Game of Thrones: One Chart Exposes GoT Haters as Pretentious Liars

By CCN: Despite snot-nosed viewers of the fantastic “Game of Thrones” finale carrying digital pitchforks and torches to HBO HQ, the episode pulled in 19.3 million viewers– the most of any episode this season.

Check out this chart: Those numbers haven’t been seen on network TV in more than a decade, and they exposed “Game of Thrones” haters for what they are: pretentious liars.

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A record 19.3 million viewers – many of whom lied about hating the final season – tuned into the “Game of Thrones” finale. | Source: HBO via CNBC

Perfect Ending Drives Haters Madder Than Daenerys

Warning, there are spoilers ahead.

The audacity of the show’s creators to deliver the only endings in the “Game of Thrones” finale that could have made sense drove viewers into bloodcurling screams across the internet. The reason is that they lack imagination, and having their expectations subverted is taboo.

The lunatic writers over at “Wired,” as well as the oh-so-superior hive mind of the internet, were primarily complaining about the shrewd move of Bran being selected as king.

The reason why is Bran can see into past and future, and can, therefore, predict what will happen! There’s nobody better for the job or anyone who is more powerful. Couple that with the fact that Bran doesn’t want the job, and that makes Bran an outstanding choice for it.

Why listen to people about the “Game of Thrones” finale who rave that having barely noticeable coffee cups and water bottles in two shots are somehow indicative of the season being “slapdash and inconsiderate?”

Maybe someone should explain to these buffoons that it took months to shoot the season and every other detail, as always, was faultless.

Attention Must Be Paid, but Wired’s Writers Didn’t

Game of Thrones Finale, Game of ThronesGame of Thrones Finale, Game of Thrones

Not a single GoT hater paid any attention to the careful character development that occurred over eight seasons| Source: HBO via AP

None of Wired’s writers paid any attention to the careful character development that occurred over eight seasons. Only a dopey “woke” writer would say that Tyrion didn’t deserve to be Hand because he was “a straight white male who kept screwing up.”

Tyrion screwing up is the result of his character, wanting to see the best in everyone, even a megalomaniac like his Queen. Moreover, as Bran said, it’s more of a sentence– Tyrion must fix everything he helped break.

So obtuse are these critics that they criticize Drogon’s melting of the Iron Throne in the “Game of Thrones” finale. Whether Drogon was intelligent enough to know the throne was the reason for his mother’s death or, more likely, that it was just a metaphorical result of Drogon’s mournful and angry scream, doesn’t matter.

If that’s what they’re complaining about in the “Game of Thrones” finale, we’ve spent too much time on them already.

“Game of Thrones” Finale Critics Are Just Lazy

This is what happens when audiences get snookered into believing standard television and feature film structure are the only ways to tell a story. They expect a startling set piece as a climax, with a third act twist. There’s a reason many shows hew to that structure – because it is tremendously satisfying.

Yet GoT finale viewers forget that the series has literary roots. Even though George Martin had not finished the books, the pacing and development of the show was literary in the extreme.

That also means a literary finale, in which the two big set pieces are not crammed into the final hour, and loose ends tied off in the last ten minutes.

It means playing out the Battle of Winterfell in episode three, and the slaughter of King’s Landing in episode five, and then wrapping up the loose ends in a full 72-minute episode.

“Lord of the Rings” Set the Stage for Game of Thrones Finale

Skeptical? Observe the greatest story ever told: “Lord of the Rings.” Did either the book or movies end with Frodo chucking the ring into Mt. Doom? No. There’s a bounty of material on the back-end that ties off all the stories.

There will not be a surge of HBO cancellations because of the GoT finale, any more than people will abandon Hollywood. A disgruntled media is merely fanning the flames of discontent sparked by lazy audiences.

The Game of Thrones finale was fascinating and unexpected, and an unparalleled feat of storytelling that delivered the only endings it could, and in deeply satisfying fashion.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

Molotov Cocktails Thrown At Chicago Synagogue, Police Say

Police are searching for an attempted arson suspect who threw Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Chicago on Sunday. 

The makeshift incendiary devices did not result in fire damage at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in the city’s Lakeview East neighborhood and no injuries were reported, according to police.

Authorities are also investigating reports of car windows being smashed outside at least three other synagogues roughly 5 miles north of the Lakeview East congregation.

It’s currently not clear whether the incidents are separate acts or part of an organized effort, Chicago Police Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi told HuffPost. 

“It doesn’t appear as though these are connected at this point,” Guglielmi said, adding that it’s “too early to tell” whether the incidents were hate crimes.

Police released surveillance footage of the person suspected of the aggravated arson attempt at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation. He is described by officials as a light-skinned male who was wearing black pants and a black hoodie as he walked by the building around 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

The Molotov cocktails did not damage the building. They bounced off of it and ignited on the ground, Guglielmi said.

Three glass bottles with an unknown substance and charred black cloth towels were found at the scene, reported The Chicago Tribune. At least one of the bottles has been sent to a forensic lab for testing, Guglielmi told HuffPost.

Police said they are increasing their presence at all Jewish schools, synagogues and businesses in response to the incidents. 

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation addressed the apparent arson attempt in a Facebook post Sunday.

“Attacks of this sort are intended to frighten and intimidate us and it is quite natural to feel fear or anxiety,” he wrote. “I encourage you to practice self-care and to monitor your own feelings and those of your family.”

The Anti-Defamation League released a statement Sunday calling the alleged arson attempt “yet another disturbing reminder of the recent escalation in attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions.”

Anti-Semitic incidents remained at near-record levels in 2018, according to an ADL report released last month. Compared to 2017, assaults against Jews reportedly more than doubled last year ― the worst of which was the mass shooting at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue in October, when a white supremacist killed 11 worshippers.

This Coinbase-Backed Cryptocurrency Surged 75% in a Single Day

By CCN: The cryptocurrency market has been awash in bearish sentiment on Monday, with Bitcoin failing to maintain the $8,000 mark and most of the other top 20 coins moving in a sideways or downward trend.

Nonetheless, one lesser-known crypto token isn’t intimidated by the market gloom, and it took advantage of one concrete announcement and one wild rumor to surge more than 75% in a single day.

Ethereum Scaling Project Rallies More Than 75%

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The Matic cryptocurrency exploded by as much as 76% on Monday. | Source: CoinMarketCap

Matic Network, a blockchain project aimed at scaling Ethereum, rose as much as 76% to $0.32 on the day. Shortly before 16:00 ET, the cryptocurrency traded at $0.31 with a circulating market cap of $66.8 million.

Matic’s daily trading volume of over $250 million exceeded the daily volume of larger projects like Cardano, Monero, and IOTA.

Since the start of May, the coin has gained over 610%.

What is Matic Anyway?

The key focus of Matic Network’s blockchain solution is scalability – the startup provides an off/side-chain scaling tool for existing networks like Ethereum to ensure a better user experience in the context of dApps.

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The cryptocurrency aims to help the Ethereum network scale. | Source: Matic

The ecosystem will incorporate a proprietary digital wallet, payment APIs and SDKs, ID solutions, and other products that will enable developers to build and migrate dApps developed on base platforms such as Ethereum. The network will use a modified version of Plasma with Proof-of-Stake (PoS)-oriented side chains.

What Triggered the Crypto Token’s Rally?

The project is very young, having been launched on Binance less than a month ago. Binance accounts for over 98% of the token’s trading volume. Matic is one of several Binance Launchpad coins that has shown impressive returns.

Earlier today, Matic revealed that it had joined Binance Info’s transparency initiative, which suggests investors would be regularly updated about the progress and state of the project.

Now the community hopes that Matic will get listed on Coinbase, especially after the team announced last month that it had secured funding from Coinbase Ventures.

The partnership will see Matic integrate another Coinbase-backed cryptocurrency – USD Coin – on its sidechains. On the other side, Coinbase wallet users will be able to use the Matic network to transfer and trade digital assets.

While investors believe the next logical step is a Coinbase exchange listing, some members of Matic’s Telegram community are afraid that the project won’t benefit from such an outcome as – to quote one user – Coinbase “killed 0x.”

Kamala Harris Offers Sweeping Plan To Dock Companies That Dont Pay Women Equally

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Monday unveiled the second major proposal of her presidential campaign: a comprehensive plan designed to punish corporations that don’t provide equal pay for female employees.

Female employees usually bear the burden of suing for relief from pay discrimination in the U.S., often risking retaliation from their bosses by coming forward.

Harris’ proposal, which her campaign called “the most aggressive equal pay proposal in history,” seeks to flip that system on its head. Instead of relying on employees to prove they were discriminated against, corporations would be required to prove that their pay practices are fair. The plan is modeled after a similar first-of-its-kind law that went into effect in Iceland last year.

“It should not be on a working woman to prove it. It should instead be on that large corporation to prove they’re paying people for equal work equally,” Harris said in an interview that aired Monday on CNN.

Under Harris’ plan, companies would be required to obtain an “equal pay certification” from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to prove they pay women equally. They would be required to disclose whether they received that certification on their website’s homepage and to prospective employees. 

To meet certification requirements, companies would have to “demonstrate they have eliminated pay disparities between women and men who are doing work of equal value,” per Harris’ campaign. “To the extent pay disparities do exist for similar jobs, companies will be required to show the gap is based on merit, performance, or seniority ― not gender.”

The plan does not stipulate exactly how pay disparities at companies would be assessed, but her campaign pointed to a 2016 payroll data analysis done by Glassdoor of its own workforce. The plan also calls for providing technical assistance to support companies so they can assess and address their pay gaps.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) laughs as she waits to be introduced during a Hispanics in Po

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) laughs as she waits to be introduced during a Hispanics in Politics event at the Dona Maria Tamales restaurant in Las Vegas last week. 

Under Harris’ plan, companies with 100 or more employees would be required to obtain certification within three years of law’s enactment and every two years thereafter (smaller businesses get a pass). Companies with 500 or more employees would have two years from the law’s enactment to certify, and then comply with the two-year recertification rule.

If companies fail to gain EEOC certification, they would face fines for every 1% pay gap that exists in their workforce. The fines would vary, for each pay-gap percentage point, a business would have to pay 1% of its average daily profits during the previous fiscal year. 

Harris’ campaign estimated the scheme would, at least initially, generate about $180 billion over 10 years ― funds she supports investing to help finance a national paid family and medical leave program. The U.S. has no such national programs, though many firms have their own.

Harris’ plan also includes provisions seeking to boost transparency about worker pay and the role of women within a company. It would require, for example, that companies report statistics on the percentage of women in leadership positions and the percentage who are among their top earners.

Vicki Shabo, a senior fellow at nonpartisan think tank New America, called Harris’ equal pay plan “exciting” and “long overdue.”

“Closing the wage gap would mean tens of millions for women and their families,” she said. “It could wipe out student loan debt, give relief to homeowners, and literally put food on the table. It’s something that can help stimulate the economy.”

The standard wage gap measure put out annually by the Census Bureau currently shows that women make 80 cents for every male dollar earned. (Earnings are even lower for women of color.)

House Democrats easily passed a bill earlier this year to make sure women and men are paid equally. The legislation, known as the Paycheck Fairness Act, aims to eliminate gender-based pay inequality by altering language in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

But the measure has effectively stalled due to GOP opposition in the Senate, where is unlikely to even receive a vote. Republicans have long argued that such bills would heighten the risks of lawsuits for businesses, and Harris’ proposal would likely face similar GOP opposition if she managed to win the White House in 2020.

“We don’t need to strap new regulations, burdens, or fines on businesses to create opportunities for women, and President Trump’s economic record is a testament to that,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Blair Ellis said in a statement, noting the rate of women’s unemployment currently stands at a 50-year low.

But Harris’ campaign said she won’t be waiting on Congress to act to enact pay equity. If elected, she vowed to take executive action to implement her plan for federal contractors ― who would then be required to attain certification within two years of her taking office.

Harris’ first major policy proposal, unveiled in March, focused on drastically increasing teachers’ pay around the country

This article has been updated with comment from Harris and Ellis. 

Trump Twitter Tantrum Could Trigger 20% Stock Market Crash

By CCN: The Obama administration pioneered the use of social media to engage directly with the American public, but President Trump’s unprecedented Twitter antics have proven that social media can manipulate the stock market just as much as it can be used to sway the mythical undecided voter.

Since taking office in 2017, Donald Trump has frequently used Twitter to fuel stock market rallies and stunt painful corrections. However, one Wall Street strategist warns that the president’s social media addiction threatens to catalyze a full-blown bear market.

Trump’s Social Media Addiction Will Take Investors on a Bad Trip

Vincent Deluard, a macro strategist at INTL FCStone, predicts that it’s only a matter of time until one of Trump’s Twitter tantrums ignites a 20% stock market crash.

“It is not difficult to envision a scenario where this Twitter tantrum turns into a fully-fledged bear market,” Deluard wrote in a note to clients, according to Business Insider.

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A 20% correction would plunge the S&P 500 below 2,000. | Source: Yahoo Finance

Here’s what that crash would look like. The S&P 500 would careen below the 2,000 level, potentially creating significant psychological resistance at that mark. The Dow Jones Industrial Average would slide back to 20,500, placing it dangerously close to a key milestone of its own. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, would slide to 6,200, perhaps reviving uncomfortable memories about the dotcom bust.

However, a tantrum alone won’t be enough to pummel equities. Otherwise, the picture would already look far bleaker on Wall Street.

Instead, Deluard anticipates that one or more black swan events will weaken the red-hot stock market, rendering it less able to absorb the fallout when Trump unleashes a scorched-earth tweetstorm that rattles investors.

3 Black Swan Events That Could Pummel Stock Market

One potential black swan event is a global spike in oil prices triggered by Venezuela or Iran, rogue nations that hold tremendous sway over the global oil market. The Trump administration has already had run-ins with both governments, most recently Iran.

Just yesterday, President Trump responded to alleged Iranian provocations in Saudi Arabia and Iraq by threatening to usher in the “official end of Iran,” which prompted Iran’s foreign minister to label him a “genocidal” economic terrorist.

In the domestic sphere, the abysmal performance of highly-touted tech IPOs like Uber could result in investor disillusion. This would likely trigger reduced private-market valuations, cooling the ability of would-be tech unicorns to secure the massive fundraising rounds to which they have grown accustomed.

“Skeletons may come out of the closet of many a once-highly valued tech unicorn,” Deluard warned in the ominous note.

Finally, the INTL FCStone strategist identified the 2020 US presidential election as a potential harbinger of doom. Most Wall Street analysts expect President Trump to win a second term, and it’s reasonable to expect that equities valuations reflect confidence that the economy will benefit from at least four more years of a market-friendly White House – trade war volatility notwithstanding.

Consequently, Deluard predicts that the stock market could suffer if the socialist-leaning policies introduced into the Democratic mainstream by Bernie Sanders find their way onto the party nominee’s campaign platform – even more so if that nominee stuns Wall Street by achieving an electoral college victory.

Don’t Expect the Federal Reserve to Save You

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The Fed rescued the stock market from bear territory last year, but don’t expect that to happen again. | Source: REUTERS / Carlos Barria

The last time equities flirted with bear market territory, the Federal Reserve swooped in to save the day by abruptly abandoning its plan to continue raising interest rates.

Even now, after the stock market has achieved a historic recovery from its December 2018 lows, many investors expect the Fed to go a step further and adopt a rate cut.

However, Deluard warns, inflation won’t remain low indefinitely, and when it begins to spike the Fed will suddenly find itself trapped between a rock and a hard place.

“Despite the current euphoria about ‘the death of inflation’ and the ‘goldilocks economy,’ it is still possible for the Federal Reserve to find itself in the 1970s dilemma: accelerating inflation and a slowing economy,” he wrote.

In other words, when the stock market does crash, don’t expect the Fed to save you.

Bitcoin, Not Blockchain: People Feverishly Search for Worlds First Crypto

By CCN: Around the world, the majority of searches related to cryptocurrency involve the word “Bitcoin,” a new report by ConsenSys concludes. Excepting a few Asian countries, most of the world wants to find information about Bitcoin. In the U.S., UK, Nigeria, Brazil, France, and elsewhere, roughly 70% or more of all crypto-related searches are for Bitcoin. Comparatively, Taiwan and Japan have an abiding interest in Ethereum, blockchain, and related cryptocurrency more broadly.

Taiwan is reportedly more interested in "blockchain" than Bitcoin.Taiwan is reportedly more interested in "blockchain" than Bitcoin.

Taiwan is reportedly more interested in “blockchain” than Bitcoin. Source: ConsenSys

Japanese web surfers are more interested in Ethereum and Blockchain than most of the world. Source: ConsenSysJapanese web surfers are more interested in Ethereum and Blockchain than most of the world. Source: ConsenSys

Japanese web surfers are more interested in Ethereum and Blockchain than most of the world. Source: ConsenSys

Key Markets for dApp Development

ConsenSys, which was among the first companies to develop for Ethereum, needs the data to understand where key markets might be. While their report largely summarizes the data, the company goes out of its way to note the places with the most interest in its flagship blockchain:

“Countries in Asia like Japan and South Korea lead the world in interest for both ‘Blockchain,’ and ‘Ethereum’ and fittingly are developing a clued-in populous at the forefront of the blockchain ecosystem. Elsewhere in the world, countries like the United States and United Kingdom still represent strong Bitcoin dominance, although it’s Brazil that leads the pack in that regard.”

Bitcoin and blockchain are synonymous to many initially seeking information about cryptocurrency. While the two terms have essential differences, search spikes for any terms related to crypto generally coincide with gaining market trends.

As well documented, one of the first efforts to dismiss the crypto movement was for various central bankers and pundits to preach “blockchain, not Bitcoin.” This was an attempt to display financial wokeness without embracing an exceedingly disruptive movement. A blockchain is not secure unless its base token has value enough to incentivize its security.

“Blockchain, Not Bitcoin”? Nah.

No blockchain model is based on the idea that people will secure the network “for the public good.” Instead, in Bitcoin and Ethereum both, those providing that security are rewarded with transaction fees and base rewards.

There are, however, legitimate arguments that lend more credence to the blockchain technology as a whole, including but far from limited to Bitcoin.

One question that arises from these statistics is whether they’re a sign that the market as a whole is quite nascent. If the majority of people are searching strictly for “Bitcoin,” things are either only beginning or the maximalist vision of the future, in which there is Bitcoin and little else, is much more likely than one might think.

In the case of Venezuela, it’s interesting that Ethereum represented around 9% of all searches when people were definitively looking for alternative ways to secure their net worth. Bitcoin saw a 75% share of Venezuelan searches related to crypto, while “cryptocurrency” more generally accounted for only 2%. “Blockchain” did even worse than that, at 1%.

Dow Flinches After Chicago Fed Flashes Dangerous Recession Signal

By CCN: The Dow and broader U.S. stock market tumbled on Monday, as the combination of poor economic data, geopolitical tensions and a trade-war standoff with China kept investors out of riskier assets.

Dow Struggles to Gain Footing; S&P 500, Nasdaq Falter

All of Wall Street’s major indexes declined on Monday, mirroring a volatile pre-market session for Dow futures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 121.74 points, or 0.5%, to 25,652.26.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined by as much as 214 points on Monday. | Source: Yahoo Finance.

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks plunged 0.8% to 2,835.84. Nine of 11 primary sectors retreated, with information technology shouldering the heaviest losses. Four sectors booked losses of 1% or more.

Plunging tech shares weighed heavily on the Nasdaq Composite Index. The technology-focused benchmark fell 1.6% to 7,694.77.

What Economic Miracle?

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President Trump’s economic recovery takes a major step back at the start of the second quarter, according to the Chicago Federal Reserve’s National Activity Index. | Source: AP Photo / Tony Gutierrez

President Trump’s “economic miracle” may not be all it’s cracked up to be, according to a closely-watched gauge of the U.S. economy.

The Chicago Federal Reserve’s National Activity Index plunged to -0.45 in April from +0.05 in March on a scale where zero represents historical trend growth. That was the weakest reading since May 2016, roughly eight months before President Trump took office.

Using the less volatile three-month moving average, the National Activity Index fell to -0.32 in April from -0.24 in March.

The monthly indicator tracks economic conditions across the U.S. economy using 85 indicators. During the month of April, 52 indicators declined compared with 33 that made positive contributions.

U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at a much faster than expected 3.2% annual pace the first quarter. But beneath the surface, the U.S. economic recovery faces a multitude of risks, including a prolonged trade war with China, a shaky real estate market, and soft manufacturing activity.

Last week, U.S. government data showed unexpected declines in retail sales and industrial production for the month of April.

Retail sales are used to gauge consumer spending habits, a component of the market that accounts for more than two-thirds of GDP.

Click here for a real-time Dow Jones Industrial Average price chart.

F*ck Bitcoin: Expert Says Startups Should Go All-In on Blockchain

By CCN: Bernhard Schroeder, an educational director of entrepreneur programs at San Diego State, implores entrepreneurs and investors to focus on the blockchain, rather than Bitcoin.

In a new editorial today in Forbes. Schroeder classifies Bitcoin as a speculative investment which may or may not work out long-term, but lauds the merits of blockchain, which he describes as “a serious technology.”

The Resurrection of the ‘Blockchain, Not Bitcoin’ Brigade

Schroeder believes that “the real potential” for blockchain technology will emerge from the companies who decide to build on it.

Hundreds of firms who tried and failed during the ICO boom of 2017 notwithstanding, Schroeder identifies four areas that entrepreneurs should look into, as well as crucial industries for investors to get exposure in blockchain. He says:

“So why should you as an entrepreneur or investor care more about blockchain than Bitcoin? Bitcoin is still a speculation on a future crypto currency that the world may not yet adopt. Maybe in the future, maybe not. But blockchain is a serious technology that can provide a variety of solutions. Imagine you are an automotive manufacturer and you have a product quality problem. Rather than recall thousands or millions of cars, you can simply recall the cars whose part is potentially defective based on blockchain identification and tracking.”

All of Schroeder’s suggested areas for blockchain integration are well-trodden ground in the industry. He lists digital rights management, digitizing real estate, tokenizing other assets, and customer rewards programs. There are, of course, a hundred other use cases for blockchain technology. Schroeder focuses on these, apparently, because he believes they have the most potential.

Transparency and Security: Non-Factors?

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Bernhard Schroeder cautions that the true winners in a gold rush are often the people who sell the “picks and shovels,” not the ones who mine the precious metal or stockpile it as an investment. | Source: Shutterstock

A number of companies have tackled digital rights management via blockchain. Perhaps ironically, the BitTorrent cryptocurrency fancies itself a way to handle that. Holders will eventually be able to use the token to buy content directly from its creator.

Real estate tokenization is one of the few ideas to emerge during the ICO boom which has had any staying power. Late last year, the first regulated company to issue real estate transfers on the blockchain appeared in the form of the Swiss company blockimmo. Other efforts are also in the works, like AirSwap, who are working on tokenizing the New York real estate market.

LA Token was initially an effort at enabling the tokenization of any asset, from a Rolex to an apartment. Similar projects are sure to emerge, as the idea of “putting it on the blockchain” becomes more commonplace and younger entrepreneurs take the reins.

Schroeder does make one valid point: people too close to the pulse of cryptocurrency have been burned and will continue to get hurt in the future. Miners and speculators will always be subject to the booms and busts of the industry. As Schroeder says:

“In the 1800’s it was not always the gold miners who thrived. But the people who sold picks and shovels did. In the early days of the internet, it was not the multitude of startups that were rewarded. Most failed. But the builders of web infrastructure and internet technology thrived. Don’t confuse the adoption of Bitcoin as a digital currency with the enormous potential for blockchain technology.”

Even those who sell the picks and shovels of the blockchain world, such as Bitmain and crypto exchanges, have suffered.

Jimmy Song: Digital Money is Blockchain’s Only Proven Use Case

Not everyone believes that the blockchain has uses beyond the simple “storing of value.” Despite successful adoptions of decentralized ledgers, people like Jimmy Song consistently denigrate any such efforts as wasteful at best. He recently placed a massive bet with ConsenSys CEO Joseph Lubin. Decentralized applications will never be broadly adopted, Song argues.

As an industry, blockchain technology is only growing. Most major banks have some attachment to it at this point, and governments around the world are looking at ways the blockchain can help them interact with their subjects, including e-voting.

Famous Economist: Trade War Could Be Trumps Shining Reagan Moment

By CCN: President Trump has at least one renowned economist in his corner. Mohamed El-Erian is placing Donald Trump in the same category as America’s beloved Ronald Reagan. In an interview with CNBC, El-Erian, who is among the more open-minded economists out there, approached the trade war from a different vantage point. He said that China stands to lose the most in the trade war ignited by Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. Consider the S&P 500, which is miraculously unchanged over the last politically tumultuous month while emerging market stocks have tanked.

Clearly, the trade war is an extremely fluid situation, but the U.S. is in a stronger position. Tensions may not end overnight. But if you ask El-Erian, this momentary setback is increasingly looking like a setup for Trump’s shining moment.

“Remember we win a relative trade war. In absolute terms, we suffer, but we win relative to others. So I think the markets have understood that the U.S. is in a better place than the rest of the world. The question is can we stay there?”

He went on to say:

“I think we shouldn’t underestimate getting something Reaganesque. … If the U.S. goes full blown [trade war] – this is about national security it can actually change the global economics on a global scale.”

Back to 1980: “Reagonomics” and Trump’s Economy

While El-Erian didn’t go into many details about the Trump/Reagan comparison on CNBC, he previously opined:

“In the 1980s, U.S. President Ronald Reagan initiated a military spending race with the Soviet Union that ended up altering the global balance of power in ways that affected many countries worldwide.  Today, Trump has launched a tariff race with China, an economic superpower, perhaps with similarly far-reaching potential consequences. Like under Reagan, the US is better placed to win the current competition with China – but the risks are sizable.”

Both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump have displayed big kahunas for taking things so far. It paid off for Reagan.

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The S&P 500 has shed about 1.5% over the last month. | Source: Yahoo Finance

Despite those risks, the pendulum has also swung further in Trump’s direction. If you have any doubt, just look at how tech leader Google has responded to Chinese tech play Huawei by suspending some business on Android. According to El-Erian, Google may be getting the most attention from the decision but it’s not the only company responding to the U.S. government’s blacklisting.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is in a stronger position for a myriad of reasons, including the following cited by El-Erian:

  • “Relatively less dependent on foreign markets”
  • “Possesses deeper domestic markets”
  • “Generally more economically resilient than other countries”

As for China, the trade war has already taken a toll on its financial markets. Despite modest declines in the broader indices, the U.S. stock market is not doing too shabby.

Ford Stock Struggles After US Auto Giant Reveals Aggressive Downsizing

By CCN: Ford is in the throes of an $11 billion restructuring, which will cost 7,000 white-collar workers their jobs this year. The US auto giant believes the “smart redesign” will save billions, but the Dearborn-based company’s stock continues to struggle.

Ford’s ‘Smart Redesign’ Will Save Billions

Reportedly, the company is vastly downsizing its managerial workforce. Of the company’s more than 190,000 employees, roughly 70,000 serve in salaried positions. Collectively, Ford’s savings will total close to $600 million per year.

According to the Detroit Free Press, who obtained a memo from Ford CEO Jim Hackett this morning, the company has been advised that a 1:8 ratio of managers and employees is ideal. Hackett says in a memo that the “Smart Redesign” involves a massive reduction in bureaucracy:

“Our average span of control for managers will have increased from five direct reports to more than seven, reducing management bureaucracy by one-third.”

An anonymous employee said of the move:

“They indicate that our optimal structure would be to have one manager with eight people working under them. So people that are well connected have been scrambling to rearrange heads, create new positions in order to appear like they have the ‘right’ number of people working for them.”

A total of 7,000 white-collar workers are scheduled to lose their jobs, many of whom have already accepted voluntary buyout packages. Over 2,000 of them will be in the multionational’s North American operations. Around 500 people will undergo “involuntary” separation this week.

Some employees feel the company’s buyout options have been “generous,” with one writing on

“Ford is being generous giving these big severance packages. Remember the company is still struggling in many markets. A recession is inevitable. If they can get to an equilibrium with the right employees in the right spots at a manageable number, they hopefully won’t have to do a mass layoff when the recession happens.”

Separations in North America will complete this week, but other regions will take until August to wind down. About a third of the total white-collar workforce being laid off comes from Ford’s North American operations.

Aggressive Downsizing Fails to Reinvigorate Ford Stock

GM stock reportedly spiked when it laid thousands of workers last year and early this year, but Ford has so far not seen any particular gains.

The company announced its layoffs amid a bearish Wall Street which is responding to aggressive trade war tactics between China and the United States.

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Ford stock traded down after the aggressive downsizing plans failed to inspire investors. | Source: Yahoo Finance

As of the time of writing, Ford stock had lost 0.24% on the day. F shares last traded at $10.26, more than 15% off their 52-week high.

Peak Car Exacts a Price: Ford and Others Must Get Lean and Mean

Hackett also mentioned that the company has identified 5,000 ways to improve its processes, meaning that the managers who remain will be adapting to an entirely overhauled company.

Ford’s layoffs have been rumored for months, and while the company reported moderate sales in its last quarterly report, the company must address what some analysts are calling “peak car.”

The global automotive market is overwhelmingly saturated, making it difficult for traditional manufacturers to continue growth. The stalwart American icon has diversified its interests in various ways, including acquiring an e-scooter company and aggressively pursuing the electric car market.

The restructuring move is not a direct response to a lack of growth, but a hope to refit and adapt to the consumer market’s changing appetite for automobiles.