Are we on the cusp of a Bitcoin bubble?
What goes up must come down – or must it? Bitcoin’s recent stratospheric rise has helped push the value of crypto-currencies through the $50 billion-mark, triggering concerns over the creation of an unstable asset bubble in what is a largely unregulated market.
The rapid growth in alternative digital currencies — so-called ‘alt-coins’ — as well as in Bitcoin itself is without precedent; the value of Bitcoin alone has risen by more than 50% in a month and is currently worth more than gold. It’s an astonishing trajectory for a virtual, non-fiat currency.
Is the presidential honeymoon over?
It was one of Donald Trump’s most prominent pre-election pledges, so when the much-vaunted repeal of Obamacare failed to secure the support it needed in Congress, Wall Street signalled its disapproval via a massive share dump, bringing the stock market’s seemingly unstoppable rise to a screeching halt.
If the stellar performance of the S&P over the past few months demonstrated a level of confidence in the ability of the new president to deliver on his promises, this abrupt volte-face is a reflection of a more sombre mood. Tumbling US shares prefaced similar dips in Tokyo, Frankfurt, Paris and London as global markets wobbled over the prospect of the Trump administration’s ability to deliver on a raft of growth-boosting measures.
Rates on hold
The announcement by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to hold US interest rates steady in July came as no surprise to market analysts who had felt that the threat of economic uncertainty and the imminent presidential election would prevent the Federal Reserve from making any hasty decisions to hike the rate in the short term.
The race is on to be the new London
Following June’s momentous referendum result, the UK is on track to leave the European Union, sparking speculation that its capital city will see an exodus of banks looking to secure their trading position within Europe.
Large US banks, including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, employ many thousands of staff in the UK, using the country as a staging point to access member states in the bloc via a trading ‘passport’. However, now that Britain’s relationship with the rest of Europe is uncertain, a number of banks are looking to review their arrangements and preparing to shift operations – in part at least – to the continent.
Jail time for ex-bankers
After a three-month trial at Southwark Crown Court in London, England, four former Barclays bankers have been handed down lengthy jail sentences for conspiring to fraudulently rig global benchmark interest rates between 2005 and 2007.
The convictions represent a significant triumph for the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which has been pursuing investigations into the Libor scandal for several years but has enjoyed only one other successful prosecution to six acquittals. Two further Libor-fixing cases by other former Barclays bankers are currently under investigation.
British government thrown a political curveball
After months of heated campaigning that saw Westminster’s leading politicians locked in angry opposition, The United Kingdom voted last week to end 43 years of European Union membership in a historical decision that will resonate for years to come. The EU didn’t feature as a top-five issue in the last British general election, so what happened to cause such a momentous shift in the British pysche?