Hockey stick-shaped price action is one of the telltale signs of a bubble. Bitcoin’s sevenfold rally this year fits the bill. It started the year at $973 and rocketed north of $7,245 as of Friday, up 644% in 10 months. In Zimbabwe — the currency crisis mecca — the cryptocurrency blasted to $12,400 on Halloween.
Investment strategists and financial advisors warn Bitcoin is another bubble akin to the tech boom of the late 1990s to early 2000s, the housing crash of 2006-2007 and the commodities bust of 2008-2009.
“A month before the 1987 crash, my cab driver said he started day trading,” said Scott Kelly, CEO of Black Dog Venture Partners in Phoenix, Ariz. “A month before the real estate crash in 2007 in Arizona, my cab driver said he was getting into flipping real estate. Last week, my Uber driver said he just started trading Bitcoin.”
Since debuting nine years ago, Bitcoin has graduated from the wild west of fintech to the mainstream. The crowd is piling in. CME Group the past week announced it will create futures products based Bitcoin. New companies are popping up everywhere selling you on buying Bitcoin for your retirement. Newsletters tout their Bitcoin trading strategy could make $1.64 million in 72 hours. Stories of overnight cryptocurrency millionaires abound.
The brightest minds in business and economics are shouting from rooftops that Bitcoin is in a bubble: Mark Cuban, Warren Buffet, Robert Shiller, Jamie Dimon.
“But it is anybody’s guess what inning. It looks to me like we’re well ahead of the 7th-inning stretch,” said Jason R. Escamilla, CEO of ImpactAdvisor, an investment advisory firm in San Francisco. “The price level and energy usage are unsustainable. There is far better technology emerging to meet the same needs.”
Those include Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Ripple, which top the list of 1,255 cryptocurrencies on the market tracked by CoinMarketCap.com. Bitcoin wields first-mover advantage, accounting for about 61% of the cryptocurrencies market that is nearly $200 billion strong globally, according to CoinMarketCap.com. There is nothing to prevent any of the alt coins from usurping Bitcoin.