- by theguardian
- 19 May 2022
TerraUSD, the "algorithmic stablecoin" whose collapse prompted a multibillion-dollar selloff across crypto markets, has turned off its blockchain and been delisted from major exchanges, in effect shuttering the project for good.
However, the wider impact of the project's failure appears to have been constrained. TerraUSD was once valued at more than $40bn (£33bn).
Shockwaves swept through cryptocurrency markets on Thursday as tether, the largest stablecoin and a foundational part of the digital asset ecosystem, broke its peg to the dollar. On Friday, however, tether was back to within a fraction of a per cent of its $1 peg and has successfully processed more than $3bn worth of withdrawals without issue.
Bitcoin and ethereum, the two most important cryptocurrencies, have recovered from their lows of early Thursday. Bitcoin is trading at above $30,000 a coin, up from $27,000, while Ethereum is at $2,000, up from $1,700. Both remain far below where they were trading at the start of the week.
Terra's failure is likely to topple more dominoes, warned Fitch Ratings. "The failure of Terra's peg has sent shocks through the decentralised finance sector, with a key saving and lending protocol, Anchor, seeing massive liquidation of UST-collateralised loans and the pricing of other crypto tokens also being affected," the company said.
Stablecoins are intended to maintain a fixed value, typically $1 a coin. But some, such as Terra, are "algorithmic" stablecoins, which maintain that price through a promise to print or destroy currency to match demand. That approach has been criticised as sharing elements with a Ponzi scheme, requiring regular inflows of new capital to maintain the peg, and prone to a "death spiral" if investors lose confidence.
That death spiral has left Terra's two tokens effectively valueless. UST, the stablecoin, is now trading at under 20ÃÂ¢, far from its dollar peg; and Luna, the freely floating token that is supposed to provide the backing for the algorithmic stability, has fallen from $81 a coin seven days ago to $0.00004 a coin.
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