Markets Weekly: Slow Week for Bitcoin Price as ‘Grexit’ Looms

Joon Ian Wong
Feb 9, 2015 at 14:23 UTC
Updated Feb 27, 2015 at 10:39 UTC

Coindesk BPI feb2-8 2015

The bitcoin price stayed relatively flat over the last week, trading around the $225 mark.

The digital currency opened on 2nd February at $226.40 and closed seven days later at $222.87, showing a loss of 1.56% over the period, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index.

Price movement appeared to be muted in the absence of major announcements or events.

The first days of the week showed the most action. On 2nd February, the price climbed $16 to hit a high of $242. This was followed by the week’s biggest intra-day swing the following day, when the price plunged $22 from a high of $246.19. The day ended with bitcoin trading at $226.96.

Sentiment indicators

The market appears to be cautiously bullish about bitcoin’s price prospects, according to sentiment indicators on Bitfinex.

Hourly swaps activity had longs outpacing shorts for most of the week. Shorts dominated on 4th and 5th February, but gave way to longs for the remainder of the period.

Total active swaps showed a slight uptick for longs towards the end of the week, accounting for 78% of active swaps at the close of 8th February.

The week’s swaps activity has been more positive than trends since the start of the year. Since January, long swaps have accounted for between 72% and 80% of all active swaps on Bitfinex. Contrast this to a peak last June when long swaps took up 90% of the swaps market.

Meanwhile, short swaps hit a peak of 27% on 8th January, but have since declined to around 20% of total active swaps.

Feb 6 2014, Bitfinex long/short swaps data all-timeSource:

On the regulatory front, the Italian central bank issued guidance saying that cryptocurrency exchanges in the country are exempt from anti-money laundering rules, a subtle signal that was interpreted positively by market watchers there.

The guidance stopped short of suggesting a shift in policy in favour of cryptocurrency, as observers believe the central bank is itself awaiting guidance on the matter from European regulators. Its latest statement is in line with guidance from the European Central Bank and European Banking Authority.

‘Grexit’ good for bitcoin?

On the macro front and also in Europe, Greek banks face a looming debt crisis and the possibility of the nation exiting the Eurozone. A so-called ‘Grexit’ now has a 50% chance of happening, according to an LNG Capital estimate quoted by Reuters.

Arthur Hayes of BitMEX adds the Swiss franc to the mix, painting a scenario where Greece leaves the Eurozone, causing panicked euro holders to pile into to Swiss franc as a safe haven. That’s where bitcoin comes in, Hayes says, writing in his weekly Crypto Trader Digest.

As Swiss francs rise in demand, Switzerland would put in place capital controls – an unlikely prospect even Hayes admits – and thus create an opening for bitcoin.

He writes:

“When faced with the real threat of government confiscation and sequester of their capital [investors] will begin to think outside the box. Bitcoin is one of the options on a menu of non-governmental assets … on the margin, the Eurozone events could bring cash buyers back to the market and resurrect the bitcoin bull market.”

Wishful thinking, perhaps, for a bitcoin market in the doldrums.