First Mover Americas: Bitcoin's Implied Volatility Ticks Higher, S&P 500 Sees Death Cross

The latest moves in crypto markets in context for March 15, 2022.

AccessTimeIconMar 15, 2022 at 12:46 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 7:18 p.m. UTC
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Good morning, and welcome to First Mover, our daily newsletter putting the latest moves in crypto markets in context. Sign up here to get it in your inbox each weekday morning.

Here’s what’s happening this morning:

  • Market Moves: Bitcoin's implied volatility ticks higher ahead of the Fed rate decision
  • Chartist's Corner: Death cross on S&P 500.

And check out the CoinDesk TV show “First Mover,” hosted by Christine Lee, Emily Parker and Lawrence Lewitinn at 9:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern time. Today’s show will feature guests:

  • Michael Safai, managing partner, Dexterity Capital
  • Robbie Ferguson, co-founder and president, Immutable
  • Bohdan Opryshko, COO, Everstake

Market Moves

By Omkar Godbole

Bitcoin's implied volatility is creeping higher ahead of the Federal Reserve's rate decision, which is perhaps a sign that traders are setting up options positions that would benefit from price swings in the leading cryptocurrency.

The annualized one-month implied volatility, investors' expectations for price turbulence over the next four weeks, has increased from 68% to 77% this month, according to data provided by Skew. The three- and six-month gauges have gone up from roughly 67% to 74%.

More importantly, the three-month implied volatility has popped back above the backward-looking realized volatility, having underperformed the same earlier this month.

An uptick in implied volatility indicates increased demand for options, which are hedging instruments. A call option gives the purchaser the right but not the obligation to buy the underlying asset at a predetermined price on or before a specific date. A put option represents the right to sell.

Seasoned traders use options to hedge bullish or bearish risks and often buy both to capture returns from any macro data release or binary event-related volatility. Buying both call and put options represents a bullish view on volatility.

Bitcoin's implied volatility (Source: Skew)
Bitcoin's implied volatility (Source: Skew)

Several orders for straddles and strangles have crossed the tape in recent days, according to over-the-counter tech platform Paradigm's Telegram-based tracker of crypto options flows. Straddle and strangle strategies involve buying both call and put options and allow investors to profit from big moves in the underlying asset.

The Fed is likely to raise rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday. And while the markets may have priced in the increase, potential hawkish guidance could inject volatility into the market, bringing gains to volatility buyers.

While implied volatility gauges have risen in the run-up to the Fed's announcement, overall they are well below the highs seen in October and November.

Besides, the way options are priced suggests buying has been primarily concentrated in longer duration call options of late. Perhaps, these traders are hedging against the risk of a large move to the higher side over a three-month to one-year time horizon.

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Death Cross on S&P 500

By Omkar Godbole

The daily chart of the S&P 500, Wall Street's benchmark index, shows a death cross, a bearish cross of the 50- and 200-day moving averages (MAs).

The long-term bearish indicator is accompanied by a head-and-shoulders breakdown, also a bearish pattern.

Bitcoin tends to move more or less in line with the stock markets.

S&P 500's daily chart (Source: TradingView)
S&P 500's daily chart (Source: TradingView)


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CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Omkar Godbole

Omkar Godbole is a Co-Managing Editor on CoinDesk's Markets team.

Parikshit Mishra

Parikshit Mishra is CoinDesk's Deputy Managing Editor responsible for breaking news coverage. He does not have any crypto holdings.


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