It was the rally that wasn’t.
After a slide in its price that lasted several months, bitcoin seemed to be on a path to revival after it broke the $8,500 barrier recently. But the increase proved temporary and the cryptocurrency’s price reversed course over the weekend. This week's news about the SEC postponing a bitcoin ETF decision contributed to further gloom in crypto markets and bitcoin’s price slid below $7,000.
As of this writing, bitcoin is changing hands at $6,477. During the first week of this year, bitcoin reached a high of $17,135, according to Coindesk data. (See also: Is The Bitcoin Price Bubble Bursting?)
Other cryptocurrencies have mirrored bitcoin’s slump. Ethereum’s ether and Ripple’s XRP, the second- and third-most valuable cryptocurrencies in the markets, have she roughly 51% and 85% of their prices from the beginning of this year. The overall market capitalization for cryptocurrencies is $226.2 billion, as of this writing. That figure compares with a high of $828.5 billion reached earlier this year.
The swings in bitcoin’s price and cryptocurrency markets are nothing new. What is new, however, is the refusal of markets to respond to good news, such as ICE’s announcement of a futures trading platform for the cryptocurrency.
Should cryptocurrency investors be concerned?
A Profusion of Opinions
As has happened in the past, opinions are divided on the topic. There are those who think that the current decline in prices is part of a prolonged bear market. Others have a more upbeat take on the state of affairs.
Chris Burniske, venture capitalist and author of an Amazon.com top-ranked book on cryptocurrency investing, compared the current nine-month slump in bitcoin’s price to its price trajectory between the end of 2013 and beginning of 2015, a 14-month period during which there was a similar downward slide. During that time, the cryptocurrency bottomed in January 2015 before embarking on a gradual ascent. That slow climb set the stage for skyrocketing prices later. “There’s nothing magical about 2 year periods, and, if anything, I would expect crypto’s market cycles to compress as we march deeper into the frenzy,” Burniske wrote.
Economist and crypto investor Tuur Demeester has also forecast a bear market for cryptocurrencies through the end of this year. “…I think chances are high for this year to be remembered as a shakeout year: a lemon market in altcoins, regulators catching up and infrastructure growing pains,” he wrote recently in a post at online publication Coindesk. According to Demeester, the NVM (network value Metcalfe) ratio for bitcoin is at lows. Some consider the ratio, which measures bitcoin’s network effects through the number of transactions on its blockchain, as an indicator of the cryptocurrency’s price. Thus, a high NVM translates to high prices for bitcoin.
On the other side of the spectrum are bitcoin bulls, who foresee a bright future for bitcoin despite setbacks. Noted crypto analyst Fundstrat’s Tom Lee is among them. Lee has forecast a price target of $25,000 for bitcoin by the end of this year. According to him, miner profitability, which declines with low prices, will drive bitcoin’s price upwards by the end of this year. During a recent television interview, he also drew parallels between cell phones and cryptocurrencies and said that bitcoin was a “multi-decade story”. “I did wireless [research] in the 1990s.I saw 20 years of mobile and internet convergence. To me, this is not that different in terms of how an industry has changed over time,” he said. (See also: Bitcoin Futures Cause "Gut Wrenching Weakness In Its Price: Analyst).
In a Forbes interview, Marouane Garcon, director of crypto derivatives platform Amulet, said the sentiment around bitcoin was “still positive” despite the SEC’s announcement of a postponement. “News like this used to trigger a volatile uproad, so this modest decline in price only demonstrates asset and market maturation,” he said.