Bitcoin has gone off the dial in the last few weeks, hitting above $2,700 a coin. It has fallen back since, but the other cryptocurrencies have shot up in the aftermath.
Anyone who rode the dotcom boom will recognise the symptoms: up like a rocket and down like a rock.
There will always be bubbles, history is full of them. Greed drives bubbles, and when people see fortunes being made from apparently nothing they ultimately jump in blind to get while the going is good.
This is the end.
Boom, bubble, bust is a cycle we are still in. Equities have boomed and will no doubt bubble at the end of the cycle. Many say stocks are a bubble now, but when you look at bitcoin charts you will clearly see what a bubble in full flight looks like.
You can’t short bitcoin, which is probably a blessing in disguise, because the thing about a bubble is, it’s impossible to guess the top and shorting a financial panic, where the crowd is rushing for the entrance not the exit, is a good way to lose a lot of money.
At least with a stock you can see there is an obvious problem with valuations. With cryptocurrency there is no logic or much in the way of history to cling to.
A few things needs to be made clear. The first is that new financial instruments are the authors of financial bubbles. In summary, no one really knows how they work and few can value them correctly. The stampede of greed makes all that moot anyway. With a new financial instrument, be it “options” for tulip bulbs, fiat money in the Mississippi bubble of the 1700s, stock in the South Sea bubble, leverage in 1929 or collateralized debt instruments in the credit crunch of 2007, the problem was the world was behind the knowledge curve of the instrument and the power of greed drove the market wild and finally into collapse.