The UBI Multiplier - Unqualified Opinions

universal basic income would cause a crypto stampede

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Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang recently got me thinking about what sectors of the economy would get a boost if his plan for a $1000/mo “Freedom Dividend” (i.e. Universal Basic Income) for every American over the age of 18 were to get implemented. I conducted a very scientific poll of the crypto-community on how much of that $3T/year might flow into crypto:

My followers (almost all crypto folks) were unsurprisingly bullish on their assessments. Maybe the more interesting question is: “How much would UBI inflows move total crypto marketcap”?

New entrants to the crypto-community (or finance in general) might think that if $10B were used to buy bitcoin, then bitcoin’s marketcap might also go up by $10B.

Traders, though, will quickly tell you this is almost never the case, at all, in any market, ever. Here’s an example to illustrate…

Say the current price of some asset, YangCoin (YGC), is $10.00, and there are 1 million YGC in existence. The marketcap, price times supply, is $10 million.

Now someone places an order to sell 5 YGC for $10.10, and I decide to buy it. It costs me $10.10 * 5 = $50.50 to buy that order, and now the last price quote is $10.10.

Marketcap now reads as $10.10 * 1,000,000 = $10,100,000. I just spent fifty bucks to increase marketcap by a hundred grand!

(TBI Note: This is also why many crypto folks say “marketcap” is bullshit as currently defined, and that “liquidity” is what actually matters….keep your eyes on OnChainFX for new metrics dealing with this soon.)

Trading prices and marketcaps are often calculated in ways that smooths these extreme effects, but you get the idea: every incremental dollar invested will usually have a much bigger effect on marketcap than $1.

How much?

This has been an open question that analysts have tried to tackle at various times over the years. It’s impossible to tell exactly (as you’d have to have perfect knowledge of all exchange and mining activity ever), but there are reasonable ways to estimate it.

For example, in late 2017, Placeholder General Partner Chris Burniske used some basic assumptions and polls to estimate the number of new exchange users over a certain period, as well as how much crypto they tended to buy. He showed that new money yielded an “inflow-multiplier” effect of anywhere between 2x and 25x. That is, every dollar used to buy a cryptoasset contributed between $2 and $25 to total marketcap over the period he reviewed.

From a later post in 2018 that addressed this from the opposite perspective (net outflows due to tax payments), Chris and co-author Jonathan Cheesman wrote:

Historically, the fiat amplifier has been stubbornly hard to pinpoint given the fragmentation of fiat onramps, and lack of standardization around exchange reporting. As shown above, however, this tax crisis gives us an opportunity to quantify a large, specific flow and examine the fiat amplifier effect. And in crypto we’ve learned to never let a good crisis go to waste[…]

Turning to the current bear market, we can divide the loss in network value thus far in 2018 by the estimated tax liability outflow, to define a maximum fiat amplifier. Dividing the $590bn drop from early January highs to present, by our estimate of $14bn net outflows, yields a maximum fiat amplifier of 42x. If instead we use the more aggressive $29bn estimate of outflows, then the maximum fiat amplifier drops to 20x. It is important to recognize these amplifiers represent the maximum, as if net outflows have been greater due to FUD, then that would dampen this ratio by increasing the denominator.

Again, we’re looking at potentially double-digit multipliers. Goes to show you how little it would take (in institutional investment terms) to spark a new bull run.

How about a little more very-scientific twitter polling?

The crowd pegs the range at 4x-20x, which dovetails nicely with the estimates above. This is a huge range by financial standards, but like many things in crypto, just getting to a somewhat justifiable ballpark range means you’re probably way ahead of the pack.

Now, for fun, let’s go back to our original question: how would President Yang’s $1000/month “Freedom Dividend” - some $3 trillion per year - impact crypto markets?

If we neutered crypto-twitter’s bullish assessment, and assumed just 1% of UBI went to crypto (I know many of us would be auto-exchanging 100% of this garbage fiat), and assumed the multiplier was 10x, we’d see $30 billion per year in net new inflows with a $300 billion increase in marketcap.

That’s 3x today’s market size, and would get us back to levels not seen since Feb 2018.

Maybe it’s not institutional money, ICO FOMO, or a global macro event that triggers the Next Crypto Bull Market™ after all.

Maybe it’s “free” money that actually flows to people vs. banks.

Andrew Yang Freedom Dividend GIF - AndrewYang FreedomDividend Yang2020 GIFs


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🧾 [Analysis] Taxation, tokenization, and misinformation - Katya Fisher

Few things are more stressful than cryptocurrency tax filings, and the questions taxpayer have are nearly as numerous as the advice other professionals are willing to offer. But a lot of that advice needs to be taken with a proverbial grain of salt, explains Katya Fisher. As she addresses some specific advice she takes exception to published by a digital asset financial firm, she more broadly explains that not everything you read about taxes should be accepted as true. Ultimately, she advises to be sure to “talk to an experienced advisor” about crypto tax questions because bad advice can make something already complicated and frustrating into something exponentially more painful. (share or read more)

🤔 [Analysis] The difference between App Coins and Protocol Tokens - Will Warren

Understanding the differences between protocols, applications, and the financial tools that can be leveraged to incentive participation and user growth is critical to comprehending why certain products create native tokens, make certain design decisions, and build atop a given platform. Will Warren explains and differentiates these building blocks to give observers and investors a better idea of how to categorize and value different projects building with "smart contracts", specifically on Ethereum, because current terminology can be confusing and ambiguous and needs improvement. Ultimately, Warren wants to communicate that "app coins" and "protocol tokens" are two completely separate classes of digital assets with different use cases and unique value propositions. (share or read more)

Quick Bits (Don't read that, I read it for you)

Choke Points (Exchange News)

  • 📆 Coinbase has changed its exchange structure features to increase liquidity, price discovery, and price movement smoothness. Five total updates were made including changing the fee structure, updating order maximums, and turning off stop market orders. The new rules will go into effect March 22nd. (share or read more)

  • 👩‍⚖️ Law firm Stewart McKelvey has withdrawal from the QuadrigaCX case being heard by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. Ernst & Young Inc., the court appointed monitor, had expressed concern over possible conflict of interest, although no information was disclosed. The firm will continue to represent the estate of deceased CEO Gerald Cotten and his wife, Jennifer Robertson. (share or read more)

Startup Signals (ICOs, Cryptos, and Startups)

  • 🚀 Donut, a startup addressing mass tokenization, has finished a $1.8 million seeding round supported by Redalpine and TinyVC. The project, which did not exist ten months ago, is building systems and applications for saving and investing in the new token economy. Donut is using the funds to expand its team and launch its 'Donut Test Kitchen' this summer. (share or read more)

  • 👩‍💻 Six banks have signed letters of intent to join IBM's World Wire, a stablecoin backed remittance and foreign exchange system run on the Stellar Lumens ($XLM) public blockchain. World Wire is still awaiting regulatory approval in many places, such as the U.S. in which IMB expects a late 2019 endpoint launch. IBM is also testing its 'pay-as-you-go' revenue model to increase profitability with the service. (share or read more)

The Powers That Be (Legal/Reg/Policy)

  • 🇮🇱 An Israeli court has blocked Union Bank of Israel from closing an account linked to cryptocurrency mining firm Israminers Ltd. The judge ruled that the closure was unreasonable based on occupation of the depositor alone. Forced closure based on money laundering concerns was deemed permissible. (share or read more)

  • 💭 Over the last year, the number of blockchain-related lobbyists has tripled in Washington D.C. According to disclosures, only 12 blockchain-related firms were lobbying in Q4 2017 while Q4 2018 had 33. Those familiar with the scene believe the chief cause is lack of regulatory clarity regarding the SEC's securities laws. (share or read more)

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