As the Chinese property crisis threatens to unravel the legacy financial system, the co-founder of Bitcoin mining firm Great American Mining, Marty Bent, is glad to be holding bitcoin.
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The prospect of Chinese property giant Evergrande defaulting on $305 billion worth of debt has garnered much attention all over the traditional financial machine. Pundits from both the old and new sectors have weighed in on the impact of this potential default as the crisis unfolds.
In fact, speculation as to whether the property investment giant will default has coincided with a market-wide downturn across the crypto and stock markets, as fears of ‘contagion’ spread across the sectors. Analysts are somewhat divided on whether traders should be buying the dip or taking profits in preparation of further bearish momentum.
At the time of writing, Bitcoin (BTC) is down by around 13% since the start of the trend on Sept. 18, while the S&P 500 is down by 1.7% and the Hang Seng has dipped 2.8% within the same time frame.
Rumours about another Lehman Brothers moment have swirled across the web, with some analysts saying that Evergrande’s crisis is similar to the investment bank’s 2008 declaration of bankruptcy. At the time, the $600 billion worth of debt default kicked off the Global Financial Crises.
However, Bridgewater Associates co-chairman and co-CIO Ray Dalio downplayed the significance of an Evergrande default, suggesting that the debt is ‘manageable’.
Dalio admits that while investors will get bitten, he does not expect Evergrande’s debt problem to cause structural damage as the Chinese government may swoop in to save the day by cranking up the infinite money printer and striking a deal with the company.
“[The] Lehman moment produced pervasive structural damage through the system that wasn’t rectified until the Treasury came across in terms of its borrowing and then the Fed came across with quantitative easing, but this is not that kind of a shake-up.”
A director at the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Ming Tan, predicts the Chinese state will intervene to restructure Evergrande.
Speaking to Financial Times on Sept. 20, Tan speculated that the restructuring will probably see the “profitable parts of [Evergrande’s] business bought up by rivals,” with its debt obligations to be underwritten by a local central bank or a consortium of commercial Chinese banks.
Marty Bent, also sounded the alarm, suggesting that an Evergrande default will show how “exposed the Western world is to China’s economy” via investments in the large property players, their debt instruments, and the debt issued by the Chinese Community Party (CCP).
He said: “Evergrande is going under and it is dragging other large real estate developers in China down with it. The world is witnessing another Lehman moment”.
All in all, the crisis highlights how the legacy financial system is destined to create systemic risks over and over again as the moral hazards of infinite money multiply over time. Bitcoin’s short term correlation with legacy markets is likely a result of investors not knowing how to price the asset.
While some would argue that Bitcoin’s technical picture caused the retracement, the fact remains that the divide between investors who view bitcoin as a ‘store of value’ or a ‘risk on’ asset persists for the time being.
The share price of Evergrande has been on a steady decline in 2021 as its credit woes grew exponentially. After opening the year at roughly $14, the price sits now at $2.20 — a drawdown of more than 84%.
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