Is cryptocurrency still a good investment?

It seems the market has been hit with a bit of a cryptocurrency crisis. Crypto exchange FTX recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a towering fall from grace for a company once valued at $32 billion. The assets of thousands of customers were wiped out in an instant, and FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is now facing federal charges. Beyond this, the industry was just hit with another major loss, as one of crypto’s top lending companies, BlockFi, has similarly filed for bankruptcy. The companies were preceded in similar bankruptcies this past summer by two other companies, Celsius and Voyager. 

Given all of these events, is it still a good idea to invest in cryptocurrency? Or is it a market on the way out, whose demise has been in the works? 

Cryptocurrency has been a poor option for a long time 

Volatility in the crypto market is hardly a new concept, Taimur Hyat, COO of Prudential’s asset management arm, writes for CNBC. “The most profound risks to cryptocurrency investing may still lie ahead, rather than in the rear-view mirror,” he says, adding that investors looking to invest in cryptocurrency for the long term “should remain wary.” 

Hyat adds, “Despite all the hype about their being digital gold, cryptocurrencies have failed to demonstrate either ‘safe haven’ or inflation-fighting properties when faced with actual market volatility or the first real bout of serious inflation in developed markets.” He noted that, between 2010 and 2022, Bitcoin had “29 episodes of drawdowns of 25% or more. By comparison, equities and commodities recorded just one each.”

Hyat adds, “cryptocurrencies remain deeply problematic from an environmental, social, and governance perspective. Most troubling are the governance issues that have been highlighted by the FTX implosion.”

Investing in cryptocurrency could have lasting negative affects

Allison Schrager, a Manhattan Institute fellow and economic opinion columnist for Bloomberg, writes that she’d “been rooting for the crypto market to crash and burn. Not because I never invested in it … but because I don’t understand it, what value it serves or what problem it solves.”

Schrager also writes that “it doesn’t seem that FTX.com or even the entire crypto market poses a systematic risk — by design, crypto is supposed to lie outside the traditional financial markets.” Despite this, she believes “there are still reasons to worry about what the FTX situation portends for investors.” Schrager believes the whole market is in trouble and people are losing money, and adds, “That’s never good. It’s especially worrying that many of the newest investors to crypto, the ones who bought high and watched it fall, tended to be lower-net-worth investors, some new to financial markets.”

This opinion was echoed by noted economist Paul Krugman, who writes in an op-ed for The New York Times, “Recent events have made clear the need to regulate crypto … but it also seems likely that the industry couldn’t survive regulation.” Krugman does note, though, that falling prices don’t necessarily mean cryptocurrency is doomed, as assets fluctuate all the time. However, he adds, “Even if the value of Bitcoin doesn’t go to zero (which it still might), there’s a strong case that the crypto industry, which loomed so large just a few months ago, is headed for oblivion.”

A similar warning was given in 2021 by economist Eswar Prasad, who tells CNBC in an interview, “Cryptocurrencies may contribute to monetary and financial instability, especially if they were to spawn a large and unregulated financial system that lacks investor protection.” Prasad adds, “[Cryptocurrency] could end up worsening inequality” due to people having a poor sense of financial literacy, and that “any financial risks arising from investing in cryptocurrencies and related products might end up falling especially heavily on naïve retail investors.”

Even with market volatility, investing in cryptocurrency is still a good option

However, even with the cryptocurrency market in its current state, USA Today columnist and investor Alex Kellogg writes that “the current turmoil represents a right-sizing of the space that will look more like a bump in the road in the long run.” Despite the volatility of the industry, Kellogg adds that the actual promise of cryptocurrency “feels more real today than even a few years ago, and with some institutional investors getting on board, it seems unlikely that the entire ecosystem will collapse, even if a right-sizing was overdue.”

In Kellogg’s column, he also reaches out to Ariel Zetlin-Jones, the director of the Blockchain Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. Zetlin-Jones compares the cryptocurrency market to the early days of the digital age, and says it’s “very reminiscent of the internet in the late 1990s. Lots of individual stocks and companies were over-valued and collapsed, but Amazon and Google are still around.”

Cryptocurrency may be down, but it’s not out 

Even amidst evidence that cryptocurrency is nearing its end, some people still believe it may have a heartbeat. Maria Bustilla, a journalist, blockchain expert, and founder of Popula, writes for The New York Times, “The crypto market is wildly volatile not because of cryptocurrency’s underlying technology, but because of the uneasy and often dangerously unstable junction between emerging technologies and regular money,” something that she says is not new. 

However, Bustilla adds, even as cryptocurrency may be crashing, blockchain itself looks primed to live on. “Responsible players in the crypto market have been calling for and helping to develop sensible regulatory frameworks for many years,” she says. “A bedrock of crypto regulations already exists.” 

Bustilla uses the example of the dawn of the internet age as a precursor to blockchain, writing, “Today’s internet is deeply woven into the world’s economies, media, politics, industry, and social life, in good ways and bad, [and] a similar evolution is in the works for crypto.” She adds, “Blockchain, the technology that makes cryptocurrency possible, has the potential to be just as transformative as the internet innovations on which we depend every day.”

In the post-FTX world, staffers at Forbes’ investment brand Q.ai write that some crypto could be “more of a black swan event rather than the start of an era.” However, Q.ai notes, as most other experts have, that investments are always risky. “The key takeaway remains the same — if an investment seems too good to be true, it is,” Q.ai adds. “Investors who are bullish on crypto should still be cautious about investing too much of their savings into these volatile assets … diversification is still the best strategy.”

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A look at the White House’s festive and homey holiday decor

First lady Jill Biden on Monday unveiled this year’s White House holiday decorations and their overarching theme of “We the People.”

“The soul of our nation is, and has always been, ‘We the People,'” the first lady said at an event, per The Associated Press. “Room by room, we represent what brings us together during the holidays and throughout the year.”

More than 150 volunteers helped decorate the White House over Thanksgiving weekend, hanging lights, stringing garlands, and tying ribbon, AP reports. Per aides, Biden’s holiday vision was inspired by the individuals she met while touring the country, as well as by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The different public rooms are dedicated to different kinds of “unifying forces,” AP explains: “honoring and remembering deceased loved ones, words and stories, kindness and gratitude, food and traditions, nature and recreation, songs and sounds, unity and hope, faith and light, and children.”

The overall homey look is “very intentional,” adds Communications Director Elizabeth Alexander. “It’s important for the first lady that people see themselves in the decor.”

Furthing upping the holiday ante, this year’s scene even includes a menorah made of wood from a Truman-era renovation, as well as replicas of White House pets, Commander and Willow

Roughly 50,000 visitors are expected to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this season, including both tourists and invited guests.

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U.S. beats Iran 1-0 to advance to World Cup knockout round

The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team on Tuesday advanced to the knockout round of the 2022 World Cup after beating Iran 1-0 and successfully securing the second-place slot in Group B.

It was a tense and hardfought game, considering Iran needed only a tie to move on to the hallowed round of 16, The Washington Post reports. But U.S. player Christian Pulisic scored the match’s one and only point in the 38th minute, propelling the U.S. toward the flat-out win it needed. Pulisic, however, wasn’t so fortunate; while finishing the goal, he suffered an abdominal injury that forced him out of the game at halftime, per The New York Time.

According to The Boston Globe, the Americans last advanced to the knockout round in 2014, the last tournament in which they played.

The U.S. will next square up against the Netherlands, who won Group A, on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET; it’s unclear whether Pulisic will be able to participate. England, who won Group B after a 3-0 victory against Wales, will face Senegal on Sunday.

Fox and Telemundo will air broadcasts of the U.S. game in English and Spanish, respectively; the match will also stream on NBC’s Peacock.

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Twitter ends its COVID misinformation policy

Twitter is no longer enforcing its COVID-19 misinformation policy, which was developed and implemented in 2020 to combat harmful misinformation about the coronavirus and its accompanying vaccines.

Twitter did not officially announce the change, it seems; rather, per CNN, some users noticed the following update to the platform’s rules on Monday night: “Effective Nov. 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy.” 

The shift represents yet another example of transformation under the platform’s newly-minted owner, billionaire Elon Musk, who has vowed to reform Twitter’s values of free speech and restore a number of previously-banned accounts. The move also arrives “amid concerns of Twitter’s ability to fight misinformation after it let go about half of its staff, including those involved in content moderation,” Reuters writes.

“Misinformation policies are very labor intensive to enforce as it typically requires human review to read context,” Tom Tarantino, former head of Twitter’s COVID-19 Response Task Force, told Politico. “As many — or all — of the team that is enforcing that policy is no longer there, I imagine that this is more about practicality than philosophy.”

Without the COVID misinformation policy in place, public health experts fear an influx in false claims about the coronavirus as it continues to spread, The Associated Press reports. This roll back “will do more harm,” said Jack Resneck Jr., president of the American Medical Association.  

Over 11,000 Twitter accounts were suspended under COVID misinformation rules between January 2020 and September 2022; per CNN, it’s possible some of the accounts Musk restores will be those that were affected by the policy.

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Elon Musk cuts size of Twitter’s child exploitation team, days after calling it his top priority

Twitter CEO Elon Musk has significantly reduced the size of the team dedicated to fighting child sexual exploitation on the social media platform, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. 

Amidst continuing job cuts by the company, at least half of the employees working against child exploitation have been let go, sources told Bloomberg. The team’s skeleton crew now reportedly consists of less than 10 people, down from 20 at the beginning of the year. 

The team, which Bloomberg said consists of “a mix of former law enforcement officers and child safety experts based in the US, Ireland, and Singapore,” was already being pushed to its limits prior to this latest round of cuts. Even with less than 10 people on the team, they are still responsible for an all-encompassing range of tasks to stop child sexual exploitation on Twitter. This includes stopping the spread of child sexual abuse material, identifying online groomers, and tracking down media that promoted sex trafficking. 

Musk’s decision to slash the team in half comes just days after he reitreteared that stopping child sexual exploitation was his top mission. 

“Removing child exploitation is priority #1,” Musk tweeted. “Please reply in comments if you see anything that Twitter needs to address.”

While Twitter has taken steps to remove hashtags and posts associated with child exploitation, this was reportedly in motion prior to Musk purchasing the company.

Additionally, The Daily Dot noted that removing hashtags will likely not do much to solve the problem, as pedophiles can simply continue their conversations using a different hashtag. 

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Bob Iger addresses ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, says inclusion is part of Disney’s values

Bob Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, addressed the company’s past controversies with LGBTQ communities during a meeting on Monday. 

Iger recently replaced Bob Chapek as Disney’s chief executive in a move that shook the entertainment industry. During the closed-door meeting, sources told CNBC that Iger called inclusion and acceptance part of the company’s “core values.” 

“This company has been telling stories for 100 years, and those stories have had a meaningful, positive impact on the world, and one of the reasons they have had a meaningful, positive impact is because one of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion and acceptance and tolerance, and we can’t lose that,” Iger said. 

Iger reportedly added, “I don’t think when you are telling stories and attempting to be a good citizen of the world that that’s political,” per CNBC. 

Iger’s remarks come after continuing controversy regarding Disney’s reaction to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act. The bill, signed in March by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), banned classroom instruction on gender orientation and sexual identity through third grade. While Republicans lauded the bill as necessary legislation, many liberals began calling it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and criticized it for banning lessons on the LGBTQ community. 

Following the passage of the bill, Chapek and Disney initially stayed quiet, saying they wanted to work behind the scenes with Florida politicians. However, after strong backlash from Disney employees, Chapek spoke out publically against the bill, saying the company had always opposed it, Deadline reported.

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Elon Musk claims Apple threatened to remove Twitter from the App Store

Elon Musk targeted Apple in a stream of tweets, accusing the company of threatening to remove Twitter from its iOS App Store with no explanation, initiating a battle with the tech giant over its policies, CNN reports. 

Musk appears ready to pick a fight, taking aim at the company’s app store policies while calling out Apple CEO Tim Cook. In one tweet, he asked, “Did you know Apple puts a secret 30%  tax on everything you buy through their App Store?” He also added that despite being the social platform’s top source of ad revenue, “Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter.” 

While Musk has continually defended his vision for Twitter as a safe haven for free speech, some say he might be triggering a battle that could undermine the platform’s success by challenging one of the gatekeepers for mobile apps. 

Historian Kevin Kruse warned that Musk might be taking on more than he can handle by confronting the tech giant. “They’re a whole lot bigger than he is and not likely to scare easily,” he wrote. Similarly, Wedbush Senior Equity Analyst Dan Ives said Musk has challenged “the one company in the world you NEVER want to pick a fight with.” 

Tim Sweeney, the video game company Epic’s CEO, supported Musk’s assertion that Apple is quick to censor companies that defy its policies. Epic, the creators of Fortnite, sued Apple in 2019 for “anticompetitive behavior with its App Store,” per The New York Times

“Apple blocked Fortnite within a few hours of Epic defying their policy,” Sweeney tweeted. “Would they nuke Twitter? Spotify? Facebook? Netflix? At what point does the whole rotten structure collapse?” 

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Everything to know about the storm poised to pummel the South

Severe storms are forecasted to barrel through the southern U.S. beginning on Tuesday afternoon. Between Texas and Georgia, close to 40 million people are expected to experience a combination of deadly winds, tornadoes, and hail, reports The New York Times. The hardest hit region is expected to be the Mississippi Valley, which includes northern and central Louisiana, most of Mississippi, as well as parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama. The storms were preemptively deemed Level 4 out of 5 in severity in the most susceptible region a day in advance, which is highly unusual. 

What to expect

Experts predict the storms will begin to pick up between mid to late afternoon on Tuesday and could continue through evening hours. Tornadoes may also form overnight into Wednesday morning across the Mississippi Valley. While tornadoes are most likely in Mississippi and Louisiana, surrounding regions may also experience them, the Times continues. 

In regions with lower severity, there are likely to be severe thunderstorms, including frequent lightning flashes and strong gusts of wind, per the Weather Prediction Center. Rain will also likely continue through Wednesday with the potential for flash flooding. 

How to prepare

If you are located in a tornado region, make sure you have access to a tornado shelter. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has also told residents to document their homes and property in case of damage to be used for insurance purposes, CNN reports. It is also helpful to have an emergency kit with food, water, first aid materials, and important documents. Also, try to secure any furniture in your home that could fall over or cause injury. 

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Russia asks India to send supplies as sanctions derail Moscow’s economy

Amidst the ongoing sanctions choking its economy, Russia has asked India for products to keep its key industries operational, Reuters reported Tuesday. 

Officials in Moscow have reportedly sent India a list of 500 parts for national manufacturing, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. This includes parts for cars, aircraft, trains, and more. The list, however, is still in the provisional stage, and it is unclear to what extent India will honor the request — one source with the Indian government reportedly described the list as “unusual” in scope. 

Russia’s request is part of an ongoing effort to get around Western economic sanctions put in place following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. These sanctions were enacted by numerous governments and intergovernmental bodies, including the United States, European Union, and many European countries themselves. Limits were placed on a wide variety of industries to try and stifle Russian growth. 

The Washington Post reported that these sanctions have significantly damaged Russia’s wartime economy, despite ongoing assurance from Russian President Vladimir Putin that the invasion is working in Russia’s favor. Figures released by the Russian Finance Ministry showed tax revenue from the non-oil and gas sector fell 20 percent in October, per the Post.

India has notably been one of the few boosters of the Russian economy, as the country bought nearly 40 percent of all seaborne exports from Russia’s Urals region in November, per ReutersThis accounted for a higher purchase total than any other country. 

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Will Smith blames Oscars slap on ‘rage that had been bottled for a really long time’

The lesson of the Oscars slap, according to Will Smith? “Hurt people hurt people.”

The actor on Monday made his first late-night appearance since he slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, which led him to be banned from the ceremony for 10 years. On The Daily Show, Smith acknowledged he “lost it” on that “horrific night,” and the “little boy that watched his father beat up his mother” came out.  

“I was gone,” he said. “That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time.”

Smith walked on stage and slapped Rock at the Oscars over a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, having a bald head. Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggle with alopecia. Smith, who subsequently won the Oscar for Best Actor, apologized the next day for his “inexcusable” behavior. 

Speaking with Trevor Noah, Smith said he was “going through something that night,” which he did not discuss in detail. But he urged viewers to remember that “you just never know what somebody’s going through,” adding that the incident was an example of how “hurt people hurt people.” The King Richard star also choked up recalling his nephew asking him after the ceremony, “Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?”

Noah defended Smith throughout the interview, arguing his behavior on the night of the Oscars is “not who you are” and that “everybody can make a mistake,” prompting cheers from the audience. 

Smith is currently promoting his new movie Emancipation, and though he is banned from attending the Oscars for a decade, he can still be nominated for Best Actor in 2023 and even win. That may be unlikely, but Smith said on The Daily Show the idea that everyone else who worked on the movie might have their hard work “tainted” because of his actions is “killing me dead.”  

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