Inflation Unexpectedly Spiked 8.6% In May Hitting 40-Year High As Gas Prices Surge Again

Consumer prices rose 8.6% in the 12 months ending in May, unexpectedly returning to record levels—and climbing at the quickest pace in four decades—amid an unprecedented surge in gas prices. Overall prices rose 1% from April—surpassing the 0.7% economists were expecting and much higher than the previous month’s increase of 0.3%, according to data released by the Labor Department on Friday.

The unexpected jump marks the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981, according to the release, and comes after prices in April fell on a monthly basis for the first time since August. The overall increase was the result of broad upticks across shelter, food and gas prices, which jumped 4% after falling 6.1% in April, the government said.

“So much for the idea that inflation has peaked,” Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride said in emailed comments after the report, noting that increases were “nearly ubiquitous.” Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.6% in May against an expectation of 0.5%; shelter prices rose at the fastest pace in 31 years while food prices climbed at the largest rate in more than 41 years.

Stock futures immediately fell after the worse-than-expected report, with the S&P 500 reversing early gains and falling 1.6% below Thursday’s closing level in premarket trading. In another concerning sign, used car prices, which McBride says “had been the ray of hope for easing price pressures” after three straight months of declines, jumped 1.8% for the month of May.

Rising energy prices have elevated inflation readings during the pandemic to the highest level in decades, and stocks have struggled in recent months as Federal Reserve officials work to combat the surge by unwinding the central bank’s pandemic-era stimulus measures. After rising 27% in 2021, the benchmark S&P 500 has tumbled 16% this year.

Meanwhile, oil prices have surged more than 15% over the past month with demand expected to spike this summer—adding to supply concerns spurred by intensifying sanctions against Russia, one of the world’s top oil-producing countries. “Any hopes that the Fed can ease up on the pace of rate hikes after the June and July meetings now seem to be a long shot,” says McBride. “Inflation continues to rear its ugly head and hopes for improvement have been dashed again.”

Since Monday, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has increased by nine cents to $4.71. According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 700,000 bbl to 219 million bbl last week. Meanwhile, gasoline demand grew from 8.8 million b/d to 8.98 million b/d as drivers fueled up for Memorial Day weekend travel.

These supply and demand dynamics have contributed to rising pump prices. Coupled with volatile crude oil prices, pump prices will likely remain elevated as long as demand grows and supply remains tight. At the close of Wednesday’s formal trading session, WTI increased by 59 cents to settle at $115.26. Crude prices have increased amid supply concerns from the market as the European Union works to implement a 90 percent ban on Russian oil imports by the end of this year.

Crude prices were also boosted by increased demand expectations from the market after China lifted COVID-19 restrictions in Shanghai. Additionally, EIA reported that total domestic stocks decreased by 5.1 million bbl to 414.7 million bbl last week. As a result, the current storage level is approximately 13.5 percent lower than a year ago, contributing to rising crude prices.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business

Source: Inflation Unexpectedly Spiked 8.6% In May—Hitting 40-Year High As Gas Prices Surge Again

More News:

$5 Milestone: Gas Prices Hit An All-Time National High

Inflation Spiked Worse-Than-Expected 8.3% In April 

Crypto Links With Banks Pose Threat To Financial Stability, Says ECB

The crypto industry’s deepening ties to banks and asset managers will pose a risk to financial stability, the European Central Bank has warned, in the latest sign of how central banks and governments are stepping up their scrutiny of the market. The ECB said on Tuesday it had undertaken “a deep dive into cryptoasset leverage and crypto lending” and found evidence that these activities were becoming more risky, complex and interconnected with traditional institutions.

Investors have been able to handle the €1.3tn fall in the market capitalisation of unbacked cryptoassets since November 2021 without any financial stability risks being incurred,” the ECB said. “However, at this rate, a point will be reached where unbacked cryptoassets represent a risk to financial stability.” The first such warning from the ECB, published as part of its twice-yearly financial stability review, followed similar messages from US and UK authorities, which have been unnerved by a series of recent failures in the crypto market.

Bitcoin, the world’s flagship cryptocurrency, has halved in value since November and recently fell below $30,000 for the first time since last summer. The market’s most important stablecoin, tether, momentarily lost its peg to the US dollar, while its rival terraUSD all but collapsed. The crypto market itself has boomed in size in recent years, with major platforms like Binance and FTX offering a wide array of complex financial products.

The world’s biggest crypto exchanges processed almost $700bn in spot trading last month and $1.1tn in bitcoin futures, according to data collated by The Block Crypto. Recommended Gillian Tett The Goldilocks crisis may have arrived for crypto The ECB said trading volumes for cryptoassets “have at times been comparable with or even surpassed those of the New York Stock Exchange or euro area sovereign bond quarterly trading volumes”.

At the same time, some crypto exchanges are offering loans to customers to allow them to increase their exposures by as much as 125 times their initial investment, it said. But “significant informational and data shortcomings persist”, which meant “the full extent of possible contagion channels with the traditional financial system cannot be fully ascertained”. ECB president Christine Lagarde said on Dutch television at the weekend that a crypto token was “worth nothing, it is based on nothing, there is no underlying asset to act as an anchor of safety”.

Fabio Panetta, an ECB executive, recently likened the sector to a “Ponzi scheme” and called for a regulatory clampdown to avoid a “lawless frenzy of risk-taking”. Links between eurozone banks and crypto assets “have been limited so far”, the ECB said in its report on Tuesday. The central bank said some international and eurozone banks are “already trading and clearing regulated crypto derivatives, even if they do not hold an underlying cryptoasset inventory”.

It added that large payment networks had “stepped up their support of cryptoasset services” and institutional investors were “now also investing in bitcoin and cryptoassets more generally”. Noting that German institutional investment funds have been allowed to put up to a fifth of their holdings into crypto assets since last year, it said such investments had been aided by the availability of crypto-based derivatives and securities listed on exchanges.

Recommended Behind the Money podcast20 min listen A crypto vibe shift? The ECB also cited risks from decentralised finance, or DeFi, in which cryptocurrency-based software programs offer financial services without the use of intermediaries such as banks. “Crypto credit on DeFi platforms grew by a factor of 14 in 2021, while the total value locked was hovering at around €70bn until very recently, on a par with small domestic peripheral European banks,” it said.

Rehypothecation, in which collateral for a loan can be repledged against another loan, increased the chances of leverage limits being breached. As many as one in 10 EU households “may own cryptoassets”, though most had less than €5,000 invested in the sector, according to a recent ECB survey. Similarly, a Fed survey released on Monday found 12 per cent of US adults held or used cryptocurrencies in 2021. The EU is finalizing legislation, called markets in crypto assets, but the ECB said it would not come into force until 2024 at the earliest.

“Given the speed of crypto developments and the increasing risks, it is important to bring cryptoassets into the regulatory perimeter and under supervision as a matter of urgency,” it said.

Source: Crypto links with banks pose threat to financial stability, says ECB | Financial Times

Critics by Kate Rooney

Financial services firms added three times as many crypto jobs last year than in 2015, according to recent data from LinkedIn. In the first half of 2021, that pace jumped by 40%. Banks on a crypto hiring spree included Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Capital One, Barclays, Credit Suisse, UBS, Bank of America and BNY Mellon.

The crypto boom on Wall Street coincides with more funding and hiring in the start-up world. Crypto and blockchain companies raised a record $25 billion last year, an eightfold increase from a year earlier, according to CB Insights data.

Farooq said that even with the start-up boom, JPMorgan has seen “limited attrition.” Those leaving have been people “wanting to start their own company versus wanting to leave and go do something similar.”

However, JPMorgan did lose one of its highest-profile crypto deputies last year. Christine Moy is on garden leave after departing her role as managing director and global head of crypto and metaverse at Onyx. She has yet to announce her next move.

“After over a half-decade laying the foundations for blockchain-based infrastructure across financial markets and cross-border payments, creating new businesses that have already scaled into the $USD billions at J.P. Morgan, I am looking to challenge myself further by finding new opportunities to create value and drive impact for the Web3/crypto ecosystem from a new angle,” Moy told CNBC in an email.

Other top crypto executives who left Wall Street recently expressed some frustration at how long it takes to get projects moving within a large financial institution. Mary Catherine Lader, chief operating officer at Uniswap Labs, left her job as a managing director at BlackRock last year. Her foray into crypto started as a side project within the asset management company.

“It certainly wasn’t my primary job,” Lader said. “It was kind of a hobby, as it is for so many people on Wall Street, and it definitely wasn’t something that at the time I was thinking about, because it was early stages of adoption.”

Justin Schmidt, former head of digital asset markets at Goldman Sachs, made a similar career change last year. He joined institutional crypto trading platform Talos and described the risk in a similar way, calling the decision “multidimensional.”

“Inherently, you’re taking a brand risk — Goldman is one of the storied institutions of Wall Street,” Schmidt said. “You are also taking a risk by staying someplace more traditional, and I very firmly believe that this is a generational change and there’s a generational opportunity here…..

Further contents:

April Retail Sales Rise 0.9%, Even as Consumers Confront Sky-High Inflation

Americans ramped up their spending at retail stores in April, a sign that consumers are still weathering the inflationary storm even as prices continue to hover near a 40-year high.

Retail sales, a measure of how much consumers spent on a number of everyday goods, including cars, food and gasoline, rose 0.9% in April from the prior month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was in line with expectations from Refinitiv economists, but it marked a noted slowdown from the upwardly revised 1.4% gain in March.

The so-called core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services and are most closely correlated with the consumer spending aspect of the nation’s gross domestic product, rose 1% in April.

People walk through a shopping area in Manhattan on June 7, 2021, in New York City. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The April advance – which is not adjusted for inflation, meaning that consumers may be spending the same but getting less bang for their buck – was led by a burst in spending at bars and restaurants as well as on vehicles, clothing, furniture and electronics.

Receipts at gas stations actually dropped last month as prices at the pump briefly fell from highs recorded in March. However, gas prices have since notched a new record, climbing to a national average of $4.52 per gallon, up from $3.04 one year ago.

“American consumers continued to spend more at retail stores in April, despite inflation as lower gasoline prices helped to boost spending on discretionary items,” said Tuan Nguyen, a U.S. economist at RSM. “But it won’t last long as gasoline prices reached a record high in May.”

Signage displays fuel prices at a Shell gas station in San Francisco, California, on March 7, 2022.  (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

There are other signs that inflation is beginning to weigh on consumers: Walmart reported earlier Tuesday that its profit took a beating in the first quarter of the year as the company grappled with soaring prices for everyday goods like food and fuel and higher costs from snarled supply chains.

The data comes as consumers face the worst inflation spike in decades The government reported last week that the consumer price index climbed 8.3% in April from the previous year, close to a four-decade high. The reading was much higher than economists expected and underscores that inflationary pressures in the economy remain strong.

Rising inflation is eating away at strong wage gains that American workers have seen in recent months: Real average hourly earnings decreased 0.1% in April from the previous month, as the inflation increase eroded the 0.3% total wage gain, according to the Labor Department. On an annual basis, real earnings actually dropped 2.6% in April.

Source: April retail sales rise 0.9%, even as consumers confront sky-high inflation | Fox Business

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Why Women Are More Burned Out Than Men

Statistics show that stress and burnout are affecting more women than men en masse. Why – and what happens next?

When Jia, a Manhattan-based consultant, read Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book Lean In in 2014, she resolved to follow the advice espoused by the chief operating officer of Facebook.

“I’d just graduated from an Ivy League business school, was super pumped up and loved the idea of leaning in,” says Jia, whose last name is being withheld to protect her professional reputation. “Learning to self-promote felt so empowering, and I was 100% ready to prove that I was the woman who could have it all: be a high-powered career woman and a great mother.”

But today, the 38-year-old strikes a different tone. For years, she says, she feels like she’s been overlooked for promotions and pay rises at work on account of her gender, particularly after becoming a mother in 2018. Since then, she’s picked up the brunt of childcare responsibilities because her husband, who is a banker, has tended to travel more frequently for work. That, she adds, has given her a misguided reputation among her colleagues and managers – the majority of whom are male – for not being professionally driven.

Then when Covid-19 hit, it was as if all the factors already holding her back were supercharged. When her daughter’s day care closed in March 2020, Jia became the default caregiver while trying to stay afloat at work. “I was extremely unmotivated because I felt like I was spending all hours of the day trying not to fall off an accelerating treadmill,” she explains. “But at the same time, I felt like I was being trusted less and less to be able to do a good job. I could feel my career slipping through my fingers and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.”

In early 2021, Jia’s therapist told her she was suffering from burnout. Jia says she’d never struggled with her mental health before. “But now I’m just trying to get through each week while staying sane,” she says.

Jia’s story is symptomatic of a deeply ingrained imbalance in society that the pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated. For multiple reasons, women, particularly mothers, are still more likely than men to manage a more complex set of responsibilities on a daily basis – an often-unpredictable combination of unpaid domestic chores and paid professional work.

I could feel my career slipping through my fingers and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it – Jia

Though the mental strain of mastering this balancing act has been apparent for decades, Covid-19 has cast a particularly harsh light on the problem. Statistics show that stress and burnout are affecting more women than men, and particularly more working mothers than working fathers. This could have multiple impacts for the post-pandemic world of work, making it important that both companies and wider society find ways to reduce this imbalance.

Unequal demands

Recent data looking specifically at burnout in women is concerning. According to a survey by LinkedIn of almost 5,000 Americans, 74% of women said they were very or somewhat stressed for work-related reasons, compared with just 61% of employed male respondents.

A separate analysis from workplace-culture consultancy a Great Place to Work and health-care start-up Maven found that mothers in paid employment are 23% more likely to experience burnout than fathers in paid employment. An estimated 2.35 million working mothers in the US have suffered from burnout since the start of the pandemic, specifically “due to unequal demands of home and work”, the analysis showed.

Women tend to be dealing with a more complex set of work and personal responsibilities, leading to stress (Credit: Getty)

Experts generally agree that there’s no single reason women burn out, but they widely acknowledge that the way societal structures and gender norms intersect plays a significant role. Workplace inequalities, for example, are inextricably linked to traditional gender roles.

In the US, women still earn an average of about 82 cents for each dollar earned by a man, and the gap across many countries in Europe is similar. Jia’s firm does not publish its gender pay-gap data, but she suspects that it’s significant. Moreover, she thinks many of her male peers earn more than her, something that causes her a huge amount of stress.

“The idea that I might be underselling myself is extremely frustrating, but I also don’t want to make myself unpopular by asking for more money when I’m already pushing the boundaries by asking my company to make accommodations for me having to care for my daughter,” she says. “It’s a constant internal battle.”

Research links lower incomes to higher stress levels and worse mental health in general. But several studies have also shown more specifically that incidences of burnout among women are greater because of differences in job conditions and the impact of gender on progression.

In 2018, researchers from University of Montreal published a study tracking 2,026 workers over the course of four years. The academics concluded that women were more vulnerable to burnout than men because women were less likely to be promoted than men, and therefore more likely to be in positions with less authority which can lead to increased stress and frustration. The researchers also found that women were more likely to head single-parent families, experience child-related strains, invest time in domestic tasks and have lower self-esteem – all things that can exacerbate burnout.

Nancy Beauregard, a professor at University of Montreal and one of the authors of that study, said that reflecting on her work back in 2018, it’s clear that Covid-19 has amplified the existing inequalities and imbalances that her team demonstrated through their research. “In terms of [the] sustainable development of the human capital of the workforce,” she says, “we’re not heading in a good direction.”

A pandemic catalyst

Brian Kropp, chief of human resources research at Gartner, a global research and advisory firm headquartered in Connecticut, US, agrees that while many of the factors fueling women’s burnout were in play before the pandemic, Covid-19 notably exacerbated some as it forced us to dramatically overhaul our living and working routines.

When the pandemic hit, many women found that their domestic responsibilities surged – making juggling work even harder (Credit: Getty)

Structures supporting parents’ and carers’ lives closed down, and in most cases, this excess burden fell on women. One study, conducted by academics from Harvard University, Harvard Business School and London Business School, evaluated survey responses from 30,000 individuals around the world and found that women – especially mothers – had spent significantly more time on childcare and chores during Covid-19 than they did pre-pandemic, and that this was directly linked to lower wellbeing. Many women had already set themselves up as the default caregiver within their households, and the pandemic obliterated the support systems that had previously allowed them to balance paid employment and domestic work.

That’s exactly what Sarah experienced in March 2020, when schools across New York first closed. “Initially the message was that schools would stay closed until the end of April, so that was my target: ‘Get to that point and you’ll be fine’,” recalls the Brooklyn-based 40-year-old. Now, more than 18 months into the pandemic, her two sons, aged 6 and 9, are only just reacquainting themselves with in-person learning, and Sarah’s life has changed dramatically.

In April 2020, for the first time ever, she started suffering from anxiety. The pressures of home-schooling her children while working as marketing executive for a large technology company overwhelmed her. She couldn’t sleep, worried constantly and felt depressed. Worst of all, she felt like whatever she did was inadequate because she didn’t have enough time to do anything well.

Six months into the pandemic, it was clear something had to change. Sarah’s husband, a lawyer, was earning much more than her, and had done so since they got married in 2008. So, in August 2020 the couple jointly decided that Sarah would leave her job to become a stay-at-home mother. “Before this, I never really knew what being burned out meant,” she says. “Now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Sarah’s experience is emblematic of a much broader trend. In September last year, just as the pandemic was gaining pace, more than 860,000 women dropped out of the US workforce, compared with just over 200,000 men. One estimate put the number of mothers who had quit the US workforce between February and September last year at 900,000, and the number of fathers at 300,000.

As women lost crucial social lifelines during lockdown which may have been emotional and physical outlets for stress, it’s clear that the abrupt avalanche of extra domestic responsibilities pushed many who were already busily juggling home and work life further than they could go.

‘What’s the cost?’

One of the greatest concerns workplace experts harbour is that poor mental health among women in the workplace could discourage future generations from setting ambitious professional goals, particularly if they want to start a family. That could exacerbate the gender inequalities that already exist in terms of pay and seniority in the labour market.

Data indicate that this is indeed a legitimate concern; statistics collected by CNBC and polling company SurveyMonkey earlier this year showed that the number of women describing themselves as “very ambitious” in terms of their careers declined significantly during the pandemic. Data from the US Census Bureau shows that over the first 12 weeks of the pandemic, the percentage of mothers between the ages of 25 and 44 not working due to Covid-19-related childcare issues grew by 4.8 percentage points, compared to no increase for men in the same age group.

In terms of [the] sustainable development of the human capital of the workforce, we’re not heading in a good direction – Nancy Beauregard

Equally, there are concerns about how new ways of working such as hybrid could impact on workplace gender equality. Research shows that women are more likely than men to work from home in a post-pandemic world, but there’s evidence that people who work from home are less likely to get promoted than those who have more face-time with managers. “Women are saying, I’m working just as hard and doing just as much, but because I’m working from home, I’m less likely to get promoted,” says Kropp. “That’s extremely demotivating.”

Dean Nicholson, head of adult therapy at London-based behavioural health clinic The Soke, suggests that perceptions of fairness – or otherwise – could impact on women’s workplace participation. “When the balance of justice is skewed against us in the workplace, then it’s invariably going to lead to negative feelings, not just towards the organisation, but in the way that we feel about ourselves and the value of our contribution, as well as where we’re positioned on a hierarchy of worth.”

To prevent an exodus of female talent, says Kropp, organisations must appreciate that old workplaces practices are no longer fit for purpose. Managers need to fundamentally rethink how companies must be structured in order to promote fairness and equality of opportunity, he says. That means pay equality and equal opportunities for promotion, as well as creating a culture of transparency where everyone – mothers, fathers and employees who are not parents – feels valued and can reach their professional potential while also accommodating what’s going on at home.

Steve Hatfield, global future of work leader for Deloitte, notes that mothers, especially those in senior leadership roles, are extremely important role models. “The ripple effect of what they’re seen to be experiencing right now has the potential to be truly profound on newer employees, and so it’s up to organisations to prove that they can accommodate and cater to the needs of all employees,” he says.

As such, Hephzi Pemberton, founder of the Equality Group, a London-based consultancy that focuses on inclusion and diversity in the finance and technology industry, emphasises the need for managers to be trained formally and to understand that the initiative to create a workplace that’s fit for purpose must come from the employer rather than the employee. “That’s absolutely critical to avoid the risk of burnout,” she says.

But Jia, who says she’s now on the brink of quitting her job, insists that notable changes need to happen in the home as well as the workplace. “What’s become abundantly clear to me through the pandemic is that we all have a role to play in understanding the imbalances that are created when stereotypical gender roles are blindly adhered to,” she says. “Yes, of course it sometimes makes sense for a woman to be the default caregiver or to take a step back from paid work, but we need to appreciate at what cost. This is 2021. Sometimes I wonder if we’re in the 1950s.”

By Josie Cox

Source: Why women are more burned out than men – BBC Worklife

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Bitcoin Has No Value: People Bank’s Of China Official Announces Further Crackdown

Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) and other cryptocurrencies “are not legal tenders and have no actual value support,” according to Deputy Director of the Financial Consumer Rights Protection Bureau of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) Yin Youping.

What Happened: According to a report by local news outlet People’s Daily Online, Youping said that cryptocurrencies are purely speculative assets. He also advised the public to increase its risk awareness and stay away from the crypto market to “protect their pockets.”

Read also: Crypto’s Biggest Legal Problems

The PBoC official also said in anticipation of the possible crypto market rebound and their related operations in China, the central bank will monitor overseas cryptocurrency exchanges and domestic traders in collaboration with relevant authorities.

What Else: The institution also plans to crack down on the space by blocking crypto trading websites, applications, and corporate channels.

Per the report, PBoC — being a member of the Joint Conference to Deal with Illegal Fund Raising — actively cooperates with the lead department of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

As a result of this collaboration, the regulator created systems aiming for the monitoring, early warning, publicity, education, and overall combating of illegal fundraising powered by cryptocurrencies and blockchains.

Read also: Why Bangladesh will jail Bitcoin traders

Youping explained that PBoC’s next step will be establishing a normalized working mechanism, continue putting high pressure on illegal cryptocurrency-related operations, and continue cracking down on crypto-related transactions.

Lastly, the report intimates that “if the general public finds clues about illegal fund-raising crimes, they must promptly report to the relevant departments.”

By:

Source: Bitcoin Has No Value: People Bank’s Of China Official Announces Further Crackdown

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China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies will probably intensify and may even lead to an outright ban on holding the tokens, according to Bobby Lee, one of the country’s first Bitcoin moguls.

Lee knows what it’s like to be on the wrong side of Beijing: He sold BTC China, the nation’s first Bitcoin exchange and at one point the second biggest worldwide, in the aftermath of a crackdown in 2017.

China has launched a new campaign against cryptocurrencies this year, taking action against miners and imposing curbs on crypto banking services and trading. The moves have fueled Bitcoin’s drop to about half its mid-April record near $65,000.

“The next thing they could do, the final straw, would be something like banning cryptocurrency altogether,” Lee said in an interview at his office in a WeWork space in downtown Shanghai, without elaborating on how a ban might be enforced. “I put it at the odds of 50-50.”

Lee recently returned to China after spending time in the U.S. and publishing a book, “The Promise of Bitcoin.” He’s now focused on his latest venture, Ballet Global Inc., which produces a hardware wallet that stores cryptocurrencies. Lee is still a Bitcoin bull, predicting it could end this year around $250,000 and reach $1 million by 2025. He declined to disclose his Bitcoin holdings.

Next year will be a bear market cycle. So we’ll see Bitcoin fall back down 50%-80% from the all-time high. I think Bitcoin will have its bull cycle every three or four years in the coming years. I expect Bitcoin to pass a million, two million dollars easily in the next 10-15 years. In fact the next cycle I predict to be in the year 2024 or 2025, and that’s when Bitcoin will cross half a million dollars and might even touch $1 million.

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