A compromised bunch, fastest ETF to reach $20 billion, labour vs machine, and fines for cow farts.

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The Spectator

From last week’s Spectator magazine:

“Bitcoin has already achieved what tulip bulbs and South Sea Company shares failed to do: come back for a second and third bubble. The ability to buy Bitcoin through an exchange-traded fund may yet inflate a fourth”

I suppose we should have some respect for Britain’s Spectator magazine. Firstly, it’s still going. Secondly, that has been true continuously since 1828, some 195 years ago. Impressive. I wonder though how long we will have to endure those comparisons from writers whose research into the subject is at the very best, modest. 

The problem I have with the Spectator is that they are a compromised bunch. Deeply political, their writing staff includes several former Chancellors and Prime Ministers. It is the magazine for the UK’s vaguely connected. Unfortunately, their predictive capability has been called into question a number of times before, most famously  back in 1853. They had this to say about a book now firmly seated in the 100 novels of all time, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.

"amusing the idle hours of the greatest number of readers; not, we may hope, without improvement to their hearts, but certainly without profoundly affecting their intellects or deeply stirring their emotions."

I can’t think of any quote that better encapsulates the Spectator. “This book is for dummies and I’m far too clever to be wasting my time on it.” Just massive snobs, they support broadly anything that emanates from within their cartel and largely nothing that does not, be it people, books or in our case, technology. 

The whole premise of the magazine always comes across like that. The cabal that writes for them generally dwell in twee country villages in the Cotswolds. When they aren’t spending ‘a few days in London’ they’re at lunch or shagging each other. Scrolling through the list, if you know anything about the UK you will know what I mean. 

A case in point would be former editor, and former Prime Minister (former most things actually), Boris Johnson who was accused of having an affair with a fellow journalist while editor at the magazine. Brazen Boris described the situation as an "an inverted pyramid of piffle" before promptly being sacked from the Shadow Cabinet when it turned out to be true. He was not sacked from the Spectator though. Actually, his partner in that particular crime still writes for the magazine. Her recent headline perfectly encapsulates what I’m talking about. 

Petsy has a brother who is modestly known as Pericles Plantagenet James Casati Wyatt. Are you picking up the general theme? 

The fact is, when I read something stupid in the Spectator (often), I’m left wondering whether the journalist has just had three bottles of wine in the members dining room or whether they’ve just clambered off the girl at the front desk. The extent to which they have any knowledge at all about cryptography and bitcoin must surely be very limited.

If bitcoin is a threat to them, then good.


It did not take long. Less than six months in fact, and I am simultaneously impressed and depressed. The largest Bitcoin ETF in the world now belongs to BlackRock, overtaking the Grayscale Investment Trust. The success is breathtaking. It is the fastest ETF to reach $20 billion in AUM ever, taking 137 days to do it, beating the previous record of 985 days held by JP Morgan’s premium income equity fund (JEPI).

Does it matter? It probably does politically. They are well-connected and a big part of the Wall Street machine. Will it help bitcoin in its ultimate mission? Perhaps not.

You are expensive

This chart was first produced by labour unions in 2022 on the arrival of the Albanese government. It was ‘proof’ that working Australians were receiving less of the economic pie.

Is it actually true though? If the machine makes the pie 5% bigger and labours share drops by 2.5% is labour worse off? It is likely true in the short term that the capital owner will outperform the labour owner, but that need not be true in perpetuity.

Clearly there are two schools of thought here. One being the luddite theme that the machines will do everything and we will all be unemployed and die. I can’t really subscribe to that theme because it implies you only really live to work. It might just be true that in 200 years, work is an interesting thing that people used to do before they got clever enough to not have to do it. How many of us are out chopping wood and grinding axes this weekend? Any of us?

I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to imagine work being a thing of the past in the not too distant future. How then will you earn your keep amongst your fellow men? Ideas. The people will have the ideas, the machines will execute. 

There are many successful companies that employ this kind of ethos, in a sense unless you make change and improve the way things are done or what is happening then you get fired. It’s very harsh but ultimately if you are doing something in a repetitive manner like a ‘month-end’ or an ‘important spreadsheet’ you’re basically toast in the new world order because it is now trivial to get a machine to do that. 

So the graph will go down and to the right. Which unless you want to work 20 hours a day for the next 40 years, is fundamentally a good thing. Just have some ideas.

Meme of the week


“As many as four lenders face penalties after not meeting deadlines set by the ECB for assessing their exposure to climate risks, according to people familiar with the matter. The amounts aren't final yet and may be largely symbolic, the people said, who asked not to be named as the move isn't public.”

I don’t know. I guess if you want a European Banking Licence then you have to dance the dance that the ECB sets for you. I would think with European elections imminent, the timing of this is very, very bad for the Green parties of Europe.

It’s not as though the European economy is in a frenzy of overheated growth where greedy capitalists are pouring cow farts into the Danube. Quite the opposite in fact. The whole place is struggling and the next move in Euro interest rates will almost certainly be down.

The fines themselves (incurred daily) can be as high as 5% of daily revenue per day. Which is insane and they won’t be anything like that so expect some symbolic green-shaming and grovelling mea-culpas from bank executives before it’s all forgotten. 

It would seem that some Members of the European Parliament are annoyed by it too. The ECB published their response to a letter from Dutch politician Paul Tang. We must read between the lines because Mr Tang’s letter is not public, but he is obviously asking the ECB why they do not just focus on the price level, which is their sole and mandated objective.

Lagarde’s reply:

“Without prejudice to its primary objective”. That is not really true, because if you start fining banks for something that is a matter for governments, not for the Central Bank, then you have a real problem. The ECB does have a real problem. How the Euro is still US$1.08 I do not know but I consider it holding on with its finger nails.

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