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Does crypto have a central bank?

FTX is playing the role of crypto's central bank.

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  • Susan Howson
By Susan Howson

News Editor

Published

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

South Korea launched a satellite into orbit. It’s the seventh country in the world to develop a rocket that can carry a one-ton satellite into space.

Macau passed a landmark casino reform. The Chinese special administrative region will raise taxes and exert greater oversight of casinos in the global gambling hub.

The International Rugby League banned trans players. Scotland’s disability and inclusion director immediately resigned in protest.

A UN group is meeting to ban nuclear weapons—with no nuclear powers present. Delegates to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are meeting in Vienna this week and hope to convince nuclear powers to join up.

Israel will have its fifth election in three years. The governing coalition has decided to dissolve the Knesset and force another vote.

The Twitter board endorses Elon Musk’s acquisition. The company’s directors unanimously voted in favor of the $44 billion sale.

What to watch for

Paramount+ became the latest US streaming service to launch in the UK. At £6.99 ($8.60) a month, the ViacomCBS platform charges the same as Netflix, which boasts an estimated 14.9 million UK subscribers, and a little less than the other two most popular platforms, Prime Video and Disney+, which both charge £7.99 for a monthly subscription.

Paramount+ is available free of charge to subscribers of existing British movie subscription service Sky Cinema, ensuring a soft landing in the increasingly crowded field. But is it enough for the home of cult shows like Star Trek, The Good Fight, and South Park, to live long and prosper?

The timing of the launch isn’t the most auspicious. Appetite for new subscriptions is low, and as a surge in the cost of living forces Brits to reconsider their spending priorities, video on demand services usually end up on household budgets’ chopping block.

Is FTX crypto’s central bank?

FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange led by Sam Bankman-Fried, is effectively the lender of last resort for the beleaguered crypto industry.

The current “crypto winter”—which, apparently, is what we’ve all decided to call the industry’s bear market—has erased $2 trillion, but FTX is dead set on saving select companies. Yesterday, FTX gave crypto lender BlockFi a $250 million loan, and Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research extended a revolving line of credit to the crypto broker Voyager Digital.

Many have started comparing Bankman-Fried to financier J.P. Morgan, who personally bailed out many banks during the Panic of 1907. But the response to that panic was the creation of the US Federal Reserve in 1913, which was formed in part to serve as a lender of last resort. Crypto fanatics largely scorn centralized finance and government interference, but it’s clear that in times of trouble, a lifeline is sorely needed.

The great crypto pendulum

Crypto eschews centralization, but needs centralization. Crypto’s stablecoins are anything but. Read more stories that explore the trickiness of cryptocurrency.

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🥸  College hackers in Kenya are converting stolen money to bitcoin…

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Surprising discoveries

Hong Kong's Jumbo Floating Restaurant being pushed away on the water by tugboats. It's ornate but looks a little worse for wear.
Image copyright: Reuters/Tyrone Siu
Hong Kong’s Jumbo Floating Restaurant, being towed from the city in June 2022, a week before it capsized in bad weather.

Jumbo Floating Restaurant capsized. Hong Kong’s iconic eatery, which closed during the pandemic, met a watery doom in the South China Sea.

The jumbo-est freshwater fish ever was found in the Mekong River. The massive stingray clocks in at 661 pounds (300 kg) and is doing just fine.

A Nobel Peace Prize medal was sold for a noble cause. Dmitry Muratov, who received it in 2021, raised over $103 million in auction to help Ukrainian children.

Garlic can be accepted as payment. A Chinese property developer seeking to attract buyers is counting wheat and garlic towards down payments on homes.

Fish are flying first class. A salmon farming company in the Faroe Islands has purchased a Boeing 757 so it can shuttle fish to US customers in under 24 hours.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, undersea eateries, and garlic coins to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Julia Malleck, Sofia Lotto Persio, Scott Nover, and Susan Howson.

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