Category: Politics

Andrew Yang says he’ll transform NYC into a Bitcoin hub if elected mayor

Andrew Yang has plans for New York City that cryptocurrency users anywhere would find appealing.

Andrew Yang, the Democratic Party front-runner in the race to be New York’s next mayor said he would transform New York City into “a hub for BTC and other cryptocurrencies” noting the city to be “the world’s financial capital.”

The former presidential candidate made the comment in a tweet earlier today which drew a flurry of mixed reactions, with some proclaiming it to be a campaign-selling maneuver and others equating it to political suicide.

The most unifying reaction, however, was the demand that Yang use his powers, if elected, to end the BitLicense, enacted by the New York Department of Financial Services. Meltem Demirors, CSO of digital assets management company CoinShares, suggested Yang would need to deal with bo high state taxes and the Bitlicense to make his plan a reality.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Miami mayor Francis Suarez discussed the possibility of paying city employees in Bitcoin to encourage cryptocurrency adoption in the area. Yang actually floated a similar idea in a Sept. 2019 interview, describing the benefits of a government-issued, digitally-based “social currency” which could be exchanged 1:1 with the U.S. dollar.

Yang is currently is leading the Democratic field in popularity and name recognition among voters according to recent polling that saw him streets ahead of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

In sharp contrast to most of his political peers, Yang has vocalized his support for Bitcoin several times in the two years he has been on the mainstream media’s radar. His outspoken beliefs have earned him the title of “Best President for Bitcoin” from some in the cryptocurrency community.

New York has a tumultuous relationship with Bitcoin. The introduction of the BitLicense in 2015 was initially regarded as something of a disaster, potentially stifling the innovation of fintech by imposing draconian restrictions on cryptocurrency use. By 2020, however, the fruits of regulation were paying off with the regulatory clarity under the Bitlicense enabling corporate giants like PayPal, Gemini and Coinbase to attract the deep pockets of Wall Street.

In 2019, during the lead up to his presidential run, Yang argued that congress lacks the basic knowledge required to enact effective cryptocurrency legislation, and that countries which are ahead of the U.S. in regulation will eventually “(dictate) the rules that we’ll need to follow once we catch up.”

Yang was reportedly on the short list of potential nominees to fill the Secretary of Commerce position under the Biden administration. Receiving just 0.45% of the vote in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary, Yang dropped out of the race on Feb. 11 2020, endorsing Biden the following month. In January he announced he was running for Mayor of New York.

Dem candidate beats former Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler in tight senate race

Kelly Loeffler has lost the Georgia runoff election to Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock.

Senator Kelly Loeffler, formerly the CEO of Bitcoin (BTC) futures exchange Bakkt, will not be returning to Washington, at least not as a legislator. 

According to AP News on Jan. 6, Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock has won one of the tightly contested runoff elections in the Southern state of Georgia. 

The runoff elections have been closely watched in the United States, as they will determine which party controls a majority in the Senate, which will set the timbre for President-elect Biden's legislative approach when he assumes office on Jan. 20. 

The race is still too close to call between Republican David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. 

The runoff elections were necessary after no candidate received the necessary portion of votes to win in the regularly scheduled elections in November. 

While AP and The Guardian have called the race for Warnock, Loeffler seems to be modeling President Donald Trump's approach to losing an election.

Loeffler entered the crypto industry in 2018 when she became the CEO of Bakkt, the digital assets platform launched by Intercontinental Exchange. In December 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appointed the Bakkt CEO to a seat in the U.S. Senate to replace Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.

While her term in the Senate was short-lived, Loeffler made headlines after she and two other Senators sold off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock on information allegedly obtained in closed-door meetings about the coronavirus. 

Loeffler and her husband were accused of dumping stock in retail companies and subsequently buying shares in teleworking software firm Citrix Systems ahead of the coronavirus-driven lockdowns.

The senator denied allegations of insider trading and a subsequent investigation by the U.S. Justice Department did not find any wrongdoing.

At the time, a Loeffler spokesperson said, “Today’s clear exoneration by the Department of Justice affirms what Senator Loeffler has said all along—she did nothing wrong.” 

Loeffler even announced that she and her husband would liquidate their holdings, in order to better focus on tackling the coronavirus crisis. 

Despite the investigation's result, the trading debacle became a subject of campaign ads from both sides during the recent election. 

Vitalik Buterin ventures three reasons why prediction markets are pro-Trump

Buterin asks whether crypto prediction markets reflect the wisdom of the crowd or are skewed by illiquidity and the political bias of their social base.

On the eve of the United States presidential election, most mainstream polls are pointing to a highly likely Joe Biden victory, though this isn’t reflected in crypto prediction markets.

For Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, the “big difference” between them presents something of a puzzle, and he’s offered three guesses as to why such a disparity has emerged.

In what he posed as a pro-prediction market or favorable view, Buterin suggested that these markets “correctly incorporate the possibility of heightened election meddling, voter suppression, etc. affecting the outcome.” In contrast, statistical models perhaps “just assume the voting process is fair.”

To check this, Buterin appealed to Nate Silver in a bid to understand how statistical models account for the impact of both “regular” electoral irregularities such as voter suppression and lawfare, and the “irregular” irregularities that some have been extrapolating from Trump’s 2020 campaign rhetoric.

Silver is a statistician as well as the founder and editor in chief of the statistics-driven political news site FiveThirtyEight. In 2016, FiveThirtyEight gave Trump significantly higher odds of winning the election than the majority of pollsters and pundits, as well as traditional betting markets. As of press time, Silver has not responded to Buterin’s query.

Buterin’s second guess was that prediction markets are still too illiquid to be truly accurate. Buterin also noted the presumed political allegiances of prediction market participants:

2. Prediction markets are difficult to access for statistical/politics experts, they're too small for hedge funds to hire those experts, and the people (esp wealthy people) with the most access to PMs are more optimistic about Trump

(This is the pro-stats-model explanation)

— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) November 3, 2020

Buterin’s third hypothesis, which he dismissed, was that pollsters and other technocrats and analysts are “incorrigibly dumb and just haven’t learned their lessons around detecting surprise pro-Trump voters as happened in 2016.” This, Buterin wrote, “intuitively just feels unlikely to me.”

Buterin, notably, has spent significant time developing an alternative, collective decision-making procedure called quadratic voting, together with his collaborator Glen Weyl, which they claim would be more equitable than existing systems. 

On the eve of the election, FiveThirtyEight is forecasting a 10% chance of a Trump win. Their list of “weird and not-so-weird possibilities” largely accounts for the vagaries of the U.S. electoral college system, and the various ways in which it skews the weight of the popular vote.

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