Category Archives: The Port for Thought

Crimea for sale!

John Kerry stated that Russia was behaving “in a nineteenth-century fashion” in attempting to annex Crimea. Maybe the protagonists should also look to the nineteenth-century for a solution to defuse the conflict: Ukraine sells Crimea to the Russians.

There are precedents: The 1803 sale of Louisiana by the French to the US for $15,000,000 or the 1867 sale of Alaska by Russia to the US for $7,200,000. Countries sell parts of their territory when they’re short of cash, or, in the case of the Louisiana Purchase, when they can’t control areas over which they have a tenuous hold. A few billion dollars in gas credits might give a face-saving way out for both parties.

© David Morris

Bitcoin! Trash or trophy?

Bitcoin  -  a computer age revolution or the rise of 21st Century Medallion Man?

This may well be the first radical departure from accepted methods of electronic money transfer but it would seem that Bitcoins are mostly hoarded, trophy style. Designed by a computer science elite, this pseudo currency system can be accessed by anyone with a mobile phone and a modicum of technical nous.  The concept holds a high degree of psychological attraction for both the untutored punter, who is prepared to pay real money for cybermoney credits, and lamentably, the unscrupulous hacker.

The apparent success of the nascent technology of Bitcoin has gained the operation a uniquely high profile, attracting considerable speculative investment and a growing phalanx of imitators and added-value competitors. Aficionados insist that this momentum is a positive sign of the creation of a ‘new financial order’ but Bitcoin’s lead position could be rapidly eroded by the actions of me-too rivals with alternative agendas. Like any ‘open system’ a high degree of trust is involved. Sadly, the days of the ethical standards enjoyed by the medieval guilds such as the Hanseatic League are long gone and today’s financial trading sytems demand strict formal regulation.

Perhaps Bitcoin believes that the solution lies in the creation of an innovative trading ‘bank’ built around their global online community with self controlled disciplines? At present, however, it would seem that Bitcoin is focussed on selling ‘attention’ which tittilates the market. Let’s hope that they can keep ahead of the volatile game and earn true credibility.

Further reading: Bitte kein bitcoin!

© Spyglass