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Terra Hasn’t Killed Crypto, But It Was a Narrow Escape

Algorithmic stablecoins were about to hit prime time. Now they're having an existential crisis.

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Speculation that the collapse of one of the biggest experiments in decentralized finance could bring about the death of crypto appears to have been overblown. If Terra’s implosion had happened after a few more months of growth, the resultant market impact might have created a DeFi version of 2008 — instead, high-profile algorithmic stablecoins may end up being the main casualty.

In a tumble starting on May 9, Terraform Labs’ TerraUSD — a token that primarily uses algorithms, rather than collateral, to adjust its supply and maintain a 1-to-1 peg with the US dollar — and its digital coin counterpart Luna lost almost all their value, while activity on the underlying Terra blockchain was twice suspended. A month after reaching a record of $119, the price of Luna now trades at near zero, while UST is stuck around 20 cents.