Currency

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‘It’s fine’ to buy Bitcoin as gold substitute, says Trump ex-Treasury Secretary Mnuchin

What seems to be a full reversal on a previously hostile Bitcoin stance is tempered by Mnuchin, who added that he still wouldn’t buy BTC himself.

Bitcoin (BTC) may be a “scam” for former United States President Donald Trump, but the former Treasury Secretary appears to have made a U-turn on the world’s first and best-known cryptocurrency.

Speaking to CNBC on Wednesday, Steven Mnuchin confirmed that his perspective on Bitcoin had “evolved.”

Mnuchin: Bitcoin stance has “evolved a little”
The Trump administration was known for its dismissive tone on Bitcoin in public, and those hoping for endorsement from Trump were ultimately left disappointed.

Mnuchin himself was less than inclined to offer support during his Treasury tenure, but his most recent comments reveal a clear softening of his stance.

“I think my view has evolved a little bit, but it is pretty consistent,” he told the network.

“The first part of it is I think the underlying technology of blockchain is really incredible and has lots of different things, particularly in fintech and finance. I think as it relates to Bitcoin — if people want to buy Bitcoin as a subsititute, no different from buying gold or some other asset — it’s fine.”…read more.

Inflategate Strikes Again

 

Inflation is getting so bad Arizona might have to raise the price of its iced tea above $0.99.

Okay, it’s not that horrific yet, but consumer prices did surge 5.4% in June from a year ago, the biggest increase in 13 years.

What happened: As the US reopened for business, consumers swiped their credit cards with fury. Combine that with supply shortages across the economy and massive government stimulus, and you get sweeping price increases.

But there are nuances

The WSJ’s David Harrison divided the inflation report into four categories to show that price hikes aren’t occurring uniformly across the economy. In some sectors…

  • Prices that plummeted early in the pandemic and are surging to catch up. Think airfares (24.6% annual increase in June) and hotels (16.9%).
  • Prices that are booming thanks to supply shortages. Used cars are the star of this category, with their price increases accounting for more than a third of June’s total price hikes. Economists expect prices to return to normal levels when supply chain wrinkles are ironed out.
  • Prices that will remain higher permanently. You could be paying more at restaurants over the long term thanks to an extended labor shortage and higher wages.
  • Prices that aren’t increasing that much. Rents are inching upward at a rate of 1.9% per month. For comparison, rents on a primary residence rose at a nearly 4% rate before the pandemic.

As always with inflation stories, we must close by turning to the Fed, whose main job is to keep prices stable. Will June’s inflation boom change Chair Jerome Powell’s view that price hikes are transitory?

Probably not. As we mentioned, the bulk of the price increases were in sectors battered by the pandemic (hospitality) or those battling supply shortages (used cars). Higher inflation might stick around a little longer than initially expected, but investors are betting more typical price growth will return, just like the handshake.

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The IEA Warns Of Another Oil Price War

The oil market has been on edge for a week now, entertaining the possibility of a new price war within the OPEC+ alliance, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday, adding that the current impasse is also threatening to derail the global economic recovery.

In June, global oil demand is estimated to have jumped by as much as 3.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 96.8 million bpd, the agency said in its closely watched Oil Market Report for July.

For the rest of the year, oil demand will continue to rebound thanks to solid economic growth, rising vaccination rates, and easing of restrictions in many economies, the IEA said.

Yet, the oil market is jittery because of the ongoing OPEC+ deadlock, with increased volatility that helps neither producers nor consumers, the agency noted.

“At the same time, the possibility of a market share battle, even if remote, is hanging over markets, as is the potential for high fuel prices to stoke inflation and damage a fragile economic recovery. The uncertainty over the potential global impact of the Covid-19 Delta variant in the coming months is also tempering sentiment,” the IEA’s monthly report says…read more.

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Sotheby’s will accept bitcoin or ether for $15 million diamond sale

Recently minted cryptocurrency millionaires, unsure of what to do with their newfound wealth, can now bid for a $15 million 100-carat diamond at Sotheby’s auction — a first for a gem that valuable.

Sotheby’s 9 July auction comes as the art world and cryptocurrencies become more interlinked, with non-fungible tokens, which are smart contracts built on blockchain networks, selling for millions.

Those interested in buying the pear-shaped diamond can pay with either ether ETHUSD, -9.02% or bitcoin BTCUSD, -5.55%, and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Commerce will facilitate the payment.

“The most ancient and emblematic denominator of value can now, for the first time, be purchased using humanity’s newest universal currency,” said Wenhao Yu, deputy chair of Sotheby’s jewellery in Asia, in a statement.

“Never was there a better moment to bring a world-class diamond such as this to the market.”...read more.

Vancouver Home Prices See 5-Figure Monthly Drop, As Resistance Suddenly Appears

Greater Vancouver real estate prices have been on a tear, but that may be coming to an end. Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) data shows prices generally climbed in June. Broken down by region though, the trend isn’t quite as positive. In parts of the City of Vancouver, home prices have seen 5-figure drops in just one month.

Home Prices In The City Are Weaker Than The Suburbs
The price of a typical home advanced last month, but it was a much smaller increase than seen in months prior. The composite benchmark hit $1,175,100 in June, up 0.2% ($2,346) from a month before. That made home prices 14.5% ($148,812) higher compared to the same month a year ago. Though most of these gains were made further from the city center.

In the City of Vancouver, the composite price was a little more mixed. In Vancouver East, the benchmark hit $1,207,500 in June, actually falling 0.2% ($2,420) from the month before. In Vancouver West, the typical home reached $1,373,000, up 0.2% ($2,741) over the same period. The latter sounds impressive, but those prices are still lower than they were three years ago.

Vancouver Detached Prices Are Falling In Half The City, But Soaring In The Suburbs

Breaking it down by segment, most of the weakness is observed in the detached homes. The detached benchmark price was $1,801,100 in June, flat from a month before, which is odd… but what happened. Prices are still 22% ($324,789) higher than last year, but only 13.3% higher over the past 3 years according to the board. That works out to ~4.25% compound annual growth (CAGR), which doesn’t have the same wow-impact, does it?

Detached prices in the City of Vancouver were a little more mixed once again. In Vancouver East, the detached benchmark hit $1,696,500 in June, down 0.8% ($13,681) from a month before…read more.