Happy New Year! And what a year it has been for bitcoin and its ilk. This is Mark DeCambre, Editor in Chief at MarketWatch.
What does 2023 hold for bitcoin prices or adoption? Will crypto face further existential threats in the year to come?
Those are just some of the questions we’ll hope to tackle pointedly and succinctly in this installment of Distributed Ledger.
And may the best of 2022 be the worst of 2023 for all our DL readers.
Of course, find me on Twitter at @mdecambre and at MarketWatch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quote of the week
“‘We cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to crypto regulation—the nature, reach and potential of this ecosystem are too broad and too promising to suffocate with ham-fisted rules.’”
“‘I believe all of our actions were legal open market actions, using the protocol as designed, even if the development team did not fully anticipate all the consequences of setting parameters the way they are.’”
Some have taken umbrage to recent comments that Mark Cuban has made about gold, as he champions bitcoin. Perhaps, none more than Peter Schiff.
In an appearance on comedian Bill Maher’s ”Club Random” podcast, that aired on Dec. 25, Cuban, offered his unfiltered view of gold
”If you have gold you’re dumb as f—,” the billionaire investor said to Maher.
The owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks added: ”It’s not a hedge against anything…what it is is a store of value. Gold is a store of value and so is bitcoin,” he said.
He also said he’d be interested in adding to his bitcoin holdings as its price decreases further. The asset is down more than 64% so far in 2022, while gold is off by less than 1% year to date, as of Thursday.
”I want bitcoin to go down a lot further so I can buy some more,” Cuban said.
He said owning physical gold is impractical in a digital world.
Cuban’s comments apparently raised the ire of Peter Schiff, a longtime gold advocate and investor.
”His lack of understanding of Bitcoin is only exceeded by his lack of understanding of #gold,” Schiff wrote on Twitter.
Cuban, in the podcast, said he wasn’t advocating for anyone to buy bitcoin, but thinks that the digital asset has more benefits than the precious metal, which he also views as a digital transaction.
He’s not Sam Bankman-Fried, but Avraham Eisenberg is building a dubious reputation for himself. This week he was arrested in Puerto Rico on charges of commodities fraud and manipulation after allegedly draining millions from the protocol known as Mango Markets.
According to the complaint made public on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, Eisenberg’s trades in futures related to Mango’s crypto token MNGO enabled him to withdraw $110 million in crypto from other investors’ deposits, with no apparent intention to repay the funds.
Eisenberg, as recently as October, has claimed via Twitter, that his actions are all legal:
However, U.S. prosecutors believe otherwise.
Regulating crypto in ’23
MarketWatch’s Anushree Dave writes that Congress will have to come to a conclusion on how to classify crypto, as either a commodity or a security, to achieve a clearer regulatory framework for the asset class.
To be sure there’s the question of whether crypto should be regulated at all, especially in the wake of a string of scandals, including Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX.
In any case, there’s a barrage of proposals on the table, including from Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as well as one sponsored by Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, and John Boozman, a Republican from Arkansas. There is also one backed by Sens. Cynthia Lummis, a Wyoming Republican and crypto advocate, and Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat.
We’ll see what bills, if any, get traction in the coming year.
Is the sun setting on Solana,
a cryptocurrency that was once hyped by former FTX’s Bankman-Fried? On Wednesday, Solana tumbled amid concerns that its largest holders would sell it.
In the summer of 2021, when Solana Labs raised $314.2 million from prominent investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Alameda Research, a crypto hedge fund founded by Bankman-Fried, invested heavily into the project. Bankman-Fried also created a decentralized ecosystem called “Serum” on Solana.
But after FTX declared bankruptcy in November, traders sold off their Solana, and the price dropped 65% from around $37 to less than $12. It is currently 94.09% below its high from a year ago.
Argo stays afloat
Argo Blockchain PLC
said on Wednesday that it is selling its Helios facility in Texas and its related operations to Galaxy Digital Holdings
for $65 million.
The cryptocurrency miner said it would also get a new loan of $35 million from Galaxy to refinance asset-backed loans with an initial 36-month term.
What’s the outlook for bitcoin? It remains hazy but some are proffering estimates. Yves Lamoureux, the president of macroeconomic research firm Lamoureux & Co., says he sees bitcoin bottoming possibly around $13,000 and then taking another run higher as the dust settles from the recent run of scandals in the industry.
He sees real momentum for bitcoin taking hold in 2025 when mass adoption of owning it propels the digital asset.
Ryan Selkis, the founder and CEO of Messari, a crypto analytics firm, told MarketWatch’s sister publication Barron’s that “bitcoin is beginning to act more like a credible neutral reserve asset.”
Based on some measures comparing bitcoin to gold, Selkis estimates that bitcoin could be worth $500,000, but offers no timetable for such a rise
Crypto in a snap
Bitcoin has shed 1.3% during the past week, and was trading at around $16,616 on Thursday, according to FactSet.
Ether was off 1.3% over the same stretch to around $1,196.50, FactSet data show.
Meanwhile, FTX native coins, known as FTT tokens, were down 1.3% over the past seven days, trading at $0.859904, according to data provider CoinGecko.
Terra Luna Classic
Source: CoinGecko as of Dec. 29
Crypto companies, funds
Shares of Coinbase Global Inc.
slipped 1.1% for the week to around $34.76. MicroStrategy Inc.
has fallen nearly 18%, at $137.84, thus far on the week.
Crypto mining company Riot Blockchain Inc.
has declined 8.4%, to $3.40, as of Thursday. Shares of rival Marathon Digital Holdings Inc.
were down 4.3%, at $3.38, over the past week. Ebang International Holdings Inc.
shed around 11% over the past week and was trading at $2.62.
Overstock.com Inc. shares
fell 1%, to $19.34, over the week.
Shares of Block Inc.
formerly known as Square, rose 2.5%, to $62.70 for the week thus far. Tesla Inc. shares
fell nearly 12% to $119.59.
Read: Tesla’s stock breaks record-tying losing streak with best daily gain in nearly a month
See also: Tesla stock is the most oversold it has ever been
PayPal Holdings Inc.
rose 1.9% over the week, to trade at around $69.90. Nvidia Corp.
fell almost 9% at $146.13 for the past week.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. shares
declined by 2% to $64.87 for the week, as of Thursday.
Among crypto funds, ProShares Bitcoin Strategy
fell by 1% to $10.36 Thursday, while its Short Bitcoin Strategy ETF
rose 0.9% to $40.11. Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF
retreated 0.8% to $6.54, while VanEck Bitcoin Strategy ETF
slipped 0.7% to $16.68.
Grayscale Bitcoin Trust
declined 2.3% to $7.95.
Crypto investors sue Gemini, Winklevoss twins for fraud over interest-earning accounts (MarketWatch)
Crypto customers sell claims at a loss to avoid bankruptcy wait (WSJ)
Crypto exchange Kraken to stop operations in Japan (Reuters)
Mark Cuban wants to buy more bitcoin, says gold investors are ‘dumb’ (CNBC)
Alameda Research liquidates Ethereum-based holdings for bitcoin (CoinDesk)
These crypto founders and bitcoin moguls lost $116 billion in 2022 (Forbes)
Sam Bankman-Fried met with ‘Big Short’ writer Michael Lewis during house arrest (New York Post)