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  1. kalenjin shared this story from Bitcoin Magazine.

    <img alt="Spotify acquires blockchain-based startup" height="444" src="" width="800"><p>Spotify, the <a href="">$8 billion</a> music streaming service provider, which is <a href="">projected</a> to reach 100 million users and a $53 billion valuation by 2020, acquired Mediachain, a startup backed by leading venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, to simplify royalties utilizing bitcoin’s underpinning technology.<br/></p><p>In March, Spotify found itself amidst legal troubles with its partnered musicians, record labels and producers over unpaid royalties. According to the announcement of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), Spotify settled a $25 million deal and a $5 million penalty over unpaid and unmatched songs.</p><p>Upon the settlement of the $30 million deal, Spotify’s Global Head of Communications and Public Policy Jonathan Prince admitted that while the company has been committed in compensating its musicians and publishers since its launch in October of 2008, tracking all of its registered songs streamed by tens of millions of users and distributing royalties accurately and proportionally has been difficult.</p><p>“As we have said many times, we have always been committed to paying songwriters and publishers every penny. We appreciate the hard work of everyone at the NMPA to secure this agreement and we look forward to further collaboration with them as we build a comprehensive publishing administration system,” Prince <a href="">stated.</a></p><p>At the time, NMPA President and CEO David Israelite emphasized that through the multimillion-dollar deal, music streaming service providers including Spotify will allocate more resources into compensating musicians and publishers transparently and properly. He further noted that NMPA and Spotify found the appropriate method of distributing royalties to music creators.</p><p>“I am thrilled that through this agreement both independent and major publishers and songwriters will be able to get what is owed to them. We must continue to push digital services to properly pay for the musical works that fuel their businesses and after much work together, we have found a way for Spotify to quickly get royalties to the right people. I look forward to all NMPA members being paid what they are owed, and I am excited about the creation of a better process moving forward,” Israelite said.</p><p>Spotify’s recent acquisition of Mediachain represents a large part of the vision established with NMPA. By utilizing blockchain technology, which is transparent, immutable and irrefutable, Spotify aims to develop and integrate a more fair platform for musicians and publishers. For this reason, Spotify acquired media-and-information-sharing-focused blockchain infrastructure provider Mediachain.</p><p>The Spotify development team explained that the engineers and developers of Mediachain will join Spotify in its New York offices to help co-build an efficient royalty-tracking platform specialized for Spotify.</p><p>In an official statement, Spotify <a href="">announced:</a></p><p>“Brooklyn-based Mediachain Labs has been the driving force behind the Mediachain project, a world-class blockchain research agenda and open source protocol to better manage data that is critical to the health of the music industry. The Mediachain team will join our New York City offices and help further Spotify’s journey towards a more fair, transparent and rewarding music industry for creators and rights owners.”</p><p>Next year, in 2018, Spotify <a href="">will officially launch</a> an initial public offering (IPO) and take the company public. The acquisition of Mediachain and the Spotify team’s dedication to solve issues in regard to royalties and creator compensation, which could potentially emerge as a major financial setback in the future, demonstrate the company’s eagerness to justify its valuation to its investors and its presence in the music industry.</p>

    The post Spotify Acquires Blockchain-Based Startup to Tackle Fair Royalty Issues appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

  2. kalenjin shared this story from FlowingData.

    Here’s a fun what-if simulation that imagines a world where all natural causes of death were gone. People only die of things like car crashes and homicide. The result: people who live to thousands of years old.

    Of course, this assumes that the likelihood of dying from external causes stays the same. With such a long life expectancy, do people start to take more risks? Or do we become more sloth-like because we have all the time in the world? Ah, that’s a thinker.

    Want a simulation closer to reality? Here you go.

    Tags: ,

  3. kalenjin shared this story from Calculated Risk.

    A few excerpts from a note by Goldman Sachs economists Jan Hatzius and Daan Struyven:
    On a broad range of measures, the US economy is now at full employment. Headline unemployment has fallen below most estimates of the structural rate, the discouraged worker share is back to pre-recession lows, and the still somewhat elevated share of involuntary part-timers is arguably structural.

    And while the employment/population ratio remains well below its pre-recession level, the gap is fully explained by a combination of population aging and declining participation of prime-age men. This trend among prime-age men has continued for over six decades, has not stood in the way of a strong recent wage acceleration in that demographic, and therefore looks structural.
    Job growth remains well above the pace needed to stabilize unemployment. The speed of the likely overshoot is comparable to the average postwar cycle, and we have lowered our end-2018 unemployment rate forecast to 4.1% from 4.3% prior.
    emphasis added
  4. kalenjin shared this story from Shanghaiist.

    Netizens complain about comically hard-to-reach complaint box at government office Chinese web users have joked that to make a complaint, locals either need to bring a ladder or Yao Ming. [ more › ]
  5. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    In 1976, a professor of economic history at the University of California, Berkeley published an essay outlining the fundamental laws of a force he perceived as humanity’s greatest existential threat: Stupidity.

    Stupid people, Carlo M. Cipolla explained, share several identifying traits: they are abundant, they are irrational, and they cause problems for others without apparent benefit to themselves, thereby lowering society’s total well-being. There are no defenses against stupidity, argued the Italian-born professor, who died in 2000. The only way a society can avoid being crushed by the burden of its idiots is if the non-stupid work even harder to offset the losses of their stupid brethren.

    Let’s take a look at Cipolla’s five basic laws of human stupidity:

    Law 1: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

    No matter how many idiots you suspect yourself surrounded by, Cipolla wrote, you are invariably lowballing the total. This problem is compounded by biased assumptions that certain people are intelligent based on superficial factors like their job, education level, or other traits we believe to be exclusive of stupidity. They aren’t. Which takes us to:

    Law 2: The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

    Cipolla posits stupidity is a variable that remains constant across all populations. Every category one can imagine—gender, race, nationality, education level, income—possesses a fixed percentage of stupid people. There are stupid college professors. There are stupid people at Davos and at the UN General Assembly. There are stupid people in every nation on earth. How numerous are the stupid amongst us? It’s impossible to say. And any guess would almost certainly violate the first law, anyway.

    Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

    Cipolla called this one the Golden Law of stupidity. A stupid person, according to the economist, is one who causes problems for others without any clear benefit to himself.

    The uncle unable to stop himself from posting fake news articles to Facebook? Stupid. The customer service representative who keeps you on the phone for an hour, hangs up on you twice, and somehow still manages to screw up your account? Stupid.

    This law also introduces three other phenotypes that Cipolla says co-exist alongside stupidity. First there is the intelligent person, whose actions benefit both himself and others. Then there is the bandit, who benefits himself at others’ expense. And lastly there is the helpless person, whose actions enrich others at his own expense. Cipolla imagined the four types along a graph, like this:

    Stupidity, graphed.

    The non-stupid are a flawed and inconsistent bunch. Sometimes we act intelligently, sometimes we are selfish bandits, sometimes we act helplessly and are taken advantage of by others, and sometimes we’re a bit of both. The stupid, in comparison, are paragons of consistency, acting at all times with unyielding idiocy.

    However, consistent stupidity is the only consistent thing about the stupid. This is what makes stupid people so dangerous. Cipolla explains:

    Essentially stupid people are dangerous and damaging because reasonable people find it difficult to imagine and understand unreasonable behavior. An intelligent person may understand the logic of a bandit. The bandit’s actions follow a pattern of rationality: nasty rationality, if you like, but still rationality. The bandit wants a plus on his account. Since he is not intelligent enough to devise ways of obtaining the plus as well as providing you with a plus, he will produce his plus by causing a minus to appear on your account. All this is bad, but it is rational and if you are rational you can predict it. You can foresee a bandit’s actions, his nasty maneuvres and ugly aspirations and often can build up your defenses.

    With a stupid person all this is absolutely impossible as explained by the Third Basic Law. A stupid creature will harass you for no reason, for no advantage, without any plan or scheme and at the most improbable times and places. You have no rational way of telling if and when and how and why the stupid creature attacks. When confronted with a stupid individual you are completely at his mercy.

    All of which leads us to:

    Law 4: Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

    We underestimate the stupid, and we do so at our own peril. This brings us to the fifth and final law:

    Law 5: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

    And its corollary:

    A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

    We can do nothing about the stupid. The difference between societies that collapse under the weight of their stupid citizens and those who transcend them are the makeup of the non-stupid. Those progressing in spite of their stupid possess a high proportion of people acting intelligently, those who counterbalance the stupid’s losses by bringing about gains for themselves and their fellows.

    Declining societies have the same percentage of stupid people as successful ones. But they also have high percentages of helpless people and, Cipolla writes, “an alarming proliferation of the bandits with overtones of stupidity.”

    “Such change in the composition of the non-stupid population inevitably strengthens the destructive power of the [stupid] fraction and makes decline a certainty,” Cipolla concludes. “And the country goes to Hell.”

    Image by Vincedevrieson Wikimedia, licensed underCC-BY-SA 4.0.

  6. kalenjin shared this story from Alpha Architect.

    Our firm Allocate Smartly provides independent analysis of Tactical Asset Allocation (TAA) strategies. TAA strategies dynamically allocate to broad asset classes like stock […]

    The post Tactical Asset Allocation and the US 60/40 Benchmark appeared first on Alpha Architect.

  7. kalenjin shared this story from Balding's World.

    What are internal controls? I had a loyal Twitter follower ask if internal control was code for corruption in light of the Mingsheng Bank wealth management product loss. This is an entirely understandable question but not accurate.  This led to a … Continue reading
  8. kalenjin shared this story from Macro Man.

    "You better move! You better dance!" - Ke$ha

    Oh boy.

    And here I thought the Donald was going to take down Mexico.

    Trump goes after Canada on the lumber trade. CAD moved on the news. Fast forward a couple of days, Trump comes out Wednesday night and says we are staying in NAFTA, CAD moves back on the news.

    In the midst of these flashy headlines, I wanted to take this opportunity and actually dissect the noise and actually pinpoint what I think is truly important for USDCAD.

    Let's start with the noise.

    These were the main Canadian exports in 2014 - (sorry for the lagged data) Assume they haven't changed much.

    As you can see, lumber is not a big driver here. From a correlation perspective, you get a lot of noise for both lumber and gold. Looks like nothing substantial there. I understand the Donald's posturing has ramifications beyond the Canadian lumber industry and that could have been the cause for the move. But I digress, there are more important factors for CAD - all shall be revealed as you keep scrolling down.

    My eyes hurt from looking at this chart.

    Alright, moving on to car exports, we start to see something more interesting.

    Finally, looking at oil price, we really get something juicy.

    But even here, we have seen the correlation between CAD and oil slipping since the height of the oil crash. In fact, weekly correlations (what I have plotted above) have been hovering around 0.2 to 0.3 in the last 12 weeks or so.

    Now comes the signal.

    This brings me to something that's even more interesting. The Canada housing bubble. I think this will be the main driver for USDCAD moving forward the rest of the year.

    What's HCG you might ask? Home Capital Group. These guys are asking for a 2 billion dollar credit line (or would it be CAD in this situation? Who knows). The company closed the last trading session with a market cap of 384mm CAD. I sure hope they have Buffett on the batphone speed-dial. 

    Yes, yes, I know. Correlation has fallen off. That's because this stock has been crushed as of late while CAD has only started to react. But when the market focuses on this, the correlation will go back up.
    [Insert some quote from Chuck Prince about dancing to music, to pay homage to Wall Street history and to sound smart] 

    Except the music has probably stopped in Canada. Strap in boys and girls, we are about to experience some mid-flight turbulence. 

    How big is this bubble? Yuuuge. Charts presented without additional commentary:

    Focusing back on the USDCAD cross. This whole time, current account in Canada has shrunk versus that of the US while unemployment has risen relative to that of the US. Normally, I would try to be a contrarian and look for reasons to fade those fundamental changes. 

    But in this situation, the housing bubble has gotten me thinking that things can actually continue to worsen.

    If it does worsen, what will Poloz do? I think negative rates and QE are not out of the question in Canada. In the meanwhile, we could see steady rate hikes in the US (yes, we can argue about this, but let's do that on another day).

    So we have an economy who's biggest trading partner is a country run by the Donald. 

    A country who's current account has precipitously declined since 2008/2009 and remains low. 

    A fragile economy hurt by the oil glut.

    Rising unemployment. 

    And a housing bubble teetering on the precipice as said unemployment and economic fragility puts additional pressure on Canadian housing affordability.

    Oh boy.

    What Ke$ha said. No, not the dancing part. You better move. I am loony for this loonie short.

    Thanks guys, good luck.
  9. kalenjin shared this story from NYT > The Upshot.

    There are three rules that states could apply to waive in the newest proposed revision to the Republicans’ health care plan.
  10. kalenjin shared this story from TaxVox.

    As usual, President Trump did a masterful job creating sense of drama in the buildup to his announcement today of his current tax agenda. But...