Bitcoin Nonsense and Fake Cheese

Written by Nick Hodge
Posted August 31, 2017 at 1:40PM

The downward spiral of America continues.

I’ve written to you at length about this over the past few years, going so far as to say we’re now living in Bizarro World — some form of reality where it’s hard to discern what’s real and what’s fake because ‘real’ things have become caricatures of themselves.

This phenomenon is politically agnostic. The absurdity coming out of the White House these days, and the media circus that covers it, are both evidence of this bizarre world.

If you just take a moment to step back and actually consider some of the things that are going on, it’s not hard to see this weird world that’s been built up around us. Many things we accept as normal are downright confounding if you actually think about them.

In an update to my Bizarro World thesis, here are two things I’ve seen recently that continue to verify our current alternate reality.

1. Cheese is still not cheese.

This is something I’ve written about to you before, now with a new twist. It started last year when a company called Castle Cheese came under fire for distributing fake parmesan after a fired employee tipped off the Food & Drug Administration. A subsequent investigation found that “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” the company’s Market Pantry brand of parmesan cheese. It was made with several other cheeses and wood pulp to save money.

The irony?

It was being marketed as “100% Grated Parmesan Cheese.” And this wasn’t some small snafu. The fake cheese was being sold through Target and via Associated Wholesale Grocers, which supplies 3,400 retail stores in 30 states.

A subsequent investigation by Bloomberg News found that several national brands were selling 100% Grated Parmesan cheese that had high levels of wood pulp. Wal-Mart’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese was 7.8% wood pulp. Kraft’s was 3.8% wood pulp.

Lots of lawsuits ensued… And last week over 50 of them were simultaneously thrown out of court by U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman. The lawsuits alleged that touting “100% Grated Parmesan Cheese” was deceptive since the cheese contained large amounts of fillers. Kraft Heinz, Jewel-Osco parent company Albertsons, and other large retailers and manufacturers were the defendants.

The judge sided with big business, writing in his ruling that these kinds of “labeling and marketing, when viewed as a whole ... are not deceptive."

The point here is that in Bizarro World, cheese that is 92.2% parmesan is close enough to 100%. And a U.S. court will uphold corporations’ ability to lie about it.

You think if we took 7.8 cents out of every dollar Judge Feinerman earned he would rule that he was getting 100% of his salary?

100% cheese not being 100% is fake. Unless a judge says otherwise.

2. WhopperCoin because, sure, why not?

Amid the cryptocurrency craze Burger King has now launched its own form of digital money.

Customers, first in Russia, will get one WhopperCoin for every ruble they spend buying Whoppers. Customers can then buy a Whopper with their WhopperCoin once they’ve amassed 1,700 of them.

This is absolutely ridiculous. It’s a points/loyalty program… not a currency.

But then again, isn't that what most cryptocurrencies boil down to? You’re trading actual government-issued currency for a digital one that someone you’ve never met created.

From BBC:

Dr. Garrick Hileman, research fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, said Burger King was the first major corporate brand to issue its own crypto-cash but he expected others to follow.

"Traditional loyalty programs, such as airline miles, typically have a fairly limited range of exchange options," he said. The ease with which the branded crypto-currencies could be traded for other national currencies or even other assets could make them "more compelling" than a standard loyalty scheme, he added.

But one issue that corporate issuers had to confront, he said, was who else would accept their crypto-currency.

"I don't imagine McDonald's will be quick to allow someone to pay for a Big Mac with their whoppercoins," he said. "Burger King's competitors are more likely to accept an independent crypto-currency like bitcoin."

And that’s just it… if no one else takes it, is it really a currency at all?

No, it isn’t.

But in Bizarro World everyone is happy to accept this as a new cryptocurrency because, sure, why not?

I haven’t seen many who call it out for what it is: nonsense.

My take is that it’s hard to create real value. Real products. Real wealth.

So making something fake has become easier. And not only easier… but widely accepted. Just look to the judge verifying it’s ok that 100% cheese is not 100% cheese.

Just because its value goes up doesn’t make it real. Early investors in Ponzi schemes are happy as well.

I prefer things that are real.

And I continue to prefer gold to cryptocurrencies for that reason.

It’s not up thousands of percent this year, but gold has been on a tear lately and has held firmly above the $1,300/ounce mark for a few days now. A real bull market is forming. You should be checking out ways to invest in it.

Don’t be distracted by nonsense and fake cheese.

Call it like you see it,

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Nick Hodge

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Nick is the founder and president of the Outsider Club, and the investment director of the thousands-strong stock advisories, Early Advantage and Wall Street's Underground Profits. He also heads Nick’s Notebook, a private placement and alert service that has raised tens of millions of dollars of investment capital for resource, energy, cannabis, and medical technology companies. Co-author of two best-selling investment books, including Energy Investing for Dummies, his insights have been shared on news programs and in magazines and newspapers around the world. For more on Nick, take a look at his editor's page.

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