Bitcoin Vapid, Gold Weakens as Russian Ruble and Argentinian Peso Crash

The latest crash in ruble and peso represents reveal cracks in the global market, per one observer. Still, perceived safe havens like bitcoin and gold remain under pressure.

AccessTimeIconAug 16, 2023 at 9:29 a.m. UTC
Updated Aug 16, 2023 at 3:19 p.m. UTC
  • Latest slide in Russian ruble and Argentina's peso reveals cracks in the global market, according to one bank.
  • Still, perceived haven assets remain under pressure as Treasury yields and dollar index rise.

Perceived safe havens like bitcoin (BTC) and gold struggle to gather upside traction even as signs of cracks in the global market begin to appear in the form of volatility in the fiat currencies of distressed nations.

On Monday, the Russian ruble (RUB) depreciated to 102 for U.S. dollar, reaching the lowest since March 2022. The slide took the cumulative year-to-date loss to 33%, highlighting investors' growing angst about Kremlin's dwindling energy revenues and forcing the central bank to hike rates to 12% from 8.5%, an emergency move.

Meanwhile, Argentina devalued its already-weak peso (ARS) by 18%, sending it lower to 350 per dollar compared to 287 per dollar last Friday. The peso is down 98% this year.

The fresh slide in RUB and ARS represents early signs of stress in global financial markets, according to MUFG Bank. Since the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates in March last year, many have been biased toward perceived haven assets on fears that the so-called tightening cycle will break something in the global market.

"It's not that either ARS or RUB depreciation will have direct reverberations for the broader markets, they won't but the developments do highlight the draw of the U.S. dollar as yields continue to move higher. Weak links are nearly always the first to reveal 'cracks' and certainly ARS and RUB are weak links," Derek Halpenny, head of research global markets EMEA and international securities, said in a note to clients on Tuesday.

So far, the supposed signs of cracks have brought little safe-haven demand for bitcoin, disappointing expectations.

The leading cryptocurrency by market value, widely considered digital gold due to its finite supply, remains listless above $29,000, extending its multi-week dull price action. Bitcoin was one of the preferred safe havens during Turkey's currency crisis of 2021. Gold, meanwhile, hit a seven-week low of $1,896 per ounce on Tuesday and traded around $1,905 at press time.

Perhaps the ongoing hardening of the nominal and inflation-adjusted U.S. government bond yields, one of the key factors responsible for the latest slide in RUB and ARS, and the uptick in the dollar index, is keeping bitcoin and gold from rallying.

The real or inflation-adjusted yield on the U.S. 10-year note has increased to 1.83%, the highest since 2009, denting the appeal of investing in zero-yielding assets like gold and bitcoin. The nominal 10-year yield has established a firm foothold above 4%.

Per Halpenny, further rise in yields could affect broader markets.

"If U.S. yields continue to drift higher from here, we are likely to see further 'cracks' appear that could have greater implications for broader markets," Halpenny added.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.


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Omkar Godbole

Omkar Godbole is a Co-Managing Editor on CoinDesk's Markets team.