We are about to wave goodbye to a year of uncertainty which in turn led to a sustained period of market volatility.
As 2021 bows out, and the world prepares to usher in the year 2022, the financial markets are poised and ready for another year which is likely to differ considerably from all of the relatively stagnant trading years that existed before March 2020.
With parts of Europe still blighted by government restrictions and South and South East Asia well and truly open for business and operating at maximum efficiency and capacity, the year ahead is likely to be an eventful and fascinating one.
During the course of 2021, perhaps the only positive dynamic that was caused by the overreach from many Western governments which has now manifested itself as a semi-permanent feature in the everyday lives of individuals and businesses was that volatility in the stock market returned after many years of small movements.
Given the increased interest in stock trading during 2021, here is a look at the most traded stocks over the past twelve months.
Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the most traded stocks during the year 2021 has been a specialist pharmaceutical company. The German company has raked in such a significant profit from being well and truly aligned with the Covid narrative that its home city of Mainz has reaped a tax windfall for the end of this year.
Opinions are split tremendously on the subject of 'Big Pharma' getting itself involved with governments and the subsequent effort by governments to push their newly-launched inventions via intensive campaigns onto the public, however shareholders and investors are not divided at all; they are voting one way and that is to invest and trade the stocks of companies which have attached themselves to the Covid policies of Western countries.
At the beginning of the third quarter of 2021, BioNTech's price movements were so substantial that it topped the leaderboard for many large derivatives traders on both sides of the Atlantic.
Who? That is certainly the response that most traditional investors would have proffered before January 2021. AMC Entertainment is the largest cinema company in the world, achieving this status after acquiring Odeon Cinemas, UCI Cinemas, and Carmike Cinemas in 2016. It stands for American Multi-Cinema, and is publicly listed in New York.
In January, AMC Entertainment along with GameStop became the subjects of attention on Reddit subgroup WallStreetBets, and as a result became one of the two first stocks ever to have been influenced by social media discussion boards. WallStreetBets became a sort of unofficial 'market maker' and AMC and GameStop became known as 'meme stocks'. In January 2021, GameStop was shorted by the collaborators on WallStreetBets, causing a flash crash that many large brokerages and even banks could not manage. Some even locked their clients out of their trading accounts.
Unlike previous flash crashes, however, traders became interested in the volatility that could be created by simply being a member of a discussion board on Reddit, and joined the party. A year of extreme volatility ensued, and even almost a year later, AMC is still the darling of the meme stock traders, its price fluctuating dramatically, and the meme stock trend is almost semi-established with more meme stocks being sought out by the Reddit pioneers.
Progenity is an interesting medical technology start-up which provides information which helps patients and medical providers to make more informed decisions and has captured the mood of the moment. Progenity became listed on a public exchange in June 2020, with an IPO price of $15 per share. Since then, stock prices have been volatile, dropping as low as $0.66 in August 2021. In November 2021, however prices soared, increasing by 136.84% which is astonishing for a stock listed on a main market in a top tier financial markets venue; in this case the tech-friendly NASDAQ exchange.
Yes, it is old and boring. Isn't that fascinating in itself? TESLA, the company that came out of Silicon Valley less than ten years ago and suddenly disrupted a conservative and traditional automotive industry is now considered somewhat tedious?
There is now a large proportion of potential customers who consider the TESLA cars to be bland and lacking in pedigree, whereas their rivals - spurred into producing electric luxury and performance vehicles by the unprecedented success of TESLA - are steeped in automotive history and pedigree and are now producing TESLA-beating electric and plug-in hybrid rivals that are able to out-TESLA each other.
This has not fazed Elon Musk, however. He is now the richest man in the world by far (officially! Unofficially it's still Vladimir Putin!) and TESLA, despite being a much smaller company and having been established for less than a tenth of the time has a market capitalization ten times higher than that of Ford Motor Company. That is nothing short of astonishing.
Therefore, people buy TESLA cars not because they are exciting or lavish. They're not. People buy them because of what TESLA has done and what it stands for. There are as many people who would be in the market for a TESLA as there are who would be as interested as Elon Musk in cryptocurrency and disrupting the electronic financial system. It's the ultimate Apple iPhone moment for the car industry.
TESLA stock has therefore not been volatile, but has become a steady, popular bet for many investors and traders. If TELSA cars are not going to inspire, then the ideology behind them certainly does. It's a case of looking forward to see what else is possible.
Who would have guessed that in the age of the green agenda and the advancement of electric vehicles and sustainable/renewable energy that oil, that thick black dinosaur, would be in such high demand.
Clearly the media storm is just that - a media storm - by politicians in some Western nations and the more industrially and demographically populated nations on earth do not pay heed.
India and China imported record quantities of crude oil during 2021, and the oil prices rose dramatically during the middle of the year. Watching Western leaders wax lyrical about 'climate change' and use buzzwords from NGO think tanks such as 'sustainable' or 'ESG' may make good PowerPoint presentations, but the reality is that oil is still king.
In April, Goldman Sachs predicted that Brent Crude Oil would rise to $70 per barrel within a matter of months, which seemed outlandish given that just a year before that it was in negative equity, but exactly as predicted, it went to $70 within two months and even exceeded it.
Even the United States, a nation in which ultra-clean environmental policy is paramount and in which recycling and green efforts are ingrained into society, was the third importer of oil worldwide this year. Yes, there are electric cars, but the average age of a car on the roads in America is 12 years, and the 12 year old cars run on gasoline.
Royal Dutch Shell moved its head office to London from its Netherlands home. Let's be realistic, it did not do that because it is easier to operate a vast oil company from London, it did it because that is where the financial markets are. Shell as it is now called, needs to be close to the trade execution centers because commodities trading is what it is all about for the 'big oil' companies.
As we enter 2022, the world is a vastly different place to what it was even one year ago and the development cycle of absolutely everything has decreased its timeframe.
If that isn't exciting, who knows what is!