Unregulated Cryptocurrency Bubble Could Send the Economy Into a Tailspin
June 4, 2021 at 8:15 AM - Views: 4 #427557eridaniParticipant
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The sudden “sprint” by regulators to examine cryptocurrencies might come too late, with the entire market on the brink of collapse. A sell-off earlier this month saw cryptocurrencies lose some $1 trillion in value in a week, from a peak global market cap of $2.5 trillion on May 11. Volatility has been fueled by the structure of cryptocurrency markets. Traders can borrow 50-125 times the amount of cryptocurrency that they purchase on popular exchanges. Ownership of cryptocurrencies is highly concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of owners, with some 42 percent of all Bitcoin owned by 2,155 unique purchasers. The value of cryptocurrencies has also fluctuated wildly in recent weeks in response to restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, and tweets from billionaire Elon Musk.
With no cryptocurrency reporting requirements whatsoever for hedge fund or private equity funds, the regulators are in the dark.
Regulatory agencies had an opportunity to act two and a half years ago, after a previous cryptocurrency crash. Since then, the global market has grown significantly, making the negative consequences of a downturn more severe. The value of the cryptocurrency market’s most recent peak, at $2.5 trillion, was three times the size of its previous peak of $815 billion in January 2018. The most recent market boom has also come at a time of great uncertainty and hardship for many throughout the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that the growth might be driven by irrational optimism.
By comparison, there was roughly $1.3 trillion in outstanding subprime mortgage debt in March 2007 amid the housing market meltdown that caused the Great Recession. Banks might now be engaged in safer consumer lending practices than they were during the subprime mortgage crisis, but corporations have borrowed heavily in recent years, racking up some $10.5 trillion in debt under relaxed lending standards. Fed Governor Lael Brainard warned on May 6 that inflated stock prices and “very high levels of corporate indebtedness bear watching because of the potential to amplify the effects of a re-pricing event.”
Cryptocurrencies have recovered somewhat since shedding $1 trillion in value earlier this month, but numerous analysts have said the market resembles a bubble. This cohort of skeptics includes Vitalik Buterin, the 27-year-old who co-founded Ethereum, one of the more popular cryptocurrencies. “It could have ended already. It could end months from now,” Buterin told CNN.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
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