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Crypto – SVB and USDC

Over the weekend, the ultimate fate of SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) will be determined. The FDIC has taken control of the bank and is working through the liquidation process to preserve as much capital as possible. A number of (former) Libertarians and free-market Hedge Fund managers have asked for a Government bailout of SVB.

Friday was a bad day for most Hedge Fund strategies. CTAs suffered as Bond Futures rallied sharply. Prior to Friday, CTAs were generally short duration and the rally caused large losses. What looked like a good start to the year, is now back to a more mundane year for most managers. However, the angst and market action were centered around the de-pegging of the USDC.

The Circle Logo

In this short update, mostly to sort through our own thoughts, we present the share price of SVB, and the impact on the US Dollar Coin (“USDC”), a common stablecoin. And finally, we estimate the impact on “Hodlers” as some of the strategies that we track had substantial exposure to the USDC.

SVB (Yahoo Finance) was halted on March 10th, 2023

SVB (was) is a large bank and regulators are currently working through the situation. The exact financial impact is still unsure. The expectations for widespread contagion are somewhat limited. There may be a permanent impact on “regional US” banks as they may face higher regulatory pressure in the future.

In the end, as many pundits have pointed out, the implosion of SVB stems from a mismanaged duration and interest rate risk. SVB was likely almost unhedged with regard to interest rates.

Source: SVB Strategic Q1’23 Update

The largest impact is likely on a number of startups and Venture Capitals. SVB had a large share of smaller emerging ventures as clients. The recent repricing of the tech/startup sector had a negative impact on SVB’s balance sheet. Together with a fall in bond prices and “hold-to-maturity” accounting this caused stress on the balance sheet of SVB. Ultimately leading to the demise of the bank.

In the Crypto space, there is a potential for collateral damage as the USDC that had exposure to SVB of $3.3bn or approximately 8%. The Coin broke the Peg on Friday and has been trading in a volatile manner. As the value of the SVB deposits is not likely zero, but rather valued slightly above 50 cents or more on the dollar the impact will be less.

USDC Price Chart (Coinbase)

USDC could be a potential way of trading any claims on SVB deposits. Cash timing is somewhat uncertain here though. There was an argument that USDC could result in a bank run as there was an understanding that any USDC would be convertible at par to regular USD.

Circle has promised to resume normal conversion on Monday but presumably, that requires a resolution of any advanced dividends from the deposits that they had. USDC offered relatively high transparency and was quick to disclose its exposure. It is unclear if USDC will offer conversion at par.

During Friday, the USDC traded at highly distressed levels, but the coins recovered considerably as the initial panic subsided. What is nice about Crypto Markets is that they are open 24/7 offering a real-time assessment of risk aversion.

USDC vs USDT (“Tether”)

One of our proprietary data sets has access to Crypto Positions for a large share of the managers that we track. We noted a substantial reduction in the number of USDC held (that was the most popular stablecoin), in favor of Tether (USDT). We note that USDT offers less transparency than USDC but the platform where we source our data only offers a few stablecoins.

The move out of USDC to Tether likely caused a permanent loss for many strategies. In 2022, the concept of impermanent loss was widely adopted across the DeFi crowd. In the wake of Luna, we now see somewhat better risk behavior, but the selling pressure presumably contributed to the de-pegging of the USDC.

In the end, Crypto Strategies, while having ~20% exposure to USDC suffered a minor impact. We estimate that this was less than 1% on Friday/Saturday as most other Coins kept up well.

NilssonHedge Daily Crypto Index

In the end, we do not expect this to be an event similar to the LUNA coin. Depending on regulatory action, the markets may return to more stability on Monday. Ironically, CTAs seems to have been the main victim.

As per usual, our databases are updated and available to subscribers.