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A Trader So Secret They’re Only Known by a Number Just Made Over $200 Million in One Month

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Ethereum

An unknown cryptocurrency trader turned $55 million of paper wealth into $283 million in just over a month.

The only clue about this person or persons, beyond a virtual wallet with the identification code 0x00A651D43B6e209F5Ada45A35F92EFC0De3A5184, surfaced on a June 11 Instagram posting, in Bahasa, in which he or she (or they) (or somebody posing as them) boasted about the 413 percent profit accumulated earlier this year from ether, the digital money of the Ethereum blockchain.

“I get many private messages asking how much ether I have,” the post read, alongside photos that purported to be the hardware powering a mining operation but looked lifted from another website. “One of the cool things about Ethereum is that all wallets around the world are transparent and open for everyone to see. And this is my wallet’s savings.”

Hidden identities are a popular feature of the twilight world of virtual money. Now that the total value of cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin and ether, soared June 6 to more than $100 billion, approaching the market value of McDonald’s Corp., concerned regulators say it might be time to link wallet IDs with actual humans.

Nom de Guerre

Secrecy persists from the days, earlier this decade, when Ross Ulbricht, going by the nom de guerre Dread Pirate Roberts, used bitcoin to launder money and traffic in narcotics, activities for which he started serving a life term at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.

That’s not to say that 0x00A651D43B6e209F5Ada45A35F92EFC0De3A5184 or any other entities are doing anything illegal. But opacity may be worsening jagged price movements. The value of ether, for example, rose from about $8 a unit at the start of the year to crest at $400 in June before settling around $250 today. A lack of transparency could also be stifling the mainstreaming of online money, according to draft legislation issued by the European Parliament in March.

“The credibility of virtual currencies will not rise if they are used for criminal purposes,” the draft said. “In this context, anonymity will become more a hindrance than an asset for virtual currencies” and their potential future popularity.

Pseudonymity has always been a big part of the market’s allure. Upending traditional ways of doing business was the lodestar for Ethereum’s inventor, 23-year-old Vitalik Buterin. He released his software in 2015, not long after dropping out of Canada’s University of Waterloo.

Financial Privacy

“One of its more important features is that you don’t have identities tied to this,” said Spencer Bogart, head of research at venture firm Blockchain Capital. “This financial privacy is an important characteristic.”

Ether, the second-most-popular cryptocurrency after bitcoin, is used to pay for applications or programs that run on the Ethereum blockchain, a secured list of transactions that can be shared. That allows for the use of “smart contracts,” or pieces of computer code that make the terms of such agreements operate automatically. The blockchain has the potential to reshape business and finance by enabling immediate settlements of activities such as bank transfers and securities trades.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., BP Plc, Microsoft Corp. and ING Groep NV are among those experimenting with it.

The current value of all the ether held, $23 billion, means dozens of electronic wallets have accrued nine-figure positions. Many of them could be held by individuals, according to a Bloomberg analysis. Individuals can hold multiple wallets.

Crypto-Billionaire

Likely candidates to be crypto-billionaires include hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz, Joseph Lubin, founder of ConsenSys, a blockchain production studio that works on Ethereum, and Ethereum creator Buterin.

Novogratz, a former executive at Fortress Investment Group and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a long way to go, but he’s been a consistent booster. He said last month that he has 10 percent of his net worth invested in virtual money. That’s a stake worth at least $90 million, given a net worth calculated at $925 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Novogratz declined to comment.

Cryptocurrencies could become a $5 trillion industry, but they need to develop sound business principles to satisfy regulators and lend legitimacy, Novogratz said June 27 at a fintech conference in New York.

Lubin, the former chief operating officer for Ethereum Switzerland GmbH, which developed the software, could hold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ether, several investors said. The Canadian entrepreneur didn’t respond to requests for comment on his holdings.

“The long-range vision is moving the fundamental transactional elements of our society from analog, friction-filled systems to natively digital frictionless systems,” Lubin told Bloomberg Radio June 21.

Buterin said in a Reddit post last month his ether holdings equal what would amount to about $117 million today, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

Like bitcoin, ether is struggling to overcome a reputation sullied by cyberattacks and technology bottlenecks. A flash crash last month saw the price of the cryptocurrency tumble to just 10 cents before rebounding to about $300.

“A lot of lessons will be learned,” said Peter Denious, head of global venture capital at Aberdeen Asset Management in Stamford, Connecticut. “A lot of money will be lost before a lot of money can be made.”

0x00A651D43B6e209F5Ada45A35F92EFC0De3A5184 couldn’t be reached for further comment.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Markets

Global Markets Near Record Peaks and Will Get Stronger: deVere CEO

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Stocks

As the FTSE 100 hits 7,000 points for the first time since the Covid pandemic, global stock markets are poised to “get even stronger”, says the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The observation from Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as London’s index jumped over the important threshold in early trading in London, gaining over 0.5% to 7024 points.

Mr Green notes: “London’s blue-chip index is up 40% since the worst lows of the pandemic.

“This landmark moment represents the wider optimistic sentiment gripping global markets which are near record peaks.

“We can expect global stock markets to get even stronger as investors look to seize the opportunities from economies reopening.

“They are looking towards economies rebounding in a post-pandemic era due to the monetary and fiscal stimulus, pent-up cash and demand, and strong corporate earnings.

“The current ultra-low interest rate environment and the under-performance of bonds will also act as a catalyst for stock markets.”

However, the CEO’s bullish comments also come with a warning.

“I would urge investors to proceed with caution as there are some headwinds on the horizon, including relations between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, which could be coming to a tipping point in coming weeks.

“As such, in order to capitalise on the opportunities and mitigate risks, investors must ensure proper portfolio diversification.”

Mr Green concludes: “A variety of factors are going to drive global stock markets. Investors will not want to miss out and should work with a good fund manager to judiciously top-up their portfolios.”

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Markets

Refinitiv Expands Economic Data Coverage Across Africa

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Building on its commitment to drive positive change through its data and insights, Refinitiv today announced the expansion of its economic data coverage of Africa. The new data set allows investment managers, central bankers, economists, and research teams to use Refinitiv Datasteam analytical data for detailed exploration of economic relationships and investment opportunities among data series covering the African continent.

Securing reliable, detailed, timely, locally sourced content has not been easy for economists who have in the past had to use international sources which often can take many months to update and opportunities to monitor the market can be missed. Because Africa is a diverse continent, economists and strategists need more timely access to country-specific data via national sources to create tailored business, policy, trading and investment strategies to meet specific goals.

Africa continues to develop critical infrastructure, telecommunications, digital technology and access to financial services for its 1.3bn people. The World Bank estimates that over 50% of African inhabitants will be under 25 by 2050. This presents substantial opportunities for investors who can spot important trends and make informed decisions based on robust and timely economic data.

Stuart Brown, Group Head of Enterprise Data Solutions, Refinitiv, said: “Africa’s growing, dynamic and fast evolving economies makes it a focal point for financial markets today and in the coming decades.  As part of LSEG’s commitment to empowering the global markets with accurate and timely data, we are excited about making these unique datasets available via the Refinitiv Data Platform. Our economic data coverage of Africa will provide our customers with deeper and broader inputs for macroeconomic analyses and enable more effective investment strategies and economic research.”

Refinitiv Africa economic data coverage:

  • Africa economics content comprises around 500,000 nationally sourced time series data covering 54 African nations
  • Content is sourced from national statistical offices, central banks and other key national institutions
  • The full breadth of economics categories in Datastream including national accounts, money and finance, prices, surveys, labor market, consumer, industry, government and external sectors
  • International sources including OECD, World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank, Oxford Economics & more provide comparable data & forecasts across the continent

Refinitiv® Datastream® has global macroeconomics coverage to analyze virtually any macro environment, and better understand economic cycles to uncover trends and forecast market conditions. With over 14.2 million economic times series map trends, customers can validate ideas and identify opportunities using Refinitiv Datastream. Access its powerful charting tools, 9,000 pre-built chart templates and chart studies for commonly used valuation, performance, and technical and fundamental analysis.

 Refinitiv continually grows available data – the China expansion in 2019 covered a unique combination of economic and financial indicators. Refinitiv plans to expand Southeast Asia covering Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia with delivery expected in 2021. This ensures that Refinitiv will have much needed emerging market economic content.

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Oil Rises on Drawdown in U.S. Oil Stocks, OPEC Demand Outlook

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Oil 1

Oil prices rose in early trade on Wednesday, adding to overnight gains, after industry data showed U.S. oil inventories declined more than expected and OPEC raised its outlook for oil demand.

Brent crude futures rose 28 cents, or 0.4%, to $63.95 a barrel at 0057 GMT, after climbing 39 cents on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures similarly climbed 28 cents, or 0.5%, to $60.46 a barrel, adding to Tuesday’s rise of 48 cents.

Oil price gains over the past week have been underpinned by signs of a strong economic recovery in China and the United States, but have been capped by concerns over stalled vaccine rollouts worldwide and soaring COVID-19 infections in India and Brazil.

Nevertheless, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) tweaked up its forecast on Tuesday for world oil demand growth this year, now expecting demand to rise by 5.95 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2021, up by 70,000 bpd from its forecast last month. It is banking on the pandemic to subside and travel curbs to be eased.

“It was a welcome prognosis by the market, which had been fretting about the impact the ongoing pandemic was having on demand,” ANZ Research analysts said in a note.

Further supporting the market on Wednesday, sources said data from the American Petroleum Institute showed crude stocks fell by 3.6 million barrels in the week ended April 9, compared with estimates for a decline of about 2.9 million barrels from analysts polled by Reuters.

Traders are waiting to see if official inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday matches that view.

Market gains are being capped on concerns about increased oil production in the United States and rising supply from Iran at a time when OPEC and its allies, together called OPEC+, are set to bring on more supply from May.

“They may have to contend with rising U.S. supply,” ANZ analysts said.

EIA said this week oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise by 13,000 bpd in May to 7.61 million bpd.

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