Bitcoin (BTC) quickly settled back into the past couple weeksâ€™ range of between roughly $30,000 and $36,000 after a short-lived price spike Friday when Elon Musk, the electric-vehicle and private-spaceflight entrepreneur whoâ€™s also reportedly the worldâ€™s richest person, added â€œ#bitcoinâ€� to his Twitter profile.
â€œThe longer we stay at the current level, the stronger the base to bounce back up,â€� Matt Blom, head of sales and trading for the exchange firm EQUOS, wrote early Monday. Bitcoin prices finished January up 14% on the year.Â
Last weekâ€™s Reddit-fueled trading in GameStop (GME) bore uncanny similarities to the fevered, anything-goes trading culture that has long defined cryptocurrencies. The five-fold jump in prices for dogecoin (DOGE) â€“ a blockchain-based token representing little more than a doggie-faced meme â€“ showed some of that retail-trader-driven mania spilling over into digital markets.
During an audio chat late Sunday on the app Clubhouse, Musk said he was a â€œsupporterâ€� of bitcoin and that itâ€™s â€œon the verge of getting broad acceptance by conventional finance people.â€� He added that the â€œmost entertaining and ironic outcomeâ€� would be if DOGE became the â€œcurrency of earth in the future.â€�Â
Where will markets go next? The news of Indiaâ€™s proposed crypto ban has made some bitcoin investors nervous, CoinDeskâ€™s Tanzeel Akhtar reported Saturday. Meanwhile, Chinese traders late last week were already speculating on which cryptocurrencies might be the next to get a major price pump, CoinDeskâ€™s Muyao Shen reported.
Prices for the digital token XRP (XRP) have nearly tripled in the past five days. They had fallen 67% in December, when U.S. securities regulators brought charges against Ripple Labs, which uses XRP in its payments network.Â
In traditional markets on Monday, stocks were higher in Europe and Asia, but the real action was in silver, where prices have climbed 16% over the past three days to about $30 an ounce amid a Reddit-fueled buying frenzy. Gold strengthened 0.9% to $1,860 an ounce.Â
The â€œGrayscale premiumâ€� is shrinking, and analysts are speculating why.Â
A growing number of cryptocurrency analysts are watching a steep contraction recently in a closely tracked ratio in the bitcoin market known as the â€œGrayscale premium.â€�Â
This premium represents the difference in market prices for bitcoin and the price implied by the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), one of the most popular vehicles for investing in the cryptocurrency via the stock market. (EDITORâ€™S NOTE: Grayscale Investments, which sponsors GBTC, is a unit of Digital Currency Group, which also owns CoinDesk.)Â
Many observers say one explanation for the premium might be the lack of alternatives, especially when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to approve a bitcoin-focused exchange-traded fund in the U.S. When the premium is elevated, itâ€™s seen as a sign of just how eager retail stock traders are to bet on bitcoinâ€™s price.Â Â
So the recent decline might be explained by signs that greater competition is on the way: BlockFi, a major hub for crypto lending, has filed to start a new bitcoin trust, CoinDeskâ€™s Danny Nelson reported. According to The Block, Osprey Bitcoin Trust will list on over-the-counter markets in coming days. In Canada, the investment firm Ninepoint Partners completed an initial public offering of a cryptocurrency fund worth a reported C$230 million (US$180 million).Â Â
Yet, there may be another factor: Flagging demand for bitcoin with prices over $30,000, double their level just a couple months ago. Some institutional investors who were betting on the price to keep mooning may have lost their nerve, and the premium collapsed as they rushed to exit positions.Â Â
â€œThe dissipation of this premium is further evidence of the internal stresses of the markets on bitcoin,â€� Greg Cipolaro, global head of research for NYDIG, a digital-asset investment firm, wrote Friday in a weekly report.
He noted that the gap has also compressed between spot prices for bitcoin and futures contracts traded on the Chicago-based CME â€“ possibly another indication that traders are taking less market risk in the face of heightened volatility.
â€œA BTC bull and believerâ€�
The rally triggered by Tesla CEO Elon Musk adding â€œ#bitcoinâ€� to his Twitter profile quickly fizzled, but Su Zhu, CEO of the cryptocurrency investment firm Three Arrows Capital, says that â€œlong term, itâ€™s very bullish.â€�Â
â€œElon news is a watershed moment for crypto as the wealthiest man in the world and operator of the worldâ€™s most successful companies is now a BTC bull and believer,â€� Zhu told CoinDesk in a Telegram chat.
Denis Vinokourov, head of research at the London-based prime brokerage Bequant, expects range-bound trading to continue for a while. He points to healthy market signs, including growth in blockchain-based trading and lending systems of decentralized finance (DeFi). Flow into exchange-traded products remains strong, he said.Â Â Â
â€œEveryone is looking for catalysts but I donâ€™t think any new catalysts per se are required,â€� Vinokourov told CoinDesk.
â€“ Omkar Godbole
CoinDesk 20 Returns in January
Stellar (XLM), the payments token, surged 143% in the first month of the year to dominate the CoinDesk 20 set of digital assets. Ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain, gained 77% on the month. Bitcoin rose 14%.Â
Crypto industry booms but doesnâ€™t quite â€œZoom,â€� while Elon Musk gets immortalized on the Bitcoin blockchain.Â
One of the biggest questions facing the crypto industry over the past year has been whether the companies and their new-tech platforms could â€œZoomâ€� â€“ where suddenly everyone starts using the product. Last week showed thereâ€™s plenty of progress still to be made on that front. The industry groaned under the newfound attention from ready customers, some of them ostensibly fleeing the trading platform Robinhood following a series of anger-inducing trading suspensions. Outages were reported at crypto trading venues including Coinbase, Kraken, BinanceÂ and Voyager.Â New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell tweeted that, as the stateâ€™s virtual-currency regulator, she was â€œactively monitoring market volatility.â€�
Elon Muskâ€™s Twitter account got a hat tip in the form of a message encoded into the Bitcoin blockchain. The phrase, â€œIn retrospect, it was inevitable,â€� was written by a clever bitcoin miner into the record for data block 668197, shortly after the worldâ€™s richest man updated his profile to include the hashtag #bitcoin.
The latest on the economy and traditional finance
The hedge fund Greylock is known for making bets on the government debt of troubled nations like Argentina, Lebanon and Venezuela. Now, according to Bloomberg, Greylock, led by CEO Hans Humes, has filed for bankruptcy protection, apparently seeking the courtâ€™s help to wriggle out of its own liabilities. The proceedings reportedly will allow Greylock to terminate its $100,000-a-month office lease in Manhattan. (Bloomberg)Â
Reddit user â€œDeepFâ€”Valueâ€� who helped direct WallStreetBetsâ€™ campaign is a 34-year-old former insurance marketing executive who has just made $20M from gains on GameStop shares and options. (WSJ)Â Â
â€œFundamentals have never mattered lessâ€� as GameStop saga â€œmakes a mockery of the idea that markets provide an efficient form of capital allocation in the economy,â€� James Mackintosh writes in column. (WSJ)
For public companies, there are benefits to having no supply caps: Data show a rise in â€œshelfâ€� registrations for potential securities sales, as CEO prepare to take advantage of buoyant market conditions. (WSJ)Â
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