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Blockchain is De-Dollarizing the Investing World

This past week I flew from Moscow to Vietnam, participating in a new international business model for investing in worldwide property development using the blockchain.

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I felt it was too important to miss especially in these current sanctioned and trade tariff times. Pioneering this effort is an American company called Relex (RLX), the world’s first cryptocurrency-based real property development and investing group.

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This approach allows investment in projects during the development phase, resulting in passive income, equity stakes, or proxy ownership of property(s). Initial projects are based in Vietnam, Vladivostok (Russia), Cambodia, and Myanmar, which for various non-business reasons and external barriers have been politically shunned on the FDI scene of late, although showing strong, solid growth. Included was an on-site visit of their first large oceanfront development in DaNang. Among those attending were a broad cross-section of businesspeople from throughout the international community, investors, financial advisors and developers.

It is clear that businesses in a number of countries are feeling various and increasing pressures from their governments, banks and similar regulating/regulated groups to conform within ever-narrowing, ever-thornier investment opportunity corridors. This has been emphatically and clearly shown through sanctions, trade and tariff confrontations, as well as a host of other political and financially erected barriers.

There even was a consensus that with the onset of these vigorous trade disputes and tariffs, significant inflation is in the cards regardless of the Federal Reserve or other central banks tinkering.

Global free trade as we have come to know it traditionally is coming to a critical juncture of change, perhaps never to be as straightforward or open again, or even as it was 10 years ago, not to mention before then.

Commerce by definition is meant to be fluid and unrestricted. Money has no politics, it should not have – it is a field of openly traded risks & returns. Hence, a real race is on in every global market to find possibly untraditional, less constrained innovative and secure ways to do international business legally, securely and profitably.

Much was discussed at this gathering, which included executives from Vietnam, Ukraine, Australia, Russia, Burma, Korea, Cambodia, America, Canada, India, and the list goes on. One of the major issues were the trade and investment restrictions unilaterally led by US foreign policy and by extension the US Dollar, which are expected to become even more constraining over time.

Hence the very real and attractive role for cryptocurrencies and the blockchain when backed by tangible asset projects like property, infrastructure and enhancing actual business development.

There were and are a number of instances where banks declined to move US Dollars to one or another directed area, despite long standing bank/client business relationships. The reality of asset freezes, currency seizures and other similarly restrictive measures are expected to become the growing “new normal”.

In such an environment, any alternatives that can bypass these restrictions to free trade yet meet business and investment requirements, are gaining traction – quickly. Alternatives are not only sought by Russian or other “sanctioned” investors, but quite a few developed as well as developing economies as there is a feeling of seeing the “writing on the wall” of ever greater control pressures coming, mostly from the USA.

In watching the tug-of-war between the US administration and the Federal Reserve a goodly percentage of the executives I talked with are of the opinion that the White House will prevail and the US Dollar will be dropping noticeably before midterm elections.

The reasoning is that neither the US Government, not the US corporate sector can afford an extremely strong dollar when the current administration is deploying a new trillion dollar annual deficit regardless of a “strong” economy. A muscular dollar would make this magical juggling act well-nigh impossible, and would badly impact US corporations which receive nearly 50% of revenues from overseas.

This tension is happening as the US Fed needs the dollar to remain strong enough to attract capital in order for the US to be able to fund its deficits and debt issuance, but not strong enough to put the brakes on the national economy. From outside the USA many feel they are financial hostages to a global reserve currency that is spurred mainly by internal American financial self-interest and not the ebbs and flows of healthy, competitive, unregulated global trade.

Today alternatives are actively analyzed on how best to reduce the financial and geopolitical effects imposed by the United States and the US Dollar. On a macro level for example the EU is examining establishing an economic assistance fund to reduce dependency on the International Monetary Fund and expanding the scope of an EU-centric payment and settlements system to insulate itself from U.S. secondary sanctions over a number of “issues”.

These include the possible sanctioning of SWIFT board members in Brussels by the US as a means of convincing them to “go along to get along”. There have even been discussions between the EU, China and Russia to create a global, blockchain-based financial payment and settlements system that would moderate the United States’ financial stick.

U.S. tariffs and unilateral sanctions will eventually spur Europe to reclaim its economic sovereignty from the United States. This is a slow-moving trend, but one that will have serious long-term consequences for everything from NATO’s evolution to the future of the global financial system.

Far more consequential in the long term would be a European move to team up with other major powers, like China and Russia, on global financial reform proposals that include the adoption of a global blockchain-based financial payment system.

Washington has threatened to sideline Iran from SWIFT as part of its tactics to isolate Tehran from the global financial system. Such an action was briefly discussed back in 2015 regarding Russia as well, and recently noises have been reported that this may become an issue yet again.

SWIFT, however, is a Belgium-based private company subject to EU laws. The United States could still try to sanction individual board members of SWIFT to punish the company for noncompliance, but this would doubtless severely damage faith in the US Dollar and the global financial system — not to mention set off a truly serious international crisis.

Of far greater consequence would be a European move to team up with other major powers, such as China, Russia and possibly several others, on global financial reform proposals that might pave the way to adopting a global blockchain-based financial payment system. This apparently has been a topic of discussion between Russia and China for the past few years although no details have been confirmed.

Additionally, a number of independent banks worldwide are already experimenting with the technology as a way to improve efficiency, enhance security and reduce the cost of cross-border transaction fees.

Among the many implications of such a system is reducing the ability of any one participant like the United States, to isolate a country through primary and secondary sanctions. This would also be yet a further step along the long winding road of global de-dollarization. Over time, such a system would greatly enhance the trading of other currencies, not just the US Dollar.

This may also be the game-changing future for cryptocurrencies by giving them as asset base with which to underpin value (be it real estate, metals or other hard assets), and begin to compete with fiat currencies like the USD.

Change is inevitable, embracing it may be difficult for many, but it has been made easier because of foreign policy, most specifically from Washington that is forcing change by many nations. A quick overview of recent situations is an apt example:

The United States starts a tariff war with China. Japan and Germany jump at the chance to gain market share in China, the world’s fastest-growing passenger car market. The United States imposes sanctions on Turkey.

Germany announces that it will offer economic aid to Turkey, Qatar pledges new investments and a foreign exchange swap line, and Chinese banks provide billions of dollars in new loans to the cash-strapped Turks. Chinese commentators declare that crisis is a great opportunity to integrate Turkey into China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy.

US President Trump scolds Merkel for buying Russian natural gas through the Nord Stream II pipeline. Merkel then meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin to confirm the pipeline arrangement, and even agrees to aid reconstructing Syria in cooperation with Russia.

The United States imposes economic sanctions on Iran, Western insurance companies stop insuring Iranian oil. China then responds by accepting Iranian insurance on oil imports thereby increasing oil imports from Iran, and shipping the oil in Iranian tankers.

Central to market thinking is the belief that Eurasia/Asia will provide the greatest margin of growth to the world economy as it delivers about three-fifths of the world’s new economic growth. Now add to this the steadily growing blockchain and crypto-currency world, which many feel, is the logical economic and social inheritor of traditional fiat currencies and government structures. It is certainly a way to avoid the worst of the trade and currency transfer blockages imposed on business with greater, and more frequency, but it also forces established institutions to slowly, gradually cede control. Always a worrying period, fraught with knee-jerk reactions and unintended consequences.

Meanwhile within the noise, dust and confusion some companies are taking the necessary steps to find and capitalize on the processes and technologies that allow positive, less encumbered business activity. The Relex model could just as easily be adapted to not only real estate development, infrastructure and the like, but to education, agriculture and the entire business chain of being.

One fact came up which was illustrative, almost 75% of global capital invested in commercial property development is in the Top 10 most transparent countries in the world. That means that projects in countries with low transparency scores are considered ineligible projects for investment – a self-sustaining vicious downward cycle.

What if transparency scores in projects located in developing countries were improved? What if the medium of financing FDI were not limited to a single currency, single policy or payment corridor? Projects like Relex get an increased transparency, sustainability and accountability score, becoming classically eligible for a wider stream of investable capital into their projects. In addition, the door is open to investors worldwide, a freedom enabled by blockchain.

This is a very positive development for investors, in which there is easier capital access, and better access to development projects with a high degree of yield. It is certainly worth the time and effort to examine and keep a sharp eye on such developments as the future of international business access is already happening today.

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thomas malthaus

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-27/gold-bloc-iran-russia-and-turkeyoh-my

Another technique (currency board) to advance gold-backed currencies.

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I recently purchased a book on crypto currency and blockchain .I don’t know very much about it but aim to find out .I am fascinated by the possibility that this might be the future method of exchange for
goods , labour , services etc. worldwide.

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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Second Canadian Citizen Disappears In China

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea.

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Via Zerohedge…


For a trade war that was supposed to be between the US and China, Canada has found itself increasingly in the middle of the crossfire. And so after the arrest of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in retaliation for the detention of the Huawei CFO in Vancouver, Canada said a second person has been questioned by Chinese authorities, further heightening tensions between the two countries.

The second person reached out to the Canadian government after being questioned by Chinese officials, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, at which point Canada lost contact with him. His whereabouts are currently unknown and Global Affairs Canada said they are in contact with his family.

“We haven’t been able to make contact with him since he let us know about this,” Freeland told reporters Wednesday in Ottawa. “We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we have also raised this case with Chinese authorities.”

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea. He gained fame for helping arrange a visit to Pyongyang by former NBA player Dennis Rodman, and he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on that trip, the newspaper reported. Attempts to reach Spavor on his contact number either in China, or North Korean went straight to voicemail.

Spavor’s personal Facebook page contains several images of him with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un including one of him with both Jong-un and former Dennis Rodman at an undisclosed location.

Michael P. Spavor, right, pictured here with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, second from right, and Dennis Rodman.

Another image shows the two sharing a drink on a boat.

The unexplained disappearance takes place after China’s spy agency detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing on Monday, who was on leave from the foreign service. The arrest came nine days after Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. DOJ. While Canada has asked to see the former envoy after it was informed by fax of his arrest, Canada is unaware of Kovrig current whereabouts or the charges he faces.

“Michael did not engage in illegal activities nor did he do anything that endangered Chinese national security,” Rob Malley, chief executive officer of the ICG, said in a written statement. “He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: undertaking objective and impartial research.”

One possibility is that Kovrig may have been caught up in recent rule changes in China that affect non-governmental organizations, according to Bloomberg. The ICG wasn’t authorized to do work in China, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing in Beijing Wednesday.

“We welcome foreign travelers. But if they engage in activities that clearly violate Chinese laws and regulations, then it is totally another story,” he said, adding he had no information on Kovrig specifically.

As Bloomberg further notes, foreign non-governmental organizations are now required to register with the Chinese authorities under a 2017 law that subjects them to stringent reporting requirements. Under the law, organizations without a representative office in China must have a government sponsor and a local cooperative partner before conducting activities. ICG said this is the first time they’ve heard such an accusation from the Chinese authorities in a decade of working with the country. The company closed its Beijing operations in December 2016 because of the new Chinese law, according to a statement. Kovrig was working out of the Hong Kong office.

Meanwhile, realizing that it is increasingly bearing the brunt of China’s retaliatory anger, Trudeau’s government distanced itself from Meng’s case, saying it can’t interfere with the courts, but is closely involved in advocating on Kovrig’s behalf.

So far Canada has declined to speculate on whether there was a connection between the Kovrig and Meng cases, with neither Freeland nor Canadian Trade Minister Jim Carr saying Wednesday that there is any indication the cases are related. Then again, it is rather obvious they are. Indeed, Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016 and worked with Kovrig, says the link is clear. “There’s no coincidence with China.”

“In this case, they couldn’t grab a Canadian diplomat because this would have created a major diplomatic incident,” he said. “Going after him I think was their way to send a message to the Canadian government and to put pressure.”

Even though Meng was granted bail late Tuesday, that did not placate China, whose foreign ministry spokesman said that “The Canadian side should correct its mistakes and release Ms. Meng Wanzhou immediately.”

The tension, according to Bloomberg,  may force Canadian companies to reconsider travel to China, and executives traveling to the Asian country will need to exercise extra caution, said Andy Chan, managing partner at Miller Thomson LLP in Vaughan, Ontario.

“Canadian business needs to look at and balance the reasons for the travel’’ between the business case and the “current political environment,’’ Chan said by email. Chinese officials subject business travelers to extra screening and in some case reject them from entering, he said.

Earlier in the day, SCMP reported that Chinese high-tech researchers were told “not to travel to the US unless it’s essential.”

And so, with Meng unlikely to be released from Canada any time soon, expect even more “Chinese (non) coincidences”, until eventually China does detain someone that the US does care about.

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Multipolar World Order in the Making: Qatar Dumps OPEC

Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The decision by Qatar to abandon OPEC threatens to redefine the global energy market, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s growing difficulties and the growing influence of the Russian Federation in the OPEC+ mechanism.

In a surprising statement, Qatari energy minister Saad al-Kaabi warned OPEC on Monday December 3 that his country had sent all the necessary documentation to start the country’s withdrawal from the oil organization in January 2019. Al-Kaabi stressed that the decision had nothing to do with recent conflicts with Riyadh but was rather a strategic choice by Doha to focus on the production of LNG, which Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, is one of the largest global exporters of. Despite an annual oil extraction rate of only 1.8% of the total of OPEC countries (about 600,000 barrels a day), Qatar is one of the founding members of the organization and has always had a strong political influence on the governance of the organization. In a global context where international relations are entering a multipolar phase, things like cooperation and development become fundamental; so it should not surprise that Doha has decide to abandon OPEC. OPEC is one of the few unipolar organizations that no longer has a meaningful purpose in 2018, given the new realities governing international relations and the importance of the Russian Federation in the oil market.

Besides that, Saudi Arabia requires the organization to maintain a high level of oil production due to pressure coming from Washington to achieve a very low cost per barrel of oil. The US energy strategy targets Iranian and Russian revenue from oil exports, but it also aims to give the US a speedy economic boost. Trump often talks about the price of oil falling as his personal victory. The US imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, which is why Trump wrongly believes that a decrease in the cost per barrel could favor a boost to the US economy. The economic reality shows a strong correlation between the price of oil and the financial growth of a country, with low prices of crude oil often synonymous of a slowing down in the economy.

It must be remembered that to keep oil prices low, OPEC countries are required to maintain a high rate of production, doubling the damage to themselves. Firstly, they take less income than expected and, secondly, they deplete their oil reserves to favor the strategy imposed by Saudi Arabia on OPEC to please the White House. It is clearly a strategy that for a country like Qatar (and perhaps Venezuela and Iran in the near future) makes little sense, given the diplomatic and commercial rupture with Riyadh stemming from tensions between the Gulf countries.

In contrast, the OPEC+ organization, which also includes other countries like the Russian Federation, Mexico and Kazakhstan, seems to now to determine oil and its cost per barrel. At the moment, OPEC and Russia have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day, contradicting Trump’s desire for high oil output.

With this last choice Qatar sends a clear signal to the region and to traditional allies, moving to the side of OPEC+ and bringing its interests closer in line with those of the Russian Federation and its all-encompassing oil and gas strategy, two sectors in which Qatar and Russia dominate market share.

In addition, Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey (a future energy hub connecting east and west as well as north and south) and Venezuela. In this sense, the meeting between Maduro and Erdogan seems to be a prelude to further reorganization of OPEC and its members.

The declining leadership role of Saudi Arabia in the oil and financial market goes hand in hand with the increase of power that countries like Qatar and Russia in the energy sectors are enjoying. The realignment of energy and finance signals the evident decline of the Israel-US-Saudi Arabia partnership. Not a day goes by without corruption scandals in Israel, accusations against the Saudis over Khashoggi or Yemen, and Trump’s unsuccessful strategies in the commercial, financial or energy arenas. The path this doomed

trio is taking will only procure less influence and power, isolating them more and more from their opponents and even historical allies.

Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi, the Eurasian powerhouses, seem to have every intention, as seen at the trilateral summit in Buenos Aires, of developing the ideal multipolar frameworks to avoid continued US dominance of the oil market through shale revenues or submissive allies as Saudi Arabia, even though the latest spike in production is a clear signal from Riyadh to the USA. In this sense, Qatar’s decision to abandon OPEC and start a complex and historical discussion with Moscow on LNG in the format of an enlarged OPEC marks the definitive decline of Saudi Arabia as a global energy power, to be replaced by Moscow and Doha as the main players in the energy market.

Qatar’s decision is, officially speaking, unconnected to the feud triggered by Saudi Arabia against the small emirate. However, it is evident that a host of factors has led to this historic decision. The unsuccessful military campaign in Yemen has weakened Saudi Arabia on all fronts, especially militarily and economically. The self-inflicted fall in the price of oil is rapidly consuming Saudi currency reserves, now at a new low of less than 500 billion dollars. Events related to Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) have de-legitimized the role of Riyadh in the world as a reliable diplomatic interlocutor. The internal and external repression by the Kingdom has provoked NGOs and governments like Canada’s to issue public rebukes that have done little to help MBS’s precarious position.

In Syria, the victory of Damascus and her allies has consolidated the role of Moscow in the region, increased Iranian influence, and brought Turkey and Qatar to the multipolar side, with Tehran and Moscow now the main players in the Middle East. In terms of military dominance, there has been a clear regional shift from Washington to Moscow; and from an energy perspective, Doha and Moscow are turning out to be the winners, with Riyadh once again on the losing side.

As long as the Saudi royal family continues to please Donald Trump, who is prone to catering to Israeli interests in the region, the situation of the Kingdom will only get worse. The latest agreement on oil production between Moscow and Riyad signals that someone in the Saudi royal family has probably figured this out.

Countries like Turkey, India, China, Russia and Iran understand the advantages of belonging to a multipolar world, thereby providing a collective geopolitical ballast that is mutually beneficial. The energy alignment between Qatar and the Russian Federation seems to support this general direction, a sort of G2 of LNG gas that will only strengthen the position of Moscow on the global chessboard, while guaranteeing a formidable military umbrella for Doha in case of a further worsening of relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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