It was perhaps unfortunate that the most recent bitcoin rally happened to coincide with 1st April, also known as April Fool’s Day in a number of countries. The tradition of the day is to see if you can fool people into believing the story you tell them. Some newspapers are expert at it: the UK’s Guardian newspaper is renowned for its April Fool stories, such as the discovery of the island of ‘Sans Serif’, which any printer would immediately have spotted as a hoax. So, it’s unsurprising that there were those who thought the bitcoin rally was also some kind of 1st April joke, as Bloomberg reported.
But it wasn’t a joke, as the surge went on past noon on 1st April, the cut-off time after which one cannot play any more pranks. It continued to increase in price with some dips until 9th April, when we saw a almost all the major cryptos go red again, but only slightly.
Multiple theories about bitcoin surge
There have been other theories. One analyst, Tone Vay, suggests there is no particular trigger; it’s just normal speculation: “Shorts are liquidated, there were short squeezes, more people jumped onto the hype, and a lot of news media always look for a trigger to cause big drops and big rises. I would say more than half the time they are just trying to match news to something that it did not necessarily need news to happen.” Bloomberg also put forward the idea that it could be down to algorithmic trading. This is a method where automated software detects trends and determines when trades should be made. And Reuters suggested that a 20,000 BTC order was spread across United States-based crypto exchanges Coinbase and Kraken, as well as Luxembourg’s Bitstamp was the trigger for the surge. Some even connected it to the UK’s interminable Brexit situation and to people selling off GBP in case the UK crashes out of the EU and the Pound falls through the floor. Meanwhile the bulls were in the press talking about the end of the so-called ‘Crypto Winter’ and predictions about bitcoin hitting big figures were in the headlines.
The problem for the average person looking at the bitcoin market is this: who should you believe? It really is a tough call, even for those who know the market fairly well.
Not everyone is bullish on bitcoin
And then there are those who will tell you not to trust in what you are seeing. Brendan Coffey at Forbes claims that the “smart money” expects bitcoin to drop. He points to the weekly Commitment of Traders report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. This says “says that while small speculators (classified as non-reportable in the report) increased their long positions 18% and shrunk their short positions 27% compared to last week, large traders – hedge funds and other large speculators – raised their short bets almost 45%.” Also, large trader long positions in bitcoin were trimmed back by 24% this week, which is a bearish manoeuvre.
What does this mean for the price of bitcoin. Coffey suggests it may not create a big rise or fall. However, he does advise taking a look at the last bitcoin rally in 2017, when bitcoin futures first launched as well. These futures allowed people who were sceptical about bitcoin to bet against it, and he indicates that while we are seeing short-term gains, the longer-term picture may prove more challenging. Why? He says, “As a purely speculative investment with a heavy amount of non-trading professionals betting on it, bitcoin has tended to display classical chart patterns.” And according to his charts, there is still a “thick blue line of resistance” to overcome. That stands at about $6,000, “but expect the sellers to come in at $5,500 and continue to sell on moves into the $6,200 area,” Coffey says. His reasoning, which is perfectly logical, is that people who “got caught holding bitcoin when it plunged will want to get out with what they put in.”
The answer would seem to be that the current bitcoin rally is both fact and fantasy. Yes, we have seen it surge to over $5,000 from hovering around $4,000 just a few days earlier. The fantasy bit? It is going to be some time, if it ever happens, before it reaches $50,000, even if that is the prediction of a crypto guru!