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New York Assemblyman Ron Kim Calls For Blockchain Impact Bill at IXO Meetup during Blockchain Week 



New York Assemblyman Ron Kim Calls For Blockchain Impact Bill at IXO Meetup during Blockchain Week 

Ron Kim says government must measure impact of program funding using blockchain and is sponsoring a sandbox bill to support blockchain and fintech innovation in New York, repealing the unpopular BitLicense 

New York Assemblyman Ron Kim has called for a bill requiring the government to measure the impact of its funding programs using blockchain technology. Assemblyman Kim is the sponsor of a bill to create a sandbox for fintech and blockchain innovation that would enable ‘innovation for good’ firms to launch in a safe way without the onerous requirements under BitLicense.

One of the reasons Assemblyman Kim is calling for the change in government strategy is because he believes the BitLicense that was introduced by the New York State Department of Financial Services is failing to support important projects, and driving business and innovation outside of the state. Since the launch of BitLicense in August 2015, only four companies have received it. As a result of the BitLicense requirement, major blockchain companies such as Shapeshift and Kraken have stopped doing business in New York. The threat to smaller startups in the space is even greater, including ixo, a non-profit open-source software development project, that is building a blockchain protocol for social impact measurement and sustainable development data.

“Blockchain technology will bring new levels of transparency to all manner of industries, including government accountability. As responsible custodians of our citizens’ taxes, we should be using the technology to rebuild the trust that has been lost between citizens and government by showing that the government is investing citizen dollars in programs that have real impact in their communities. As an example, ixo is developing the technology and tools to measure and verify social impacts, which enable projects to tie funding and investments to verified social outcomes and improve program interventions based on evidence. ixo has been piloting this with pre-school attendance records and government subsidies in South Africa. We should have the same transparency in New York. In order to stay competitive, New York needs to welcome innovative projects like ixo that are demonstrating the transformative social value of blockchain,” said Assemblyman Kim.

Assemblyman Kim’s call comes as the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies converge on New York, mainly to discuss the implications that these technology waves are having on the world of finance. While the finance industry is important to the state of New York, Assembly Kim wants the government to focus its efforts on supporting ‘innovation for good’ projects that can benefit individuals both in the state and across the world.

The ixo blockchain protocol enables all measurable changes that have a social or sustainable impact to be transformed into verified data with a cryptographic proof of impact, so philanthropists and impact investors can monitor how their funds are spent and evaluate whether program interventions are effective in achieving social or sustainability outcomes. Verified impact data is tokenized as digital assets called Impact Tokens that projects can trade or exchange through decentralized marketplaces, providing more liquidity and capital for the impact economy.

“We’re pleased to see that Assemblyman Kim is highlighting an important issue at the heart of the blockchain debate at the moment. While many people are focused on the short-term financial gains trading cryptocurrencies, public servants like Assemblyman Kim are focusing on the beneficial impact that the technology can have on the citizens they represent. We believe that when technology is used to create new paradigms in our economic relationships, such as how we value social outcomes or our ability to own and monetize our data, we achieve outsized financial and social returns, while building a more sustainable and equitable economy. We welcome Assemblyman Kim’s support and will continue to support his efforts to repeal BitLicense, so that projects like ixo can bring new impact investing assets like Impact Tokens to market,” said Fennie Wang, Cofounder and Partnerships and Regulatory Lead for ixo.

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Euro zone factories buzzing in February as demand soars



Euro zone factories buzzing in February as demand soars 1

By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) – Euro zone factory activity raced along in February thanks to soaring demand, a survey showed on Monday, although the burst of business led to a shortage of raw materials and a spike in input costs.

Restrictions imposed across the continent to try to quell the spread of the coronavirus have shuttered vast swathes of the bloc’s dominant services industry, meaning it has fallen to manufacturers to support the economy.

IHS Markit’s final Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) jumped to a three-year high of 57.9 in February from January’s 54.8, ahead of the initial 57.7 “flash” estimate and one of the highest readings in the survey’s 20-year history.

An index measuring output, which feeds into a composite PMI due on Wednesday that is seen as a good guide to economic health, climbed to 57.6 from 54.6, well above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.

“Manufacturing is appearing as an increasingly bright spot in the euro zone’s economy so far this year,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

“The solid manufacturing expansion is clearly helping to offset ongoing virus-related weakness in many consumer-facing sectors, alleviating the impact of recent lockdown measures in many countries and helping to limit the overall pace of economic contraction.”

A Reuters poll last month showed the bloc was in a double dip recession and that the economy would contract 0.8% this quarter after shrinking 6.9% in 2020 on an annual basis. [ECILT/EU]

Rocketing demand for manufactured goods pushed factories to increase staffing levels for the first time in nearly two years.

But lockdown measures disrupted supply chains and factories struggled to obtain raw materials, leading to a big increase in delivery times.

“The growth spurt has brought its own problems, however, with demand for inputs not yet being met by supply. Shipping delays and shortages of materials are being widely reported, and led to near-record supply chain delays,” Williamson said.

Those shortages allowed suppliers to hike their prices at the fastest rate in almost a decade. The input prices PMI bounced to 73.9 from 68.3.

(Reporting by Jonathan Cable; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Strong exports lift German factory activity to three-year high in February – PMI



Strong exports lift German factory activity to three-year high in February - PMI 2

BERLIN (Reuters) – Higher demand from China, the United States and Europe drove growth in German factory activity to its highest level in more than three years in February, brightening the outlook for Europe’s largest economy, a survey showed on Monday.

IHS Markit’s Final Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing, which accounts for about a fifth of the economy, jumped to 60.7 from 57.1 in January.

It was the highest reading since January 2018 and came in slightly better than the initial “flash” figure of 60.6.

Factories have been humming along during the pandemic on higher foreign demand, helping the German economy avoid a contraction in the last quarter of 2020 and offsetting a drop in consumer spending amid a partial lockdown to contain COVID-19.

Many manufacturers reported higher demand from Asia, especially China, as well as the United States and European countries, with export sales posting their biggest increase since December 2017, the survey showed.

Phil Smith, Principal Economist at IHS Markit, said supply chain pressures intensified as more firms reported delays than ever before in nearly 25 years of data collection.

“There looks to be further upward pressure on inflation in the German economy from supply bottlenecks and a subsequent surge in manufacturing input costs,” Smith noted.

The survey suggested that supply disruption is making it more difficult to replenish stocks, which could complicate production in the coming months, he cautioned.

“Nevertheless, the overriding sentiment for the longer-term outlook is optimism, with a record number of manufacturers expecting to see output rise over the next 12 months.”

Still, economists expect the economy to shrink in the first quarter of this year due to a stricter lockdown, which has shut most shops and services since mid-December, and freezing temperatures that slowed construction activity in February.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Tech demand drives Asia’s factory revival, China’s slowdown puts dampener



Tech demand drives Asia's factory revival, China's slowdown puts dampener 3

By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – Solid demand for technology goods drove extended growth in Asia’s factories in February, but a slowdown in China underscored the challenges facing the region as it seeks a sustainable recovery from the shattering COVID-19 pandemic blow.

The vaccine rollouts globally and pick-up in demand provided optimism for a vast number of businesses that had grappled for months with a cash-flow crunch and falling profits.

In Japan, manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in over two years while South Korea’s exports rose for a fourth straight month in February, suggesting the region’s export-reliant economies were benefiting from robust global trade.

On the flip side, China’s factory activity grew at the slowest pace in nine months in February, hit by a domestic flare-up of COVID-19 and soft demand from countries under renewed lock-down measures.

“The big picture, supported by the latest figures, is that China’s growth remains fairly robust, but it is slowing from previously very rapid rates,” Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients.

China’s was the first major economy to lead the recovery from the COVID-19 shock, so any signs of prolonged cooling in Asia’s engine of growth will likely be a cause for concern.

With the global rebound still in early days, however, analysts say the outlook was brightening as companies increased output to restock inventory on hopes vaccine rollouts will normalise economic activity.

“The recovery in durable-goods demand is continuing, which is creating a positive cycle for manufacturers in Asia,” said Shigeto Nagai, head of Japan economics as Oxford Economics.

“As vaccine rollouts ease uncertainties over the outlook, capital expenditure will gradually pick up. That will benefit Japan, which is strong in exports of capital goods,” he said.

China’s Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.9 in February, the lowest level since last May but still above the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction.

That was in line with official manufacturing PMI that showed factory activity in the world’s second-largest economy expanded in February at the weakest pace since May last year.

Activity in other Asian giants remained brisk.

The final au Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) jumped to 51.4 in February from the prior month’s 49.8 reading, marking the fastest expansion since December 2018, data showed on Monday.

In South Korea, a regional exports bellwether, shipments jumped 9.5% in February from a year earlier for its fourth straight month of increase on continued growth in memory chip and car sales.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam also saw manufacturing activity expand in February, a sign the region was gradually recovering from the initial hit of the pandemic. (This story corrects to add name of institution linked to analyst comment in paragraph 5)

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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