94,000 Bitcoin Enters Circulation
Correlation to macro markets came back to life last week as highly-anticipated inflation data resulted in market volatility. Bitcoin rallied to major resistance level of $45.5k — $46k up till inflation data, but slid down to $42- $43k region following upside surprise in the CPI print. Current line in sand = 50dma of $41,900. Ethereum showed similar price action, but does look weaker with price firmly below 50dma ($3,098); in general, ETH is showing higher swings on both rallies and sell-offs. On derivatives front, BTC and ETH funding rates have ticked lower with recent sell-offs (Chart 1), and liquidation are also relativley muted (Chart 2). In our last week’s report, we’ve noted how previous week’s rally came despite the lack of supportive macro backdrop and generally weak US equities. Well, when it comes to more significant data-points, it does appear the correlation is very much alive and real.
On the crypto-native side, more drama came about as the DOJ announced it had seized 94,000 bitcoin (~$3.6bn) tied to the 2016 Bitfinex hack. Bitfinex said it would be working with DOJ to establish their rights to return of the stolen bitcoins, resulting in $LEO token outperforming. On the fundraising/investments fronts, it’s never a quiet week as capital remains cheap and abundant — OpenSea launched a venture arm (“OpenSea Ventures”), which would focus on 4 main themes (new NFT protocols, social & gaming projects, NFT aggregators), and also announced a new Ecosystem Grants programme; Binance took a $200mio stake in Forbes, publication which it once sued for defamation (buy them if you can’t win them); Polygon raised $450mio in private token sale — the fundraising was led by Sequoia India, and was participated by Tiger Global, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, DCG, etc.
On the institutional/regulatory front, institutional adoption continued. BlackRock announced plans to offer crypto trading services, joining ranks of Goldman Sachs and Fidelity. On the stablecoin fronts, we’re seeing both financial institutions (MUFG, Japan’s biggest bank, to launch a yen-pegged stablecoin next year) and countries (Jamaica in ’22) adopting stablecoins for both payment/settlement purposes. However, not all was rosy, as crypto lending platform BlockFi was fined $100mio to settle investigations into its interest-generating accounts ($50mio to SEC + $50mio to state regulators — where can we invest in the SEC Fund?).
On the macro side, it was another volatile week as investors weighed earnings against interest rate fears. Highly anticipated inflation data on Thursday (CPI YoY 7.5% vs. Est. 7.2%) surprised to the upside, with the print at its highest level in 40 years. The inflation worries were further reflected in Friday’s U of Michigan’s February consumer sentiment (61.7 vs. Est. 67), which came in at lowest level since October 2011. The upside CPI surprise + hawkish comments from Bullard sent short-term rates to 1.64%, resulting in flattening of the yield curve, and broader risk-off sentiments. Tech-heavy NQ fared worst, ending the week ~15% off the peak. On the rates side, Fed funds futures were pricing in close to 7 rate hikes for ’22, and there were even chatters of intermeeting rate hikes. Going into the week, it’s relatively quiet in terms of macro data, except for retail sales and housing data, as well as FOMC meeting minutes on Wednesday night.
Bitcoin and major tokens have broken out of their descending trendlines last week, and have been consolidating recently. Despite the potential trend reversal, we remain on our toes given broader macro liquidity tightening, and are more comfortable farming stablecoin yields, rather than adding actively to our inventory. Stay alert and good luck!