Five fascinating business facts – Part 46
Bitcoin shed more than $700 in an hour on Thursday morning, extending the volatility that saw it whipsaw from a bull market to a bear and back again yesterday evening. A unit of the cryptocurrency hit a low of $9,482 at 11am GMT, according to Reuters data, having traded at $10,200 at 10am. By publication time it was trading at $9,650 per bitcoin, which marks only a 1.7 per cent decline since the start of the day but a more than 9 per cent decline from its early morning highs, and 15 per cent lower than Wednesday’s peak.
What is to be done about a financial mania, an infectious disease of the mind? Greed and curiosity spread crypto-enthusiasm like unwashed hands in cold and flu season. Step one is to reduce transmission: tell friends and family that bitcoin’s price explosion since March, from $1,000 to $11,000, is no reason to put their wealth at risk. Comparing this infection to previous strains shows its virulence. Far beyond any modern stock market mania, history offers only the South Sea bubble and Dutch tulipmania as comparable outbreaks. But such pestilent comparisons do little to cure the afflicted, due to the pleasant side effect of ephemeral riches.
U.S. stocks have more than tripled in value since 2009, but the bull market has left a lot of Americans behind. In almost every age group, the share of families owning equities—either directly or through funds and retirement accounts—declined from 2007 to 2016, according to the Federal Reserve’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances. There’s one prominent exception: households headed by someone 75 or older.
South African bank stocks are nothing if not resilient. In November they contended with news that South Africa’s local-currency debt was downgraded to junk status for a second time this year, increasing their borrowing costs and piling further strain on an economy that slipped into recession in the first quarter. Instead of buckling under an increasingly negative outlook for 2018, bank stocks have reacted by recording their best month of gains since March last year. The six-member index climbed more than 9 percent in November, after dropping 0.6 percent in the preceding 10 months. Not only did the gauge swing from losing ground to making gains, it also rose to within just 60 points of the all-time high set in April 2015.
Angola plans to sell a minority stake in a state-owned telecommunications provider and hold an auction for a fourth industry operator, as President Joao Lourenco shakes up the business environment and reduces the influence of his predecessor’s family. The government of the oil-rich West African country has received several expressions of interest from local and foreign investors in the new telecommunications licence, state-owned news agency, Angop said, citing the country’s telecommunications minister Jose Carvalho da Rocha. The winning bidder will be able to offer fixed-line, mobile, internet and paid-television services, Rocha said. A 45% stake in Angola Telecom will be sold, the minister said. The state-owned firm competes with Unitel, controlled by Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s oldest daughter and Africa’s richest woman.
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