The Investing Highs And Lows Of 2021

Game “Stonks”

What do you get when you combine Reddit, Robinhood and hundreds of thousands of retail investors? One of the wildest episodes in public markets, of course, which pitted amateur millennial and Gen Z traders’ David against Wall Street’s Goliath. Hedge funds that bet against struggling video game retailer GameStop lost billions after do-it-yourself investors, getting their cues from organizers on Reddit, bid up the distressed stock, forcing the hedgies into a short squeeze.

SPAC Attack

2021 will undoubtedly be remembered as the year of the SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company. Also known as blank check companies, SPACs have no business objective other than to buy or merge with another company and bring it to market. In 2020, SPAC listings outnumbered traditional IPOs for the first time ever, a trend that continued in 2021.

Planet Bitcoin

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Bitcoin, the world’s first and largest cryptocurrency by market cap. Where do I even begin?

Shipping Rates And Inflation

I’m conflating shipping rates and inflation into one story because the former is a major contributor to the latter. In 2021, global shipping rates reached all-time highs as consumers shifted much of their spending from services (dining out, going to the theater) to goods. Although rates have rolled over from their September and October peaks, they still remain highly elevated. According to data provided by Freightos, the average global rate to ship a 40-foot container was up a head-spinning 200% in December 2021 compared to the same month in 2020.

Honorable Mention: Texas Freezes

Back in February, U.S. Global Investors’ home state of Texas experienced a once-in-a-century winter storm that exposed the vulnerabilities of its standalone power grid, overseen by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Millions of Texans, myself included, went without water and electricity for days at a time as “Snovid,” an apt play on Covid, froze un-winterized natural gas pipelines and wind turbines.

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