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Bitcoin $50K? With Tesla now on board, crypto bulls say the sky’s the limit

February 9, 2021, 10:39 AM UTC

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Good morning, Bull Sheeters. European stocks and U.S. futures are flat on Tuesday, putting the S&P 500’s six-day rally in jeopardy as we head into a big day of impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill.

At the moment, most of the market action can be found in the crypto corner with Bitcoin barreling through a new all-time high overnight. Could it hit 50K by end of day? Some bulls say that’s just the start.

In today’s essay, I dig into the big Tesla-Bitcoin news and tease out what it may mean for ESG investors, a true force on Wall Street.

In the meantime, let’s see what’s moving markets.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asia indexes are mostly higher in afternoon trading, with the Shanghai Composite up 1.9%.
  • Chinese regulators are coming down hard on Tesla as customer complaints mount over explosions and failed auto-braking technology. Reminder: China is a crucial market for Elon Musk’s EV maker.
  • Move over, Johnson & Johnson. Chinese vaccine maker Cansino Biologic has developed a single-jab COVID-19 vaccine that’s reporting promising trial results.

Europe

  • The European bourses were as flat as a crêpe out of the gates with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.1% at the open.
  • Shares in Total were up 1% after the French energy giant posted a big earnings beat and disclosed a fairly upbeat 2021 outlook.
  • According to the Financial Times, EU lawmakers are drawing up legislation to force the likes of Facebook and Google to pay for news. It mimics a similar media-friendly initiative from Australia that tech giants have loudly protested.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures are flat this morning after all three major exchanges closed Monday in record territory. The Dow and S&P 500 winning streak stands at six straight. Can we make it seven today? Last I checked, S&P futures were down about three points.
  • The squabble over $1,400 stimulus checks is taking on an It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World feel. In recent days, we’ve seen trickle-down acolytes on the right insisting on means testing, and soak-the-rich lefties objecting to any handout-limitations whatsoever. Here’s an idea: bury the money under the “Big W,” and drop Americans a bunch of cryptic clues about how to find the loot. Or
  • … just give every American family a stash of Bitcoin. That would be Elon Musk’s solution.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is creeping up, trading around $1,850/ounce.
  • The dollar is down.
  • Crude keeps on climbing. Brent is trading near $61/barrel.
  • Bitcoin hit a fresh high over night, topping $48,000.

***

A bull market within a bull market

Bitcoin is today’s 🚀. It’s up 20% in the past 24 hours. Call it a bull market within a bull market.

I don’t own a Tesla, and I don’t have any Bitcoin (and certainly no Dogecoin) in my portfolio. When it comes to cryptocurrencies, I’m a bit of a 🦖.

Maybe I should get with the times…As Bitcoin was blowing up the record books yesterday, we got a fresh call for Bitcoin $100,000. “You’re seeing the herd here, and it’s coming,” crypto bull Michael Novogratz declared on Bloomberg Television yesterday.

At that price level, a single Bitcoin could buy a top-of-the-line Tesla with all the snazziest features. And, if we’ve interpreted Tesla’s curious regulatory filing yesterday correctly, the EV maker will in fact begin accepting Bitcoin for payment . . . presumably, payment for an actual Tesla automobile.

Yes, accepting such a volatile currency for payment is a GAAP accounting nightmare. It also poses a potential nightmare dilemma for ESG investors. Tesla is already a darling of the fund managers who put together the best performing U.S. ESG ETFs and funds. Will true climate hawks push them to boot out a Bitcoin-endorsing Tesla?

UBS Chief economist Paul Donovan sums up the conundrum nicely in an investor note this morning:

Yesterday’s news has “highlighted a clash with the growth of sustainable investment,” he writes. “Crypto does significant environmental damage without creating any improvement in living standards. Can sustainability investors consider owning companies associated with crypto?”

A thorough examination of the E in ESG is probably long overdue on Wall Street. If nothing else, let’s hope Tesla’s embrace of crypto will jumpstart that discussion.

***

Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow… Until then, there’s more news below.

Bernhard Warner
@BernhardWarner
Bernhard.Warner@Fortune.com

As always, you can write to bullsheet@fortune.com or reply to this email with suggestions and feedback.

Correction: Thanks to an eagle-eye reader who noticed I short-changed the size of the U.S. stimulus package in yesterday’s Bull Sheet. It is $1.9 trillion.

Today's read

Crypto accounting. Tesla's bombshell regulatory disclosure that it's invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin must have CFOs everywhere muttering in disbelief. Yes, the digital currency has rallied roughly 20% since the news broke. But loading up a company's books with such a volatile asset is a head-scratcher. Why's that? In accounting parlance, Bitcoin is considered an "intangible asset." If the value declines, that could saddle Tesla with big losses.

Will Apple be next? The question buzzing on Wall Street yesterday was whether Apple would follow Tesla's move in buying up Bitcoin. RBC Capital Markets thinks it would be a bold and potentially lucrative move for the iPhone maker. Here's why.

Bonus story... Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of Nasdaq Inc. Fortune's Shawn Tully has the story on this astounding Wall Street success story. (I mentioned this piece yesterday, but I supplied a broken link. Apols for that.)

Some of these stories require a subscription to access. There is a discount offer for our loyal readers if you use this link to sign up. Thank you for supporting our journalism.

Market candy

Quiz time

In the world of equities, the S&P 500 Energy Sector Index is the big winner so far for 2021, up nearly 17% YTD. Which of the following assets, commodities or industry sectors is the second biggest gainer so far this year?

  • A. The Nasdaq 100
  • B. Silver
  • C. The KBW Bank Index
  • D. Hong Kong's Hang Seng

The answer is C., the banks. The KBW Bank Index is up 10.4%, helped by the steady rise in real interest rates.