In the Middle East North Africa region $622 billion worth of development is planned in the energy sector for the next five years. The power sector accounts for the largest share at $207 billion, with the oil and gas sector at $195 billion and $159 billion respectively. Leading the drive will be Saudi Arabia, and Iraq and Iran will play catch-up. Algeria will pump billions into its upstream sector, and much is expected from Egypt’s recent gas. Renewable-energy projects will be at the forefront of efforts to meet rising power demand in Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan.
The decentralization effects of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies are hitting the venture capital industry in more ways than one. Whereas the traditional venture capital industry is boring, the crypto-tech industry has become more exciting. Actually, I see the two models as diametrically opposed: one is a closed market, dominated by command-and-control practices, led by a few rich people on Sand Hill Road. The other is a widely open global market where anyone can play, and where the gains and risks are more evenly distributed. This has led to a re-thinking of how startups who are operating in the blockchain space can raise money, and it has potential implications that will revamp the relationships that venture capital firms can hope to strike with these startups. As an investor, advisor or board member, I have been closely associated with a variety of early stage companies that are tackling the innovation explosion around cryptocurrency and blockchain-based models, and have had the fortunate insights of seeing where we might be headed.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Monday took another victory lap for the US labor market. At the University of Baltimore's commencement, Yellen said that although there are still challenges, the jobs market is the strongest it has been in a decade. "The short version of what I have to say is that while I expect workers will continue to face some challenges in the coming years, I believe, for two reasons, that the job prospects and career opportunities for new graduates at this time are very good," Yellen said.
With Deloitte as one of the Big Four auditors, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the region’s top five banks have officially launched a Blockchain platform for trade finance. Earlier this month, HSBC, Bank of China, Bank of East Asia, Hang Seng Bank and Standard Chartered co-introduced a proof of concept Blockchain platform for use with trade finance operations which include lending, issuing letters of credit, factoring, export credit and insurance. Joshua Kroeker, the senior product manager for global trade and receivables finance at HSBC, stated that the Hong Kong government along with Deloitte and partner banks launched the Blockchain platform to demonstrate the technology’s potential in the conventional finance industry. More importantly, Kroeker emphasized that HKMA and the five participant banks are aiming to utilize Blockchain technology to increase efficiency, transparency and security in trade finance while eliminating the possibility of fraudulent activities by automating most processes.
A well-known obstacle to the greater popularity of Bitcoin as a medium of payment is the high volatility of its exchange value. This volatility results from its built-in quantity commitment: because the number of Bitcoins in existence stays on a programmed path, variations in the real demand to hold Bitcoin must be accommodated entirely by variations in its unit value. When demand goes up, there is no quantity increase to dampen the rise in price; and vice-versa for a fall in demand. Not surprisingly, several cryptocurrency developers have thought of creating a cryptocurrency with a price commitment–namely a pegged exchange rate with the US dollar–rather than a quantity commitment, in hopes of greater popularity. The aim is to create a system in which dollar-denominated payments can be made with the ease, security, and low cost of Bitcoin payments, but without the exchange-rate risk.