Bitcoin euphoria puts other retail bets in shade

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 13, 2017 01:02 hrs
Bitcoin (virtual currency) coins placed on Dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration picture

By Ankur Banerjee and Sweta Singh

(Reuters) - If you wondered why 18-year old twitterati and seasoned speculative traders alike have bet on bitcoin's surge towards $20,000 this week, look no further than the comparison with the past year's new stock exchange floatations.

As the below chart shows, the exchange-traded fund of Renaissance Capital that tracks a basket of newly floated companies after their initial public offerings has delivered a more than respectable 36 percent return so far in 2017.

That surpasses the S&P 500 index's <.SPX> 20 percent rise and is far better than last year when IPOs trailed behind an overall index fuelled by the Trumpflation trade and the cheap funds being pumped into markets by central banks.

(For a graphic of the IPO ETF vs S&P 500 click http://reut.rs/2jxWIrw)

Next to Bitcoin, however, it might as well be flat. The cryptocurrency has risen 1700 percent in value in the same period.

(For a graphic of the Bitcoin vs IPO ETF vs S&P 500 click http://reut.rs/2jznjVg)

That means $1000 invested in the U.S. IPO ETF at the beginning of this year was worth $1360 on Tuesday. Preferring bitcoin would have left the average amateur market punter with $17,545.

The cryptocurrency has faced harsh criticism for lack of transparency and Wall street is largely divided on how it wants to view the currency. Several banks and central bankers have warned against its meteoric rise in its value.

Chicago-based derivatives exchange Cboe Global Markets launched the futures late on Sunday, lending it some legitimacy and giving investors an exposure to the bitcoin market via a large, regulated exchange.

Goldman Sachs has been arguing for some months that the lack of liquidity and increased volatility of bitcoin mean in the long run it cannot rival gold as a convincing term store of value.

The market cap for bitcoin is still just $275 billion versus the world's $8.3 trillion worth of gold.

(For a graphic of Bitcoin vs Gold vs Oil click http://reut.rs/2yi8yas)

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Sweta Singh in Bengaluru)



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