Sunday, May 15, 2022

What the LUNA cryptocurrency has in common with a Thanksgiving Turkey and the LTCM hedge fund

A classic black swan event has just happened to the LUNA cryptocurrency.

A black swan event is characterised by a spectacular run up in price, followed by the price falling off a cliff to near zero.

It famously happened to a hedge fund named LTCM (Long Term Capital Management) back in 1998. The resulting loss temporarily destabilised Wall Street, requiring a bail out to be organised by the US Federal Reserve.

For LUNA, as with LTCM, a group of the smartest people in the room had banded together based on the unstoppable winning formula of:

(new technology + maths + programmers + marketing + chutzpah) = profit

Then claimed they'd solved a previously hard and intractable problem, and that everyone who doesn't believe them can just STFU, or in the case of Do Kwon (the founder of LUNA), "enjoy being poor". Oh the karma.

The risk with crytocurrency in particular is that if there's a bug in the algorithm or protocol, the result can be both an immediate financial loss, and a catastrophic loss of confidence in the currency. The bug can go unnoticed for months or years, before someone finds it and then patiently sets things up to exploit it for maximum profit.

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More reading:
How Terra's UST and LUNA Imploded (Decrypt)
Roundup of theories on the LUNA crash (Fortune)
'Evil genius' may have caused Terra and Luna to crash in a 'death spiral' (ABC Australia)
Long-Term Capital Management Hedge Fund Crisis (The Balance)
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb - Summary and Analysis (Get Story Shots)
The Black Swan Theory (Wikipedia)


Monday, March 21, 2022

Cheaper alternatives to Mind Lab Pro, Alpha Brain and other Nootropics in Australia

Nootropics are a popular new type of dietary supplement that claim to enhance brain function in a number of ways including better memory, sharper thinking, alertness, improved verbal ability, more clarity and the elimination of 'brain fog'.

I started looking into some options available that deliver to Australia and came across this brand called Mind Lab Pro. Their tablets contain some of the same ingredients to standard vitamin supplier Swisse's Ultiboost Memory+Focus or even a Swisse's men or women's multivitamin for ages 50+. The reason its in the 50+ and not their standard multivitamin product is that the 50+ age group are considered more in need of brain enhancing ingredients due to the age related decline.
With the 50% discount offered by a popular chemist retail chain, the Swisse Ultiboost Memory+Focus tablets come down to AUD 32c each.. (AUD $16 for 50 tablets). Compare this to Mind Lab Pro at AUD $1.11 per tablet, working out to a 247% premium in price! And remember, you only get this price with Mind Lab Pro if you buy 4 bottles in your first order.

Another option with more herbal extracts than Swisse Memory+Focus, but with no B vitamins, is Oriental Botanicals Memory. This product comes in bottles of 60 tablets and after a standard chemist discount costs AUD $37, or 62c each tablet - about double the Swisse option, but still significantly cheaper than Mind Lab Pro.
Many nootropic suppliers exploit a psychological effect known as the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Where the more you have invested in something (the sunk cost - effort, time or money) the less likely you are to stop doing it, even when there are no further benefits to you continuing to do it.

By supplying 4 months to you in your first order, the Nootropic company knows you’ll become invested in it and will not want to admit to yourself at the end of 4 months that you're not seeing the promised benefits.

Its likely many nootropic products are overhyped and overpriced. Famous US blogger Joe Rogan actually requested one popular US supplements brand (Onnit) to prepare a new product, called Alpha Brain. Check the list of all the other supplements Joe Rogan takes by the way - its pretty much a list of every supplement known to man, I'm surprised he has room left to eat any actual food!
Final note, Alpha Brain here in Australia costs AUD$119.90 for 90 tablets, or $1.33 each tablet, so about 22c more per tablet than Mind Lab Pro.

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