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Crypto Meltdown, What Crypto Meltdown?

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There are over a dozen Bitcoin A.T.M.s in Barcelona.

While crypto’s supporters focus on wildly ambitious goals in an imagined future, critics point to debacles that happen all the time.

Credit: Samuel Aranda/The New York Times

On the wall in Ruar Street Food, a burger joint in the Sant Antoni neighborhood of Barcelona, there is a framed drawing of a male hand holding up a middle finger, high and proud. The image captures the defiant mood at a gathering of a couple dozen men and women in their 20s and 30s, all employed in various corners of the cryptocurrency world.

This industry has plenty of naysayers. But as far as everyone here tonight is concerned, those people can talk to the hand.

Which, given the onslaught of terrible news, goes beyond defiance and tip toes into the ZIP code of magical thinking. With spectacular losses ($2 trillion in crypto assets, poof!), gruesome bankruptcies (Terra, Luna, Celsius) and fraud charges against the sector's highest-profile entrepreneur (Sam Bankman-Fried, of the now-kaput FTX exchange), few industries were more brutalized in 2022.

The carnage was not merely financial; the reputation and promise of crypto has been badly tarnished. Once touted as the future of money, a challenge to the world's central banks, not to mention a clever investment, crypto now carries the odor of disaster. The notion that it could serve as a hedge against inflation took a beating when Bitcoin fell more than 60 percent. Thousands of other tokens sank even lower or effectively vanished.

From The New York Times
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