Bitcoin Price Slices Through $43K: Optimistic Traders Caught Off Guard, Almost $900M Liquidated

Bitcoin Price Slices Through $43K: Optimistic Traders Caught Off Guard, Almost $900M Liquidated

Image credit: iStock / Andrey Suslov

The price of Bitcoin fell from $47,000-plus to less than $43,000 Wednesday after the Federal Reserve released minutes of its December meeting, with almost $900 million liquidated.

In its Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meeting, the Fed announced plans to reduce its $8.3 trillion balance sheet in 2022 after kicking off a record asset-buying program in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic began.

The Fed insisted for months that supply-chain bottlenecks and inflation would ease over time. However, it has since backtracked and become more aggressive in its approach to rising prices.

“We are phasing out our purchases more rapidly because with elevated inflation pressures and a rapidly strengthening labor market, the economy no longer needs increasing amounts of policy support,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said at a press conference after the two-day meeting.

Powell indicated that inflation and tight labor could warrant an interest-rate increase “sooner or at a faster pace than participants had earlier anticipated.”

The Fed’s minutes came shortly after the New York Fed released its new “Global Supply Chain Pressure Index” Tuesday, Blockworks reported. 

Within 24 hours, crypto futures worth more than $800 million were liquidated as bitcoin broke its $46,000 support level and fell to $43,000, according to data from analytics tool Coinglass. 

Traders saw $317 million of losses on Bitcoin-tracked futures alone, with 87 percent of those positions betting that prices would go up, Coindesk reported.

Liquidation means selling assets for cash. Forced liquidation means that this selling happens automatically when certain conditions are met. In crypto, forced liquidation happens when the investor or trader is unable to fulfill the margin requirements for a leveraged position. Liquidation applies to both futures and margin trading, according to Binance Academy.

Crypto investor Michael Novogratz told CNBC Thursday that he feels Bitcoin “should bottom” at $38,000 to $40,000 after this week’s Fed-inspired selloff. Signs that the Fed will become “more responsible” in fighting inflation limits the need for people to hold Bitcoin as an inflation hedge, Novogratz said.

“Bitcoin is in desperate need of a catalyst as crypto traders struggle to buy ahead of the beginning of a Fed rate hiking cycle,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda wrote in a recent note, according to Blockworks. “The cryptoverse remains long-term bullish with Bitcoin and Ethereum but the short-term downward move might not be over.”

Along with Bitcoin prices, altcoin markets aslo saw cuts. More than 200,000 positions were liquidated in 24 hours.

Most of the $800 million in liquidations occurred on long positions — futures contracts entered by traders who bet on a price rise, Coindesk reported. Crypto exchange Binance took on $236 million in losses and OKEx saw $241 million in liquidations, the most among major exchanges.

Open interest – the total number of unsettled futures or derivatives – across crypto futures fell 8 percent, implying that traders saw weakening market conditions and exited their positions.