Currency

Deconstructing Bitcoin’s Zeal Into An Investible Thesis

It’s all Bitcoin all day in my Twitter feed these days. Quiet are the Tesla bears, the Fed-obsessed, and even the gold bugs. The HODLers are out in full force celebrating Bitcoin’s parabolic, seven-fold resurgence from the ashes of $5,000 (as of the morning of this writing). Frankly, I’m skeptical of Bitcoin. I see it as a speculative tech stock, not digital money. However, I’m not avoiding cryptocurrency. Instead, I’m trying to determine an appropriate position size and strategy consistent with my investment framework.

I’ve been around the Bitcoin hoop for a while now. I traded a minimal amount in the early days and made no significant gains (in absolute terms). At first, I got drawn into the prospect of decentralized money and banking—the theoretical and practical benefits that cryptocurrencies potentially possess. However, I expected more development 12 years into Bitcoin’s existence. To me, it still more resembles a tech stock in 1999 than a burgeoning currency—all potential; no (meaningful) practicality (yet).

While I’m certainly not the most plugged into the cryptocurrency scene, I do understand it. Given Bitcoin’s high market capitalization ($666 billion as of this writing)—eclipsing that of Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, and all but a handful of blue-chip companies—I’m surprised that Bitcoin still has so little utility in comparison with these household names. Indeed some people are using Bitcoin, but the overwhelming majority appears to be hoarding it in the hope of higher prices. CLICK for complete article

Capital One Fined Again For Money-Laundering Failure

Capital One, the bank lately dominating the celebrity-featured advertising space in this industry, and claiming to have “reimagined” banking, has now been fined by the authorities for ‘willful’ anti-money-laundering failures–for the second time in six months.

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) fined America’s fifth-largest credit card issuer $390 million for engaging in willful and negligent violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money laundering law.

FinCEN said in a statement that Capital One admitted that it failed to file “thousands of suspicious activity reports” and “thousands of Currency Transaction Reports” with respect to a business unit known as the Check Cashing Group

“The violations occurred from at least 2008 through 2014 and caused millions of dollars in suspicious transactions to go unreported in a timely and accurate manner,” FinCEN added.

Capital One acquired the check-cashing group when it bought New York-based North Fork Bank in 2006 for $14.6 billion and shut it down 8 years later. CLICK for complete article  

Ethereum’s Ether Cryptocurrency Sets New All-Time Price High Near $1,440

The price of ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain network, soared to record levels earlier on Tuesday.

Prices hit $1,439.33 around 12:00 UTC – that’s a little over the previous all-time high of $1,432.88 registered on CoinDesk’s price index on Jan. 13, 2018. The digital asset rallied nearly 12% Tuesday to reach the new peak.

Ether first hinted at a coming rally to previously unseen levels earlier this month, but fell victim to a brief market correction triggered by bitcoin‘s pullback from $40,000 to $30,000 last week.

The cryptocurrency has topped its previous bull market peak nearly two months after bitcoin surpassed its December 2017 record price to hit a new high above $41,900 earlier this month.

While ether has trailed bitcoin in its journey to new lifetime highs, it has outpaced the top cryptocurrency on a year-to-date basis with a 92% gain. Bitcoin has risen 27% so far this year.

Ether is also up well over 1000% since the initial public sale of ETH in 2015, according to Messari.

Ethereum’s value proposition

Ethereum is a blockchain for decentralized applications (dapps) such as prediction markets or trading venues.  Dapps operate similarly to regular applications, but inherit features of blockchain-based technologies such as censorship resistance.

The Ethereum blockchain was co-founded and originally described by Russian-Canadian developer Vitalik Buterin, who remains the project’s most well-known personality.

Decentralized finance (DeFi) is widely regarded as the best Ethereum use case to date. DeFi markets enable permissionless and automated lending, trading and borrowing to anyone with an internet connection. The market recently surpassed some $22 billion in total value locked (TVL) – a metric similar to assets under management (AUM).

DeFi applications typically have their own tokens as well, generally based on Ethereum. That market has enjoyed a second bull run of its own following surging popularity this past summer. CLICK for complete article

Why Natural Gas Prices Are Set To Go Higher

Winter temperatures below seasonal norms in the northern hemisphere have created a rally in natural gas prices from Asia to Europe.    The spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices in north Asia jumped to record highs last week, while the key price marker in Europe, the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF), rallied to the highest in more than two years.

The natural gas markets at the start of 2021 look completely different from the beginning of last year, when milder weather and the pandemic hit to demand had dragged natural gas prices down to historic lows.

This winter season, a rebound in Asian natural gas demand, supply issues at major LNG exporters, logistics issues at the Panama Channel, soaring tanker rates, and last but not least, the cold snap from Madrid to Tokyo, are pushing gas prices higher…CLICK for complete article

Three Energy Tech Trends To Watch This Year

Transition will be the word of the year in energy, no doubt. But this transition involves a host of technologies that many believe will help the world move beyond the fossil fuels era. Many will need years to become commercially available, which has made some industry observers skeptical about the future of this transition. The dominant sentiment, however, appears to be optimistic, despite the considerable challenges.

Here are three technology areas that, according to a recent report by Lux Research, will dominate the energy discourse for the observable future.

Green hydrogen and fuel cells

Green hydrogen is the new EV revolution in terms of media coverage. From an occasional mention in renewable energy analyses, hydrogen has won its own place among the energy transition stars. The most abundant element in the universe has been touted as an energy carrier, energy storage option, and fuel. With such versatility of use, one might imagine that economies would already be running on hydrogen.

But things are rarely as simple as they seem.

First, not all hydrogen is made equal. For the energy transition revolutionaries such as the European Union, green hydrogen is the one to aim for. Produced through the electrolysis of water using electricity generated by renewable sources, green hydrogen features heavily in the EU’s energy transition plans: it wants to build at least 40 GW of electrolysis capacity by 2030, with 6 GW of these to be up and running by 2024.

Green hydrogen, many believe, will be the best way to help industries that have proved hard to decarbonize reduce their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. How? First, it can be used as a fuel for freight vehicles; second, it can be blended with natural gas and used to heat buildings; third, it can be used to store electricity produced by solar and wind farms.

There is just one problem with all this: it is expensive, prohibitively so at the moment. Yet the outlook is optimistic, according to most, with the costs of electrolysis expected to fall significantly.

Fuel cells are another potentially widespread use for hydrogen, but they have been off to a slow start, again because of cost constraints. Fuel cell passenger vehicles are still a rarity despite their major advantage over EVs: much faster charging time. According to the California Fuel Cell Partnership, the biggest obstacle in fuel cell cars’ wider adoption is the lack of a charging station network—a problem that is being addressed. CLICK for complete article

Is Another Crash Coming for Air Canada Stock?

So, you thought 2021 would offer some breathing space for Air Canada stock. But the year has only brought more hurdles. The biggest challenge has been the stringent air travel restrictions, and they just got worst. It has gotten so bad that AC has reduced its capacity by another 25% in the first quarter.

In June 2020, AC slashed 20,000 employees (50% workforce), retired 75 planes, and suspended 30 domestic routes and eight stations until further notice. After six months, the airline is making more cuts. This month, it suspended services to more than six domestic routes and slashed 1,700 jobs and another 200 employees at its Express carriers. The culprit is Canada’s travel restrictions.

Air Canada frustrated with Canada’s air travel restrictions

Since March 21, Canada has had a blanket prohibition on foreign travelers coming to Canada. Canadians and residents returning to Canada have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. AC initiated voluntary COVID-19 testing for all arriving passengers to force the Justin Trudeau government to ease the quarantine requirement for passengers testing negative.

The government even agreed to the testing. But then came the second wave of mutant virus, and Canada made its already stringent requirements more stringent. Starting January 7, all travelers over five years of age flying to Canada from abroad need to get a negative result on the COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before the scheduled departure.

Now, AC proposed to replace the quarantine requirement with COVID-19 testing. But the proposal backfired. Now all travelers from abroad have to present negative test results and also fulfill the 14-day quarantine requirement.

There was confusion around which diagnostic companies’ test results the government would consider. Then even if you get the test done, there is a possibility that the airline might cancel the flight. All this hassle had an immediate impact on AC’s close-in bookings, thereby forcing it to adjust its routes to the expected demand and slow the cash burn…CLICK for complete article