Crypto is dueling with the US dollar to be this quarter’s top performer

Crypto is dueling with the US dollar to be this quarter’s top performer
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(Sept 26): Wild gyrations in markets have left cryptocurrencies dueling with the dollar for the title of top-performing asset this quarter.

The MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 100 Index has added 7.3% since the end of June, whereas stocks, bonds, commodities and gold suffered losses. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is up by a similar magnitude over the period, reaching a record high.

The slide in conventional assets reflects the turmoil caused by a global wave of aggressive monetary tightening to fight inflation. More attractive interest rates and the need for a haven from the maelstrom have in turn buoyed the dollar.

Why volatile digital tokens have so far bucked the wider third-quarter selloff is an open question. One factor is a 27% jump in Ether on optimism about an energy-saving revamp of its Ethereum blockchain. 

Others speculate crypto may have hit its nadir in June, after big blowups catalysed by the US$60 billion wipeout in the Terraform Labs ecosystem, which saw the TerraUSD stablecoin and linked token Luna unravel.

“This recent performance is perhaps an early indicator that we are past the contagious volatility, following the Luna and crypto-lender collateral damage of the last quarter,” said Jonathon Miller, managing director for Kraken Australia.

Miller added that the Ethereum software upgrade, known as the Merge, also “moved the needle” on the attention falling on the crypto industry.

Bitcoin and Ether both advanced on Monday. Bitcoin gained about 2.1% to US$19,300 at 10 a.m in London, mirroring gains in some European stock markets, even amid a mini-crash in the British pound.

It could be that crypto is merely delaying the inevitable — Bitcoin is only a 6% swoon away from breaching its June low of about US$17,600 and many prognosticators reckon the chances of such a slide are high. 

“Bearish macro sentiment is dominating all risky assets,” said Cici Lu, chief executive officer of Venn Link Partners Pte Ltd. “We can see Bitcoin going much lower than US$17,500.” 

Those of a more optimistic bent can take succor from seasonal trends. Bitcoin has posted an average return of just over 22% in October over the past decade, the most after the month of November, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.