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The Big Take

A $2 Trillion Free-Fall Rattles Crypto to the Core

A market that has gone through several major downdrafts in its short life may be facing its biggest test yet.

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Crypto Flirts With Lehman Moment in $2 Trillion Meltdown
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For a generation of alienated techies, crypto's all-for-one ethos was its biggest draw. Now panic is spreading across this universe — and that same ethos is posing what may be the biggest threat yet to its survival.

What started this year in crypto markets as a “risk-off” bout of selling fueled by a Federal Reserve suddenly determined to rein in excesses has exposed a web of interconnectedness that looks a little like the tangle of derivatives that brought down the global financial system in 2008. As Bitcoin slipped almost 70% from its record high, a panoply of altcoins also plummeted. The collapse of the Terra ecosystem — a much-hyped experiment in decentralized finance — began with its algorithmic stablecoin losing its peg to the US dollar, and ended with a bank run that made $40 billion of tokens virtually worthless. Crypto collateral that seemed valuable enough to support loans one day became deeply discounted or illiquid, putting the fates of a previously invincible hedge fund and several high-profile lenders in doubt.