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First Mover: Buying Bitcoin’s Dip, Betting Against Tether and Weighing the Jobs Report


You’re reading First Mover, CoinDesk’s daily markets newsletter. Assembled by the CoinDesk Markets Team and edited by Bradley Keoun, First Mover starts your day with the most up-to-date sentiment around crypto markets, which of course never close, putting in context every wild swing in bitcoin and more. We follow the money so you don’t have to. You can subscribe here.

HOLIDAY NOTICE: First Mover will publish next on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Happy Labor Day to our U.S. readers.

Price Point

Bitcoin (BTC) was up in early trading to $10,500, rebounding after Thursday’s 11% tumble, the biggest single-day decline since March. 

The sell-off, which took prices as low as about $10,000, coincided with a rout in U.S. stocks, rekindling long-simmering discussions over whether the largest cryptocurrency was a safe haven like gold or merely another risky asset. Prices for ether (ETH), the native token of the Ethereum blockchain, slid 13%, potentially a sign of an unwind of the recent fervor in decentralized finance, or DeFi. U.S. 10-year Treasury yields fell and the dollar gained in foreign-exchange markets, indicating a flight to safety by traditional investors. 

Joe DiPasquale, CEO of the cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund BitBull Capital, told First Mover in an email that “$10,000 still stands as a strong support and has absorbed selling pressure fairly well in the last two instances.” John Kramer, a trader at crypto over-the-counter firm GSR, told CoinDesk’s Daniel Cawrey that “many investors will see this as an opportunity to buy the dip.”

Market Moves

After years of debating whether tether (USDT) is fully backed 1-for-1 with U.S. dollars, the  stablecoin’s critics and defenders alike can now put their money where their mouths are.

Opium, a derivatives exchange, has introduced credit default swaps (CDS) for USDT. The product, launched Thursday, insures the buyer in the event of default by Tether, the issuer of the world’s largest stablecoin and fifth-largest cryptocurrency overall

As Opium’s blog points out, USDT is the lifeblood of the borderless cryptocurrency marketplace. The oldest stablecoin, USDT remains the largest such cryptocurrency by market cap and a top-five coin overall with $13.8 billion  in issuance. Traders often use it to move money in and out of exchanges quickly to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities.

“You can use it to protect yourself against (or speculate on) a systemic failure of the most widely used stablecoin in crypto,” Opium said of the new CDS contract, in a blog post to be published Thursday.

fm-sept-4-tether-chart
Chart showing USDT’s fast growing in 2020 and dominance among dollar-backed stablecoins.
Source: Coin Metrics

There are nagging questions about the issuer’s creditworthiness. The firm behind USDT is under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office for alleged misappropriation of funds, and Tether revealed in April 2019 that only 74% of USDT was backed by “cash and cash equivalents.” 

Paolo Ardoino, chief technology officer at Tether, said through a spokesman: “Tether is solvent. Therefore, this solution is not really interesting to us or our community.” 

Read More: New Crypto Derivatives Let You Bet on (or Against) Tether’s Solvency

The solution might be interesting to traders who just want a little extra assurance.  

Bitcoin Watch

skew_btc_25d_skew-6-2
Bitcoin’s put-call skew.
Source: Skew.com

Bitcoin’s options market has flipped bearish with the cryptocurrency registering its first double-digit decline in six months on Wednesday. Prices fell to a low of $10,006 before recovering to $10,500.

  • The one- and three-month put-call skews that measure the cost of puts relative to that of calls have surged above zero, a sign of investors adding bets (put options) to position for a more profound price drop. 
  • Joel Kruger, a currency strategist at LMAX Group and macro trader at MarketPunks, who had warned earlier this week when prices were closer to $12,000 that a correction might be looming, also sees scope for additional price declines on the back of risk aversion in equity markets. 
  • “The next key support comes in the form of the June low at around $8,900,” Kruger told CoinDesk in a Telegram chat and added further that bitcoin would eventually realize its potential as store of value.

Read More: V-Shaped Recovery From Bitcoin’s Biggest Drop Since March Unlikely, Say Analysts

Token Watch

Ether (ETH): Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, released an ” improvement proposal” to address soaring transaction fee rates as network congestion rises. 

Bitcoin (BTC): “Supercycle” thesis from Stack Funds predicts breach of $14K in next 100 days.

Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC): Stablecoins are the closest thing to digital cash that exists today, Castle Island’s Nik Carter writes for CoinDesk. 

Chainlink (LINK), Tezos (XTZ): BitMEX plans futures on LINK and XTZ, the first new coins to appear on the exchange in over two years.

Gnosis (GNO): Investment firm Arca calls for tender offer of prediction market’s tokens as market value trades at 0.3% of project’s treasury balance, the Block reported. 

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CoinDesk Research’s latest Monthly Review features 15 charts that highlight bitcoin’s performance relative to macro assets, its relationship to the dollar and other fiat currencies, and Ethereum’s growing congestion problem. Download the report.

What’s Hot

Failure to coordinate stablecoin rules internationally may bring “confusion and regulatory fragmentation,” Bank of England governor says. (CoinDesk)

Binance, world’s biggest centralized crypto exchange, noses into DeFi with launch of automated market maker pools. (Binance)

DeFi users are “mostly crypto nerds or early adopters” with their own jargon and maximalist dogma, says William Mougayar (CoinDesk)

Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum’s developers are shifting focus back to “Eth 1” to tackle congestion that caused fees to spike over 600% in a month (CoinDesk)

The SEC will have a tough task regulating DeFi, says Hester Peirce (Decrypt)

Analogs

The latest on the economy and traditional finance

U.S. jobs increased by 1.4M in August, in line with expectations, though slowing from July’s pace, report shows. Unemployment rate drops to 8.4% from 10%, report shows.

U.S. presidential election in November could bring “incredible fireworks” in market volatility based on VIX futures premiums. (Bloomberg) 

HSBC strategist says China to let yuan strengthen versus dollar in bid to “promote yuan internationalization.” (Reuters) 

Wall Street investment banks are cashing in on fees from arranging emergency loans to companies as Federal Reserve props up credit markets. (WSJ)

Easy central bank monetary policies in Europe pushes interbank lending rates down further into record (negative) territory. (WSJ)

Tweet of the Day

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Disclosure

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.



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