Financial services media highlights - January 2024

Financial services media highlights - January 2024

The Briefing

15 January 2024
10 minute read
  Key highlights
  • The SEC recently approved requests to launch Bitcoin ETFs, setting the stage for a potential crypto market boost. 
  • Aviation stocks have fluctuated after major commercial air incidents at the start of 2024. 
  • Elon Musk announces plans for an X peer-to-peer payment network, taking the organization into the financial sector. 
  • Low supply has sent uranium prices soaring, while coal and oil prices drop due to increased supply. 
  • Tensions between Taiwan and China have economic experts on edge as Taiwan prepares for an upcoming election. 

All eyes are on cryptocurrency as the SEC announces approval of Bitcoin ETFs. 

Cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-backed investments have had a rocky few years. After hitting high points in mid-2021, major coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum lost momentum throughout 2022. Crypto prices have rebounded by 160% throughout 2023, but haven’t returned to their peaks. 

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However, the US Securities and Exchange Commission recently made an announcement that could drastically change the cryptocurrency industry. On January 10th, the SEC announced that they had approved requests from notable investment companies to list ETFs tracking Bitcoin. Notable firms that submitted these requests include BlackRock, VanEck, Fidelity, and Invesco. 

On January 8th, the SEC Twitter account was compromised by a third party. This resulted in an unauthorized post prematurely announcing the Bitcoin ETF approvals. This led to a temporary spike in Bitcoin prices, which peaked at over $47,000 before dropping back below $46,000 on January 9th

In mid-2023, the SEC charged Coinbase with operating an unregistered securities exchange. The organization also shut down Kraken’s crypto staking operations in the US. Crypto enthusiasts hoped that the Bitcoin ETF approvals indicated that the SEC would become more lenient towards crypto organizations. However, SEC chair Gary Gensler vehemently denied this in a statement this week.

Some experts predict that Bitcoin prices will surge again following these groundbreaking ETF approvals. However, cryptocurrency prices have been historically volatile. 



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Aviation stocks fluctuate due to recent commercial air travel incidents. 

All eyes have been on the airline industry this month due to several notable commercial air travel incidents. On January 5th, a door plug on a Boeing 737 MAX-9 came off during an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, California. The FAA grounded the MAX-9 shortly thereafter due to quality control concerns with the plane. Further inspections found loose bolts on many recently-delivered 737 MAX-9s, both on Alaska and on United Airlines. The plane remains grounded as of January 10th. 

Boeing stock share dropped 8% on January 8th in response to the incident. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun owned up to the company’s “mistake” at a recent staff meeting, committing to transparency in future inspections. This comes after two 737 MAX-8s crashes in October 2018 and March 2019, as well as ongoing production delays, all of which have negatively affected Boeing’s stock prices. 

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While Boeing stock has struggled, their competitor Airbus’s shares have consistently performed well over the past year. Airbus set record order numbers in 2023, and are likely to receive another major order from Delta in the near future. 

An Airbus A350 was recently involved in a Japan Airlines plane crash, but Airbus’s stock did not fall after this accident. This is in stark contrast to the incident with Boeing and Alaska Airlines. This is likely because the Japanese plane crash was due to human error, rather than manufacturing concerns. 



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X plans to launch peer-to-peer payment services, changing the way consumers use the app. 

Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, plans to launch peer-to-peer payment features in 2024. This will take the platform from social media into the fintech space, competing with leading peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle. 

This is one of many major changes that owner Elon Musk has made since purchasing the platform in 2022. Musk has indicated that he wants to transform X from a social media platform to an “everything app”. He has also indicated that he would like the app to eventually go beyond peer-to-peer payments and offer a wider range of financial services. 

Currently, X Payments is registered for business in 32 states. The company has acquired money transmitter licenses in 10 of those states. The exact launch timeline of this new feature will likely depend on financial regulatory processes across the US. 

Since rebranding from Twitter to X, the company isn’t publicly traded. However, peer-to-peer payments competitor PayPal has seen consistent drops in its stock prices. This indicates that there is room in the market for a major peer-to-peer competitor. 



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In the energy sector, uranium prices are up while coal and oil prices struggle.

Uranium prices have reached a 16-year high due to global supply shortages. Uranium production companies are scrambling to meet obligations due to slow production levels in Kazakhstan and Niger. This increase comes as the United States government looks to create a domestic supply of enriched uranium fuel. Right now, this type of nuclear fuel is only available from Russia. The Biden administration has touted this project as a potential boost to the job market and the overall economy. 

While uranium is performing well, other energy sources haven’t seen the same financial boom. Oil prices saw a 3% uptick at the beginning of 2024 after plenty of ups and downs in 2023. These tumultuous prices are due in part to geopolitical conflict, both in the Middle East and in Russia and Ukraine. These conflicts have the potential to affect access to oil. Despite the recent uptick, experts are predicting that oil prices will remain moderate for 2024 due to high production volume in the US. Goldman Sachs predicts prices will range between $70 and $90 per barrel

Coal prices are also struggling due to high supply levels. Global coal production hit an all-time high in 2023 with a record 8.7 metric billion tons. Excess supply, primarily from China, Indonesia, and Australia, has resulted in a price drop of 13% from December 2023 to January 2024. 

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As tensions between Taiwan and China increase, the region worries about economic repercussions. 

Taiwan is set to hold an election in mid-January, and all eyes are on the country’s relationship with China. China has indicated that a Democratic Progressive Party victory in Taiwan would likely result in increased tensions between the two countries. This comes as Taiwan’s reliance on Chinese exports hit a 21-year low in 2023. 

On January 10th, the Chinese government launched a science satellite that passed over southern Taiwan. This mistakenly triggered an air raid warning, and some Taiwanese officials were concerned about potential interference from Beijing in the upcoming election. However, the current Taiwanese presidential office stated that they did not believe the launch was intended as such. 

If China were to invade Taiwan in the future, it would have disastrous consequences for the global economy. Bloomberg Economics estimated that the potential cost of this conflict could reach $10 trillion, a significant portion of the global GDP. This is due to the manufacturing power of these two countries. Taiwan is a particularly important supplier of advanced logic semiconductors, which are in extremely high demand. However, the likelihood of the conflict escalating at this point remains low. 

The Chinese stock market recently hit a low point, due in part to tensions with Taiwan and with the United States. Deflation in the greater Chinese economy, juxtaposed with increased inflation and a potential recession in the United States, sets the stage for ongoing market struggles in China as well. 


In Conclusion

Increased geopolitical tensions around the world have a strong impact on the global economy. Concerns about supply and manufacturing output cause stock prices to fluctuate. These trends within the stock market and the political sphere have the potential to trickle down to the average consumer, affecting accessibility to important products and services. 

Areas of particular interest include: 
  • Cryptocurrency: After years of ups and downs, what will it take for consumers to trust the crypto market again? 
  • Energy prices: Will increases in coal and oil production make energy more affordable for the average consumer? How will increased uranium prices affect federal and local governments who rely on them? 
  • China and Taiwan: After years of rapid economic growth, will China maintain its position as a global economic leader? 

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