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Bitcoin hovers near 6-month high on ETF hopes, inflation worries

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Bitcoin hovered near a six-month high early on Monday on hopes that U.S. regulators would soon allow cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETF) to trade, while global inflation worries also provided some support.

Bitcoin last stood at $62,359, near Friday’s six-month high of $62,944 and not far from its all-time high of $64,895 hit in April.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to allow the first American bitcoin futures ETF to begin trading this week, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, a move likely to lead to wider investment in digital assets.

Cryptocurrency players expect the approval of the first U.S. bitcoin ETF to trigger an influx of money from institutional players who cannot invest in digital coins at the moment.

Rising inflation worries also increased appetite for bitcoin, which is in limited supply, in contrast to the ample amount of currencies issued by central banks in recent years as monetary authorities printed money to stimulate their economies.

But some analysts noted that, after the recent rally, investors may sell bitcoin on the ETF news.

“The news of a suite of futures-tracking ETFs is not new to those following the space closely, and to many this is a step forward but not the game-changer that some are sensing,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone in Melbourne, Australia.

“We’ve been excited by a spot ETF before, and this may need more work on the regulation front.”

 

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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VCs eye investment in Polygon – Yahoo Movies Canada

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A number of investors including Sequoia Capital India and Steadview Capital are in talks to back Polygon, which operates a framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks, by way of tokens purchase, three sources familiar with the matter told me.

The investors are looking to purchase tokens worth $50 million to $150 million, sources said, requesting anonymity as the talks are private. As is common with these token transactions, investors will be able to buy the coins at a slight discount. (20% discount on the average price of MATIC in the past one month, from what I have heard.)

Deliberations are ongoing, so the terms may change. Nobody had a comment early last week.

Polygon, formerly known as Matic, has established itself as one of the most popular layer two solutions. The firm, whose market cap has exceeded $14 billion, processes over 7.5 million transactions a day and allows thousands of decentralized apps to continue to use Ethereum as the settling layer but avoid the increasingly pricey gas fee.

Aave, Sushi Swap, and Curve Finance are among some of the largest bluechip projects that have deployed on Polygon, which has amassed one of the largest developer ecosystems (even when compared to some layer 1 blockchains).

Image credits: Polygon

An investment will mark a shift in the investors’ perception of India-based Polygon, which until recent years struggled to receive backing from most prominent venture firms in the South Asian market. (Most VCs in India, it’s worth noting, were also not actively tracking the web3 space until a few quarters ago.) Furthermore, Polygon has had to confront at least one episode where some of its early investors requested their money back during a bear cycle, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The firm returned money to some of those investors and survived. “It’s one of the themes with the Polygon team. Their perseverance is next level,” said a former employee.

Polygon, which received backing from entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban this year, is among dozens of side-chains and roll-up networks that is hopeful that Ethereum will continue its dominance even as a handful of other layer one projects such as Polkadot, and Solana, which is backed by Multicoin Capital and A16z, are attempting to court the nascent but fast-growing developer ecosystem.

On Bankless podcast earlier this year, Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal (pictured above) said the web3 developer ecosystem today is centred around Ethereum and he is hopeful that the network effect won’t dissipate. On the same podcast, Nailwal and Mihailo Bjelic, another co-founder of Polygon, said Polygon is increasingly expanding its offerings to build a blockchain infrastructure.

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Britain needs a 'booster for growth' as tax hikes threaten investment – CNN

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London (CNN Business)Britain’s economy needs much more investment. Business says it’s unlikely to get it any time soon.

The Confederation of British Industry said in its latest forecast that a “short-lived recovery” in capital spending would end in 2023 because of tax hikes on companies.
Investment in the United Kingdom has lagged that of other advanced economies for decades, and the business lobby group’s forecast will deal a blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s aspirations for building a high-wage and high-productivity economy.
Business investment would briefly rise above pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year, before slumping as companies are hit by a corporate tax hike and the end to a tax break on some investments in plant and machinery, the CBI said.
The corporate tax rate will rise from 19% to 25% in April 2023. UK finance minister Rishi Sunak announced the hike in March this year to help pay for the costs of the pandemic and reduce government borrowing. The tax break on plant and machinery, introduced earlier this year, will also expire in April 2023.
Investment stagnated following the Brexit referendum in 2016 as companies were deterred by the uncertainty over Britain’s future trading relationship with the European Union. It has dropped further since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Capital spending by UK companies fell by 11.6% between the third quarters of 2019 and 2020, the CBI said.
By the government’s own admission, business investment was already low by the standards of other advanced economies. A UK Treasury factsheet published in April said: “Much of the UK’s productivity gap with competitors is attributable to our historically low levels of business investment compared to our peers. Weak business investment has played a significant role in the slowdown of productivity growth since 2008.”
Investment in technology, skilled workers and innovation are key to raising productivity, and boosting growth and incomes without pushing prices higher. The CBI’s warning comes as inflation continues to rise. It hit a 10-year high of 4.2% in October, and the Bank of England’s chief economist has warned it could exceed 5% in early 2022.
“I know from speaking with firms of all sizes that they have an ambitious investment mindset, and are anxious to implement growth plans. But while intentions have thawed, we’re coming up to a cliff edge in 2023,” CBI director-general Tony Danker said in a statement.
He said the tax break had been successful but industry needed targeted measures to encourage “the scale of investment we need, particularly in green technologies. A booster for growth is needed to protect and build on our recovery.”
Britain’s economy should grow by 6.5% in 2021 according to the UK government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility’s projections. But the economy won’t recover its pre-pandemic size until the first quarter of next year, the Bank of England forecasts.
The recovery has been hobbled by Brexit, which the OBR believes will cause more long-term damage to the economy than the pandemic.

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China's Special Bonds Can't Halt Property-Led Investment Slump – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — China is betting that a pickup in infrastructure spending can spur investment and cushion a property-led slowdown which has dragged economic growth down to almost its lowest pace in more than three decades. 

But because the property curbs are hitting government revenue from selling land, Beijing will need to ease its tough campaign to crack down on “hidden” local government debt if it wants a long-lasting revival in infrastructure spending.

Premier Li Keqiang last month urged local governments to make better use of the proceeds from the sale of 3.65 trillion yuan ($573 billion) in “special” bonds to counteract “downward pressure” on the economy. The bonds are used to fund specific projects rather than general expenditures and regional authorities have almost completed the sale of this year’s quota.

The quota could be expanded to 4 trillion yuan next year, according to state media reports, but even that amount of funding would be small relative to China’s total infrastructure spending needs. Bloomberg Economics estimates infrastructure investment will reach about 23 trillion yuan in 2021, which implies special bonds can only around 16% of that expenditure.

The remainder is mainly paid for with money from land sales and local government financing vehicles, which are companies set up by local governments to raise debt from loans and bond sales and then keep that borrowing off of government balance sheets. Both those sources of financing are under strain from property sector curbs and a campaign against “financial risks.”

Those financing vehicles raised less money in 2021 as Beijing ordered local governments to cut their “hidden” off-balance sheet debt. LGFV’s net local bond issuance — the excess of newly sold bonds over repayments — in the first 11 months of the year was 1.95 trillion yuan, down from 2.19 trillion yuan in the same period last year, according to Bloomberg estimates. 

The platforms have found it harder than in the past to obtain loans from banks and from non-bank “shadow” financing because Beijing has been shrinking the shadow finance sector as part of its financial de-risking effort. They have also raised less from foreign investors: LGFV’s net issuance of dollar-denominated bonds through the end of last month more than halved to $5.7 billion.

The property crackdown is also reducing local government’s sales of land to property developers, a major source of funds for local government investment. Infrastructure spending growth has moved almost exactly in line with land sales revenue growth in recent years, according to analysis from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., while the correlation with special bond and LGFV bond issuance is less significant.

Beijing’s efforts to slow the real estate market began cutting into land sales volumes and prices this summer. Local government income from land sales shrank by more than 10% year-on-year in August, September and October, the largest and most sustained decline since 2015, according to Wei He, an analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics.

In the first 10 months of the year, infrastructure investment rose just 1% compared with the same period a year earlier, leaving local governments with unspent funds. 

“The positive factors such as money that hasn’t been spent this year will be countered by the negative impact from land sales,” He said. “Therefore I do not expect a significant acceleration in infrastructure spending to materialize next year.”

To be sure, “special” bond issuance has been concentrated at the end of this year, which could translate into a slight pick-up in infrastructure spending in the first half of 2022 if the funds are quickly put to use. But local governments have been struggling to find suitable projects to fund with special bonds whose conditions stipulate that investments must generate enough income to repay the bond principal and interest.

Local governments’ land sale revenue could fall 10% year-on-year in 2022, according to Gavekal’s He. That means if Beijing really wants infrastructure investment to increase, it will need to loosen the constraints on LGFVs, compromising on its goal to control debt-levels in the economy.

“If the economy softens in 2022 and the government needs to increase infrastructure spending to support economic growth, there would be easing in financing for LGFVs,” said Ivan Chung, associate managing director at Moody’s Investors Service in Hong Kong.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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