Buying bitcoin is now the most crowded trade in the financial markets.
According to a recent Bank of America survey, 26 percent of 181 fund managers polled (who oversee a combined $629 billion in assets) cited bitcoin as the most crowded trade. The second most popular choice for the distinction was going long on the Nasdaq composite index, picked by 22 percent of respondents, followed by shorting the dollar, cited by 21 percent.
Notably, it was the first time the cryptocurrency has appeared on the list.
The upshot of the news is that, with so many investors having piled into the market, it could portend an eventual stampede to sell.
The Office of Financial Research, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury created after the 2008 financial crisis, defines a crowded trade as "a trade in which the market participants have large and similar positions, creating the risk that there will be insufficient liquidity should market participants seek to unwind their positions simultaneously."
"Such concentration creates fragility in the financial system," the office said in a report published in 2012, back when few if any institutional investors had probably even heard of bitcoin.
That said, the market conditions may be having short-term benefits. Bitcoin has roughly quadrupled in value since the beginning of this year. At press time, its price was down over 7 percent for the day at $3,843, according to CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.