As cryptocurrencies plunged drastically over the weekend, Celsius, one of the world’s most prominent crypto lending platforms, suspended all transactions and withdrawals across its network, safeguarding about $12 billion in consumer assets.
“Due to extreme market conditions, today we are announcing that Celsius is pausing all withdrawals, Swap, and transfers between accounts. We are taking this action today to put Celsius in a better position to honor, over time, its withdrawal obligations” Celsius said in a post on its website on Sunday.
Since Friday, the two largest cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ether, have lost 14% and 25%, respectively, while the entire industry’s market capitalization has dropped by $167 billion. Celsius’s own coin, CEL, fell to about $0.20 after losing 20% of its value on Friday and 67 percent over the weekend.
The Florida-based company claims to serve over 1.7 million customers, making it one of the largest crypto lenders. Celsius was valued at $3.25 billion in November following a $750 million financing round led by Canada’s second-largest pension fund, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
Capital invested on Celsius’s platform is used to fund its own investments as well as to repay loans given to other customers. Celsius rewards customers by offering up to 30% interest every week. However, the recent market disaster has limited the potential returns Celsius can obtain on its assets, threatening the liquidity of its business model.
According to the Financial Times, the value of assets deposited on Celsius’s platform decreased by half between December and May, from $24 billion to $12 billion.
Analysts feel that Do Kwan’s Terra blockchain disaster last month, in which the network’s stablecoin, UST, dissociated from the dollar and prompted a $60 billion catastrophe in its sister cryptocurrency, Luna, has stunted investor trust in the bigger market.
The founder of Celsius, Alex Mashinsky, recently turned to Twitter to allay concerns that the Luna wipeout would jeopardize the crypto lender’s operations, informing users that Celsius had “minimal exposure” to Luna and UST, and dismissing contrary reports as “rumors” spread by competing services.
Mashinsky also dismissed reports that Celsius had a liquidity problem one day before the platform announced its service suspension on Twitter, dismissing the concerns as “FUD,” or “fear, uncertainty, and doubt,” a word crypto traders frequently use to reject criticism. But Celsius’s cash flow problems are simply the latest in a long line of problems for the company.
The company’s chief financial officer, Yaron Shalem, was jailed in Israel in November in connection with a probable crypto fraud case at Shalem’s previous workplace, where he also worked as CFO. Celsius takes over for Shalem in February. Shalem’s lawyers claim that the former CFO “acted in accordance with the law and strong and utterly rejects any attempt to associate him with any act of fraud.”
Following “discussions” with securities regulators, Celsius in April restricted investing in its high-interest Earn product to institutional investors only in the United States, and amended its risk disclosures to highlight that its high-yield products posed “regulatory risk.”
Sam’s Club in Texas Deploys Self-Driving Trucks
This summer, the self-driving trucks created by the startup company Gatik, which specializes in the development of autonomous vehicles, will make their first deliveries of paper goods to Sam’s Club locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
The partnership between the company and Georgia-Pacific and KBX, the transportation arm of Koch Industries, was announced on Tuesday in a blog post published by the company. The partnership will bring toilet paper and Dixie disposable dishware to 34 of the warehouse club’s locations beginning in July.
Box trucks measuring 26 feet in length will be used for the first time to make deliveries. These trucks are significantly more compact than the heavy-duty Class 8 tractor-trailers that are generally used to convey merchandise to retail outlets. Gatik is able to make more frequent journeys along shorter, urban routes thanks to the smaller trucks, and the new company promises to provide service around the clock.
Gatik stated in a blog post that the company’s operations would boost the frequency of Georgia-Pacific fulfillment runs to Sam’s Club locations from one to two times per week to anywhere from two to four times per week.
The business cites the nation’s truck driver shortage, the demands on supply chains, and rising transportation costs as reasons for the broad adoption of driverless vehicles in its post.
Hayes Shimp, vice president of sales at Georgia-Pacific, was quoted as saying in a statement that “Once proven, we believe autonomous deliveries will enable us to remove cost and complexity from the supply chain.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Gatik, Gautam Narang, expressed to TechCrunch his desire to someday grow the fleet of autonomous vehicles beyond the state of Texas.
According to Narang, “The first phase is targeted toward making sure that the network is ready for AV adoption. The aim is long-term. We want to deploy our trucks and get the network ready for nationwide expansion.”
Previously, in 2021, Gatik utilized autonomous trucks on a Walmart delivery route that delivered client orders between a Walmart Neighborhood Market and a “dark store” fulfillment center. This route was part of Walmart’s “dark store” initiative. The business claimed at the time that this was the first time in the history of the sector that a commercial delivery route had been delegated to an autonomous truck without the presence of a safety driver.
Waymo, which is owned by Alphabet and is another participant in the market, announced on Tuesday that it would collaborate with Uber to deploy self-driving trucks on Uber Freight, which is a platform that connects truck drivers with shipping companies.
Peter Mallouk: Stock Market ‘Casino’ is Closed
So far in 2022, investors have learned a lot of painful lessons. The stock market does not always increase in value. Even in a world seemingly dominated by memes and Reddit boards, things like the economy, profitability, and valuations, which may seem like antiquated remnants of a bygone period, are nevertheless important.
It’s not easy to pick winning equities, particularly at a time when the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates and inflation is beginning to affect consumers and the economy. Many speculative tech businesses’ stock prices are currently falling citing concerns about deteriorating fundamentals and unsustainable stock prices.
However, this isn’t necessarily bad news for the stock market. To identify good discounts, investors just need to perform more research. “The casino is closed,” stated Peter Mallouk, president and CEO of the wealth management firm Creative Planning.
“The days of stimulus are over. This is now more of a thinking person’s market. Total speculation is dead,” Mallouk said, adding that market makers can no longer throw SPAC stocks, cryptocurrencies, unprofitable tech firms, and other risky investments around like hot potatoes.
When the Fed was doing everything it could to support the economy, stock-picking seemed a lot easier. Many investors are unfamiliar with handling the market when the central bank raises rates to slow things down.
“The world is realizing that zero percent interest rates are over,” Max Wasserman, co-founder of Miramar Capital, said. “Rates were really low, and individuals took on excessive risk since the Fed dropped rates whenever the stock market fell; the message was to buy the dips because the Fed was on your side, but the party is over.”
Concentrate on the basics
Some investors who were chasing meme stocks like GameStop (GME) and AMC (AMC) with Covid stimulus funding last year may now be less positive on individual stocks. “During the meme stock trading boom in early 2021, the enthusiasm of stock-picking and the active investing methods approach achieved new levels of popularity,” Lindsey Bell, chief markets and money strategist at Ally wrote in a report late last week. “As a result of recent stock market losses, some investors have soured on the strategy.”
Investors who do their homework, however, may still “make sensible investing decisions” if they retain “a very hands-on approach of investing” and don’t panic, according to Bell. “It’s natural to second-guess investments when markets are sinking, a bear market is approaching, and volatility is strong,” she wrote.
Stock picking isn’t dead, according to Wasserman. It’s just that now is the moment for investors to seek high-quality companies that can do well even when interest rates rise and the economy slows. That means investing in more than just the tech-heavy S&P 500, which is led by Nasdaq giants Apple (AAPL), Tesla (TSLA), Alphabet (GOOGL), and Facebook parent Meta Platforms (FB).
“You can’t just keep tossing money in the air and expect everything to go up,” Wasserman explained. “When you purchase an ETF, you’re essentially buying a basket of equities that everyone else is buying.” “We’re not pursuing the same things as everyone else; there will be greater volatility in the future, which we intend to take advantage of.”
Wasserman favors blue-chip businesses with consistent dividends and believes that investors should diversify their holdings across multiple sectors. With that in mind, he owns equities such as UPS (UPS), Coca-Cola (KO), and Pepsi (PEP), as well as dividend-paying technology companies like Corning (GLW), Microsoft (MSFT), and Texas Instruments (TXN). Timberland, The North Face, and Vans owner VF Corp. (VFC), Medtronic (MDT), and gold miner Newmont (NEM) are other good buys, according to Wasserman.
The good news, if you can call it that, is that the current market turmoil does not necessarily portend a long bear market. “This could be bumpy, but not a crash,” Mallouk said. “This whole turbulence could take less than a year, and it’s already beginning.” “This is a typical bear market, not like 2000 or 2009.” “The stock market is still the best place to develop long-term wealth,” Mallouk remarked. “If you buy now, you might simply have to hold your nose.”