Can investing in your career provide more financial benefits than investing in the financial markets? Maybe...
For most people -- especially for those in the 1st half of their working lives/careers -- investing time, energy, and even money into their careers might prove to be very valuable investments. For many, investments in their careers might prove more rewarding than typical financial investments.
The reasons why this is the case for many people are two-fold. First, most people don't have a lot of initial capital to start off with - saving and investing is key for them, but with so little capital there's not much that can be achieved in the short run for the typical retail investor. Second, investments in your career (e.g., investments in your skills and knowledge) have compounding effects over time as one progresses in his/her career.
It's hard to give a useful guide on what to pour your money, your time, and your energy into because each job is different and careers are diverse. However, it's a safe bet that building the following skills/attributes within yourself will prove very beneficial over time:
With each economic cycle in modern economies, we experience the same thing - there's a boom, then a bust, then a recovery, and then another boom...
It's typical after a long period of growth for investors, the financial media, and your everyday Joe Shmo to start thinking that a recession looms on the horizon. But, recessions don't like fear - people freaking out doesn't usually beckon a recession.
In actuality, recessions are more often seen right after periods of intense euphoria in the economic and financial worlds. These times are marked by excessive optimism and a fear of missing out (FOMO) by many market participants. During such times you'll hear people traditionally not involved in finance or investing talking about investing - this is markedly different than how people act during times of fear or caution.
Thinking that a recession is near when most others think this is an error in most cases - one likely based on not understanding financial market history well enough. Although real panics will very likely have macroeconomic consequences (and might cause a recession or even a depression), general but relatively subdued caution and fear is not likely going to be the cause of a recession. It's when people expect it the least do macroeconomic downturns start to brew.
Figure our your "why" for saving, investing, and building wealth - it'll help you financially and emotionally
A lot of well-educated people in today's modern economies save and invest a lot of money relative to their less-educated or less well-off counterparts. But, too often, these people in advanced economies lose sight of what they are saving and investing for.
It's not for anyone -- especially this blog -- to opine on why people should be saving and investing. But, it is troubling when most people can't come up with an answer quickly.
When you can't think of an answer quickly, it means you haven't thought about the question/problem long enough. In the case of saving, investing, and attempting to build wealth, that's a problem - if you haven't thought about "why" you're trying to build wealth, you're doing a disservice to yourself and your community (e.g. your immediate family, broad family, friends, etc.).
The point of building wealth is to use it - you can use it soon, you can use it far into the future, or you can put measures in place so that your wealth is used when you are dead. If your wealth is never used, it is clearly wasteful. If you don't think about how it's going to be used, that doesn't mean it won't be used; that doesn't mean you're wasteful. You're not - you're saving and building wealth. BUT, by failing to think about how you'll use your wealth, you fail to
It would do you a lot of good -- both financially and emotionally -- to grab a cup of coffee once a year and go for a long calm walk while thinking about your "why" (or any similar clam and contemplative activity).
From a mathematical perspective, those in Finance can clearly show you how not being diversified -- in an economy that allows for diversification -- is not prudent. Why isn't it prudent? Because, for most investors, not having all of their eggs in one basket will prevent them from devastating loss should some baskets break. Baskets break all the time.
Although diversification is an ancient concept, the modern idea of financial diversification in the context of creating an effective investment portfolio can be attributed to Harry Markowitz. Markowitz published his seminal paper titled Portfolio Selection in 1952. Check it out here, and other places online.
Some investors, however, feel that they don't need this rule. Some investors think the rule, or more precisely, the nature of the world in the investing space, doesn't apply to them. They feel that they know more than the typical investor or investing firm knows - they think they're somehow better at picking stocks or making investment decisions. These people -- and they are everywhere -- believe that they're just different. It's a common thing in humanity, and it might not change.
In the context of investing -- and specifically retail or family office investing -- portfolio concentration risk is the risk that you are overly exposed to something. That something can be any of the following and more:
Inappropriate portfolio concentrations are those that expose your portfolio to more risk than you would like or more risk than would be prudent. As such, assessing the concentration levels within your investment portfolio and taking steps to ensure that they are in line with your goals is a smart thing that should be done every so often.
The good thing is that it’s pretty easy and straightforward to determine the concentration levels for a lot of things like stocks, sectors, and countries (things like determining the concentration to strategies and assumptions is a bit more complex).
Step 1: Compile your entire investment portfolio
This might be the most difficult part as modern investors often have portfolios spread out amongst different account or different institutions. For example, you might have a brokerage account, a savings account for an emergency fund, some random savings accounts, and a 401k plan at work – this isn’t unreasonably complex but it does mean you’ll need to do a bit of work compiling things initially.
In fact – you should have done this already; the info should already be complied! If you’re investing and you don’t have a single source that is updated at least occasionally where you can get a high-level picture of your portfolio, you’re making a mistake. Spending some time on this will be beneficial in many ways, beyond just understanding concentrations and concentration risk.
Step 2: Pick a concentration category (eg. stocks, countries, sectors, etc.)
Next, pick a category against which you'd like to determine concentration levels in your portfolio. Don't start with complex things - start with basic things and move towards more complexity as you slowly get a better understanding of the risk nature of your portfolio.
For example, a great place to start would be sectors - you don't want to be exposed to a particular sector too much. If you're only in tech stocks or only in blue chips, you might want to diversify at bit more, depending on your risk tolerance and investing horizon. At the very least you'll want to know that you're heavily concentrated in particular sectors.
Other key concentrations are for individual stocks (eg. the investor who's absurdly exposed to one particular stock they love at the detriment to proper portfolio risk management and diversification).
Step 3: Simply make a list
For a retail investor doing simple portfolio concentration risk analysis, once you have your portfolio in one place and once you decide what you want to examine, it's very simple to proceed.
All you need to do is make a list with two columns - the particular investment product in the right column and the percent of the portfolio that the investment product represents. This is best illustrated by the table below.
As you can clearly see, this isn't a healthy portfolio. The vast majority of the portfolio is concentrated on
The portfolio has home country bias and seems to biased toward popular or newsworthy tech stocks and friend/family tips. Only 30% (broad market ETF + global ETF) of the portfolio is in a broad, well-diversified, investment product while 55% of the portfolio is in just 3 stocks. That's simply absurd for most investors - unless you're an excellent/skilled investor with a very long time horizon and a high risk tolerance, that sort of exposure is unacceptable.
Step 4: Take prudent risk-mitigating steps to reduce the concentration risk within your portfolio
Finally, after the analysis, you would take action - you'd act in ways to adjust your portfolio to reduce concentration risk. Of course, in doing this you'd want to be prudently confident in the insights on which you base your decisions and you'll want to take other factors into account - these other factors might include tax implications and macroeconomic assumptions.
In our example above, a prudent investor would sell off some of the tech stock exposure and re-assess weather the family member's energy stock tip was actually a good tip (eg. is the stock worth owning). Then, the investor might take the proceeds from these sales and invest them into more well-diversified products like ETFs, focusing both on foreign and domestic ETFs. The investor would also want to make sure to focus on both small cap and large cap ETFs, keeping in mind their risk tolerance and adjusting appropriately.
Finally, the investor might see that they are only in equities - this might make sense but putting some money in bonds or alternatives might make sense for some investors. These decisions are all individual - one needs to act prudently based on their own circumstances.
Concentration risk is only one type of investment portfolio risk, but it's an easy one to spot and fix. A lot of investors are prone to taking on too much concentration risk. They don't do it intentionally - they just lack an investing plan or approach and instead buy stocks here and there based on emotions. This is hard to remedy - not everyone is going to create an investing approach and monitor it over time. But, people easily -- and enjoyably -- do the above exercise once in a while (at least once a year) to see if their portfolio is too concentrated on one stock, one sector, or one economy.
Newton said there's inertia in the universe, so we now know more about our world and physics is better for it. That's not the inertia we're talking about here. Forget the universe for a second - focus on inertia in your mind.
Mental or spiritual inertia is a real thing. We won't try to define it here, but everyone who has experienced it knows what it is. It's when
Here are some examples of using interim in your own favor and taking quick, small, but intense bursts forward in whatever you'd like to achieve:
Devastating portfolio declines and what it takes to recover from them – the math isn’t in your favor
Everyone thinks about gaining money when they invest, but too often we neglect how important it is to not lose money. Not losing money is so important, in fact, that one of the greatest financial investors in history (and very likely the greatest one alive today) espouses the following as his Rule No 1:
Don’t lose money.
What’s Rule No 2?
Remember Rule No 1.
Rule No 2 is obviously meant to be a little humorous, but Buffet is a serious man when it comes to investing and his rules are meant to illustrate a fundamental truth about investing – that truth is that it’s very hard to recover from a loss and that it gets harder and harder the deeper the loss.
This is all best illustrated with examples. Sometimes, a good set of examples can do more for contributing to understanding than pages and pages of text. So, let’s go over three examples, each with increasing levels of severity of initial losses.
In each example, we’ll break things down into 3 time periods – Time 0, Time 1, and Time 2:
A 25% Loss – Somewhat severe, but recoverable
With a 25%loss, your $1000 declines to $750 – this represents a one-quarter decline in your portfolio and would obviously be an unwelcome occurrence. Now, let’s take a look at what sort of returns you’ll need to recover by Time 2; let’s see what sort of returns in the subsequent time period you’ll need to make you whole again.
As you can see from the table, a 33.33% gain is required in order for you to recover and get back to the initial $1000. A 10% return, 20% return, or even a strong 30%return in one time period simply won’t do it.
That means if each time period is 1 year, even a 30% return in the year subsequent to your 25% loss won’t be enough. 30% is a solid return. The fact that it’s not enough should be the first hint that getting back to whole is a lot harder than dropping, from a mathematical/percentage perspective. It’s only going to get worse.
A 50% Loss – Very severe, but you can recover if you stay prudent over the long term
With a 50% loss, it’s a lot harder to recover. Now, it takes a 100% gain (doubling your post-loss portfolio value) to get back to whole again. If you halve your portfolio, you’ll need to double it to bring it back to its original value.
So, if a time period is one year, you’ll need to double your post-loss portfolio value to get back to your Time 0 initial value. That’s very hard. You’d be far better off having avoided such a decline because it’ll be an uphill climb getting back to baseline again. This is what Warren Buffet’s Rule No 1 points to.
A drop of 50% in your portfolio value is very severe and detrimental to your long term investing goals. It will take a 100% increase -- doubling your portfolio -- to recover from a 50% loss. This is tough, but it's doable - it might not happen in a single time period but over time a prudent and disciplined investor stands a chance at recovery.
A 75% Loss – A devastating blow to a portfolio that will take some time to recover from
With a 75%, things get really bad. Now, in order to get back to whole, you’ll need a 300% gain. A 300% gain is the same as quadrupling your money (4x return). As any investor knows, a 300% return is very hard to get – it usually takes years to achieve such returns in a well-diversified portfolio.
Let’s think about this some more. As we keep increasing out Time 1 losses by 25% increments, the return needed to get back to whole by Time 2 goes up by way more than 25%. This is based on the underlying mathematics of portfolio returns, but we don’t need to get deep into that here. The above examples should clearly show how each time the loss gets more severe, the needed gain to get back to baseline gets more and more astounding.
If you lose 75% of your portfolio’s value in a single year due to a very severe recession or, far worse, due to investing blunders, you’re going to have to make some incredible returns (300%) to recover. What makes you think you’ll beable to do that? It’ll likely take a number of years and some serious investing discipline to be able to recover in this way.
A 75% portfolio decline is devastating to any portfolio. It will take a 300% return (quadrupling your money; a 4x return) to get back to whole again. This is very hard to do in a single time period. It might take years of prudent and disciplined long term investing to recover. This demonstrates why large portfolio declines are so detrimental and should be avoided.
A bit more mathematical, for the mathematically inclined
For those that are more mathematically inclined, let’s dig a bit deeper into the portfolio maths.
Let’s assume an initial portfolio value of a – this is your Time 0 value
For any portfolio change (decline or increase) d, where is greater than -1 but less than 1, the portfolio value in the immediately subsequent period (Time 1) will be a x (1 + d)
To get back to the initial portfolio value by Time 2, we’ll need to do something to the Time 1 value to get it back to a (which we stated above was our initial value)
We can simply divide the Time 1 value by (1 + d) to get back to a – that’s [a x (1 + d)]/(1 + d)
Dividing by (1 + d) is the same as multiplying by 1/(1 + d) – that’s the amount, no matter what our initial a is and what the change d ends up being, that we have to multiply the Time 1 portfolio value by
Now, notice that if d is less than 0, 1/(1 + d) will be larger than 1. So, if d is -0.25 (corresponding to a 25% decline in our first example above), then 1/(1 + d) is 1/(1 – 0.25) which is 1/0.75. What’s 1/0.75? It’s 1.3333. That means you’ll need 1.3333 times the Time 1 value – this exactly represents an aprox 33% increase.
Let’s do a 75% decline as in the third example above – now 1/(1 + d) is 1/0.25. That’s equal to 4, which represents a 300% increase over the Time 1 value.
We can see that as d approaches -1 (moving towards a total loss), 1/(1 + d) gets bigger, but by a disproportionate amount.
Can we derive a simple way to see how our 1/(1 + d) factor changes with changes in d? Yes – it’s easy using Calculus:
d/dx[1/(1 + d)] = d/dx[(1 + d)^-1] = [-(1 + d)^-2] x d/dx(1 + d) = [-(1 + d)^-2] x (0 + 1)
so, the derivative is -1/(1 + d)^2
Calculus can be applied to lots of situations to better understand how things change. F
We can see that by squaring the (1 + d) term, we’re increasing the effects of both positive and negative portfolio changes. If d < 0, then squaring (1 + d), which will be less than 1, will only make the factor smaller. By making that factor smaller, the entire factor gets bigger because dividing 1 by smaller and smaller numbers makes the result bigger and bigger.
This should be very discouraging – the numbers tell us that negative effects are magnified when we think about the returns needed to recover.
One of the best ways to calm your anxieties during market turmoil is to track your portfolio over time in a robust and sustainable way. What does that look like? It means periodically and consistently -- on a weekly or monthly basis (daily is too volatile and yearly is too high level to see intra-year fluctuations) – in a way that makes you actually have to engage with your portfolio.
This means using software or an app to track might not be sufficient if the app does all of the work for you. One of the best ways to do it is to use an Excel file and simply list your total portfolio value over time, row by row, with each row representing a particular point in time (see example below).
What this will give you is something incredible – it’ll give you some perspective. Perspective is an amazing gift, but it isn’t very easy to come by. To get real perspective, there aren’t a lot of shortcuts you can take – it takes time. But, even if you have been investing for years and years, you still likely won’t gain perspective if you don’t track your portfolio but instead mindlessly go about checking it every once in a while without putting its current value in appropriate historical context. Remember - perspective is earned.
By having some perspective, you'll be less likely to make dumb investing mistakes. When stocks go down severely due to short term market turmoil, you'll have enough historical perspective to understand that markets are volatile in the short term.
This is useful for all sorts of investors - those that invest in stocks obviously, but it's also useful for investors in real estate, derivatives, cryptoassets, and even fixed income (although fixed income can be a bit more complex because it is exposed to interest rate risk in addition to market risk).
Cities vs. Nations - Cities have been and will continue to be the true drivers of economic growth and development in the 21st Century
Nations and countries are illusions at the most basic level of reality. Cities are too, but far less so. Where the idea of a nation like the United States exists only in our minds, the idea of a big city like NYC or Los Angeles exists both in our minds and in the immediate world around us.
Cities are were life and economics happen:
Cities are where stuff happens - countries have cities and benefit from them, but can you name things that happen economically in a country but that doesn't happen in a city? Asked differently, what can you point to that's economically beneficial that, at its core, is something that happens in a country but not in a city? It's hard to think of an answer because most economically beneficial activity happens within cities themselves - nations benefit, but it's not within the nation that these things originate. Think about this another way - if you're city was run by idiot monsters who made only bad decisions, what could the national government do to fix things? The answer - not much.
When news businesses are started, when new museums and coffee shops open up, when ideas are created and implemented, or when intelligent and driven entrepreneurs drive intense economic growth in an area, it's all city-based. Cities are the economic engine of the modern world and, therefore, way more focus should be placed on cities and far less focus should be placed on nations.
If people focused as much on mayoral and city council elections as they do on Presidential races, we'd start creating better cities. A city like Detroit, for example, will never be improved because of national decisions - more granular decisions at the city level (and by people who understand local dynamics) are required. People must take city life and the responsibilities that come with being part of an urban community far more seriously in the 21st century - through that, the nation will become great on its own.
Check out a UN Habitat piece on the economic role of cities here - it's an interesting piece on how cities are the driver of economic growth globally in today's world.
Focus on primary news sources when consuming news - don't let others do the filtering and thinking for you
We have come to the point of absurdity in terms of news consumption - far too many people consume news from secondary (or tertiary) sources instead of going directly to primary sources. This is tragic because primary sources are more easily-available today via the internet than ever before.
What are primary news sources?
Primary news sources include the following:
There are implicit (sometimes explicit) biases in secondary and tertiary news source
Secondary and tertiary sources take primary source information and do things to it - this may include analysis, synthesis, etc., but, all secondary and tertiary sources include something extra. That extra stuff can be incredibly useful and interesting, but it is also removed from the primary source in some way.
In today's world, a lot of news-related secondary (and tertiary sources) still provide interpretation, summarization, and synthesis. However, they also very often add in heavy doses of bias. This bias may be implicit or explicit, but it seems to be ever more present as Big Media can leverage Big Data and create far more granular approach; social networks like Facebook and Twitter do this too. Where 25 years ago, everyone tuned in to the same few news channels on TV, today, every single person in the Western world can have a customized/tailored Facebook or Twitter feed. These feeds can become deeply biased as a result of tech firms' attempts to get more eyeballs for longer periods of time.
Watching primary news can seem very strange to a person who only consumes secondary and tertiary news sources. The initial reaction can vary, but it is often one of surprise at how different and "more real" consuming primary news it. People are surprised at how the world really is vs. how they typically see the world presented in heavily-biased secondary and tertiary news sources.
Primary news sources lead to clearer perspectives on what really is happening in the world
To have a clear mind and understand the world, one can't rely only on secondary and tertiary news sources. Especially terrible is relying on free secondary and tertiary news sources - in these cases, the reader is, in fact, the product and the source of the secondary or tertiary news have no real responsibility to the reader (either from a moral, fiduciary, or economic perspective). This, however, is a topic for another time.
The problem with modern Western self-improvement and self-development thinking is that it treats the human mind as a machine when it should instead be treated more like a tree - we'll get into what this actually means in below. But, the vital thing to note is that this type of thinking has permeated self-improvement and self-development thinking quite profoundly. It has penetrated so deeply that when most people think of becoming better human beings are strictly in the machine paradigm; most people don't even understand that a different way of thinking about the mind and self-improvement exists.
Machine vs. Tree: Be a tree, not a machine
Machine: The machine paradigm is easy for most Western readers (e.g., readers who grew up in an environment where Western post-Platonic thought formed the foundation of academic/scientific thought) to understand. Treating your mind like machine means having a paradigm where you believe improvements to the machine (your mind) are to be made based on external analysis/planning/thinking (exogenous improvements) and where those improvements can be immediately implemented (e.g., upgrading the machine).
Tree: The tree paradigm is more difficult for Western-oriented thinkers to understand and is somewhat more in line with Eastern, though, but not completely. The tree paradigm is where you believe that mental "upgrades" are impossible or exceedingly rare, and you acknowledge how little control you actually have over your own mind. Instead, with the tree paradigm, you more clearly see the only real way to make lasting changes to your mind: through feeding it with useful information over a long period of time and allowing that information to be absorbed, integrate, and recalled later. Someone who understands the tree paradigm has a far clearer perspective on their own mind, their ability to improve or develop it, and the timeframes it takes for such improvements. This is just a brief into the tree paradigm - there's as much and more here as there is in the well-known machine paradigm
The descriptions above are accurate, but they might seem confusing to readers without proper examples. Often, the best way to illustrate a point quickly is to give examples. So, here are a few.
Problem: A man realizes he's terrible at relationships - his wife is unhappy and he finally realizes that there are things he just doesn't know about women, relationships, and how to have a happy marriage.
Problem: A man's friends sit him down and tell him that they feel he has a deep problem with aggression - at bars he picks fights, friends are always afraid of him getting upset when he's drunk, and they remind him of how he became aggressive with his wife a few months ago.
Problem: A high school kid who is good in school but self-conscious, timid, and possibly under-developed physically compared to his peers gets harassed at school by older, more aggressive kids looking for easy prey.
News is by definition most relevant in the short term – as time moves forward each piece of news information degrades quickly in terms of how relevant and/or useful it is. In effect, information can be thought of as having a half-life. If we map things out in this respect, we can see that not all information is equal:
So, if you’ve got a limited amount of time and energy -- and your goal is to maximize the amount of useful information you obtain -- you’ll want to focus on things with a far lower half-life. In practice, that means making choices like this:
Here are two great articles that in-part inspired this piece:
Bitcoin cash is a cryptocurrency created in August 2017, arising from a fork of Bitcoin, the classic/original cryptocurrency. The most significant difference between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash has to do with the size of blocks on the blockchain.
By increasing the block size from 1MB up to 8MB, Bitcoin Cash allows many more transactions to be processed in one block. The idea is to process larger transaction volumes faster and for lower fees.
Bitcoin Cash offers lower fees and a purportedly, more reliable transaction rate than Bitcoin. In terms of development, Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin share a majority of code. Having so much code in common makes developing software or altering existing software to support Bitcoin Cash quite simple.
Bitcoin Cash differs from Bitcoin Classic in that it increases the block size from 1 MB to 8 MB.
Bitcoin Cash attempts to increase the number of transactions that can be processed in a given interval of time. Bitcoin Cash supporters hope that this change will allow Bitcoin Cash to compete with the volume of transactions that PayPal and Visa can handle by increasing the size of blocks. Since the issue of scalability tends to be at the forefront of cryptocurrency debates, developers have made increasing block size and improving transaction processing speeds their top focus areas.
Despite the many vocal Bitcoin Cash advocates, as of early 2019, Bitcoin cash is used in exchanges at far lower rates than Bitcoin. In fact, with so little traffic that as of yet in the Bitcoin Cash network, the block size increase hasn't been necessary to process transactions more quickly than Bitcoin.
Since the beginning, there have been questions surrounding bitcoin's ability to scale effectively. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that exists within a decentralized network of computers all over the world. Payment transactions are verified by majority rule, not by an individual actor.
The problem with this technology is that it's slow, especially in comparison to banks that deal with credit card transactions. For example, Visa processes 150 million transactions per day, averaging roughly 1,700 transactions per second. The company's capability far surpasses that, standing at aproximately 24,000 transactions per second.
How many transactions can the bitcoin network process per second? Seven.
Transactions take about 10 minutes to process. As the network of bitcoin users grows, waiting times will become longer since there are more transactions to handle without a change in the underlying technology that processes them. Ongoing debates around bitcoin's technology have graviated around this central problem of scaling and increasing the speed of the transaction verification process.
We're two decades into the 21st century and real estate transactions, at their core, are still as archaic as they have ever been. Any first time home or condo buyer will understand how ridiculous the process is - it's a process that involves:
The four steps to a real estate transaction, simplified a lot
In a general sense, the steps of a typical residential real estate transaction (or even a small retail real estate investment) are as follows:
Step 1 is easy, and Step 2 is relatively easy in practice in developed real estate markets like those in the United States and Canada. Step 1 is easy because the decision is binary, and only one party is involved (the buyer). The "buyer" might also include the buyer's family, but it's all one party when the binary decision needs to be made. Step 2 involves a real estate agent, but it's usually not overly complicated or unpleasant.
Unlike Step 1, Step 2 includes another person. But, this other person isn't truly an interested party to the agreement/transaction that's going to happen down the line. The real estate agent is simply someone helping the buyer with the process. A buyer's agent (as opposed to a seller's agent helping to sell the house) helps the buyer find a place while maintaining a responsibility to act in the buyer's best interests. You, in effect, have a knowledgeable real estate person in your corner -- that's what a buyer's agent is. It, therefore, makes a lot of sense that Step 2 isn't the bottleneck in the process – it's, in fact, the core part of the process itself; it's in Step 2 where the house buying actually takes place.
Once you pick a place, you need to fund the purchase somehow. If you've got the cash set aside, you can skip Step 3 and go directly to Step 4, which involves actually executing the transaction. If you skip Step 3, you also only have to contend with a 2-party sale instead of a 3-party transaction because the lender isn't in the picture.
For most of us, however, Step 3 is needed – we either don't have the money to buy a property outright, or we can't do such a thing more than once and need to use other people's money to obtain assets as we grow our real estate portfolios/businesses. In this case, we'll need a lender – this will almost surely add a ton of complexity to the process and prolong it.
Lender's due diligence adds a ton of complexity to real estate transactions
The primary reason using a lender adds so much complexity is because the lender faces a very significant amount of risk – they are giving you money to buy a house with most of the purchase being put up by them and only a small portion being put up by you (e.g., the down payment). With the lender financing 80% to close to 100% of the purchase price, they are exposed to significant credit risk and are prudent with not taking this lightly. A lender will require a ton of documentation from you so that they can perform the necessary due diligence to (1) understand, (2) mitigate, and/or (3) prevent unacceptable risks. These risks include the following:
All of these due diligence steps lenders take to provide themselves (and future buyers of the debt) with assurance over the quality of the credit risk they are taking on. This process can involve a lot of people – these may be people working at the actual firm lending the money and third-parties like appraisers, inspectors, insurance agents, and bankers.
If technology is to further assist in the real estate transaction process, it's in Step 3 where the most value can be added. An easier way for providing assurance over borrower quality and for determining title might help house buying and selling go a lot faster. If, for example, all property claims or titles were stored on a secure blockchain, title might be able to be ascertained far quicker than it is today.
2017 was a tremendous year ever for Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency and digital asset world at large. The alpha dog cryptocurrency leading the entire cryptoasset industry had a spectacular run from around $1000 per BTC at the start of 2017 to almost $20,000 per BTC at the end of 2017 - all this despite trial and tribulations throughout the year including a Chinese ban on cryptocurrency and digital currency mining and a denial by the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).
There was another trial/tribulation for Bitcoin in 2017, however. Despite its unprecedented surge, Bitcoin was (and still is) plagued with key problems that hinder its usability in a truly widespread manner as originally intended for this cryptocurrency - these problems might affect Bitcoin's future as an alternative currency to fiat currency and the current traditional banking and financial system.
In August 2017, acting out of growing fear that Bitcoin would one day become too archaic and lose relevance in the cryptocurrency and digital currency industry, a group of Bitcoin developers split from the original cryptocurrency and created Bitcoin Cash in a process/procedure known as a fork.
First, what is a fork?
A fork in the cryptocurrency world can be simply explained as the splitting of any cryptocurrency into two or more independent branches but which all share the same roots. A fork is said to happen when the core developers of any particular cryptocurrency or digital asset disagree on the future operations of the blockchain underlying that digital asset and, as such, decide to go separate ways.
When a fork happens, the newer cryptoasset does not start from scratch from block zero or a genesis block but continues on from the point in the original blockchain when the split occurred. This means that all transactions and amounts of cryptocurrencies held by users on the old cryptoasset remain valid, but any future transactions are conducted independently of the original or parent cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin vs. Bitcoin Cash
The main point of contention that led to the split in the core Bitcoin development community was the slow transaction processing speed that Bitcoin was dealing with. This, coupled with very high transaction fees that were born out of the very low number of transactions the Bitcoin blockchain could support at any given period of time, made some in the core bitcoin development community desire a change.
Bitcoin’s block size is pegged at just 1MB but was designed to be increased at a later date by the creator of the cryptocurrency, Satoshi Nakamoto, who (if this is, in fact, a single individual) was never heard from after 2010, but the upgrade was never carried out by the developers who have since taken over control. With the huge adoption of Bitcoin, whose blockchain could only carry out about 250,000 transactions every 24 hours, a lot of backlogs began piling up which meant that miners received larger and larger fees for mining (eg. validating transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain). This is the problem that Bitcoin Cash attempts to solve - with an increased block size of 8MB, transactions can be verified at a very much faster rate on-chain, which then translates into cheaper transaction fees.
The Future of Bitcoin Cash
Bitcoin Cash markets itself as the true image of what the Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto had in mind - it's not attempting to be some sort of alternative version of Bitcoin, but attempt to be regarded as the true Bitcoin itself. The core Bitcoin development team obviously disagree with this contention. from which the core Bitcoin has deviated. With time, the Bitcoin Cash development team hopes that this new cryptocurrency will become the number one cryptocurrency in the industry and be regarded as the one true Bitcoin.
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