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Futures Trading – Bullish or Bearish for Bitcoin?

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Writing anything against the price rise in bitcoin is like keeping your head in a guillotine and expecting it to be unhurt. However, at times, one’s got to do what one’s got to do. So, at the risk of ruffling a few feathers among the bitcoin enthusiasts and staunch supporters, I will put forth my two cents on why the latest rally in bitcoin is looking bubbly. Only time will tell whether my argument proves to be correct or falls flat on its face, similar to the ones proclaimed by the legendary investors.

Key points

  1. Bitcoin’s rally is looking like a bubble
  2. Futures trading will pit the bulls and the short sellers against one another
  3. Introduction of Nikkei futures trading turned out to be bearish for the Japanese stock market
  4. Sell 50%  bitcoin holdings at the current levels and stay in cash

We had recently warned that bitcoin is topping out in the short-term. While bitcoin fell after our article, the dip was more of a buying opportunity rather than the indication of a top that we were referring to. Whoa, there goes my forecasting capability out of the window.

However, does the rise above $16000 and a market capitalization of above $300 billion make us change our view? Not really. I now believe that we are about to make an intermediate top.

The common gripe among the cryptocurrency enthusiasts is that being a new asset class, bitcoin is not understood by many traditional investors (include me also in this list) who keep questioning its incessant rally. On the other hand, the traditional investors point that the price has gone well ahead of its fundamentals.

There is going to be a big clash between these two school of thoughts with the launch of bitcoin futures.

What can happen after the launch of bitcoin futures trading?

I will try to explain how things will play out according to my opinion.

The launch of bitcoin futures trading will provide an opportunity to the institutional investors to diversify their investments into a new asset class. Nevertheless, it is difficult to fathom how many will buy, especially when the cryptocurrency has risen more than 16 times this year.

Until now, most of the money used to be on the long side of the trade. Some of the sharp falls were a result of profit booking or due to investors not stepping in to buy at lower levels due to the negative news flow. There was never an overhang of short sellers on bitcoin prices, which is going to change from December 10 and December 18.

So, with every part of the rally, there will be an equally bearish short seller who will see an opportunity to benefit from the fall in bitcoin prices. Money will be made both on the way up and the way down.

Will the short sellers jump into the fray at once?

Difficult to say, but my anticipation is that the short sellers are unlikely to jump in to sell bitcoin futures aggressively, especially since bitcoin is backed by a strong upward momentum. Large short sellers are likely to dip their feet with small short positions and watch.

As now we have traders willing to take both sides of the trade, we expect the pace of the ascent to slow down and short positions to start accumulating on every rise. Volatility is also likely to increase in the short-term.

Introduction of futures trading is not always bullish

Though we don’t have an apples to apples comparison for cryptocurrencies, we can look at how the Japanese stock markets were affected by the introduction of Nikkei futures trading in Osaka Securities Exchange.

The Japanese stock market was riding high on the back of a bubble in asset prices, which also boosted the prices of Nikkei stock exchange. The index rose 10 times from 1975 to 1990.

Nikkei futures trading started in Osaka Securities Exchange in 1988 and the Nikkei stock average peaked in end-1989. The descent was equally sharp as the ascent.

Some may point that the crash in Nikkei happened only two years after the futures trading started. However, one must keep in mind that it took 15 years for the Nikkei to rise 10 times while bitcoin has risen 16 times this year itself. Therefore, the fall is also going to be equally vicious.

Signs of excesses in bitcoin

  1. Almost every cryptocurrency trader(other than hacked.com subscribers) believes that this time it is different and one can make tons of money within a short span of trading in cryptocurrencies. After all, the Winklevoss twins have become billionaires by starting with just $11 million four years back. There is a firm belief that bitcoin is the future, hence, every fall will only rally higher than the previous one. See, all the analysts’ targets.
  2. Analysts are beating one another in announcing targets on bitcoin. I believe the maximum is $1 million by 2020, by John McAfee. Let’s see if there is any analyst brave enough to top this one, especially in the medium-term time frame of 2-3 years.
  3. A vertical rally. 16 times increase in value within a year is evidence enough that the rally is overheated. Expecting the same pace of rally in the future is like asking Usain Bolt to complete the marathon with the same speed that he runs the 100 metres race.
  4. The institutional investors will be eager to jump in to buy bitcoins and once those billions start pouring in, there is no end to the rally. This is not true because the large institutional investors are hugely risk averse. Their money is made in compounding about 15%-25% consistently over the years. It is unlikely that most will enter the fray until bitcoin’s volatility reduces considerably.
  5. Consider the world’s population of 6 billion and the fact that there will only be 21 million bitcoins mined. Additionally, out of that, millions are either lost or are locked away with only a few millions in circulation. So, the price rise is justified. Well, if Leonardo da Vinci had a few hundred thousand paintings in the market place, his paintings wouldn’t have fetched millions. So, this argument of only 21 million bitcoins that will ever be mined doesn’t hold ground.

OK, so if bitcoin is in a bubble, what should one do with it?

For people who don’t own bitcoin currently, please stay away from it, until you see a large correction.

For the others who own bitcoins, 50% of the positions should be closed right away, above $16,000 levels before the futures trading starts. The other 50% of the position should be held. This can be sold when bearish patterns develop on bitcoin because no one can point the top in a bubble.

Likely scenarios to play out if bitcoin falls

There are two possible scenarios that I believe can happen.

  1. Bitcoin falls and drags the sentiment down for the whole cryptocurrency universe. It doesn’t take a long time for the sentiment to get sour. In such a case, people who have been hoping that altcoins will rally when bitcoin falls will be in for a rude shock.
  2. The second scenario is that the current investors in bitcoin will face a stiff resistance from the short sellers. When the existing whales are unable to influence bitcoin prices like before, they are likely to jump to the altcoins because they don’t have to counter short sellers there. In this case, the altcoins recover sharply.

Conclusion

The best way is to cash your bitcoins into dollars and sit out. Once the dust settles down, there will be many opportunities to earn money because cryptocurrencies, as an asset class is here to stay.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 9 rated postsRakesh Upadhyay is a Technical Analyst and Portfolio Consultant for The Summit Group. He has more than a decade of experience as a private trader. His philosophy is to use technical analysis for momentum trading and fundamental analysis for long-term positions. Rakesh likes to keep himself fit by lifting weights and considers himself to be a spiritual person.




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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. dcslesser

    December 8, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Disagree with the whole premise. First of all the example about the Nikkei – note the time frame the crash occurred 2 years after the Futures were initiated! Second the spot Market is not going to be affected by an artificial Market which is strictly a bet on future prices and has no causal effect on the actual cash Market. Third there is so much expectation for a correction and has been for a while that the psychology of the situation (negative sentiment) is that we are not near a top! This is my belief and I am continuing to hold.
    RE the second point: if someone can explain to me how the Futures Market (which is cash settled) will affect the actual Market Ill stand corrected on that point… having said all this I do believe BTC is overvalued on a “fundamental” basis because there has not been enough adoption and the transaction cost is too high but it is acting more like gold 2.0 and there will have to be a better method of lowering transaction costs and increasing speed or using an alternative coin. All this is only my humble opinion though! Obviously it’s all about future expectation

    • cryptolion

      December 8, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Thank you for a well-reasoned article. I did cash-out when Hacked called top earlier and I am sucking up the pain now. No hard feelings!

      There are two possible beliefs about this “bubble”,
      * it will be different this time
      * it will not be different this time

      Those who believe that Bitcoin will continue to soar will HODL – easy for them. This is a very low cost approach to wealth management.

      Those who believe Bitcoin will crash for ever should sell everything and go to cash. Again this is a low cost approach.

      Those who believe Bitcoin will crash (to 8k to 3k?) and then the market will grow in the long-term (the majority of right-thinking people 😉 have to bear the management cost of working out what to do.

      Thinking aloud, in Chess we say any plan is better than no plan, it certainly has the advantage of reducing anxiety.

      The whole selling half thing is fine – but when should you sell half? I now think that the thing to do to manage risk is to have a plan to “sell half” at various levels all the way up to $60k. You can then set up the limit orders and go to bed. You know that however stupidly high it goes you will always both be taking profit and retaining a stake. This might not be the best plan – but at least it is a plan.

      It is safe to assert, as you have done, that the market will become less volatile after a few months. That, after all, is the point of a futures market. At that point I will put 90% of my funds into index investments and trade 10% badly as a hobby.

      For me the big question is what will happen to Alts? The fundamentals for all of them are weak over the next 3 years, so we are looking for speculative gains in the short term.

      I like your insight that big investors have done very well from rigging the market for Bitcoin and when they are unable to continue to do this will move to Alts. Rigging markets is a business plan that works. If you have a plan that works you keep doing it until it stops working. Therefore over the medium-term (3 years) there is another good reason to believe that Alts will out-perform Bitcoin after a terrifying crash when money leaves the market.

      So my plan for January (ie after the crash)

      30% BTC
      70% Top 20 Alts

      Rebalanced weekly (say)

      • emceeanders

        December 8, 2017 at 3:48 pm

        How would you weight the top 20 alts? By market cap or just split the 70% evenly between them?

        • mvppvm_07

          December 8, 2017 at 4:59 pm

          It seems to me that the marketcap question is one that could be discussed well on this site. The”cap” metric is too simplistic, IMO.

          All an ICO/ asset token needs to do is create a billion or five units, price it at the existing frenzy and it can challenge the presumptive “top 100”. I don’t know what to choose (yet) as a better metric but I’ve begun studying various metrics to work out a personal “valuation index”. Liquidity, exchange diversification (to either create arbitrage or to enhance liquidity), roadmap development, legacy market support, buy-out strength, TA, underlying tech (POS, PoW)…to name a few things that correlate to a metric. I say this to ask your question about weighing the top 20 a different way than through simplistic market cap:

          What metrics matter?
          What weight “should” a metric hold?
          Can one correlate legacy TA with a largely unharnessed (the word I use instead of “unregulated”, which is used inadvertently by legacy investors as a nod to traditional investment markets)…unharnessed assets?

      • Rakesh Upadhyay

        December 8, 2017 at 4:17 pm

        Hello cryptolion,

        I like your approach of allocation, 30% in BTC and 70% in the top 20 alts.

        However, I am not very fond of index investments. A little discipline and a good strategy should easily help you beat any index investment. So, on this I disagree with your approach.

        Together, we will select the best alts to invest and benefit from by changing the allocation.

        Let’s wait for a few days and see how things pan out.

        With warm regards
        Rakesh Upadhyay

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      December 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      dcslesser,

      Disagreement is great because it makes us to question our belief and see it from another angle. Hence, I appreciate your point of view.

      On your doubt about the futures market.

      Let’s assume that if the short sellers are able to push the price of bitcoin down in the cash settled futures market to $12000. Will the buyers purchase bitcoin in the spot market at a higher price of say $13000? NO! Traders would rather buy in the futures market.
      So, when the buying dries up, there is no option but for the price in the spot market to correct to the level in the futures market.
      The difference will also provide an opportunity to the large traders who do arbitrage trading. They will force the price of both the segments closer to each other.

      Hope this clarifies some of your query. If not, you are free to question me again.

      With warm regards
      Rakesh Upadhyay

  2. dissonance_engine

    December 8, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I agree with the author in the perspective of a trader and not a HODLR, best to sit this one out and see how the market reacts before entering into any new positions. Futures traders are incessant short sellers so this is my concern as well. Bitcoin is definitely going to continue to rise in the long term, and I think institutional investors will stay away but something like an ETF could bring in more market capital as well. Just my two cents.

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      December 8, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      Hello dissonance_engine,

      Agree. ETF will certainly make a huge difference.

      With warm regards
      Rakesh Upadhyay

  3. MinerMatt17

    December 8, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    The comparison to paintings is just silly. Paintings are not a liquid and secure store of wealth. Digital gold is..

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      December 8, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      Hello MinerMatt17,

      Well, I disagree. Art collection is another alternative investment and has a strong history of being a secure store of wealth.

      With warm regards
      Rakesh Upadhyay

      • MinerMatt17

        December 8, 2017 at 6:40 pm

        Art is not Fungible, it is not divisible, it is not easily deliverable.

        It may be an alternative investment but to use it as a argument to compare to bitcoin is very foolish.

        • Rakesh Upadhyay

          December 8, 2017 at 8:10 pm

          Hello MinerMatt17,

          Hmm, the reason I compared the painting with bitcoin is because, currently bitcoin’s use as a currency is limited. It is neither consumed as a commodity. So, the only other use is its storage value. Additionally, I have heard the 21 million cap on bitcoins enough number of times, hence, thought to compare it with a painting to show that its exclusive value is not great if millions of coins are in circulation.

          May be it is very foolish, but that is what I could think of. Thank you for your opinion anyways.

          With warm regards
          Rakesh Upadhyay

          • MinerMatt17

            December 8, 2017 at 10:14 pm

            It is a digital store of value primarily yes. But ss many have said before me, bitcoin is a platypus, it does many things in its own way. However, paintings are not fungible, divisible, or easily transferable.

            Any comparison of bitcoin to anything else has to be made with all these characteristics in mind, not just a supply.

  4. emceeanders

    December 8, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Rakesh – when you wrote this article BTC was over $16k, do you think it will spike back up there before futures trading start?

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      December 8, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      Hello emceeanders

      Currently, bitcoin is taking support at the 20-EMA on the 240-minute chart. A pullback to at least $15,500 looks likely. (Levels are referenced from the HITBTC exchange).

      Once above this, a retest of the highs is also possible. Things will be very volatile initially after futures trading starts.

      With warm regards
      Rakesh Upadhyay

  5. Steppa75

    December 8, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Totally agree, Im sitting it out and waiting to scoop up some bargains for many altcoins in the crash.

  6. Steppa75

    December 8, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Also i strongly suspect there are a lot of people now buying BTC who know nothing about it and buying the news, the coinbase app being top of the app store etc. Probably thinking they are going to get rich quick.
    They might well panic sell sharpish if there is a crash and they see there BTC worth much less. They will probably only see the high headlines and be totally unaware just how volatile it can be.
    Hope too many people don’t get burned though to be honest for their sake.

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      December 8, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      Hello Steppa75,

      Many are likely to lose thousands of dollars, if bitcoin crashes. That is just the way of the game.

      With warm regards
      Rakesh Upadhyay

      • MinerMatt17

        December 8, 2017 at 10:15 pm

        Yes it will “crash” losing much of the value it gained in the last few days, but it will rise right back after that as it always has done.

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Cryptocurrencies

This Week’s Crypto Winners

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The past week worked out to generally be a down market for most cryptocurrencies, but we saw several experience massive increases over the last 7 days.

Nasdacoin

Nasdacoin increased a whopping 158.75% to reach a price of $2.47 as of the date of publishing. Ranking as #93 in terms of market capitalization, much of this change seems to be attributed to the team announcing that Nasdacoin would be listed on several new exchanges.

CREX24, BTC-Alpha, and MERCATOX all announced plans to list NSD on November 12th, and the result was a quick run-up in the price of the coin. From looking at the whitepaper, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about the coin, and it is easy to conclude that the recent increases are mostly the result of an improvement in accessibility, rather than a notable change in fundamentals.

Animation Vision Cash

Animation Vision Cash (AVH) is a content trading platform that underwent a significant spike on November 19th for an as yet unconfirmed reason. The platform differentiates itself among others by being an adult content trading platform. Content providers prefer this market mechanism a lot more, and the goal of the platform is to create a dialogue between producers and consumers. The recent 71% jump in price is likely the result of recent announcements.

On.Live

ONL, the coin of On.Live, went through a 70% spike in price to approximately $0.12. This is a true altcoin, with a market capitalization of approximately $2.4 million. The company is devoted to the idea of revolutionizing how video broadcast and remote consultations are executed. The ONL token is what would power the entire economy of the platform, however no new significant news has been released that explains this jump in price.

Factom

Factom has experienced a 51% run-up in price over the last 7 days, reaching a price of $6.49 at the time of publishing. Factom currently has a market capitalization ranking at 74 ($57.8 million), and this could continue to grow with the good news that has been published. On the 14th, it was announced that Equator would be incorporating Factom’s blockchain-as-a-service technology into their mortgage software. Generally, huge partnerships like this are seen as major successes, and help the public perception, as well as the economic case.

Birake

Birake had their BIR token appreciate 45% in the last week. Currently trading around a price of $0.12, Birake has a tiny market capitalization of $2.4 million. As a white label cryptocurrency exchange, they have a fairly unique offering, and it is natural that they have the occasional spike in price.

As you can see, there is a wide variety in the coins that were the biggest winners of the week. Some were in the top 100, and others weren’t even in the top 500. While this doesn’t negate the bear trend of the broader cryptocurrency market, it shows that there are still winners in our midst.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Cryptocurrencies

How Did Nasdacoin (NSD) Avoid the Crash? Game Changer or Ponzi Scheme?

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Nasdacoin (NSD) began its sudden ascension into the market cap top hundred just as the market crash struck last week. From Nov 14th through Nov 15th, Nasdacoin went on a 429% growth surge, while the rest of the market was bleeding out in what proved to be only the first dip of a two-pronged fall.

Since then the surge cooled somewhat, but NSD remains parked in the market cap top hundred, and remains in the green for a day in which several altcoins lost 30% of their value in a flash.

But what is Nasdacoin? And how has it avoided the gravitational pull of late which caused the rest of the market to come crashing to the ground?

What Is Nasdacoin?

Well, the project’s whitepaper sounds much like any other, and summarizes itself thus:

“Nasdacoin is an encrypted and decentralized virtual, open source, peer-to-peer currency, developed with the scrypt algorithm in the POW/POS Hybrid format, allowing people with entrepreneurial and passionate financial and technological market profile to store and invest their wealth in a safe currency…”

But delving deeper into the whitepaper immediately causes some alarm bells to sound, particularly when we arrive at the part where you invest your money in return for a guaranteed daily percentage return.

Another worrying sign is the mention of an affiliate programme, where users are paid percentage gains for every new ‘level’ of affiliate membership they achieve.

Furthermore, the whitepaper details a ‘Binary Bonus’, which is paid out every day to the most active affiliate creators, and has a payout ceiling of “infinity”.

In what may be a first for a crypto project, the ‘Team’ section of the whitepaper contains a photo of the co-founder which appears to be a selfie taken while sitting in his car.

Why Nasdacoin?

We’ve covered the warning signs without being too judgemental, but just why did Nasdacoin pump all of a sudden?

The source of the pump may have something to do with the coin’s listing on multiple exchanges, as announced on the day the pump began by the Nasdacoin team:

“We came to make History. NSD is Available in: CREX24 | BTC-Alpha | MERCATOX. Trade now!”

Of those exchanges, CREX24 handled close to 90% of the coin’s trades on Monday, processing close to $300,000 worth of NSD/BTC trades. The coin opened the day at a price of $2.39, and stands at $2.45 at time of writing.

Despite Bitcoin falling below the $5,000 mark, and all the major altcoins taking a tanking, Nasdacoin remains untouched by whatever’s fuelling the selloff.

According to the Nasdacoin explorer, 25 wallets hold 72.5% of the funds, while the top fifty addresses hold close to 83%.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 92 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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Altcoins

Litecoin Price Analysis: One Last Safety Net Ahead of $20 Territory

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  • Litecoin has been further slammed, dropping 35% over the past two weeks of trading.
  • Should near-term demand area of $35-33 fail to hold, it will be very punishing.

The Litecoin price remains firmly on the back foot, one of the standout under-performers in this current bear market, against some of the other major altcoins. LTC/USD has dropped a chunky 35% over the past going on 2 weeks now. Market bears have been pilling in since the big rejection, after trying to escape out of a bearish pennant pattern. This was attempted on 7th November, the upper trend line of the pennant proved to be too tough.

LTC/USD daily chart

Just a few sessions ago, LTC/USD collapsed through the lower support on the above-mentioned pattern. This was seen around the $49 mark, where the bears came pilling through to further crumble Litecoin. The price plummeted through a strong prior acting demand zone. It was tracking from the big psychological $50 area, down to $47 territory. Bulls had propped LTC/USD on occasions in August, September and October, leading the price on to make decent gains from the noted zone.

LTC/USD 4-hour chart

Between 15-18th November, price action did enter a temporary form of consolidation. As mentioned in the previous article , LTC/USD was trading within a range block, which was very much vulnerable to a breakout south, having since proved to be the case. It was eyed also as a bearish flag pattern set up, where sellers took a deep breather, ahead of the continued deep move south. LTC/USD lost over 15% from that consolidation area to current levels.

Key Support

LTC/USD weekly chart

Looking to the downside, eyes are locked in on the price range of $35 down to $33. The LTC/USD pair had consolidated within this area from June to August 2017, before being off on its journey north. In September 2017 this demand area proved required support for the bulls to continue their stampede higher. A failure to hold here will be very punishing to say the least. LTC/USD could be forced back down to $29 territory. The price was last seen here in June 2017.

Upside Barriers

There are now some big challenges ahead for LTC/USD, if it wants to return to heightened levels. During this bear market observed throughout this year, price action has formed new areas of resistance. It has all been uncharted territory, and unlike the 2017 bull run, there will be barriers that need to be broken for greater upside. The gains seen last year were not too challenging to achieve, as there was no history there for the bulls to deal with.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 55 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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