… until we the people take initiative to start transacting among ourselves in physical gold, silver & crypto.
Somewhere in the mountains near Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne lies a hidden underground vault containing a vast fortune.
It’s no ordinary vault, according to Quartz. Built inside a decommissioned Swiss military bunker dug into a granite mountain, it’s precise location is a closely guarded secret, and access is limited by myriad security precautions.
But instead of gold bars, the bunker contains hard drives on which customers’ bitcoins are being kept in what’s call “cold storage” – i.e. the owners’ private keys are protected by an air-gapped hard drive. The vault is one of many operated by Xapo, an early bitcoin company known for its cold storage wallet products and a debit card that pays for transactions in digital currencies.
The company won’t disclose how much bitcoin is stored in the vault, but one employee who spoke with Quartz said he sometimes takes customers with millions of dollars in bitcoin on tours of the vaults where their fortune is stored. Xapo was founded by Argentinian entrepreneur and current CEO Wences Casares, whom Quartz describes as “patient zero” of bitcoin among Silicon Valley’s elite. Cesares reportedly gave Bill Gates and Reed Hoffman their first bitcoins.
As Quartz explains, the bitcoin vault doesn’t store actual bitcoin units. Instead, what’s being stored are the owners’ private cryptographic keys that allow the owner to access and transfer his or her bitcoins by matching the key with a public key that’s used to identify the coin on the blockchain. Gaining unauthorized access to someone’s private keys is akin to making off with a gold bar.
The inexorable rise in bitcoin’s valuation has been marred by notable hacking incidents like the collapse of Mt. Gox, which ushered in the longest bear market in bitcoin’s history. Security fears appear to have subsided as bitcoin’s price has soared to all-time highs, but incidents like the collapse of the DAO have inspired investors with substantial bitcoin wealth to look into protecting it.
To store the coins, Xapos contracts Deltalis, the company that technically operates the 10,000-square-foot data-center that now inhabits the decommissioned bunker.
Server racks for banks, and any client who needs secure data processing, fill a cavity dug over 320 meters deep in the granite mountain. The Swiss military built the facility in 1947, and it served as the army’s secret headquarters during the Cold War, Agence-France Presse has reported. Inside, walls covered with detailed maps and ancient radio electronics serve as vestiges of its military past.
To enter Xapo’s private vault in the Deltalis data center, visitors must endure an exhausting series of security procedures.
Streiff leads us to a concrete facade jutting out of the mountainside, the bunker’s entrance. We step through about a foot of concrete and enter the lobby. I sign in as I would at any office building, except I also have to present my fingerprints and be photographed. After that I step through a “man-trap”—a phone booth-sized cylinder made of bullet-proof glass that shuts me in until an operator opens the door on the opposite side.
Once through the man-trap, we touch our ID cards and pass through a set of steel revolving doors, then walk down a 100-meter long passageway through the granite. At the end of the passageway are two red steel doors that I’m told can survive a nuclear blast. Streiff invites me to try to close one—my 90 kg (198 pound) frame can’t budge it. “They’re closed every night,” he tells me, showing me how to hang off the handle and use his body’s momentum to gradually swing it shut.
Streiff and Kon are taking me to see Xapo’s “private suite,” an ultra-secure, customized, portion of the data center. We pass through a second man-trap and then end up in front of a nondescript white door. “This is further than anyone outside Xapo has been,” Streiff tells me, as he unlocks it. Inside is a space about the size of a walk-in closet containing a cooling unit, and yet another door. But that’s as far as they’ll let me go, and I’m not allowed to take photographs.
Security is similarly tight inside the vault. Nobody is allowed the enter the “cold room” where the bitcoins are stored on air-gapped hard drives. To protect against an electromagnetic pulse attack, the cold room is equipped with a Faraday cage, a type of barrier meant to block electromagnetic fields.
Beyond that door, I rely on what Carlos Rienzi, Xapo’s head of security, tells me later, when I’m back in London. Rienzi chose the vault for Xapo, and he designed the private suite and its security protocols. His “threat model,” as computer security jargon goes, is to protect against attacks from “well-funded terrorist groups or hackers.”
There are two more portals inside the suite: the first leads to an operators’ room, and the second to a “cold room.” The cold room is encircled with steel slabs to form a Faraday cage: a barrier that protects against a possible electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could wipe out the data—and thus the keys to the bitcoin—stored in the room. For digital assets like bitcoin, thick walls and a secret location are not enough. A shield against invisible modes of attack like an EMP bomb must be provided for.
No one, not even the operator, enters the cold room. Its door is sealed with tape—like a crime scene—to ensure it’s not tampered with. The cold room contains hardware, which is never connected to the internet, used to sign bitcoin transactions. Signing a transaction can be performed offline. The operator accesses that hardware using “special cabling,” sending encrypted data to the hardware for signing. Finally, before a transaction can be approved, two more sign-offs, in two other vaults located on separate continents, must be performed.
I ask Rienzi if he feels pretty confident about the security measures he has in place in Switzerland. “We are under attack 24/7,” he tells me, referring to the terrorists and hackers he designed the vault to guard against. “This is not a race. It is a chess game. You have to think about the opponent’s next movement. You can never relax.”
Of course, all the security measures in the world can’t protect investors from a sudden plunge in the bitcoin price. However, the digital currency’s indomitable – for now – performance has silenced at least one of its most prominent critics. Then said, unlike precious metal specie, one carefully targeted EMP would be all it takes to sever the ownership chain for a long, long time.
Still, with the digital currency recently reaching yet another record high, despite relentless jawboning and rhetoric by everyone from Jamie Dimon to central bankers to China, we can only imagine the business of protecting bitcoin fortunes is set to boom.
… and how the biggest heist ever (central banking) might be facing the beginning of the end.
The following is a highly educational discussion with Bill Holter and Lynette Zang about Janet Yellen, monetary policy, principles of finance, a declining dollar, the future of pensions, precious metal hedges, and TONS of charts and data!
Cryptocurrency has arrived like an armada of cockroaches that the bankers cannot control. The bankers can not touch them; they can not take them away from the rest of us. Why do you think Fedcoin is going to be a possible alternative? Because they can’t remove cryptos so they are going to join in and try to contaminate the good ones like Bitcoin. But that is not going to work. As soon as you get a gold backed cryptocurrency, start the countdown, it’s game over.
Bitcoin in particular is serving something as a proxy for currency in a very constructive manner. Once one of these turn into a gold backed crypto, the entire game changes. If Russia and China backed their currencies with gold, do you think that would have an effect on the USD? Hell yea. So when a gold backed crypto is launched or eight of them, one from every continent, do you think that is going to have an effect on the shabby cryptos? Yea, but it will be worse than that. This would have an effect on all paper and FOREX currencies because we are not in the infancy stage of cryptocurrency anymore. We’re in the adolescent stage and it becomes adult hour when gold backing is introduced. That’s when it will be game over for the criminal banksters.
Times have become very dangerous right now for the US dollar’s primary role among the currencies because all the wars have terminally compromised it’s integrity. The dollar isn’t supported by international oil and gas trade so much anymore as it is supported by aggressive military action with war crimes on a global scale and the people are sick of it. This is a very tenuous situation for a global reserve currency.
In a series of articles, we have proven to our satisfaction that the prices of gold and silver are manipulated by the bullion banks acting as agents for the Federal Reserve.
The bullion prices are manipulated down in order to protect the value of the US dollar from the extraordinary increase in supply resulting from the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) and low interest rate policies.
The Federal Reserve is able to protect the dollar’s exchange value vis-a-via the other reserve currencies—yen, euro, and UK pound—by having those central banks also create money in profusion with QE policies of their own.
The impact of fiat money creation on bullion, however, must be controlled by price suppression. It is possible to suppress the prices of gold and silver, because bullion prices are established not in physical markets but in futures markets in which short-selling does not have to be covered and in which contracts are settled in cash, not in bullion.
Since gold and silver shorts can be naked, future contracts in gold and silver can be printed in profusion, just as the Federal Reserve prints fiat currency in profusion, and dumped into the futures market. In other words, as the bullion futures market is a paper market, it is possible to create enormous quantities of paper gold that can suddenly be dumped in order to drive down prices. Everytime gold starts to move up, enormous quantities of future contracts are suddenly dumped, and the gold price is driven down. The same for silver.
Rigging the bullion price prevents gold and silver from transmitting to the currency market the devaluation of the dollar that the Federal Reserve’s money creation is causing. It is the ability to rig the bullion price that protects the dollar’s value from being destroyed by the Federal Reserve’s printing press.
Recently, the price of a Bitcoin has skyrocketed, rising in a few weeks from $1,000 to $2,200. Two explanations suggest themselves.
One is that the Federal Reserve has decided to rid itself of a competing currency and is driving up the price with purchases while accumulating a large position, which then will be suddenly dumped in order to crash the market and scare away potential users from Bitcoins. Remember, the Fed can create all the money it wishes and, thereby, doesn’t have to worry about losses.
Another explanation is that people concerned about the fiat currencies but frustrated in their attempts to take refuge in bullion have recognized that the supply of Bitcoin is fixed and Bitcoin futures must be covered. It is strictly impossible for any central bank to increase the supply of Bitcoins. Thus Bitcoin is standing in for the suppressed function of gold and silver.
The problem with cryptocurrencies is that whereas Bitcoin cannot increase in supply, other cryptocurrencies can be created. In order to be trusted, each cryptocurrency would have to have a limited supply. However, an endless number of cryptocurrencies could be created that would greatly increase the supply of cryptocurrencies. If entrepreneurs don’t bring about this result, the Federal Reserve itself could organize it.
Therefore, cryptocurrency might be only a temporary refuge from fiat money creation. This would leave gold and silver, whose supply can only gradually be increased via mining, as the only refuge from wealth-destroying fiat money creation.
For as long as the Federal Reserve can protect the dollar by bullion price suppression and money creation by other reserve currency central banks, and as long as the Federal Reserve can keep the influx of new dollars out of the general economy, the Federal Reserve’s policy adds to the wealth of those who are already rich. This is because instead of driving up consumer prices, thus threatening the US dollar’s exchange value with a rising rate of inflation, the Fed’s largess has flowed into the prices of financial assets, such as stocks and bonds. Bond prices are high, because the Fed forced up the price by purchasing bonds. Stock prices are high, because the abundance of money bid prices higher than profits justify. As the US government measures inflation in ways designed to understate it, the consumer price index and producer price index do not send alarm systems into the markets.
Thus, we have a situation in which the Fed’s policy has done nothing for the American population, but has driven up the values of the financial portofilios of the rich. This is the explanation why the rich are becoming more rich while the rest of America becomes poorer.
The Fed has rigged the system for the rich, and the whores in the financial media and among the neoliberal economists have covered it up.