Market Wrap: Bitcoin Pulls Back After Fed Chair's Comments; Volatility Oversold

Some traders expect greater price swings after month-end volatility selling.

AccessTimeIconMar 21, 2022 at 8:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 22, 2022 at 2:36 p.m. UTC

Damanick was a crypto market analyst at CoinDesk where he wrote the daily Market Wrap and provided technical analysis. He is a Chartered Market Technician designation holder and member of the CMT Association. Damanick is also a portfolio strategist and does not invest in digital assets.

Angelique is a market contributor at CoinDesk.

Bitcoin (BTC) dipped below $41,000 on Monday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank is prepared to aggressively raise interest rates to tame inflation.

Powell, speaking at the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) annual economic policy conference in Washington, D.C., noted that rates can rise in increments of 50 basis points instead of traditional 25 basis point moves. Tighter monetary policy can lead to slower economic growth, which is typically a headwind for speculative assets. Stocks and cryptocurrencies reacted negatively to Powell's comments during the New York trading day.

Elsewhere, traditional safe havens such as gold and the U.S. dollar rose, while the 10-year Treasury yield climbed above 2.3%, its highest level since 2019.

In crypto markets, most alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) outperformed bitcoin, suggesting that traders are still comfortable with risk, albeit less so relative to last week. BTC was roughly flat over the past 24 hours, compared with a 1% gain in ether (ETH), and a 7% rise in Algorand's ALGO token.

Latest prices

Bitcoin (BTC): $41,187, −0.64%

Ether (ETH): $2,918, +1.27%

S&P 500 daily close: $4,461, −0.04%

Gold: $1,937 per troy ounce, +0.47%

Ten-year Treasury yield daily close: 2.31%


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.

Volatility discount

Similar to spot trading volume, implied volatility in the bitcoin options market declined after the Fed's interest rate decision last week. That means the spike in trading activity and choppy price swings were short-lived.

Over the weekend, some traders noticed a large amount of volatility selling, possibly due to an unwinding of option hedges ahead of the Fed decision. As a result, once the event risk (Fed hike) is removed, the volatility curve steepens as traders discount near-term price swings.

Meanwhile, ether's short-term volatility is trading at a discount relative to bitcoin. "This rarely happens and must have been caused by larger unwinding of Fed-related hedges in ETH versus BTC," QCP Capital, a Singapore crypto trading firm, wrote in a Telegram post. Overall, the firm expects an increase in realized volatility from oversold levels.

For option traders, similar discounts can be used to offset volatility exposure between two assets, such as BTC and ETH. Read more here.

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Ether front-end volatility discount vs. bitcoin (Skew)

Altcoin roundup

  • SushiSwap’s attempt to lower transaction risks: The SushiSwap community initiated the proposal "Sushi Legal Structure” earlier today. It plans to establish an association or foundation to reduce future risks. “SushiDAO will provide legal clarity regarding the rights and obligations of token holders and contributors, limit liability of token holders and contributors, and create an apparatus to manage administrative issues for SushiDAO,” the proposal said.
  • Traders bet on ether staking after Ethereum 2.0 upgrade: After enduring weeks of macroeconomic-driven nervousness, crypto traders are focusing on progress within the crypto ecosystem, particularly on smart contract blockchain Ethereum's impending proof-of-stake merge and the bullish implications for its native token, ether (ETH), according to CoinDesk’s Omkar Godbole. Read more here.
  • QuarkChain (QKC) is now available on LetsExchange: LetsExchange, a crypto exchange supporting around 350 cryptocurrencies, now supports QuarkChain (QKC), a blockchain infrastructure applying sharding technology. Users can now swap for QKC with any of the 350+ supported digital coins and tokens on their instant exchange platform. Read more here.

Relevant news

Other markets

Digital assets in the CoinDesk 20 ended the day higher.

Largest winners:

Asset Ticker Returns Sector
EOS EOS +10.0% Smart Contract Platform
Algorand ALGO +6.9% Smart Contract Platform
Bitcoin Cash BCH +5.6% Currency

Largest losers:

Asset Ticker Returns Sector
Polygon MATIC −1.3% Smart Contract Platform
Solana SOL −1.1% Smart Contract Platform
Bitcoin BTC −0.6% Currency

Sector classifications are provided via the Digital Asset Classification Standard (DACS), developed by CoinDesk Indices to provide a reliable, comprehensive, and standardized classification system for digital assets. The CoinDesk 20 is a ranking of the largest digital assets by volume on trusted exchanges.

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Damanick was a crypto market analyst at CoinDesk where he wrote the daily Market Wrap and provided technical analysis. He is a Chartered Market Technician designation holder and member of the CMT Association. Damanick is also a portfolio strategist and does not invest in digital assets.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Angelique is a market contributor at CoinDesk.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Damanick was a crypto market analyst at CoinDesk where he wrote the daily Market Wrap and provided technical analysis. He is a Chartered Market Technician designation holder and member of the CMT Association. Damanick is also a portfolio strategist and does not invest in digital assets.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Angelique is a market contributor at CoinDesk.