The week ahead’s three biggest cryptocurrency stories

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QUICK TAKEThe Federal Reserve will loom large in the news agenda for crypto markets this week, with another meaty hike in U.S. interest rates forecast. And, following Ethereum’s successful Merge last week, the Cardano blockchain is due to get its own upgrade. As the crypto industry emerges blinking from a week dominated by Ethereum’s successful switch to proof of stake from proof of work, attention will shift this week to more mundane matters of economic policy.Although not to be outdone, the Cardano blockchain is also planning its own network upgrade, known as Vasil.The Fed is expected to hike, againFederal Reserve policymakers are expected to unveil a fresh hike to U.S. interest rates on Wednesday. The Fed will raise rates by 75 basis points for a third consecutive meeting, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists, bringing their key rate to a range of 3% to 3.25%.The Fed has been hiking aggressively to head off inflation that has surged thanks to a booming economy, an energy crisis and a supply chain crunch following the Covid pandemic. Markets currently expect U.S. interest rates to breach 4% by year-end.So far this year, bitcoin’s price has reacted to U.S. monetary policy as if it’s a fast-growing tech stock, tending to fall as interest rate expectations rise.The Fed announcement is due at 2 p.m. ET on Sept. 21, with the Bank of England following the next day with an expected increase in UK interest rates.Crypto oversightSticking with the U.S., the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a body chaired by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, will meet on Friday to work on its report regarding regulatory gaps for digital assets and their potential risks.The report is the last outstanding piece of a broader framework from the Biden administration that represents the first attempt to harmonize the approach of federal agencies toward digital currencies.On Sept. 22, a week after Ethereum underwent The Merge, the Cardano blockchain is due to implement a hard fork known as Vasil.Vasil is designed to increase Cardano’s scalability, while also reducing transaction costs. The switch will also allow developers to create more powerful and efficient blockchain-based applications amid enhancements to its Plutus smart contract platform.A group of developers involved in the project have described it as the "most significant Cardano upgrade to date."The release had been set for earlier in the summer but was hit with delays.