Will Bitcoin be another “Bubble” tale?
Bursting of the bitcoin bubble should not have systemic, macroeconomic implications, as the total value of bitcoin is (still) too small, and it has few links with the wider economy, analysts at Capital Economics say.
Investors have found a new love for investment in Bitcoin, as this cryptocurrency continues to touch new highs day after day.
Although trading in Bitcoin came into effect from 2009, this digital currency became the most searched topic on Google this year.
“There is over 90% positive correlation between price of bitcoin and the volume of google search requests,” ICICI Bank said.
Surprisingly, the digital currency which was not even close to $1 in 2010, has now touched over $17,000-mark in just nine years. With just $14 worth in 2013, Bitcoin shooted up to $1,017.58 in February 2017.
Recently, Bitcoin showed a breath-taking performance as on November 29, 2017, it stood at 10,991, and further jumped to $13,741 on December 7, 2017, and later on December 8, 2017, it rose to over $17,000 mark. From January 2013 to till date, it has gained up to a whopping 1,22,396.07% or 1225 times.
Further adding to madness in trading, Bitcoin has been launched as futures on December 11.
On the Chicago-based CBOE Global Markets exchange, it opened at $15,460 in New York on December 11 evening, and leaped to a high of $18,700 - a gain of 21%. They were last quoted at $17,550 a premium of more than $1,600 to the price on Gemini Exchange.
The ICICI Bank data stated that there are over 1300 cryptocurrencies right now with a total market cap of over $300 billion, and bitcoin dominates at 55%.
However, confusion still mars the world as far as trading in Bitcoin is concerned.
Many economists believe that trading in Bitcoin is an illusion and say it was created out of thin air. Since it was introduced by an anonymous individual, it does not serve the purpose as an instrument to buy and sell goods. Economists also say that people are trading in this portal without even understanding it.
Others say that Bitcoin is the most important invention in all human history and it is the dawn of the free world. They believe this cryptocurrency saves time and anybody could have access to it as nobody can control or alter it.
However, this era of Bitcoin is also considered as one of those bubbles that destroyed global markets.
Here's a list of bubble that came in and hampered various global markets.
The Tulip and Bulb Craze (1630s)
The Dutch tulip bulb market is till date one of the most famous bubble market stories. It came into limelight in early 1600 in Holland is also a cautionary tale.
Many people traded or sold possessions, including properties to just participate in tulip market mania, as per Investopedia.
At the height of market, the rarest tulip bulbs traded for as much as six-times the average person's annual salary. However, this came to an end in 1637, when prices dropped sharply and panic selling began leaving many people in financial ruin.
The South Sea Bubble (1711)
This one even fooled Isaac Newton. A South Sea company was formed in 1711 and was promised a monopoly of all trade to the Spanish colonies in South America in exchange for taking over and consolidating the national debt raised by the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714).
In January 1720, the South Sea company was trading at modest £128, and to boost its performance further the directors circulated false claims of success and fanciful tales of South Sea riches. By end of March of that year, the share price of South Sea Company jumped up to £330 and further to £550 in May 1720.
However, this era did not last for much as an Bubble Act was passed in June, requiring all joint-stock companies to receive a royal charter. Investors' confidence started to fade and sell-off began by early July and the collapse occurred quickly.
By the end of August 1720, stock was valued at less than £800, and by September the share price had plummeted to £175.
The Dotcom Crash
Dotcom bubble occurred during late 1990s, under which the value of equity markets grew exponentially with the technology-dominated NASDAQ index rising from under 1,000 to more than 5,000 between 1995 and 2000.
Even though high-tech standard bearers, such as Intel, Cisco, and Oracle were driving the organic growth in the technology sector, it was the upstart dotcom companies that fueled the stock market surge that began in 1995, added Investopedia.
Over the next five years, the dotcom was fed by cheap money, easy capital, market overconfidence and pure speculation. By the end of 2001, majority of publicly traded dotcom companies folded, and trillions of dollars of investment capital evaporated.
This one came into notice during 2007, as trading coincided with significant rises of stock price of uranium mining and exploration companies.[
In mid-2007, the price of natural uranium peaked at roughly $300/kg (or ~$135/lb). After mid-2007, the price began to fall again and at the end of 2010, it was relatively stable at around $100/kg
Is Bitcoin a bubble too?
NiceHash, which describes itself as the largest marketplace for mining digital currencies, said in a CNN report that about 4,700 bitcoins worth $ 75 million were stolen from the site's account on December 8, 2017.
The Reserve Bank of India fearing over cyber threat released a cautious notification to investors while trading in virtual currencies (VCs) including Bitcoins.
As per the RBI, VCs being in digital form are stored in digital/electronic media that are called electronic wallets. Therefore, they are prone to losses arising out of hacking, loss of password, compromise of access credentials, malware attack etc.
Since they are not created by or traded through any authorised central registry or agency, the loss of the e-wallet could result in the permanent loss of the VCs held in them.
RBI further explained that payments by VC such as Bitcoins, take place on a peer-to-peer basis without an authorised central agency which regulates such payments. Hence, there is no established framework for recourse to customer problems / disputes / charge backs etc.
Andrew Kenningham, Chief Global Economist at Capital Economics, admitted all the allegations over Bitcoin, and also highlighted few positives on the currency.
While a bursting bubble can affect the economy via the banking sector, Kenningham stated that this is not much of a risk either, precisely because bitcoin is held and traded outside the banking sector. Also, there is no evidence that people are taking out huge, sub-prime mortgages to finance their speculation in cryptocurrencies.
As there is no correlation between the prices of bitcoin and other risky assets, so a fall in its price should not affect wider financial conditions.
However, ICICI Bank expects that in the longer-term a lot will depend on whether governments regulate cryptocurrencies out of existence or co-opt blockchain technology for their own purposes.
Currently, Bitcoin is valued around $240 billion, which is much smaller than the total value of gold outstanding ($8 trillion) or the value of Apple ($0.9 trillion).
Under Bitcoin, miners receive 12.5 bitcoins every 10 minutes. This halves every 4 years. The next halving will happen in mid-2020.