The Crypto Bull Is Off Of Life Support

There may be some bad days for cryptocurrencies in the future.  There may even be a few bad weeks. But crypto markets survived the worst shellacking in their brief history.  The soon to be ending month of April is an appropriate time for Mark Twain: “Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”.

Anytime an asset class gains $100 billion in value over the course just under 30 days, the death watch is over.  Anytime the largest member (bitcoin) gains 30% in value and still ends up being the weakest major performer, the crypto bull market is not only off life support, it is alive and in recovery.

Signs of Better Times

Making highly successful predictions about the direction and magnitude of stocks, bonds or cryptocurrency is a 51% proposition. What this means is that at least 49% of the time, you are going to be wrong.  

At least with stocks and bonds there is a huge database that can be massaged in the hope of  accurately predicting the future. None of that applies to crypto. So here are some of the things that create confidence that the future will be far better than the most recent past.

Relative Value

When the stock market is near a record high,  interest rates are headed much higher and the market fear index, the VIX, suddenly shoots up, this is a clear sign of an overvalued market for conventional intangible assets.  The same can be said for tangible things like real estate.

After having lost more than half their value in something like 90 days, cryptocurrencies offer comparative value.  Most interesting is how the smallest and most speculative cryptos experienced the best performance. That type of recovery never took place in the post dotcom period.

This is a measure of long term vision investors are applying.  Many of these Gen III projects are little more than white papers and promises at this stage.  This is good to remember the next time someone drags up the notion of a crypto bubble.

Skeptics will point out the thin trading in many of these Gen III names as the underlying reason for their quantum moves.  There is probably some truth here, but simple risk analysis argues in favor of the big familiar names like bitcoin holding leadership.  Crypto investors obviously see things differently.

Cryptocurrencies Can Take A Punch

While watching the favorable price action in recent weeks, there was little obvious impact from the same regulators that contributed to the Q1 price avalanche.  What we are referring to is the April 23rd talk at the MIT Technology Review: Business of Blockchain.

The secession was headlined by an address by Gary Gensler the former chair of the CFTC. The issue at hand: are cryptocurrencies securities and thus regulated by the SEC?  In my mind, Gensler exploded a bomb: Ethereum and Ripple were securities while bitcoin fit the description of a medium of exchange.

Wow, think about this for a second.  If Ethereum was truly a security that could spell a miserable amount of registration work to conform with SEC regs.  While that would be unpleasant, the implications for the thousands of ICO tokens using the Ethereum platform could be far worse.  Fortunately, Gensler isn’t running the SEC but his legal arguments can and probably will be used at some point.

Back in February, when crypto prices were tumbling, Gensler’s comments would surely added to the fear and selling pressure.  On the day of Gensler’s talk, ether rose in price by nearly 7% according to Coinbase while Ripple gained 8%. This shows that cryptocurrency investors are learning to take a punch without losing perspective.

Trade Signs Are Good

We can all pretty much agree that we are relieved when see prices are rising.  However, when price increases are driven by higher volume, that gets technical analysts buzzing. Since the beginning of April, bitcoin transactions have increased 90% and Ethereum by 50%.  While all of this has been happening the median fee for bitcoin has been $0.16 and ETH is an even lower $0.07. While this isn’t exactly free, it is a gargantuan improvement over the $30 bitcoin investors were paying back in December.

A Two Way Street

Not every period will be as profitable as the month of April. Double digit price changes, the hallmark of this market, are part of the drill.  But even after the April rally, cryptocurrencies will still offer better value than the average Nasdaq technology stock.

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.