Currencies

Bitcoin is facing macro and technical challenges.

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Cryptocurrencies are in for a rocky ride in the weeks ahead, thanks to a shaky start to 2022 and a slew of looming economic and technical hurdles.

Bitcoin, the largest of them, has not been able to hold over $50,000 since its December 4 fall, and is down 13% this year.

Bitcoin has suffered disproportionately as the Federal Reserve and other major central banks spelled out plans to raise rates and remove monetary stimulus, far from being the inflation hedge or uncorrelated alternative asset it was sometimes marketed as. Bitcoin has lost 40% of its value since its peak in November.

“There’s more connectivity between the crypto industry and the more traditional markets than some people might desire,” said Jack McDonald, CEO of Standard Custody, a firm that handles digital asset custody solutions for institutional investors.

Despite the liquidation of bitcoin holdings, the leverage ratio — which tracks open interest across cryptocurrency trading venues relative to bitcoin currency reserves — has been growing, which could be a sign of more short positions being accumulated in the currency, according to Justin D’Anethan, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency analyst. Even in options, investors have begun to favor “puts,” he said.

The bitcoin leverage ratio across exchanges has climbed to 0.22 from 0.15 a month ago, according to analytics company CryptoQuant.

According to crypto site CoinGecko, Bitcoin’s market capitalization has decreased to roughly $793 billion. Since the beginning of the year, it has lost nearly $93 billion.

Last Monday, the bitcoin Fear & Greed index on cryptocurrency research platform Coinglass hit its lowest level since July 2021, when bitcoin values were trading at $30,000. According to researcher CryptoCompare, bitcoin futures on the CME suffered the largest monthly drop of 77.4 percent to $11 billion in December.