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Bitcoin might be a reserve asset for the crypto community but its recent price trajectory, with gains and losses tracking equities, suggest the non-crypto “normies” don’t (yet) see it that way. Given the COVID-19 crisis’ extreme test of the global financial system and central banks’ massive “quantitative easing” response to it, that price performance poses a challenge to those of us who see bitcoin’s core use case as an internet era hedge against centralized monetary instability. Far from complying with that “digital gold” narrative, bitcoin has performed like any other “risk-off” asset. Meanwhile, actual gold has shaken off its own early-crisis stock market correlation to chart an upward course. While bitcoin has repeatedly failed to sustainably break through $10,000, bullion has rallied sharply to close in on $1,800, levels it hasn’t seen since September 2012. Some analysts are predicting it will breach its all-time intraday high of $1,917, hit in the aftermath of the last global financial crisis in 2011. To add insult to injury, one Forbes contributor even stole from the crypto lexicon to describe the state of play, telling his readers that gold prices are “soaring to the moon.”
Gold has had at least three millennia to establish itself as a store of value people turn to when social systems are in stress. Bitcoin has only existed for 11 years. While plenty of investors are willing to speculate on the possibility bitcoin might supplant or compete with gold, the idea is far from ingrained across society. When will it be more widely accepted? Perhaps when the international crisis of global leadership unleashed by COVID-19 undermines the capacity of institutions like the Federal Reserve to sustain economic and social confidence. Whatever new institutions and systems we create going forward will need to address how the internet has upended society’s centralized systems of governance. When that happens, we’ll need a decentralized, digital reserve asset as the base value layer. As I said, it will take time. Meanwhile, the developers will keep building.
The original Ethereum value driver was the ICO (initial coin offering), another casino on Meth. The regulators did what they do well and snuffed it out but crypto at its base is a way of creating value outside of the maw of fiat monopolies and you can’t keep that at bay indefinitely. So snuffing out ICOs didn’t snuff out Ethereum, it just left it ticking over until the distributed computer got another hit app. Here it is.
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Two of these DeFi platforms are AAVE and Compound and you should zip over and take a look. I had some Ethereum sploshing about so I popped $23 worth in and in seconds I was watching the value tick up 79 billionth of a dollar every second or so. I’m going to have to wait a year to make a $1 but that’s not the point. I just opened a deposit account in one minute, transferred money into it in seconds and now I’m watching it grow instantaneously and that purely from landing on the beach of a new continent of financial services that can spin off from this.
We’ve been using Google Ads for the past 6 months to help us get more visibility for our smart contract auditing services and we’ve noticed a strange change in the last few days. It seems that Google completely blacklisted Ethereum as a keyword. Any of the keywords that contain ‘ethereum’ in our campaigns are no longer showing ads as of January 9th.
That network now sustains its financial system, a decentralized microcosm of the massive traditional one. It takes tokenized versions of the underlying currencies that users most value (whether bitcoin or fiat) and provides disintermediated mechanisms for lending or borrowing them or for creating decentralized derivative or insurance contracts. What’s emerging, albeit in a form too volatile for traditional institutions, is a multifaceted, market for managing and trading in risk.
Though it’s too early to know who the eventual winners will be, I believe this trend captures the early beginnings of a new, decentralized global financial system. So to describe it, an analogy for the existing one is useful: bitcoin is the dollar, and Ethereum is SWIFT, the international network that coordinates cross-border payments among banks. (Since Ethereum is trying to do much more than payments, we could also cite a number of other organizations in this analogy, such as the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) or the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC).)
TRUST ME, BOND MARKET, PLEASE. James Glynn at The Wall Street Journal had a piece this week about how the Federal Reserve is considering following Australia’s lead in using “yield caps” as a policy tool to keep long-dated interest rates down. The thinking is if the central bank explicitly signals it will always institute bond-buying if the yield on a benchmark asset such as the 10-year Treasury note rises above some predefined ceiling, the market will be less inclined to prematurely believe the Fed is going to start tightening monetary policy. In other words, we won’t see a rerun of the 2013 “Taper Tantrum,” when the U.S. bond market, worrying that the Fed would start tapering off its bond-buying, or quantitative easing, drove down bond prices, which pushed up yields. (For bond market newbies, yields, which measure the effective annual return bondholders will earn off a bond’s fixed interest rate when adjusted for its price, move inversely to price.)
Interestingly, USD Coin (USDC), the world’s second-largest stablecoin from Coinbase and Circle, was ranked at 1.00 by the Crypto Rating Council (CRC), whose members include Coinbase, Circle, Kraken, Bittrex, Genesis Capital, eToro, OKCoin, Radar, Anchorage, Cumberland, among others). The CRC supports and promotes regulatory clarity in the distributed ledger technology (DLT) space.
There are legitimate concerns about security on Ethereum. With such a complex system, and so many different programs running on it, the attack surface is large. And given the challenges the community faces in migrating to Ethereum 2.0, including a new proof-of-stake consensus mechanism and a sharding solution for scaling transactions, it’s still not assured it will ever be ready for prime time.
While many alt-coins like BINANCE:BATBTC are roaring at this particular moment, BINANCE:ETHBTC seems to have slowed down some. I've circled several areas on the candle chart in the idea snapshot that shows where ETH bounced from support, with a low Stochastic RSI which swiftly bounced. However, we are coming up against a long downtrend in the market...
Inside The Cryptocurrency Revolution | VICE on HBO