Cryptocurrencies Are Still the World's Best Performing Asset Class This Year

Large-cap cryptocurrencies had a phenomenal year and remain one of the greatest investment success stories of the decade.

AccessTimeIconDec 13, 2019 at 2:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:48 a.m. UTC
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As the year and decade come to an end, cryptocurrencies once again outperform other major asset classes.

Despite trading significantly down from their record highs of late December 2017, large-cap cryptocurrencies had a phenomenal year and remain one of the greatest investment success stories of the decade.

Cementing themselves as the world’s leading asset class for yearly performance, cryptocurrencies have risen well above annualized returns of the U.S. equities, commodities and bond markets for 2019.

Ryan Alfred, President and co-founder of Digital Assets Data said large-cap crypto assets possess significantly higher returns versus traditional markets for this year.

“Looking back at the performance of the top ten large-caps (Bitwise 10) in comparison to other major asset classes, we can see their special signature,” Alfred said.

Crypto versus traditional assets

Credit: Digital Asset Data
Credit: Digital Asset Data

As seen in the chart above, research provided by Digital Assets Data shows how this year’s performance of the top 10 cryptos by market capitalization fared against other major asset classes such as gold, oil and equities.

Of course, 2019 didn’t start out that way. Back in February, the top 10 crypto began a fairly dismal run, resting well below all other traditional asset classes when viewing their return on investment figures. However, sentiment began to pick up significantly in March and by mid-year, cryptocurrencies were far out ahead of other the other assets.

That gap has begun to narrow as stocks, bonds and commodities begin to increase their lead. Yet cryptocurrencies remain significantly ahead of all other asset classes as the year comes to a close.

Much of this rally is courtesy of bitcoin (BTC). The world's first cryptocurrency is currently up 100 percent since the year began. Meanwhile, Ether, the world’s second-largest crypto is up 35 percent year-to-date, though  XRP is down 25 percent from where it traded on Jan. 1.

The big picture: Crypto’s success story

In the year before the decade began, the world was in the throes of a financial crisis. Since then, stocks have rebounded. From its March 2009 market meltdown lows to now, the S&P 500 has gained a respectable 369 percent. Similarly, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has also had a good run, up 326 percent in that same time period.

Bitcoin Price Index
Bitcoin Price Index

However, BTC has blasted those figures, rising well above a staggering 12 million percent (yes, you read that correctly) over a one-year-shorter time frame, beginning March 2010. That’s when the price of 1 BTC was around $0.05, data taken from Messari shows.

Crypto’s success can likely be attributed to its most defining characteristics: high volatility and liquidity, allowing market participants to quickly and easily trade between digital and fiat currencies.

Lorenzo Pellegrino, CEO of Skrill, a cross-border payments platform utilizing crypto, said digital assets resembled a nascent market. Prices bouncing around in a frantic manner enable the asset class to outperform all others based on irrational sentiment and low barriers to entry.

“As it (crypto) matures we should start to see increased stability and the core fundamentals will become more apparent," Pellegrino said.

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