Why the $2 trillion crypto market crash won’t kill the economy

Francesco Carta Fotografo | Moment | Getty Images

Carnage in the crypto market won’t let up, as token prices plummet, companies lay off employees in waves, and some of the most popular names in the industry go belly up. The chaos has spooked investors, erasing more than $2 trillion in value in a matter of months — and wiping out the life savings of retail traders who bet big on crypto projects billed as safe investments.

The sudden drop in wealth has stoked fears that the crypto crash might help trigger a broader recession.

The crypto market’s sub $1 trillion market cap (which is less than half that of Apple’s) is tiny compared to the country’s $21 trillion GDP or $43 trillion housing market. But U.S. households own one-third of the global crypto market, according to estimates from Goldman Sachs, and a Pew Research Center survey also found that 16% of U.S. adults said they had invested in, traded, or used a cryptocurrency. So there is some degree of national exposure to the deep-sell off in the crypto market.

Then there’s the whole mystique around the nascent crypto sector. It may be among the smaller asset classes, but the buzzy industry commands a lot of attention in popular culture, with ads on major sporting championships and stadium sponsorships.

That said, economists and bankers tell CNBC they aren’t worried about a knock-on effect from crypto to the broader U.S. economy for one big reason: Crypto is not tied to debt.

“People don’t really use crypto as collateral for real-world debts. Without that, this is just a lot of paper losses. So this is low on the list of issues for the economy,” said Joshua Gans, an economist at the University of Toronto.

Gans says that’s a big part of why the crypto market is still more of a “side show” for the economy.

No debt, no problem

The relationship between cryptocurrencies and debt is key.

For most traditional asset classes, their value is expected to stay moderately stable over some period of time. That is why those owned assets…

Read more at www.cnbc.com

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