JPMorgan Says Bitcoin Could Surge to $146,000 in Long Term

JPMorgan Chase & Co. sees Bitcoin as a future competitor of gold as an asset class, with the long-term potential to reach $146,000, Bloomberg reports.

Why It Matters: It would be quite the climb for Bitcoin, which rallied to a record $34,000 before retreating a bit on Monday. But it’s a long way off, if anything. Private investment in Bitcoin would have to grow at a multiple of nearly five to match the investment in gold via ETFs or bars and coins.

But a healthy future for Bitcoin depends on its volatility coming down to gold’s level, encouraging more institutional investment.

  • A group of strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou said this could be a “multiyear process.”

Key Numbers (From CoinMarketCap):

  1. Bitcoin’s Market Capitalization: $592 Billion
  2. Bitcoin’s Circulating Supply: 18,600,000 Tokens
  3. Bitcoin’s Current Price (9:00 a.m. ET): $31,701.10

As prices continue to improve and volatility appears to stabilize, more institutions and noted investors are getting involved or expressing interest. But a heated debate over Bitcoin remains:

  • “While some argue that the cryptocurrency offers a hedge against dollar weakness and inflation risk in a world awash with fiscal and monetary stimulus, others say retail investors and trend-following quant funds are pumping up an unsustainable bubble.”

The Future, For Now: JPMorgan anticipates headwinds for the digital currency, with indicators “like a buildup of speculative long positions and an increase in investment wallets holding small amounts of Bitcoin showing potential froth.”

Bitcoin rose 1.7% to $31,567 as of 10:31 a.m. in London. The wider Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index added 0.9%. On Monday, Bitcoin slid as much as 17%, the biggest drop since March, after breaching $34,000 for the first time over the weekend. The swings are a reminder of the famed volatility of the largest cryptocurrency, whose price has more than quadrupled over the past year.

Bitcoin has the potential to reach $146,000 in the long term as it competes with gold as an asset class, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Bitcoin’s market capitalization of around $575 billion would have to rise by 4.6 times — for a theoretical price of $146,000 — to match the total private sector investment in gold via exchange-traded funds or bars and coins, strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note. But that outlook depends on the volatility of Bitcoin converging with that of gold to encourage more institutional investment, a process that will take some time, they said.

“A crowding out of gold as an ‘alternative’ currency implies big upside for Bitcoin over the long term,” the strategists wrote Monday. However, “a convergence in volatilities between Bitcoin and gold is unlikely to happen quickly and is in our mind a multiyear process, according to Bloomberg. This implies that the above-$146,000 theoretical Bitcoin price target should be considered as a long-term target, and thus an unsustainable price target for this year.”

More institutions and noted investors, from Paul Tudor Jones to Scott Minerd and Stan Druckenmiller, have either started allocating funds into Bitcoin or have said they’re open to doing so. While some argue that the cryptocurrency offers a hedge against dollar weakness and inflation risk in a world awash with fiscal and monetary stimulus, others say retail investors and trend-following quant funds are pumping up an unsustainable bubble.

For now, JPMorgan sees headwinds for the largest cryptocurrency, with indicators like a buildup of speculative long positions and an increase in investment wallets holding small amounts of Bitcoin showing potential froth. “The valuation and position backdrop has become a lot more challenging for Bitcoin at the beginning of the New Year,” the strategists wrote. “While we cannot exclude the possibility that the current speculative mania will propagate further pushing the Bitcoin price up toward the consensus region of between $50,000-$100,000, we believe that such price levels would prove unsustainable.”

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The Bitcoin Halvening Is Coming

One of the controversial things about bitcoin (BTC) is that it pays the people that keep the bitcoin blockchain running and secure. These folks are called miners, purely because the process seems slightly similar to mining. The process of mining is to run software that executes the search for the solution to a puzzle that acts as the password to creating the next record on the bitcoin blockchain. Success in cracking this puzzle and then creating the next block of records is rewarded in bitcoin. At the moment the reward is 12.5 BTC, which at the rate of $8,000 a BTC is exactly $100,000.

That sounds like a lot of money to solve a lil’ ole puzzle. The trouble is the puzzle is to mash numbers to create a result with say 23 zeros, which, because of the math involved, means you have to do literally zillions of trillions of calculations to find one password code. Miners run these bazillions of calculations, sifting through the wrong answers to get to a single right one. This takes perhaps three years for a specialist machine running flat out at 50 trillion calculations a second, burning a few thousand dollars of electricity as it goes.

That doesn’t sound like a bad business model but as new mining machines enter the game, so the game gets harder, which means that the amount of time taken by any given machine to get a result goes up and so does the cost. Bitcoins difficulty has over the years gone truly exponential, so that the money a machine can make when put into a team of machines halves every six months or so as time passes. That makes making money mining tricky because while you may make great money to start with, after about 18 months it may have fallen to nothing.

Apart from increasing difficulty, mining also gets harder because every so often the blockchain will halve the reward. This last happened in July 2016. The reward is currently 12.5 bitcoin but soon enough the reward will be only 6.175 BTC. The price should rise to pay the miners more for their smaller haul of new bitcoin. If it doesn’t, unprofitable miners must stop work so the difficulty can fall and the job can get easier for those that remain or certain miners must get way more efficient and push the less efficient miners off the pitch.

Today In: Money

The general consensus is that the bitcoin price will rise.

The reason for this is that the inflation of the BTC money supply by 12.5 BTC every ten minutes, means that there is a new supply of 1,800 coins a day, let’s call it $14 million a day. This $14 million of new supply, which is currently absorbed by buyers, will suddenly be cut in half to $7 million. The demand, however, will remain roughly constant. Unchanged demand coupled with lower supply, equals price up.

This is how it has worked in the past and this is what I’m putting my money on. There are skeptics who suggest that if the price doesn’t move up then miners will wither away, block times will slow dramatically, bitcoin will be less useful, people will panic and dump and so on. However, there are a lot of people like me who would love that and would buy a lot into such a panic. Less supply, same demand, high price, wins the simple proven logical outcome of the next halvening.

But of course people are going to preempt.

To add to the price pressure, bitcoin gets lost. That happens to gold too and was also a problem for gold when it was money. That enables bitcoin to get ever more expensive overtime.

If a Satoshi was 1 cent, bitcoin’s market cap would be 21 trillion dollars, but when you think about it, if a Satoshi was $1 or $100, then it would become a currency much like gold, which in the past was used foremostly as a store of wealth, expressed in the usage for silver coins which acted as a store of wealth for the general usage of copper coins. This is the dream of all crypto fans, bitcoin as the reserve currency of crypto, an incredibly valuable blockchain fungibly linked on top of a hierarchy of other ‘lesser’ currencies.

It could happen.

The upcoming halvening speaks to this dream and it’s coming to the BTC blockchain in May. As a hodl’er I can wait.

Be among the first to get important crypto and blockchain news and information with Forbes Crypto Confidential. It’s free, sign up now.

Clem Chambers is the CEO of private investors website ADVFN.com and author of Be Rich, The Game in Wall Street and Trading Cryptocurrencies: A Beginner’s Guide. In 2018, Chambers won Journalist of the Year in the Business Market Commentary category in the State Street U.K. Institutional Press Awards.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I am the CEO of stocks and investment website ADVFN . As well as running Europe and South America’s leading financial market website I am a prolific financial writer. I wrote a stock column for WIRED – which described me as a ‘Market Maven’ – and am a regular columnist for numerous financial publications around the world. I have written for titles including: Working Money, Active Trader, SFO and Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities in the US and have written for pretty much every UK national newspaper. In the last few years I have become a financial thriller writer and have just had my first non-fiction title published: 101 ways to pick stock market winners. Find me here on US Amazon. You’ll also see me regularly on CNBC, CNN, SKY, Business News Network and the BBC giving my take on the markets.

Source: The Bitcoin Halvening Is Coming

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