Stocks drop, Bitcoin weaker again

Morning Note

You couldn’t really have set it up better. On the day El Salvador made Bitcoin legal tender, the asset plunged by 16%. It’s almost as if the inherent volatility in Bitcoin makes it really bad at being a currency that people use to spend and save. After hitting a fresh high above $52,000 overnight, prices dropped to under $44,000 before finding some stability around the $45,000 area. Not a good start to its life in the mainstream. It simply underscores the fact that it is not a good means of payment or reliable store of value. The El Salvadoran government apparently bought more Bitcoin on the dip.

 

Cathie Wood of Ark was talking on Bitcoin – responding to comments by investor John Paulson. She wheeled out the Bitcoin-bro case that it’s not just digital gold, it’s new global monetary system. She said it’s not subject to the whims of policymakers – in fact it’s a hedge against the whims of policymakers. That may be or may not be, investors should be extremely cautious. The impoverished people of El Salvador don’t have much choice.

 

Stagflation: inflation plus a tax rise plus slowing growth is probably not a great setup for the UK economy. The Tories are pushing on with a regressive tax hike for workers, plus increase the tax on dividends which is going to be an extra blow to investors. It means the overall tax burden is the highest in this country since the second world war. The question that needs to be asked is a bigger one – if you can print money to pay for furlough, test and trace and the rest, why can’t you print money for social care reform?  

 

European stocks saw brisk selling in early trade after a drop for Wall Street and a weak handover from Asia. All sectors in the Stoxx 600 are down in early trade and the major bourses trade -1% to the downside. But it was another record high for the Nasdaq and again there is a slow growth feel to the stock market – things that don’t need cyclical economic growth doing well like Netflix – new all-time high – and Tesla. Cruise liners, casinos and Disney were the best performers though – signs that it’s all doom and gloom with regards Delta and vaccines. Industrials were weak but so too some of the bond proxies like real estate and utilities as bond yields rose. The Dow fell 270pts to 35,100, while the S&P 500 declined 0.34% to 4,520. It seems like the kind of uptick in consumer spend and consumption into the back end of the year will not be as strong as thought due to delta. James Bullard, a relative hawk, said tapering should go ahead soon. US futures heading lower – definite pullback mode so watch out – question is how quickly the market is to buy the dip, so schooled in doing so it is.

 

Time to sell bonds? The 10yr Treasury yield approached 1.4%, hitting a two-month high and breaking above its 200-day SMA. The July high of 1.42% and the 100-day SMA at 1.44% are in view. Gold fell as yields moved up along with the US dollar, which is recovering some ground lost over the last fortnight. USD/JPY ticked up to its best in 3 weeks, while sterling is weaker again after a sharp fall yesterday.

 

Morrisons shares are trading up a touch as the company said it will engage with the panel on a possible auction. Neither Fortress nor CD&R have declared their offers final, so a ‘competitive situation’ exists still. Shares ticked up by about half of one percent at the start of the session.

Cryptocurrency update: Institutions ride correction into Bitcoin

More institutional investors entered the crypto world last March, helping support a sector some are still reluctant to back.

Cryptocurrency update

Wood suggests Bitcoin correction tempted institutions into crypto

Founder and CEO of ARK Investment Management Cathie Wood has said March’s cryptocurrency market correction was a buy signal for institutional investors.

Referencing on-chain analysis undertaken by ARK researchers and data from crypto research firm Chainalysis, Wood said institutions moved money into Bitcoin during this time.

According to Chainalysis, large institutional trading transactions, i.e., those transactions above $10 million, accounted for over 60% of decentralised finance (DeFi) market movements in Q2 2021. In Q3 2020, the share was more like 20%.

Institutions now hold close to $70bn in Bitcoin, according to research from Buy Bitcoin Worldwide. $40.1bn of that total is controlled by BTC asset managers. Of thee, Greyscale is the largest digital asset manager, holding around $31bn in the world’s most popular cryptocurrency.

Greyscale itself is an important vehicle for institutional-level investors looking for crypto exposure. It’s also interesting that Cathie Wood flagged how such investors made a move into digital tokens in March. She was very likely one of them. Wood’s own ARK Investment Management is the largest shareholder in the Greyscale Bitcoin Trust with a $350 million stake of 9 million shares.

Bitcoin itself broke above $50,000 for the first time in months last week. At the time of writing, it was trading for around $47,412, down some 2.76% on the day. The coin is eyeing support at $49,000.

We’ve seen plenty of institutional-level support from moneyed investors for BTC and other tokens across the past year. However, some are not so convinced of cryptocurrency’s validity as an investment vehicle.

Paulson goes hard on Bitcoin

Billionaire investor John Paulson has fired a few harsh words Bitcoin’s way.

Paulson, who gained notoriety as a subprime shorter back in 2008, has stated that cryptocurrency’s inherent volatility would put him off from “even shorting it”.

Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg, Paulson said Bitcoin and digital tokens are not an ideal store of value since they are a “limited supply of nothing”, and hold “no intrinsic value”.

Paulson went even further. The investor said he would not recommend investing in digital tokens to anyone.

“Cryptocurrencies, regardless of where they’re trading today, will eventually prove to be worthless,” Paulson told Bloomberg. “Once the exuberance wears off, or liquidity dries up, they will go to zero.”

So, what does Paulson recommend investors put their cash into? The old standby gold. The talk of Bitcoin becoming the new “digital gold” has been floating around the markets for a while now, but many investors still prefer gold as a store of wealth over its upstart rival.

Some investors prefer the physical nature of gold, plus its inherent value, as making it a stable value store over cryptocurrencies.

Expecting increasing inflation to result in the metal appreciating thanks to it being regarded as a safe haven asset, Paulson heavily supports gold.

On-chain metrics could spell the return of BTC & ETH bull run

Despite Poulson’s protestations, there is a growing belief that Bitcoin and Ethereum could be about to stage another bull market surge.

Glassnode, a crypto and blockchain analytics firm, has said there is a tremendous crossover with today’s on-chain metrics and those seen in mid-to-late 2020 when cryptocurrencies began a fresh surge.

“As the Bitcoin and wider cryptocurrency market rallies higher, a remarkable on-chain divergence continues to form across both Bitcoin and Ethereum,” Glassnode’s latest Week-on-Chain report states.

“On-chain activity on both chains has remained quiet relative to bull market highs, even as price momentum continues upwards, and bullish trends in supply dynamics remain in play.”

Indicators that a new bull run is on the way are currently observable, including higher network participation and record transaction values.

Active entities on the Bitcoin blockchain are particularly noteworthy. Despite prices being near $50,000, these are still one-third below all-time highs but growing rapidly.

“It is notable that current activity on both chains is similar to the stable pre-bull accumulation range established in mid to late 2020,” Glassnode said.

“Whilst the divergence between price and on-chain activity is historically abnormal for a full-scale bull market, it is not an uncommon signature for the pre-bull, and pre-supply-squeeze dynamic,” the report continues. “These periods often accompany the end of bear market accumulation where the investors who remain, are the strong hands, those with the highest conviction.”

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