Momentum for basic income builds as pandemic drags on

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A man shows off an Andrew Yang “Freedom Dividend” $1,000 bill sign on a street in San Francisco. Amid the pandemic and a global recession, basic income and a basket of related policies have gained unprecedented momentum.

When the idyllic upstate city of Hudson, New York, launches its basic-income pilot program in late September, it will become one of the smallest U.S. cities to embrace a policy once seen as far-fetched or radical.

“Basic-income” programs — designed to dole out direct cash payments to large swaths of people, no strings attached — were, until earlier this year, largely the realm of Washington, D.C., policy wonks and West Coast futurists.

But amid the pandemic and a global recession, both basic income and a basket of related policies have gained unprecedented momentum, surfacing everywhere from Capitol Hill to community Zoom meetings in cities like Hudson.

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MIT is helping the Boston Fed build a CBDC that can be scaled for consumer use

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MIT is helping the Boston Fed build a CBDC that can be scaled for consumer use

Can MIT help the U.S. catch up to China in the CBDC race?

The MIT Digital Currency Initiative, or DCI, is helping the federal reserve bank of Boston build a digital currency with the goal of scaling for consumer use. The DCI’s director Neha Narula told Cointelegraph:

“We’re trying to build a high throughput, low latency transaction system that could be used by consumers and could handle the security and resilience required for a national currency.”

The multi-year collaboration between the two organizations is still in very early stages and not much information is being released to the public. Yet the focus is not on building a newer version of interbank digital ledger, but rather something that the consumers would be able to use. It is hard to estimate the required transactional throughput of such technology, but considering that the U.S. population is around 330 million and the fact that the dollar is the most widely used currency in the world (some nations have even officially adopted it), this number would have to be rather high.

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Germany is beginning a universal-basic-income trial with people getting $1,400 a month for 3 years

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Starting this week, 120 Germans will receive a form of universal basic income every month for three years.

The volunteers will get monthly payments of €1,200, or about $1,400, as part of a study testing a universal basic income.

The study will compare the experiences of the 120 volunteers with 1,380 people who do not receive the payments. About 140,000 people have helped fund the study through donations. The concept of universal basic income has gained traction in recent years, and Finland tested a form of it in 2017.

Supporters say it would reduce inequality and improve well-being, while opponents argue it would be too expensive and discourage work.

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The rise of the upper middle class

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We all know that economic inequality has increased in recent decades, but just who has won and who has lost are harder questions to answer. A new study suggests that, even before the coronavirus pandemic, much of the increase in inequality was generational. People born earlier in the post-World War II decades experienced faster income growth than people born later.

The study, published by the Brookings Institution, compared people in two 15-year stretches — 1967-1981 and 2002-2016 — when they were generally in their prime working years. The oldest members of the first group are mostly baby boomers. They achieved a 27 percent gain in their median incomes during the 15-year span, adjusted for inflation. By contrast, the oldest members of the second group were mostly millennials. Their inflation-adjusted gain was only 8 percent.

Just what has caused this skewing of incomes is a controversial subject, but the report’s findings generally agree with many other studies. College graduates do relatively well, and labor markets have become more turbulent. In the second 15-year period, 12 percent of people suffered at least one 25 percent drop of income. In the earlier period, the comparable figure was 4 percent.

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The Future of Money: How cryptocurrency and the blockchain will change society

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Anarchy reigns supreme in the future of finance, decentralizing the power of banks and, in some cases, the state. But will cryptocurrencies and the blockchains that underlie them solve our financial woes, or only worsen existing inequalities?

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Bank of Korea launches a department devoted to blockchain and AI

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Bank of Korea is launching a digital innovation department that will leverage blockchain and AI to improve business efficiency.

The Bank of Korea has reportedly chosen to establish a “Digital Innovation department” through organizational reform in the second half of this year, according to the local news on July 22.

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Banks in the US can now offer crypto custody services, regulator says

 

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The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is letting all nationally chartered banks in the U.S. provide custody services for cryptocurrencies.

In a public letter dated July 22, Senior Deputy Comptroller and Senior Counsel Jonathan Gould wrote that any national bank can hold onto the unique cryptographic keys for a cryptocurrency wallet, clearing the way for national banks to hold digital assets for their clients.

The letter marks a major development for the crypto industry. Previously, custody was the province of specialist firms, such as Coinbase, which typically needed a state license, such as a trust charter, to offer the service to large investors. Now, large, regulated financial companies that already provide similar safekeeping services for stock certificates and the like could enter the fray.

The letter, which appears to be addressed to an unidentified bank or similar entity, notes that banks “may offer more secure storage services compared to existing options,” and that both consumers and investment advisors may wish to use regulated custodians to ensure they don’t lose their private keys, and therefore, access to their funds.

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Op-ed: Let’s double down on PPP and save America’s endangered small businesses

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We’re working to pass legislation that does two things: First, make Paycheck Protection Program funds available to eligible businesses through at least the end of this year, and second, authorize a second round of forgivable loans to the businesses most severely impacted by the pandemic.

We want to double down on PPP because, despite its bumpy beginning, it has clearly worked and staved off millions of business closures and job losses.

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Elon Musk advocates for universal basic income instead of second stimulus check

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants his followers to know he still supports universal basic income, even though he thinks another coronavirus stimulus package from the U.S. government is a bad idea.

In a Twitter thread published early Friday morning, Musk tweeted that any additional stimulus package from Congress is “not in the best interests of the people,” and emphasized the point by pinning the tweet at the top of his Twitter profile.

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Coronavirus has turned America into a nation of savers. But how long will it last?

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With a busy life in Los Angeles, Anna McKitrick has trouble saving. The 25-year-old waitress and aspiring actress estimates she spends $200 a month on coffee, snacks, on-the-go meals, and other purchases she could live without.

Now thanks to the coronavirus, McKitrick is stuck in her childhood home in New Jersey, living rent-free for the foreseeable future — and using the opportunity to permanently kick her impulse spending habit.

Without bills to pay and thanks to a surprisingly large tax refund, she’s already saved several thousand dollars. She says she’s also reevaluated what is actually important to her. “I just realized how much money I was wasting instead of putting it towards my priorities, like building a bigger emergency fund and paying for experiences I want to have,” says McKitrick.

It’s no secret that Americans struggle to save for the future. A study from JPMorgan Chase found that about two-thirds of us do not have the recommended six weeks of take home pay set aside for an emergency. And a recent Money/Synchrony Bank study revealed that 36% of people earning between $75,000 and $100,000 still worry about unexpected expenses. But now the coronavirus is forcing millions of people to cut down on unnecessary spending in a way that they’ve never been able to before.

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The pandemic is doing to credit cards what iTunes did to CDs

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Mastercard’s head of digital solutions says the pandemic has forced many consumers to reconsider how they think about paying for things, and thinks many of those changes will last.

Mastercard’s head of digital solutions explains how the pandemic has upended the way we buy.

How many times have you used your credit card since the pandemic started?

In just a few months, the pandemic has upended the way that many people are paying for things. People who rarely bought things online are now ordering all their groceries via Instacart, and the few times they’ve gone outside they’ve likely also turned to digital and contactless payment methods. Much of that behavior is likely to stick around once life returns to normal, according to Jorn Lambert, Mastercard’s EVP of digital solutions.

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Pentagon Documents Reveal The U.S. Has Planned For A Bitcoin Rebellion

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Bitcoin has struggled to find support in the U.S. government, with president Donald Trump, along with Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, leading the criticism.

Now, it’s been revealed the U.S. Department of Defense has wargamed scenarios involving a Generation Z rebellion that uses bitcoin to undermine and evade “the establishment.”

In the Pentagon war game, young people born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s use cyber attacks to steal money and convert it to bitcoin, documents published by investigative news site The Intercept revealed.

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