Top Ten: Weekend reads: Crypto and the sniff test


Even though bitcoin was invented in 2008 and has been embraced by investors, the cryptocurrency market can only be described as immature. This might be a multidecade story in the making, but even crypto’s biggest fans should take heed of what happened this week.

On Sept. 13, a number of news outlets reported that Walmart Inc.

had entered into a “partnership” with litecoin

to accept payments made using that cryptocurrency, citing a news release. That turned out to be false.

Litecoin rose in value by as much as 33% that day before ending with a 3% gain.

The event is a reminder to think before trading on what you read. Two red flags here: the notion of a “partnership” with a cryptocurrency as well as the idea that a company as large as Walmart would make such a bold move with a virtual currency that tends to fly under the radar (most attention and trading volume is focused on bitcoin

and ether).

Mark DeCambre sheds more light on how cryptocurrencies can be exploited for financial fraud.

More on cryptocurrency markets:

More about cryptocurrencies’ uncertain future

There are political rumblings surrounding cryptocurrencies, including questions from U.S. senators about how much authority the Securities and Exchange Commission has over virtual currencies. Even SEC Chairman Gary Gensler was uncertain, saying cryptocurrencies “may well be securities” during a Senate Banking Committee hearing this week.

The regulatory uncertainty was an important factor in a decision by Moody’s Investor Service to initiate its debt-issuer rating of Coinbase Global Inc.

at BB, which is a “noninvestment grade” or junk rating. Moody’s assigned the low rating even while saying Coinbase’s “financial profile suggests investment grade credit strength.”

More crypto concerns:

Early signs of a housing slowdown
The bidding-up of home prices has begun to cool off.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Home prices in many areas outside of major U.S. cities began to soar early in the coronavirus pandemic, with buyers often scrambling to outbid each other. While this bidding activity continues, it has started to cool off, as Jacob Passy explains.

More about expensive home prices: How to safely break the housing and stock markets’ addiction to quantitative easing and the speculation it’s fueling

An overlooked income play in the stock market

For investors looking to build wealth over decades, an excellent case has been made for index funds, which feature low expenses, broad exposure to entire markets (reducing risk) and a track record that professional money managers are hard-pressed to to match.

But what about investors who need income right now? A yield of 1.38% on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes is hardly appealing, while an investment-grade corporate bonds index yield little more than 2%.

But there are exchange-traded funds with much higher yields that pay monthly while taking a relatively low-risk approach to investing in the stock market using this strategy.

It is not always a good idea to avoid taxes

Getty Images/iStockphoto

An investment adviser might suggest that you convert an individual retirement account to a Roth IRA to avoid a higher tax bill years down the line. But Mark Hulbert explains how discussions of income tax rates may overlook one very important point.

More from Mark Hulbert: This easy-money-making strategy in the stock market has disappeared

Worried about inflation? Here’s how to keep up
Sometimes it is best to go with the flow, rather than try to fight inflation.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Steve Goldstein looks at how various asset classes perform during times of high inflation.

Inheriting property — and taxes

Bill Bischoff explains the tax implications if you inherit a home and how some taxes might be avoided.

Two IPOs — what you should know about the companies

Tonya Garcia looked closely at two companies that completed initial public offerings of shares this week — Dutch Bros. Inc.

and On Holding AG


Here’s how much your Social Security check might increase in 2022

Brett Arends shares the math that may lie behind the largest cost-of-living increase in Social Security payments in more than a decade.

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