While today it is possible to purchase almost everything online, there is usually a designated market for every commodity. For instance, people drive to city outskirts and farmlands to purchase Christmas trees, visit the local timber market to buy wood and other necessary material for home furniture and renovations, and go to stores like Walmart for their regular grocery supplies.
The cryptocurrency market, while far from being in its infancy, is an extremely volatile market which is not subject to regulations, and thus can be subject to manipulations of all kind. There are many trends which impact operations on a daily basis: rumours can fuel the price of one cryptocurrency, some people or groups can apply « pump and dump » techniques etc. I will try to cover these, but please take good note of the following warning:
A stock is a type of equity investment that represents legal ownership in a company. When you purchase shares in a company, you become a part-owner. Corporations issue stock to raise money, and it comes in two variations: common or preferred. Common stock entitles the stockholder to a proportionate share of a company's profits or losses, while preferred stock comes with a predetermined dividend payment. When people talk about buying stocks, they're generally talking about common stocks.
Blockchain Ventures: Amid rising popularity of blockchains, many crypto exchanges have emerged. Such exchanges are venues for trading cryptocurrencies and derivatives associated with that asset class. Though their popularity remains limited, they pose a threat to the traditional stock market model by automating a bulk of the work done by various stock market participants and by offering zero- to low-cost services.
Finally, one point to mention is that a given cryptocurrency can be listed in more exchanges, with different listing prices (see below – Arbitraging). The best place to look for a cryptocurrency listing in term of total market capitalisation is Coinmarketcap. Cryptocurrencies are listed per descending order of market capitalisation; the site also allows to deep-dive on each cryptocurrency to see their value over time and where they are listed. Some cryptocurrencies may be listed on several exchanges but only 1 or 2 exchanges may see the critical mass of transactions taking place.
In the professional world, one of the key concepts is diversification. Harry Markowitz is a Nobel prize winning economist and one of his major discoveries was that adding new asset classes can dramatically alter the overall risk profile of a portfolio. His finding was that a portfolio that contained very low risk assets would normally benefit from lower volatility and higher returns if a higher risk asset was added. This is due to the likely lack of correlation between high and low risk asset classes.
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