Last month today – January 2021 in review

Out with a bang

Barely had the smoke from New Year’s fireworks cleared up as the U.S. Congress had to witness an extraordinary attack from Donald Trump’s supporters. The angry masses entered the building but based on the footage from the news stations, did not quite know what to do next. Perhaps the plan was to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and force her to rename Donald? Or simply punish her from ripping up that presidential speech from last year? Either way, the main outcome seemed to be destroyed property and plenty of social media postings at famous rooms next to famous statues.

Speaking of statues, the first thing Joe Biden got his hands into as the new President was redecorating the White House. Along with Trump’s favorite artwork, cases of empty Coke cans were taken to a nearby supermarket. Soon as fengshui was reached, Biden got busy overturning several of Trump’s decisions, pretty much the first one being the acceptance of Paris Climate agreement.

To bits and pieces

Bitcoin rocked, once again the global stock market and caused all sorts of speculations escalate through the roof. For reasons unknown to most analysts – and kept in secret by those who did know – the stock of the mighty virtual currency hit new all-time highs several times in the beginning of the year – while plunging down tens of percentage points in between.

The renowned speculators began throwing hints about making serious investments in Bitcoin, whether the waters were calmed by Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary or not, he made a strong point on CNBC that Bitcoin is utter nonsense. While Gabriel Makhlouf, member of European Central Bank, told those having invested to get ready to lose everything, all Elon Musk had to do was add #bitcoin to his Twitter profile to further boost the surge.

O’Leary made a point that even though cryptocurrencies have recently received support from established corporations such as Paypal and Fidelity, turning bitcoins into official currency is still a stiff process that takes an enormous amount of time. Until bitcoin gets more liquid, O’Leary will stick to other investment targets. Just because he can put them in efficient, agile use. Such as, apparently those great visions of all those Shark Tank participants.

Those restless stocks

The turmoil and uncertainty are clearly visible in stock market with sudden surges that wakes up the short sellers. Network company Nokia jumped up against all odds, as did American Airlines, just after posting record annual losses. At the end of the month, Nokia went up by almost 90 per cent at NYSE, causing the company to release a statement that they are indeed not aware of any unpublished developments in their operations that might be behind this.

Trading with Nokia stocks was temporarily interrupted, and similar restrictions were taken into practice by several brokers. Gamestop and AMC Entertainment, for example, had been rising sharply but restrictions soon caused them to fall by about 50 per cent.

The small investors were considered to particularly suffer from not being able to trade; this can also be interpreted in a way that short selling was something that was particularly attacked. Which again can – but does not necessarily – mean that while the entire stock market ideology is based on speculation, that should be practiced only to a certain degree.

The Olympic spirit in danger

While the minor leagues are suffering from having to play without audience and living in fear about the season being abruptly stopped at any given moment, the huge shadow of Covid has now been cast above the Olympics as well. While the 2020 Tokyo games had to be postponed by a year, scheduled to begin this July, they now find themselves in the danger of being completely wiped out.

Recent opinion polls do indicate that about 80 % of Japanese do not want the Olympics to be held this summer; a fact that has further caused speculations about the government already – obviously privately – concluded that this will eventually be the case. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is certainly doing all he can to not rock the boat any more by not giving up but stating – through his advisors – that it takes full control of current spread, contact tracing devices, quick vaccine rollout and positive experience from other events to get out of the jam.

The pressure is building up and not helped by the financial risk, adding up to around 0,5 % of the country’s GDP. While the Olympic spirit should be about fair participation and all that stuff, money seems to be talking after all.


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