Bitcoin euphoria puts other retail bets in shade

(Reuters) - If you wondered why 18-year old twitterati and seasoned speculative traders alike have bet on bitcoin’s surge toward $20,000 this week, look no further than the comparison with the past year’s new stock exchange floatations.

FILE PHOTO - A token of the virtual currency Bitcoin is seen placed on a monitor that displays binary digits in this illustration picture, December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

As the below chart shows, the exchange-traded fund of Renaissance Capital that tracks a basket of newly floated companies after their initial public offerings has delivered a more than respectable 36 percent return so far in 2017.

(Graphic: Bitcoin vs IPO ETF vs S&P 500 -

That surpasses the S&P 500 index's .SPX 20 percent rise and is far better than last year when IPOs trailed behind an overall index fueled by the Trumpflation trade and the cheap funds being pumped into markets by central banks.

Next to Bitcoin, however, it might as well be flat. The cryptocurrency has risen 1700 percent in value in the same period.

That means $1000 invested in the U.S. IPO ETF at the beginning of this year was worth $1360 on Tuesday. Preferring bitcoin would have left the average amateur market punter with $17,545.

(Graphic: IPO ETF vs S&P 500 -

The cryptocurrency has faced harsh criticism for lack of transparency and Wall street is largely divided on how it wants to view the currency. Several banks and central bankers have warned against its meteoric rise in its value.

Chicago-based derivatives exchange Cboe Global Markets CBOE.O launched the futures late on Sunday, lending it some legitimacy and giving investors an exposure to the bitcoin market via a large, regulated exchange.

Goldman Sachs has been arguing for some months that the lack of liquidity and increased volatility of bitcoin mean in the long run it cannot rival gold as a convincing term store of value.

The market cap for bitcoin is still just $275 billion versus the world’s $8.3 trillion worth of gold.

(Graphic: Bitcoin vs Gold vs Oil -

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Sweta Singh in Bengaluru