Market Analysis

Bitcoin faces $15K crash as US sparks ‘financial meltdown’ — Arthur Hayes

In his latest blog post released on Jan. 19, Arthur Hayes, the former CEO of the BitMEX exchange, predicted a “global financial meltdown” thanks to future United States economic woes.

Hayes: Crypto will “get smoked” in Fed pivot

Bitcoin’s current rally should likely not be taken as the start of a new bull run, Hayes says in the fresh treatise on U.S. macroeconomic policy, warning that crypto assets will “get smoked” when Federal Reserve policy flips from restrictive to liberal. 

With U.S. inflation easing, the Fed is the focus of practically every crypto analyst this year as they estimate the likelihood of a policy “pivot” away from quantitative tightening (QT) and interest rate hikes to flat and then decreasing rates, and potentially even quantitative easing (QE).

This essentially involves a move away from draining the economy of liquidity to injecting it back in, and while that practice led to new all-time highs for Bitcoin beginning in 2020, the same phenomenon would not be plain sailing next time around, Hayes believes.

“If a removal of half a trillion dollars in 2022 created the worst bond and stock performance in a few hundred years, imagine what will happen if double that amount is removed in 2023,” he wrote.

“The reaction of the markets when money is injected vs. withdrawn is not symmetrical — and as such, I expect that the law of unintended consequences will bite the Fed in the ass as it continues to withdraw liquidity.”

As such, rather than a smooth transition away from QT, Hayes is betting on extreme circumstances forcing the Fed to act.

“Some part of the US credit market breaks, which leads to a financial meltdown across a broad swath of financial assets,” he explained.

“In a response similar to the action it took in March 2020, the Fed calls an emergency press conference and stops QT, cuts rates significantly and recommences Quantitative Easing (QE) by purchasing bonds once more.”

This in turn means “risky asset prices crater.”

“Bonds, equities, and every crypto under the sun all get smoked as the glue that holds together the global USD-based financial system dissolves,” the blog post continues.

Current estimates, as shown by CME Group’s FedWatch Tool, overwhelmingly favor the Fed lowering the pace of rate hikes at its next decision on Feb. 1.

Fed target rate probabilities chart. Source: CME Group

Planning a March 2020 rerun

Hayes is far from alone in being suspicious of Bitcoin (BTC) being a firm “buy” at present after two weeks of near-vertical price growth.

Related: Bitcoin sees new 4-month high as US PPI, retail data post ‘big misses’

As Cointelegraph reported, various commentators wager that new macro lows will still appear, with BTC/USD taking out its floor from the fourth quarter of 2022.

Those taking a leap of faith and piling in now thus face serious risk before reward.

“This scenario is less ideal because it would mean that everyone who is buying risky assets now would be in store for massive drawdowns in performance. 2023 could be just as bad as 2022 until the Fed pivots,” Hayes wrote, nonetheless calling that scenario his “base case.”

If that means a retest of the 2022 lows, the area between $15,000 and $16,000 will be a key zone of interest going forward.

“I will know that the market has probably bottomed, because the crash that happens when the system temporarily breaks will either hold the previous $15,800 lows, or it won’t,” the blog post concludes.

“It doesn’t really matter what level is ultimately reached on the down draft because I know the Fed will subsequently move to print money and avert another financial collapse, which will in turn mark the local bottom of all risky assets. And then I get another setup similar to March 2020, which requires me to back up the truck and purchase crypto with two hands and a shovel.”

Bitcoin faces a drop to $15,000 “or lower” as part of the mass risk asset capitulation, Hayes says.

BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: TradingView

BTC/USD was consolidating at $20,800 at the Jan. 19 Wall Street open, data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView show.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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