World Economics

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Cryptocurrency Challenges Sovereign Currency
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George C. Georgiou, World Economics, March 2020
All national and international monetary structures have evolved to assist in the creation and management of sovereign fiat currencies. This sovereign currency status quo was suddenly upended with the arrival of the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, in 2008 which introduced a peer-to-peer digital fiat currency without the need of a central banking system, through a trustless, fungible and tamper-resistant distributed accounting system known as blockchain. The response to the threat posed by cryptocurrency has ranged from declaring it illegal, attempting to regulate it, ignoring it, treating it as a commodity and/or like any other financial asset and regulating it as such; or more recently seriously considering state-backed digital currency. Presently the assessment appears to be that of ‘co-existence’ with central banks providing national/sovereign currency, primarily digital currency, and cryptocurrency vying with gold as a back-up or ‘insurance’ against the perils of a sovereign fiat currency.
Are Estimates of the Economic Contribution of Financial Services Reliable
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, March 2017
The methods used to estimate the contribution of financial services to national income are seriously flawed. Banking sector output in the UK was estimated to have increased in 2008 while the financial services sector was collapsing. The relative contribution of service activities in GDP is not easy to measure, but there are many problems in measuring financial services in general and the output of banks in particular. National income accounting standards, used to estimate the output of financial intermediation companies such as banks, rely on flawed indirect measurements based on interest rate spreads. Furthermore, many services are provided at no charge so price indexes cannot be meaningfully created. The main method used, Financial Intermediation Services Indirectly Measured (FISIM), is arbitrary and fails to measure the quality of banking assets and risk. Over the period 2003–7, one study found that aggregate risk-adjusted output would have been only 60% of officially estimated output across the Euro area.
New Data on Global Differences in Family Offices
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Robert Eigenheer, World Economics, March 2014
A family office is not a specifically-defined institution per se. Rather, the family office is a broad concept to cover all financial needs of one or more wealthy families. While in the United States the first family offices were established in the nineteenth century, interest in the family office concept has recently been growing in emerging markets around the globe due to the increasing number of ultra-wealthy individuals and families in those regions. Nowadays, family offices are set up all over the world. This fact inevitably leads to the question: Are there regional differences among the structures of family offices, their services, their investment strategies, and their operational costs?

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