m having a contemplative evening and they’re coming together really nicely right now. I think having a currency, be it physical money or even a virtual currency like bitcoin or anything along those lines turns humans against themselves by making them betray their very own nature. Here’s a simplified and true example. Condensed. Scientists taught monkeys to use a currency. One of the first things that happened is a female monkey had sex with a male monkey and used the earned currency to buy a grape. So within about one day of monkeys having money the first monkey prostitute was born. You’re welcome and have a nice day. How does money turn is against our own nature? It’s a simple trick of our reward system. It’s the psychology behind money that keeps it going. Without the thought behind it it’s just useless inedible paper, metal or a bunch of tiny bits of information on a hard drive. Human reward systems are wired to go after the things that give us the greatest perceived reward and to spend the least amount of effort possible doing it. In nature, if you have two options, eat the apple that just fell on the ground in front of you or swim across a river to eat a grape on the other side, you will pick the apple on the ground. Why? Because the apple is a bigger reward and requires less energy. If you kept swimming across rivers to eat things on the other side instead of eating what’s right in front of you, you would put yourself at greater risk of drowning and eventually drown, starve or both. So our minds are geared towards finding the simplest solution. We’re also geared towards solutions that solve the most amount of problems with the least effort. For example we could keep wearing fur coats and walking around in the bush and keep getting wet and cold and making a fire to stay warm...toughing it out every day...getting attacked by predators. Or we could build a shelter and solve all of our wet and cold problems forever...and then also not have to worry about predators while we sleep. Although building a shelter requires more energy initially, you do it once and most problems are solved. So we will pick options that require more energy if the reward is greater. When our brains logical center picks up on the fact that we have done something that was easier and worked out better for us they will release chemicals that make us feel good. The reward for surviving a night in the forest is good. But the reward for building a shelter is much greater. More dopamine. That’s the reason people get hooked on crack. You do very little and you get a massive dopamine boost. Your mind learns that this minimal effort gives you the biggest perceived reward...and it keeps going. Why not? Less effort, massive reward. It’s in your nature. It’s how evolution favoured us for millions of years. It never changed. So what does this have to do with money? Money is a dopamine shortcut. You acquire money. The perceived reward of the money is much greater than the perceived reward of anything else. Your mind clues in like this: “Wait? There is something called money and all I have to to is get enough of it and ALL my needs will be met because I can buy anything I want?” That’s the biggest dopamine reward possible without inducing a chemical into your brain. Money = All Needs Met Our brains are meant to get tunnel vision when there’s an opportunity for a reward. That’s how they work. That tunnel vision is meant to blind us to the adversity we will have to face to get the reward. For example, if you are at the base of a cliff and you haven’t eaten for two days, but at the top of the cliff you can see that there is enough food to last you a year, you’re going to climb that cliff. You will set aside your fear of heights. You will set aside your hunger and aching muscles. You will pump up adrenaline and you will climb that cliff. Your body will numb the pain in your hands and feet from the sharp rocks. And you get to the top of that cliff. And you’re set for a whole year. If it wasn’t for the tunnel vision because you perceived a reward, you wouldn’t have climbed that cliff. This is all perfect in a natural environment. But we also evolved a special part of our brain that uses all kinds of logic and worst of all allows for abstract thinking. Suddenly, vague concepts in our brain can seem just as real as reality itself. This was meant to enable us to problem solve. So that if there is a problem, the perceived solution creates the same focus and tunnel vision and enables us to get things done. Let’s say I am hungry. I find some food. But it’s honey. It’s inside of a beehive. All that exists in reality is me and the bees that will sting me as I approach. But then my mind will create an alternate reality in a sense. It starts throwing abstract concepts around until it finds a solution that works. It presents the solution to the reward system the same way that that the senses themselves are hooked up to it. Suddenly, I see myself lighting a fire and smoking out the bees and eating the honey. This now seems just as real to me as reality itself. It takes that solution and tells me “if you do this you will get your dopamine reward”. The mirage in my mind that shows me the solution by meddling with the part of my brain that processes my senses blinds me a bit to other sensory input because it has to take up that space in the brain to create a fake reality in the hopes it will become real. It’s a phenomenon that’s been proven over millions of years to work. It’s what gives humans an edge over most animals. Instead of just instinct, theres now a processing edge that takes in a ton of data and performs advanced risk vs reward calculations and tells us what to do. It’s better than instinct. Instead of fight or flight, there’s now focused intention. It works. So I light a fire and smoke out the bees ignoring the odd minor sting because I know this is sure to work and I will get my honey in the end. So now we are a species that is meant to specifically expend energy to problem solve ways to best meet the most of our needs as easily as possible. And we have a currency that exists as a social concept that presents a solution to rapidly meet all our needs. We also have a reward system that will easily justify making sacrifices to meet our needs. This is a massive problem. A reward as great as money doesn’t exist in nature. However it exists as an abstract concept in our head that carries just as much weight in our decision making as something that exists for real. And the abstract concept presents a perceived reward far greater than anything we could attain from out environment. Basically, money only exists as an abstract concept. But our brains are wired to work with abstract concepts as if they were real because it enables our survival and is a part of how our thoughts work. So at some point in everyone’s life they are exposed to the abstract concept of money through language. The language creates thoughts that enable us to fall into a dopamine trap looking for a reward thats greater and requires less effort to attain. So now our brains do what they do best. They generate a strong focus. They get tunnel vision. They prepare your body and mind to go through the hurdles necessary to attain a reward. And worse, our minds reprioritize. In the example with the cliff, reprioritization plays a role. Normally avoiding heights and not cutting myself is high up on my list if things I want to avoid. We are wired to avoid pain. But the years worth of food creates a reprioritization. Suddenly a couple cuts don’t seem like a big deal. The thought of falling to my death, a risk normally avoided at all costs, suddenly is an afterthought in the quest for food. In the example with the cliff though there are limitations. There’s an upper limit to how far it will go. So if the rocks turn out to be way too sharp or it’s seemingly impossible to climb, I will look for a way around it and it all else fails give up and look for food elsewhere. But once inna while I will think of the cliff and maybe come up with a solution some day. But with money because we aren’t aware of it for what it really is and we haven’t given much thought to it, it basically slowly corrupts us. Every time we get money we get a dopamine hit. The more money we get, the bigger that dopamine hit is. The more we get the reward, the more the behaviour we chose to acquire it is reinforced. Just like the example with the beehive. I got the honey. I’ll remember it and find another beehive later. It just works. This is good for survival. We remember that getting money worked. We will do it again. Especially once we have experienced the moment of spending it and seeing that it does in fact work and that other people are all in on the secret. And because money gives us the greatest reward possible, we will go after it harder than we will go after everything else. The reprioritization and tunnel vision this causes are the biggest problem. The more money you get, the more you repeat the cycle, the more of a cash junkie you become. Why do addicts lie, cheat, steal, neglect their kids and ruin their lives? Because their minds have reprioritized to a bigger hit of dopamine by getting it the easiest way possible. It’s the same with money. But almost worse because it actually does work. And the reward is bigger. But the reprioritization seems to know no bounds. Here is the evil this brings into the world. It creates a conflict of interest. Everyone is out to get money as their primary goal. Or almost everyone. Only those who are intelligent and see through the dopamine trap tend to avoid it. And they usually end up cast aside by society because the society has reprioritized money over these individuals health and happiness. We reprioritize our own children out of our lives. Suddenly we can justify making them go to school with complete strangers and we honestly don’t know what their day is like. But it’s okay because the money we’re making solves all problems after all. It can solve their problems too that’s why they have a college fund. So we raise lonely damaged kids who will have money and no happiness and we go against our own nature. Naturally mothers and fathers are wired to spend 100% of their time with their children and take them with them unless they are doing something dangerous. We now to against out own wiring and dehumanize ourselves and our children because money is around the corner. Let’s say you have to get therapy. The fact that the therapist, who is supposed to be helping you, earns money to help you creates a conflict of interest. They will have a dopamine system that naturally drives them to want to earn more money. Which means instead of helping you the best they can, they will want to help you in a way that earns them the most cash. To the point where if you go through a crisis and need help the most but can’t pay because you’re short rent, they will literally sever a 2 year long relationship when you’re in your biggest time of need. Sadly, money has taken priority over actually helping the client. Lets say a police officer responds to your call for help. If it’s something that is less likely to get them ahead in their career, like a burglary in a poor area, they will be less motivated to help you even if the crime is more serious. They want to advance in their career to get more money so they will be less motivated to spend time and effort on you even if a terrible crime has been committed. Our whole healthcare system isn’t motivated to find cures for diseases but just treatments. As that solution makes the most sense when viewed through the skewed lens of the money dopamine taking precedence over all else. Money is now valued over the health and wellbeing of the patients. So there’s a conflict of interest with the healthcare system, pharmaceutical system and so on. The people working for those companies all want to make money and whether doing it consciously or subconsciously they will tend to lean towards options that get them more money because again it’s a he quickest way to the greatest reward. I hope you see where I’m going with this. Money is like a fucking drug. It doesn’t exist in nature and just in our heads which actually makes it worse than a drug. At least you can see drugs and the effect they are having on someone’s life. Money is much more insidious. You can tell how high someone is by looking at them. But you can’t tell how much money they have. And even if you can tell they have money because they’re flaunting it, your goal will suddenly become to be just like them. Because you think that it they have money, you can have money too if you do what they do. No one looks at Joe the crackhead and thinks “Oh my God I want to be like him when I grow up.” But everyone looks at Trump the billionaire, whose ONLY redeeming factor is that he’s the biggest junkie to cash on Earth. He put kids in fucking modern day concentration camps. And we’re all ignoring it. Because we’re all focused on other things. Saving those kids will probably be inconvenient for us anyway because we might get a criminal record which will make us less likely to earn money later. Or we might ruin our social status by talking about it which will ruin our ability to earn money later. So basically in short the whole world is completely fucked because about 90% of the population has an addiction to a currency that only exists in out heads, is probably on par with crack addiction as far as the severity it causes us to reprioritize our lives around it, and instead of seeing it as a problem we see it as something to aspire to because it’s in our nature to do that. You see someone fishing you want to learn how to fish because it’s an easier way to get food. You see someone making money and you want to do what they’re doing damn you and their and everyone else’s humanity because your dopamine is now hijacked by a concept your mind will never drop because it gives the greatest reward with the least energy expenditure. We hurt ourselves by neglecting our own needs because or the tunnel vision. We willingly hand our lives and most of our time over to people who have more money than us or a greater ability to earn money than us (we call them employers to cushion the blow and to feed into our own junkie like denial that we have a problem). There’s a lot more money to be made in cutting down the rainforest than there is to be made in saving it. And here is the worst part of all of this: There is no way out. Because the majority of the world is ruled by money there is nowhere to go to get away from it. If you decide you don’t want money you’re going to be hated by all the people who want money first and foremost and are in denial. People don’t like people who don’t care about money. Because they think like junkies. Their minds are so reprioritized that they can see someone freezing to death on the street and just think... Well I could help them but it would be inconvenient because it might get in the way of my sleep which would get in the way of work which would get in the way of me getting money. That’s basically what this is doing to us. So when the fuck are we going to realize that as a species at this point in time on planet Earth we collectively have an addiction which is destroying us and the entire planet we live on? When are we going to put down the proverbial crack pipe and realize “we have a problem” and go do a fucking cashaholics anonymous group and say... “I need to make amends to all the people I’ve hurt and the planet I’ve destroyed because of my problem. I’m destroying myself and my children. I’m ruining everyone’s life including my own. Because I have an addiction to money.”
The below is the text from my latest blog post about bonds, if you want to see the original with pretty pictures, charts, graphs etc then click on this link. Ok, the title is an obvious dad joke, but as it happens it still fits in with my naming convention for posts so happy days! On to more serious stuff. The most common proposed asset allocation for people pursuing FIRE seems to involve having absolutely as much invested in equities (or to a lesser extent property) as possible, and reducing every other asset class to as little as possible. Which is certainly one way of doing things, and given the great performance of shares and property over the last 20 years or more there is an argument to be made for doing things this way. It’s certainly not the only way of doing things though, and I will be trying to show why there is a case to be made for investing some money in other asset classes, in particular Fixed Income aka Bonds. So what are bonds? Bonds are a type of debt that is issued by governments, semi-government organisations, and corporations, so basically you’re lending them money. In Australia we also have what are called hybrid securities, but they’ve got some big enough differences that I’ll talk about them in a future post (probably). Bonds are also one of those fun areas where there is an exception to every rule, so although what I’ve written below is broadly accurate there is always going to be some type of bond or a specific issue that breaks one of the rules. So please don’t be an internet hero and “well ackshually” me about premium redemption/issue bonds, soft calls, hard calls, investor puts, floaters, PIK notes and all the rest of it because broadly speaking it isn’t going to make much difference for the purposes of explaining bonds. Basically play nice readers! Talk numbers to me… Bonds are all about math. As I’m sure regular readers of this blog can imagine this makes me very happy, and probably explains in part why I spent a large part of my career working in an area where understanding bonds was crucial, although to make things more interesting we added on a bunch of other stuff like equity options, credit derivatives, FX etc. The main numbers to think about are the price you paid for the bond, the coupon on the bond, the yield on the bond, the time to maturity, and the maturity value of the bond. From those main numbers we also derive a bunch of other numbers I’ll talk about later. Bonds are normally issued at a price of 100, with a fixed coupon (interest payment based on the maturity value of the bond) and a fixed maturity value at a known maturity date. So that’s 4 of the numbers covered already, happy days! A lot of the time though you’re not going to be buying that bond when it is issued, you’ve buying it when it’s already trading in which case chances are pretty good you didn’t pay 100 for the bond. Buying it along the way doesn’t affect the coupon or the redemption amount at maturity or when it matures. What it does affect though is the yield. There are a bunch of different yield measures but I’m going to go with yield to maturity, ie what yield (return) will you get if you hold the bond to maturity. It’s not a perfect analogy, but one way to think about bonds is that they’re like a term deposit where the amount that you can buy it for moves around. If you buy a bond for $10,000 that is going to mature in a year and it has a 2% coupon and redeems for $10,200 (redemption price plus coupon payment), then your yield (2%) is the same as your coupon (2%). But if interest rates have changed and so the price of the bond has changed and you buy that bond for $9,900 or $10,100, then your yield will be different from your coupon, either 3% or 1% respectively. Hopefully that makes sense? BTW I’ve rounded the numbers here to try and keep it nice and simple. Most bonds pay interest on a semi annual basis (I used an annual payment in the example above to make things easier) so to figure out how much interest you get when it gets paid it’ll be the coupon divided by two. Hopefully all of that makes sense, if not let me know in the comments. Issuers of Bonds As I said above the main issuers of bonds are governments, semi government organisations, and corporations. Debt issued by governments is generally the safest type, because so long as they control the printing press then they can always print more money to pay you back. The Eurozone is a bit of an exception to this (understatement of the year) but in most of the other major sovereign bond markets like the US, Australian, the UK etc it’s true. Emerging markets are a bit different because they often issue debt in USD, which means that if things go pear shaped then they can’t just print more money to pay off bondholders. There can also be issues with getting your money back from sovereigns if they have too much debt, such as when they either don’t control the printing press (Greece) or the bond is issued in a different currency (Argentina) but for the most part if you lend money to a developed country in their own currency then you can pretty reliably count on getting your money back. There are also bonds issued by semi government organisations like the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development etc, these are slightly less safe for the most part but you’re still not taking on much risk of not getting your money back. Debt issued by corporations is riskier, partly because businesses obviously can’t just print more money to pay you back, and because corporations can and do go bust. Sure it doesn’t seem likely that Telstra or Woolworths or the big banks are going to blow up any time soon, but there are plenty of other bond issuers out there with much more fragile finances. As you would expect the more risk you are taking on the more return you want in order to be compensation for doing so. This is because unlike a term deposit the value of your capital isn’t protected. If you put $10,000 into a term deposit for a year with an interest rate of 2%, then you know that in a year’s time you will get back that $10,000 plus $200 in interest. If for some reason the bank you invested that money through goes bust, the government will make you whole (up to the value of $250,000 per entity per approved deposit institution. If you invest in a corporate bond and the company goes bust, well you’re probably not going to get all or maybe any of your money back. The good news is that you’re more likely to get money back than equity holders, but if the debts of the company are a lot more than the assets then you’re going to be in trouble. There’s a clear framework for what happens if a company goes bust and who gets paid first and in how much etc, the short version of this is that equity holders are absolutely last in line but depending on what type of bonds you own you may not be a meaningful better position either. And unlike a stock, when you own a bond you don’t own a piece of the issuer of the bond, you just own part of their devt. So if the company does great and starts making a fortune, you as a bondholder don’t get paid any more than what the terms of the bond state. Basically you can get a fair chunk of the downside and none of the upside beyond the terms of the bond. On the plus side this doesn’t happen particularly often, most of the time you’ll get what you were promised Bond ratings Now obviously some companies are more secure and stable than others. If you take a bond from the biggest company in the ASX200 which is CBA, then it’s more likely to fulfil the terms of the bond than whatever the 200th company is. That’s not to say the 200th company won’t, just that there is more risk. The actual degree of this risk is quantified in a couple of different ways. First of all there are ratings agencies out there who will assign a rating from anywhere to super safe (AAA) to D (in default) with a bunch of graduations in between. Anything rated from AAA to BBB- is what is called Investment Grade (IG), everything below that is called High Yield (HY) or less politely Junk. Just because a bond is IG doesn’t guarantee it will pay off, likewise something which is HY isn’t guaranteed or even likely to fail. For the most part though the different ratings given tend to play out that way in the real world, with far less defaults for bonds rated AAA vs bonds rated BB for example. The big three ratings agencies are Standard & Poors (S&P), Moodys, and Fitch, and between them they’ll rate most of the bonds and/or issuers. They tend to be fairly backward looking in my opinion, and they were hugely and obviously wrong on rating mortgage backed securities back in the GFC. Still, they will generally give you a reasonable idea of the creditworthiness of the bond issuer. Because bonds are also traded in the marketplace you can take the yield offered on a bond with a particular maturity, compare it to an equivalent government bond, and using some fun math (yeah baby!) back out a credit spread which that bond trades over treasuries (or swaps but I’m not going to get into that). The higher the spread, the higher the perceived risk of the bond, and vice versa of course. Are bonds safe? Well it kinda depends on what you mean by safe. If you mean are the bonds likely to deliver what the issuer of the bonds promised, then generally yes. As I said with government and semi government bonds you will almost certainly get all your coupons and the maturity value of the bonds delivered on time. Yeah, there are some exceptions to this but you’re unlikely to run into trouble with Australia, the US, the UK, the more economically sensible members of the Eurozone etc. Similarly with corporates the vaast majority of the time you will get your money back on investment grade bonds, and it’s pretty rare to not get your money back on high yield bonds as well. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t happen much. If you mean am I going to get back what I put into the bond, well no they’re not necessarily safe, particularly if you sell before maturity. Remember when I said bonds are kinda like term deposits that can trade? Well when they trade those prices move around, and they can move around a lot! Why do bond prices move? There are a bunch of reasons why bond prices move around, the main ones are changes in the interest rate environment, changes in economic conditions, and changes specific to the issuer of the bond. We’ll talk about interest rates first. Bond prices have an inverse relationship with bond yields, which is a fancy way of saying if interest rates (yields) go down then bond prices go up. How much do they go up? Well that depends on the magnitude of the change in rates, and a bunch of factors involving the bond. Basically the longer till maturity on the bond, and the lower the coupon on the bond, the more sensitive it will be to changes in interest rates. This is measured using modified duration and convexity. Modified duration takes into account the timing of the cashflows of the bond (so coupons and maturity) and gives you a number which is typically a little less than that number of years to maturity, the higher the coupon the more it decreases the modified duration. If you multiply that modified duration by the change in interest rates in percentage terms, it will tell you how much the bond price will move by (in theory at least). So if you have a modified duration of say 7.117, then for every 1 percent move in interest rates the bond price will change by 7.117 points. So if your bond price was previously 100 and rates moved down by 1%, then your bond should now be worth 107.117. Happy days! Conversely if rates moved up, well your bond is now worth 92.883. Not so happy days. I’ve used the [ASX bond calculator](http://%20https//www.asx.com.au/asx/research/bondCalculator.do) to give a couple of examples using the current Aussie 10 year bond. You can hopefully see below that by changing the yield on the bond from 1.5% to 1% the market price has gone from 116.87 to 121.83, roughly a 4.25% change in price for a 0.5% change in rates, so presumably the modified duration on the bond is about 8.5. To make things slightly more complex, that relationship isn’t fixed due to something called convexity. Instead of being a linear relationship, it’s actually a changing one (a curve rather than a line). Basically the more bonds prices move away from where they were issued the more that relationship will change. Then there are things like GDP numbers, employment numbers, consumer sentiment surveys, PMI surverys, and all sorts of other economic news which will potentially move bond yields around, generally pretty slightly but it really depends on how important that economic number is and how much of a change from expectations it is. On top of that for corporations changes in their own situations will have an effect on what their credit rating/spread is which will affect prices as well. If a company goes from being loss making to suddenly making a profit, then that’s going to be good for their credit and the bond price is likely to go up. Bad news like a profit warning will potentially mean a higher credit spread and lower price for the bond. There is also general investor appetite for risk, so if investors are happy to take on more risk in their asset allocation (risk on) then they will likely sell off lower risk assets like bonds and buy higher risk assets like equities and to a lesser extent property. If things change and they want to go risk off, then the reverse happens and money tends to come out of equities and into bonds. What happens to bonds if the stock market crashes or we have another GFC? A stock market crash is actually one of the more compelling reasons to invest in bonds. This is because when stock markets crash investors tend to put their money into asset classes where they feel a lot safer ie, bonds. The rationale is that getting your money back is now hugely important, and even more important is not losing all your money as you will in those horrible equities which you knew you should never have invested in but that horrible financial adviser talked you into. People. Are. Not. Rational. People panic. People sell assets which are going down in value even though they know they should be holding on for the long term. This applies not just to retail investors, but also to professionals who should know better. In the GFC I spent plenty of time talking to institutional investors with a long term time horizon (ie 5 or 10 years etc) who suddenly decided they had to get out because of bad one month performance. People will bail out if the proverbial is hitting the fan. I wrote a bit about my experiences with the GFC here, and believe me there are a lot of people who are not going to be as cool calm and collected as they think they will be. It’s very very very very (extra very for emphasis) important to note here that at this point in time investors will not be thinking that all bonds are much the same. When they are looking for somewhere to put their money that they now have after panic selling out of equities, they will park it in the safest place they can find, ie government bonds (aka treasuries). This will cause the price of those bonds to rise because of supply and demand. If they still want to take on some amount of risk then they might put some into investment grade bonds, again this will push the price up a bit. They will almost certainly not put money into high yield bonds, because those are risky and in a crisis will behave pretty similarly to equities, ie they will fall in value. If anything they will more than likely try to pull money out of HY bonds, pushing the price down. This excellent post really shows this in the below graph which shows the average performance of different types of bonds for a 10% or greater fall in the stock market (all of this is for the US but the same principle applies to Australia). It doesn’t work in every case, as shown below (same source), but in almost all cases of a big crash in equities, treasury and to a lesser extent IG bonds gave you a big positive return to help out. HY, not so much and in some cases actually gave you a worse performance than equities themselves. Please believe me when I say it is a huge help psychologically to have some of your investments going up when the others are going down, which to me at least is a great reason to have some money invested in bonds. You’ve convinced me, how much should I have in bonds? Ok so I’m probably being slightly optimistic here given the number of posts I see on reddit about how VDHG would be so much better if Vanguard got rid of that terrible 10% that’s invested in bonds and put it all in equities instead. It would be nice to think though that some people are now realising that come the next crash they too might not behave entirely rationally, and it sure would be nice to own some assets that are going to zig when the stock market zags, so to speak. On the off chance that I have actually convinced people, well it really comes down to your particular risk profile. This is going to be hard to believe for some people, but in the US the default portfolio for most investors is 60% stocks and 40% bonds. Looking at Oz , the default balanced investment option for most super funds over here are supposed to have something like a 70:30 split between growth assets (shares and property) and defensive assets (bonds and cash) although the reality is a long long way from that if you actually look into how they invest (that’s a discussion for another time though). So that maybe provides a useful starting point. I know that the average FIRE portfolio that gets talked about particularly from younger bloggers (who have likely never experienced a sustained down market) is pretty much 100% equities and property, maybe even leveraged up. Which is fine if you can hold on through the downturns, but not everyone can do this because it is extremely difficult to do psychologically. I wish them all the best of luck, but I am pretty sure that at least some of them will decide that it’s all too much and sell whenever we have the next crash. There are exceptions to the rule though. One of my favourite bloggers, and someone who I know thinks deeply about this sort of stuff, is the FI Explorer who has about 15% in bonds and 15% in defensive alternatives (gold and bitcoin) as per his latest portfolio update. Whilst I don’t like Bitcoin myself, or gold for that matter, he writes a good explanation about why he holds both here. I still don’t like either asset myself, but I recognise that I am not infallible, I could well be wrong about this, and certainly historically they have worked well as hedges. In any case the more important point here is that there is basically a 30% allocation to what would be regarded as defensive type assets. This is actually a bit over his actual target of 25% in defensive assets, but he probably sleeps just fine at night. I’m a little more aggressive in only having about 21% of my assets (excluding PPoR) in cash and bonds, but it’s not a huge difference. Both of us have been invested through stock market crashes and hopefully have come to realise that we are not the hyper rational investors that economists believe we are, and therefore it’s best to have a bit invested in stuff that will go up or at least hold it’s value when everything else is crashing. How do I buy bonds? You can buy bonds individually, but you tend to need to have a fair amount of money to do so and you can run into a lot of problems with liquidity, big bid/ask spreads etc, it’s hard to build up a diversified portfolio etc. I buy bonds the same way I buy stocks, ie via an ETF. Most of the major ETF providers have some variety of index ETFs tracking Treasury only or Treasury plus Investment Grade bonds, or you can buy HY stuff if you want. Personally I just use one ETF which has about 75% in treasuries and the rest in IG. There are also some actively managed bond funds out there, either as ETFs or managed funds. For the reasons I outlined above about bonds being a psychological safe harbour I personally would (and do) only invest in bonds which are likely to up in a crisis, but different strokes for different folks applies as always. Any more questions? I’ve only really scratched the surface here of talking about bonds, but at the same time I feel like it’s an overwhelming amount of information. If you have more questions then as always I’m happy to answer them in the comments! Do you invest in bonds? If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more like it then please subscribe!
Two days ago, PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) famous internet personality, announced on his video that he is partnering up with Dlive. Dlive is a relatively new streaming platform which is built on the Lino Blockchain and it claims to be decentralised. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRG6sy3VaWU&ab_channel=PewDiePie Users buy via paypal "lino" tokens. 1 lino = 0.012 $. Lino is the platform's currency and it's used to donate to the streamers of dlive. On every donation, 90% of those tokens go to the streamer's wallet and 10% goes to the "pool". From this "pool", viewers get rewarded by simply engaging with a streamer (watch his stream, write in the chat etc). For example, if you watch for about 20 mins you get 1 lino. On the lino wallet app you have the option to "lock" your lino tokens (minimum 1000 linos) and get daily returns. This means that you cannot withdraw your locked linos from your account. I didn't find any information about the percentage of the returns but here is a screenshot of my wallet's transactions. https://preview.redd.it/ciwa2iq67wr21.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e8788b7e87a7ed16db663384ea71ec3fe57e51b7 UPDATE Today i got 11,3 bonus linos and this means that this comment from wadaafaaak is true.
Dlive is obviously a scam, but his argument isn't the reason. The locking is for the staking. The rewards in POS (proof of stake) based currencies are calculated by the amount of coins you stake vs the total coins staking on the network. Adding 1000 coins to your staking amount also increases the total network weight, which means, if nobody else would add more coins to stake, you'd be getting more while they are getting less. But other users will also lock their additional earnings, which means the network weight will increase even more the amount you will earn won't really increase.
My initial thought about a stable return percentage was wrong and I sincerely apologise for that. I was in a hurry to expose this because tomorrow (14/4) PewDiePie is sceduled to stream for the first time on this platform. However, I think the following comment also from the same user (wadaafaaak) describes the situation in the best way and that's why i want to highlight it
Yes, like I said, the POS system is fine. The problem is the fixed price. The total supply is around 10billion. The fixed price of one token is 1,2 cents. For every token in circulation they need to have 1,2 cents, if they want their system to work (by working I mean, not scamming users and letting them sell for 0.012USD/Lino). For the tokens that are bought by users this is obviously the case ( if they dont spend that money somewhere else). But for their inflation of (max 6.5% stated in the WP) 650millions Lino per year, where does the USD/BTC equivalent come from? And that inflation is released directly on to the "market". Thats 6.5m USD yearly that they'd need to pay with their own funds, just to back their Lino coins with USD. Besides that they need to pay staff, servers etc. Where is all that money coming from? So new users will be paying out the old users, because thats the only income Dlive has. What happens when "USD Cashing out + 6.5m USD/year > USD Buying" ? They solve that temporarily by locking out the funds and not letting users sell for 0.012usd. To me that sounds like a ponzi. Because you depend on the new users coming in and buying Lino, for old users to actually getting their payment. Once the system starts collapsing they will "unfix" the price and allow people to trade whereever they want. That will cause the price to crash to its real value. Same shit bitconnect did once it started collapsing.
You can also watch ShortFatOtaku's video on this topic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAx5JMKiRoM&t=3s&ab_channel=ShortFatOtaku As you can see, I bought 2888 lino tokens (about 34 $) and I locked 2800 at 2:37 pm. After about 56 hours I got return ~42 lino. Because these returns doesn't seem stable, let's satisfy the fact that i get (42 / 56) * 24 = 18 linos every day, this means that the return percentage is x = 18 * 100 / 2800 = 0,64 %. After 56 days I will have gathered 1000 lino tokens in return and I will be able to lock them too. Then the return I will be getting is 3.800 * 0,64 % = 24,3 lino which means that I will have 1000 new linos to lock in 1000/24,3 = 41 days. Do you see where I'm getting to? Lets say that you want to invest a larger amount (1000$). You will get 1000 / 0,012 = 83333 linos. If you lock 83333 linos you will get 83333 * 0.64% = 533 linos per day and after 2 days you will be able to lock 533 + 533 = 1066 more and so on and so on. This grows at an exponential rate meaning that in a few months your returns can grow into a decent salary and if this goes on for 2 or 3 years you will become a millionaire. If you think that this is not a red flag, let me tell you about the unlocking system. If you want to unlock your funds and cash in, you will have to wait 12 weeks until the unlocking proccess is complete. Every week, only 1/12 of your funds get released. And this sets up the scam perfectly. At some point, the owners will say bye bye leaving everyone's useless tokens locked into their platform. This has so many similarities with BitConnect; another scam that blew up in the bitcoin bull market in summer 2017 and ended up in tears in the early 2018. BitConnect used the same business model. You buy their token which is traded only on their platform (not a real crypto), you lock your funds and you get return. So many people actually believed that investing an insignificant amount (in comparsion to VCs) would set them financially independant in months but we all know that this couldn't be possible. Please spread awarness.
Want to start fresh after the crypto crash? Here is a comprehensive guide on how to invest and prosper over the long term.
Well its happened, the crypto market just experienced the worst crash since 2014, the bubble has burst. The idiocy of newbies FOMO-ing into anything with low nominal value lead to endless twitter timelines like this, and now nobody has any idea where the market settles. What do you do now? In the following weeks it will be a good time to rethink your investment approach and how you arrive at your decisions. Just buying whatever is shilled on Twitter or Reddit and jumping from one crypto to another isn't going to work like it did these last two months. The good news is that we're finally back closer and closer to our long term moving average which is much more healthy for entrants, the bad news is that the fear might continue compounding if outstanding issues are not dealt with. Tether is the big concern for me personally for reasons I've stated many times, but some relief in the short term may come if the SEC and CFTC meeting on February 6th goes well. Nobody really knows where the bottom is but I think we're now past the "irrational exhuberance" stage and we're entering a period of more serious inspection where cryptos will actually have to prove themselves as useful. I suspect hype artists like CryptoNick and John McAfee will fall out of favor. But perhaps most importantly use this as a learning experience, don't try to point fingers now. The type of dumb behavior that people were engaging in that was rewarded in a bull market (chasing pumps, going all in on a shillcoin, following hype..etc) could only ever lead to what we are experiencing now. Just like so many people jumped on the crypto bandwagon during the bull run, they will just as quickly jump on whatever bandwagon is to be used to blame for the deflation of the bubble. Nobody who pumped money into garbage without any use case will accept that they themselves with their own investing behavior were the real reason for the gross overvaluation of most cryptocurrencies, and the inevitable crash. So if you're looking for a fresh start after the massacre (or just want to get in now), here is a guide:
Part A: Making a Investment Strategy
This is your money, put some effort into investing it with an actual strategy. Some simple yet essential advice that should apply to everyone, regardless of individual strategy:
Slow down and research each crypto that you're buying for at least a week.
Don't buy something just because it has risen.
Don't exit a position just because it has declined.
Invest only as much as you can afford to lose.
Prepare enter and exit strategies in advance.
First take some time to think about your ROI target, set your hold periods for each position and how much you are actually ready to risk losing. ROI targets A lot of young investors who are in crypto have unrealistic expectations about returns and risk. A lot of them have never invested in any other type of financial asset, and hence many seem to consider a 5-10% ROI in a month to be unexciting. But its important to temper your hype and realize why we had this exponential growth in the last year and how unlikely it is that we see 10x returns in the next year. What we saw recently was Greater Fool Theory in action. Those unexciting returns of 5-10% a month are much more of the norm, and much more healthy for an alternative investment class. You can think about setting a target in terms of the market ROI over a relevant holding period and then add or decrease based on your own risk profile. Example: Calculating a 2 year ROI target Lets say you want to hold for 2 years now, how could you set a realistic target to strive for? You could look at a historical 2 year return as a base, preferably during a period similar to what we're facing now. Now that we had a major correction, I think we can look at the two year period starting in 2015 after we had the 2014 crash. To calculate a 2 year CAGR starting in 2015:
Total Crypto Market Cap
Jan 1, 2015:
Jan 1, 2017:
Compounded annual growth return (CAGR): [(18/5.5)1/2]-1 = 81% This annual return rate of 81% comes out to about 4.9% compounded monthly. This may not sound exciting to the lambo moon crowd, but it will keep you grounded in reality. You can aim for a higher return (say 2x of that 81% rate) if you choose to take on more risky propositions. I can't tell you what return target you should set for yourself, but just make sure its not depended on you needing to achieve continual near vertical parabolic price action in small cap shillcoins because that isn't sustainable. Once you have a target you can construct your risk profile (low risk vs. high risk category coins) in your portfolio based on your target. Risk Management Everything you buy in crypto is risky, but it still helps to think of these 3 risk categories:
Core holdings - This is the exchange pairing cryptos and those that are well established. These are almost sure to be around in 5 years, and will recover after any bear market. The Coinbase pairs (Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum) are in this class of risk, and I would also argue Monero.
Medium Risk Speculative - These would be cryptos which generally have a working product and niche, but higher risk than Core. Things like ZCash and Ripple, relatively established history but still uncertainty over long term viability.
High Risk Speculative - This is anything created within the last few months, ICOs, low caps, shillcoins...etc. Most cryptos are in this category.
How much risk should you take on? That depends on your own life situation for one, but also it should be proportional to how much expertise you have in both financial analysis and technology. The general starting point I would recommend is:
50-70% for newbies in Low Risk Core, then you can go down to 30% as you gains confidence and experience
Always try to keep at least a 1/3rd in safe core positions
Don't go all in on speculative picks.
Some more core principles on risk management to consider:
Diversify across sectors and rebalance your allocations periodically.
Consider using dollar cost averaging to enter a position. This generally means investing a X amount over several periods, instead of at once. You can also use downward biased dollar cost averaging to mitigate against downward risk. For example instead of investing $1000 at once in a position at market price, you can buy $500 at the market price today then set several limit orders at slightly lower intervals (for example $250 at 5% lower than market price, $250 at 10% lower than market price). This way your average cost of acquisition will be lower if the crypto happens to decline over the short term.
Don't have more than 5-10% of your net worth in crypto.
Have the majority of your holdings in things you feel good holding for at least 2 years. Don't use the majority of your investment for day trading or short term investing.
Remember you didn't actually make any money until you take some profits, so take do some profits when everyone else is at peak FOMO-ing mode.
Have some fiat in reserve at a FDIC-insured exchange (ex. Gemini), and be ready to add to your winning positions on a pullback. This should be part of your entry strategy.
Consider what level of loss you can't accept in a position with a high risk factor, and use stop-limit orders to hedge against sudden crashes. Set you stop price at about 5-10% above your lowest limit. Stop-limit orders aren't perfect but they're better than having no hedging strategy for a risky microcap in case of some meltdown. Only you can determine what bags you are unwilling to hold.
You can think of each crypto having a risk factor that is the summation of the general crypto market risk (Rm), but also its own inherent risk specific to its own goals (Ri). Rt = Rm +Ri The market risk is something you cannot avoid, it is essentially the risk that is carried by the entire market over things like regulations. What you can minimize though the Ri, the specific risks with your crypto. That will depend on the team composition, geographic risks (for example Chinese coins like NEO carry regulatory risks specific to China), competition within the space and likelihood of adoption and other factors, which I'll describe in Part 2: Crypto Picking Methodology. Portfolio Allocation Along with thinking about your portfolio in terms of risk categories described above, I really find it helpful to think about the segments you are in. OnChainFX has some segment categorization but I generally like to bring it down to:
Think about your "Circle of Competence", your body of knowledge that allows you to evaluate an investment. Your ability to properly judge risk and potential is going to largely correlated to your understanding of the subject matter. If you don't know anything about how supply chains functions, how can you competently judge whether VeChain or WaltonChain will achieve adoption? If you don't understand anything about the tech when you read the Cardano paper, are you really able to determine how likely it is to be adopted? Consider the historic correlations between your holdings. Generally when Bitcoin pumps, altcoins dump but at what rate depends on the coin. When Bitcoin goes sideways we tend to see pumping in altcoins, while when Bitcoin goes down, everything goes down. You should diversify but really shouldn't be in much more than around 12 cryptos, because you simply don't have enough competency to accurately access the risk across every segment and for every type of crypto you come across. If you have over 20 different cryptos in your portfolio you should probably think about consolidating to a few sectors you understand well.
Part B: Crypto Picking Methodology (Due Dilligence)
Do you struggle on how to fundamentally analyze cryptocurrencies? Here is a 3-step methodology to follow to perform your due dilligence:
Step 1: Filtering and Research
There is so much out there that you can get overwhelmed. The best way to start is to think back to your own portfolio allocation strategy and what you would like to get more off. For example in my view enterprise-focused blockchain solutions will be important in the next few years, and so I look to create a list of various cryptos that are in that segment. Upfolio has brief descriptions of the top 100 cryptos and is filterable by categories, for example you can click the "Enterprise" category and you have a neat list of VEN, FCT, WTC...etc. Once you have a list of potential candidates, its time to read about them:
Critically evaluate the website. If it's a cocktail of nonsensical buzzwords, if its unprofessional and poorly made, stay away. Always look for a roadmap, compare to what was actually delivered so far. Always check the team, try to find them on LinkedIn and what they did in the past.
Read the whitepaper or business development plan. You should fully understand how this crypto functions and how its trying to create value. If there is no use case or if the use case does not require or benefit from a blockchain, move on.
Check the blockchain explorer. How is the token distribution across accounts? Are the big accounts selling? Try to figure out who the whales are (not always easy!) and what the foundation/founder account is based on the initial allocation.
Look at the Github repos, does it look empty or is there plenty of activity?
Search out the subreddit and look at a few Medium or Steem blogs about the coin. How "shilly" is the community, and how much engagement is there between developer and the community?
I would also go through the BitcoinTalk thread and Twitter mentions, judge both the length and quality of the discussion.
You can actually filter out a lot of scams and bad investments by simply keeping your eye out on the following red flags:
allocations that give way too much to the founder
guaranteed promises of returns (Bitcooonnneeeect!)
vague whitepapers filled with buzzwords
vague timelines and no clear use case
Github with no useful code and sparse activity
a team that is difficult to find information on
Step 2: Passing a potential pick through a checklist
Once you feel fairly confident that a pick is worth analyzing further, run them through a standardized checklist of questions. This is one I use, you can add other questions yourself:
Crypto Analysis Checklist
What is the problem or transactional inefficiency the coin is trying to solve?
What is the Dev Team like? What is their track record? How are they funded, organized?
How big is the market they're targeting?
Who is their competition and what does it do better?
What is the roadmap they created and how well have they kept to it?
What current product exists?
How does the token/coin actually derive value for the holder? Is there a staking mechanism or is it transactional?
Is there any new tech, and is it informational or governance based?
Can it be easily copied?
What are the weaknesses or problems with this crypto?
The last question is the most important. This is where the riskiness of your crypto is evaluated, the Ri I talked about above. Here you should be able to accurate place the crypto into one of the three risk categories. I also like to run through this checklist of blockchain benefits and consider which specific properties of the blockchain are being used by the specific crypto to provide some increased utility over the current transactional method:
Benefits of Cryptocurrency
Decentralization - no need for a third party to agree or validate transactions.
Transparency and trust - As blockchain are shared, everyone can see what transactions occur. Useful for something like an online casino.
Immutability - It is extremely difficult to change a transaction once its been put onto a blockchain
Distributed availability - The system is spread on thousands of nodes on a P2P network, so its difficult to take the system down.
Security - cryptographically secured transactions provide integrity
Simplification and consolidation - a blockchain can serve as a shared ledger in industries where multiple entities previously kept their own data sources
Quicker Settlement - In the financial industry when we're dealing with post-trade settlement, a blockchain can drastically increase the speed of verification
Cost - in some cases avoiding a third party verification would drastically reduce costs.
Step 3: Create a valuation model
You don't need to get into full modeling or have a financial background. Even a simple model that just tries to derive a valuation through relative terms will put you above most crypto investors. Some simple valuation methods that anyone can do: Probablistic Scenario Valuation This is all about thinking of scenarios and probability, a helpful exercise in itself. For example: Bill Miller, a prominent value investor, wrote a probabilistic valuation case for Bitcoin in 2015. He looked at two possible scenarios for probabalistic valuation:
becoming a store-of-value equal to gold (a $6.4 trillion value), with a .25% probability of occurring
replacing payment processors like VISA, MasterCard, etc. (a $350 million dollar value) with a 2.5% probability
Combining those scenarios would give you the total expected market cap: (0.25% x 6.4 trillion) + (2.5% x 350 million). Divide this by the outstanding supply and you have your valuation. Metcalfe's Law Metcalfe's Law which states that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). So you can compare various currencies based on their market cap and square of active users or traffic. We can alter this to crypto by thinking about it in terms of both users and transactions: For example, compare the Coinbase pairs:
Daily Transactions (last 24hrs)
Active Addresses (Peak 1Yr)
Metcalfe Ratio (Transactions Based)
Metcalfe Ratio (Address Based)
Generally the higher the ratio, the higher the valuation given for each address/transaction. Market Cap to Industry comparisons Another easy one is simply looking at the total market for the industry that the coin is supposedly targeting and comparing it to the market cap of the coin. Think of the market cap not only with circulating supply like its shown on CMC but including total supply. For example the total supply for Dentacoin is 1,841,395,638,392, and when multiplied by its price in early January we get a market cap that is actually higher than the entire industry it aims to disrupt: Dentistry. More complex valuation models If you would like to get into more fleshed out models with Excel, I highly recommend Chris Burniske's blog about using Quantity Theory of Money to build an equivalent of a DCF analysis for crypto. Here is an Excel file example of OMG done by Nodar Janashia using Chris' model . You should create multiple scenarios with multiple assumptions, both positive and negative. Have a base scenario and then moderately optimistic/pessimistic and highly optimistic/pessimistic scenario. Personally I like to see at least a 50% upward potential before investing from my moderately pessimistic scenario, but you can set your own safety margin. The real beneficial thing about modelling isn't even the price or valuation comparisons it spits out, but that it forces you to think about why the coin has value and what your own assumption about the future are. For example the discount rate you apply to the net present utility formula drastically affects the valuation, and it reflects your own assumptions of how risky the crypto is. What exactly would be a reasonable discount rate? What about the digital economy you are assuming for the coin, what levers affects its size and adoption and how likely are your assumptions to come true? You'll be a drastically more intelligent investor if you think about the fundamental variables that give your coin the market cap you think it should hold.
Summing it up
The time for lambo psychosis is over. But that's no reason to feel down, this is a new day and what many were waiting for. I've put together in one place here how to construct a portfolio allocation (taking into consideration risk and return targets), and how to go through a systematic crypto picking method. I'm won't tell you what to buy, you should always decide that for yourself and DYOR. But as long as you follow a rational and thorough methodology (feel free to modify anything I said above to suit your own needs) you will feel pretty good about your investments, even in times like these. Edit: Also get a crypto prediction ferret. You won't regret it.
Your Guide to Monero, and Why It Has Great Potential
/////Your Guide to Monero, and Why It Has Great Potential/////
Marketing. It's a dirty word for most members of the Monero community. It is also one of the most divisive words in the Monero community. Yet, the lack of marketing is one of the most frustrating things for many newcomers. This is what makes this an unusual post from a member of the Monero community. This post is an unabashed and unsolicited analyzation of why I believe Monero to have great potential. Below I have attempted to outline different reasons why Monero has great potential, beginning with upcoming developments and use cases, to broader economic motives, speculation, and key issues for it to overcome. I encourage you to discuss and criticise my musings, commenting below if you feel necessary to do so.
Bulletproofs - A Reduction in Transaction Sizes and Fees Since the introduction of Ring Confidential Transactions (Ring CT), transaction amounts have been hidden in Monero, albeit at the cost of increased transaction fees and sizes. In order to mitigate this issue, Bulletproofs will soon be added to reduce both fees and transaction size by 80% to 90%. This is great news for those transacting smaller USD amounts as people commonly complained Monero's fees were too high! Not any longer though! More information can be found here. Bulletproofs are already working on the Monero testnet, and developers were aiming to introduce them in March 2018, however it could be delayed in order to ensure everything is tried and tested. Multisig Multisig has recently been merged! Mulitsig, also called multisignature, is the requirement for a transaction to have two or more signatures before it can be executed. Multisig transactions and addresses are indistinguishable from normal transactions and addresses in Monero, and provide more security than single-signature transactions. It is believed this will lead to additional marketplaces and exchanges to supporting Monero. Kovri Kovri is an implementation of the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) network. Kovri uses both garlic encryption and garlic routing to create a private, protected overlay-network across the internet. This overlay-network provides users with the ability to effectively hide their geographical location and internet IP address. The good news is Kovri is under heavy development and will be available soon. Unlike other coins' false privacy claims, Kovri is a game changer as it will further elevate Monero as the king of privacy. Mobile Wallets There is already a working Android Wallet called Monerujo available in the Google Play Store. X Wallet is an IOS mobile wallet. One of the X Wallet developers recently announced they are very, very close to being listed in the Apple App Store, however are having some issues with getting it approved. The official Monero IOS and Android wallets, along with the MyMonero IOS and Android wallets, are also almost ready to be released, and can be expected very soon. Hardware Wallets Hardware wallets are currently being developed and nearing completion. Because Monero is based on the CryptoNote protocol, it means it requires unique development in order to allow hardware wallet integration. The Ledger Nano S will be adding Monero support by the end of Q1 2018. There is a recent update here too. Even better, for the first time ever in cryptocurrency history, the Monero community banded together to fund the development of an exclusive Monero Hardware Wallet, and will be available in Q2 2018, costing only about $20! In addition, the CEO of Trezor has offered a 10BTC bounty to whoever can provide the software to allow Monero integration. Someone can be seen to already be working on that here. TAILS Operating System Integration Monero is in the progress of being packaged in order for it to be integrated into TAILS and ready to use upon install. TAILS is the operating system popularised by Edward Snowden and is commonly used by those requiring privacy such as journalists wanting to protect themselves and sources, human-right defenders organizing in repressive contexts, citizens facing national emergencies, domestic violence survivors escaping from their abusers, and consequently, darknet market users. In the meantime, for those users who wish to use TAILS with Monero, u/Electric_sheep01 has provided Sheep's Noob guide to Monero GUI in Tails 3.2, which is a step-by-step guide with screenshots explaining how to setup Monero in TAILS, and is very easy to follow. Mandatory Hardforks Unlike other coins, Monero receives a protocol upgrade every 6 months in March and September. Think of it as a Consensus Protocol Update. Monero's hard forks ensure quality development takes place, while preventing political or ideological issues from hindering progress. When a hardfork occurs, you simply download and use the new daemon version, and your existing wallet files and copy of the blockchain remain compatible. This reddit post provides more information. Dynamic fees Many cryptocurrencies have an arbitrary block size limit. Although Monero has a limit, it is adaptive based on the past 100 blocks. Similarly, fees change based on transaction volume. As more transactions are processed on the Monero network, the block size limit slowly increases and the fees slowly decrease. The opposite effect also holds true. This means that the more transactions that take place, the cheaper the fees! Tail Emission and Inflation There will be around 18.4 million Monero mined at the end of May 2022. However, tail emission will kick in after that which is 0.6 XMR, so it has no fixed limit. Gundamlancer explains that Monero's "main emission curve will issue about 18.4 million coins to be mined in approximately 8 years. (more precisely 18.132 Million coins by ca. end of May 2022) After that, a constant "tail emission" of 0.6 XMR per 2-minutes block (modified from initially equivalent 0.3 XMR per 1-minute block) will create a sub-1% perpetual inflatio starting with 0.87% yearly inflation around May 2022) to prevent the lack of incentives for miners once a currency is not mineable anymore. Monero Research Lab Monero has a group of anonymous/pseudo-anonymous university academics actively researching, developing, and publishing academic papers in order to improve Monero. See here and here. The Monero Research Lab are acquainted with other members of cryptocurrency academic community to ensure when new research or technology is uncovered, it can be reviewed and decided upon whether it would be beneficial to Monero. This ensures Monero will always remain a leading cryptocurrency. A recent end of 2017 update from a MRL researcher can be found here.
///Monero's Technology - Rising Above The Rest///
Monero Has Already Proven Itself To Be Private, Secure, Untraceable, and Trustless Monero is the only private, untraceable, trustless, secure and fungible cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are TRACEABLE through the use of blockchain analytics, and has lead to the prosecution of numerous individuals, such as the alleged Alphabay administrator Alexandre Cazes. In the Forfeiture Complaint which detailed the asset seizure of Alexandre Cazes, the anonymity capabilities of Monero were self-demonstrated by the following statement of the officials after the AlphaBay shutdown: "In total, from CAZES' wallets and computer agents took control of approximately $8,800,000 in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero and Zcash, broken down as follows: 1,605.0503851 Bitcoin, 8,309.271639 Ethereum, 3,691.98 Zcash, and an unknown amount of Monero". Privacy CANNOT BE OPTIONAL and must be at a PROTOCOL LEVEL. With Monero, privacy is mandatory, so that everyone gets the benefits of privacy without any transactions standing out as suspicious. This is the reason Darknet Market places are moving to Monero, and will never use Verge, Zcash, Dash, Pivx, Sumo, Spectre, Hush or any other coins that lack good privacy. Peter Todd (who was involved in the Zcash trusted setup ceremony) recently reiterated his concerns of optional privacy after Jeffrey Quesnelle published his recent paper stating 31.5% of Zcash transactions may be traceable, and that only ~1% of the transactions are pure privacy transactions (i.e., z -> z transactions). When the attempted private transactions stand out like a sore thumb there is no privacy, hence why privacy cannot be optional. In addition, in order for a cryptocurrency to truly be private, it must not be controlled by a centralised body, such as a company or organisation, because it opens it up to government control and restrictions. This is no joke, but Zcash is supported by DARPA and the Israeli government!. Monero provides a stark contrast compared to other supposed privacy coins, in that Monero does not have a rich list! With all other coins, you can view wallet balances on the blockexplorers. You can view Monero's non-existent rich list here to see for yourself. I will reiterate here that Monero is TRUSTLESS. You don't need to rely on anyone else to protect your privacy, or worry about others colluding to learn more about you. No one can censor your transaction or decide to intervene. Monero is immutable, unlike Zcash, in which the lead developer Zooko publicly tweeted the possibility of providing a backdoor for authorities to trace transactions. To Zcash's demise, Zooko famously tweeted:
" And by the way, I think we can successfully make Zcash too traceable for criminals like WannaCry, but still completely private & fungible. …"
Ethereum's track record of immutability is also poor. Ethereum was supposed to be an immutable blockchain ledger, however after the DAO hack this proved to not be the case. A 2016 article on Saintly Law summarised the problematic nature of Ethereum's leadership and blockchain intervention:
" Many ethereum and blockchain advocates believe that the intervention was the wrong move to make in this situation. Smart contracts are meant to be self-executing, immutable and free from disturbance by organisations and intermediaries. Yet the building block of all smart contracts, the code, is inherently imperfect. This means that the technology is vulnerable to the same malicious hackers that are targeting businesses and governments. It is also clear that the large scale intervention after the DAO hack could not and would not likely be taken in smaller transactions, as they greatly undermine the viability of the cryptocurrency and the technology."
Monero provides Fungibility and Privacy in a Cashless World As outlined on GetMonero.org, fungibility is the property of a currency whereby two units can be substituted in place of one another. Fungibility means that two units of a currency can be mutually substituted and the substituted currency is equal to another unit of the same size. For example, two $10 bills can be exchanged and they are functionally identical to any other $10 bill in circulation (although $10 bills have unique ID numbers and are therefore not completely fungible). Gold is probably a closer example of true fungibility, where any 1 oz. of gold of the same grade is worth the same as another 1 oz. of gold. Monero is fungible due to the nature of the currency which provides no way to link transactions together nor trace the history of any particular XMR. 1 XMR is functionally identical to any other 1 XMR. Fungibility is an advantage Monero has over Bitcoin and almost every other cryptocurrency, due to the privacy inherent in the Monero blockchain and the permanently traceable nature of the Bitcoin blockchain. With Bitcoin, any BTC can be tracked by anyone back to its creation coinbase transaction. Therefore, if a coin has been used for an illegal purpose in the past, this history will be contained in the blockchain in perpetuity. A great example of Bitcoin's lack of fungibility was reposted by u/ViolentlyPeaceful:
"Imagine you sell cupcakes and receive Bitcoin as payment. It turns out that someone who owned that Bitcoin before you was involved in criminal activity. Now you are worried that you have become a suspect in a criminal case, because the movement of funds to you is a matter of public record. You are also worried that certain Bitcoins that you thought you owned will be considered ‘tainted’ and that others will refuse to accept them as payment."
This lack of fungibility means that certain businesses will be obligated to avoid accepting BTC that have been previously used for purposes which are illegal, or simply run afoul of their Terms of Service. Currently some large Bitcoin companies are blocking, suspending, or closing accounts that have received Bitcoin used in online gambling or other purposes deemed unsavory by said companies. Monero has been built specifically to address the problem of traceability and non-fungibility inherent in other cryptocurrencies. By having completely private transactions Monero is truly fungible and there can be no blacklisting of certain XMR, while at the same time providing all the benefits of a secure, decentralized, permanent blockchain. The world is moving cashless. Fact. The ramifications of this are enormous as we move into a cashless world in which transactions will be tracked and there is a potential for data to be used by third parties for adverse purposes. While most new cryptocurrency investors speculate upon vaporware ICO tokens in the hope of generating wealth, Monero provides salvation for those in which financial privacy is paramount. Too often people equate Monero's features with criminal endeavors. Privacy is not a crime, and is necessary for good money. Transparency in Monero is possible OFF-CHAIN, which offers greater transparency and flexibility. For example, a Monero user may share their Private View Key with their accountant for tax purposes. Monero aims to be adopted by more than just those with nefarious use cases. For example, if you lived in an oppressive religious regime and wanted to buy a certain item, using Monero would allow you to exchange value privately and across borders if needed. Another example is that if everybody can see how much cryptocurrency you have in your wallet, then a certain service might decide to charge you more, and bad actors could even use knowledge of your wallet balance to target you for extortion purposes. For example, a Russian cryptocurrency blogger was recently beaten and robbed of $425k. This is why FUNGIBILITY IS ESSENTIAL. To summarise this in a nutshell:
"A lack of fungibility means that when sending or receiving funds, if the other person personally knows you during a transaction, or can get any sort of information on you, or if you provide a residential address for shipping etc. – you could quite potentially have them use this against you for personal gain"
Major Investors And Crypto Figureheads Are Interested Ari Paul is the co-founder and CIO of BlockTower Capital. He was previously a portfolio manager for the University of Chicago's $8 billion endowment, and a derivatives market maker and proprietary trader for Susquehanna International Group. Paul was interviewed on CNBC on the 26th of December and when asked what was his favourite coin was, he stated "One that has real fundamental value besides from Bitcoin is Monero" and said it has "very strong engineering". In addition, when he was asked if that was the one used by criminals, he replied "Everything is used by criminals including the US dollar and the Euro". Paul later supported these claims on Twitter, recommending only Bitcoin and Monero as long-term investments. There are reports that "Roger Ver, earlier known as 'Bitcoin Jesus' for his evangelical support of the Bitcoin during its early years, said his investment in Monero is 'substantial' and his biggest in any virtual currency since Bitcoin. Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, has publicly stated his appreciation of Monero. In a September 2017 tweet directed to Edward Snowden explaining why Monero is superior to Zcash, Charlie Lee tweeted:
All private transactions, More tested privacy tech, No tax on miners to pay investors, No high inflation... better investment.
John McAfee, arguably cryptocurrency's most controversial character at the moment, has publicly supported Monero numerous times over the last twelve months(before he started shilling ICOs), and has even claimed it will overtake Bitcoin. Playboy instagram celebrity Dan Bilzerian is a Monero investor, with 15% of his portfolio made up of Monero. Finally, while he may not be considered a major investor or figurehead, Erik Finman, a young early Bitcoin investor and multimillionaire, recently appeared in a CNBC Crypto video interview, explaining why he isn't entirely sold on Bitcoin anymore, and expresses his interest in Monero, stating:
"Monero is a really good one. Monero is an incredible currency, it's completely private."
There is a common belief that most of the money in cryptocurrency is still chasing the quick pump and dumps, however as the market matures, more money will flow into legitimate projects such as Monero. Monero's organic growth in price is evidence smart money is aware of Monero and gradually filtering in. The Bitcoin Flaw A relatively unknown blogger named CryptoIzzy posted three poignant pieces regarding Monero and its place in the world. The Bitcoin Flaw: Monero Rising provides an intellectual comparison of Monero to other cryptocurrencies, and Valuing Cryptocurrencies: An Approach outlines methods of valuing different coins. CryptoIzzy's most recent blog published only yesterday titled Monero Valuation - Update and Refocus is a highly recommended read. It touches on why Monero is much more than just a coin for the Darknet Markets, and provides a calculated future price of Monero. CryptoIzzy also published The Power of Money: A Case for Bitcoin, which is an exploration of our monetary system, and the impact decentralised cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero will have on the world. In the epilogue the author also provides a positive and detailed future valuation based on empirical evidence. CryptoIzzy predicts Monero to easily progress well into the four figure range. Monero Has a Relatively Small Marketcap Recently we have witnessed many newcomers to cryptocurrency neglecting to take into account coins' marketcap and circulating supply, blindly throwing money at coins under $5 with inflated marketcaps and large circulating supplies, and then believing it's possible for them to reach $100 because someone posted about it on Facebook or Reddit. Compared to other cryptocurrencies, Monero still has a low marketcap, which means there is great potential for the price to multiply. At the time of writing, according to CoinMarketCap, Monero's marketcap is only a little over $5 billion, with a circulating supply of 15.6 million Monero, at a price of $322 per coin. For this reason, I would argue that this is evidence Monero is grossly undervalued. Just a few billion dollars of new money invested in Monero can cause significant price increases. Monero's marketcap only needs to increase to ~$16 billion and the price will triple to over $1000. If Monero's marketcap simply reached ~$35 billion (just over half of Ripple's $55 billion marketcap), Monero's price will increase 600% to over $2000 per coin. Another way of looking at this is Monero's marketcap only requires ~$30 billion of new investor money to see the price per Monero reach $2000, while for Ethereum to reach $2000, Ethereum's marketcap requires a whopping ~$100 billion of new investor money. Technical Analysis There are numerous Monero technical analysts, however none more eerily on point than the crowd-pleasing Ero23. Ero23's charts and analysis can be found on Trading View. Ero23 gained notoriety for his long-term Bitcoin bull chart published in February, which is still in play today. Head over to his Trading View page to see his chart: Monero's dwindling supply. $10k in 2019 scenario, in which Ero23 predicts Monero to reach $10,000 in 2019. There is also this chart which appears to be freakishly accurate and is tracking along perfectly today. Coinbase Rumours Over the past 12 months there have been ongoing rumours that Monero will be one of the next cryptocurrencies to be added to Coinbase. In January 2017, Monero Core team member Riccardo 'Fluffypony' Spagni presented a talk at Coinbase HQ. In addition, in November 2017 GDAX announced the GDAX Digit Asset Framework outlining specific parameters cryptocurrencies must meet in order to be added to the exchange. There is speculation that when Monero has numerous mobile and hardware wallets available, and multisig is working, then it will be added. This would enable public accessibility to Monero to increase dramatically as Coinbase had in excess of 13 million users as of December, and is only going to grow as demand for cryptocurrencies increases. Many users argue that due to KYC/AML regulations, Coinbase will never be able to add Monero, however the Kraken exchange already operates in the US and has XMfiat pairs, so this is unlikely to be the reason Coinbase is yet to implement XMfiat trading. Monero Is Not an ICO Scam It is likely most of the ICOs which newcomers invest in, hoping to get rich quick, won't even be in the Top 100 cryptocurrencies next year. A large portion are most likely to be pumps and dumps, and we have already seen numerous instances of ICO exit scams. Once an ICO raises millions of dollars, the developers or CEO of the company have little incentive to bother rolling out their product or service when they can just cash out and leave. The majority of people who create a company to provide a service or product, do so in order to generate wealth. Unless these developers and CEOs are committed and believed in their product or service, it's likely that the funds raised during the ICO will far exceed any revenue generated from real world use cases. Monero is a Working Currency, Today Monero is a working currency, here today. The majority of so called cryptocurrencies that exist today are not true currencies, and do not aim to be. They are a token of exchange. They are like a share in a start-up company hoping to use blockchain technology to succeed in business. A crypto-assest is a more accurate name for coins such as Ethereum, Neo, Cardano, Vechain, etc. Monero isn't just a vaporware ICO token that promises to provide a blockchain service in the future. It is not a platform for apps. It is not a pump and dump coin. Monero is the only coin with all the necessary properties to be called true money. Monero is private internet money. Some even describe Monero as an online Swiss Bank Account or Bitcoin 2.0, and it is here to continue on from Bitcoin's legacy. Monero is alleviating the public from the grips of banks, and protests the monetary system forced upon us. Monero only achieved this because it is the heart and soul, and blood, sweat, and tears of the contributors to this project. Monero supporters are passionate, and Monero has gotten to where it is today thanks to its contributors and users.
///Key Issues for Monero to Overcome///
Scalability While Bulletproofs are soon to be implemented in order to improve Monero's transaction sizes and fees, scalability is an issue for Monero that is continuously being assessed by Monero's researchers and developers to find the most appropriate solution. Ricardo 'Fluffypony' Spagni recently appeared on CNBC's Crypto Trader, and when asked whether Monero is scalable as it stands today, Spagni stated that presently, Monero's on-chain scaling is horrible and transactions are larger than Bitcoin's (because of Monero's privacy features), so side-chain scaling may be more efficient. Spagni elaborated that the Monero team is, and will always be, looking for solutions to an array of different on-chain and off-chain scaling options, such as developing a Mimblewimble side-chain, exploring the possibility of Lightning Network so atomic swaps can be performed, and Tumblebit. In a post on the Monero subreddit from roughly a month ago, monero moderator u/dEBRUYNE_1 supports Spagni's statements. dEBRUYNE_1 clarifies the issue of scalability:
"In Bitcoin, the main chain is constrained and fees are ludicrous. This results in users being pushed to second layer stuff (e.g. sidechains, lightning network). Users do not have optionality in Bitcoin. In Monero, the goal is to make the main-chain accessible to everyone by keeping fees reasonable. We want users to have optionality, i.e., let them choose whether they'd like to use the main chain or second layer stuff. We don't want to take that optionality away from them."
"Monero has all the mechanisms it needs to find the balance between transaction load, and offsetting the costs of miner infrastructure/profits, while making sure the network is useful for users. But like the interviewer said, the question is directed at "right now", and Fluffys right to a certain extent, Monero's transactions are huge, and compromises in blockchain security will help facilitate less burdensome transactional activity in the future. But to compare Monero to Bitcoin's transaction sizes is somewhat silly as Bitcoin is nowhere near as useful as monero, and utility will facilitate infrastructure building that may eventually utterly dwarf Bitcoin. And to equate scaling based on a node being run on a desktop being the only option for what classifies as "scalable" is also an incredibly narrow interpretation of the network being able to scale, or not. Given the extremely narrow definition of scaling people love to (incorrectly) use, I consider that a pretty crap question to put to Fluffy in the first place, but... ¯_(ツ)_/¯"
u/xmrusher also contributed to the discussion, comparing Bitcoin to Monero using this analogous description:
"While John is much heavier than Henry, he's still able to run faster, because, unlike Henry, he didn't chop off his own legs just so the local wheelchair manufacturer can make money. While Morono has much larger transactions then Bitcoin, it still scales better, because, unlike Bitcoin, it hasn't limited itself to a cripplingly tiny blocksize just to allow Blockstream to make money."
Setting up a wallet can still be time consuming It's time consuming and can be somewhat difficult for new cryptocurrency users to set up their own wallet using the GUI wallet or the Command Line Wallet. In order to strengthen and further decentralize the Monero network, users are encouraged to run a full node for their wallet, however this can be an issue because it can take up to 24-48 hours for some users depending on their hard-drive and internet speeds. To mitigate this issue, users can run a remote node, meaning they can remotely connect their wallet to another node in order to perform transactions, and in the meantime continue to sync the daemon so in the future they can then use their own node. For users that do run into wallet setup issues, or any other problems for that matter, there is an extremely helpful troubleshooting thread on the Monero subreddit which can be found here. And not only that, unlike some other cryptocurrency subreddits, if you ask a question, there is always a friendly community member who will happily assist you. Monero.how is a fantastic resource too! Despite still being difficult to use, the user-base and price may increase dramatically once it is easier to use. In addition, others believe that when hardware wallets are available more users will shift to Monero.
I actually still feel a little shameful for promoting Monero here, but feel a sense of duty to do so. Monero is transitioning into an unstoppable altruistic beast. This year offers the implementation of many great developments, accompanied by the likelihood of a dramatic increase in price. I request you discuss this post, point out any errors I have made, or any information I may have neglected to include. Also, if you believe in the Monero project, I encourage you to join your local Facebook or Reddit cryptocurrency group and spread the word of Monero. You could even link this post there to bring awareness to new cryptocurrency users and investors. I will leave you with an old on-going joke within the Monero community - Don't buy Monero - unless you have a use case for it of course :-) Just think to yourself though - Do I have a use case for Monero in our unpredictable Huxleyan society? Hint: The answer is ? Edit: Added in the Tail Emission section, and noted Dan Bilzerian as a Monero investor. Also added information regarding the XMR.TO payment service. Added info about hardfork
WSB101 - THE BOOK OF YOLO: BEGINNERS GUIDE TO TRADING LIKE A DEGENERATE AND EVERYTHING WSB
The Book of Yolo: COMPLETE GUIDE TO WSB The goal of this is to actually create something that all of you WSB newbies can read - because we’re all tired of seeing the endless wave of uninformed and unavoidable stupidity from those who have never touched the stock market. CALLING ALL NEWFAGS AND NORMIES. If you can’t read, GFY now. Now that we will be on the popular section of reddit, this has become pertinent. WSB can't avoid newcomers, so we might as well explain how the clock ticks here. This one is for you all. This is to serve as a reference what values we hold, what instruments we use, and as a general place to educated the uneducated. First off, this is the LEAST helpful stock market-based community for newcomers. Sarcastic answers are the only thing of true value here. It isn't a place to learn, but a place to plan out where you will dock your yacht. Newcomers are usually berated upon asking the inevitable stupid questions that they could learn slowly from reading here, or just using a damn search engine. Instead of embarrassing yourself here, you now have the opportunity to read this and get what we’re all rambling about. This will help you understand what to expect if you make the decision to undertake a WSB style trading career, so you can stay here and contribute to the yolo lifestyle or otherwise GFY. I will edit in any suggestions that our frequenting users or mods want to add to this as well. To begin: Here are our topics for WSB101 -Basics (Equities/Stocks) ; -ETF's ; -Options ; -Futures Trading ; -SubCulture ; BASICS/EQUTIES Skip if you understand basic stock stuff Okay, so what is an equity/stock? An equity is essentially what you’d think of as your “vanilla” trading tool. They move up or down depending on market forces, and can range from pennies to thousands of dollars per share. To explain how stocks work, let's define a few terms. Volume: The number of shares of stock traded during a particular time period, normally measured in average daily trading volume. Spread: The difference between the bid and the ask price Bid Price: The current price in which someone wants to buy at Ask Price:The current price in which someone wants to sell at Volatility: The WSB favorite. Volatility is referring to the price movements of a stock as a whole. The higher the volatility, the more the stock is moving up or down. Highly volatile stocks are ones with extreme daily up and down movements and wide intraday trading ranges. Margin: A margin account lets a person borrow money (take out a loan essentially) from a broker to purchase an investment. The difference between the amount of the loan, and the price of the securities, is called the margin. Margin is one of WSB’s popular instruments of wealth and destruction. Dividend: This is a portion of a company’s earnings that is paid to shareholders, or people that own hat company’s stock, on a quarterly or annual basis. Not all companies do this. PPS: Acronym for “Price per Share” Moving Average: A stock’s average price-per-share during a specific period of time. Bullish: Expecting the stock to go up Bearish: Expecting the stock to go down Any raised hands can redirect themselves to here: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/082614/how-stock-market-works.asp?ad=dirN&qo=investopediaSiteSearch&qsrc=0&o=40186 Now that these terms are defined, let's move into the details of why this is even useful. Most people know what a stock is, but how and why stocks move is a different story. The stock market is essentially a big virtualization of supply and demand - meaning that usually high positive volume creates upwards movement in the PPS, where high negative volume does the opposite. This creates a trader’s opportunity; Generally, the most effective time to buy or sell is where the candlesticks (volume data) are thinning out. When you are ready to take an entry point or execute an exit point, waiting till the volatility (candlesticks) thin out is one method to give you best trade possible. WSB FAVORITE EQUITIES: Of many equities, WSB favors the riskier ones - but avoiding penny stocks is a policy. AMD - CEO Lisa Su, Next Gen Processors, chips, graphics. It’s the gamers gambit. Up roughly 1400% as of 2/7/2017 since WSB first mentioned it NVDA - AMD’s sister? Mother? Daddy? Who knows. NVDA has been a sexy semiconductor leader. Is up 400% since gaining traction on WSB. FNMA / pfds - Mnunchin, Trump, Big fat fannies. Get your self deep in the fannie. We all want it. WSB 10 bagger candidate for reforming the housing market. WSB holds a large cumulative position that can be seen below. Also a good read is the beginners guide to FNMA. Any post by u/NOVACPA is very often VERY informative on FMNA/pfds. https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/5oissp/results_wsb_fnmafmcc_holdings https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/5t7gba/beginngers_guide_to_fnma_fmcc_read_this_before/ ARRY - A biotech champion that prevailed after a lot of failures and huge losses in the biotech sector. Dark times for WSB. Up ~300% since getting traction on the subreddit. TWTR - WSB likes to buy put option contracts on her. Exemplary of a social media platform that is unable to monetize itself. TSLA - Maybe not unanimously a favorite, but loved for it’s sexy volatility, Elon Musk, and ridiculously expensive options. GILD - A Shkreli pump and dump? The greatest large cap pharma recovery of all time? Who knows. Martin took the time to make a post on this reddit and it is up $5 dollars since. ETF'S Welcome to the world of investing made easy. Exchange traded funds (etfs) are devices that can be traded like stocks, but often track the value of many companies by investing in their listed assets accordingly. Specifically, An ETF, or exchange traded fund, is a marketable security that tracks an index, a commodity, bonds, or a basket of assets like an index fund. Unlike mutual funds, an ETF trades like a common stock on a stock exchange. ETFs experience price changes throughout the day as they are bought and sold. ETFs typically have higher daily liquidity and lower fees than mutual fund shares, making them an attractive alternative for individual investors. ETF’s come in beautiful and delicious varieties, often with a BEAR form and a BULL form of each; but the most delicious to WSB are the 3x etf’s. A 3x ETF is one in which the underlying movement of the ETF is leveraged 3:1. Meaning for every movement within the underlying index or stocks, the 3x ETF moves well.... 3x as much.. WSB FAVORITE AND USEFUL ETF’S: JNUG - 3x Gold Miner Bull - A hit or miss, has extreme intraday movements and essentially tracks GDX (gold miner’s index). Jnug will usually move with a pretty strong correlation to gold, which is affected by the mentioning of rate hikes (negatively), movement of the US dollar (inversely), uncertainty (positively), and supply and demand. NUGT - Jnug with a different price tag JDST - The inverse 3x etf of JNUG - or the bear etf. It does almost exactly the opposite movements of JNUG by the tick. Moves for the same reasons, but obviously opposite directions. DUST - Jdst with a different price tag. UGAZ - Natural Gas 3x Bull ETF - essentially tracks the price value of the commodity Natural Gas, but more specifically the S&P GSCI Natural Gas Index ER. The index comprises futures contracts on a single commodity and is calculated according to the methodology of the S&P GSCI Index. Natural gas is most affected by Weather temperature conditions (use your brain), petroleum prices, and broader economic conditions. DGAZ - Inverse of UGAZ UWT - Crude Oil Bull 3x ETF - extreme intraday movements, closely follows the price of oil. More specifically, it tracks futures. UWT seeks to replicate, net of expenses, three times of the S&P GSCI® Crude Oil Index ER. The index tracks a hypothetical position in the nearest-to-expiration NYMEX light sweet crude oil futures contract, which is rolled each month into the futures contract expiring in the next month. The value of the index fluctuates with changes in the price of the relevant NYMEX light sweet crude oil futures contracts. DWT - Inverse of UWT FAS - Financial Bull, specifically FAS seeks daily investment results, before fees and expenses, of 300% of the performance of the Russell 1000 ® Financial Services Index. The fund creates long positions by investing at least 80% of its assets in the securities that comprise the Russell 1000 ® Financial Services Index and/or financial instruments that provide leveraged and unleveraged exposure to the index. Can be used when bullish on US financial services - so banks, lenders, etc. FAZ - Inverse of FAS UPRO - S&P500 Bull 3x ETF, essentially tracks the S&P500 and multiplies it’s returns by 3x. BRZU - Tracks Brazil (in its most basic form). It creates long positions in the MSCI Brazil 25/50 Index. LABU - Tracks the Biotech sector, or specifically 300% of the performance of the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index ("index"). It should be noted that LABU has doubled since just before the election of Donald Trump. LABD - Inverse of LABU RUSL - roughly creates 300% of the performance of the MVIS Russia Index. RUSS - Inverse of RUSL SPY - Tracks the S&P500, but is not 3x. OPTIONS: Alright, so half you are going to understand this, and half of you are not. Pull up an options chain now on any stock (penny stocks and specific stocks do not have chains because of their market cap). Options are truly the ultimate way to achieve maximum risk/reward. An option is a contract that gives the buyer the right to buy or sell 100 shares of a stock at a certain price, on a certain date. This concept makes options a commodity themselves. KEY TERMS: A CALL - is the right to buy. Buying calls is taking a bullish position in its most extreme form. A PUT - is the right to sell. The underlying - is the stock that the option is covering i.e. AAPL, GOOG, AMZN Strike Price - the price at which a put or call option can be exercised. ITM, In the money - In the money means that a call option's strike price is below the market price of the underlying asset or that the strike price of a put option is above the market price of the underlying asset. Being in the money does not mean you will profit, it just means the option is worth exercising. OTM, Out of the money - a call option with a strike price that is higher than the market price of the underlying asset, or a put option with a strike price that is lower than the market price of the underlying asset. ATM - At the money - Strike price at the same price as the underlying Expiration - Expiries for options are every friday of every week usually, with exceptions such as every month, or every other day - depending on the underlying. SPY and SPX are great examples of very active option chains with expiries every other day. On the expiry date or any time before (with american options), an option can be, but doesn’t have to be exercised, meaning the holder of the option can use it to buy or sell shares of the underlying stock at the strike price. Most people on WSB do not exercise the contracts, but merely flip them for increases in value as the underlying moves. For example, when AAPL was at 120 before its earnings report, Joe Shmoe Yolo buys 10 FEB 17th CALLS at strike 127 for .60 , each. Now .60 cents is really 60 dollars each, because the contract is multiplied by 100 (the right to 100 shares). In total, Joe Shmoe Yolo spends $600 dollars + commision on this trade. The next day, AAPL leaps to 130 upon great news. These same option contracts are now worth 3.50 each. $350 dollars per contract, times ten contracts is $3500 dollars. Joe Shmoe Yolo just turned $600 into $3500 dollars. MAGIC. Spoiler alert: Joe Shmoe Yolo was me. That same Joe Shmoe later buys FEB 17th XOM calls at 90, hoping for similar results. However, XOM ends up never reaching anywhere close to the strike price, and the options expire worthless. Get it? Now what determines the pricing of options? OPTION PRICING: Below is sourced from investopedia Intrinsic Value: The intrinsic value is the actual value of a company or an asset based on an underlying perception of its true value including all aspects of the business, in terms of both tangible and intangible factors. This value may or may not be the same as the current market value. Additionally, intrinsic value is primarily used in options pricing to indicate the amount an option is in the money. Time Value: Time Value = Option Price - Intrinsic Value. The more time an option has until it expires, the greater the chance it will end up in the money. The time component of an option decays exponentially. The actual derivation of the time value of an option is a fairly complex equation. As a general rule, an option will lose one-third of its value during the first half of its life and two-thirds during the second half of its life. This is an important concept for securities investors because the closer you get to expiration, the more of a move in the underlying security is needed to impact the price of the option. Time value is basically the risk premium that the option seller requires to provide the option buyer the right to buy/sell the stock up to the date the option expires. It is like an insurance premium of the option; the higher the risk, the higher the cost to buy the option. Makes sense, right? Time value is determined by the expiration date. An expiration date in derivatives is the last day that an options contract is valid. When investors buy options, the contracts gives them the right but not the obligation, to buy or sell the assets at a predetermined price, called a strike price, within a given time period, which is on or before the expiration date. If an investor chooses not to exercise that right, the option expires and becomes worthless, and the investor loses the money paid to buy it. Volatility: In an options pricing, you see IV. This stands for implied volatility. The higher that is, the higher the options will be priced Volatility is the extent to which the return of the underlying asset will fluctuate between now and the option's expiration. Volatility, as expressed as a percentage coefficient within option-pricing formulas, arises from daily trading activities. How volatility is measured will affect the value of the coefficient used. Decaying Nature of Options: Decay refers to derivative trading (i.e. options). When you sell or buy a call/put (using those two for simplicity purposes) you don't get an infinite time frame to make your dreams come true. Time is your enemy; the further out the expiration date, the less time decay there is. Time decay really hits the worst the week of expiration. Sound confusing? Say you're buying options of the stock WSB (I hope you're seeing what I did there) - and the option costs $1, the expiration is this Friday. Say today is Monday. You buy a call expecting WSB to take you to the moon and beyond. Each day the stock doesn't move closer to your strike price or remains stagnant/drops, you lose value on your option + the time decay. Meaning if it finishes closer to your strike price, your option could be worthless because of that time decay. Questions? Ask away. A great example of these factors in action is TSLA. TSLA’s options are among the most expensive for companies in its price range, why? An in the money TSLA call expiring this week is worth around $1100 per contract. Insanely expensive. But for a reason. TSLA has extreme intraday movements and calls have an implied volatility of 40.92%. Which is fairly high. In addition to that, it holds high intrinsic value / price per share, and a week of time value. -Futures 101 - The Ultimate YOLO Guide (thanks to u/IncendiaryGames) Okay, a lot of you have been YOLOing on faggot delights on SPY options. How would you like to trade something with the same or more leverage, 1.0 delta, and no time premium costs? Have you considered futures? What are futures? Unlike options, futures is a contract where both the buyer and seller is obligated to perform the transaction by the expiration. Conversely, in options, only the seller is obligated to perform. That means you can lose more than your investment. Originally they were used by farmers to sell future crops early and guarantee some amount of sales. Since then futures have expanded not just to commodities but currency and equity indices like the S&P 500. Why the heck would I want to trade futures? Here are the advantages: Leverage $5k is the margin requirement for most contracts. For example with the E-mini S&P 500 with 5k you're trading $120k worth of stuff. 1 contract = 500 spy shares. Some brokers offer intraday daytrading margin rates too - TD Ameritrade is 25% of the overnight margin rate($1,250.) Some brokers go as low as $500 an /ES future. SPAN Margin If 24x overnight leverage and 240x day trade leverage didn't give you a hard on there is also SPAN margin, which is like portfolio margin on steroids. The beauty of SPAN margin is you don't need a $125k+ account to be eligible. SPAN will greatly reduce your margin requirements if you hold uncorrelated or inversely correlated positions (up to an 80% discount, here is a list of groups that give discounts) and if you hedge with options. Hedge with the right option or asset and now you have up to 500x day trading margin. 23/7 and day trading Ever get in and out of an equity only to have your broker yell at you to stop doing that or deposit $25k? There is no pattern day trading restrictions on futures. Feel free to day trade and blow up your account as often as you want! You can also trade 23 hours a day. Get trading on how the S&P 500 index will react to news from China right away. Taxes No matter how long or how short you hold you always get taxed under the 60/40 rule. 60% of your profit from futures will be taxed as a long term gain and 40% will be taxed as short term gain. No wash sales. Trade your hearts out. Just remember holding past Dec 31st will treat you as if you closed all your positions that day and you'll be taxed on unrealized gains. Long/Short No need to pay interest or borrow shares as being short a future contract is being a writer, just like an options writer. Options Of course there are options. What fun would it be without options? Unlike stock options each contract gives different number of future contracts. Research what you're trading. Ok. I'm convinced. I want to strat trading futures! What are some good strategies? YOLO Strategies Swing trading Trying to guess/predict/ride sudden market momentum. A low volume average day in the S&P 500 (/ES) for one contract can swing +- $500. Get it right and you can see a huge appreciation of value. /ES is usually highly liquid during regular hours with average volume of 1 million trades and usually bid-ask spreads of one tick. One approach is to buy or short in your direction and put in a stop loss to an amount you're comfortable to lose (say $200.) Since it's so liquid you'll likely be filled at or near your stop loss during the day if your trade goes against you. If you can guess the direction 50% of the time and have trades like this: trade 1 - gain $800 trade 2 - lose $200 Then you may profit over the time period. If you have a 50% chance of being wrong and losing $200 or 50% chance of being right and gaining $800 then over time you'll gain more than you lose. Also, since the present value of your futures contract is included in your margin calculation then if it goes strongly in your favor your position can quickly grow to cover its own margin and you can let it ride for a while. You'll want to be sure you enter a combo buy/short order along with a stop loss order simultaneously, like this for Thinkorswim. Futures can move suddenly and a sudden movement can make you lose a ton of money. Exploiting outdated SPAN margin guidelines There are several out of date correlations between popular futures like oil and say things like wheat that SPAN gives you margin credits on. Take whatever position you want in oil (/cl) then take the opposite in something that doesn't move much day to day with less volatility such as /w (wheat)) and your /cl and /w positions will get a 75% credit, giving you 50% more buying power on crude oil. (2 positions * .25 = 0.5). Trade your heart out on the more volatile future then when you're done close your safer future pair. SPAN is constantly changing but such a complex system definitely has its exploits. Automated/algorithmic trading For you programmer geeks out there it's really hard to algorithmic trade on small accounts due to pattern day trading rules and economies of scale with broker fees. Futures is probably the best way to get your feet wet. Join us on /algotrading if you want to explore more! Boring safer strategies I'm including these for completeness but these belong on /investing. Scalping With high frequency trading scalping is less guaranteed. Basically scalping is using tiny momentum as usually there are small micro patterns in futures buying and selling activity where it will rise or fall a couple of ticks. Since the notional value of each tick is $12.5 it's profitable for retail investors and small accounts to act as a market maker after fees at the smallest bid-ask spread possible. Spreads Just like you can trade spreads in options, you can trade calendar spreads in futures. Futures have contracts with different expiration dates and the prices are different for each month of expiration based on the market's expectations. You can go long or short the near month expiration and the opposite for the far month. This will hedge out any sudden market moves as that would likely affect both months. Bull markets in general tend to increase the price of the near month faster than the far month. Basically with a spread trade you're making a long term bet on bull or bear for the underlying future. Pairs trading You can go long in one future say the dow jones (/ym) and short the S&P 500 index and profit off the relative growth. This is a hedged trade as any market ups or downs will likely affect both positions with the same % value. For the past 180 days /ym - /es has been really profitable. Even if you don't do a full perfect pairs trade it is still a great option to reduce the leverage too on whatever index future you're trading so you can stay in longer or overnight. Interest rate and optimal leverage plays Since the $5k investment is equal to $120k of the S&P 500 index currently then you'll likely beat out the market by buying one future contract and putting $115k in safe treasuries or bonds or uncorrelated assets. Some people choose to leverage their stock portfolio and you can get the exact leverage ratio of liquid investments to future ratios. In probability theory the max leverage you can gain is determined by the Kelly Criterion which modeling shows indicates the S&P 500 index to be leveraged to 1.40x. Yes, you could do the same with options but even on SPY deep in the money call leaps are illiquid and have a time premium. Even today they are so deep ITM that the options you would need to use have 0 open interest and a bid-ask spread of $5 per share (so $500 per contract.) You'd need ~5 contracts per 120k so you're already eating $2.5k/$120k - 2% interest rate a year for that leverage. SPX isn't better, it's bid ask is 22 so you'd be eating $2.2k/$120k - 1.83% interest rate. It's doubtful you won't get much past the ask as its only market makers providing liquidity and guess what the market maker will do if you buy/sell the option? They will hedge with the underlying futures until their minimum profit is the risk free interest rate. Hedging Going long and short in various non correlated or negatively correlated assets to seek out a high sharpe ratio and have a higher risk free return that is market neutral. Basic hedge fund stuff. The variety and price efficiency of futures makes things pretty attractive in this area. SUBCULTURE Wallstreetbets is a community that has become infamous for the most wild west, moon or cardboard box trades on the planet earth. WSB is a place where you can take out thousand dollar loans, refinance your homes, cash advance all of your credit cards only to put it all on JNUG, and we will still love you. Your mother won't. Your father will never understand your spectrum of autism, but we will always love you. It is a uniquely beautiful community focused on praising its biggest losers as much as its biggest winners. To begin on the subculture, we should define some key moments in the sub's history. HISTORY: (As made by u/digadiga) + my additions 2012: Jartek [+1] creates /wallstreetbets, and word slowly starts to ooze out. 2013: americanpegasus discovers pennies. AP has seen the light, and is a penny stock evangelist. Jartek & AP have an epic options vs pennies battle - they both lose a couple of hundred bucks, but we are entertained, and WSB is officially born. AP blows up his retirement, swears off pennies and moves onto bitcoins. 2014: fscomeau [+3] discovers options. He repeatedly bets five figures on AAPL calls before earnings. FS claims a supernatural clairvoyance of AAPL. FS then posts about his chest pains and ER visits. He finally suffers an epic loss. Is he dead? Is he alive? Is he is mother? Is he banned? Who cares? 2015: Photos from the 3rd annual meetup are posted. Where a bunch of dudes hang out on the romantic beaches of Guerrero Mexico. In a completely unrelated event, the wsb banner is changed to thousands of ejaculating dicks. Modpocalypse occurs. Hundreds of random users are added as moderators for a few months. None of the new mods can change the CSS. The constant whining about how "wsb isn't what it used to be" continues. Someone attempts to show how selling covered calls is idiot proof, but gets lazy, bets all six figures on Apple, and suffers significant losses. Robinhood gets popular. Should you buy one share of AMZN or one share of GOOGL? Who gives a fuck. 2016: Everyone starts saying "go fuck yourself." Except me. Because I am what I am. And if you don't like it, you can all go fuck yourselves. u/World_Chaos performs one of the more impressive yolo's of the sub, starting with 900 dollars, and turning it into 55k. https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/414blh/yofuckinglo_900_to_55k_in_12_days/?ref=share&ref_source=link 2017: u/fscomeau preforms what he calls "The Final Yolo", a 300k trade against AAPL before earnings (that I, u/thor303456 inversed), supposedly supposed to net fscomeau 2.5 million or so, in which he will finally stop trading. FSC is featured on several market related articles and newspapers, showing up on yahoo, etc. Later we find proof during his livestream of AAPL earnings that he was paper trading. Even later, FSC writes a near 200 page book called "Wolfie Has Fallen" describing how he trolled the entire internet, some following him into that AAPL trade. Martin Shkreli visits the sub and proclaims that GILD pharma is worth over $100 a share and is deeply undervalued. KEY FIGURES: Donald J Trump - He is the Marmalade Manchurian, the Tangerine Tycoon, and our spray tan Stalin. Unbelievable night of election. WSB demographics show a primarily capitalist and right wing (or at least joking to be so) point of view, and thus we are generally pro trump. In actuality though, WSB is focused on pro-market, which Trump happens to be. u/Jartek - Founder of the sub, original yoloer. Believe he has retired from reddit for the most part. Mostly inactive. u/Fscomeau - The Canadian as some call him, and perhaps one of the most profound internet trolls of 2016-2017. A French-Canadian trader who deals with mostly options. The man has been called "The Great Inverse", and for a good reason. Nearly all of the trades or statements he made on WSB were completely wrong or mostly wrong. Truly the strongest technical indicator. Martin Shkreli - An idol to many WSBers, Martin stands as the master of the biotech sector. A very debated character for very stupid reasons. Martin regularly tweets about the stock market, occasionally does a youtube channel, and livestreams fairly regularly. u/theycallme1 - Educated trader, and mod of WSB. Roasts people often and roasts them good. Ask him the questions that aren't stupid. One of the most active mods. u/world_chaos - some fucking college student with some real net worth. Sits on 100k or so (needs verification), and was an inspiring yoloer to all, with his 900 to 55k yolo with options. Lingo, Terminology, and Nomenclature: The Faggots Delights - Truly the most suicidal, yet clearest shot to the moon. This term is usually used to define either weekly, or daily option plays on the SPY/SPX. Some users trade them very profitably, such as u/MRPguy and many in the past. Cuck - Truly the worst thing you could be. A cuck is a man who likes watching his wife/girlfriend fuck other guys. Weak, spineless, and a term often throw around here. The YOLO - You only live once. This is something that is, and should be realized as undeniably true. Why are you sitting on a 5k emergency fund that is making you less interest in a year than what I just made in 10 minutes? Why haven't you used all of the credit on your 5 credit cards or used your testicles as collateral for a loan yet? YOLO or YOLOING is as much a psychological decision to embrace absurdism, and win with everything you have while risking it all. Yolo is what it means to be a WSB trader. Bagholding or a Bagholder - When you're stuck with the most ass trade of your life, because you know it'll go back up. A bagholder is the 59 year old guy at the grocery store who won't quit his Job because he knows he only has to wait another year until he gets a return on his investment (of his life). Anyone holding SUNEQ is the definition of a bagholder. Autists - Something we embrace, something we call each other, something we all are. Autism isn't used in an offensive way as much as it is a generally accepted term that defines us. The best traders have autism because of their distance from emotion. I bet you never made it to this part of the reading because you're such a damn autist. Tendies - Tendies are what you get after you make a small amount of money. "I SOLD AMD TODAY FOR A $13 DOLLAR PROFIT, GOING TO MCD's TO GET MY TENDIES". Tendie money is usually shameful and insignificant, but at least it got you tendies. Chicken tenders at McDonalds are the least expensive for the most cholesterol. I know some of the writing was half ass, full of errors, or otherwise not the best explanation. But I believe this will serve its purpose, and maybe help to promote new ideas from moderately educated traders. WSB has very strong traders, and the most uniquely risky trading styles on the planet. Hopefully this can serve to better the overall community. You guys are all faggots, upvote this so we can get the noobs to stop trying to bite on our cocks. Also I'd really appreciate input on anything to add to this overall. It took my over 3 hours to write up, so I eventually grew tired and probably have missing spots. Enjoy your time here at WSB. EDIT: Added a shit ton of stuff, fixed errors. THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR INPUT, ACTUALLY MAKING WSB GREAT AGAIN MODS: Can we make this editable by others mods or something? My fingers aren't enough. Seems like this could serve as a good "official" thing. Paging u/theycallme1u/CHAINSAW_VASECTOMY etc
I hosted an AMA somewhere else and it got more responses than I thought it would. I did some searching on reddit, but found a post that was about 3 years old, and one that was from someone at a start up. Thought I could contribute from a large company perspective. start up AMA: https://www.reddit.com/japanlife/comments/50ewvi_am_a_software_engineer_web_mobile_for_a/ a few years old AMA: https://www.reddit.com/japan/comments/34j2y3/software_engineers_of_japan_whats_it_like/ I'm going to leave some FAQs here, but feel free to ask away. I am an American engineer at AmaAppGooBookSoft in Japan. (Amazon or Apple or Google or Facebook or Microsoft). I transferred here from the US after working a year or so there. At the time of this writing, I have been in Tokyo for about 3 years. Answers from OP with regards to things related to work will be in the context of these kinds of big software companies. I would encourage others who live in Japan that are qualified to answer questions to do so! Wish I had this info before I transferred. Q: How is the pay, hours? A: Hours are super normal like they were in the US. Wfh, etc is like the US...but might vary by manager. I knew a designer whose Japanese boss was not on the wfh boat. Pay is terrible. Entry level engineer initial offer was 7.5M yen w/5k USD stock per year. I negotiated up to 8.25M base pay. Currently mid-level engieer and at about 9.5M yen and 15k USD/year (~105k USD total?). This is offset somewhat by affordable housing. Think 1.5k USD for a decent apartment, but smaller. Also health insurance is part of taxes, so you don't need to pay extra for it. Train commute is paid for by company. Don't need a car, either. It's a very livable salary, tbh. Q: How is the dating scene for internationals? Are Japanese people open to dating people from other races? What about LGBTQ? A: I'd say definitely. I met my wife here. If you are particularly looking for a date, dating apps and goukon (group dating) is a good way to go. As far as LGBTQ, yeah, for sure! Shinjuku ni cho me is the place for you (and also dating apps). (新宿二丁目) Q: Do you like cost of living better in Tokyo than the states? A: Yes! My total taxes are about 25% of my gross monthly salary and that includes health insurance. Clinics are insanely cheap because the government regulates the cost of medicine and pays 70% of your medical bills. I was once in the hospital for a week in a private room and it costed about 2500 USD. I opted for the fancy private room, though. My wife gave birth and it costed 2k or so. She had a private room in a hospital with amazing food for a week. I was allowed to stay in the room as well and got food. Rent is reasonable (1.5k or so) for a 700sqft place. Things that annoy me: Albums are like, 30 bucks. New release 4k Blu Ray movies range from 60-85 bucks. Old non-4k Blu Ray movies cost about 35-40 bucks. Groceries are a bit more expensive, but the quality is worth it. Our monthly food budget for 2 adults is about 800 bucks a month. Restaurants are very cheap. Like, 8-10 bucks for lunch. Usually under 1000 yen. Q: I heard Japanese can be racists towards non Japanese living in Japan. True? A: True! To some degree. I had the best resume a realtor had ever seen: N1 fluency in Japanese. I studied at the "Harvard of Japan" for a year. 5 year visa (longest duration). High paying job at a huge company. Stable work history. 5/6 landlords didn't give a shit. "no gaijin". You will also not receive service at probably 95% of "adult... services", if you're into that. When I was in college, a few part time jobs I applied to straight up told me they didn't hire foreigners. But once you're settled in, it's not that noticeable. Your average encounter will be pretty friendly. I'd say it's more rare to experience it. Q: Do you know any Japanese? How essential is it in your wok and your daily life? A: I am N1 level fluent. But I was dismayed that all that studying didn't mean anything for work, haha. Most engineers are foreigners. Everyone speaks English at the office and they have to know it because the code base is in English. Daily life, I use it all the time. My wife doesn't speak English as well as I speak Japanese. I also know several people who don't speak at all, and they seem to get by. Companies will often pay for Japanese classes as well, and let you attend during work hours. Q: Did you just apply for Tokyo positions? How did the visa work? A: Yup! I just applied. Visa was taken care of by a company hired by my employer. Mine was tricky because I didn't major in CS. There is a law that a work visa applicant must have a degree related to the field of work, or have 10 years experience. Since I majored in Japanese, they added "required to translate Japanese in addition to coding" to the job description, and boom. Visa. (I ended up doing semi-voluntary stuff like office hours in addition to my engineering work, where I needed to use Japanese) They'll figure it out, whatever the case is. Q: Did you start working in Japan after graduation or moved from the US? Is it easy to get permanent residence if you wanted? A: I transferred internally after a year or so in the US. PR is very attainable under certain circumstances. There is a point system. You get points for age (younger is better), salary, work experience, and Japanese ability. 80 points means that you only have to live in Japan for a year to get PR. 70 points, 3 years. http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_3/en/evaluate/index.html Look at the Excel sheet and find the tab for regular workers (not researchers or business owners). Q: How comfortable is your life there compared to the US? Does money go further? A: Very comfortable. If you buy a place (and have permanent residence), you're looking at interest rates as low as 0.495% (mine). I have a 500k USD condo and I pay about 1300/month. 33 year loan. Plus about 350/month in maintenance for the building. Groceries are a bit more expensive, but worth it. Restaurants are much cheaper. Like, 800-1000 yen for lunch. Monthly grocery budget for 2 adults is about 800 bucks (my situation, not counting baby expenses). Convenience stores are AMAZING and have great food (for a convenience store). I regularly get a crispy lettuce sandwich, onigiri and can Coffee for breakfast at the shop outside work. Spending power is pretty low, though. Most consumer goods are really expensive. New release 4k Blu Ray is about 65-80 bucks. Old Blu Rays (Disney and marvel as examples) are 35-40 bucks. But Netflix and Hulu are here and have American and some Japanese content. Internet speed is awesome. Gigabit in most places. But apps and Japanese webforms are fucking terrible. Most things feel like the state of the internet 10 or 15 years ago. One of my banks prevents you from using special characters for your password. Swear to God. A lot of foreigners find it difficult to get a credit card. Especially if you are under 30. Just got to UFJ Mitsubishi. Open an account and you can get a debit card you can use online. All in all, I love it here (aside from work - projects I don't want to work on and a low salary compared to the US). We live 5 minutes from a major train station, which means 5 minutes to dozens of restaurants, a handful of grocery stores, some pharmacies, a few clinics, and a mall. Q: I heard it was easy to internally transfer to Japan (or anywhere with the pay cut) but extremely hard to transfer back to the US so people might get stuck overseas. Is this true? Oh and supposedly transferring to tends to be a promotion +1 level or potentially 2 whereas from leads to a demotion? A: I don't think this is true at all. I know a few people who have gone back. I also did not go up when I came to Japan, and I know people who moved to the US and they did not move down. Q: Is there any American things you miss while in Japan? A: American internet. God, Japan is so technologically behind it drives me nuts sometimes. It's like the internet from 10-15 years ago. Apps suck. Japanese websites suck. Internet banking and apps suck. One of my banks *prevents* you from using special characters in your password. Streaming services exist, but they're not anywhere near as ubiquitous as they are in the US. I also miss how cheap Blu-rays are. 35 bucks for Zootopia? Come on. Internet is shitty, but FAST, though. Gigabit everywhere. Q: The idea of working abroad is pretty novel. Sounds like you have no regrets about the time you spent there? A: Yes!! I'd definitely do it again, but I might have waited until I had been mid-level engineer for a year or more. The 2 rounds of paycuts was rough. First was base pay, then a surprise paycut when my US stock grants fully vested. Went from expected value of 30k/year to new grants at expected value of 5k. There is a lot to love about Tokyo. The positives far outweigh the negatives. Q: Visiting Japan soon, what do you recommend doing at night that is friendly to gaijins in Tokyo/Shibuya? I’ve heard a lot of bars/clubs are no gaijins. A: I would say that's probably rarer. Shinjuku has a good bar scene where you can do some serious bar hopping. If you are super concerned about getting turned away (a really terrible experience. It's really a shitty feeling), then stick to Roppongi! You may also find some ladies (or men) there that are very into foreigners. Shibuya also has quite a few clubs that are foreigner friendly. There's even a soapland that caters specifically to foreigners, if you want that experience. It's in Kawasaki, I think it's called paradise inn. The most tourist-ey thing is "robot restaurant" (also in Shinjuku). I took my American boss there on a business trip (before I moved here) and he fucking loved it. Sky tree or Tokyo tower are also great at night. Q: Do you have any take on how big the cryptocurrency craze is or was there compared to United States? Do you own any bitcoin personally? A: I haven't been into the crypto scene. But I think it's more known here. There's even a few big name stores that accept bitcoin. Don't remember which ones, but they charge like, 20% more if you pay in BC. I don't own any, though. Q: Is AmaAppGooBookSoft japan mostly for SDEs? Or is there place for us non engineering muggles? A: Lol, Muggles. Yes!! There are TPMs, SDMs, UX designers, etc. But the more you get into the business side (vendor managers, TAM, site merchandiser, etc), the more you will probably be required to speak and be literate in Japanese. Q: What made you move to japan for an engineering role? Never heard that before. A: I've wanted to live in Japan since I was a teenager. Spent a year there in University and 2 exchanges in highschool. Originally I just wanted to live in Japan. So after I graduated, I did a few interviews for English teaching. After one of the interviews, they asked me to prepare a lesson plan. My immediate reaction was, "I don't care about a lesson plan, I just want to live in Japan!" Then I realized I needed to calm the fuck down and get there by doing something that I like, and with a marketable skill. I just didn't know what that skill would be...I landed a shit temp job testing Japanese games. Ended up getting an automatable task and googled how to automate it. Then found what I wanted to do. Got into AmaAppGooBookSoft as a contractor, interviewed and got FTE, then made my way to Japan internally. Q: I speak 0 japanese will this be a huge issue? Also if I am a mid-level engineer in usa how much equivalent jp total compensation should I be looking for? A: Not an issue at all for work. Most of the engineers are foreigners. You'll also be able to get by out in the real world. But I'd suggest taking Japanese classes. Company will pay for it here. That would probably equate to maybe 9.5M-110M yen and about 15-20k in RSUs per year? I have zero knowledge of the pay bands here, but I believe 200k is just above middle for US? I make about 9.5, but I have no idea where that is in the pay band. Whatever they offer you, negotiate for more. Always negotiate. It is plenty to live on. You can get a nice place for 150,000/month and a nicer place for 200,000/month. If you want to live further from work or get a smaller place you could get rent as low as 80,000/month, with a 30 minute train ride. Restaurants are very cheap for lunch. Maybe 700-1100 for lunch? Very cheap compared to the states. Company will pay for your daily commute fees. Spending power is low, though. Media is really expensive. Do some searches on Amazon Japan for common stuff to get an idea. FYI, my take home is about 600,000/month to give you an idea about taxes. No need to pay for health insurance plans. The government has you covered. In a month, I spend 144,000 on mortgage, 36,000 on maintenance, about 15,000 on electric + gas (total), about 3,000 on water, about 5,000 on internet, about 80,000 on food for 2 adults, 60,000 for "allowance" for myself and wife, 3,000 on phone (LINE mobile!!! If you go through SoftBank or docomo, or other big players, expect 10,000/month), about 150,000 on miscellaneous stuff, and try to save the rest. Let me know if I'm missing anything expense you are thinking of. Q: 1. Do you know if unvested stocks earned in the US keep vesting in the US? 2. Understand that salary is lower, but are savings about the same in terms of dollars? A: 1. GREAT question!! Yes!! Stock that was granted in the states continues to vest at the agreed to schedule. It will still be 100% taxed by the US, but you'll get some of it back. Taxes are such that the fraction of time spent in a country during a vest will determine how much tax goes to that country. Example: you have a 2 year vest and transfer with the last year vesting while you are in Japan. Once it vests, US takes the usual tax rate, but should return about half of that back because half of it was "earned" in Japan. Japan will then apply their tax rate to the other half. 2. No, savings is still less. Because cost of living isn't toooo drastically different, but you make a lot less,you really end up taking a bath on savings. Like, currently for my family of 3, we end up saving about 700 USD a month in cash. In the states, it would be about the same (after 3k rent and a 1k car payment...Tesla, baby), we would end up saving about the same in cash (except we'd also pad our "allowance" by an additional total of 700 bucks). Then you look at stock. 15k gross value in the RSUs in Japan vs 30-50k in the US. Pretty big difference, IMO. Q: So if you don't speak any Japanese, could you still make it in terms of acquiring a visa? If so, how long would it take to acquire intermediate level proficiency in Japanese you think? A: Yes, but you'll need a degree from the sciences, probably. Or 10 years experience. Intermediate level is maybe 1200 hours of study? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese-Language_Proficiency_Test#Estimated_study_time Q: How do you feel about "Cool Biz" campaign and what is the general public opinion about it? A: Hard to tell because I work at a US company. I'm shielded from a lot of stuff like that. 28 C is a terribly hot temperature, though, Jesus. I don't really hear it being brought up that much on the morning talk shows, but I don't watch every day. Wish I could be of more help. It's definitely not 28 degrees in my office. We absolutely have AC because we don't want our employees to needlessly suffer in order to scrape a bit off of our electric bill. Q: Why did you wanna go to Japan in the first place? A: It started with martial arts when I was in elementary school. Always liked Japanese food, and in high school, anime, judo, and Japanese language. But when I started studying the language, I got super into it. I've been aiming to live here since I was a teenager been 10 times before moving including a few study abroads (1 year in college, 2 weeks, and another 2 weeks in HS). I've always liked the craftsmanship that is in Japan. Watch Jiro dreams of sushi. Perfectly captures the "shokunin" spirit. That guy is like 90 and he still chases perfection. There are LOTS of examples of this, but I love that about Japan. And Tokyo is just super convenient. Trains go everywhere in the country. Don't need a car. I live 5 minutes from Meguro station. So 5 minutes away from 5 grocery stores, 2 or 3 clinics, a few dentists, a mall, transportation of course, and dozens of restaurants. Love the convenience here. Q: How do the taxes work for US citizen? Do US citizens pay taxes twice for income earned in Japan (once in Japan and again in US)? A: Taxes are relatively simple. You pay taxes to Japan, you report income to the US. I think once your income exceeds a certain amount (100 some odd thousand), you will be taxed on the difference of that minus taxes to Japan. So, like if the amount was 100k and you made 110k, they'd tax you if the taxes you paid to Japan on that 10k were less than the US would have taxed. But it's the diff. So if the US would have taken 3k of that 10k, but Japan took 2k, you'd owe the US 1k. So it's not that bad. Stock is way more complicated because it depends on where you were for the duration of the vest and where it was granted. For example, I had a 4 year vest and moved to Japan in year 3. The third year, I had "earned" that 2 years in the US and 1 in Japan. So the US took more taxes. I mean, the second it vests, the US takes their full tax rate, but they'll give a bunch back at tax season. And Japan will take some of that. You usually come out on top somehow. Like, last year, I had 60k or something vesting. I got back 12k from the US and had to pay Japan 5k. The US had initially taken about 16k of that 60k. The percentage of tax paid depends on how long you were in a given country during the vest. Negotiate a tax accountant into your contract. My employer uses another company and I don't have calculate all this shit. I only know it because I want to know how it works, so I ask my accountants a bunch of annoying questions. Once you start getting grants in Japan, no money is taken at vest, and you pay Japan for taxes on the vest value in January. Q: My wife and Iove Japan very much, we’ve always talked about “living there for some years”. However we have 2 kids (less than 3 years) and I’m concerned it would be hard for them. Since you mentioned that your kid, do you think moving there is a bad idea ? A: It depends. If you are already doing parenting on hard mode instead of support network mode, I think it won't be much different. I know someone who went from Tokyo back to the US, but moved back for the same reason: lack of support. I think it would be harder on you than them. Just make sure you bring English books and media. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have a decent amount of kids programming here that is in English as well.
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