Also today, a judge is seriously unimpressed with Sam Bankman-Fried.
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Bitcoin hits $24,000 as Fed slows rate hikes 📈
The Federal Reserve has increased its base interest rate by 0.25 percentage points — a much smaller rise than previously. It was a much-anticipated move that looked priced in, but that didn't stop Bitcoin staging a miniature rally late on Wednesday. BTC hit $24,167.21 amid optimism that the era of continual rate hikes could soon be at an end, with inflation beginning to cool down. All of this coincided with the tech-heavy Nasdaq surging to its highest level since September 2022. The Bank of England and the European Central Bank followed the Fed in reviewing their interest rates on Thursday — with both opting for a rise of 0.5 percentage points. There are fears that aggressive interest rate rises could spark recessions.
Meta vows to stick with big bet on metaverse 😱
It was a set of bittersweet results for Meta. Mark Zuckerberg's ambitious bet on the metaverse lost a staggering $13.7 billion over the course of 2022 — and this trend is expected to continue well into 2023. Despite that, the tech giant has predicted that revenues will hit $28.5 billion in the first quarter of this year — better than it was before Apple cut off Meta's access to iPhone data. This, when coupled with plans for a $40 billion stock buyback, helped the company's stock spike by almost 20%. Meta executives maintain that there are "significant long-term opportunities" when it comes to virtual worlds — but the company may still have an uphill struggle ahead as it tries to encourage users to take the plunge.
New bail conditions slapped on SBF ❌
A judge has prohibited Sam Bankman-Fried from contacting FTX employees without a lawyer present — and banned him from using encrypted messaging apps like Signal. All of this comes after SBF messaged a potential witness in his upcoming trial — writing that he would like to "vet things with each other." The tightened bail conditions come amid the prosecution's fears that this could amount to witness tampering. Judge Lewis Kaplan said SBF's message to "Witness-1" was an attempt to make sure they're "singing out of the same hymn book." The disgraced entrepreneur has caused no shortage of headaches for his legal team thanks to his numerous media interviews, Substack posts and Twitter threads.
Andrew Tate to remain behind bars in Romania 👀
Andrew Tate's request to be freed from detention in Romania has been rejected by a judge for a second time. As he was escorted into the courthouse in Romania, he told reporters that they'll "soon find out the truth of this case." His legal team argues that there's a lack of evidence to keep him behind bars on accusations of rape, human trafficking and forming an organized crime group. The ruling means he'll remain behind bars until Feb. 27 at the earliest while the prosecution builds its case. It's very possible that this detention could be extended further still. Tate, his brother Tristan and two Romanian women deny wrongdoing. On Twitter, the kickboxer-turned-influencer appears to be likening himself to Nelson Mandela.
North Korea dominates crypto hacks 🚨
A record $3.8 billion was stolen by crypto hackers in 2022, new research from Chainalysis reveals. And worryingly, $1.7 billion of that was linked to North Korean groups — in the latest sign this crime has become a "sizable chunk of the nation's economy." This is four times higher than the $429 million that the secretive state swiped in 2021, and there's long been a belief these illicit funds are being used to fund Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. On a brighter note, Chainalysis' latest Crypto Crime Report said: "While North Korea-linked hackers are undoubtedly sophisticated and represent a significant threat to the cryptocurrency ecosystem, law enforcement and national security agencies' ability to fight back is growing."
Cathie Wood still believes BTC will hit $1m 💰
ARK Invest's crypto-friendly founder Cathie Wood is sticking by her prediction that Bitcoin will surge to $1 million by the end of the decade. In a new report, her firm argues that the failure of centralized businesses over the past year have actually elevated BTC's value propositions — "decentralization, auditability, and transparency." Over three, four and five-year timeframes, ARK Invest said Bitcoin has "outperformed every major asset class." Beyond that, institutions including BlackRock, BNY Mellon and Fidelity among others, committed to BTC during the bear market. ARK's research forecasts that digital assets could end up being a $10 trillion business by 2030 too, compared with about $1 trillion today.