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What Happened To The $650 Billion In SDRs Issued In 2021?

What Happened To The $650 Billion In SDRs Issued In 2021?

Submitted by Jan Nieuwenhuijs of Gainesville Coins

A bazooka issuance of 456 billion…

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What Happened To The $650 Billion In SDRs Issued In 2021?

Submitted by Jan Nieuwenhuijs of Gainesville Coins

A bazooka issuance of 456 billion new SDRs (~$650 billion) by the IMF in August 2021, “to boost global liquidity,” has accomplished very little of what was intended. Numerous nations are teetering on the brink of collapse and global growth is declining. Paltry SDR trading volume over the past year confirms the flaws of this asset.

As we shall see, the SDR is mainly used to grease the IMF’s wheels of bureaucracy.

Meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Before August 2021 total Special Drawing Right (SDR) allocations to International Monetary Fund (IMF) members stood at 204 billion. (1 SDR is currently worth about $1.3 U.S. dollars). Through the addition of 456 billion SDRs, total allocations increased by 124%. Yet the new issuance has done next to nothing of what IMF’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva promised in 2021:

This is a historic decision—the largest SDR allocation in the history of the IMF and a shot in the arm for the global economy at a time of unprecedented crisis. The SDR allocation will benefit all members, address the long-term global need for reserves, build confidence, and foster the resilience and stability of the global economy. It will particularly help our most vulnerable countries struggling to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

When it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. First off, creating more SDRs doesn’t increase global liquidity (the quantity of international reserves). Nor does it benefit all members, build confidence, stabilize the global economy, or foster resilience.

SDR allocations by the IMF over history

The SDR disappoints because it’s not a currency, it isn’t backed by anything, there is no free market to exchange them, and trade is illiquid (difficult to convert large quantities into cash). Regardless, the IMF spreads falsehoods about the SDR to keep up appearances.

Let’s dispel the myths surrounding the SDR.

What Is an SDR?

Officially the SDR “is a potential claim on the freely usable currencies of IMF members.” The IMF can allocate new SDRs to all of its member states. The IMF can’t allocate SDRs to itself. At issuance a member gains a double book entry on its balance sheet based on its IMF quota. SDR holdings on the asset side are equal to the amount of SDR allocations on the liability side. Because holdings and allocations net out, a new issuance of SDRs doesn’t make any member richer nor poorer.

Users’ Guide To The SDR: A Manual of Transactions and Operations in SDRs

Only central banks or monetary authorities, and several international financial institutions such as the IMF and BIS, can hold SDR positions. SDRs cannot be spent on goods and services. Commonly, the only way for a member to make use of its SDR position is to exchange SDR holdings for freely usable currencies (dollars, euros, yen, etc.) with another member.

There is no free market for SDRs to relieve excess supply or demand. Members can exchange SDR holdings through the IMF’s SDR Department, or they can be exchanged directly between parties, though this is more rare. States will notify the SDR Department if they want to buy or sell SDR holdings, in what quantity, and in exchange for which currency. Next, they await if their orders are filled.

Only SDR holdings can be exchanged. A member's SDR allocations are static unless the IMF decides to issue new SDRs. The SDR exchange rate is set by the exchange rates of a basket of currencies designated by the IMF: the U.S. dollar, euro, Chinese renminbi, Japanese yen, and British pound.

Suppose member A and member B both hold an equal amount of SDR holdings relative to their SDR allocations. Member A wants to sell 100 million SDR holdings for Japanese yen, and member B, coincidentally, wants to buy 100 million SDR holdings with Japanese yen. Both notify the SDR Department, and the exchange is cleared. After A received yen and B received SDR holdings, A will have more SDR allocations relative to its holdings, and, conversely, B will have more SDR holdings relative to its allocations.

Member A will now pay the SDR interest rate to the SDR Department and B will receive the SDR interest rate. Simplified, every member that is a net seller of SDR holdings will pay interest until it has bought back those holdings and vice versa (net buyers receive interest until they sell back). The SDR Department manages all interest flows. Effectively, selling SDRs is borrowing currency and buying SDRs is lending currency.

The IMF states SDRs are not their liabilities. This is although a country having a net SDR holding (more holdings than allocations), and thus eligible for receiving interest, is a liability of the IMF. See the SDR Department’s balance sheet from a Quarterly Report below. A country having a net allocation is an asset for the IMF.

Source: IMF Quarterly Report

The SDR interest rate is based on short term interest rates of the currencies that comprise the basket of currencies used to calculate the SDR’s exchange rate. SDR interest is paid every three months in SDRs, and the floor rate is 0.05%.

An SDR holding (“SDR” hereafter) provides the owner a potential opportunity to borrow freely usable currencies. An SDR is central bank collateral for a potential swap* without a specified maturity. I write, “potential opportunity to borrow,” and, “potential swap,” because there is little liquidity in SDRs and anything but a guarantee there is a seller of usable currency willing to buy SDRs. Hence, the SDR officially “is a potential claim on the freely usable currencies of IMF members.”

*In this case a swap means a “forward swap,” which has a spot and a forward leg. In the spot transaction a member sells SDRs for foreign exchange (FX)—and its counterparty does the opposite—and in the forward transaction this trade is undone buying SDRs with FX. A forward swap is the same as a collateralized loan. Hence, “swaps” often refer to lending/borrowing.

For more details, such as how the SDR exchange rate is calculated, please read my previous article.

The SDR’s Shortcomings

1. Trading in SDRs is illiquid because there is no free market. Only 190 countries and a few institutions can own and exchange SDRs; no private entities can expand the user base and improve liquidity. Nor does the IMF ever want to create a free market. When several Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) want to sell (supply) SDRs for currency through the SDR Department, but demand is much lower, the IMF selects the HIPCs to prioritize. On this basis, the IMF will prefer to maintain a managed market. As with communism, managed markets come with a wide variety of problems.

When confronted with the SDR’s poor liquidity, IMF economists will point to the “designation mechanism.” This option should allow the IMF to decree which country must buy SDRs. All members have signed the IMF’s charter—the Articles of Agreement—that stipulates all rights and obligations. But when push comes to shove the Articles of Agreement can’t overrule sovereign nations.

In 1971 the U.S. unilaterally suspended gold convertibility, ended Bretton Woods, and introduced an era of free floating exchange rates. In 1973, “not a single IMF member was any longer in conformity with the Articles of Agreement,” according to Benn Steil, author of The Battle of Bretton Woods. Just as the Articles of Agreement couldn’t force countries to sustain fixed exchange rates in 1970s, today they can’t force countries to buy SDRs in quantities dictated by the IMF.

2. The last SDR issuance was, according to the IMF website, “to boost global liquidity.” It seems the IMF (the Fund) wants us to think that an SDR issuance increases the total amount of convertible currencies. SDRs can’t be spend on goods and services, though, and thus an increase in SDRs “does not increase the total liquidity of the global monetary system.” Why the Fund states new SDRs increase net international reserves is due to the subtle art of accounting.

There is a discussion on creating and trading SDRs and its effect on the money supply in a paper from 2011 that reads, by the IMF’s own admission: “Overall, the creation and use of SDRs is likely to have a neutral effect on the global money supply.” So why all the talk about issuing SDRs to boost global liquidity and meet the global need for reserves? (By the way, why not revalue gold if there is a global need for reserves?)

3. Newly allocated SDRs are distributed among members based on their IMF quota. In general, due to how quotas are calculated, wealthy developed countries that have large economies are being allocated the most SDRs, and poor undeveloped countries that have small economies get the least. About two-thirds of the SDR allocation implemented in August 2021 went to developed economies.

4. All the literature about SDRs is focused on the benefits of selling SDRs, how many developing countries can or have sold SDRs, and so on. It is as if this instrument is designed to be sold. What about buying and owning SDRs?

Buying SDRs is risky. Suppose China buys 10 billion SDRs with U.S. dollars. Over time, these holdings grow due to compounding interest. If China can ever sell those SDRs to get back currency when needed is uncertain. The Fund may prioritize other countries, provided there are buyers. The more SDRs the bigger the risk.

5. The SDR only pays out a short-term interest rate. For central banks that have a long-term investment strategy, the SDR isn’t suitable, as it doesn’t offer a long-term interest rate, which is normally higher than the short-term rate.

6. According to the Fund, SDRs are not a claim on the IMF. In court this statement might hold true; in practice the counterparty of a net SDR holding—the one responsible for paying the SDR interest rate—is the IMF. Furthermore, members rely on the IMF for being able to exchange SDRs. Long story short, SDR owners are greatly exposed to the Fund and thus all its members. What happens when members default? Counterparty risk increases.

7. More than once the IMF has changed the essence of the SDR in the past and can do so again in the future. What an SDR is today can be something different tomorrow.

Who Are the Largest Buyers and Sellers of SDRs?

Although detailed SDR trading data is not available, it can be said the bulk of SDR trading comes from transactions between the Fund itself and member states. The biggest buyer of SDRs is the Fund and the largest sellers are developing countries. Consequently, the largest wallet is the IMF’s General Resources Account (GRA). In July 2022 the GRA held 23 billion SDRs, while the second-largest owner, the U.S., held 4.6 billion SDRs. From the IMF:

Broadly, most SDR transactions relate to Fund-related operations versus uses of SDRs unrelated to GRA … operations (see … Annex Figure 3).

Proposal For a General Allocation of Special Drawing Rights 2021

Regarding residual trading activity, SDRs are mostly sold by poor countries to rich countries.

A chart of all SDR holdings shows how big of a buyer the IMF exactly is.

The Fund’s operations in a nutshell: members have to pay a subscription to the IMF (based on their quota) mainly in their national currencies and reserve currencies. In line with its mandate the IMF then lends out these funds to nations with balance of payments problems. If the borrowers want to repay those loans they can do so in SDRs, to a certain extent, and hence the Fund’s GRA tends to amass.

Strangely, as the SDR has existed since 1969, no basic SDR trading data is published on a recurrent basis. An imperfect option is to collect position data from all participants in the SDR universe and track changes month by month. Or, for more figures, wait until special reports are published.

Based on the first option I estimate 36 billion SDRs have changed hands over the twelve month period since the end of July 2021. By comparison, trading volume in the global repo market is $3.5 trillion U.S. dollars (2.7 trillion SDRs) per day! A meager 36 billion exchanged in a year after 456 billion SDRs were issued reflects the disadvantages of this asset.

Although it’s possible actual trading volume was somewhat higher or lower, I would like to stress it’s much lower if we subtract trades related to IMF transactions.

Here is an example of how monthly changes in SDR holdings (my measurement of trading volume) are often affected: in August 2021, Argentina was allocated 3 billion SDRs. Up until February 2022 Argentina managed to sell nearly all its SDRs (+3 billion in trading volume). From August 2021 till February 2022 the Fund was the biggest buyer of SDRs, having mopped up 30% of all (and thus Argentina’s) sales. In March 2022, the IMF approved a loan to Argentina worth $44 billion U.S. dollars. Argentina received part of this loan in 5 billion SDRs from the IMF’s GRA (+5 billion in trading volume). Since March Argentina has mostly been selling, and so the cycle of shuffling SDRs between Argentina and the GRA can repeat.

Argentina has been responsible for nearly 10 billion of my total estimate of 36 billion in SDR trading volume, though 75% of it was sent back and forth with the Fund.

In 2009, trading after the 183 billion SDR issuance was also lackluster. During the twelve months that followed the allocation in 2009, only 3.4 billion SDRs changed hands in non-IMF-related transactions. The sellers were mostly developing nations, of which more than 80% sold at least 75% of their new SDRs. After an initial “spike,” volumes came down, save a few larger trades in 2015. Just 5 trades accounting for 35 million SDRs were executed in 2020. See the table below.

Source: Proposal For a General Allocation of Special Drawing Rights 2021. From 2009 until 2020 there have been 145 trades (worth 8.8 billion SDRs) not related to IMF transactions.

Before the 2009 issuance the Fund projected annual volume in non-IMF-related transactions to be 20 billion SDRs, which turned out to be 83% lower at 3.4 billion. Disappointing indeed.

In its first ever Annual Update on SDR Trading Operations, released in October 2021, not much is written about SDR trading volume after August 23, 2021. Without making a distinction between IMF-related and non-IMF-related transactions, it’s stated total volume was 6.9 billion SDRs in August and September 2021. My estimate of trading volume—based on month to month changes in positions of all participants—is roughly equal for this period. All sellers were developing countries, on average selling 82% of their new allocations.

Conclusion

According to the IMF, SDRs can be used by members to borrow FX unconditionally as opposed to the Fund’s regular lending operations that come with strings attached. I’m having a hard time acknowledging the unconditional aspect, because “most SDR transactions relate to Fund-related operations” and every member is largely depended on the Fund’s managed market to trade SDRs. The SDR is misrepresented by the Fund.

In my view, the SDR is an instrument used to reinforce the IMF’s right to exist. Certain theories of bureaucracy state that officials, too, “are motivated by their own self-interest [income and power] at least part of the time.” Like every other bureaucratic entity in existence the Fund wants to grow. Its inherent mission has produced a narrative about how the SDR is to “benefit all members, address the long-term global need for reserves, build confidence, and foster the resilience and stability of the global economy.” A great pitch, of which little is true.

Here's my theory of why new SDRs are issued periodically. Because the Fund is the biggest buyer and owner of SDRs, it’s also the largest recipient of SDR interest. As mentioned above, many developing nations sell 80% of their SDRs instantly when new ones are issued. In the course of time paying SDR interest becomes a problem for these countries as they run out of SDRs. For the Fund there is an incentive to issue new SDRs to bail out these countries and thus itself. When all countries get new SDRs, the ones in debt (having sold SDRs) can continue paying interest to the Fund. Yes, several countries had almost no SDRs left before August 2021.

In the Proposal For a General Allocation of Special Drawing Rights, published in July 2021, the IMF writes: “Potential additional SDR inflows to the GRA resulting from increased use by members of SDRs for transactions with the Fund would be closely monitored and are expected to be manageable.” Ironically, the IMF knows that buying too much SDRs is risky.

The SDR's “value as a reserve asset derives from the commitments of members to exchange SDRs for freely usable currencies…” SDRs have no value outside the SDR system, and if members aren’t committed to the system anymore, for example because other members default or oppose the political views of partner members, the SDR value drops to zero.

The SDR will never be more than a fringe reserve asset, and thus can’t replace the dollar as the world reserve currency, like some economists want to believe.

Tyler Durden Mon, 08/29/2022 - 05:00

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Scientists reveal encouraging findings in first-in-human clinical trial evaluating HIV vaccine approach

NEW YORK and LA JOLLA, CA—While scientists have struggled in the past to create an effective vaccine against HIV, a novel vaccine design strategy being…

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NEW YORK and LA JOLLA, CA—While scientists have struggled in the past to create an effective vaccine against HIV, a novel vaccine design strategy being pursued by researchers at Scripps Research, IAVI, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch) and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center (VRC) shows new promise, according to data from a first-in-human clinical trial.

Credit: CHRISTOPHER COTTRELL, CREATED WITH BIORENDER.COM

NEW YORK and LA JOLLA, CA—While scientists have struggled in the past to create an effective vaccine against HIV, a novel vaccine design strategy being pursued by researchers at Scripps Research, IAVI, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch) and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center (VRC) shows new promise, according to data from a first-in-human clinical trial.

In a paper published in Science on December 2, 2022, the scientists reveal critical new insights into their novel vaccine strategy, which involves a stepwise approach to producing antibodies capable of targeting a wide range of HIV variants. 

“The data we are publishing in Science demonstrates for the first time that one can design a vaccine that elicits made-to-order antibodies in humans. We specified in advance certain molecular properties of the antibodies that we wanted to elicit, and the results of this trial show that our vaccine antigen consistently induced precisely those types of antibodies,” says co-senior author William Schief, PhD, a professor and immunologist at Scripps Research and executive director of vaccine design at IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Center, whose laboratory developed the vaccine antigen. “We believe this vaccine design strategy will be essential to make an HIV vaccine and may help the field create vaccines for other difficult pathogens.”

The Phase 1 trial, known as IAVI G001, tested the first stage in a multi-stage HIV vaccine regimen the researchers are developing. The trial results show that the vaccine had a favorable safety profile and induced the targeted response in 97% of people who were vaccinated. Importantly, the Science study also provides a detailed immunological analysis of the vaccine responses.

“HIV represents an area of dire unmet need across the world, which is what makes the findings from our Phase 1 clinical trial so encouraging,” says Mark Feinberg, MD, PhD, president and CEO of IAVI. “Through the close-knit collaboration of many different scientists, disciplines and institutions, we are that much closer to designing an effective vaccine that could help end the HIV pandemic.”  

Priming the Immune System

Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) are a rare type of antibody that can fight and protect against many different variants of a virus—including HIV. This is why scientists have tried to develop an HIV vaccine that induces bnAbs, but thus far without success.   

The researchers in the study are using a strategy known as ‘germline targeting’ to eventually produce bnAbs that can protect against HIV. The first step of germline targeting involves stimulating the rare immune cells—known as bnAb-precursor B cells—that can eventually evolve into the cells that produce the bnAbs needed to block the virus. To accomplish this first step, the researchers designed a customized molecule—known as an immunogen—that would “prime” the immune system and elicit responses from these rare bnAb-precursor cells.

The overarching goal of the IAVI G001 trial was to determine if the vaccine had an acceptable safety profile and could induce responses from these bnAb-precursor B cells.

“Through extensive safety and tolerability monitoring during the trial, we showed the vaccine had a favorable safety profile, while still inducing the necessary target cells,” says study author Dagna Laufer, MD, vice president and head of clinical development at IAVI. “This represents a large step forward in developing an HIV vaccine that is both safe and effective.”

To determine if the targeted bnAb-precursor B cells were induced, the researchers carried out a sophisticated analytical process.

“The workflow of multidimensional immunological analyses has taken clinical trial evaluation to the next level,” says co-senior author Adrian B. McDermott, PhD, former chief of the Vaccine Immunology Program at the NIAID VRC. “In evaluating these important immunological factors, we helped show why the vaccine antigen was able to induce the targeted response in 97% of vaccine recipients.” 

IAVI G001 was sponsored by IAVI and took place at two sites: George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C., and Fred Hutch in Seattle, enrolling 48 healthy adult volunteers. Participants received either a placebo or two doses of the vaccine antigen, eOD-GT8 60mer, along with an adjuvant developed by the pharmaceutical company GSK. Julie McElrath, MD, PhD, co-senior author, senior vice president and director of Fred Hutch’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, and David Diemert, MD, professor of medicine at GWU School of Medicine and Health Sciences, were lead investigators at the trial sites.

A Deeper Immunological Dive

The study also carefully examined the properties of the antibodies and B cells induced by the vaccine antigen, in what Schief likens to “looking under the car hood” to understand how the immune system operated in response to the vaccine. One analysis showed that the vaccine antigen first stimulated an average of 30 to 65 different bnAb precursors per person vaccinated, and then caused those cells to multiply. This helped explain why the vaccine induced the desired response in almost all participants.

Other analyses delved into the specific mutations the bnAb-precursor B cells acquired over time and how tightly they bound to the vaccine antigen. These investigations showed that that after each dose of the vaccine, the bnAb-precursor B cells gained affinity and continued along favorable maturation pathways.

One concern for this type of vaccine approach is the notion of “competitors”—in other words, the B cells induced by the vaccine antigen that are not bnAb precursors. The researchers extensively studied the “competitor” responses, and the results were very encouraging. Although the majority of the B cells triggered by vaccination were, in fact, “competitors”, these undesired B cells could not match the binding strength of the desired bnAb precursors and did not seem to impede maturation of the bnAb-precursor responses.

“These findings were very encouraging, as they indicated that immunogen design principles we used could be applied to many different epitopes, whether for HIV or even other pathogens,” adds Schief.

With these promising data in hand spanning both safety and immune responses, the researchers will continue to iterate and design boosting immunogens that could eventually induce the desired bnAbs and provide protection against the virus. These findings also come shortly after two additional studies in Immunity published in September 2022, which helped validate the germline-targeting approach for vaccinating against HIV.

“Working together with IAVI, Scripps Research, the VRC, GWU, additional investigators at Fred Hutch and many others, this trial and additional analyses will help inform design of the remaining stages of a candidate HIV vaccine regimen—while also enabling others in the field to develop vaccine strategies for additional viruses,” says McElrath of Fred Hutch.

IAVI, Scripps Research, NIAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are partnering with the biotechnology company Moderna to develop and test mRNA delivery of these HIV vaccine antigens. Two Phase I clinical trials are underway that build on IAVI G001, one (IAVI G002) at four sites in the U.S. and another (IAVI G003) at the Center for Family Health Research in Kigali, Rwanda, and The Aurum Institute in Tembisa, South Africa. Both are testing mRNA delivery of the eOD-GT8 60mer that was evaluated as recombinant protein in IAVI G001, and the U.S. trial includes a boost antigen designed by the Schief lab and delivered with Moderna mRNA technology. A third trial (HVTN302), at ten sites in the U.S., is testing mRNA delivery of three different stabilized HIV trimers designed in the Schief laboratory that are candidates for late-stage boosters in multi-stage vaccines aiming to induce bnAbs. Using mRNA technology could significantly accelerate the pace of HIV vaccine development as it allows for faster production of clinical trial material.

This work was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery; the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center; NIAID; Scripps Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery and Scripps Consortium for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Development; and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. Other collaborating organizations include Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Karolinska Institutet, and La Jolla Institute. 

Research at the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center that contributed to the development of the vaccine antigen eOD-GT8 60mer was also made possible by the government of the Netherlands through the Minister of Foreign Trade & Development Cooperation and through the generous support of the American people through PEPFAR through USAID. The contents are the responsibility of IAVI and Scripps Research and do not necessarily reflect the views of PEPFAR, USAID, or the United States government.

About IAVI

IAVI is a nonprofit scientific research organization dedicated to addressing urgent, unmet global health challenges including HIV and tuberculosis. Its mission is to translate scientific discoveries into affordable, globally accessible public health solutions. Read more at iavi.org.

About Scripps Research

Scripps Research is an independent, nonprofit biomedical institute ranked the most influential in the world for its impact on innovation by Nature Index. We are advancing human health through profound discoveries that address pressing medical concerns around the globe. Our drug discovery and development division, Calibr, works hand-in-hand with scientists across disciplines to bring new medicines to patients as quickly and efficiently as possible, while teams at Scripps Research Translational Institute harness genomics, digital medicine and cutting-edge informatics to understand individual health and render more effective healthcare. Scripps Research also trains the next generation of leading scientists at our Skaggs Graduate School, consistently named among the top 10 US programs for chemistry and biological sciences. Learn more at www.scripps.edu.


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40+ Spotify statistics 2022: SPOT stock, revenue and performance

Spotify Technology SA (NYSE: SPOT) is the leading on-demand music streaming company today, with more than 1 billion app downloads on Google Play alone….

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Spotify Technology SA (NYSE: SPOT) is the leading on-demand music streaming company today, with more than 1 billion app downloads on Google Play alone. The Sweden-based company was founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, and has seen remarkable growth in the past few years as it expands across the globe.

Although it dominates the music streaming industry, Spotify faces tough competition when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining users. The Sweden-based company’s top global competitors include Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL)’s Google, all of which are leveraging their extensive reach and financial muscle to carve a bigger chunk of the market from Spotify.

However, 40+ Spotify statistics suggest further growth and potential for greater revenue and market performance could see the company continue to dominate the industry.

Find out more in this article, starting with our pick of the top Spotify facts and statistics 2022 below.

Spotify facts and stats – Editor’s pick

  • Spotify is the number one music streaming site, with more than 1 billion app downloads on Google Play.
  • There were 456 million monthly active users on Spotify as of September 2022, with growth expected to push MAUs to over 479 million by the end of 2022.
  • SPOT stock went live on the New York Stock Exchange on 3 April 2018 via a Direct Listing. The IPO share price of $165.90 valued the company at $29.5 billion
  • Companiesmarketcap currently ranks Spotify as the 1,050th most valuable company in the world with a market cap just above $15 billion as of December 2022.
  • The Spotify stock hit an all-time high of $364.5 per share in February 2021, and an all-time low of $69.28 in November 2022.
  • Spotify makes about 4.52 euros, or $4.71 from each premium account user in 2022, up from an average of €4.25 ($4.43) in 2021.

Spotify company overview, facts and trends

1. Spotify Technologies SA was founded in 2006

Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon founded Spotify in 2006 in Sweden. Despite the early threat to the business from established names such as Apple and Amazon, the music streaming company has grown to command nearly a third of the market share as of 2022.

2. Spotify is available in more than 180 countries

Expansion efforts, including across more than 80 new markets in early 2020 has seen Spotify reach users in 184 countries.

3. Over 9,800 people are employed by Spotify as of 2022

Spotify employees’ total count shot up by over 81% in 2021 to reach 6,617 and then grew to over 8,000 by March 2022. As of 30 September 2022, the company’s employee number worldwide was 9,808, despite plans to slow down on hiring by 25% as revealed in June.

4. Spotify has a leading 31% market share in music streaming

Spotify is the #1 music app on App Store and takes up 31% of the music and video streaming market worldwide. The app leads Apple Music (15%), Amazon Music (13%), Tencent Music (13%), and YouTube Music (8%). The Spotify: Music, Podcasts, Lit app first released in May 2014 has seen over a billion downloads on Google Play.

5. There are more than 82 million tracks on Spotify

As the number one music streaming app in the world, Spotify has seen the number of songs uploaded increase rapidly over the last few years. As of November 2022, there were more than 82 million tracks on the platform.

6. An average of 1.8 million songs are uploaded on Spotify every month

Over 1,800,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify every month, with an average of 60,000 sent to the streaming giant every single day.

7. There are over 4 billion playlists on Spotify

Spotify has over 4 billion playlists, variously curated to suit user preferences based on factors like age, gender, and theme. Spotify offers all types of songs, making it suitable for all kinds of users.

8. There are over 4.7 million podcasts on Spotify

There were more than 4.7 million podcasts on the Spotify podcast in 2022, with the increasing monthly active users and popularity of podcasting seeing a double-digit jump in creators.

9. Spotify has raised $2.1 billion over 18 rounds

Spotify closed its latest funding round on 25 February, with the Sweden-based company’s total funding rising to $2.1 billion over 18 financing rounds.

10. Spotify has acquired 27 companies/platforms

The last few years have seen Spotify consolidate its presence in the music streaming market with critical acquisitions. So far, the company has completed deals for 24 different companies and platforms within the industry, including Anchor FM for $166.3 million, Gimlet Media for $201.3 million, Megaphone for $238.44 million and Whooshkaa for $235 million. The latest acquisition was Kinzen, which was completed on 5 October 2022.

11. FC Barcelona agreed a €280 million deal with Spotify in 2022

Spanish soccer giants FC Barcelona signed a €280 ($309) million sponsorship deal with Spotify. The multi-year deal saw Spotify become FC Barcelona’s main shirt sponsor and gave the audio streaming giant the naming rights for the legendary Camp Nou stadium.

Spotify stock market statistics

12. Spotify’s stock debut in April 2018 was the first ever Direct Listing on the NYSE

Spotify Technology SA made its stock market debut via a direct listing. The company’s shares were listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange on 3 April, 2018 at the share price of $ $165.90 for a valuation of $29.5 billion. Following Spotify’s successful IPO in 2018, Slack went public via Direct Listing in 2019. ZipRecruiter Inc. (NYSE: ZIP) and Roblox Corporation (NYSE: RBLX) also took the same approach.

13. Spotify has a market cap of $15.2 billion

As of 27 December 2022, Spotify has a market capitalization of $15.2 billion, which ranks the company as the world’s 1050th largest by market cap according to Companiesmarketcap.  The Sweden-based company’s market cap was around $23 billion in March 2022 with Spotify ranked the world’s 759th most valuable company by market cap.

14. 30 million shares were traded on Spotify’s first trading session

A highly anticipated SPOT stock debut saw nearly 30 million shares change hands during Spotify’s first trading session. At the time, around 178 million, or about 91% of Spotify shares were tradable on the first day, a greater percentage than what’s seen during typical traditional IPOs.

15. Spotify has 192,948,032 shares outstanding as of 2022

As per Spotify’s latest financial reports, the total shares outstanding as of December 2022 was 193,077,334. The company’s total shares outstanding was put at 192,948,032 by the end of 2022.

16. The Spotify stock price rose to an all-time high of $364.5 in 2021 

On February 19, 2021, Spotify stock price rose to an all-time high of $364.5 amid a bull market that also saw the S&P 500 rise to an all-time high. However, the bear market of 2022 has decimated stocks, and one can now buy Spotify shares at around $78 as of December 2022.

17. Spotify’s stock price has declined 68% year-to-date

After a brutal bear market for stocks, the SPOT price has declined nearly 68% as of 27 December 2022.  At current prices, Spotify shares are more than 46% down since its IPO in April 2018.

18. The Spotify stock touched the all-time low of $69.28 on 4 November 2022

The SPOT share price closed at $71.05 on 4 November 2022, after briefly falling to a 52-week low of $69.28 in intraday action. Despite this, a bear rally for the stock market in November helped push the Spotify stock price to highs of $85.11 on 15 November. The stock’s price is however more than 46% down on its debut closing price in April 2018.

Spotify revenue statistics

Spotify offers its service across two models: a premium membership where subscribers pay a fee to access uninterrupted content and an ad-supported model where content is punctuated with ads or commercials. Advertiser’s pay to reach users, more like on traditional radio. The largest percentage of Spotify’s revenue is from premium subscriptions.

19. Spotify’s generated more than $11 billion in revenue in 2021

Spotify generated 9.668 billion euros ($11.23 billion) in revenue in 2021, up from 7.880 billion euros ($9.15 billion) in 2020 and 6.764 billion euros ($7.56 billion) in 2019. According to the company’s latest financial documents, the company’s revenue for the nine months ending September 30, 2022 was 8.561 billion euros (about $8.92 billion), while trailing twelve month revenue stood at $11.99 billion (as of 27 December 2022).

20. Spotify generated $3.16 billion in Q3 2022

In Q3 2022, Spotify generated just over 3 billion euros (approximately $3.16), compared to 2.5 billion euros ($2.6 billion) during the same quarter in 2021. In this, premium revenue accounted for 2.7 billion euros while Ad-supported revenue made up 385 million euros. The largest segment in the ads revenue section was Podcasting.

21. 88% of Spotify revenue is from premium subscription

Most of Spotify’s revenue comes from its premium subscribers, with the latest financial records showing premium revenue accounted for 88% of total revenue as of September 30, 2022. Premium revenue increased 22% or by €1.36 billion (roughly $1.43 billion) in the nine months ending September 30, 2022. Total premium revenue by end of Q3 was 7.534 billion euros (about $7.85 billion) compared to 6.165 billion euros ($6.42 billion) in the nine months to the corresponding quarter a year ago. 

22. Spotify generated $1.26 billion from ads in 2021

In 2021, ad-supported users helped generate €1.208 billion ($1.26 billion) for Spotify, up from €745 million ($775 million) in 2020.

23. More than 38% of Spotify’s 2021 revenue was generated in the US

According to Spotify financial records for 2021, the company generated €3.692 billion (over $3.8 billion) in the United States. With Spotify revenue in 2021 at €9.668 billion, the US market accounted for over 38% of total revenue.

24. Spotify has averaged €200 million in positive Free Cash Flow for the past three years

Although the range of Free Cash Flow fluctuates from quarter to quarter, Spotify has averaged more than €200 million ($208 million) of positive Free Cash Flow on a trailing twelve month period since 2019.

25. Spotify made €4.52 from each Premium user in 2022

Spotify’s average revenue per user (ARPU) in Q3 was €4.63 ($4.82), an amount the company made from each premium account. According to the company, premium ARPU over the nine months ending September 30, 2022 was €4.52 ($4.71), up from €4.25 ($4.43) in 2021.

Spotify user statistics

26. Spotify has more than 195 million premium subscribers worldwide

Spotify makes most of its money from its premium subscribers and as of Q3 2022, the platform’s premium user base had increased to 195 million premium. The total premium user number increased by 1 million more than projected, illustrating the potential for further growth – particularly in LATAM.

27. Spotify had 456 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of October 2022

Monthly active users (MAUs) is a key performance indicator for Spotify and is the total count of the audience who engage with the service over the month.  MAUs include both Ad-supported users and premium subscribers who access content for more than zero milliseconds in the indicated thirty days. As of September 30, there were 456 million monthly active users on Spotify, with the figure representing a 20% Y/Y growth from 381 million in Q3 2021.

28. Spotify added a record 23 million monthly active users in Q3 2022, despite exiting Russia earlier in the year

23 million more users accessed Spotify in the three months ending September 30, 2022, the largest quarterly increase over the quarter in Spotify’s history. This came even with the company’s exit from Russia following sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

29. Spotify’s monthly active users were projected to hit 479 million by end of 2022

As well as Q3 2022, Spotify projected a net growth of 23 million in its monthly active users in Q4 2022. That forecast put the total MAUs at 479 million at the end of December 31, 2022.

30. 273 million of Spotify users are ad-supported

Spotify’s ad-supported user base grew by 24% in 2022 to 273 million, up from 220 million in 2021. Therefore, Spotify added 50 million more ad-supported users in the past year.

31. Spotify’s premium users are expected to grow by 7 million to 202 million by end of 2022

While Spotify reported 195 premium subscribers in its Q3 financial report, the company expects the number to grow another 7 million to 202 million by the end of 2022. Comparably, premium users grew 13% year-on-year in Q3 2022 to 195 million, up from 172 million.

32. An average of 15 million people access Spotify every day

Spotify records an average of 15 million users every day, with 44% of users using the streaming service at least once every day. Across regions, North America leads, with second-highest average daily usage in Europe.

33. Spotify users streamed 110 billion hours of content in 2021 despite COVID-19 disruption

The COVID-19 pandemic disruption did not impact Spotify users shown in the company’s financial records filed in earlier 2022. As of 31 December 2021, both premium and ad-supported users had streamed over 110 billion hours of content, up 20% on total hours streamed in 2020.

34. 56% of Spotify users are male

A slight majority of Spotify users are male, with data showing males account for 56% of users. As of December 2022, females accounted for 44% of the user base.

35. Europe accounts for 33% of Spotify’s monthly active listeners

Europe has 136 million Spotify monthly active users, accounting for 33% of MAUs globally. North America, in this case the United States and Canada, has the second-highest number of monthly active users at 23% share while Latin America and the rest of the world account for 21% and 22% respectively.

36. About 39% of Spotify’s premium users are from Europe

Like the monthly active users, Europe accounts for the highest percentage of premium subscribers. According to the latest details, 39% of premium users were from Europe. North America consisted of 28%, Latin America comprised 21% and the rest of the world accounted for 12%.

37. Millennials account for 29% of Spotify users

While people from all ages use Spotify, data shows that the biggest chunk is millennials. According to the latest statistics, 29% of the platform’s users are within the 25-34 year age bracket while 26% fall in the 18-24 years age group.

Spotify artist facts and stats

38. The Spotify app supports more than 11 million artists

Popularity has seen most of the world’s most celebrated music artists put their songs on Spotify. Currently, the platform has an estimated 11 million artists worldwide.

39. Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” has hit 3.3 billion streams, currently the most streamed song on Spotify 

Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” hit has been streamed more than 3.3 billion times as of December 2022, ranking as the all-time most streamed track on Spotify. Ed Sheeran is also currently the most followed artist on Spotify at over 105 million users and tops the list of most followed artists on Spotify ahead of Ariana Grande (over 85 million), Billie Eilish (72 million) Drake (69 million) and Justin Bieber (67 million).

40. Spotify paid over $7 billion in royalties to artists in 2021

The music streaming giant paid a staggering $7 billion to artists in 2021, the most a music streaming platform has ever paid in a single year. According to Spotify, every song that plays on the platform earns its rightsholder royalties – be it from the premium or ad-supported service. As of the end of 2021, Spotify had paid more than 28.7 billion euros ($30 billion) in royalties since its launch.

41. Artists earn $0.003-$0.005 per stream on Spotify

The pay per stream on Spotify was between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream, with artists earning an average of $3.00 to $5.40 per 1000 streams.

42. More than 1,000 artists earned $1M or more from Spotify royalties in 2021

The number of artists who earned money from royalties on Spotify grew in 2021, with more than 1000 pocketing over $1 million in 2021. The number who earned more than $10,000 also grew to 50,000 artists in that bumper year.

Spotify statistics: Conclusion

Spotify’s music streaming service currently ranks ahead of Apple, Amazon and Tencent – all services from global companies. Despite the competition, Spotify has seen its  user base grow significantly over the past year. Monthly active users surpassed 456 million and premium subscribers hit 195 million in Q3, 2022, while revenue rose to over 3 billion euros in the same quarter for a 21% year-on-year growth.

In the market, the Spotify stock has traded lower amid the 2022 bear market. As of 2nd December, the Spotify stock is trading around $79.45, which puts its price nearly 68% down year-to-date. However, the SPOT share price climbed more than 5% in November and is likely to be attractive to investors going into 2023 given Spotify’s growth outlook.

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Chevron will still be drilling in 2050: CEO Mike Wirth

Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) will most certainly be drilling about thirty years from now, says CEO Mike Wirth – in contrast with President Biden who…

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Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) will most certainly be drilling about thirty years from now, says CEO Mike Wirth – in contrast with President Biden who recently reiterated that the U.S. will pull out of drilling.

Chevron is continuing to invest

The oil and gas behemoth plans on spending $15 billion to $17 billion a year to meet the growing demand. Speaking with folks at CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, the chief executive noted:

We’re growing production because world’s growing in terms of demand. We have to look well into the future and invest to meet that demand. We’re up this year 15% in Permian versus same period last year and continuing to invest.

While that’s well-below what the multinational was spending before the COVID pandemic, the output, CEO Wirth added, remains the same as Chevron is now more capital-efficient.

For the year, Chevron shares are up more than 50% at writing.

CEO Wirth’s view of the future

It is noteworthy here that Chevron refused to cave in the face of pressure in recent years to lower production and that’s contributing to the ability of the U.S. today to help its allies fight the Russia-driven energy crisis.

Moving forward as well, CEO Mike Wirth sees future in a blend of clean energy and hydrocarbons.

Affordable energy is essential for economic prosperity, reliable energy for national security, and environmental protection is essential for a sustainable planet. We have to balance all three. If you over index one, you can create vulnerabilities.

In related oil news, OPEC+ is expected to reveal plans of further cutting production on Sunday.

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