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Good morning, Bull Sheeters. European stocks and U.S. futures are flat on Tuesday, putting the S&P 500’s six-day rally in jeopardy as we head into a big day of impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill.
At the moment, most of the market action can be found in the crypto corner with Bitcoin barreling through a new all-time high overnight. Could it hit 50K by end of day? Some bulls say that’s just the start.
In today’s essay, I dig into the big Tesla-Bitcoin news and tease out what it may mean for ESG investors, a true force on Wall Street.
In the meantime, let’s see what’s moving markets.
- The major Asia indexes are mostly higher in afternoon trading, with the Shanghai Composite up 1.9%.
- Chinese regulators are coming down hard on Tesla as customer complaints mount over explosions and failed auto-braking technology. Reminder: China is a crucial market for Elon Musk’s EV maker.
- Move over, Johnson & Johnson. Chinese vaccine maker Cansino Biologic has developed a single-jab COVID-19 vaccine that’s reporting promising trial results.
- The European bourses were as flat as a crêpe out of the gates with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.1% at the open.
- Shares in Total were up 1% after the French energy giant posted a big earnings beat and disclosed a fairly upbeat 2021 outlook.
- According to the Financial Times, EU lawmakers are drawing up legislation to force the likes of Facebook and Google to pay for news. It mimics a similar media-friendly initiative from Australia that tech giants have loudly protested.
- U.S. futures are flat this morning after all three major exchanges closed Monday in record territory. The Dow and S&P 500 winning streak stands at six straight. Can we make it seven today? Last I checked, S&P futures were down about three points.
- The squabble over $1,400 stimulus checks is taking on an It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World feel. In recent days, we’ve seen trickle-down acolytes on the right insisting on means testing, and soak-the-rich lefties objecting to any handout-limitations whatsoever. Here’s an idea: bury the money under the “Big W,” and drop Americans a bunch of cryptic clues about how to find the loot. Or…
- … just give every American family a stash of Bitcoin. That would be Elon Musk’s solution.
- Gold is creeping up, trading around $1,850/ounce.
- The dollar is down.
- Crude keeps on climbing. Brent is trading near $61/barrel.
- Bitcoin hit a fresh high over night, topping $48,000.
A bull market within a bull market
Bitcoin is today’s . It’s up 20% in the past 24 hours. Call it a bull market within a bull market.
I don’t own a Tesla, and I don’t have any Bitcoin (and certainly no Dogecoin) in my portfolio. When it comes to cryptocurrencies, I’m a bit of a .
Maybe I should get with the times…As Bitcoin was blowing up the record books yesterday, we got a fresh call for Bitcoin $100,000. “You’re seeing the herd here, and it’s coming,” crypto bull Michael Novogratz declared on Bloomberg Television yesterday.
At that price level, a single Bitcoin could buy a top-of-the-line Tesla with all the snazziest features. And, if we’ve interpreted Tesla’s curious regulatory filing yesterday correctly, the EV maker will in fact begin accepting Bitcoin for payment . . . presumably, payment for an actual Tesla automobile.
Yes, accepting such a volatile currency for payment is a GAAP accounting nightmare. It also poses a potential nightmare dilemma for ESG investors. Tesla is already a darling of the fund managers who put together the best performing U.S. ESG ETFs and funds. Will true climate hawks push them to boot out a Bitcoin-endorsing Tesla?
UBS Chief economist Paul Donovan sums up the conundrum nicely in an investor note this morning:
Yesterday’s news has “highlighted a clash with the growth of sustainable investment,” he writes. “Crypto does significant environmental damage without creating any improvement in living standards. Can sustainability investors consider owning companies associated with crypto?”
A thorough examination of the E in ESG is probably long overdue on Wall Street. If nothing else, let’s hope Tesla’s embrace of crypto will jumpstart that discussion.
Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow… Until then, there’s more news below.
As always, you can write to [email protected] or reply to this email with suggestions and feedback.
Correction: Thanks to an eagle-eye reader who noticed I short-changed the size of the U.S. stimulus package in yesterday’s Bull Sheet. It is $1.9 trillion.