The decade is almost over — and one incredibly volatile investment stood out from all the rest as the best of the 2010s. Want to guess what it was?
According to a recent report by Bank of America Securities, if you invested $1 in bitcoin at the start of the decade, it would now be worth more than $90,000.
A bitcoin (XBT) is currently valued at about $7,000. While that’s still significantly below its peak price of just under $20,000 two years ago, it’s substantially higher than the fractions of a penny that one bitcoin (XBT) cost at the beginning of the Twenty-Teens.
Bitcoin remains a highly speculative investment, but it has soared during the past decade as it emerged as the most-popular and widely accepted cryptocurrency.
More retailers are accepting bitcoin as a form of payment, and several investment firms and exchanges have launched futures trading for bitcoin, a move that helped legitimize it.
And Facebook’s (FB) planned launch of the Libra digital currency initiative has also further validated bitcoin and other crytpocurrencies in the minds of many investors.
The BofA report lists several other fun facts about what’s been a wild decade for the markets — one that has seen stocks recover from the depths of the Great Recession and hit new highs despite a trade war between the United States and China, attacks on the Federal Reserve by President Trump, Brexit concerns and a slowdown in Europe as well as continued malaise in Japan.
Go USA! But hope you avoided Myanmar and Greece
Although bitcoin has been the star investment of the 2010s, anybody stuck with a spare kyat — the local currency of Myanmar — won’t be too happy.
Ethnic conflicts, violence and instability in the nation formerly known as Burma have left a dollar invested in a kyat at the beginning of the decade worth just 4 tenths of one US cent today.
Turning to stocks, Greece was not the word. The Mediterranean nation continued to struggle in the wake of its debt crisis. BofA investment strategists Michael Hartnett and Tommy Ricketts noted in the report that $1 dollar invested in the Greek equity market in 2010 is now worth only 7 cents.
The United States was the best stock market in the world, with $1 in American stocks now valued at about $3.46. That’s a gain of nearly 250%.
US bonds were also the best performers in fixed income. A 30-year Treasury that was worth $1 in 2010 is now valued at about $2.08. But Greece’s neighbor Turkey had the worst bond of the decade. A dollar in benchmark Turkish bonds at the beginning of 2010 is now worth only 61 cents.
And many bonds no longer generate any income for investors at all.
Negative interest rates have been good for gold. But oil has languished
Several central banks around the globe have slashed interest rates to below zero to try and jumpstart sluggish economies. As a result, BofA said that 2019 had $17 trillion’s worth of sovereign debt sporting a negative yield. In 2010, no bonds had negative yields.
Speaking of central banks, it may seem like US Fed chairs Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen and Jerome Powell have moved interest rates a lot during the past decade. But they have nothing on Brazil. The Brazilian central bank was the most active — with 25 rate cuts and 24 rate hikes since 2010.
The Bank of Japan was the quietest central bank. It lowered rates once in the past ten years — to negative territory in 2016.
As interest rates have fallen, investors have flocked to gold, which was the top commodity of the 2010s. $1 of gold in 2010 is now worth $1.34. But crude oil was the worst commodity. A dollar’s worth of oil is now valued at just 74 cents.
The drop in oil prices, in part because of sluggish demand and more supply from more American shale producers, is a key reason why energy stocks were among the biggest dogs in the S&P 500 during the past decade as well.