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Pulitzer Prize Winners’ New Book Is Required Reading For Social Entrepreneurs



This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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Pulitzer Prize Winners Nicholas Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn have written a new book, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, to be released next month. The book will follow the model of the couple’s previous collaborations, Half the Sky and A Path Appears, painful analyses of big social problems that also celebrate the hope found in existing solutions.

Without the benefit of a review copy, I recorded a discussion of the book and some of his other writing with Kristof several months ago. I invite you to watch the interview in the player above. Kristof’s thoughtful manner of speaking reflects a mind practiced in editing his prose as he goes, sometimes causing him to pause mid-sentence only to finish the thought by starting or finishing a new sentence, leaving the last incomplete.

It’s a style that has garnered the New York Times columnist millions of social media followers to whom he has often appeared in self-produced videos like mine (the key difference being the size of our respective audiences). His millions of fans and followers feel an authentic connection to the self-described “farm boy” from Oregon, despite more than because of his Harvard and Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar) education and 30+ years at the Times.

Nicholas Kristof CREDIT: EARL WILSON

Kristof partners with WuDunn, his wife of three decades with whom he has three children, to write books. They won a Pulitzer for their coverage of the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 while they both worked at the Times. WuDunn now works in banking.

For Tightrope, which he describes as “deeply personal,” Kristof begins with his own beginning, returning to his rural hometown of Yamhill, Oregon. He focuses on the kids who were on his old school bus. “And about a quarter of those kids have passed away largely from what economists call a death of despair, drugs, alcohol, suicide and also reckless accidents.”

“Most of America has looked the other way as working families have collapsed into a miasma of lost jobs, drugs and shortening life expectancy,” he told me.

“One of the stories we tell is of some neighbors who lived not far from us,” he says beginning his narrative. “There’s a family of five kids. The oldest was in my grade. Really, I mean, everybody was very smart. And they had risen very, very quickly. I mean, the 20th century had been enormously good to them. The dad had a good labor union job. And then then everything kind of collapsed and the jobs went away. The kids all ended up dropping out of school and they self-medicated with that with alcohol, with other drugs.”

“And then then they became less employable, less marriageable. The family structure, which had been really strong in my community, just collapsed very, very quickly. The social fabric, it became undone,” he said, speaking of his hometown. “And so now of those five kids, four of the five are now dead. And the only one who survived survived because he spent 13 years in the Oregon State Penitentiary on drug offenses.”

“These are these are smart kids who could have contributed so much to the country, to a community, and instead they, you know…,” his voice trails off thinking of what might have been and finally notes, “we didn’t intervene.”

The fact that it is easier to help a three-year-old get on the successful path than to help a 30-year-old turn around, is a key lesson he takes from his research and observations about the Yamhill community.

Revealing his penchant for earthbound wisdom, he says, “Look, there is no silver bullet to address these kinds of problems. But there are there are silver buckshot.”

On Housing:

In the U.S., the government provides $30 billion in housing vouchers each year. Often, the recipients congregate in poor areas of the community, sometimes moving from one poor area to another, he notes. This aggregation tends to magnify the problem.

Economist Raj Chetty, has found that if a family uses the voucher to move to a community with higher opportunity, better schools and a stronger family structure, the kids are much more likely to graduate from high school and the girls are less likely to get pregnant as teenagers. They’ll also earn more money and pay more taxes as a result of a relatively small nudge to move to a better neighborhood.

“I wish that some of my neighbors could have had that kind of help back when they were at a tipping point,” he said.

On Education:

“One in seven kids in America still doesn’t graduate from high school. And those kids are cooked. They’re just cooked,” Kristof says in frustration.

“It is it is really easy for successful people to ignore those who’ve been left behind,” he says, noting that our communities are segregated not only by race but by class and education as well. “We can tune out those who have been left behind.”

“I want to make it harder for that to happen and remind people that there is just a lot of desperate need out there,” he adds.

“We I tend to think of education as one of the best predictors of long-term outcomes for countries. The U.S., we pioneered mass education in this country. We pioneered high school—mass high schools. We pioneered mass tertiary education. And as recently as the 1960s, we were number one in high school attendance,” he says, preparing to make a point. “Now we rank number 61. And that doesn’t just hold that hold back those high school dropouts. It holds back our country.”

On Drug Abuse:

Kristof says that drug treatment is only a part of the solution to the crisis in our country. It also isn’t enough to stop drug companies from encouraging physicians to prescribe more opioids. “But it also has to be about giving people who are at the margins more of a sense that they have a future, that they don’t need to numb that pain.”

For Tightrope, Kristof says, they looked at autoworkers who had been laid off in both Detroit and directly across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Globalization and technology are likely to continue eroding manufacturing jobs in both countries.

“But those on the Canadian side were much more likely to get retraining so that they could move into new jobs. And so, an autoworker could become an ultrasound operator. And the upshot was that if you were a Canadian auto worker, you know, you were less likely to turn to drugs. Your kids were less likely to turn to drugs. And today, you know, your grandchild is less likely to be born dependent on opioids.”

In our interview, we talked about a variety of issues I haven’t tallied here, from Kristof’s criticisms of liberals to the lessons he’s learned about the ineffectiveness of the death penalty. Be sure to watch the full interview to the end where he shares his superpower.

By way of confession, I have long seen Kristof as a role model. After 1,200 episodes of my show, I invited him to be my last guest. I am grateful he had a book to promote, which likely gave him the nudge he needed to accept the invitation.

Kristof reflects on his life since leaving Yamhill, noting the aphorism, “talent is universal, but opportunity is not,” suggesting he had no more potential than the kids he rode the bus with to school. “I went to this small rural school and I just I just hit the jackpot.”

“I had parents who read to me who I was surrounded by books. I applied to Harvard. And there was somebody on the admissions committee who was from rural Oregon and loved the idea of a farm boy and our in our class. And so I was admitted. I, you know, four years later, I was lucky enough to win a Rhodes scholarship, which opened all kinds of doors, gave me more of an education, led me to The New York Times. There were editors at The Times who took chances on me. And so I ended up having this string of doors opened up magically for me as I approached,” he says seemingly a bit befuddled by his luck.

“I mean, absolutely, I think I worked incredibly hard. And I think I had, you know, some genuine talent to bring to the table. But there are so many others, you know, in my high school who had talent. And I know that if I had been in somewhat different circumstance, like some of these families, then instead of being in this interview, I would be struggling with my meth addiction or whatever else.”

This recognition of his good fortune, he says, motivates his work.

“Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”

For social entrepreneurs and others working to change the world, Tightrope is required reading.

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Solana, Polkadot, Algorand: What is the Bitcoin effect on these altcoins



With the market trading in red today pretty much all coins including Bitcoin and Ethereum are falling. However, there are some coins that made excellent gains in the last 2 months which are now facing huge price falls as well.

Which alts though?

Solana, Polkadot, and Algorand were three altcoins that successfully rallied between July and August. Polkadot rose from $12.34 all the way to $34.45 registering a 214.33% growth. Similar gains were observed for Algorand as the coin breached $2 and marked a 230.26% rise. 

The most gains were seen by Solana holders though mainly because the altcoin shot up 713.94%. An increase this high was the result of the NFT hype which took it up from $26.68 to $191.07

Solana’s 713% rise | Source: TradingView – AMBCrypto

In fact, Solana and Algorand even registered new all-time highs during this time period. But each of these coins is now observing significant price falls as well. 

In the last 24 hours ALGO fell by 15.26%, DOT came down by 14.37% and SOL lost 16.8% of its price as of press time.

A huge reason behind this fall is also their exhausted momentum since even after the September 7 fall, DOT and ALGO witnessed another price rise before they finally hit a slowdown.

Algorand’s 15.26% drop | Source: TradingView – AMBCrypto

Owing to this investors are possibly getting rid of their holdings in both spot and derivatives markets. Sell volumes at the time of this report have increased and liquidations rose to millions for all 3 altcoins. Since SOL gained the most, it lost the most as well and its liquidations touched $25 million.

Solana liquidations at $25 million | Source: Coinalyze – AMBCrypto

Can Bitcoin save them?

Well since Bitcoin’s price movement commands the market’s movement it is obvious that BTC needs to reduce losses first. But more importantly, these assets’ correlation to Bitcoin will determine how much they will be affected by BTC. Right now Algorand is at the lowest at 0.57, followed by Solana at 0.7, and at the highest is Polkadot (0.88)

However, surprisingly, investors are most positive about Algorand of all three hoping for a recovery soon.

Investor sentiment | Source: Santiment – AMBCrypto

Once Bitcoin and Ethereum change their movement, other coins would follow suit. And that’s when some recovery can be expected.

Where to Invest?

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Kraken Daily Market Report for September 19 2021




  • Total spot trading volume at $598.4 million, the 30-day average is $1.36 billion.
  • Total futures notional at $223.4 million.
  • The most traded coins were, respectively, Bitcoin (-2.2%), Ethereum (-3.1%), Tether (0%), Solana (-9.9%), and Cosmos (+8.8%).
  • Cosmos continues its hot streak, up 8.8%. Also strong returns from OMG (+10%).

September 19, 2021 
 $598.4M traded across all markets today

#####################. Trading Volume by Asset. ##########################################

Trading Volume by Asset

The figures below break down the trading volume of the largest, mid-size, and smallest assets. Cryptos are in purple, fiats are in blue. For each asset, the chart contains the daily trading volume in USD, and the percentage of the total trading volume. The percentages for fiats and cryptos are treated separately, so that they both add up to 100%.

Figure 1: Largest trading assets: trading volume (measured in USD) and its percentage of the total trading volume (September 20 2021)

Figure 2: Mid-size trading assets: (measured in USD) (September 20 2021)

###########. Daily Returns. #################################################

Daily Returns %

Figure 3: Returns over USD and XBT. Relative volume and return size is indicated by the size of the font. (September 20 2021)

###########. Disclaimer #################################################

The values generated in this report are from public market data distributed from Kraken WebSockets api. The total volumes and returns are calculated over the reporting day using UTC time.

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‘Cryptos are Not Currencies,’ Says ECB’s Lagarde




European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde recently emphasized that cryptocurrencies are not actually currencies, but “highly speculative assets.”


“Cryptos are not currencies, full stop,” Lagarde stressed. “Cryptos are highly speculative assets that claim their fame as currency, possibly, but they’re not. They are not.” Although not a currency, she did say that they were “highly speculative, suspicious occasionally, and high intensity in terms of energy consumption.

Stablecoins and CBDCs

Despite her disdain for cryptocurrencies, Lagarde is more open to stablecoins, as they could facilitate central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). However, as they continue to spread, she believes they and the companies issuing them need more regulation.


“You have those stablecoins that are beginning to proliferate, which some big techs are trying to promote and push along the way, which are a different animal and need to be regulated, where there has to be oversight that corresponds to the business that they’re actually conducting, irrespective of how they name themselves,” Lagarde said.

To this end, the ECB under Lagarde launched its digital euro projects this year in response to private-sector digital currencies. “I was keen to push the issue, the CBDC issue, on our agenda because I believe that we have to stand ready for that,” she said. Despite the push, the ECB President previously said that a digital Euro could take up to four years to produce. She remarked upon being “prompted by a demand of customers to produce something that will make the central bank and central bank digital currencies fit for the century we are in.”  

CBDC need

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) shares Lagarde’s perspective about the need for CBDCs to stand up to the rise in privately issued cryptocurrencies. It also believes that without CBDCs, digital money would become increasingly dominated by big tech firms. This could potentially happen primarily by them leveraging their enormous social media user base.

In its latest Annual Economic Report, released earlier this summer, BIS dedicated a chapter to CBDCs. While applauding advancement in the payment systems, the report said that their benefits would depend on their structure and governance. On the one hand, the technology could enable a “virtuous cycle” of broader access, lower costs, as well as better services.

However, the report notes the potential for a “vicious cycle” of data silos, market power, and anti-competitive practices. “CBDCs and open platforms are the most conducive to a virtuous circle,” the report notes.

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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