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The Bitcoin price falls below $ 26,000




Bitcoin plunged and the world’s largest stable currency, the tether, briefly declined from its $ 1 stick, contributing to fears of more turbulence in the cryptocurrency market.

Cryptocurrencies have been hit by two forces this week. On the one hand, concerns that inflation will necessitate aggressive central bank austerity have weakened the desire to keep assets that are perceived as higher risk. On the other hand, the disconnection of TerraUSD, a stack coin whose value was linked to $ 1, has sent ripples through digital assets.

Bitcoin fell as low as $ 25,402.04 on Thursday, down 10% from 17:00 ET level on Wednesday, the lowest level since December 2020, before returning to around $ 28,600, according to CoinDesk. Bitcoin had fallen in the last seven consecutive days through Wednesday ̵[ads1]1; its longest losing streak since March 2020, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Ether fell 4.8% from Wednesday night to trading at $ 1,933.85 on Thursday – the lowest level since July 2021.

Cryptocurrencies have come under pressure in recent days alongside the stock markets. Digital assets are increasingly moving in lock with stocks as traditional money managers such as hedge funds and family offices have entered the area over the past two years, analysts say. Such funds may be more likely to sell cryptocurrencies during periods of volatility instead of holding them.

Shares faltered on Wednesday as inflation turned out to be more sticky than economists had expected, raising concerns about how much the Federal Reserve may have to tighten financial conditions further to curb inflation. Investors are worried that aggressive rate hikes could weigh on growth, already a concern with Covid-19 shutdowns in some Chinese cities and the war in Ukraine.

Crypto has also been hit by a de-pegging of what was previously the third largest stable currency by market value. Billed as the least volatile part of the cryptocurrency universe, these assets are linked to the value of government-issued currencies. Stablecoin TerraUSD has disconnected from its $ 1 stick in recent days, reaching 61 cents at 8:20 ET on Thursday.

The sister token, Luna, traded at 3 cents, down 99% from the previous 24 hours. The fall puts its value below that of the witty cryptocurrency dogecoin, which traded at around 8 cents at the same time.

Bitcoin fell as low as $ 25,402.04 on Thursday.


Photo:

Umit Turhan Coskun / Zuma Press

While the most popular stablecoins maintain their levels with assets that include dollar-denominated debt and cash, TerraUSD is what is known as an algorithmic stablecoin, which relies on financial development to maintain the link to the dollar.

Previously, TerraUSD kept the price at $ 1 by relying on traders who acted as backstops. Once it fell under the tap, traders would burn the stack coin – remove it from circulation – by swapping TerraUSD for new units of Luna worth $ 1. This action reduced the offer of TerraUSD and increased the price.

Conversely, when TerraUSD’s value rose above $ 1, traders could burn Luna and create new TerraUSD, thus increasing the supply of stablecoin and lowering the price back to $ 1.

This system stopped stabilizing the cryptocurrency after a series of large withdrawals of TerraUSD from Anchor Protocol, a kind of decentralized bank for crypto investors. At the same time, TerraUSD was also sold for other stack coins through various liquidity pools that contribute to the stability of the peg. The sudden rush to sell frightened some traders, who intensified the route.

Markets have been increasingly volatile in recent times: equities, bonds and crypto have all fallen as investors struggle to cope with the large fluctuations in financial markets around the world. WSJ’s Caitlin McCabe looks at some of the reasons behind the recent market frenzy. Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The breach in TerraUSD has also raised concerns that other stack coins could break from their typical levels. Tether, the largest stable currency in terms of market value, fell as low as 96 cents around 3:15 a.m. ET before returning to 99.3 cents at 8:20 a.m., according to CoinDesk data. Some hedge funds have intensified efforts that may break from the $ 1 level in recent days, investors say.

Regulators have previously investigated stablecoin, such as the parent company Tether Holdings Ltd. Says are backed by reserves of cash or other financial instruments, which are too opaque.

It took years of investigation by New York’s attorney general, and a possible $ 18.5 million settlement of allegations that Tether misled clients, before Tether only revealed what it has in large terms each quarter through its accounting firm. These holdings have consisted of investments such as cash and short-term US government securities, but also short-term IOUs known as commercial securities.

Tether has not disclosed which companies’ holdings of certificate papers came from, which led to some concern among investors about the quality and stability of these companies. Tether has previously said that they have deliberately reduced their holdings of commercial papers since the settlement with New York’s public prosecutor.

“Tether is the most liquid stable currency in the market and is 100% supported by a strong, conservative and liquid reserve portfolio. Tether has resisted several ‘black swan’ events in cryptocurrency,” said a Tether spokesman, adding that the company has continue to process redemptions normally in the midst of current cryptocurrency sales.

On Tuesday, Minister of Finance Janet Yellen reiterated the calls to Congress to approve the regulation of so-called stack coins.

Write to Caitlin Ostroff at caitlin.ostroff@wsj.com

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