As Bitcoin plows through support levels that many thought were prehistoric, investor sentiment has all but sunk to a standoff between capitulating defeatists and grim-faced, but defiant, maximalists.
The expected confusion of explanations has emerged for the coin’s ferocious sell-off, seeing prices wind the clock back to October 2017.
There’s the noise that the US Justice Department’s months-long criminal probe into Bitcoin price manipulation, according to Bloomberg’s unnamed sources, may have suddenly closed in on Tether for its possible part in illegally orchestrating Bitcoin’s famed 2017 rally.
There’s Craig Wright’s much-reported, thinly veiled threat to send the original cryptocurrency plummeting, perhaps to $1000, by selling off BTC holdings and fueling his troops in the rapidly escalating Bitcoin Cash civil war.
To all BTC miners…
If you switch to mine BCH, we may need to fund this with BTC, if we do, we sell for USD and, well… we think BTC market has no room… it tanks.
Think about it. We will sell A Lot!
And, have a nice day
(BTC to 1000 does not phase me) pic.twitter.com/oUScEahtWc
— Dr Craig S Wright (@ProfFaustus) November 14, 2018
There’s those calling the potential ramifications of the Bitcoin Cash fork saga as not a short-lived sell-off, but in fact a debilitating blow to Bitcoin’s fundamental value. As Financial Times’ Jemima Kelly surmised in a recent piece titled “Bitcoin’s repeated splits undermine its long-term value”:
“Under the laws of supply and demand: something that can be infinitely replicated must lack long-term value. Anyone trying to market such a thing — however many new bells and whistles they put on it — is essentially trying to sell hot air.”
There are the vindicated harbingers of grave news for the future of cryptocurrencies, typically financial heavyweights, whose apocalyptic predictions tend to reverberate with deafening volume during market downturns.
As the aftershocks of Bitcoin’s Nov. 15 belly-flop started to sink in, European Central Bank executive Benoit Coeure, for one, chimed in at the Bank for International Settlements describing Bitcoin as “the evil spawn of the financial crisis”.
And Bakkt, the apparent last line of defense for retail investor sentiment, seemed to be barreling through by the bears when the ICE-owned, supposedly unprecedented institutional onramp stated it would be once more postponing its launch to January—a move met with ample vitriol and a flurry of accusations of insider trading in the company’s tweet:
Given the volume of interest in Bakkt and work required to get all of the pieces in place, we will now be targeting January 24, 2019 for our launch to ensure that our participants are ready to trade on Day 1
— Bakkt (@Bakkt) November 20, 2018
Yet in such a whirlpool of gloomy narratives, a far simpler question seems to have been all but silenced.
Is Bitcoin’s price-action just a pure accumulation cycle?
Substantial evidence stands to suggest large entities were accumulating vast quantities of Bitcoin during the coin’s months-long $6000-6500 trading range on the OTC market—a booming business widely estimated to be at least two to three times larger in volume than the exchange market.
Perhaps unknown or forgotten to most, these secretive, wholesale trades leave no footprint on the primary market—fueling the narrative of cryptocurrency being “dead” as the so-called ‘whales’ accumulate BTC orders likely in the tens, or hundreds of thousands of units.
Should they desire, these deep-pocketed players could surely liquidate a slim portion of their holdings on the exchange markets, driving prices down in staggered moves, accumulating more at each position via OTC, all the while shaking out weak hands and crushing public sentiment.
While not a common tactic amongst retail investors, this practice of hedging in buy-orders as the market drops is a standard methodology amongst professionals to reduce risk in securing a high-volume position and can be done going short. In the words of Morgan Creek Capital chief whip Mark W. Yusko:
Investing is a very simple discipline
When an asset trades below fair value and the price declines, you should buy more as the Margin of Safety has increased
When an asset trades above fair value and the price declines, you should sell more as the momentum buyers are exhausted
— Mark W. Yusko (@MarkYusko) November 20, 2018
And anyone questioning whether the unregulated crypto market could be so swayed should perhaps familiarize themselves with the established history of manipulation in regulated markets.
Short and Distort
In 2007, former hedge fund manager and CNBC Wall Street mouthpiece Jim Cramer made a stunning confession on video when he explained an armada of ways his firm would manipulate the stock market including “knocking down” prices with 5 or 10 million dollars, or attempting to get investors “talking about [a company] as if there’s something wrong with it” in order to purchase at a greater discount—practices he commented were par for the course amongst his cohort.
Other firms, he suggested, might even feed a less informed reporter a bogus narrative at industry giants CNBC or Wall Street Journal in order to push prices lower.
A colluded effort amongst the whales of crypto to drive down prices may be a fairytale for some, and yet if allegations are true against 16 of the world’s largest banks of collectively rigging the global currency market, one would once more question what is possible in the decidedly laissez faire, unregulated cryptocurrency market.
Coming months prior to Wall Street’s supposed entrance to cryptocurrency, one might wonder if the market’s sub-200 billion-dollar capitalization could, for some, be ripe for the picking.
Cover Photo by Marco Assmann on Unsplash