Bitcoin’s Waning Dominance Stirs Warning of Crypto Market Froth
Parabolic jumps in digital tokens such as Ether, Dogecoin and Binance Coin are outshining Bitcoin, prompting more questions about whether that segment of the cryptocurrency sector is ripe for a reckoning.
The rallies have contributed to a slump in Bitcoin’s share of the $2.6 trillion crypto market to 43% from about 70% at the start of 2021, a metric that for strategists at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and DataTrek Research LLC may be a warning sign of investor excess in a range of digital tokens.
Bitcoin’s waning dominance carries echoes of “froth” to the extent it’s being fueled “by a rally in other cryptocurrencies driven more by retail demand,” a JPMorgan team led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note Friday. DataTrek’s co-founder Nicholas Colas has indicated that history suggests tokens outside Bitcoin can drop “pretty quickly” when Bitcoin’s share hits 40%.
Plenty of commentators have been fretting for some time that a stimulus-fueled peak is at hand in cryptocurrencies -- only to see them rally even more. But the worry is hard to shake in a sector that defies traditional investment analysis.
The share of the largest cryptocurrency could be declining because investors are getting more comfortable with a wider array of tokens. Alternatively, retail traders may be chasing quick, speculative gains.
“Even if you don’t invest in the space, this is worth tracking,” DataTrek’s Colas wrote in a recent note. He added that with more than $2 trillion now invested in virtual currencies, “a meaningful reset lower could also affect more traditional financial assets like equities.”
For the JPMorgan team, the possible retail-driven froth in cryptocurrencies is a reminder of late 2017, when a crypto boom peaked.
Among the most notable moves in the crypto market Monday was Ether’s jump past $4,000 for the first time after a climb of more than 2,000% in the past year. The JPMorgan team said an analysis of activity on the affiliated Ethereum blockchain suggests a lower fair value of $1,000 for the token.
Dogecoin -- which started as a joke in 2013 but is now a dominating Internet meme and sitting on a 20,000% advance in the past year -- captured the headlines over the weekend.
First off, billionaire Elon Musk cited the token again, this time in a much-touted television appearance on the U.S. show Saturday Night Live. Later, it emerged that the cryptocurrency is apparently being used to pay for a lunar satellite launch with SpaceX, Musk’s commercial rocket firm.
Bitcoin was up 1.7% Monday at about $58,887 as of 8:30 a.m. in London. The largest cryptocurrency remains some way shy of April’s record of $64,870 after a pullback.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.