This is the final stage prior to the launch of the deposit contract which is to go out soon after the dry run is over.
When exactly is not clear, but the deposit contract triggers the genesis block launch based on whether the minimum of circa 500,000 eth has been deposited or otherwise.
Meaning once the deposit contract is launched, then the ethereum 2.0 genesis block is effectively imminent.
That network has been in a mainnet like testnet for months now with it running without problems since August 20th.
As such they’re having a dry run to double ensure everything can go smoothly and if it does so, then phase zero of ethereum 2.0 is good to go at any time.
That’s the hybrid stage of Proof of Stake (PoS) and Proof of Work (PoW) with it also containing skeleton sharding in the way validation of PoW blocks is carried out by PoS stakers.
From an investment perspective it will have two effects. Inflation will increase slightly and temporarily by 0.22% which will become total inflation once the current PoW network is merged into PoS.
And, circulation should practically decrease depending on how many stake. As an example, the Ethereum Foundation tends to move weekly some fairly small amounts of 1,000 eth or so to cover expenses. If they stake and they probably will eventually, then that expenses amount could come out of the network instead of circulation.
The staked eth is locked, so from the market’s perspective they would be out of price setting in the short term, but they could inform the market depending on how the staked amount moves.
In periods of weak confidence, you’d think people would get out of staking. During bullish times, many might just get a % in ‘interest’ instead of holding the eth like a rock.
There would obviously be quite a bit of competition from defi, with staking having its own risks especially in the early days which is partially why you need to be able to use the command line to participate as the funds can be at risk in exceptional circumstances.
The early stakers however are rewarded the most which should lead to some sort of balance between risk and reward as well as lost opportunities in defi or elsewhere.
All that should begin perhaps by next month but at least by November, with this dry run to ascertain whether after years of research and coding, this is good to go.