If so, it’s not alone. Bitcoin, the most well-known of the cryptocurrencies on the market, saw its value drop by over 23% in a 24-hour period, losing $213 off its previous price in just a day. The move caught the attention of CBS, which notes that volatility has been Bitcoin’s hallmark. This might be something else, however:
A bitcoin sell-off is gaining momentum, with a quarter of its value evaporating in just the past 24 hours.
Shortly before U.S. markets opened Friday, bitcoin was trading at $13,659.85, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. The cost had soared close to $20,000 as of Sunday, but the sell-off began soon after. …
The cryptocurrency has been notoriously volatile, with a significant crash every quarter. Yet this week has been a particularly unstable, and could be biggest sell-off for bitcoin in years.
That’s raised concerns that the cryptocurrency is the financial equivalent of the Wild West, with plenty of outlaws and a lack of sheriffs to crack down on illegal market manipulation.
That impacts more than just Bitcoin, and today’s markets show it. Action over the last day looks like a run on the broader cryptocurrency market. Ars Technica’s Timothy Lee has tracked the players, and Bitcoin has suffered the lowest percentage drop in the last 24 hours:
After rocketing to a high above $19,500 last Sunday, bitcoin’s price has been steadily dropping this week. Those losses accelerated overnight, with the cryptocurrency falling below $13,000.
Bitcoin’s losses come amid a broad cryptocurrency selloff. As of Friday morning, every major cryptocurrency was posting double-digit 24-hour losses. Ethereum is down 28 percent over the last 24 hours, Bitcoin Cash is down 37 percent, and Litecoin is down 32 percent. …
But the broad-based blockchain slide comes as a growing chorus of experts warn that cryptocurrency valuations could be an unsustainable bubble. Yesterday, a beverage company called the Long Island Iced Tea Company renamed itself “Long Blockchain” and was rewarded somewhat hysterically with a nearly 3-fold increase in its stock price. This story, and others like it, has convinced some observers that we’re seeing a repeat of the 1990s technology boom.
Double-digit losses aren’t a new phenomenon, Lee also notes, but the remarkable instability in the markets over the last week, and more generally over the last quarter, point to a particular risk. “The big question,” Lee concludes, “is whether this time is different.”
Others see this as a predictable correction that will throw out the wannabes:
“A manic upward swing led by the herd will be followed by a downturn as the emotional sentiment changes,” said Charles Hayter, founder and chief executive of industry website Cryptocompare in London. “A lot of traders have been waiting for this large correction.”
“Most of it is unsophisticated retail traders getting burned badly,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia-Pacific for retail FX broker Oanda in Singapore.
Ron William tells CNBC that Bitcoin has had major corrections in the past, up to 75% of its price. However, William thinks this could create a market contagion as the “poster child for cryptos”:
“What I found important for clients and with people in the market to separate is the price story from the long-term disruption opportunity with bitcoin and blockchain in general,” he told CNBC.
“Price is extremely irrational. And now it is looking — if we continue lower — that this could be a broader contagion story for the other markets.” …
“If we get a move back above $17,250, which is the recent technical breakdown level, and then of course the record highs around just under $20,000, we could see a lot of blue skied scope for the New Year, and a lot of people have been citing that,” William said.
“But potentially that might be less on the bitcoin proxy and other cryptocurrencies. Either way I think it’s interesting to caution some kind of risk across other markets because so many people are invested here. So there could be a potential deleveraging situation.”
“What goes up in a straight line,” Williams points out, usually comes down in a similar manner. If this just clears out the recent suckers, then the long-term holders of Bitcoin and other cryptos will be fine, and the market will settle at a more rational valuation. But what is a rational evaluation for a fiat currency with no sovereignty to guarantee it? The longer this correction continues, the more important that question becomes.
If you’re confused as to why anyone would believe it to have rational value, you’re not alone. Reason’s Remy doesn’t clear up that confusion, but he still has an awful lot of fun with Bitcoin and provides a bonus shot at Al Franken to boot (via Steven Hayward):