NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, cryptocurrencies have had a raucous 2021. From bitcoin and ether’s fast start in January, to the rise of dogecoin in April and then the shiba-inu October shenanigans, folks owning seemingly any digital currency likely experienced big gains if they were owners since early 2021.
What if folks got in later in the year? Despite being all over the financial press and having inked all sorts of sponsorship deals—including the naming rights to what was once the Staples Center in Los Angeles—total crypto market cap today is pretty much unchanged from the peaks reached in May and September,
ALDI IS A POPULAR grocery store chain with a cult-like following in some parts of the country. This family-owned business is based in Germany but currently expanding in the U.S. I always knew that frugal shoppers loved Aldi.
Still, I was surprised to learn just how inexpensive the company’s products are. According to a recent Bank of America Global Research study of the Nashville area, Walmart has the cheapest prices among conventional, mass and specialty grocers,
THE HOLIDAYS MARK a festive period for stock market bulls. The final two weeks of the year and the first several trading sessions of January have historically seen unusually strong gains for the S&P 500 stocks, according to research from Bank of America. Since 1928, the final 10 trading days of December have averaged gains of 1.19% and the first 10 sessions of January have returned 0.72%.
Why has the S&P 500 performed well during this stretch?
GIFT CARDS ARE BIG business. More than $28 billion is expected to be spent on gift cards this holiday season, with an average value of almost $50 per card, according to the National Retail Federation’s winter holidays report. This season, consumers want gift cards above all else, says the survey, and restaurants are the most popular category.
I’ve changed my mind about gift cards. I used to think they were a ridiculous way to show appreciation.
NATIXIS INVESTMENT Managers just released its 2022 institutional investors’ outlook. The firm surveyed 500 portfolio managers, asking their thoughts on what the next year might look like in the financial markets. The managers—who oversee $13.2 trillion of assets—were generally optimistic, but didn’t expect the recent torrid pace of stock market gains to continue.
The survey found that 35% of institutions plan to decrease exposure to U.S. stocks, allocating more to developed European and Asian markets,
THE MARKET SEEMS to have found its footing when it comes to inflation. Friday’s Consumer Price Index report was roughly in line with expectations. Recently, there haven’t been any major shifts in the experts’ inflation forecasts. The bond market has also calmed down. Just a few weeks ago, the 10-year Treasury yield neared 1.7%. It settled at 1.49% on Friday.
Volatility could reemerge later this week, however. Data on producer prices post on Tuesday,
MY YEAR BEGAN WITH a fulltime job at an energy trading company. But I knew my days were numbered. I’d spent six years trading, working with clients and helping to manage risk, all while being surrounded by smart and fun people. But as side gigs, I’d also spent several years writing about finance and teaching as an adjunct professor. Writing became my passion—one that didn’t mesh well with my day job.
That’s how, in January,
FINANCIAL MARKETS had a lot to digest in recent days: Retail analysts are keeping a close eye on holiday spending, economists got their latest dose of employment data—and traders are coming to grips with the current bout of volatility.
The VIX, the S&P 500 Volatility Index or “fear gauge,” surged above 30 on Friday. That was the highest end-of-week close since January. For perspective, the VIX climbed to 80 during 2020’s COVID-19 stock market crash.
DRIVING PART of the nation’s labor shortage is a wave of early retirements dubbed the “Great Resignation.” A red-hot housing market and booming stock market have made it financially easier for many to quit traditional nine-to-five employment, as has employers’ embrace of part-time, work-from-home positions. Add to that virus concerns and parents’ difficulty finding child care, and you’ve had a perfect storm for the labor market.
According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal,
COVID STRIKES AGAIN. The new Omicron variant found in parts of southern Africa was the reason cited for Friday’s stock market freefall. It was the worst day for the S&P 500 since late February. So far this year, the U.S. stock market has endured a 2% one-day drop on six occasions.
This most recent market plunge felt similar to declines in February and March 2020, making investors extra jittery and prompting traders to reopen their playbook from 22 months ago.
THERE’S BEEN MUCH talk in 2021 about the future of work, with a big focus on remote and hybrid office arrangements. But I’m more intrigued by another major trend: job hopping. Each month, labor economists get a fresh read on the pace of hirings, firings and quits. In fact, the “quit rate” has become a household term in 2021, as workers change jobs to snag higher pay.
That got me thinking about conventional personal finance wisdom,
THE BOND MARKET has had a turbulent year. Interest rates, which move in the opposite direction of bond prices, spiked in early 2021 on hopes of an economic reopening. The 10-year Treasury yield, which started the year under 1%, surged above 1.75% in March, before subsiding in the second quarter and the third quarter’s initial weeks.
Today, 10-year Treasury buyers can earn a smidgen more than 1.5%, far less than the 6.2% inflation rate.
BORED ONE WEEKEND, I took up actor Ryan Reynolds on his offer to switch cellphone carriers. Frugal guy that I am, I’d been a loyal Republic Wireless subscriber for several years before my recent change. My new plan is on the Mint Mobile platform.
Perhaps you’ve seen Mint’s commercials on NFL Sunday or when perusing YouTube videos, with its offer of four gigabytes of data with unlimited text and calls. This will cost me a measly $201 a year,
IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, you want to stick with your long-term investment plan, while remaining open to new ideas. It’s a balancing act—to avoid missing a new, long-lasting trend, while not getting caught up in a bubble.
That’s how I feel about cryptocurrencies. Their market cap has swelled to $2.6 trillion. But what does that mean? Contrast that to the value of the global stock and bond markets: Each is about $125 trillion.
IT’S CRUNCH TIME for retailers. Black Friday, it’s said, is the day many stores finally turn a profit for the year. While that’s a myth, there’s no doubt analysts will be watching closely to see how consumers spend the extra cash generated by stimulus checks and an improving economy.
Americans sure seem ready to spend. According to Creditcards.com, approximately four in 10 shoppers are willing to go into or add to debt for this year’s holiday spending.