Bitcoin has claimed the top spot in the cryptocurrency race with an astonishing $256,804,136,750 market capitalization. The supply of Bitcoin is influenced by the overall amount that can actually be mined, which is currently capped at 21 billion Bitcoins. This fixed supply of Bitcoins makes it similar to other commodities and advocates of the cryptocurrency often relate it to gold. When investors are evaluating the longevity of Bitcoin, this characteristic makes the cryptocurrency much more appealing. But with the recent volatility that Bitcoin has experienced, some investors are looking towards other cryptocurrencies that could catch the next wave of speculators.

bitcoin

Each contender has a unique infrastructure that can attract the late investors who are fearful of missing out on the huge returns being made in the crypto space.

 

ripplelogo Ripple continues to gain ground on Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization and still stands as a privately funded company. Because of the centralized nature of Ripple, developers are able to facilitate global financial transactions much faster. Some serious players have started to utilize Ripple in their day to day operations, including Bank of America ($BAC), UBS ($UBS), and Santander ($SANPRA). Unlike Ripple, Bitcoin is still ran by an open-source community that has to reach consensus in order to make any changes to the technology. Given the dominance of Ripple in the financial sector and the companies ability to adapt quickly to the payment exchange network, this cryptocurrency could continue to add to it’s parabolic valuation.

elogoEthereum is a distributed blockchain network that has the ability to run programming code of any decentralized application. The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is the core technology running on the Ethereum network and it gives developers a platform to offer their applications. Instead of having to develop a blockchain for each individual application, Ethereum streamlines the process on a single platform. Bitcoin was established as a peer to peer electronic cash system with a blockchain focused on tracking ownership of Bitcoins. This limits the ability to expand beyond the original Bitcoin blockchain technology and restricts the use of different applications. As the Ethereum network grows, the blockchain application platform will disrupt finance, real estate, and insurance making this a viable option for new investors.

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Cardano is fully open-source and offers a ground breaking proof of stake algorithm. Bitcoin uses a proof of work system, which means that the probability of mining a block is entirely dependent on the amount of work that is done by the Bitcoin miner. Cardano’s proof of stake structure makes the process of mining reliant on the amount of coins that the miner currently holds. This encourages long term participation and limits the use of electricity to crack computationally heavy problems. Cardano markets their cryptocurrency as the “re-imagined Bitcoin” that fixes the original design flaws. The crypto space is heating up and these groups are in the running for the highest market share.

For more information on some of these top competitors visit, Blockgeeks.

 

Sorting through all of the investing information online can be extremely overwhelming. Luckily enough there are experienced professionals who thrive on sharing their knowledge of the financial markets right on Twitter. Here is a list of some of the top finance twitter accounts that we can all find value from,

reformedDowntown Josh Brown (@ReformedBrokerJosh Brown is a well known contributor to CNBC’s The Halftime Report and is currently the CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management. Aside from running his blog The Reformed Broker , Josh Brown shares a great mixture of the latest finance news without beating around the bush.

 

stephenStephen Burns (@SJosephBurnsStephen Burns has been successfully navigating the markets for over twenty years. His passion for finance led him to create New Trader U which offers thousands of original blog posts and several trading eCourses that can help any new trader get started on their own.

 

scottScott Redler (@RedDogT3) Scott Redler is the Chief Strategist at T3Live and is a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox Business. In addition to posting price levels and his thoughts on the markets, Scott shares some of the best trading techniques for active traders.

 

dougDoug Kass (@DougKass) Doug Kass covers a wide array of finance topics for The Street’s Real Money Pro segment and acts as the President of Seabreeze Partners Management Inc. Prior to his success in financial media, he was the senior portfolio manager at Omega Advisors which was a 6 billion dollar partnership.

 

dkCtheLightTrading(@canuck2usa) Dean has created one of the most popular streams on Twitter through his helpful insight and willingness to share his market approach. After building a large following he launched C The Light Trading which offers both free and premium content that anyone trying to trade can emulate.

 

zeroZerohedge (@zerohedgeZerohedge provides an interesting perspective on global finance news that many other sources fail to consider. While many of the posts are highly skeptical, the information is very valuable to anyone who is actively involved in the markets. As one of the top 1,000 visited websites in the United States, their Twitter feed is definitely worth checking out for the latest financial topics.

sangSang Lucci (@sanglucciThe Founder and Head Trader of Sang Lucci, Anand Sanghvi, has been successfully trading options and equities since 2006. Anand gained popularity for his amazing option trading P/L’s which he use to post daily. Now he has built Sang Lucci into a leading educational resource for traders and does a great job of providing retail investors with information that most market makers fail to mention.

openOpenOutcrier (@OpenOutcrierOpen Outcrier is quick on the trigger when it comes to stock and option trading headlines. Unlike other news feeds, Open Outcrier keeps their feed clear of any irrelevant information and often times provides breaking news simultaneously with the larger sources. Being market participants themselves, investors can relate to some of the ideas they share in the midst of the headlines. 

harmonGreg Harmon (@harmongregGreg Harmon has traded since 1986, holds both the CMT and CFA designation, and currently acts as the Founder & President of Dragonfly Capital. He not only successfully published Trading Options , but also provides in depth technical analysis and trading ideas using stocks and options. Aside from the premium content, Greg tends to share trading ideas on his stream for everyone to see.

keithKeith McCullough (@KeithMcCulloughKeith McCullough is the CEO of Hedgeye Risk Management and built a successful track record as a hedge fund manager prior to starting the independent investment research firm. Keith’s clients include both small and professional funds but he also makes his investment research available to individual investors. For those that don’t have time to read all of the economic data, he also produces a helpful series of webcasts describing the latest trends in finance.

Staying engaged in the markets while filtering out the noise can be one of the most challenging aspects for those starting to manage their own money. By emulating some of the strategies that these traders provide you will be well on your way to building a solid understanding of what it takes to generate a positive return year over year.

 

Retail investors are ecstatic with the above average returns in the financial markets this year. With the volatility index near all-time lows for the majority of 2017, it’s safe to say that a market correction never phased investor sentiment. Despite these abnormal returns, what goes up will eventually come down.

When Wall Street spots an exciting trend, smart money funds companies to create financial products around that trend. The insiders give their closest business partners a chance to get in early and eventually retail investors can get involved at inflated levels. But as investment platforms and technology improves, many investors are opting to buy and sell stocks for themselves.

Financial media has glorified a “trading” strategy that makes day-trading stocks seem like a simple way to a six-figure income. While it certainly can be done, this particular strategy isn’t realistic for investors with a full-time job. Simply buying stocks can also be extremely capital intensive, with mega cap stocks like Amazon and Google trading well above $500. So what can the average investor do?

warrenDespite popular belief, the derivatives market can be a great way to get involved in the financial markets. Options specifically allow you to profit when a stock goes up, down, or even trades within a particular price range. The “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffet, has been a long time advocate of the buy and hold strategy. But what many investors fail to realize is that Warren Buffet also implements a put selling strategy with significant size in the markets. By selling a put, you immediately receive a credit and profit if the stock is above your put strike price at expiration. Time is also in your favor with options because the option buyer needs the stock to increase or decrease in value quicker than the option’s theta decay. Similarly, by selling a call option, you can profit as the stock decreases in value. This is all possible at a fraction of the cost that borrowing stock requires in order to go short or buying shares in order to go long.

Options also give the option seller a statistical edge because they have the opportunity to profit three different ways rather than two. There is no get rich quick “holy grail” when it comes to the financial markets, but the ability to put the odds in your favor can lead to significant returns and it keeps investors engaged with their hard earned money. Instead of paying someone to index your money for a fee, why not try and take ownership of your own financial future?

 

 

As college graduates enter the workforce for the first time, expectations and reality can be a bitter pill to swallow. In a world driven by instant gratification, a degree can leave graduates feeling entitled to a certain level of compensation. Employers seek out applicants that have at least some college education, but it certainly doesn’t end with a degree. Faced with a competitive job market, high rents, and student debt, job seekers must find alternative ways to create value. We have a lot to learn from industry leaders who found a unique way to add value, refusing to jump ship at the first sign of failure.

These entrepreneurs struck gold despite dropping out of college,

1) Bill Gatesbill gates

Bill Gates developed an extraordinary perspective on technology, which led him to leave Harvard and start Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975. Gates was underestimated in the early years of Microsoft because of his age. Established professionals in the industry often refused to take him seriously and resources for his business were hard to acquire. While his peers would consider this a huge setback, Gates attributes this fact to much of his success. He found a way to execute on his vision and according to Gates, “when people are first skeptical and they think, ‘oh this kid doesn’t know anything’, then when you show them that you really have a good product and know something, they actually tend to go overboard.”

mark zukerburg.png2) Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg left school to pursue thefacebook.com, which now carries a valuation of over $500 billion. From the very beginning of Facebook, Zuckerberg faced several legal controversies that could have easily disrupted the company. Overcoming these trials allowed Zuckerberg to understand what was truly important to him, saying, “the thing I really care about is the mission, making the world open.” The ability to share our ideas openly and with full transparency will benefit society for generations. Zuckerberg connects this idea with the importance of having a mentor and reiterates his own mentor, Steve Jobs, who said, “focus on building as high quality and good things as you are.”

john mackey 3) John Mackey

John Mackey dropped out of college to start SaferWay, a health food store that didn’t sell products containing sugar, alcohol, or white flour. Losing half of his original investment within the first year of the company, Mackey realized that he needed to reevaluate the execution of his company’s objective. In order to provide our generation with foods that they wanted to buy, Mackey focused on healthier living, “just not in a full of judgment way.” Even though Mackey’s original business model failed to generate a profit, he reminds us that, “the right actions undertaken for the right reasons generally lead to good outcomes over time.”

 

These highly successful entrepreneurs embody the definition of grit, proving their courage and strength of character. Whether you’re aspiring to be an entrepreneur or working your way up in an established company, the ability to manage and conquer the fear of failure will always determine your success. People who have grit aren’t afraid to tank, but actually see it as part of the process. It doesn’t take a degree to change the trajectory of your life, it begins with starting and never looking back.

 

Despite being valued at $1,000 at the beginning of this year, Bitcoin has surged just shy of the $10,000 milestone early Sunday morning. The recent spike came from investor confidence in Black Friday and Thanksgiving shopping results as deals stirred a record number of crowds. With stock prices at all-time highs and Bitcoin roaring higher, the hunt for value into 2018 is going to take more than Rudolph’s glowing red nose. fx_image

Starting with Santa’s nice list, the top ten market leaders (Year to Date) are as follows:

  1. Alibaba (Specialty Retail)
  2. Facebook (Internet Information)
  3. Amazon (Catalog and Mail Order)
  4. Apple (Electronic Equipment)
  5. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (Semiconductor)
  6. Visa (Credit Services)
  7. Wal-Mart Stores (Discount, Variety Stores)
  8. Alphabet (Internet Information)
  9. Microsoft (Business Software)
  10. UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (Health Care Plans)

The technology sector was the clear winner this year, representing five of the top ten. If anything is certain going into the holiday season, the focus for investors will remain on consumer confidence. The ease of electronic payments and alternative checkout options brings on an entirely different challenge for these market leaders. So could the popularity of Bitcoin actually carry stock prices even higher?

As these companies look to make the shopping experience faster, cryptocurrencies become a viable alternative. Microsoft and Tesla are among the few largest companies that are already accepting Bitcoin as a legitimate source of payment. If this wave continues and more companies in the top ten get involved, the parabolic moves will continue into 2018. Pullbacks in these sectors will offer buying opportunities until we see a significant level of volatility come back into the markets. Anyone late to the party has to remember that, “the market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.”

Technologists project that artificial intelligence will replace nearly half of all jobs overArtificial-Intelligence-Bizagi@03x the next decade. Automation eliminates tedious tasks and makes the world of big data more manageable. In an effort to cut costs wherever possible, it is without question that artificial intelligence will disrupt several industries. Although, by choosing technology over human interaction, companies are damaging the foundation on which great businesses are built.

The financial markets reflect the early victors in the artificial intelligence wave, with five of the six market cap leaders being built on the basis of this technology. Aside from Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, competitors that have fallen behind must find an alternative way to regain market share. So how can these companies set themselves apart from the crowd?

During the economic downturn of the Great Depression, a select few companies realized the importance of human connection to their brands. Kellogg was at the forefront of this realization as they bested C.W. Post in food manufacturing. Like most companies during the Great Depression, C.W. Post cut their advertisement budget as thin as possible. On the other hand, Kellogg nearly doubled their advertisement exposure. When the economy stabilized, consumer loyalty remained with Kellogg and allowed them to become the industry’s dominant player. The companies that not only survived but also thrived during the Great Depression never stopped appealing to human emotion.

kelloggPredictive analytics suggests that we can tell consumers what they want to know based on their habits. This provides another way for companies to cut spending as they attempt to understand their customers. However, learning from the mistakes of the Great Depression, the most successful companies will not be blinded by the promise of artificial intelligence. Market leaders will have the insight to balance the tech side of things and human tendencies. So are we really on the trajectory where algorithms could better satisfy the customer experience? While algorithms will certainly streamline business functions, it will be impossible to replace extraordinary people that make great businesses possible.

 

The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine. -Nikola Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has built a reputation on defying the odds. After unveiling the new electric big-rig on Thursday, which has a 500-mile range, Musk surprised the audience with the Tesla Roadster. The sports car is capable of going 0 to 60 mph in just 1.9 seconds, making it the fastest production car ever made. Following the event, media outlets flooded with mixed views on the future of Tesla and their ability to dominate the electric vehicle market.

After hitting all-time highs in September, Tesla’s stock price has retraced nearly 25 percent on fears of Musk’s ability to execute on production. The unveil of the big-rig and Roadster further clouded shareholder’s expectations for Tesla to balance both luxury and efficiency. Although, the short-term skepticism behind future production discredits Tesla’s ability to leverage their plans for the electric big-rig.

Wal-Mart announced that it would be testing Tesla’s electric semitractor-trailer in both the U.S. and Canada. As the number of players in the retail space continues to dwindle, any competitive edge to reduce operating costs will be utilized. Looking beyond the Roadster and production discrepancies sheds light on a broader market that Tesla could focus their efforts. While everyone is fixated on the future of online shopping, Musk will capitalize on the present brick and mortar retailers. For a CEO that thrives on future expectations, it could be a play from the past that brings in the most profit.