Unstable coin

The crypto infrastructure cracks

A vicious sell-off in risky assets jolts stablecoins

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It has been a vicious year for financial markets, and more punishing still for crypto assets. More than half the market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies has been wiped out since November. On Thursday, Bitcoin traded at around US$29,000, just 40 per cent of its all-time high in November; Ether has slumped by a similar amount. The share price of the leading crypto-industry stock, Coinbase, an exchange, is half what it was a week ago, falling 26 per cent in a single day after it reported earnings and disclosed that users' deposits on its platform were not necessarily protected in the event that the firm went bust. The sell-off comes at the same time as tech stocks, high-yield bonds and other risky assets have swooned as the Federal Reserve has begun raising interest rates.

Much of the technology (and the jargon) of the crypto-sphere is bewildering, still, to most people in traditional finance. Yet the dynamics of recent days bear the hallmarks of spectacular financial collapses of old.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2022, with the headline The crypto infrastructure cracks. Subscribe