Long Cryptocurrencies

Hi, humans and some robots that will flood this website’s traffic. Are you the one that brought up Bitcoin in Thanksgiving dinner? I will keep this article brief. As I started writing, I got too excited and wrote even more than I initially intended. Writing is powerful.

About 5% of my capital is in Bitcoin ($BTCUSD), Ethereum ($ETHUSD), and Litecoin ($LTCUSD). I suggest you go long these with the amount of money you can afford to lose without pain.

Mind me with “BITCOIN IS IN A HUGE BUBBLE.” Don’t waste time valuing bitcoin as it were just another type of security. There is no clear way to value these. So why not put the money you can afford to lose? It will just continue rising for who knows how long. Or you will just lose the money and continue to live as usual. Buy and Hold Cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies are a new asset class that serves decentralized applications (which allows you to do something you do today, but without the middle-man). Like stocks serve companies. Municipal bonds serve states and cities. Etc.

How can I buy Bitcoin? The easiest way to use middle-man brokerages. The most popular one in the U.S. is Coinbase.

As bitcoin price surged, so too have the number of Coinbase accounts. In the past 12 months, the number of Coinbase users increased 167% to 13.1 million. Coinbase now has more accounts than Charles Schwab which has 10.2 million accounts.

Bitcoin Price vs. Coinbase Accounts: 2013-2017
Source: Bespoke

Just today, all three cryptocurrencies, brave people and I hold hit All-Time-Highs (ATH). ATH headlines literally every day when it comes to Bitcoin.

Humans of planet Earth have been calling Bitcoin a bubble since $2000. Yet, it keeps going up and up and up…. Crashes few times about 20-30% time to time. Within days, it will hit ATH again. Like I keep saying to a countless number of people who ask me about Bitcoin. I have no idea where Bitcoin price will be at tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, next decade. But, I’m absolutely willing to put the amount of money I can afford to lose without sadness.

From what I noticed there are two types of people calling Bitcoin a bubble;

  • Inexperienced people without knowledge of basic economics and finance. Some keep comparing “Bitcoin bubble” to Tulip Bulbs, when in fact they don’t know anything about tulips. They still might turn out to be right.
  • Those people who missed out the increase in Bitcoin’s value. They still have an opportunity to buy.

At Delivering Alpha last September (which I did not attend this time around), JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin a “fraud” that will eventually blow up. Eventually.

He also joked about his daughter buying some bitcoin, and now she thinks she’s a genius. He also called any JPMorgan trader who trades bitcoin stupid and should be fired in a second.

I love and respect Jamie Dimon. But, I have to disagree with him on bitcoin. I’m a big fan of him (in addition to all other CEOs of major financial institutions haha). All jokes aside, I do respect him, his passion, his curiosity, and his opinions.

On the same day of Jamie’s comments, I along with other Baruch College students went to Goldman Sachs headquarters for a fireside chat with GS CEO Lloyd Blankfein. One of the questions I wanted to ask him was his reaction to Dimon’s comments AKA his opinion on Bitcoin. Didn’t get that chance. But, great event! Not long afterward that day, news came out stating Goldman Sachs is exploring a new trading operation dedicated to cryptocurrencies.

The technology behind bitcoin, Blockchain, is the real winner here. How can I and you benefit from it? Find companies that are heavily investing in the blockchain.

Decentralized services have a lot of challenges compared to their centralized counterparts. For one, they are slower.

  • Visa processed over 42 billion transactions in the second quarter or around 5,500 transactions per second. Whereas Bitcoin’s Blockchain is limited to less than 10 transactions per second. To put this in perspective, Bitcoin can only handle about 5% of the transactions that Paypal processes a day.
    • If you have been following Bitcoin development, you would know there was a “fork” which gave birth to a new currency, Bitcoin Cash (Bitcoin holders got free Bitcoin Cash!!!). Bitcoin cash is capable of handling about 60 transactions per second, a significant improvement I’m not going into depth about those, but to learn more about Bitcoin forks and Bitcoin Cash, check this article, Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin. A lot of innovation in this space.
    • Remember, Bitcoin forks gives you free cash…if you own Bitcoin. If you use third-party to buy/sell bitcoin, you might run into some issues which can be worked out with the help of other Bitcoin holders and threats.

Other challenges include the cost of transactions (which Bitcoin Cash also addresses), volatile and uncertain governance, etc.

CME Group recently announced to launch Bitcoin futures at the end of the year. It could lead to more institutional investors entering the market….and more power to bears. But don’t let that stop you from buying bitcoin. Even Dimon at the same Delivering Alpha said,

“I am not saying go short. Bitcoin could touch $100,000 before it goes down. So this is not (what you) advise somebody to do.”

It is true Bitcoin could touch $100,000 before it collapses 99.99%. Or it could touch $1,000,000 before dying.

So, take 5-10% of your money which you can afford to lose and buy bitcoin and some other digital currencies with big market capitalizations.

Warning: Be careful. Some people had their cryptocurrencies stolen. Coinbase posted useful post on how to protect your digital currencies.

People who got hacked seems to be the people that announced to the public (via Twitter, blogs, etc) they are invested in the new asset class. While back, I tweeted I’m invested. And now this blog. I’m scared!!!

Twitter account: @Khojinur30

Take some precautions.

I wrote this article right after my parents asked about Bitcoin and expressed an interest to buy it. I was shocked to hear my parents say it. So now I will interview them, get access to their finances, and decide whatever they should invest in it or not. If so, by how much? #HelpPeopleAchieveTheirFinancialGoals

Disclaimer: The views expressed and any forward-looking statements are as of the date indicated and are those of the author. Discussions of individual securities, or the markets generally, are not intended as individual recommendations. Future events or results may vary significantly from those expressed in any forward-looking statements; the views expressed are subject to change at any time in response to changing circumstances in the market. Khojinur Usmonov disclaims any obligation to publicly update or revise any views expressed or forward-looking statements.

Global Markets Crash + Asian Crisis Part 2

Global markets crash. Currency wars. What’s next? Good buying opportunity?

US markets: Markets plunged dramatically on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 530.94 points (3.12%), the worst one-day loss since November 2011 (on a % basis). The index is now down 10.2% (correction territory) below the May 19 closing and all-time high of 18,312, for the first time since 2011. For the week, the index is down 5.8%, the steepest decline since September 2011.

S&P 500 fell 64.84 points (3.19%), the worst one-day loss since November 2011 (on a % basis) and falling below 2,000 level for the first time since February. For the week, the index is also down 5.8%, the steepest decline since September 2011.

NASDAQ fell 171.45 (3.52%). For the week, the index is down 6.8%, the biggest weekly decline since August 2011.

European Markets: European stocks fell into correction territory on Friday. The Stoxx European 600 1.3% to 368.59. The index is down 11% from April 15 closing and all-time high of 414.06. For the week, the index is down 4.6%, the worst weekly performance since December. Other indexes fell into correction territory also. Germany’s DAX Index is down 18% from its highs. So far, 13 out of 18 western-European markets have lost 10% or more from their highs.

US oil prices fell just below $40 for the first time since February 2009, due to demand concerns and increasing supplies. US oil prices fell for their 8th consecutive week, the longest losing streak since 1986.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) (also known as “Fear Index”) jumped 46.45% to $28.03 on Friday. For the week, the index rose 118.47% (from $12.83 to $28.03), largest % move ever in a week.

Three factors driving the free-fall of the global markets:

  • Growing concerns (or uncertainty) about China’s economy
  • US rate-hike uncertainty. Uncertainty is the market’s worst foe
  • Plunging oil prices

There are concerns about slowing growth in emerging economies, particularly China. Economic data from China showed manufacturing PMI in China fell to a 77-month low of 47.1 in August, down from July’s final reading of 47.8. A reading below 50 represent a contraction. About two weeks ago, China’s trade data showed that July exports declined by 8.3% year-over-year (Y/Y) due to a strong yuan and lower demand from its trading partners. Exports to the Japan, European Union, and United States fell 13%, 12.3%, and 1.3%, respectively. Exports are China’s strongest growth machine. The weakness in the fundamentals started (still is) putting pressures on policymakers. Then, a surprise move came.

On August 11 (days after the exports data), the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) made a surprising move to devalue its currency (so called “one-time” move), the renminbi (RMB) (or yuan), against the US dollar (greenback) by 1.9%, the biggest devaluation since 1994 and first devaluation since the yuan was de-pegged from the dollar in 2005. PBOC decided to lower daily reference rate – which sets the value of yuan against the greenback – to make yuan more market-oriented exchange rate.

Three reasons behind China’s move:

  • Weak fundamentals, including exports
  • Desire to be included in IMF SDR basket
  • Impending US rate-hike

China’s move increased concerns over the health of its economy (second largest economy in the world) and shocked the global markets which continues today. China’s devaluation signaled that the economy there must be worse than what everybody believes. Continuous slowdown as it shifts from an export-led economy to a consumer-led economy has led Chinese government (or PBOC) to help stimulate economic activity. Over the past year, they cut interest rates four times and cut RRR (Reserve Requirement Ratio) several times. The goal is to combat slowing growth by strengthening liquidity and boosting lending (so far, unsuccessful). The recent devaluation will make imports expensive and help boost exports (reminder: exports fell 8.3% Y/Y in July).

Another reason behind China’s recent move is its desire for the yuan to be included in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDR), a basket of reserve currencies, in which the US Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen, and British Pound are part of. Earlier this week, IMF decided to extend its scheduled revision of SDR basket (revision takes place every five years) by nine months (to September 30, 2016), giving China more time to make yuan (or Renminbi ) “freely usable”, a key requirement join the SDR basket.

Last reason behind China’s recent move is impending rate-hike in the US, which would support the greenback and would have consequences for China. The recent devaluation ended the era of Yuan appreciation which began in 2005 (reminder: yuan was de-pegged from the dollar in 2005). Ever since “Strong Yuan” policy began in 2005, Yuan (CNY) appreciated 28% against the US Dollar (USD), 30% against the Euro (EUR), and 65% against the Japanese Yen (JPY)

Rise of Yuan against most of its trading partners’ currencies has made its trading partners exports attractive. US rate-hike would have made China’s export rivals even more attractive. Now that China devalued its currency in the wake of falling exports (reminder: exports fell 8.3% Y/Y in July), its trading partners would want to protect their exports share. Therefore, China has fired the first shot to start currency wars.

Consequences of China’s actions:

Countries like Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, Malaysia and Canada are likely to suffer from China’s devaluation. These countries are largest exporter to China. Don’t also forget that these countries can affect other countries. Basically, it is “Domino Effect” economically.

Earlier this week, Kazakhstan – whose top trading partners are China and Russia – switch to a free float (which means that the central bank stopped managing the exchange rate), causing its currency, the tenge (KZT), to fall 25%. The move comes due to three reasons; crude prices (Kazakhstan is central Asia’s biggest crude exporter) fell 55% in the past year, Russian has allowed its currency (ruble) to depreciate significantly as commodity prices plummeted, and due to the yuan devaluation. The motivation for the move is to preserve its export competitiveness.

Vietnam has also allowed its currency, the dong, to weaken further due to the recent devaluation by its biggest trading partner, China. Who will be next to devalue their currency in this crisis; Asian Crisis Part 2.

Commodities denominated in US dollars will become more expensive to buyers in China, the world’s largest consumer of raw materials. When China’s economy slows, demand for raw materials, such as copper, Iron-ore, etc decreases and the lower demand puts downward pressure on commodity prices.

China, second-largest oil consumer, is causing oil prices to drop non-stop, which will hurt oil exporters, such as Canada (possibly leading to another rate-cut).

Falling commodity prices mean one other thing; deflationary pressures.

Slow growth and lower commodity prices most likely will lead other central banks, especially large commodity exporters to maintain their easy monetary policies for longer. Countries with large current account deficits and/or corporations with large amount of debt denominated in US dollars could see their economic/financial conditions worsen, causing them to further increase/expand their easy monetary policy (rate-cuts, for example). Not only commodity exporters and emerging countries will suffer, but also US companies.

US companies with significant exposure to China will suffer from China’s devaluation. Such companies are Wynn Resorts, Micron Technology, Yum Brands, and Apple, accounting for China sales exposure of 70%, 55%, 52% and 30%, respectively.

When I noticed China economic getting worse earlier this year, I knew Apple depended on China a lot, so I said that Apple was overvalued as more competitors were emerging and China’s economy was about to get worse. Even though Apple’s earnings came out better than expected, I went ahead on twitter and responded to Carl Icahn’s comments on the Apple and the market. He expected (maybe still expects) Apple’s stock price to double, which I did not (and I still don’t). More competitors are starting to emerge and China’s economic conditions are getting worse (debt bubble coming).

Mr. Icahn believed the market was extremely overheated and expected market bubble. I have to agree with him. I preferred (still prefer) to use the term “correction”. At this time, I believe current market sell-off is temporary and the dust will be settled in a month (good-buying opportunity). I expect “market bubble” after the Fed raises interest rates to the range of 0.70% and 0.80% (early 2017?). That’s when market sell-off will be much worse than the current situation.

I’m calling Mr. Icahn to respond to my questions; how do you think China’s action will affect global economies (or markets)? Do you still think Apple could double in price?

Now, let’s get back to how else China can affect global economies (deflationary pressures). I expect Europe’s economy and Japan’s economy to slow down.

Europe’s economy will slow down due to export demand decreasing and the uncertainty created by Greece (Yes, they did get a bailout deal, but it’s not over). That’s why I believe European Central Bank (ECB) will either lower interest rates even further or they will increase current Quantitative Easing (QE) program, pushing Euro currency lower. Current falling prices in the European markets are a golden opportunity. Lower interest rates and/or increased QE program will send European equity prices higher>>>all-time highs will be made.

Japan, China’s largest trading partner, will also suffer due to export demand decreasing. The devaluation of yuan (or, Renminbi) will make Japanese exports less competitive. Japan’s economy is still suffering despite Abenomics (similar to QE). Recent data showed GDP (Gross Domestic Product) falling at annual pace of 1.6% in 2nd quarter, due to slowing exports and lack of consumer spending. Abenomics has failed. Additional monetary easing coming? If the economy does not get any better in the next several months, I expect additional monetary easing by the Bank of Japan (BoJ).

I don’t believe the Federal Reserve will stop its plan to hike the rates, but it will slow the pace of it. On Wednesday (August 19), Fed minutes of July meeting (leaked earlier) showed that Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members “…judged that the conditions for policy firming had not yet been achieved, but they noted that conditions were approaching that point.” They also said that “…the recent decreases in oil prices and the possibility of adverse spillovers from slower economic growth in China raised some concerns.” US dollar has been falling ever since the release of fed minutes, as expectations for September rate-hike decreased.

Now more troubles emerged, I wonder what the Fed will say or do. There are many US economic reports that will come until the Fed’s September meeting. The reports will decide the fate of rate-hike for September. At this time, I expect the Fed to hike the rates in September by 10 basis points (or 0.10%).

If the current China situation (or Asian Crisis Part 2) gets out of control, there will be no rate-hike for the rest of year even if there’s strong US economic reports.

All comments welcomed. Thank you.

Disclaimer: The posts are not a recommendation to buy or sell any stocks, currencies, etc mentioned. They are solely my personal opinions. Every investor/trader must do his/her own due diligence before making any investment/trading decision.