Platinum Banana: Stirring the Pot - The digital asset community has come a long way since its (debatable) founding back on Halloween 2008. Countless coins launches, an infinite amount of projects in development, and the newfound ability to purchase virtual "land" in something called the Metaverse, to name a few. All these trends certainly stirred the hell out of every pot in America, but there's one area within digital assets, asset management, and business in general that really stuck out in 2021.
Today's Platinum Banana: Stirring the Pot goes to the person, invention, idea, technology, or literally anything that stirred the cultural pot most ferociously. Again, we have to exclude Elon Musk because the guy would take home every single Platinum Banana and that really just isn't fair to the business community. Okay, now that we're all the same page, let's get to it - the winner of the 2021 Platinum Banana Award for Stirring the Pot is: Non-fungible tokens (aka NFTs)!
NFTs, although first mined way back in the ancient times of 2014, really burst onto the broad cultural scene in 2021. Back in the beginning of the year, Dapper Labs lit the world on fire with their NBA-collab collection known as NBA Top Shot. From there, countless other projects came out of the woodworks and had everyone talking, laughing, and scratching their heads.
Notable NFT champions of 2021 include Bored Ape Yacht Club, Pudgy Penguins, and the revival of CryptoPunks, all of which fall under the category of PFP NFTs. I know, these acronyms make me want to throw up too, but stay with me here. All a PFP NFT is is a collection of NFTs designed to be used as a profile picture (PFP) on social media.
Perhaps more notable was the toe-dipping of established companies into the world of NFTs. We've covered Pepsi and Nike getting into the game before, but companies like LVMH and Disney exploring the NFT world is arguably even more exciting. For example, LVMH claiming ownership of the secondary markets for its branded products would be an unspeakable game changer in the fashion industry.
So yes, there is certainly still a lot to come for NFTs, but I think we can look at 2021 as the year the technology went through puberty. It was a little awkward and funny, but you know that one day, something actually useful and important could come. Lastly, shoutout to some of the runner-ups, especially the Metaverse and Web 3.0 - we don't mean to underscore their importance, but non-financial civilians really only began hearing about them in the fourth quarter. Something tells me they'll be strong contenders for this award next year.
Congrats again, NFTs! Heres to another year of minting and making millionaires.
Drowning in Cash - $12.1tn is a big number. So big, in fact, that there are only a handful of things that such a high number could possibly even be relevant to. One of those things, in 2021 at least, is the amount of cash that companies around the world have raked in through a strong cocktail of equity offerings, bond offerings, and loans, soundly beating out 2020 for the all-time record according to the FT.
And this makes sense. Not only are investors, companies, and civilians alike flush with cash like never before, but financial conditions across the globe are almost as relaxed as Cheech & Chong. JPow and his colleagues at the ECB and BoE basically forced interest rates to the floor, making borrowing cheaper than ever. Meanwhile, a wild ride in equity markets that set 70 fresh all-time highs throughout the year made investors wealthier than ever and arguably more-risk on.
The highlight of the year across debt markets was the $41.5bn loan written to fund the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery. For equity markets, Rivian's $13.7bn IPO raise takes the cake while SPACs collected over $162bn in funding throughout 2021. U.S. corporate debt markets surpassed $10tn with a lot of help from a 17% jump in junk bond sales. Sure this was great for investors, but the real winners were the banks facilitating all this capital movement.