Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:
Prices: Bitcoin extends losing streak, while Solana’s SOL token slides after hack that drained crypto wallets.
Insights: Risks posed by this week’s visit to Taiwan by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed to materialize – at least in the eyes of the bitcoin market, Sam Reynolds reports.
●Bitcoin (BTC): $22,807 −1.1%
●Ether (ETH): $1,614 −2.0%
●S&P 500 daily close: 4,155.17 +1.6%
●Gold: $1,781 per troy ounce +0.5%
●Ten-year Treasury yield daily close: 2.75% +0.007
Bitcoin, ether and gold prices are taken at approximately 4pm New York time. Bitcoin is the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (XBX); Ether is the CoinDesk Ether Price Index (ETX); Gold is the COMEX spot price. Information about CoinDesk Indices can be found at coindesk.com/indices.
Bitcoin Extends Losing Streak to Six Days
By Helene Braun
Bitcoin (BTC) extended its losing streak to six days, dropping 1% to about $22,800.
But Solana’s SOL token fell over 4.2% during the past 24 hours and is down 76% year to date. The ninth-biggest cryptocurrency by market cap did not break below its 50-day simple moving average (SMA) – suggesting that some large Solana holders might still be holding on.
Over the past two weeks, bitcoin seems to have entered a new range, now hovering between $21,200 and $24,400, a step up from the $17,000 to $21,000 range in the weeks before.
“Bitcoin needs a crypto-specific catalyst to trigger a meaningful move above the $24,700 level,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at the foreign-exchange broker Oanda, wrote Wednesday in an email update.
Read More: Today’s Market Wrap by Glenn Williams Jr.
Markets in general seem to have recovered from U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan on Tuesday, which caused many investors to stay away from risky assets amid potential U.S.-China tensions.
Ether (ETH) ended the day slightly lower, trading at $1,644.62 at press time.
Nothing is Going to Happen as a Result of the Pelosi Trip. So Let’s all Calm Down
By Sam Reynolds
Taipei — Tuesday was a fairly normal day in Taiwan. On Kinmen, a group of islands only a few miles from China, “the threat of war is the furthest thing from people’s minds,” as one foreign journalist on the island described the local mood in the late afternoon.
On Twitter and most Western media it was something different: Clouds of war were gathering. Beijing was certainly egging on the narrative with displays of military hardware on beaches in Xiamen, a coastal city in China. Censors on Weibo, a local social media platform, who are often quick to erase anything politically sensitive, let the videos remain untouched. They eventually made their way onto YouTube.
After Pelosi landed, Beijing was quick to “retaliate.” It suspended import licenses for citrus fruit, two types of fish, as well as 100 brands of snacks and confectionaries. They’ve also promised to conduct live fire exercises off of Taiwan’s coast later in the week, but haven’t specified what exactly that would entail.
Let’s put this all in context
There’s speculation that, on Beijing’s side, these might be calculated measures to distract the local population from the bleak economic reality unfolding within China.
Four regional banks in-country are reportedly ready to collapse, dragged down by China’s growing debt bubble, the precarious housing market and an industrial slowdown due to its lockdowns and COVID-19 lockdown policies. When one bank refused to accept withdrawal requests, protesters marched on its steps; authorities hired thugs to disperse them and weaponized the protesters’ health QR codes, turning them red, which is an automatic quarantine sentence in state-run facilities.
Blaming Americans for meddling in Taiwan – what China calls its own affairs, governing – is an easy distraction.
Both sides know their limits. After all, China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, with 40% of its exports going to either China or Hong Kong. Likewise, Taiwan is an important trading partner for China: It’s the ninth-largest destination for China’s exports.
Taiwan also conducts its share of military exercises close to China’s coast. Kinmen, a rock of tranquility this week as many in the West thought Pelosi’s impending arrival was the precipice of war, plays host to annual live-fire military exercises that take place only miles from Xiamen.
While China sends aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, an area beyond a country’s airspace that’s monitored by the military, it tends to keep its aircraft well away from Taiwan’s actual airspace and doesn’t cross the median line of the Taiwan Strait. In contrast, Taiwan’s air force regularly flies to Kinmen, and its other offshore islands that are past the median line such as Penghu and Matsu.
Neither side wants war.
If China really wanted to escalate things, it would use its vast censorship leviathan to wipe Weibo clean of videos of military equipment moving or talk of live-fire exercises off the coast of Taiwan.
It would also seek to ban more significant Taiwanese exports rather than citrus fruits, frozen fish and sweets. Keep in mind that the last agricultural export ban backfired as locals and other nations annoyed with China bought up the Taiwanese fruit destined for China that would otherwise go to waste.
Semiconductors amount to just over 35% of all of Taiwan’s exports, and banning their import to China would significantly hurt the Taiwanese economy.
But at the same time, it would deprive Chinese firms of the advanced chips their electronics industry requires. Its own semiconductor fabrication firms are years behind Taiwan and South Korea because export restrictions first put through by the former Trump administration in the U.S. prevent Chinese firms from getting the tools they need to compete. A semiconductor import ban would do serious harm to the Chinese economy, which is why it’s not being considered.
It seems that the most China is able to do is cause annoyances with a cyber campaign and using bots to spread disinformation about missile attacks.
The market has seemed to shake this all off as cooler heads have prevailed. There’s been saber rattling for domestic audiences, but cross-strait business continues to thrive. And that’s not something that will affect the price of bitcoin.
This edition of First Mover Asia was edited and produced by Bradley Keoun.