Bitcoin’s Surge Contrasts With Regulatory Doubts: Live Business Updates

A bitcoin A.T.M. in Hong Kong. The price of Bitcoin is up so far this year to about $31,000, from below $4,000 in March.
Credit…Kin Cheung/Associated Press

Bitcoin is surging. Even after a decline of as much as 10 percent on Monday, the price of Bitcoin is up so far this year to about $31,000, adding to a furious rally at the end of 2020 that pushed the cryptocurrency near $30,000 a coin, a level it breached over the weekend. In March, it was trading below $4,000.

The euphoria stands in contrast to regulatory doubts about cryptocurrencies.

Digital money enthusiasts have been submitting comments to the Treasury Department on a proposed new disclosure requirement for certain crypto transactions “aimed at closing money laundering regulatory gaps.” The deadline for comments is Monday, and more than 3,500 submissions are already in.

The Blockchain Association sent Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin a letter requesting more time to consider the rule, arguing that “difficult and momentous” issues were being handled hastily. Eight House lawmakers also wrote to Mr. Mnuchin, asking that the review period be extended by several weeks.

The staggering 2020 rally highlights Bitcoin’s speculative appeal but also expectations of its lasting value to some investors. The run that has lifted Bitcoin to its current price came as some big institutions said they would begin to buy or allow use of Bitcoin.

  • In May, Paul Tudor Jones, one of Wall Street’s best-known hedge fund managers, said he had put almost 2 percent of his portfolio in Bitcoin. He said the cap on Bitcoin production made it an attractive alternative to the declining value of traditional currencies, which he thought was inevitable as central banks printed more money to encourage an economic recovery.

  • In July, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an American regulator, said this summer that banks would be allowed to hold cryptocurrencies for customers.

  • In August, MicroStrategy, a software company in Virginia, said it bought $250 million of Bitcoin to store some of the cash it had in the corporate treasury.

  • In October, Square said it was putting $50 million of its corporate cash into Bitcoin. In 2018, Square also began offering the digital currency on the Cash App, its phone app that people use to send money between friends and family.

  • Soon after Square did, PayPal announced in October that it would allow people to buy and hold Bitcoin and a few other cryptocurrencies.

Of course, none of that offers any indication of how high Bitcoin could go, or when this rally may end. The last time this kind of speculative fever hit the cryptocurrency — in 2017 and 2018 — it doubled in value before halving again in just a few months.

A PSA assembly line in Slovakia last year. The merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is intended to help both companies make the transition to electric vehicles.  
Credit…Radovan Stoklasa/Reuters

Shareholders of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA, the French maker of Peugeot, Citroën and Opel cars, voted on Monday to merge in an effort to acquire the scale necessary to survive in an industry gripped by technological change.

The new company, to be called Stellantis, would employee 400,000 people and include the Jeep, Ram Trucks and Maserati brands. It would be the world’s fourth-largest carmaker, after Toyota, Volkswagen and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, based on vehicle sales during the first nine months of 2020.

Executives of Fiat Chrysler and PSA agreed to merge at the end of 2019 and have been working out the details and securing regulatory approval since then.

Together, the two companies believe they stand a better chance of surviving a transition to electric vehicles, which is happening faster than most analysts predicted.

“We are living through a profound era of change in our industry,” John Elkann, the chairman of Fiat Chrysler, told shareholders by video, drawing comparisons with Fiat’s founding at the dawn of the automobile age. “We believe the coming decade will redefine mobility as we know it.”

But the new company would face major challenges. Neither Fiat Chrysler nor PSA has a strong presence in China, the world’s largest car market, and they have been slow to introduce electric vehicles.

Both companies have been hard hit by the pandemic. PSA’s vehicle sales were down 30 percent in the 11 months through November, while Fiat Chrysler sold 30 percent fewer cars and trucks in the nine months through September, the most recent reporting period. The pandemic has made the rationale for the merger “even more compelling,” Mr. Elkann said.

Carlos Tavares, the chief executive of PSA, would hold the same title at the new entity. Mr. Elkann, a scion of Italy’s Agnelli family and descendant of the man who founded Fiat in 1899, is in line to be chairman. Mike Manley, the chief executive of Fiat Chrysler, would manage the combined company’s American operations.

“We are ready…

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