Miners Are Selling More Bitcoin Than They Are Mining

While bitcoin looks set to prolong its recent bullish moves, those responsible for making new bitcoin have increased their selling.

AccessTimeIconMar 26, 2020 at 6:33 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:22 a.m. UTC

While bitcoin (BTC) looks set to prolong its recent bullish moves, those responsible for making new bitcoin have increased their selling. 

The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market value rose from $3,867 to $7,000 in the 13 days to March 25, according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index. Yet, throughout the 81 percent recovery rally, miners sold more coins than what they generated, according to the miner's rolling inventory (MRI) figure, a measure created by crypto data company ByteTree to track the changes in inventory levels held by miners. 

21-Day Miner's Rolling Inventory (MRI)
21-Day Miner's Rolling Inventory (MRI)

The 21-day rolling MRI stayed above 100 during the entire duration of the recent recovery from lows below $4,000. An MRI above 100 means miners are selling more than they mine and running down inventory, while a below-100 MRI reading indicates miners are amassing inventory by selling less than they mine.

Because prices continued to go up, there was more than enough appetite for the bitcoin the miners fed the market.

Mining pools account for the highest percentage of bitcoin flowing into exchanges and have significant influence on prices. Yet, some view the market’s reaction as a positive indicator. 

“When the price of bitcoin can rally sharply from the local lows and buyers can absorb the extra bitcoin sold by the miners with little impact, it is a sign of strength in the overall market," Connor Abendschein, crypto research analyst at Digital Assets Data told CoinDesk. 

Miners also ran down inventory on Wednesday, as noted by ByteTree founder and Chairman Charlie Morris.

“Miners sold 2,788 against 1,588 mined, slamming the market, yet the market takes it. This is bullish,” Morris tweeted during Wednesday’s European trading hours. The cryptocurrency dropped from $6,700 to $6,500 during the Asian session, possibly on miner selling, but reversed losses later in the day. 

Other analysts, however, are of the opinion that one-day variances in net miner sales are often too small to make a valid judgement of the bullishness of the market. 

“Wednesday’s sell volume of 2,788 wasn’t statistically significant enough to have much meaning on the larger bitcoin price movements.”  said Alexander S. Blum, COO at fintech company Two Prime. “Compared to the amount of Bitcoins in the world, the miner sales were less than 1 percent,”

Yet because miners on average have sold more coins during the price recovery, it may be indicative of underlying market strength. To put it another way, the price rally looks to have legs. 

Nonetheless, the cryptocurrency remains vulnerable to bouts of risk aversion in traditional markets. Global equities have regained some poise over the past couple of days, mainly due to the massive fiscal and monetary stimulus unveiled by the U.S. 

The coronavirus outbreak, however, is showing no signs of slowing down and markets are yet to get a true sense of the economic damage, which could be far bigger than what’s widely forecasted. For example, the U.S. initial jobless claims soared past three million in the week ending March 21, double economists’ expectations for 1.5 million new claims. 

Not surprisingly, that has some expected dire predictions from certain corners of the market.

“If you think what's happening now is the economic crisis, you're wrong,” renowned gold bug (and crypto skeptic) Peter Schiff tweeted early Thursday. “This is the health crisis. The economic crisis is the one that follows, and will result from the fiscal and monetary cure. The crisis will not just be worse than the Great Recession, but the Great Depression.” 

“We must remain cautious for another liquidity crisis,” Chris Thomas, head of digital assets at Swissquote Bank told CoinDesk.


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