International Women’s Day
Did you enjoy it? I certainly did. In particular, the ‘heartfelt’ emails from male CEOs warbling on about all the great things they are going to do for women before immediately defaulting to their normal behaviours once the day is over.
Not to be left out, President Kamala joined the platitude party with this incredible claim:
The successful candidates never had to disclose who they were or where they were and they were paid in cryptocurrency. The world has ably demonstrated in the last 12 months what is possible without ever meeting someone in person.
The great thing about this is that people can be paid according to their skill and contribution level and it removes any bias at all. Understandably, it is not available in all professions, but it certainly is to many white-collar roles which seem to feature prominently during these ‘celebrations’ of diversity.
The world is changing fast, cryptography is very unforgiving. I suspect that we would all benefit from learning a little more about it, honing our skills, upgrading our contributions to humanity because once the veil of privacy lands you will need to show your quality.
It will not matter who or what you are, computer code does not care. There is no HR department where we are going, so reserve yourself an avatar.
If you don’t believe me, try this site: Stakwork. It provides users in low-income countries with work for which they are paid in bitcoin. All you need is a phone and if you don’t have a phone, they will give you one and require you to earn the cost of the phone.
Most of the tasks are pretty mind numbing. The majority of them help train artificial intelligence. For example, image verification. The AI sees an image and answers a question about “is this an elephant or an apple?”. It’s easy for a human and hard for AI, until it learns. The user on Stakwork will mark the answer and train the AI. That kind of work needs millions of man hours and is perfect for this model.
Users simply register their bitcoin public key. They are then sent tasks on the phone and are paid in bitcoin as they do them. The sub-unit of the bitcoin is the satoshi, roughly 0.6 US cents. As you can see above Stakwork have paid out 337,000 satoshis today which is $202. It’s nothing, but in most of the world it is not nothing, it is significant money and growing fast.
Some obvious questions come up. What if users do not answer correctly or deliberately incorrectly. Well, the questions are sent to multiple users and the majority answer is selected, users cannot identify each other so it is impossible to act in concert. What about phone theft? The software kills the phone if the user does not complete tasks or tries to hack the phone, the firmware is burned effectively and the phone becomes useless. According to the founder that is hardly ever necessary though.
Cryptocurrency is enabling people without bank accounts, without phones and without identity to connect with the global economy. Even in this most trivial way, at a level as small as this, it is significant. Compare it with the fantastical merry-go-round that is required to earn an income in a first world country. Indeed, imagine setting up an office in the Philippines for people to train AI, the cost is astronomical. Offices, training, desks, computers, HR departments, background checks. This costs $20 per head if they don’t have a phone and $0 if they do.
Anyway, it’s now more than it was.
It seems that across the world google searches for inflation are increasing rapidly. Strange that this would be the case in a world where there isn’t any.
The excellent website shadowstats.com tracks inflation in the US. They use the same method the US used in 1980. The calculation method has been changed twice since then to remove ‘volatility’ (read ‘con the public’). As we can see, under the government’s own former methodology, prices in the last decade have been rising at just under 10% per annum. Roughly equivalent to the spike in my coffee price.
Jerome Powell: 18 March 2021
I suspect what he means is, that now that the US government has poured $1.9 trillion into the US economy, we absolutely will get some inflation and the Fed will ignore it because, even though prices are rising wages are not.
The fight against falling relative wages is now over a decade old. I can think of several professions where people get made materially less than they did 10 years ago and I’m not talking about McDonalds here, I mean lawyers, doctors, accountants. Perhaps something else is happening.
Wages have been falling because technology is replacing people and that replacement is gradually climbing the hierarchy of jobs. The pandemic revealed to a lot of businesses their very great inefficiency. There has been an enormous forced adoption of technology accelerating a trend that was already happening. Now central banks around the world have to get people back to work, their remedy is to use loose monetary policy, but this is pushing up prices and while it might push up wages, it will be nowhere near enough to offset the price increase.
As a consequence, a rather bad situation is being made worse. The loose monetary policy benefits asset holders a great deal. People without a job see prices run away from them, while they hope that wages rise and they might be fortunate enough to find new work. Even when they do, they will be materially poorer.
We are moving quickly towards universal basic income here. There will be no other option. Obviously they will not call it UBI, I’m thinking something like the ‘Working American Notional Credit’, which should yield a suitable acronym for the policy.
“The Governing Council expects purchases under the PEPP over the next quarter to be conducted at a significantly higher pace than during the first months of this year.”
“the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.50% respectively.”
The PEPP is the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme. It permits the purchase of €1.9 trillion in bonds of various types by the European Central Bank, roughly 15% of Euro area GDP, to go with the 70% of it already on the ECB balance sheet.
Unfortunately, the acceleration of bond buying probably won’t yield the expected result. I’m not a central banker but I would have thought that if you have been using a policy since 2009 in ever increasing amounts and it still hasn’t worked, maybe you need a new one?
Incidentally, my application for the job as the ECBs Head of Climate Change Centre, which we discussed a few weeks ago, has sadly been rejected. Happily, not because I am not qualified rather because I am not currently an EU resident. They let me down gently, which was kind.