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An American bitcoin trader built a floating house off Thailand’s coast in an attempt to gain independence. Authorities destroyed his home and he now faces the death penalty.

caption A Royal Thai navy ship drags a floating home where Chad Elwartowski and his girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet, lived in the Andaman Sea, near Thailand, on Monday. source Reuters/Stringer An American bitcoin trader could face a death sentence in Thailand after authorities confiscated his floating home, which he built in an attempt to declare an…

An American bitcoin trader built a floating house off Thailand’s coast in an attempt to gain independence. Authorities destroyed his home and he now faces the death penalty.
A Royal Thai navy ship drags a floating home where Chad Elwartowski and his girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet, lived in the Andaman Sea, near Thailand, on Monday.

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A Royal Thai navy ship drags a floating home where Chad Elwartowski and his girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet, lived in the Andaman Sea, near Thailand, on Monday.
source
Reuters/Stringer
  • An American bitcoin trader could face a death sentence in Thailand after authorities confiscated his floating home, which he built in an attempt to declare an autonomous seaborne community.
  • Chad Elwartowski and his girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet, had been living in the so-called seastead but fled before authorities arrived.
  • Thai authorities said the pair claimed they were beyond the jurisdiction of Thailand but that their actions were “deteriorating Thailand’s independence.”
  • Elwartowski and Thepdet built the home to test the viability of creating a floating community in international waters that would not be subject to the laws of any nation.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An American bitcoin trader who built a floating home off the coast of Thailand in an attempt to develop an autonomous seaborne community could face a death sentence, authorities said.

The floating home of Chad Elwartowski and his girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet, was towed ashore by Thai authorities on Monday to be taken apart, and the couple have been accused of violating Thailand’s sovereignty, an offense that can carry the death penalty or life in prison, Sky News reported.

Elwartowski’s visa has also been revoked, Sky News said.

Read more: Silicon Valley’s dream of a floating, isolated city might actually happen

“The couple announced on social media declaring their autonomy beyond the jurisdiction of any courts or law of any countries, including Thailand,” Rear Adm. Vithanarat Kochaseni told reporters, according to Reuters.

He added that authorities “see such action as deteriorating Thailand’s independence.”

The couple built the floating home – which was about 14 miles off the coast of the island of Phuket – to test the viability of creating a floating community in international waters that would not be subject to the laws of any nation.

Elwartowski and Thepdet's

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Elwartowski and Thepdet’s “seastead.” The couple’s whereabouts are unknown.
source
Reuters/Stringer

Thailand’s navy had for several days been considering removing the home, sometimes referred to as a “seastead,” but reportedly had concerns about removing it without destroying it.

Neither Elwartowski nor Thepdet was in the floating home when authorities arrived, Sky News reported. Their whereabouts are unknown, though authorities say they are most likely still in Thailand, the network added.

Elwartowski in a statement described Thailand’s pursuit of him and Thepdet as “ridiculous.”

“We lived on a floating house boat for a few weeks and now Thailand wants us killed,” he said, according to Sky News. “We are still quite scared for our lives.”

He added: “We seriously did not think we were doing anything wrong and thought this would be a huge benefit for Thailand in so many ways.”

He said he thinks his lawyer “can come to an amicable agreement with the Thai government.”

Read more: A pilot project for a new libertarian floating city will have 300 homes, its own government, and its own cryptocurrency

‘You can demolish the seastead, but you can’t demolish the knowledge that was gained’

Elwartowski and Thepdet’s seastead was part of an experiment led by the Seasteading Institute, a group backed by Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire behind PayPal.

The organization describes itself as “a nonprofit think-tank promoting the creation of floating ocean cities as a revolutionary solution to some of the world’s most pressing problems.”

According to Sky News, Joe Quirk, the institute’s president, said Elwartowski and Thepdet “proved a single-family seastead can float stably in international waters for less than the cost of the average American home.”

“You can demolish the seastead, but you can’t demolish the knowledge that was gained,” he added.

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Bitcoin Jesus Roger Ver Destroys Lightning Faithful Tone Vays in Debate

Bitcoin Jesus Roger Ver Destroys Lightning Faithful Tone Vays in Debate

Bitcoin Jesus Roger Ver Destroys Lightning Faithful Tone Vays in DebateOpinionRoger Ver may be a hyperactive personality who occasionally alludes to Bitcoin Cash as being “a version of Bitcoin,” but he does know what he’s talking about. | Source: (i) Shutterstock (ii) Shutterstock ; Edited by CCNBy CCN: Let me start by saying I’m undecided on the issue of blockchain scaling. I think both camps make valid points. The day that Bitcoin Cash launched was the logical resolution of a drawn-out war which would never have ended otherwise.Tone Vays Can’t Make Up His MindThat being said, I watched this debate between Roger Ver, one of the earliest angel investors in bitcoin, and Tone Vays, a bitcoin personality, and I felt like I was watching a professor debate a teenager.Ver may be a hyperactive personality who occasionally alludes to Bitcoin Cash as being “a version of Bitcoin” (a semi-acceptable stance given that they largely share the same transaction history and most properties), but he does know what he’s talking about.On the other hand, Vays claimed that he uses Bitcoin every day and frequently pays just five cents to send transactions.This doesn’t stand up to reality.You will pay less than a cent to send a transaction on Bitcoin Cash. It’s one way to save money when you’re exiting an exchange. In a previous era, you could use Litecoin for the same purpose. But in a previous era, average fees on Bitcoin did not range over $1.When we say “average fees” here, we refer to fees spent to get a transaction included as intended – as soon as possible. Nobody uses digital currency because they want the recipient to wait hours or days to receive it. The instant settlement of crypto payments is one of many value propositions.Scaling Is Not A ReligionVays fell back on circular logic.First, he says fees were not as high as Roger Ver claims. In this he is correct. You don’t have to pay $3 to send a BTC transaction in a reasonable amount of time.However, then Vays makes an absurd case for himself, one that diverges significantly from the design of our economic system and a healthy blockchain. Vays says:“If you really need it on-chain, you will have to pay a higher fee. Which, actually, I don’t mind paying a 20-cent fee. I like supporting the miners which are keeping our system secure.”First of all, 20-cents is less than the average fee at press time. The average transaction fee over the past 24-hours was around 50,000 Satoshi, or $4 at current prices.But anyway, we are to expect most users to want to “support the miners”? What a joke. Honestly.This is a bankrupt argument and also circular in that it undermines the last 60 seconds or so of his argument.Vays had just said that we will be using Lightning Network for everything, the purpose of which is to reduce fees and allow for more transactions. Miners make less in the long run in a scenario where Lightning Network is supreme, less than they would if more on-chain transactions were allowed.Decentralization Still Matters, BroThen another core issue of Bitcoin economics comes up: sovereignty.The only way to be truly sovereign in the Lightning Network is to operate your own node. Not a particularly easy task. It’s certainly not realistic to expect there ever to be millions of personal nodes operated by millions of personal users.Instead, what you will have are a few major service providers.If you are okay with this, that’s fine. But Ver makes an obvious point: the SPV wallet system currently used by Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin, which was for the longest time the best way to run a lightweight wallet because you would own your keys while not having to own a copy of the Bitcoin blockchain, is by far more decentralized than a Lightning-centric system.I have to say that most Bitcoin Cash proponents I’ve spoken with, including Honest.cash founder Adrian Barwicki, accept that there will one day come a need for second-layer scaling of Bitcoin Cash. The main contention is that we should not artificially force that to happen by having blocks that are arguably smaller than they have to be.Luke-Jr recently made the case for small blocks at the Magical Crypto Conference, and his arguments are at least sound if lacking in realist strategy.
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Traders are piling into bitcoin as a haven against volatile markets. This researcher warns they could get burned.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Bitcoin isn’t a ‘unique’ hedge as it’s vulnerable to the same market risks as conventional investments, according to a new study. It becomes more exposed to factors such as inflation expectations when its price is less volatile, the researcher found. The findings are a “cautionary note” for investors, writes author Dimitrios Koutmos,…

Traders are piling into bitcoin as a haven against volatile markets. This researcher warns they could get burned.

hedge mazeDan Kitwood/Getty Images

  • Bitcoin isn’t a ‘unique’ hedge as it’s vulnerable to the same market risks as conventional investments, according to a new study.
  • It becomes more exposed to factors such as inflation expectations when its price is less volatile, the researcher found.
  • The findings are a “cautionary note” for investors, writes author Dimitrios Koutmos, as they suggest bitcoin isn’t “a unique asset class whose price behavior is detached from economic fundamentals.”
  • Watch bitcoin trade live.

An escalating US-China trade war, the slowing Chinese economy, and a prolonged Brexit process have fueled anxiety in financial markets, boosting investors’ interest in bitcoin as a hedge against volatility.

However, new research suggests the cryptocurrency may have limited value as a hedge as it’s vulnerable to the same factors that move the prices of stocks and other mainstream investments. While it escapes some of those drivers when its price is especially volatile, the increased risk may outweigh the greater returns.

“Bitcoin prices, despite their seemingly attractive independent behavior relative to economic variables, may still be exposed to the same types of market risks which afflict the performance of conventional financial assets,” wrote Dimitrios Koutmos, an assistant professor of finance and technology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, in a study titled “Market risk and bitcoin returns” published online in the Annals of Operations Research this month. 

Koutmos used treasury bill rates, the VIX and Deutsche Bank FX volatility indexes, treasury yields, forward inflation swap rates, equity indexes, and the difference between corporate bond yields and treasury yields as proxies for short-term interest rates, market-volatility expectations, and other factors that affect traditional financial assets. He examined their influence on daily bitcoin prices between January 2013 and September 2017.

His key finding was that several of these factors were “important determinants of bitcoin returns.” Specifically, short-term interest rates and investors’ expectations of stock-market and foreign-exchange volatility were significant determinants of the price of bitcoin during periods when it rose or fell sharply. Those three factors, along with general economic conditions and inflation expectations, influenced the price of bitcoin when the cryptocurrency was less volatile, according to the study.

The findings serve as a “cautionary note” for investors, Koutmos wrote, as they suggest bitcoin isn’t “a unique asset class whose price behavior is detached from economic fundamentals.”

They also indicate “bitcoin’s usefulness as a diversification instrument is time-dependent,” given the cryptocurrency was more susceptible to factors such as inflation expectations during periods when its price was less volatile. 

If bitcoin truly is a better hedge when its price is moving around, investors who bought into bitcoin’s price surge this month as a hedge against the sharp downturn in stocks might be feeling pretty smug. However, Koutmos also found that bitcoin’s superior returns during periods of high volatility weren’t high enough to offset the increased risk, meaning its returns during low-volatility periods were higher on a risk-adjusted basis. 

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