‘s ARK Invest is doubling down on its efforts in the cryptocurrency space, and is buying up shares of a potential business partner.
ARK Invest is teaming up with 21Shares, an issuer of crypto exchange traded products outside the U.S., in trying to offer an ETF fund tracking bitcoin. The ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF would track the S&P Bitcoin index and trade on the Cboe BZX Exchange, according to a prospectus.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to approve any cryptocurrency ETF.
Watching the cryptocurrency game play out in China, it’s hard not to think about Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football.
Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts” cartoon says more about the herd behavior of crypto enthusiasts than meets the eye. Every time, Lucy convinces Charlie she’ll hold the ball for him to kick. Each time, she yanks it away at the last second, with Charlie landing flat on his back pondering his gullibility. Bullishness on bitcoin and its peers often seems that way.
China, of course, is Lucy here. In recent years, no country seemed more enthusiastic about crypto assets—both mining and trading—than China, where the first wave of important exchanges popped up. Time and time again, though, President Xi Jinping’s regulators have yanked away the market’s growth and potential—often quite suddenly.
Now, it seems as if Xi’s team wants to hide the ball for good. After banning mining and trading, it’s going after the fintech and retail giants that might give crypto holders the impression they could actually do something with their wealth.
The People’s Bank of China is rolling out its own digital currency in the months ahead. In the meantime, it is ordering Ant Group and four huge state-owned banks to crack down even further on transacting in privately created digital assets. When Beijing is summoning Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Postal Savings Bank of China to sever ties with crypto assets, the market is facing a period of existential soul searching.
The what of China’s move against the crypto world is obvious. The why, less so. It’s hard not to see this as the financial empire that supports and enriches the Communist Party striking back. And reasserting itself in ways that auger poorly for the direction of reforms in Asia’s biggest economy.
The role of Ant here, by far Asia’s most watched fintech behemoth—and this goes too for the crypto crackdown—seems no coincidence. Few global chieftains have had a tougher eight months than Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, who set the Ant juggernaut in motion.
On October 24, Ma gave what might be recorded in posterity as the costliest speech ever given. That day in Shanghai, Ma seemed to forget that in China, the boards of Alibaba and Ant don’t really answer to shareholders but to Beijing. The epic fallout from China’s most famous innovator saying aloud that China’s regulators don’t understand the internet and calling the country’s state-banking giants “pawnshops” was fast and furious.
Within days, Ant’s hotly awaited $35 billion initial public offering, to be history’s biggest, was off. That was as much a blow to Ma’s inner circle as China investors. In 2014, Ma listed Alibaba in New York. At the time, it was the biggest IPO ever and announced China’s arrival as a major tech disruptor.
In November 2020, though, Ma planned to take Ant public in Shanghai and Hong Kong, leaving Wall Street pulsating with envy. That was, until Chinese officials pulled the plug.
The conventional wisdom is that Beijing sidelined Ant to rein in financial risk—a “time out” of sorts to strengthen China’s regulatory framework. But Ant’s plans were well publicized before Ma’s speech, including the IPO prospectus.
Surely, China’s leaders knew on October 23 what Ma was planning before he said, a day later, that “today’s financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age. We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people. We must reform the current system.”
The more likely story here is that Ma, by ruffling feathers, gave regulators the chance they’d long sought to clip his wings. And those of Ant, whose ambitions to turn China Inc. on its head became a major worry for Beijing. Many owe their power—and personal fortunes—to the state sector staying at the center of the economy.
Ant was about to disrupt things in epochal ways. Early on, fintech companies were to be middlemen between lenders and consumers, not institutions that might need to set aside capital buffers. Yet Ma’s ambitions to expand from payments to insurance to investments and other pursuits could upend China Inc. in tantalizing ways, particularly as peers follow suit.
Suddenly, there would be valid questions about where this fintech revolution leaves Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Who needs sprawling legacy banks when smaller, scrappier finance startups are springing up to modernize the mainland banking business. What if the Ant-Alibaba universe wanted to issue its own digital currency, akin to Facebook’s hopes for a “Diem” blockchain-based payment medium?
The use of private currencies that could be used to evade detection, taxation and overseas capital flows are a foundational risk to Beijing’s sense of control. As China’s Big Tech industry expands into every corner of mainland finance, it will collect reams of data—and influence—in a nation where the government is used to doing the surveillance.
This threat explains why it’s no longer just Ant in harm’s way. Dozens of Davos-attending Chinese tech billionaires have also been put on notice. This dragnet includes WeChat operator Tencent, internet search giant Baidu and myriad other household names.
Nothing threatens China’s top-down system more than cryptocurrencies which are essentially encrypted money flows. So expect Lucy–China—to continue to play with crypto asset enthusiasts for the time being. But there should be no confusion about how Beijing’s love-hate drama with bitcoin will end. Badly.
Due to this reduction, bitcoin’s hash rate is back to levels last seen in May 2020. It also significantly counters the long-term upward trend and is the largest drop in history.
As The Block has reported, the main cause for the falling hash rate is the crackdown on bitcoin mining in China. After a high-level comment was made during the China State Council meeting last month, regions across China started issuing notices for miners to cease their operations. This has led to a huge decline in China’s contribution to the hash rate.
Another impact has been the falling price of bitcoin, which has dropped from a peak price of $63,500 in April to its current price of $35,300. This has made it less profitable to mine bitcoin (although the declining hash rate will counteract that).
Falling on-chain metrics
Bitcoin’s hash rate is not the only on-chain metric in decline.
The number of daily transactions on the bitcoin network has fallen to levels not seen since July 2018. According to the dashboard, just 200,000 transactions are being made per day (on average over the last seven days).
There has also been a decline in the number of active addresses on the network, although it only returns to April 2020 levels. The number of daily active addresses has gone down from 1.23 million to 765,000 per day — and far fewer new addresses are being created every day.
Bitcoin transaction fees are also much lower now, although this makes the network cheaper to use. They have fallen to around $7 on average per day, down from a peak of $54 per transaction in April.
The one metric defying the trend is the amount of capacity in the Bitcoin Lightning network. Since starting the year at about 1,000 bitcoin ($35.3 million at current prices), the amount of bitcoin locked up in the network has rapidly increased, rising to 1,640 million ($57.9 million) today.
Bitcoin (BTC) buyers remained active during Asia hours and defended initial support around $33,800. The next level of resistance is seen between $38,000-$40,000, which is near the top of a month-long range.
The $30,000 support level was re-tested over the weekend, marking a higher low from the June 22 shakeout around $29,000. Price remains elevated and could break above the 100-period moving average on the four-hour chart.
Bitcoin was trading around $35,000 at press time and is up 4% over the past 24-hours.
“The trusts are just an easy way for investors to get access to the underlying bitcoin without buying it directly,” said Tyrone Ross, CEO of Onramp Invest, a company providing “cryptoasset” management technology to financial planners.
While bitcoin trusts may offer a simpler way to invest in cryptocurrency, there are downsides to consider, financial advisors say.
What to know before investing
A bitcoin trust operates differently than a mutual fund or ETF. These trusts periodically sell a limited number of private shares to so-called accredited investors, who meet strict income, net worth and experience requirements.
Later, those accredited investors may sell their shares through public markets. But the prices may not match the underlying asset, known as trading at a discount or premium.
For example, if someone buys $1 of a bitcoin trust, their share may have 70 cents of bitcoin or $1.10 of bitcoin, depending on the asset’s demand.
“There’s another layer of supply and demand volatility surrounding it,” said Schaefer.
Currently, the most popular choice is the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, with $21.7 billion assets under management. Osprey Bitcoin Trust released a competing option in February, managing nearly $91.2 million.
By comparison, Vanguard’s 500 Index Fund, tracking 500 of the country’s largest companies, has $231.84 billion in assets.
Another downside of investing in bitcoin trusts is the fees, which are typically more than the average mutual fund or ETF.
For most people, it may be cheaper to buy bitcoin through a cryptocurrency exchange, like Coinbase, Schaefer said.
However, someone may be willing to pay more to avoid cryptocurrency exchanges or to add bitcoin exposure in their regular individual retirement account.
“Right now, if you really want to have your crypto in a tax-advantaged retirement account, then you just have to bite the bullet and pay those high costs,” Schaefer added.
Investors have been clamoring for bitcoin ETFs for years, hoping for cheaper and easier ways to add cryptocurrency to their portfolios. Experts say these funds may also offer more transparent pricing.
“You won’t have these large discounts or premiums, which is huge,” Ross said.
While several companies have filed to release the first U.S. bitcoin ETF, the SEC has continually put off decisions. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler expressed the need for more cryptocurrency regulation in May, seeking greater investor protections.
Earlier in the year, internet-fueled “meme stocks” blew up, and now, cryptocurrencies seem to be the next big thing. While there are many digital currencies you can invest in, you may have your eye on Bitcoin, since it’s arguably the most well-known.
A lot of investors have had success investing in Bitcoin, so you may be eager to follow in their footsteps. Here’s why you need to be especially cautious when considering Bitcoin.
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1. It’s very volatile
If you have a brokerage account and invest in stocks, you may be no stranger to market volatility. But as wildly as stock prices can swing, Bitcoin can swing even more.
Earlier this month, Bitcoin fell to a three-month low after Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company was hitting pause on accepting the currency. If you’re going to buy Bitcoin, gear up for what could be a very intense ride.
2. It’s still pretty speculative
When you invest in stocks, you can put your money into companies that have been around for decades. In fact, many stocks within the S&P 500 (a market index that consists of the 500 largest publicly-traded companies) have been around for upward of 100 years.
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Bitcoin, on the other hand, has only been around since 2009. It doesn’t have the long history — or performance — that stocks have. It’s also unclear whether Bitcoin’s value will really increase long term. Much of that will hinge on whether it becomes a widely accepted form of currency, and it’s too soon to know that. So if you’re comparing Bitcoin to stocks, there’s really no comparison — they’re totally different beasts, and the long-term performance of stocks can’t in any way predict how Bitcoin will fare in time.
3. Your account could get hacked
Security breaches happen on the internet all the time, but that could put your Bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency) investment at risk. A number of digital currency exchanges have been subject to hacking incidents, and you could suffer serious losses if you choose an exchange with lackluster security.
The good news is that most large crypto exchanges have strong security measures in place. But if you’re going to buy Bitcoin, find one that offers insurance, so you get some amount of protection.
Weighing your options
You may decide Bitcoin is right for you based on your investing strategy and tolerance for risk. And that’s not necessarily a bad call. Investing in Bitcoin isn’t always a bad idea — for some people, it’s a great idea. The key is to understand some of the key risks before you make that decision.
Furthermore, if you’re new to cryptocurrencies, you may want to look at different currency options before settling on Bitcoin. You may find that there’s another that’s a more suitable fit for you.
Don’t believe the Bitcoin bounce. The U.K.’s decision to block Binance from engaging in regulated activity in that country is bad news for cryptocurrencies.
The U.K. government announced that Binance, a crypto exchange, is not allowed to engage in regulated activities and must make that clear on its website. It’s not a ban—Binance can still offer crypto trading on its website—but a limit placed on what it can do.
In an email to The Wall Street Journal, U.K. regulators highlighted that a “significantly high number of crypto businesses are not meeting the required standards” under money-laundering regulations as the reason for its actions.
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That’s not a surprise. Traditional banks and brokers are required to check on the legitimacy of their clients. Ultimately, crypto brokers and exchanges might have to do the same, require them to know their clients, something that isn’t really part of the crypto ethos.
Bitcoin is rallying, up almost 5% Monday. The gain, however, doesn’t matter much. It gets the world’s leading crypto to where it was on Thursday, before a 7.8% drop.
Bitcoin remains stuck at the lower end of its $30,000 to $40,000 trading range it’s been bouncing around in for more than a month.
It might have trouble gaining momentum and breaking out as global governments take a closer look at all things crypto.
*** In this week’s Barron’s Streetwise podcast, columnist Jack Hough talks with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla about vaccines, cancer treatments, rising drug prices, and more. Listen here.
Lawmakers Work to Keep Biden’s Infrastructure Proposals Alive
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) said Sunday he could support an additional spending bill of up to $2 trillion that could include a corporate tax rate increase to 25%, as GOP senators told the morning talk shows they were reassured by President Joe Biden’s comments about the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he is “totally confident” the president will sign the infrastructure agreement without raising taxes.
Lawmakers struck the deal last week but were alarmed by Biden’s comments Thursday that suggested his signature on it would depend on passage of his other spending priorities. Biden clarified his comments on Saturday.
A group of 21 senators, including 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, back the infrastructure deal, which provides $579 billion above expected federal spending.
Biden’s senior advisor Cedric Richmond said the administration hopes to get more than the 60 votes needed to pass urgently needed infrastructure improvements, he told CBS’s “This Week.”
What’s Next: Democrats hope to pass a broader anti-poverty bill under a special budget process known as reconciliation that requires only a simple Senate majority vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) plans to address both bills in July.
—Janet H. Cho
India’s Coronavirus Deaths and Delta Variant Impact May Be Underestimated
India confirmed more than 395,000 Covid deaths, but public health officials, statisticians and families believe the actual figure is much higher. That may affect the world’s understanding of the scope of the highly infectious Delta variant discovered in India, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said India’s actual Covid deaths may exceed 1.1 million. Overwhelmed hospitals turned away patients in April and May without testing them.
Australia expanded its lockdowns as it searched for 15 workers from a gold mine in central Australia who are suspected of being infected with the Delta variant. Passengers and crew from five Virgin Australia flights were ordered to isolate after one crew member tested positive.
Although 56% of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, rates vary from 75% in Vermont to 38% in Mississippi and 41% in Alabama, according to the New York Times’ analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Vaccinations in rural areas lag behind urban areas, even within the same state.
Public health officials are concerned that unvaccinated people are more vulnerable to catching, spreading and dying from the Delta variant. In the U.K., where more than 95% of cases are of the Delta strain, children are driving the current surge.
What’s Next: The Delta variant made up 20.6% of U.S. cases as of June 19, including 29% of cases in Missouri and 10% of cases in Colorado, according to the CDC. In California, the Delta variant is 14.5% of the state’s cases and is growing rapidly.
—Janet H. Cho
Unemployment Rates Fall In States Dropping Pandemic Payments
Unemployment is falling in the states where extra federal pandemic assistance is ending early, according to The Wall Street Journal, suggesting the move is forcing people to find jobs.
The May unemployment rate in Missouri, which stopped the $300 weekly benefit June 12, was 4.2% compared to the national average of 5.8%, Labor Department data show.
Missouri and three other states were the first to cut off payments, followed by seven states on June 19, and 10 this weekend. Four more states will stop by July 10. The federal program is set to expire in September.
The number of workers paid benefits through regular state programs fell 13.8% from mid-May to June 12 in states ending them in June, according to Jefferies. That compares with a 10% decline in states ending them in July, and a 5.7% decrease in states ending them in September.
The U.S. is not adding jobs as fast as it lost them during the early stages of the pandemic last year, but the economy has still created an average of 535,000 new jobs each month in 2021.
What’s Next: The government’s report on job creation in June is slated for Friday, and Wall Street is looking for a somewhat bigger increase. Economists predict almost 700,000 new jobs were added this month, and the unemployment rate is expected to slip to 5.7% from 5.8%.
China’s Didi and Krispy Kreme Highlight Busy IPO Calendar
Didi Global, the Chinese ride-hailing company, is expected to raise $4 billion in an initial public offering this week on the New York Stock Exchange, while anticipation is also growing over Krispy Kreme’s return to the public market.
The Didi offering would give the company a valuation of $62 billion to $67 billion. The investor order books will close one day early on Monday at 5 p.m. in each region, according to Reuters.
Didi is offering 288 million American Depository shares at a price of $13 to $14.
The IPO would be the largest international listing in the U.S. since Alibaba
raised $25 billion in 2014. The company said it plans to use the money to invest in technology, notably in electric vehicles, and grow outside China.
Krispy Kreme is seeking to raise up to $640 million. The company first went public in 2000 before being taking private in 2016. It will trade under the symbol DNUT.
What’s Next: The listings illustrate the renewed vigor of the IPO market as investors try to take advantage of rising markets and generous valuations.
U.S. Launches Air Strikes Against Iran-Backed Militias
The U.S. military said Sunday it had carried out “defensive precision airstrikes” against Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement that U.S. jets had targeted two “operational and weapons storage facilities” in Syria and one in Iraq, in reprisals for attacks against U.S. military personnel.
This is the second time that President Biden has ordered retaliation against the Iran-supported groups in the region, after limited strikes in Syria in February.
The U.S. said the appropriate strikes were “designed to limit the risk of escalation—but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.”
The Iraqi resistance coordination, an umbrella group claiming to speak for Iran-backed militias, said that three of its members had been killed in the attack.
What’s Next: U.S. officials are concerned by the increasing use of drones by the militias in the region. But Biden is still trying separately to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
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Stocks are set for a mixed day ahead while crypto is surging, as even the slow days of summer trading continue to keep the black clouds away from financial markets.
It may not last for long.
Our call of the day, from strategists Barry B. Bannister and Thomas R. Carroll at the equity trading desk of investment bank Stifel, is that the S&P 500 is heading for an 11% pullback while bitcoin could fall to $12,000.
The “recovery trade” that has defined the recent bull market is headed for a further correction in the second half of 2021, the strategists said. Cyclical stocks—industrials, energy, materials, financials, tech, and discretionary—will fall relative to defensive stocks like staples, healthcare, utilities, and real estate, Bannister and Carroll said.
This will weigh down the S&P 500 SPX, +0.33%,
and Stifel’s strategists say that the blue-chip index is heading for an 11% drop to 3,800 points.
The likely catalysts for this major shift, according to the team at the investment bank, are the U.S. PMI Manufacturing Index fading faster than expected in the second half of the year, and the dollar strengthening.
Bannister and Carroll said the primary causes are a slowing global money supply in U.S. dollar terms—as central banks ease pandemic-era supports—as well as distortions from quantitative easing, and the lagged effect of China’s policy tightening.
A sea change of this magnitude will create distinctive winners and losers, the strategists said. Investors can prepare by buying shares in companies focused on defensive industries: pharma and biotech; food and staples retailing; commercial and professional services; food, beverage, and tobacco; utilities; healthcare equipment and services; household products; consumer services; and telecommunications.
But avoid the stocks set to be losers, identified by the team at Stifel as: banks; insurance; software and services; real estate; energy; diversified financials; semiconductors; technology hardware; materials; capital goods; and autos and components.
Other casualties that Bannister and Carroll expect to see are bitcoin BTCUSD, +4.75%
and copper HG00, -0.56%,
which are both sensitive to slowing global liquidity and the stronger dollar. The strategists at Stifel see bitcoin falling from around $34,000 to $12,000 if global M2—a measure of the money supply—drops to low-single digits year-over-year, as they expect.
Tesla TSLA, -1.17%
is recalling more than 285,000 vehicles in China, including more than 90% of the cars the company makes locally, because of safety risks associated with the cruise control system, the Chinese market regulator said Saturday. The regulator said an investigation found that the Teslas cruise control system could be accidentally activated and potentially result in an unexpected speed increase.
It’s a light day on the U.S. economic front. Investors can expect more questions about inflation when the New York Federal Reserve President John Williams speaks at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, before the Dallas Fed publishes Texas’ manufacturing outlook survey.
Our chart of the day, from investment bank Natixis, via Batnick, shows the expectation gap between financial professionals and individual investors in 17 countries—and that American investors expect 17.5% real returns over the long term.
“The S&P 500 has returned 10.4% over the long term. The idea that we’re going to get 17% real, after getting 17% nominal over the last 5 years, is nothing short of absurd,” Batnick said.
Moreover, return expectations have continued to rise year-over-year:
Doe, doh! Two Australian men were sunbathing nude on a beach when they were startled by a deer—so they ran into a nearby forest, and got lost. Police fined the pair after aircraft and emergency services were scrambled to rescue them.
If you’d invested $1,000 in Bitcoin (CRYPTO:BTC) in 2010, you’d probably already be retired — and living a pretty extravagant lifestyle at that. And with some crypto-bulls asserting that the original cryptocurrency’s price could one day exceed $100,000 per token, it’s understandable that many people might be wondering if Bitcoin could help fund their retirements too.
Anything’s possible, but if you’re hoping to use your 401(k) funds to invest in Bitcoin, you could run into a surprising problem.
Image source: Getty Images.
Why it pays for your employer to be conservative with 401(k) options
In a typical 401(k), the company offers its employees a limited menu of choices in which they can invest, generally mutual funds and ETFs. Some may allow them to invest in company stock as well. But few businesses enable their employees to invest in anything they want. You can thank the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) for that.
This law does some great things to protect the rank-and-file worker’s retirement savings, including requiring plan trustees (i.e., the employers) to act as fiduciaries. This means they have a legal obligation to take prudent care of their employees’ money. If they don’t do this, they could be held liable for the losses their employees incur.
One of the most common reasons 401(k) participants sue their employers is because of inappropriate investment choices. They argue that the employer, or the financial advisor who selected the investment options on behalf of the employer, didn’t take adequate care when choosing those securities and, as a result, exposed plan participants to an undue level of risk and caused them to lose money.
Obviously, no business owner wants to be put in that situation. As such, they tend to be wary about offering up risky investment options. That’s why you probably can’t invest in Bitcoin through your 401(k).
All cryptocurrency prices are largely based on speculation right now. It’s possible Bitcoin could exceed $100,000 a token someday, but it’s also possible that the cryptocurrency frenzy will die down, that other headwinds will sap tokens’ values, or that Bitcoin’s leadership spot will be usurped by another coin. No investment is risk-free, but there’s clearly more risk involved in putting money into these new and still fairly unproven assets than there is in investing in diversified mutual funds.
Is there any way to invest your retirement savings in Bitcoin?
If you’re really serious about making Bitcoin a part of your retirement portfolio, there are ways you can do it. If your employer offers a self-directed 401(k), you may be able to buy cryptocurrencies directly through that account. Check with the HR department to see if this is an option at your company, or to discuss the possibility of making it available to interested employees.
You could also open a self-directed IRA. This is similar to a regular IRA, but it enables you to invest in some types of assets a regular IRA doesn’t, including cryptocurrency. This type of account isn’t as common as Traditional or Roth IRAs, so you’ll have to do some research to find out which brokers offer them. Look into the investment options, too, to make sure Bitcoin is a possibility. Not all self-directed IRAs offer the same set of investment choices, and you wouldn’t want to go through the trouble of opening one only to find out it’s not what you needed.
Perhaps the best option for most people is to not invest their retirement savings in Bitcoin at all. Instead, invest some of your extra cash in Bitcoin through a cryptocurrency exchange. You won’t enjoy the same tax breaks that you’d get if you were holding those assets in a retirement account, but it will give you an opportunity to get some skin in the game without jeopardizing your retirement savings.
If Bitcoin prices end up soaring, you could always sell your tokens and use that money to retire anyway. That could actually be the better choice if you’re still young, because you usually pay a penalty for withdrawals made from retirement accounts while you’re under 59 1/2.
Or if you see Bitcoin as too risky for your investment portfolio, you could invest in some safer securities. Cryptocurrency stocks are one option to consider. There are a number of established companies that are positioned to profit if crypto becomes a more mainstream asset, but that could also make you a lot of money even if Bitcoin never goes anywhere. Or there’s always the option of investing in a good old-fashioned S&P 500 index fund.
Your retirement savings will be your financial lifeline in your senior years, so gambling with it isn’t wise. Think carefully before deciding whether you’d like to invest your retirement savings in Bitcoin. If you do, make sure you’re diversified into plenty of other investments as well so that the cryptocurrency’s ups and downs don’t weigh too heavily on your portfolio.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.