JAN 6, 2024
Maelstrom CIO predicts temporary bitcoin plunge
As the cryptocurrency market anticipates the approval of a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the United States and the subsequent boost to bitcoin’s unit price, Arthur Hayes, Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of family office Maelstrom, has issued a warning of potential market turbulence.
Hayes, better known as the founder of crypto derivatives platform BitMEX, has moved on to Hong Kong-based Maelstrom, a family office that invests in early stage infrastructure ventures that implicate a move towards the decentralization of everything.
Macroeconomic risk factors
In a detailed blog post on Friday, Hayes outlines a number of macroeconomic variables that could lead to a bitcoin unit price downturn.
Hayes begins by highlighting the depletion of the Federal Reserve’s reverse repo program (RRP), which has served as a significant driver for risky assets over the past year. This program allows qualified banks and investment firms to park cash and earn interest on it. The RRP balance has rapidly declined from a record high of $2.5 trillion at the end of 2022 to $700 billion. Hayes projects it to reach its historical average of $200 billion by March. As this liquidity source dwindles, he anticipates negative impacts on bonds and stocks, as well as cryptocurrencies.
Fed BTFP expiration
The second factor contributing to the potential market turmoil is the expiration of the Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP) on March 12. This crucial Fed facility is designed to provide longer-term loans to commercial banks. The mechanism aids banking sector stability.
Hayes is concerned that the BTFP might not be extended. Such an eventuality could lead to bankruptcy for banks holding massive unrealized losses on their bond holdings. It could lead to a “liquidity rug pull” event reminiscent of the banking crisis in March of the previous year.
The crypto OG predicts that such an eventuality would force a response. “The combination of a lack of liquidity gushing from the RRP and the lack of printed money to cover the bond losses on banks’ balance sheets will decimate the financial markets globally,” he wrote.
Hayes asserts that the combination of reduced liquidity from the RRP and the lack of printed money to cover bond losses could have a global impact on financial markets. In response to this scenario, he predicts that the Fed will cut interest rates during its March 20 meeting and reinstate the BTFP funding line.
In terms of bitcoin’s price, Hayes foresees a “healthy” correction of 20% to 30% from early March prices if the outlined scenario unfolds. However, he suggests the decline could be as much as 40% if BTC rallies to $60,000-$70,000 in the coming weeks. Despite this temporary plunge, Hayes remains optimistic about bitcoin’s resilience, emphasizing its status as a neutral reserve hard currency that is not a liability of the banking system and is traded globally.
In a recent podcast appearance, Hayes expressed the view that the business model of U.S. dollar stablecoin issuer Tether will be challenged once multinational banks receive the go-ahead to offer fiat-backed stablecoins.
Overall, Arthur Hayes has urged investors to be cautious and to prepare for potential market volatility in March, emphasizing the importance of understanding the interconnected factors influencing both traditional finance and the cryptocurrency market.