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Decentralized finance needs alternatives to blockchain



Decentralized finance needs alternatives to blockchain

One of the laziest and most frustrating criticisms of digital currencies — particularly Bitcoin (BTC) — is when pundits liken it to a pyramid scheme dependent on the “greater fool” joining to make a quick buck. While some people do indeed purchase digital assets purely for speculative purposes, it’s unfair to ignore many of the great services and achievements that are being made by developers in areas such as remittances, logistics, financial inclusion and intellectual property.

A fairer criticism of blockchains is that, for all proponents say about decentralization, blockchains are still dependent on miners or other powerful players that control their networks. Whether it be factories filled with servers for proof-of-work (PoW), pools of PoW miners, large pools of tokens for proof-of-stake (PoS), or the fact that at times, more than 50% of transactions that run on the Ethereum network run through the Infura API, there’s no ignoring these massive centralized points of failure.

Granted, the design of popular PoW and PoS blockchains has been incentivized to ensure bad actors are punished, yet it remains to be seen how they will operate when the value of digital assets operating on certain blockchains exceeds the value of the underlying ledger’s native coin.

Related: Ethereum’s Merge will affect more than just its blockchain

Imagine, for instance, if a popular stablecoin grew so large that its total value exceeded that of the native coin of the underlying blockchain it operated on. Essentially, it would create an inverse pyramid whereby the holders of the native token could control the transactions of the said stablecoin. Given the concentration of many crypto assets among “whales” who have a vested interest in their blockchain’s native token (and price), this could become a very real problem.


In Ethereum, as a PoS ledger, miners’ stakes are in Ether (ETH). Should Tether (USDT) or USD Coin (USDC) become larger than Ether in market value, they could theoretically pull off a double-spend in those respective digital currencies, lose their Ether stake, and still profit more from the double-spend. Although it still remains hypothetical, it’s by no means unimaginable.

This then poses a question regarding how we should rethink distributed ledger technology (DLT) architecture and the role mining or staking assets should play.

Tether now boasts a market capitalization of over $80 billion, Circle just under $30 billion, while the Ethereum blockchain it’s programmed on has a market capitalization of Ether over $220 billion — not that far, given how quickly things can change in crypto.

Related: Tax on income you never earned? It’s possible after Ethereum’s Merge

This problem might seem theoretical and far off from being a potential issue; however, the rapid growth of cryptocurrencies as an asset class over the last decade should make people pause to consider what could happen if stablecoins enter the mainstream. Although DLT remains a very young industry, the last 14 years have given us their fair share of unexpected surprises, unintended consequences and shocks that, in hindsight, seemed obvious.


Developers might consider whether now is the time to rethink the architecture underpinning digital assets. Dependency on centralized miners or servers, mistakes made by coders writing smart contracts, and the potential for double-spend when projects exceed the value of their underlying blockchains mean decentralized finance needs to look at alternatives to blockchain. Post-blockchain distributed ledgers, such as directed acyclic graphs (DAG), which allow access to anyone and don’t rely on block producers, could provide an insight into how this industry evolves over the next decade.

Whatever form the new architecture takes is a prize waiting to be claimed. Only then will the industry finally live up to its promise and stop being associated with pyramid schemes.

Anton Churyumo is the founder of Obyte. He previously served as the co-founder and CEO of companies including Teddy ID, SMS Traffic and Platron. He graduated from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute before obtaining a graduate degree in math and theoretical physics.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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I quit my job, so I asked financial planners how to save for retirement without a 401(k)



I quit my job, so I asked financial planners how to save for retirement without a 401(k)

Our experts answer readers’ investing questions and write unbiased product reviews (here’s how we assess investing products). Paid non-client promotion: In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners. Our opinions are always our own.

Ditching my traditional 9-to-5 job for freelancing came with a myriad of worries, including losing health insurance and a stable paycheck. But despite only being 28 years old, my retirement plans were among my top concerns.

I’ve spent the last several years of my journalism career reporting on personal finance and investing. So while retirement may be decades away, it’s often on my mind.

For most of my professional life, I’ve had the privilege of a 401(k) with an employer match. Now that I’m stepping away from an employer-sponsored retirement plan, I need to save for my future on my own. I spoke with experts about what steps I — and other freelancers — should take.

1. Determine what I can contribute

Different types of retirement savings accounts have different contribution limits, so I need to determine how much of my income I can actually invest for retirement. This may be a tough calculation, since my earnings will likely be higher during some months and lower during others. It’s okay to take some time to figure out exactly how much I’ll contribute regularly, according to Anna Sergunina, president and CEO at MainStreet Financial Planning.


“At least initially, maybe you need to give it a year or two until you see some pattern,” Sergunina said. “Then you’ll be a lot more practiced to say, ‘Okay, I can contribute $500 a month regularly.’”

Anjali Jariwala, the founder of financial planning firm FIT Advisors, says the most important aspect of planning contributions is setting good financial habits.

“Set a goal of how much of your income you’d like to save and see if you can meet or exceed that goal,” Jariwala said. “If you exceed the goal, set the percentage higher.”

2. Consider an IRA

Now that I’ll be saving for retirement without the help of my employer, I’ll want to consider an IRA. These accounts are relatively easy to open online via banks and online brokerages and allow investments in a wide range of securities, including stocks and bonds.

They come with major tax benefits. With a traditional IRA, I can contribute tax-free money now and pay taxes when I take the money out in the future. A Roth IRA works the opposite way: I can put after-tax dollars in now and make tax-free withdrawals down the road.


“Roth is awesome, especially for someone who’s younger and especially if your income tax bracket is lower now,” said Tricia Rosen, principal at Access Financial Planning.

Because of my age, I can contribute up to $6,500 to an IRA in 2023. The limit increases by $1,000 when you turn 50.

If I decide I’m looking to contribute more than $6,500, financial planners I spoke to said I may want to consider a SEP IRA, which is similar to an IRA but with a higher contribution limit and different calculation for contributions. SEP IRAs let you contribute 25% of your earnings, up to $66,000 this year.

Another option — the SIMPLE IRA — would allow me to act as the employee and the employer who contributes a match. It has higher contribution limits than a traditional IRA and may make more sense for someone looking to employ people.

Robinhood offers the only IRA with a match. Get an extra 1% on every dollar you deposit. Every year. Start saving for retirement with Robinhood today.

3. Consider a solo 401(k)

I can also consider a solo 401(k), which provides similar benefits to an employer 401(k).

“You’re both the employee and the employer,” Rosen said about the solo 401(k). So you can make your employee contribution, but you can also make a contribution as the employer.


Someone my age can contribute $22,500 in 2023 as the employee and up to 25% of their net self-employment income as the employer.

4. Don’t forget about income and contribution limits or taxes

The income threshold for being able to contribute to these accounts and IRAs changes each year, so you’ll want to check on your eligibility. And you can open up multiple retirement accounts, but keep track of your contributions and limits. You can’t double dip and max out both a solo 401(k) and a SEP IRA, for example, Jariwala said.

“It is more accounts to manage, but can be worth it at the end of the day if you are able to put more away into retirement,” she added.

I also have to remember that I no longer have an employer sending money from my paycheck to the IRS. That means I need to have a solid understanding of my tax bracket and the percentage of my revenue I’ll have to set aside to make quarterly estimated payments.

“That is the priority even before retirement savings, because you can get in deep trouble pretty quickly with the IRS if you don’t do that,” Rosen said.

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Michigan Republican Party faces financial turmoil, bank records show



Michigan Republican Party faces financial turmoil, bank records show

Lansing — The Michigan Republican Party had about $35,000 in its bank accounts in August, according to internal records that flash new warning signs about the dire state of the GOP’s finances and raise questions about whether the organization is complying with campaign finance laws.

The documents, obtained by The Detroit News, cover from February when party Chairwoman Kristina Karamo took office through Aug. 10, about six weeks before the party’s Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference and about five months into Karamo’s term.

The party has regularly transferred money from an account that’s usually focused on federal elections to other accounts to afford expenses, according to the records. And earlier this year, Karamo’s 2022 secretary of state campaign loaned the party’s federal account $15,000 after that account’s balance turned negative. The transaction wasn’t reported in disclosures from the campaign or the party’s federal committee.

A listing of Michigan Republican Party account balances from West Michigan Community Bank showed $35,051 across seven accounts, with expenses for many of the scheduled speakers at the Sept. 22-24 conference on Mackinac Island not yet paid, including author Dinesh D’Souza and unsuccessful former Arizona candidate for governor Kari Lake.


At this point, 13 months before a presidential election, the Michigan Republican Party should have about $10 million in its accounts, said Tom Leonard, a former Michigan House speaker and former finance chairman for the state GOP.

The party had less than 1% of the $10 million target.

“These numbers demonstrate that the party isn’t just broke, but broken,” Leonard said. “Given (Democratic President) Joe Biden’s unpopularity, Republicans can still have a successful cycle, but it’s clear they won’t be able to rely on the Michigan Republican Party.”

Karamo and a Michigan Republican Party spokesman didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story.

But the severe financial problems and Karamo’s handling of them helped prompt Warren Carpenter, a businessman and former chairman of the 9th Congressional District’s Republican committee, to issue a statement, emphasizing that he had no “formal involvement” in the Mackinac conference.


More: Michigan GOP leaders tell their critics to ‘pound sand’ at Mackinac Island conference

With only two weeks before the conference, Karamo’s team had asked Carpenter, a former Karamo supporter and donor from Oakland County, to help with the event, which traditionally costs about $700,000 to put on.

At that time, Carpenter said he was told the party had $30,000 in its accounts but still had to pay Lake $20,000 for speaking, pay D’Souza $28,000 and repay a loan of $110,000 for actor Jim Caviezel’s speaking fee. Carpenter said he advised party leaders to cut D’Souza from the lineup to save money.

Carpenter said his principles eventually inspired him to not want to be involved in the conference.

“After consulting extensively with my attorney, I have been strongly advised to cease all communications and interactions with the team leading the Mackinac Leadership Conference,” Carpenter wrote in a statement to GOP leaders. “This decision stems from the unsettling possibility of how the Mackinac Leadership Conference is being administered could result in both personal and legal repercussions.”


Carpenter resigned as chairman of the 9th District committee on Tuesday.

‘Significant challenges’

D’Souza ultimately didn’t appear at the conference after the party sent out an email promoting him as a speaker as recently as Sept. 17, five days before the gathering on Mackinac Island began.

Also, D’Souza was still listed as one of the speakers on the party’s website on Friday, five days after the conference ended and he didn’t participate. Regular attendees had to pay $125 to $275 to register for the event, a price that didn’t include the cost of a hotel on Mackinac Island.

During the conference, Dan Hartman, the Michigan Republican Party’s general counsel, said he couldn’t say why D’Souza didn’t show up at the event.


As for the party’s finances, the Michigan GOP had previously been primarily funded by 17 people or organizations, Hartman said. The party is in a state of transition, and the past leaders had thrown up “significant challenges” for the new grassroots-driven team, he added.

“Now, what’s happened is it’s rank-and-file and volunteers,” Hartman said of the party’s new leadership.

Michigan GOP delegates elected Karamo, a favorite among the grassroots wing of the party, chairwoman in February. While past chairs have been former elected officials and business leaders, Karamo is a former educator from Oak Park who lost a race for secretary of state by 14 percentage points to Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson in November. Plus, Karamo has been openly critical of some of the state’s largest GOP donors.

Asked about the party’s finances on Sept. 23, Hartman referred a Detroit News reporter to the state GOP’s budget committee, but he said the party had the money it needed to get by. Dan Bonamie, chairman of the budget committee, refused to answer questions that same day when approached by the reporter inside the Grand Hotel.

During a closed-door state committee meeting on Sunday, the final day of the Mackinac conference, Karamo spoke about the health of the Michigan Republican Party’s finances, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The News.


“The party is not going bankrupt,” Karamo told state committee members.

Murky finances

In July, Bonamie informed other Republicans at a meeting in Clare the party had about $93,000 in its bank accounts and was working on paying outstanding debt, according to a recording previously obtained by The News.

It’s not clear in the bank records, which cover accounts launched by Karamo’s team, how much debt remains. But the records do show about $90,000 in the accounts in early July when Bonamie gave his report.

In March, just after she became chairman in February, Karamo told a group the party had $460,000 in debt from the past leadership team.

Having debt is not unusual for the state GOP after a competitive election. But what is unusual, according to longtime Michigan Republicans, is the struggle the party in a key battleground state is having collecting money.


The bank documents show that multiple Michigan Republican Party accounts have fallen into the red at points this year, and Karamo’s leadership team has frequently transferred money from one account to another to meet obligations.

In the past, the party has used its “administrative” account, which can raise money from corporate donors in secret, to fund the Mackinac conference, according to campaign finance disclosures. But this year, the party used its federal campaign account, which is usually focused on races for federal offices, such as Congress and president, and has to disclose its donors, according to campaign finance disclosures.

The biggest deposit in the “administrative” account this year was $10,007 on July 8, according to the bank records, which don’t show where the money came from. The account’s balance hasn’t reached above $16,000, according to the records.

Ahead of the 2021 Mackinac conference, there were significant six-figure corporate sponsorships, former Michigan Republican Party Executive Director Jason Roe previously told The News.


Across April and May, the party’s federal account paid the Grand Hotel $109,496 for the conference. The party disclosed the payments in federal campaign finance reports.

By Aug. 9, the party’s federal account had a balance of $44,329, according to the bank records. But on Aug. 10, the party’s federal account paid the Grand Hotel another $65,854, temporarily putting the account’s balance at -$21,524, according to the records.

The party received $31,980 that same day from an unlisted source, pushing the account balance back up to about $11,000 on Aug. 10, according to bank records.

Moving money

The party’s state bank account, which is usually focused on state-level races, had about $5,256 remaining as of Aug. 10, according to the bank records.

The account would be the one the party uses next year to get involved in campaigns for control of the state House. Currently, Democrats hold a narrow 56-54 seat majority in the chamber. Every seat will be on the ballot in 2024.


The Michigan GOP’s state account had a negative balance as recently as June 14, according to the records. But the party quickly transferred $7,400 from the federal account to the state account, giving it a positive balance of $6,683.

Overall, the Michigan Republican Party transferred $31,400 from the federal account to the state account from April 12 through Aug. 10, the records show. Other than the transfers, the largest deposit in the account over the period was $250, the records show, indicating the party’s fundraising is primarily happening through the federal account and then money is being moved elsewhere.

Karamo’s “chair” account has received $11,400 in transfers from the federal account, according to the records.

The transfers from the federal account to other state party accounts don’t appear to be detailed in the Michigan Republican Party’s federal campaign finance disclosures.

As of June 30, the Michigan Republican Party reported its federal fundraising committee had $146,931 cash on hand. The bank records showed the federal bank account had about $66,278 at that point.


Using money in a federal party account for expenditures that wouldn’t require reporting under federal law because they weren’t related to federal politics would be an accounting “nightmare,” said Mark Brewer, an elections lawyer and former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.

“You just risk breaking the law every time you do something like that,” Brewer said of having to track financial totals while moving money in and out of the account.

In July, the Federal Election Commission asked the Michigan Republican Party why its financial tallies for the federal committee appeared to be incorrect. On Sept. 11, the party said it was working to address the question.

The Michigan Republican Party told the commission it “has gone through a series of administration transitions this year.”

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Robinhood sees $100 million finance costs tied to regulatory issues in third quarter



Robinhood sees $100 million finance costs tied to regulatory issues in third quarter

The logo of Robinhood Markets, Inc. is seen at a pop-up event on Wall Street after the company’s IPO in New York City, U.S., July 29, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

Sept 29 (Reuters) – Robinhood Markets (HOOD.O) expects a $100-million charge in the third quarter to resolve some legal and regulatory matters that were previously disclosed, the trading app operator said on Friday.

The company has had several run-ins with regulators. It was also at the center of the “meme stock” trading frenzy in early 2021, when a group of retail investors on social media bought shares of highly-shorted stocks such as GameStop (GME.N).

However, a stormy economic climate last year spooked retail traders, Robinhood’s chief customer base.

The company beat revenue expectations during the second quarter and reported a profit for the first time as a public company in August.


Robinhood’s shares were marginally higher after the bell.

Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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