This Bitcoin Rally Feels Different. FOMO and YOLO Seem to Be Back

BTC just touched $45,000 days after topping $40,000 for the first time since early last year – and crypto-skeptics are taking another look.

AccessTimeIconDec 6, 2023 at 1:03 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 9, 2024 at 2:17 a.m. UTC

About two years ago, crypto prices topped out. Bitcoin (BTC) almost got to $70,000. Then things got bad, then they got worse and then they got cataclysmic. BTC sank toward $15,000 in the aftermath of FTX's blow-up.

It was ugly. You probably remember!

Prices have rebounded throughout 2023, but much of it felt like hard-won gains – rallies were quickly followed by setbacks. By mid-October, bitcoin was around $27,000.

And then the market caught fire, fueled by optimism over bitcoin ETFs and sinking interest rates. Bitcoin just briefly touched $45,000 on Coinbase. It had only just managed to surpass $40,000 a few days ago, a level last seen in early 2022.

Bitcoin's price since 2021 (CoinDesk)
Bitcoin's price since 2021 (CoinDesk)

A crypto-skeptic friend texted me Tuesday saying he was about to buy more bitcoin. A colleague says he's hearing from people wondering about crypto. Will this last? Is crypto making a move toward mainstream territory again?

To the disappointment of my father, who has asked me for forecasts throughout my two-decade career covering markets and finance, I have no idea. But I know it's been two years since the mood in crypto markets felt this ebullient – before the collapses of Celsius, Voyager, Three Arrows Capital, FTX, Genesis …

FOMO (you know, "fear of missing out") maybe mixed with a dose of YOLO ("you only live one") seems to be back.

Wall Street is coming to crypto

How things got this enthusiastic is not hard to fathom. It really is a big deal that Wall Street heavyweights BlackRock, Fidelity and Franklin Templeton are trying to list bitcoin ETFs in the U.S.

Click here to read CoinDesk's Most Influential list for 2023, a series of 50 profiles of key people in crypto, including BlackRock's Larry Fink and Franklin Templeton's Jenny Johnson.

Anyone with a plain vanilla brokerage account should be able to buy these products, if they're approved by regulators – and all signs point to approval being likely soon. That's easier and probably more realistic for regular Americans than setting up a Coinbase account or, heaven forbid, figuring out how a decentralized exchange or MetaMask work.

So, BlackRock, Fidelity and Franklin Templeton's sales and marketing heft looks poised to be behind bitcoin ETFs. It's not crazy to think that will bring a lot of money into crypto. Whether that creates a sustainable rally is up for debate.

Here's what else is on my mind:

  • A ROCKY DEBUT: After FTX fell apart, many folks wondered if something bad was going to happen to its bigger rival, Binance. U.S. regulators and law enforcement seemed to be circling. We got our answer recently: The crypto exchange agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle several U.S. investigations. Changpeng "CZ" Zhao stepped down as CEO. For all the angst in the run-up to this, though, the industry has taken it in stride. Anyway, CZ's replacement, Richard Teng, just had his first big public interview, and it was not a smooth debut, according to CoinDesk's Helene Braun. He came across as evasive. The company never says where it's based, and Teng was opaque about that and other issues. The question is whether this matters. Maybe traders don't care if the world's biggest crypto exchange is evasive?
  • CRYPTO'S BEST CORRELATION: It's become a cliché: Elon Musk says or does something, and it moves the price of dogecoin (DOGE), the meme coin he's long loved. It just happened again. A regulatory filing shows he's trying to raise $1 billion for his AI efforts. DOGE immediately surged. One of the strangest correlations in markets persists.


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Nick Baker

Nick Baker is CoinDesk’s deputy editor-in-chief and a Loeb Award winner. His crypto holdings are below CoinDesk's $1,000 disclosure threshold.