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The Bitcoin Economic Calendar:
Week of Monday September 13th to Sunday September 19th.
Bitcoin: It was a historic week for bitcoin, but not a great week price-wise. Bitcoin finished the week down -11.15% at $46,035. While the spot traded volume for the week was in line with previous ones, there were $3.7 Billion worth of liquidations in the futures markets on Tuesday alone.
Tuesday was also the day El Salvador declared bitcoin legal tender, and that all happened to coincide with a big bond rating downgrade to China’s troubled property developer, Evergrande.
Bitcoin dropped by more than 11% that day - with the highest traded daily spot volume since July 26th.
El Salvador’s ambitious rollout of their Chivo app has not been without complications.
Several users have reported problems with registrations and getting their bonus paid out. At the same time, many users also reported being able to register, getting their bonuses, and using the app.
This is the first time a bitcoin app is being rolled out to an entire population in a developing country, and glitches are bound to happen. If you focus too much on the implementation technicalities, you can miss the forest for the trees.
The move by El Salvador has sparked change beyond its borders, impacting large companies and sovereign nations near and far.
First, let’s talk about multinational corporations. Last week we highlighted that the move by El Salvador would force large companies with a presence in the country to adapt to the bitcoin law - and they do so in style.
First up, Movistar - or Telefónica. Based in Madrid, Telefónica is one of the largest mobile network operators in the world. It is worth over $23 Billion and has more than 121,000 employees.
They announced acceptance of bitcoin payments on the day the law was announced.
The following picture speaks for itself...
Photo Credit: @bitcoinbeach
The interesting thing about McDonalds is that it not only adapted quickly - it adapted well. To practically use bitcoin as a means of payment, McDonald’s had to address the high fees of transacting on-chain. It did so by adopting lightning payments!
Starbucks had a similar approach.
Photo credit: @BitcoinMagazine
And so did Pizza Hut...
Photo credit: @BitcoinMagazine
Now that they have bitcoin, the next question is will they sell it, transact with it further or keep it? We’ll find out soon in their next quarterly earnings report.
But as we said earlier, El Salvador’s influence goes beyond corporations - into sovereigns and even mainstream media.
This week the governments of Honduras and Guatemala announced that they are eyeing digital currencies for their economies.
However, a Central Bank Digital Currency is very different from adapting bitcoin. Neighbouring governments are seeing hundreds if not thousands of tourists pour into El Salvador - bringing life to their economies in a time when no one is traveling.
There was also news out of Ukraine and other countries that are moving to regulate the industry and invite participants. Digital currencies in developing countries is a trend that even mainstream media is picking up on.
The genie is out of the bottle and there is no putting it back in.
S&P 500: Capital markets had a rocky week with all major indices finishing the week lower.
The S&P 500 finished lower by -1.62% at 4,462 - it was its worst performing week since June 14th. The Nasdaq and the Dow Jones finished lower by -1.36% and -2.15% respectively. And the Russell 2000 finished lower than all of the above, dropping -2.81% for the same period.
What we are seeing play out in equity markets may be some cautious profit-taking given some of the recent market activity in China. Let’s take a look at that market:
The chart above shows the MSCI China ETF. It tracks the top Chinese stocks available to international investors. As you can see, the Chinese index peaked in February this year and has since dropped over 30% over the following 6 months.
While the index has rebounded over the last 3 weeks, the damage is considerable and there are fears of systemic problems in the Chinese bond market - as we covered last week with Evergrande.
This could cause vestors to act cautiously and look to take some risk off the table while the Evergrande situation unfolds.
It’s a quiet week for the Fed as officials get ready for the FOMC the following week - and not too much happening on the Corporate Earnings front either. We do get a look at inflation this week, and that could move markets - more on that in our What’s Ahead section.
Gold: Gold had a rough week, finishing down -2.11% at $1,787/oz. While the macro backdrop is favourable, it did face some headwinds this week by way of a rising dollar and rising bond yields.
The dollar index finished the week higher by +0.53% at 92.64 and looks like it's forming a base to lift off from those levels in the short to medium term.
We also saw some interesting action in Treasury yields, with the 10-year yield rising by +1.59% and yield on the 30-year dropping by -0.46% last week.
Typically, these yields tend to move in sync - and when they don’t, the divergence usually tells a story.
What the market could be signalling here is that it believes that inflation pressures will be higher in the next 10-years than over the next 30-years.
This is consistent with some of the messaging we are starting to see from Central Banks like the ECB. Last week, it highlighted that inflation would “moderately exceed its goals for a transitory period”.
Inflation pressures may not be as contained or short-lived as some expected.
DeFi: It was a rough week for the DeFi index and Ethereum, finishing down -7.55% and -13.80% respectively. However, there was a green shoot in the space. You guessed it - Solana finished the same week +22.62%.
There has been a lot of hype about Solana’s recent growth, and that has led to many debating what the industry will look like in the long run.
A very insightful musing came from Rune Christianson, the founder of MakerDao. His theory is that there will be one winner in the Smart Contract blockchain wars. For example, either ethereum or solana. He challenges the thesis of a “multi-chain” future.
To summarize his thinking - the “bridges” between blockchains can be neither trustless nor efficient. This will lead to developers preferring to always build their product on the largest native chain - as their “cross-chain offerings” will never be as good as native offerings.
Christensen’s musings came as he was considering whether to launch MakerDAO on Solana or continue to focus on Ethereum. It looks like he will be choosing to stay on Ethereum.
Checking in on Solana’s growth relative to Ethereum - their respective market capitalizations are at $50 Billion and $391 Billion respectively. This means that Solana is now at ~13% of Ethereum’s total aggregate value.
To put things in perspective, the two of them combined amount to almost half of bitcoin’s market capitalization ($891 Billion).
Another headline worth mentioning from the institutional world was the price projection for ETH that was shared by Standard Chartered bank.
In the report, the bank set price targets of $26,000-$35,000 for ether and between $50,000-$175,000 for bitcoin. However, the report caveats that for ether to reach the projected valuation, bitcoin would have to trade to the $175,000 mark.
No words from the futures-based Ether ETF applications - yet. Those should be coming shortly and could provide the next catalyst.
Difficulty Commentary: The most recent difficulty adjustment kicked in last Tuesday, bringing difficulty higher by +4.54% to 18.34 THs. These are roughly the same difficulty levels we were at a year ago.
Hashrate has remained flat since the last adjustment - currently projecting a slight drop of -.37% in difficulty.
Checking in on the mempool, we see that it has remained eerily quiet.
However, the reasons for the recent mempool activity are actually quite bullish.
If we look at the huge drop in mempool activity, we see that it coincides with a huge increase in Segwit usage within bitcoin blocks.
SegWit is a bitcoin upgrade that makes transactions “leaner” and is able to fit more of them in a single block.
The network is not transacting less - it is simply transacting more efficiently!
What's ahead for the week:
We wrap up today’s issue by highlighting two key insights and a summary of economic data for the week.
First up, there are some interesting dynamics at play in the bitcoin ETF space.
Last week ARK Invest amended the prospectus of its Next Generation Internet ETF. It now includes the ability to invest in Canadian-domiciled ETF funds. Previously it only included GBTC.
Bloomberg ETF Analyst Eric Balchunas believes that this could be the reason why:
As you can see, the GBTC has not been tracking the spot price of bitcoin as well as the Canadian-based Purpose ETF. GBTC is down -22% in the same time period as the Purpose fund is down -6%.
Pressure from other competing ETFs as well as recent news favoring futures-based ETFs over physically-backed ETFs have put pressure on GBTC unit prices. This trend may continue, as evidenced by ARK Invest - new investors will look to allocate assets for bitcoin exposure in vehicles that track it cleanly.
Trading the discount to GBTC units to parity on the expectation of it converting to an ETF in the future is a separate and distinct trade that not everyone wants to make.
Second, we wanted to highlight some interesting on-chain data for bitcoin, courtesy of @coinbeastmedia.
The data highlights that the number of bitcoin addresses holding non-zero balances, as well as the total number of addresses with balances over 1 btc have not stopped growing.
Even through prolonged market downturns, the number of addresses continued rising steadily.
It seems that there has never been a “bear market” in the number of people getting into bitcoin.
As always, we wrap up with a summary of the upcoming economic data and earnings reports for the week:
2 PM EST - The Federal Budget for the U.S. is released.
Of course there will be a deficit - the question is how much sticker shock will the public get.
8.30 AM EST - Consumer Price Index and Core CPI for September
The July readings for the Consumer Price Index was +0.5% month-over-month and +5.4% year-over-year. The market will likely cheer a number below that as it will relieve some of the tapering pressure the Fed is facing.
Same goes for the Core CPI. It had a reading of +0.3% month-over-month in July.
8.30 AM EST - Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims in the U.S.
8.30 AM EST - Retail Sales in the U.S.
8.30 AM EST - Business Inventories in the U.S.
The biggest market-mover here could be a surprise in the unemployment claims. If we get more than expected the market may celebrate - vice versa if we get an unsuspected drop in unemployment benefit claims.
It's a big week coming up, and as always, we'll keep you posted on any relevant news throughout the week right here and from our Twitter account @hodlwithLedn.
Canadian Central Banking Updates:
Current Target Interest Rate: 0.00 - 0.25%
Current Overnight Money Market Rate: 0.23%
U.S. Central Banking Updates:
Current Fed Interest Target Rate: 0.00 - 0.25%
Current Effective Federal Funds Rate: 0.09%
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