Crypto Critics: Fractured Facts

I have another confession.  As a long time investor, I believed in the theory of efficient markets. This basically means that every participant in the market has immediate and complete access to all information facts like price, earnings and other data.  

I made the mistake in applying this theory to cryptocurrencies. Lately, this has been a mistake.  Yes it is true that anyone with the time and interest can go about gathering all the facts. But are all facts telling the truth or are they really fractured facts?  Either way they are dictating investor thinking and that is a key to this market.

According to reports on MarketWatch, crypto prices slumped on the release of a 24 page report from the Bank of International Settlements. BIS stated that cryptocurrencies suffered from “a range of shortcomings that would prevent cryptocurrencies from ever fulfilling the lofty expectations that prompted an explosion of interest — and investment — in the would-be asset class”.

The BIS is no small town organization. They serve as a central bank for other banks and they have been doing this since 1930.  When the BIS talks, people take things they say very seriously.

The doomsday article released Sunday paints an accurate picture of the state of cryptocurrencies today. But what about tomorrow?  Most everyone is familiar with the issues of speed, security and energy consumption, not to mention regulation. But for the BIS to conclude that none of this problems will ever be solved is down right nieve.  It is the equivalent of declaring in 2001 that the Internet was doomed because 90% of users were connect on dial up modems.

Rotten Research

The BIS report is not the first fracturing of facts presented by well regarded organizations that is scaring investors. Remember back in May? We were treated to the research headline: Bitcoin Futures Caused The Crypto Market Crash according to Federal Papers.

Both the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and a Stanford University professor released a report concluding the launch of bitcoin futures last December contributed to the ensuing price collapse. Pretty far fetched stuff, and here is why.

Bitcoin futures trading began on December 10. shows the CME traded a measly 932 contracts while the CBOE handled 3,887.  Of that total some 2,828 contracts were still “Open Contracts” on December 29th leaving just 1991 coins to do all the harm. During that final week of December over 1.4 million coins were traded. The findings were simply flawed.

Much like the BIS, when the Federal Reserve speaks, people believe they have done their homework carefully.  Throw in Stanford and that adds further weight to this conclusion.

And Then There Are Those Other Facts

And then there was the revelation last week that, much of bitcoin’s 2017 boom was market manipulation, research says.  In a huge 66 page report it was claimed that at least half of the 2017 rise in bitcoin prices was due to coordinated price manipulation using tether.

The author, University of Texas at Austin finance professor John Griffin, argues that Tether was used to buy bitcoin at key moments when it was declining, which helped “stabilize and manipulate” the cryptocurrency price. BTW: this is the job of the specialist on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Professor Griffin appears to have done an excellent job correlating events without much consideration for the economics involved.  According to Bloomberg’s Aaron Brown, for Professor Griffin to be correct in his assertion that tether pushed up bitcoin prices four basis points per 100 bitcoin, Bitfinex would have needed to spend a boatload to inflate the cryptocurrency.  With Bitcoin at $10,000, for example, that means Bitfinex spends $1 million to push the price up to $10,004.

When you look at things from this perspective, Griffin’s findings look pretty absurd.

Look Closely At The Facts

These days with crypto psychology the worst since Mt. Gox in 2014, it seems like a good time for investors to capitalize on the fractured facts.  Technical analysis shows that cryptocurrencies bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and others are hovering around key support levels. It would not be shocking at anytime to find some academic study linking crypto to the common cold.  By the way, it is a fact that last years dramatic crypto price spike came right at the start of the flu season.

A far more relevant fact was last week’s announcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission that neither bitcoin or Ethereum were securities. Perhaps equally important is the conclusion that when ICO do not convey an equity ownership position, they too are considered in the same non-security category as bitcoin and Etherrun.  This is a fact.

What we do know is that crypto prices are as low as they have been since well before the spike last December.  Just as the markets recovered from Mt. Gox, the mindset of investors will recover and that is the key.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

James Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.