A few years ago, I attended a meeting with the new CEO of the oil company Cenovus, Alex Pourbaix. (He has now given up that role to become president.) At the end of the formal session, Mr. Pourbaix made a joke that I consider at least semi-serious.
Mr. Pourbaix, who previously worked for the pipeline company currently known as TC Energy Corp., was speaking about the difficulty of building such export pipelines in this country, which affects the prices oil producers can get for their product. Critics say the pipeline approval process often becomes political and too prone to optical considerations. Although I don’t remember Mr. Pourbaix’s exact words, it went something like this: “The best thing for us is for you to stop writing about us.” »
This is obviously impossible. In our time, there are no absolutes. There’s someone somewhere writing about any topic (search for “rule 34”, but don’t say I didn’t warn you). I think what Mr. Pourbaix meant is that oil would live more easily if it was no longer a hot and polarizing subject, which aroused intense public scrutiny.
As it is with oil, so it is with crypto. Although the underlying rationales are different, this comment from Mr. Pourbaix applies perfectly to the current situation in crypto.
Molly Jane Zuckerman, one of the founders of the Association of Cryptocurrency Journalists and Researchers, recently wrote that “crypto is boring right now.” And it’s good.
I remember exactly where I was when news broke last year that FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried had been arrested in the Bahamas, after the crypto poster boy crashed and burned spectacularly with its billion-dollar trading platform. I was at the Report on Business Christmas party. For a few moments, everyone around me was on their phones and that was all we talked about.
It was a big deal at the time. The large pension fund that invested in FTX was suddenly in the spotlight. Universities that accepted Mr Bankman-Fried’s money were under pressure to return it. Different versions of “Can crypto ever recover from this?” » made headlines.
Fast forward to Mr. Bankman-Fried’s trial currently taking place in New York, where he faces fraud charges for the disastrous way he managed FTX. With war and devastation all over this world, do you even know that the crypto trial of the century is underway?
There was plenty of drama, including a moment when Mr Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, excoriated him in the witness box and It almost guaranteed his conviction in the eyes of certain observers. It was poetic justice after Mr Bankman-Fried leaked Ms Ellison’s diary to the media in what the prosecution said was an act of witness intimidation.
The media continues to report all of this. And author Michael Lewis has published a big book on the subject.
But the public appetite for all this has diminished considerably from what it once was. Google searches on the topic are considerably off their peak. For the term “FTX”, for example, Google currently gives it a rating of three, compared to 100 at the top of the saga. In major newspapers, trial developments have been relegated to dark corners, such as on page B13. Once the verdict is delivered, there will surely be a new wave of mainstream curiosity, but that will probably be it.
Simply put, we are not only tired of Mr. Bankman-Fried and his antics, but also completely tired of crypto.
Take the following news: Alex Mashinsky – the owner of the Celsius crypto platform that collapsed last year and which everyone was talking about before FTX – has been arrested. Su Zhu, founder of Three Arrows Capital, another such platform, was recently arrested while trying to leave Singapore. Touch your heart and tell me: do you know this and does it matter to you?
During this time, many crypto developments have gone unnoticed. Observers are eagerly awaiting a U.S. decision on bitcoin-based exchange-traded funds. Ethereum, the blockchain computing platform, has undergone all kinds of network upgrades, significantly boosting its usefulness; Bitcoin itself has undergone similar transformations.
This lack of broader public interest seems to be the best thing for crypto. Prices, if you haven’t been paying attention, are doing well. The price of a bitcoin reached $30,000 on Friday, and it is up more than 70% for the year. Bitcoin has regained all the value it lost due to the collapse of FTX, Celsius, and every other crypto operation.
A key measure of market activity, namely how much of the crypto market value is made up of bitcoin, shows unusually high bitcoin dominance. This means that cryptocurrencies buy bitcoins and sell their dogecoins, other random coins and coins that colloquially have a name that I can’t write in this journal (it starts with an S, refers to feces and rhymes with “bitcoin”).
This generally indicates a market bottom, while mania and a bubble are usually indicated by the opposite, if non-bitcoin crypto makes up a high share of the market value.
In You better call Saul, Mike Ehrmantraut comforts the main character after a traumatic incident, telling him that one day he would forget it and move on. Saul Goodman later repeats this to his wife after their own traumatic incident. What they are saying is that this threshold will be crossed when we least expect it, without us realizing it.
“One day,” Mr. Goodman said, “we will wake up, brush our teeth and go to work, and at some point we will suddenly realize that we haven’t thought about it at all. »
For crypto and the wild darkness of the FTX saga, that day has come.