GB Market Commentary 21/03/2022
by Marcus Sotiriou
Last week there was a risk-on sentiment after the FOMC meeting where the Federal Reserve raised rates by 0.25% as expected. Bitcoin reached a high of $42,400. However, yesterday we saw a fall to the mid $40,000 region, as there are heightened fears surrounding the Russa/Ukraine war.
Firstly, Russia gave Ukraine a deadline to surrender Mariupol at 3am UK time, and the Russian Defense Ministry made it clear that anyone who chooses to remain in the city will face a military tribunal held by the Donetsk People’s Republic. Ukraine has rejected the offer to surrender. In addition, Russia now accuses “Ukrainian nationalists” of planning terrorist attacks on Ukrainian cities and foreign nationals “to blame Russia.” This is concerning as the Kremlin blames others of doing what it seeks to orchestrate. Lastly, Ukraine’s defense ministry warned that another group of Russian Wagner Group mercenaries arrived in Ukraine to assassinate President Zelensky. These events have led to a risk-off sentiment for global markets this morning, as the Dollar Index climbed whilst Bitcoin and equities sold off.
Amongst the war atrocities, Bitcoin and crypto have received great support from regulators worldwide in recent weeks. Ukraine legalised crypto last week as President Zelensky signed the digital assets bill into law.
Furthermore, there are reduced fears of stringent crypto regulation from the US in response to Russia potentially using crypto to evade sanctions. The secretary treasury official said that the crypto market is currently not large enough to run an economy on, and the crypto ecosystem is too underdeveloped to effectively facilitate sanctions evasion on a large scale. She added that, “while it’s growing because the use of crypto is growing, its share as a medium for illicit finance is not anywhere as large as just using cash.” This is a promising development as it demonstrates awareness and understanding of the crypto industry from the top regulators.
Senator Elizabeth Warren remains concerned though, as she introduced a bill last week “to ensure that Vladimir Putin and Russian elites don’t use digital assets to undermine the international community’s economic sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.” Despite Warren’s fears, the secretary treasury official’s expertise is promising for the industry.