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The summer of wild crypto price rallies is over, as Bitcoin and other assets succumb to the same “macroeconomic forces” that have sent global stocks into a tailspin.
Data from crypto exchange SFOX shows a shift in cryptocurrency price movements from “bullish” to “neutral,” amid simmering US-China trade tensions and the muted performance of the Bakkt exchange following its much-anticipated launch.
Bitcoin’s recent price decline tracks with similar declines in gold and the S&P 500, “suggesting broader macroeconomic uncertainty may be at play,” said SFOX in its report. “Recent events such as the China-US trade war have suggested that broader macroeconomic uncertainty impacts crypto markets just as it does equities and bonds, and these most recent data reinforce that idea.”
Prices also took a beating following the tepid reception of Bakkt, the newly-launched Bitcoin futures exchange backed by the owner of the New York Stock Exchange. Expected to draw in a deluge of “institutional money,” Bakkt spluttered, suffering a drop in volume of over fifty percent in the weeks following its launch.
But the Bakkt price plunge “may have been overblown,” said SFOX. “It’s possible that this drop in the crypto partly reflects traders acting emotionally when an overnight flood of institutional money into crypto didn’t happen, even though that scenario was probably unrealistic in the first place.”
Nevertheless, the report said, “the downturn in market sentiment may have to do with fear around signals that ‘major’ institutions may not be as ready and willing to jump into crypto now as some previously believed.” That in turn “may have led to broader uncertainty about the trajectory of the sector.”
But Bitcoin’s role as an uncorrelated “safe haven” still holds in spite of the current price swings, said SFOX CEO Akbar Thobahni. "Bitcoin's sensitivity to global market thrusts is neither sudden nor new: most, if not all, asset classes are impacted by broader forces,” he said. “That does not inherently undermine its investment thesis.”
And Thobahni pinned Bakkt’s disappointing debut on the relative smallness of the crypto markets. “That might mean that some sophisticated investing products, while ultimately helpful to the asset class's maturation, may still be too early to the market,” he said. “Imagine if Uber had tried to launch in 1999 on PDAs: at that point in the trajectory of personal technology, it might have been too early for a ride-sharing market to come to fruition."