According to optimists, the significant drop in the value of cryptocurrencies in recent days, with bitcoin as the main reference, is a market correction after the intense increases they had accumulated. They also remember that its price has also fallen on other occasions and that it has later recovered positions. But the correction that has occurred now is the most severe in memory. All major cryptocurrencies have this week lost more than 50% from their all-time highs, with some reaching more than 80%. Bitcoin, in particular, has erased all its annual gains until falling to the lows of June of last year. This supposes important losses for the last investors who have entered these assets. The old ones, on the other hand, are still in profit despite the enormous setback registered in the prices, since they had bought very cheap. It is typical of all speculative markets.

The fall in the price of cryptocurrencies, paradoxically, coincides with its maximum popularity. The market value of crypto assets already amounts to around 2.2 trillion euros, more than double that of subprime mortgages before the crash of 2008. In Spain, 12% of adults have invested in cryptocurrencies, with a total of 60,000 million euros, equivalent to almost 5% of GDP. The sharp drop in their prices, therefore, represents a considerable loss for many investors and worries the economic and monetary authorities.

It does not seem, however, that the current crisis marks the end of cryptocurrencies. What happens is that the new safer investment alternatives offered by the rise in interest rates applied by the United States Federal Reserve, after long years at zero rates, are more attractive to investors at a time of high uncertainty due to Putin’s war in Ukraine and by intense inflationary pressures, which, in turn, predict a further increase in the price of money.

What has been broken, in any case, is the axiom that cryptocurrencies work and behave in their digital scenario regardless of – or apart from – what happens in the real economy. It has become clear that they depend –and a lot– on it. What is also evident again is the need to advance in the regulation of this alternative financial market, given the great global importance it has acquired. This is crucial, not only to bring it under the control of the authorities, but also so that they can offer greater security to investors.