Institutional Crypto Trading on Coinbase Reaches Record Volume
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Institutional Crypto Trading on Coinbase Reaches Record Volume

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Coinbase Institutional Trading Volume

The Briefing

  • Institutional trading volume on Coinbase has increased more than fivefold since Q1’2018 ($11B), reaching $57B in Q4’2020
  • Despite the surge in institutional volume, retail volume has not reached the high set in Q1’2018

Coinbase’s Institutional Volume Surges Alongside Bitcoin’s Price

As Coinbase prepares to go public with a direct listing on the Nasdaq, the company has released its S-1 filing detailing just about every aspect of their business.

Along with surging users and crypto prices, Coinbase’s trading volume has also increased exponentially, with institutions leading the way.

This graphic looks at the return of rising institutional and retail trading volumes on Coinbase over the past two years alongside bitcoin’s price.

Coinbase’s Volume and Active Users are Rising

Crypto trading volume on Coinbase set record highs in Q4’2020 with $89B in volume, with institutions making up $57B. While recent institutional volume is more than five times Q1’2018 volume, retail trading volume is still below Q1’2018 levels despite bitcoin making new all-time highs.

Overall, trading volumes on Coinbase’s platform are far greater today than they were at the peak of the last bitcoin bull run. However, monthly transacting users on the exchange in Q4’2020 just barely surpassed the numbers of Q1’2018.

Coinbase’s Monthly Transacting Users per Quarter

DateMonthly Transacting Users (millions)
Q1'20182.7M
Q2'20181.2M
Q3'20180.9M
Q4'20180.9M
Q1'20190.8M
Q2'20191.3M
Q3'20191.2M
Q4'20191.0M
Q1'20201.3M
Q2'20201.5M
Q3'20202.1M
Q4'20202.8M

Along with Coinbase’s volume figures showing a greater increase in institutional volume compared to retail, it’s clear that institutions have bought into the bull run while retail investors have returned to transacting crypto more slowly.

The Institutions Buying into the Bitcoin Bull Run

It began with Michael Saylor’s company MicroStrategy purchasing $250M worth of bitcoin in August of 2020, before eventually investing a total of $2.2B in the cryptocurrency. These aggressive bitcoin purchases were followed up by Jack Dorsey’s Square and Elon Musk’s Tesla investing $220M and $1.5B respectively, with Tesla also revealing plans to accept bitcoin payments in the future.

Along with these companies betting on bitcoin, banks have renewed their interest in cryptocurrency as well. Earlier this month the Bank of New York Mellon set up a digital assets unit to help customers manage their cryptocurrencies, and Goldman Sachs just announced the return of its cryptocurrency trading desk.

While it’s rumored that Goldman Sachs could even pursue listing a bitcoin-focused ETF, the Chicago Board Options Exchange has already filed a request with the SEC to list VanEck’s bitcoin ETF, which would be the first of its kind in the United States.

>>Like this? Then you might like this article comparing bitcoin’s market cap to other cryptocurrencies

Where does this data come from?

Source: Coinbase S-1 Filing
Details: Volatility on this graphic is Coinbase’s internal measure of crypto volatility in the market relative to prior periods.

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Chart: 30 Years of Wildfires in America

Here’s a look at the number of wildfires in America that have occurred each year since 1990, and the acres of forest land scorched during that period.

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Wildfires in America

The Briefing

  • An average of 70,000 wildfires blaze through the U.S. each year
  • These fires destroy approximately 5.8 million acres of land on a yearly basis
  • Over 43,000 fires have started across the U.S., burning 5 million acres of land as of Sept 3, 2021

30 Years of Wildfires in America

This summer, record-breaking droughts and relentless heat waves have fueled disastrous wildfires across the United States. It’s gotten so bad, the state of California has decided to shut down all national forests for two weeks to stop the spread.

But how disastrous has this year been compared to previous years? This graphic gives a historical look at the number of wildfires in America that have occurred each year since 1990, and the acres of forest land scorched during that period.

Total Wildland Fires and Acres from 1990 to 2020

In the U.S., an average of 70,000 wildfires burn through 5.8 million acres of land each year. But some years have been worse than others.

Year# of Fires# of Acres Burned
199066,4814,621,621
199175,7542,953,578
199287,3942,069,929
199358,8101,797,574
199479,1074,073,579
199582,2341,840,546
199696,3636,065,998
199766,1962,856,959
199881,0431,329,704
199992,4875,626,093
200092,2507,393,493
200184,0793,570,911
200273,4577,184,712
200363,6293,960,842
200465,461*8,097,880
200566,7538,689,389
200696,3859,873,745
200785,7059,328,045
200878,9795,292,468
200978,7925,921,786
201071,9713,422,724
201174,1268,711,367
201267,7749,326,238
201347,5794,319,546
201463,3123,595,613
201568,15110,125,149
201667,7435,509,995
201771,49910,026,086
201858,0838,767,492
201950,4774,664,364
202058,95010,122,336
2021*43,2505,024,744

*note: 2021 figures as of September 3, 2021

One particularly bad year was 2006, which had over 96,000 fires and destroyed 9.9 million acres of land across the country. It was the year of the Esperanza Fire in California, which burned 40,000 acres and cost $9 million in damages.

2015 was also a devastating year, with over 10.1 million acres destroyed across the country–the worst year on record, in terms of acres burned.

Climate Change’s Role in Wildfires

Wildfires are only expected to worsen in the near future since warmer temperatures and drier climates allow the fires to grow quickly and intensely.

We’re already starting to see climate change impact the wildfire season. For instance, autumn is usually peak wildfire season for California, but this year, one of the largest fires on record started in mid-July, and is still burning as of the date of publication.

Editor’s note, September 20, 2021: In the post above, we said that California closed downed down all national parks for two weeks, starting August 31st. In fact, they closed down all national forests.

Where does this data come from?

Source: National Interagency Fire Center
Details: 2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina.

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Visualizing the Typical Atlantic Hurricane Season

While the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to late November, about 85% of activity happens between August, September, and October.

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The Briefing

  • Storms are categorized by their wind speed. Any storm with winds stronger than 111 miles per hour (mph) is considered a major hurricane
  • This year’s Hurricane Ida is one of the strongest hurricanes on record to hit the U.S. mainland, with winds reaching up to 150 mph

Explained: The Typical Atlantic Hurricane Season

On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida hurled into the state of Louisiana at rapid speed. With winds of 150 mph, preliminary reports believe it’s the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. mainland.

As research shows, Hurricane Ida’s impact hit right at the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Here’s a brief explainer on the basics of hurricanes, how storms are classified, and what a typical storm season looks like in the Atlantic Basin.

Let’s dive in.

Classifying a Storm

Hurricanes are intense tropical storms that are classified by their wind speed. What’s the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon, and a cyclone? They’re essentially the same thing, but are named differently based on their location:

  • Hurricane is used for storms that formed in the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific (impacting countries like the U.S.)
  • Typhoon is used for storms in the Northwest Pacific (impacting countries like Japan)
  • Tropical Cyclone is used for storms in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean (impacting countries like Fiji and India)

Since we’re focusing on the Atlantic, we’ll be using the term hurricane and/or storm throughout the rest of this article.

A storm needs to reach a certain wind speed before it gets classified as a hurricane. Storms with wind speeds of:

  • <73 mph are considered Tropical Storms
  • 74-110 mph winds are considered Hurricanes
  • 111 mph+ winds are considered Major Hurricanes

Breaking Down the Atlantic Hurricane Season

Generally, Hurricanes form in the warm ocean waters in the central Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, following westward trade winds and curving up towards the North American mainland. Hurricanes are formed when these specific elements come into play:

  • A pre-existing weather disturbance such as a tropical wave
  • Water at least 80ºF (27ºC) with a depth of at least 50 meters
  • Thunderstorm activity
  • Low wind shear (too much wind can remove the heat and moisture hurricanes use for fuel)

The Atlantic hurricane season technically lasts six months, beginning on June 1st and ending in late November. However, 85% of activity happens between August, September, and October.

Each subregion in the Atlantic has its own unique climatology, which means peak seasons can vary from place to place—for example, south Florida sees the most hurricanes in October, while the entire Atlantic Basin’s peak season is early-to-mid September.

Climate Change and Hurricanes

According to the Center of Climate Change and Energy Solutions, it’s unclear whether climate change will increase the number of hurricanes per year.

However, research indicates that warmer weather and high ocean temperatures will most likely lead to more intense storms, ultimately causing more damage and devastation.

» Want to learn more about climate change? Here’s an article on The Paris Agreement: Is The World’s Climate Action Plan on Track?

Where does this data come from?

Source:Brian McNoldy, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

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