Truth About Tether #85

Market Meditations | January 27, 2021

2017 called, they want their FUD back. 

Dear Meditators

There has been a lot of noise around Tether recently and any possible consequences on Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market.

In today’s article, we cut out the noise for our readers and focus on aspects of the debate that are critical for traders and investors to know. 

If you enjoyed this letter, remember to share it with your network. Let’s all grow richer together. 

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The Tethered Kingdom

2017 called, they want their FUD back. 

Today’s article is about crypto’s most controversial topic: the stablecoin Tether.

A recent essay written by account ‘Crypto Anonymous’ managed to get under some investors’s skin and resulted in quite some market uncertainty. 

For today’s article, I explain what stablecoins are, why they are important and why they saw exponential growth this year.

Once the basics are covered, I zoom in on Tether and the recent allegations by looking at opinions across the industry and question whether traders should worry about the recent allegations.

What Are Stablecoins?

A stablecoin is a cryptocurrency whose value is pegged to another asset, like the U.S. Dollar, Euro or even gold. 

A stablecoin pegged to the U.S dollar should, in theory, always be worth $1. 

Stablecoins are useful because they offer traders and investors a possibility to escape the inherent volatility of the crypto market and were one of the first products in crypto to find product market-fit and go through an exponential growth phase. 

This was reinforced by the upcoming DeFi sector last year, where users could earn yield on their stablecoins by depositing their funds into one of the several decentralized protocols. 

The ‘yield-farming’ craze was born and suddenly, trading and investing were not the only way to make very generous returns in crypto.

Some argue that stablecoins, whether they are algorithmic or issued by a private company, are not as risk-free as they are perceived to be. They draw on events such as the following:

  • DAI almost blew up and lost its peg during the March 2020 crash because of the extreme volatility.

  • USDC is a US-based private company and thus comes with censorship risk.

  • The company behind Tether (USDT) is under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office. Naval expanded on this during his appearance on the Tim Ferriss podcast recently and we encourage interested readers to head over to that part of the conversation. Although it might seem that way, there are generally no free lunches, not even in crypto.

Is Holding Tether (USDT) Dangerous?

In the article that went viral two weeks ago, USDT is accused of being used to manipulate the crypto market

The author references a tweetstorm from early January that claims that ‘Tether has been manipulating #Bitcoin’s price upwards for years now by printing unlimited, and unbacked $USDT’, indicating that prices would be substantially lower if Tether had not existed. 

Truth be told, the fact that proof of Tether’s reserves have never been made public should make everybody using Tether at least a bit skeptical and have made many in the industry question its legitimacy over the last few years.

The article expands on Tether’s dominance writing that ‘over two-thirds of all Bitcoin — $10 billion worth of it — that was bought in the previous 24 hours, was being purchased with Tethers.’ 

It then proceeds with the fact that neither of the two most reputable USD-banked exchanges — Coinbase and Bitstamp — supported Tether trades at all while unregulated exchanges like Binance are heavily dominated by USDT, indicating that both Coinbase and Bitstamp realise dealing with Tether is a liability and best avoided to avoid unwanted attention from US-regulators.

The article is too long to summarize here but as an investor you should always remain open-minded and be aware of arguments that could invalidate your investment thesis. 

Don’t forget to understand both sides of the coin and come to your own conclusions. Due diligence is important for any investment, so don’t be afraid to question your beliefs if evidence to the contrary cannot be provided.

The key point though that many of the ‘Tether FUD’ articles miss is that the company has never been under investigation for printing unlimited amounts of money to pump the cryptocurrency markets

Although there are certainly questions that are unanswered, the above would’ve almost certainly be uncovered by now.

Market Reaction: Uncertainty Prevails

Because most of the uncertainty surrounding Tether has been answered or at least clarified, it surprised most of us that it still had a negative (short-term) impact on the market

Ever since the article was released on Jan 14th, bitcoin failed to continue its bullish momentum. That is not to say it has caused the bearish price action but rather that it has been a contributing factor.

With a series of lower highs and multiple tests of the $29k-31ks support zone, prices have to move above the $34k resistance level to avoid a further breakdown towards daily support at $26k.

Why The Fear Could Be Overblown

Dan Held, a popular writer on Bitcoin and responsible for growth at cryptocurrency exchange Kraken wrote a long and thoughtful article and tweetstorm about why the whole issue seems unsubstantiated, pointing to some errors that were made in the recent article:

  1. The author confused spot and derivative exchange volume and Tether represents a much smaller portion of the spot exchange volume.

  2. Offshore and less-known exchanges are known to be faking volume, particularly with Tether to give the impression they are liquid and competitive.

  3. Tether’s market cap is relatively small compared to Bitcoin’s. Even if some allegations turn out to be true, the impact Tether has on the market is smaller than it used to be.

Dan concludes there is not a single shred of evidence of actual market manipulation by Tether and that in the worst case scenario where Tether blows up, Ethereum and the whole DeFi ecosystem would likely be hit harder than bitcoin itself, because of the intermingled system of liquidity, lending, borrowing.

Last but not least, Deltec, the Bahama’s based bank where Tether Ltd holds its reserves, also claimed that Tether is fully backed in a podcast episode last week. Gregory Pepin, the company CEO stated: “Every tether is backed by a reserve and their reserve is more than what is in circulation“. 


Lack of transparency or outright fraud? As discussed, the answer seems to lie somewhere in the middle. Whilst there is cause for some skepticism not all the recent allegations are compelling. Concluding actions / remarks: Don’t hold all your dollar in one single stablecoin, there are still uncertainties surrounding Tether so investors should realize the risks involved and uncertainty could result in a lower ‘buy the dip opportunity’.

Matteo Franceschetti: How To Improve Your Sleep


Matteo Franceschetti is an entrepreneur and biohacker. He is the founder and CEO of Eight Sleep, a well-funded startup that is focusing on improving the quality of our sleep through personalized temperature, smarter data, and patented technology.

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Disclaimer: The content in this newsletter is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this email is intended to serve as financial advice. I am not a financial advisor. Every investment and trading move involves risk. Do your own research when making a decision.