Bitcoin was the single worst performing investment of 2014. From a January high of $US914-$US1,012 (depending on the exchange used), it fell consistently over the year: its value stands at around $US315 at the time of writing.
Why did it tank? The continuing government clampdown on sites selling illicit services (where anonymous bitcoins are often used as payment) didn’t help, said Extreme Tech.com. But, in reality, illicit trades made up a small proportion of Bitcoin transactions.
The bitcoin ‘crisis’ was a crisis of confidence. Over 850,000 bitcoins, worth a total of $US450m, were stolen from Mt Gox, the largest bitcoin exchange site, and an enormous amount of bitcoin’s value wiped. The collapse shook faith in the currency’s security, its real selling point.
Who are the losers?
Internet entrepreneurs the Winklevoss twins, said by The Guardian to own around 1% of theentire bitcoin market.
Who are the winners?
Nasdaq.com’s Martin Tillier advised purchasing bitcoin as recently as the beginning of this month, arguing that this year’s crash was merely a correction. Others think bitcoin’s value lies not in the possession of the currency, but in the technology it exploits, which may pave the way for cheaper and more secure ways to transfer funds.
What have we learned?
Unregulated, anonymous currency is volatile. Who’d have guessed?
Number 2: Crude Oil
Brent crude oil started it slide in June, and by the end of the year it had fallen by 45% as the price war between Opec, the US and Russia raged.
Outsourcing firm Quindell saw its share price fall from 682p to just 34p after a damning research report, and the questionable share dealings of several senior staff.
With Russia’s Vladimir Putin locked in a war of wills with the West, the rouble’s gentle decline became a crash — losing 12% in just one week.
Number 5: Tesco
Tesco shares almost halved in value in the last year, as it faced competition from discount supermarkets and suffered the mother of all accounting scandals.
Greek stocks slid to their lowest in 17 months this year. The country faces huge political challenges, as the spectre of a ‘Grexit’ rears its head again.
Number 7: copper
Prices for non-precious metals have plummeted in the past year. And copper has been the worst affected — sliding more than 15% in 2014.
The Argentinian peso began the year with a 20% slide. It has continued to fall steadily, leaving the economy in almost as bad a state as it was in 2001 and 2002.
Number 9: Twitter
Concerns about cash-flow and a failure to compete with Facebook meant Twitter’s share price slid by 42% this year.
Mattel’s share price plunged 36% in 2014 as sales of its Barbie and Fisher-Price brands plunged, and a 20 year partnership with Disney bit the dust.
Number 11: Russian corporate bonds
Yields on Russian corporate bonds soared this year as billions of dollars’ worth of capital left the country in the wake of sanctions by the EU and US.
Mismanagement, declining sales and the long arm of the law each played their part in a terrible year for Avon, the world’s largest direct seller of beauty products.
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