Did The Bitcoin Bubble Just Pop?

Having rebounded after the BitConnect headlines sent prices plunging, cryptocurrencies are more sedately limping lower this morning with Bitcoin dropping back below $10,000. The question on everyone’s mind, did the bubble just burst or do you BTFD?

It’s been an ugly week for cryptos…

With the heatmap a sea of red…

… And Bitcoin back below $10,000:

… down 50% from its all time highs.

And Bitcoin Futures at the lowest since inception on heavy volume (note that Bitcoin spot topped as CBOE unleashed its futures contract)…

Notably –  today is the expiration of the first CBOE Bitcoin futures contract. CFTC reports a 1907 contract net short position (around 9500 Bitcoin short) and one wonders what impact that is having on the market today)

Bitcoin is now flirting with the key 9,978 support level, which Goldman yesterday noted is critical for the future level of bitcoin.  As Goldman’s chief technician wrote, “Watch for signs of a base ahead of 9,978. Setup weakens through 9,836. Turn neutral/cautious through 7,882.

Which means buyers materialize or it’s all downhill from here.

* * *

Piling on, during his earnings call this morning, Bank of America customers are welcome to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, just not through the lender’s Merrill Lynch unit, Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said.

“We have limited our relationships and I think the thing speaks for itself,”Moynihan said Wednesday on a call with reporters after reporting fourth-quarter results.

“We’ve basically told people that they could buy it in other accounts, but not at Merrill Lynch. And so it’s just our view that customers should be careful here.”

Merrill Lynch told employees last month not to offer clients Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust, one of the few financial instruments directly holding the digital coin. Moynihan said Wednesday the bank is concerned with not being able to identify who’s buying and selling.

Which led Bloomberg  to ask the question: Will the cryptocurrency go down as one of history’s most infamous bubbles, alongside tulipmania and the dot-com craze?

In a follow-up to our post from a month ago, Bloomberg looks at where we are now relative to ‘the big bubbles’…

As the chart shows, the cryptocurrency’s nearly 60-fold increase during the past three years was truly extraordinary.

The magnitude of Bitcoin’s boom (before it lost as much as 48 percent from its Dec. 18 high) suggests investors have reason to be worried.

However, Bulls say that Bitcoin’s boom is far from over, and that there’s more to analyzing a market than just measuring price gains. While the recent tumble has alarmed some investors, the cryptocurrency has bounced back from several previous swoons exceeding 50 percent. If Bitcoin did become a widely-accepted form of digital gold, as predicted by Cameron Winklevoss of Facebook fame, it could have a lot further to surge.

There’s also more than one way to slice a rally. On an annualized basis, Bitcoin’s three-year rise has been slower than the gains seen during several of history’s biggest manias — most notably the Mississippi and South Sea bubbles.

Still, skeptics abound.

Howard Wang of New York-based Convoy Investments LLC and Jeremy Grantham of GMO LLC have analyzed Bitcoin’s advance relative to past frenzies and concluded that it’s unsustainable. Grantham, who helps oversee about $74 billion as GMO’s chief investment strategist, summed up his concerns in a Jan. 3 letter to investors:

“Having no clear fundamental value and largely unregulated markets, coupled with a storyline conducive to delusions of grandeur, makes this more than anything we can find in the history books the very essence of a bubble,” he wrote.

However, as CoinTelegraph notes, although it’s not hard to find plentiful online resources asserting there’s no doubt Bitcoin is a huge bubble soon to burst, some people provide alternative views.One of them is Ben Davies, co-founder of another cryptocurrency called Glint. He thinks people are not looking at the bigger picture of Bitcoin, and that’s causing them to incorrectly see it as a bubble.

Davies also thinks the way people often compare Bitcoin to the bubble associated with tulip bulbs doesn’t hold water. He notes that although the prices of tulips soared then experienced a sharp downturn, that historic event is a “poor comparison.” He asserts the price increases associated with tulips were not similar to the cryptocurrency phenomenon.

However, even Davies admits Bitcoin “has all the hallmarks and antecedents that are the precursor to a bubble.”

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