First Mover: Digital Gold Narrative Could Be Bitcoin’s Lone Ace as Ethereum Gains

It’s pretty much guaranteed at this point that higher inflation is coming.

The Federal Reserve, which has already printed about $3 trillion of new money this year, is now explicitly devoted to reducing the dollar’s purchasing power in a bid to revive the economy. Higher inflation also typically happens when a country gets laden with debt and interest rates are cut to zero, as is now the case in the U.S.

“We’re at a moment where you may see some inflation,” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said last week.   

The trend could be good for bitcoin, which many crypto investors believe can serve as a hedge against inflation, a digital and perhaps more portable alternative to gold. As detailed last week by SeekingAlpha contributor Lyn Alden, the trend has been clear since roughly 1980, when the share of wealth held by the world’s richest 0.1% of people began a decades-long rise from about 5% to more than 20%. 

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The decades-long economic trend toward the moment where high inflation occurs began around 1980, when the share of wealth held by the richest Americans started increasing.
Source: Bridgewater Associates/Lyn Alden Investment Strategy

But increasingly, it looks like bitcoin-as-inflation-hedge might be the cryptocurrency’s most compelling investment narrative, and not necessarily as the dominant digital asset for perpetuity, as many so-called bitcoin maximalists have argued. 

Last week, bitcoin’s “dominance” – the market value of all bitcoins in existence, divided by the market value of all digital assets – fell to 57%, from 68% at the start of the year, according to CoinMarketCap.

The primary challenger, of course, is ether (ETH), the native token of the Ethereum blockchain, which has exploded with activity this year as the primary venue for the fast-growing realm of decentralized finance, or DeFi. Ether’s market value has climbed to about 12% of the industry total, from about 6.8% at the start of the year. 

“The rivalry between Bitcoin ‘maximalists’ and Ethereum enthusiasts has become more polarized in recent months, with each side latching on to narratives that best support the asset to which they have pledged their allegiance,” Kevin Kelly, co-founder of the market-analysis firm Delphi Digital, wrote this month in report. And recently, Ethereum has been “playing catch-up to its ‘digital gold’ counterpart.”

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Bitcoin’s market dominance has been sliding this year.
Source: CryptoMarketCap.com

Bitcoin Watch

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Bitcoin transfer volume from mines to cryptocurrency exchanges.
Source: TradingView

Bitcoin is again taking cues from traditional markets.

The leading cryptocurrency is dropping alongside stocks, with soaring coronavirus cases across Europe and other parts of the world threatening to snuff out the nascent global economic recovery.

Bitcoin is currently down over 2% at $10,650 and may suffer a more significant drop if the risk aversion worsens, boosting demand for the safe-haven U.S. dollar. The cryptocurrency tanked 40% on March 12 as the global stocks’ coronavirus-induced crash triggered a global dash for cash.

The recent rise in the outflow of coins from miner wallets to exchanges could add to bearish pressures around bitcoin.

On Sunday, 784 BTC were transferred to exchange wallets from miner wallets – significantly higher than the 30-day average daily outflow of 265 BTC, according to data source Glassnode.

Read more: Bitcoin Down as Stocks Fall Over European Coronavirus Fears

Token Watch

Curve (CRV): Decentralized stablecoin exchange starts new dividend program for holders of governance token.

Ether (ETH): Ethereum transaction fees hit a record as developer Danny Ryan says 2.0 upgrade will radically improve network performance and security.

Enigma (ENG): Privacy-focused blockchain startup says its tokens “lack features” of securities, but registers them with regulators anyway in filing tied to February settlement with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  

What’s Hot

Bank of New York Mellon wired over $100 million in funds linked to crypto Ponzi scheme OneCoin, according to trove of documents leaked from U.S. crimes watchdog FinCEN (CoinDesk)

Kava Labs noses in on DeFi fever with new yield-generating platform featuring deposits of bitcoin, Binance coin (BNB, Binance USD (BUSD) and XRP from Ripple (CoinDesk)

Vitalik Buterin was obsessed with bunnies as a 7-year-old, Bloomberg News reporter Matt Leising writes in new book about the Ethereum and the $55M hack of The DAO (CoinDesk)

Bank of Thailand governor says central bank is conducting test runs to integrate digital currency, aiming to broaden adoption to “enable higher payment efficiency for businesses such as increasing flexibility for fund transfers or delivering faster and more agile payments between suppliers” (TheStar)

Crypto custodians will “catalyze the rotation of fund flows from currency-based blockchain projects into utility/smart contract-based projects over the near term” (Global Digital Assets)

Magazine published by Chinese central bank says country needs to be first to launch digital currency, partly to weaken the dollar’s role in international finance, part of a “new battlefield” between nations (CoinDesk)

Cryptocurrency mining takes off in Iran using cheap energy, with government’s blessing (Tehran Times)

Analogs

The latest on the economy and traditional finance

As Federal Reserve backstops company debt, spread between yields on government bonds and corporate bonds shrinks to record low (WSJ)

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari says pandemic aid was also effectively a “banking bailout” (Reuters)

People are selling “good” stocks to buy into “smoking hot” IPOs, Jim Cramer says (CNBC)

U.S. banks are helping to finance the federal government with $250B increase since February in Treasury bonds and government-backed mortgage bonds (WSJ)

Hopes fade for U.S. stimulus bill to rescue states, cities (Bloomberg)

Middle-class U.S. families have 32% more household debt than in 2004, even after inflation adjustment (WSJ)

HSBC, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered moved large sums of allegedly illicit funds despite reg flags, BuzzFeed reports, based on leaked suspicious activity reports (CNBC)

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