Ether Traders May Be Hedging Against DeFi Slowdown: Analyst

Some are calling the white-hot Defi space a bubble that is unsustainable.

AccessTimeIconSep 10, 2020 at 11:17 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:54 a.m. UTC
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Options market data shows increased activity in ether (ETH) puts, or bearish bets. According to one trader, that reflects fears of a drop in prices led by a slump in decentralized finance (DeFi).

  • Ether's put-call volume ratio – a measure of activity in put options relative to calls (bullish bets) – rose to 2.45 on Wednesday.
  • That's the highest level since Oct. 31, 2019, according to data source Skew.
  • In other words, more than two put options were traded against every call option – a sign of bearish market sentiment.
Ether put-call volume ratio
Ether put-call volume ratio
  • "The message between the lines is likely that traders want a hedge [via put options] against the activity in DeFi, which has been the primary driver of ether prices," Vishal Shah, an options trader and founder of Polychain Capital-backed derivatives exchange Alpha5, told CoinDesk.
  • Indeed, some commentators believe DeFi's staggering growth has become a price bubble and is unsustainable.
  • "DeFi is a rerun of the 2008 asset-backed finance bubble on speed," blockchain consultant Maya Zehavi tweeted on Wednesday.
  • The space faces other issues, too, such as congestion and soaring "gas" fees on Ethereum resulting from heavy network usage by DeFi projects and stablecoins.
  • In August, miners made over $110 million from fees, according to data source Glassnode.
  • Alongside a general crypto market downturn, the total value locked in the DeFi applications has declined sharply from $9.6 billion to $6.11 billion in the past eight days, according to DeFi Pulse.
  • Ether's price fell from $480 to $320 last week.
  • However, investors expect deeper price drops, if any, to be short-lived because call options expiring in three and six months are still drawing higher prices than puts.
Ether put-call skew
Ether put-call skew
  • The one-month put-call skew, which measures the cost of puts relative to calls, is currently seen at 6.8%, indicating an increased demand for bearish put options.
  • But the three- and six-month skews remain well below zero, implying long-term bullish expectations.
  • At press time, ether is trading near $365.

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