On 2 February bitcoin will set a new record for longest downturn
Will bitcoin history repeat itself?
Bitcoin's longest downswing to date has been 410 days. It ran from the (almost certainly manipulated) ebullience of December 2013 bitcoin highs of about $1,200 to a several year low of under $200 in January 2015.
This record is on the verge of being broken. Assuming it doesn't experience an abrupt recovery before then, by 2 February bitcoin will be in the new territory of its longest ever downswing. The landmark was pointed out by crypto trader Josh Rager on Twitter.
Opinion: Does bitcoin's past tell its future?
A minor dose of common sense is enough to say that bitcoin's previous rises and falls obviously have very little reason to repeat themselves.
Bitcoin awareness has reached saturation point and as a sceptic would say, the world has run out of greater fools. That said, it is factually undeniable that many people are still buying bitcoin for the first time. It's still a far cry from the late 2017 froth when literally millions of people per day were throwing cash at bitcoin for the first time. At one point Binance was getting a quarter of a million new user registrations per hour.
On the whole, cryptocurrency awareness is higher than ever before. Infrastructure has developed, bitcoin market share is much lower now than then, regulators are regulating with increased zest (or will be once the shutdown ends) and the general state of crypto affairs is completely different to any other time in bitcoin's history.
Given how different things are now to then, it would be completely and utterly ridiculous to expect bitcoin to repeat history and magically swing upwards just because some numbers line up. Despite that, technical indicators – specifically the GTI VERA Bands Indicator – says bitcoin is poised to make a break for it.
Of course, relying on technical analysis without context might be about as good as trading based on horoscopes (Aries favours contrarian indicators, Libra prefers healthy diversification and Taurus is just plain bullish).
On the other hand...
As a purely digital, entirely-speculative asset with no inherent value, bitcoin prices are thought to be driven almost entirely by sentiment. People can talk about how the cryptocurrency markets are completely different now, but at the end of the day bitcoin prices are still driven by the same factors now as they were then.
A bit of market saturation doesn't magically cure humanity of FOMO, so why should the big bitcoin changes over time really make a difference?
It also doesn't matter that bitcoin's still many times more valuable now than then, because people buy based on how they expect bitcoin prices to change in the future. Bitcoin's prices at any given time are only relevant insofar as they might indicate future changes. Bitcoin at $2 is a bad deal if you think it's going to $1, but bitcoin at $20,000 is great if you think it's going to $40,000.
Another popular line of thinking is that too many people got burnt by the crash to touch bitcoin again, but... who are we kidding? It's reasonable to assume that people who bought bitcoin at the all-time high are happier to take risks than most, and so might be perfectly happy to have another flutter if it looks like bitcoin's going for another rocket ride.
The people who most commonly argue that the crash means people are too wary of bitcoin to buy are the people who, themselves, wouldn't have bought bitcoin at the all-time high or at all. This isn't to say their opinions should be dismissed because they're "no-coiners". Rather it's to say that their personal risk appetites are unlikely to align with most cryptocurrency enthusiasts, so their predictions of other people's behaviour might not be entirely on point.
It's also worth noting that bitcoin price history has repeated itself in some remarkably blatant ways. The relatively sharp, but sadly unsustained, bounce of mid-December occurred on the exact 12 month anniversary, right down to the hour, of bitcoin's trip above $20,000. It was far beyond coincidence.
Even if it was deliberate manipulation from heavy-handed and deep-pocketed whales, that might have you reasonably expecting that an occasion like 2 February won't pass without something happening.
But even if it does end up being a mirror image of the same time a few years ago, that would still suggest many months of sideways price movements to look forward to.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH