Bank failures fueling crypto adoption
- June 1, 2023: Vol. 10, Number 6

Bank failures fueling crypto adoption

by Frank Holmes

Cryptocurrency adoption in the United States increased amid fears of a full-blown banking crisis, a new poll finds. According to Morning Consult, 22 percent of Americans said they owned at least one form of crypto in April, representing an increase of 4 percentage points from January.

Not surprisingly, Bitcoin was the most widely held digital asset in April, with 16 percent of respondents saying they owned some of it. That’s up from 13 percent a year earlier. Ethereum was the number two asset with 12 percent ownership in April 2023, followed by Binance Coin and Tether at 8 percent each.

I must point out, though, that many people would take issue with Bitcoin being labeled a “crypto”; even SEC chairman Gary Gensler and Commodity Futures Trading Commission chief Rostin Behnam have both described the world’s biggest digital asset as a commodity.

Again, the increase in crypto ownership was likely tied to ongoing market jitters involving the banking industry — in particular, the failures of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and First Republic Bank.

According to the Morning Consult poll, more than one-quarter of Americans (27 percent) said they were planning on adding to their Bitcoin holdings in the next month. Twenty-one percent said the same about Ethereum.

But cryptos weren’t the only assets sought by investors as banks looked more precarious. Gold producers have also benefited. Gold producers, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, have gained over $41 billion in market value, and Bitcoin has added nearly $255 billion, from $318 billion at the start of 2023, to $566 billion today.

Also supporting gold and Bitcoin is the steadily declining value of the U.S. dollar.

Investors and analysts continue to raise the alarm over the de-dollarization trend. Stephen Jen, CEO of asset management firm Eurizon SLJ and former managing director at Morgan Stanley, says the dollar is losing its reserve currency status at a “stunning” pace. According to him, the dollar has given up about 11 percent of its market share since 2016 and double that amount since 2008. Jen appears to blame U.S. sanctions against Russia for the collapse.

“Exceptional actions taken by the United States and its allies against Russia have startled large reserve-holding countries,” he wrote.

Elon Musk echoed the sentiment, tweeting: “If you weaponize currency enough times, other countries will stop using it.”

Meanwhile, billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller says that shorting the U.S. dollar is his only high-conviction trade right now, adding that he’s never seen such uncertainty in global markets in his 45 years of investing. In the early 1990s, Druckenmiller (then working with George Soros) famously bet against the British pound sterling and made more than $1 billion.

In light of this, I was surprised to see that gold still represents a relatively small fraction of the $266 trillion investable asset market. The global stock of gold bullion — including bars, coins and gold ETFs — that investors currently hold amounts to around $3 trillion, according to the World Gold Council. This represents around 1 percent of the total amount invested in all financial assets, from stocks and bonds to alternative assets.

I believe it’s important to have a well-diversified portfolio, and that includes exposure to gold. I’ve always recommended a 10 percent weighting in gold and gold mining stocks, and with the dollar potentially on uneven footing, my conviction has grown even stronger.


This report was excerpted from an article written by Frank Holmes, CEO and CIO of U.S. Global Investors. The full version of this story appeared on the U.S. Global Investors’ website. Read it here.

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