Why are bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies so volatile right now?

We can identify five main lessons from this bumpy period, and one area of total uncertainty that will persist for a couple of years at least, writes Hamish McRae

Sunday 19 June 2022 17:23
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<p>What is the long-term future of bitcoin and the rest of the pack? </p>

What is the long-term future of bitcoin and the rest of the pack?

If you own bitcoin, the past 10 days will have been brutal. On 9 June, it was still trading above $30,000. This weekend it was above $20,000 in the early hours of Saturday morning London time, but plunged to below $18,000 for a few minutes on Saturday evening. Since then it seems to have made a partial recovery.

So what have we learnt? When you get these extreme movements in any asset, the best thing to do is to think dispassionately about where there has been new information, or at least information that helps clarify earlier judgements. I suggest that we can identify five main lessons from this bumpy period, and one area of total uncertainty that will persist for a couple of years at least.

Lesson one stems from the extreme volatility of the past few days. It is that the market for bitcoin is very narrow, given its still-massive market capitalisation. At around $19,500, the market capitalisation of bitcoin is $370bn. By comparison, that makes it quite a lot more than, for example, the oil giant Shell, worth around $200bn.

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