First Mover Asia: CBDCs Are the Hottest Issue in Florida Politics; Bitcoin Falls Slightly

PLUS: Cryptos were down as Asian markets opened, and investors try to figure out which narrative to believe.

AccessTimeIconMay 5, 2023 at 1:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Apr 14, 2024 at 10:20 p.m. UTC
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Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Meme coins soar as crypto giants stumble amid mixed market signals in Asia

Insights: North Carolina and Florida have both voted to ban CBDCs. Welcome to the wedge issue of the 2024 election.

Prices

1,227
−10.7 0.9%
$28,869
−207.0 0.7%
$1,878
−26.9 1.4%
S&P 500
4,061.22
−29.5 0.7%
Gold
$2,056
+27.7 1.4%
Nikkei 225
29,157.95
+34.8 0.1%
BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices, as of 7 a.m. ET (11 a.m. UTC)
CoinDesk Market Index (CMI)
1,227 −10.7 0.9%
Bitcoin (BTC)
$28,869 −207.0 0.7%
Ethereum (ETH)
$1,878 −26.9 1.4%
S&P 500
4,061.22 −29.5 0.7%
Gold
$2,056 +27.7 1.4%
Nikkei 225
29,157.95 +34.8 0.1%
BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices, as of 7 a.m. ET (11 a.m. UTC)

Bitcoin Sinks Slightly

Good morning Asia.

As the East begins its trading day, crypto is confused.

Bitcoin is down 0.5% to $28,869 and ether is down 1.45% to $1,878. Meanwhile, the frog-themed PEPE coin is up almost 80% in the last 24 hours, though we’ll see how long that lasts as clouds of a bear sentiment are forming over the frog coin.

Nobody can make much sense of this market. CryptoQuant data says that there’s both high selling pressure because of an uptick in exchange reserves. But at the same time, there’s both a high Coinbase premium and a high Korean premium indicating a lot of buying pressure.

Meanwhile, over in the world of macroeconomic signals, China’s economy looks like it's slowing down.

Thursday's (Asia time) release of the Caixin China General Manufacturing PMI, which measures the performance of the manufacturing sector, showed things dropping – but not looking grim.

Caixin’s PMI metric fell to 49.5 in April 2022, marking the first contraction in factory activity since January due to a property downturn and global slowdown fears. Input prices decreased for the first time in seven months, causing the steepest drop in selling prices since December 2015 as firms sought to attract new business, according to a release.

Singapore’s QCP said in a recent note that the market is “confused and rangy” because it's caught between two minds.

“This lack of direction has led to an absolute crushing of implied volatility across asset classes,” QCP wrote on Telegram.

Conflicting narratives of a hawkish Fed and strong employment with sticky inflation are holding back breaking to new highs, while positioning in the USD is heavily skewed to the short side, the trading firm wrote.

Friday’s job numbers will likely be a good test as to what side of the narrative equation wins.

Biggest Gainers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Terra LUNA +0.7% Smart Contract Platform
Stellar XLM +0.3% Smart Contract Platform
XRP XRP +0.2% Currency

Biggest Losers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Gala GALA −6.0% Entertainment
Solana SOL −2.8% Smart Contract Platform
Loopring LRC −2.5% Smart Contract Platform

Insights

CBDCs Stir Strong Opinions in Florida

U.S politics has a handful of hot-button issues: guns, health care, illegal immigration, and LGBT rights.

Fireband Florida Governor, and possible Republican presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis has taken a stand on all of these in the state legislature. Whether you agree with him or not, his tenure as governor is helping to define the next federal election narrative.

But what issue has gotten his office the most phone calls? Central bank digital currencies (CBDC), Samuel Armes, president of the Florida Blockchain Business Association, told CoinDesk.

"If CBDCs are the encroachment on our civil liberties that the majority of people believe they are, we don't have time to wait,” Armes said. “At the end of the day, if the feds want something, they're going to try to get it. So it's our job to try and stop it.”

As CoinDesk has previously reported, CBDCs are unexpectantly becoming an election issue.

Armes and the Florida Blockchain Business Association helped draft the anti-CBDC bill, which recently passed Florida’s Senate.

As of now, the U.S. has no concrete plans to issue a CBDC. China continues its nationwide rollout of its CBDC, the eCNY, which as of January is 0.13% of the total circulation of the Chinese renminbi yuan. While many nations are researching CBDCs, aside from China, only the Bahamas sand dollar and the Bank of Jamaica’s JAM-DEX are deployed.

Republicans argue that a CBDC would give the government too much control. Armes notes that many who have immigrated to Florida from authoritarian states such as Cuba and Venezuela are horrified by the idea, as it reminds them of what they fled.

Not money in Florida

Florida’s bill declares that CBDCs will not be recognized by the state as money. Other anti-CBDC bills that are still on the drawing board, or have passed, have taken different approaches, which Armes says is great because there will be “no perfect policy.”

Florida not recognizing CBDCs as money will likely put the state on a warpath with the feds. If a state were to refuse to recognize a specific type of money that has been authorized by the federal government, it could potentially face a lawsuit for interfering with the federal government's constitutional power to regulate this — which it has a monopoly on.

Amers says if the federal government sues Florida, the resulting legal battle would delay the implementation of CBDCs and buy time for states to figure out different strategies to counter them. North Carolina's House of Representatives also voted this week to ban CBDCs.

"Suing complicates matters, bogging them down in the administrative state to the point that by the time they're implemented, numerous disputes have caused significant delays," he told CoinDesk. "It's going to be a federalism issue, like every other issue."

CBDCs potentially undermine the autonomy of state-chartered banks and allow the federal government to encroach on state-level rights and regulations, Armes argues, pointing to Caitlin Long and Custodia’s long battle with the federal government, as an example of federal encroachment into the rights of states to charter financial institutions.

"We've had this dual banking system between the states and the [Federal Reserve] that is really turning into just a federal banking system. And a CBDC is going to solidify that further," Armes said.

Lobbyists are ready

Regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C. with CBDCs, DeSantis seems to have touched a sensitive, even if his stance seems counterintuitive. Some might argue that Republicans should support CBDCs as a tool against de-platforming. A CBDC could theoretically allow for a constitutional defense that couldn’t be used against a private company.

All this is a particularly curious issue as, unlike other national debates that have pitted states against Washington, D.C, such as guns and abortion, this one hasn’t materialized yet; it’s currently not on the agenda. But there are well-paid lobbyists at the ready on Capitol Hill for when it gets on the agenda.

In the meantime, the issue continues to poll well for DeSantis.

Important events

1:00 p.m. HKT/SGT(5:00 UTC) Eurozone Retail Sales (YoY/April)

4:30 p.m. HKT/SGT(8:30 UTC) United States Nonfarm Payroll (April)

4:30 p.m. HKT/SGT(8:30 UTC) Canada Unemployment Rate (April)

CoinDesk TV

In case you missed it, here is the most recent episode of "All About Bitcoin" on CoinDesk TV:

As part of our "CoinDesk Turns 10" series looking back at seminal stories from crypto history, "All About Bitcoin" closely examined the rise and fall of defunct crypto exchange Mt. Gox with author, journalist and CoinDesk contributor Jeff Wilser. Plus, digital asset strategist Joe Orsini discussed his outlook for bitcoin (BTC) as its dominance rate has risen sharply since the onset of the ongoing U.S. banking sector instability almost two months ago.

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CoinDesk Turns 10: What We Learned From Reporting a Decade of Crypto History: Our month-long series looking back at 10 years of CoinDesk features a lot of failures. But, in most cases, what seemed like disasters at the time have actually allowed the industry to grow, says CoinDesk's Chief Content Officer Michael Casey.

Gaming Studio Bitblox to Build On-Chain Games for $68B Online Gambling Industry: Bitblox Games will exclusively build crypto games on the Hxro Network, a Solana-based distributed liquidity layer for betting applications.

Edited by James Rubin.

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