The Tether Titanic: Can the Stablecoin Stay Buoyant in Crypto’s Choppy Waters?

Maria Irene

Tether, the dominant stablecoin in the cryptocurrency market, found itself in a sea of turbulence as it experienced a depegging event in June 2023. Stablecoins, often touted as safe harbors in the stormy waters of crypto, are designed to peg their value to a stable asset, usually fiat currency like the U.S. dollar. Tether’s depegging sent ripples through the market, and calls into question the veracity of the stablecoin’s peg and the robustness of its mechanism.

This is not Tether’s maiden voyage into depegging waters. A similar event occurred on May 12, 2022, when Tether, denoted as USDT, took a brief dip below the $0.96 threshold. The episode casts a shadow on Tether’s claim of a 1:1 peg to the U.S. dollar, and its ability to absorb shocks in highly volatile markets.

The recent depegging coincided with a flurry of activity, with millions of dollars’ worth of Tether changing hands. The stablecoin faced headwinds as traders demonstrated a preference for alternative havens like USD Coin (USDC) and DAI. As the seas churned, nimble-fingered DeFi traders, adept at navigating the currents, were able to leverage arbitrage opportunities during the period of slight deviation from Tether’s 1:1 ratio with the dollar.

The stablecoin’s sudden dislodging can be attributed to a maelstrom of factors. On the day the depegging occurred, Tether was caught in a tempest of a broader cryptocurrency market downturn. It’s essential to cast the net wider and understand that Tether is not the lone mariner facing the wrath of depegging. For instance, TerraUSD also faced the choppy waters around the same time.

The echoing calls for stablecoin regulation from the regulators in Washington, D.C., had been steadily intensifying in the months preceding this event. The whispers of potential underlying reasons for Tether’s depegging gained volume, further amplified by the foghorn of opacity surrounding Tether’s investments. This haze led the New York Attorney General to set sail on an investigation into Tether in 2021.

Tether’s CTO, Paolo Ardoino, stood at the helm during the storm. He acknowledged the choppy waters, speculating that some traders might have been navigating the waves to take advantage of the prevailing market sentiment. Tether was not left adrift, as Ardoino asserted the readiness of the stablecoin to weather the storm and honor redemptions.

Post depegging, Tether found itself off-course, experiencing a slight deviation from its typical 1:1 ratio with the U.S. dollar on the Curve decentralized exchange. This lured DeFi traders looking for arbitrage opportunities. The deluge of USDT sellers overwhelmed the liquidity pools on Curve and Uniswap, leading to USDT briefly trading below its typical parity of $1. In a buoyant response, market participants hoisted their sails by borrowing USDT from Aave, a decentralized lending, and borrowing platform.

It is crucial to unfurl the sails of perspective here; not all stablecoins found themselves struggling against the currents. For example, Binance USD (BUSD) and USD Coin (USDC) remained steady, trading above the $1.00 mark during this period.

The waters surrounding Tether’s depegging are murky. The nexus between the regulatory environment, Tether’s investment strategies, and the depegging events is a complex web, one that requires a deep dive to unravel fully. The cryptocurrency market, with its notorious undercurrents, is subject to rapid and often unforeseen shifts. Understanding the circumstances necessitates navigating a labyrinth of influencing factors.

Tether’s recent depegging event has exposed vulnerabilities in the anchor purportedly securing it to the U.S. dollar. While skilled DeFi traders might find treasure in the turbulent waters through arbitrage, the episode serves as a reminder that even the seemingly steadier ships in the cryptocurrency armada are not impervious to storms.


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Maria Irene
Maria Irene
Maria Irene is a multi-faceted journalist with a focus on various domains including Cryptocurrency, NFTs, Real Estate, Energy, and Macroeconomics. With over a year of experience, she has produced an array of video content, news stories, and in-depth analyses. Her journalistic endeavours also involve a detailed exploration of the Australia-India partnership, pinpointing avenues for mutual collaboration. In addition to her work in journalism, Maria crafts easily digestible financial content for a specialised platform, demystifying complex economic theories for the layperson. She holds a strong belief that journalism should go beyond mere reporting; it should instigate meaningful discussions and effect change by spotlighting vital global issues. Committed to enriching public discourse, Maria aims to keep her audience not just well-informed, but also actively engaged across various platforms, encouraging them to partake in crucial global conversations.


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