Showing posts from May, 2021

Tether’s smoke and mirrors

Tether has issued what it calls a “ breakdown of its reserves ”. It actually consists of two pie charts. Here they are: Seriously, this is all Tether has seen fit to reveal.  Furthermore, the pie charts only purport to show the breakdown of Tether’s reserves on the 31st March 2021. We do not know whether Tether’s reserves still have the same composition now.  Nonetheless, the crypto world took these charts as an indication that Tether was, if not fully cash-backed, at least mostly. “76% of its reserves are in cash or cash equivalents, whereas banks only have 10%!”, crowed several people. In both the reserve report and the monthly attestation , Tether takes “reserves” to mean total consolidated assets. The monthly attestations from Moore Cayman essentially say:  1. Tether’s total consolidated assets exceed its consolidated liabilities  2. Tether’s total consolidated liabilities exceed the quantity of tokens in issue  3. Therefore Tether’s reserves exceed the quantity of tokens in issue

Calculus for Economists

Gabriel Sterne complains about economists' loose use of mathematical terminology:  Of course, it's not just economists who use "increase" and "accelerate" interchangeably. But economics is a mathematical discipline, and in mathematics, "increase" and "accelerate" mean different things. So is Gabriel's observation true, and if it is, is it a problem? To test Gabriel's hypothesis, I ran a little Twitter test. I asked this question:  This was of course far from rigorous: the sample was self-selecting, there was no way of restricting it to economists (though I did ban finance tweeps from answering), and it all depended who was on Twitter this morning. And the terminology I used was itself confusing - deliberately so, since this is how economists often write.  But the results were nevertheless interesting. Most non-economists got the answer right. Physicists, in particular, understood it straight away. But most economists who answered

David and Goliath

Yesterday, someone who had been watching one of my (all too frequent) Twitter arguments about money made this comment:  The "unknown person with few followers" was my protagonist. And the blue tick "classical expert" was me. I am Goliath.  But ten years ago, I was David. Armed only with Blogger and Twitter, and my knowledge of banking and finance, I set out to slay the financial Philistines that rampaged across the internet in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. I published my first Coppola Comment post on 20th February, 2011. It throws slingshots at a media pundit who had written an article about short selling, on which he was far from expert. You can still read it , if you like.  My early posts were rough and ready, and my terminology is at times excruciatingly loose, but I was sure of my subject. I understood British banking and financial markets well, though I had left RBS nearly ten years before. It was evident to me that the 2008 financial crisis in th