Washington state was ranked as the best state in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in a new report released Monday night. Washington has held the top ranking since 2019.
The publication annually ranks all 50 states across a myriad of categories, such as health care, opportunity, the economy and education. Washington ranked first for broadband access and GDP growth, as well as tying for first for government credit rating score and ranking in the top ten of five other categories.
“I am so happy for the people of Washington to take home this honor again. It takes all 7.6 million of us to make this state the dynamic place it truly is. Washingtonians are motivated to lead and innovate in all aspects of our society, in labor, business, education, health, and so much more,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “It was that same spirit that helped us bounce back from being the first state in the nation hit by COVID-19, and we are on our way to a robust recovery because of our unique attributes.”
Washington has regularly ranked at or near the top in additional national rankings over the past few years for economy, business and workers for publications such as CNBC and WalletHub. Last year, Oxfam America ranked Washington the best state to work during the COVID-19 pandemic based on worker rights and protections. This year the governor proposed an additional worker protection bill for the currently ongoing 2021 legislative session.
Washington’s infrastructure and economy helped secure the report’s top honor. The state ranked second in energy, with 46 percent of the state’s energy coming from renewable energy sources, as opposed to a national average of just 11 percent. Combined with third and fourth place growth and business environment rankings, the report is evidence that a clean energy economy goes hand-in-hand with a prosperous economy.
Dodger outfielder Cody Bellinger has a slight hairline fracture in his left fibula, according to manager Dave Roberts.
Bellinger has been out since April 5, when he was cleated in the leg in a footrace to first base with Oakland pitcher Reymin Guduan. Roberts said Bellinger hit a plateau with his progress and a scan revealed the fracture.
“At least we know what Cody’s dealing with,” Roberts said. “At that point in time, certain players heal differently. I just don’t know where Cody’s going to be at.”
Roberts said the course of treatment hasn’t changed with the new information.
“Right now it’s just more of getting that thing healed up, and he’ll be ready to go and back with us,” Roberts said. “He’s just rehabbing and daily doing everything he can to join us as soon as possible.”
Gavin Lux (wrist) and AJ Pollock (groin) are also out of the lineup Friday for the series in opener in San Diego.
Lux was scratched from Thursday’s lineup with a sore right wrist. Roberts said he couldn’t swing a bat yesterday but is feeling “significantly better” Friday. Still, he won’t be a pinch-hit option. He could be used for defense or for running, which is what he did Thursday night for Pollock after the outfielder left the game.
Roberts said Pollock will test his groin and run Friday and could be available for a pinch-hit appearance. With the injuries to the team, Zach McKinstry shifts to second base, Chris Taylor will play center field and Luke Raley will be in left field Friday night.
“We can still move guys around,” Roberts said. “Also having a roster that can hit left, hit right, we have a roster more so than ever that can do that.”
In more positive injury news, Brusdar Graterol threw at the Dodgers’ alternate site Thursday and will travel to join the team in San Diego sometime this weekend. Roberts said the Dodgers will talk about a decision then on when Graterol, who began the season on the injured list, will be activated.
(Any views expressed in the below are the personal views of the author and should not form the basis for making investment decisions, nor be construed as a recommendation or advice to engage in investment transactions.)
Humanity’s struggle to locate the easy button permeates all aspects of our existence. In the context of the financial markets, everyone wants to find that expert, newsletter, or secret trading program that if followed will lead to instant, risk-free and above-average sick GAINZ. Intrinsically, we all know that said button is a fleeting chimera one chases at one’s peril — and yet, I continually get asked “What coins should I buy”, “Is now a good time to buy”, “Does technical analysis work”, and on and on. I don’t offer such opinions even to my closest friends lest they erroneously believe I’m the oracle of the Kampong.
I recently became involved as a sponsor of the Tampines Rovers Football Club in the Singapore Premier League. A few of the footballers are into crypto and asked if they could pick my brain over lunch one afternoon.
The three players had all dabbled in day trading crypto with varying degrees of success. They asked all the standard questions I mentioned above hoping that I could offer the secret to crypto riches over a two-hour lunch. Unfortunately, I disappointed them, and asked them a lot of questions that made them think about why they were investing / trading, how much time they had to dedicate to their endeavor, and what their risk tolerance was. The coup-de-grâce, which served as inspiration for this essay, was when I inquired if any of them had read the Bitcoin whitepaper. None of them answered in the affirmative.
The reason the whitepaper is important isn’t because I’m a Bitcoin maxi, but because nearly all other blockchain and crypto projects borrow concepts from and benchmark themselves against ideas presented in that paper. Some projects may not borrow from Bitcoin’s whitepaper directly, but from another project that had borrowed from Bitcoin’s whitepaper (and so on). As a rule of thumb, almost every blockchain or crypto project takes a set of successful and proven concepts from a previous project, and either imitates them or attempts to build on them.
The scams imitate poorly and at the surface level. Scamcoins have all the buzzwords and a slick looking website — but if you actually take the time to read even a few sentences of their White or Litepaper, you should be able to instantly recognise that it’s a pile of cow dung (often because it’s either a shameless plate of copypasta, or completely unintelligible).
The next 1,000 bagger projects imitate and then improve. Ethereum imitated Bitcoin in many ways, but offered a substantial improvement by creating a virtual decentralised computer that greatly expands the potential use cases for the technology underlying Bitcoin. Don’t you wish you bought some ETH in the pre-sale? I know I do — I publicly called it a shitcoin in a very early edition of this newsletter.
Ultimately, any new project needs to answer these fundamental questions to maximise its chances of success:
Why are we here at this moment trading this ecosystem of magic internet money?
What do we hope to achieve?
What about the current financial system are we trying to improve upon or replace?
If you don’t have a firm understanding of the “why” and the potential “how’s”, you cannot discern fact from fiction. With an ever expanding universe of digital coins to invest in, without a firm understanding of what the ideal outcome is, you will be at the whim of whatever the search algorithm serves up in terms of coin recommendations.
Apart from my last essay ALL ABOARD!, my 2021 missives have been more philosophical in nature and rarely delved into executable ideas. That is because without first understanding “why” digital assets can inflict fatal body blows on our current analogue financial system, you would never have the conviction to ride an asset down 90% in the bear market, to up 10x in the bull market. If you bought Bitcoin at the 2017 high of $20,000, by late 2018 you were down close to 90%.But if you held on until today, that investment is up 3x, which still beats the percentage growth of the Fed’s balance sheet. I will keep reminding everyone that the metric to beat is monetary base expansion. If you lag that, you are losing.
A peer-to-peer system that moves information from point to point without a centralised, trusted gate keeper is the goal of the whole decentralised finance movement. Successful abrogation of trust from an accredited cartel to a network of self-interested, profit-seeking participants has wide-ranging implications. I routinely focus on the financial ramifications of this shit because that is my area of interest and experience. The focus of this essay is to examine at a very high level the tax we pay for blindly trusting various aspects of our financial existence. If we imagine a future where some decentralised digital coin, token, or cryptocurrency can replace a portion of the need for blind trust in a centralised trust cartel, how much upside is there left in the market right now?
Many analysts approach the “value” embedded in our crypto capital markets from a network perspective, such as Metcalfe’s law. I am not a technologist by trade, so I prefer earnings and revenue multiples. I will attempt to fit that paradigm into this essay to render my theory of value more palatable to those of us trained in the more traditional economic canon of our post-WWII era.
The Banking System
Let’s start with some charts, which display how poorly the market thinks of the traditional banking business model.
This is a life-to-date chart of the KBW Bank Index, which represents the major commercial banks in America. As you can see, after reaching its peak in 2007, it only recently reclaimed that ATH. The Fed has done whatever it took to save the Too Big To Fail banks, and it still took these banks 14 years to reclaim 2007 highs.
This is a life-to-date chart of the EuroStoxx Banks Index, which represents the major European banks. Rut Roh, Max Pain!!! Did they decide to attack Russia in the winter again? This beauty is off 80% from its ATH (reached in 2007).
CHOYNA CHOYNA CHOYNA! This is the CSI300 Banking Index chart. China’s major banks are still down 20% from their 2008 highs. State sponsored corporate socialism is THE stated business model in China. However, even with all the help of the authorities, the banks still aren’t punching above their weight. Maybe you should buy some Pu’Er tea instead.
Things aren’t much better next door to China in the land of the rising sun, Japan. The Topix Banking Index is off over 90% from its 1989 ATH. Jiro certainly doesn’t dream of capital appreciation in Japanese mega banks. I’ll stick with investing in bluefin tuna, although after watching Seaspiracy maybe I should opt for the vegan option instead … nah fuck that give me the toro.
This is a chart of the Nifty Banking Index from India. I would never have guessed that Indian banks actually performed this well. When demographics are on your side, it is very hard to fuck up your banking system regardless of how hard you try. A+ work for the Indians, hopefully this sort of price performance can continue.
On the flip side, even with the blip of the 2000 bubble, technology bellwethers are still exponentially higher today. Given that integrated circuits and semiconductors are the bedrock of the techno utopia we reside in, the chart of Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC or 2330 TT) represents the march of innovation. Let’s compare that to the performance of the different banking indices shown above.
This chart is normalised to a 100-factor starting point. Banks who privatise profits and socialise losses haven’t managed to enrich their shareholders. That is pathetic. If they adopted any of the technological improvements we’ve seen in the past decade at all, then they’d be much better positioned to see the exponential growth similar to TSMC and other technology bellwethers.
The equity market is shouting that the traditional banking business model is broken. The question is what can credibly replace it in the not-too-distant future. Every product and service offered by a bank can be replicated and improved upon by a decentralised service powered by a PUBLIC blockchain. I believe this replication can happen at a lower cost on a macro scale, but that is up for debate — and I expect to see some empirical evidence in the near future.
Traditional banks are destined to be service companies for a subset of relatively wealthy global Boomers who can’t wrap their heads around digital finance. My mother would rather visit a physical bank branch and risk contracting COVID than learn how to use online banking. She isn’t alone — that is inertia for you. There are still billions of dollars of fee income in that business, but it definitely isn’t a growing slice of the market.
Here is a sample of the common services a bank provides and their decentralised equivalent:
Savings Account — An account where a bank used to pay you interest.
Decentralised Equivalent — A fiat stablecoin that is staked on a DeFi lending platform. E.g. If you hold USDT (Tether) which is purportedly backed 1:1 by USD held in a traditional bank, you can stake them on Compound and earn a positive yield. As a bonus the act of lending your USDT earns you ownership in the Compound network in the form of COMP tokens.
Checking Account — An account where a bank allows you to draw against your balance on-demand to pay for things.
Decentralised Equivalent — Any coin, token, or cryptocurrency held in a digital wallet. You can spend your holdings 24/7 without asking for permission from anyone. The bank, for various reasons, can and will deny you access to your hard-earned money. But the decentralised equivalent is available as long as you are connected to the internet. Don’t worry I know you would rather die than be without your favourite TikTok or Instagram influencer constantly showing off how wonderfully amazing their life is at all times in all circumstances.
Loans — Banks will charge interest to loan you money to buy a variety of things. The rub here is that banks routinely price credit differently depending on non-monetary factors (such as ethnicity), which to this day creates the impression that certain groups are red-lined and must pay a higher cost of credit than others — if they even get a loan at all. Also, in this era of global corporate socialism, large entities borrow essentially for free, while SMEs are in many cases shut out of the commercial credit markets. This creates ire towards banks who are supposed to be the conduits of credit to productive enterprises.
Decentralised Equivalent — Right now, the bulk of lending is at negative leverage and is over-collateralised. Negative leverage means you put down more collateral than you borrow. Also, the only real demand for credit is from speculators and miners. Please read my essay Dreams of a Peasant for a thorough stroll through the crypto fixed-income markets. There are no DeFi mortgage, credit card or personal loan platforms at scale. This is definitely an area where the traditional banking system, even with its shortcomings, does a better job than DeFi.
Trust Services — Banks perform a very vital function to certify certain things about you as a person or business. They can certify that you are of a certain net worth based on your deposit history with the bank, they can certify that you are gainfully employed and the quantum of your salary, and they can also provide a proof of address where your account statements are mailed to. Many of these services come at a price, which you must pay to certify to others your personal details.
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