Bitcoin had a phenomenal race for three years that had people pursuing it as ‘digital gold’. But, as the cryptocurrency fell more than 50% since its December 18 high, skeptics are beating the drum of the all too familiar term “bubble.” Now, this is a unique situation where both skeptics and supporters have strong arguments for their camp, and investors sit in between, seeking to monopolize on both outcomes.
Some experts are utterly bullish on the cryptocurrency, saying that it will not stop rising for a long time. On the other hand, skeptics are crying foul and warnings of impending doom are bandied around from time to time. So, is it a bubble and should investors be worried? Here is a comparison between Bitcoin and the most significant bubbles in history.
Bitcoin had an extraordinary run in the past year. It was trading at around $1,000 at the beginning of the year, but by December, it found a high just short of $20,000. Since then it dropped to about $4,500 but only to bounce back and reach $9,500. The considerable volatility displayed by the cryptocurrency in such a short time is indeed reason enough for investors to consider their options carefully.
Now, looking back at history, Bitcoin’s 60-fold rise during the last three years has surpassed all the previous big bubbles. In fact, it stands way above the NASDAQ Composite Index’s growth in the late 1990s better known as the “dot-com bubble“.
It even outstrips another bubble further back in history: the Tulip Mania bubble in the 1630s, although lack of proper records makes this one tricky to make an appropriate judgment.
Many experts who are bullish are of the opinion that this boom is going to stay for a long time. They suggest that merely measuring price gains is not the proper way to analyzing markets. The near 50% fall of Bitcoin in recent times have indeed alarmed investors. Those who have lost half of their investments are torn between cutting loses or waiting out for the next upturn. Either way, what’s undeniable is that Bitcoin has a history of being a wobbly currency.
It has proven time and again in the previous years that it can bounce back from a 50% fall. Also, what favors Bitcoin is that its rise over the three years has been slower than several other bubbles when compared to on an annualized basis. The most significant criticism arises from the fact that the currency is not sustainable. Lack of regulation, the absence of fundamental value, and the hype surrounding it are the critical factors pointing in the direction a bubble.
The magnitude of bitcoin’s rise and fall comfortably places it among the biggest bubble in history. But as with all past bubbles, only time will show how long bitcoin can survive without bursting, and what will be left in its wake.