Capital gains tax, inflation, HODL: The most popular investing terms of 2021

Investopedia Editor-In-Chief Caleb Silver joins Yahoo Finance Live to examine the ten most popular investing terms of 2021, what terms or topics should be expected to enter the mainstream in 2022, and the way these trends have shifted investor focuses.

Video Transcript


JULIE HYMAN: Well, we had millions of new investors joining the market this past year, there was a mania around meme stocks, crypto, NFTs, a lot of enthusiasm around all of that. But what were the most popular investing terms in 2021? Here with that list is editor-in-chief of Investopedia, Caleb Silver. And we'll also make some predictions for 2021-- 2022 as we look back on 2021. So Caleb, give us-- I know you're going to do a countdown here, so give us the first few here that were the most popular terms.

CALEB SILVER: Yeah. So good to be with you and happy holidays to you, Brian, and the Yahoo Finance team. What a year, we were so busy as editors writing new terms, updating old terms, trying to stay on top of this madness in search activity around so many different themes that popped up this year. But let's do the countdown because there were some fascinating ones.

Coming in at number 10, Julie, conservatorship, oops she did it again. Britney Spears back in the headlines wresting conservatorship of her estate from her dad. That was number 10, very sustained for a few months there she was in the headlines, number 10 for us.

Nine, short interest, you remember the mania around meme stocks earlier in the year. Well, that short interest and short selling and everything about that the day traders, new day traders were looking up caused short interest to be our number nine term of the year.

Eight, NFTs, not a surprise there. Non-fungible tokens, everybody wanted to know what was behind them, why they're worth what they're worth? How to buy, how to sell, how to create? NFTs was number eight.

And number seven, no surprise to you at all, Julie, Dogecoin. Popular all year, a lot of people made a lot of money, that coin up 1,800% for the year, despite the fact that it actually represents nothing.

BRIAN SOZZI: And Caleb, I was actually surprised to see short interest on number nine considering the market has pretty much gone straight up this year. But number six is also one near and dear to our hearts here as well.

CALEB SILVER: Yeah, ESG is always a perennial favorite among our readers, and even more so in 2021. So many new investors you guys know joined the market in the last year, a lot of younger investors, they're looking to invest along with their social or environmental consciousness. That's ESG even though there's a lot of dispute about what it actually means, that's why that term is so popular.

Number five, child care tax credit. This surprised me but you know, 65 million kids sort of get this, 35 million families in America depend on it. It may change in the next year. So a lot of people were looking up child care tax credit through the last six months of the year.

And four, guys, HODL, holding on for dear life. Super popular with the crypto fans, with the meme stock fans, with the diamond hands fans, HODL was so popular all year long.

JULIE HYMAN: As we go through this list, and we're going to do the top three, but first I want to ask you, how many of these things did you guys have to have new entries for? Like stuff like NFTs, I mean, were people even looking that up last year?

CALEB SILVER: Yeah. Barely, but we had it. And it was a very thin definition because we didn't understand it as much ourselves. We had to beef up that definition this year. HODL we've had since 2014 or 2015, as soon as that came out in those chats. But a lot of these needed to be touched up, and a lot of the terms around the terms, sort of the galaxy of terms around new terms, we had to redo those. Proof of stake, proof of work, a lot of the Bitcoin and blockchain mining terms had to be redone this year because there was so much interest and a lot of new information guys. Tough to keep up.

JULIE HYMAN: Yeah. So let's do those top three then.

CALEB SILVER: Oh, top three is not going to surprise anybody. This was our readers' picks, this was inflation, on everybody's mind, particularly in the last six months of the year. I expect inflation to be a top term in 2022 as well. But that was a reader pick, number three all year long.

And two fiat money, thank El Salvador for accepting Bitcoin as legal tender, guys. Fiat money, the difference between fiat money, legal tender, and cryptocurrency, a very big topic all year long. And I think that's going to remain popular.

And number one, this surprised me, but actually, the more I thought about it, it didn't, capital gains tax, guys. We know there was a lot of drumbeat around higher taxes for the wealthy, a potential billionaires tax, taxes for folks earning more than $300 million a year, or billionaires. But also a lot of people made a lot of money through asset sales in 2021, whether it was your house that went up in value and you sold it, or a stock, a meme stock, or a cryptocurrency, you've got to pay taxes on all of that. So folks were looking up capital gains tax all year long.

BRIAN SOZZI: I'm just looking at the honorable mention list, Caleb, nothing like seeing the term pump and dump being searched for while the market is going up but you are here to make some predictions on what words could be searched for next year. What do you have?

CALEB SILVER: Yeah. Well, I know that there's going to be probably new words I haven't even thought of but I think DeFi, decentralized finance is the term of our time. I think the next 5 to 10 years is all going to be about the development of decentralized finance, what's happening on the blockchain, across financial services, and across all industries, if you think about it.

Cyber insurance I think is going to be a big deal. We're more and more vulnerable to hacks. I think cyber insurance is going to be something companies are going to have to take on. I think that's going to be a burgeoning industry for the next Berkshire Hathaway out there.

And finally, climate finance, you can't avoid it, climate change is here front and center. You looked at the interest in ESG but how to actually operate as an investor when the climate is changing like this and we're trying to do things about climate change. I think climate finance is going to be big.

JULIE HYMAN: You know, it's really interesting, Caleb, as I look both at your 2021 list and then at your predictions, obviously crypto is a pretty consistent theme between those two and implies something that we touched on earlier in the show as we were looking at the short term pullback in Bitcoin prices, which is that you don't really hear anybody-- well, you may hear a few people but not as many these days saying Bitcoin is just a fad, it's going to go away, it's not a thing anymore. And kind of what you're showing illustrates that even if the prices are not going to be sky-high, it has some staying power?

CALEB SILVER: Absolutely. And Bitcoin is obviously the thing that people trade and where the money is if you want to be an investor right now. But the blockchain and what's happening with the blockchain across industries, especially our industry guys, finance is going to be big. We know J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, all the big players are making investments in it.

And they're making it available to their customers either through mutual fund proxies or ETFs that are proxies for Bitcoin or Bitcoin's future price. They're coming, and the market cap of all cryptocurrencies hit $3 trillion. It's not $110 million like the-- all investable securities, but it's growing year after year exponentially. And when you've got Mastercard and you've got all these companies now making it available and useful for consumers, it's here.

JULIE HYMAN: Yeah. And we also could get more crypto ETFs next year, we shall see. Caleb Silver, always fun to talk to you. Happy new year to you, Caleb.

CALEB SILVER: Thank you.

JULIE HYMAN: Of course Investopedia's editor-in-chief. Thank you.