The Pronk Pops Show 1288, July 11, 2019, Part 2: Story 1: Federal Reserve Will Cut the Federal Funds Target Rate Range in July By .25% or 25 Basis Points If Second Quarter Real Gross Domestic Product Rate of Growth Falls Below 3% — Otherwise No Change in Federal Funds Rate Target Range — Huge Uncertainty Generated By Rapidly Growing Annual Deficits in Federal Government Spending Resulting in Rising National Debt Approaching $23,000,000,000,000 and Unfunded Liabilities and and Obligations Over $230,000,000,000,000! — Bubbles Bubbles Everywhere — Beyond Bubbles — U.S. Government Bankrupt Now! — Make It Rain on The Blockchain — Trust and Truth — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1288 July 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1287 July 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1286 July 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1285 July 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1284 July 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1282 June 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1281 June 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1280 June 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1279 June 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

Pronk Pops Show 1277 June 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1276 June 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1275 June 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1274 June 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1273 June 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1272 June 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1271 June 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1270 June 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1269 June 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1268 June 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1267 May 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1266 May 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1265 May 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1264 May 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1263 May 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1262 May 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1261 May 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1260 May 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1259 May 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1258 May 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1257 May 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1256 May 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1255 May 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1254 May 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1253 May 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1252 May 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1250 May 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1249 May 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1248 May 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1246 April 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1245 April 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1244 April 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1243 April 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1242 April 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1241 April 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1240 April 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1239 April 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1238 April 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1237 April 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1236 April 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1235 April 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1234 April 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1233 April 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

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Part 2: Story 1: Federal Reserve Will Cut the Federal Funds Target Rate Range in July By .25% or 25 Basis Points If Second Quarter Real Gross Domestic Product Rate of Growth Falls Below 3% — Otherwise No Change in Federal Funds Rate Target Range — Huge Uncertainty Generated By Rapidly Growing Annual Deficits in Federal Government Spending Resulting in Rising National Debt Approaching $23,000,000,000,000 and Unfunded Liabilities and and Obligations Over $230,000,000,000,000! — Bubbles Bubbles Everywhere — Beyond Bubbles — Make It Rain on The Blockchain — Trust and Truth — Videos

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Fed Chair Jerome Powell testifies before Congress

Streamed live on Jul 10, 2019

House Financial Services Committee holds hearing on “Monetary Policy & the State of the Economy.” Fed Chair Powell testifies. All eyes will be on Powell when he testifies before a House panel on monetary policy in the first of his 2-day semiannual testimony to Congress. Investors are looking to Powell for what to expect at the next policy meeting at the end of July. FOX Business Network (FBN) is a financial news channel delivering real-time information across all platforms that impact both Main Street and Wall Street. Headquartered in New York — the business capital of the world — FBN launched in October 2007 and is the leading business network on television, topping CNBC in Business Day viewers for the second consecutive year. T he network is available in more than 80 million homes in all markets across the United States. Owned by FOX, FBN has bureaus in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and London.

 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s Senate testimony on monetary policy – 07/11/2019

Streamed live on Jul 11, 2019

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on the monetary policy and the U.S. economy.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s House testimony: The big takeaways

Economy can sustain lower jobless rate than we thought, says Fed’s Powell

Larry Kudlow: AOC ‘nailed it’ with questions to Fed chair

Cryptocurrencies rally despite Trump’s rebuke | Money Talks

Fed keeps interest rates steady, signals possible cuts in 2019

Streamed live on Jun 19, 2019

Federal Open Market Cmte announces Fed Funds Interest Rates will remain unchanged.

The Pension Bomb

10 Myths About Government Debt

What Will Cause The Next Recession – Robert Shiller On Human Behavior

Economic Collapse Warning! $222 Trillion Dollar True Size Of Government Debt & Stock Market CRASH!

Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff on the Implications of Rising National Debt

Public Choice Theory: Why Government Often Fails

Howard Marks | The Impact of Debt, Demographics, and Unfunded Liabilities

Santelli Exchange: Underfunded pension liabilities

Bill Bonner Interview: hold on to your cash, the real financial crisis is yet to come

Published on Sep 16, 2015

MoneyWeek’s editor in chief Merryn Somerset Webb talks to Bill Bonner about economic cycles and the ‘cashless society’. Click here to find out how it could affect you: http://pro1.moneyweek.com/434014/

The Upcoming Financial Crisis That Will Dwarf That of 2008 – Expect Civil Unrest

Best Documentary of the Housing Market Crash (of 2019?) | Inside the Meltdown | Behind the Big Short

Exodus out of high tax states with unfunded pensions?

N.J. pension crisis explained with popsicle sticks

A Misalignment of Interests: The Politics of Pension Funding (Pension Pursuit)

A Thunderhead: Pensions and Unfunded Liabilities

Deficits, Debts and Unfunded Liabilities: The Consequences of Excessive Government Spending

Published on May 10, 2010

Huge budget deficits and record levels of national debt are getting a lot of attention, but this video explains that unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs are Americas real red-ink challenge. More important, this CF&P mini-documentary reveals that deficits and debt are symptoms of the real problem of an excessive burden of government spending. http://www.freedomandprosperity.org

Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency

Facebook’s plan to control the global financial system

Bitcoin vs. Gold Peter Schiff debates Max Keiser

Keiser Report: #DropGold: Peter Schiff Responds (E1381)

Digital Currency’s Role in the Future of Central Banks

Christine Lagarde: ‘Central Bank digital currency is coming alive’

Digital Currency Has Real Value — Here’s Why | CNBC

Japan made bitcoin a legal currency – now it’s more popular than ever | CNBC Reports

the graduate one word plastics

There is a great future in blockchain?

Blockchain and Crypto: Past, Present, and Future | Douglas Pepe | TEDxRanneySchool

Mr Bitcoin: “I don’t want money, I don’t want fame!” BBC News

Is This Man the Inventor of Bitcoin?

Blockchain Expert Explains One Concept in 5 Levels of Difficulty | WIRED

How does a blockchain work – Simply Explained

Bitcoin: Beyond The Bubble – Full Documentary

Scott Adams’ Guide To Blockchain: The Technology That Will Change Everything

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How the blockchain is changing money and business | Don Tapscott

TED

Published on Sep 16, 2016

What is the blockchain? If you don’t know, you should; if you do, chances are you still need some clarification on how it actually works. Don Tapscott is here to help, demystifying this world-changing, trust-building technology which, he says, represents nothing less than the second generation of the internet and holds the potential to transform money, business, government and society. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more. Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at http://www.ted.com/translate

The Graduate and the Perpetuation of Loneliness

Understanding The Graduate 50 Years Later

What is Blockchain

Published on Jun 9, 2016

Blockchain explained. Shai Rubin, CTO of Citi Innovation Lab, explains in an easy and simple way the basics of blockchain.

Blockchains: how can they be used?

19 Industries The Blockchain Will Disrupt

How the blockchain will radically transform the economy | Bettina Warburg

Blockchain is Eating Wall Street | Alex Tapscott | TEDxSanFrancisco

How to Use Blockchain to Create a Better Future | Brian Condenanza | TEDxHautLacSchool

Our Lives in a Blockchain-Powered Smart Economy | Eddy Travia | TEDxINSEAD

Is Bitcoin the Future of Money? Peter Schiff vs. Erik Voorhees

The Convergence of Blockchain, Machine Learning, and the Cloud | Steve Lund | TEDxBYU

The Value Revolution: How Blockchain Will Change Money & the World | Galia Benartzi | TEDxWhiteCity

Blockchain Technology Explained (2 Hour Course)

How Bitcoin Works in 5 Minutes (Technical)

How Bitcoin Works Under the Hood

Why crypto regulation is doomed to fail | Marit Hansen | TEDxKielUniversity

Bitcoin scares central banks. Here’s why

George Gilder: Forget Cloud Computing, Blockchain is the Future

Why central banks are experimenting with blockchain

GREAT SCENE – The Graduate (finale)

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Why Public Policy Always Ends in Disaster

It’s Hormeggedon! What Happens When Public Policy Passes the Point of No Return

Bill Bonner Interview: hold on to your cash, the real financial crisis is yet to come

Bill Bonner on the financial markets WORLD.MINDS INTERVIEW

Jim Simons on His Formula for Improving Math Education

Billionaire James Simons: Quantitative Investment Strategy, Career and Trading (2019)

Renaissance Man — Jim Simons

Billionaire Mathematician – Numberphile

The mathematician who cracked Wall Street | Jim Simons

James H. Simons: Mathematics, Common Sense and Good Luck

By appearing to buckle to Trump on rates, is the Fed chief creating problems down the road?

By appearing to buckle to Trump on rates, is the Fed chief creating problems down the road?
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at a news conference in Washington on June 19. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

In signaling that the Federal Reserve is almost certain to cut interest rates at the end of this month, Fed Chairman Jerome H. Powell may have given President Trump what he wants.

But the central bank now looks more vulnerable to criticism that it is caving to political pressures that will only grow as the election cycle heats up.

Powell, in testimony to lawmakers Wednesday, essentially argued that heightened uncertainty, from trade tensions and slowing global economic growth, along with low inflation, was enough to justify a cut in interest rates.

Historically, the Fed has lowered rates to ward off recession or when it sees substantial risks of a downturn.

The U.S. economy expanded at a nearly 3% pace last year and, although it has slowed in recent months, the Fed and most private forecasters see growth continuing at a decent rate. The latest jobs report for June showed hiring remains strong, and Trump recently agreed to a ceasefire in the trade war with China, tenuous as it may be.For those reasons, Powell’s remarks Wednesday came as a pleasant surprise to financial markets. Stocks rose to record highs.

Lowering the rate by a quarter point later this month may help borrowers a little. The Fed’s main rate is a benchmark for credit cards, auto loans and other short-term consumer lending, but long-term rates such as mortgages already have dropped in anticipation of a Fed rate cut, meaning it’s unlikely to provide much of a boost to the housing market or the broader economy.

“We’ve already gotten 90% of the benefit; it’s already priced into the market,” said Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Investors are expecting at least one more quarter-point rate cut after July, and some even two. Powell and his colleagues at the Fed will have their hands full managing investors’ expectations on future rate reductions, so they don’t set themselves up for a sharp fall.

“The issue that the Fed is going to run into … is just like parenting,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. “They can’t bend every time the markets throw a tantrum. At some point, you’ve got to put your foot down.”

Market expectations aside, Powell’s bigger challenge is likely to come from Trump. The president has been publicly hammering Powell to lower interest rates. Trump has criticized the Fed for raising rates four times last year, and no one thinks he will be satisfied if the Fed drops its benchmark rate by a quarter point on July 31, as it’s now expected to do.

Trump and his economic team have pressed the Fed to slash rates by a full point, and Trump isn’t likely to stop jawboning the Fed in the coming months.

Some economic experts say Trump already has succeeded in getting into the heads of Fed decision makers.

“Powell does seem to be going a little bit out of his way to reverse the rate hikes made last year,” said Chris Rupkey, managing director and chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York. “The president’s like another active member of the Fed board in the room. I wouldn’t tell him no, would you?”

Rupkey and some other Fed watchers say Powell is moving a bit too early in readying rate cuts, especially with job growth still running very strong. Only a few months ago, the Fed’s stance on interest rates was to wait and see.

“Should they cut rates at this time? Absolutely not!” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at Economic Outlook Group. “There is no economic justification to take that step now.

“For one, there is little to suggest this business cycle [is] struggling. The softness we see in some data points have little to do with economic fundamentals. The trade war with China and the havoc it has caused to global supply chain are the primary reasons those sectors have weakened.”

But other analysts argue that there’s good reason for the shift in the Fed’s posture. According to minutes from their last meeting in June, released Wednesday, Fed policymakers were feeling that the downside risks to the economy “had increased significantly over recent weeks.”

And in his testimony Wednesday to the House Financial Services Committee, Powell said that since May, crosscurrents that seemed to moderate earlier in the year “have reemerged, creating greater uncertainty.” Among other concerns, he said, business spending, trade and manufacturing activity have slowed.

“The issue really is more now on the business side where we see business confidence and business investment weakening a bit,” he told lawmakers, adding that there’s rising risk as well to consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of U.S. economic activity. “Household confidence has remained high, but over time uncertainty can cause households to hold back as well.”

Powell, sensitive to the political pressures bearing on the Fed, took pains in his prepared remarks to defend the integrity of the central bank and the basis for its policymaking.

“Congress has given us an important degree of independence so that we can effectively pursue our statutory goals based on objective analysis and data,” Powell said as he began his testimony.

Trump has reportedly considered firing Powell or demoting him, although it’s not clear whether the president has the legal authority to do so. Powell reiterated Wednesday that the law is on his side and that he intends to serve the full four-year term as Fed chair, which he assumed in February 2018.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have cautioned Trump against taking steps to remove Powell as Fed leader. And on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers sought to drive home that point.

“Mr. Chairman, if you got a call from the president today or tomorrow, and he said, ‘I’m firing you. Pack up. It’s time to go,’ what would you do?” asked Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Financial Services Committee.

“Well, of course I would not do that,” Powell responded, to which Waters added, “I can’t hear you,” eliciting laughter.

But the president’s unusually persistent and heavy pressure on the Fed is anything but a laughing matter.

Alan Blinder, a Fed vice chairman in the mid-1990s, said the concern about the bank’s independence stemming from the president’s attacks was such that it could legitimately be a factor in a Fed decision not to raise rates.

Apart from the potential harm to its credibility, a more immediate risk for the Fed in cutting rates is that it could limit the central bank’s arsenal in fighting the next recession. The Fed’s main benchmark rate is less than 2.5%, low by historical standards.

In response to lawmakers’ questioning, Powell said the resumption of trade talks between the United States and China was a “constructive step” but that doesn’t really change the outlook.

“I would say that the bottom line for me is that the uncertainties around global growth and trade continue to weigh on the outlook.”

https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-jerome-powell-interest-rates-20190710-story.html

July 10, 2019

Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress

Chair Jerome H. Powell

Before the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

 

Chair Powell submitted identical remarks to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, on July 11, 2019.

Chairwoman Waters, Ranking Member McHenry, and other members of the Committee, I am pleased to present the Federal Reserve’s semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress.

Let me start by saying that my colleagues and I strongly support the goals of maximum employment and price stability that Congress has set for monetary policy. We are committed to providing clear explanations about our policies and activities. Congress has given us an important degree of independence so that we can effectively pursue our statutory goals based on objective analysis and data. We appreciate that our independence brings with it an obligation for transparency so that you and the public can hold us accountable.

Today I will review the current economic situation and outlook before turning to monetary policy. I will also provide an update of our ongoing public review of our framework for setting monetary policy.

Current Economic Situation and Outlook 
The economy performed reasonably well over the first half of 2019, and the current expansion is now in its 11th year. However, inflation has been running below the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) symmetric 2 percent objective, and crosscurrents, such as trade tensions and concerns about global growth, have been weighing on economic activity and the outlook.

The labor market remains healthy. Job gains averaged 172,000 per month from January through June. This number is lower than the average of 223,000 a month last year but above the pace needed to provide jobs for new workers entering the labor force. Consequently, the unemployment rate moved down from 3.9 percent in December to 3.7 percent in June, close to its lowest level in 50 years. Job openings remain plentiful, and employers are increasingly willing to hire workers with fewer skills and train them. As a result, the benefits of a strong job market have been more widely shared in recent years. Indeed, wage gains have been greater for lower-skilled workers. That said, individuals in some demographic groups and in certain parts of the country continue to face challenges. For example, unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanics remain well above the rates for whites and Asians. Likewise, the share of the population with a job is higher in urban areas than in rural communities, and this gap widened over the past decade. A box in the July Monetary Policy Report provides a comparison of employment and wage gains over the current expansion for individuals with different levels of education.

Gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019, similar to last year’s pace. This strong reading was driven largely by net exports and inventories—components that are not generally reliable indicators of ongoing momentum. The more reliable drivers of growth in the economy are consumer spending and business investment. While growth in consumer spending was weak in the first quarter, incoming data show that it has bounced back and is now running at a solid pace. However, growth in business investment seems to have slowed notably, and overall growth in the second quarter appears to have moderated. The slowdown in business fixed investment may reflect concerns about trade tensions and slower growth in the global economy. In addition, housing investment and manufacturing output declined in the first quarter and appear to have decreased again in the second quarter.

After running close to our 2 percent objective over much of last year, overall consumer price inflation, measured by the 12-month change in the price index for personal consumption expenditures (PCE), declined earlier this year and stood at 1.5 percent in May. The 12-month change in core PCE inflation, which excludes food and energy prices and tends to be a better indicator of future inflation, has also come down this year and was 1.6 percent in May.

Our baseline outlook is for economic growth to remain solid, labor markets to stay strong, and inflation to move back up over time to the Committee’s 2 percent objective. However, uncertainties about the outlook have increased in recent months. In particular, economic momentum appears to have slowed in some major foreign economies, and that weakness could affect the U.S. economy. Moreover, a number of government policy issues have yet to be resolved, including trade developments, the federal debt ceiling, and Brexit. And there is a risk that weak inflation will be even more persistent than we currently anticipate. We are carefully monitoring these developments, and we will continue to assess their implications for the U.S economic outlook and inflation.

The nation also continues to confront important longer-run challenges. Labor force participation by those in their prime working years is now lower in the United States than in most other nations with comparable economies. As I mentioned, there are troubling labor market disparities across demographic groups and different parts of the country. The relative stagnation of middle and lower incomes and low levels of upward mobility for lower-income families are also ongoing concerns. In addition, finding ways to boost productivity growth, which leads to rising wages and living standards over the longer term, should remain a high national priority. And I remain concerned about the longer-term effects of high and rising federal debt, which can restrain private investment and, in turn, reduce productivity and overall economic growth. The longer-run vitality of the U.S. economy would benefit from efforts to address these issues.

Monetary Policy 
Against this backdrop, the FOMC maintained the target range for the federal funds rate at 2‑1/4 to 2-1/2 percent in the first half of this year. At our January, March, and May meetings, we stated that we would be patient as we determined what future adjustments to the federal funds rate might be appropriate to support our goals of maximum employment and price stability.

At the time of our May meeting, we were mindful of the ongoing crosscurrents from global growth and trade, but there was tentative evidence that these crosscurrents were moderating. The latest data from China and Europe were encouraging, and there were reports of progress in trade negotiations with China. Our continued patient stance seemed appropriate, and the Committee saw no strong case for adjusting our policy rate.

Since our May meeting, however, these crosscurrents have reemerged, creating greater uncertainty. Apparent progress on trade turned to greater uncertainty, and our contacts in business and agriculture report heightened concerns over trade developments. Growth indicators from around the world have disappointed on net, raising concerns that weakness in the global economy will continue to affect the U.S. economy. These concerns may have contributed to the drop in business confidence in some recent surveys and may have started to show through to incoming data.

In our June meeting statement, we indicated that, in light of increased uncertainties about the economic outlook and muted inflation pressures, we would closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would act as appropriate to sustain the expansion. Many FOMC participants saw that the case for a somewhat more accommodative monetary policy had strengthened. Since then, based on incoming data and other developments, it appears that uncertainties around trade tensions and concerns about the strength of the global economy continue to weigh on the U.S. economic outlook. Inflation pressures remain muted.

The FOMC has made a number of important decisions this year about our framework for implementing monetary policy and our plans for completing the reduction of the Fed’s securities holdings. At our January meeting, we decided to continue to implement monetary policy using our current policy regime with ample reserves, and emphasized that we are prepared to adjust any of the details for completing balance sheet normalization in light of economic and financial developments. At our March meeting, we communicated our intention to slow, starting in May, the decline in the Fed’s aggregate securities holdings and to end the reduction in these holdings in September. The July Monetary Policy Report provides details on these decisions.

The July Monetary Policy Report also includes an update on monetary policy rules. The FOMC routinely looks at monetary policy rules that recommend a level for the federal funds rate based on inflation and unemployment rates. I continue to find these rules helpful, although using these rules requires careful judgment.

We are conducting a public review of our monetary policy strategy, tools, and communications—the first review of its kind for the FOMC. Our motivation is to consider ways to improve the Committee’s current policy framework and to best position the Fed to achieve maximum employment and price stability. The review has started with outreach to and consultation with a broad range of people and groups through a series of Fed Listens events. The FOMC will consider questions related to the review at upcoming meetings. We will publicly report the outcome of our discussions.

Thank you. I am happy to respond to your questions.

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Last Update: July 10, 2019

Financial Stability Oversight Council

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Financial Stability Oversight Council
FSOC Meeting.jpg
3rd FSOC Meeting (January 18, 2011)
Agency overview
Formed July 21, 2010
Jurisdiction United States Government
Website Treasury.gov/FSOC

The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) is a United States federal government organization, established by Title I of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010.[1] The Office of Financial Research is intended to provide support to the council.

The Dodd-Frank Act provides the Council with broad authorities to identify and monitor excessive risks to the U.S. financial system arising from the distress or failure of large, interconnected bank holding companies or non-bank financial companies, or from risks that could arise outside the financial system; to eliminate expectations that any American financial firm is “too big to fail“; and to respond to emerging threats to U.S. financial stability.[2]

The Act also designates the Secretary of the Treasury as Chairperson. Inherent to the FSOC’s role as a consultative council is facilitation of communication among financial regulators. The FSOC has the authority to set aside certain financial regulations published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if those rules would threaten financial stability.

Contents

Purpose and duties

At minimum, it must meet quarterly.

Specifically, there are three purposes assigned to the Council:[3]

  1. identify the risks to the financial stability of the United States from both financial and non-financial organizations
  2. promote market discipline, by eliminating expectations that the Government will shield them from losses in the event of failure
  3. respond to emerging threats to the stability of the US financial system

Activities

On July 26, 2011, the First Annual Financial Stability Oversight Council Report [4] was issued by the Council fulfilling the Congressional mandate to report on the activities of the Council. The Report is intended to describe significant financial market and regulatory developments, analyze potential emerging threats, and make certain recommendations. The July 26, 2011 report warned that the United States faces potential losses connected with the European debt crisis.[5]

In September 2014, a group of Republican lawmakers accused U.S. regulators of “disparate treatment” of nonbank financial firms currently considered for tougher oversight. The lawmakers stated that the regulators should conduct the same level of analysis and due diligence for the insurance industry as it has for the asset management industry before formally considering whether to designate another insurance company.[6]

After much anticipation and debate about whether FSOC would and should designate individual asset managers (a nonbank financial firm) as systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs) which would subject them to greater oversight, FSOC announced in August, 2014, that rather than designating individual asset managers as SIFIs, it would focus on examining systemic risk posed by asset managers’ products, and activities. As a result of FSOC’s announcement the Securities and Exchange Commission is now expected and assumed to take a prudential supervisory role of individual asset managers, in addition to exercising its traditional mandate of investor protection.[7]

Since the inception of FSOC, the Council has designated select financial market utilities (FMUs) as “systemically important.” The designation of systemically important subjects the FMU to enhanced regulatory oversight. The three supervisory agencies charged with regulating systemically important FMUs are: the Federal Reserve Board, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.[8]

Resources

The Federal Advisory Committee Act, which limits the powers of advisory committees, does not apply to the council. The council has an almost unlimited budget in that the Council may draw on virtually any resource of any department or agency of the federal government. Any employee of the federal government may be detailed to the Council without reimbursement and without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege. Any member of the Council who is an employee of the federal government serves without additional compensation. In addition, “An employee of the Federal Government detailed to the Council shall report to and be subject to oversight by the Council during the assignment to the Council, and shall be compensated by the department or agency from which the employee was detailed.”[9] Additionally, “Any expenses of the Council shall be treated as expenses of, and paid by, the Office of Financial Research”.[10]

Authority

The Council has very broad powers to monitor, investigate and assess any risks to the US financial system. The Council has the authority to collect information from any state or federal financial regulatory agency, and may direct the Office of Financial Research, which supports the work of the Council, “to collect information from bank holding companies and nonbank financial companies”.[11] The Council monitors domestic and international regulatory proposals, including insurance and accounting issues, and advises Congress and the Federal Reserve on ways to enhance the integrity, efficiency, competitiveness and stability of the US financial markets. On a regular basis, the Council is required to make a report to Congress describing the state of the U.S. financial system. Each voting member of the Council is required to either affirm that the federal government is taking all reasonable steps to assure financial stability and mitigate systemic risk, or describe additional steps that need to be taken.[12] Under specific circumstances, the Chairman of the Council (who is also the Secretary of the Treasury), with the concurrence of 2/3 voting members, may place nonbank financial companies or domestic subsidiaries of international banks under the supervision of the Federal Reserve if it appears that these companies could pose a threat to the financial stability of the US.[13] The Federal Reserve may promulgate safe harbor regulations to exempt certain types of foreign banks from regulation, with approval of the Council.[14] Under certain circumstances, the Council may provide for more stringent regulation of a financial activity by issuing recommendations to the primary financial regulatory agency, which the primary financial agency is obliged to implement – the Council reports to Congress on the implementation or failure to implement such recommendations.[15]

Financial reporting to the Council

The Council may require any bank or non-bank financial institution with assets over $50 billion to submit certified reports as to the company’s:[16]

  • financial condition
  • systems in place to monitor and control any risks
  • transactions with subsidiaries that are regulated banks
  • the extent to which any of the company’s activities could have a potential disruptive impact on financial markets or the overall financial stability of the country

The Comptroller General of the United States may audit the Council or anyone working for the Council, and may have access to any information under the control of or used by the Council.[17]

Review 2017

On April 21, 2017, President Donald Trump signed one Executive Order13789;[18][19][20] and two Presidential memorandaOrderly Liquidation Authority Review and Financial Stability Oversight Council[21][22][23] to review the Council and parts of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Organization

Voting members

The Financial Stability Oversight Council has ten voting members:[24]

  1. Secretary of the Treasury (chairs the Council)
  2. Chairman of the Federal Reserve
  3. Comptroller of the Currency
  4. Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  5. Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  6. Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  7. Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
  8. Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency
  9. the Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration Board
  10. an independent member (with insurance expertise), appointed by the President

Current voters[edit]

Current Voters (sortable)
Agency Currently Party Appointed Removable Notes
Treasury Steven Mnuchin Republican Directly Any time
SEC Jay Clayton Independent From 5 Board Members After 5-year term
CFTC J. Christopher Giancarlo Republican From 5 Board Members After 5-year term
Fed Jerome Powell From 7 Board Members After 4-year term
OCC Joseph Otting Directly After 5-year term
CFPB Kathleen Kraninger Directly After 5 year term
FDIC Jelena McWilliams From 3 Board Members After 5-year term
FHFA Mel Watt Democratic Directly After 5-year term
NCUA J. Mark McWatters Republican From 3 Board Members After 6-year term
Insurance Thomas E. Workman Directly After 6-year term

Non-voting Members

There are five non-voting members:

  1. Director of the Office of Financial Research (an independent agency within the Treasury Department and established by the Dodd-Frank Act): Richard Berner
  2. Director of the Federal Insurance Office (part of the Treasury Department and established in this Act): Steven E. Seitz
  3. a state insurance commissioner, to be designated by a selection process determined by the state insurance commissioners (2-year term): Maine Superintendent Eric Cioppa web|url=http://naic.org/members_bios/missouri.htm%7Ctitle=Commissioner Bio – Missouri|publisher=}}</ref> delegate to the FSOC.[25]
  4. a state banking supervisor, to be designated by a selection process determined by the state banking supervisors (2-year term): John P. Ducrest, Commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions
  5. a state securities commissioner (or officer performing like function) to be designated by a selection process determined by such state security commissioners (2-year term): Melanie Senter Lubin, Maryland Securities Commissioner.

See also

References

  1. ^ “Bill Summary & Status – 111th Congress (2009–2010) – H.R.4173 – All Information – THOMAS (Library of Congress)”. Library of Congress. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
  2. ^ Stupak, Jeffrey M. (February 12, 2018). Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC): Structure and Activities(PDF). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  3. ^ H.R. 4173, § 112(a)(1)
  4. ^ “2011 Annual Report”. U.S. Department of the Treasury. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  5. ^ The Center for Public Integrity. “U.S. Stock Market Plunge Followed Financial Stability Oversight Council Warning”. The National Law Review. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  6. ^ Stephenson, Emily. “U.S. Republican lawmakers say regulators treat insurers unfairly”Reuters.
  7. ^ “Asset managers: FSOC stands down, SEC stands up”(PDF). PwC Financial Services Regulatory Practice. December 2014.
  8. ^ “A closer look: Financial market utilities: Is the system safer?”(PDF). PwC Financial Services Regulatory Practice. February 2015.
  9. ^ H.R. 4173 § 111(j)
  10. ^ H.R. 4173 § 118
  11. ^ H.R. 4173 § 112(a)(2)
  12. ^ H.R. 4173 § 112(b)
  13. ^ H.R. 4173 § 113
  14. ^ H.R. 4173 § 170
  15. ^ H.R. 4173 § 120
  16. ^ H.R. 4173, § 116
  17. ^ H.R. 4173 § 122
  18. ^ Office of the Press Secretary (April 21, 2017). “Presidential Memorandum on Orderly Liquidation Authority Review”whitehouse.govWashington, D.C.White House. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  19. ^ Tausche, Kayla; Javers, Eamon (April 20, 2017). “Trump to sign ‘financial-related’ executive actions on Friday”CNBCEnglewood Cliffs, New JerseyNBCUniversal (CNBC LLC). Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  20. ^ Boyd, Brecke (April 21, 2017). “POTUS Memo on Orderly Liquidation Review May Clear Path for Legislation Amending Bankruptcy Code”Baker BottsHouston: Baker Botts L.L.P. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  21. ^ Office of the Press Secretary (April 21, 2017). “Presidential Memorandum on the Financial Stability Oversight Council”whitehouse.govWashington, D.C.White House. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  22. ^ Lane, Sylvan (April 20, 2017). “Trump to sign executive order, memoranda on financial regulation at Treasury”The HillWashington, D.C.: Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Retrieved May 3,2017.
  23. ^ Puzzanghera, Jim (April 21, 2017). “Trump targets Dodd-Frank rules designed to wall off risky banks”Los Angeles TimesTromc Inc. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  24. ^ H.R. 4173, § 111
  25. ^ “SPECIAL SECTION: Financial Stability Oversight Council”.

Further reading

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_Stability_Oversight_Council

The shift away from LIBOR: implications for retail lenders

OUT-LAW ANALYSIS | 28 Mar 2019 | 9:30 am | 4 min. read

ANALYSIS: Use of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) as a benchmark interest rate is likely to come to an end in 2021 or shortly afterwards, with implications for millions of pounds-worth of retail banking contracts.

Financial services regulators and central banks around the world have been pushing for a transition away from the use of interbank offered rates (IBORs), given the previous attempted market manipulation, false reporting and the decline in liquidity in interbank unsecured funding markets. They include the New York Federal Reserve Bank, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), whose director of markets and wholesale policy made the comments above in an industry speech in January 2019.

Whilst there has been understandable focus on the impact of LIBOR transition on the wholesale banking industry and especially on the £30 trillion global derivatives market, the impact of LIBOR transition on other parts of financial markets should not be forgotten. A variety of loan products reference LIBOR, such as auto finance, personal loans and credit cards, while loans and mortgages that reference LIBOR are still being issued in some parts of the market.

Those lending to consumers will have to consider how the transition affects their legacy contracts, as well as any new business still being written that still references LIBOR. There may also be other ways in which LIBOR is referenced in retail lending contracts, for example in relation to penalty rates or default rates. Retail lenders will need to consider how LIBOR transition affects funding models and risk mitigation techniques. The transition may also give rise to regulatory conduct risk and litigation risk. It is not inconceivable that more mis-selling cases connected to LIBOR could arise in the retail space.

What practical preparations can retail lenders make?

The first step is to identify contracts which are LIBOR-linked as well as any other contractual references to LIBOR, such as penalty rates. Firms should then plan their transition, taking appropriate steps from a legal, regulatory and operational perspective to transition legacy contracts and future business not only from LIBOR, but also from other IBORs, such as Euribor and the Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (TIBOR).

Firms looking to replace LIBOR rates in legacy contracts should not underestimate the task ahead. The journey to an IBOR replacement begins with a detailed review of loan portfolios. It will be necessary to identify the relevant IBOR reference rate used and whether a fall-back position has been catered for in the contract if the reference rate ceases to be published. An assessment of whether the fall-back rate can be relied on for the remainder of the term would then need to be undertaken.

If no fall-back has been catered for, or the proposed fall-back cannot be used long term, firms are going to have to start looking to the variation terms in their contracts. Contractual variation rights will not be the end of the problem, as firms will then need to identify a risk-free rate (RFR) that is a suitable replacement (see below).

If variation terms need to be relied on, the FCA’s finalised guidance on the fairness of variation terms in financial services consumer contracts will be relevant for firms. If firms have not already done so, they should consider whether their existing variation terms are fair and if the firm has the power to unilaterally vary the contract terms in the way they need. Any suggestion of unfair variation terms and consequent unfair treatment of customers will certainly attract the attention of the regulator.

What alternative reference rates are available?

Global regulators have taken steps to adopt RFRs in place of IBORs. However, these rates do not provide an exact replacement for IBORs, while there has been little uniformity in the adoption of RFRs in relation to the different IBORs, jurisdictions and markets.

The panel banks whose submissions currently inform the LIBOR rate have voluntarily agreed to continue to support it until the end of 2021, although other IBORs are likely to continue beyond this date. The Financial Stability Board, in its November 2018 progress report, said that “it is recognised that transition to RFRs may take longer and therefore maintaining IBORs is still necessary”. This may present a challenge not only in relation to fall-back triggers or fall-back rates in legacy retail lending contracts, but also as regards the most appropriate alternative rates for these contracts.

RFRs such as SONIA, an overnight rate administered by the Bank of England, are not an exact replacement for LIBOR – particularly three-month and six-month LIBOR. This is likely to present challenges for lenders requiring a term rate going forward, and where they seek to replace three and six-month LIBOR in legacy contracts.

For firms, participation in relevant consultations issued by industry-led bodies such as the Bank of England’s Working Group on Sterling Risk Free Reference Rates to assist in shaping transition away from IBORs in a way which is beneficial to your part of the market will be important.

What positions have the UK regulators taken?

The FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) set out their position on LIBOR transition in a joint ‘Dear CEO’ letter of 19 September 2018 (2-page / 277KB PDF). In that letter, to the largest UK banks and insurers, the regulators highlighted that insufficient preparation for LIBOR transition could negatively impact the safety and soundness of firms, their clients and the markets in which they operate. The letter sought assurances from those firms’ senior managers and boards that they were making suitable preparations for LIBOR transition.

Although this letter focused on the largest firms – the so-called ‘category 1’ firms – lenders outside of that group may still wish to reflect not only on their own preparations for LIBOR transition, but also any related conduct risk. Areas of focus should include risks in relation to the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) and treating customers fairly, against a backdrop where mortgage debt accounts for over 80% of total UK household liabilities and the FCA has been undertaking a mortgage market review.

There is potential for consumer detriment in relation to mortgages or loans which reference LIBOR, where LIBOR transition has been handled poorly. Firm strategies for communicating their planned changes with consumers, clients, regulators and other stakeholders should be carefully considered and planned.

Charlotte Pope-Williams is a financial regulation expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.

https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/shift-away-from-libor-implications-for-retail-lenders

Blockchain

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Blockchain formation. The main chain (black) consists of the longest series of blocks from the genesis block (green) to the current block. Orphan blocks (purple) exist outside of the main chain.

blockchain,[1][2][3] originally block chain,[4][5] is a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography.[1][6] Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block,[6] a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a Merkle tree).

By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”.[7] For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority. Although blockchain records are not unalterable, blockchains may be considered secure by design and exemplify a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault toleranceDecentralized consensus has therefore been claimed with a blockchain.[8]

Blockchain was invented by a person (or group of people) using the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency bitcoin.[1] The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is unknown. The invention of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency to solve the double-spending problem without the need of a trusted authority or central server. The bitcoin design has inspired other applications,[1][3] and blockchains that are readable by the public are widely used by cryptocurrencies. Blockchain is considered a type of payment rail.[9] Private blockchains have been proposed for business use. Sources such as Computerworld called the marketing of such blockchains without a proper security model “snake oil“.[10]

Contents

History

Bitcoin transactions (January 2009 – September 2017)

The first work on a cryptographically secured chain of blocks was described in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta.[6][11] They wanted to implement a system where document timestamps could not be tampered with. In 1992, Bayer, Haber and Stornetta incorporated Merkle trees to the design, which improved its efficiency by allowing several document certificates to be collected into one block.[6][12]

The first blockchain was conceptualized by a person (or group of people) known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. Nakamoto improved the design in an important way using a Hashcash-like method to add blocks to the chain without requiring them to be signed by a trusted party.[6] The design was implemented the following year by Nakamoto as a core component of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions on the network.[1]

In August 2014, the bitcoin blockchain file size, containing records of all transactions that have occurred on the network, reached 20 GB (gigabytes).[13] In January 2015, the size had grown to almost 30 GB, and from January 2016 to January 2017, the bitcoin blockchain grew from 50 GB to 100 GB in size.

The words block and chain were used separately in Satoshi Nakamoto’s original paper, but were eventually popularized as a single word, blockchain, by 2016.

Smart contracts that run on a blockchain, for example ones that “creat[e] invoices that pay themselves when a shipment arrives or share certificates that automatically send their owners dividends if profits reach a certain level.”[1] require an off-chain oracle to access any “external data or events based on time or market conditions [that need] to interact with the blockchain.”[14]

According to Accenture, an application of the diffusion of innovations theory suggests that blockchains attained a 13.5% adoption rate within financial services in 2016, therefore reaching the early adopters phase.[15] Industry trade groups joined to create the Global Blockchain Forum in 2016, an initiative of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.

In May 2018, Gartner found that only 1% of CIOs indicated any kind of blockchain adoption within their organisations, and only 8% of CIOs were in the short-term ‘planning or [looking at] active experimentation with blockchain’.[16]

Structure

A blockchain is a decentralizeddistributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.[1][17] This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions independently and relatively inexpensively.[18] A blockchain database is managed autonomously using a peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamping server. They are authenticated by mass collaboration powered by collective self-interests.[19] Such a design facilitates robust workflow where participants’ uncertainty regarding data security is marginal. The use of a blockchain removes the characteristic of infinite reproducibility from a digital asset. It confirms that each unit of value was transferred only once, solving the long-standing problem of double spending. A blockchain has been described as a value-exchange protocol.[20] A blockchain can maintain title rights because, when properly set up to detail the exchange agreement, it provides a record that compels offer and acceptance.

Blocks

Blocks hold batches of valid transactions that are hashed and encoded into a Merkle tree.[1] Each block includes the cryptographic hash of the prior block in the blockchain, linking the two. The linked blocks form a chain.[1] This iterative process confirms the integrity of the previous block, all the way back to the original genesis block.[21]

Sometimes separate blocks can be produced concurrently, creating a temporary fork. In addition to a secure hash-based history, any blockchain has a specified algorithm for scoring different versions of the history so that one with a higher score can be selected over others. Blocks not selected for inclusion in the chain are called orphan blocks.[21] Peers supporting the database have different versions of the history from time to time. They keep only the highest-scoring version of the database known to them. Whenever a peer receives a higher-scoring version (usually the old version with a single new block added) they extend or overwrite their own database and retransmit the improvement to their peers. There is never an absolute guarantee that any particular entry will remain in the best version of the history forever. Blockchains are typically built to add the score of new blocks onto old blocks and are given incentives to extend with new blocks rather than overwrite old blocks. Therefore, the probability of an entry becoming superseded decreases exponentially[22] as more blocks are built on top of it, eventually becoming very low.[1][23]:ch. 08[24] For example, bitcoin uses a proof-of-work system, where the chain with the most cumulative proof-of-work is considered the valid one by the network. There are a number of methods that can be used to demonstrate a sufficient level of computation. Within a blockchain the computation is carried out redundantly rather than in the traditional segregated and parallel manner.[25]

Block time

The block time is the average time it takes for the network to generate one extra block in the blockchain. Some blockchains create a new block as frequently as every five seconds. By the time of block completion, the included data becomes verifiable. In cryptocurrency, this is practically when the transaction takes place, so a shorter block time means faster transactions. The block time for Ethereum is set to between 14 and 15 seconds, while for bitcoin it is 10 minutes.[citation needed]

Hard forks

hard fork is a rule change such that the software validating according to the old rules will see the blocks produced according to the new rules as invalid. In case of a hard fork, all nodes meant to work in accordance with the new rules need to upgrade their software.

If one group of nodes continues to use the old software while the other nodes use the new software, a split can occur. For example, Ethereum has hard-forked to “make whole” the investors in The DAO, which had been hacked by exploiting a vulnerability in its code. In this case, the fork resulted in a split creating Ethereum and Ethereum Classic chains. In 2014 the Nxt community was asked to consider a hard fork that would have led to a rollback of the blockchain records to mitigate the effects of a theft of 50 million NXT from a major cryptocurrency exchange. The hard fork proposal was rejected, and some of the funds were recovered after negotiations and ransom payment. Alternatively, to prevent a permanent split, a majority of nodes using the new software may return to the old rules, as was the case of bitcoin split on 12 March 2013.[26]

Decentralization

By storing data across its peer-to-peer network, the blockchain eliminates a number of risks that come with data being held centrally.[1] The decentralized blockchain may use ad-hoc message passing and distributed networking.

Peer-to-peer blockchain networks lack centralized points of vulnerability that computer crackers can exploit; likewise, it has no central point of failure. Blockchain security methods include the use of public-key cryptography.[4]:5 A public key (a long, random-looking string of numbers) is an address on the blockchain. Value tokens sent across the network are recorded as belonging to that address. A private key is like a password that gives its owner access to their digital assets or the means to otherwise interact with the various capabilities that blockchains now support. Data stored on the blockchain is generally considered incorruptible.[1]

Every node in a decentralized system has a copy of the blockchain. Data quality is maintained by massive database replication[8] and computational trust. No centralized “official” copy exists and no user is “trusted” more than any other.[4] Transactions are broadcast to the network using software. Messages are delivered on a best-effort basis. Mining nodes validate transactions,[21] add them to the block they are building, and then broadcast the completed block to other nodes.[23]:ch. 08 Blockchains use various time-stamping schemes, such as proof-of-work, to serialize changes.[27] Alternative consensus methods include proof-of-stake.[21] Growth of a decentralized blockchain is accompanied by the risk of centralization because the computer resources required to process larger amounts of data become more expensive.[28]

Openness

Open blockchains are more user-friendly than some traditional ownership records, which, while open to the public, still require physical access to view. Because all early blockchains were permissionless, controversy has arisen over the blockchain definition. An issue in this ongoing debate is whether a private system with verifiers tasked and authorized (permissioned) by a central authority should be considered a blockchain.[29][30][31][32][33] Proponents of permissioned or private chains argue that the term “blockchain” may be applied to any data structure that batches data into time-stamped blocks. These blockchains serve as a distributed version of multiversion concurrency control (MVCC) in databases.[34] Just as MVCC prevents two transactions from concurrently modifying a single object in a database, blockchains prevent two transactions from spending the same single output in a blockchain.[35]:30–31 Opponents say that permissioned systems resemble traditional corporate databases, not supporting decentralized data verification, and that such systems are not hardened against operator tampering and revision.[29][31] Nikolai Hampton of Computerworld said that “many in-house blockchain solutions will be nothing more than cumbersome databases,” and “without a clear security model, proprietary blockchains should be eyed with suspicion.”[10][36]

Permissionless

The great advantage to an open, permissionless, or public, blockchain network is that guarding against bad actors is not required and no access control is needed.[22] This means that applications can be added to the network without the approval or trust of others, using the blockchain as a transport layer.[22]

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies currently secure their blockchain by requiring new entries to include a proof of work. To prolong the blockchain, bitcoin uses Hashcash puzzles. While Hashcash was designed in 1997 by Adam Back, the original idea was first proposed by Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor and Eli Ponyatovski in their 1992 paper “Pricing via Processing or Combatting Junk Mail”.

Financial companies have not prioritised decentralized blockchains.[citation needed]

In 2016, venture capital investment for blockchain-related projects was weakening in the USA but increasing in China.[37] Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies use open (public) blockchains. As of April 2018, bitcoin has the highest market capitalization.

Permissioned (private) blockchain

Permissioned blockchains use an access control layer to govern who has access to the network.[38] In contrast to public blockchain networks, validators on private blockchain networks are vetted by the network owner. They do not rely on anonymous nodes to validate transactions nor do they benefit from the network effect.[citation needed] Permissioned blockchains can also go by the name of ‘consortium’ blockchains.[39][better source needed]

Disadvantages of private blockchain

Nikolai Hampton pointed out in Computerworld that “There is also no need for a ’51 percent’ attack on a private blockchain, as the private blockchain (most likely) already controls 100 percent of all block creation resources. If you could attack or damage the blockchain creation tools on a private corporate server, you could effectively control 100 percent of their network and alter transactions however you wished.”[10] This has a set of particularly profound adverse implications during a financial crisis or debt crisis like the financial crisis of 2007–08, where politically powerful actors may make decisions that favor some groups at the expense of others,[40][41] and “the bitcoin blockchain is protected by the massive group mining effort. It’s unlikely that any private blockchain will try to protect records using gigawatts of computing power — it’s time consuming and expensive.”[10] He also said, “Within a private blockchain there is also no ‘race’; there’s no incentive to use more power or discover blocks faster than competitors. This means that many in-house blockchain solutions will be nothing more than cumbersome databases.”[10]

Blockchain analysis

The analysis of public blockchains has become increasingly important with the popularity of bitcoinEthereumlitecoin and other cryptocurrencies.[42] A blockchain, if it is public, provides anyone who wants access to observe and analyse the chain data, given one has the know-how. The process of understanding and accessing the flow of crypto has been an issue for many cryptocurrencies, crypto-exchanges and banks.[43][44] The reason for this is accusations of blockchain enabled cryptocurrencies enabling illicit dark market trade of drugs, weapons, money laundering etc.[45] A common belief has been that cryptocurrency is private and untraceable, thus leading many actors to use it for illegal purposes. This is changing and now specialised tech-companies provide blockchain tracking services, making crypto exchanges, law-enforcement and banks more aware of what is happening with crypto funds and fiat crypto exchanges. The development, some argue, has led criminals to prioritise use of new cryptos such as Monero.[46][47][48] The question is about public accessibility of blockchain data and the personal privacy of the very same data. It is a key debate in cryptocurrency and ultimately in blockchain.[49]

Uses

Blockchain technology can be integrated into multiple areas. The primary use of blockchains today is as a distributed ledger for cryptocurrencies, most notably bitcoin. There are a few operational products maturing from proof of concept by late 2016.[37] Businesses have been thus far reluctant to place blockchain at the core of the business structure.[50]

Cryptocurrencies

Most cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology to record transactions. For example, the bitcoin network and Ethereum network are both based on blockchain. On 8 May 2018 Facebook confirmed that it is opening a new blockchain group[51] which will be headed by David Marcus who previously was in charge of Messenger. According to The Verge Facebook is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency for facilitating payments on the platform.[52]

Smart contracts

Blockchain-based smart contracts are proposed contracts that could be partially or fully executed or enforced without human interaction.[53] One of the main objectives of a smart contract is automated escrow. An IMF staff discussion reported that smart contracts based on blockchain technology might reduce moral hazards and optimize the use of contracts in general. But “no viable smart contract systems have yet emerged.” Due to the lack of widespread use their legal status is unclear.[54]

Financial services

Major portions of the financial industry are implementing distributed ledgers for use in banking,[55][56][57] and according to a September 2016 IBM study, this is occurring faster than expected.[58]

Banks are interested in this technology because it has potential to speed up back office settlement systems.[59]

Banks such as UBS are opening new research labs dedicated to blockchain technology in order to explore how blockchain can be used in financial services to increase efficiency and reduce costs.[60][61]

Berenberg, a German bank, believes that blockchain is an “overhyped technology” that has had a large number of “proofs of concept”, but still has major challenges, and very few success stories.[62]

Video games

A blockchain game CryptoKitties, launched in November 2017.[63] The game made headlines in December 2017 when a cryptokitty character – an in-game virtual pet – was sold for more than US$100,000.[64] CryptoKitties illustrated scalability problems for games on Ethereum when it created significant congestion on the Ethereum network with about 30% of all Ethereum transactions being for the game.[65]

Cryptokitties also demonstrated how blockchains can be used to catalog game assets (digital assets).[66]

Supply chain

There are a number of efforts and industry organizations working to employ blockchains in supply chain logistics and supply chain management.

The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) works to develop open standards for supply chains.[citation needed]

Everledger is one of the inaugural clients of IBM’s blockchain-based tracking service.[67]

Walmart and IBM are running a trial to use a blockchain-backed system for supply chain monitoring — all nodes of the blockchain are administered by Walmart and are located on the IBM cloud.[68]

Hyperledger Grid develops open components for blockchain supply chain solutions.[69][70]

Other uses

Blockchain technology can be used to create a permanent, public, transparent ledger system for compiling data on sales, tracking digital use and payments to content creators, such as wireless users[71] or musicians.[72] In 2017, IBM partnered with ASCAP and PRS for Music to adopt blockchain technology in music distribution.[73] Imogen Heap‘s Mycelia service has also been proposed as blockchain-based alternative “that gives artists more control over how their songs and associated data circulate among fans and other musicians.”[74][75]

New distribution methods are available for the insurance industry such as peer-to-peer insuranceparametric insurance and microinsurance following the adoption of blockchain.[76][77] The sharing economy and IoT are also set to benefit from blockchains because they involve many collaborating peers.[78] Online voting is another application of the blockchain.[79][80]

Other designs include:

  • Hyperledger is a cross-industry collaborative effort from the Linux Foundation to support blockchain-based distributed ledgers, with projects under this initiative including Hyperledger Burrow (by Monax) and Hyperledger Fabric (spearheaded by IBM)[81]
  • Quorum – a permissionable private blockchain by JPMorgan Chase with private storage, used for contract applications[82]
  • Tezos, decentralized voting.[35]:94
  • Proof of Existence is an online service that verifies the existence of computer files as of a specific time[83]

Types

Currently, there are at least four types of blockchain networks — public blockchains, private blockchains, consortium blockchains and hybrid blockchains.

Public blockchains

A public blockchain has absolutely no access restrictions. Anyone with an Internet connection can send transactions to it as well as become a validator (i.e., participate in the execution of a consensus protocol).[84][self-published source?] Usually, such networks offer economic incentives for those who secure them and utilize some type of a Proof of Stake or Proof of Work algorithm.

Some of the largest, most known public blockchains are the bitcoin blockchain and the Ethereum blockchain.

Private blockchains

A private blockchain is permissioned.[38] One cannot join it unless invited by the network administrators. Participant and validator access is restricted.

This type of blockchains can be considered a middle-ground for companies that are interested in the blockchain technology in general but are not comfortable with a level of control offered by public networks. Typically, they seek to incorporate blockchain into their accounting and record-keeping procedures without sacrificing autonomy and running the risk of exposing sensitive data to the public internet.[citation needed]

Hybrid blockchains

A hybrid blockchain[85] simply explained is a combination between different characteristics both public and private blockchains have by design. It allows to determine what information stays private and what information is made public. Further decentralization in relation to primarily centralized private blockchains can be achieved in various ways. Instead of keeping transactions inside their own network of community run or private nodes, the hash (with or without payload) can be posted on completely decentralized blockchains such as bitcoin. Dragonchain uses Interchain[86] to host transactions on other blockchains. This allows users to operate on different blockchains, where they can selectively share data or business logic. Other blockchains like Wanchain use interoperability mechanisms such as bridges.[87][88] By submitting the hash of a transaction (with or without the sensitive business logic) on public blockchains like bitcoin or Ethereum, some of the privacy and blockchain concerns are resolved, as no personal identifiable information is stored on a public blockchain. Depending on the hybrid blockchain its architecture, multicloud solutions allow to store data in compliance with General Data Protection Regulation and other geographical limitations while also leveraging bitcoin’s global hashpower to decentralize transactions.

Academic research

Blockchain panel discussion at the first IEEE Computer Society TechIgnite conference

In October 2014, the MIT Bitcoin Club, with funding from MIT alumni, provided undergraduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology access to $100 of bitcoin. The adoption rates, as studied by Catalini and Tucker (2016), revealed that when people who typically adopt technologies early are given delayed access, they tend to reject the technology.[89]

Energy use of proof-of-work blockchains

External video
 Cryptocurrencies: looking beyond the hypeHyun Song ShinBank for International Settlements, 2:48[90]
 Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies: Burn It With Fire, Nicholas Weaver, Berkeley School of Information, 49:47, lecture begins at 3:05[91]

The Bank for International Settlements has criticized the public proof-of-work blockchains for high energy consumption.[92][90][93]

Nicholas Weaver, of the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley examines blockchain’s online security, and the energy efficiency of proof-of-work public blockchains, and in both cases finds it grossly inadequate.[91][94]

Journals

In September 2015, the first peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology research, Ledger, was announced. The inaugural issue was published in December 2016.[95] The journal covers aspects of mathematicscomputer scienceengineeringlaweconomics and philosophy that relate to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.[96][97]

The journal encourages authors to digitally sign a file hash of submitted papers, which will then be timestamped into the bitcoin blockchain. Authors are also asked to include a personal bitcoin address in the first page of their papers.[98]

See also

References …

Further reading

  •  Media related to Blockchain at Wikimedia Commons

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain

What is Blockchain Technology? A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

Ameer Rosic

3 years ago
Was ist Blockchain-Technologie

What is Blockchain Technology? A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

[Updated – Mar 01 2019]

Is Blockchain Technology the New Internet?

The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention – the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. But since then, it has evolved into something greater, and the main question every single person is asking is: What is Blockchain?

By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currencyBitcoin, (Buy Bitcoin) the tech community has now found other potential uses for the technology.

In thisguide, we are going to explain to you what the blockchain technology is, and what its properties are that make it so unique. So, we hope you enjoy this, What Is Blockchain Guide. And if you already know what blockchain is and want to become a blockchain developer please check out our in-depth blockchain tutorial and create your very first blockchain.

What is Blockchain Technology?

What is Blockchain Technology? A step-by-step guide than anyone can understand“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” – Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016).

A blockchain is, in the simplest of terms, a time-stamped series of immutable record of data that is managed by cluster of computers not owned by any single entity. Each of these blocks of data (i.e. block) are secured and bound to each other using cryptographic principles (i.e. chain).

So, what is so special about it and why are we saying that it has industry disrupting capabilities?

The blockchain network has no central authority — it is the very definition of a democratized system. Since it is a shared and immutable ledger, the information in it is open for anyone and everyone to see. Hence, anything that is built on the blockchain is by its very nature transparent and everyone involved is accountable for their actions.

Blockchain Explained

A blockchain carries no transaction cost. (An infrastructure cost yes, but no transaction cost.) The blockchain is a simple yet ingenious way of passing information from A to B in a fully automated and safe manner. One party to a transaction initiates the process by creating a block. This block is verified by thousands, perhaps millions of computers distributed around the net. The verified block is added to a chain, which is stored across the net, creating not just a unique record, but a unique record with a unique history. Falsifying a single record would mean falsifying the entire chain in millions of instances. That is virtually impossible. Bitcoin uses this model for monetary transactions, but it can be deployed in many others ways.

Blockchain is the most disruptive invention since the Internet itself

Think of a railway company. We buy tickets on an app or the web. The credit card company takes a cut for processing the transaction. With blockchain, not only can the railway operator save on credit card processing fees, it can move the entire ticketing process to the blockchain. The two parties in the transaction are the railway company and the passenger. The ticket is a block, which will be added to a ticket blockchain. Just as a monetary transaction on blockchain is a unique, independently verifiable and unfalsifiable record (like Bitcoin), so can your ticket be. Incidentally, the final ticket blockchain is also a record of all transactions for, say, a certain train route, or even the entire train network, comprising every ticket ever sold, every journey ever taken.

But the key here is this: it’s free. Not only can the blockchain transfer and store money, but it can also replace all processes and business models which rely on charging a small fee for a transaction. Or any other transaction between two parties.

Here is another example. The gig economy hub Fivver charges 0.5 dollars on a 5 transaction between individuals buying and selling services. Using blockchain technology the transaction is free. Ergo, Fivver will cease to exist. So will auction houses and any other business entity based on the market-maker principle.

Even recent entrants like Uber and AirBnB are threatened by blockchain technology. All you need to do is encode the transactional information for a car ride or an overnight stay, and again you have a perfectly safe way that disrupts the business model of the companies which have just begun to challenge the traditional economy. We are not just cutting out the fee-processing middle man, we are also eliminating the need for the match-making platform.

Because blockchain transactions are free, you can charge minuscule amounts, say 1/100 of a cent for a video view or article read. Why should I pay The Economist or National Geographic an annual subscription fee if I can pay per article on Facebook or my favorite chat app. Again, remember that blockchain transactions carry no transaction cost. You can charge for anything in any amount without worrying about third parties cutting into your profits.

Blockchain may make selling recorded music profitable again for artists by cutting out music companies and distributors like Apple or Spotify. The music you buy could even be encoded in the blockchain itself, making it a cloud archive for any song purchased. Because the amounts charged can be so small, subscription and streaming services will become irrelevant.

It goes further. Ebooks could be fitted with blockchain code. Instead of Amazon taking a cut, and the credit card company earning money on the sale, the books would circulate in encoded form and a successful blockchain transaction would transfer money to the author and unlock the book. Transfer ALL the money to the author, not just meager royalties. You could do this on a book review website like Goodreads, or on your own website. The marketplace Amazon is then unnecessary. Successful iterations could even include reviews and other third-party information about the book.

In the financial world the applications are more obvious and the revolutionary changes more imminent. Blockchains will change the way stock exchanges work, loans are bundled, and insurances contracted. They will eliminate bank accounts and practically all services offered by banks. Almost every financial institution will go bankrupt or be forced to change fundamentally, once the advantages of a safe ledger without transaction fees is widely understood and implemented. After all, the financial system is built on taking a small cut of your money for the privilege of facilitating a transaction. Bankers will become mere advisers, not gatekeepers of money. Stockbrokers will no longer be able to earn commissions and the buy/sell spread will disappear.

How Does Blockchain Work?

Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.

Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared — and continually reconciled — database. This is a way of using the network that has obvious benefits. The blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet.

To go in deeper with the Google spreadsheet analogy, I would like you to read this piece from a blockchain specialist.


What is Blockchain Technology? A step-by-step guide than anyone can understand“The traditional way of sharing documents with collaboration is to send a Microsoft Word document to another recipient, and ask them to make revisions to it. The problem with that scenario is that you need to wait until receiving a return copy before you can see or make other changes because you are locked out of editing it until the other person is done with it. That’s how databases work today. Two owners can’t be messing with the same record at once.That’s how banks maintain money balances and transfers; they briefly lock access (or decrease the balance) while they make a transfer, then update the other side, then re-open access (or update again).With Google Docs (or Google Sheets), both parties have access to the same document at the same time, and the single version of that document is always visible to both of them. It is like a shared ledger, but it is a shared document. The distributed part comes into play when sharing involves a number of people.

Imagine the number of legal documents that should be used that way. Instead of passing them to each other, losing track of versions, and not being in sync with the other version, why can’t *all* business documents become shared instead of transferred back and forth? So many types of legal contracts would be ideal for that kind of workflow. You don’t need a blockchain to share documents, but the shared documents analogy is a powerful one.” – William Mougayar, Venture advisor, 4x entrepreneur, marketer, strategist and blockchain specialist

The reason why the blockchain has gained so much admiration is that:

  • It is not owned by a single entity, hence it is decentralized
  • The data is cryptographically stored inside
  • The blockchain is immutable, so no one can tamper with the data that is inside the blockchain
  • The blockchain is transparent so one can track the data if they want to

The Three Pillars of Blockchain Technology

The three main properties of Blockchain Technology which has helped it gain widespread acclaim are as follows:

  • Decentralization
  • Transparency
  • Immutability

Pillar #1: Decentralization

Before Bitcoin and BitTorrent came along, we were more used to centralized services. The idea is very simple. You have a centralized entity which stored all the data and you’d have to interact solely with this entity to get whatever information you required.

Another example of a centralized system is banks. They store all your money, and the only way that you can pay someone is by going through the bank.

The traditional client-server model is a perfect example of this:

What is Blockchain

When you google search for something, you send a query to the server who then gets back at you with the relevant information. That is simple client-server.

Now, centralized systems have treated us well for many years, however, they have several vulnerabilities.

  • Firstly, because they are centralized, all the data is stored in one spot. This makes them easy target spots for potential hackers.
  • If the centralized system were to go through a software upgrade, it would halt the entire system
  • What if the centralized entity somehow shut down for whatever reason? That way nobody will be able to access the information that it possesses
  • Worst case scenario, what if this entity gets corrupted and malicious? If that happens then all the data that is inside the blockchain will be compromised.

So, what happens if we just take this centralized entity away?

In a decentralized system, the information is not stored by one single entity. In fact, everyone in the network owns the information.

In a decentralized network, if you wanted to interact with your friend then you can do so directly without going through a third party. That was the main ideology behind Bitcoins. You and only you alone are in charge of your money. You can send your money to anyone you want without having to go through a bank.

blockchain

Pillar #2: Transparency

One of the most interesting and misunderstood concepts in blockchain technology is “transparency.” Some people say that blockchain gives you privacy while some say that it is transparent. Why do you think that happens?

Well… a person’s identity is hidden via complex cryptography and represented only by their public address. So, if you were to look up a person’s transaction history, you will not see “Bob sent 1 BTC” instead you will see “1MF1bhsFLkBzzz9vpFYEmvwT2TbyCt7NZJ sent 1 BTC”.

The following snapshot of Ethereum transactions will show you what we mean:

Ethereum transactions

So, while the person’s real identity is secure, you will still see all the transactions that were done by their public address. This level of transparency has never existed before within a financial system. It adds that extra, and much needed, level of accountability which is required by some of these biggest institutions.

Speaking purely from the point of view of cryptocurrency, if you know the public address of one of these big companies, you can simply pop it in an explorer and look at all the transactions that they have engaged in. This forces them to be honest, something that they have never had to deal with before.

However, that’s not the best use-case. We are pretty sure that most of these companies won’t transact using cryptocurrencies, and even if they do, they won’t do ALL their transactions using cryptocurrencies. However, what if the blockchain technology was integrated…say in their supply chain?

You can see why something like this can be very helpful for the finance industry right?

Pillar #3: Immutability

Immutability, in the context of the blockchain, means that once something has been entered into the blockchain, it cannot be tampered with.

Can you imagine how valuable this will be for financial institutes?

Imagine how many embezzlement cases can be nipped in the bud if people know that they can’t “work the books” and fiddle around with company accounts.

The reason why the blockchain gets this property is that of cryptographic hash function.

In simple terms, hashing means taking an input string of any length and giving out an output of a fixed length. In the context of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, the transactions are taken as an input and run through a hashing algorithm (bitcoin uses SHA-256) which gives an output of a fixed length.

Let’s see how the hashing process works. We are going to put in certain inputs. For this exercise, we are going to use the SHA-256 (Secure Hashing Algorithm 256).

hashing

As you can see, in the case of SHA-256, no matter how big or small your input is, the output will always have a fixed 256-bits length. This becomes critical when you are dealing with a huge amount of data and transactions. So basically, instead of remembering the input data which could be huge, you can just remember the hash and keep track.

A cryptographic hash function is a special class of hash functions which has various properties making it ideal for cryptography. There are certain properties that a cryptographic hash function needs to have in order to be considered secure. You can read about those in detail in our guide on hashing.

There is just one property that we want you to focus on today. It is called the “Avalanche Effect.”

What does that mean?

Even if you make a small change in your input, the changes that will be reflected in the hash will be huge. Let’s test it out using SHA-256:

blockchain hashing

You see that? Even though you just changed the case of the first alphabet of the input, look at how much that has affected the output hash. Now, let’s go back to our previous point when we were looking at blockchain architecture. What we said was:

The blockchain is a linked list which contains data and a hash pointer which points to its previous block, hence creating the chain. What is a hash pointer? A hash pointer is similar to a pointer, but instead of just containing the address of the previous block it also contains the hash of the data inside the previous block.

This one small tweak is what makes blockchains so amazingly reliable and trailblazing.

Imagine this for a second, a hacker attacks block 3 and tries to change the data. Because of the properties of hash functions, a slight change in data will change the hash drastically. This means that any slight changes made in block 3, will change the hash which is stored in block 2, now that in turn will change the data and the hash of block 2 which will result in changes in block 1 and so on and so forth. This will completely change the chain, which is impossible. This is exactly how blockchains attain immutability.

Maintaining the Blockchain – Network and Nodes

The blockchain is maintained by a peer-to-peer network. The network is a collection of nodes which are interconnected to one another. Nodes are individual computers which take in input and performs a function on them and gives an output. The blockchain uses a special kind of network called “peer-to-peer network” which partitions its entire workload between participants, who are all equally privileged, called “peers”. There is no longer one central server, now there are several distributed and decentralized peers.

Why do people use the peer-to-peer network?

One of the main uses of the peer-to-peer network is file sharing, also called torrenting. If you are to use a client-server model for downloading, then it is usually extremely slow and entirely dependent on the health of the server. Plus, like we said, it is prone to censorship.

However, in a peer-to-peer system, there is no central authority, and hence if even one of the peers in the network goes out of the race, you still have more peers to download from. Plus, it is not subject to the idealistic standards of a central system, hence it is not prone to censorship.

If we were to compare the two:

Image courtesy: Quora

The decentralized nature of a peer-to-peer system becomes critical as we move on to the next section. How critical? Well, the simple (at least on paper) idea of combining this peer-to-peer network with a payment system has completely revolutionized the finance industry by giving birth to cryptocurrency.

The use of networks and nodes in cryptocurrencies.

The peer-to-peer network structure in cryptocurrencies is structured according to the consensus mechanism that they are utilizing. For cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum which uses a normal proof-of-work consensus mechanism (Ethereum will eventually move on to Proof of Stake), all the nodes have the same privilege. The idea is to create an egalitarian network. The nodes are not given any special privileges, however, their functions and degree of participation may differ. There is no centralized server/entity, nor is there any hierarchy. It is a flat topology.

These decentralized cryptocurrencies are structured like that is because of a simple reason, to stay true to their philosophy. The idea is to have a currency system, where everyone is treated as an equal and there is no governing body, which can determine the value of the currency based on a whim. This is true for both bitcoin and Ethereum.

Now, if there is no central system, how would everyone in the system get to know that a certain transaction has happened? The network follows the gossip protocol. Think of how gossip spreads. Suppose Alice sent 3 ETH to Bob. The nodes nearest to her will get to know of this, and then they will tell the nodes closest to them, and then they will tell their neighbors, and this will keep on spreading out until everyone knows. Nodes are basically your nosy, annoying relatives.

What is Blockchain Technology? A step-by-step guide than anyone can understand
So, what is a node in the context of Ethereum? A node is simply a computer that participates in the Ethereum network. This participation can be in three ways

  • By keeping a shallow-copy of the blockchain aka a Light Client
  • By keeping a full-copy of the blockchain aka a Full Node
  • By verifying the transactions aka Mining

 

However, the problem with this design is that it is not really that scalable. Which is why, a lot of new generation cryptocurrencies adopt a leader-based consensus mechanism. In EOS, Cardano, Neo etc. the nodes elect leader nodes or “super nodes” who are in charge of the consensus and overall network health. These cryptos are a lot faster but they are not the most decentralized of systems.

So, in a way, cryptos have to make the trade-off between speed and decentralization.

Who Will Use The Blockchain?

As web infrastructure, you don’t need to know about the blockchain for it to be useful in your life.

Currently, finance offers the strongest use cases for the technology. International remittances, for instance. The World Bank estimates that over $430 billion US in money transfers were sent in 2015. And at the moment there is a high demand for blockchain developers.

The blockchain potentially cuts out the middleman for these types of transactions. Personal computing became accessible to the general public with the invention of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), which took the form of a “desktop”. Similarly, the most common GUI devised for the blockchain are the so-called “wallet” applications, which people use to buy things with Bitcoin, and store it along with other cryptocurrencies.

Transactions online are closely connected to the processes of identity verification. It is easy to imagine that wallet apps will transform in the coming years to include other types of identity management.

What is Blockchain? And What New Applications Will It Bring Us?

The blockchain gives internet users the ability to create value and authenticates digital information. What new business applications will result from this?

#1 Smart contracts

Distributed ledgers enable the coding of simple contracts that will execute when specified conditions are met. Ethereum is an open source blockchain project that was built specifically to realize this possibility. Still, in its early stages, Ethereum has the potential to leverage the usefulness of blockchains on a truly world-changing scale.

At the technology’s current level of development, smart contracts can be programmed to perform simple functions. For instance, a derivative could be paid out when a financial instrument meets certain benchmark, with the use of blockchain technology and Bitcoin enabling the payout to be automated.

#2 The sharing economy

With companies like Uber and Airbnb flourishing, the sharing economy is already a proven success. Currently, however, users who want to hail a ride-sharing service have to rely on an intermediary like Uber. By enabling peer-to-peer payments, the blockchain opens the door to direct interaction between parties — a truly decentralized sharing economy results.

An early example, OpenBazaar uses the blockchain to create a peer-to-peer eBay. Download the app onto your computing device, and you can transact with OpenBazzar vendors without paying transaction fees. The “no rules” ethos of the protocol means that personal reputation will be even more important to business interactions than it currently is on eBay.

#3 Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding initiatives like Kickstarter and Gofundme are doing the advance work for the emerging peer-to-peer economy. The popularity of these sites suggests people want to have a direct say in product development. Blockchains take this interest to the next level, potentially creating crowd-sourced venture capital funds.

In 2016, one such experiment, the Ethereum-based DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), raised an astonishing $200 million USD in just over two months. Participants purchased “DAO tokens” allowing them to vote on smart contract venture capital investments (voting power was proportionate to the number of DAO they were holding). A subsequent hack of project funds proved that the project was launched without proper due diligence, with disastrous consequences. Regardless, the DAO experiment suggests the blockchain has the potential to usher in “a new paradigm of economic cooperation.”

#4 Governance

By making the results fully transparent and publicly accessible, distributed database technology could bring full transparency to elections or any other kind of poll taking. Ethereum-based smart contracts help to automate the process.

The app, Boardroom, enables organizational decision-making to happen on the blockchain. In practice, this means company governance becomes fully transparent and verifiable when managing digital assets, equity or information.

#5 Supply chain auditing

Consumers increasingly want to know that the ethical claims companies make about their products are real. Distributed ledgers provide an easy way to certify that the backstories of the things we buy are genuine. Transparency comes with blockchain-based timestamping of a date and location — on ethical diamonds, for instance — that corresponds to a product number.

The UK-based Provenance offers supply chain auditing for a range of consumer goods. Making use of the Ethereum blockchain, a Provenance pilot project ensures that fish sold in Sushi restaurants in Japan has been sustainably harvested by its suppliers in Indonesia.

#6 File storage

Decentralizing file storage on the internet brings clear benefits. Distributing data throughout the network protects files from getting hacked or lost.

Inter Planetary File System (IPFS) makes it easy to conceptualize how a distributed web might operate. Similar to the way a BitTorrent moves data around the internet, IPFS gets rid of the need for centralized client-server relationships (i.e., the current web). An internet made up of completely decentralized websites has the potential to speed up file transfer and streaming times. Such an improvement is not only convenient. It’s a necessary upgrade to the web’s currently overloaded content-delivery systems.

#7 Prediction markets

The crowdsourcing of predictions on event probability is proven to have a high degree of accuracy. Averaging opinions cancels out the unexamined biases that distort judgment. Prediction markets that payout according to event outcomes are already active. Blockchains are a “wisdom of the crowd” technology that will no doubt find other applications in the years to come.

The prediction market application Augur makes share offerings on the outcome of real-world events. Participants can earn money by buying into the correct prediction. The more shares purchased in the correct outcome, the higher the payout will be. With a small commitment of funds (less than a dollar), anyone can ask a question, create a market based on a predicted outcome, and collect half of all transaction fees the market generates.

#8 Protection of intellectual property

As is well known, digital information can be infinitely reproduced — and distributed widely thanks to the internet. This has given web users globally a goldmine of free content. However, copyright holders have not been so lucky, losing control over their intellectual property and suffering financially as a consequence. Smart contracts can protect copyright and automate the sale of creative works online, eliminating the risk of file copying and redistribution.

Mycelia uses the blockchain to create a peer-to-peer music distribution system. Founded by the UK singer-songwriter Imogen Heap, Mycelia enables musicians to sell songs directly to audiences, as well as license samples to producers and divvy up royalties to songwriters and musicians — all of these functions being automated by smart contracts. The capacity of blockchains to issue payments in fractional cryptocurrency amounts (micropayments) suggests this use case for the blockchain has a strong chance of success.

#9 Internet of Things (IoT)

What is the IoT? The network-controlled management of certain types of electronic devices — for instance, the monitoring of air temperature in a storage facility. Smart contracts make the automation of remote systems management possible. A combination of software, sensors, and the network facilitates an exchange of data between objects and mechanisms. The result increases system efficiency and improves cost monitoring.

The biggest players in manufacturing, tech and telecommunications are all vying for IoT dominance. Think Samsung, IBM and AT&T. A natural extension of existing infrastructure controlled by incumbents, IoT applications will run the gamut from predictive maintenance of mechanical parts to data analytics, and mass-scale automated systems management.

#10 Neighbourhood Microgrids

Blockchain technology enables the buying and selling of the renewable energy generated by neighborhood microgrids. When solar panels make excess energy, Ethereum-based smart contracts automatically redistribute it. Similar types of smart contract automation will have many other applications as the IoT becomes a reality.

Located in Brooklyn, Consensys is one of the foremost companies globally that is developing a range of applications for Ethereum. One project they are partnering on is Transactive Grid, working with the distributed energy outfit, LO3. A prototype project currently up and running uses Ethereum smart contracts to automate the monitoring and redistribution of microgrid energy. This so-called “intelligent grid” is an early example of IoT functionality.

#11 Identity management

There is a definite need for better identity management on the web. The ability to verify your identity is the lynchpin of financial transactions that happen online. However, remedies for the security risks that come with web commerce are imperfect at best. Distributed ledgers offer enhanced methods for proving who you are, along with the possibility to digitize personal documents. Having a secure identity will also be important for online interactions — for instance, in the sharing economy. A good reputation, after all, is the most important condition for conducting transactions online.

Developing digital identity standards is proving to be a highly complex process. Technical challenges aside, a universal online identity solution requires cooperation between private entities and government. Add to that the need to navigate legal systems in different countries and the problem becomes exponentially difficult. E-Commerce on the internet currently relies on the SSL certificate (the little green lock) for secure transactions on the web. Netki is a startup that aspires to create an SSL standard for the blockchain. Having recently announced a $3.5 million seed round, Netki expects a product launch in early 2017.

#12 AML and KYC

Anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) practices have a strong potential for being adapted to the blockchain. Currently, financial institutions must perform a labour intensive multi-step process for each new customer. KYC costs could be reduced through cross-institution client verification, and at the same time increase monitoring and analysis effectiveness.

Startup Polycoin has an AML/KYC solution that involves analysing transactions. Those transactions identified as being suspicious are forwarded on to compliance officers. Another startup Tradle is developing an application called Trust in Motion (TiM). Characterized as an “Instagram for KYC”, TiM allows customers to take a snapshot of key documents (passport, utility bill, etc.). Once verified by the bank, this data is cryptographically stored on the blockchain.

#13 Data management

Today, in exchange for their personal data people can use social media platforms like Facebook for free. In future, users will have the ability to manage and sell the data their online activity generates. Because it can be easily distributed in small fractional amounts, Bitcoin — or something like it — will most likely be the currency that gets used for this type of transaction.

The MIT project Enigma understands that user privacy is the key precondition for creating of a personal data marketplace. Enigma uses cryptographic techniques to allow individual data sets to be split between nodes, and at the same time run bulk computations over the data group as a whole. Fragmenting the data also makes Enigma scalable (unlike those blockchain solutions where data gets replicated on every node). A Beta launch is promised within the next six months.

#14 Land title registration

As Publicly-accessible ledgers, blockchains can make all kinds of record-keeping more efficient. Property titles are a case in point. They tend to be susceptible to fraud, as well as costly and labour intensive to administer.

A number of countries are undertaking blockchain-based land registry projects. Honduras was the first government to announce such an initiative in 2015, although the current status of that project is unclear. This year, the Republic of Georgia cemented a deal with the Bitfury Group to develop a blockchain system for property titles. Reportedly, Hernando de Soto, the high-profile economist and property rights advocate, will be advising on the project. Most recently, Sweden announced it was experimenting with a blockchain application for property titles.

#15 Stock trading

The potential for added efficiency in share settlement makes a strong use case for blockchains in stock trading. When executed peer-to-peer, trade confirmations become almost instantaneous (as opposed to taking three days for clearance). Potentially, this means intermediaries — such as the clearing house, auditors and custodians — get removed from the process.

Numerous stock and commodities exchanges are prototyping blockchain applications for the services they offer, including the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange), the Deutsche Börse (Frankfurt’s stock exchange) and the JPX (Japan Exchange Group). Most high profile because the acknowledged first mover in the area, is the Nasdaq’s Linq, a platform for private market trading (typically between pre-IPO startups and investors). A partnership with the blockchain tech company Chain, Linq announced the completion of it its first share trade in 2015. More recently, Nasdaq announced the development of a trial blockchain project for proxy voting on the Estonian Stock Market.

Ian Khan, TEDx SpeakerAs revolutionary as it sounds, Blockchain truly is a mechanism to bring everyone to the highest degree of accountability. No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.” – Ian Khan, TEDx Speaker | Author | Technology Futurist

https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-blockchain-technology/

Making sense of bitcoin, cryptocurrency and blockchain

Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, blockchain… So what does it all mean?

Some of the noise is hype, but some of it points to important forces in the financial services industry. To help you make sense of it, we’ve pulled together content explaining why a lot of industry observers are paying close attention.

Let’s start with some quick definitions. Blockchain is the technology that enables the existence of cryptocurrency (among other things). Bitcoin is the name of the best-known cryptocurrency, the one for which blockchain technology was invented. A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange, such as the US dollar, but is digital and uses encryption techniques to control the creation of monetary units and to verify the transfer of funds.

A look at blockchain technology

What is it?

The blockchain is a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network. Using this technology, participants can confirm transactions without a need for a central clearing authority. Potential applications can include fund transfers, settling trades, voting and many other issues.

blockchain how it works
blockchain cyrptocurrency
blockchain benefits

 

Blockchain also has potential applications far beyond bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

Blockchain is, quite simply, a digital, decentralized ledger that keeps a record of all transactions that take place across a peer-to-peer network. The major innovation is that the technology allows market participants to transfer assets across the internet without the need for a centralized third party.

From a business perspective, it’s helpful to think of blockchain technology as a type of next-generation business process improvement software. Collaborative technology, such as blockchain, promises the ability to improve the business processes that occur between companies, radically lowering the “cost of trust.” For this reason, it may offer significantly higher returns for each investment dollar spent than most traditional internal investments.

Financial institutions are exploring how they could also use blockchain technology to upend everything from clearing and settlement to insurance.

For an overview of cryptocurrency, start with “Money is no object.” This paper, from PwC’s Financial Services Institute, focuses on cryptocurrency. We explain where it came from, how much consumers know about it and use it, what it will take for the market to grow and what the regulators think. We also look at how market participants, such as investors, technology providers and financial institutions, will be affected.

For some quick background on blockchain, take a look at our Top Trends in Financial Services page on Blockchain, where we discuss some of the ways FS firms are using blockchain, and how we expect the blockchain technology to develop in the future.

For a deeper dive into blockchain’s implications, read “A strategist’s guide to blockchain.” This article, from strategy+business, examines the potential benefits of this important innovation—and also suggests a way forward for financial institutions. Put simply, proceed deliberately. Explore how others might try to disrupt your business with blockchain technology and how your company could use it to leap ahead instead. In all cases, link your investments to your value proposition and give your business partners and your customers what they want most: speed, convenience and control over their transactions.

For a peek into the application of blockchains for smart contracts, check out “Blockchain and smart contract automation”. This short series of articles explore how blockchains, both public and private, have triggered a global hunt for ways to remove friction from transaction-related processes, including the process of reaching contractual agreements. Learn about the precursors, challenges and future outlook of implementing smart contracts. We also chat with Gideon Greenspan of Coin Sciences to learn about his views on the legal ramifications of public blockchains and why companies are seeking alternatives.

When a technology moves so quickly, it’s dangerous to sit on the sidelines. We’re watching blockchain move from a startup idea to an established technology in a tiny fraction of the time it took for the internet or even the PC to be accepted as a standard tool. Blockchain technology could result in a radically different competitive future for the financial services industry. These articles will help you understand these changes—and what you should do about them.

https://www.pwc.com/us/en/industries/financial-services/fintech/bitcoin-blockchain-cryptocurrency.html

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The Pronk Pops Show 1287, July 10, 2019, Part 1: Story 1: Federal Reserve Will Cut the Federal Funds Target Rate Range in July By .25% or 25 Basis Points If Second Quarter Real Gross Domestic Product Rate of Growth Falls Below 3% — Otherwise No Change in Federal Funds Rate Target Range — Huge Uncertainty Generated By Rapidly Growing Annual Deficits in Federal Government Spending Resulting in Rising National Debt Approaching $23,000,000,000,000 and Unfunded Liabilities and and Obligations Over $230,000,000,000,000! — Bubbles Bubbles Everywhere — Beyond Bubbles — U.S. Government Bankrupt Now! — Make It Rain on The Blockchain — Trust and Truth — Videos

Posted on July 12, 2019. Filed under: 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Addiction, Addiction, Bank Fraud, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Business, Cartoons, City, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Diet, Disasters, Diseases, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Exercise, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Health, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, House of Representatives, Housing, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Investments, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Media, Medicare, Mental Illness, Monetary Policy, Movies, National Interest, News, Obesity, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Trump, Progressives, Public Corruption, Public Relations, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Securities and Exchange Commission, Senate, Social Security, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Wall Street Journal, Wealth, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Story 1: Federal Reserve Will Cut the Federal Funds Target Rate Range in July By .25% or 25 Basis Points If Second Quarter Real Gross Domestic Product Rate of Growth Falls Below 3% — Otherwise No Change in Federal Funds Rate Target Range — Huge Uncertainty Generated By Rapidly Growing Annual Deficits in Federal Government Spending Resulting in Rising National Debt Approaching $23,000,000,000,000 and Unfunded Liabilities and and Obligations Over $230,000,000,000,000! — Bubbles Bubbles Everywhere — Beyond Bubbles — Make It Rain on The Blockchain — Trust and Truth — Videos

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Fed Chair Jerome Powell testifies before Congress

Streamed live on Jul 10, 2019

House Financial Services Committee holds hearing on “Monetary Policy & the State of the Economy.” Fed Chair Powell testifies. All eyes will be on Powell when he testifies before a House panel on monetary policy in the first of his 2-day semiannual testimony to Congress. Investors are looking to Powell for what to expect at the next policy meeting at the end of July. FOX Business Network (FBN) is a financial news channel delivering real-time information across all platforms that impact both Main Street and Wall Street. Headquartered in New York — the business capital of the world — FBN launched in October 2007 and is the leading business network on television, topping CNBC in Business Day viewers for the second consecutive year. T he network is available in more than 80 million homes in all markets across the United States. Owned by FOX, FBN has bureaus in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and London.

 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s Senate testimony on monetary policy – 07/11/2019

Streamed live on Jul 11, 2019

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on the monetary policy and the U.S. economy.

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Streamed live on Jun 19, 2019

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Published on Sep 16, 2015

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Published on May 10, 2010

Huge budget deficits and record levels of national debt are getting a lot of attention, but this video explains that unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs are Americas real red-ink challenge. More important, this CF&P mini-documentary reveals that deficits and debt are symptoms of the real problem of an excessive burden of government spending. http://www.freedomandprosperity.org

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TED

Published on Sep 16, 2016

What is the blockchain? If you don’t know, you should; if you do, chances are you still need some clarification on how it actually works. Don Tapscott is here to help, demystifying this world-changing, trust-building technology which, he says, represents nothing less than the second generation of the internet and holds the potential to transform money, business, government and society. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more. Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at http://www.ted.com/translate

What is Blockchain

Published on Jun 9, 2016

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George Gilder: Forget Cloud Computing, Blockchain is the Future

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By appearing to buckle to Trump on rates, is the Fed chief creating problems down the road?

By appearing to buckle to Trump on rates, is the Fed chief creating problems down the road?
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at a news conference in Washington on June 19. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

In signaling that the Federal Reserve is almost certain to cut interest rates at the end of this month, Fed Chairman Jerome H. Powell may have given President Trump what he wants.

But the central bank now looks more vulnerable to criticism that it is caving to political pressures that will only grow as the election cycle heats up.

Powell, in testimony to lawmakers Wednesday, essentially argued that heightened uncertainty, from trade tensions and slowing global economic growth, along with low inflation, was enough to justify a cut in interest rates.

Historically, the Fed has lowered rates to ward off recession or when it sees substantial risks of a downturn.

The U.S. economy expanded at a nearly 3% pace last year and, although it has slowed in recent months, the Fed and most private forecasters see growth continuing at a decent rate. The latest jobs report for June showed hiring remains strong, and Trump recently agreed to a ceasefire in the trade war with China, tenuous as it may be.For those reasons, Powell’s remarks Wednesday came as a pleasant surprise to financial markets. Stocks rose to record highs.

Lowering the rate by a quarter point later this month may help borrowers a little. The Fed’s main rate is a benchmark for credit cards, auto loans and other short-term consumer lending, but long-term rates such as mortgages already have dropped in anticipation of a Fed rate cut, meaning it’s unlikely to provide much of a boost to the housing market or the broader economy.

“We’ve already gotten 90% of the benefit; it’s already priced into the market,” said Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Investors are expecting at least one more quarter-point rate cut after July, and some even two. Powell and his colleagues at the Fed will have their hands full managing investors’ expectations on future rate reductions, so they don’t set themselves up for a sharp fall.

“The issue that the Fed is going to run into … is just like parenting,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. “They can’t bend every time the markets throw a tantrum. At some point, you’ve got to put your foot down.”

Market expectations aside, Powell’s bigger challenge is likely to come from Trump. The president has been publicly hammering Powell to lower interest rates. Trump has criticized the Fed for raising rates four times last year, and no one thinks he will be satisfied if the Fed drops its benchmark rate by a quarter point on July 31, as it’s now expected to do.

Trump and his economic team have pressed the Fed to slash rates by a full point, and Trump isn’t likely to stop jawboning the Fed in the coming months.

Some economic experts say Trump already has succeeded in getting into the heads of Fed decision makers.

“Powell does seem to be going a little bit out of his way to reverse the rate hikes made last year,” said Chris Rupkey, managing director and chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York. “The president’s like another active member of the Fed board in the room. I wouldn’t tell him no, would you?”

Rupkey and some other Fed watchers say Powell is moving a bit too early in readying rate cuts, especially with job growth still running very strong. Only a few months ago, the Fed’s stance on interest rates was to wait and see.

“Should they cut rates at this time? Absolutely not!” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at Economic Outlook Group. “There is no economic justification to take that step now.

“For one, there is little to suggest this business cycle [is] struggling. The softness we see in some data points have little to do with economic fundamentals. The trade war with China and the havoc it has caused to global supply chain are the primary reasons those sectors have weakened.”

But other analysts argue that there’s good reason for the shift in the Fed’s posture. According to minutes from their last meeting in June, released Wednesday, Fed policymakers were feeling that the downside risks to the economy “had increased significantly over recent weeks.”

And in his testimony Wednesday to the House Financial Services Committee, Powell said that since May, crosscurrents that seemed to moderate earlier in the year “have reemerged, creating greater uncertainty.” Among other concerns, he said, business spending, trade and manufacturing activity have slowed.

“The issue really is more now on the business side where we see business confidence and business investment weakening a bit,” he told lawmakers, adding that there’s rising risk as well to consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of U.S. economic activity. “Household confidence has remained high, but over time uncertainty can cause households to hold back as well.”

Powell, sensitive to the political pressures bearing on the Fed, took pains in his prepared remarks to defend the integrity of the central bank and the basis for its policymaking.

“Congress has given us an important degree of independence so that we can effectively pursue our statutory goals based on objective analysis and data,” Powell said as he began his testimony.

Trump has reportedly considered firing Powell or demoting him, although it’s not clear whether the president has the legal authority to do so. Powell reiterated Wednesday that the law is on his side and that he intends to serve the full four-year term as Fed chair, which he assumed in February 2018.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have cautioned Trump against taking steps to remove Powell as Fed leader. And on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers sought to drive home that point.

“Mr. Chairman, if you got a call from the president today or tomorrow, and he said, ‘I’m firing you. Pack up. It’s time to go,’ what would you do?” asked Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Financial Services Committee.

“Well, of course I would not do that,” Powell responded, to which Waters added, “I can’t hear you,” eliciting laughter.

But the president’s unusually persistent and heavy pressure on the Fed is anything but a laughing matter.

Alan Blinder, a Fed vice chairman in the mid-1990s, said the concern about the bank’s independence stemming from the president’s attacks was such that it could legitimately be a factor in a Fed decision not to raise rates.

Apart from the potential harm to its credibility, a more immediate risk for the Fed in cutting rates is that it could limit the central bank’s arsenal in fighting the next recession. The Fed’s main benchmark rate is less than 2.5%, low by historical standards.

In response to lawmakers’ questioning, Powell said the resumption of trade talks between the United States and China was a “constructive step” but that doesn’t really change the outlook.

“I would say that the bottom line for me is that the uncertainties around global growth and trade continue to weigh on the outlook.”

https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-jerome-powell-interest-rates-20190710-story.html

July 10, 2019

Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress

Chair Jerome H. Powell

Before the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

 

Chair Powell submitted identical remarks to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, on July 11, 2019.

Chairwoman Waters, Ranking Member McHenry, and other members of the Committee, I am pleased to present the Federal Reserve’s semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress.

Let me start by saying that my colleagues and I strongly support the goals of maximum employment and price stability that Congress has set for monetary policy. We are committed to providing clear explanations about our policies and activities. Congress has given us an important degree of independence so that we can effectively pursue our statutory goals based on objective analysis and data. We appreciate that our independence brings with it an obligation for transparency so that you and the public can hold us accountable.

Today I will review the current economic situation and outlook before turning to monetary policy. I will also provide an update of our ongoing public review of our framework for setting monetary policy.

Current Economic Situation and Outlook 
The economy performed reasonably well over the first half of 2019, and the current expansion is now in its 11th year. However, inflation has been running below the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) symmetric 2 percent objective, and crosscurrents, such as trade tensions and concerns about global growth, have been weighing on economic activity and the outlook.

The labor market remains healthy. Job gains averaged 172,000 per month from January through June. This number is lower than the average of 223,000 a month last year but above the pace needed to provide jobs for new workers entering the labor force. Consequently, the unemployment rate moved down from 3.9 percent in December to 3.7 percent in June, close to its lowest level in 50 years. Job openings remain plentiful, and employers are increasingly willing to hire workers with fewer skills and train them. As a result, the benefits of a strong job market have been more widely shared in recent years. Indeed, wage gains have been greater for lower-skilled workers. That said, individuals in some demographic groups and in certain parts of the country continue to face challenges. For example, unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanics remain well above the rates for whites and Asians. Likewise, the share of the population with a job is higher in urban areas than in rural communities, and this gap widened over the past decade. A box in the July Monetary Policy Report provides a comparison of employment and wage gains over the current expansion for individuals with different levels of education.

Gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019, similar to last year’s pace. This strong reading was driven largely by net exports and inventories—components that are not generally reliable indicators of ongoing momentum. The more reliable drivers of growth in the economy are consumer spending and business investment. While growth in consumer spending was weak in the first quarter, incoming data show that it has bounced back and is now running at a solid pace. However, growth in business investment seems to have slowed notably, and overall growth in the second quarter appears to have moderated. The slowdown in business fixed investment may reflect concerns about trade tensions and slower growth in the global economy. In addition, housing investment and manufacturing output declined in the first quarter and appear to have decreased again in the second quarter.

After running close to our 2 percent objective over much of last year, overall consumer price inflation, measured by the 12-month change in the price index for personal consumption expenditures (PCE), declined earlier this year and stood at 1.5 percent in May. The 12-month change in core PCE inflation, which excludes food and energy prices and tends to be a better indicator of future inflation, has also come down this year and was 1.6 percent in May.

Our baseline outlook is for economic growth to remain solid, labor markets to stay strong, and inflation to move back up over time to the Committee’s 2 percent objective. However, uncertainties about the outlook have increased in recent months. In particular, economic momentum appears to have slowed in some major foreign economies, and that weakness could affect the U.S. economy. Moreover, a number of government policy issues have yet to be resolved, including trade developments, the federal debt ceiling, and Brexit. And there is a risk that weak inflation will be even more persistent than we currently anticipate. We are carefully monitoring these developments, and we will continue to assess their implications for the U.S economic outlook and inflation.

The nation also continues to confront important longer-run challenges. Labor force participation by those in their prime working years is now lower in the United States than in most other nations with comparable economies. As I mentioned, there are troubling labor market disparities across demographic groups and different parts of the country. The relative stagnation of middle and lower incomes and low levels of upward mobility for lower-income families are also ongoing concerns. In addition, finding ways to boost productivity growth, which leads to rising wages and living standards over the longer term, should remain a high national priority. And I remain concerned about the longer-term effects of high and rising federal debt, which can restrain private investment and, in turn, reduce productivity and overall economic growth. The longer-run vitality of the U.S. economy would benefit from efforts to address these issues.

Monetary Policy 
Against this backdrop, the FOMC maintained the target range for the federal funds rate at 2‑1/4 to 2-1/2 percent in the first half of this year. At our January, March, and May meetings, we stated that we would be patient as we determined what future adjustments to the federal funds rate might be appropriate to support our goals of maximum employment and price stability.

At the time of our May meeting, we were mindful of the ongoing crosscurrents from global growth and trade, but there was tentative evidence that these crosscurrents were moderating. The latest data from China and Europe were encouraging, and there were reports of progress in trade negotiations with China. Our continued patient stance seemed appropriate, and the Committee saw no strong case for adjusting our policy rate.

Since our May meeting, however, these crosscurrents have reemerged, creating greater uncertainty. Apparent progress on trade turned to greater uncertainty, and our contacts in business and agriculture report heightened concerns over trade developments. Growth indicators from around the world have disappointed on net, raising concerns that weakness in the global economy will continue to affect the U.S. economy. These concerns may have contributed to the drop in business confidence in some recent surveys and may have started to show through to incoming data.

In our June meeting statement, we indicated that, in light of increased uncertainties about the economic outlook and muted inflation pressures, we would closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would act as appropriate to sustain the expansion. Many FOMC participants saw that the case for a somewhat more accommodative monetary policy had strengthened. Since then, based on incoming data and other developments, it appears that uncertainties around trade tensions and concerns about the strength of the global economy continue to weigh on the U.S. economic outlook. Inflation pressures remain muted.

The FOMC has made a number of important decisions this year about our framework for implementing monetary policy and our plans for completing the reduction of the Fed’s securities holdings. At our January meeting, we decided to continue to implement monetary policy using our current policy regime with ample reserves, and emphasized that we are prepared to adjust any of the details for completing balance sheet normalization in light of economic and financial developments. At our March meeting, we communicated our intention to slow, starting in May, the decline in the Fed’s aggregate securities holdings and to end the reduction in these holdings in September. The July Monetary Policy Report provides details on these decisions.

The July Monetary Policy Report also includes an update on monetary policy rules. The FOMC routinely looks at monetary policy rules that recommend a level for the federal funds rate based on inflation and unemployment rates. I continue to find these rules helpful, although using these rules requires careful judgment.

We are conducting a public review of our monetary policy strategy, tools, and communications—the first review of its kind for the FOMC. Our motivation is to consider ways to improve the Committee’s current policy framework and to best position the Fed to achieve maximum employment and price stability. The review has started with outreach to and consultation with a broad range of people and groups through a series of Fed Listens events. The FOMC will consider questions related to the review at upcoming meetings. We will publicly report the outcome of our discussions.

Thank you. I am happy to respond to your questions.

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Last Update: July 10, 2019

Blockchain

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Blockchain formation. The main chain (black) consists of the longest series of blocks from the genesis block (green) to the current block. Orphan blocks (purple) exist outside of the main chain.

blockchain,[1][2][3] originally block chain,[4][5] is a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography.[1][6] Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block,[6] a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a Merkle tree).

By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”.[7] For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority. Although blockchain records are not unalterable, blockchains may be considered secure by design and exemplify a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault toleranceDecentralized consensus has therefore been claimed with a blockchain.[8]

Blockchain was invented by a person (or group of people) using the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency bitcoin.[1] The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is unknown. The invention of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency to solve the double-spending problem without the need of a trusted authority or central server. The bitcoin design has inspired other applications,[1][3] and blockchains that are readable by the public are widely used by cryptocurrencies. Blockchain is considered a type of payment rail.[9] Private blockchains have been proposed for business use. Sources such as Computerworld called the marketing of such blockchains without a proper security model “snake oil“.[10]

Contents

History

Bitcoin transactions (January 2009 – September 2017)

The first work on a cryptographically secured chain of blocks was described in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta.[6][11] They wanted to implement a system where document timestamps could not be tampered with. In 1992, Bayer, Haber and Stornetta incorporated Merkle trees to the design, which improved its efficiency by allowing several document certificates to be collected into one block.[6][12]

The first blockchain was conceptualized by a person (or group of people) known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. Nakamoto improved the design in an important way using a Hashcash-like method to add blocks to the chain without requiring them to be signed by a trusted party.[6] The design was implemented the following year by Nakamoto as a core component of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions on the network.[1]

In August 2014, the bitcoin blockchain file size, containing records of all transactions that have occurred on the network, reached 20 GB (gigabytes).[13] In January 2015, the size had grown to almost 30 GB, and from January 2016 to January 2017, the bitcoin blockchain grew from 50 GB to 100 GB in size.

The words block and chain were used separately in Satoshi Nakamoto’s original paper, but were eventually popularized as a single word, blockchain, by 2016.

Smart contracts that run on a blockchain, for example ones that “creat[e] invoices that pay themselves when a shipment arrives or share certificates that automatically send their owners dividends if profits reach a certain level.”[1] require an off-chain oracle to access any “external data or events based on time or market conditions [that need] to interact with the blockchain.”[14]

According to Accenture, an application of the diffusion of innovations theory suggests that blockchains attained a 13.5% adoption rate within financial services in 2016, therefore reaching the early adopters phase.[15] Industry trade groups joined to create the Global Blockchain Forum in 2016, an initiative of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.

In May 2018, Gartner found that only 1% of CIOs indicated any kind of blockchain adoption within their organisations, and only 8% of CIOs were in the short-term ‘planning or [looking at] active experimentation with blockchain’.[16]

Structure

A blockchain is a decentralizeddistributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.[1][17] This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions independently and relatively inexpensively.[18] A blockchain database is managed autonomously using a peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamping server. They are authenticated by mass collaboration powered by collective self-interests.[19] Such a design facilitates robust workflow where participants’ uncertainty regarding data security is marginal. The use of a blockchain removes the characteristic of infinite reproducibility from a digital asset. It confirms that each unit of value was transferred only once, solving the long-standing problem of double spending. A blockchain has been described as a value-exchange protocol.[20] A blockchain can maintain title rights because, when properly set up to detail the exchange agreement, it provides a record that compels offer and acceptance.

Blocks

Blocks hold batches of valid transactions that are hashed and encoded into a Merkle tree.[1] Each block includes the cryptographic hash of the prior block in the blockchain, linking the two. The linked blocks form a chain.[1] This iterative process confirms the integrity of the previous block, all the way back to the original genesis block.[21]

Sometimes separate blocks can be produced concurrently, creating a temporary fork. In addition to a secure hash-based history, any blockchain has a specified algorithm for scoring different versions of the history so that one with a higher score can be selected over others. Blocks not selected for inclusion in the chain are called orphan blocks.[21] Peers supporting the database have different versions of the history from time to time. They keep only the highest-scoring version of the database known to them. Whenever a peer receives a higher-scoring version (usually the old version with a single new block added) they extend or overwrite their own database and retransmit the improvement to their peers. There is never an absolute guarantee that any particular entry will remain in the best version of the history forever. Blockchains are typically built to add the score of new blocks onto old blocks and are given incentives to extend with new blocks rather than overwrite old blocks. Therefore, the probability of an entry becoming superseded decreases exponentially[22] as more blocks are built on top of it, eventually becoming very low.[1][23]:ch. 08[24] For example, bitcoin uses a proof-of-work system, where the chain with the most cumulative proof-of-work is considered the valid one by the network. There are a number of methods that can be used to demonstrate a sufficient level of computation. Within a blockchain the computation is carried out redundantly rather than in the traditional segregated and parallel manner.[25]

Block time

The block time is the average time it takes for the network to generate one extra block in the blockchain. Some blockchains create a new block as frequently as every five seconds. By the time of block completion, the included data becomes verifiable. In cryptocurrency, this is practically when the transaction takes place, so a shorter block time means faster transactions. The block time for Ethereum is set to between 14 and 15 seconds, while for bitcoin it is 10 minutes.[citation needed]

Hard forks

hard fork is a rule change such that the software validating according to the old rules will see the blocks produced according to the new rules as invalid. In case of a hard fork, all nodes meant to work in accordance with the new rules need to upgrade their software.

If one group of nodes continues to use the old software while the other nodes use the new software, a split can occur. For example, Ethereum has hard-forked to “make whole” the investors in The DAO, which had been hacked by exploiting a vulnerability in its code. In this case, the fork resulted in a split creating Ethereum and Ethereum Classic chains. In 2014 the Nxt community was asked to consider a hard fork that would have led to a rollback of the blockchain records to mitigate the effects of a theft of 50 million NXT from a major cryptocurrency exchange. The hard fork proposal was rejected, and some of the funds were recovered after negotiations and ransom payment. Alternatively, to prevent a permanent split, a majority of nodes using the new software may return to the old rules, as was the case of bitcoin split on 12 March 2013.[26]

Decentralization

By storing data across its peer-to-peer network, the blockchain eliminates a number of risks that come with data being held centrally.[1] The decentralized blockchain may use ad-hoc message passing and distributed networking.

Peer-to-peer blockchain networks lack centralized points of vulnerability that computer crackers can exploit; likewise, it has no central point of failure. Blockchain security methods include the use of public-key cryptography.[4]:5 A public key (a long, random-looking string of numbers) is an address on the blockchain. Value tokens sent across the network are recorded as belonging to that address. A private key is like a password that gives its owner access to their digital assets or the means to otherwise interact with the various capabilities that blockchains now support. Data stored on the blockchain is generally considered incorruptible.[1]

Every node in a decentralized system has a copy of the blockchain. Data quality is maintained by massive database replication[8] and computational trust. No centralized “official” copy exists and no user is “trusted” more than any other.[4] Transactions are broadcast to the network using software. Messages are delivered on a best-effort basis. Mining nodes validate transactions,[21] add them to the block they are building, and then broadcast the completed block to other nodes.[23]:ch. 08 Blockchains use various time-stamping schemes, such as proof-of-work, to serialize changes.[27] Alternative consensus methods include proof-of-stake.[21] Growth of a decentralized blockchain is accompanied by the risk of centralization because the computer resources required to process larger amounts of data become more expensive.[28]

Openness

Open blockchains are more user-friendly than some traditional ownership records, which, while open to the public, still require physical access to view. Because all early blockchains were permissionless, controversy has arisen over the blockchain definition. An issue in this ongoing debate is whether a private system with verifiers tasked and authorized (permissioned) by a central authority should be considered a blockchain.[29][30][31][32][33] Proponents of permissioned or private chains argue that the term “blockchain” may be applied to any data structure that batches data into time-stamped blocks. These blockchains serve as a distributed version of multiversion concurrency control (MVCC) in databases.[34] Just as MVCC prevents two transactions from concurrently modifying a single object in a database, blockchains prevent two transactions from spending the same single output in a blockchain.[35]:30–31 Opponents say that permissioned systems resemble traditional corporate databases, not supporting decentralized data verification, and that such systems are not hardened against operator tampering and revision.[29][31] Nikolai Hampton of Computerworld said that “many in-house blockchain solutions will be nothing more than cumbersome databases,” and “without a clear security model, proprietary blockchains should be eyed with suspicion.”[10][36]

Permissionless

The great advantage to an open, permissionless, or public, blockchain network is that guarding against bad actors is not required and no access control is needed.[22] This means that applications can be added to the network without the approval or trust of others, using the blockchain as a transport layer.[22]

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies currently secure their blockchain by requiring new entries to include a proof of work. To prolong the blockchain, bitcoin uses Hashcash puzzles. While Hashcash was designed in 1997 by Adam Back, the original idea was first proposed by Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor and Eli Ponyatovski in their 1992 paper “Pricing via Processing or Combatting Junk Mail”.

Financial companies have not prioritised decentralized blockchains.[citation needed]

In 2016, venture capital investment for blockchain-related projects was weakening in the USA but increasing in China.[37] Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies use open (public) blockchains. As of April 2018, bitcoin has the highest market capitalization.

Permissioned (private) blockchain

Permissioned blockchains use an access control layer to govern who has access to the network.[38] In contrast to public blockchain networks, validators on private blockchain networks are vetted by the network owner. They do not rely on anonymous nodes to validate transactions nor do they benefit from the network effect.[citation needed] Permissioned blockchains can also go by the name of ‘consortium’ blockchains.[39][better source needed]

Disadvantages of private blockchain

Nikolai Hampton pointed out in Computerworld that “There is also no need for a ’51 percent’ attack on a private blockchain, as the private blockchain (most likely) already controls 100 percent of all block creation resources. If you could attack or damage the blockchain creation tools on a private corporate server, you could effectively control 100 percent of their network and alter transactions however you wished.”[10] This has a set of particularly profound adverse implications during a financial crisis or debt crisis like the financial crisis of 2007–08, where politically powerful actors may make decisions that favor some groups at the expense of others,[40][41] and “the bitcoin blockchain is protected by the massive group mining effort. It’s unlikely that any private blockchain will try to protect records using gigawatts of computing power — it’s time consuming and expensive.”[10] He also said, “Within a private blockchain there is also no ‘race’; there’s no incentive to use more power or discover blocks faster than competitors. This means that many in-house blockchain solutions will be nothing more than cumbersome databases.”[10]

Blockchain analysis

The analysis of public blockchains has become increasingly important with the popularity of bitcoinEthereumlitecoin and other cryptocurrencies.[42] A blockchain, if it is public, provides anyone who wants access to observe and analyse the chain data, given one has the know-how. The process of understanding and accessing the flow of crypto has been an issue for many cryptocurrencies, crypto-exchanges and banks.[43][44] The reason for this is accusations of blockchain enabled cryptocurrencies enabling illicit dark market trade of drugs, weapons, money laundering etc.[45] A common belief has been that cryptocurrency is private and untraceable, thus leading many actors to use it for illegal purposes. This is changing and now specialised tech-companies provide blockchain tracking services, making crypto exchanges, law-enforcement and banks more aware of what is happening with crypto funds and fiat crypto exchanges. The development, some argue, has led criminals to prioritise use of new cryptos such as Monero.[46][47][48] The question is about public accessibility of blockchain data and the personal privacy of the very same data. It is a key debate in cryptocurrency and ultimately in blockchain.[49]

Uses

Blockchain technology can be integrated into multiple areas. The primary use of blockchains today is as a distributed ledger for cryptocurrencies, most notably bitcoin. There are a few operational products maturing from proof of concept by late 2016.[37] Businesses have been thus far reluctant to place blockchain at the core of the business structure.[50]

Cryptocurrencies

Most cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology to record transactions. For example, the bitcoin network and Ethereum network are both based on blockchain. On 8 May 2018 Facebook confirmed that it is opening a new blockchain group[51] which will be headed by David Marcus who previously was in charge of Messenger. According to The Verge Facebook is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency for facilitating payments on the platform.[52]

Smart contracts

Blockchain-based smart contracts are proposed contracts that could be partially or fully executed or enforced without human interaction.[53] One of the main objectives of a smart contract is automated escrow. An IMF staff discussion reported that smart contracts based on blockchain technology might reduce moral hazards and optimize the use of contracts in general. But “no viable smart contract systems have yet emerged.” Due to the lack of widespread use their legal status is unclear.[54]

Financial services

Major portions of the financial industry are implementing distributed ledgers for use in banking,[55][56][57] and according to a September 2016 IBM study, this is occurring faster than expected.[58]

Banks are interested in this technology because it has potential to speed up back office settlement systems.[59]

Banks such as UBS are opening new research labs dedicated to blockchain technology in order to explore how blockchain can be used in financial services to increase efficiency and reduce costs.[60][61]

Berenberg, a German bank, believes that blockchain is an “overhyped technology” that has had a large number of “proofs of concept”, but still has major challenges, and very few success stories.[62]

Video games

A blockchain game CryptoKitties, launched in November 2017.[63] The game made headlines in December 2017 when a cryptokitty character – an in-game virtual pet – was sold for more than US$100,000.[64] CryptoKitties illustrated scalability problems for games on Ethereum when it created significant congestion on the Ethereum network with about 30% of all Ethereum transactions being for the game.[65]

Cryptokitties also demonstrated how blockchains can be used to catalog game assets (digital assets).[66]

Supply chain

There are a number of efforts and industry organizations working to employ blockchains in supply chain logistics and supply chain management.

The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) works to develop open standards for supply chains.[citation needed]

Everledger is one of the inaugural clients of IBM’s blockchain-based tracking service.[67]

Walmart and IBM are running a trial to use a blockchain-backed system for supply chain monitoring — all nodes of the blockchain are administered by Walmart and are located on the IBM cloud.[68]

Hyperledger Grid develops open components for blockchain supply chain solutions.[69][70]

Other uses

Blockchain technology can be used to create a permanent, public, transparent ledger system for compiling data on sales, tracking digital use and payments to content creators, such as wireless users[71] or musicians.[72] In 2017, IBM partnered with ASCAP and PRS for Music to adopt blockchain technology in music distribution.[73] Imogen Heap‘s Mycelia service has also been proposed as blockchain-based alternative “that gives artists more control over how their songs and associated data circulate among fans and other musicians.”[74][75]

New distribution methods are available for the insurance industry such as peer-to-peer insuranceparametric insurance and microinsurance following the adoption of blockchain.[76][77] The sharing economy and IoT are also set to benefit from blockchains because they involve many collaborating peers.[78] Online voting is another application of the blockchain.[79][80]

Other designs include:

  • Hyperledger is a cross-industry collaborative effort from the Linux Foundation to support blockchain-based distributed ledgers, with projects under this initiative including Hyperledger Burrow (by Monax) and Hyperledger Fabric (spearheaded by IBM)[81]
  • Quorum – a permissionable private blockchain by JPMorgan Chase with private storage, used for contract applications[82]
  • Tezos, decentralized voting.[35]:94
  • Proof of Existence is an online service that verifies the existence of computer files as of a specific time[83]

Types

Currently, there are at least four types of blockchain networks — public blockchains, private blockchains, consortium blockchains and hybrid blockchains.

Public blockchains

A public blockchain has absolutely no access restrictions. Anyone with an Internet connection can send transactions to it as well as become a validator (i.e., participate in the execution of a consensus protocol).[84][self-published source?] Usually, such networks offer economic incentives for those who secure them and utilize some type of a Proof of Stake or Proof of Work algorithm.

Some of the largest, most known public blockchains are the bitcoin blockchain and the Ethereum blockchain.

Private blockchains

A private blockchain is permissioned.[38] One cannot join it unless invited by the network administrators. Participant and validator access is restricted.

This type of blockchains can be considered a middle-ground for companies that are interested in the blockchain technology in general but are not comfortable with a level of control offered by public networks. Typically, they seek to incorporate blockchain into their accounting and record-keeping procedures without sacrificing autonomy and running the risk of exposing sensitive data to the public internet.[citation needed]

Hybrid blockchains

A hybrid blockchain[85] simply explained is a combination between different characteristics both public and private blockchains have by design. It allows to determine what information stays private and what information is made public. Further decentralization in relation to primarily centralized private blockchains can be achieved in various ways. Instead of keeping transactions inside their own network of community run or private nodes, the hash (with or without payload) can be posted on completely decentralized blockchains such as bitcoin. Dragonchain uses Interchain[86] to host transactions on other blockchains. This allows users to operate on different blockchains, where they can selectively share data or business logic. Other blockchains like Wanchain use interoperability mechanisms such as bridges.[87][88] By submitting the hash of a transaction (with or without the sensitive business logic) on public blockchains like bitcoin or Ethereum, some of the privacy and blockchain concerns are resolved, as no personal identifiable information is stored on a public blockchain. Depending on the hybrid blockchain its architecture, multicloud solutions allow to store data in compliance with General Data Protection Regulation and other geographical limitations while also leveraging bitcoin’s global hashpower to decentralize transactions.

Academic research

Blockchain panel discussion at the first IEEE Computer Society TechIgnite conference

In October 2014, the MIT Bitcoin Club, with funding from MIT alumni, provided undergraduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology access to $100 of bitcoin. The adoption rates, as studied by Catalini and Tucker (2016), revealed that when people who typically adopt technologies early are given delayed access, they tend to reject the technology.[89]

Energy use of proof-of-work blockchains

External video
 Cryptocurrencies: looking beyond the hypeHyun Song ShinBank for International Settlements, 2:48[90]
 Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies: Burn It With Fire, Nicholas Weaver, Berkeley School of Information, 49:47, lecture begins at 3:05[91]

The Bank for International Settlements has criticized the public proof-of-work blockchains for high energy consumption.[92][90][93]

Nicholas Weaver, of the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley examines blockchain’s online security, and the energy efficiency of proof-of-work public blockchains, and in both cases finds it grossly inadequate.[91][94]

Journals

In September 2015, the first peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology research, Ledger, was announced. The inaugural issue was published in December 2016.[95] The journal covers aspects of mathematicscomputer scienceengineeringlaweconomics and philosophy that relate to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.[96][97]

The journal encourages authors to digitally sign a file hash of submitted papers, which will then be timestamped into the bitcoin blockchain. Authors are also asked to include a personal bitcoin address in the first page of their papers.[98]

See also

References …

Further reading

  •  Media related to Blockchain at Wikimedia Commons

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain

What is Blockchain Technology? A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

Ameer Rosic

3 years ago
Was ist Blockchain-Technologie

What is Blockchain Technology? A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

[Updated – Mar 01 2019]

Is Blockchain Technology the New Internet?

The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention – the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. But since then, it has evolved into something greater, and the main question every single person is asking is: What is Blockchain?

By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currencyBitcoin, (Buy Bitcoin) the tech community has now found other potential uses for the technology.

In thisguide, we are going to explain to you what the blockchain technology is, and what its properties are that make it so unique. So, we hope you enjoy this, What Is Blockchain Guide. And if you already know what blockchain is and want to become a blockchain developer please check out our in-depth blockchain tutorial and create your very first blockchain.

What is Blockchain Technology?

What is Blockchain Technology? A step-by-step guide than anyone can understand“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” – Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016).

A blockchain is, in the simplest of terms, a time-stamped series of immutable record of data that is managed by cluster of computers not owned by any single entity. Each of these blocks of data (i.e. block) are secured and bound to each other using cryptographic principles (i.e. chain).

So, what is so special about it and why are we saying that it has industry disrupting capabilities?

The blockchain network has no central authority — it is the very definition of a democratized system. Since it is a shared and immutable ledger, the information in it is open for anyone and everyone to see. Hence, anything that is built on the blockchain is by its very nature transparent and everyone involved is accountable for their actions.

Blockchain Explained

A blockchain carries no transaction cost. (An infrastructure cost yes, but no transaction cost.) The blockchain is a simple yet ingenious way of passing information from A to B in a fully automated and safe manner. One party to a transaction initiates the process by creating a block. This block is verified by thousands, perhaps millions of computers distributed around the net. The verified block is added to a chain, which is stored across the net, creating not just a unique record, but a unique record with a unique history. Falsifying a single record would mean falsifying the entire chain in millions of instances. That is virtually impossible. Bitcoin uses this model for monetary transactions, but it can be deployed in many others ways.

Blockchain is the most disruptive invention since the Internet itself

Think of a railway company. We buy tickets on an app or the web. The credit card company takes a cut for processing the transaction. With blockchain, not only can the railway operator save on credit card processing fees, it can move the entire ticketing process to the blockchain. The two parties in the transaction are the railway company and the passenger. The ticket is a block, which will be added to a ticket blockchain. Just as a monetary transaction on blockchain is a unique, independently verifiable and unfalsifiable record (like Bitcoin), so can your ticket be. Incidentally, the final ticket blockchain is also a record of all transactions for, say, a certain train route, or even the entire train network, comprising every ticket ever sold, every journey ever taken.

But the key here is this: it’s free. Not only can the blockchain transfer and store money, but it can also replace all processes and business models which rely on charging a small fee for a transaction. Or any other transaction between two parties.

Here is another example. The gig economy hub Fivver charges 0.5 dollars on a 5 transaction between individuals buying and selling services. Using blockchain technology the transaction is free. Ergo, Fivver will cease to exist. So will auction houses and any other business entity based on the market-maker principle.

Even recent entrants like Uber and AirBnB are threatened by blockchain technology. All you need to do is encode the transactional information for a car ride or an overnight stay, and again you have a perfectly safe way that disrupts the business model of the companies which have just begun to challenge the traditional economy. We are not just cutting out the fee-processing middle man, we are also eliminating the need for the match-making platform.

Because blockchain transactions are free, you can charge minuscule amounts, say 1/100 of a cent for a video view or article read. Why should I pay The Economist or National Geographic an annual subscription fee if I can pay per article on Facebook or my favorite chat app. Again, remember that blockchain transactions carry no transaction cost. You can charge for anything in any amount without worrying about third parties cutting into your profits.

Blockchain may make selling recorded music profitable again for artists by cutting out music companies and distributors like Apple or Spotify. The music you buy could even be encoded in the blockchain itself, making it a cloud archive for any song purchased. Because the amounts charged can be so small, subscription and streaming services will become irrelevant.

It goes further. Ebooks could be fitted with blockchain code. Instead of Amazon taking a cut, and the credit card company earning money on the sale, the books would circulate in encoded form and a successful blockchain transaction would transfer money to the author and unlock the book. Transfer ALL the money to the author, not just meager royalties. You could do this on a book review website like Goodreads, or on your own website. The marketplace Amazon is then unnecessary. Successful iterations could even include reviews and other third-party information about the book.

In the financial world the applications are more obvious and the revolutionary changes more imminent. Blockchains will change the way stock exchanges work, loans are bundled, and insurances contracted. They will eliminate bank accounts and practically all services offered by banks. Almost every financial institution will go bankrupt or be forced to change fundamentally, once the advantages of a safe ledger without transaction fees is widely understood and implemented. After all, the financial system is built on taking a small cut of your money for the privilege of facilitating a transaction. Bankers will become mere advisers, not gatekeepers of money. Stockbrokers will no longer be able to earn commissions and the buy/sell spread will disappear.

How Does Blockchain Work?

Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.

Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared — and continually reconciled — database. This is a way of using the network that has obvious benefits. The blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet.

To go in deeper with the Google spreadsheet analogy, I would like you to read this piece from a blockchain specialist.


What is Blockchain Technology? A step-by-step guide than anyone can understand“The traditional way of sharing documents with collaboration is to send a Microsoft Word document to another recipient, and ask them to make revisions to it. The problem with that scenario is that you need to wait until receiving a return copy before you can see or make other changes because you are locked out of editing it until the other person is done with it. That’s how databases work today. Two owners can’t be messing with the same record at once.That’s how banks maintain money balances and transfers; they briefly lock access (or decrease the balance) while they make a transfer, then update the other side, then re-open access (or update again).With Google Docs (or Google Sheets), both parties have access to the same document at the same time, and the single version of that document is always visible to both of them. It is like a shared ledger, but it is a shared document. The distributed part comes into play when sharing involves a number of people.

Imagine the number of legal documents that should be used that way. Instead of passing them to each other, losing track of versions, and not being in sync with the other version, why can’t *all* business documents become shared instead of transferred back and forth? So many types of legal contracts would be ideal for that kind of workflow. You don’t need a blockchain to share documents, but the shared documents analogy is a powerful one.” – William Mougayar, Venture advisor, 4x entrepreneur, marketer, strategist and blockchain specialist

The reason why the blockchain has gained so much admiration is that:

  • It is not owned by a single entity, hence it is decentralized
  • The data is cryptographically stored inside
  • The blockchain is immutable, so no one can tamper with the data that is inside the blockchain
  • The blockchain is transparent so one can track the data if they want to

The Three Pillars of Blockchain Technology

The three main properties of Blockchain Technology which has helped it gain widespread acclaim are as follows:

  • Decentralization
  • Transparency
  • Immutability

Pillar #1: Decentralization

Before Bitcoin and BitTorrent came along, we were more used to centralized services. The idea is very simple. You have a centralized entity which stored all the data and you’d have to interact solely with this entity to get whatever information you required.

Another example of a centralized system is banks. They store all your money, and the only way that you can pay someone is by going through the bank.

The traditional client-server model is a perfect example of this:

What is Blockchain

When you google search for something, you send a query to the server who then gets back at you with the relevant information. That is simple client-server.

Now, centralized systems have treated us well for many years, however, they have several vulnerabilities.

  • Firstly, because they are centralized, all the data is stored in one spot. This makes them easy target spots for potential hackers.
  • If the centralized system were to go through a software upgrade, it would halt the entire system
  • What if the centralized entity somehow shut down for whatever reason? That way nobody will be able to access the information that it possesses
  • Worst case scenario, what if this entity gets corrupted and malicious? If that happens then all the data that is inside the blockchain will be compromised.

So, what happens if we just take this centralized entity away?

In a decentralized system, the information is not stored by one single entity. In fact, everyone in the network owns the information.

In a decentralized network, if you wanted to interact with your friend then you can do so directly without going through a third party. That was the main ideology behind Bitcoins. You and only you alone are in charge of your money. You can send your money to anyone you want without having to go through a bank.

blockchain

Pillar #2: Transparency

One of the most interesting and misunderstood concepts in blockchain technology is “transparency.” Some people say that blockchain gives you privacy while some say that it is transparent. Why do you think that happens?

Well… a person’s identity is hidden via complex cryptography and represented only by their public address. So, if you were to look up a person’s transaction history, you will not see “Bob sent 1 BTC” instead you will see “1MF1bhsFLkBzzz9vpFYEmvwT2TbyCt7NZJ sent 1 BTC”.

The following snapshot of Ethereum transactions will show you what we mean:

Ethereum transactions

So, while the person’s real identity is secure, you will still see all the transactions that were done by their public address. This level of transparency has never existed before within a financial system. It adds that extra, and much needed, level of accountability which is required by some of these biggest institutions.

Speaking purely from the point of view of cryptocurrency, if you know the public address of one of these big companies, you can simply pop it in an explorer and look at all the transactions that they have engaged in. This forces them to be honest, something that they have never had to deal with before.

However, that’s not the best use-case. We are pretty sure that most of these companies won’t transact using cryptocurrencies, and even if they do, they won’t do ALL their transactions using cryptocurrencies. However, what if the blockchain technology was integrated…say in their supply chain?

You can see why something like this can be very helpful for the finance industry right?

Pillar #3: Immutability

Immutability, in the context of the blockchain, means that once something has been entered into the blockchain, it cannot be tampered with.

Can you imagine how valuable this will be for financial institutes?

Imagine how many embezzlement cases can be nipped in the bud if people know that they can’t “work the books” and fiddle around with company accounts.

The reason why the blockchain gets this property is that of cryptographic hash function.

In simple terms, hashing means taking an input string of any length and giving out an output of a fixed length. In the context of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, the transactions are taken as an input and run through a hashing algorithm (bitcoin uses SHA-256) which gives an output of a fixed length.

Let’s see how the hashing process works. We are going to put in certain inputs. For this exercise, we are going to use the SHA-256 (Secure Hashing Algorithm 256).

hashing

As you can see, in the case of SHA-256, no matter how big or small your input is, the output will always have a fixed 256-bits length. This becomes critical when you are dealing with a huge amount of data and transactions. So basically, instead of remembering the input data which could be huge, you can just remember the hash and keep track.

A cryptographic hash function is a special class of hash functions which has various properties making it ideal for cryptography. There are certain properties that a cryptographic hash function needs to have in order to be considered secure. You can read about those in detail in our guide on hashing.

There is just one property that we want you to focus on today. It is called the “Avalanche Effect.”

What does that mean?

Even if you make a small change in your input, the changes that will be reflected in the hash will be huge. Let’s test it out using SHA-256:

blockchain hashing

You see that? Even though you just changed the case of the first alphabet of the input, look at how much that has affected the output hash. Now, let’s go back to our previous point when we were looking at blockchain architecture. What we said was:

The blockchain is a linked list which contains data and a hash pointer which points to its previous block, hence creating the chain. What is a hash pointer? A hash pointer is similar to a pointer, but instead of just containing the address of the previous block it also contains the hash of the data inside the previous block.

This one small tweak is what makes blockchains so amazingly reliable and trailblazing.

Imagine this for a second, a hacker attacks block 3 and tries to change the data. Because of the properties of hash functions, a slight change in data will change the hash drastically. This means that any slight changes made in block 3, will change the hash which is stored in block 2, now that in turn will change the data and the hash of block 2 which will result in changes in block 1 and so on and so forth. This will completely change the chain, which is impossible. This is exactly how blockchains attain immutability.

Maintaining the Blockchain – Network and Nodes

The blockchain is maintained by a peer-to-peer network. The network is a collection of nodes which are interconnected to one another. Nodes are individual computers which take in input and performs a function on them and gives an output. The blockchain uses a special kind of network called “peer-to-peer network” which partitions its entire workload between participants, who are all equally privileged, called “peers”. There is no longer one central server, now there are several distributed and decentralized peers.

Why do people use the peer-to-peer network?

One of the main uses of the peer-to-peer network is file sharing, also called torrenting. If you are to use a client-server model for downloading, then it is usually extremely slow and entirely dependent on the health of the server. Plus, like we said, it is prone to censorship.

However, in a peer-to-peer system, there is no central authority, and hence if even one of the peers in the network goes out of the race, you still have more peers to download from. Plus, it is not subject to the idealistic standards of a central system, hence it is not prone to censorship.

If we were to compare the two:

Image courtesy: Quora

The decentralized nature of a peer-to-peer system becomes critical as we move on to the next section. How critical? Well, the simple (at least on paper) idea of combining this peer-to-peer network with a payment system has completely revolutionized the finance industry by giving birth to cryptocurrency.

The use of networks and nodes in cryptocurrencies.

The peer-to-peer network structure in cryptocurrencies is structured according to the consensus mechanism that they are utilizing. For cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum which uses a normal proof-of-work consensus mechanism (Ethereum will eventually move on to Proof of Stake), all the nodes have the same privilege. The idea is to create an egalitarian network. The nodes are not given any special privileges, however, their functions and degree of participation may differ. There is no centralized server/entity, nor is there any hierarchy. It is a flat topology.

These decentralized cryptocurrencies are structured like that is because of a simple reason, to stay true to their philosophy. The idea is to have a currency system, where everyone is treated as an equal and there is no governing body, which can determine the value of the currency based on a whim. This is true for both bitcoin and Ethereum.

Now, if there is no central system, how would everyone in the system get to know that a certain transaction has happened? The network follows the gossip protocol. Think of how gossip spreads. Suppose Alice sent 3 ETH to Bob. The nodes nearest to her will get to know of this, and then they will tell the nodes closest to them, and then they will tell their neighbors, and this will keep on spreading out until everyone knows. Nodes are basically your nosy, annoying relatives.

What is Blockchain Technology? A step-by-step guide than anyone can understand
So, what is a node in the context of Ethereum? A node is simply a computer that participates in the Ethereum network. This participation can be in three ways

  • By keeping a shallow-copy of the blockchain aka a Light Client
  • By keeping a full-copy of the blockchain aka a Full Node
  • By verifying the transactions aka Mining

 

However, the problem with this design is that it is not really that scalable. Which is why, a lot of new generation cryptocurrencies adopt a leader-based consensus mechanism. In EOS, Cardano, Neo etc. the nodes elect leader nodes or “super nodes” who are in charge of the consensus and overall network health. These cryptos are a lot faster but they are not the most decentralized of systems.

So, in a way, cryptos have to make the trade-off between speed and decentralization.

Who Will Use The Blockchain?

As web infrastructure, you don’t need to know about the blockchain for it to be useful in your life.

Currently, finance offers the strongest use cases for the technology. International remittances, for instance. The World Bank estimates that over $430 billion US in money transfers were sent in 2015. And at the moment there is a high demand for blockchain developers.

The blockchain potentially cuts out the middleman for these types of transactions. Personal computing became accessible to the general public with the invention of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), which took the form of a “desktop”. Similarly, the most common GUI devised for the blockchain are the so-called “wallet” applications, which people use to buy things with Bitcoin, and store it along with other cryptocurrencies.

Transactions online are closely connected to the processes of identity verification. It is easy to imagine that wallet apps will transform in the coming years to include other types of identity management.

What is Blockchain? And What New Applications Will It Bring Us?

The blockchain gives internet users the ability to create value and authenticates digital information. What new business applications will result from this?

#1 Smart contracts

Distributed ledgers enable the coding of simple contracts that will execute when specified conditions are met. Ethereum is an open source blockchain project that was built specifically to realize this possibility. Still, in its early stages, Ethereum has the potential to leverage the usefulness of blockchains on a truly world-changing scale.

At the technology’s current level of development, smart contracts can be programmed to perform simple functions. For instance, a derivative could be paid out when a financial instrument meets certain benchmark, with the use of blockchain technology and Bitcoin enabling the payout to be automated.

#2 The sharing economy

With companies like Uber and Airbnb flourishing, the sharing economy is already a proven success. Currently, however, users who want to hail a ride-sharing service have to rely on an intermediary like Uber. By enabling peer-to-peer payments, the blockchain opens the door to direct interaction between parties — a truly decentralized sharing economy results.

An early example, OpenBazaar uses the blockchain to create a peer-to-peer eBay. Download the app onto your computing device, and you can transact with OpenBazzar vendors without paying transaction fees. The “no rules” ethos of the protocol means that personal reputation will be even more important to business interactions than it currently is on eBay.

#3 Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding initiatives like Kickstarter and Gofundme are doing the advance work for the emerging peer-to-peer economy. The popularity of these sites suggests people want to have a direct say in product development. Blockchains take this interest to the next level, potentially creating crowd-sourced venture capital funds.

In 2016, one such experiment, the Ethereum-based DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), raised an astonishing $200 million USD in just over two months. Participants purchased “DAO tokens” allowing them to vote on smart contract venture capital investments (voting power was proportionate to the number of DAO they were holding). A subsequent hack of project funds proved that the project was launched without proper due diligence, with disastrous consequences. Regardless, the DAO experiment suggests the blockchain has the potential to usher in “a new paradigm of economic cooperation.”

#4 Governance

By making the results fully transparent and publicly accessible, distributed database technology could bring full transparency to elections or any other kind of poll taking. Ethereum-based smart contracts help to automate the process.

The app, Boardroom, enables organizational decision-making to happen on the blockchain. In practice, this means company governance becomes fully transparent and verifiable when managing digital assets, equity or information.

#5 Supply chain auditing

Consumers increasingly want to know that the ethical claims companies make about their products are real. Distributed ledgers provide an easy way to certify that the backstories of the things we buy are genuine. Transparency comes with blockchain-based timestamping of a date and location — on ethical diamonds, for instance — that corresponds to a product number.

The UK-based Provenance offers supply chain auditing for a range of consumer goods. Making use of the Ethereum blockchain, a Provenance pilot project ensures that fish sold in Sushi restaurants in Japan has been sustainably harvested by its suppliers in Indonesia.

#6 File storage

Decentralizing file storage on the internet brings clear benefits. Distributing data throughout the network protects files from getting hacked or lost.

Inter Planetary File System (IPFS) makes it easy to conceptualize how a distributed web might operate. Similar to the way a BitTorrent moves data around the internet, IPFS gets rid of the need for centralized client-server relationships (i.e., the current web). An internet made up of completely decentralized websites has the potential to speed up file transfer and streaming times. Such an improvement is not only convenient. It’s a necessary upgrade to the web’s currently overloaded content-delivery systems.

#7 Prediction markets

The crowdsourcing of predictions on event probability is proven to have a high degree of accuracy. Averaging opinions cancels out the unexamined biases that distort judgment. Prediction markets that payout according to event outcomes are already active. Blockchains are a “wisdom of the crowd” technology that will no doubt find other applications in the years to come.

The prediction market application Augur makes share offerings on the outcome of real-world events. Participants can earn money by buying into the correct prediction. The more shares purchased in the correct outcome, the higher the payout will be. With a small commitment of funds (less than a dollar), anyone can ask a question, create a market based on a predicted outcome, and collect half of all transaction fees the market generates.

#8 Protection of intellectual property

As is well known, digital information can be infinitely reproduced — and distributed widely thanks to the internet. This has given web users globally a goldmine of free content. However, copyright holders have not been so lucky, losing control over their intellectual property and suffering financially as a consequence. Smart contracts can protect copyright and automate the sale of creative works online, eliminating the risk of file copying and redistribution.

Mycelia uses the blockchain to create a peer-to-peer music distribution system. Founded by the UK singer-songwriter Imogen Heap, Mycelia enables musicians to sell songs directly to audiences, as well as license samples to producers and divvy up royalties to songwriters and musicians — all of these functions being automated by smart contracts. The capacity of blockchains to issue payments in fractional cryptocurrency amounts (micropayments) suggests this use case for the blockchain has a strong chance of success.

#9 Internet of Things (IoT)

What is the IoT? The network-controlled management of certain types of electronic devices — for instance, the monitoring of air temperature in a storage facility. Smart contracts make the automation of remote systems management possible. A combination of software, sensors, and the network facilitates an exchange of data between objects and mechanisms. The result increases system efficiency and improves cost monitoring.

The biggest players in manufacturing, tech and telecommunications are all vying for IoT dominance. Think Samsung, IBM and AT&T. A natural extension of existing infrastructure controlled by incumbents, IoT applications will run the gamut from predictive maintenance of mechanical parts to data analytics, and mass-scale automated systems management.

#10 Neighbourhood Microgrids

Blockchain technology enables the buying and selling of the renewable energy generated by neighborhood microgrids. When solar panels make excess energy, Ethereum-based smart contracts automatically redistribute it. Similar types of smart contract automation will have many other applications as the IoT becomes a reality.

Located in Brooklyn, Consensys is one of the foremost companies globally that is developing a range of applications for Ethereum. One project they are partnering on is Transactive Grid, working with the distributed energy outfit, LO3. A prototype project currently up and running uses Ethereum smart contracts to automate the monitoring and redistribution of microgrid energy. This so-called “intelligent grid” is an early example of IoT functionality.

#11 Identity management

There is a definite need for better identity management on the web. The ability to verify your identity is the lynchpin of financial transactions that happen online. However, remedies for the security risks that come with web commerce are imperfect at best. Distributed ledgers offer enhanced methods for proving who you are, along with the possibility to digitize personal documents. Having a secure identity will also be important for online interactions — for instance, in the sharing economy. A good reputation, after all, is the most important condition for conducting transactions online.

Developing digital identity standards is proving to be a highly complex process. Technical challenges aside, a universal online identity solution requires cooperation between private entities and government. Add to that the need to navigate legal systems in different countries and the problem becomes exponentially difficult. E-Commerce on the internet currently relies on the SSL certificate (the little green lock) for secure transactions on the web. Netki is a startup that aspires to create an SSL standard for the blockchain. Having recently announced a $3.5 million seed round, Netki expects a product launch in early 2017.

#12 AML and KYC

Anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) practices have a strong potential for being adapted to the blockchain. Currently, financial institutions must perform a labour intensive multi-step process for each new customer. KYC costs could be reduced through cross-institution client verification, and at the same time increase monitoring and analysis effectiveness.

Startup Polycoin has an AML/KYC solution that involves analysing transactions. Those transactions identified as being suspicious are forwarded on to compliance officers. Another startup Tradle is developing an application called Trust in Motion (TiM). Characterized as an “Instagram for KYC”, TiM allows customers to take a snapshot of key documents (passport, utility bill, etc.). Once verified by the bank, this data is cryptographically stored on the blockchain.

#13 Data management

Today, in exchange for their personal data people can use social media platforms like Facebook for free. In future, users will have the ability to manage and sell the data their online activity generates. Because it can be easily distributed in small fractional amounts, Bitcoin — or something like it — will most likely be the currency that gets used for this type of transaction.

The MIT project Enigma understands that user privacy is the key precondition for creating of a personal data marketplace. Enigma uses cryptographic techniques to allow individual data sets to be split between nodes, and at the same time run bulk computations over the data group as a whole. Fragmenting the data also makes Enigma scalable (unlike those blockchain solutions where data gets replicated on every node). A Beta launch is promised within the next six months.

#14 Land title registration

As Publicly-accessible ledgers, blockchains can make all kinds of record-keeping more efficient. Property titles are a case in point. They tend to be susceptible to fraud, as well as costly and labour intensive to administer.

A number of countries are undertaking blockchain-based land registry projects. Honduras was the first government to announce such an initiative in 2015, although the current status of that project is unclear. This year, the Republic of Georgia cemented a deal with the Bitfury Group to develop a blockchain system for property titles. Reportedly, Hernando de Soto, the high-profile economist and property rights advocate, will be advising on the project. Most recently, Sweden announced it was experimenting with a blockchain application for property titles.

#15 Stock trading

The potential for added efficiency in share settlement makes a strong use case for blockchains in stock trading. When executed peer-to-peer, trade confirmations become almost instantaneous (as opposed to taking three days for clearance). Potentially, this means intermediaries — such as the clearing house, auditors and custodians — get removed from the process.

Numerous stock and commodities exchanges are prototyping blockchain applications for the services they offer, including the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange), the Deutsche Börse (Frankfurt’s stock exchange) and the JPX (Japan Exchange Group). Most high profile because the acknowledged first mover in the area, is the Nasdaq’s Linq, a platform for private market trading (typically between pre-IPO startups and investors). A partnership with the blockchain tech company Chain, Linq announced the completion of it its first share trade in 2015. More recently, Nasdaq announced the development of a trial blockchain project for proxy voting on the Estonian Stock Market.

Ian Khan, TEDx SpeakerAs revolutionary as it sounds, Blockchain truly is a mechanism to bring everyone to the highest degree of accountability. No more missed transactions, human or machine errors, or even an exchange that was not done with the consent of the parties involved. Above anything else, the most critical area where Blockchain helps is to guarantee the validity of a transaction by recording it not only on a main register but a connected distributed system of registers, all of which are connected through a secure validation mechanism.” – Ian Khan, TEDx Speaker | Author | Technology Futurist

https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-blockchain-technology/

Making sense of bitcoin, cryptocurrency and blockchain

Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, blockchain… So what does it all mean?

Some of the noise is hype, but some of it points to important forces in the financial services industry. To help you make sense of it, we’ve pulled together content explaining why a lot of industry observers are paying close attention.

Let’s start with some quick definitions. Blockchain is the technology that enables the existence of cryptocurrency (among other things). Bitcoin is the name of the best-known cryptocurrency, the one for which blockchain technology was invented. A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange, such as the US dollar, but is digital and uses encryption techniques to control the creation of monetary units and to verify the transfer of funds.

A look at blockchain technology

What is it?

The blockchain is a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network. Using this technology, participants can confirm transactions without a need for a central clearing authority. Potential applications can include fund transfers, settling trades, voting and many other issues.

blockchain how it works
blockchain cyrptocurrency
blockchain benefits

 

Blockchain also has potential applications far beyond bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

Blockchain is, quite simply, a digital, decentralized ledger that keeps a record of all transactions that take place across a peer-to-peer network. The major innovation is that the technology allows market participants to transfer assets across the internet without the need for a centralized third party.

From a business perspective, it’s helpful to think of blockchain technology as a type of next-generation business process improvement software. Collaborative technology, such as blockchain, promises the ability to improve the business processes that occur between companies, radically lowering the “cost of trust.” For this reason, it may offer significantly higher returns for each investment dollar spent than most traditional internal investments.

Financial institutions are exploring how they could also use blockchain technology to upend everything from clearing and settlement to insurance.

For an overview of cryptocurrency, start with “Money is no object.” This paper, from PwC’s Financial Services Institute, focuses on cryptocurrency. We explain where it came from, how much consumers know about it and use it, what it will take for the market to grow and what the regulators think. We also look at how market participants, such as investors, technology providers and financial institutions, will be affected.

For some quick background on blockchain, take a look at our Top Trends in Financial Services page on Blockchain, where we discuss some of the ways FS firms are using blockchain, and how we expect the blockchain technology to develop in the future.

For a deeper dive into blockchain’s implications, read “A strategist’s guide to blockchain.” This article, from strategy+business, examines the potential benefits of this important innovation—and also suggests a way forward for financial institutions. Put simply, proceed deliberately. Explore how others might try to disrupt your business with blockchain technology and how your company could use it to leap ahead instead. In all cases, link your investments to your value proposition and give your business partners and your customers what they want most: speed, convenience and control over their transactions.

For a peek into the application of blockchains for smart contracts, check out “Blockchain and smart contract automation”. This short series of articles explore how blockchains, both public and private, have triggered a global hunt for ways to remove friction from transaction-related processes, including the process of reaching contractual agreements. Learn about the precursors, challenges and future outlook of implementing smart contracts. We also chat with Gideon Greenspan of Coin Sciences to learn about his views on the legal ramifications of public blockchains and why companies are seeking alternatives.

When a technology moves so quickly, it’s dangerous to sit on the sidelines. We’re watching blockchain move from a startup idea to an established technology in a tiny fraction of the time it took for the internet or even the PC to be accepted as a standard tool. Blockchain technology could result in a radically different competitive future for the financial services industry. These articles will help you understand these changes—and what you should do about them.

https://www.pwc.com/us/en/industries/financial-services/fintech/bitcoin-blockchain-cryptocurrency.html

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The Pronk Pops Show 1280, June 25, 2019, Story 1: Trump’s Red Line Message To Iran: Don’t Mess With America — No Exit Strategy With Iran — Consequences of Full Nuclear Conflict — New Ice Age and Global Starvation — Videos — Story 2: Chinese Communist Party Cyber Attack on United States — Escalation Risks — World Cyber War in Progress — Cyber Weapon Arms Race — Videos — Story 3 : Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) Temporarily Declines Due To Uncertainty About Tariffs As Measured By Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index from 131.3 in May to 121.5 in June — Videos– Story 4: Federal Reserve Chairman Powell U.S. Economy Facing More Uncertainties — Abolish The Federal Reserve or Bust Up The Banking Cartel For Failure To Maintain Price Stability — The U.S. Dollar Has Lost 99% of It Value Over 105 Years! — Videos

Posted on June 25, 2019. Filed under: 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Afghanistan, American History, Applications, Banking System, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Coal, Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Deep State, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hardware, Hate Speech, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Impeachment, Independence, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, Islam, Islamic Republic of Iran, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, MIssiles, Monetary Policy, National Interest, Natural Gas, Networking, News, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Public Corruption, Public Relations, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Resources, Rule of Law, Russia, Scandals, Second Amendment, Senate, Servers, Software, Spying on American People, Subversion, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, U.S. Negotiations with Islamic Republic of Iran, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom, Yemen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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 Story 1: Trump’s Red Line Message To Iran: Don’t Mess With America — No Exit Strategy With Iran — Consequences of Full Nuclear Conflict — New Ice Age and Global Starvation — Videos —

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I’ve studied nuclear war for 35 years — you should be worried. | Brian Toon | TEDxMileHigh

Published on Feb 1, 2018

For the first time in decades, it’s hard to ignore the threat of nuclear war. But as long as you’re far from the blast, you’re safe, right? Wrong. In this sobering talk, atmospheric scientist Brian Toon explains how even a small nuclear war could destroy all life on earth — and what we can do to prevent it. A professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Brian Toon investigates the causes of the ozone hole, how volcanic eruptions alter the climate, how ancient Mars had flowing rivers, and the environmental impacts of nuclear war. He contributed to the U.N.’s Nobel Peace Prize for climate change and holds numerous scientific awards, including two NASA medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement. He is an avid woodworker. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

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The beauty of hackers, says cybersecurity expert Keren Elazari, is that they force us to evolve and improve. Yes, some hackers are bad guys, but many are working to fight government corruption and advocate for our rights. By exposing vulnerabilities, they push the Internet to become stronger and healthier, wielding their power to create a better world. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.

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Story 2: Chinese Communist Party Cyber Attack on United States — Escalation Risks — World Cyber War in Progress — Cyber Weapon Arms Race — Videos —

Hackers targeted telecom networks to spy on high-profile people

Published on Jun 25, 2019

An ambitious group of state-backed hackers has been burrowing into telecommunications companies in order to spy on high-profile targets across the world, a U.S. cybersecurity firm said in a report published Tuesday. Boston-based Cybereason said the tactic gave hackers sweeping access to VIPs’ call records, location data and device information — effectively turning the targets’ cellular providers against them. Cybereason said that all the signs pointed to APT10 — the nickname often applied to a notorious China-linked cyberespionage group. Cybereason Chief Executive Lior Div said that because customers weren’t directly targeted, they might never discover their every movement was being monitored by a hostile power. The hackers had turned the affected telecoms into “a global surveillance system,” Div said in a telephone interview ahead of the report’s launch. “Those individuals don’t know they were hacked — because they weren’t.” Div, who is presenting his findings at the Cyber Week conference in Tel Aviv, provided scant details about who was targeted in the hack, saying that Cybereason had been called in to help an unidentified cellular provider last year and discovered that the hackers had broken into the firm’s billing server, where call records are logged. 20 customers The hackers were using their access to extract the call data of “around 20” customers, Div said. Who those people were he declined to say, describing them as mainly coming from the world of politics and the military. He said the information was so sensitive he would not provide even the vaguest idea of where they or the telecom were located. “I’m not even going to share the continent,” he said. Cybereason said the compromise of its customer eventually led it to about 10 other firms that had been hit in a similar way, with hackers stealing data in 100 gigabyte chunks. Div said that, in some cases, the hackers appeared to be tracking non-phone devices, such as cars or smartwatches. The GSMA, which represents mobile operators worldwide, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. APT10 Who might be behind such hacking campaigns is often a fraught question in a world full of digital false flags, although Cybereason said signs pointed to China-linked APT10. But Div said the clues they found were so obvious he and his team sometimes wondered whether they might have been left on purpose. “I thought: ‘Hey, just a second, maybe it’s somebody who wants to blame APT10,'” he said. Chinese authorities have routinely denied responsibility for hacking operations. The Chinese Embassy in London did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Div said that it was unclear whether the ultimate targets of the espionage operation were warned, saying Cybereason had left it to the telecom firms to notify their customers. Div added that he had been in touch with “a handful” of law enforcement agency about the matter, although he did not say which ones.

Cell Service Providers Around The World Are Being Hacked, And They Don’t Even Know It

Hackers hit telecommunications firms Cybereason

Chinese hackers taregting US Navy: Report

State of the Hack: Trending 10 Years of Breach Response (RSAC #SendUsSwag)

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US Charges Chinese Hackers With Cyber Crimes: The Sequel | China Uncensored

CHINA ESCALATES HACKS AGAINST THE US AS TRADE TENSIONS RISE

Recent hacks against a submarine contractor and satellite firms show the cyber threat from China is heating up.
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IN 2015, THE United States and China agreed to a digital truce that banned hacking private companies to steal trade secrets. And though the agreement has been touted as a success, it hasn’t stopped Chinese state-sponsored hackers from pushing the envelope of acceptable behavior. Moreover, it certainly hasn’t slowed types of hacking that fall outside the purview of the accord. Lately, it seems, that means defense intelligence gathering.

In recent weeks, Chinese hackers have reportedly breached a US Navy contractor that works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, stealing 614 GB of data about submarine and undersea weapons technology. Attacks in the last few months originating from China have also targeted US satellite and geospatial imaging firms, and an array of telecoms. The incidents highlight the clandestine but incessant hacking campaigns that continue reliably between the US and China.

“China’s actually backed off quite a bit on intellectual property theft, but when it comes to military trade secrets, military preparedness, military readiness, satellite communications, anything that involves the US’s ability to keep a cyber or military edge, China has been very heavily focused on those targets,” says David Kennedy, CEO of the threat tracking firm Binary Defense Systems, who formerly worked at the NSA and with the Marine Corps’ signal intelligence unit. “And the US does the same thing, by the way.”

‘They’ll use that as a first step instead of having to send fighter jets or something.’

DAVID KENNEDY, BINARY DEFENSE SYSTEMS

The submarine contractor breach, recently reported by the Washington Post, reflects this intense focus on bridging any technological advantage the US may have. It involved attacks in January and February that nabbed important data, albeit from an unclassified network. When taken together, though, the information would have amounted to a valuable snapshot of US cutting edge underwater weapons development, plus details on a number of related digital and mechanical systems.

The attack fits into a known pattern of Chinese hacking initiatives. “China will continue to use cyberespionage and bolster cyberattack capabilities to support [its] national security priorities,” US director of national intelligence Daniel Coats wrote in a February threat report. “The [Intelligence Community] and private-sector security experts continue to identify ongoing cyberactivity from China…Most detected Chinese cyberoperations against US private industry are focused on cleared defense contractors or IT and communications firms.”

This week, analysts from Symantec also published research on a series of attacks in the same category from November 2017 to April from a hacking group dubbed Thrip. Though Symantec does not go so far as to identify Thrip as Chinese state-sponsored hackers, it reports “with high confidence” that Thrip attacks trace back to computers inside the country. The group, which Symantec has tracked since 2013, has evolved to hide in plain site by mostly using prefab malware to infiltrate networks and then manipulating administrative controls and other legitimate system tools to bore deeper without setting off alarms. All of these off-the-shelf hacking tools and techniques have made Thrip harder to identify and track—which is likely the idea—but Symantec started to notice patterns in their anomaly detection scanners that ultimately gave these attacks away, and led the researchers to a unique backdoor that implicated Thrip.

The researchers found evidence of intrusions at some southeast Asian telecom firms, a US geospatial imagery company, a couple of private satellite companies including one from the US, and a US defense contractor. The breaches were all deliberate and targeted, and in the case of the satellite firms the hackers moved all the way through to reach the control systems of actual orbiting satellites, where they could have impacted a satellite’s trajectory or disrupted data flow.

“It is scary,” says Jon DiMaggio, a senior threat intelligence analyst at Symantec who leads the research into Thrip. “We looked at which systems they were interested in, where they spent the most time, and on the satellites it was command and control. And then they were also on the operational side for both the geospatial imagery and the telecom attacks.”

Though hacking for intelligence-gathering is a priority for all nations and can sometimes be mutually tolerated, Binary Defense Systems’ Kennedy points out that it can also serve as a way to make a statement when two countries are at odds. He notes that it’s not surprising to detect escalating hacking operations from China against the US given rising geopolitical tensions between the two countries about trade and increased tariffs. “Hacking can be used as a sign of force in a lot of cases to say ‘hey, we’re not happy and we’re going to make you feel some pain,'” Kennedy notes. “They’ll use that as a first step instead of having to send fighter jets or something.”

Though Chinese hacking was brought under control somewhat by the 2015 agreement, analysts say that China’s nation state hackers have reorganized and retooled over the last few years to be even more stealthy and effective in their digital espionage operations. And recent attacks indicate that they are optimizing their plans to get the most valuable information they can out of each victim.

“All of these pieces fit together,” Symantec’s DiMaggio says of Thrip. “It’s not targets of opportunity; it’s definitely a planned operation.”

https://www.wired.com/story/china-hacks-against-united-states/

Navy, Industry Partners Are ‘Under Cyber Siege’ by Chinese Hackers, Review Asserts

Hacking threatens U.S.’s standing as world’s leading military power, study says

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer testified before the Senate Committee on Armed Services last week. PHOTO: RON SACHS/CNP/ZUMA PRESS

WASHINGTON—The Navy and its industry partners are “under cyber siege” by Chinese hackers and others who have stolen national security secrets in recent years, exploiting critical weaknesses that threaten the U.S.’s standing as the world’s top military power, an internal Navy review concluded.

The assessment, delivered to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer last week and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, depicts a branch of the armed forces under relentless cyberattack by foreign adversaries and struggling in its response to the scale and sophistication of the problem.

Drawing from extensive research and interviews with senior officials across the Trump administration, the tone of the review is urgent and at times dire, offering a rare, unfiltered look at the military’s cybersecurity liabilities.

The 57-page document is especially scathing in its assessment of how the Navy has addressed cybersecurity challenges facing its contractors and subcontractors, faulting naval officials for failing to anticipate that adversaries would attack the defense industrial base and not adequately informing those partners of the cyber threat. It also acknowledges a lack of full understanding about the extent of the damage.

“For years, global competitors, and adversaries, have targeted and breached these critical contractor systems with impunity,” the audit says. “These enterprises, regardless of their relationship with the department, are under cyber siege.”

The Navy declined to comment on the review, which hasn’t been publicly released.

Chinese officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but in the past have denied engaging in cyberattacks.

The review presented the threat posed by China in particularly stark terms, arguing that its cyber espionage operations against the U.S. military, its suppliers and the private sector in general have shifted power dynamics between the world’s two biggest economies.

China has “derived an incalculable near- and long-term military advantage from it [the hacking], thereby altering the calculus of global power,” the report said.

The findings are of acute interest and concern within the Navy.

“We are under siege,” said a senior Navy official. “People think it’s much like a deathly virus—if we don’t do anything, we could die.”

John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at the U.S.-based cyber firm FireEye, said the hacking “appears to be preparation for great power conflict.”

Mr. Hultquist, whose firm has closely tracked China’s targeting of the Navy and maritime technology, added: “If you are a Navy leader, you have to see that these are the tools they could use to fight us decades down the road.”

FireEye last week renamed the Chinese hacking group believed to be behind the attacks on Navy contractors and research universities, from Temp.Periscope to Advanced Persistent Threat 40, or APT 40, a rare designation the firm reserves only for the most sophisticated hacking squads it has high confidence it has correctly identified.

One major breach of a Navy contractor, reported in June and attributed to Chinese hackers, involved the theft of secret plans to build a supersonic antiship missile planned for use by American submarines, according to officials.

The hackers targeted an unidentified company under contract with the Navy’s Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I.

Coupled with that breach, a second breach last year prompted Mr. Spencer to request the internal review, Navy officials said.

The report repeatedly singles out China and Russia in the theft of military secrets, portraying their actions as calibrated to achieve strategic objectives while remaining below the threshold of armed conflict, a metered approach that the U.S. has struggled to defend against.

The review found flaws with the Navy’s longstanding approach to its own supply-chain security, which relies on contractors self-reporting vulnerabilities and breaches. “That after-the-fact system has demonstrably failed,” the review said.

According to U.S. officials and security researchers, hackers have stolen highly classified information about advanced military technology. Victims of Chinese attacks alone span large and small contractors, major universities that develop maritime technology and receive billions in federal research dollars, and the Navy itself.

“Only a very small subset of incidents are ‘known’ and of those known, an even…smaller set are fully investigated,” it said.

The report is unclassified and doesn’t provide specific details about individual breaches or tally recent intrusions. A separate classified document details some of the known breaches of the Navy or its contractors.

Navy officials declined to give even an estimate of incidents over the last 18 months other than to say they were “numerous.”

China is considered the biggest thief, officials said, but Russia is another source of concern. Iran also has breached Navy systems, an official said, but that occurred before the Trump administration, the official said.

“It’s not only the number of breaches but the magnitude of the loss that is so troubling,” said another Navy official.

When contractor breaches are investigated, information about the attacks “is often hyper classified and difficult to share, sometimes leading to an alarming lack of understanding and appreciation of the threat,” the review said.

The Journal reported last week that Chinese hackers had targeted and potentially compromised more than two dozen universities in the U.S. and around the globe as part of an elaborate scheme to steal advanced maritime technology secrets. Some of the schools, such as Penn State’s applied research laboratory, are under contract to the Navy.

In response to those revelations, Sen. Edward Markey (D., Mass.) sent letters Tuesday to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asking questions about how their agencies protect research institutions from cyberattacks.

“In the era of great power competition, it should come as no surprise that Chinese hackers are targeting academic institutions ripe with valuable information about U.S. military capabilities,” Mr. Markey wrote.

The Navy review faulted the military branch’s culture as lacking an appreciation of the cybersecurity threats it faces, being unable to anticipate novel attacks and favoring compliance and governance over outcomes.

Among recommendations, the review urged identifying and better protecting essential data, selecting leaders to oversee a long-term cybersecurity strategy and installing new accountability measures on contractors to ensure they meet cybersecurity standards.

The national security implications of China’s cybertheft of advanced research from Navy contractors and universities are considered so severe that the issue has been mentioned in the presidential daily brief on multiple occasions, according to a person familiar with the matter. Some subcontractors have been breached by the same Chinese hacking group several times within the same year, despite warnings from investigators, the person said.

The Trump administration has sought in recent months to hold Beijing responsible for what officials have described as a relentless onslaught of intrusions into U.S. corporate and government networks. Chinese hackers stand accused of stealing hundreds of billions of dollars annually in intellectual property from U.S. businesses, and the Justice Department in recent months has announced a series of charges that have blamed Beijing for a variety of wide-ranging cyberattacks.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE REVIEW

The Navy report’s authors conducted 31 site visits and interviewed 85 current senior military officers and civilians across both the Navy and wider Defense Department, as well as senior officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and White House National Security Council, among others. Here are their main conclusions:

  • The Navy and its industry partners are facing relentless cyber attacks that seek to steal sensitive national security data by a wide range of foes, with China and Russia the most adept and strategic.
  • The U.S. is at risk of losing global military and economic advantages due to cyberthefts of secrets and intellectual property.
  • Despite efforts to address the problem, the defense industrial base has suffered “a flood of breaches of significant data” and “continues to hemorrhage critical data.”
  • The Navy and Defense Department have only a limited understanding of the totality of losses they and their partners are suffering.
  • The Navy is focused on “preparing to win some future kinetic battle, while it is losing the current global, counter-force, counter-value, cyber war,” the review’s authors conclude.

Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com and Dustin Volz at dustin.volz@wsj.com

Appeared in the March 13, 2019, print edition as ‘Chinese Hackers Attack Navy, Review Concludes.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/navy-industry-partners-are-under-cyber-siege-review-asserts-11552415553

The Advanced Persistent Threat is as Relevant as Ever

At FireEye, we’ve studied advanced persistent threat (APT) groups for fifteen years and published our annual M-Trends report for 10 of those now. In M-Trends, we have covered a variety of topics including attacker dwell times, attack trends, and offensive and defensive trends. Of all the industry measures, our global median dwell time statistic is one of the most anticipated. The dwell time statistic is important because it reflects the speed at which attacks within victim environments are identified. Swift identification of an attacker’s presence is critical to preventing an attacker for accomplishing their mission, whether it be data theft, disruption, or something else. Swift identification also reduces the cost of an investigation by contributing to reduce scope and breadth of attacker activity. The median global dwell time for the period from October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2018, continued its year over year decline reaching an all-time low of 78 days. This reduction in dwell time is evidence that organizations are continuing to improve their detection capabilities. That said, having an attacker in an environment for more than two months means there is room for improvement.

APT groups are typically those threat actors who receive direction and support from nation states, with objectives that traditionally include data theft, reconnaissance, disruption or destruction. These groups operate very similarly to other threat actors such as cyber criminals, but they are distinct in that they tend to adapt to defenses and may maintain a presence on systems for months or even years. 

In an age where data breaches and ransomware attacks make up the bulk of cyber coverage by major media, advanced persistent threats fall under the radar more than they should. That doesn’t mean that APT groups are forgotten, however. Far from it.

In 2018, FireEye promoted four threat groups to APT groups. In order to avoid complex naming mechanics and confusion, we simply refer to these groups as: APT37, APT38, APT39 and APT40. More extensive details on these groups can be found in our 2019 Mandiant M-Trends report, released today. Here is an abridged summary.

APT40 is a China-nexus espionage actor and the latest group to be promoted to APT – in fact, we just released the details today – the first full day of RSA Conference 2019. APT40 has operated in support of China’s overall defense and naval modernization effort since at least January 2013, targeting verticals including the maritime, aviation, engineering, chemical, R&D, government and technology industries. 

Operating since at least late-2014, APT39 is an Iranian espionage group that has primarily targeted the telecommunications sector. Other targets include the travel industry and supporting IT firms, and also the high-tech industry. This targeting suggests intent to perform monitoring, tracking or surveillance operations against specific individuals, to collect proprietary or customer data for commercial or operational purposes that serve strategic requirements related to national priorities, or to create additional accesses and vectors to facilitate future campaigns. 

APT37 and APT38 are both believed to be operating in support of North Korea, however they are not necessarily connected to each other. We assess APT37 has been carrying out covert intelligence gathering in support of North Korea’s strategic military, political and economic interests since at least 2012. Meanwhile, APT38 is a financially motivated group linked to North Korean cyber espionage operators that has attempted to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from financial institutions since 2015. 

Sophisticated actors operating to further a nation’s interests will never go away. This is why advanced persistent threats will continue to be something we discuss in some way, shape or form in every M-Trends report. As threat actors continue to evolve and change, we expect that other nations will follow suit, potentially ushering in a new age of cyber operations.

Contributor: FireEye, Inc

https://www.rsaconference.com/blogs/the-advanced-persistent-threat-is-as-relevant-as-ever

Report: Chinese hackers stole US Navy data

Threats of cyber warfare

The Secret Cyberwar is Here: Director Alex Gibney on ‘Zero Days’ Documentary, Stuxnet & Cyberweapons

Published on Jul 8, 2016

“The potential for enormous destruction and loss of life is palpable when it comes to cyberweapons,” says Alex Gibney, director of the new film Zero Days, which delves into the creation, deployment, and implications of the Stuxnet virus. Stuxnet, a self-replicating cyberweapon launched by the U.S. and Israel into the Natanz nuclear plant in Iran, was an effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear progress by taking control of the plant’s centrifuges, spinning them until they would explode. “The reason it is hugely significant is it is the first time a computer code has crossed the threshold from the realm of cyber to the realm of the physical. So it is blowing stuff up.” “It was a brilliant and elegant weapon which achieved a goal of slowing down Iran’s path to being a nuclear power. However, as a precedent, it was extremely dangerous because it was an attack on critical infrastructure during peacetime. Had that been done to us we would have been within our rights to start a war.” While Zero Days unfolds as a detective story, following the cybersecurity experts at Symantec who discovered the Stuxnet virus, a good portion of the film portrays the continued secrecy of cyberwarfare, something Gibney finds both frustrating and dangerous. “We know that Stuxnet was launched by Israel and the United States against Iran. The United States won’t admit that. Israel won’t admit that,” says Gibney. “We have a situation now where the weapons have gone way beyond Stuxnet in terms of their sophistication and their destructive power. Yet by keeping that offensive cyber-capability secret we deprive everybody in this country–in a democracy–from having any kind of debate over how and when and why they should be used. So the secrecy is actually putting us in existential risk in this case.” Gibney sat down with Reason TV to discuss the film, whether cyber-weapons are analogous to nuclear weapons, and whether he considers himself a “conspiracy factualist.” Approximately 10:30 minutes. Produced and edited by Meredith Bragg. Cameras by Todd Krainin and Austin Bragg. Visit http://reason.com/reasontv/2016/07/08… for links, downloadable versions, and to read Kurt Loder’s review of the film. And subscribe to ReasonTV’s YouTube Channel to receive notification when new material goes live.

How Israel Rules The World Of Cyber Security | VICE on HBO

Who Unleashed Stuxnet?

How the NSA betrayed the world’s trust — time to act | Mikko Hypponen

Dissecting Stuxnet

Published on May 8, 2012

The Stuxnet computer worm is perhaps the most complicated piece of malicious software ever built; roughly 50 times the size of the typical computer virus. It leveraged an array of new techniques to spread and conceal itself while attacking Iranian nuclear enrichment centrifuges. Symantec Chief Architect Carey Nachenberg explains how the Stuxnet worm spread, evaded detection and ultimately accomplished its mission.

Hackers: the internet’s immune system | Keren Elazari

Understanding Stuxnet and Other Covert Responses to the Iranian Nuclear Program

Cyber War News Now – China says the United States is the Aggressor and Vows to Retaliate.

Cyberwar | Fault Lines

Cyber Warfare, Coercion, and Restraint

The Cato Institute

Published on May 21, 2019

Featuring Brandon Valeriano, Donald Bren Chair of Armed Politics, Marine Corps University; Benjamin Jensen, Associate professor, Marine Corps University; Scholar in Residence, American University School of International Service; Jacquelyn Schneider, Assistant professor in the Strategic and Operational Research Department, U.S. Naval War College; and Richard Harknett, Professor and head of the Department of Political Science, University of Cincinnati; moderated by John Glaser, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute. International security in the 21st century is increasingly characterized by the use of cyber operations. Concern over this still-developing domain of competition has led to inflated assessments of its dangers and greater support for a more aggressive U.S. posture on cyber security and cyber warfare. How do great powers like the United States, Russia, and China employ cyber capabilities? What threats does the United States currently face in this realm, and what is the most effective method of defense? What are the vulnerabilities of complacency, and, conversely, the risks of escalation?

Rep. Quigley Says U.S. Not Prepared for China Cyber Attacks

Hackers hit telecommunications firms in possible Chinese espionage campaign, researchers say

Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Hackers broke into the systems of more than a dozen global telecommunications companies and taken large amounts of personal and corporate data, researchers from a cyber security company say.
  • U.S.-Israeli cybersecurity firm Cybereason says it identified links to previous Chinese cyber-espionage campaigns.
  • Western countries have moved to call out Beijing for its actions in cyberspace, warning that Chinese hackers have compromised companies and government agencies around the world.

Hackers have broken into the systems of more than a dozen global telecommunications companies and taken large amounts of personal and corporate data, researchers from a cyber security company said on Tuesday, identifying links to previous Chinese cyber-espionage campaigns.

Investigators at U.S.Israeli cyber security firm Cybereason said the attackers compromised companies in more than 30 countries and aimed to gather information on individuals in government, law-enforcement and politics.

The hackers also used tools linked to other attacks attributed to Beijing by the United States and its Western allies, said Lior Div, chief executive of Cybereason.

“For this level of sophistication it’s not a criminal group. It is a government that has capabilities that can do this kind of attack,” he told Reuters.

China has repeatedly denied involvement in any hacking activity.

Cybereason declined to name the companies affected or the countries they operate in, but people familiar with Chinese hacking operations said Beijing was increasingly targeting telcos in Western Europe.

Western countries have moved to call out Beijing for its actions in cyberspace, warning that Chinese hackers have compromised companies and government agencies around the world to steal valuable commercial secrets and personal data for espionage purposes.

Div said this latest campaign, which his team uncovered over the last nine months, compromised the internal IT network of some of those targeted, allowing the attackers to customize the infrastructure and steal vast amounts of data.

In some instances, they managed to compromise a target’s entire active directory, giving them access to every username and password in the organisation. They also got hold of personal data, including billing information and call records, Cybereason said in a blog post.

“They built a perfect espionage environment,” said Div, a former commander in Israel’s military intelligence unit 8200.

“They could grab information as they please on the targets that they are interested in.”

Cybereason said multiple tools used by the attackers had previously been used by a Chinese hacking group known as APT10.

The United States indicted two alleged members of APT10 in December and joined other Western countries in denouncing the group’s attacks on global technology service providers to steal intellectual property from their clients.

The company said on previous occasions it had identified attacks it suspected had come from China or Iran but it was never certain enough to name these countries.

Cybereason said: “This time as opposed to in the past we are sure enough to say that the attack originated in China.”

“We managed to find not just one piece of software, we managed to find more than five different tools that this specific group used,” Div said.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/25/hackers-hit-telecommunications-firms-cybereason.html

What Are China’s Cyber Capabilities and Intentions?

Source: Getty
Summary:  Given that suspicion about China’s cyberwarfare capabilities and intentions could lead to conflict, it is necessary to examine China’s views of cyber warfare from a different perspective than most are familiar with.
News stories on the cyber threat that China poses appear on a regular basis. Most underscore a view that China is using cyber power to rise and ultimately win global dominance, and that the Chinese government is behind the scenes in many malicious cyber activities. Though many of the allegations focus on the tension between China and the United States on cyber espionage, these actions are unlikely to cause armed conflict since almost all capable actorsconduct cyber espionage.

Suspicions of intentions and capabilities of cyber warfare, however, could drag the US and China into arms races, and even hot wars, due to the role cyber tools can play in military operations. Given the risks, it is necessary to examine China’s views on cyber warfare from a narrative that is different from what most readers are familiar with.

CONTEXT FOR CHINA’S VIEWS ON CYBER WARFARE

China’s academic discussion of cyber warfare started in the 1990s when it was called “information warfare.” Impressed by how the US military benefited from the application of high technologies in the Gulf War—and subsequent operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq—China began to realize that there is no way to adequately defend itself without following the changes in the forms of war in which high technologies, mainly information technologies, play more critical roles.

Lyu Jinghua
Lyu Jinghua is a visiting scholar with Carnegie’s Cyber Policy Initiative. Her research focuses primarily on cybersecurity and China-U.S. defense relations.

In 1993, two years after the Gulf War, the Chinese military adjusted its military strategic guideline which set “winning local wars in conditions of modern technology, particularly high technology” as the basic aim of preparations for military struggle (PMS). In 2004, one year after the Iraq War, the military’s PMS was changed to “winning local wars under conditions of informationization.” The basic understanding, as elaborated in China’s National Defense in 2004, is that “informationization has become the key factor in enhancing the warfighting capability of the armed forces.”

The first time that the Chinese military publicly addressed cyber warfare from a holistic point of view was in the 2013 version of “The Science of Military Strategy”—a study by the Academy of Military Science. It emphasized that cyberspace has become a new and essential domain of military struggle in today’s world. A similar tone appeared in the 2015 Ministry of National Defense paper entitled “China’s Military Strategy.”

While the latter document modified the basic point for PMS to “winning informationized local wars,” it also addressed cybersecurity for the first time in an official military document. It defined cyberspace as a “new pillar of economic and social development, and a new domain of national security,” and declared clearly that “China is confronted with grave security threats to its cyber infrastructure” as “international strategic competition in cyberspace has been turning increasingly fiercer, quite a few countries are developing their cyber military forces.”

Based on the above approach that China is taking to cyberspace and its own national security, a few conclusions can be drawn. The first is that China has not developed its cyber capabilities in a vacuum. Rather, they have developed them as a response to the changing cyber warfare approaches and practices of other countries, especially those of the US and Russia. The second is that the Chinese government’s views on cyber warfare are consistent with its military strategy, which is modified according to the national security environment, domestic situation, and activities of foreign militaries.

CORE AIMS OF CHINA’S CYBER WARFARE

Though there is no commonly accepted conception of cyber warfare, one made by a RAND Corporation study is frequently quoted by Chinese military analysts: cyber warfare is strategic warfare in the information age, just as it was nuclear warfare in the 20th century. This definition serves as the foundation to argue that cyber warfare has much broader significance to national security and involves competition in areas beyond the military, such as the economy, diplomacy, and social development.

Again, China’s Military Strategy describes the primary objectives of cyber capabilities to include: “cyberspace situation awareness, cyber defense, support for the country’s endeavors in cyberspace, and participation in international cyber cooperation.” The strategy frames these objectives within the aims of “stemming major cyber crises, ensuring national network and information security, and maintaining national security and social stability.”

Of these objectives, an essential one is national security and social stability. As shown by several incidents, such as the protests after Iran’s 2009 presidential election, the Arab Spring, as well as Occupy Wall Street and the London Riots of 2011, social media plays a vital role in helping to plan and carry out such protests and movements. The Chinese government’s monitoring of the internet and social media is based on its potential use as a platform to disseminate information that could cause similar social unrest to spread, which could lead to large-scale social and political instability.

Another essential objective, in common with all states, is defending critical information infrastructure. China is more and more dependent on information networks in all aspects, including in defense. Although it has a large-scale technology industry and possesses the potential to compete with the US in some, most of its core network technologies and key software and hardware are provided by US companies.

China uses the term “eight King Kongs” to describe the top internet companies in its domestic supply chain: Apple, Cisco, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, and Qualcomm. Heavy dependence on these companies’ products makes it necessary to work towards developing the domestic technology industry and its capabilities, and to thereby make the country’s internal internet infrastructure more secure. It also makes China believe that its primary mission in cyberspace is to ensure information security of critical areas, which is inherently defensive and non-destructive.

Many, including the US government, have accused the Chinese government and military of cyberattacks in which intellectual property has been stolen. In this regard, there are several distinctions to make clear. The first is between those cyberattacks that aim to destroy, and cyber espionage for intelligence collection. The second is to make clear those forms of cyber espionage that are related to national security concerns and those for economic interests. And the last is between malicious cyber activities that one government or military should take responsibility for, and those that are attributed to a government or military based on less-than-reliable key indicators of where activities originate.

The implications of distinguishing clearly are great and there is a need for far lengthier analyses and studies. Looking at the issue briefly, most accusations levied at China are related to the latter distinction. Until today, there is no irrefutable evidence to show China has been involved in cyberattacks that aim to destroy or have destroyed. While cyber espionage for national security concerns is a common action conducted by most countries, cyber espionage for economic benefit is an accusation continually made against the Chinese government and military. However, there are reports indicating a notable decline in commercial cyber espionage allegedly attributed to Chinese sources, at least in the first few months following an agreement reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama in 2015.

The overall defensive perspective of the government is ultimately in line with China’s strategic guidelines and its understanding of the general characteristics of cyber warfare. China has consistently said that it adheres to the strategic guideline of Active Defense, as elaborated in the 2015 defense paper. Guided by these principles, the primary stated goal in cyber warfare is to enhance defense capabilities in order to survive and counter after suffering an offensive cyber strike.

Some observers may conclude that it is more worthwhile to invest resources into cyber offense since cyberspace is offense-dominant. However, the principle that the best defense is a good offense is not applicable in cyberspace. As argued by PLA Senior Colonel Li Daguang, after the first round of a cyberattack, the targeted side can respond with a precise counter-attack as long as it has a strong defense. The attacker will then suffer unfavorable outcomes if its defense is not good enough. From this perspective, it is wiser to make efforts in building up a strong defense.

IS CHINA’S CYBER CAPABILITY AS FORMIDABLE AS IMAGINED?

As mentioned, cyber warfare encompasses far more areas than the military and intelligence gathering. It is therefore logical to measure one country’s cyber capability by a more comprehensive evaluation, which at least includes: technological research and development (R&D) and innovation capabilities; information technology industry companies; internet infrastructure scale; influences of internet websites; internet diplomacy and foreign policy capabilities; cyber military strength; and comprehensiveness of cyberspace strategy. If evaluated along all these criteria, China’s cyber power largely lags behind that of the US.

Aside from China’s disadvantages in critical technological self-sufficiency as mentioned above, it is not as advanced in other aspects as well. According to the ICT Development Index (IDI), which is based on 11 indicators to monitor and compare developments in information and communication technology across countries, China respectively ranked 80th, 81st, and 82nd among 176 states in 2017, 2016, and 2015.

Part of China’s low influence on the global internet is due to the fact that its primary languages are not widely used on the internet outside the country. Though there are a massive number of Chinese speakers throughout the world, Chinese languages are only used by 1.7 percent of all websites, while 53.9 percent use English.

China’s internet is also one of the most regularly attacked. According to a report published in February 2019 by Beijing Knownsec Information Technology, China suffered the highest rate of distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS) in the world in 2018—an average of over 800 million a day. Scanning and backdoor intrusions made up the majority of the attacks and about 97 percent were conducted by domestic hackers. However, a growing percentage came from overseas, mostly from the US, South Korea, and Japan. Among all the attacks originating overseas, those that targeted government and financial websites largely outnumbered those on other targets.

Similar statistics can be found elsewhere. However, it is not the intention here to describe how vulnerable China is, but to emphasize that a more comprehensive and objective assessment of China’s cyber power is in urgent need. As Joseph Nye argued, exaggerated fears about growing Chinese power can become a cause of conflict. The same logic applies in cyberspace, especially at a time when China-US bilateral relations are seeing sharp twists and turns.

This article was originally published in the International Peace Institute’s Global Observatory.

https://carnegieendowment.org/2019/04/01/what-are-china-s-cyber-capabilities-and-intentions-pub-78734

Significant Cyber Incidents

This timeline records significant cyber incidents since 2006. We focus on cyber attacks on government agencies, defense and high tech companies, or economic crimes with losses of more than a million dollars.


Download the Full Incidents List


 

Below is a summary of incidents from over the last year. For the full list, click the download link above.

May 2019.  Iran developed a network of websites and accounts that were being used to spread false information about the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

May 2019.  The Israeli Defense Forces launched a airstrike on the Hamas after they unsuccessfully attempted to hack Israeli targets.

May 2019.  Hackers affiliated with the Chinese intelligence service reportedly had been using NSA hacking tools since 2016, more than a year before those tools were publicly leaked.

April 2019.  Amnesty International’s Hong Kong office announced it had been the victim of an attack by Chinese hackers who accessed the personal information of the office’s supporters.

April 2019.  Ukrainian military and government organizations had been targeted was part of a campaign by hackers from the Luhansk People’s Republic, a Russia-backed group that declared independence from Ukraine in 2014.

April 2019.  Hackers used spoofed email addresses to conduct a disinformation campaign in Lithuania to discredit the Defense Minister by spreading rumors of corruption.

April 2019.  The Finnish police probed a denial of service attack against the web service used to publish the vote tallies from Finland’s elections.

April 2019.   Iranian hackers reportedly undertook a hacking campaign against banks, local government networks, and other public agencies in the UK.

April 2019.  Pharmaceutical company Bayer announced it had prevented an attack by Chinese hackers targeting sensitive intellectual property.

March 2019.  The Australian Signals Directorate revealed that it had conducted cyber attacks against ISIS targets in the Middle East to disrupt their communications in coordination with coalition forces.

March 2019.  An Iranian cyber espionage group targeted government and industry digital infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

March 2019.   state supported Vietnamese hackers targeted foreign automotive companies to acquire IP.

March 2019.   Iran’s intelligence service hacked into former IDF Chief and Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz’ cellphone ahead of Israel’s April elections.

March 2019.  North Korean hackers targeted an Israeli security firm as part of an industrial espionage campaign.

March 2019.  Russian hackers targeted a number of European government agencies ahead of EU elections in May.

March 2019.  Indonesia’s National Election Commission reported that Chinese and Russian hackers had probed Indonesia’s voter database ahead of presidential and legislative elections in the country.

March 2019.  Civil liberties organizations claimed that government-backed hackers targeted Egyptian human rights activists, media, and civil society organizations throughout 2019.

March 2019.  The UN Security Council reported that North Korea has used state-sponsored hacking to evade international sanctions, stealing $670 million in foreign currency and cryptocurrency between 2015 and 2018.

March 2019.  Iranian hackers targeted thousands of people at more than 200 oil-and-gas and heavy machinery companies across the world, stealing corporate secrets and wiping data from computers.

March 2019.  Following an attack on Indian military forces in Kashmir, Pakistani hackers targeted almost 100 Indian government websites and critical systems. Indian officials reported that they engaged in offensive cyber measures to counter the attacks.

March 2019.  U.S. officials reported that at least 27 universities in the U.S. had been targeted by Chinese hackers as part of a campaign to steal research on naval technologies.

February 2019.  The UN International Civil Aviation Organizations revealed that in late 2016 it was compromised by China-linked hackers who used their access to spread malware to foreign government websites.

February 2019.  Prior to the Vietnam summit of Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, North Korean hackers were found to have targeted South Korean institutions in a phishing campaign using documents related to the diplomatic event as bait.

February 2019.  U.S. Cybercommand revealed that during the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, it had blocked internet access to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company involved in information operations against the U.S. during the 2016 presidential election.

February 2019.  A hacking campaign targeted Russian companies linked to state-sponsored North Korean hackers.

February 2019. Hackers associated with the Russian intelligence services had targeted more than 100 individuals in Europe at civil society groups working on election security and democracy promotion.
February 2019.  State-sponsored hackers were caught in the early stages of gaining access to computer systems at the Australian Federal Parliament

February 2019.  European aerospace company Airbus reveals it was targeted by Chinese hackers who stole the personal and IT identification information of some of its European employees

February 2019.  Norwegian software firm Visma revealed that it had been targeted by hackers from the Chinese Ministry of State Security who were attempting to steal trade secrets from the firm’s clients

January 2019.  Hackers associated with the Russian intelligence services were found to have targeted the Center for Strategic and International Studies

January 2019.  The U.S. Department of Justice announced an operation to disrupt a North Korean botnet that had been used to target companies in the media, aerospace, financial, and critical infrastructure sectors.

January 2019.  Former U.S. intelligence personnel were revealed to be working for the UAE to help the country hack into the phones of activists, diplomats, and foreign government officials

January 2019.  U.S. prosecutors unsealed two indictments against Huawei and its CFO Meng Wanzhou alleging crimes ranging from wire and bank fraud to obstruction of justice and conspiracy to steal trade secrets

January 2019.  Security researchers reveal that Iranian hackers have been targeting the telecom and travel industries since at least 2014 in an attempt to surveil and collect the personal information of individuals in the Middle East, U.S., Europe, and Australia

January 2019.  The U.S. Democratic National Committee revealed that it had been targeted by Russian hackers in the weeks after the 2018 midterm elections

January 2019.  South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense announced that unknown hackers had compromised computer systems at the ministry’s procurement office

January 2019.  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged a group of hackers from the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine with the 2016 breach of the SEC’s online corporate filing portal exploited to execute trades based on non-public information

January 2019.  Iran was revealed to have engaged in a multi-year, global DNS hijacking campaign targeting telecommunications and internet infrastructure providers as well as government entities in the Middle East, Europe, and North America.

January 2019.  Hackers release the personal details, private communications, and financial information of hundreds of German politicians, with targets representing every political party except the far-right AfD.

December 2018.  North Korean hackers targeted the Chilean interbank network after tricking an employee into installing malware over the course of a fake job interview

December 2018.  Chinese hackers were found to have compromised the EU’s communications systems, maintaining access to sensitive diplomatic cables for several years

December 2018.  North Korean hackers stole the personal information of almost 1,000 North Korean defectors living in South Korea
 
December 2018.  The United States, in coordination with Australia, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand, accused China for conducting a 12-year campaign of cyber espionage targeting the IP and trade secrets of companies across 12 countries. The announcement was tied to the indictment of two Chinese hackers associated with the campaign.

December 2018.  U.S. Navy officials report that Chinese hackers had repeatedly stolen information from Navy contractors including ship maintenance data and missile plans.

December 2018.  Security researchers discover a cyber campaign carried out by a Russia-linked group targeting the government agencies of Ukraine as well as multiple NATO members

December 2018.  Researchers report that a state-sponsored Middle Eastern hacking group had targeted telecommunications companies, government embassies, and a Russian oil company located across Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and North America

December 2018.  Italian oil company Saipem was targeted by hackers utilizing a modified version of the Shamoon virus, taking down hundreds of the company’s servers and personal computers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, and India

December 2018.  North Korean hackers have reportedly targeted universities in the U.S. since May, with a particular focus on individuals with expertise in biomedical engineering

December 2018.  The Security Service of Ukraine blocked an attempt by the Russian special services to disrupt the information systems of Ukraine’s judicial authority

December 2018.  The Czech security service announced that Russian intelligence services were discovered to have been behind attacks against the Czech foreign ministry in 2017

December 2018.  Chinese hackers breached the systems of an American hotel chain, stealing the personal information of over 500 million customers

November 2018.  German security officials announced that a Russia-linked group had targeted the email accounts of several members of the German parliament, as well as the German military and several embassies

November 2018.  Security researchers report that Russia launched coordinated cyber attacks against Russian government and military targets before and during the attack on Ukrainian ships in late November

November 2018.  Researchers reveal that a Mexican government-linked group used spyware to target the colleagues of a slain journalist investigating drug cartels

November 2018.  Security researchers discover a cyberespionage campaign targeting government websites of Lebanon and the UAE

November 2018.  The U.S. Justice Department indicted two Iranians for the ransomware attack affecting Atlanta’s government earlier in 2018

November 2018.  Chinese state media reports that the country had been the victim of multiple attacks by foreign hackers in 2018, including the theft of confidential emails, utility design plans, lists of army units, and more

November 2018.  North Korean hackers were found to have used malware to steal tens of millions of dollars from ATMs across Asia and Africa

November 2018.  Security researchers report that Russian hackers impersonating U.S. State Department officials attempted to gain access to the computer systems of military and law enforcement agencies, defense contractors, and media companies

November 2018.  Ukraine’s CERT discovered malware in the computer systems of Ukraine state agencies believed to be implanted as a precursor for a future large-scale cyber attack

November 2018.  Researchers discover that a Chinese cyberespionage group targeted a UK engineering company using techniques associated with Russia-linked groups in an attempt to avoid attribution

November 2018.  The Pakistani Air Force was revealed to have been targeted by nation-state hackers with access to zero-day exploits

November 2018. Security researchers identify an Iranian domestic surveillance campaign to monitor dissent targeting Telegram and Instagram users

November 2018.  Australian defense shipbuilder Austal announced it had been the victim of a hack resulting in the theft of unclassified ship designs which were later sold online

October 2018.  The head of Iran’s civil defense agency announced that the country had recently neutralized a new, more sophisticated version of Stuxnet

October 2018.  The U.S. Department of Justice indicted Chinese intelligence officers and hackers working for them for engaging in a campaign to hack into U.S. aerospace companies and steal information

October 2018.  Security researchers link the malware used to attack a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia to a research institute run by the Russian government.

October 2018.  U.S. defense officials announced that Cyber Command had begun targeting individual Russian operatives to deter them from interfering in the 2018 midterm elections.

October 2018.  Media reports state than U.S. agencies warned President Trump that that China and Russia eavesdropped on call made form an unsecured phone.

October 2018.  News reports reveal that the Israel Defense Force requested that cybersecurity companies develop proposals for monitoring the personal correspondence of social media users.

October 2018.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announces that it has detected a growing volume of cyber activity targeting election infrastructure in the U.S. ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

October 2018.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that hackers had compromised a government computer system, gaining access to the personal data of  75,000 people ahead of the start of ACA sign-up season.

October 2018.  The Security Service of Ukraine announced that a Russian group had carried out an attempted hack on the information and telecommunication systems of Ukrainian government groups

October 2018.  The U.S. Justice Department announces criminal charges against seven GRU officers for multiple instances of hacking against organizations including FIFA, Westinghouse Electric Company, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the U.S. and World Anti-Doping Agencies.

September 2018.  Security researchers found that a Russian hacking group had used malware to target the firmware of computers at government institutions in the Balkans and in Central and Eastern Europe.

September 2018.  In a letter to Senate leaders, Sen. Ron Wyden revealed that a major technology company had alerted multiple Senate offices of attempts by foreign government hackers to gain access to the email accounts of Senators and their staff

September 2018.  Researchers report that 36 different governments deployed Pegasus spyware against targets in at least 45 countries, including the U.S., France, Canada, and the UK.

September 2018.  The U.S. State Department suffers a breach of one of its unclassified email systems, exposing the personal information of several hundred employees.

September 2018.  Swiss officials reveal that two Russian spies caught in the Netherlands had been preparing to use cyber tools to sabotage the Swiss defense lab analyzing the nerve agent used to poison former Russian Agent Sergei Skripal.

September 2018.  Security researchers find that Iranian hackers have been surveilling Iranian citizens since 2016 as part of a mobile spyware campaign directed at ISIS supporters and members of the Kurdish ethnic group.

September 2018.  Russian hackers targeted the email inboxes of religious leaders connected to Ukraine amid efforts to disassociate Ukraine’s Orthodox church from its association with Russia.

September 2018.  The U.S. Department of Justice announces the indictment and extradition of a Russian hacker accused of participating in the hack of JP Morgan Chase in 2014, leading to the theft of data from over 80 million customers.

September 2018.  The U.S. Department of Justice announces the indictment of Park Jin Hyok, a North Korean Hacker allegedly involved in the 2014 Sony hack, the 2016 theft of $81 million from a Bangladeshi bank, and the WannaCry ransomware attacks.

September 2018.  Researchers reveal a new cyber espionage campaign linked to attacks against Vietnamese defense, energy, and government organizations in 2013 and 2014.

August 2018.  North Korean hackers stole $13.5 million from India’s Cosmos Bank after breaking into the bank’s system and authorizing thousands of unauthorized ATM withdrawals, as well as several illegal money transfers through the SWIFT financial network.

August 2018.  Security researchers report that Iranian hackers had targeted the websites and login pages of 76 universities in 14 countries.  The attackers stole the credentials of users who attempted to sign in, gaining access to library resources for the purposes of intellectual property theft.

August 2018.  Facebook identified multiple new disinformation campaigns on its platform sponsored by groups in Russia and Iran. The campaigns targeted users in the U.S., Latin America, Britain, and the Middle East, and involved 652 fake accounts, pages, and groups.

August 2018.  Microsoft announces that Russian hackers had targeted U.S. Senators and conservative think tanks critical of Russia.

July 2018.  Security researchers report that an Iranian hacking group had been targeting the industrial control systems of electric utility companies in the U.S., Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East.

July 2018.  The Department of Homeland Security reveal that a campaign by Russian hackers in 2017 had compromised the networks of multiple U.S. electric utilities and put attackers in a position where they could have caused blackouts.

July 2018.  Senator Claire McCaskill reveals that her 2018 re-election campaign was targeted by hackers affiliated with Russia’s GRU intelligence agency. Attackers unsuccessfully targeted staffers in the Senator’s office with phishing emails designed to harvest their passwords.

July 2018.  Researchers report that a hacking group linked to Iran has been active since early 2017 targeting energy, government, finance, and telecommunications entities in the Middle East.

July 2018.  Microsoft reveals that Russian hackers had targeted the campaigns of three Democratic candidates running for the 2018 midterm elections.

July 2018.  Russian hackers were found to have targeted the Italian navy with malware designed to insert a backdoor into infected networks.

July 2018.  Security researchers detect a spike in hacking attempts against IoT devices in Finland during the run-up President Trump’s summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The majority of attacks originated in China.

July 2018. Singapore’s largest healthcare institution was targeted by state-sponsored hackers, leading to the leakage of personal information for 1.5 million patients, along with prescription details for 160,000 others.

July 2018.  Ukrainian intelligence officials claim to have thwarted a Russian attack on the network equipment of a chlorine plant in central Ukraine. The virus used in the attack is the same malware responsible for the infection of 500,000 routers worldwide in a campaign the FBI linked to state-sponsored Russian hackers.

July 2018.  The U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers for carrying out large-scale cyber operations against the Democratic Party in advance of the 2016 Presidential election.  The officers’ alleged crimes included the theft and subsequent leakage of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign, and the targeting of election infrastructure and local election officials in an attempt to interfere with the election.

July 2018.  Security researchers report that Chinese hackers had been actively spying on political actors on both sides of the upcoming Cambodian elections. Targets include the country’s National Election Commission, several government ministries, the Cambodian Senate, at least one Member of Parliament, and multiple media outlets and human rights activists.

July 2018.  Hackers targeted the campaigns of at least two local Democratic candidates during 2018’s primary season, reportedly using DDoS attacks to disrupt campaign websites during periods of active fundraising and positive news publicity.

July 2018.  Australian National University (ANU) was found to have been breached by Chinese hackers in an attack believed to be motivated by a desire to siphon intellectual property from the institution.

June 2018.  Marketing data firm Exactis suffered a data breach exposing the information of 340 million people, including their political preferences, browsing habits, and purchase data.

June 2018.  Ukraine police claim that Russian hackers have been systematically targeting Ukrainian banks, energy companies, and other organizations to establish backdoors in preparation for a wide-scale strike against the country.

June 2018.  Chinese hackers were found to be engaged in a cyber espionage campaign to collect data from satellite, telecom, and defense organizations in the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

June 2018.  A Russian hacking group linked to disrupting the Peyongchang Olympics targeted individuals in France, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Ukraine linked to a biochemical threat conference organized by a company involved in the investigation of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in March 2018.

June 2018.  A Chinese hacking group targeted a national data center in a Central Asian country, preparing a watering hole attack to inject malicious code onto other government websites connecting to the data center.

June 2018.  Researchers reveal that North Korean hackers targeted a South Korean think tank focused on national security issues. The hackers used a zero-day exploit to compromise the organization’s website and insert a backdoor for injecting code.

June 2018.  The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against five Russian companies and three individuals for enabling Russian intelligence and military units to conduct cyberattacks against the U.S.

June 2018.  Chinese government hackers compromised the networks of a U.S. Navy contractor, stealing 614 GB of data related to weapons, sensor, and communication systems under development for U.S. submarines.

May 2018.  Cyber security researchers reported that North Korean hackers had been targeting defectors through compromised Android apps hosted through the Google Play market, stealing device information and allowing the insertion of executable code stealing photos, contact lists, and text messages.

May 2018.  Security researchers reveal that the Pakistani military used Facebook Messenger to distribute spyware to targets in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and India in an attempt to compromise government officials, medical professionals, and others.

May 2018.  Turkish government hackers were discovered to be using surveillance software FinFisher to infect Turkish dissidents and protesters.

May 2018.  An unknown group of hackers stole between $18 and $20 million dollars from Mexican banks by exploiting the SWIFT transfer system, submitting a series of false transfer orders to phantom accounts in other banks and emptying the accounts in dozens of branch offices.

May 2018.  Within 24 hours of President Trump’s announcement that the US would withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, security firms reported increases in Iranian hacking activity, including the sending of emails containing malware to diplomats in the Foreign Affairs ministries of US allies, as well as global telecommunication companies.

May 2018.  Researchers reveal that a hacking group connected to Russian intelligence services had been conducting reconnaissance on the business and ICS networks of electric utilities in the US and UK since May 2017.

April 2018.  Security researchers report that an Indian hacking group had been targeting government agencies and research institutions in China and Pakistan since 2013.

April 2018.  Cyber security researchers reveal that North Korean hackers targeted critical infrastructure, finance, healthcare, and other industries in 17 countries using malware resembling the code used in the 2014 Sony Pictures attack.

April 2018.  Israeli cyber researchers revealed that Hamas had planted spyware in mobile phones owned by members of Fatah, a rival Palestinian faction

April 2018.  Reports from cyber security researchers indicate that Chinese state-sponsored hacking groups have targeted Japanese defense companies in an attempt to gain information on Tokyo’s policies towards North Korea

April 2018.  US and UK officials issued a joint warning that Russia was deliberately targeting western critical infrastructure by compromising home and business routers

April 2018.  The director of the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) announced that the organization had been conducting offensive cyber operations against ISIS to suppress their propaganda, disrupt their coordination, and protect deployed military personnel

April 2018.  The chief of Germany’s domestic intelligence services accused Russia of being behind the December 2017 attack on the government’s computer networks

April 2018.  The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre released an advisory note warning that Russian state actors were targeting UK critical infrastructure by infiltrating supply chains

April 2018.  All government services of Sint. Maarten, a Caribbean island and constitute country of the Netherlands, were taken offline for a week after a cyber attack. According to local authorities, this is the third cyber attack the country has faced in just over a year.

April 2018.  The North Korean hacking group responsible for the SWIFT attacks was found to have targeted a Central American online casino in an attempt to siphon funds

March 2018.  Online services for the city of Atlanta were disrupted after a ransomware attack struck the city’s networks, demanding $55,000 worth of bitcoin in payment. The city would eventually spend approximately $2.6 million recovering from the attack.

March 2018.  Baltimore’s 911 dispatch system was taken down for 17 hours after a ransomware attack, forcing the city to revert to manual dispatching of emergency services

March 2018.  The US Departments of Justice and Treasury accused Iran in an indictment of stealing intellectual property from more than 300 universities, as well as government agencies and financial services companies.

March 2018.  The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint technical alert to warn of Russian cyber attacks against US critical infrastructure. Targets included energy, nuclear, water, aviation, and manufacturing facilities.

March 2018.  A data breach of the company Under Armor compromised the information of 150 million users of its fitness and nutrition tracking app MyFitnessPal

March 2018.  Cybersecurity researchers reveal that a Chinese hacking group used malware to attack the service provider for the UK government in an attempt to gain access to contractors at various UK government departments and military organizations

March 2018.  Cybersecurity researchers announce evidence that the same North Korean hacking group linked to the SWIFT financial network attacks has been targeting several major Turkish banks and government finance agencies.

March 2018.  A UN report details attempts by North Korean hackers to compromise email accounts of the members of a UN panel enforcing trade sanctions against North Korea.

February 2018.  German news reported that a Russian hacking group had breached the online networks of Germany’s foreign and interior ministries, exfiltrating at least 17 gigabytes of data in an intrusion that went undetected for a year.

February 2018.  The Justice Department indicted 13 Russians and three companies for their online efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential elections.

February 2018.  The US and UK formally blame Russia for the June 2017 NotPetya ransomware attack that caused billions of dollars in damages across the world.

February 2018.  A cyberattack on the Pyeongchang Olympic Games attributed to Russia took the official Olympic website offline for 12 hours and disrupted wifi and televisions at the Pyeongchang Olympic stadium.

February 2018.  Officials at the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that Russian hackers successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several US states prior to the 2016 election.

January 2018. China denied that the computer network it supplied to the African Union allowed it access the AU’s confidential information and transfer it to China, or that it had bugged offices in the AU headquarters that it had built. 

January 2018. A Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange reveals that it lost $530 million worth of the cryptocurrency NEM in a hack, in what amounts to possibly the largest cryptocurrency heist of all time.

January 2018. Norwegian officials discover a “very professional” attempt to steal patient data from a Norwegian hospital system, in an attack they speculate was connected to the upcoming NATO Trident Juncture 18 military exercise.

January 2018.  A hacking group with ties to the Lebanese General Directorate of General Security was revealed to have been involved in a six-year campaign to steal text messages, call logs, and files from journalists, military officers, corporations, and other targets in 21 countries worldwide.

January 2018. The Unique Identification Authority of India and its Aadhaar system are hacked by unknown actors, resulting in the personal data of more than 1 billion people being available for purchase.

https://www.csis.org/programs/technology-policy-program/significant-cyber-incidents

 

The United States Is Already at War With China

Trump is accelerating a gratuitous cold war between the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases, leaving the rest of the world to suffer.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for a meeting in Beijing, China in May 2018.(Reuters / Thomas Peter / Pool)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.

To suggest this means reassessing our understanding of what constitutes war. From Allison’s perspective (and that of so many others in Washington and elsewhere), “peace” and “war” stand as polar opposites. One day, our soldiers are in their garrisons being trained and cleaning their weapons; the next, they are called into action and sent onto a battlefield. War, in this model, begins when the first shots are fired.

Well, think again in this new era of growing great-power struggle and competition. Today, war means so much more than military combat and can take place even as the leaders of the warring powers meet to negotiate and share dry-aged steak and whipped potatoes (as Donald Trump and Xi Jinping did at Mar-a-Lago in 2017). That is exactly where we are when it comes to Sino-American relations.

Consider it war by another name, or perhaps, to bring back a long-retired term, a burning new version of a cold war.

Even before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, the US military and other branches of government were already gearing up for a long-term quasi-war, involving both growing economic and diplomatic pressure on China and a buildup of military forces along that country’s periphery. Since his arrival, such initiatives have escalated into Cold War-style combat by another name, with his administration committed to defeating China in a struggle for global economic, technological, and military supremacy.

This includes the president’s much-publicized “trade war” with China, aimed at hobbling that country’s future growth; a techno-war designed to prevent it from overtaking the United States in key breakthrough areas of technology; a diplomatic war intended to isolate Beijing and frustrate its grandiose plans for global outreach; a cyber war (largely hidden from public scrutiny); and a range of military measures as well. This may not be war in the traditional sense of the term, but for leaders on both sides, it has the feel of one.

WHY CHINA?

The media and many politicians continue to focus on US-Russian relations, in large part because of revelations of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 American presidential election and the ongoing Mueller investigation. Behind the scenes, however, most senior military and foreign policy officials in Washington view China, not Russia, as the country’s principal adversary. In eastern Ukraine, the Balkans, Syria, cyberspace, and in the area of nuclear weaponry, Russia does indeed pose a variety of threats to Washington’s goals and desires. Still, as an economically hobbled petro-state, it lacks the kind of might that would allow it to truly challenge this country’s status as the world’s dominant power. China is another story altogether. With its vast economy, growing technological prowess, intercontinental “Belt and Road” infrastructure project, and rapidly modernizing military, an emboldened China could someday match or even exceed US power on a global scale, an outcome American elites are determined to prevent at any cost.

Washington’s fears of a rising China were on full display in January with the release of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, a synthesis of the views of the Central Intelligence Agency and other members of that “community.” Its conclusion: “We assess that China’s leaders will try to extend the country’s global economic, political, and military reach while using China’s military capabilities and overseas infrastructure and energy investments under the Belt and Road Initiative to diminish US influence.”

To counter such efforts, every branch of government is now expected to mobilize its capabilities to bolster American—and diminish Chinese—power. In Pentagon documents, this stance is summed up by the term “overmatch,” which translates as the eternal preservation of American global superiority vis-à-vis China (and all other potential rivals). “The United States must retain overmatch,” the administration’s National Security Strategy insists, and preserve a “combination of capabilities in sufficient scale to prevent enemy success,” while continuing to “shape the international environment to protect our interests.”

In other words, there can never be parity between the two countries. The only acceptable status for China is as a distinctly lesser power. To ensure such an outcome, administration officials insist, the United States must take action on a daily basis to contain or impede its rise.

In previous epochs, as Allison makes clear in his book, this equation—a prevailing power seeking to retain its dominant status and a rising power seeking to overcome its subordinate one—has almost always resulted in conventional conflict. In today’s world, however, where great-power armed combat could possibly end in a nuclear exchange and mutual annihilation, direct military conflict is a distinctly unappealing option for all parties. Instead, governing elites have developed other means of warfare—economic, technological, and covert—to achieve such strategic objectives. Viewed this way, the United States is already in close to full combat mode with respect to China.

TRADE WAR

When it comes to the economy, the language betrays the reality all too clearly. The Trump administration’s economic struggle with China is regularly described, openly and without qualification, as a “war.” And there’s no doubt that senior White House officials, beginning with the president and his chief trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, see it just that way: as a means of pulverizing the Chinese economy and so curtailing that country’s ability to compete with the United States in all other measures of power.

Ostensibly, the aim of President Trump’s May 2018 decision to impose $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports (increased in September to $200 billion) was to rectify a trade imbalance between the two countries, while protecting the American economy against what is described as China’s malign behavior. Its trade practices “plainly constitute a grave threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the United States economy,” as the president put it when announcing the second round of tariffs.

An examination of the demands submitted to Chinese negotiators by the US trade delegation last May suggests, however, that Washington’s primary intent hasn’t been to rectify that trade imbalance but to impede China’s economic growth. Among the stipulations Beijing must acquiesce to before receiving tariff relief, according to leaked documents from US negotiators that were spread on Chinese social media:

  • halting all government subsidies to advanced manufacturing industries in its Made in China 2025 program, an endeavor that covers 10 key economic sectors, including aircraft manufacturing, electric cars, robotics, computer microchips, and artificial intelligence;
  • accepting American restrictions on investments in sensitive technologies without retaliating;
  • opening up its service and agricultural sectors—areas where Chinese firms have an inherent advantage—to full American competition.

In fact, this should be considered a straightforward declaration of economic war. Acquiescing to such demands would mean accepting a permanent subordinate status vis-à-vis the United States in hopes of continuing a profitable trade relationship with this country. “The list reads like the terms for a surrender rather than a basis for negotiation,” was the way Eswar Prasad, an economics professor at Cornell University, accurately described these developments.

TECHNOLOGICAL WARFARE

As suggested by America’s trade demands, Washington’s intent is not only to hobble China’s economy today and tomorrow but for decades to come. This has led to an intense, far-ranging campaign to deprive it of access to advanced technologies and to cripple its leading technology firms.

Chinese leaders have long realized that, for their country to achieve economic and military parity with the United States, they must master the cutting-edge technologies that will dominate the 21st-century global economy, including artificial intelligence (AI), fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications, electric vehicles, and nanotechnology. Not surprisingly then, the government has invested in a major way in science and technology education, subsidized research in pathbreaking fields, and helped launch promising startups, among other such endeavors—all in the very fashion that the Internet and other American computer and aerospace innovations were originally financed and encouraged by the Department of Defense.

Chinese companies have also demanded technology transfers when investing in or forging industrial partnerships with foreign firms, a common practice in international development. India, to cite a recent example of this phenomenon, expects that significant technology transfers from American firms will be one outcome of its agreed-upon purchases of advanced American weaponry.

In addition, Chinese firms have been accused of stealing American technology through cybertheft, provoking widespread outrage in this country. Realistically speaking, it’s difficult for outside observers to determine to what degree China’s recent technological advances are the product of commonplace and legitimate investments in science and technology and to what degree they’re due to cyberespionage. Given Beijing’s massive investment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education at the graduate and post-graduate level, however, it’s safe to assume that most of that country’s advances are the result of domestic efforts.

Certainly, given what’s publicly known about Chinese cybertheft activities, it’s reasonable for American officials to apply pressure on Beijing to curb the practice. However, the Trump administration’s drive to blunt that country’s technological progress is also aimed at perfectly legitimate activities. For example, the White House seeks to ban Beijing’s government subsidies for progress on artificial intelligence at the same time that the Department of Defense is pouring billions of dollars into AI research at home. The administration is also acting to block the Chinese acquisition of US technology firms and of exports of advanced components and know-how.

In an example of this technology war that’s made the headlines lately, Washington has been actively seeking to sabotage the efforts of Huawei, one of China’s most prominent telecom firms, to gain leadership in the global deployment of 5G wireless communications. Such wireless systemsare important in part because they will transmit colossal amounts of electronic data at far faster rates than now conceivable, facilitating the introduction of self-driving cars, widespread roboticization, and the universal application of AI.

CYBERWARFARE

There would be much to write on this subject, if only it weren’t still hidden in the shadows of the growing conflict between the two countries. Not surprisingly, however, little information is available on US-Chinese cyberwarfare. All that can be said with confidence is that an intense war is now being waged between the two countries in cyberspace. American officials accuse China of engaging in a broad-based cyber-assault on this country, involving both outright cyber espionage to obtain military as well as corporate secrets and widespread political meddling. “What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing,” said Vice President Mike Pence last October in a speech at the Hudson Institute, though—typically on the subject—he provided not a shred of evidence for his claim.

Not disclosed is what this country is doing to combat China in cyberspace. All that can be known from available information is that this is a two-sided war in which the United States is conducting its own assaults. “­The United States will impose swift and costly consequences on foreign governments, criminals, and other actors who undertake significant malicious cyber activities,” the 2017 National Security Strategy affirmed. What form these “consequences” have taken has yet to be revealed, but there’s little doubt that America’s cyber warriors have been active in this domain.

DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY COERCION

Completing the picture of America’s ongoing war with China are the fierce pressures being exerted on the diplomatic and military fronts to frustrate Beijing’s geopolitical ambitions. To advance those aspirations, China’s leadership is relying heavily on a much-touted Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar plan to help fund and encourage the construction of a vast new network of road, rail, port, and pipeline infrastructure across Eurasia and into the Middle East and Africa. By financing—and, in many cases, actually building—such infrastructure, Beijing hopes to bind the economies of a host of far-flung nations ever closer to its own, while increasing its political influence across the Eurasian mainland and Africa. As Beijing’s leadership sees it, at least in terms of orienting the planet’s future economics, its role would be similar to that of the Marshall Plan that cemented US influence in Europe after World War II.

And given exactly that possibility, Washington has begun to actively seek to undermine the Belt and Road wherever it can—discouraging allies from participating, while stirring up unease in countries like Malaysia and Uganda over the enormous debts to China they may end up with and the heavy-handed manner in which that country’s firms often carry out such overseas construction projects. (For example, they typically bring in Chinese laborers to do most of the work, rather than hiring and training locals.)

“China uses bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands,” National Security Adviser John Bolton claimed in a December speech on US policy on that continent. “Its investment ventures are riddled with corruption,” he added, “and do not meet the same environmental or ethical standards as US developmental programs.” Bolton promised that the Trump administration would provide a superior alternative for African nations seeking development funds, but—and this is something of a pattern as well—no such assistance has yet materialized.

In addition to diplomatic pushback, the administration has undertaken a series of initiatives intended to isolate China militarily and limit its strategic options. In South Asia, for example, Washington has abandoned its past position of maintaining rough parity in its relations with India and Pakistan. In recent years, it’s swung sharply towards a strategic alliance with New Dehli, attempting to enlist it fully in America’s efforts to contain China and, presumably, in the process punishing Pakistan for its increasingly enthusiastic role in the Belt and Road Initiative.

In the Western Pacific, the US has stepped up its naval patrols and forged new basing arrangements with local powers—all with the aim of confining the Chinese military to areas close to the mainland. In response, Beijing has sought to escape the grip of American power by establishing miniature bases on Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea (or even constructing artificial islands to house bases there)—moves widely condemned by the hawks in Washington.

To demonstrate its ire at the effrontery of Beijing in the Pacific (once known as an “American lake”), the White House has ordered an increased pace of so-called freedom-of-navigation operations (FRONOPs). Navy warships regularly sail within shooting range of those very island bases, suggesting a US willingness to employ military force to resist future Chinese moves in the region (and also creating situations in which a misstep could lead to a military incident that could lead… well, anywhere).

In Washington, the warnings about Chinese military encroachment in the region are already reaching a fever pitch. For instance, Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of US forces in the Pacific, described the situation there in recent congressional testimony this way: “In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

A LONG WAR OF ATTRITION

As Admiral Davidson suggests, one possible outcome of the ongoing cold war with China could be armed conflict of the traditional sort. Such an encounter, in turn, could escalate to the nuclear level, resulting in mutual annihilation. A war involving only “conventional” forces would itself undoubtedly be devastating and lead to widespread suffering, not to mention the collapse of the global economy.

Even if a shooting war doesn’t erupt, however, a long-term geopolitical war of attrition between the US and China will, in the end, have debilitating and possibly catastrophic consequences for both sides. Take the trade war, for example. If that’s not resolved soon in a positive manner, continuing high US tariffs on Chinese imports will severely curb Chinese economic growth and so weaken the world economy as a whole, punishing every nation on Earth, including this one. High tariffs will also increase costs for American consumers and endanger the prosperity and survival of many firms that rely on Chinese raw materials and components.

This new brand of war will also ensure that already sky-high defense expenditures will continue to rise, diverting funds from vital needs like education, health, infrastructure, and the environment. Meanwhile, preparations for a future war with China have already become the number one priority at the Pentagon, crowding out all other considerations. “While we’re focused on ongoing operations,” acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan reportedly told his senior staff on his first day in office this January, “remember China, China, China.”

Perhaps the greatest victim of this ongoing conflict will be planet Earth itself and all the creatures, humans included, who inhabit it. As the world’s top two emitters of climate-altering greenhouse gases, the United States and China must work together to halt global warming or all of us are doomed to a hellish future. With a war under way, even a non-shooting one, the chance for such collaboration is essentially zero. The only way to save civilization is for the US and China to declare peace and focus together on human salvation.

Story 3 : Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Temporarily Declines Due To Uncertaintly About Tariffs As Measured By Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index from 131.3 in May to 121.5 in June — Videos —

 

Are Trump’s Fed comments an indirect threat against China?

Investopedia Video: Consumer Confidence Index

The Consumer Confidence Index is the result of a monthly survey of 5,000 U.S. households by the Conference Board that measures how optimistic or pessimistic consumers are about the economy’s current and future performance. When the index is high, consumers are expected to increase their spending on goods and services. When it is low, a decrease in spending is expected. Since consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of gross domestic product, consumer confidence is an important indicator of where the economy might be headed. The Consumer Confidence Index, or CCI, has a benchmark value of 100. Analysts can view CCI data by consumer age, income and census region. Opinions on current conditions make up 40% of the index, with expectations of future conditions comprising the remaining 60%. The board calculates a relative value for each question by dividing the total positive responses by the total positive and negative responses. These values are averaged and then compared against the benchmark value of 100 to create the current index value.

70. How To Interpret the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI)

Consumer confidence index beats expectations

Here’s how consumer sentiment compares around the world

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Declined in June


NEWS PROVIDED BY

The Conference Board 

Jun 25, 2019, 10:00 ET


NEW YORKJune 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® declined in June, following an increase in May. The Index now stands at 121.5 (1985=100), down from 131.3 in May. The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – decreased from 170.7 to 162.6. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – decreased from 105.0 last month to 94.1 this month.

“After three consecutive months of improvement, Consumer Confidence declined in June to its lowest level since September 2017 (Index, 120.6),” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The decrease in the Present Situation Index was driven by a less favorable assessment of business and labor market conditions. Consumers’ expectations regarding the short-term outlook also retreated. The escalation in trade and tariff tensions earlier this month appears to have shaken consumers’ confidence. Although the Index remains at a high level, continued uncertainty could result in further volatility in the Index and, at some point, could even begin to diminish consumers’ confidence in the expansion.” 

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was June 14.

Consumers’ appraisal of current-day conditions declined in June. Those claiming business conditions are “good” decreased from 38.4 percent to 36.7 percent, however, those saying business conditions are “bad” also decreased, from 11.7 percent to 10.9 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also somewhat less upbeat. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 45.3 percent to 44.0 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” rose from 11.8 percent to 16.4 percent.

Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook in June. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will be better six months from now decreased from 21.4 percent to 18.1 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen rose from 8.8 percent to 13.1 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less favorable. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 18.4 percent to 17.3 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased from 13.0 percent to 14.8 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement decreased from 22.2 percent to 19.1 percent, while the proportion expecting a decrease inched up from 7.8 percent to 8.0 percent.

Source: June 2019 Consumer Confidence Survey® 
The Conference Board

The Conference Board publishes the Consumer Confidence Index® at 10 a.m. ET on the last Tuesday of every month. Subscription information and the technical notes to this series are available on The Conference Board website: https://www.conference-board.org/data/consumerdata.cfm.

About The Conference Board
The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States. www.conference-board.org.

About NIELSEN
Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on which content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90 percent of the world’s population. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.

SOURCE The Conference Board

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https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-conference-board-consumer-confidence-index-declined-in-june-300874355.html

Consumer confidence drops to lowest level since September 2017

 

Consumer confidence is on the decline.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index tumbled to 121.5 in June, dropping from a downwardly revised reading of 131.3 in May and snapping three consecutive months of improvements.

June’s results missed consensus expectations for a reading of 131.0, according to Bloomberg-compiled data, and marked the lowest level in nearly two years.

Indices tracking consumers’ assessments of current and future business conditions also sharply declined in June, the Conference Board reported. The Present Situations Index fell 8.1 points to 162.6 in June, while the Expectations Index decreased 10.9 points to 94.1.

The Conference Board’s report comes amid mounting friction between the U.S. and some of its major trade partners. These ongoing geopolitical concerns and the uncertainty over their resolution rattled consumers in June, according to the Conference Board.

“The decrease in the Present Situation Index was driven by a less favorable assessment of business and labor market conditions,” Lynn Franco, senior direct of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “The escalation in trade and tariff tensions earlier this month appears to have shaken consumers’ confidence.”

“Although the Index remains at a high level, continued uncertainty could result in further volatility in the Index and, at some point, could even begin to diminish consumers’ confidence in the expansion,” Franco added.

According to the Conference Board, the percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve six months from now decreased by 3.3 percentage points in June to 18.1%. Those expecting business conditions to worsen rose 4.3 percentage points to 13.1%.

“It is a disappointing outcome given that expectations ought to have received a boost from the drop back in gasoline prices and renewed surge in the equity market back to record highs,” Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

However, the Conference Board’s steep decline in its June confidence index may be short-lived, according to other analysts.

The indices tracking consumers’ assessments of expectations and current conditions “are driven by different forces, with expectations responding to the stock market and gas prices, while current conditions tend to reflect the unemployment rate. So when both move sharply in the same month, it often indicates a response to other external forces,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, explained in a note.

Namely, the most recent survey encompassed part of the period from late May to early June during which the Trump administration threatened to impose tariffs on imports from Mexico. These plans were walked back on June 7.

“We’re guessing that the Mexico tariff fiasco, which also triggered steep drops in business surveys conducted while the tariff threat was live, is responsible,” he said. “If we’re right, the confidence index will rebound strongly in July, unless the Osaka [G20] summit is a disaster and the president imposes tariffs on imported Chinese consumer goods.”

“For now, note that the index remains very high by historical standards even after this decline, and it is no threat to our view that consumers’ spending will continue to rise at a solid pace,” he said.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/consumer-confidence-drops-to-lowest-level-since-september-2017-140725759.html

 

Consumer Confidence Index (CCI)

 

What Is the Consumer Confidence Index?

The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) Survey is an index by The Conference Board that measures how optimistic or pessimistic consumers are with respect to the economy in the near future. The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) is based on the concept that if consumers are optimistic, they tend to purchase more goods and services. This increase in spending inevitably stimulates the whole economy.

Consumer Confidence Index

 

Understanding Consumer Confidence Index (CCI)

The index is released on the last Tuesday of every month. It is a barometer of the health of the U.S. economy and is based on consumers’ perceptions of current business and employment condition, and their expectations for business, employment, and income for the next six months. It is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a global provider of information and analytics on consumers’ buying and watching habits.

The Consumer Confidence Index is based on the Consumer Confidence Survey, which is a survey of 5,000 households. The survey was first conducted in 1967 every two months. It changed to monthly tracking in 1977. There are five questions asked: two related to present economic conditions and three related to future expectations. Each response can be answered with one of three responses: positive, negative or neutral. There is also a Present Situation Index, which is an average of two questions related to current economic conditions. An Expectations Index is based on responses to the other three questions. The index was set to 100 in 1985.

 

A Leading Indicator

The CCI is a leading economic indicator for the U.S. economy. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) considers consumer confidence a leading indicator. Leading indicators provide qualitative information used to monitor the current economic situation and as a warning of turning points in economic activity.

In January 2018, The Conference Board announced that the Index was at 125.4 ( it was 100 in 1985), up from 123.1 in December of 2017. The Present Situation Index decreased slightly, from 156.5 to 155.3, while the Expectations Index increased from 100.8 in December 2017 to 105.5 in January 2018. Consumer confidence improved in January after declining in December and was strong overall.

 

The Conference Board

The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association. It was formed in 1916 and its mission is to provide the world’s leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Board is designed to help its members understand and navigate the most critical issues of the present time. The Board also conducts research and forums where business leaders convene. These insights feed into its research and meeting agendas.

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cci.asp

Conference Board Leading Economic Index

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Conference Board Leading Economic Index is an American economic leading indicator intended to forecast future economic activity. It is calculated by The Conference Board, a non-governmental organization, which determines the value of the index from the values of ten key variables. These variables have historically turned downward before a recession and upward before an expansion.

A Federal Reserve Bank of New York report What Predicts U.S. Recessions? uses each component of the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI). That report said that the indicators signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle, and the aggregate index has been shown to drop ahead of recessions and rise before expansions.[1]

Revisions to the The Conference Board Leading Economic Index effective with the January 26, 2012 release began using the new Leading Credit Index TM (LCI) … etc.[2]

See also

References

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conference_Board_Leading_Economic_Index

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Two free market economists debate a topic that has long divided libertarians: The standard banking practice of keeping only a portion of depositors’ money on hand and loaning out the rest. _____ Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/reasontv Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Reason.Magaz… Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/reason Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes: https://goo.gl/az3a7a Reason is the planet’s leading source of news, politics, and culture from a libertarian perspective. Go to reason.com for a point of view you won’t get from legacy media and old left-right opinion magazines. _____ On April 16, 2018, two free market economists debated a topic that has long divided libertarians. Fractional reserve banking refers to banks’ standard practice of keeping only a portion of their depositors’ money on hand and loaning out the rest. In The Mystery of Banking (1983), the anarcho-capitalist economist Murray Rothbard called fractional reserve banking “a shell game, a Ponzi scheme, a fraud in which fake warehouse receipts are issued and circulate as equivalent to the cash supposedly represented by the receipts.” Other libertarian economists, such as Larry White and Steve Horwitz, have argued that the practice is perfectly defensible. At The Soho Forum, a debate series in New York City that is sponsored by the Reason Foundation, Robert Murphy debated George Selgin over the following resolution: “Fractional Reserve banking poses a threat to the stability of market economies.” Murphy, a research assistant professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University, argued for the affirmative. He has a Ph.D. in economics from NYU has addiliations with the Institute for Energy Research, the Mises Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Independent Institute. He has authored hundreds of articles and several books explaining economics to the layperson, including Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action. Selgin, who opposed the resolution, is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives at the Cato Institute and professor emeritus of economics at the University of Georgia. His research covers a broad range of topics within the field of monetary economics, including monetary history, macroeconomic theory, and the history of monetary thought. He is the author of The Theory of Free Banking, Bank Deregulation and Monetary Order, Less Than Zero: The Case for a Falling Price Level in a Growing Economy, and most recently Good Money: Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage. The Soho Forum runs Oxford-style debates, in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event. The side that gains more ground is victorious. ​In this case, Selgin won by convincing 14 percent of the audience to switch over to his side.

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Powell says economy facing growing uncertainties

2 hours ago

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Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks on the economy outlook and monetary policy review at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York, Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday the outlook for the U.S. economy has become cloudier since early May, with rising uncertainties over trade and global growth causing the central bank to reassess its next move on interest rates.

Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Powell said the Fed is now grappling with the question of whether those uncertainties will continue to weigh on the outlook and require action.

Powell did not commit to a rate cut but said the central bank will closely monitor incoming data and be prepared to “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”

Many economists believe the Fed could decide at its next meeting on July 30-31 to cut its key policy rate, something it has not done since 2008.

But markets showed disappointment with Powell’s comments, which suggested a rate cut was not certain. That followed separate comments Tuesday by James Bullard, head of the Fed’s St. Louis regional bank, who said that he believed a quarter-point cut in July would be sufficient as an insurance move against a possible severe economic slowdown.

The S&P 500 dropped 1% to 2,917, its biggest loss of the month, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 179 points or 0.7%, to 26,548.

In addition to disappointment with the Fed comments, reports showing a drop in consumer confidence and weakness in the housing market added to investor gloom.

In an interview with Bloomberg television, Bullard said an “insurance cut” of a quarter-point would be enough to protect against a sharper-than-expected slowdown in economic growth and a half-percentage point cut would be “overdone.” Bullard last week cast the lone dissent from the Fed’s decision to hold rates steady, favoring instead an immediate rate cut.

Trump on Monday tweeted that the Fed “blew it” by not cuttings rates at its meeting last week. At that session the Fed kept its policy rate unchanged in a range of 2.25% to 2.5% but dropped a previous pledge to be “patient” in changing rates in coming months.

Trump reportedly has considered either firing Powell or demoting him from the chairman’s job but has been told by the White House legal team that he does not have the power to do either.

Asked about the repeated criticism by Trump, Powell said, “We are human. We make mistakes. I hope not frequently but we will make mistakes. But we won’t make mistakes of integrity or character.”

Powell said that the Fed’s independence from direct political control had served the country well and when central banks do not have that protection “you see bad things happening.”

The baseline outlook for the U.S. economy remains favorable for continued growth, Powell said, but “the risks to this favorable baseline outlook appear to have grown.”

In early May, Trump more than doubled the tariffs on Chinese goods after U.S.-China trade talks broke down. The president has threatened to essentially hit all Chinse imports with tariffs if China does not meet the administration’s demands for greater protections for U.S. technology.

Trump’s moves sent financial markets tumbling because of concerns the trade conflict could end the current 10-year economic expansion, which in July will become the longest in U.S. history.

Trump is scheduled to meet Chinse President Xi Jinping later this week at the Group of 20 economic summit in Japan, a meeting that is being closely watched for signals that the two sides are prepared to resume talks in search of a trade deal.

In addition to rising trade tensions, Powell said since May incoming data has raised new concerns about the strength of the global economy, noting tentative signs that investment by U.S. businesses has slowed from earlier this year.

Many Fed officials believe the case for easier monetary policy has strengthened, but “we are also mindful that monetary policy should not overreact to any individual data point or short-term swing in sentiment,” he said.

Powell said that would risk adding even more uncertainty to the outlook.

Earlier this year, economists believed the Fed would keep its key policy rate unchanged all year long after four rate hikes last year. Now private economists believe from two to four rate cuts are possible this year, although some analysts think the Fed could keep policy unchanged if trade tensions are resolved without harming the economy.

https://apnews.com/36e95b56e88e444bb67d997b47b046d6

Federal Reserve

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Federal Reserve
Seal of the Federal Reserve System
Seal of the Federal Reserve System
Flag of the Federal Reserve System
Flag of the Federal Reserve System
Headquarters Eccles BuildingWashington, D.C., U.S.
Established December 23, 1913 (105 years ago)
Chairman Jerome Powell
Central bank of United States
Currency United States dollar
USD (ISO 4217)
Reserve requirements 0 to 10%
Bank rate 2.50%[1]
Interest rate target 2.00% to 2.25%[2]
Interest on reserves 2.20%[3]
Interest paid on excess reserves? Yes
Website federalreserve.gov Edit this at Wikidata
Federal Reserve
Agency overview
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Child agency
Key document

The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve or simply the Fed) is the central banking system of the United States of America. It was created on December 23, 1913, with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, after a series of financial panics (particularly the panic of 1907) led to the desire for central control of the monetary system in order to alleviate financial crises.[list 1] Over the years, events such as the Great Depression in the 1930s and the Great Recession during the 2000s have led to the expansion of the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System.[5][10][11]

The U.S. Congress established three key objectives for monetary policy in the Federal Reserve Act: maximizing employment, stabilizing prices, and moderating long-term interest rates.[12] The first two objectives are sometimes referred to as the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate.[13] Its duties have expanded over the years, and currently also include supervising and regulating banks, maintaining the stability of the financial system, and providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions.[14] The Fed conducts research into the economy and provides numerous publications, such as the Beige Book and the FRED database.

The Federal Reserve System is composed of several layers. It is governed by the presidentially appointed board of governors or Federal Reserve Board (FRB). Twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, located in cities throughout the nation, regulate and oversee privately owned commercial banks.[15][16][17] Nationally chartered commercial banks are required to hold stock in, and can elect some of the board members of, the Federal Reserve Bank of their region. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sets monetary policy. It consists of all seven members of the board of governors and the twelve regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents, though only five bank presidents vote at a time (the president of the New York Fed and four others who rotate through one-year voting terms). There are also various advisory councils. Thus, the Federal Reserve System has both public and private components.[list 2] It has a structure unique among central banks, and is also unusual in that the United States Department of the Treasury, an entity outside of the central bank, prints the currency used.[22]

The federal government sets the salaries of the board’s seven governors, and it receives all the system’s annual profits, after a statutory dividend of 6% on member banks’ capital investment is paid, and an account surplus is maintained. In 2015, the Federal Reserve earned net income of $100.2 billion and transferred $97.7 billion to the U.S. Treasury.[23] Although an instrument of the US Government, the Federal Reserve System considers itself “an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by the Congress, and the terms of the members of the board of governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.”[24]

Purpose

The Eccles Building in Washington, D.C., which serves as the Federal Reserve System’s headquarters

The primary motivation for creating the Federal Reserve System was to address banking panics.[5] Other purposes are stated in the Federal Reserve Act, such as “to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, and for other purposes”.[25] Before the founding of the Federal Reserve System, the United States underwent several financial crises. A particularly severe crisis in 1907 led Congress to enact the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. Today the Federal Reserve System has responsibilities in addition to ensuring the stability of the financial system.[26]

Current functions of the Federal Reserve System include:[14][26]

  • To address the problem of banking panics
  • To serve as the central bank for the United States
  • To strike a balance between private interests of banks and the centralized responsibility of government
    • To supervise and regulate banking institutions
    • To protect the credit rights of consumers
  • To manage the nation’s money supply through monetary policy to achieve the sometimes-conflicting goals of
    • maximum employment
    • stable prices, including prevention of either inflation or deflation[27]
    • moderate long-term interest rates
  • To maintain the stability of the financial system and contain systemic risk in financial markets
  • To provide financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation’s payments system
    • To facilitate the exchange of payments among regions
    • To respond to local liquidity needs
  • To strengthen U.S. standing in the world economy

Addressing the problem of bank panics

Banking institutions in the United States are required to hold reserves‍—‌amounts of currency and deposits in other banks‍—‌equal to only a fraction of the amount of the bank’s deposit liabilities owed to customers. This practice is called fractional-reserve banking. As a result, banks usually invest the majority of the funds received from depositors. On rare occasions, too many of the bank’s customers will withdraw their savings and the bank will need help from another institution to continue operating; this is called a bank run. Bank runs can lead to a multitude of social and economic problems. The Federal Reserve System was designed as an attempt to prevent or minimize the occurrence of bank runs, and possibly act as a lender of last resort when a bank run does occur. Many economists, following Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, believe that the Federal Reserve inappropriately refused to lend money to small banks during the bank runs of 1929; Friedman argued that this contributed to the Great Depression.[28][29][30]

Check clearing system

Because some banks refused to clear checks from certain other banks during times of economic uncertainty, a check-clearing system was created in the Federal Reserve System. It is briefly described in The Federal Reserve System‍—‌Purposes and Functions as follows:[31]

By creating the Federal Reserve System, Congress intended to eliminate the severe financial crises that had periodically swept the nation, especially the sort of financial panic that occurred in 1907. During that episode, payments were disrupted throughout the country because many banks and clearinghouses refused to clear checks drawn on certain other banks, a practice that contributed to the failure of otherwise solvent banks. To address these problems, Congress gave the Federal Reserve System the authority to establish a nationwide check-clearing system. The System, then, was to provide not only an elastic currency‍—‌that is, a currency that would expand or shrink in amount as economic conditions warranted‍—‌but also an efficient and equitable check-collection system.

Lender of last resort

In the United States, the Federal Reserve serves as the lender of last resort to those institutions that cannot obtain credit elsewhere and the collapse of which would have serious implications for the economy. It took over this role from the private sector “clearing houses” which operated during the Free Banking Era; whether public or private, the availability of liquidity was intended to prevent bank runs.[32][33]

Fluctuations

Through its discount window and credit operations, Reserve Banks provide liquidity to banks to meet short-term needs stemming from seasonal fluctuations in deposits or unexpected withdrawals. Longer term liquidity may also be provided in exceptional circumstances. The rate the Fed charges banks for these loans is called the discount rate (officially the primary credit rate).

By making these loans, the Fed serves as a buffer against unexpected day-to-day fluctuations in reserve demand and supply. This contributes to the effective functioning of the banking system, alleviates pressure in the reserves market and reduces the extent of unexpected movements in the interest rates.[34] For example, on September 16, 2008, the Federal Reserve Board authorized an $85 billion loan to stave off the bankruptcy of international insurance giant American International Group (AIG).[35][36]

Central bank

Obverse of a Federal Reserve $1 note issued in 2009

In its role as the central bank of the United States, the Fed serves as a banker’s bank and as the government’s bank. As the banker’s bank, it helps to assure the safety and efficiency of the payments system. As the government’s bank or fiscal agent, the Fed processes a variety of financial transactions involving trillions of dollars. Just as an individual might keep an account at a bank, the U.S. Treasury keeps a checking account with the Federal Reserve, through which incoming federal tax deposits and outgoing government payments are handled. As part of this service relationship, the Fed sells and redeems U.S. government securities such as savings bonds and Treasury bills, notes and bonds. It also issues the nation’s coin and paper currency. The U.S. Treasury, through its Bureau of the Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing, actually produces the nation’s cash supply and, in effect, sells the paper currency to the Federal Reserve Banks at manufacturing cost, and the coins at face value. The Federal Reserve Banks then distribute it to other financial institutions in various ways.[37] During the Fiscal Year 2013, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing delivered 6.6 billion notes at an average cost of 5.0 cents per note.[38][39]

Federal funds

Federal funds are the reserve balances (also called Federal Reserve Deposits) that private banks keep at their local Federal Reserve Bank.[40][41] These balances are the namesake reserves of the Federal Reserve System. The purpose of keeping funds at a Federal Reserve Bank is to have a mechanism for private banks to lend funds to one another. This market for funds plays an important role in the Federal Reserve System as it is what inspired the name of the system and it is what is used as the basis for monetary policy. Monetary policy is put into effect partly by influencing how much interest the private banks charge each other for the lending of these funds.

Federal reserve accounts contain federal reserve credit, which can be converted into federal reserve notes. Private banks maintain their bank reserves in federal reserve accounts.

Bank regulation

The Federal Reserve regulates private banks. The system was designed out of a compromise between the competing philosophies of privatization and government regulation. In 2006 Donald L. Kohn, vice chairman of the board of governors, summarized the history of this compromise:[42]

Agrarian and progressive interests, led by William Jennings Bryan, favored a central bank under public, rather than banker, control. But the vast majority of the nation’s bankers, concerned about government intervention in the banking business, opposed a central bank structure directed by political appointees.

The legislation that Congress ultimately adopted in 1913 reflected a hard-fought battle to balance these two competing views and created the hybrid public-private, centralized-decentralized structure that we have today.

The balance between private interests and government can also be seen in the structure of the system. Private banks elect members of the board of directors at their regional Federal Reserve Bank while the members of the board of governors are selected by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.

Government regulation and supervision

Ben Bernanke (lower-right), former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on February 10, 2009. Members of the board frequently testify before congressional committees such as this one. The Senate equivalent of the House Financial Services Committee is the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The Federal Banking Agency Audit Act, enacted in 1978 as Public Law 95-320 and 31 U.S.C. section 714 establish that the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve banks may be audited by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).[43]

The GAO has authority to audit check-processing, currency storage and shipments, and some regulatory and bank examination functions, however, there are restrictions to what the GAO may audit. Under the Federal Banking Agency Audit Act, 31 U.S.C. section 714(b), audits of the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve banks do not include (1) transactions for or with a foreign central bank or government or non-private international financing organization; (2) deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy matters; (3) transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee; or (4) a part of a discussion or communication among or between members of the board of governors and officers and employees of the Federal Reserve System related to items (1), (2), or (3). See Federal Reserve System Audits: Restrictions on GAO’s Access (GAO/T-GGD-94-44), statement of Charles A. Bowsher.[44]

The board of governors in the Federal Reserve System has a number of supervisory and regulatory responsibilities in the U.S. banking system, but not complete responsibility. A general description of the types of regulation and supervision involved in the U.S. banking system is given by the Federal Reserve:[45]

The Board also plays a major role in the supervision and regulation of the U.S. banking system. It has supervisory responsibilities for state-chartered banks[46] that are members of the Federal Reserve System, bank holding companies (companies that control banks), the foreign activities of member banks, the U.S. activities of foreign banks, and Edge Act and “agreement corporations” (limited-purpose institutions that engage in a foreign banking business). The Board and, under delegated authority, the Federal Reserve Banks, supervise approximately 900 state member banks and 5,000 bank holding companies. Other federal agencies also serve as the primary federal supervisors of commercial banks; the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency supervises national banks, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation supervises state banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System.

Some regulations issued by the Board apply to the entire banking industry, whereas others apply only to member banks, that is, state banks that have chosen to join the Federal Reserve System and national banks, which by law must be members of the System. The Board also issues regulations to carry out major federal laws governing consumer credit protection, such as the Truth in LendingEqual Credit Opportunity, and Home Mortgage Disclosure Acts. Many of these consumer protection regulations apply to various lenders outside the banking industry as well as to banks.

Members of the Board of Governors are in continual contact with other policy makers in government. They frequently testify before congressional committees on the economy, monetary policybanking supervision and regulationconsumer credit protectionfinancial markets, and other matters.

The Board has regular contact with members of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and other key economic officials. The Chair also meets from time to time with the President of the United States and has regular meetings with the Secretary of the Treasury. The Chair has formal responsibilities in the international arena as well.

There is a very strong economic consensus in favor of independence from political influence.[47]

Regulatory and oversight responsibilities

The board of directors of each Federal Reserve Bank District also has regulatory and supervisory responsibilities. If the board of directors of a district bank has judged that a member bank is performing or behaving poorly, it will report this to the board of governors. This policy is described in United States Code:[48]

Each Federal reserve bank shall keep itself informed of the general character and amount of the loans and investments of its member banks with a view to ascertaining whether undue use is being made of bank credit for the speculative carrying of or trading in securities, real estate, or commodities, or for any other purpose inconsistent with the maintenance of sound credit conditions; and, in determining whether to grant or refuse advances, rediscounts, or other credit accommodations, the Federal reserve bank shall give consideration to such information. The chairman of the Federal reserve bank shall report to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System any such undue use of bank credit by any member bank, together with his recommendation. Whenever, in the judgment of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, any member bank is making such undue use of bank credit, the Board may, in its discretion, after reasonable notice and an opportunity for a hearing, suspend such bank from the use of the credit facilities of the Federal Reserve System and may terminate such suspension or may renew it from time to time.

National payments system

The Federal Reserve plays a role in the U.S. payments system. The twelve Federal Reserve Banks provide banking services to depository institutions and to the federal government. For depository institutions, they maintain accounts and provide various payment services, including collecting checks, electronically transferring funds, and distributing and receiving currency and coin. For the federal government, the Reserve Banks act as fiscal agents, paying Treasury checks; processing electronic payments; and issuing, transferring, and redeeming U.S. government securities.[49]

In the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980, Congress reaffirmed that the Federal Reserve should promote an efficient nationwide payments system. The act subjects all depository institutions, not just member commercial banks, to reserve requirements and grants them equal access to Reserve Bank payment services. The Federal Reserve plays a role in the nation’s retail and wholesale payments systems by providing financial services to depository institutions. Retail payments are generally for relatively small-dollar amounts and often involve a depository institution’s retail clients‍—‌individuals and smaller businesses. The Reserve Banks’ retail services include distributing currency and coin, collecting checks, and electronically transferring funds through the automated clearinghouse system. By contrast, wholesale payments are generally for large-dollar amounts and often involve a depository institution’s large corporate customers or counterparties, including other financial institutions. The Reserve Banks’ wholesale services include electronically transferring funds through the Fedwire Funds Service and transferring securities issued by the U.S. government, its agencies, and certain other entities through the Fedwire Securities Service.

Structure

Organization of the Federal Reserve System

The Federal Reserve System has a “unique structure that is both public and private”[50] and is described as “independent within the government” rather than “independent of government“.[51] The System does not require public funding, and derives its authority and purpose from the Federal Reserve Act, which was passed by Congress in 1913 and is subject to Congressional modification or repeal.[52] The four main components of the Federal Reserve System are (1) the board of governors, (2) the Federal Open Market Committee, (3) the twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, and (4) the member banks throughout the country.

District # Letter Federal Reserve Bank Branches Website President
1 A Boston http://www.bos.frb.org Eric S. Rosengren
2 B New York City http://www.newyorkfed.org John C. Williams
3 C Philadelphia http://www.philadelphiafed.org Patrick T. Harker
4 D Cleveland Cincinnati, Ohio
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
http://www.clevelandfed.org Loretta J. Mester
5 E Richmond Baltimore, Maryland
Charlotte, North Carolina
http://www.richmondfed.org Thomas Barkin
6 F Atlanta Birmingham, Alabama
Jacksonville, Florida
Miami, Florida
Nashville, Tennessee
New Orleans, Louisiana
http://www.frbatlanta.org Raphael Bostic
7 G Chicago Detroit, Michigan
Des Moines, Iowa
http://www.chicagofed.org Charles L. Evans
8 H St Louis Little Rock, Arkansas
Louisville, Kentucky
Memphis, Tennessee
http://www.stlouisfed.org James B. Bullard
9 I Minneapolis Helena, Montana https://www.minneapolisfed.org Neel Kashkari
10 J Kansas City Denver, Colorado
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Omaha, Nebraska
http://www.kansascityfed.org Esther George
11 K Dallas El Paso, Texas
Houston, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
http://www.dallasfed.org Robert Steven Kaplan
12 L San Francisco Los Angeles, California
Portland, Oregon
Salt Lake City, Utah
Seattle, Washington
http://www.frbsf.org Mary C. Daly

Board of governors

The seven-member board of governors is a federal agency. It is charged with the overseeing of the 12 District Reserve Banks and setting national monetary policy. It also supervises and regulates the U.S. banking system in general.[53] Governors are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate for staggered 14-year terms.[34] One term begins every two years, on February 1 of even-numbered years, and members serving a full term cannot be renominated for a second term.[54] “[U]pon the expiration of their terms of office, members of the Board shall continue to serve until their successors are appointed and have qualified.” The law provides for the removal of a member of the board by the president “for cause”.[55] The board is required to make an annual report of operations to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The chair and vice chair of the board of governors are appointed by the president from among the sitting governors. They both serve a four-year term and they can be renominated as many times as the president chooses, until their terms on the board of governors expire.[56]

List of members of the board of governors

Board of governors in April 2019, when two of the seven seats were vacant

The current members of the board of governors are as follows:[54]

Photo Governor Political party Entered office Term expires
Jerome H. Powell (cropped).jpg Jerome Powell
(Chairman)
Republican February 5, 2018 (as Chairman)
May 25, 2012 (as Governor)
June 16, 2014 (new term)
February 5, 2022 (as Chairman)
January 31, 2028 (as Governor)
Richard Clarida official photo (cropped).jpg Richard Clarida
(Vice Chairman)
September 17, 2018 (as Vice Chairman)
September 17, 2018
September 17, 2022 (as Vice Chairman)
January 31, 2022 (as Governor)
Randal Quarles official photo (cropped).jpg Randal Quarles
(Vice Chairman for Supervision)
October 13, 2017 (as Vice Chairman for Supervision)
October 13, 2017
October 13, 2021 (as Vice Chairman for Supervision)
January 31, 2032 (as Governor)
Lael Brainard cropped.jpg Lael Brainard Democratic June 16, 2014 January 31, 2026
Michelle Bowman (cropped).jpg Michelle Bowman Republican November 26, 2018 January 31, 2020
Vacant January 31, 2024*
Vacant January 31, 2030*

*Indicates the date of term expiration for the individual nominated to this vacant position.

Nominations, confirmations and resignations

In late December 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Jeremy C. Stein, a Harvard University finance professor and a Democrat, and Jerome Powell, formerly of Dillon ReadBankers Trust[57] and The Carlyle Group[58] and a Republican. Both candidates also have Treasury Department experience in the Obama and George H. W. Bush administrations respectively.[57]

“Obama administration officials [had] regrouped to identify Fed candidates after Peter Diamond, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, withdrew his nomination to the board in June [2011] in the face of Republican opposition. Richard Clarida, a potential nominee who was a Treasury official under George W. Bush, pulled out of consideration in August [2011]”, one account of the December nominations noted.[59] The two other Obama nominees in 2011, Janet Yellen and Sarah Bloom Raskin,[60] were confirmed in September.[61] One of the vacancies was created in 2011 with the resignation of Kevin Warsh, who took office in 2006 to fill the unexpired term ending January 31, 2018, and resigned his position effective March 31, 2011.[62][63] In March 2012, U.S. Senator David Vitter (RLA) said he would oppose Obama’s Stein and Powell nominations, dampening near-term hopes for approval.[64] However, Senate leaders reached a deal, paving the way for affirmative votes on the two nominees in May 2012 and bringing the board to full strength for the first time since 2006[65] with Duke’s service after term end. Later, on January 6, 2014, the United States Senate confirmed Yellen’s nomination to be chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors; she is slated to be the first woman to hold the position and will become chair on February 1, 2014.[66] Subsequently, President Obama nominated Stanley Fischer to replace Yellen as the Vice Chair.[67]

In April 2014, Stein announced he was leaving to return to Harvard May 28 with four years remaining on his term. At the time of the announcement, the FOMC “already is down three members as it awaits the Senate confirmation of … Fischer and Lael Brainard, and as [President] Obama has yet to name a replacement for … Duke. … Powell is still serving as he awaits his confirmation for a second term.”[68]

Allan R. Landon, former president and CEO of the Bank of Hawaii, was nominated in early 2015 by President Obama to the board.[69]

In July 2015, President Obama nominated University of Michigan economist Kathryn M. Dominguez to fill the second vacancy on the board. The Senate had not yet acted on Landon’s confirmation by the time of the second nomination.[70]

Daniel Tarullo submitted his resignation from the board on February 10, 2017, effective on or around April 5, 2017.[71]

Federal Open Market Committee

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) consists of 12 members, seven from the board of governors and 5 of the regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents. The FOMC oversees and sets policy on open market operations, the principal tool of national monetary policy. These operations affect the amount of Federal Reserve balances available to depository institutions, thereby influencing overall monetary and credit conditions. The FOMC also directs operations undertaken by the Federal Reserve in foreign exchange markets. The FOMC must reach consensus on all decisions. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is a permanent member of the FOMC; the presidents of the other banks rotate membership at two- and three-year intervals. All Regional Reserve Bank presidents contribute to the committee’s assessment of the economy and of policy options, but only the five presidents who are then members of the FOMC vote on policy decisions. The FOMC determines its own internal organization and, by tradition, elects the chair of the board of governors as its chair and the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as its vice chair. Formal meetings typically are held eight times each year in Washington, D.C. Nonvoting Reserve Bank presidents also participate in Committee deliberations and discussion. The FOMC generally meets eight times a year in telephone consultations and other meetings are held when needed.[72]

There is very strong consensus among economists against politicising the FOMC.[47]

Federal Advisory Council

The Federal Advisory Council, composed of twelve representatives of the banking industry, advises the board on all matters within its jurisdiction.

Federal Reserve Banks

Map of the twelve Federal Reserve Districts, with the twelve Federal Reserve Banks marked as black squares, and all Branches within each district (24 total) marked as red circles. The Washington DC Headquarters is marked with a star. (Also, a 25th branch in Buffalo, NY had been closed in 2008.)

The twelve Reserve Banks buildings in 1936

There are 12 Federal Reserve Banks, each of which is responsible for member banks located in its district. They are located in BostonNew YorkPhiladelphiaClevelandRichmondAtlantaChicagoSt. LouisMinneapolisKansas CityDallas, and San Francisco. The size of each district was set based upon the population distribution of the United States when the Federal Reserve Act was passed.

The charter and organization of each Federal Reserve Bank is established by law and cannot be altered by the member banks. Member banks, do however, elect six of the nine members of the Federal Reserve Banks’ boards of directors.[34][73]

Each regional Bank has a president, who is the chief executive officer of their Bank. Each regional Reserve Bank’s president is nominated by their Bank’s board of directors, but the nomination is contingent upon approval by the board of governors. Presidents serve five-year terms and may be reappointed.[74]

Each regional Bank’s board consists of nine members. Members are broken down into three classes: A, B, and C. There are three board members in each class. Class A members are chosen by the regional Bank’s shareholders, and are intended to represent member banks’ interests. Member banks are divided into three categories: large, medium, and small. Each category elects one of the three class A board members. Class B board members are also nominated by the region’s member banks, but class B board members are supposed to represent the interests of the public. Lastly, class C board members are appointed by the board of governors, and are also intended to represent the interests of the public.[75]

Legal status of regional Federal Reserve Banks

The Federal Reserve Banks have an intermediate legal status, with some features of private corporations and some features of public federal agencies. The United States has an interest in the Federal Reserve Banks as tax-exempt federally created instrumentalities whose profits belong to the federal government, but this interest is not proprietary.[76] In Lewis v. United States,[77] the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that: “The Reserve Banks are not federal instrumentalities for purposes of the FTCA [the Federal Tort Claims Act], but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations.” The opinion went on to say, however, that: “The Reserve Banks have properly been held to be federal instrumentalities for some purposes.” Another relevant decision is Scott v. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City,[76] in which the distinction is made between Federal Reserve Banks, which are federally created instrumentalities, and the board of governors, which is a federal agency.

Regarding the structural relationship between the twelve Federal Reserve banks and the various commercial (member) banks, political science professor Michael D. Reagan has written that:[78]

… the “ownership” of the Reserve Banks by the commercial banks is symbolic; they do not exercise the proprietary control associated with the concept of ownership nor share, beyond the statutory dividend, in Reserve Bank “profits.” … Bank ownership and election at the base are therefore devoid of substantive significance, despite the superficial appearance of private bank control that the formal arrangement creates.

Plaque marking a bank as a member

Member banks

A member bank is a private institution and owns stock in its regional Federal Reserve Bank. All nationally chartered banks hold stock in one of the Federal Reserve Banks. State chartered banks may choose to be members (and hold stock in their regional Federal Reserve bank) upon meeting certain standards.

The amount of stock a member bank must own is equal to 3% of its combined capital and surplus.[79][80] However, holding stock in a Federal Reserve bank is not like owning stock in a publicly traded company. These stocks cannot be sold or traded, and member banks do not control the Federal Reserve Bank as a result of owning this stock. From the profits of the Regional Bank of which it is a member, a member bank receives a dividend equal to 6% of its purchased stock.[18] The remainder of the regional Federal Reserve Banks’ profits is given over to the United States Treasury Department. In 2015, the Federal Reserve Banks made a profit of $100.2 billion and distributed $2.5 billion in dividends to member banks as well as returning $97.7 billion to the U.S. Treasury.[23]

About 38% of U.S. banks are members of their regional Federal Reserve Bank.[81][82]

Accountability

An external auditor selected by the audit committee of the Federal Reserve System regularly audits the Board of Governors and the Federal Reserve Banks. The GAO will audit some activities of the Board of Governors. These audits do not cover “most of the Fed’s monetary policy actions or decisions, including discount window lending (direct loans to financial institutions), open-market operations and any other transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee” …[nor may the GAO audit] “dealings with foreign governments and other central banks.”[83]

The annual and quarterly financial statements prepared by the Federal Reserve System conform to a basis of accounting that is set by the Federal Reserve Board and does not conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or government Cost Accounting Standards (CAS). The financial reporting standards are defined in the Financial Accounting Manual for the Federal Reserve Banks.[84] The cost accounting standards are defined in the Planning and Control System Manual.[84] As of 27 August 2012, the Federal Reserve Board has been publishing unaudited financial reports for the Federal Reserve banks every quarter.[85]

November 7, 2008, Bloomberg L.P. News brought a lawsuit against the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System to force the board to reveal the identities of firms for which it has provided guarantees during the financial crisis of 2007–2008.[86] Bloomberg, L.P. won at the trial court[87] and the Fed’s appeals were rejected at both the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. The data was released on March 31, 2011.[88][89]

Monetary policy

The term “monetary policy” refers to the actions undertaken by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve, to influence the availability and cost of money and credit to help promote national economic goals. What happens to money and credit affects interest rates (the cost of credit) and the performance of an economy. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 gave the Federal Reserve authority to set monetary policy in the United States.[90][91]

Interbank lending

The Federal Reserve sets monetary policy by influencing the federal funds rate, which is the rate of interbank lending of excess reserves. The rate that banks charge each other for these loans is determined in the interbank market and the Federal Reserve influences this rate through the three “tools” of monetary policy described in the Tools section below. The federal funds rate is a short-term interest rate that the FOMC focuses on, which affects the longer-term interest rates throughout the economy. The Federal Reserve summarized its monetary policy in 2005:

The Federal Reserve implements U.S. monetary policy by affecting conditions in the market for balances that depository institutions hold at the Federal Reserve Banks…By conducting open market operations, imposing reserve requirements, permitting depository institutions to hold contractual clearing balances, and extending credit through its discount window facility, the Federal Reserve exercises considerable control over the demand for and supply of Federal Reserve balances and the federal funds rate. Through its control of the federal funds rate, the Federal Reserve is able to foster financial and monetary conditions consistent with its monetary policy objectives.[92]

Effects on the quantity of reserves that banks used to make loans influence the economy. Policy actions that add reserves to the banking system encourage lending at lower interest rates thus stimulating growth in money, credit, and the economy. Policy actions that absorb reserves work in the opposite direction. The Fed’s task is to supply enough reserves to support an adequate amount of money and credit, avoiding the excesses that result in inflation and the shortages that stifle economic growth.[93]

Tools

There are three main tools of monetary policy that the Federal Reserve uses to influence the amount of reserves in private banks:[90]

Tool Description
Open market operations Purchases and sales of U.S. Treasury and federal agency securities‍—‌the Federal Reserve’s principal tool for implementing monetary policy. The Federal Reserve’s objective for open market operations has varied over the years. During the 1980s, the focus gradually shifted toward attaining a specified level of the federal funds rate (the rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans of federal funds, which are the reserves held by banks at the Fed), a process that was largely complete by the end of the decade.[94]
Discount rate The interest rate charged to commercial banks and other depository institutions on loans they receive from their regional Federal Reserve Bank’s lending facility‍—‌the discount window.[95]
Reserve requirements The amount of funds that a depository institution must hold in reserve against specified deposit liabilities.[96]

Federal funds rate and open market operations

Federal funds rate history and recessions.png

The Federal Reserve System implements monetary policy largely by targeting the federal funds rate. This is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans of federal funds, which are the reserves held by banks at the Fed. This rate is actually determined by the market and is not explicitly mandated by the Fed. The Fed therefore tries to align the effective federal funds rate with the targeted rate by adding or subtracting from the money supply through open market operations. The Federal Reserve System usually adjusts the federal funds rate target by 0.25% or 0.50% at a time.

Open market operations allow the Federal Reserve to increase or decrease the amount of money in the banking system as necessary to balance the Federal Reserve’s dual mandates. Open market operations are done through the sale and purchase of United States Treasury security, sometimes called “Treasury bills” or more informally “T-bills” or “Treasuries”. The Federal Reserve buys Treasury bills from its primary dealers. The purchase of these securities affects the federal funds rate, because primary dealers have accounts at depository institutions.[97]

The Federal Reserve education website describes open market operations as follows:[91]

Open market operations involve the buying and selling of U.S. government securities (federal agency and mortgage-backed). The term ‘open market’ means that the Fed doesn’t decide on its own which securities dealers it will do business with on a particular day. Rather, the choice emerges from an ‘open market’ in which the various securities dealers that the Fed does business with‍—‌the primary dealers‍—‌compete on the basis of price. Open market operations are flexible and thus, the most frequently used tool of monetary policy.

Open market operations are the primary tool used to regulate the supply of bank reserves. This tool consists of Federal Reserve purchases and sales of financial instruments, usually securities issued by the U.S. Treasury, Federal agencies and government-sponsored enterprises. Open market operations are carried out by the Domestic Trading Desk of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York under direction from the FOMC. The transactions are undertaken with primary dealers.

The Fed’s goal in trading the securities is to affect the federal funds rate, the rate at which banks borrow reserves from each other. When the Fed wants to increase reserves, it buys securities and pays for them by making a deposit to the account maintained at the Fed by the primary dealer’s bank. When the Fed wants to reduce reserves, it sells securities and collects from those accounts. Most days, the Fed does not want to increase or decrease reserves permanently so it usually engages in transactions reversed within a day or two. That means that a reserve injection today could be withdrawn tomorrow morning, only to be renewed at some level several hours later. These short-term transactions are called repurchase agreements (repos)‍—‌the dealer sells the Fed a security and agrees to buy it back at a later date.

Repurchase agreements

To smooth temporary or cyclical changes in the money supply, the desk engages in repurchase agreements (repos) with its primary dealers. Repos are essentially secured, short-term lending by the Fed. On the day of the transaction, the Fed deposits money in a primary dealer’s reserve account, and receives the promised securities as collateral. When the transaction matures, the process unwinds: the Fed returns the collateral and charges the primary dealer‘s reserve account for the principal and accrued interest. The term of the repo (the time between settlement and maturity) can vary from 1 day (called an overnight repo) to 65 days.[98]

Discount rate

The Federal Reserve System also directly sets the “discount rate”, which is the interest rate for “discount window lending”, overnight loans that member banks borrow directly from the Fed. This rate is generally set at a rate close to 100 basis points above the target federal funds rate. The idea is to encourage banks to seek alternative funding before using the “discount rate” option.[99] The equivalent operation by the European Central Bank is referred to as the “marginal lending facility“.[100]

Both the discount rate and the federal funds rate influence the prime rate, which is usually about 3 percentage points higher than the federal funds rate.

Reserve requirements

Another instrument of monetary policy adjustment employed by the Federal Reserve System is the fractional reserve requirement, also known as the required reserve ratio.[101] The required reserve ratio sets the balance that the Federal Reserve System requires a depository institution to hold in the Federal Reserve Banks,[92] which depository institutions trade in the federal funds market discussed above.[102] The required reserve ratio is set by the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System.[103] The reserve requirements have changed over time and some history of these changes is published by the Federal Reserve.[104]

Reserve requirements in the US Federal Reserve System[96]
Liability type Requirement
Percentage of liabilities Effective date
Net transaction accounts
$0 to $11.5 million 0 December 29, 2011
More than $11.5 million to $71 million 3 December 29, 2011
More than $71 million 10 December 29, 2011
Nonpersonal time deposits 0 December 27, 1990
Eurocurrency liabilities 0 December 27, 1990

As a response to the financial crisis of 2008, the Federal Reserve now makes interest payments on depository institutions’ required and excess reserve balances. The payment of interest on excess reserves gives the central bank greater opportunity to address credit market conditions while maintaining the federal funds rate close to the target rate set by the FOMC.[105]

New facilities

In order to address problems related to the subprime mortgage crisis and United States housing bubble, several new tools have been created. The first new tool, called the Term Auction Facility, was added on December 12, 2007. It was first announced as a temporary tool[106] but there have been suggestions that this new tool may remain in place for a prolonged period of time.[107] Creation of the second new tool, called the Term Securities Lending Facility, was announced on March 11, 2008.[108] The main difference between these two facilities is that the Term Auction Facility is used to inject cash into the banking system whereas the Term Securities Lending Facility is used to inject treasury securities into the banking system.[109] Creation of the third tool, called the Primary Dealer Credit Facility(PDCF), was announced on March 16, 2008.[110] The PDCF was a fundamental change in Federal Reserve policy because now the Fed is able to lend directly to primary dealers, which was previously against Fed policy.[111] The differences between these three new facilities is described by the Federal Reserve:[112]

The Term Auction Facility program offers term funding to depository institutions via a bi-weekly auction, for fixed amounts of credit. The Term Securities Lending Facility will be an auction for a fixed amount of lending of Treasury general collateral in exchange for OMO-eligible and AAA/Aaa rated private-label residential mortgage-backed securities. The Primary Dealer Credit Facility now allows eligible primary dealers to borrow at the existing Discount Rate for up to 120 days.

Some measures taken by the Federal Reserve to address this mortgage crisis have not been used since the Great Depression.[113] The Federal Reserve gives a brief summary of these new facilities:[114]

As the economy has slowed in the last nine months and credit markets have become unstable, the Federal Reserve has taken a number of steps to help address the situation. These steps have included the use of traditional monetary policy tools at the macroeconomic level as well as measures at the level of specific markets to provide additional liquidity.

The Federal Reserve’s response has continued to evolve since pressure on credit markets began to surface last summer, but all these measures derive from the Fed’s traditional open market operations and discount window tools by extending the term of transactions, the type of collateral, or eligible borrowers.

A fourth facility, the Term Deposit Facility, was announced December 9, 2009, and approved April 30, 2010, with an effective date of June 4, 2010.[115] The Term Deposit Facility allows Reserve Banks to offer term deposits to institutions that are eligible to receive earnings on their balances at Reserve Banks. Term deposits are intended to facilitate the implementation of monetary policy by providing a tool by which the Federal Reserve can manage the aggregate quantity of reserve balances held by depository institutions. Funds placed in term deposits are removed from the accounts of participating institutions for the life of the term deposit and thus drain reserve balances from the banking system.

Term auction facility

The Term Auction Facility is a program in which the Federal Reserve auctions term funds to depository institutions.[106] The creation of this facility was announced by the Federal Reserve on December 12, 2007, and was done in conjunction with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, and the Swiss National Bank to address elevated pressures in short-term funding markets.[116] The reason it was created is that banks were not lending funds to one another and banks in need of funds were refusing to go to the discount window. Banks were not lending money to each other because there was a fear that the loans would not be paid back. Banks refused to go to the discount window because it is usually associated with the stigma of bank failure.[117][118][119][120] Under the Term Auction Facility, the identity of the banks in need of funds is protected in order to avoid the stigma of bank failure.[121] Foreign exchange swap lines with the European Central Bank and Swiss National Bank were opened so the banks in Europe could have access to U.S. dollars.[121] Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke briefly described this facility to the U.S. House of Representatives on January 17, 2008:

the Federal Reserve recently unveiled a term auction facility, or TAF, through which prespecified amounts of discount window credit can be auctioned to eligible borrowers. The goal of the TAF is to reduce the incentive for banks to hoard cash and increase their willingness to provide credit to households and firms…TAF auctions will continue as long as necessary to address elevated pressures in short-term funding markets, and we will continue to work closely and cooperatively with other central banks to address market strains that could hamper the achievement of our broader economic objectives.[122]

It is also described in the Term Auction Facility FAQ[106]

The TAF is a credit facility that allows a depository institution to place a bid for an advance from its local Federal Reserve Bank at an interest rate that is determined as the result of an auction. By allowing the Federal Reserve to inject term funds through a broader range of counterparties and against a broader range of collateral than open market operations, this facility could help ensure that liquidity provisions can be disseminated efficiently even when the unsecured interbank markets are under stress.

In short, the TAF will auction term funds of approximately one-month maturity. All depository institutions that are judged to be in sound financial condition by their local Reserve Bank and that are eligible to borrow at the discount window are also eligible to participate in TAF auctions. All TAF credit must be fully collateralized. Depositories may pledge the broad range of collateral that is accepted for other Federal Reserve lending programs to secure TAF credit. The same collateral values and margins applicable for other Federal Reserve lending programs will also apply for the TAF.

Term securities lending facility

The Term Securities Lending Facility is a 28-day facility that will offer Treasury general collateral to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s primary dealers in exchange for other program-eligible collateral. It is intended to promote liquidity in the financing markets for Treasury and other collateral and thus to foster the functioning of financial markets more generally.[123] Like the Term Auction Facility, the TSLF was done in conjunction with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, and the Swiss National Bank. The resource allows dealers to switch debt that is less liquid for U.S. government securities that are easily tradable. The currency swap lines with the European Central Bank and Swiss National Bank were increased.

Primary dealer credit facility

The Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) is an overnight loan facility that will provide funding to primary dealers in exchange for a specified range of eligible collateral and is intended to foster the functioning of financial markets more generally.[112] This new facility marks a fundamental change in Federal Reserve policy because now primary dealers can borrow directly from the Fed when this used to be prohibited.

Interest on reserves

As of October 2008, the Federal Reserve banks will pay interest on reserve balances (required and excess) held by depository institutions. The rate is set at the lowest federal funds rate during the reserve maintenance period of an institution, less 75bp.[124] As of 23 October 2008, the Fed has lowered the spread to a mere 35 bp.[125]

Term deposit facility

The Term Deposit Facility is a program through which the Federal Reserve Banks will offer interest-bearing term deposits to eligible institutions. By removing “excess deposits” from participating banks, the overall level of reserves available for lending is reduced, which should result in increased market interest rates, acting as a brake on economic activity and inflation. The Federal Reserve has stated that:

Term deposits will be one of several tools that the Federal Reserve could employ to drain reserves when policymakers judge that it is appropriate to begin moving to a less accommodative stance of monetary policy. The development of the TDF is a matter of prudent planning and has no implication for the near-term conduct of monetary policy.[126]

The Federal Reserve initially authorized up to five “small-value offerings are designed to ensure the effectiveness of TDF operations and to provide eligible institutions with an opportunity to gain familiarity with term deposit procedures.”[127] After three of the offering auctions were successfully completed, it was announced that small-value auctions would continue on an ongoing basis.[128]

The Term Deposit Facility is essentially a tool available to reverse the efforts that have been employed to provide liquidity to the financial markets and to reduce the amount of capital available to the economy. As stated in Bloomberg News:

Policy makers led by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke are preparing for the day when they will have to start siphoning off more than $1 trillion in excess reserves from the banking system to contain inflation. The Fed is charting an eventual return to normal monetary policy, even as a weakening near-term outlook has raised the possibility it may expand its balance sheet.[129]

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, testifying before House Committee on Financial Services, described the Term Deposit Facility and other facilities to Congress in the following terms:

Most importantly, in October 2008 the Congress gave the Federal Reserve statutory authority to pay interest on balances that banks hold at the Federal Reserve Banks. By increasing the interest rate on banks’ reserves, the Federal Reserve will be able to put significant upward pressure on all short-term interest rates, as banks will not supply short-term funds to the money markets at rates significantly below what they can earn by holding reserves at the Federal Reserve Banks. Actual and prospective increases in short-term interest rates will be reflected in turn in higher longer-term interest rates and in tighter financial conditions more generally….

As an additional means of draining reserves, the Federal Reserve is also developing plans to offer to depository institutions term deposits, which are roughly analogous to certificates of deposit that the institutions offer to their customers. A proposal describing a term deposit facility was recently published in the Federal Register, and the Federal Reserve is finalizing a revised proposal in light of the public comments that have been received. After a revised proposal is reviewed by the Board, we expect to be able to conduct test transactions this spring and to have the facility available if necessary thereafter. The use of reverse repos and the deposit facility would together allow the Federal Reserve to drain hundreds of billions of dollars of reserves from the banking system quite quickly, should it choose to do so.

When these tools are used to drain reserves from the banking system, they do so by replacing bank reserves with other liabilities; the asset side and the overall size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet remain unchanged. If necessary, as a means of applying monetary restraint, the Federal Reserve also has the option of redeeming or selling securities. The redemption or sale of securities would have the effect of reducing the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet as well as further reducing the quantity of reserves in the banking system. Restoring the size and composition of the balance sheet to a more normal configuration is a longer-term objective of our policies. In any case, the sequencing of steps and the combination of tools that the Federal Reserve uses as it exits from its currently very accommodative policy stance will depend on economic and financial developments and on our best judgments about how to meet the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability.

In sum, in response to severe threats to our economy, the Federal Reserve created a series of special lending facilities to stabilize the financial system and encourage the resumption of private credit flows to American families and businesses. As market conditions and the economic outlook have improved, these programs have been terminated or are being phased out. The Federal Reserve also promoted economic recovery through sharp reductions in its target for the federal funds rate and through large-scale purchases of securities. The economy continues to require the support of accommodative monetary policies. However, we have been working to ensure that we have the tools to reverse, at the appropriate time, the currently very high degree of monetary stimulus. We have full confidence that, when the time comes, we will be ready to do so.[130]

Asset Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility

The Asset Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (ABCPMMMFLF) was also called the AMLF. The Facility began operations on September 22, 2008, and was closed on February 1, 2010.[131]

All U.S. depository institutions, bank holding companies (parent companies or U.S. broker-dealer affiliates), or U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks were eligible to borrow under this facility pursuant to the discretion of the FRBB.

Collateral eligible for pledge under the Facility was required to meet the following criteria:

  • was purchased by Borrower on or after September 19, 2008 from a registered investment company that held itself out as a money market mutual fund;
  • was purchased by Borrower at the Fund’s acquisition cost as adjusted for amortization of premium or accretion of discount on the ABCP through the date of its purchase by Borrower;
  • was rated at the time pledged to FRBB, not lower than A1, F1, or P1 by at least two major rating agencies or, if rated by only one major rating agency, the ABCP must have been rated within the top rating category by that agency;
  • was issued by an entity organized under the laws of the United States or a political subdivision thereof under a program that was in existence on September 18, 2008; and
  • had stated maturity that did not exceed 120 days if the Borrower was a bank or 270 days for non-bank Borrowers.
Commercial Paper Funding Facility

On October 7, 2008, the Federal Reserve further expanded the collateral it will loan against to include commercial paper using the new Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF). The action made the Fed a crucial source of credit for non-financial businesses in addition to commercial banks and investment firms. Fed officials said they’ll buy as much of the debt as necessary to get the market functioning again. They refused to say how much that might be, but they noted that around $1.3 trillion worth of commercial paper would qualify. There was $1.61 trillion in outstanding commercial paper, seasonally adjusted, on the market as of 1 October 2008, according to the most recent data from the Fed. That was down from $1.70 trillion in the previous week. Since the summer of 2007, the market has shrunk from more than $2.2 trillion.[132] This program lent out a total $738 billion before it was closed. Forty-five out of 81 of the companies participating in this program were foreign firms. Research shows that Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recipients were twice as likely to participate in the program than other commercial paper issuers who did not take advantage of the TARP bailout. The Fed incurred no losses from the CPFF.[133]

Quantitative policy

A little-used tool of the Federal Reserve is the quantitative policy. With that the Federal Reserve actually buys back corporate bonds and mortgage backed securities held by banks or other financial institutions. This in effect puts money back into the financial institutions and allows them to make loans and conduct normal business. The bursting of the United States housing bubble prompted the Fed to buy mortgage-backed securities for the first time in November 2008. Over six weeks, a total of $1.25 trillion were purchased in order to stabilize the housing market, about one-fifth of all U.S. government-backed mortgages.[134]

History

Timeline of central banking in the United States
Dates System
1782–1791 Bank of North America (de facto, under the Confederation Congress)
1791–1811 First Bank of the United States
1811–1816 No central bank
1816–1836 Second Bank of the United States
1837–1862 Free Banking Era
1846–1921 Independent Treasury System
1863–1913 National Banks
1913–present Federal Reserve System
Sources:[135][136]

Central banking in the United States, 1791–1913

The first attempt at a national currency was during the American Revolutionary War. In 1775, the Continental Congress, as well as the states, began issuing paper currency, calling the bills “Continentals“.[137] The Continentals were backed only by future tax revenue, and were used to help finance the Revolutionary War. Overprinting, as well as British counterfeiting, caused the value of the Continental to diminish quickly. This experience with paper money led the United States to strip the power to issue Bills of Credit (paper money) from a draft of the new Constitution on August 16, 1787,[138] as well as banning such issuance by the various states, and limiting the states’ ability to make anything but gold or silver coin legal tender on August 28.[139]

In 1791, the government granted the First Bank of the United States a charter to operate as the U.S. central bank until 1811.[140] The First Bank of the United States came to an end under President Madison because Congress refused to renew its charter. The Second Bank of the United States was established in 1816, and lost its authority to be the central bank of the U.S. twenty years later under President Jackson when its charter expired. Both banks were based upon the Bank of England.[141] Ultimately, a third national bank, known as the Federal Reserve, was established in 1913 and still exists to this day.

First Central Bank, 1791 and Second Central Bank, 1816

The first U.S. institution with central banking responsibilities was the First Bank of the United States, chartered by Congress and signed into law by President George Washington on February 25, 1791, at the urging of Alexander Hamilton. This was done despite strong opposition from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, among numerous others. The charter was for twenty years and expired in 1811 under President Madison, because Congress refused to renew it.[142]

In 1816, however, Madison revived it in the form of the Second Bank of the United States. Years later, early renewal of the bank’s charter became the primary issue in the reelection of President Andrew Jackson. After Jackson, who was opposed to the central bank, was reelected, he pulled the government’s funds out of the bank. Jackson was the only President to completely pay off the debt.[143] The bank’s charter was not renewed in 1836. From 1837 to 1862, in the Free Banking Era there was no formal central bank. From 1846 to 1921, an Independent Treasury System ruled. From 1863 to 1913, a system of national banks was instituted by the 1863 National Banking Act during which series of bank panics, in 18731893, and 1907 occurred[7][8][9]

Creation of Third Central Bank, 1907–1913

The main motivation for the third central banking system came from the Panic of 1907, which caused a renewed desire among legislators, economists, and bankers for an overhaul of the monetary system.[7][8][9][144] During the last quarter of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the United States economy went through a series of financial panics.[145] According to many economists, the previous national banking system had two main weaknesses: an inelastic currency and a lack of liquidity.[145] In 1908, Congress enacted the Aldrich–Vreeland Act, which provided for an emergency currency and established the National Monetary Commission to study banking and currency reform.[146] The National Monetary Commission returned with recommendations which were repeatedly rejected by Congress. A revision crafted during a secret meeting on Jekyll Island by Senator Aldrich and representatives of the nation’s top finance and industrial groups later became the basis of the Federal Reserve Act.[147][148] The House voted on December 22, 1913, with 298 voting yes to 60 voting no. The Senate voted 43–25 on December 23, 1913.[149] President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill later that day.[150]

Federal Reserve Act, 1913[edit]

Newspaper clipping, December 24, 1913

The head of the bipartisan National Monetary Commission was financial expert and Senate Republican leader Nelson Aldrich. Aldrich set up two commissions – one to study the American monetary system in depth and the other, headed by Aldrich himself, to study the European central banking systems and report on them.[146]

In early November 1910, Aldrich met with five well known members of the New York banking community to devise a central banking bill. Paul Warburg, an attendee of the meeting and longtime advocate of central banking in the U.S., later wrote that Aldrich was “bewildered at all that he had absorbed abroad and he was faced with the difficult task of writing a highly technical bill while being harassed by the daily grind of his parliamentary duties”.[151] After ten days of deliberation, the bill, which would later be referred to as the “Aldrich Plan”, was agreed upon. It had several key components, including a central bank with a Washington-based headquarters and fifteen branches located throughout the U.S. in geographically strategic locations, and a uniform elastic currency based on gold and commercial paper. Aldrich believed a central banking system with no political involvement was best, but was convinced by Warburg that a plan with no public control was not politically feasible.[151] The compromise involved representation of the public sector on the Board of Directors.[152]

Aldrich’s bill met much opposition from politicians. Critics charged Aldrich of being biased due to his close ties to wealthy bankers such as J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Aldrich’s son-in-law. Most Republicans favored the Aldrich Plan,[152] but it lacked enough support in Congress to pass because rural and western states viewed it as favoring the “eastern establishment”.[4] In contrast, progressive Democrats favored a reserve system owned and operated by the government; they believed that public ownership of the central bank would end Wall Street’s control of the American currency supply.[152] Conservative Democrats fought for a privately owned, yet decentralized, reserve system, which would still be free of Wall Street’s control.[152]

The original Aldrich Plan was dealt a fatal blow in 1912, when Democrats won the White House and Congress.[151] Nonetheless, President Woodrow Wilson believed that the Aldrich plan would suffice with a few modifications. The plan became the basis for the Federal Reserve Act, which was proposed by Senator Robert Owen in May 1913. The primary difference between the two bills was the transfer of control of the Board of Directors (called the Federal Open Market Committee in the Federal Reserve Act) to the government.[4][142] The bill passed Congress on December 23, 1913,[153][154] on a mostly partisan basis, with most Democrats voting “yea” and most Republicans voting “nay”.[142]

Federal Reserve era, 1913–present

Key laws affecting the Federal Reserve have been:[155]

Measurement of economic variables

The Federal Reserve records and publishes large amounts of data. A few websites where data is published are at the board of governors’ Economic Data and Research page,[156] the board of governors’ statistical releases and historical data page,[157] and at the St. Louis Fed’s FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data) page.[158] The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) examines many economic indicators prior to determining monetary policy.[159]

Some criticism involves economic data compiled by the Fed. The Fed sponsors much of the monetary economics research in the U.S., and Lawrence H. White objects that this makes it less likely for researchers to publish findings challenging the status quo.[160]

Net worth of households and nonprofit organizations

Total Net Worth‍—‌Balance Sheet of Households and Nonprofit Organizations 1949–2012

The net worth of households and nonprofit organizations in the United States is published by the Federal Reserve in a report titled Flow of Funds.[161] At the end of the third quarter of fiscal year 2012, this value was $64.8 trillion. At the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2014, this value was $95.5 trillion.[162]

Money supply

The most common measures are named M0 (narrowest), M1, M2, and M3. In the United States they are defined by the Federal Reserve as follows:

Measure Definition
M0 The total of all physical currency, plus accounts at the central bank that can be exchanged for physical currency.
M1 M0 + those portions of M0 held as reserves or vault cash + the amount in demand accounts (“checking” or “current” accounts).
M2 M1 + most savings accountsmoney market accounts, and small denomination time deposits (certificates of deposit of under $100,000).
M3 M2 + all other CDs, deposits of eurodollars and repurchase agreements.
Components of the United States money supply2.svg

The Federal Reserve stopped publishing M3 statistics in March 2006, saying that the data cost a lot to collect but did not provide significantly useful information.[163] The other three money supply measures continue to be provided in detail.