Morgan Stanley Says NFTs Next to Watch After UST Collapse

Most speculative and leveraged areas of crypto markets now in focus, the bank’s analysts said.

AccessTimeIconMay 16, 2022 at 11:41 a.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 5:43 p.m. UTC

Bitcoin (BTC) has fallen 40% since April, and this is no longer due to its correlation with equity markets, Morgan Stanley (MS) said in a research report dated May 12.

  • “Hyped and leveraged areas of crypto, such as decentralized finance (DeFi) and crypto-backed stablecoins, are seeing mass liquidations, as it is becoming clearer that all the elevated prices were traded on speculation, with limited real user demand,” analysts led by Sheena Shah wrote.
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital land have been subject to much speculation and inflows, the report says, adding that the reason most people bought these assets was based on the expectation that another buyer would want to purchase them for a higher price in dollars.
  • NFTs are digital assets on a blockchain that represent ownership of virtual or physical items and can be sold or traded.
  • The bank notes that while crypto markets have been trading badly since November, they have been shocked by the collapse of the third largest stablecoin terraUSD (UST) in recent days.
  • Crypto-backed stablecoins have become an important part of the leverage built within the DeFi ecosystem, the note says, adding that this one event has led to increased uncertainty and instability that has resulted in a “broader re-evaluation of where many crypto prices should be trading at.”
  • DeFi is an umbrella term used for lending, trading and other financial activities carried out on a blockchain, without traditional intermediaries.
  • The most speculative and leveraged areas of crypto markets are now in focus as interest rates rise globally and the U.S. Federal Reserve removes liquidity, the note adds.
  • The massive increase in stablecoin market capitalization – a thirtyfold rise since early 2020 – has had an influence on crypto pricing as well, as stablecoins were responsible for providing much liquidity and leverage, the bank says in the note.
  • Morgan Stanley says that its clients are asking whether the large fall in crypto prices and the depegging of stablecoins poses a “more systematic risk for broader financial markets.”


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Will Canny is CoinDesk's finance reporter.