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Temporary reprieve

Equity markets are recovering some of yesterday’s losses but anxiety and uncertainty continue to dominate after a disappointing start to earnings season. Inflation and interest rate concerns are going nowhere soon and with traders now increasingly conside

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Equity markets are recovering some of yesterday’s losses but anxiety and uncertainty continue to dominate after a disappointing start to earnings season.

Inflation and interest rate concerns are going nowhere soon and with traders now increasingly considering the possibility of hikes larger than 25 basis points, the possibility of more pain in stock markets is very real.

The idea that we could go from rock bottom rates and enormous bond-buying to rapid tapering, 50 basis point hikes, and earlier balance sheet reduction is quite alarming. We’re talking about markets that have become very accustomed to extensive support from central banks and very gentle unwinding when appropriate. This is quite a shock to the system.

And so far earnings season is not providing investors the comfort they were hoping for. Significant compensation increases and lower trading revenues hurt JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, and higher wage demands are likely to be a common theme throughout the next few weeks which will put a dampener on the bottom line and not alleviate concerns about persistent and widespread price pressures.

UK inflation jumps again ahead of Bailey appearance

The CPI data from the UK this morning compounded inflation concerns, hitting a 30-year high and once again surpassing expectations in the process. And it’s highly unlikely we’re seeing the peak, with that potentially coming around April when the cap on energy tariffs is lifted considerably to reflect higher wholesale prices. Other aspects will also contribute to higher levels of inflation at the start of the second quarter, at which point we may have a better idea of how fast it will then decline.

Of course, the Bank of England can’t just turn a blind eye until then. The MPC may be willing to overlook transitory inflationary pressures but the rise in CPI has proven to be neither temporary nor tolerable. Instead, it’s become more widespread and the central bank is being forced to act and may do so again next month after raising interest rates for the first time since the pandemic in December. A few more hikes after that are also priced in for this year but if pressures continue to mount, traders may begin to speculate about the possibility of larger hikes, as we’ve seen starting in the US.

All of this should make Andrew Bailey’s appearance before the Treasury Select Committee later today all the more interesting. The central bank has warned of higher inflation and possible interest rate hikes for months but delayed doing so after initial hints ahead of the November meeting. Given what’s happened since, the decision looks all the more strange. Of course, it’s easy to say that with 20/20 hindsight.

Consolidation continues

Bitcoin appears to have gotten lost in the noise of the last few weeks. It’s not falling too hard despite risk assets getting pummelled but it’s not recovering to any great extent either. Instead, it’s floating between support at USD 40,000 and resistance around USD 45,000 and showing no signs of breaking either at this point.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar: www.marketpulse.com/economic-events/

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Crypto

Crypto jobs market holding up despite tech industry cutbacks

Crypto-specialist recruiters say they have not witnessed a downturn in crypto-related job opportunities, despite a myriad of staff lay-offs in the wider…

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Crypto-specialist recruiters say they have not witnessed a downturn in crypto-related job opportunities, despite a myriad of staff lay-offs in the wider tech industry.

The crypto job market shows few signs of slowing down despite high profile cases of staff layoffs and hiring freezes across big tech companies. 

In recent weeks, several major tech companies have announced a paring back of staff, citing a downturn in the traditional market and narrowing demand for products that had boomed during the pandemic. Recently announced hiring cuts include Twitter, Uber, Amazon and Robinhood.

On Tuesday, movie streaming service Netflix terminated the roles of 150 mostly U.S.-based employees, amidst a slowdown in revenue growth. Earlier this month, Facebook parent company Meta instituted a hiring freeze for most of its mid and senior level positions after failing to meet revenue targets.

A Netflix employee post on LinkedIn

The crypto industry has not been totally immune. On Tuesday Coinbase announced it was slowing down its hiring, after posting a $430 million loss in Q1. Coinbase chief operating officer Emelie Choi told employees in an internal memo that plans to triple the headcount in 2022 were on hold due to market conditions that require the company to “slow hiring and reassess our headcount needs against our highest-priority business goals.” 

So are we at the beginning of a major slow down in crypto industry hiring? Crypto recruiters Cointelegraph spoke to don’t think so.

“We have not seen a slowdown in crypto hiring. We are as busy as ever,” said Neil Dundon, founder of Crypto Recruit..

Dundon’s firm specializes in recruiting exclusively within the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.

“We have a team based globally across the US, Asia/Pac and European regions and demand is equally as high across the region.”

Kevin Gibson, founder of Proof of Search told Cointelegraph that lay-offs in the tech sector have had little to no impact on his crypto industry clients so far. 

“[I’ve] only heard of two companies letting people go,” said Gibson. “This may change in the next month but any slack will immediately be taken up by well funded quality projects. As such as a candidate you won’t notice any difference… if you do lose your job you will also have multiple offers pretty quickly.”

VC funding runways

Gibson said that most crypto projects are still in the start-up and early stages of their life cycle, and are still operating off venture capital (VC) funding secured last year.

“The vast majority of quality projects were funded last year so [they will] continue to build & hire. There was such an imbalance of talent to role that any pull back from pre-funded projects will not be noticed.”

CB Insights’ State of Blockchain Q1 22 report stated that blockchain and crypto start-ups saw a record-breaking funding quarter, with venture funding reaching an all time high in the three-month period, raising $9.2 billion and beating the preceding quarter of $400 million in Q4 2021. It was the seventh consecutive quarter of record blockchain funding.

Dundon said he has seen more traditional tech companies and employees venturing into the crypto space, further enriching the crypto job market.

“At a minimum most forward thinking tech companies are allocating some budget to […] look at how they might incorporate blockchain into their existing models […] Not only are more companies venturing into this space but candidates are flocking over as traditional tech downsizes.”

A study from Linkedin released in January this year found that crypto-related job postings surged 395 percent in the U.S. from 2020 to 2021, compared to only a 98 percent increase in the tech industry in the same period. The most common job titles demanded included blockchain developers and engineers.

According to Glassdoor, the average annual blockchain developer salary is US$109,766. The average annual blockchain engineer salary sits slightly lower at US$105,180.

Related: Analysts note parallels with March 2020: Will this time be different?

Asked whether the current crypto bear market may translate to more crypto company lay-offs, Dundon said that he doesn’t expect a similar situation to play out as it did in 2018.

“Crypto hiring in the past has tended to slow right down when the Bitcoin price tumbles. It was almost directly correlated to its price,” explained Dundon.

“This time it’s different though as crypto companies now manage their treasuries in a much more responsible manner […] This all translates to a much more stable hiring market.”

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Candidate supported by Bankman-Fried-linked PAC loses Oregon primary

Record spending in a Democratic House primary could not give a political newcomer the boost he needed to overcome a local politician with a long career….

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Record spending in a Democratic House primary could not give a political newcomer the boost he needed to overcome a local politician with a long career.

Andrea Salinas has won the Democratic primary election for the newly created Oregon 6th District seat in the United States House of Representatives. Practically since it started, the election race was the object of intensive media attention that most often centered around Salinas’ opponent Carrick Flynn, whose campaign was generously funded by the Protect Our Future political action committee (PAC) backed by billionaire FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. The PAC paid for a flood of advertising supporting Flynn. 

Salinas won the seat with 38% of the vote, while Flynn came in second at 19%, with the remaining votes split among seven other candidates.

Salinas had a solid political background, serving three terms representing Portland’s upscale Lake Oswego suburb in the state House of Representatives. Before that, she was a legislative aide in Washington and worked for an Oregon environmental group. Flynn, an Oregon native who left the state after he graduated from college in 2008 and returned in 2020, was lifted from obscurity through the support of the PAC.

Flynn was also the recipient of $1 million in support from the House Majority PAC, which is closely associated with House speaker Nancy Pelosi. Sen. Elizabeth Warren countered that move by endorsing Salinas. Flynn appeared to be a serious contender in a poll released May 7. Protect Our Future changed its advertising tactics a few days after that, shifting from ads predominantly featuring Flynn’s difficult rural childhood to attack ads on Salinas, accusing her of being under the sway of the pharmaceuticals industry.

Protect Our Future’s stated goal is “to help elect candidates who take a long term view on policy planning […] guided by a series of key principles” that include pandemic prevention and a belief in science. These themes echo a philosophical trend called effective altruism, which both Flynn and Bankman-Fried are known to admire. Estimates of the amount spent by Protect Our Future on Flynn’s campaign are in the range of $8 million to $10 million.

“This is, by all accounts, about three times higher than any other Super PAC efforts in any congressional primaries in the country,” Jim Moore, director of political outreach at the McCall Center for Civic Engagement, told Cointelegraph in an email:

“The ads bought Flynn name recognition, but not victory. They created a backlash among the other candidates and apparently a number of voters about outside money trying to buy a congressional seat.”

Flynn’s election opponents formed a united front in condemning him, and local media made much of Flynn’s loose ties to the state, his spotty voting record and the possibly questionable motives of the PAC backing him. The controversy soon attracted national coverage as well.

“Flynn’s political future in Oregon will depend on whether he becomes an active player in state or local political efforts,” Moore said. “If not, he will end up being a trivia question about the time a cryptocurrency billionaire and the House Majority PAC tried to snatch Oregon’s new district for reasons that were never made clear in the campaign.”

Related: Coinbase forms a second PAC to support crypto-friendly candidates

Protect Our Future’s abundant financial support has proven to be controversial in other election races as well. The PAC’s donations were used in ads by an opponent of Jasmine Crockett in Texas District 30. Crockett has received about $1 million from the PAC. Protect Our Future is also among the PACs choosing between Democratic candidates Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath in the contentious battle for Georgia’s 7th District.

Flynn, Andreas and Protect Our Future president Michael Sadowsky have not responded to Cointelegraph's requests for comment at time of publication.

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Bitcoin and the Dow meet in middle and close in on $30K

Following the latest stock market plunge Wednesday, with stocks closing down close to 4%, the Dow Jones is trading at 31,500. In what would have seemed…

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Following the latest stock market plunge Wednesday, with stocks closing down close to 4%, the Dow Jones is trading at 31,500. In what would have seemed improbable not too long ago, the index is now staring down the barrel at the psychologically important 30,000 level.

Curiously, Bitcoin is doing the same – trading close to $30,000, currently at $29,000 after a 25% plunge last week. The implosion of Terra’s $18 billion stablecoin, UST, and the accompanying native token Luna, which was once worth $42 billion, sparked contagion in the crypto markets. Not helping Bitcoin’s cause was the Luna Foundation Guard (LFG) flooding the market with sell orders of 80,000 bitcoins in a futile attempt the defend the UST peg. These events pulled Bitcoin down from close to $40,000 to where it now sits.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to use a little poetic license and refer to the Dow points as “dollars”, and have a look at which hits $30,000 first – Bitcoin or the Dow. I know, it’s not super scientific, but what are you gonna do?

Sentiment

Sentiment has not been this bearish in a long time, as seemingly every variable is working against investors. We have rampant inflation (I wish I had a bitcoin for every time I’ve typed that phrase over the last month), a hawkish Fed, and a tenuous geopolitical situation. I’m seeing these being described as macro headwinds, but they feel more like macro hurricanes to me. It’s ugly out there.

So, while the Dow and Bitcoin have both careened towards $30,000 off the back of this recent risk-off environment, if we zoom out the duo have taken very different paths to the price mark. Looking at returns since just before the onset of COVID-20 (Jan-20, otherwise known as a lifetime ago), the difference in volatility is stark – hit “Play Timeline” in the top left of the graph to see this visually.

Volatility

Dow peaked in the high $36,000s in January 2022, whereas Bitcoin did its best Icarus impression in November-21, up at $68,700 before its wings melted. To quantify the difference in volatility in numerical terms (for you maths nerds out there), the standard deviation of daily returns for the Dow since Jan-20 has been 1.7%, but nearly three times bigger at 4.7% for Bitcoin.

This means that two-thirds of daily moves have been less than +/- 1.7% for the Dow, but less than +/- 4.7% for Bitcoin. Despite this chasm in volatility, the direction of the daily price moves has been very correlated, with a correlation coefficient of 0.88 (for the uninitiated, a score of 1 is a perfect correlation. For example, the correlation between the CPI number rising and politicians mentioning the word “transient” is 1).

Therefore, a correlation of 0.88 shows any decoupling argument for Bitcoin is still a long way off – right now it continues to follow the movements of the wider market. Meanwhile, last week marked the fourth time since the start of 2020 that the price of Bitcoin and the Dow has been equal. The first came around Chirstmas 2020 when Bitcoin was in the midst of a parabolic move upwards to the mid $60K’s. The second was in June 2021 as Bitcoin fell down, although the return journey was less than a month later as they crossed once more as Bitcoin again rocketed upwards to the $60K’s. Those days seem a long time ago.

Who hits $30K First?

To hit $30,000, the Dow needs to fall 4.5%, whereas Bitcoin needs to jump 2.4%. Looking at the returns over the last two years, a 4.5% drop in the Dow has occurred seven times. Six of these were in the chaotic month of March 2020, when the markets were trying to figure out what exactly this strange virus called COVID-19 meant for the world. The only other time a drop this large a drop occurred was the 6.9% plunge on June 11th 2020, when a Fed announcement confirming there would be no more rate cuts took the market by surprise.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, has jumped 2.4% no less than 161 times in the same time period. So if you put a gun to my head and ask me which kisses $30,000 first, I’m taking Bitcoin without hesitation. Not only is it a smaller jump in percentage terms, at +2.4% compared to -4.5%, but Bitcoin is by far the more volatile asset, as discussed above.

Unless…

Unless, that is, you have become so pessimistic on the state of the market that even a 2.4% jump for Bitcoin seems unrealistic. As I write this, the Dow has closed down 3.6% and I’m struggling to remember the last time I saw a green number on my screen.

But in all seriousness, while the (short-term) bet here is obviously Bitcoin, regardless of what you think of the market, the very premise of this article highlights how far we have fallen from only the start of the year. Bitcoin was trading at $46,000 and the Dow at $36,000 as we entered 2022, and now we are assessing both at the $30,000 benchmark.

With the S&P 500 closing down 4% today, for its worst day since June 2020, let’s just hope I’m not writing this same article next month, asking whether the S&P or Bitcoin touch $3,000 first.  Either way, I’ll revisit the analysis with a part 2 next month. Hey, maybe S&P 500 beats both Bitcoin and the Dow to $30,000? You heard it here first (that’s a joke, just to confirm – assets can only go down in price, I’ve recently realised)

The post Bitcoin and the Dow meet in middle and close in on $30K appeared first on Invezz.

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