Crypto markets are not reeling this week because China is “cracking down on Blockchain.” Tokens have been getting slammed since the summer because most of them are unnecessary, and because the need for coins that may offer some utility is not as imminent as buyers thought it would be. This is most obvious with King Crypto, bitcoin, whose purported use-case as a store of value is not looking very compelling.
The risk-reward in bitcoin has always been an extreme one, which is why its biggest proponents/salespeople assigned astronomic price targets to it. Widespread adoption is an extremely low-probability event with an enormous payoff if the stars align. And let’s be clear: the things that need to happen for the world to turn to bitcoin – complete central bank impotence, widespread currency debasement, falling equity markets and the abandonment of traditional gold – means betting on bitcoin is essentially betting against the house. Hence the “short bankers, long bitcoin” meme. To say bitcoin will offer a 100x return yet also say it’s a highly probabilistic event is inherently contradictory and hugely dishonest.
The market is now realizing this. As the global economic slowdown of the last nine months shows signs of stabilization and the Federal Reserve sees no need for more interest-rate cuts, the case for bitcoin is taking body blows. None of the stories about adoption are turning out, big tech giants from Facebook to Google are doing everything possible to dominate electronic pay and finance, and projects designed to make bitcoin a means of exchange are either slow, fruitless, or both.
In short, the house does not look like it’s in a losing position just yet. And so bitcoin is getting killed. Sure, the U.S. and China could have a major fallout, get into a currency war, and Chinese citizens could rush to crypto as a way to get money out of the system. That’s why bitcoin will never be worthless, and why every investor should watch its price action, but that scenario is looking way, way further away from reality than the cryptoknights had so many believe.
Bitcoin’s violent moves are a factor of the speculative nature described above. Because its probability of success is low, it is closer to a roulette wheel than any traditional asset class. Average people were lured into the bitcoin sales pitch in 2017 when the economy was tearing hot, cash flow was heavy, stocks were churning out huge gains, and people could afford to take a gamble. Why not roll the dice?
Now those buyers are losing faith in their chances of winning, and are using this year’s rally to get out. As the fundamental reason for owning bitcoin as a store of value also loses luster amid a stabilizing economic situation, the true believers may start bailing out too. If it continues, it should be a warning sign to more traditional investors who made a similar bet in gold, and maybe even those who ran to Treasury bonds as a hedge against chaos, too.
I am the Lead Anchor at TD Ameritrade Network, and the host of Morning Trade Live and Market On Close. I co-anchored Bloomberg BusinessWeek on TV and contributed to Bloomberg Markets and What’d You Miss while I was with Bloomberg beginning in June 2014. I also covered U.S. stocks and equity derivatives for Bloomberg News. Prior to that, I was a reporter at The Bond Buyer, primarily covering the sell side of the municipal bond industry, writing stories about bond insurers, underwriters, ratings services, bond counsel and general market trends. Early in my career I covered metropolitan news for the New York Post. I have a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from Cornell University.
Source: Bitcoin Isn’t Down Because of China, It’s Down Because You Don’t Need It