Future Returns: Protecting And Managing Digital Assets
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,436,707 (+0.82%)       Melbourne $958,938 (-0.18%)       Brisbane $805,276 (+0.20%)       Adelaide $743,261 (+0.57%)       Perth $641,111 (+1.35%)       Hobart $739,768 (-1.32%)       Darwin $641,804 (-0.09%)       Canberra $971,787 (-1.13%)       National $936,660 (+0.16%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $694,570 (-0.33%)       Melbourne $471,297 (-0.44%)       Brisbane $430,588 (-1.62%)       Adelaide $353,294 (-0.18%)       Perth $357,545 (+0.46%)       Hobart $558,931 (+4.60%)       Darwin $356,380 (-2.21%)       Canberra $476,932 (+0.93%)       National $489,111 (+0.53%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,093 (-72)       Melbourne 13,872 (+186)       Brisbane 10,770 (+38)       Adelaide 3,078 (+82)       Perth 9,971 (+180)       Hobart 911 (+13)       Darwin 300 (-7)       Canberra 996 (+8)       National 49,991 (+428)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,400 (-137)       Melbourne 7,842 (-9)       Brisbane 2,243 (-20)       Adelaide 542 (+7)       Perth 2,413 (+1)       Hobart 156 (+3)       Darwin 371 (-4)       Canberra 529 (+5)       National 22,496 (-154)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $660 (+$10)       Melbourne $500 (+$10)       Brisbane $560 (+$10)       Adelaide $510 (+$10)       Perth $550 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $650 (+$25)       Canberra $700 (+$5)       National $593 (+$9)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $600 ($0)       Melbourne $450 (+$5)       Brisbane $500 ($0)       Adelaide $403 (+$3)       Perth $470 ($0)       Hobart $473 (-$3)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $560 ($0)       National $508 (+$)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 6,525 (+243)       Melbourne 7,106 (-5)       Brisbane 3,920 (+102)       Adelaide 1,146 (+39)       Perth 1,623 (+85)       Hobart 243 (+11)       Darwin 102 (-7)       Canberra 588 (+44)       National 21,253 (+512)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,070 (+376)       Melbourne 5,906 (+117)       Brisbane 1,516 (+27)       Adelaide 327 (+5)       Perth 673 (-3)       Hobart 86 (+5)       Darwin 232 (+7)       Canberra 662 (+66)       National 17,472 (+600)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.39% (↑)      Melbourne 2.71% (↑)      Brisbane 3.62% (↑)      Adelaide 3.57% (↑)        Perth 4.46% (↓)     Hobart 3.87% (↑)      Darwin 5.27% (↑)      Canberra 3.75% (↑)      National 3.29% (↑)             UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 4.49% (↑)      Melbourne 4.97% (↑)      Brisbane 6.04% (↑)      Adelaide 5.92% (↑)        Perth 6.84% (↓)       Hobart 4.40% (↓)     Darwin 8.03% (↑)        Canberra 6.11% (↓)       National 5.40% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 1.6% (↑)      Melbourne 1.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.5% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 1.0% (↑)      Hobart 0.9% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.5% (↑)      National 1.2%    (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 2.3% (↑)      Melbourne 2.8% (↑)      Brisbane 1.2% (↑)      Adelaide 0.7% (↑)      Perth 1.3% (↑)      Hobart 1.4% (↑)      Darwin 1.3% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)      National 2.1%   (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 30.4 (↓)       Melbourne 29.7 (↓)       Brisbane 36.6 (↓)       Adelaide 25.3 (↓)     Perth 41.0 (↑)        Hobart 32.2 (↓)       Darwin 33.8 (↓)       Canberra 28.3 (↓)       National 32.2 (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 33.0 (↓)       Melbourne 30.1 (↓)       Brisbane 35.1 (↓)       Adelaide 29.4 (↓)     Perth 43.7 (↑)        Hobart 26.9 (↓)     Darwin 44.0 (↑)      Canberra 31.9 (↑)        National 34.3 (↓)           
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Future Returns: Protecting And Managing Digital Assets

How to keep your crypto and NFTs safe.

By Rob Csernyik
Wed, May 25, 2022 2:36pmGrey Clock 4 min

For investors in digital assets like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), it’s necessary to take special estate planning considerations into account. But a recent study conducted by the Northern Trust Institute suggests some investors are slow to adopt these measures, potentially putting their investments at risk after they die.

The Chicago-based wealth manager firm surveyed nearly 250 high-net-worth investors, uncovering critical estate planning gaps for digital assets, despite more than half of those surveyed owning crypto and NFTs. Only 42% of those surveyed said all their digital accounts and online management tools were incorporated into their estate plan. For 20%, none have been incorporated.

This survey, conducted last year for Northern Trust’s 2022 Wealth Planning Outlook suggests there are demographic differences among investors based on generation and estate size. When asked if their plan has a full accounting of traditional and digital wealth accounts, 78% of millennials said their plan did, compared to 59% of investors born before 1945. While 75% of those with estates of US$5-to-US$10 million have made this full accounting, the rate declines to 55% for those with US$50-million plus. Respondents with higher asset levels were also more likely to own investments in digital assets.

Without access to critical information or the assets themselves, heirs are left with the added burden of incomplete transparency—a particular challenge when settling complex estates.

One reason it’s critical to pay special attention to these assets is that the category continues to evolve. “The tax implications of digital assets like crypto and NFTs are also currently under debate and continued regulation is likely,” Northern Trust said in its report.

Jon Jackson, central region practice leader for estate settlement services at Northern Trust Wealth Management says it’s necessary to be proactive. “Especially for a rapidly evolving asset class such as digital assets, review your plan frequently to take advantage of the legislative and technical changes that are likely to occur with such assets.”

In a recent interview, Jackson shared with Penta how individuals and families can ensure peace of mind with their digital estates.

Create an Inventory and Paper Trail

“The first step is to start with an inventory,” Jackson says. This includes detailed records of assets, the digital wallets in which they’re stored, and any crypto keys. Private keys, the passwords used to manage and access cryptocurrencies, may be informally written down or memorized, which can cause access issues after an investor dies if not safely stored.

The survey suggests 59% of respondents have included only some of their digital accounts or none at all into their estate plan. Estate planners and fiduciaries can’t evaluate digital assets without necessary guidance to access them, which makes sharing this information critical.

“In the best case scenario, (not leaving information) could lead to extra time and expense to track down the information, and possibly even litigation to access the accounts,” Jackson says. In the worst, most extreme cases, he adds that “not having the right password could lead to losing the entire asset.”

Horror stories about lost crypto keys have made global headlines. New York blockchain data firm Chainalysis suggests that about one in five of existing Bitcoin—a figure they once valued at US$140 billion, but is likely less because of the currency’s falling value—are in lost or inaccessible wallets.

Lock in a Digital Fiduciary

Whenever a client enters a new asset class, Jackson says it’s necessary to consult with an attorney and estate-planning advisors. This ensures estate plans cover the assets and allow fiduciaries to properly control them and pass them to future beneficiaries, whether through probate, or where possible, using beneficiary designations or revocable trusts.

“Consider specific language for handling digital assets in your estate, including a digital fiduciary, rather than relying on more general provisions of estate assets,” he says. (It’s also important to check on the requirements for a digital assets fiduciary which can vary between jurisdictions.)

Northern Trust’s survey suggests the people set up to use online management tools post-death are spouses, children, or parents. The intended fiduciary needs to be “not only willing to take on the responsibilities of setting your estate, but also the responsibility of managing these types of complicated assets,” Jackson says. About 90% of fiduciaries have been informed, according to survey responses, yet of those informed only 89% have stated they are willing to act on the investor’s behalf in this critical role.

Prepare for Volatility and Tax Implications

Digital asset investors aren’t strangers to volatility, but this can create unique impacts on estates. “The volatility of the asset class, and the time it may take to access the asset, makes them riskier for administration purposes, more so than valuation issues,” says Jackson.

Due to constant price fluctuations, these assets can pose challenges to value for estate and gift tax purposes. If an investor’s net worth is above or near the federal estate tax exemption (US$12.06 million as of 2022), cryptocurrency investments must be closely monitored. Because the IRS treats crypto as property for tax purposes, there’s also the issue of assessing capital gains and losses.

“Because many cryptocurrencies are held and traded on exchanges, those types of digital assets aren’t necessarily hard to value for estate and gift purposes,” Jackson says.

Other types, such as NFTs for digital artwork, sports collectiles or digital real estate, require hiring a qualified appraiser. Given “the unique nature of the asset and limited market data,” digital assets like those are more complicated to value. Jackson likens them to rare paintings, in that both are subject to the professional opinions of appraisers and the IRS to determine value.

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By GREG IP
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This year’s crypto collapse has all the hallmarks of a classic banking crisis: runs, fire sales, contagion.

What it doesn’t have are banks.

Check out the bankruptcy filings of crypto platforms Voyager Digital Holdings Inc., Celsius Network LLC and FTX Trading Ltd. and hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, and you won’t find any banks listed among their largest creditors.

While bankruptcy filings aren’t entirely clear, they describe many of the largest creditors as customers or other crypto-related companies. Crypto companies, in other words, operate in a closed loop, deeply interconnected within that loop but with few apparent connections of significance to traditional finance. This explains how an asset class once worth roughly $3 trillion could lose 72% of its value, and prominent intermediaries could go bust, with no discernible spillovers to the financial system.

“Crypto space…is largely circular,” Yale University economist Gary Gorton and University of Michigan law professor Jeffery Zhang write in a forthcoming paper. “Once crypto banks obtain deposits from investors, these firms borrow, lend, and trade with themselves. They do not interact with firms connected to the real economy.”

A few years from now, things might have been different, given the intensifying pressure on regulators and bankers to embrace crypto. The crypto meltdown may have prevented that—and a much wider crisis.

Crypto has long been marketed as an unregulated, anonymous, frictionless, more accessible alternative to traditional banks and currencies. Yet its mushrooming ecosystem looks a lot like the banking system, accepting deposits and making loans. Messrs. Gorton and Zhang write, “Crypto lending platforms recreated banking all over again… if an entity engages in borrowing and lending, it is economically equivalent to a bank even if it’s not labeled as one.”

And just like the banking system, crypto is leveraged and interconnected, and thus vulnerable to debilitating runs and contagion. This year’s crisis began in May when TerraUSD, a purported stablecoin—i.e., a cryptocurrency that aimed to sustain a constant value against the dollar—collapsed as investors lost faith in its backing asset, a token called Luna. Rumours that Celsius had lost money on Terra and Luna led to a run on its deposits and in July Celsius filed for bankruptcy protection.

Three Arrows, a crypto hedge fund that had invested in Luna, had to liquidate. Losses on a loan to Three Arrows and contagion from Celsius forced Voyager into bankruptcy protection.

Meanwhile FTX’s trading affiliate Alameda Research and Voyager had lent to each other, and Alameda and Celsius also had exposure to each other. But it was the linkages between FTX and Alameda that were the two companies’ undoing. Like many platforms, FTX issued its own cryptocurrency, FTT. After this was revealed to be Alameda’s main asset, Binance, another major platform, said it would dump its own FTT holdings, setting off the run that triggered FTX’s collapse.

Genesis Global Capital, another crypto lender, had exposure to both Three Arrows and Alameda. It has suspended withdrawals and sought outside cash in the wake of FTX’s demise. BlockFi, another crypto lender with exposure to FTX and Alameda, is preparing a bankruptcy filing, the Journal has reported.

The density of connections between these players is nicely illustrated with a sprawling diagram in an October report by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which brings together federal financial regulators.

To historians, this litany of contagion and collapse is reminiscent of the free banking era from 1837 to 1863 when banks issued their own bank notes, fraud proliferated, and runs, suspensions of withdrawals, and panics occurred regularly. Yet while those crises routinely walloped business activity, crypto’s has largely passed the economy by.

Some investors, from unsophisticated individuals to big venture-capital and pension funds, have sustained losses, some life-changing. But these are qualitatively different from the sorts of losses that threaten the solvency of major lending institutions and the broader financial system’s stability.

To be sure, some loan or investment losses by banks can’t be ruled out. Banks also supply crypto companies with custodial and payment services and hold their cash, such as to back stablecoins. Some small banks that cater to crypto companies have been buffeted by large outflows of deposits.

Traditional finance had little incentive to build connections to crypto because, unlike government bonds or mortgages or commercial loans or even derivatives, crypto played no role in the real economy. It’s largely been shunned as a means of payment except where untraceability is paramount, such as money laundering and ransomware. Much-hyped crypto innovations such as stablecoins and DeFi, a sort of automated exchange, mostly facilitate speculation in crypto rather than useful economic activity.

Crypto’s grubby reputation repelled mainstream financiers like Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, and made regulators deeply skittish about bank involvement. In time this was bound to change, not because crypto was becoming useful but because it was generating so much profit for speculators and their supporting ecosystem.

Several banks have made private-equity investments in crypto companies and many including J.P. Morgan are investing in blockchain, the distributed ledger technology underlying cryptocurrencies. A flood of crypto lobbying money was prodding Congress to create a regulatory framework under which crypto, having failed as an alternative to the dollar, could become a riskier, less regulated alternative to equities.

Now, stained by bankruptcy and scandal, cryptocurrency will have to wait longer—perhaps forever—to be fully embraced by traditional banking. An end to banking crises required the replacement of private currencies with a single national dollar, the creation of the Federal Reserve as lender of last resort, deposit insurance and comprehensive regulation.

It isn’t clear, though, that the same recipe should be applied to crypto: Effective regulation would eliminate much of the efficiency and anonymity that explain its appeal. And while the U.S. economy clearly needed a stable banking system and currency, it will do just fine without crypto.

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