No accident that “current” and “currency” are nearly identical.
Both evoke a sense of flow. Electricity, air, water, money do no work, have no impact unless they move, unless they flow — from place to place, machine to machine, business to business, person to person.
If we look at financial markets over time, they make a steady progress, much like a large river. In part, this progress is due to inflation and in part to the growth in productivity. Of course, there are ebbs, but in the main, the financial river rolls along largely unimpeded. The U.S. stock market has never lost money over any 20-year period.
However, if we look closer, that steady progress is volatile, turbulent, even violent. And today, new technologies, new modes of information and new access are changing the flows of the market.
Blockchain technology enables cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens. Social media sites such as Wall Street Bets and FinTwit create meme stocks and drive both price and value. And commission-free trading apps make it easy and economical to buy and sell from your phone. Retail traders account for 20 percent of daily market volume, up from 10 percent just 18 months ago.
There are many new currents pulling the flow of dollars. We’ve cruised a few of them here. Take a read and let us know what you think.