Part of Alef Bit’s activity includes performing extensive market research to assist and support our Group’s investment activity and management of its own assets.
In our quarterly newsletter, we wish to expose our readers to some of our internal work. Our aim is to hopefully provide useful and interesting information which might assist you, our readers, in your own research.
In our newsletter from Oct. 2018, we gave a brief overview of the 2018 bear market and explained why we expected further decline in prices. Our predictions were realized and Bitcoin’s price dropped from approx. $6,500, when the newsletter was released, to a yearly low of ~$3,150 at mid December 2018.
In our last newsletter from Dec. 2018, we put our reputation on the line and called the bottom in BTC price. Again, we were correct (until proven otherwise).
In both these previous newsletters, we used technical and sentiment analysis to evaluate the market.
In this issue, however, we wish to take a step back and look at some fundamental aspects of Bitcoin, in order to examine what clues these aspects can tell us regarding Bitcoin’s market cycles.
Satoshi Nakamoto was the first to solve a long-standing computer science problem called the Byzantine Generals Problem. He did this by combining several fundamental features, thereby creating Bitcoin: a peer-to-peer electronic cash requiring no trusted third parties.
Some of these features are from the computer science field of expertise, including among others, the Blockchain and Proof of Work, while others are from the field of economic, such as max. capped amount, mining difficulty adjustment and the halving.
As it turned out, Satoshi was not only a brilliant computer scientist. He was also a shrewd economist.
Bitcoin not only solved the Byzantine Generals Problem, serving as Digital Cash, but it may also be the most “hard” or “sound” money in human history. As Dr. Saifedean Ammous put it in his most excellent book “The Bitcoin Standard” (a must read for anyone who wants to do a deep-dive into the origins of money and Bitcoin economics):
“Bitcoin is the hardest money ever invented: growth in its value cannot possibly increase its supply; it can only make the network more secure and immune to attack”
In this newsletter, we’ll attempt to show how these economic-related fundamental features, and specifically the halving, affect Bitcoin’s market cycles.
The Halving Event
So what exactly is the Bitcoin halving?
The halving is a well-known event which occurs every 210,000 blocks, or approximately every 4 years, in which the number of bitcoins generated per block is set to decrease by half.
When Bitcoin was created in 2009, the initial block reward was 50 Bitcoins. In November 2012, it dropped to 25 BTC after the first halving. The second halving took place on July 2016 and decreased the reward further to 12.5 BTC. The next halving is scheduled to occur on May 2020.
This means that by now most of the Bitcoins have already been generated: approx. 17.5M out of the total fixed supply of 21M, as can be seen in Figure 1.
You can read more on this subject here.
Of Beating Hearts and Warehouses
Here at Alef Bit Technologies, we believe that Bitcoin has an internal clock, or a beating heart, which is deeply connected to the halving.
In our research, we have found that every previous four-year period between halvings can be divided into 3 distinct phases of roughly similar durations (~16 months for each phase), as can be seen in Figures 2 – 4.
These 3 phases are:
1) Bull run: Following by the halving event and characterized by an exponential increase in Bitcoin’s price.
2) Bear market: Burst of the bubble and commencement of a bear market, with approx. 85% decrease in price from all time high (ATH).
3) Consolidation and Slow Recovery: Consolidation period with a price recovery of ~50% from previous ATH at the end of the phase.
But, how does the halving influence these market cycles?
For this theory, let us assume that due to the hash rate difficulty adjustment fundamental feature in the protocol, the cost of mining one Bitcoin (in terms of electricity costs) is approximately one Bitcoin. This means that if you manage to sell your mined Bitcoins at a higher price than the price at the time it was mined, you will increase your profit.
For example, a Bitcoin mined when the market price is $3,000 per BTC, will cost the miner approximately $3,000. If the miner manages to sell this same Bitcoin at a later date for, let’s say, $4,500, he will increase his marginal profit by $1,500.
Now, imagine that you are a bitcoin miner coming into the halving. You know that if the demand of Bitcoin remains stable, then due to the cut of new Bitcoins supply by half, the price will surely increase (in reality at the time of halving, the supply reduction will already be priced in the exchange rate, thanks to market anticipation). Therefore, you think to yourself: from now on, I will not sell all of my new Bitcoins gained from my block reward, but instead, I will hold back a small percentage (let’s say 10%) in my “warehouse”, to sell at a later date at higher profits.
This, together with the reduced supply of new Bitcoins due to the halving, will create a shortage in the market. Consequently, Bitcoin’s price will slowly start increasing as the demand exceeds the supply. As the price increases, you (the miner) will probably decide to hold back some more Bitcoins in your warehouse, another 10%. This will further drive the price up as more Bitcoins are retained by miners.
Ultimately this loop of miners holding back Bitcoins – causing price to increase – causing more Bitcoins to be stored in the miners’ warehouses, will bring about a massive bull run with price increasing exponentially, as happened in each of the previous cycles. As we can imagine, this bull run will be accompanied by mass news coverage, FOMO and the general hysteria of moons, lambos, etc.
The miners, seeing a huge wave of adoption and prices almost doubling every month, will eventually be tempted to sell. They already made huge profits and have electricity bills to pay after all. When miners cave and begin selling, long held Bitcoins in the warehouses will re-enter the market, causing prices to drop. The bubble will finally burst.
What will ensue after that is a price correction in the form of a long and painful bear market.
And thus, a new cycle will begin..
Based on this model, the following conclusions can be drawn:
1) For the current cycle, we are now at the turning point between the bear market and consolidation phases, as can be seen in Figure 5 which shows cycles 2+3 on the same chart.
2) At the upcoming halving event (May 2020), we can expect the price to be at approximately $10k (50% of previous ATH).
3) Next bull run and ATH is estimated to occur ~2.5 years from now (late 2021). What will the price be? It’s anyone’s guess. Looking at previous cycles lows and highs shown in table 1, Bitcoin’s price could reach $80k.
As we all know, there are 3 basic types of market analysis:
- Fundamental analysis;
- Sentiment analysis;
- Technical analysis
We hear all too often that Bitcoin (and crypto as a whole) has no fundamentals and traders should focus only on technical analysis. We think this is wrong.
In this newsletter, we presented what we believe is a viable theory explaining Bitcoin’s boom and bust cycles. This theory is backed by fundamentals, Bitcoin’s unique economic aspects, and historical price action. As can be seen, understanding Bitcoin’s fundamental features and economy is key to understanding Bitcoin’s long term price trends.
We invite you, our readers, to do your own fundamental research and see what theories you can come up with to improve your trading. Good luck!
This communication is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as, financial, legal, investment, tax or any other advice. Alef Bit Technologies Ltd. or its affiliates and/or subsidiaries (collectively, ”Alef Bit”) normally hold as principal bitcoin, Ethereum, blockchain tokens and other cryptocurrencies or asset classes that may be discussed in this communication.
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