May 12, 2022 - Economy

Market rout reveals crypto's growing role

illustration of gold digital coins around Ben Franklin face

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

This week’s crash in crypto markets has revealed just how much some on Wall Street have come to rely on the "fifth asset class."

Why it matters: “Even those that are vocally outspoken against it are in the back room … figuring out ways they can make money from it,” Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research, tells Axios.

Catch up quick: Famed fund manager Bill Miller told CNBC today: "I have sold stuff to meet margin calls" as broader markets have fallen.

  • Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy — the largest public holder of bitcoin — tried to defuse fears that his company will face a huge margin call on his positions.

By the numbers: Cryptocurrency markets have lost $200 billion in value, or about 17%, in a single day.

  • Bitcoin has fallen below $30,000, which is less than half of its most recent all-time high.
  • Shares of companies like Coinbase and MicroStrategy that have been built to facilitate crypto trades, or have pivoted to invest in crypto, have been dragged down in this week’s slide.

What they’re saying: “The longer that cryptocurrency has been around and the more acceptance it has gained, the more the big, truly wealthy people who move markets — the hedge fund guys — have started to accept it,” says Frederick.

  • “I don't think most of them are over-leveraged in it, but they're almost all dabbling in it to some extent.”

Go deeper: What's behind the ugly crypto wipeout

Go deeper