Chart of the week: the winning (and losing) asset classes for 2021

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Source: TradingView

Where has it made the most sense to park your capital over the past 12 months? Dr Nisha Long examines strengths and surprising areas that have struggled in 2021.

2021 has been a banner year for bitcoin, with the cryptocurrency adding an estimated $ 545 billion to its market capitalization. In terms of returns, bitcoin was also the best performing asset of 2021, returning 59.8% in US dollars.

Oil is not far behind, as measured by the WTI Oil Index, which returned 56.4% last year. Oil demand has recovered at an increasing rate since the third quarter of 2021, as restrictions related to the pandemic have been relaxed. It was then that global oil production was slower than demand, which pushed up prices.

Commodities are also doing well, as measured by the S&P GSCI Index, which rose 37.1%. This was again due to supply and demand, as demand outstripped supply and prices rose in areas such as coal, natural gas, coffee and metals, namely aluminum and platinum.

Although positive, US large-cap stocks, as measured by the S&P 500, did not fare as well as in 2020, returning 26.9% in 2021. The worst performing asset was l silver, which was down 11.7%, with gold also losing 3.6%. Emerging market equities fell 5.5%, mainly due to the underperformance of Chinese equities, which account for 34% of the MSCI EM Index.

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