Too Good To Be True? Staking Rewards and the Recession

As some analysts have predicted, the public's interest in crypto/Web3 projects have shifted from proof-of-work over to proof-of-stake, following Ethereum's "merge" a few weeks ago. ATOM and ALGO in particular did very well this week (though it did level off eventually) as what seems to be a partial migration of crypto money flowing from one area to the next.

The pattern is just starting now so time will tell if it's a trend or a blip, but as we head further into a global recession, the idea of people "abandoning" stocks and other traditional fiat assets becomes more a possibility over time. We can look at some of the predictions being made right now in the industry, and its pros and cons.

1. Crypto Will Go Down With Fiat

Given that crypto and the stock market have traditionally moved in parallel for the most part, it will continue to do the same during the downturn. This assumes that the low-interest rates of 2008+ onwards was also fueling the crypto hype and will follow the same pattern of prices plunging as cheap borrowing falls to the wayside. While there's certainly a case there, this assumes that the economy will behave "as normal" during the next downturn - which may bring a different type of risk to the table.

2. Money Will Flow into Bitcoin/Ethereum

This is the main mantra of the "maxis" out there - they assume that people will lose faith in fiat as a whole, and convert their stocks/cash into a "reliable deflationary asset" like Bitcoin or (now) Ethereum. Deflationary assets - while some will call "ponzi-like" in its modeling - do objectively favor existing holders over newer ones, and can often cause problems with onboarding and long-term growth since it makes it more difficult for new money to come in. Given the two projects massive media/marketing presence last year, are there any more people out there to onboard? Probably not - but they are holding out for the idea that they will be proven right, one day.

3. Money Will Flow into "Cash-Like" Assets Like Dogecoin

Traditional financial wisdom says that during recessions, "cash is king" - and we have seen some indication that money is starting to flow back into cash, especially the USD. (The USD is traditionally seen as the most "stable" and is typically where fiat assets flow into during recessions.) What does this mean for crypto? Well, up until now the narrative has been that out of the well-known coins out there, Dogecoin is the most "cash-like" since it's been actually used to buy and sell things at low costs. While the idea is interesting, DOGE has a few problems associated with it - that it still runs on proof-of-work (which is losing favor over time) and that being a fork of Bitcoin, it's technology is also being rapidly obsolete. (It cannot support NFT minting, for example.) There are plans for DOGE to move over to proof-of-stake eventually, but the timeline is TBD.

4. Money Will Flow into Staking Rewards

As with ATOM/ALGO this past week, some lesser-known proof-of-stake coins have made its move - currently coins that offer competitive staking rewards are beating both the banks and the major proof-of-work coins, whom are simply unable to offer those types of rewards. ETH2 is now technically proof-of-stake, but its staking mechanisms aren't "liquid" - i.e. you don't know when you can get your money out. Some coins offer very high rewards (13%+) but is that too good to be true? Time will tell whether or not this model is sustainable or not.

5. Money Will Flow into Coins that Have Utility

Arguably crypto's least talked about topic in public - coins that have real-life use-cases and actual products may start to see some gains as utility creates new converts over to particular projects. As the money for hype marketing strategies start to run low, many of the coins that have been running on it will start to drop out, making it easier for coins with real customers and revenue to stand out. Some coins have no value other than "store of value" - some coins have robust DeFi options but basically operates like an accounting firm - but there are a few projects out there that are attempting to expand into the worlds of direct applications. This is probably the most optimistic take on Web3's future as a whole, but the path of getting there isn't likely to be smooth - they don't call it "creative destruction" for nothing, after all.

Of the projects out there, Tezos (XTZ) stands out as one of the few projects that have their hands in "everything" - with a diverse portfolio of projects in many sectors and brands across the world. (ETH does too, but their gas-fee problem has slowed technical and partnership development to a halt.)


The actual outcome will probably some combination of the trends above, and is likely to get very complicated as time goes on, but I do think that it's important to keep an eye out for how key factions and ideas are circulating in the space right now since a lot of things are likely to change very quickly in the near future as we head further into what could potentially be the biggest global recession ever recorded in human history. "Higher numbers = good" has been the main focus of the crypto industry up until now but as time goes on we're likely to see more complex and nuanced takes on how the economy works and how Web3 fits into it as a whole.

There might be some growing pains involved but this is how our understanding of economics matures, imo.