Bitcoin close to $70,000, “memecoins” worth billions of dollars, a blockbuster Wall Street listing and a sweeping Chinese crackdown: 2021 was the wildest yet for cryptocurrencies, even by the sector’s volatile standards.
Digital assets started the year with a stampede of cash from investors large and small. And bitcoin and its kin were rarely out of the spotlight since, with the language of crypto becoming firmly entrenched in the investor lexicon.
Here is a look at some of the major trends that dominated cryptocurrencies this year.
1/Bitcoin: Still no.1
The original cryptocurrency held its crown as the biggest and most well-known token – though not without a host of challengers biting at its heels.
Bitcoin soared over 120% from Jan 1. to a then-record of almost $65,000 in mid-April. Fuelling it was a tsunami of cash from institutional investors, growing acceptance by major corporations such as Tesla Inc and Mastercard Inc and an increasing embrace by Wall Street banks.
Spurring investor interest was Bitcoin’s purported inflation-proof qualities – it has a capped supply – as record-breaking stimulus packages fuelled rising prices. The promise of quick gains amid record-low interest rates, and easier access through fast-developing infrastructure, also helped attract buyers.
Emblematic of bitcoin’s mainstream embrace was major U.S. exchange Coinbase’s $86 billion listing in April, the biggest yet of a cryptocurrency company.
“It’s graduated into the sphere where it is traded by the sort of people that are taking bets on treasuries and equities,” said Richard Galvin of crypto fund Digital Capital Asset Management.
Yet the token stayed volatile. It slumped 35% in May before soaring to a new all-time high of $69,000 in November, as inflation spiralled across Europe and the United States.
Prominent sceptics remain, with JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon calling it “worthless”. Graphic: Peaks and troughs: Bitcoin’s 2021 rollercoaster, https://graphics.reuters.com/FINANCE-YEARENDER/mypmnaljavr/chart.png
2/The rise of the memecoins
Even as bitcoin remained the go-to for investors dipping their toes into crypto, a panoply of new – some would say joke – tokens entered the sector.
“Memecoins” – a loose collection of coins ranging from dogecoin and shiba inu to squid game that have their roots in web culture – often have little practical use.
Dogecoin, launched in 2013 as a bitcoin spinoff, soared over 12,000% to an all-time high in May before slumping almost 80% by mid-December. Shiba inu, which references the same breed of Japanese canine as dogecoin, briefly muscled its way into the 10 largest digital currencies. Graphic: Who let the doge out? https://graphics.reuters.com/FINANCE-YEARENDER/gdvzymlzkpw/chart.png
The memecoin phenomenon was linked to the “Wall Street Bets” movement, where retail traders coordinated online to pile into stocks such as GameStop Corp, squeezing hedge funds’ short positions.
Many of the traders – often stuck at home with spare cash during coronavirus lockdowns – turned to crypto, even as regulators voiced warnings about volatility.
“It’s all about the mobilisation of finance,” said Joseph Edwards, head of research at crypto broker Enigma Securities.
“While assets like DOGE and SHIB may in themselves be purely speculative, the money coming into them is coming from an instinct of ‘why shouldn’t I earn on my money, savings?'” Graphic: Rise of the memecoins, https://graphics.reuters.com/FINANCE-YEARENDER/klpyknyxwpg/chart.png
3/Regulation: The (large) elephant in the room
As money poured into crypto, regulators fretted over what they saw as its potential to enable money laundering and threaten global financial stability.
Long sceptical of crypto – a rebel technology invented to undermine traditional finance – watchdogs called for more powers over the sector, with some warning consumers over volatility.
With new rules looming, crypto markets were skittish to the possible risk of a clampdown.
When Beijing placed curbs on crypto in May, bitcoin tanked almost 50%, dragging the wider market down with it.
“Regulatory risk is everything because those are the rules of the road that people live by and die by in financial services,” said Stephen Kelso, global head of markets at ITI Capital. “The regulators are making good progress, they’re catching up.”
As memecoin trading went viral, another formerly obscure corner of the crypto complex also grabbed the limelight.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – strings of code stored on the blockchain digital ledger that represent unique ownership of artworks, videos or even tweets – exploded in 2021.
In March, a digital artwork by U.S. artist Beeple sold for nearly $70 million at Christie’s, among the three most expensive pieces by a living artist sold at auction.
The sale heralded a stampede for NFTs.
Sales in the third-quarter hit $10.7 billion, up over eight-fold from the previous three months. As volumes peaked in August, prices for some NFTs rose so quickly speculators could “flip” them for profit in days, or even hours.
Soaring crypto prices that spawned a new cohort of crypto-wealthy investors – as well as predictions for a future of online virtual worlds where NFTs take centre stage – helped fuel the boom.
Cryptocurrencies and NFTs’ popularity may also be linked to a decline in social mobility, said John Egan, CEO of BNP Paribas-owned research company L’Atelier, with younger people drawn to their potential for swift gains as soaring prices put traditional assets like houses out of reach.
While some of the world’s top brands, from Coca-Cola to Burberry, have sold NFTs, still-patchy regulation meant larger investors largely steered clear.
“I don’t see a situation where licensed financial institutions are actively and aggressively trading (these) digital assets in the next three years,” Egan said. Graphic: NFT sales on OpenSea, https://graphics.reuters.com/FINANCE-YEARENDER/CRYPTO-CURRENCY/gdpzymljbvw/chart.png
(Reporting by Tom Wilson and Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
Darren Herft believes ETFs present a unique investment opportunity – Net Newsledger
Exchange traded funds (ETF) are securities that track a sector, commodity, or an index. Unlike mutual funds that can only be traded once a day, Exchange traded funds (ETF) prices fluctuate all day, much like specific stocks being exchanged on the stock market.
According to veteran investor Darren Herft, ETFs have opened a new vista for investors as they can be traded on most stock exchanges in the same way as regular stocks.
“Exchange traded funds (ETF) can be organised to track a diverse array of investments, ranging from individual commodity prices to any number of securities,” says the Australian entrepreneur.
“They can be designed to track investment strategies!” he adds.
Darren Herft believes that the lower expense ratios coupled with lower brokerage fees makes them a lucrative option for investors looking to diversify their holdings.
“For investors looking for more liquidity, Exchange traded funds (ETF) provide a better avenue than mutual funds,” says Darren Herft.
He believes that in many ways, Exchange traded funds (ETF) hold an edge above stocks.
Darren Herft says, “Rather than holding only one asset like a stock, Exchange traded funds (ETF) hold multiple assets and that has helped their popularity.”
A single Exchange traded fund (ETF) could have numerous stocks under its umbrella. While some are nationally focused, others are global.
Darren Herft says that even within the Exchange traded fund (ETF) world, there are various options for investors to consider.
“Their utility can range from income generation to hedging or partly offsetting risks in an investor’s arsenal,” says Herft.
He thinks that more fiscally conservative investors might find Bond Exchange traded funds (ETF) to be suited to their needs and temperament. Bond Exchange traded funds (ETF) provide regular income to their holders depending upon the performance of the bonds under their umbrella.
“Bond ETFs could have government bonds, corporate bonds or municipal bonds in their ambit and unlike bonds, they don’t have a maturity date,” says Herft.
Herft says that more risk-tolerant investors might find their match in Stock Exchange traded funds (ETF). Consisting of a basket of stocks that track a whole sector or industry, they provide an investor with a uniquely diverse portfolio with established high performers coupled with newer stocks with growth potential.
“It’s a good collection of stocks and investors don’t have to worry about high fees associated with stock mutual funds,” adds Herft.
Other types of Exchange traded funds (ETF) include Industry ETFs, Commodity ETFs, Currency ETFs, and Inverse ETFs. Herft thinks that the most attractive quality of this investment vehicle is its ability to be diverse and specialized at the same time.
While the AFL aficionado believes that Exchange traded funds (ETF) can be a useful vehicle for many investors, he is of the opinion that they should not be put on a pedestal.
“As with any investment, there are pros and cons and I would recommend anyone looking to invest in anything to do their own independent research and consult experts if they can, before making a decision,” he adds.
Feds announce $3M investment for Calgary’s Energy Transition Centre – Globalnews.ca
As Calgary attempts to become a centre for a transitioning energy industry, a new hub that focuses on clean energy in the city’s downtown core has received a major boost.
Federal ministers, along with Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, were on hand Wednesday to announce a federal investment of more than $3 million towards the clean technology sector in Alberta, including more than $2.1 million to help fund the Energy Transition Centre.
Another $900,000 is earmarked for the Foresight clean technology accelerator, to provide training and investment attraction for Alberta clean technology companies.
“We are moving in the direction of seriously harnessing the potential of Calgary’s energy sector — the technology that we have resident in this sector for the future of the energy second,” University of Calgary chancellor Deborah Yedlin said. “This is our Wayne Gretzky moment, we’re asking towards where the puck is going.”
The Energy Transition Centre will take up an entire vacant floor at the Ampersand building in Calgary’s downtown core.
Barring any issues with COVID-19, officials said the plan is for the centre to open on March 1.
IEA head says Canadian oil industry can be part of energy transition if it gets cleaner
“This innovation hub will help small- and medium-sized businesses develop clean energy technologies that will help meet a growing global demand for environmentally-friendly products and processes,” said Daniel Vandal, federal minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada.
According to officials, the Energy Transition Centre is set to be a space to connect Canadian energy companies with clean energy start-ups, innovators and investors with access resources and experts in the field.
Federal officials hope the centre helps to create 25 new businesses in the clean energy sector over the next three years.
Calgary’s mayor said the investment provides both a boost to the city’s efforts to become an energy transition hub as well as its work to revitalize the downtown core.
“We are seeing bold, innovative and collaborative ideas coming forward that are inspired by entrepreneurial Calgarians,” Gondek said. “This will be a catalyst for success in terms of Calgary’s leadership in climate protection and energy transformation, as well as our downtown revitalization.”
From lithium to hydrogen: How Alberta hopes to power the new energy future
According to a study on energy transition released in December, a clean energy sector could create 170,000 jobs and contribute up to $61 billion to the province’s GDP by 2050. However, the study also estimates a path to net zero would need $2.1 billion in annual investments by 2030, increasing to $5.5 billion by 2040.
Although Wednesday’s announcement was encouraging for some experts, there is some belief that policy changes and not just funding will be key to a successful clean energy sector in the province.
“There are ways that governments can use financial tools to provide guarantees that can stimulate a lot more investment to prove out new technologies, and also to make sure that support is structured fairly,” University of Calgary sustainable energy development masters director Sara Hastings-Simon said.
“We’re going to be in a world that looks very different from an energy perspective in just a couple years from now, and so we don’t have a lot of time really left to wait — we really need to be preparing now for that future.”
The investment was also welcomed by Alberta’s opposition NDP, who were also critical of the notable absence of the provincial government during the announcement.
“There is zero investment from the province in this initiative. Why is the UCP ghosting Alberta’s efforts to diversify the economy and promote clean energy?” NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Jobs, Economy & Innovation said the province wasn’t involved in the announcement because there was no provincial funding for the initiative.
“We remain committed to responsible energy development, reducing emissions and supporting jobs,” Alberta government spokesperson Tricia Velthuizen said in a statement to Global News. “Through innovation and technology, industry can continue to reduce emissions, even with increased oil and gas production.”
Kenney touts energy industry success at Chamber of Commerce speech
According to Vandal, the federal government is looking at projects with Alberta’s provincial government and that both are “aligned on job creation and diversifying the economy.”
“Those consultations and communications are occuring,” Vandal said. “All levels of government need to be on the same page.”
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Ford sees $8.2 billion gain on its investment following Rivian’s IPO – Driving
Ford continues to gain, despite abandoned plans to jointly develop an EV with the startup
Ford Motor Co. expects to record a gain of $8.2 billion in the fourth quarter on its investment in RivianAutomotive Inc. after the electric-truck maker’s blockbuster initial public offering late last year.
The legacy automaker disclosed the gain Tuesday along with several special items it intends to report when Ford releases earnings on Feb. 3. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company will also reclassify a non-cash gain of about $900 million on the Rivian investment from the first quarter of last year as a special item, meaning it will be excluded from the full-year adjusted results, according to a statement.
The disclosures show Ford continues to gain from its connection to the startup even after the auto giant exited Rivian’s board in September and subsequently announced it had abandoned plans to jointly develop an electric vehicle. Ford, which has invested a total of $1.2 billion in Rivian since early 2019, has a 12 per cent stake that the company has said was valued at more than $10 billion in early December.
Rivian delays big battery packs to prioritize more deliveries
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Since a November listing that was the largest IPO of 2021, Rivian has been on a roller coaster. The shares peaked at more than $172, but have tumbled 57 per cent since then as the company faced new competition in the electric-vehicle market. Rivian was briefly valued at more than $100 billion, then more valuable than Ford, but Ford has subsequently reclaimed the lead after it topped $100 billion in value for the first time last week.
Ford shares were little changed in after-hours trading Tuesday in New York, while Rivian climbed less than one per cent.
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