Bitcoin (BTC) jumped more than 6% Thursday to a new record high of $48,297 after Mastercard (MA) confirmed CoinDesk’s exclusive Wednesday that the payments-processing giant plans to let merchants receive payments in cryptocurrency starting later this year.
And BNY Mellon (BK), the world’s largest custodian bank with some $41 trillion of assets in safekeeping, said Thursday it’s moving into crypto.
“Bitcoin and its peers are, quite simply, going to be part of the mainstream financial universe sooner rather than later,” Simon Peters, cryptoasset analyst for the trading platform eToro, wrote Thursday. “I expect demand to surge and see bitcoin prices hitting at least $70,000 by the end of this year.”
In traditional markets, trading in Asia was muted ahead of Lunar New Year public holidays, with China on break for a week. (The year of the Ox is seen as bullish for bitcoin, of course.) U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open as investors focused on the prospect of higher inflation as the economy accelerates and governments and central banks maintain aggressive stimulus policies. Gold weakened 0.1% to $1,842 an ounce.
BNY Mellon gets in: Bank beats rivals JPMorgan, Citigroup to the punch with plan for new digital custody offering later this year. “It will be driven by client interest and demand,” Mike Demissie, head of advanced solutions at BNY Mellon, told CoinDesk’s Ian Allison in an interview.
Mastercard too: Card network plans to let merchants receive payments in cryptocurrencies later this year. The news was reported Wednesday by CoinDesk’s Danny Nelson and later confirmed by the company in a web post. “Whatever your opinions on cryptocurrencies – from a dyed-in-wool fanatic to utter skeptic – the fact remains that these digital assets are becoming a more important part of the payments world,” according to the Purchase, N.Y.-based company.
Yellen’s yellow light: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit purposes are a “growing problem,” while adding that she sees “the promise of these new technologies.” The remarks, made Wednesday at a roundtable on financial industry innovation and published in a Treasury Department press release, could fuel some traders’ concerns that the U.S. government might mount a crackdown as cryptocurrencies gain wider acceptance.
Amazon in Mexico: E-commerce giant preparing to launch a digital-currency project in Mexico, job postings show. It’s not clear how much the planned foray relates to “Amazon Coins,” an 8-year old virtual currency initiative that allows holders to transact across web games.
Bitcoin at center of conversations at center of global markets
Inflation has all of a sudden become the biggest issue in global markets. and as with all things involving humans there’s a lot of disagreement to go around.
The debate ranges from whether the Federal Reserve has the will power or inclination to snuff out inflation if prices really starts to tick up, to whether bitcoin is really the solution for big investors or corporations looking to protect themselves from the potential debasement of the U.S. dollar.
One thing’s for certain: The three most important U.S. officials driving the economic strategy are U.S. President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Fed Chair Jerome Powell. And all three are broadly in alignment that the country’s focus at this point should be on a stimulus-fueled recovery that will create lots of jobs. Inflation isn’t really a concern right now. Worry about that later, the thinking goes.
“The Fed will continue to support the devastated labor market with plenty of brrrrrrrrrrrrrr,” Mati Greenspan, founder of the foreign-exchange and cryptocurrency analysis firm Quantum Economics, wrote Wednesday. That two-consonant word, for those who missed the popular meme last year, is the elongated version of an onomatopoeic rendition of the sound a money printer ostensibly makes.
A big data point on inflation arrived Wednesday from the U.S. Labor Department, which reported that the “core” consumer price index, which excludes food and energy items, was unchanged in January from December levels. Over the past 12 months, it’s up 1.4%. No big deal, right? That’s well below the Fed’s target of 2% annually.
The real bogeyman, though, isn’t what’s happening with inflation now as the lingering coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on economic activity, suppressing consumer demand, but what happens when activity resumes in full and people get out and about and start spending all the money they’ve saved.
So big investors are fixated on bond-market signals showing fast-rising expectations for inflation in the future. The average level implied over the next five years recently ticked above 2%, and the chart shows a steep slope upward to the right:
The U.S. government’s budget deficit has totaled $736 billion over the first four months of the year, a record for the period and 89% higher than a year earlier, according to a statement released Wednesday. The figures don’t even account for the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that Biden is pushing Congress to pass despite reluctance from the opposition Republican Party as well as influential members of his own Democratic Party.
It goes without saying that any fresh stimulus would follow a lot that’s already been done, both on the fiscal and monetary sides: The Federal Reserve has created about $3.3 trillion of new money since the start of 2020, pushing the size of its balance sheet to nearly $7.5 trillion for the first time.
“With no hints of scaling back the Fed’s massive asset purchases, Powell is a super dove,” Oanda Senior Market Analyst Edward Moya wrote Wednesday after reviewing a speech Wednesday by the Fed chair.
Bitcoin over the past year has become one of the most popular ways for big investors to play the “reflation trade,”and there’s no shortage or diversity of opinions on the cryptocurrency. It’s a digital version of gold or it’s a scam benefiting from a tulip-like mania, with a lot of space in between. Here’s a quick rundown of comments that emerged Wednesday.
To sum up: The prospect of future inflation has become a central topic for investor conversations about global markets and the economy, and bitcoin is at the center of those.
With prices for the cryptocurrency up 55% already in 2021, outperforming almost everything in traditional markets for the third straight year, Wall Street analysts and mainstream corporate executives are no longer shrinking from the discussion.
“Rich list” grows; options market sees low odds of $100K in 2021
Bitcoin’s “rich list,” consisting of blockchain addresses with at least 1,000 coins, continues to grow, a sign of sustained accumulation by large holders also known as whales, CoinDesk’s Omkar Godbole writes.