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Expand chart
Data: Coin Metrics; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Bitcoin's market cap — the amount of bitcoin in the world multiplied by its current price — is at an all-time high.

Driving the news: A recent embrace by PayPal and other mainstream figureheads along with expansionist Fed policy and a weaker dollar have sent individual bitcoin prices yesterday to a 2020 high of $18,350.

By the numbers: Despite being more than a grand shy of its all-time high of $19,666 on Dec. 17, 2017, bitcoin’s recent market cap is a record $328 billion, about $10 billion less than Mastercard.

  • Bitcoin is up 145% on the year, far outperforming most stocks.

Sleeper theory: Also lurking behind Bitcoin’s recent price surge is a supply crunch from bitcoin miners in China.

  • Chinese miners, who control over 70% of bitcoin’s hashrate or mining power, have been facing challenges liquidating their crypto holdings for cash because many are finding their bank accounts and cards frozen as a part of the Chinese government’s nationwide crackdown on telecommunications fraud and money laundering via cryptocurrency deals.
  • Thomas Heller, formerly global business director at the mining pool F2Pool and now chief operation officer of mining and media firm HASHR8, confirmed the Chinese miners’ predicament earlier this week, saying it’s currently a “challenge” for Chinese miners to convert bitcoin and tether into cash. 

Editor's note: The final two bullets of this story have been updated with new information.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

U.S. indexes see worst day since October amid short squeeze chaos

Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Equity prices tumbled Wednesday, with U.S. indexes booking their worst day since October, but traditional hedging assets like Treasury bonds, the Japanese yen and gold saw minimal gains or losses, continuing a trend that has been in place for more than a year.

By the numbers: The S&P, Dow and Nasdaq all fell by more than 2%, but the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield declined by just 1 basis point from its closing level on Tuesday.

Updated 20 mins ago - World

German election: Social Democrats narrowly beat Angela Merkel's bloc

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — The center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) clinched a narrow victory in Germany's historic federal elections on Sunday, just four years after suffering its worst loss since World War II.

Why it matters: It's a stunning political comeback for the SPD, paving the way for its chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz to form a new governing coalition and lead Europe's largest economy into the post-Merkel era.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney: Americans deserve better than choice of Biden or Trump

Rep. Liz Cheney talks with Lesley Stahl on CBS' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS News

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Americans "deserve better than having to choose between" President Biden's "disastrous" policies and former President Trump, "who violated his oath of office."

Why it matters: Cheney made the remarks after CBS' Lesley Stahl put it to her in the interview that Republicans feel that her joining the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot helps "keep the focus on Trump instead of on the shortcomings of the Biden administration."