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Move over Bitcoin—SPAC mania has overtaken the markets

February 11, 2021, 9:50 AM UTC

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Good morning. U.S. futures are nudging higher ahead of today’s jobless-claims data dump. Why should investors care about something as mundane as jobs? Answer: because the U.S. labor market is a “long way” from healthy, says Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, and that weakness will hamstring the central bank’s monetary policy going forward.

But never mind all that. We are living in a golden age of SPAC exploration. The great SPAC race. So take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

These lesser-scrutinized blank-check IPOs, often backed (or just pumped) by a celebrity, are hitting the market at a furious pace. According to Dealogic, SPAC IPOs have raised $38.3 billion so far this year. We are well on our way to surpassing $300 billion in new SPAC listings this year—a four-fold increase on 2020, the so-called “year of the SPAC.”

Yes, we will get into some of the latest SPACs below.

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

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asia indexes are mixed in afternoon trading, with the Shanghai Composite up 1.4%. Reminder: the Shanghai Exchange will close for the next week in observance of the lunar new year holiday. Hong Kong is closed tomorrow and Monday.
  • President Joseph Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone yesterday. While there was no talk of a “reset” between the world’s two biggest economies, there were a few topics that were new to the agenda, including climate change.
  • Remember that deal in which Walmart and Oracle were to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok? Well, it’s been shelved.

Europe

  • The European bourses were modestly higher with the Stoxx Europe 600 up nearly 0.2% at the open.
  • Peak oil has already arrived for Royal Dutch Shell, with output of “traditional fuels” set to more than halve by the end of the decade. Perhaps this is good news for ESG investors: the energy giant’s carbon emissions outlook has probably never been better.
  • Heading to Africa now… It’s looking increasingly likely that Johnson & Johnson’s single-jab COVID vaccine will be rolled out for the first time anywhere next week—in South Africa.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures point to a decently positive open. That’s after the Dow closed in record territory on Wednesday.
  • Shares in Uber fell 4.8% in pre-market trading this morning after the company reported an eye-watering $6.8 billion loss for 2020. Über-bull Dan Ives, on cue, calls it “a major step in the right direction.”
  • Holy flying SPACs, Batman! In a deal valued at $3.8 billion, flying taxi startup Archer merged with an NYSE-listed SPAC yesterday, giving rise to a new class of special purpose acquisition companies—the eVTOL SPAC.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is flat, trading below $1,850/ounce.
  • The dollar is down.
  • As is crude. Brent is trading around $61/barrel.
  • At 10 a.m. Rome time, Bitcoin was trading at $45,000, down 3%.

***

Buzzworthy

R&D, pffft

This tweet stunned me. Sure enough, I double-checked Tesla’s latest regulatory filings, and here’s what I calculated: $TSLA spent $1.5 billion on Bitcoin in 2020, and $1.491 billion on R&D over the past four quarters.

*Get a Clue

*Yes, that’s a Lohan film. Not her best.

Coming up short

You have to go back to the dot-com bubble days to find a period when investors, collectively, have been so loooooong equities, reports Goldman Sachs.

SPAC-a-mole!

I know, who’s got time for the Cassandras of the market during a historic decade-long bull run? But you should familiarize yourself with the work of activist short-seller Nathan Anderson (before he takes aim at your SPAC-tacular portfolio.)

***

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.

Today's read

Stimulus economics. Who is well and truly deserving of a $1,400 stimulus check? And is that payout even enough? Fortune's Geoff Colvin breaks down the impact that $3 trillion to date in stimulus spending has had on Americans' disposable income, savings rates, and consumption. Remember: household consumption is a huge engine of the U.S. economy. 

A lending paradox. 2020 was a banner year for debtors. For America's biggest lenders, however...not so much. America's largest banks "saw their loan books shrink in 2020 for the first time in more than a decade," the WSJ reports, citing Federal Reserve data. This paradox is just beginning to be seen on banks' bottom lines. Watch for this in the quarters to come.

House prices. New homes are selling at the fastest pace in over a decade thanks in part to affluent millennials looking for a backyard and extra space for a home office. Whether you're looking to offload your Cape Cod, or you're in the market for a costlier colonial, here's what's in store for the real estate market this year.   

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Market candy

Quote of the day

I know more people who have a SPAC than have Covid.

That shocking quote appeared in Andrew Ross Sorkin's Deal Book column yesterday. That's what several financiers have told him lately, he says. SPACs had a banner year in 2020. And they're blowing away the field so far this year, raising more than $25 billion last month—that's twice as much as traditional IPOs (with a fraction of the scrutiny). New celebrity-backed SPACs are announced seemingly every day. Alex Rodriguez has a new one. So does Colin Kaepernick. Shaquille O'Neal, too. The SPAC bubble is alive and well, dear reader.