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Is there a way for the crypto sector to avoid Bitcoin’s halving-related bear markets?

BTC’s high volatility and halving-related bear markets tend to drag down investment and interest in the entire crypto market. Can this be avoided?

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BTC’s high volatility and halving-related bear markets tend to drag down investment and interest in the entire crypto market. Can this be avoided?

There is good reason to be afraid. Previous down markets have seen declines in excess of 80%. While tightfisted hodling might hold wisdom among many Bitcoin (BTC) maximalists, speculators in altcoins know that diamond handing can mean near (or total) annihilation. 

Regardless of one’s investment philosophy, in risk-off environments, participation flees the space with haste. The purest among us might see a silver lining as the devastation clears the forest floor of weeds, leaving room for the strongest projects to flourish. Though, doubtlessly, there are many saplings lost who would grow to great heights themselves if they had a chance.

Investment and interest in the digital asset space are water and sunlight to the fertile ground of ideas and entrepreneurship. Less severe declines better serve the market; better a garden than a desert.

A brief history of crypto bear markets

In order to solve a problem, we must first understand its catalyst. Bitcoin and the wider digital asset space have survived a number of bear markets since its inception. By some accounts, depending on one’s definition, we are currently in number five.

The five Bitcoin bear markets. Source: TradingView

The first half of 2012 was fraught with regulatory uncertainty culminating in the closure of TradeHill, the second-largest Bitcoin exchange. This was followed by the hacks of both Bitcoinica and Linode, resulting in tens of thousands of Bitcoin lost and dropping the market by some 40%.¹ But, the price rebounded, albeit briefly, finding new heights above $16 until further hacks, regulatory fears and defaults from the Bitcoin Savings and Trust Ponzi Scheme collapsed the price yet again, down 37%.¹

The enthusiasm for the new digital currency did not stay long suppressed, as BTC rose again to find equilibrium at around $120 for the better part of the next year before rocketing to over $1,100 in the last quarter of 2013. And, just as dramatically, the seizure of the Silk Road by the DEA, China’s Central Bank ban and the scandal around the Mt. Gox closure sank the market into a viciously protracted retracement of 415 days. This phase lasted until early 2015, and the price withered to a mere 17% of the previous market highs.¹

From there, growth was steady until the middle of 2017, when enthusiasm and market mania launched Bitcoin price into the stratos, peaking in December at nearly $20,000. Eager profit-taking, further hacks and rumors of countries banning the asset, again, crashed the market and BTC languished in the doldrums for over a year. 2019 brought a promising escalation to nearly $14,000 and ranged largely above $10,000 until pandemic fears dropped BTC below $4,000 in March 2020. It was a staggering 1,089 days — nearly three full years — before the crypto market regained its 2017 high.²

But, then, as many in the space have memed, the money printer went “brrrrrr.” Global expansionist monetary policy and fears of fiat inflation fed an unprecedented rise in asset values.

Bitcoin and the greater crypto market found new heights, topping out at nearly $69,000 per BTC and over $3 trillion in the total asset class market capitalization in late 2021.²

The total crypto market cap decline. Source: TradingView

As of June 20, the pandemic liquidity has dried up. Central banks are hiking rates in response to worrying inflation numbers, and the greater crypto market carries a total investment of a relatively meager $845 billion.² More worrying still, the trend indicates deeper and longer crypto winters, not shorter, befitting a more mature market. Doubtless, this is primarily caused by the inclusion of and speculative mania around the high-risk start-ups that comprise some 50% to 60% of the total digital market cap.²

However, altcoins are not entirely to blame. The 2018 crash saw the Bitcoin price drop 65%.⁴ Growth and adoption of crypto’s apex asset have raised regulatory alarms in many countries and questions about the very sovereignty of national currencies have followed.

How to mitigate risk in the market?

So, it is risk, of course, that drives this undue downward volatility. And, we are in a risk-off environment. Thus, our young and fragile garden wilts first among the deeper-rooted asset classes of convention.

Portfolio managers are acutely aware of this and are required to balance a sliver of crypto investment with a larger slice of safe-haven assets. Retail investors and professionals alike often drop their bags entirely at the first sign of a bear, returning to conventional markets or to cash. This reactionary strategy is seen as a necessary evil, often at the expense of incurring short-term capital gains tax, and at risk of missing significant unpredictable reversals, which is preferred to the devastating and protracted declines of crypto winter.

Must it be so?

How does an asset class so driven by speculative promise de-risk enough to keep interest and investment alive in the worst of times? Bitcoin-heavy crypto portfolios do better, comprising a higher percentage of the least volatile of the major assets. Even so, with a 0.90+ correlation of Bitcoin to the altcoin market, the wake of crypto’s most dominant currency often serves as a churn to smaller assets caught in the same storm.

Correlation of BTC to Ether and all altcoins. Source: Arcane Research

Many flee to stablecoins in dire times, but, as evidenced by the recent Terra disaster, they fundamentally hold more risk than their fiat peg. And, commodity-paired tokens are burdened with the same concerns inherent to any other digital asset: trust — be it in a marketplace or its organizational entity — regulatory uncertainty and technological vulnerabilities.

No, merely tokenizing safe-haven assets will not provide the stable yang to the volatile yin of the crypto market. When fear is at a maximum, an inverse price relationship, not merely neutrality, must be achieved to retain investment in crypto and at a return that justifies the adoption of this inherent risk.

For those willing and able, inclusion of the inverse Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) offered by BetaPro and Proshares does provide a hedge. Much like engaging short positions, however, accessibility hurdles and fees make these solutions all the more unlikely to sustain the average investor through the bear market.

Further, increasingly regulated and compliant centralized exchanges are making leveraged accounts and crypto derivatives unreachable to many in the larger retail markets.⁵

Decentralized exchanges (DEXs) suffer from the limitations of anonymity and solutions offered for shorting mechanisms on such have largely required a centralized exchange to work in collaboration. And, more to the point, both solutions functionally do not support value retention in the crypto market directly.

Are crypto safe-haven assets enough?

The solution to the mass exodus of investment in the crypto bear market must be found in the assets themselves, not in their derivatives. Escaping the inherent risks mentioned above might be, in the medium-term, impossible. But, regulatory clarification is promised and debated around the globe. Centralization and technical risks are finding new mitigations through decentralized autonomous strategies and the engagement of an ever-more discerning crypto-savvy investor.

Through many experiments and trials, crypto entrepreneurs will continue to bring real solutions to the forefront. Applications of blockchain technology that find substantial adoption in down-market “defensive” industries such as healthcare, utilities and the purchase or production of consumer staples would provide an alternative to flight. Such development should be encouraged in these uncertain times. Rather, by the wisdom of the market, such uncertain times should encourage this development.

However, ingenuity should not be limited to merely tokenizing the feeble solutions of the conventional markets. This is a new world with new rules and possibilities. Programmatically incentivized inverse mechanisms are feasible, after all.

Synthetix’s Inverse Synths aspire to do just that, but the protocol sets both a floor and ceiling price, and in such an event, the exchange rate is frozen and only exchangeable on their platform.³ An interesting tool for sure but unlikely to be utilized by the greater crypto market. True solutions will be broadly accessible both geographically and conceptually. Rather than providing merely a dry place to wait out the down-market storm, crypto solutions must provide a return to justify the risk still inherent to our developing asset class.

Is there a silver lining to the bear market? Will the survivors of crypto-winter emerge in a market more rewarding for application and adoption than speculation? Healthy pruning may be just what our young garden needs; a protracted drought surely is unnecessary. Down markets are simply a problem and, with the clever application of blockchain technology, hopefully, a soluble one.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content of product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

Trevor is a technology consultant, entrepreneur and principal at Positron Market Instruments LLC. He has consulted for corporate planning teams in the United States, Canada and Europe and believes that blockchain technology holds the promise of a more efficient, just and egalitarian future. 

¹A Brief History of Bitcoin Bear Markets | by Mosaic - Medium

² Crypto Total Market Cap (Ticker: CRYPTOCAP): Calculated by TradingView

³ Travers, Garth (July 19, 2019). "Inverse Synths are Back"

⁴ Choudhury, Saheli Roy (January 11, 2018). "South Korea is talking down the idea a cryptocurrency trading ban is imminent”

⁵ Newbery, Emma (August 3, 2021). "Why are so many crypto exchanges unavailable in the US?"

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Bitcoin mining revenue mirrors 2021 lows, right before BTC breached $69K

The key to survival for Bitcoin miners boils down to the delicate balance between the revenue and the operating cash flow.
Bitcoin…

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The key to survival for Bitcoin miners boils down to the delicate balance between the revenue and the operating cash flow.

Bitcoin (BTC) visiting the $20,000 range after one and a half years made mining — the most important job of the ecosystem — a costly affair. However, if history were to repeat itself, BTC investors may witness another epic bull run that previously helped Bitcoin reach an all-time high of $69,000.

Changes in Bitcoin prices directly impact the miners’ income, who earn fixed block rewards and transaction fees in BTC for running their mining operations. In June 2022, the total mining revenue dipped below the $20 million range, with Blockchain.com data recording the lowest dip of $14.401 million on June 17.

Total miners revenue over time. Source: blockchain.com

As shown above, the recent dip in Bitcoin mining revenue was last seen one year back when the total value tanked to $13.065 million on June 27, 2021 — back when BTC traded at roughly $34,000. What followed after that was Bitcoin’s five-month-long epic bull run, which was supported by pro-crypto initiatives such as El Salvador’s BTC acceptance and crypto-friendly regulations across the globe. 

Despite mixed sentiments about the recovery of the crypto ecosystem, small-time investors are found to have increased their investment efforts amid the bear market as they fulfill their long-term dream of owning one full BTC (1 BTC). Global recession, geopolitical tensions, falling crypto economies like Terra and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic currently hold the Bitcoin ecosystem from unleashing its true potential.

Monthly operating cash flow vs. mining revenue. Source: Arcane Crypto

A report shared by crypto-focused financial services firm Arcane Crypto revealed that potential of several public Bitcoin miners to survive the ongoing bear market. The key to survival for Bitcoin miners boils down to the delicate balance between the revenue and the operating cash flow. 

Based on the report, Argo, CleanSpark, Stronghold, Marathon and Roit are the best-positioned miners to sustain the crypto winter. At the same time, major player Core has nearly matched its operational costs to its total revenue.

Related: Compass Mining loses facility after allegedly failing to pay power bill

Bitcoin mining hardware and hosting company Compass Mining lost one of its Maine-based hosting facilities after failing to pay the electricity bills.

Dynamics Mining, the owner of the mine hosting facility, alleged that Compass Mining has six late payments and three non-payments related to utility bills and hosting fees, stating “all you had to was pay $250,000 for 3 months of power consumption.”

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Is Bitcoin Really A Hedge Against Inflation?

The long-standing claim that bitcoin is a hedge against inflation has come to a fork in the road as inflation is soaring, but the bitcoin price is not.

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The long-standing claim that bitcoin is a hedge against inflation has come to a fork in the road as inflation is soaring, but the bitcoin price is not.

This is an opinion editorial by Jordan Wirsz, an investor, award-winning entrepreneur, author and podcast host.

Bitcoin’s correlation to inflation has been widely discussed since its inception. There are many narratives surrounding bitcoin’s meteoric rise over the last 13 years, but none so prevalent as the debasement of fiat currency, which is certainly considered inflationary. Now Bitcoin’s price is declining, leaving many Bitcoiners confused, as inflation is the highest it’s been in more than 40 years. How will inflation and monetary policy impact bitcoin’s price?

First, let’s discuss inflation. The Federal Reserve’s mandate includes an inflation target of 2%, yet we just printed an 8.6% consumer price inflation number for the month of May 2022. That is more than 400% of the Fed’s target. In reality, inflation is likely even higher than the CPI print. Wage inflation isn’t keeping up with actual inflation and households are starting to feel it big time. Consumer sentiment is now at an all-time low.

(Source)

Why isn’t bitcoin surging while inflation is running out of control? Although fiat debasement and inflation are correlated, they truly are two different things that can coexist in juxtaposition for periods of time. The narrative that bitcoin is an inflation hedge has been widely talked about, but bitcoin has behaved more as a barometer of monetary policy than of inflation.

Macro analysts and economists are feverishly debating our current inflationary environment, trying to find comparisons and correlations to inflationary periods in history — such as the 1940s and the 1970s — in an effort to forecast where we go from here. While there are certainly similarities to inflationary periods of the past, there is no precedent for bitcoin’s performance under circumstances such as these. Bitcoin was born only 13 years ago from the ashes of the Global Financial Crisis, which itself unleashed one of the greatest monetary expansions in history up until that time. For the last 13 years, bitcoin has seen an environment of easy monetary policy. The Fed has been dovish, and anytime hawkishness raised its ugly head, the markets rolled over and the Fed pivoted quickly to reestablish calm markets. Note that during the same period, bitcoin rose from pennies to $69,000, making it perhaps the greatest-performing asset of all time. The thesis has been that bitcoin is an “up and to the right asset,” but that thesis has never been challenged by a significantly tightening monetary policy environment, which we find ourselves at the present moment.

The old saying that “this time is different,” might actually prove to be true. The Fed can’t pivot to quell the markets this time. Inflation is wildly out of control and the Fed is starting from a near-zero rate environment. Here we are with 8.6% inflation and near-zero rates while staring recession straight in the eyes. The Fed is not hiking to cool the economy … It is hiking in the face of a cooling economy, with already one quarter of negative gross domestic product growth behind us in Q1, 2022. Quantitative tightening has only just begun. The Fed does not have the leeway to slow down or ease its tightening. It must, by mandate, continue to raise rates until inflation is under control. Meanwhile, the cost-conditions index already shows the biggest tightening in decades, with almost zero movement from the Fed. The mere hint of the Fed tightening spun the markets out of control.

(Source)

There is a big misconception in the market about the Fed and its commitment to raising rates. I often hear people say, “The Fed can’t raise rates because if they do, we won’t be able to afford our debt payments, so the Fed is bluffing and will pivot sooner than later.” That idea is just factually incorrect. The Fed has no limit as to the amount of money it can spend. Why? Because it can print money to make whatever debt payments are necessary to support the government from defaulting. It’s easy to make debt payments when you have a central bank to print your own currency, isn’t it?

I know what you’re thinking: “Wait a minute, you’re saying the Fed needs to kill inflation by raising rates. And if rates go up enough, the Fed can just print more money to pay for its higher interest payments, which is inflationary?”

Does your brain hurt yet?

This is the “debt spiral” and inflation conundrum that folks like Bitcoin legend Greg Foss talks about regularly.

Now let me be clear, the above discussion of that possible outcome is widely and vigorously debated. The Fed is an independent entity, and its mandate is not to print money to pay our debts. However, it is entirely possible that politicians make moves to change the Fed’s mandate given the potential for incredibly pernicious circumstances in the future. This complex topic and set of nuances deserves much more discussion and thought, but I’ll save that for another article in the near future.

Interestingly, when the Fed announced its intent to hike rates to kill inflation, the market didn’t wait for the Fed to do it … The market actually went ahead and did the Fed’s job for it. In the last six months, interest rates have roughly doubled — the fastest rate of change ever in the history of interest rates. Libor has jumped even more.

(Source)

This record rate-increase has included mortgage rates, which have also doubled in the last six months, sending shivers through the housing market and crushing home affordability at a rate of change unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

30-year mortgage rates have nearly doubled in the last six months.

All of this, with only a tiny, minuscule, 50 bps hike by the Fed and the very beginning of their rate hike and balance sheet runoff program, merely started in May! As you can see, the Fed barely moved an inch, while the markets crossed a chasm on their own accord. The Fed’s rhetoric alone sent a chilling effect through the markets that few expected. Look at the global growth optimism at new all-time lows:

(Source)

Despite the current volatility in the markets, the current miscalculation by investors is that the Fed will take its foot off the brake once inflation is under control and slowing. But the Fed can only control the demand side of the inflationary equation, not the supply side of the equation, which is where most of the inflationary pressure is coming from. In essence, the Fed is trying to use a screwdriver to cut a board of lumber. Wrong tool for the job. The result may very well be a cooling economy with persistent core inflation, which is not going to be the “soft landing” that many hope for.

Is the Fed actually hoping for a hard landing? One thought that comes to mind is that we may actually need a hard landing in order to give the Fed a pathway to reduce interest rates again. This would provide the government the possibility of actually servicing its debt with future tax revenue, versus finding a path to print money to pay for our debt service at persistently higher rates.

Although there are macro similarities between the 1940s, 1970s and the present, I think it ultimately provides less insight into the future direction of asset prices than the monetary policy cycles do.

Below is a chart of the rate of change of U.S. M2 money supply. You can see that 2020-2021 saw a record rise from the COVID-19 stimulus, but look at late 2021-present and you see one of the fastest rate-of-change drops in M2 money supply in recent history. 

(Source)

In theory, bitcoin is behaving exactly as it should in this environment. Record-easy monetary policy equals “number go up technology.” Record monetary tightening equals “number go down” price action. It is quite easy to ascertain that bitcoin’s price is tied less to inflation, and more to monetary policy and asset inflation/deflation (as opposed to core inflation). The chart below of the FRED M2 money supply resembles a less volatile bitcoin chart … “number go up” technology — up and to the right.

(Via St. Louis Fed)

Now, consider that for the first time since 2009 — actually the entire history of the FRED M2 chart — the M2 line is potentially making a significant direction turn to the downside (look closely). Bitcoin is only a 13-year-old experiment in correlation analysis that many are still theorizing upon, but if this correlation holds, then it stands to reason that bitcoin will be much more closely tied to monetary policy than it will inflation.

If the Fed finds itself needing to print significantly more money, it would potentially coincide with an uptick in M2. That event could reflect a “monetary policy change” significant enough to start a new bull market in bitcoin, regardless of whether or not the Fed starts easing rates.

I often think to myself, “What is the catalyst for people to allocate a portion of their portfolio to bitcoin?” I believe we are beginning to see that catalyst unfold right in front of us. Below is a total-bond-return index chart that demonstrates the significant losses bond holders are taking on the chin right now. 

(Source)

The “traditional 60/40” portfolio is getting destroyed on both sides simultaneously, for the first time in history. The traditional safe haven isn’t working this time around, which underscores the possibility that “this time is different.” Bonds may be a deadweight allocation for portfolios from now on — or worse.

It seems that most traditional portfolio strategies are broken or breaking. The only strategy that has worked consistently over the course of millennia is to build and secure wealth with the simple ownership of what is valuable. Work has always been valuable and that is why proof-of-work is tied to true forms of value. Bitcoin is the only thing that does this well in the digital world. Gold does it too, but compared to bitcoin, it cannot fulfill the needs of a modern, interconnected, global economy as well as its digital counterpart can. If bitcoin didn’t exist, then gold would be the only answer. Thankfully, bitcoin exists.

Regardless of whether inflation stays high or calms down to more normalized levels, the bottom line is clear: Bitcoin will likely start its next bull market when monetary policy changes, even if ever so slightly or indirectly.

This is a guest post by Jordan Wirsz. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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Final Capitulation — 5 reasons why Bitcoin could bottom at $10,000

Bitcoin. The bottom. Are we there yet? Several higher timeframe metrics suggest BTC’s real bottom will be somewhere around $10,000.

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Bitcoin. The bottom. Are we there yet? Several higher timeframe metrics suggest BTC’s real bottom will be somewhere around $10,000.

Bear markets have historically been challenging to navigate for traders and the conventional set of "reliable" indicators that determine good entry points are unable to predict how long a crypto winter might last.

Bitcoin’s (BTC) recent recovery back above the psychologically important price level of $20,000 was a sign to many traders that the bottom was in, but a deeper dive into the data suggests that the short-term relief rally might not be enough proof of a macro-level trend change.

Evidence pointing to the need for caution was provided in a recent report by cryptocurrency research firm Delphi Digital, which suggested that “we need to see a little more pain before we have conviction that a market bottom is in.”

Despite the pain that has already been felt since Bitcoin’s price topped in November, a comparison between its pullback since then and the 2017 market top points to the possibility of further decline in the short-term.

BTC/USD price normalized since all-time high (Current vs. 2017 peak) source: Delphi Digital

During previous bear markets, the price of BTC fell by roughly 85% from its top to the eventual bottom. According to Delphi Digital, if history were to repeat itself in the current environment it would translate into “a low just above $10,000 and another 50% drawdown for current levels.”

The outlook for Ether (ETH) is even direr as the previous bear market saw its price decline by 95% from peak to trough. Should that same scenario play out this time around, the price of Ether could drop as low as $300.

ETH/USD price percent drawdown (current vs. prior ATH). Source: Delphi Digital

Delphi Digital said,

“The risk of reliving a similar crash is higher than most people are probably discounting, especially if BTC fails to hold support in the $14K–16K range.”

Oversold conditions prevail

For traders looking for where the bottom is in the current market, data shows that “previous major market bottoms coincided with extreme oversold conditions.”

As shown in the weekly chart below, BTC’s 14-week RSI recently fell below 30 for the third time in its history, with the two previous occurrences coming near a market bottom.

BTC/USD weekly price vs. 14-week RSI. Source: Delphi Digital

While some may take this as a sign that now is a good time to reenter the market, Delphi Digital offered a word of caution for those expecting a “V-shaped” recovery, noting that “In the prior two instances, BTC traded in a choppy sideways range for several months before finally staging a strong recovery.”

A view of the 200-week simple moving average (SMA) also raises question on whether the historical support level will hold again.

BTC/USD price vs. 200-week SMA and 14-week RSI. Source: Delphi Digital

Bitcoin recently broke below its 200-week SMA for the first time since March 2020. Historically speaking, BTC price has only traded below this level for a few weeks during the previous bear markets, which points to the possibility that a bottom could soon be found.

Related: Bitcoin price dips under $21K while exchanges see record outflow trend

The final capitualation

What the market is really looking for right now is the final capitulation that has historically marked the end of a bear market and the start of the next cycle.

While the sentiment in the market is now at its lowest point since the COVID-19 crash of March 2020, it hasn’t quite reached the depths of despair that were seen in 2018.

According to Delphi Digital:

“We may need to see a bit more pain before sentiment really bottoms out.”
Crypto Fear & Greed Index. Source: Alternative

The weakness in the crypto market has been apparent since the end of 2021, but the real driving force behind the market crumbling include run-away inflation and rising interest rates.

BTC/USD vs. Fed funds rate vs. Fed balance sheet. Source: Delphi Digital

Rising interest rates tend to be followed by market corrections, and given that the Federal Reserve intends to stay the course of hiking rates, Bitcoin and other risk-off assets are likely to correct further.

One final metric that suggests that a final capitulation event needs to occur is the percentage of BTC supply in profit, which hit a low of 40% during previous bear markets.

BTC/USD price vs. percentage of supply in profit. Source: Delphi Digital

This metric is currently at 54.9%, according to data from Glassnode, which adds credence to the perspective that the market could still experience another leg down before the real bottom is in.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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