Bulletin
Investor Alert

Need to Know

May 18, 2021, 3:15 p.m. EDT

Bitcoin at $250,000 in a year? This ‘rocket fuel’ will help it get there, says Goldman Sachs alum

By Barbara Kollmeyer

After a lackluster start to the week, stocks are struggling for gains, though beaten-down technology names have perked up.

While the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQ:COMP) has lost 4% this month, tied to inflation worries, it has been even more brutal for some cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin (COINDESK:BTCUSD) , down 20% this month. Bitcoin has sunk 30% below an all-time high of $64,829 reached in April, after Tesla (NAS:TSLA) Chief Executive Elon Musk said the electric-car maker would no longer accept bitcoin payments, over environmental concerns.

Monday’s crypto session in particular was brutal, wiping out over half a trillion dollars across the asset space.

The faithful need to hang in there, says our call of the day from former Goldman Sachs hedge-fund manager and cryptocurrency bull Raoul Pal. Not only does he see a big bitcoin catalyst coming this year, he is also sticking to a bullish price target.

“I think BTC goes well above $250,000 in the next 12 months and ETH [ethereum] well above $20,000,” the chief executive officer of Global Macro Investor and co-founder of  Real Vision financial  and  Crypto TV , told MarketWatch.

The second most popular cryptocurrency behind bitcoin, ethereum (KRAKEN:ETHUSD) , is nearly 20% below an all-time high of $4,382 seen last week.

Investors should remember that corrections come with the cryptocurrency territory, said Pal. “If you understand bitcoin, you understand its volatility, you understand that 35% pullbacks are normal,” he said, pointing to a chart he retweeted on Monday.

“[Bitcoin] is still currently producing 200% annualized returns, which is the highest return of any asset ever recorded in history,” Pal said.

And while that return is likely to cool over time, “the adoption rate of the entire cryptocurrency market is still growing at 113% a year, which is double that of the internet from 1990 to 2000. So this is the fastest pace of adoption of any technology in history.”

Another reason for believers to hang on is that Pal sees “rocket fuel” for digital assets via a long-awaited U.S. exchange-traded fund that he expects to be announced by September. Once that happens, “the whole crypto market will lift as prices go higher due to new sources of demand from RIA’s [registered investment advisers] and asset managers,” he said.

“So the issue for regular investors is there is no way for them to access cryptocurrencies without setting up a new wallet and accounts on an exchange that they’re not familiar with. And most registered investment advisers don’t have a mandate to buy crypto,” said Pal.

Current choices are slim, including crypto platform Coinbase (NAS:COIN) or the Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTC:GBTC) , which is currently trading at a discount. “Meanwhile in Canada, they’ve launched ETFs and they’re incredibly successful,” said Pal.

Elsewhere, Mike Novogratz, chief executive of digital merchant bank Galaxy Digital and a big cryptocurrency investor, told Bloomberg TV on Monday that weeks of consolidation lie ahead for bitcoin, keeping the crypto stuck between $40,000 and $50,000. He also believes, though, the “next catalyst is the ETF.”

Read: Is a new ‘crypto’ fund the long-awaited bitcoin ETF in disguise

And: This new ETF gets you access to the backbone of the crypto world

Blowout retailer results and a ‘big short’

Fresh data showed housing starts, or new residential construction projects, falling short of expectations thought building permits edged up. Following that, stocks are flat (DOW:DJIA) (S&P:SPX) , outside of a 0.7% gain for the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQ:COMP) . Asia had a strong session, with Taiwanese (TAIWAN:TW:Y9999) stocks up 5% as investors pushed past COVID-19 concerns. European stocks (STOXX:XX:SXXP) are clinging to gains, with oil (NYM:CL00) , copper (NYM:HG00) and silver (NYM:SI00) also climbing.

In the retail space, shares of Walmart (NYS:WMT) , Macy’s (NYS:M) and Home Depot (NYS:HD) are all climbing on forecast-beating results. Earnings from Chinese search engine Baidu (NAS:BIDU) and games publisher Take-Two Interactive (NAS:TTWO) are due after the market close.

The investment firm behind Michael Burry, famous for predicting the mortgage crisis, has made a bearish bet against Tesla. Meanwhile, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has put the electric-car company’s fully autonomous driving option under review .

E-commerce giant Amazon (NAS:AMZN) is reportedly in talks to buy MGM , the studio behind the “James Bond” films.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYS:BRK.A) (MEX:MX:BRKB) conglomerate took a stake in insurance broker Aon (NYS:AON) and cut holdings in bank Wells Fargo  and oil group Chevron (NYS:CVX) , according to a first-quarter 13-F filing .

The chart

Bank of America’s monthly fund manager survey shows many think the bullish bitcoin call is very crowded.

Random read

The first nuclear explosion and a rare quasicrystal .

King of the seas. The swank beach towel you need this summer.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but  sign up here  to get it delivered once to your email box. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Want more for the day ahead?  Sign up for The Barron’s Daily , a morning briefing for investors, including exclusive commentary from Barron’s and MarketWatch writers.

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.