Weekly Flip Thru: Banking struggles, blockchain & the environment
Welcome to another edition of the Weekly Flip Thru. We're looking at the major news to come from the world of crypto, traditional finance, and the wide world of Web3 technologies. This week, we're zeroing in on another major bank to wobble, the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest interest rate hike, and the legacy of a major blockchain network reducing its carbon footprint.
This is the crypto news you need to know for the week of May 8, 2023.
The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates another 25 basis points on May 3, 2023. The latest rate hike had a cooling effect on stocks, but the price of bitcoin was unfazed, rising 1.5% to briefly hit the $29K price point in the 24 hours after the Fed’s meeting. Other major cryptos were also up following last Wednesday’s meeting.
The Fed signaled that interest rate hikes might be coming to an end soon – and the winding down of this monetary tightening tactic may be a welcome sign for some financial institutions. Mainly banks. But let’s not forget that fighting ‘flation is good for household budgets, too. Everyday expenses like new car loans and home mortgages could reap the benefits if rates plateau or come down.
Speaking of banks …
First Republic Bank became the latest U.S. financial institution to flounder. The regional bank’s failure surpasses the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (which just happened in March of this year) to make it the nation’s second-largest bank to fail. Ever.
First Republic’s assets were sold to JP Morgan on May 1, giving the too-big-to-fail bank another $92 billion in deposits, according to Bloomberg. That total includes $30 billion from a cash infusion that First Republic received from JP Morgan and other major U.S. banks in March. Back then, there was hope that First Republic could withstand the pressures bearing down on the U.S. banking sector.
Recent bank struggles could be due to the ripple effects from the Fed’s historic run of interest rate hikes and looming recession fears across the globe. In any case, it’s a useful reminder that having full control over your own assets is best practice.
Last month, we celebrated Earth Day. A lot of crypto critics have taken aim at the environmental impact of blockchain technology. And detractors have zeroed in on the energy required to mine cryptocurrencies, with bitcoin being a prime example, since the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency still relies on crypto mining rigs that consume lots of power.
But there are ways to lessen the environmental impact of crypto, and last month’s upgrade on the Ethereum network sheds some light in this area. Ethereum's Shapella updates followed the most significant update to Ethereum, known as “the merge.” Not only was it Ethereum’s most notable update – it may be the most significant upgrade to an existing blockchain network in all of crypto. The merge reduced the Ethereum network’s carbon footprint by more than 99 percent. Now, transactions on the network require less power than watching YouTube videos.
If we’re looking for ways to lessen crypto’s environmental impact and bring more people on board at the same time, the transformation of Ethereum into a carbon-neutral, deflationary asset is a great case study. Not only does this latest upgrade bring Ethereum closer to the blockchain’s full potential of being innovative, inclusive, and energy-efficient, it lowers the barrier to entry for new investors.
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