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Coronavirus Has Put Bitcoin’s Safe Haven Narrative to the Test

Coronavirus Has Put Bitcoin’s Safe Haven Narrative to the Test



The March 12 Bitcoin price crash has put its safe-haven narrative under stress, but the true stores of value are extremely static assets.

The price of Bitcoin (BTC) suffered a tremendous crash on March 12, falling from almost $8,000 to stabilize at around $5,000, a loss of about 40% in the span of less than two days. This happened in the context of a global sell-off in all equity markets, where United States stock market indices such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 lost around 10% in a single day — a substantial loss for traditional markets.

Some were quick to decree the end of the narrative that Bitcoin is a safe haven asset, sometimes called a store of value, while others pointed to the fact that even gold fell during the bloodbath.

According to TradingView data, the gold price began a fairly steep descent on March 12 from $1,660 per ounce to lows of $1,450 on March 16, a loss of 13% in value. The fact that the precious metal didn’t behave as a hedge during the collapse may have come as a surprise to some. In light of this inconsistency, it is important to understand exactly what a safe haven asset is and how it should behave.

Not all safe havens are equal

The traditional definition of a safe haven asset is “an investment that is expected to retain or increase in value during times of market turbulence.” In the context of Bitcoin, this term is used interchangeably with store of value — which normally refers to long-term wealth storage, however. While gold is often considered a store of value, it’s far from the only one. As Matthew Hougan, global head of research at Bitwise, told Cointelegraph: 

“A lot of people say the words ‘store of value’ without thinking about what that means. It’s important for investors to distinguish between three separate types of assets: stable assets, inversely correlated assets, inflation hedging assets.”

It is the first two categories that are relevant during a sudden market crash, where the effects of inflation are generally minimal. In periods of extreme uncertainty, institutional and retail investors alike tend to go for extremely safe assets. “The best stable asset is cash,” noted Hougan.

All analysts interviewed by Cointelegraph agree that the dramatic fall across all asset classes was due to every market actor scrambling for liquidity. John Todaro, head of research at TradeBlock, expressed his view of what happened in a conversation with Cointelegraph:

“There has been a flight to a highly liquid safe haven (cash) that can meet your everyday obligations (rent, groceries, medical supplies, etc.) or for institutions (debt servicing, supply purchases, etc.)”

But even if it’s not cash, there is a long list of assets used by trading institutions as stores of value. Ashu Swami, chief technical officer of the institution-focused crypto startup Apifiny — and former vice president of program trading at Morgan Stanley — explained that U.S. treasury bonds are the only assets that retain value during market crashes, while institutional investors generally “park cash” through a mix of treasury and municipal bonds, income stocks, index futures and gold. Swami noted to Cointelegraph:

“Gold has an important place in this basket but their primary choice is sovereign bonds, especially U.S. treasuries. If they are waiting for a sideways market to find direction, they typically just sit on cash. Central banks have a greater appetite for gold as a reserve.”

The second type of safe haven, inversely-correlated assets, move in opposition to stocks and other “risk-on” markets. Traditional wisdom would put commodities such as grain, oil or precious metals into this category. But data from the past 20 years shows significant correlations for many of them with the wider stock market — and there are no commodities that are negatively correlated. This means that they are at best independent from the stock market, and not a direct hedge. Whatever the case may be in longer market cycles, commodities were not spared in the recent crash. Corn, oil and even palladium suffered strong breakdowns on March 12.

The only assets that can really go against the stock market in a price crash are stocks themselves. Specifically, a category called “defensive stocks” that includes companies resilient to or even benefiting from a tumultuous economy. A modern example of such is Zoom, a video conferencing tool that benefited from an influx of new users. Its stock price barely blipped on March 12, and has continued to register new all-time highs. Many medical companies also saw their value rise thanks to the pandemic.

Hougan nevertheless warned against using inversely correlated assets as hedge, saying that “This sounds great, but it is actually not very useful: If you have one asset that goes down 10% when another asset goes up 10%, you end up flat.”

Finally, the third category of inflation-hedging assets is often considered as the true store of value over long periods. But since the immediate effects of a financial crisis are “deflationary, not inflationary,” Hougan said, these assets are less relevant in sudden shocks.

It is worth specifying that the terms “deflation” and “inflation” are defined against the price of goods and not on the supply of a particular asset. As the prices of almost every commodity and asset went down in the crisis, the U.S. dollar was subject to short-term deflation. Gold is considered an inflation-hedging asset, but so are bonds, real estate and even stocks — they only differ by their risk-reward profile.

So, which one is Bitcoin?

Expert consensus seems to be breaking down when trying to define Bitcoin and crypto in general. Quantum Economics founder Mati Greenspan is skeptical about the safe haven hypothesis: “I’ve never really seen Bitcoin as a safe haven. I don’t know who started that rumor, it certainly wasn’t in the Bitcoin white paper.”

Campbell Harvey, professor of international business at Duke University, also disagrees that crypto can be a store of value: “Cryptos fail as a store of value due to their extreme volatility. Gold and stocks have about 15% volatility and the main cryptos five times that.” He believes that Bitcoin is a speculative asset that was promptly punished in a “risk-off” environment. Todaro, however, maintains that Bitcoin could still prove itself as a safe haven while noting that “history tends to show us that Bitcoin’s correlation with traditional benchmarks is often temporary.”

On the other hand, Swami and Hougan are both firmly in the safe haven asset camp. But their views still go against the traditional hypothesis of Bitcoin as a safe haven, which focuses heavily on being a hedge against the S&P 500 and the stock market in general.

Swami concedes that Bitcoin may very well be a stock market hedge, though its price history is too short to determine this. But this is not the reason why he believes it’s a safe haven. While Hougan firmly placed Bitcoin as an inflation-hedging asset in his framework of different safe haven types, what distinguishes Bitcoin, in his view, is that it is still an “emerging store of value,” just like gold was in the 1970s, adding:

“After the U.S. completely untethered from gold and it was forced to find its way in the world as a stand-alone asset for the first time in hundreds of years. And the 1970s was an extraordinary period for gold, with prices rising more than 1300% in nominal terms and 600% in real terms.”

But while the proposition that Bitcoin is a safe haven against a generic market downturn seems to be generating controversy, there is a surprising amount of consensus to be found when the discussion shifts to the fiat system and the U.S. dollar.

Bitcoin and the fiat system

Bitcoin was born as a direct response to the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, which triggered a slew of economic measures to deal with the crisis, including multiple bank bailouts, the Fed slashing the interest rate and mass quantitative easing.

In times of crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks usually drop the “funding rate” interest for banks to stimulate investment and lending, and thus the economy. As a “master interest rate,” it influences both consumer borrowing rates and government bond yields. During 2008, the Fed brought interest rates to almost zero in a historic move. This depressed rate persisted for more than five years as the bank continued its stimulus.

However, since the bank could not lower the interest rate further, it also introduced the policy of quantitative easing, or QE — purchasing securities from the market with newly conjured dollars. Many consider it to be a euphemism for money printing.

These policies continued throughout the 2010s in a bid to discourage saving and stimulate lending and spending to grow the economy. The continuation of these policies left central banks with few instruments to fight the current recession triggered by the coronavirus lockdowns.

Bitcoin as a hedge against the dollar

In the wake of the 2020 economic crisis, the Fed slashed rates once again and, in an escalation of stimulus money printing, eventually announced “QE Infinity.” Swami added that, “Before the end of 2020, the Fed’s balance sheet could be three times bigger than what it was at the peak of the financial crisis.” The prospects of millions of unemployed Americans and continuous multi-trillion stimulus rounds are generating uncertainty, according to Swami:

“This is when foreign investors start considering a hedge against the dollar. That can only be gold or Bitcoin, because every domestic and foreign government or corporation is in the same boat and has significant exposure to [the] dollar.”

Hougan also pointed to the current bailout policies as “an extraordinary monetary experiment.” While he believes it is right to enact these measures to save the economy, their scale makes them dangerous. Even Greenspan agreed with the negative outlook for the dollar, saying:

“It’s very likely that we’ll see a very inflationary environment, and we don’t know, obviously, how inflationary. That could be mild inflation to extreme.”

He conceded that Bitcoin is a “valid hedge against inflation,” but he still expects it to perform well only in a “speculative environment.”

Finally, geopolitical tension may also rise as the pandemic ends. As President Trump continues to blame China for letting the coronavirus out, tensions may escalate further — especially once the public health emergency is dealt with. China itself is clearly feeling uneasy about the global dominance of the U.S. dollar. Even the creation of the digital yuan was motivated by Chinese officials as a way to remain competitive in the face of a potential U.S.-dominated Libra.

Related: Digital Yuan: Weapon in US Trade War or Attempt to Manipulate Bitcoin?

For Hougan, the coronavirus pandemic represents a “rising probability of a reshuffling of the global currency regime,” as both geopolitical risk and currency regime reshuffling “augur well for Bitcoin long-term.”

Will the safe haven hypothesis hold?

As comparisons with other markets suggest, Bitcoin’s crash on March 12 was to be expected even if BTC was widely recognized as a safe haven. But most Bitcoin trading is still considered to be of a speculative nature. As Harvey put it, “Right now, it is mainly used as a ‘store of value’ in the context of speculation.” He believes that BTC, like gold, is an unreliable store of value due to its volatility. “Nevertheless, many believe it will increase in value and hold it,” he concluded.

Todaro cautions that safe haven assets need to be viewed from a long-term perspective. However, his view for Bitcoin is that of a fundamentally lone asset whose “correlation with traditional benchmarks is often temporary.” Swami summarized that while the “SoV thesis is very much unbroken,” the upcoming recession would be the first time that it could be tested. Hougan was more positive, saying that Bitcoin is a “great hedge against inflation” and that “institutions are beginning to agree with this point of view.”

But, it’s important to temper one’s expectations in regards to how Bitcoin’s price should behave. As Hougan noted, “a true ‘store of value’ asset is really boring except during periods of hyperinflation.” In order for Bitcoin to be a stable safe haven asset — a category mostly occupied by treasury bonds and cash — it should also have almost no potential for gains. It also cannot be an inversely correlated asset to the stock market, as that would — at the very least — dampen its growth during bullish periods.

Related: Institutional Investment Builds in Q1 2020, Sentiment Toward Crypto Funds Changing

While it is unlikely that Bitcoin can be a true store of value any time soon, it can still become an uncorrelated asset where institutional investors allocate small portions of their portfolio for diversification. As Swami revealed, most top asset managers have either already set up crypto trading desks or are looking to do so. “Even if 10% of these managers move 5% of their assets into Bitcoin, that will send the Bitcoin price much higher than it has ever been,” he added.

Hougan believes that the next year will be crucial for Bitcoin and how it responds to potential inflation. Concluding his thoughts, he said: “One paradigm I can imagine emerging from the coronavirus crisis is Bitcoin emerging as a core alternative asset in the minds of many investors.” In the end, given the features of most safe haven assets, categorizing Bitcoin as simply an alternative asset is likely to be a much more attractive proposition for many of its holders.

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Analyst reviews Apple stock price target amid challenges

Here’s what could happen to Apple shares next.



They said it was bound to happen.

It was Jan. 11, 2024 when software giant Microsoft  (MSFT)  briefly passed Apple  (AAPL)  as the most valuable company in the world.

Microsoft's stock closed 0.5% higher, giving it a market valuation of $2.859 trillion. 

It rose as much as 2% during the session and the company was briefly worth $2.903 trillion. Apple closed 0.3% lower, giving the company a market capitalization of $2.886 trillion. 

"It was inevitable that Microsoft would overtake Apple since Microsoft is growing faster and has more to benefit from the generative AI revolution," D.A. Davidson analyst Gil Luria said at the time, according to Reuters.

The two tech titans have jostled for top spot over the years and Microsoft was ahead at last check, with a market cap of $3.085 trillion, compared with Apple's value of $2.684 trillion.

Analysts noted that Apple had been dealing with weakening demand, including for the iPhone, the company’s main source of revenue. 

Demand in China, a major market, has slumped as the country's economy makes a slow recovery from the pandemic and competition from Huawei.

Sales in China of Apple's iPhone fell by 24% in the first six weeks of 2024 compared with a year earlier, according to research firm Counterpoint, as the company contended with stiff competition from a resurgent Huawei "while getting squeezed in the middle on aggressive pricing from the likes of OPPO, vivo and Xiaomi," said senior Analyst Mengmeng Zhang.

“Although the iPhone 15 is a great device, it has no significant upgrades from the previous version, so consumers feel fine holding on to the older-generation iPhones for now," he said.

A man scrolling through Netflix on an Apple iPad Pro. Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images.

Future Publishing/Getty Images

Big plans for China

Counterpoint said that the first six weeks of 2023 saw abnormally high numbers with significant unit sales being deferred from December 2022 due to production issues.

Apple is planning to open its eighth store in Shanghai – and its 47th across China – on March 21.

Related: Tech News Now: OpenAI says Musk contract 'never existed', Xiaomi's EV, and more

The company also plans to expand its research centre in Shanghai to support all of its product lines and open a new lab in southern tech hub Shenzhen later this year, according to the South China Morning Post.

Meanwhile, over in Europe, Apple announced changes to comply with the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA), which went into effect last week, Reuters reported on March 12.

Beginning this spring, software developers operating in Europe will be able to distribute apps to EU customers directly from their own websites instead of through the App Store.

"To reflect the DMA’s changes, users in the EU can install apps from alternative app marketplaces in iOS 17.4 and later," Apple said on its website, referring to the software platform that runs iPhones and iPads. 

"Users will be able to download an alternative marketplace app from the marketplace developer’s website," the company said.

Apple has also said it will appeal a $2 billion EU antitrust fine for thwarting competition from Spotify  (SPOT)  and other music streaming rivals via restrictions on the App Store.

The company's shares have suffered amid all this upheaval, but some analysts still see good things in Apple's future.

Bank of America Securities confirmed its positive stance on Apple, maintaining a buy rating with a steady price target of $225, according to

The firm's analysis highlighted Apple's pricing strategy evolution since the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007, with initial prices set at $499 for the 4GB model and $599 for the 8GB model.

BofA said that Apple has consistently launched new iPhone models, including the Pro/Pro Max versions, to target the premium market. 

Analyst says Apple selloff 'overdone'

Concurrently, prices for previous models are typically reduced by about $100 with each new release. 

This strategy, coupled with installment plans from Apple and carriers, has contributed to the iPhone's installed base reaching a record 1.2 billion in 2023, the firm said.

More Tech Stocks:

Apple has effectively shifted its sales mix toward higher-value units despite experiencing slower unit sales, BofA said.

This trend is expected to persist and could help mitigate potential unit sales weaknesses, particularly in China. 

BofA also noted Apple's dominance in the high-end market, maintaining a market share of over 90% in the $1,000 and above price band for the past three years.

The firm also cited the anticipation of a multi-year iPhone cycle propelled by next-generation AI technology, robust services growth, and the potential for margin expansion.

On Monday, Evercore ISI analysts said they believed that the sell-off in the iPhone maker’s shares may be “overdone.”

The firm said that investors' growing preference for AI-focused stocks like Nvidia  (NVDA)  has led to a reallocation of funds away from Apple. 

In addition, Evercore said concerns over weakening demand in China, where Apple may be losing market share in the smartphone segment, have affected investor sentiment.

And then ongoing regulatory issues continue to have an impact on investor confidence in the world's second-biggest company.

“We think the sell-off is rather overdone, while we suspect there is strong valuation support at current levels to down 10%, there are three distinct drivers that could unlock upside on the stock from here – a) Cap allocation, b) AI inferencing, and c) Risk-off/defensive shift," the firm said in a research note.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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Major typhoid fever surveillance study in sub-Saharan Africa indicates need for the introduction of typhoid conjugate vaccines in endemic countries

There is a high burden of typhoid fever in sub-Saharan African countries, according to a new study published today in The Lancet Global Health. This high…



There is a high burden of typhoid fever in sub-Saharan African countries, according to a new study published today in The Lancet Global Health. This high burden combined with the threat of typhoid strains resistant to antibiotic treatment calls for stronger prevention strategies, including the use and implementation of typhoid conjugate vaccines (TCVs) in endemic settings along with improvements in access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Credit: IVI

There is a high burden of typhoid fever in sub-Saharan African countries, according to a new study published today in The Lancet Global Health. This high burden combined with the threat of typhoid strains resistant to antibiotic treatment calls for stronger prevention strategies, including the use and implementation of typhoid conjugate vaccines (TCVs) in endemic settings along with improvements in access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene.


The findings from this 4-year study, the Severe Typhoid in Africa (SETA) program, offers new typhoid fever burden estimates from six countries: Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, and Nigeria, with four countries recording more than 100 cases for every 100,000 person-years of observation, which is considered a high burden. The highest incidence of typhoid was found in DRC with 315 cases per 100,000 people while children between 2-14 years of age were shown to be at highest risk across all 25 study sites.


There are an estimated 12.5 to 16.3 million cases of typhoid every year with 140,000 deaths. However, with generic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and abdominal pain, and the need for blood culture sampling to make a definitive diagnosis, it is difficult for governments to capture the true burden of typhoid in their countries.


“Our goal through SETA was to address these gaps in typhoid disease burden data,” said lead author Dr. Florian Marks, Deputy Director General of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI). “Our estimates indicate that introduction of TCV in endemic settings would go to lengths in protecting communities, especially school-aged children, against this potentially deadly—but preventable—disease.”


In addition to disease incidence, this study also showed that the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Salmonella Typhi, the bacteria that causes typhoid fever, has led to more reliance beyond the traditional first line of antibiotic treatment. If left untreated, severe cases of the disease can lead to intestinal perforation and even death. This suggests that prevention through vaccination may play a critical role in not only protecting against typhoid fever but reducing the spread of drug-resistant strains of the bacteria.


There are two TCVs prequalified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and available through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. In February 2024, IVI and SK bioscience announced that a third TCV, SKYTyphoid™, also achieved WHO PQ, paving the way for public procurement and increasing the global supply.


Alongside the SETA disease burden study, IVI has been working with colleagues in three African countries to show the real-world impact of TCV vaccination. These studies include a cluster-randomized trial in Agogo, Ghana and two effectiveness studies following mass vaccination in Kisantu, DRC and Imerintsiatosika, Madagascar.


Dr. Birkneh Tilahun Tadesse, Associate Director General at IVI and Head of the Real-World Evidence Department, explains, “Through these vaccine effectiveness studies, we aim to show the full public health value of TCV in settings that are directly impacted by a high burden of typhoid fever.” He adds, “Our final objective of course is to eliminate typhoid or to at least reduce the burden to low incidence levels, and that’s what we are attempting in Fiji with an island-wide vaccination campaign.”


As more countries in typhoid endemic countries, namely in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, consider TCV in national immunization programs, these data will help inform evidence-based policy decisions around typhoid prevention and control.




About the International Vaccine Institute (IVI)
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is a non-profit international organization established in 1997 at the initiative of the United Nations Development Programme with a mission to discover, develop, and deliver safe, effective, and affordable vaccines for global health.

IVI’s current portfolio includes vaccines at all stages of pre-clinical and clinical development for infectious diseases that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries, such as cholera, typhoid, chikungunya, shigella, salmonella, schistosomiasis, hepatitis E, HPV, COVID-19, and more. IVI developed the world’s first low-cost oral cholera vaccine, pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and developed a new-generation typhoid conjugate vaccine that is recently pre-qualified by WHO.

IVI is headquartered in Seoul, Republic of Korea with a Europe Regional Office in Sweden, a Country Office in Austria, and Collaborating Centers in Ghana, Ethiopia, and Madagascar. 39 countries and the WHO are members of IVI, and the governments of the Republic of Korea, Sweden, India, Finland, and Thailand provide state funding. For more information, please visit



Aerie Em, Global Communications & Advocacy Manager
+82 2 881 1386 |

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US Spent More Than Double What It Collected In February, As 2024 Deficit Is Second Highest Ever… And Debt Explodes

US Spent More Than Double What It Collected In February, As 2024 Deficit Is Second Highest Ever… And Debt Explodes

Earlier today, CNBC’s…



US Spent More Than Double What It Collected In February, As 2024 Deficit Is Second Highest Ever... And Debt Explodes

Earlier today, CNBC's Brian Sullivan took a horse dose of Red Pills when, about six months after our readers, he learned that the US is issuing $1 trillion in debt every 100 days, which prompted him to rage tweet, (or rageX, not sure what the proper term is here) the following:

We’ve added 60% to national debt since 2018. Germany - a country with major economic woes - added ‘just’ 32%.   

Maybe it will never matter.   Maybe MMT is real.   Maybe we just cancel or inflate it out. Maybe career real estate borrowers or career politicians aren’t the answer.

I have no idea.  Only time will tell.   But it’s going to be fascinating to watch it play out.

He is right: it will be fascinating, and the latest budget deficit data simply confirmed that the day of reckoning will come very soon, certainly sooner than the two years that One River's Eric Peters predicted this weekend for the coming "US debt sustainability crisis."

According to the US Treasury, in February, the US collected $271 billion in various tax receipts, and spent $567 billion, more than double what it collected.

The two charts below show the divergence in US tax receipts which have flatlined (on a trailing 6M basis) since the covid pandemic in 2020 (with occasional stimmy-driven surges)...

... and spending which is about 50% higher compared to where it was in 2020.

The end result is that in February, the budget deficit rose to $296.3 billion, up 12.9% from a year prior, and the second highest February deficit on record.

And the punchline: on a cumulative basis, the budget deficit in fiscal 2024 which began on October 1, 2023 is now $828 billion, the second largest cumulative deficit through February on record, surpassed only by the peak covid year of 2021.

But wait there's more: because in a world where the US is spending more than twice what it is collecting, the endgame is clear: debt collapse, and while it won't be tomorrow, or the week after, it is coming... and it's also why the US is now selling $1 trillion in debt every 100 days just to keep operating (and absorbing all those millions of illegal immigrants who will keep voting democrat to preserve the socialist system of the US, so beloved by the Soros clan).

And it gets even worse, because we are now in the ponzi finance stage of the Minsky cycle, with total interest on the debt annualizing well above $1 trillion, and rising every day

... having already surpassed total US defense spending and soon to surpass total health spending and, finally all social security spending, the largest spending category of all, which means that US debt will now rise exponentially higher until the inevitable moment when the US dollar loses its reserve status and it all comes crashing down.

We conclude with another observation by CNBC's Brian Sullivan, who quotes an email by a DC strategist...

.. which lays out the proposed Biden budget as follows:

The budget deficit will growth another $16 TRILLION over next 10 years. Thats *with* the proposed massive tax hikes.

Without them the deficit will grow $19 trillion.

That's why you will hear the "deficit is being reduced by $3 trillion" over the decade.

No family budget or business could exist with this kind of math.

Of course, in the long run, neither can the US... and since neither party will ever cut the spending which everyone by now is so addicted to, the best anyone can do is start planning for the endgame.

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/12/2024 - 18:40

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