Bitcoin Has Gifts This Holiday Season

Historical data helps us understand what to expect as crypto markets once again head upwards, says Todd Groth, head of research at CoinDesk Indices.

AccessTimeIconDec 13, 2023 at 4:45 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 6:37 p.m. UTC

Welcome back to the days of $40k bitcoin. Ethereum is also back above $2k, while smaller tokens play catch up to the mega caps, and just in time for the holidays too.

Ah, the rollercoaster that is the crypto market. It’s a wild ride that keeps us on our toes and glued to our screens, doesn’t it? Protocols and projects are forged and refined in the fire of market cyclicality, with lesser ideas falling the wayside or exiting through the dramatic jumps and falls of the market.

These cycles are rooted in some tangible factors that stem from a mix of demand dynamics driven by investor psychology, regulatory developments, and technological advancements meeting the supply demands of halving schedules, protocol forks and ICOs. When these factors align favorably, demand skyrockets causing prices to rocket higher, often fueled further by hype and the ubiquitous propellent known as FOMO (fear of missing out). That’s the halcyon days of the bull market where we bask in general euphoria, with the focus of fear being on further upside surprises.

You're reading Crypto Long & Short, our weekly newsletter featuring insights, news and analysis for the professional investor. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Wednesday.

But with every cycle there is a duality, a yin for every yang. Enter the infamous "crypto winter." This icy period kicks in when sentiment gets overly bullish and investors excessively leveraged, resulting in a self-correcting market — prices plummet, investors panic, and the mood gets frostier than a New York winter bomb cyclone. Indicators of this chilling season? Prolonged price declines, increased market volatility, reduced trading volumes, and a general feeling of despair among investors who bought in during the hype and try to ignore the stress of unrealized losses.

So, where in this cycle are we now, and why are we waving goodbye to crypto winter and stepping into warmer times?

Chart 1

(Source: CoinDesk Indices)

Bitcoin’s up by a solid 18% month over month, while the broader CoinDesk Markets Index (CMI), which tracks the wider market, is up 21%. The outperformance of CMI over bitcoin shows the preference for lower cap altcoins, a positive cycle indicator due alongside positive Bitcoin and Ether Trend Indicator values and the buzz around spot exchange-traded funds (ETFs) continues to heat up. We’re seeing a surge in inflows into crypto investment funds, and even meme-coins are making a comeback — yeah, they’re back in the game. Plus, the end of Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial gives the crypto world a fresh start.

Why are we out of the deep freeze? Well, it’s all about a shift in the narrative. Wall Street is entering the scene big time, talking billions in investments through ETFs. They’re spinning a tale of mainstream institutions swooping in to save the day, making crypto safer and more transparent for investors.

The focus now? More regulated crypto exchanges, building broader and more sustainable products like ETFs, tokenized securities, and stablecoins — not the frothy inside joke stuff of meme coins and overpriced NFTs we saw in the COVID frenzy.

This shift might ruffle some feathers, straying from crypto’s original ethos as an alternative to mainstream finance. But, hey, it’s what’s revving up excitement again. And it’s not just Wall Street driving this. Macro factors like the potential end of the U.S. interest rate hiking cycle, Middle East tensions and the specter of long-term inflation are nudging investors toward safer harbors, including crypto, as BlackRock’s Larry Fink’s “flight to quality,” comment suggested. Funny how a former crypto-skeptic like Fink is now singing Bitcoin’s praises on national TV, huh?

Assuming we’re now out of the deep crypto freeze, where are we in this new cycle? From an analysis of previous Bitcoin cycles using the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (XBX), we can see that we could be well on our way to the next cycle highs.

From an average of previous cycles, it takes about 700 days between previous cycle lows and new cycle highs, with drawdowns averaging some -80% across cycles. Assuming November 21, 2022 was the previous cycle low, this would imply a new cycle high sometime in Q3 of 2024, with new highs exceeding previous cycle highs (November 9, 2021 was Bitcoin all-time-high of $67k) by a multiple of 2-7 times, assuming the averages of a small sample size of Bitcoin cycles hold and history repeats itself.

Chart 2

(Source: CoinDesk Indices)

Massive cycle analysis caveats aside, it appears that we’re out of another crypto winter, with the support of a broader institutional adoption narrative and a favorable macroeconomic backdrop.

Truly developments to be thankful for this holiday season.

Edited by Benjamin Schiller.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Todd Groth, CFA

Todd Groth was the Head of Index Research at CoinDesk Indices. He has over 10 years of experience involving systematic multi-asset risk premia and alternative investment strategies.