Tags Posts tagged with "cryptocurrency"


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By Michael E. Russell

Michael E. Russell

As I have mentioned in previous articles, crypto currencies are hard to understand.  I have tried to explain crypto exchanges to the readers while not fully grasping all of the nuances involved in their workings.

We had a financial meltdown in 2008 caused by the corporate giant Enron. We now have a much bigger fiasco caused by a 29-year-old named Sam Bankman Fried. This MENSA wannabe was able to do a Harry Houdini act by making 8 billion dollars in investor funds disappear overnight.

Here are a few of the victims: The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan lost 95 million dollars.  More than 100 affiliated companies are filing for bankruptcy. This financial genius has caused a situation so dire, FTX, Fried’s company stated that it doesn’t know where the assets went or who its top creditors are.

Have no worries folks because Congress is setting up committees to investigate what went wrong. Good news there. UGH! This in itself is a big problem. Apparently, Mr. Bankman Fried lobbied many elected officials in Washington hoping for loose oversight of crypto exchanges.

During the 2022 election cycle, Fried donated approximately 40 million dollars to Progressive Democratic candidates. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said she would donate the funds she received to various charities.  Nice!  How about having these funds returned to investors?

A question to be asked is why this financial collapse is being investigated after the mid-term elections? Just one more reason for term limits! Point of interest Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer have been in office for more than 78 years combined. Come on already!They promise to fix problems that they are responsible for. TERM LIMITS, TERM LIMITS!!!  Wake up everybody.

Enough ranting, what’s next?  Where to invest? As I grow older, Healthcare stocks seem to be a a great area to put money.  Why?  Well, let me explain. This morning I had my 12th doctor visit this month and another one tomorrow to close out November.  During the 1970s Healthcare was 8% of U.S. GDP [Gross Domestic Product]. Today it is more than 20%.

As citizens get better health care and live longer, they also in most cases accumulate more wealth.  Due to more disposable income the Financial services sector is also a place to potentially invest. Within this sector there are areas that should do well over the next five years including Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Computational biology and CRISPR-related investments. CRISPR gives us exposure to companies specializing in DNA modification systems and technologies.  

What should we be doing in December?  Consider making tax-loss trades to book 2022 losses so that you can offset future gains. The S & P 500 lost a quarter of its value at the indexes low this year. Since October it has regained some territory making it down a mere 15%!  Taking some money off the table and putting it into one and two-year treasuries, yielding 4.5% is not a bad idea. With North Korea, China and Russia rattling their sabers, some safer investments should be considered.  

Here is some advice for pre-retirees. Next year, you will be able to contribute up to $22,500 to your 401K or 403b and other retirement plans — an increase of $2,000.  Americans can also contribute an additional $6500 if you are over the age of 50.  In addition, IRA maximum contributions are now $6500.  

For those of us older folks, bond yields north of 4.5% make a portfolio of 60% stock, 40% fixed income attractive. A final thought, with the S & P down roughly 16%, here are some stocks to ponder. Are they an opportunity? Perhaps. Apple down 16% year to date.  Microsoft down 27%. Alphabet down 34%. Tesla down 45%.  Netflix down 52%. Amazon down 39%. I am not necessarily recommending them, but give them some thought.

I would love to hear from some of you that read my monthly article. I can be reached at [email protected]. From my family to yours, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and a prosperous 2023.

Michael E. Russell retired after 40 years working for various Wall Street firms. All recommendations being made here are not guaranteed and may incur a loss of principal. The opinions and investment recommendations expressed in the column are the author’s own. TBR News Media does not endorse any specific investment advice and urges investors to consult with their financial advisor. 

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By Michael E. Russell

Michael E. Russell

What a week!  Monday the Dow rose 765 points.  Tuesday the Dow rose 826 points.  Wednesday the Dow lost 40 points, a well-deserved rest. Back to the new reality.  Thursday the Dow dropped 347 points followed by a loss of 630 points on Friday. Still, a gain of 1.5% for the week. 

Is the market building a base at these levels? Were the gains of the past week what we used to call a “dead cat bounce” in a Bear market?  Really hard to say.

Earnings are starting to weaken while consumer debt increases. An example of the cost of debt this year is as follows: Let us say that a family wishes to purchase a home while secured a $480,000 mortgage. Last year the cost would have been $2023 per month with an interest rate of 3%. That same mortgage presently would cost $3097 per month with a rate of 6.7%. Over a 30-year period you would pay an additional $385,000 in interest. These increases are taking a substantial portion of the middle class out of the real estate market. This is only one segment of a problematic economy.

Expectations of how many more rate increases the Federal Reserve will make is a big part of what is driving the price action in the stock market. The present administration is having a problem with conditions overseas.  President Biden just met with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. It was hoped that this meeting would lead to a production increase of 2 million barrels of oil per day.  

Guess what? Upon Biden’s return, the Saudi’s announced a decrease of the same 2 million barrels per day. Productive meeting! On top of this, the President stated that we are facing a “potential nuclear Armageddon” the likes of which have not been seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis that President Kennedy faced in 1962. Nice thought to go to sleep with!!

Time to ease up a bit. The Federal Reserve cannot start cutting rates until the Consumer Price Index drops in half from its current level of 8.3%. In the meantime, investors should be taking advantage of U.S. Treasury yields. The 30-year bond is yielding 3.6% while the one- and two-year notes are yielding in excess of 4.1%. This is called an inverse yield curve.  4.1% for one year sure beats the 0.001% the banks are paying. Not very neighborly!  

We may be getting close to a market bottom plus or minus 10%. Many financial “gurus” are suggesting a large cash position in investor portfolios. Brilliant! This after a decline of over 30% in the market. Where were these people in January and February?  

Is crypto currency a viable investment now?  Bitcoin was supposed to be an inflation fighter. However, the worst inflation since the early 1970s has coincided with a 60% drop in Bitcoin’s price over the past year. It was also stated that Bitcoin is “digital gold.” Not proven true. Gold itself has outperformed Bitcoin, losing just 6% of its value. 

Ethereum, which is the second largest blockchain, has had a major upgrade which may fuel money going into crypto. Readers need to do their own research pertaining to crypto. My last thought on this topic: crypto strategist Alkesh Shah of Bank of America still feels that bitcoin and other cryptos are still viable long-term investments. As an aside, I really don’t have a long-term horizon. 

On a pleasant note, my wife and I just returned from Scotland where we visited our granddaughter at the University of St. Andrew, an incredible experience.

The economy there is booming. We did not see vacant store fronts. Much pride was shown in their communities; cleanliness and politeness were everywhere. I was very interested in the opinion of the Scots vis a vis the vote to break from the UK. 

I will breakdown opinions in three groups. The youth have little interest in the monarchy, the senior citizens still admire the monarchy due to their memories of WWII. The 40–60-year age group I found most interesting, although my questions were asked at a single malt scotch distillery. The point was made that Scotland is a land of 5.5 million, like Norway and Sweden. The British Pound is in free fall, which is threatening government and corporate pensions. The Scots are upset over Brexit. They wished to stay within the European Union. 

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, let us hope that the Russian people put pressure on Putin to leave office or better yet, the planet. Best regards to all and enjoy this beautiful Fall season. 

Michael E. Russell retired after 40 years working for various Wall Street firms. All recommendations being made here are not guaranteed and may incur a loss of principal. The opinions and investment recommendations expressed in the column are the author’s own. TBR News Media does not endorse any specific investment advice and urges investors to consult with their financial advisor. 

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By Michael Christodoulou

Michael Christodoulou
Michael Christodoulou

Now that cryptocurrencies so much in the news, you might be wondering if you should invest in them. But “invest” may not be the right word — because, in many ways, cryptocurrencies, or “crypto” for short, are more speculation than investment.

But what’s really the difference between a speculator and an investor? Probably the main factor is the differing views of time. A true investor is in it for the long term, building a portfolio that, over many years, can eventually provide the financial resources to achieve important goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But speculators want to see results, in the form of big gains, right now — and they’re often willing to take big risks to achieve these outcomes.

There’s also the difference in knowledge. Investors know that they’re buying shares of stock in a company that manufactures products or provides services. But many speculators in cryptocurrency don’t fully comprehend what they’re buying because crypto just isn’t that easy to understand. 

Cryptocurrency is a digital asset, and cryptocurrency transactions only exist as digital entries on a blockchain, with the “block” essentially being just a collection of information, or digital ledgers. But even knowing this doesn’t necessarily provide a clear picture to many of those entering the crypto world.

In addition to time and understanding, two other elements help define cryptocurrency’s speculative nature:

Lack of regulation: When you invest in the traditional financial markets, your transactions are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the firms with which you invest are typically overseen by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Other agencies are also involved in regulating various investments. These regulating bodies work to ensure the basic fairness of the financial markets and to prevent and investigate fraud. 

But cryptocurrency exchanges are essentially unregulated, and this lack of oversight has contributed to the growth of “scam” exchanges, crypto market manipulation, excessive trading fees and other predatory practices. This “Wild West” scenario should be of concern to anyone putting money in crypto.

Volatility:  Cryptocurrencies are subject to truly astonishing price swings, with big gains followed by enormous losses — sometimes within a matter of hours. What’s behind this type of volatility? Actually, several factors are involved. For one thing, the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies depends heavily on supply and demand —  and the demand can skyrocket when media outlets and crypto “celebrities” tout a particular offering.

Furthermore, speculators will bet on crypto prices moving up or down, and these bets can trigger a rush on buying and selling, again leading to the rapid price movements. And many purchasers of crypto, especially young people, want to see big profits quickly, so when they lose large amounts, which is common, they often simply quit the market, contributing to the volatility.

The cryptocurrency market is still relatively new, and it’s certainly possible that, in the future, crypto can become more of an investment and less of a speculation. In fact, Congress is actively considering ways to regulate the cryptocurrency market. But for now, caveat emptor — “let the buyer beware.”

Michael Christodoulou, ChFC®, AAMS®, CRPC®, CRPS® is a Financial Advisor for Edward Jones in Stony Brook. Member SIPC.