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With anticipation of an approved spot Bitcoin ETF reaching fever pitch levels in the opening days of 2024, frenzied discourse on the subject has now settled around one question: Is it already priced in?
Some in crypto think the answer’s yes. It’s been over two months of non-stop gains for BTC, fueled almost entirely by excitement surrounding a Bitcoin ETF’s imminent approval. At this point, with the cryptocurrency at near-double its price in October, how much more juice could possibly be left to squeeze?
But many diehard Bitcoin advocates are emphatic that the event hasn’t been priced in—meaning that, in their opinion, BTC is poised to rocket even further upwards if and when a Bitcoin ETF is approved in coming weeks.
A Bitcoin ETF would at long last give traditional retail investors an easy way to gain exposure to BTC—no crypto exchanges or wallets needed. But the SEC has rejected every proposal for such a product over the last 10 years, pointing to the potential for market manipulation in Bitcoin as its primary reason. But that was then and BlackRock is now—and the Wall Street titan’s entry into the Bitcoin ETF race means it’s finally going to happen, most analysts say.
My strategy is understanding ETF has been priced in over the past few months - so no new big positions
Holding spot, with a few low leverage trades on strongest altcoins and a few small caps
Angel investing and preparing for new launches
Keeping it simple at the time being, a…
— Rager (@Rager) January 3, 2024
All signs point in the direction of an approval, which could then lead to a wave of fresh capital entering the market. It’s the reason some traders and analysts are so bullish and expect a near immediate impact on BTC’s price following the SEC’s green light.
Such predictions tend to center on a belief that even taking recent gains into account, a substantial portion of the market has not been able to process the importance of a Bitcoin ETF approval, which some experts predict will change Bitcoin forever by integrating the digital asset into the global economy.
The ETFs are not priced in.
— Adam Back (@adam3us) December 31, 2023
“As much as the event has been priced in, considering how much hangs in the balance, there is definitely some money sitting on the sidelines waiting for an actual confirmation,” Joel Kruger, a strategist at LMAX Group, told Decrypt.
Kruger predicts that in the day or two following the first Bitcoin ETF’s approval—which analysts predict will happen in the next week—BTC’s price will likely jump by 10%. At that point, he says, there may be a brief period of consolidation and correction before the world’s top cryptocurrency begins pumping again. As early as spring, according to the strategist, BTC could shatter its all-time high price of $69,000, which it briefly touched in late 2021.
James Butterfill, head of research at CoinShares, concurs that BTC is poised to continue its winning streak through and past the approval of a Bitcoin ETF.
“We don't think it’s fully priced for several reasons,” he told Decrypt.
Butterfill points to the almost $14 trillion worth of American assets that he says will have the opportunity to gain exposure to Bitcoin once a spot Bitcoin ETF is greenlit. While only a fraction of that market is likely to opt in, it's nonetheless difficult to overstate the significance of the fact that Bitcoin might soon have theoretical interconnectivity with the majority of the US economy.
Further, the analyst has observed that, in the last quarter, inflows into existing Bitcoin investment products have come principally from Europe—suggesting to him that many U.S. investors are waiting for U.S.-based ETFs to become available to then jump into Bitcoin.
Other analysts, though, have been hesitant to paint such an unambiguously rosy picture of a Bitcoin ETF’s likely price impact.
Vetle Lunde, a senior analyst at K33 Research, wrote in a report Wednesday that he finds it 75% likely that a Bitcoin ETF approval becomes a “sell the news” event—meaning one that drops BTC’s price due to a flood of investors selling off the cryptocurrency at the perceived crest of medium-term hype.
“Everything points towards traders being considerably exposed ahead of the verdict, with derivatives pushing massive premiums following BTC’s last three months of continuous upside momentum,” Lunde said.
The analyst did note, though, that if ETF inflows were substantial enough to offset that “sell the news” outflow, the event could end up becoming a net boon for BTC. By Lunde’s estimates, Bitcoin ETFs would need to attract fresh inflows of $2.3 billion in January alone to keep the asset’s price from dropping. That new capital would have to be genuinely new; moving funds from Bitcoin futures ETFs to newly minted spot Bitcoin ETFs wouldn’t count.
Lunde puts the likelihood of such an outcome at 20%—certainly not impossible, but also not particularly likely. John Palmer, president of spot crypto clearinghouse Cboe Digital, previously told Decrypt that a terrific outcome for spot Bitcoin ETFs in their first year would be to attract $10 billion to $15 billion worth of investment by the end of 2024.