Is Bitcoin one event away from a world of pain?

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Is Bitcoin one event away from a world of pain?

By Dan Ashmore - min read

Bitcoin has been hanging around this $20,000 level – or close to it – for quite a while now.

It’s funny how things work. Trade sideways for a couple of weeks and all the traders grow impatient.

But people: be careful what you wish for. There is reason to believe that Bitcoin’s current flirtation with $20,000 may be looked back upon as the “good old days” sometime soon.

What can we tell from previous cycles?

In looking back at previous cycles, it is notable that Bitcoin rarely traces back beyond the peak of the prior bull market. In this case, the previous bull market peaked close to Christmas in 2017, when Bitcoin exploded upwards to trade at $19,345.

It is thus noticeable that we have now dipped below this level – albeit only by a small amount. In looking at the chart, you can see this represents an outlier historically.

I don’t pay a lot of attention to support and resistance – I believe that in the current environment, the ominous macro climate is all that matters. Bitcoin, alongside the stock market, merely moves on inflation readings and the words of Jerome Powell.

However, it would be remiss to overlook psychological whims entirely. They do play a factor in all market moves, and oftentimes in crypto they can be more pronounced than most.

This is why I fear that Bitcoin is one bad news event away from a catastrophic day, and a sharp red candle. The world’s biggest cryptocurrency has been in crab motion at these levels for nearly four months now. The longer it does this, the more important that level becomes.

Additionally, the fact this crabbing is occurring around the psychologically important $20,000 number adds a little bit of symbolism and poignancy. Finally, given the fact that the peak of the previous bull has been erased, it really does bring all factors into play.

Macro still calls the shots

Of course, macro is still very much the leader. And with the state of the world so precarious right now – rising interest rises, spiralling cost of living, a war in Europe, an energy crisis – the bad news is everywhere you look. It is not hard to imagine a bad news event coming down the pipeline sometime soon.

If this event does materialise, that is when I fear for Bitcoin. I would not be surprised to see the orange coin plummet to a level not many thought possible – at least, not when talk of “supercycles” was in vogue during the pandemic surge.

It is important to note that the economy is a different beast right now to anything Bitcoin has ever experienced. People forget that Bitcoin was only launched in 2009. This means that it has never before existed in a high-interest rate environment, nor a world where the stock market was not printing outrageous gains (the S&P 500 6X’d from its nadir in the GFC to its all-time high less than a year ago).

So in this context, what good is it to blindly preach that Bitcoin has drawn down similar amounts before, only to roar back?

Today, we are squarely in the midst of a wider bear market, for the first time in crypto history.  The S&P 500 is off nearly 25% this year. Bonds are in the dumps. Even the king of the safe havens, gold, has lagged.  

Bitcoin is also a completely different asset than previous cycles. There is strong liquidity in the markets and institutional adoption. In short, it is a mainstream financial asset. It is even legal tender in a couple of countries. Nobody in financial circles has not heard of Bitcoin at this point.

So again, what can previous cycles tell us?

When does the red candle come?

Let me be clear. I have no idea when this will come, so it’s not much good. If I did, I wouldn’t be typing away on a laptop, I’d be lying on a beach somewhere sipping from a coconut I picked with my bare hands.

I’m just articulating a hunch that I would be very afraid of Bitcoin at this point. It has been treading water at this mark for quite a while – and that mark is a significant one, both in terms of the round $20K figure and the comparison to previous cycles.

Volatility is never far away from Bitcoin. So for the traders lamenting sideways action – you might look back upon these days with envy sometime soon. It would not surprise me one bit to see a negative news event and a violent wick south of $15,000.

Then again – I’m just a boy on the Internet, what do I know?